In Original Thinking, Glenn Aparicio Parry delves into the evolution of Western thought to recover the living roots of wisdom that can correct the imbalances in our modern worldview. Inspired by groundbreaking dialogues that the author organized between Native American elders and leading-edge Western scientists to explore the underlying principles of the cosmos, this book offers a radical revisioning of how we think. Asking questions such as, Is it possible to come up with an original thought?, What does it mean to be human?, and How has our thinking created our world today?, Parry challenges us to consider many of our most basic assumptions. To think originally--as in thinking new thoughts that have never been thought or said before--is according to Parry, largely an illusion. So, too, is the idea of linear human progress. Most of us have traveled far from our ancestral lands, and in so doing, lost connection with place, the origin of our consciousness.
Original Thinking offers a radical revisioning of how we think and what it means to be human. It invites us to reintegrate our hearts with our heads and to expand our self-imposed narrowing of consciousness. In doing so we reconnect with the living, original source--nature and her interconnected elements and cycles--and embrace the communion of old and new, rational and intuitive, and masculine and feminine. Ultimately, Parry shows us how to create the tapestry of truly original thinking and to restore thought as a blessing, as a whole and complete transmission from Spirit.
Contents PART ONE (ORIGIN): Is it possible to come up with an original thought? Chapter 1. Original Thought, Time, and the Unfolding of Consciousness Chapter 2. Looking Backward to Go Forward Chapter 3. Wheels Within Wheels Chapter 4. It's About Time
PART TWO (DEPARTURE): What does it mean to be human? Chapter 5. Purpose, Potential, and Responsibility of Being Human Chapter 6. Rational Thought and Human Identity Chapter 7. Re-thinking Language Chapter 8. Beyond Rationality Chapter 9. A Tale of Two Directions
PART THREE (RETURN): How has our thinking created the world today, and what is emerging? Chapter 10. The Essence of Thought Chapter 11. To Make Thought Whole Again Chapter 12. To Think Without Separation Chapter 13. Re-Thinking the "Dismal Science" Chapter 14. Toward An Original Economics
PART FOUR (RENEWAL): Can education promote the renewal of original thinking? Chapter 15. Education as Renewal Chapter 16. Childhood and Education Chapter 17. Higher Education Chapter 18. A New (and Ancient) Vision Chapter 19. A Vision for Higher Education
Original Thinking: A Radical Revisioning of Time, Humanity and Nature by Glen Parry, seeks to address the disconnectedness in Western-dominated thinking by reconnecting with earlier indigenous and Eastern conceptions of interdependence with the world around us, while emphasizing new discoveries, especially in the field of Quantum Mechanics, that give credence to many of the ancient ways of thinking.
This thinking is not new, but rather thinking that connects us with our point of origin, challenges us to see the world beyond the social constructs we experience, by seeking a fresh encounter with four essential questions that help us understand meaning:
Is it possible to come up with an original thought? What does it mean to be human? Has our thinking created the world today and what is now emerging? Can education promote the renewal of original thinking?
These are good questions, worthy of thought, and differing perspectives are welcome. Seeing things with new eyes is an overarching purpose of education, growth, religion, and ultimately redefinition. And challenges to an increasingly globalized, dissonant way of thinking is appreciated. So I enjoyed Parry's work on a superficial level, and his commitment to challenge current ways of thinking and experiencing reality have caused me to consider my own approach to life.
However, I believe that Parry makes the same mistake many do, when seeking to rebuild human frameworks from "point of origin." He's reading, writing, and understanding this point of origin seeking to separate from today's Zeitgeist (spirit of the age, spirit of this time) without first recognizing that many of his assumptions about revisioning time, humanity, and nature are in fact a product of the spirit of this time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my opinion, one's failure to comprehend their "place of origin" or "time of origin," while seeking to return to the thinking of humanity's "point of origin" ultimately leads to neither original (as in origin) thinking or original (as in unique, fresh, innovative) thinking.
