The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street

jacob's ladder

Balance yin and yang approaches to solving your problems. It gets better results.

Jordan B. Peterson gives a good example. Early in their marriage, when conflicts arose, he wanted to argue. His wife, however, would turn over and go to sleep. When she awoke, she reported insightful dreams which helped resolve their issues.

Dreams, as you’ll recall, are associated with the middle, Gatekeeper level of the Life Wheel which links the yang surface with inward, yin levels of intuition and conscience.

I’m well familiar with her problem-solving method, as well as how it compliments his.

Here’s an example from my graduate school experience. An Educational Administration professor wanted to know, “Why are there so few women principals in school administration?”

To me, the answer was intuitively obvious. Women teachers get no support. If they received support from family and school administrators, I told him, more would be promoted.

Two years later, after an extensive review of the research literature and a statistical study yielding 99 percent statistically significant results, these yang methods confirmed my yin intuition. My stats prof was amazed at the high probability correlations. Most of his students got garbage results. How did I manage to get significant ones, he wanted to know. And how did I explain the unusually high response rate?

Well. For one thing, because I already “knew” the answer, I knew where to look and what to ask. All I had to do was design a study that allowed the evidence to come forward. In addition, in the statistical portion of the questionnaire, I limited myself to the kinds of questions which statistics can measure. To obtain information about subjective values, I asked open-ended questions requiring written responses.

Finally, the form itself was non-threatening, attractively presented on light blue paper. I used plain language. I intentionally made the content intriguing —  even fun.

Now, for me, empirical methods are an unnecessarily complicated way to arrive at an answer. But we got to the same place, just the same.

The difference between these yin and yang approaches explains the particular value I have to offer in matters philosophical. My yin perspective compliments Dr. Peterson’s yang presentation.

We share in common a desire to understand human nature. In college, my question was, what educational discipline was the best route to answers. Psychology might have been the logical choice. But a discipline that categorizes using statistical methods (often based on rat and monkey research) left me cold.

B.F. Skinner’s presentation as a guest lecturer at Oberlin decided the issue. In his general presentation, he described toilet-training his daughter using music, so her associations would be pleasant. In the question and answer session that followed, a student asked, “What happens the first time she goes to a concert?”

No answer.

Skinner’s work has an important place, no doubt. But as teachings acquired later confirm, it focuses exclusively on behavior – a first chakra center issue. There had to be more! In addition to inhabiting physical bodies constrained within socially conditioned environments, humans have rational minds, hearts capable of empathy, creative aspirations, and, yes – souls.

So for my understanding of humans, I opted to major in comparative history rather than “science,” rounded out in equal parts by philosophy and comparative literature courses.

The places I looked for answers gave me different approaches to the devastating division between faith and empirical science. The Life Wheel described in The Key That Reconciles Science & Religion came both before and after the history course described below.

Critics have complained that its wheels-within-wheels geometry is “too abstract” and unaccessible. In thinking it through, however, I’ve concluded that the problem lies not with the concept. Rather, alienated yang intellects obscure the yin mind which intuitively grasps non-verbal truths.

From personal experience, I know that the Life Wheel is natural and intuitive. Going through puberty, I spontaneously started drawing wheels with multi-colored pencils. Without naming a reason or purpose for doing so, I filled notebooks with mandala-like geometric flowers circling outwards from a center, building layers upon layers.

childish

My step-father thought I was an artist. But it had nothing to do with professional calling. I was going through a natural change. My consciousness was blossoming, expressing itself in the non-verbal language common to native cultures from the beginnings of time. Native Americans draw prayer wheels.

Native American

Buddhists create intricate mandalas with colored sands.

buddhist

Medieval architects built radiantly multi-colored stained glass windows into their cathedrals.

Mandala1

Later, I felt compelled to return to the Life Wheel. As I applied left-brain reasoning to penetrate its meaning, it continued to develop, changing into a diagnostic and decision-making tool, a means of linguistic analysis, a zodiac-like measure of time, and more.

It’s not concentric circles that are too abstract. Quite the contrary, this primal way of understanding has been forgotten by isolated intellectuals out of touch with their universal roots.

In The Key that Reconciles Science & Religion, I showed how the Life Wheel reconciles the conflict which Nietzsche, later Jung and then Dr. Peterson, describe as devastating. I quoted Dr. Peterson, who assures us that “there’s much more to ‘reality’ than current assumptions allow.”

