Category Archives: Christ

Hidden in Plain Sight

yoga image

Here, Yoda’s words of warning are wise, but by no means complete.

Pride, for example, is left out of the mix. So are ignorance and insecurity.

As to the cause and effects of suffering, I couldn’t tell you. It seems to me a bit like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Maybe they’re interactive, lined up like a wall of domino pieces.

In any case, we’re still stuck with the question of how to get clear of the whole mess, much less avoid it in the first place. Self-improvement teachers have a variety of different answers to offer.

But ideologues take a different tack. “Life is inherently unfair,” they argue. Placing the blame, for them, is easy: “Human systems are a fault.” Their solution? Easy. “Smash them.”

Never mind the inevitable consequences of playing out anger and hate: still more suffering. As the song goes, “’Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Werner von Braun.”

But today I’m focused on the biblical view of suffering.

Solomon summed it up. “To everything there is a season.” The pairs of opposites – gain and loss, pain and pleasure – are natural parts of life. Over the long term, they pretty much balance out.

Now, it’s easy to love life and believe in God when things are going your way. It’s when things get rough that trust, faith and commitments are put to the test. The proof of sincerity is steadfastness during the rough times.

The Book of Job is a story of steadfast faith. Hidden in plain sight, it echoes the key to overcoming suffering found throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Summing up my understanding of the story, the most righteous of men, Job, was equally prosperous in the world. But little by little, his assets failed, hitting ever closer and closer to home. In the balance, the greater the gifts the greater the opposite and equal responsibilities and related tests.

During this tail spin, he groans in misery. But never gives up the faith.

He dialogues with wordy critics who question the grounds of his faith. Misfortune, they say, is a sign that God has abandoned him, if there were such an entity to begin with. (Temptations of the ideologue are nothing new.)

Job’s steadfast response, as materials goods, family and finally physically health fall away is this:

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Long story short, for holding fast to faith, in God’s time, Job is restored. Health, family and goods are returned to him in even greater measure than before.

What is that Name of the Lord??? This is important. For Job is not the only one who calls on the name in trouble. David called upon this name in facing Goliath. It is key in Psalm 91, the warrior’s psalm. The Lord’s Prayer given by Christ as the right way to pray also invokes that name. It is a mystery well worth seeking to its heart.

The boy David draws his courage from the name in facing the monster Goliath:

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (1 Samuel 17:45)

From Psalm 91: 14-15

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

And the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ begins:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Now, that name is a sacred vehicle. It carries the faithful, quite literally, from surface through the trials and tests of the middle realm safe home. .. . and back again. Christ, like Job, traveled and returned to example the way open to all of us with the steadfast love, trust and faith to face up when called to sacrifice and answer, Thy will be done.

It looks like this:

JOB

Now there’s even more to the mystery. The letters the spell out Christ’s name and those of the Father’s are identical, except for one additional letter placed in the center:

The Hebrew letter Shin represents the ‘eternal flame’ and ‘root of fire’ . Inserted in the middle of the name for God, it gives us the Hebrew name for Jesus–YHSVH (Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey) –commonly pronounced “Yesh-u-ah”.

Saving the Best

Here’s a confirmation, from the December 3 page of Jesus Calling.

When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus help me!” In that instant, the battle becomes Mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.

My Name, properly used, has unlimited Power to bless and protect.

Angel Calling

If these words resonate with you, please share them to magnify the effect.

Advertisements

Peace & Good Will

At this time of year, hearing Handel’s perennial Messiah on the radio makes me nostalgic. His oratorio brings written words to life with stirring music. When I think of angelic voices, I imagine choirs singing:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)

heavenly host

This music was the key to my formative years. Two marvelous summers in a row at the National Music Camp – a wooded, lakeside retreat in Interlochen, Michigan – I sang in the Festival Choir.

Outdoor rehearsals blended youthful with adult voices and orchestral instruments with the sounds of wind blowing through the pines. Birds joined in, singing from tree tops. Nature and music wove a fabric of indelible memories.

Over time, I built on that early experience, expanding what I learned as a musician to encompass right relationships and effective governance. Harmony remains the consistent standard.

Today, I wish you angelic peace and good will at this annual solstice nadir, with its implicit hope for regeneration in the coming new year.

To that end, I offer two rethinkings on harmony and health that may prove helpful. The Essay on Harmony was written in the year 2000. My style has changed greatly since then, but the substance remains timely. In contrast, comments on The Way Music Works adds my view point to a recent psychological analysis of music’s effect.

 

Angel Calling

Essay 8. HARMONY

The art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe. For instance, if we study ourselves we shall find that the beats of the pulse and the heart, the inhaling and exhaling of the breath, are all the work of rhythm. Life depends upon the rhythmic working of the whole mechanism of the body. Breath manifests as voice, as word, as sound; and the sound is continually audible, the sound without and the sound within ourselves. — Sufi Inayat Khan, Music

Artistic activity does not consist in art itself, as such. It penetrates into a deeper world in which all art forms of things inwardly experienced flow together, and in which the harmony of soul and cosmos in the nothing has its outcome in reality. — Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (in The Warrior Within)

When we dance, we are like hobos who jump on the freight train of the beat. Swept along, our bodies automatically adjust to the pace, pulse, and the rhythm of the sound; the music evokes an organized pattern of responses. The emotional pulse of great concert music entrains an entire audience. — Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect

THE FRONT

The Greek root of harmony means fitting. Webster’s first definition is a combination of parts fit into a pleasing or orderly, continuous whole. The second is agreement in feeling, action, ideas or interests, resulting in peaceable or friendly relations. Third is an orderly arrangement according to color, size or shape.

Fourth is an arrangement of parallel passages of different authors, especially of the scriptures, so as to bring out corresponding qualities. Fifth, harmony refers to agreeable sounds, usually the simultaneous sounding of two or more tones structured into chords that are satisfying to the ear.

In Old English, carpenters were called joiners because it was their job to join pieces of wood so they fit together into well-constructed furniture or entire dwellings. There is poetic resonance in Jesus being raised in the home of a simple carpenter. It was his calling to link the levels of experience, earth to heaven, humans to their maker, individuals with their brethren.

In the context of all creative endeavors, the resonance of the joiner concept with the Sanskrit word “yoga,” which means “union,” and in turn, their relevance to the “Unified Field Theory” of Einstein’s heart’s desire deserve understanding and application.

On a small scale, social harmony depends on a sympathetic resonance between inner and outer organizations. An individual can not fit in with family, business or government structures any better than she is organized and harmonized from within. This calls for creating a personal lifestyle which allows sufficient time for introspection and atunement to the silent voice of conscience that calls to self-correction and devotion.

From the unfailing well-spring of inner resources, one draws the strength to succeed in daily action. What some people call multi-tasking is the ability to weave many different responsibilities to self, family, business and larger community into a comfortable fabric, tailoring a lifestyle suited to one’s life immediate needs and long-term goals.

From the other direction, harmonious order within institutions depends on the how well their leaders are able to link organizational goals and practices with the aspirations and abilities of individual members.

This depends on the ability to recognize and adjust to changing social patterns and the ability to steer a steady course through troubled times. This in turn requires keen commitment to hearing and doing the will of the unseen Creator as an accountable steward and worthy protector of the community.

