Exploring for Universal Patterns

Scholars of the many and various cultures, – premodern, modern, and postmodern, – have increasingly been struck by their rich diversity: the beautiful, multicultural, many-hued rainbow of humanity, with multiple differences in religion, ethics, values, and beliefs. But many scholars have also been struck by some of the similarities of these cultures as well.

Certain patterns in language, cognition, and human physiology, for example are quite similar wherever they appear. Humans everywhere have the capacity to form images, symbols, and concepts, and although the contents of these concepts often vary, the capacity is universal. These universal and cross-cultural patterns tell us some very important things about the human condition, because if you have found something shared by most or even all humans, you have probably found something of profound significance.

What if we took all of these common patterns and put them together? What kind of picture would we get?

This would be very much like the Human Genome Project, – the complete mapping of the genes of human DNA, – except that this would be a type human Consciousness and Culture Project, – the mapping of all those cultural capacities that humans everywhere have access to. This would give us a rather extraordinary map of human potentials, a great map of human possibilities. And it would further help us to recognize any of those potentials that we, – that you and I, – might yet be fulfilling. It would be a map o our own higher stages of growth and a map of our own greater opportunities.

If we assume that all the world’s cultures have important but partial truths, then how would all those truths fit together in a richly woven tapestry, a unity-in-diversity, a multi-coloured and yet single rainbow?

And once that rainbow is clear, how does it apply to me? Perhaps very simply: a more accurate, comprehensive map of human potentials will directly translate into a more effective business, politics, medicine, education, and spirituality. On the other hand, if you have a partial, truncated, fragmented map of the human being, you will have a partial, truncated, fragmented approach to business, medicine, spirituality, and so on. In garbage, out garbage.

Ken Wilber
A Brief History of Everything

The Pattern That Connects


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