Author Archives: Pat West

About Pat West

Patricia West is author of The Positive Paradigm Handbook, Rethinking Survival, The Common Sense Book of Change, Two Sides of a Coin, and Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide

Time to Choose: Life or Death

Today I revisited a blog called Choose Life II.  Back then — January of 2016   — its resonance with biblical verses was in the back my mind. Today, I will put them up front. They add yet another layer of meaning to the original post:

In Deuteronomy, Moses said to Israel:

15 Today I am giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and disaster. 16-18 I am commanding you to be loyal to the Lord, to live the way he has told you, and to obey his laws and teachings. You are about to cross the Jordan River and take the land that he is giving you. If you obey him, you will live and become successful and powerful.

19 Right now I call the sky and the earth to be witnesses that I am offering you this choice. Will you choose for the Lord to make you prosperous and give you a long life?

Three years later, I found the substance republished here just as timely and helpful as before. I hope you find it helpful too.

body-mind-spirit

Last fall’s mystery illness became a strict teacher, a blessing in disguise. It dramatically reinforced my awareness of the mutually dependent relationship between brain and gut long recognized by Asian healing traditions.

As modern medical research documents, mental distress manifests as a myriad of gut-spawned diseases – Crone’s disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and eventually cancers, to name but a few.

Conversely, the broad spectrum of diseases arising in the gut spawn a host of mental illnesses – not only depression, memory loss, dementia and schizophrenia, but autism and A.D.H.D, for example.

The hopeful application is this. Correctly steered, interventions on either side of the gut-psychology continuum positively affects the other. The relationship spans an infinite loop. So wherever one starts, given time and effort, it’s possible to complete the cycle, eventually restoring balance and good health.

Follow along if you like and I’ll connect the dots that led to this conclusion.

It started with asking WHY. Medical people failed to correctly diagnosis what went wrong. The ER physician (nice lady) jumped to the convenient assumption that, given my demographics, a lower tract infection was the problem. Antibiotics would make symptoms go away.

When the first round of drugs didn’t help, instead of questioning the assumption, the local nurse practitioner prescribed a battery of (expensive!) different antibiotics over following months – in increasingly stronger doses – each with its “interesting” side effects.

The duration of this “illness” was cause for some serious introspection on my part. Certainly the WHY had a mental origin. Stern teacher that LIFE is, I came to accept that I wasn’t going to be let off the hook until I came clean with myself. Release demanded self-honesty.

What I unburied was a death wish of sorts. It wasn’t that I wanted to be gone, so much as that negative suggestions from false friends absorbed over the years had worn me down to the point of critical mass.

I was increasingly motivated by dread of facing a future based on past experience. Subconsciously, I had succumbed to a death sentence suggested by people far too “nice” to kill me outright, but all too capable of driving me to slow suicide.

LIFE had sounded a warning alarm to bring me back to my Self.

Something had to change. It started with a stark decision. A conscious commitment to LIFE, whatever it takes. I wrote a confirming article, Choose Life.

Once recognition and the decision were made, LIFE responded most generously. The help and information needed to support my choice appeared from several directions.

The next step was for me to ask HOW do I return to health? And how do I change my attitudes and behavior to make my personal future different and better from the past?

Critically important information was found in Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I was instantly inspired to borrow the book from the library after reading a top-ranked review of the book which starts:

This book does a very clear job of defining emotional blackmail so you can begin to easily spot emotional blackmailers in your life. It then concludes with telling you specifically how to deal with emotional blackmail, that is, how to keep your energy, resources, and sometimes your very soul, from being stolen by them.

WOW. I could relate to that!

She writes, At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.

Forward explains:

Manipulators work hard to deny, obscure, camouflage, prettify, excuse, rationalize, disguise, HIDE what they are doing. They make it hard, if not impossible, to see HOW they’re manipulating us. They lay down a thick FOG that obscures their actions.

FOG is an acronym that stands for the psychological warfare tactics used against targets: Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

This information is reinforced by Harriet Braiker in Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life:

People who manipulate are often so hard to spot. They become your friend and then find ways to have their way with you. . .