The harmony of the whole depends upon respectful cooperation of each and every part. No one can afford to demean, exploit or sabotage others. Anyone who stands apart as if exclusively important harms everyone, self included. For in fact, each part is indispensable to the health, success and well-being of the whole.

The I Ching hexagram called Nourishment advises us to observe whom leaders choose to nourish and in what way. Most schools are equipped to feed the mind. Most do little to feed the heart or spirit. Few give the practical skills required to live harmoniously with fellow human beings much less the larger natural environment.

Through the growing interest in nutrition research, we’re becoming increasingly sophisticated about feeding the body. Music, however, nourishes in ways physical food can not, especially at levels empirical science doesn’t acknowledge. It is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to expand awareness of natural order and atune the mind-spirit to invisible harmony.

THE BACK

Opposites of harmony are unison, and, in the extreme, silence. Both have positive and negative potentials. If people speak in unison because they’ve been brainwashed or intimidated, it is a violation of free will. If they agree from common understanding, it is ideal. If people are mute out fear or indifference, it bodes ill for the future. When they maintain respectful silence in the presence of their maker, all goes well with the world.

In sum, perversions of harmony are called conflict. Dissonant, clashing sounds are displeasing to the mind, hurtful to the ears and harmful to the nervous system. Similarly, differences of ego-driven opinion and self-interest that cannot be respectfully, peaceably resolved disrupt the collective good.

Jupiter

So now, I will take up where I left off in a recent post on Psychology’s Blind Spot. I’m responding to a video called Why MUSIC Has The EFFECTS It Has – Jordan Peterson With Howard Bloom. The descriptor reads, “Jordan Peterson talks about the effects of music, what it represents and what it does to your brand [sic] and soul with Howard Bloom.”

I posted this comment:

Logical, clever, even pompous but gravely limited and misleading. The I Ching is the ancient and ultimate map of universal patterns. The 64 hexagrams (number not coincidental) correspond and resonate with DNA. You intuit this but unfortunately lack practical knowledge. You’re addressing effects, not root causes. This info is way outside the parameters of empirical science. Harmony of the spheres is the stuff of chakras detailed in the Vedas. This is not said lightly, or disrespectfully.

Please forgive me that I haven’t the patience to transcribe word-for-word what I find particularly annoying nonsense. In sum, they’re describing patterns in brain structure as if they account for music’s psychological effects.

Mistake #1. Saying patterned mechanisms in the physical brain account for music’s psychological effects is roughly the equivalent of confusing a physical record player with the sound coming out of it.

Mistake #2. They hold that music is a sociological phenomena specific to particular classes or culture. They also seem to associate it primarily with mating rituals. In fact, music vibrations have psychological effect because they resonate with the internal structure of the subtle chakra system. The second chakra has to do with sex, but there is a full spectrum of other centers with equally essential functions. I’ll continue what I started earlier to show you here a bit of what I mean.

In the Blind Spot post I stated:

Bottom line: mystical experiences and genuine psychological transformation are not accomplished by mental speculation or even acts of sheer will power. They occur in the deeper layers of the Life Wheel which have, disastrously, been made taboo in Western civilizations. Einstein called the blind spot “the fateful fear of metaphysics.”

I described the chakras, the energy fields revealed in the ancient Vedas.

Chakras . . . are “spinning wheels of light.” Seven basic ones are aligned along the human spine. In ascending order, each is associated with an increasingly more sophisticated developmental stage, state of consciousness and related psychological issues.

I continued:

. . . 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 have been described as The Mozart Effect. [Links to music videos give a hint of what’s possible through music.]

For purposes of this discussion, here’s a summary picture of the issues associated with each center.

ChakraIssues

Even at a glance, this picture suggests on the one hand, the universal nature of music, and on the other, different levels of musical effect. For example, military bands or battle calls rouse the fighting spirit. Other ragas, by time, season, or purpose stimulate the mood of love or spiritual upliftment.

One field study I recall reading many years ago disproved the specificity of cultural background to psychological response. An anthropologist played Mozart for a tribe of cannibal listeners. They were delighted and tapped their feet to the music. He then played Beethoven. They frowned and became agitated.

In many cultures and in different contexts, music has been used medicinally for healing effect. One example is the lyre to which the young shepherd boy David sang, soothing the feverish madness of King Saul.

This second picture is suggestive of ways chakra energies are blocked as well as how restoring vital circulation lifts oppressions:

ChakraDuality

In this necessarily brief “tip of the iceberg,” merely suggestive hint of the oceans of wisdom resting beneath the surface of Western psychologies, I’ll leave you with just one more teaser to ponder.

The chakras are correlated not only with notes of the musical scale, but also with specific archangels and the heavenly host who sang:

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace,

good will toward men.

 

Love IS . . .

Dr. Jordan Peterson says, “Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.”

I say, “Yes . . and much, much more.”

Here’s what I mean:

Essay 38. LOVE

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Moses, Deuteronomy 6:4-5

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. . .This is my commandment. That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  — Jesus Christ in St. John, The New Testament

In Taoism, we say the heart is the seat of love, compassion, joy and happiness. This is what people are looking for. But they are looking outside. We don’t know that joy and happiness is seated INSIDE our heart. We’re running around the whole world. Going to the amusement park, night club, theaters, all kinds of places in search of happiness, peace, joy. But the peace, joy and happiness are within us. – — Mantak Chia, The Inner Smile

THE FRONT

Roots of love mean to be fond, or to desire. Webster’s first definition is a deep and tender feeling of affection for, or attachment to. It can be an expression of one’s affection. It can mean a feeling of brotherhood and good will towards other people.

It can be strong liking for or interest in something (a love of music). It’s a strong, usually passionate affection, partly based on sexual attraction. In theology, love refers to God’s tender regard for mankind, or mankind’s desire for God as the supreme good. Love is the ultimate mystery. It sparks and keeps the life process going, more to be accepted and honored than psychoanalyzed.

Plato described seven stages of love. Each is a rung on an evolutionary ladder which leads from a child’s love for parents, to erotic love, to friendship, and eventually the pinnacle of divine connection. These seven steps correlate exactly with the hierarchal seven energy centers of yoga anatomy.

Plato traces the attraction between males and females to jealous gods who split a complete, content person in half at the navel. Ever since, each part has chased after the other, longing to become whole again – another yogic priority.

Tai Chi Tu - sized

Unfortunately, rather than seeking to integrate male and female energies internally, most Westerners persist in externalizing this desire for re-union. In contrast, I Ching-related healing arts provide methods for restoring inner wholeness, attaining the ultimate level of Platonic love.

The new law Christ taught fulfills the law of Moses. Further, the Old Testament command to unify the three levels of soul, heart and might into a single-minded love of One God resonates with I Ching-related practices which coordinate upper, middle and lower energy centers.

Practical methods give people of every faith practical ways to actualizing their religious ideals. Put another way, only by integrating and harmonizing the levels of mind, body and emotions can love of God be complete or the universal law fulfilled.

Healing gender, race and religious splits calls for fluency in the complete spectrum of love. Even in grimmest times, love is the omnipresent, underlying bedrock. In Rocky IV, for example, Sylvester Stallione scripted an East-West reconciliation of opposite cultures.

A nature-trained David not only defeats a technology-mutant Goliath with love and relentless grit. He wins the hearts of a hostile crowd. His victory message to international TV viewers: “If I can change, and you can change, we all can change.”