Each of us must first recognize that we are a product of our age, before we seek to understand the wisdom of a previous age. Failure to do this results in a lack of deep thought, a failure to synthesize the wisdom of the previous age. Instead, we simply paste that wisdom onto the framework of our own preselected suppositions. That's precisely how Parry's thinking comes across to the reader. He's not challenging our thinking with origin or innovation. He's simply creating a curious amalgam of thought that is neither twenty-first century philosophy or science, nor original thinking from the ancients.
Instead, Parry has left us with a twenty-first century mysticism all too prevalent in our current age, that refuses to adequately address the deeper questions of today's world. It is simply a panacea that soothes our conscience without challenging us to work toward the needed change that will ultimately improve our world.
This is a fascinating and challenging book as it seeks to define being human as an integration of rational thinking and instinctual awareness. Modern thinking limits human beings by defining humans as only rational thinkers. We have lost our connection to the wholeness of life and separated ourselves from the wisdom of the ancients and the wisdom and cycles of nature and the universe. This faulty worldview is the basis of most of our problems, because our worldview determines or directs our actions. The author has spent a lot of time in dialogue with indigenous peoples and tracks the history of science and philosophy (thinking about life), our connection to the land and our language. Parry shows how religion and our own development leads us to believe that time is linear, not circular. We are beginnings and stages of growth where one stage is better than the last and this goes on until the end. In aboriginal thinking time moves in cycles and new ideas are possibilities that have always been present but at a particular moment in time they are able to be expressed. This is a spiritual book in that it encourages us to discover again our origins and not have so much faith in materialism and the future to solve our problems. When we discover the root of our problems like climate change we find that we are at the heart of the problem. We have lost our connection with the earth and with nature and treat it as "stuff" to be used instead of a part of our life. He says that the ancients recognized four elements that comprised all of life: air, fire, water, earth; and he adds "time" as a fifth element that defines life and consciousness. All these forces work together in harmony to make life flow. We need to stop dividing everything into different pieces and see these pieces as separate from each other; we need to look for the way the pieces are connected. This book makes good sense but also is difficult to read because it challenges the way we have been taught to think about being human and why we are here. Accumulation and growth are two values that are now inherent in human beings. And both are detrimental to human beings and the quality of our life if they become the determining factors in what we think is valuable and drive our purpose. In the end of the book he moves to economics because we are so focused on making money and growth that we have lost ourselves and our relationships to the earth and each other. The word economics means “home management” . Economics was originally the study of human management in the world of nature. Chrematistics is defined by Aristotle as “particular branch of political economy relating to the manipulation of property and wealth so as to maximize short-term monetary exchange value to the owner”. Today this is redefining the purpose of economics and was not thought to be a good idea in the ancient world. Oikonomia is the management of the household so as to increase its use value to all members of the household over the long run.” P189 He concludes the book by wondering about the place of education in getting people to "change their mind". He says this about Original Thinking in the last chapter of the book: Original Thinking is: Thankful, emerges out of wholeness, comes from particular places ( when we tune into the vibrations of that place), it is both new and old, it is in tune with the rhythms and cycles of nature, is out of the box, looks for a pattern that connects, embraces paradox and change, includes feeling, instinct and emotion, is a form of participatory consciousness, is beautiful, and is radical and new.
If this brief introduction to the thoughts in Original Thinking is challenging for you, it is a taste of this thinking and I would invite you to get the book and explore these ideas with him. I think he has something to add to the conversation concerning how we will solve our modern day problems with a new kind of thinking.
ORIGINAL THINKING: A Radical Revisioning of Time, Humanity and Nature by Glen Parry **** reviewed by Tracy Marks An important, much-needed message conveyed in an ineffective writing style and layout
By "original thinking," author Glenn Parry is not referring to innovative thinking but rather thinking which is "reconnected with a deep place of origin." In his book of the same title, Parry seeks to help us "remember" our original connectedness – nonlinear, beyond-the-rational thinking, in which head is integrated with heart, in sync with nature, and emerging out of wholeness.
"Could Western society be confusing distance from origin with progress?" he asks us. Can we reawaken to kairos time, in which past, present and future are fused in timeless awareness? Can we get out of our own way so that "large forces can come through and restore balance?"
