A sunflower moves with the sun.
“Moves”? Language has built-in assumptions. Words for movement reflect action. Somebody moves (active agency), or is moved (the result of somebody else’s action). In each case, there’s the implication that, for movement to happen, somebody must be actively involved.
Does the sunflower have a mind of its own, or a will to turn?
In Greek mythology, Apollo coursed his chariot across the sky every day, pulling the sun from east to west. The seas were controlled by Poseidon. Zeus, of course, threw thunderbolts. Everything – even little rivers – were “animated" by some sort of a deity.
“Animated”: brought into movement.
“Inanimate”: not alive.
“Anima”: the soul.
Mythology says that it takes “spirit” to move and to be alive. That is, it takes a sort of person to make movement, and life, possible.
We no longer believe that it takes a charioteer to move the sun, or a nymph to make a river flow. As for sunflowers, the modern explanation of why they turn is “phototropism”:
- “Light” is just another word for movement of electrons.
- This affects plant hormones, which then expel positive ions.
- The chemical structure of the cell wall changes, weakening the side of the plant that is in the dark.
- This results in the plant physically orienting toward the sun.
No consciousness, no will. Just molecular energy, chemistry, physics.
There is no “little person” in the sunflower with the consciousness or the will to turn, and no “big person” in the sun to force the sunflower to turn.
What about us, people? Of course, we have a mind, and a will. But their "top down" powers are overrated. In the past couple of decades, a profound revolution has been happening in the neurosciences, focusing attention on “bottom up” processes.
Traditional psychology sees things in terms of “top down” processes: It takes consciousness and will (top) to make things happen at the body level (down). In contrast, contemporary findings emphasize how much consciousness and will are resulting from “bottom up” processes.
But our thinking is still profoundly influenced by the “spirit” metaphor:
If something moves, it is because there is some sort of consciousness or will making it move. We need to go beyond this old way of thinking.
In practice, how do we go beyond old ways of thinking that are profoundly anchored in the very language we use, thus perpetuating the metaphors it implies?
Logic alone is not enough to create a lasting shift in counsciousness. So the "Sunflower Mind" approach is not just about philosophical or psycho-spiritual principles. It is experiential learning, i.e. it engages your creativity and your feelings as well as your intellect.