A reviewer summarizes:

You can’t reason with a manipulator because of their insecurities but you can reason with your own insecurities; and best of all are the practical ways you can change your behavior to take back the power.

This book teaches you to get up, learn what you did wrong and what you should have done, and even better how not to repeat the same mistakes.

There’s also a warning given from experience:

I’ve put an end to so much manipulation in my life. It takes the wind right out of the manipulator’s sails. The book is right…the manipulator will blow really hard, so prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.

choose life

Another fortunate form of help followed from my decision to seek medical advice elsewhere. An intern at the UW kindly saw me on short notice. Intrigued by my situation, she brought in her mentor. Together, after reviewing the history of lab results, they confirmed that the initial diagnosis wasn’t right. The medications hurt more than helped.

Although I knew enough to eat yogurt to offset the effect of antibiotics, to repair the damage done by antibiotics they recommended taking pharmaceutical probiotics as well. This opened the door to a whole new world of science and healing.

Probiotics for Dummies, for example, includes a useful section on the brain-gut connection.

Medical researchers have long known that stress depresses immune function, but only recently have they linked stress to changes in gut bacteria.

The medical community’s interest in probiotics was initially sparked by the seminal work on GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) published by researcher Natasha Campbell-McBride.

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression and Schizophrenia, she notes that Western medicine has long acknowledged the brain-gut connection:

The father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (17-45-1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Interestingly, she uses the same word, FOG, when in describing the mental-emotional relief experienced as the intestines heal by using probiotics to restore balance. “It is as if the fog lifts.” Ahh!

But, like cutting through the psychological FOG, cleaning out the gut doesn’t happen over night, or without difficulties. Campbell-McBride warns things often seem to get worse before they get better. Detox is a necessary but challenging middle step along the road that leads from here and there. So, again, “prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.”

There are important parallels between the so-called Leaky Gut Syndrome and psychological distress. In the first case, weakened intestines become permeable. Toxins and undigested food leak out and are circulated by the blood stream throughout the entire body, poisoning other internal organs – including the brain.

Similarly, psychological defenses can also be worn down and compromised, sometimes due to “second-hand stress.” In this case, when protective borders between self and others break down, toxic influences from outside undermine mental-emotional balance. Others’ fears, rage and general unhappiness poison the unprotected mind. Toxic people preoccupied with their own wants and personal dramas, even when unintentionally, do great harm.

Interestingly, the GAPS/probiotics approach is highly compatible with the wisdom of Asian healers. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, carefully maps the gut-psychology connection. They describe the dynamics of what is called “the abdominal brain.” The following illustration captures thousands of years of wisdom in a single picture.

0 012316

According to Mantak Chia, when the intestine becomes congested, it cannot perform its physiological functions. Though you may eat well, you may be under nourished.

As he explains, each of the organs is correlated with one of the five elements. In turn, each is associated with specific positive or negative emotions:

All negative emotions are expressed in the small intestine by contraction and circumvolutions, Anger contracts the right side of the intestine near the liver. Worry affects the upper left side near the spleen. Impatience and anxiety affect the top. Sadness affects both lower lateral sides. Fear affects the deeper and lower abdominal areas.

As the I Ching instructs, the same dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude, from cellular to universal. So many hints from sciences both ancient and modern could be taken in many directions. They apply to relationships on a personal level, to community dynamics, and governance. But those will be subject of posts yet to follow.

For starters, I’ll offer just one hint.

Campbell-McBride uses the image of a medieval fortress under attack to describe the breakdown of  defenses that result in auto-immune diseases. It parallels the Interleukin II research described earlier, where the grad students saw their research on pediatric leukemia in terms of a war between good and evil.

When confusions in gut mirror confusions of the mind – when the difference between friend and enemy is fogged — anabolic (building up) and catabolic (breaking down) functions are thrown off balance. The body  is fooled into turning against itself in self-destructive ways.

In conclusion, however, a key component overlooked in the popular gut-psychology formula must be noted. Spirit — that third, underlying, unifying and overriding component of the e = mc2 equation – plays a deciding role in the outcome of the LIFE versus death struggle to survive.

It is said, “The mind will play any tune you tell it to play.”

choose wisely

So – who is it that quietly instructs the mind which tune to choose?

