Changing Your Culture

September 21st, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

If you were to design your own human culture, what would you include? What would you leave out?

Here are some basic design questions to consider, based on the three core principles of personal growth.

Truth

How would your culture relate to truth? Would you create a very honest, truth-based culture? Would your culture encourage the discovery and sharing of new truths? To what extent would people own, hide, or manipulate the truth?

Would you create a culture based on shared stories and/or mythology, even if the stories are made up?

Would you favor politeness over honesty in communication?

Note that there are trade-offs for each path you might take. If you favor a discovery-based culture, then you’ll need a very flexible culture and flexible rituals since your understanding of reality will keep changing as you make new discoveries. That could potentially make your culture more fragile and less cohesive. If, on the other hand, you create a culture based on shared stories that seldom change, you might experience stronger group cohesion and greater stability through a shared identity, but your stories may begin to seem increasingly ludicrous as your culture matures and gains new knowledge.

Love

Which desires will your culture praise? Which will it demonize?

How will the people within your culture connect with each other? Will people be in monogamous relationships only? Will homosexuality be allowed? What about open relationships? Is sexual promiscuity okay? How will children be raised?

Will your culture allow drinking, gambling, drugs, junk food, non-consensual sex, torture, firearms, suicide, etc? Will you have a rule of law, and if so, what will your critical laws be, and how will they be enforced?

What restrictions, if any, will you place upon people’s freedom to do what they might desire to do?

How will your culture relate to other cultures? Will it try to peacefully coexist? To dominate other cultures? To assimilate other cultures?

Power

What relationship will your culture have with power?

Will your culture empower people as individuals to achieve their potential? What if an individual’s goals conflict with another individual’s goals… or with the general direction of your society? Is it more important to have empowered individuals or to build a powerful society?

What if another culture seeks to dominate or to eradicate your culture? How will your culture respond? Will you defend yourselves? Will you be passive and hope for the best? Will you ever take preemptive action against a likely aggressor? What kinds of weapons will you use, and how will you develop them?

Will you seek to elevate other cultures? To bring them down? To establish peaceful relations with them?

There are numerous possible answers to these questions, including the answers that earth’s cultures have already provided. Each answer has consequences, helping to determine how quickly a culture will evolve, how long it may survive, and how happy and healthy its members will be.

Understanding Your Culture

Why think about how you’d design your own culture? If you can get a clearer sense of the design decisions you’re inclined to make, you can compare your design decisions to the culture you now experience. This will give you a sense of where your culture may be out of alignment with your values.

You have the ability to define your relationship to the dominant pre-existing culture(s) in your life. Which parts will you accept? Which parts will you reject or modify? And why?

I really like some aspects of my surrounding culture. I like the sense of freedom that exists in Las Vegas, which is a very non-judgmental place to live. Some aspects of my lifestyle would attract punishment in other parts of the world, but in this city I have the freedom, and perhaps even the encouragement, to be myself and to continue exploring without substantial interference.

I also like the general sense of self-improvement that exists where I live. There’s a strong belief that through hard work and determination, we can change for the better.

Other aspects of my culture feel less aligned to me. I don’t feel inspired by many things that are popular within my culture, like working at a corporate job, going to church, following sports, obsessing over celebrities, or eating animal products.

The more I travel and the more I interact with people from other cultures, the more I see just how stressed out many Americans are. There is a lot of freedom here but also much tension with so many people having beliefs like “I’m not good enough,” “I need more,” and “I have to work harder.” People here put a lot of effort into things that don’t make them happy, and then they escape into addictions like watching tons of TV.

We have abundance but not enough appreciation. There’s an addictive quality to this more-More-MORE obsession. People here don’t realize that if they can’t appreciate a sip, they won’t appreciate a gulp either.

Influencing Your Culture

When you become an oddball within your culture, you can keep quiet and slink into the background, or you can speak up and share your observations and lessons. When you do the latter, you gain the ability to influence your culture to become more aligned with your path. Obviously not everyone will follow your lead, but some will find your ideas worthy of exploration and experimentation, and they’ll want to hear more and collaborate.

