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The Foundation for the New

By Charles Mitchley

A recent article in The International Herald Tribune made a strong point about some of the social consequences of the present economic crisis:

It was a Turkish businessman who warned of a "social crisis that we should keep in mind." For when economies collapse, bad things happen. The beast comes to poor countries first, but the potential of social upheaval awaits the rich too. Think of the 1930s and the surge of communism and fascism. Recession-related strikes and demonstrations have already bedeviled France, Russia, and Britain. The riots that spread from Greece could be a foretaste of worse things to come.

"Marxism is back," said Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash. "A young, educated person who can't get a job looks about him and says, 'It's the system's fault, not mine.' There are worries about a new wave of leftist violence in Europe, reminiscent of the Baader-Meinhof, Action Directe, and Red Brigades, which tortured Europe in the 1980s. The world is sliding downhill fast, and no one can say if the rope will hold."

If we look around us, it is clear that finding a new way to relate to the world is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Fuelled even more now by an economic crisis, this necessity has its roots in the breakdown of many aspects of our society, which have left people feeling more and more alienated and lacking a sense of meaning and purpose. The absence of meaning and purpose quickly leads to a loss of confidence. A lack of confidence, unless remedied quickly, leads to the decay and end of a society or civilisation. History has shown this throughout the ages in different parts of the world. We now witness this decay spreading, with almost every aspect of what we know as civilisation in decline, with natural resources in decline, with basic food and water in decline, and all of this impending collapse hastened and made more urgent by an imminent financial collapse.

It is a time when people are going to be thrown fully onto their own resources, as scant as these may be. And because of the scant nature of their resources, people will be forced to interact with others, to form groups, and to learn the skills necessary for relating in a meaningful and life-supportive manner.

Is it simply a question of being a pessimist or an optimist? Often these supposed choices are mostly just the two sides of the same coin. In other words, the pessimist bemoans the fact that that things are not what they were before, and also tends to feel like a victim. However, the optimist all too often has a naive belief that things will not change too much: "We'll muddle through," and "All's well that ends well!" Neither approach really embraces change. It is often hard to leave behind the familiar, especially when there are no guarantees of what is going to happen next.

It is only when they are pushed by their circumstances to such an extent that they have their backs against the wall, that most people are prepared to take their chances and go for the new, simply because it is an act of survival.

What is the foundation for the new?

The foundation as shown by Toltecs, is an acknowledgement of the interrelationship of all of life, and therefore the need to co-operate intelligently with all of the many facets of life that surround and impact upon one.

The Toltec teachings are based upon a deep and practical knowledge of relationships, and it is the re-evaluation of all the relationships within our lives, and so learning the meaning of intelligent co-operation, that will form the foundation for the new. Whether this is the relationship between members of a family, between employer and employees, between government and the people, man and the environment. With the correct understanding of the principles of relationships, and the knowledge of how to put these into practice, the new can evolve.

In learning to handle everything that is happening, an important principle is to learn how to bring everything back to the self, as opposed to being self-centered.

Self-centered is, "Aw! Why is this happening to ME!? I don't deserve this!It is all the fault of X, or Y, or Z. You must sort them out! Just let me be in peace!"

The Toltec approach of bringing things back to the self is, "I accept my own responsibility for whatever has happened. Now, never mind WHY all this happened, the question is WHAT can I learn, and HOW can I use that to my advantage and that of those around me?" In other words, "I am both the cause, as well as the solution."

The self-centered approach is disempowering and not life-supportive. The second is highly empowering to ALL, and is totally life-supportive.

The Toltec teachings show how to evaluate between action that is life-supportive versus what is not life-supportive.

At the core of the Toltec approach is learning to live in a life-supportive way. How to be a responsible human being, so that you are acting in harmony with your own inner being, and therefore co-operating fully in the unfoldment of your fate. This implies also learning to relate fully to yourself, to other people, to the world around you. Relating fully implies a lot more than just tolerating, or co-existing - it implies first and foremost that you have a deep undertanding that you have a unique role to play in life, a knowledge of what that role is, and how to fulfil it.

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