Those who turn love into a commodity exploit what people out of touch with their true selves crave most. There’s a push-pull between those greedy to get what they’ve been fooled into thinking they lack and those who profit from this illusion.

False prophets profit from persuading followers that they’re incomplete and not-okay. Further, there’s a life-changing product that can fix them. If they buy it, do whatever they’re told, turn over their power and money, they’ll be transformed and made okay. Sages grounded in reality, however, know better.

The question then arises, what happens when one is focused and centered. Does all interest in the external world and motive to accomplish cease?

Actually, it’s the opposite. As one becomes more secure from within, fear-built barriers come down. New, more authentic motives arise to replace artificial desires. As one pares away the illusion of need, the native impulse to serve with generous compassion arises.

THE BACK

In duality, hate is the opposite of love. While love grows upwards from childish attachment through degrees of maturity to altruism, hate descends to the depths of destruction. It obliterates connections, shatters hope, and in the end destroys those it consumes.

Fear-based insecurities generate a host of love perversions. Possessiveness, envy, jealousy and rivalry are variations on the theme of illusory insufficiency. In all cases, it’s the result of looking on the outside for what can neither be bought nor stolen, for the completion of Higher Love is the timeless, abiding state of one’s innermost life.

Phoenix - sized

In this context, I say to the definition of Love as “the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated” . . YES. With this modifier: Love is an absolute. In duality it manifests in a multitude of ephemeral desires, altruism being one of the highest.

Angel Calling

Yes, AND . . .

What follows is the irrefutable answer to bogus post-modernist views. Psychologists’ tool boxes are incomplete without it. Political theorists’ speculations are void.

Here’s the plan: I’ll give you the remedy up front, then paint with a broad brush its applications and implications. As a wrap up, I’ll ask why the answer has been overlooked, listing and dismissing arguments (prejudices) that have blinded us to this answer. A P.S. suggests why this post is longer than most.

The key I’m referring to is embedded in Asian teachings that predate Christ’s incarnation by thousands of years. (Mind you, this remedy in no way conflicts with his teachings. Quite the contrary. I’ll get back to this important point in good time.)

Interestingly, Jordan Peterson opened the door to acceptance of this investigation. In describing the classic Tai Chi Tu, the Chinese yin-yang symbol, he refuted the familiar objection that the idea is too abstract. It’s “not real” in the sense that it can’t be quantified or measured. He fired back, it’s hyper-real. It is the substratum which underlies and supports physical reality.

Tai Chi Tu

So too are the chakras. Ancient Hindus mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras (“wheels).” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment. (This opens up the subjects of Einstein, the science of human energy transformation, and psychologists as agents of positive change – all of which I’ll also get back to briefly later on.)

Though recorded in ancient scripture, sages experienced vibrant spinning wheels of energy in deep meditative states as a fact of inner reality. Their reports are not the same as poetic symbolism, mythology or parable. Chakras exist as literal fact, integral to inner life as an experience which can and has been replicated by countless practitioners over time.

Here’s the basic picture of seven subtle energy centers aligned along the spine. It sums up the evolutionary stages of human development from base to crown. Increasingly more sophisticated psychological states are assigned to each of the centers, as are specific emotions, endocrine glands, internal organs and life issues.

chakras

Albeit subtle (which is different from “abstract”), this image, like the DNA imprinting of cells, is intrinsic to the very structure of our souls. It includes both the vertical alignment of centers and their interdependence. Its hierarchal nature can no more be debated than can the importance of breathing. Further, the vital structure of inner organization naturally reflects outwardly, mirrored in analogous family and extended social relationships.

So. Arguments that hierarchical relationships are invalid or that value systems have been negated, however apparently seductive to some, are WRONG! FALSE! The image of chakra organization supports the conclusion drawn in Be an Instrument of Light:

God is not

and could not possibly be

dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof

of God’s existence.

Before you reflexively dismiss this imagery as foreign to Western thinking, let me remind you that, though overlooked, it is intrinsic to Western civilization’s deepest roots. The caduceus is associated with both Greek mythology and the Western medical profession. It serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences which are shared in common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.

Caduceus

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.

(These twin currents regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which explains why focusing the eyes where they intersect at the nostrils evens the breath, calms the mind and heals the body.)

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 atop the axis represent its integrating ruler: the crown chakra.

Another view brings it closer to home. Dr. Peterson also opened the door to this picture, which explains the different orientations (he calls them temperaments) amongst the psychologist’s approaches in his “tool box,” each applied at discretion according to individual client needs:

invisible geometry sized

This suggestive picture could be unpacked at length. For those familiar with psychological traditions, however, it speaks volumes unto itself.

The concept of Invisible Geometry, by the way, comes from comparative religion teacher Huston Smith, who wrote:

Twenty years ago I wrote a book, The Religions of Man, which presented the world’s enduring traditions in their individuality and variety. It has taken me until now to see how they converge. . . .

What then emerges is a remarkable unity underlying the surface variety. When we look at human bodies, what we normally notice is their surface features, which of course differ markedly. Meanwhile on the insides, the spines that support these motley physiognomies are structurally very much alike. It is the same with human outlooks. Outwardly they differ, but inwardly it is as if an “invisible geometry” has everywhere been working to shape them to a single truth.

Much is available on the web for those interested in researching the details. What’s relevant to the forward movement of this particular discussion is that this picture shows the innate hierarchal nature of human development and social organization. Not coincidentally, the highest center, associated with Christ consciousness, is called the crown center. It rules over all lesser states of being.

Next in line is the Ajna or Command Center, usually referred to as the “third eye.” It receives messages from above and coordinates functions of the lower centers.

In an article to be published in Prabuddha Bharata, I expanded:

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. Despite scientific prohibitions, 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 have been described as The Mozart Effect.

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 in large part to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.

Yes, AND

The Yes, AND was originally a response to a JBP video: Bravo, JBP – But there’s more!”

Yes. This is necessary, but not sufficient. My work compliments and completes yours. Knowledge, as written elsewhere, is a two-way street.

Make no mistake. I’m a great fan.

But there’s more. I MUST hope and trust that, as the declared truth-seeker and teller that he is, he’ll welcome the opportunity to learn and grow.

In one video, JBP says he’s deliberately working to improve himself, taking advice from friends who advise when he comes on too angry, too this or that. But these comments are at the level of presentation. What I’m addressing is deeper and directional. One approach starts from the outside and works inwards. The other starts from the inside and radiates outwards.

As the medieval Great Debate detailed in The Highway to Heaven is a Two-Way Street concluded, there is no contradiction. Truth travels in an infinite loop, joining surface with center, highest to lowest. So, no matter where you start, you’ll eventually cover all the bases and arrive at the same destination.

I’m guessing that limits on his approach might be intentional — strategic and necessary. His options are restricted by the professional hats he wears as clinical psychologist and teaching professor at an established university.

Whatever the case, I am free to take the next steps.

book header bird

Here’s a good example of what I mean. The Youtube video How To Transform is packed with statements that beg to be unpacked – taken the logical next step that leads outside the domains of empirical science.

What got my immediate attention was his mention of the phoenix. That happens to be the subject of a book on my drawing board, The Phoenix Response.

