Nov 22, 2002

On Cross Cultural Management egroup on Identity, Cultures and the Common Human Ancestor :
hi folks,

Just thought of adding this perspective:

Discovering this fact that all of humanity is descended from one
African who lived 60,000 years ago has tremendous repercussions for
understanding human beings.

Imagine, all of us actually does have a common collective
unconscious (if you go by Jungian theory, and I do !) which is so
deep and now we have proof for it :-)

Somebody, help me, Sir, if you can...what does this mean for
understanding human behaviour? How do layers in the collective
unconscious differ?

I know that I am digressing from the stated focus of this
forum...but how does this discovery change and alter your view of
cross cultural understanding? Do we remain so cross (pun intended ;-
) anymore?


And the replies to this :

I am not sure what I want to say on this issue. But I just couldnt
let it go without comment, so bear with me :-D!

I think, on the face of it, the assumption is a trifle far fetched.
I began by thinking, "well, since all life forms on earth are carbon
based, does that mean we have commonalitites with everything! PAH!"

But then I felt, maybe we do.

I mean, on a generic level we share the need to survive!!

We are the most evolved (sic!) species and so maybe we do share to
the extent of the level of evolution of the other species. For
instance with organisms which do not have brains, we share simple
nervous reflexes like harm avoidance, need for nutrition, need for
rest, need to procreate. With more evolved species, we share stuff
like territorial behaviour, then further tool making etc etc.

Sure there is the common unconscious, and I think its not just with
the long lost ancestor but with all other living beings- and it
consists of SELF PRESERVATION!! Needless to say, the physical
manifestations change frorm species to species- whereas it consists
of hiding the tail between the hind legs and running, in us it is
more covert, and manifests itself in back scratching behaviour (esp.
seen in organisaitons!)

But more seriously, going back to the issue of a common ancestor. We
sure share some commonality with it. To the extent that it was
evolved when groups migrated - it lives in all of us irrespective of
culture. But at that time , how far socially and psychologically was
it evolved? And how much evolution has happened thereafter? The
present level of physical evolution was reached , but I do not think
complex relationships had yet started to take place. Religeon, for
one was probably not around then! So my opinion is, that what we
share with those guys and thru them with the rest of our brothers
around the world is probably only the genes and the basic emotions
and motivations.

And I, for one, did not need a skeleton to be found to tell me that
when we look at simple people all over the world, their lives are
identical. If you take away the politics and the religeons, and the
power of money and commercialisation, we are all the same. We are the
same as the first human beings - doing our best to ensure the
survival of the species - its just getting more and more complex!!

Any takers?


And another one posted by Dr. Madhukar Shukla:

In any case, there is some relevance to cultural consiousness, so let me

Dont know how many are aware of the work of Ken Wilber [I know him from a
book which we used to have till Sai Sambath 93PMIR borrowed it;-))- and a
couple of articles which I read in Journal of Transpersonal Psy, till it
stopped publishing] - he talked of three levels of psyche:

1. personal unconscious (arising out of personal experiences)
2. collective unconscious (arising from the cultural experiences across generations)
3. the Basic Ground (the universal tendencies which are common across humanity)
[those who did CCM would remember - perhaps - a small exercise we would do
in one of the early session in which a list of behaviours is to be
classified in three categories - personal, cultural and universal]

The Common Ancestor is a part of the Basic Ground - the carbon-base which
Soma talked about... or if one goes by other examples - there is something
"universal" in the facts of reflexes, music being represented in
mathematical harmonic series, in the common forms of equations for gravity,
magnetism, elecrticity, etc. [(M1 x M2)/Rsquare], Fibonacci Series being
found in nature (shells, pinapples, etc.), etc, etc....

But coming to collective uncounscious and culture - there is a pretty strong
link. One of my favourite examples is the comparison between the Indian and
Greeko-Roman mythology. If you look at any character of Ramayana or
Mahabharat, they are bound by the "karmas" - something which happened
to/done by them in one of the past lives... the "hero myth" here revolves
around an adventure in which one pays past dues and collects new baggages
(boons and curses)... moreover, since these "karmas" are also tied to what
is owed to specific people, the relationships in pretty complicated form
(look at Shikhandi;-) play an important role... and so we have a cultural
consciousness which is bound by a past and relationships (my identity is
based on what roots I come from - as GG mentioned,
Bangali/Kayastha/etc.).... [the nearest something in West comes to this are
the Celtic and Scandenavian mythologies - which Tolkein used generously for
Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion/ Book of Lost Tales, etc..]

Compare that to the Greeko-Roman Mythology - Myth of Gilgimesh/ The Titans/
Hercules/ Icarus, etc. - these were independent beings who don't carry much
baggages of the past, but have an adventure which takes them into unknown
(pl notice, the "unknown" does not feature in Indian mythologies) through
hurdles, which exist by themselves (not due to some past karma which the
hero had done)... and so the Greeko-Roman cultures have an individualistic
orientation in which time is linear (and not cyclic) - You live your life
once, and then wait for the "Day of Judgement", not get born again according
to your "sanchit karma"....

I know this would look slightly far-fetched and unconnected to some - but
actually it is not, if you compare dominant popular cultural themes (e.g.,
if you compare the characters and the "karmas" they carry/don't carry in
popular TV serials from two cultures - for instance, "Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu
Thi" to "Friends")

Application to business? yes, there is - if you compare how Time is treated
in two cultures, how decisions are made, goals formulated, projects
implemented (with or without cost/time overruns), etc. etc.