Surely there will be others within your culture who’ve gone down similar paths, and they’ll begin to influence cultural shifts as well as they speak up more and more. As these people begin to find each other and connect more deeply and more often, they may even contribute to a movement to help shift the larger culture. This can take many years to play out, but it’s exciting to behold.

If you feel that you’re all alone in your oddballness, that probably isn’t accurate. There are probably lots of others like you out there, but you haven’t found them yet. That’s likely because you’re invisible to them. If you’d like to connect with other like-minded oddballs, that becomes much more likely if you broadcast your desires and let the world know how you really think and feel. Sure, you’ll get some judgment for doing that, but so what? Own it anyway. Stand tall in being yourself. This will eventually attract the attention of others who think as you do.

The alternative is to hide. If you have to hide for safety reasons, that may be your best bet for now, but if there’s no physical danger in speaking your mind, then do so. You’ll be glad you did. In fact, you’ll wonder why you kept quiet for so long unnecessarily.

If your ideal culture seems far removed from your current culture, you could leave to find a culture that’s a closer match for you if you think one exists. Or you could stay put and strive to become a changemaker within your own culture, such as by gathering like-minded people together.

Question what your culture expects from you, and be willing to more powerfully inject your own values back into your culture, especially when you think your culture’s values are destructively misaligned.

Here’s a very simple example. I recently read that most people buy food for friends and family that’s less healthy than what they buy for themselves, especially during holidays. Most people also report that they feel obligated to eat unhealthy food when it’s offered to them by others. And yet, most people would prefer to be offered healthier options by their friends and family. So why are we encouraging each other to eat unhealthy food, and saying yes to it when offered, even though most of us would prefer not to do this? Staying quiet only goes against the outcome that most people would prefer to see.

By staying quiet in such situations, you put your social conditioning, politeness, and brainwashing ahead of your health and the health of your friends and family. Instead of blindly agreeing to follow cultural norms that have long-term negative consequences for everyone, you could always buy food for your friends and family that’s at least as healthy as what you buy for yourself, to decline unhealthy options offered by others, to encourage people to offer healthier options in the future and praise them when they do, and to publicly broadcast to your social networks that you prefer to offer and to be offered healthy options whenever food is provided.

By speaking up instead of hiding your preferences, you can help create ripples of positive change.

If you don’t fit in with your surrounding culture, perhaps the reason is that you’re there to help improve the culture. If you see some aspect of your culture that seems misguided to you, call it out as such, and suggest an alternative. You’ll often be surprised to discover that while you were keeping quiet, so were many other people in your life, and when you speak up, they feel free to elevate their standards as well.


Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Grow Your Business - Learn heart-centered marketing methods for free
Effortless Success Mindfest - Free online event with Jack Canfield
Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Getting Rich with Ebooks - Earn passive income from ebooks
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
PhotoReading - Read books 3 times faster
Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

If you've found Steve's work helpful, please donate to show your support.

Get Steve's Free Newsletter to stay in touch and receive the newest updates

Dominated by Jesus

September 19th, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

Rachelle and I watched an interesting documentary this week called Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. I also met the makers of this documentary when they were in Vegas a couple weeks ago, and we had a delightful conversation about a variety of subjects, including the film.

Caesar’s Messiah explores the character of Jesus and whether he actually existed as a real person or if he was an invented literary figure. Instead of drowning in Church dogma, the goal of this documentary was to search for facts and genuine historical evidence of who Jesus really was.

I found the documentary quite fascinating. It presented a strong case that Jesus was an invented literary figure and that no such person actually existed. I’ve heard that theory before, and I already knew that Jesus was likely a composite character largely derived from similar characters. But what I liked about this documentary is that they also identified Jesus’ inventors as well as the reasons for inventing Jesus and Christianity.

Who Invented Jesus?

According to Caesar’s Messiah, the character of Jesus was invented by the Flavian dynasty for the purposes of pacifying and controlling the ornery Jews of that time, who wouldn’t worship the Roman Emperor and who were frequently engaging in military conflicts with the Romans. The Romans dealt with this problem by gaining control over the Jewish teachings, essentially replacing them with pro-Roman teachings (i.e. Christianity), which urged the Jews to stop fighting and to behave more submissively towards the Romans.

