Are You Post Sheep?

 I recently responded to a blog about manipulation in film by Mihai Stoian, (http://www.mihaistoian.net/hollywood-manipulates-through-movies). He made some good points so I added my voice to the discussion, supporting identifying manipulations and being aware of them as a good and often pleasant way to avoid their influence. Mihai  replied in a very gracious manner and implied that most people need more protection than simple awareness and self analysis, without some other source to lead them, life would be too much. It seems to me that this perspective views most people as sheep that need to be told what to do. 

 The Bible contains many analogies regarding Shepard’s and their flocks that make the same implication; people aren’t smart enough to think for themselves. Well, I don’t agree, I think that most people have the ability to think for themselves. To get good at it we all need to work at it and we’ll need some education about thinking logically and not being tricked by simple forms of manipulative argument. We also need to be honest with ourselves and it’s of course wise to seek the council of respected others but I believe most of us are capable of making good decisions on our own. Sure they’ll be mistakes but that’s how we learn. Miles Davis (American Musician 1926-91) says it best: “Do not fear mistakes … there are none”.   

 Perhaps in the past, for society to survive we did need to do a Shepard / flock thing. We may have done ourselves in if we hadn’t. However now it seems the leadership caste (& I’m not talking about the Obama administration) has become the child that needs leading and we need to think for ourselves at a more complete level than ever before.

 Every generation has its challenges and perhaps one of ours is to assert ourselves as thinking, aware individuals. Whether it’s a political party, a gang of skinhead punk’s with white laces on their boot’s or a revered leader, do you need to follow a doctrine, group or charismatic individual ….. or are you post sheep?

11 Responses to “Are You Post Sheep?”

  1. I think the sheep mentality is born mostly of an individual’s inability to simply believe in themselves and feel safe enough to risk banishment (figuratively-speaking) from the group at large — an innate survival instinct. Humans have developed, over great expanses of time, a community mentality as a defense mechanism to protect the whole, albeit at risk of sacrificing the individual. Sure, in modern times, we don’t really need that conformist mentality anymore. In fact, a case could be made — and probably already has by people smarter than me — that the very mechanism that saved the villagers in days of yore (ha!) might even have a negative affect, a clear detriment, on the modern world, limiting our views and development as persons as well as nations. Our sheepish ways have literally traded group protection for expanded ideals and deep thought leaving us stuck in barbaric reactionary war on both a global and personal scale — from Afghanistan to our own local communities, down to the smallest group. Maybe that’s precisely why such outspoken individuals are persecuted in their own time yet revered in history — hindsight being 20/20.

    • Banishment was a virtual death sentence in the days of ‘yore’ (lol) you speak of and sheepishness without doubt was reinforced massively because of this ‘baaaa or die’ dynamic. In terms of our social evolution we need to shake this off and use our own deductive and observational abilities to make decisions based on clear thinking rather than following the local herd head. Sure it’s easier said than done but we’re talking matters of degree here not absolutes but it is hard work. Habit patterns can be changed, this is not a cemented bio-chemical reality. We have the ability and opportunity and it really is a situation where we need to be less sheepish and have higher societal standards or the Shepherds with ill intent will continue to cause negative consequences.

  2. In other words… it’s not my fault!

  3. I am post sheep! yay for this blog, Dr. Slack!

  4. Of course not Kirsten! (lol) Are you happy with the level of conformity vs. individuality you have going in your life right now? That is the question!

  5. Hi Ed,
    Great continuation of the debate. Here are some points i realized whilst reading your post.
    I couldn’t agree more that we need is to quit being a sheep in the flock and we have to choose this ourselves as nobody will do it for us. In the same time there is the common mistake today to fight for the right to leave the flock… but without realizing that in absence of a real transformation, a sheep out of the flock is none the less still a sheep! I agree with you, Ed, that people today need to shake off the sheep mentality and stand up but this is not taking away their need for being trained in order to achieve real transformation. You also say that we can do it ourselves and we will need to pay attention to it and even train for it … and that will require a trainer. There is also a common mistake (as a result of a vast manipulative campaign in the domain of personal development and spirituality) today to deny any need for training and trainers out of fear of being influenced by an ill intended Shepherd. In reality, the difference between a trainer and an ill intended Shepherd is that the trainer is making people become like him while the ill intended Shepherd will always make sure that the sheep remain sheep. Telling people that they don’t need a trainer because they can do it themselves just for the fear of not submitting to the authority of the trainer is not a solution, for many will indeed not be strong enough to complete the training alone, at least in the initial phases. This is also the reason why any genuine spiritual system has the notion of INITIATION as the process of initiating the transformation process and ensuring that the aspirant is fulfilling the first stages before he can continue more independently.
    Moreover, the transformation is always individual, so, indeed it cannot be done by following some charismatic Shepherd who will keep one in the illusion of being on the path while in reality doing almost nothing for his/her training. Transformation will appear by practically following the indications of an honest teacher/trainer who is providing the proper METHODS which will practically make the student become like the teacher. This is the difference today between the genuine systems that help sheep to wake up and systems that give sheep the impression they are on the path of transformation yet being only imprisoned into a mental box waiting for shearing.
    However ,i want also to point out that even the fight against any possible outer influence and the attempt to be independent BY EXCLUSIVELY FOCUSING UPON THE OUTSIDE WORLD is another very skillfully designed mental box that is holding an entire new generation imprisoned inside the illusion of easily obtained independence. In reality, i see that in most cases this is just ending in weakness and anarchy since freedom is not the problem. Wisdom teaches us that we are as independent as our real level of consciousness allows us to be. In absence of a higher perspective, having a low level of consciousness (and this is not decided by our formal decisions but by the real level of spiritual evolution we have reached), trying to be completely independent will only make us easy prey to the ones who are manipulating. They will sell us the “you can do it alone” slogan and we will swallow it just like sheep since this motto is deeply embedded inside our ego’s “job-description”. My point is that we can stand alone as we get closer to perfection. The Perfect ONE is in fact standing ALONE (ALL-ONE). But in the beginning of this journey from “here” to “there” we have to accept some help and this will give us the tools – if it is a genuine help and not a manipulative one – to transform and gradually become free.
    Freedom is something we gain from spiritual evolution and not something we declare on a piece of paper! 😉 The real concern we should have is not to be free from any influence but to transform and raise our level of consciousness because the natural and unstoppable result of transformation is FREEDOM (that also means that we can stand “alone”). And this is a universal LAW that no human law can break.
    The more people become aware that “the emperor has no clothes” the more they start to search for a solution: some will try to forget or to ignore this discovery, while others will start to realize the consequences of this simple truth. The later will realize the necessity to evolve as the only way to fully comprehend the connections of this fundamental discovery.
    This is where comes in the whole discussion mentioned above. The point will become more clear when examined in connection with what i presented in my blog in an article about the supramental.
    (I will also include our dialog in an a small article on my blog)