LIFE itself, the soul’s advocate, is the tie-breaker that tips the balance.

Here, I allow Mantak Chia to have the final word. He describes the discipline of cultivating chi – the subtle energy that links mind and body — and the end goal of the path to which all endeavors ultimately lead: 

  • If one wishes to be a healer, success depends upon the ability to channel energy through the hands.
  • If one wishes to be an athlete, success depends upon the ability to convert energy into strength and endurance.
  • If one wishes to be free of negative influences, success depends upon the ability to transform negative energy into positive energy.
  • One who seeks enlightenment is searching for the highest source of all energy.

I write in hopes that you will find this saga helpful. If you relate, I invite you to apply your imagination and follow wherever the subject leads you.

To your health!

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Half-Brained is Half-Assed: Put the Yin Back into Your Yang Decisions

In the year 2000, I wrote a dozen Essay Sketches on Positive Action. I’m just now getting back to them. They emphasize the urgent necessity of restoring right-brain balance to left-brain decision-making. Put the other way around, they identify what has gone terribly wrong in the world for lack of this balance.

The first sketch identifies the origins of linear-thinking stereotypes:

ONLY THE TRUTH, PLEASE!

Leading imagination to the single source, the poetry of scriptures describes subtle experience in familiar terms.

Great harm comes from taking metaphors literally. Timeless truths are misconstrued to rationalize bigotry. Nature’s complimentary polarities, masculine and feminine, light and dark have wrongfully been limited to physical characteristics and then attached to moral judgments: “good” and “bad.”

Males are deemed categorically good; females are exclusively bad. Light-skinned people are supposedly good; dark-skinned ones aren’t.

Nothing could be further from scriptural intent. Complements play equally vital parts in the music of life as interdependent aspects of a perfect whole. We are all wired with the same AC/DC (yin and yang) energy circuitry.

What is evil is separations within or without. Liberate scriptures from literal-minded abusers.

The second sketch builds on the first:

HALF-BRAINED IS HALF-ASSED

Indiana Jones blends the best of right and left brain worlds. He and Nazi opponents search out the arc of the covenant, then the grail. The enemy wants the key to world domination; Indy and his beloved father seek “illumination.” They not only study ancient civilizations, but adventure to recover hidden treasures. To become a Jedi knight, Luke SkyWalker trains to attune himself to “the force.”

Intellectuals who contempt practical people and workers who despise the educated are equally half-brained incompetents. Divided we fall prey to the dark side. For positive results, well-educated scholars and street-smart front-liners fighting the war that counts in inner city trenches and rural outposts must join ranks. Patton, the general who stopped Hitler, quoted scriptures like a bishop, knew Shakespeare’s verse by heart.

These sketches explains why, in today’s hectic world. working with the Book of Change has extraordinary value. It is the time-tested method for restoring the balance of calm, quiet, introspective right-brain “knowing” to aggressive, materialistic left-brain analysis.

How have we come to rule out this integral part of existence, the hidden half which completes our whole-brain potentials?

Einstein called it the “fateful fear of metaphysics.” Physics – what is physical and observable — is real. In addition, however, the intangible which rests beyond or within us is equally real. As Einstein was well aware, that which is deeper than physics – meta-physics – complements and completes the tangible.

In early works, I pictured the integral levels of experience in this way:

Flux & Stability

Without this right-brain balance in our decision-making, we are but half of what we could and should be. Often, we function in ignorance of and against the grain of our own best interests.

Here is the picture of a divided world view where the language of poetry, taken literally, results in divisive stereotypes.

II-10 rev

As such, those of us who live in a world designed and dictated by the rules of empirical science are at a terrible loss. We have been programmed (“educated”) rule out every part of experience, however, real, which cannot be seen and touched, measured and quantified.

According to Swiss analyst Carl Jung, this either/or world view places intangibles outside of our conscious reach. Nevertheless, buried, overlooked and forgotten, they still continue to influence us, but from the “unconscious” parts of our mind.

Jung had much to say about this loss:

Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually. . . The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.