Referring to sorting oneself out, Dr. Peterson says:

. . . you have to allow yourself to shake off those things about you that you might be pathologically attached to – habits and people, for that matter, ways of thinking . . .

Immediately I thought, Aha! Because Rethinking Survival is premised on an Einstein quote: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

But, continuing:

You have to allow yourself to shake those off. That’s more like a burning. That’s why the phoenix is the symbol. It’s old and it deteriorates, bursts into flame and then it’s reborn.

Well, do you want to be reborn? Do you want to burst into flame?

The answer to that generally is NO. But that’s the wrong answer. The right answer is, You let all that nonsense burn away.

Agreed. This is the hero’s journey, facing the challenges of Chapel Perilous, knowing that “the only way out is through.” Facing fears is part of the hero’s territory.

Here’s my summary or the phoenix book:

The phoenix is a mythical, magical fiery bird that recreates itself, repeatedly rising from its own ashes to begin life anew. An inspiration to self-healers, The Phoenix Response details the ultimate survival option that always remains open, even in a dangerous world which too often compels suicide.

Using time-tested methods, we can continue to repair and rejuvenate, even in the face of overwhelming stress. Yielding before life threats, we can die to the old – to be reborn IN THIS LIFETIME, over and over, each time better than before.

The Phoenix Response draws on universal wisdom written in every human heart, sought after as if lost, and esteemed as a priceless treasure by those who succeed in actualizing the hope of self-renewal.. . . anyone who deeply desires positive personal change can activate the archetypal Life Wheel, going deep within and returning to daily life again, transformed and renewed.

Just one sobering caution, however, before moving on. Ancient practices regarded each day as the microcosm of a life complete. They began and ended the day’s cycle with book-ends of prayer and preparation. Thus made themselves ready to meet the closings of larger-scale cycles whenever they should come, as prelude to the next day’s awakening.

Similarly, we can no more forestall the cyclical downturn we’re now engaged in than we could stop the sun and moon from making their rounds. Though the phoenix can usher in new beginnings, it knows better than to resist the call to transformation.

Politics and Unnatural Change

For a lighter angle, I’ll share the famous Upanishad story about blind men and an elephant as it applies to atheism. I refer to it in part to lay the groundwork for another application. I’m quoting from “The Ant and the Elephant,” a section in the “Atheism Answered” chapter of Rethinking Survival.

An ancient parable from India captures the dilemma of human inadequacy in the face of Truth. Five blind men were introduced to a gigantic elephant. After touching only one part, each reported his experience.

The one who embraced a leg said elephants are round and rough, like the trunk of a tree. The next, who felt a tusk, said elephants are hard and sharp, like a sword. The one who felt an ear described elephants as thin, flat and flexible like a fan. The next, who grabbed hold of the tail, was certain elephants are like ropes, perhaps even whips. The last, who felt its belly concluded that elephants are thick and heavy, like walls.

blindmen & elephant

Now add to the mix a contemporary riddle which captures the humor of human gropings. Question: “What is the height of ambition?” Answer: “An ant climbing up an elephant’s leg with sex on its mind.”

Next question: “What’s the height of fulfillment?” Answer: “The ant climbing back down the elephant’s leg with a smile on its face.”

Just so, we’re like blind beggars, groping towards fulfillment and comprehension of universal Truth. We mistakenly generalize our partial perceptions of a reality which none can see in entirety. We’re like ants who aspire far beyond our limits, sometimes fortunate enough to enjoy a taste of satisfaction.

Heated arguments between religionists and atheists are equally noisy, short-sighted and futile. Each disputant has a partial piece of the larger puzzle. But only that. Their antics — posturings and posings — would be comical, were it not for the extraordinary waste of time and energy lost to creative endeavors.

Atheists who deny the existence of God are equally ignorant and silly. They might as well argue that atoms have no nucleus, or that the solar system has no sun. It’s like ants presuming to deny the existence of elephants.

Their superficial (often angry, self-pitying and self-serving) arguments have no affect whatsoever on the eternal center which always was, IS, and always will be.

Have authority-cloaked religionists, for thousands of years, abused the name of God to excuse abuse of power, claiming divine rights for human rulers — be it European kings, Chinese emperors, Russian tzars, Arabian caliphs, or whomever? Certainly.

Have their enemies repeatedly wrested temporal power away from its holders, only to abuse it in even worse ways themselves? Definitely.

Have humans suffered unspeakable cruelties and injustices at the hands of fellow humans from time immemorial? Sadly so. Continuous upheavals on the surface of the wheel are part of life. It’s nothing new.

But the existence of the unchanging silent center continues into infinity, regardless of what’s happening at the surface. Whether you honor it with awe in simple silence or choose a particular name for it makes no difference. It remains the same.

If you’re totally disillusioned by bad luck or the particular version of religion enforced by your elders, your quarrel is with the ways of the world and its human institutions. Your misfortunes don’t reflect on the Creator’s existence, which is a different subject. God continues to broadcast. Whether you listen remains your choice, the exercise of God-given Free Will.

Here’s a quick summary critique of Saul Alinsky’s concept of “change.” It’s literally antithetical to the Natural Law embodied in the Chinese Book of Change.

It would seem that Edward Bernays — the so-called “father of spin” — was a foremost henchman of the invading aliens. If so, Saul Alinsky was their number one point man. The “coach” was a self-proclaimed radical.

In a twist of our poor abused language, Christ was rightly regarded as “radical” in his day. He would be today as well (in the original meaning) were he to walk among us now, because “radical” originally meant “going to the foundation or source of something; fundamental.”

That’s a far cry from Alinsky’s extremist meaning of “radical.” He was intentionally the antithesis of Christ, going so far as to acknowledge Lucifer in the dedication to Rules for Radicals: ‘the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.’

His logic is so twisted that a critique would have to move line-by-line to unravel his spiderweb of tangled assumptions. The attempt would be like wading in quicksand. A Jesuit-trained logician would be hard-pressed to come out clean. Yet Rules for Radicals is sometimes made required reading for impressionable teenagers.

In the first chapter, Alinsky stated his exact purpose, namely to coach those who “want to change the world” from what it is “to what they believe it should be.”

In this book we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people. . . We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world . . [emphasis added.]

Here’s part of my analysis:

Note the use of the “royal we.” This is a megalomaniac talking. He wants to change the entire world. His attitude is towards power holders is openly aggressive. He doesn’t just want to take what they hold. He wants to seize it. To violently “change the world” by means of a “mass power organization” makes no positive sense. History tells us that repeatedly, when power is seized from one set of Haves, it merely passes to another set of worse ones. Never, ever has it been “given” to “the people.” This assumption-packed premise is an extraordinary feat of tragedy-fraught hubris.

First off, what blind, ant-like mortal would dare to think that he can comprehend what, in its entirety, the world — the elephant — really is? What human could possibly be so foolish as to think she is qualified — on the basis of one puny view — to judge what it should be? Alinksy’s rules extended an invitation for blind mortals to jump in feet first where good angels know far better than to tread.

Second, who really understands change? Many bandy the word about. But it’s a profound science of which few have in-depth knowledge. Confucius dedicated a lifetime to understanding the dynamics of Natural Law encoded in the perennial Book of Change.

