What’s wrong with this picture? What can we learn from it?
A dark storm twister threatens the foundations of three increasingly smaller signal towers. Like dominoes, the largest is falling, knocking the middle one off its base, which in turn is lined up to crush the smallest.
It’s an apt image of our mental. emotional and physical bodies – instruments designed to receive and transmit the Creator’s signal.
It pictures what happens when the noise of current events on the surface of the Life Wheel clouds the inner signal of conscience. Our fractured knowledge base is so fatally flawed, we’re left powerless to withstand approaching storms of destruction.
As partisans along the full spectrum of opinion rage to proclaim competing, partial pictures of reality, the universal signal all were built to transmit is lost. Noise reigns.
I put it another way in Rethinking Survival.
Alien invaders infiltrating Planet Earth, weakening humans to eventually take over and enslave them, is a familiar theme in science fiction. For example, in his various incarnations, Dr. Who — television’s time traveler — continuously detects nefarious alien plots and rescues heedless humans from annihilation.
Current events indicate there’s considerable truth cloaked in that “fiction.” Starting with the premise that hidden alien enemies are covertly scheming to undermine humanity, ask, “How would they set about to destroy us?”
Logically, they’d create chaos, setting everyone at each others’ throats. They’d trick humans into mutual self-destruction by stirring up dissension and fragmenting their governments.
. . . Their agents will do whatever it takes to pollute your mind. They confuse it with false paradigms. They clutter and distract it with the ongoing media circus.
Every doubt planted in your mind, causing you to forget who you are, to disbelieve in your ultimate origins and creative potentials, is a victory for the dark side.
To totally undermine humanity, atheism is a must. The unifying beliefs which hold families and nations together and fortify them in times of adversity must be destroyed at all costs.
Again, how would this be accomplished?
For one thing, language which makes communication and community-building possible would have to be polluted beyond repair. . . . this ongoing process is described as the Tower of Babel factor. . . . Alien agents are masters of double-speak, the child of deception and second-cousin of spin. . . .
. . . Diversions would be a must. Rile the public with non-issues to distract them from very real dangers. Using lame-stream media shills, manipulate the masses with the weapons of psychological warfare. Insult them with the lie that they’re not okay. Sell them on the belief that they’re helpless “victims” of oppressors who must depend on tough guys to rescue them (and pay the heavy price of obligation at the voting polls). . .
Divide and conquer. Pit each group against the others.
I can almost see alien puppeteers behind the scenes clapping their hands in glee over Alinsky’s contribution to escalating worldwide conflict. It matters not to them which side wins. Let Sharia law advocates, members of Putin’s Eurasian Union and American exceptionalists squander their precious resources duking it out.
If they destroy each other and no one’s left, so much the better.
All this is by means of introduction to an article published in the February issue of Prabuddha Bharata as “Hubba Hubba’s Riddle.”
What follows here, with permission, is the full article. Origins of this assignment are described in Be Careful What You Hope For:
I brought up the article just finished for Prabuddha Bharata, a premier yoga journal, one in existence for over a century, dating back to the introduction of yoga to the United States in the 1800s.
The Editor’s suggested topic: “It would be nice if you could address the issue of increasing polarisation across the world.” The time frame: “as early as possible!”
Writing it was intense, I told OA. I felt inspired . . . as if it were writing me. I watched as it flowed through me. Wow.
This introduction serves to return us back once again to my central subject: acquiring the ability to recognize the difference between signal and noise.
The journal’s required word length is longer that a usual post. But as a matter close to home – human survival – the article repays your careful attention.
Hubba Hubba’s Riddle
My paternal grandfather, Hubble West, loved the English language. An enormous dictionary, well-worn from decades of use, sat opened atop a wooden pedestal next to his chair at the head of the dinner table. During meals, he’d challenge the children to define words used by adults in conversation and look up the ones they weren’t sure of.
Hubba Hubba, as we called him, was also keen on riddles. Lodged permanently in my mind is this one: “Why is the monkey that spins?”
His sage-like answer: “The higher the fewer.”
Huh? It made sense in a koan-kind-of-way. But there was more that eluded me. His riddle lingered in the back of my mind as unfinished business.
Over time, it continued to resonate with my growing understanding of the universal Life Wheel as a mysterious but dynamic, multi-dimensional phenomena imbued with life-changing implications.