Jung understood that restoring health and common sense to our world could be gained by methods which make the unconscious conscious. The Book of Change is a premier method for accomplished this goal. It’s no accident that Jung was instrumental in restoring the first genuinely usable English translation to the West. He actually wrote the introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching.

The Common Sense Book of Change continues in this tradition, for the same purpose. It simplifies the scholarly approach, making this treasure accessible to anyone with basic English language reading skills and an open heart, free of irrelevant and unnecessary sexist, elitist language.

So, this is critically important. It’s time to make yourself whole. If you haven’t already, put the yin balance back into your yang decisions.

Tai Chi Tu

 

Lao Tze & the I Ching Go Hand in Glove

The Tao Te Ching and I Ching compliment each other like the right and left hands of a pair of gloves. Working with either book illumines the other.

I’ll give you an example that compares and contrasts these two treasures.

SunriseSunrise

 

Starting at the beginning, here’s a Book of Change description of the Creative Source.

01 Creative Power

Now, look at the first passage the Tao Te Ching to see how Lao Tze expands on the same concept.

01

Receptive Openness, the compliment of Creative Power’s complete yang, is complete yin. The Common Sense Book of Change expresses it thus:

Passage 4 of Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Book of Change expresses the same vision this way:

04

Chinese landscape

The difference between these complimentary approaches is in their use. Work inter-actively with the I Ching to trigger inner knowing, making the unconscious conscious. Sit quietly with Lao Tze’s aphorisms, allowing them to serve as passages to higher levels of consciousness.

 

Fate or Free-Will?

Our life is such a curious mix of givens and decisions.

St. Francis of Assisi captured the eternal give-and-take dance between what we can and cannot change:

Now. Let’s take these three God-given variables – SERENITY (peace, calm composure), COURAGE and WISDOM – and put them in I Ching perspective.

For it has been my experience that using The Book of Change as a wisdom-fulcrum tips the balance in favor of what can be changed.

I’ll give you a dynamic example from recent experience.

In an unsettled state of mind, I queried the book asking, as I often do, “What should I be aware of NOW?” The result was Hexagram 47 with a changing line in the 4th place.

The description was right on, matching my mood exactly. It was a chicken-and-egg-like situation. Which came first, the economic or mental stress, I do not know.

But reassurance that “the time will pass” was what I needed right then. It gave distance to seemingly endless difficulties. The advice, “use hardship to develop inner strength” reinforced St.  Francis’ SERENITY option.

The critically important insight, however, was embedded in the dynamic changing line:

Line 4: Placing trust in unreliable people puts your goals in danger.

Aha! I was letting difficult people and their on-going circus dramas distract me from my goals. I let them push and pull me down, forgetting my True Self. A host of spiraling problems all stemmed from that single basic mistake. Correcting that fault had the potential to turn many things on many levels back in a positive direction.

The first step was to take this important hint to heart and have the courage to act on it. The key point of interception was to refocus on my values, on whom I love and whom I serve. Put first things first.

Coincidentally,” identifying the root cause of “danger” indicated in Line 4 resulted in Hexagram 29, DANGER, which offers further advice on the right way to proceed.

I was especially impressed by the resonance between the two readings. Both highlight the importance of holding fast to goals and avoiding negative thoughts/emotions.

 The I Ching WISDOM-fulcrum changed emphasis from SERENITY to the COURAGE option of the St. Francis prayer, tipping the balance away from passive acceptance of what cannot be changed towards that which can.

So it is that magical transformations on many levels begin with changing negatives to positives. Again, almost sage-like, espousing the way of spiritual alchemy, St. Frances gave us a key to positive change:

Please. Do take a minute or so of your precious time to think about this. Let it resonate with you. Ask, Where is your focus? Are you able to tip the balances in your life, giving weight to the positive side of the seesaw?

Maybe, just maybe, if you’re not already friends with the I Ching, it would be well worth your while to try something new. Working with The Common Sense Book of Change might just give you a new way to leverage the balance between fate and free-will in a positive direction.

Magic Is in the Eye of the Beholder

eye of the beholder

What we know as science today would have been considered magical in the days before the operations of electricity were discovered and harnessed. Automobiles, airplanes, and computers we take for granted today would have seemed phenomenal in days passed.