So, for starters, the “belief” that anyone can change the world from what he assumes it is to what he assumes it should be is unspeakably misguided. Building on this false premise, Alinsky then fueled the undermining alien arsenal with a full battery of destructive tactics. In essence, political radicals should feel “free” to violate the ten commandments. The ends (getting what you want) justify any means.

His version of social change is engineered by stirring up conflict. Use fabricated information to bear false witness against inconvenient neighbors. Alinsky advocates scapegoating, not unlike the dynamic which propelled Nazis to power. Create the illusion of an outside enemy as the way to unify your base. (How is that for the ultimate double-speak? Conflict is the opposite of unity.)

Transformation and Psychologists

Looking back on the story of blind men and the elephant, I now recognize that the seers who told this story were alluding to the chakras, telling us that the world looks very different, depending upon which set of filters you’re seeing through.

That’s why, for example, the world seen through the first chakra makes sense to a behaviorist like Skinner. Whereas, seen through a more evolved lens, human potentials look quite different. Thus, in The Carl Rogers Reader we find this prophetic comparison:

Skinner argued for the intelligent and hopefully humane use of reinforcement theory to direct the course of the individual’s and the society’s development. . . freedom and choice are mere illusions. . . Rogers argued that freedom and choice were not illusory but real phenomena, and that a science that dehumanizes the individual and attempts to control human development paves the way for dictators and despots to move society inexorably toward a totalitarian, Orwellian future.

Now, it’s important that Jordan Peterson holds Rogers in high regard. The video called A Psychotherapist Is An Engineer Of The Soul is well worth quoting:

. . . read the damn therapists, man. Those people were smart. It’s like each of them gives you a different tool box. They’re not scientific theories, exactly.

But as a clinician, you’re not a scientist. You’re an engineer of the soul. That’s a better way of thinking about it. Because it’s applied. It’s like engineering. It’s an applied science. So that makes it not a science exactly. You can use scientific knowledge. But you’re still aiming at the good. Right? That’s what you are doing as a therapist.

You say, Look. You already know that things aren’t as good as they need to be. We’re going to work on that. We’re here to make things better. And I’m going to help you figure out how to make things better. Then I’ll listen to you. And we’ll move towards some place that’s lighter and better.

Then you have tools you can use. Those great psychotherapists, man. Those people had their 10,000 hours. They all come at it from slightly different temperamental perspectives. [chakra filters!] Like Jung’s work is really useful for dealing with people who are high in openness. You have an open client? Jung works. If you have a conservative client, forget it. It’s a whole different thing.

His attitude reaffirms the conclusion drawn in Therapists as Positive Change Agents. Given Alinsky’s nefarious influence on politicians and governments, you don’t dare look to them for positive change. Nor to religionists with their scripture-defying double-talk about “social justice.”

Filling a glaring need, therapists have been obliged to take on that important role:

In the past, those in psychological pain, suffering from self-doubt and looking for a better way to live, would have turned to sages or kings for guidance. At this stage in history, however, therapists as healers (meaning “to make whole”) are often the best secular refuge.

Just imagine, if you will, how even more effective they’d be if they added chakras and the Natural Law of Change to their tool chests.

Why Asian Sciences Are Overlooked and Undervalued

Many in the West devalue Asian teachings, though in some ways, they are more sophisticated than our own. Their sages obtained knowledge from the inside, in prayer and meditation. Unfortunately, this inward focus, taken to yin extremes, explains the material poverty of the masses, which materialist Westerners find abhorrent.

But extreme-yang Westerners swing to the opposite and equal mistake. Making a deity of empirical science, they acknowledge only the “reality” of that which can be quantified and measured. As a result, generally speaking, the vast majority enjoy a relatively high standard of living, but suffer terribly from spiritual poverty.

Here’s a picture of the way each approach fractures the Life Wheel. Extreme yin religionists value the center of the Life Wheel to the exclusion of the material surface. Extreme yang materialists go the other way, valuing material wealth while denying, if not defying, the existence of its Creator.

extremes

Reminiscent of the Hindu parable, extremists are blind to the whole, mistaking a limited experience of a part for all there is. Asians, atheists, theists all have partial understandings of reality.

Now, Christ did not make this mistake, though Western religionists who call themselves Christians often do. Nor could he possibly have sanctioned the out-of-hand rejection of Asian wisdom as if pagan and therefore “unChristian.”

I’ve been told by one who knows, OA, that few people actually understood what Christ was about during his lifetime. Even fewer can claim to completely fathom the vastness of his essence now. But surely, to the extent ancient teachings contain part of universal Truth, they partake of Christ’s essence. For Christ Consciousness pervades the entire field of creation, the full chakra spectrum of potential experience.

Since, as he told us, he existed before and will endure after this Earth, permeating the entire world, how could the truth teachings of distant times and civilizations not be part of Christ? I love this cartoon, in which the Christ corrects the blind men. He gets it! (Now it’s up to the rest of us to take the hint!)

christ & elephant

So let’s drop bogus excuses for overlooking the validity of Asian teaching. They speak to fatal blind spots in Western knowledge banks. They are no more foreign or outdated than are the teachings held up to us as the foundations of Western civilization. To reject them is to forfeit the immeasurable benefits to be gained from restoring that yin part of the metaphorical elephant to our yang arsenal.

It’s the abuse of the teachings, the corruption that has occurred in every time and place, the overlay of dross and foolishness which we must shed. Do this to let pristine Truth rise once more out of the ashes of outworn customs, ignorant prejudices and greedy exploitation.

Wheel2

Wheels within wheels within wheels. Got the picture? : )

Now, here’s what I’ve been trying to get across to JBP in one form or another. Christ, like many before and after him – from ancient Hindus to Mayans – spoke about end times. However detestable, like Judas, today’s postmodernist neo-Marxists have role to play. Crossing swords with them isn’t the Phoenix way of redemption.

The irrefutable answer to bogus postmodernist views is helpful only in so far as it used to prevent deceivers from confusing those who serve truth. It’s not going to “change” the course of history as it has long been foretold.

Resigning oneself to the inevitable crash and burn of civilization is a sad but necessary preliminary step which must be endured as the prelude to its rebirth. Titanic-like victims have chosen to take a joy ride on an ill-equipped, fated ship. Squandering regretful attention on their fate is fruitless. The wiser to choice is to devote limited resources of time and attention to what can be redeemed.

Christ compared today’s end times to the fate of Noah’s civilization. The wise heeded warnings and survived. Fools partied on, oblivious to danger until the flood waters rose up to carry them off. Now as then, those deaf to calling and hardened against Truth will choose to party on, oblivious. It’s their choice. And their consequences.

Let us, instead, choose to follow Noah’s example. Prepare for what coming. Preserve the timeless teachings and protect those willing to listen and follow Truth. The process necessarily begins one person at a the time, living according to a complete and accurate reality paradigm in which yin and yang ways of knowing complete each other, bringing the music of life once again into harmony.

Angel Calling

P.S.

There’s necessity to the length of this post. It’s the last for now, so I’ve reduced the content of what might otherwise have been four separate pieces, to include everything that wanted to be said. As it stands, writing takes too much out of me, for too little in return. I’ll consolidate past work into a book, whose whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. But unless balance is restored in terms of feedback, the rest must remain unsaid.

 

Be Careful What You Hope For

Danger on multiple fronts. But on Friday, September 8, 2017, during a calm at storm’s center, an extraordinary conversation took place.