At the very least, it functions well as a yoga-like diagnostic and decision-making tool. It is highly useful in resolving inner conflicts as a preliminary step towards overcoming polarization in the world, whether it be conflict between empirical science and religious values, or between different nations.
But there’s much more.
Here I’ll begin with a basic description of the Life Wheel, the subject of an earlier article published in the August 2015 edition of Prabuddha Bharata, As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Cone Now?1
After reintroducing the Life Wheel, I’ll expand from there, elaborating on applications and expansions of its riddle-like essence.
In Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This2, I describe the Wheel. It is not “new,” nor is it an arbitrary mental confabulation. Its archetypal structure repeats throughout nature from atoms to planets orbiting around the sun. Its wheel-like pattern of concentric circles orbiting a central hub is mirrored in art and architecture from the beginnings of time. It embodies a timeless healing solution to the comparatively recent rift between materialist and philosophical definitions of “reality:”
The archetypal Life Wheel formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is a modern day descendant of the time-tested Book of Change which leaders in every field of endeavor have consulted for over eight-thousand years.
While true to the ancient teachings of India and China, it abstracts their essence in a simple and complete manner designed to be accessible to us today.
It places the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 – mass, energy and light – on increasingly deeper levels within the Life Wheel. The result is the Unified Theory which Einstein already had, though didn’t know it.
The three outer levels are interrelated and interdependent. Each is necessary but not sufficient. Their existence depends upon the unchanging hub of the Wheel. The true SELF — also called Conscience, the Tao or God — holds the spokes together as spinning events on the Wheel’s surface rim change continuously. Creation in the form of primal consciousness emanates from and returns to this silent alpha-omega center.
Complete and accurate, the Life Wheel meets the Occam’s Razor standard by explaining the totality of human experience with maximum inclusiveness and utmost simplicity.
This wheels-within-wheels model is equally compatible with modern physics, yoga philosophy and the world’s great religions. It is a reality map upon which scientists and sages can agree.
A variation of the Life Wheel shows the relationship between surface flux and inner stability. That which is superficial and ephemeral is generated from and sustained by the eternal absolute.
In Rethinking Survival, I connected with the idea that the Life Wheel is the answer to an ancient Upanishad question: “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” In essence, correctly understood and implemented, it holds the KEY to Life.
The Positive Paradigm of Change can be personalized to facilitate positive personal change on all levels. Applied on increasingly larger scales of magnitude – to relationships, families, communities and organizations – it has significant social implications.
In the yogic tradition, breath awareness is used to “go deep,” quieting the scattered monkey mind of Hubba Hubba’s riddle. By making the breath slow and even, it is possible to enter into a focused, contemplative mind state. Pranayama practices regulate the noisy mind that ordinarily functions on the most rapid, beta brainwave frequency. Meditation cultivates alpha waves associated with relaxation and then the still slower theta waves associated with deep learning and inspiration.
Further, according to scripture, the fully attained sage links the levels of awareness, consciously living “here yet there.” This fully-actualized state, “turyia,” been likened to “Christ consciousness.”
So modern science now confirms what the ancients knew. Brainwave science applied in biofeedback therapies correlates increasingly slower rates of breathing with entering into increasingly deeper, more inward levels of awareness. The following variation of the Life Wheel correlates scriptural descriptions of altered states of consciousness with Western medical science.
Another important application shows how the individual fits within the Life Wheel. Each of us is like a small sliver, a pie-slice part of the whole. Each of us is potentially complete, with all levels present and linked to a central, unifying central hub. This picture speaks to the right as well as left-brain. It’s worth a thousand words.
As this application shows, the true pinnacle of success is not experienced at the surface of the Wheel. Paradoxically, the “height” of human attainment resides not on the shallow level of outward surface appearances, but rather by going “deeper.”
It is not defined by accumulation of material wealth, prestige, power and control over others. In a holistic view, success cannot be equated with rising to the top of any social/political hierarchy. For the true hierarchy is defined in the context of the Life Wheel, where power and wealth are put into correct perspective as equal parts blessing and responsibility. Accomplishments on the surface demonstrated by competence are important and necessary. However, they are completed and fulled only by the attainment of access to inner wisdom and light – and then acting consistently with conscience.
As a single individual reconnects with the center which everyone everywhere shares in common, separatist illusions cease. Selfish exploitation of others recedes, partly because awareness of karmic returns heightens. As this happens, self-interest is increasingly aligned with socially responsibly behavior.