What follows is taken from an earlier post that draws on my history background. Snippet quotes are a spoiler alert intended to intrigue you into reading the rest.

closing

  • Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

  • According to St. Aquinas, It works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

  • As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

  • At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome is pictured by the Positive Paradigm of Change in the form of a multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

  • Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated? Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

book header bird

The GREAT RECONCILIATION

Like Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise are remembered in as tragic lovers separated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Here are the highlights from medieval history. Abelard, a monk, was rich-girl Heloise’s tutor. He seduced her. Their affair outed when she became pregnant. Her uncle exacted poetic justice: the offending lover was attacked in the night and castrated. Afterwards, the lovers exchanged celebrated letters, but were never reunited.

The low lights are usually overlooked. In fact, Abelard married Heloise. But to protect his reputation as a cleric, kept it secret. He urged her to take monastic vows, which she did, but under protest. She felt no calling. For her, living a cloistered life was most unfair.

Why is this story is relevant to the ongoing discussion about the Rules of the Knowledge Game? Because Abelard later distinguished himself a participant in The Great Debate of the Middle Ages.

During my Freshman year at Oberlin College, Professor Barry McGill presented the debate with style and passion. Tall, pencil-thin, graying and bespectacled, he dramatized the effect of pendulum swings on history.

Ideas, he insisted, have great power. They alter the course of human events. In particular, philosophers’ beliefs profoundly affect the forms governments take and the way leaders treat their people.

Long before Hegel wrote about dialectics, which in turn influenced Marx. a triad of medieval scholars — St. Augustine, our sadly altered Abelard, and St. Aquinas — completed the classic example of contrasting beliefs about What Can Be Known, How, and By Whom (epistemology).

St. Augustine sat on one extreme of the philosophical see-saw. Abelard perched on the other. The intellectual world was at odds until St. Aquinas came up with the balancing fulcrum.

see saw

St. Augustine’s approach was faith-based. He depended exclusively on his belief in God. In his worldview, knowledge is the result of divine grace. His credo: “I believe that I may know.” Faith in God is prior and necessary to human endeavors.

In Life Wheel context, Augustine’s primary reality rested at the center of the Wheel and extended outwards from it to include the surface of the physical, manifested world.

Abelard took the opposite approach. Man, he held, depends on observable things and tangible experience to acquire knowledge. This approach, taken to the extreme, results in the exclusively superficial, materialistic paradigm of research science.

Importantly, however, Abelard never denied the existence of God. He held that experience of the world leads the thoughtful man to deduce the necessary existence of God. In Life Wheel context, he started at the Wheel’s surface and pushed inwards to complete the circuit.

It took St. Aquinas to complete the loop. He concluded there is no conflict between the other two approaches. Knowing is a two-way street. No matter where you start, each position leads to and completes the other, reconnecting heaven and earth, center with surface. Complete knowledge flows continuously along the path of an infinite loop.

According to St. Aquinas, it works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated?

Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

CONCLUSION

Allow me to point out a relevant conclusion from the sad story of Abelard and Heloise. Today’s exclusively rational philosophers are as sterile as was he. And Heloise’s feminine counter-parts, isolated and cloistered, are equally unfulfilled. Just as yin and yang yearn for unity and the fulfillment of creative balance, so also faith and reason depend upon one another for completion.

As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome has been summed up in the Positive Paradigm of Change and illustrated in the form of its multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

Here’s why it is so critically important to reconnect the surface with the center of the Life Wheel in an infinite two-way loop, joining the material surface with its innermost source. The times in history when the rules of the knowledge game allowed creative thinkers to access both sides of the infinite, two-way street were times of renaissance that saw huge outpourings of invention, commerce, arts and learning.

The renaissance at the end of the middle ages, first in Italy and later in England represented by Elizabeth I’s Shakespeare, were times of paradigm shifts. The origin of universities took place during this time. The rules were in flux. It was fair game to access both sides of the coin, so to speak. There was no perceived conflict between faith and reason. Separation of church and state was a non-existent issue. The result was a time of creative flowering in both the arts and sciences.

Our future may well depend upon

whether or not there’s a similar Positive Paradigm shift now . . .

It will take a reconciliation and reawakening

to the full spectrum of human potentials

to generate a flourishing of creative problem-solving

sufficient to tip the scales of history

in favor of human survival.

Phoenix - sized

N.B. “Re-nasissance” = “rebirth.”

Phoenix rising from its own ashes. Got it? : )

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