Admittedly a bit unwieldy for a chapter heading ...!
But worth considering ...
This is striking: that which we think we know to be true, we have actually "borrowed" from others. We're like little sponges when we are born ... absorbing all that we're exposed to, and creating our foundation out of our interpretations. We do this without questioning what we're receiving ... just incorporating the "tribal" belief patterns around us ... from parents, siblings, teachers, culture, society.
Since the tribal patterns are in sync with the ego, our own ego doesn't question any of this ... it seems to "fit".
But the very nature of the tribal mind is negativity, fear, dysfunction ...
Now, when we are less-evolved (as a person, or in the course of our own life), the tribal mind is handy .. it extends to us safety, security and familiarity ... a collective consciousness ... the veneer of the strength of group-think. But, this becomes a too-tight fit once we begin to reach for individuality, and much more so once we get a glimpse of the Infinite Self. The tribal mind is then far too restrictive and controlling ... it will seek to hold us back.
The tribal mind says, "warning-warning! don't do that! that's not safe! what will people think?!? you're coloring outside the lines! bad! bad! bad!"
The tribe most definitely wants everyone to remain faithful to status quo. And the programming is both deep and gripping. "Put yourself and your desires/needs aside; sacrifice yourself for others; promote the tribal welfare; do what you're told. or else."
To varying degrees, most of us were taught by family/teachers to be good little robots, and to march to the drummer of obeying-the-rules. And, further, that the rules (whatever they happened to be) are carved in stone. Don't even think about questioning them, much less defying them. Or else.
The human personality desperately needs, as part of its self-image and security, to attempt to elevate itself above others. The tribe does the same. And it requires its members to conform. It doesn't want people to be different."
But you're not a true spiritual individual until you stand on your own, take charge of your life, and have your own individual destiny, beliefs, and methodology. The tribe won't like you doing that. Our systems are based on control... we are programmed to feel embarrassed or guilty if we push against the status quo.
About that "or else" ... it can come in many forms, many ways of retaliating. Ostracization, ridicule, shame, excommunication, "unfriending" on Facebook, rumors/gossip, shunning, sarcasm, etc. I'm familiar with all those forms, and then some. Sure, it hurts. But y'know what -- it's also liberating. I've come to think, "I've been spared."
I like what Alan Cohen says:
No one can bother you unless you agree with them.
Simply brilliant, no?
Here's more from Stu:
As you grow more self-confident and become spiritually mature, you'll soon reach a point where you can release most of the tribal ideas without too much apprehension and fear. Then you are free to become an individual, a true spiritual being with a spiritual destiny of your own.
To do that, you have to go beyond the discomfort of distancing yourself from the tribal beliefs, which usually also means you'll disconnect yourself from its acceptance and support. Once you are strong enough and have the confidence to stand on your own, you'll become a real individual -- you'll believe in yourself so strongly that you can be different and not worry about what others think.
A lot of those conformity issues stem from childhood, and the need of the ego to seek the approval of others. The object of conforming is to keep others happy, and to feel accepted: "if I do this and that, will you love me? if I have sex with you whenever you want me to, will you love me? if I say these nice things, will you consider me holy or spiritual?"
Conformity imposed from "above" is a matter of control. The insidious thing is that we adapt that control, we internalize it, and then we impose the conformity from *within*...! We allow our OWN fears to keep us from breaking out of status quo ... fearing that we'll be banished, or punished, or criticized, or judged.
It's like a personal Stockholm Syndrome in effect, wherein we empathize with our "captors" (in this case, status quo), and align with them ... perpetuating our own enslavement, squelching our own lives, insuring that we will live out a limited/confined version of our soul's purpose...
"We have met the enemy and it is us ...!"
It seems that it takes what it takes to wake up to this ... to break out of our own captivity ... some do so in one fell swoop, and others seem to have to come to the end of the enslavement in a gradual process ...
What to do to speed it up a bit? Perhaps consider breaking up the binding rigidity of the mind's imposition. Take RISKS...! Maybe walk around backwards ... maybe go out to eat, and start with dessert ... maybe spend the whole day talking in pig-Latin ... maybe wear intentionally mis-matched (and/or inside-out) clothing ... maybe sing at the top of your lungs - in public ... maybe strike up conversations with complete strangers ... maybe stand on a street corner, pointing up at the sky with utter fascination, to see how many others will join you ... maybe dance your way down a sidewalk ... maybe climb a tree and sit there reading a book, for hours ... the list goes on and on ... (& I'd have a blast doing ALL of that one one day!).
Just begin to challenge the authority of your ego ... and discover what's underneath it ...
Why not?!? ;)
Shalom & Namaste ~