Further, this application of the Life Wheel explains why the true teachings of all times necessarily share the basics in common. Although surface versions necessarily take on new forms – expressed in different languages, images and customs according to time and place – of necessity, they share central timeless truths in common. Truth is truth. It is, was, and always will be.
With determined effort, over time, Hubba Hubba’s riddle monkeys spin [evolve] upwards (or deeper, depending on how you look at it) through the inward-receding layers of the Life Wheel. In the archetypal process of the hero’s journey, they encounter severe challenges. By overcoming obstacles (learning life lessons), they penetrate ever deeper towards the silent core.
Few indeed are those imbued with sufficient love of truth, fierce desire to be one with it, and the courage to persist in the self-discipline and self-sacrifice required to reach the ultimate goal of human perfection. True, Jesus said, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven.” He never said the journey would be easy.
From here, things get even more interesting.
Now, the Life Wheel is a reality map, a meta-map – an archetypal map of maps, if you will. It is complete and accurate . . . as far as a two-dimensional representation can be.
But . . . maps, say of Earth’s geology, or of the human habitations superimposed upon it, are flat. They are two-dimensional, whereas the territory they represent is at least three-dimensional. Still further, however, the reality towards which the Life Wheel points (equally material and non-material) is multi-dimensional. It includes at least four dimensions – up to as many as eight by some accounts. And the meta-map mutates to represent these extra dimensions.
For example, the concentric circles of the Life Wheel pattern can be compared to the cross-section of a tree. When looked at from a horizontal perspective, an oak tree has expanding circular layers growing around a central pithy core. One can also look at the same phenomena in its vertical dimension. Like a tree, the Life Wheel stretches infinitely upwards towards the sky. And downwards, deeper than the sea.
For it is not just any tree, like an oak, of course, but rather a mystical, archetypal Tree of Life which echoes through the traditions of many world cultures. Here is one particularly suggestive example: the biblical Tree of Life.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,3 the “tree of knowledge” is said to connect all forms of creation, linking heaven to the underworld. Not only is this universal concept widespread in religious and philosophical traditions. In a famous passage by Charles Darwin, the Tree of Life was also used as a metaphor for the phylo-genetic tree of common descent in the evolutionary sense.4
Then again, the Life Wheel nicely accommodates the subtle energy centers described in both Asian and Indian records. In Chinese Traditional Medicine, TCM, they’re called the Upper, Middle and Lower Tan Tiens. In Sanskrit they are called chakras. The picture looks like this:
Not coincidently, the translation of chakra (a spinning a vortex of energy located along the central axis of the human spine) is Wheel or circle. The term is associated with cycles of nature, the “wheel of time,” and the “wheel of fate.”
Readers familiar with yoga anatomy are already well-familiar with the concept. Suffice it to say here that starting with Rigveda, we know of seven energy centers that traverse the spine. They comprise a subtle body interior to the physical body, connected to it through channels called nadis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the channels are called meridians, which also parallel the physical nervous system.
A primary pair of nadis, ida and pingala, twine around the spine, intersecting at the major energy centers and joining at the sixth, or Ajna center known as the third eye. Pictured as snakes, this pair correlate with the primal energies called yin and yang in Chinese philosophy.
Interestingly, the roots of “hatha”in ha-tha yoga translate as “sun” and “moon.” Since “yoga” means as union, the larger term translates as “union of sun and moon.” It refers to balancing of the constituent masculine and feminine energies inherent within each of us, regardless of gender.
According to TCM, when complimentary masculine and feminine polarities are properly balanced, harmonized and unified, they produce health on all levels. Conversely, separating them or placing them in unnatural conflict produces unhealthy polarized extremes of excess and deficiency. As energies fragment, they tear the physical body and body politic apart. For by extension, escalating polarization of today’s societies is an external reflection of inner imbalances.
The Greek caduceus, the familiar symbol of the Western medical profession, serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences historically shared common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.
In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.
The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution.
The wings at the top of the axis represent the integrating crown chakra.
PSYCHOLOGY’S BLIND SPOT
Unfortunately, the operation and influence of chakras is associated with the e = energy level of the Life Wheel – which is a (fatal) blind spot of Western psychologies. Although the presence/influence of energy centers is experienced and described by experienced meditators, they cannot be observed, quantified or standardized in empirical terms. “Scientists” have therefore ruled out the reality of their existence.
