The rules, they’re killing us

How the intellect is taking us away from clarity, brilliance and the perfect next step.

Image of traffic in Kathmandu
Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Gy3kRVUvx0

My mum recently got back from a holiday in Nepal. She was telling me about the experience of crossing the road in Kathmandu. Two things struck her.

The first was that the drivers decide the lane system. With no markings on the road, no lane information signs, no overhead illumination in greens and reds about which lines are open and closed. The drivers just drive in a way that makes sense based on the volume of traffic. Six lanes heading into the city in the morning, just one heading out. The opposite in the evening. It just makes sense. And they don’t need a formal system to tell them to do this. It just works. They’re connected. They’re not in their heads.

The second was that, to cross the road, you just had to step out. Again, no formal crossings, no green men, no way to make the traffic stop — except to just step out into the road and trust that the vehicles would see you. And they did. Bikes nimbly maneuvering around, cars slowing to a stop as you crossed their bit of road, then going again. Like a perfectly set up system but with no system needed. Connected. Aware. Not in their heads.

Unlike here. Road signs and traffic management systems and road mirrors and official crossing places and…

Just one of the aspects of life where we’ve become detached from our innate knowing, the deeper intelligence behind life. Slowly, slowly, drip, drip. Taken away from the clarity we naturally have in the moment. The clarity which is there the instant we’re out of our heads and connected back into our whole system.

Here in the west efficiency and logic have reigned supreme for at least a hundred years – and look where it’s taking us.

It’s turning us into zombies, blindly following what the rules say, trusting that someone else’s intellect that created the process or system will be better than anything that could occur to us in the here and now.

It might seem like a minor thing. These systems and processes might just seem like useful ways to avoid everyone having to go through the same thinking about ‘what’s the best thing to do here’.

Or so the intellect says with its desire for control and conformity and fear of, well, most things! The intellect tells us that without structure there’ll be anarchy and chaos, death and destruction.

But why should there be a deeper intelligence working at the nano level and at the solar systemic level and yet not in us? Why should there be a deeper intelligence within the brilliance of nature and yet not in us? Why would there be a deeper intelligence in the people of Kathmandu but not over here in the West?

The intellect is helpful. I’d prefer not to use multiple descriptors for a pen each time I want someone to pass me one. But every time we implement a system or process from a place of limit and fear we’re putting another nail in the coffin of humanity. We’re saying ‘you can’t think for yourself’, ‘you can’t know the right thing to do’, ‘you can’t be trusted to look after yourself’, ‘you’re not responsible’.

And with each nail, we take one step out of connection with the innate knowing that’s in all of us, and one step closer to zombie.

We shut down, close up, shift to living from that one aspect — the intellect. It might be capable of reading the signs and following the instructions, but nail by nail we forget the deeper wisdom of the mind. We act like a homogenous rule-following lump.

The source of in-the-moment intelligence that tells us to ‘slow down someone’s crossing’ or ‘make a new lane’ — lost under a pile of thought-stories, forgotten behind an imaginary barrier of fear.

Like an unwell person who becomes reliant on medication after the illness has passed. Or reliant on a crutch after their leg has healed. We’re surrounded by crutches that tell us we’re not capable, that we’re told we NEED to be OK.

We’ve been conditioned to believe the rules are a source of safety, to follow them, and to fear the consequences if not. So rather than being useful — like calling a pen a pen — they’ve become cages and prisons. In misunderstanding their role in life we’ve stopped listening to our innate wisdom, believing they’re more than the useful concept that they are.

Step, by step, by step. They stop us from knowing we can trust the intelligence of mind to bring us what we need the moment we need it. Nail, by nail, by nail.

And then we throw up our arms and say ‘are they stupid?’, ‘why can’t they think for themselves?!’, ‘why don’t they take responsibility??’.

Not seeing that we’re the ones creating the world that says ‘you can’t’. Telling ourselves the same that we tell them. Limiting our own brilliance within illusory rules of who we think we are and what we think we’re capable of.

With no knowledge or trust for our own deeper intelligence, how could we ever know it’s available for them?

You’ll see it all over the workplace: ‘you can have this much holiday a year’, ‘don’t send emails after 7pm’, ‘use this conversation plan to talk about performance and development’, ‘bring all new ideas unless they don’t conform with the boss’s’.

Nail, after nail, after nail.

And we can wake up from our zombie state. We can begin to unravel and question the false idols of efficiency and certainty. We can begin to see the illusory limitations and controls. We can begin to let life out through the cracks that appear.

We can return to our whole system, out of our heads, reconnected to the innate brilliance that brings us just what we need just when we need it.

Like a muscle not exercised for a while, test it out, spot where it’s already showing up, see where you could give it heavier weights to challenge it, see it naturally grow as your trust in it grows.

From here we can make use of any rules, systems and processes without them saying anything about who we are, our capability, our trustworthiness. They can just be useful ways to stay alive longer, or work better with others, or do something consistently. With the intellect no longer crowding the scene with its fearful noise, we can use the systems and processes and continue to hear the deeper intelligence at the same time. Perfect balance. Perfectly designed.

So from here, if we’re going to change anything, it starts within. It starts with each of us reconnecting to this for ourselves.

Come on, you’re ready. It’s time to wake up!

With love, Helen

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