Much of science fiction depends on tricks of changing technologies over time. For example, I remember the story of a hero who saved the day by astonishing the natives with a solar eclipse. When the critical moment arrived, with a flamboyant gesture and incantation – “hocus pocus” – he vanquished enemies by the apparent power to make the sun go dark.

Now, it seems, we have magic in reverse. We have so much come to depend on technology, that the inner workings of our potentially powerful psyches and our connection with the forces of nature seem like “magic.”

We are haunted by distant memories of who we once were and could be againthat deeper, truer intangible part of ourselves. Modern “education” rules out our latent, subtle powers and potentials, as if whatever cannot be measured and quantified cannot and should not be.

Yet we are enchanted by fantasy and science fiction which tease and lead us to remember.

hist of magic

The science (meaning “with knowledge”) which explains the magic of synchronicity demystifies this method for reconnecting with our larger mind and its place in the universe.

When people use a term like magic, they give little thought to the full range of possible meanings it might have. It might be a good idea to rethink what we see as magic – all the uses and abuses which have accrued over time.

To that end, I offer the following Essay on Magic.

image - harry potter

ESSAY 37. MAGIC

Magic is the art of manipulating the unseen forces of nature. A white magician is one who is laboring to gain the confidence of the powers that be. A black magician is one who seeks to gain authority over spiritual powers by means of force rather than by merit. The white magician’s motto is: “right is might.” The black magician’s motto is “might is right.” — M.P. Hall, Magic: A Treatise on Esoteric Ethics

One must distinguish between ordinary magic and consciousness of the harmonic relationships of nature — the philosophy of magic — which is the right gesture at the right place at the right time. Its applications, often excessive, and falsified by popular greed and ignorance, have given birth to superstitious magic and crude sorcery. — Isha Schwaller de Lubicz, Her-Bak: Egyptian Initiate

Taoists say, “Know magic, shun magic.” They mean that through the cultivation of knowledge, you can know precisely how natural calamity and human enmity can be avoided. You can know all the ways in which you might be affected and be able to meet crisis on the challenger’s own terms. The Taoists do not mean that you should learn the ways of others in order to be like them, only that you should learn the ways of others to avoid being manipulated by them. — Deng Ming-Dao, Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines magic is the use of charms, spells and rituals in seeking or pretending to cause or control events, or govern certain natural or supernatural forces. It can refer to anything mysterious and seeming inexplicable, or to an extraordinary power or quality (the magic of love). It refers to producing baffling effects or illusions by sleight of hand or use of concealed apparatus. Used as a verb, it means to cause change, or to make disappear.

Of all dictionary definitions, magic is the most incomplete. Little is known of its pristine meaning. The word occult explains why the public knows so little about true magic. This knowledge is intentionally withheld from the unprepared.

Occult” is defined as hidden, secret, beyond human understanding and therefore mysterious. (Webster’s shows empiricist bias, saying occult designates alleged mystic arts, such as magic, alchemy or astrology.)

In fact, as Hall’s Treatise details, magic is a systematic discipline based on natural law. Practitioners are competent to direct natural energies at will. However, few have the courage and compassion to make the personal sacrifices required to pursue this path of knowledge.

Even fewer attain the wisdom to use such power wisely. Prudent masters therefore keep their traditions as carefully guarded secrets, safely away from unqualified seekers who, as Hitler wanna-be’s, would abuse what they could.

For the general public, it suffices to know that such powers do exist, so that when they are used, the possibility of what’s going on is recognized. An appropriate question to consider is, “What color is the magic?” According to Hall, there’s not only positive white and negative black, but yellow and gray as well. It depends on how intentional and extreme the capacity for either good or evil.

Patanjali’s yoga sutras outline the preliminary stages of magician training. The I Ching, the text of natural change, is the necessary complement of all such self-awareness disciplines. Exercising conscious awareness of and control over one’s own internal energies is the necessary first step in white magic schools.

With time, mastery over nature comes of its own accord as an product of self-knowledge. Because one’s potentials mirror and resonate with those of the entire universe, as one becomes competent to change one’s own internal states at will, one spontaneously begins to have influence over nature and with others.

