The New Mindscape
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The New Mindscape

Can you deprogram yourself?

One foot in, and one foot out.


The New Mindscape #T1–3

I said that “you need to be deprogrammed”.

I’m trying to be provocative here. Obviously, it’s impossible for you to be completely deprogrammed.

Our own DNA is a kind of program. That can’t be changed.

And when we get into society, we receive our social program.

We can hardly change our biological program, but we do have some power over our mental, cultural or social programs.

These programs, which we received from society, also program our body — so, to the extent that we change the social program, we can also, to some extent, change our body.

When you were a child, you had no power over your programming. You were being nurtured and programmed.

But now you are out there, and taking part in building society.

The first step in taking charge of the program, is to deprogram.

How can that work?

The best way to start is to question everything.

This is the basis of the scientific method — as Descartes said, you need to start by doubting everything.


When we talk about doubting everything, it means you have to doubt the program.

Ask yourself: to what extent can you try to step out of the program?

It’s impossible to completely step out of the program. But, once you put the operating system into your objective consciousness, you step back and look at it. By looking at it, you start to become detached from it.

That is how you start to deprogram yourself and realize what parts of the system are not good for you.

How can you remove the bad parts of your program?

Alternatively, what parts of it are good? What would be better ways of doing things?

Deprogramming means to start taking control — to be an active builder of your operating system, and not passively letting yourself be programmed.

Should we even deprogram ourselves?

Some of you asked, wouldn’t it be bad if we deprogram ourselves, or build our own operating system? Wouldn’t that make me different, causing me to be separated from the social mainstream? Maybe I would be rejected or marginalised, or I wouldn’t be able to function properly according to the dominant HOS?

This is how I see it: You do need to learn how to operate and function within society’s dominant operating system. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad, because that’s the one we live in and we have to learn it.

But at the same time, this operating system is falling apart, and it’s harming us. Within the dominant HOS, we need to do good for ourselves and do good for others.

But ultimately, it’s faulty, and we need to work on an alternative.

So, while we’re in the current operating system, in parallel, we have to start building something else. We are in two operating systems at the same time. One is the currently existing one. One is the new one, that you are gradually sewing together and helping to create.

That requires a lot of reflection on what kind of operating system is good for us, for society, and the world. It requires a lot of discussion, reflection, and experimentation. But we’ve got to do it. This is a parallel process, that is simultaneous to the existing operating system.

On the one hand, we have to be critical of the existing HOS, and on the other hand, we have to be working on something different and new.

We should learn how to function well in the current system, even as we work on a new one. These are two parallel processes.

This essay and the New Mindscape Medium series are brought to you by the University of Hong Kong’s Common Core Curriculum Course CCHU9014 Spirituality, Religion and Social Change, with the support of the Asian Religious Connections research cluster of the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.




Chart the course of your life. Create a New World.

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David A. Palmer

David A. Palmer

I’m an anthropologist who’s passionate about exploring different realities. I write about spirituality, religion, and worldmaking.

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