There Is Safety in Numbers
Since the beginning of time, humans have bonded together in tribes, villages, political units, and families. Their collective dreaming has helped them to maintain traditions, mythologies, and spiritual practices throughout time. The rigid belief in the truth and rightness of their collective dream has, unfortunately, also resulted in the wars and other conflicts that are such a common part of the human experience.
The Toltec wisdom acknowledges the importance of people identifying themselves with dreams larger than their own. The many different religions mentioned earlier are a primary example of how humans have bonded together in group belief systems. In the larger dream of the planet, the need for “a religion” has existed forever, because humans have always needed to explain the unexplainable. Over time, however, the beliefs, mythologies, and power of any particular religious practice have changed or vanished.
These collective dreams are as important and inevitable as the individual dreams from which they are made. The Toltec wisdom teaches that it is the inflexible personal identification with any belief that goes against the awakening and freedom of the individual.
Human Identity Is Based on Belonging
A child is born into a family and learns the rules of the family, in order to belong. He knows who belongs to his family and who does not. As he gets older, he meets the distant relatives from other locations, and expands his sense of who belongs, and what he belongs to.
Some Toltec teachers speak of this phenomenon as though each group dream creates its own unique universe. For instance, everyone in your family belongs to your family universe. If you marry, your mate automatically becomes part of your family universe, and you are accepted into his or hers. If you divorce, the family universes will decide whether each of you is in or out.
Here is a chance to write an inventory of ten or more universes you belong to. Start small and locally, and expand to include larger group identities. Don't forget to include your gender, ethnicity, and nationality. You might try ranking them according to how attached you are to your identification with each one.
If you belong to a religious group, you will know who belongs to your religious family — even if they are strangers from a distant country. They would not, however, be part of your country or family universe. If you belong to a trade organization, union, car-racing club, men's group, hall of fame, priest-hood, cult, or street gang, all the other members would be part of that universe with you. It is the same for race, ethnicity, language, and even height, weight, hair color, and drug of choice. You identify with those of similar origin, habit, or organization.
Human Conflict Is Based on Identity
When a person is attached to the identity he gains from belonging to a particular universe, he will need to fight to maintain that identity. An example would be a fellow who is a devoted fan of a sports team. If someone else is strongly identified with another team and she claims it is the better universe to belong to, she is making the man wrong for his affiliation. No one likes to be wrong, so he will argue to be right and protect his identity. She doesn't want to be wrong, since her identity is based on her choice of teams, so she has to fight back and argue for her team's supremacy.
Conflict between sports fans, spouses, teenagers and their parents, countries at war, religions, and all ideologies are the result of humans defending their personal identity. They must protect who they are by being right, and making anyone who disagrees wrong. This is the origin of all conflict.