Here I’ll tell you the context, the content, and implications for what follows next.

On that day, Hurricane Harvey, a devastatingly destructive storm, was winding down in Texas. Hurricane Irma, an unprecedented Category 5, was wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, headed towards Florida. At the same time, Mexico experienced a 8.1 earthquake. Given other news, that one received relatively little attention in the States.

Another potentially deadly event got zero media attention. Careful research on the part of science savvy folks here had us on high alert: solar flares are emitting coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Were one headed towards Earth to strike close to home, electronics would be fried. Computers, TVs, radios, kitchen conveniences – all toast.

So the morning before, the ordinary list of tasks and errands were instantly scrapped. Shift into crisis mode.

Make the rounds, turning off and unplugging major electronics.

Bring a large metal trash can in from the garage. Empty and bring up two smaller ones from the basement. Get out the bubble wrap and a box of heavy-duty aluminum foil. These are the makings of low-cost, home-made Faraday cages designed to insulate radios, computer tablets and medical equipment from radiation.

Despite a recorded history of CME events, little predictive science is available. Apparently it’s not known how to calculate their rate of speed and therefore exact arrival time. Nor can the path from sun to Earth be accurately traced. So where impact will occur is, at best, uncertain.

On the one hand, it could be a false alarm. On the other, it could be ruinous. So – better to be safe than s***-out-of-luck. We hunkered down to out-wait danger.

Even for this rural setting, the house was unusually quiet. No humming computer fans. No beeping microwaves. Ah.

With nothing else to do, I took out my sewing kit and began altering a $3 pair of resale pants. The one we respectfully call “Old Avatar” busied himself with a black ink pen, working to solve one of the mind-boggling math puzzles in his Second Degree Black Belt Kakuro book.

The circumstances offered an unusual opportunity for conversation.

Most times, OA is busy “Other-where.” Though physically here, he’s preoccupied, mentally computing and warrioring on multiple dimensions, far beyond my comprehension. The times when he’s fully HERE are rare and precious.

So I tested. “May I ask you a question?”

What is it?” he asked.

I said, I am increasingly concerned by the direction Jordan Peterson seems to be taking. Is he correct that the foundations of Western culture are essentially valid? Perhaps more to the point, can a viable future be built on that foundation?

I pointed to the cascading events that had just shut our computers down. How can careful thinkers persist in hoping their work will reverse the tide of irrational events? Sometimes it seems as if nature and humans are racing to see which of them will destroy us first.

He nodded. We’re just getting started. What’s going on today is only Act One. This time has been predicted in the foundational scriptures of which Dr. Peterson speaks for thousands of years. The war is already going on – it has been for a very long time. Christ described it, as do the prophecies he came to fulfill, as a battle for hearts and souls. Read Ezekiel again. And Isaiah.

Yes, I nodded. I think often of Ephesians. The battle going on is not only against flesh and blood, but against rulers of darkness – against evil in high places. The realms of the fearsome battle OA has waged his entire life, at terrible cost to himself, are invisible to humans. But their affect on human lives is very real indeed.

I wanted to know, What will come after the shit hits the fan, when we start to rebuild after the collapse of the world as we know it? Will there still be Bibles? Will people still be able to read?

Yes. You have a Bible, don’t you?

Of course. The same one I’ve been working with for thirty years or more, though we have yet to purchase a waterproof box for its safekeeping.

So the foundation IS valid? Yes. It will prevail? Yes.

But this doesn’t mean the familiar past we’re attached to will remain. The problem, OA said, is that people have been taught never to give up hope.

But people urgently need to rethink and define their hopes. What is your Motive, Purpose, and Intent? What is your WHY? What motivates your hope? Is it intuition or laziness? Love or fear? What is your HOW? What are your action plans for fulfilling your hopes? And WHAT precisely do you intend to achieve as the results of your actions?

Certainly, hoping it is possible to prevent conflict is a false hope. Refusing to take sides, refusing to take a stand and fully engage in the war we’re already in the midst of, is a choice for the wrong side. That’s the problem with people of peace. And those who have been led into believing Christ was a man of peace are gravely mistaken.

To the contrary, Christ stated plainly, I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. It is a matter of having to make basic choices. Which side of the war between good and evil are you on? Even those closest and most dear to you make wrong choices. The choice to serve truth requires leaving those who oppose it behind.

Now, Christ commended peacemakers, OA continued. That’s different. They are his children. But someone has to have their backs. That’s why there are righteous warriors. Think of Archangel Michael . . . protector of innocents.

People forget.” And here OA’s voice trembled with emotion, as if remembering a painfully personal loss. When they arrested him, to be taken away and killed, Christ instructed disciples without swords to sell their cloaks and use the money to buy a sword.

Then OA took a different tack. He described the necessary role of a “righteous warrior,” one who has the back of true peace makers. A farmer plows his field, plants and harvests his crops. He teaches his children, loves his family, and mends his fences. Day in and out, he does whatever it takes to support those he loves. And when an enemy approaches his gate, he defends them with his life. It’s all woven into the single fabric of life.

Yes, I nodded. “A time and place for every purpose under heaven.” No stick-figure either/or stereotypes.

I remembered an earlier conversation we had about false hopes generated by “people of peace.” What’s needed now, he told me, isn’t pacifists. Trying to reason with an evil enemy is like pissing on a forest fire. What we need now is a generation of warrior monks. Though they serve wisely, with peace in their hearts, at the same time they’re ever alert – competent to protect against intruders, whatever the level.

OA continued, People misconstrue the words, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” No fault or prohibition is implied. A soldier who fights for a living hopes to retire and die in bed. A righteous warrior, however, fights the good fight right up to his last breath. It isn’t a reproach to say he’ll die by the sword. Standing firm in his truth even to the very end earns him an honorable and worthy death.

Here, I flashed on another unanswered question. But we were interrupted by a pair of thirsty, winded dogs let in after a walk. We took a brief break. Getting a snack of red wine and cheese curds from the kitchen, I gathering my thoughts for the second part of our conversation.

When we settled in again, 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.

Part of the Wow was that it flashed on me how this article meshed with Jordan Peterson’s work. In essence, my approach offers a yin compliment to his yang presentation. Put another way, Dr. Peterson is necessarily – skillfully – treading across a very narrow tightrope. He is a professor teaching inside an traditional institution – the University of Toronto. As a practicing clinical psychologist, he’s a member of a socially accepted, highly valued profession. Devoted to his wife and children, he’s a complete insider. As such, he’s obliged to be exceedingly careful as to how he presents himself, especially in controversial matters. Accepting certain roles in society requires acting within their boundaries. His effectiveness depends, at least in part, on being acutely careful not to exceed them.

I have no such constraints. Though I earned a Ph.D., the system could not contain me. I can’t say the sacrifices were optional on my part. Character, as they say, is fate. But they did leave me free to explore and develop along lines that can’t be contained within the limiting boundaries of empirical science-based institutions and professions.

When I first started following Dr. Peterson’s work, I kept adding posts to this website, rethinkingsurvival.com. No matter what his topic, the conceptual model I work with – the meta-map of reality maps – confirms his ideas, at the same time adding strength, clarity, depth and perspective to them. This article, on the other hand, was an opportunity to go beyond that which he has developed. It completes what he has started. The yoga tradition has no problem with subtle energy sciences or with metaphysics. For this reason, Editor Swami Narasimhananda welcomed my article. He understands quite well where I’m coming from.