As Caesar’s Messiah explains, Christianity was invented by the Flavian dynasty as an attempt to solve a serious military and political problem they were having with the Jews during that time. Since they couldn’t convert the Jews to worship the Roman Emperor directly, and since the Jews were frequently getting into conflicts with the Romans due to ideological differences, the Romans basically forced the Jewish belief system to pivot in a more pro-Roman direction.

If you’ve read the Bible as I have, it should be fairly obvious that Jesus was a very pro-Roman character. He went around telling the Jews to pay their taxes (“Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”) and to behave submissively towards their enemies. Jesus taught the Jews to put down their swords and be pacifists, so the Romans could more easily dominate them. This was by design. It’s exactly how the Romans wanted the Jews to behave.

Of course the Jews weren’t stupid. They weren’t likely to swallow this nonsense wholesale from the Romans. So the Romans forced it upon them. The Romans gathered up conflicting Jewish texts and destroyed them, replacing them with pro-Roman Christian texts. The Romans also made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The Romans may have known that the Jews would resist swallowing this new religion, but all they needed for it to succeed in the long run was to provide a sufficient marketing effort combined with coercive force to get this religion passed on to the next generation, so it would become self-perpetuating and subdue the Jews for generations to come. The Romans were already in power, and this was a great way to strengthen their already dominant position.

I knew that the Romans were outstanding conquerors, but this really impressed me. Yes, it’s extremely devious, but it also proved incredibly effective. Why engage in destructive wars when you could dominate and integrate a group by reshaping their belief system?

Who Is Jesus?

It’s already well established that Christianity’s beliefs, symbols, rituals, and teachings are largely borrowed and derived from other sources, including paganism, Judaism, and Roman teachings. The theory that Jesus is a fictional composite character isn’t new either. But I really loved how deeply this documentary dove into the facts of the situation and provided answers to why this character was created, how he was created, and by whom.

So who is Jesus then?

Jesus is a made-up figure — yes — but he’s actually a representation of the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius. Caesar’s Messiah explains in detail that the stories from Jesus’ life are modified versions of parallel events from Titus’ life, occurring in the exact same time sequence. They list 40 such parallels in the documentary. If you have time to watch it, I think you’ll find this part especially eye-opening. It’s rather amusing too when you realize that people have been worshipping Titus Flavius in disguise for so many centuries.

Caesar’s Messiah also points out that the second coming of Jesus already happened. That prediction was by design as well.

When the Flavians wrote up the stories about Jesus, they set his existence to be decades earlier during the previous Roman dynasty. Then they included prophecies about what that character would do when he returned. Of course it’s easy to prophesize about the future accurately when that supposed future is actually in your past. The prophecies were written to match up with previous military campaigns of Titus Flavius, including his successful siege of Jerusalem. So predictions about the second coming of Jesus were written such that Titus Flavius would be clearly identified as the second coming of Jesus, just a few decades later.

Additionally, it was a common practice at the time to deify Roman emperors. The Romans officially declared that Titus’ father was a god, which made Titus the Son of God.

Teaching Submission

So the Jesus character — and Christianity itself — became an effective pro-Roman propaganda vehicle, designed to pacify the Jews and make them easier to dominate.

This approach proved so effective that it survives to this day in much the same guise. People still read about the character of Jesus, not realizing they’re actually reading Roman propaganda intended to get them to worship Titus Flavius in disguise.

Is the Bible the inspired word of God? Well, yes… if you believe that a Roman emperor is akin to a god. The Christian God is actually the Emperor of Rome, by design. God the Father is a Roman Emperor. So is God the Son.

I’ll bet that Titus would be pretty impressed to discover how well his family’s pacification efforts worked. I also imagine he’d be pretty proud to know that he’s still being worshipped as the Son of God today. That is some marvelously effective propaganda. It makes you wonder what of today’s propaganda may still be around centuries from now, with people believing it as true.

How did it work so well?