ORIGINAL THINKING developed in part from thirteen years of Language of Spirit dialogue conferences between indigenous elders and western scientists, as sponsored by the SEED Institute which Parry founded. Physicist David Bohm and native American elders such as Leroy Little Bear and Navajo elder Leon Secatero considerably influenced Parry's thinking. The work of these dialogues continues today via the Circle of Original Thinking (originalthinking.us) in Albuquerque, Parry's home base.
ORIGINAL THINKING consists of four interrelated parts: Origin (exploring our perception of time), Departure (separation from nature), Return (separation in thought) and Renewal (restoring holistic thinking and interconnection through education). Throughout, Parry elucidates the false assumptions that underlie the sickness manifesting on our planet and in our psyches – e.g. that progress is linear, that instinct is a lesser way of knowing.
Parry covers such topics as the manner in which western languages reinforce a faulty separation between past, present and future, the distortion of the meaning of economics from its original caring and holistic roots, and the narrowing of human consciousness through academic and technical specializations.
ORIGINAL THINKING is an important book. In regard to the concepts it presents and the diagnosis of our contemporary pathologies, I'd rate it above a 5 on a 5 point scale if I could. But in regard to writing style and layout, it deserves only a 2. This is a difficult and often tedious book to read.
Considering that Parry wants us to reconnect with a non-linear, head-integrated-with-heart style of thinking, his academic style of writing and long paragraphs in relatively small unvaried type are incongruent with his message. Here, for example, is a typical excerpt from the book:
"...intelligence and the capacity for language ought not to be evaluated by predetermined means that are specific to species or a particular subset of a culture. We assume that certain kinds of language and intelligence are more advanced, such as the vocalization of abstract thought through words or the expression of words in writing. Animals (and even other humans) who operate differently are prejudged as inferior without due consideration of the diversity of means of expressing linguistic intelligence."
The above writing style does not convey that message that Parry seeks to convey. It does not speak to the whole self. Likewise, the layout of the book is at odds with Parry's message. Although a few Native American allegories are included, the book design does not distinguish them in any significant way from the dense text – nor does it have a user-friendly layout with inset text boxes containing inspirational quotes, graphics, larger type etc. or even more space on the page to create breathing room for reflection. The book design and style are at odds with the message. Granted, the style and layout help differentiate the book from saccharine new age books with similar but less substantial messages, but surely there is a middle ground between the "hippie dippie" and the scholarly.
For readers expecting the book to be a meeting ground between quantum physics and Native American thought (as if all such tribal viewpoints can be meshed together under one heading), it fails to meet such expectations, since it barely presents quantum physics and its relation to human consciousness at all (I address the subject much more thoroughly in a chapter on fate and free will in my book, THE ASTROLOGY OF SELF-DISCOVERY, and I am no quantum physicist!). It also lacks what I would view as an essential bridge between our current situation and awakening of "original" views –a discussion of how we can more deeply hold the beliefs and attitudes that Parry presents while living in THIS world – relating to ordinary people and working in our present economic system.
But ORIGINAL THINKING has many strengths. Its message is essential for healing our psyches and our planet. It does effectively elucidate a number of indigenous viewpoints in a manner that is not "flaky" and can significantly influence the consciousness of readers. It also includes a variety of inspirational quotes from thinkers of various traditions such as Krishnamurti and Gregory Bateson.
Near the end of the book, Parry summarizes the new assumptions he believes we need to adopt in regard to humanity (e.g. "Each human being is unique but not of wholly separate consciousness"), nature (e.g. "All of nature is interdependent....Nature is an undivided whole"), and education (e.g. "History is still reverberating in the present; no event is completely over.").
In one of the last chapters, "A New and Ancient Vision," Parry even becomes eloquent: "In order to recover from the pollution that we have inflicted upon ourselves and the Earth, we need to first examine the pollution within our own minds...the roots of our thinking, the misplaced assumptions and beliefs.........Until we really feel deep inside us that we are the death, we are the water, we are the air and fire, we may never care enough to change our behavior toward the planet, which is really ourselves."