By his own admission, Aleister Crowley is a black magician. His teachings bear distorted resemblance to occult knowledge. However, his credo, “Do what thou wilt” is the antithesis of the white magician’s prayer, “Thy will be done.”

Witchcraft is incomplete. Practitioners take natural law out of context, seeking occult powers rather than self-mastery, sometimes without social conscience, sometimes in defiance of divine law. Seductive claims aside, being incomplete, no witch practices white magic.

Rarely do white magicians announce their presence. They don’t have to. They quietly think, and, as Lao Tze put it, all is accomplished. Christ was an exception to the rule. He was competent to change water to wine. He also performed the ultimate miracle, resurrecting the dead. Such acts, however, were not self-serving. They were done to serve the Father, to teach and quicken faith.

THE BACK

Miracles are events without natural cause. They are different from magic, which operates within the bounds of natural change. Miracle is defined as an event or action that apparently contradicts known scientific, natural laws, and is therefore attributed to supernatural causes, like an act of God.

Special movie effects, card players’ sleights of hand and illusionists’ feats are accomplished by cleverness, manual dexterity, or computer technology. Though they’re irrelevant to bona fide magical powers, they tease the imagination and stir forgotten knowledge of latent potentials and what is truly possible.

We are Team Humanity

I was challenged tonight to think deeply about promoting my books. Is it just to make money? In marketing efforts, have I gone sideways, forgetting larger, fundamental purpose and goals?

How can I express how deeply the conviction goes, “To save one life is to save the world entire?”

As a young girl, in a world where adults failed me entirely, books kept me alive. Years later, I wrote intending to put on the shelves that for which I earlier searched but could not find. I wrote to help confused, bewildered young people like the young woman I once was survive.

It is to pay forward what authors ancient and modern gave of themselves to me . . . solace, hope and faith. That is why I write. And that is why I will to fight to cut through the clamor of competition to be heard.

Along these lines, I remembered an article written in December of 2014. It says the same thing in a different, maybe better, way. Then, I had given up the fight and left. But kind words and second thoughts led me back into the fray . . on my terms.

Discourse sized

Richard Lipscombe hinted I would have second thoughts about leaving WB. He also said exactly what (he probably knew) would tempt me back:

Patricia, thanks for your intellectual efforts in your posts – you made me think about stuff that I otherwise would not have ever really contemplated. Good teachers make us think, they make us challenge the essence of who we are in the process, they are gift bearers, they are rare, and most of all they are not out for themselves but for us the students.

In writing what follows, it became clear to me that you guys are my teachers too. The process of writing Fresh Start II made me really think, for which I thank you all. Richard. Tony. François. SEF. TerryAM.

I was quite the poker fan for a while. Take-aways include the maxim, “Don’t explain. Don’t complain.” That is pretty much how I operate. But this time, I need to make an exception. To prevent future misunderstandings, I will (without complaining), explain why I decided the effort to make a Fresh Start is worth it.

For starters, I was trained as a musician. My social metaphors are harmony and cooperation. An orchestra comprised of talented soloists playing inspired music under the direction of a single conductor is my ideal community.

I swim like a golden fish in music, scriptures and things metaphysical. Competition is not only foreign to me. It is anathema.

In duality, there are two sides to every coin. Granted, without a doubt, there are some benefits to competition. But in today’s political/corporate world, the law of diminishing returns has pushed the pendulum to the opposite extreme. In an either/or world that pits winners against losers, losers are continuously scrambling to beat out the winners. Winners can never relax. They’re obliged to be constantly looking over their shoulders, wary of losers scheming to overtake them.

Is that really necessary? Are we nothing more than Darwinian animals, surviving at others’ expense? What about Survival of the Wisest, Jonas Salk’s alternative approach?

For example, look at American sport through the eyes of an uninitiated foreigner. The story goes that in the early 1960’s, a Jewish immigrant recently arrived in New York City attended his first football game. But the spectacle of grown men racing up and down the field, butting heads, competing to take possession of a ball seemed ridiculous. He shrugged, “How much cost a ball?”

