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Paul Levy on Wetiko

27th Mar 2023 gpt-4

Discovering Wetiko

In my quest to understand the complexities of our world and the challenges we face as a global society, I recently came across Wetiko, a powerful concept explored in Paul Levy’s book, "Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus That Plagues Our World". As someone who embraces the fields of complexity science, transformative coaching, and meditation, as well as being deeply committed to the flourishing of life on Earth, I found Wetiko to be a fascinating lens through which to view our current situation.

Wetiko is derived from the Algonquin word "witiko", which refers to a cannibalistic, soul-consuming spirit in Indigenous mythology. Levy expands on this idea, identifying Wetiko as a psychospiritual virus that infects the collective human psyche, driving us towards self-destruction and the devastation of our planet. Wetiko compels us to act in ways that are at odds with our deepest instincts and values, pushing us to compete, dominate, and exploit one another – and the Earth – in our insatiable quest for power and material gain.

The Nature of Wetiko

As a mind-virus, Wetiko operates much like a computer virus, influencing our thoughts, beliefs, and actions from within. It infiltrates our individual and collective consciousness, warping our perception of reality and leading us to create the very conditions in which it can thrive. This self-perpetuating loop has cascading effects on our institutions, relationships, and environment, touching every aspect of our lives.

In his book, Levy draws on insights from quantum field theory to illustrate how Wetiko operates at both the individual and collective levels. Just as particles and fields influence each other in a constantly changing dance, so too do our thoughts, perceptions, and actions create the world we inhabit. Wetiko takes advantage of this interplay, infecting our individual and collective psyche and shaping the very systems and structures that govern our lives.

Confronting the Illusion of Separation

At the heart of Wetiko lies the illusion of separation – the belief that we are separate, autonomous individuals disconnected from each other and from the natural world. This belief fuels competition, exploitation, and a relentless pursuit of power that only serves to reinforce the illusion itself, as well as the destructive behaviors it engenders.

In order to heal from Wetiko and break the cycle of self-destructive behavior, we must confront this illusion of separation head-on. This involves recognizing the ways in which we are interconnected with our fellow human beings and with the Earth, and valuing relationships, cooperation, and collaboration over individualism, competition, and material gain. As we embrace this understanding of connectedness and interdependence, we can begin to dismantle the structures and systems that support Wetiko and create a world in which all life can thrive.

Awakening to Our True Nature

Wetiko thrives on our ignorance of our true nature, and it is through awakening to this truth that we can begin to heal. Levy uses the metaphor of lucid dreaming to illustrate the process of waking up within the dream of Wetiko. When we become lucid in a dream, we realize we are dreaming, and this awareness transforms our relationship to the dream itself, allowing us to navigate it more skillfully and with greater freedom. In the same way, when we awaken to our true nature as interconnected beings, we can see through the illusion of Wetiko and begin to transform the world around us.

Creating a New Story

Healing from Wetiko involves not only recognizing the virus and confronting the illusion of separation but also creating a new story to replace the old, dysfunctional narrative. This new story must be grounded in an understanding of our interconnectedness and the intrinsic value of all life. It must embrace a vision of a world that values collaboration, empathy, and sustainability over competition, dominance, and short-term gain.

The process of healing from Wetiko, while challenging and multifaceted, offers us a profound opportunity to envision and create a world that aligns with our deepest values and highest aspirations. By cultivating awareness, embracing interconnectedness, and crafting a new story, we can begin the journey toward healing our collective illness and fostering the flourishing of all life on Earth.

In conclusion, Wetiko is a powerful concept that sheds light on the root cause of many of the problems we face as a global society. By recognizing the presence of Wetiko in our individual and collective psyche, confronting the illusion of separation, awakening to our true nature, and crafting a new story grounded in interconnectedness, we can begin the process of healing our world and nurturing the flourishing of life on Earth.