Freedom comes from seeing ‘what is’, not what we believe something to be.

In recognising a sacred cow – for the conditioned illusion it is – we are free.

Of course, in freedom, we can still retain a belief, but our relationship with it has evolved.

Or, in freedom, we can abandon the idea altogether.

Yes, ultimately, it’s the act of recognising and understanding the nature of a sacred cow – that sets us free.

So, just what do I mean by a Sacred Cow?

To be very clear: this essay refers to the symbolic sacred cow: the figure-of-speech in western society for something considered immune from question or criticism.

It describes an idea that we accept – or believe without question – to be good, necessary or the truth. Such beliefs, opinions, judgments and illusions of knowledge form our undisputed reality.

For example, society’s norms go unquestioned and blindly followed. In fact, we are so strongly conditioned by cultural customs, they become like the air we breathe – invisible.

Unobserved, a sacred cow perpetuates in our mind and is passed on. Free from scrutiny, the soundness of the norm remains unchallenged.

Of course, it’s wise to pay due respect to societal norms. Yet, it’s liberating to be aware that society’s cultural norms are made up by people like you and me and that they don’t represent ‘the truth’.

It is also liberating to discover that a specific habit or norm may no longer serve you, or the common good – if ever it did.

In recognising a sacred cow, we break its hold on us.

Sometimes these blindly accepted and unchallenged norms – handed down over generations, if not millennia – have been created out of love, understanding, wisdom and common sense – from within the Realm of Possibility.

A societal norm created from the Realm of Possibility might be as simple as giving up your seat to a pregnant woman on public transport. Ultimately, that’s an act for the common good.

Or a societal norm can be critical to the survival of the group. ‘Skin-group’ pairings ensure that indigenous marital partnerships result in genetic variety. This helps maintain the health and well-being of succeeding generations.

At other times, norms come from less conscious minds. The genital mutilation of young women – imposed, at best, out of ignorance, or intentionally for control – is an extreme and cruel example of a ‘sacred cow’ impacting tens of millions of women in dozens of countries. One weeps within at the thought.

For many, there being a God, or no God, can be a sacred cow. Our degree of conviction indicates the temperature likely to be reached under the believer’s collar if that belief is challenged.

Some countries drive on the right-hand side of the road, others on the left. Not too long ago, those left, and right sacred cows prevented the world from agreeing on which one.

Back then, it was economically feasible to select one side. Had the potential costs been foreseen in manufacturing left and right-hand drive cars; the inconvenience to world travellers; the toll of accidents caused by driving on the ‘wrong side’; we would all be driving on the same side today.

Does a current-day sacred cow disagreement spring to your mind? I’m thinking of one with global ramifications – of mega-magnitude to all life forms.

Another, by comparison, an innocuous sacred cow, is the fixed position the US holds on continuing to use imperial measurements rather than the almost universally used metric system. The US, with two other countries, Liberia and Myanmar, remain adherents to the past. Is this stance their right?  Of course, it is! Is it in service to science, industry and the common good? What do you think?

Such examples seem endless and can be dispiriting to reflect on.

And, let me add, we seem to recognise the sacred cows in other people’s thinking quickly, but the real value lies in seeing them in ourselves.

Will the single solution to war, starvation, homelessness and all that ails humanity remain hidden within the realm of sacred cows?

There are some crucial noble aspirations many people share. World peace, food and shelter for all. All achievable with the global resources and capabilities available.

But currently, with the prevailing sacred cows that dominate our thinking and discourse, those imperatives waste away in the realm of impossibility.

And by ‘our thinking’, I mean all of us: you, me and all of humanity.

Unseen by us, in perpetuating our impossibility thinking, we obstruct our liberation and the transformation and renewal of the world, which we individually can bring forth.

Inadvertently, we – you and I – innocently remain a vital cog in keeping in place the divisions and conflicts that tear humanity asunder.

In waking up, and seeing Possibility, we automatically transform our world and as a result, the world.

Anarchy, as we see in the news, is not the alternative. It merely compounds the problem.

And I’m not suggesting that all societal norms are bad, wrong or unhelpful.

I’m putting to you that blindly, unquestioningly, following cultural norms is, by definition, living in a state of impossibility.

Each societal norm seen as ‘the truth’ of how things are – or should be – are self-imposed blocks to seeing Possibility.

Only by seeing Possibility can we, in thought word and deed, be in service to the common good.

Our way forward

In seeing our sacred cows as manacles – that can be unshackled – new options and opportunities appear.

Even better, as we remain open to the yet-to-be-seen – delving deeper into Possibility – our revelations continue.

And remember, freedom can mean choosing to consciously hold onto our sacred cows – but now feather-lightly – if we see them as a vehicle to serving the common good.

Possibility beckons us. Yet we only hear it’s call if we listen with a quietened mind and a softened heart – free of all our sacred cows.

In that calmative state, we see that our reality is of our own making. It’s then we understand the transformative state of mind, available to all humanity.

So, what are your ‘sacred cows’? Do they serve you well? Are they in service to the common good?

Warmly … John

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