Keeping our eye on the ball — the life-fulling goals everyone everywhere share in common – is what’s too often forgotten in the heat of ego competition. That’s why it seemed time for me to part ways with WB. Competing for ratings is not conducive to building a community of like-minded, purposeful writers. The pressure to comment for its own sake too-easily leads to empty ego-assertion – one-upsmanship — rather than contributing to the substance and purpose of each particular post.

I’m sure many guys have fond memories of participating in team sports. Politics, I suppose is the real world application of rivalries harnessed to social ends.

But my memories aren’t fond at all. Years spent in the UW Department of Educational Administration were an eye-opener as to what has gone so terribly wrong in education. Former football coaches and military vets were in charge of dictating how schools are run. Professors’ attitudes were saturated in violence and competition.

Where I defined “administration” in terms of its root, “ministry” (meaning service), the prevailing definition was “the allocation of scarce resources.”

The difference goes far deeper than gender or cultural preferences. It is a matter of human survival. The competitive attitude is a primary cause of world conflict, the reason we’re in such a terrible mess. Nor (as Einstein observed) are solutions are to be found in the same mode that has generated the problem.

In other words, it is exactly because my musician, yogic perspective is so different from the “norm” that I have a lot to offer to the WB community.

For the record, be assured I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Life hasn’t been any easier for me than for anyone else. Nor do I think I’m better than others. Metaphysically, that’s not possible. Students and teachers are warp and woof of the same fabric, giving and receiving in an infinite loop through the generations. We’re in it together.

In my world view, reverence for life is fundamental. Non-negotiable. This is why I recently took such exception to a comment made in the personal attack mode, with name-calling and overt disrespect. Again, it was symptomatic of all that has gone wrong in this world.

If I sometimes seem harsh (as one LI connection accused), the impatience has to do with my sense of urgency. The stakes are too high. Time is too short.

Also, although I sometimes speak in philosophical terms and use scriptural references, it is not to show off (as another LinkedIn detractor charged). It’s my reality. It’s simply who I am. I don’t write to impress or intimidate. It’s a calling. It’s my life work and heartfelt desire to put what I’ve learned (often the hard way) and who I am (for better or worse) at the service of those willing/able to benefit.

So, please, rather than faulting an imperfect messenger, focus on the message. We are Team Humanity. The ball worth fighting for is human survival, which, as Einstein has warned us, can no longer be taken for granted.

Namaste2

The I Ching Works Like a Cosmic Clock

Among other things, the I Ching works like a cosmic clock, telling us the time.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon expressed the natural, rhythmic alternations of time in poetic form:

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time build up . . . a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The Book of Change puts its users in touch with these pulsating, alternating rhythms of life. It connects us with inner knowing – call it intuition or conscience – that anticipates approaching changes, the better to prepare for what is to come.

It serves as a reminder that our lives change like the seasons of nature. Fall follows summer. Spring follows winter.

It lends perspective to the current times and what is likely to come next.

In I Ching context, faith is akin to trusting a highly refined sense of timing. It is an atunement with the same inner clock which guides migrating birds and informs heroic displays of virtue.

Some people experience this inner knowing as a sense of personal destiny or keen sensitivity to the zeitgeist direction of the times.

Faith guides our feet, not only towards good fortune, but away from danger. An example from the New Testament is Joseph, husband of Mary, protector of Jesus. He accepted Mary and her child on faith.

When a fearful King Herod was intent on killing new born males to thwart the prophecy of his downfall, Joseph “knew” it was time to escape from Jerusalem, thus saving the infant’s life. He also knew when danger had passed, and it was time to return the boy to his homeland.

When a fearful King Herod was intent on killing new born males to thwart the prophecy of his downfall, Joseph “knew” it was time to escape from Jerusalem, thus saving the infant’s life. He also knew when danger had passed, and it was time to return the boy to his homeland.

Using the interactive Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC) is a powerful way to get in touch with the native common sense we are all born with, but too often forget under the pressures of hectic daily life.

The text maps the natural patterns of change which trigger predictable passages from one stage to another in our lives.

Those who live close to nature are instinctively closer to their own natural rhythms, something city dwellers too often lose touch with. For those who long to remember who they truly are, but have forgotten, working the I Ching is especially rare and precious blessing.