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The World's Hidden Harmony

An interview with Philip Shepherd by Tim McKee

How recognizing and cultivating a whole-body intelligence can help us rediscover our place in the universe.

Tim McKee: You’ve written, “The segregation of our thinking from our being is the primary wound of our culture.” Could you elaborate?

Philip Shepherd: Our culture has many wounds, but to my way of thinking the deepest source of them is our belief that our thinking happens in the head, and that it can happen more clearly if we stifle all the noise that goes on below the neck. As a culture we reinforce that message so systematically that it eventually feels right to us. When I say ‘systematically’, imagine what is happening to the intelligence of a child as it’s made to sit in a chair at a desk seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months of the year for twelve years. That suppression of the body’s energy is a suppression of its intelligence. There are no two ways about it. The child is explicitly instructed: “fill your head with these ideas and pay attention to the head of the class and you will get ahead.” We learn, not exclusively from the education system—it’s modeled all around us by the adults we grow up with—to dissociate from the intelligence of the body. We learn that lesson before we are old enough to question it. We come to believe that we can think more clearly using the segregated portion of our intelligence in the head than we can with the whole of our being.

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