Thus stranded from the mainstream of traditional psychologies, Western scientists ironically lament that their empirical science cannot account for consciousness. Solutions to their unanswered questions rest in ancient subtle sciences. (Science, by the way, simply means, with knowledge. Where or how knowledge is obtained is not exclusive to empirical means.) The existence of chakras within the context of the Life Wheel fills a glaring gap in the academic knowledge base.
It gives a new view of evolution as well. The spinning monkey-mind moves up the chakra chain, slowly reversing the bifurcating process of duality to attain, at long last, the peace of unified stillness. So, Why is the monkey that spins? What is its motivating Nietzschian purpose? Unity. Moving successively through the chakras, spinning in resonance with each in them in turn, the monkey evolves upwards. The higher up the ladder of life the monkey mind goes, the fewer doubts and fears, the less ignorance and confusion in life. The less fragmented, aimless chatter.
One Western psychologist is fascinated with the Egyptian worship of the eye as a function of consciousness – the ability to focus, to pay close attention to the calling of conscience. The Ajna center nicely explains the connection. It serves to link heaven and earth. As Command Center of the physical endocrine system of ductless glands, it coordinates bodily functions. At the level of intelligence, it mediates in the decision-making process so that choices are aligned with higher will,
Now, the Western way of ignoring and denying the reality and influence of chakras makes life’s journey far more difficult than need be. But it can’t and doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. Most of us still have glimpses of transcendent experience, most often through the arts.
For example, music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music, especially by Mozart, has been correlated in The Mozart Effect.5
In addition, the (albeit too-often unconscious) effect of the chakras on human experience is particularly strong in the visual arts, including the full spectrum from fashion and home-making to interior design, architecture and fine arts. This in due to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.
This blind spot explains why many of Hubba Hubba’s monkeys get stuck, so that the number which continue to dance and spin upwards grows ever fewer. This point therefore bears especially close attention. The only way to truly heal or overcome conflict generated by false and incomplete belief systems (rather than just masking or exploiting it), is to expand the widely-held belief system to include all levels of human experience. Only then can we turn stuck, jagged, southward directed energies around. Our hope rests in reversing their flow towards True North.
Mainstreaming correct information in the form of maps and methods is essential
if we are to stop the process of escalating polarization and restore inner unity,
the necessary precursor of world peace.
The hollow shell of empirical science which rules out the reality/existence of inner levels of experience generates two related and especially dangerous mistakes. The first is literalism, taking poetic symbolism at face value.
Here is a representation of the first mistake, literalism – separating intrinsically interrelated energetic pairs of natural opposites and putting them in unnatural opposition. Sexism and racism are among its symptoms. It results in an adversarial, either/or mentality, neither side respecting, accepting or communicating with the other. It leaves both sides incomplete and unfulfilled.
The second mistake is an extension of the first. The second is confabulation, superimposing or substituting culturally conditioned non-equivalents for natural essences. The Chinese, for example, make a clear distinction between true yin and yang on the one hand, and false yin and yang on the other. True yin and yang manifests as the natural differences between biological males and females. False yin and yang include unnatural differences stemming from rigid, culturally-conditioned gender stereotypes.
Here’s another example. Western psychologists talk about the unconscious mind in terms of it being a “shadow” or “dark” side. It is all too easy to slide from here into the mistake of equating the unknown, passive or yin valence with daemonic, unnatural evil.
In this, the Chinese view of energy centers, which they call dan tiens, is helpful. Each of the internal organs is associated with a specific set of emotions. When these emotions are harnessed, balanced and harmonized as a whole, they are experienced as positive virtues. Out balance, in states of either excess or deficiency, they manifest as negative emotions and produce physical illness.
For example, in balance, the positive virtue of the heart manifests as confidence and courage. Out of synch, the heart expresses as harshness and cruelty, making the excessively cruel person prone to heart disease.
What is important here to establish is the correct definition of evil. The yin, subtle side of nature is not evil. It is a necessary part of the whole. What is evil is any attempt to fragment, even destroy, the integrity of the life pattern itself. (Variations of the Life Wheel represent levels out of synch and disconnected. They are shown briefly in the earlier Prabuddha Bharata article, so are not repeated here.)
A necessary first step in overcoming this second danger is to restore the Life Wheel to generally accepted awareness.