OA was skeptical, of course. He holds me to a very high standard. “We’ll see,” was his only response. I reminded him of an earlier post (one of the few he’s taken time off from his Other-where sojourning to read). Also invited, it’s called “How Bad People Become Leaders.”

His comment on that one: “Not bad for a human.” That’s an okay recommendation, coming from an exceedingly ancient Old Avatar.

So, I told OA, Here is what flashed on me. I should complete and compile these blogs into a book. Because of sacrifices I’ve made, I’ve been free to go places Dr. Peterson hasn’t. As a result, I am able to supply missing puzzle pieces in support of the valid tradition he defends. As as outsider, I am free to say things that need to be said, things he understands which are outside his boundaries.

Maybe he’d even write an introduction. Perhaps promote it on his Patreon website. That would be an outstanding win-win for everyone.

Again. We’ll see.

So, obviously the computers are back up here. The CME did hit. According to the single article I found, a coronal mass ejection aimed toward Earth had been projected to cause auroras in the U.S. as far south as Ohio and Indiana. As it turns out, the biggest solar flare in a decade did cause radio blackouts – but in Brittan.

So I’m left asking, Where do we go from here? We dodged the bullet for now. So I’ll continue to write as remaining time permits. But without false hopes for the future. I’m reminded, after all, that hope is one part of a triad. It’s best balanced by equal parts of faith and charity. That is to say, continue to hope for the best (whatever that may be), but prepare as we did, for the worst, with complete faith in the will of a loving God who has his children’s backs, no matter what is to come.

book header bird

Rethinking SACRIFICE

After listening to Jordan Peterson’s Youtube video, The Great Sacrifice: Abraham and Isaac, I thought to revisit the Essay on Sacrifice written in 2000 and later included in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.

My document search stopped at Essay 7 on Authority. Lo. Not coincidentally, I found a quote which puts the Abraham story in larger context. It helps make sense of my approach, which sheds a different but helpful light on biblical traditions:

Christ was one of the greatest mystics of all time. He knew everything that has been ever said in the Eastern traditions.

When Moses asked God, who are you? God said, I AM that I AM.

Christ in the Gospel of John says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

The very word Abraham comes from the Eastern word Brahman, which means the primordial being. . . So when you start looking, as paleo-linguistic anthropologists do, at the common roots of the various religions and traditions, you find that it’s all universal. Truth has to be universal. It can’t be your domain or my domain.

In a more popular vein, when I think of sacrifice, trading the lesser for the greater, the Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ tune, Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind, starts humming in my mind:

Did you ever have to make up your mind,
Pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did you ever have to finally decide?
Say yes to one and let the other one ride?
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide.
Did you ever have to finally decide?

This is the essence of the life or death choice offered us in Exodus: Choose Life. “Return unto me and I return unto you.” It emphasizes travel on the inward path from surface to center of the Life Wheel, releasing attachments to ephemeral possessions, limited opinions/identities, and outgrown lifestyles.

Looked at this way, sacrifice isn’t necessarily a negative or hurtful experience. It can be positive change: expansive, illuminating, and in the long-term, generative.

book header bird

Essay 33. SACRIFICE

A balanced relationship between the individual and the whole is achieved through service in the spirit of SACRIFICE. Changing selfishness to compassion and acts of kindness builds bridges of mutual trust. Unselfish giving benefits everyone involved, helping the community to overcome obstacles and dangers. Avoid twin dangers: selfishness and self-denial. — Patricia West, The Common Sense Book of Change

A significant part of the existential suffering of life is the suffering involved in constantly discerning — or choosing — what we are responsible for and what we are not responsible for and maintaining a healthy balance. — M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled & Beyond

The pain of verbal abuse goes deep into the self and festers there. . . Verbal violence all too often goes unrecognized, except at a level that you cannot even understand yourself. You know you are suffering, and you vaguely know where the pain is coming from; but because the aggression is so well hidden, you are likely to blame yourself instead of the aggressor. – Suzette Haden Elgin, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

THE FRONT

The root of sacrifice means to make sacred. Webster’s first definition is the act of offering the life of a person or animal or some object in propitiation of or homage to a deity. It is the act of giving up, destroying, permitting injury to, or forgoing something valued for the sake of something having a more pressing claim. It can mean selling or giving up of something of less than its supposed value.

The Old Testament story of Abraham and his son Isaac in the mountains of Moriah deserves careful consideration in regard to sacrifice.

  • It’s about willingness to trade attachment and human love for the sake of fidelity to a higher calling.

  • It’s about faith that surpasses understanding.

  • It’s about trading earthly desire to perpetuate one’s life through transmission of genes for the abundant certainty of eternal life.

Abraham was tested to prove his fidelity to the voice of inner conscience, no matter what. The parallel to the life of Jesus is direct. Christ was literally sacrificed, but, paradoxically, like Isaac, lived on, albeit on a higher level.

Pagan sacrifice of children and animals is irrelevant to the meaning of Abraham’s test. At issue is the difference between transcending pain for the sake of higher love versus selfishly destroying life using physical, verbal and/or psychological violence, to get what one wants here on earth.

This distinction is relevant to prosperity courses which flirt with spirituality, but in fact tamper with natural law. In the short term, harnessing aversion to pain and desire for pleasure to get what we want may work. But where’s the wisdom?

Pain and pleasure motivate animals. However, the purpose of I Ching disciplines is to overcome such instinctive reactions. Pavlovian dogs can be trained to react automatically to programmed stimulation.

Humans, however, have the unique ability to reason. By choosing to remain steadfast in commitment and true to higher calling, we realize the priceless opportunity to overcome and transcend reactive pendulum swings of nature — pain and pleasure, attraction and aversion – to fulfill our innermost, innate potentials.

In this way, following the example of Christ, who sacrificed mortal existence for eternal life, we too can change, shifting gears, raising our focus from the material surface of the Life Wheel, then from the deeper emotional level of what we want, to the central core of what IS. This, ultimately, is the purpose of mastering natural change, and the gift which a profound understanding of the I Ching has to offer.

Similarly, working with the meta-reality-map — the Life Wheel — helps articulate, focus and accelerate the self-actualization process. It is KEY to fully understanding the multiple dimensions and meanings of scriptural events.

Saving the Best

It’s important to remember, however, that fidelity to calling is the standard. Whether or not one physically lives or dies is irrelevant. Bodhisattvas, for example, are fully-attained beings who have completed their life lessons here, but choose to remain on Earth in order to serve.

We each contain the seed potentials of our most admired leaders.

If we each dig into our own depths and live the promise now by following their examples, then hope could not be extinguished by killing single individuals.

If one person of conscience stands alone, one bullet can demoralize a nation.

If conscience informs the entire community, when one leader is struck down, two, ten or a thousand more come forward to continue on.

This is the fruitfulness promised to descendants of Abraham.

.

THE BACK

The opposite of sacrifice is attachment. Refusing to let go of outgrown beliefs, or hanging on to people when it’s time to change and move on in order to grow, is antithetical to the life process. Making a show of suffering, imposing obligations and guilt on others for what they’ve been given is false martyrdom.