In the beginning force and coercion were used to get people to practice the religion and to pass it on to their children until it became self-replicating. I think a really effective part of this ideavirus was to include propagation aspects as part of the belief system, such as encouraging people to convert others and building a priesthood (controlled by Rome) into the religion. This is much like how a modern computer worm operates, whereby one computer infects another. You could say that the Romans basically used Christianity to build a botnet across people’s brains, one that was controlled by Rome. This botnet still survives and thrives today.

When people would start growing too ornery, the controllers could clamp down and alter the religion and its associated propaganda as needed to make it more dangerous to dissent. Some religions use this kind of violence today. It seems a little silly to me that Christians object to seeing other religions use violent coercion to keep their members in line when Christianity has a long history of doing this as well. Christianity doesn’t necessarily need to be as violent today since it’s done a pretty good job of allying itself with media, government, and business, so it has effective alliances with powerful partners. But violent coercion remains an option to keep people in line.

Religion still remains a very effective tool for convincing people to behave submissively, which makes it easier to dominate and govern them. A belief system that teaches people to be passive, submissive, docile, and generous is also helpful in creating a large pool of slave-like workers.

Thinking for Yourself

If these ideas interest you, I think you’ll find Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus to be an eye-opening and thought-provoking film. It will get you thinking more deeply about how social conditioning may have sculpted your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors. And it will encourage you to question your overall philosophy of life.

I happen to like some aspects of Christian teachings, but as it turns out, those aspects are just restatements of common wisdom from the Romans. As for the parts that tell me I should be submissive and obedient and worship the Emperor as my god, I’ll pass.

I feel very lucky to live in a time and place where I have some freedom to think for myself and to decline religion as a part of my life, without the immediate threat of lashings or crucifixion. Usually the worst I must deal with is the occasional email from a member of some religious botnet trying to convert me. Christianity and Islam are the main ones that target me. To such botnets I’m an especially juicy target since I could potentially help to infect many more brains. It’s a little creepy knowing that these botnets are targeting me, but when they do so, they also risk picking up the ideavirus of living consciously and thinking for themselves.

Give some thought to what you’ve been taught by others that may now be woven into your current philosophy of life. Where did those ideas and beliefs come from anyway? Is it possible that you’ve been living by a moral code that was actually rooted in ancient propaganda? Is this how you want to live?

I’ll be the first to admit that walking away from the herd can be a bit scary at first. There’s the tendency to feel like you’re stepping into a void and that you’ll be all alone if you go that route. Of course that’s what the old conditioning teaches you to believe. Any effective system of keeping people in line trains you to fear and avoid what may happen if you abandon that system.

But the reality is that once you leave, you’ll soon meet plenty of other people who’ve moved on from such submissiveness and powerlessness.

Conscious Submission

This may surprise you, but I actually think that being submissive is a wonderful thing — if you do it consciously and deliberately. There are wonderful growth lessons to be learned from exploring such a path, which can also be labeled the path of devotion. So if you feel like being submissive for a while, embrace that path and do it to the best of your ability. If you’re going to subscribe to a religion, then don’t do a half-assed job of it. Really go for it and be one of its best adherents. If you’re going to get a corporate job, then be the best employee you can. Be loyal and obedient, complete your tasks, and please your superiors.

If you’re going to join a botnet, such as in the form of a modern religion or corporation, then be the best bot you can be. Know that you’re a slave, and be an outstanding one. Obey and worship your Emperor. Don’t succumb to denial by pretending you’re free when you clearly aren’t.

When you’re finally ready to move on from enslavement, then move on. Create your reality. Be your own Emperor. Be free.


Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Grow Your Business - Learn heart-centered marketing methods for free
Effortless Success Mindfest - Free online event with Jack Canfield
Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Getting Rich with Ebooks - Earn passive income from ebooks
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
PhotoReading - Read books 3 times faster
Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

If you've found Steve's work helpful, please donate to show your support.

Get Steve's Free Newsletter to stay in touch and receive the newest updates

Free Personal Development Insights Newsletter

Get Steve's Free Newsletter

Sign up below to receive my free email newsletter, which is sent about once a month. It includes original and insightful bonus material to help you grow. No spam. No sharing of your email address. Easily unsubscribe at any time.