Cultures have always fascinated me because they have such incredible amounts of wisdom stored within them. That comes to no surprise since they are essentially defined by the collective experiences of the thousands of generations of people that came before us, all of whom have contributed to culture in its current state.
While some of these pieces of wisdom are the same around the world, others are completely contradictory. All cultures have, to some extent, come to different conclusions about how the world operates as the result of the different environments and the different challenges to which they have been exposed.
Culture is the one tool that differentiates human beings from animals. It gives us a unique advantage when it comes to mastering our environment, whether it is by dominating it (more traditionally the western approach), or by being in harmony with it (more traditionally the eastern approach).
The problem is that more often than not, culture also dominates the individual. It traps him or her in a cage of conditioning. Without realizing it, the individual becomes bounds to the limits of the wisdom of the culture he or she has internalized.
One of the first steps of breaking free from this cage of conditioning is the realization that the wisdom of one’s culture is a direct result of the challenges in the environment to which it has been exposed over the years. Therefore, it is only natural that all these pieces of wisdom that have been acquired over the years are equally valid and equally important.
There is an almost infinite amount of cultural wisdom out there in the world. I believe that it is extremely important for us to embrace that knowledge and to internalize as much of it as possible.
Philosophers often argue about the question whether or not there is something like “ultimate truth” out there in the world. While I don’t know whether or not something like that exists, I believe that the one way of actually achieving this ultimate wisdom is by studying all the cultures in the world. Of course, that is nothing more but an ideal. Nobody could possibly internalize all the cultural beliefs in the world, since there is an almost infinite number of them.
But if the possibility is out there, why not strive to achieve it? Why be bound by your own cultural conditioning if you have the chance to learn from all those thousands of generations that existed all over the world in all of humankind’s history? Why be stuck in the cage of your own cultural conditioning if there is all this wisdom that exists out there in the world?
Why not go on a journey of almost unlimited personal growth?