Healing Civilization

I have just read a life-altering book: Healing Civilization by Claudio Naranjo.

In it, Naranjo speaks of the the whole thread of civilization as we know it – the last 5000 to 6000 years or so – as being of one basic trend: Patriarchy. All of our competitiveness, striving and busyness of mind seen so universally in modern culture, taking precedence over the values of the matristic communities he asserts obtained before civilization arose. In those pre-civilized and women-led groups, the emphasis was on heart-based experience, featuring co-operation, mutual support and communication amongst its members.

While the latter sounds idyllic in the short sketch I have made of the difference, Naranjo importantly points out that what is needed now is a three-centered approach to Life and Education. In other words, our societal structures need to incorporate not just the Male Head Centre – logical, linear, technological and productive aspects, and the Female Heart Centre – emotional, wholistic, community-based and inclusive aspects, but also the Inner Child Belly Centre – wherein our instinctual, direct, pleasurable and playful capabilities reside.

All of this excites me greatly since it proves to be such a coalescence of the calling that is emerging in my own life. The increasing emphasis in my osteopathic practice toward working in a way that supports people in uncovering and supporting what can be not just healing, but truly transformative in their experience of Life. It is where music fits for me. The Presence Project and the Collective Wisdom Initiative certainly interface with these ideas. And my involvement with the Victoria Community Health Co-operative, and its Back to Basics pilot project in Central Middle School will certainly be impacted by the ideas in this book.

So in essence, Naranjo is saying that we probably have only one generation in which to turn around the basic drives and values that run how we live on this little Blue Planet. I would agree that the first and most foremost task in that turnaround is a joint commitment to shift our Education of children toward learning how to simply Be, rather than to become “productive members of society”as it presently exists.

If you think this is a good idea, or if you don’t, and/or if you have suggestions to make in service to this end, I invite you to leave a comment, below.

About Howard Dieno

I am very interested in dialectic inquiry, and in any and all avenues to enhance communication and co-operation amongst people and groups. I am in private practice as an osteopathic practitioner in Victoria, BC, Canada
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5 Responses to Healing Civilization

  1. Marcus Webb says:

    Hi H,
    Interesting concepts and good idea to get this thrashed out in a blog.
    May be it’s coincidence but the three brain (aka Triune brain) proposed by Paul MacLean in the 60’s also revolves around the fact that our modern brain is indeed composed of 3 distinct evolutionary divisions. According to MacLean, the 3-brain system is made up of reptilian complex (basal ganglia), the paleomammalian complex (limbic system), and the neomammalian complex (neocortex) viewed as structures sequentially added to the forebrain in the course of evolution. In a way Naranjo is applying functionality to this and developing it as a way forward for society as a whole. As our brains have developed, the forebrains dominant descending control has flavoured us as a species and driven our higher functions to a point where we have created a civilisation conducive to such reflective thinking.
    Do you feel this thought experiment would be practical in a civilisation where the inhabitants are still striving to develop and grow?
    Could it be that the drive and ambition so unique to our species will be its undoing but is, in fact, is inevitable consequence of having evolved a Triune brain?
    Carl Sagan wrote about this in his book The Dragons of Eden back in 1977. Even though its some time ago his discussion was very insightful and holds true today. 5ts funny, but I have recently re-read all my Sagan collection (sad as it is I have all his books!) and still find his logic appealing. Blending this with the developing field of Evolutionary (Darwinian) Medicine has, personally, made a lot of sense.
    Anyway… enough of my ramblings…

  2. howarddieno says:

    Hello Marcus,

    Thanks for your engaging comments. I am not familiar enough with Carl Sagan’s writings to have much depth of discourse there, I’m afraid. Certainly Naranjo does refer to MacLean’s work on the triune brain, yes. He also speaks in some depth about the three forms of Love: Philia, relating to the Father/Head Centre; Agape, to the Mother/Heart Centre; and Eros to the (Inner) Child/Belly Centre.

    As one can see by reading an article summarizing the gist of his “Healing Civilization” book , here: http://www.claudionaranjo.de/dm/naranjo/en_patriarchy_1.html Naranjo convincingly contends that civilization is much more familiar and at ease with the respect and esteem of Philia, than with the protective and benevolent surrender of Agape, which is sometimes more challenging, whilst the freedom and vitality of playfully giving and receiving pleasure, as in Eros, is so rarely seen without major distortion.

    Humankind is most certainly still developing, but I for one strongly feel that we presently have an opportunity to do the kind of inner personal work Naranjo is pointing toward – and that from doing so, whole structural changes in our societies and culture can evolve, IF we also shift the emphasis in education of children.

    Last night my brother and I saw the film “Harry Brown”. What happens on the council estates in London in that film well depicts the growing trend emanating from our Patriarchal Systems. I do not believe that more of that is an inevitable result of our triune capacities. I believe it IS an inevitable result of the present imbalance continuing, however. An imbalance which values the power of competition and the “Intellect” (or more like a limited distortion of it), over the other two parts of the integral triangularity of Being.

    • Marcus Webb says:

      Thanks for your comments.
      I do see where you are coming from and would not suggest reading Sagan’s book since it simply makes connections between the concept of the triune brain and some of mankind’s character traits. This, however, is where I was coming from to some extent. Its not that I want to shoot down the argument made by Naranjo, far from it, but I would be worried that the very nature of mankind would find this a convenient way of exploiting those who embraced it. Getting your head around Naranjo concepts demands a certain level of intellect and desire to work for the good of all… call me an old cynic but I feel that mankind is not that kind of animal!
      The world is sick and its not making many encouraging signs that its getting better so I do hope you and Naranjo are right!

  3. howarddieno says:

    Hi Marcus,

    I will post more in relation to this theme shortly, but for now I have this to say:

    Yes, there is more than ample evidence to support a cynical view about the very nature of humanity. But then there is also lots of evidence to support an idealistic and/or “realistic” view or stance. I am, however, more interested in committing to principles and actions that resonate with what I know in my heart to be true. Whenever I have paid attention from that place, and whenever my actions have arisen from there, I have known that Wisdom is in charge. Not my wisdom, but the real essential quality.

    So I invite you Marcus not to wait to see whether “Naranjo and I” or, conversely, that your own and other’s views “are right” – but that instead you join the movement to “be the change you want to see in the world”. You and your children and all of the rest of humanity will be glad you did – even if their actions don’t always appear to support that truth.

  4. howarddieno says:

    Reblogged this on Howard Dieno's Blog and commented:

    This book, and my response to reading it, came to mind today, and I thought it might be useful to re-post. I referred to it within a conversation with a patient about a different model for education – in primary and secondary school, especially.

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