    • Hi Mihai,

      I am happy you reposted and very much enjoy our discussion on this topic. I’ll start with the rather general observation that our perspectives are largely similar, but do have some ‘weighting’ differences. I am a bit more supporting individualism in the process of personal / spiritual transformation and you seem to support a view that includes more guidance. Other than that I agree with most of your points of view. I feel a few of my perspectives may have been put in a less than accurate light, so I will try to correct that in the following.

      As a person becomes more fully aware of conformity or sheep mindedness in themselves they may wish to move past those confines and continue their growth. Indeed, they may still be largely sheep minded but the decision to choose personal growth over conforming to group standards is a pretty big transformation in itself ….. particularly if the new independence is continued with & there’s no ‘sheep mind’ relapse. But what next?

      I see options both in moving on individually and finding guidance. Heaven knows I’m not against coaching / training …. it’s been my profession for over 25 years, but in that time I’ve also found that there can be significant benefits from walking down life’s path without guidance. Learning to really listen would not be the least of them.

      Many folks can do a lot for themselves without a trainer and indeed unneeded help can end up being a hindrance. With equal validity others may receive great benefit from training until their transformation requires they go it alone and this may be far into the future. I’m not saying that people should just drop their sheep mentality and everything’s great, I say be aware of it! Change it as you see fit! Feel the need for a trainer? Find a good one. Feel it’s best for you to go it alone? Go it alone and listen well. Walk without pride or arrogance but listen with humility and do not be afraid of the influence of new ideas, take them seriously and bring them on or disguard them as you see fit …. through the eyes of Love, not fear.

      There are many excellent trainers and there are many who are awful and who will teach those who follow them a great deal about who to trust and who not to trust and little else. Ill intended trainers do try to make people in there own image or to keep them as sheep. With a little training most are easy to see. As you wisely observe the true trainer supports the spiritual development of those who come to him / her, recognizing the need to raise their aspirant’s consciousness to the level where they are free and can stand alone.

      Spiritual systems often employ initiation rituals to access the ability level of an aspirant to fulfill the first stages of their ongoing tasks that are designed to encourage their growth. However gangs and other negative social groups use initiation rituals to emotionally and symbolically enhance their aspirants connection to the group and their willingness to comply with its wish’s …. more sheep headedness!

      Many a manipulator will try to put the bite on us by arguing that by focusing only on the outside world we can easily obtain independence (and happiness). Nothing could be further from the truth! We’re spiritual beings having a human experience, unless we’re settled in our spirituality I have a hard time imagining anyone being settled or happy. Further, true independence is not easily obtained (nor anything else of real worth for that matter). Getting something quickly and easily is rarely the case, but the promise of it is the sweet song of many who would deceive and manipulate us.

      Consciously pursuing complete independence as a means to an end (freedom) is certainly a gross oversimplification of what is needed for real growth (and implies unresolved issues in some ‘self – other’ continuum). How independently we currently need to walk life’s path is a matter for each of us to decide. ‘Off the rack’ shortcuts to growth and transformation don’t work. There’s a lot to do after we recognize the emperor has no clothes. The answer as to how we should best proceed is a matter for each of us to decide …. it may be with a trainer, system or social group or it may be a more independent path, whichever, just keep at it!

  6. […] on his blog about my article and the reply i gave to him. The following is Dr Ed’s article Post Sheep: I recently responded to a blog about manipulation in film by Mihai Stoian, […]

  7. I also posted my previous comment on Mihai’s blog.

  8. […] Then to my great surprise i discovered he had written on his blog about my article and the reply i gave to him. The following is Dr Ed’s article Post Sheep: […]

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