Put another way, it is difficult indeed to counter and correct escalating political polarization when its underlying cause, false belief systems, isn’t recognized and remedied. In the creative process represented in the Life Wheel, first ideas trigger emotions,. In turn, these lead to action. When the initial, causative ideas are false or incomplete, they trigger negative emotions which in turn generate destructive behavior. Therefore, to change destructive behavior patterns, it is necessary to first replace the systems that generate them with a complete and correct one.
The first step towards positive change is to accept and live by correct belief ideas supported by useful methods, one person at a time, and from the inside out.
RETURN TO SIMPLICITY
We chattering, hyper-intellectual but undisciplined mental monkeys too often block out conscious awareness of the inner levels of the Life Wheel. We dismiss the disciplines required to spin through the lower chakras, evolving towards the higher/deeper ones.
Western cultures have this universal wisdom embedded in their teachings. But these roots are tacit and overlooked. To make matters worse, insincere leaders corrupt the language, thereby distorting truth. This confuses the weak-minded. It seems as if academic social/political theorists are devolving, trapped in the hollowness of empirical science, debasing human thought and behavior to animal status.
People of simple faith enjoy a peace of mind forfeited by over-educated monkeys. Those deaf to conscience continue to chatter away — arguing, debating, theorizing and speculating, while quietness is required to enter through the higher gates.
The passage from Jesus Calling for the very day of this writing expresses the universal calling to stillness and the monkey mind’s predicament, as well as the remedy:
The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. . . A refreshed, revitalized mind is able to sort out what is important and what is not. In its natural condition, your mind easily gets stuck on trivial matters. Like the spinning wheels of a car trapped in the mud, the cogs of your brain spin impotently when you focus on a trivial thing. As soon as you start communicating with Me about the matter, your thoughts gain traction, and you can move on to more important things. Communicate with Me continually, and I will put My thoughts into your mind.6
Whirling dervishes spin to quiet and transcend the ordinary mind, cultivating stillness to enter into an altered state of higher consciousness. Similarly, the American Shaker community in Alfred, Maine used dance to shake off the dross of worldly stress. Elder Joseph Brackett wrote the words to the dance tune “Simple Gifts” for this intentional community:7
- ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
- ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
- And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
- ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
- When true simplicity is gained,
- To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
- To turn, turn will be our delight,
- Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
The blessing hidden in an increasingly complex world is that, as a matter of survival, truth seekers are obliged to return to – and appreciate – the simple values in life. Of necessity, these survivors must build communities and train warrior-priests like the Shaolin monks of old: fiercely competent lovers of principle and peace, motivated by the purpose to protect innocents, sustained by the will to survive dark age madness and prevail.
He knew a lot, my stoic grandpa Hubba Hubba. He knew more than he knew he knew. Though a simple, uneducated man, he loved language and taught his grandkids to appreciate the importance of using words correctly. Grounded in his Native American origins, he knew the name of every plant in the forest. He kept a hand-crafted wood and bark canoe in the attic of his sagging barn. Yet he also worked many years as a foreman at the local asbestos plant, a job he despised, to put food on the table for his family.
His wife, my Grandma Ellie, called him simply “Hub.” Small wonder. The word hub is also used to signify the center of a wheel.
I remember him best because, with his simple riddle, he planted a seed in my childish brain that bore fruit in my adult mind. He gave me the opportunity to access what he knew, then articulate it a bit better thanks to his gift of careful words.
Hubba Hubba came to me in a dream while I was living in Germany, immersed both in string music and in reading Jung’s memoir. Since it applies to equally well to the world situation now, I pass on the warning he gave me. From Rethinking Survival:
In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.
I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.
This article could never have been written except for his simple fidelity to inner truth. May he smile on us now from above, gratified that his sacrifices were well-worth the price, knowing that his grandchildren, following his example, are doing their best to pay his blessings (including warnings) forward.
This one’s for you, Hubba Hubba, with love and gratitude.
1. West, Patricia. “As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?” Prabuddha Bhrata, August 2015.
2. West, Patricia. Published as https://rethinkingsurvival.com/2014/06/15/scientists-sages-can-agree-on-this/.
3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. See “World Tree.”
4. Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species (1872), 104f.
5. Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit. (Quill: NY, 2001).
6. Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. (Thomas Nelson: Dallas, 2000.) September 3.
7. Brackett, Elder Joseph. “Simple Gifts.” (Maine, 1848).
8. West, Patricia. Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change. (Positive Action Press: Madison WI, 2014.) p. 41.