Slaughter of animals or innocents to atone for one’s own sins is a perversion of sacrifice. It violates the sanctity of life and free will of others. Each of us is accountable for our own actions. Therefore, taking life can’t change bad karma. Instead, it compounds trouble.

book header bird

Cordial Greetings

Hello to Stefan Molyneux and Jordan Peterson.

This post, along with the companion blogs linked below, are my heartfelt response to Stefan’s passionate call for creative positive action, specifically in the most excellent discussion, Sorting Yourself Out.

I certainly agree with you that, world-wide, civilization as we know it is reaching the point of critical mass.

Not coincidentally, I have been working in parallel on the subjects of ethics, epistemology, personal freedom, and introspection – as well as their urgent relevance to human survival – for a very long time.

My particular contribution to your effort is a model that expands on your invaluable research, adding urgently needed depth. Practical tools I’ve acquired and developed could well serve to fortify your intellectual arsenals in the ongoing media battle for the hearts and minds of the general public.

Put another way, my work identifies an overlooked but fatal blind-spot in Western thinking. (I elaborate on this at length in a post called “The Gate Keeper.”) Suffice it to say here that unless/until we restore a complete and correct paradigm to common understanding, the downward spiral of history will continue on its course unchecked.

By way of introduction, I should tell you that though this contact may seem sudden and rather late in the game, in fact, I’ve foreseen the state of critical mass a long time coming, patiently waiting for the right time to come forward.

Proof of the timing is written into the concluding chapter of Rethinking Survival’s memoir section called “Who I Am To Say.”

I chose the introductory quote to underscore the fact that I’m not alone in subscribing to the premise of Rethinking Survival:

Curiosity, awareness, attention — those are the tools we need if we hope to avoid our worst mistakes — and indeed if our children are to have a future on this planet. We have come to a pass in our evolution where we all must, to one degree or another, be scientists at heart or be victims of forces we don’t understand. I am certainly concerned about our survival as individuals. But I am also concerned that if we don’t know the rules of our world — both the human and physical rules — we will be in danger collectively as well. Laurence Gonzales. Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things

Between 2008 and 2009, I worked over-night third-shift hours at the Wisconsin Relay Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as a Communications Assistant. Quiet times gave me the opportunity to outline a book proposal for Surviving Titanic Times:

It seemed ironic that the general public in some ways is as of hard of hearing as the deaf community. What, I wondered, will it take for the “conveniently” hard of hearing to open their ears, hear warnings of threats to their survival and build lifeboats in time?

I decided that before readiness is there, it’s smartest to keep a low profile. When immediate danger is actually on the front doorstep, it will finally become convenient for people to rethink their assumptions. Only then will the general public have an vested interest in heeding the warnings of boundary-spanners, making it safe for “non-traditional” thinkers to come forward. . . .

This is the upside of dark times. Extreme danger is a 2’x4′ sufficient to get people’s attention, wake them up to their true greatness — “the giant within.”

Most news reporters, along with the politicians and experts they interview, are products of the skewed educational system that has brought us to the brink. However, according to the maxim, “The larger the front, the larger the back,” times of gravest danger are when greatest opportunities for change arise.

Heroes emerge when the time calls. A new readiness to see what before was invisible can open new avenues of Positive Action. As Gonzales details, survivors remember their best qualities and have eye-opening epiphanies.

Quite possibly there’s a whole generation of true leaders, ruined professionally to shut them up, patiently biding their time. They’re hidden in society’s woodwork, waiting quietly with the patience of Chinese sages for the right time and opportunity to come forward, to tell their stories. They’ll educate those with an ear to hear about the fundamental rules of our world, as Gonzales calls them — not just social standards, but more fundamentally, the laws of nature — and help us find the way out of self-destructive madness.

I’ve taken the experience of journalist Dorothy Thompson, “the American Cassandra,” to heart. Reporting from Germany in the 1930’s, she found no one in the U.S. wanted to hear about Hitler’s menace . . . until Americans were galvanized into entering WWII. Then it became convenient to listen to her.

With patient forbearance, I heed the I Ching wisdom of Stillness:

52 Stillness

I remain confident that over time, quietness inevitably changes to its opposite. Stillness is fecund. It bears within it the latent seeds of future action. So it’s important to know when to be quiet, to listen to inner guidance that warns against danger. Then, when the time is right, you’ll know to be in the right place and how to take the right action.

Phoenix - sized

Here I will briefly tell you my basic premise, describe the Life Wheel in abstract, and then show how it can be set into motion and applied to specific situations. Out of infinitely possible examples, I refer to the youtube conversation to demonstrate how the Wheel works.

Here is the basic premise as stated in the Introduction to Rethinking Survival:

The Danger

Programmed assumptions too often drive our decisions, actions and ultimately, survival options. Even with the best of intentions, misinformed people operating on conflicting beliefs destroy themselves and others. Sometimes the process is quick. Suicide. Murder. Usually it’s slower — atrophy and self-sabotage.

The connection between skewed thinking and disastrous results is mirrored in the global disconnect between policy and practice. Knowledge deficits are directly responsible for bankrupt economies, personal and international alike.

In the United States, politicians of both parties use psychological scare tactics to polarize the public. They warn with phony threats, at the same time, putting all of us at risk. Like Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, leaders alienate us with disgraceful partisan bickering. At the same time, they avoid the real dangers which threaten to burst the bubble of illusory progress with excruciating finality.

In sum: Just as the Titanic’s designers failed to recognize the ship’s fatal flaw, today’s religious and political leaders, acting on misinformation, are steering the planet ever closer to the brink of destruction. Presented here for the first time, the Positive Paradigm of Change offers the hopeful opportunity to rethink our collective future, shift away from the current collision course towards disaster and ensure human survival.

Building on this premise in The Positive Paradigm Handbook, I continued:

WHY PARADIGMS MATTER

Ideas drive results. People’s beliefs color their feelings, triggering basic emotions which in turn drive their actions.

Actions that stem from a simple, complete and accurate paradigm result in personal fulfillment, harmonious relationships, and economic prosperity.

Actions based on false, incomplete and inaccurate paradigms, however well intended or passionately defended, are the cause of widespread misery, suffering and deprivation.

As detailed in Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change, a fatal information deficit explains the worldwide leadership deficit and related budget deficits.

In a dangerous world where psychological and economic warfare compete with religious extremism and terrorism to undo thousands of years of incremental human progress, a healing balance is urgently needed.

Restoring a simple, complete and accurate paradigm of leadership and relationships now could make the difference between human survival on the one hand, and the extinction of the human race (or the end of civilization as we know it), on the other.

Phoenix - sized

Here then is the universal Life Wheel implicit (as detailed at length elsewhere) in the world’s enduring wisdom traditions. It is equally compatible with the discipline of yoga sutras and with modern physics. Formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change, it meets the Occam’s Razor standard of utmost simplicity with maximum inclusiveness.

PPoC gold

If gives us a complete and accurate model with which to sort out – articulate, organize and improve upon –- the levels and directions of our very complex lives. For, in fact, life – both personal and historical – is neither flat nor linear.

Here is a very early picture of how the interdependent but qualitatively different dimensions of life experience are related, prioritized and linked in the abstract.

II.05 Unity & Diversity

 

Phoenix - sized

In Sorting Yourself Out, Jordan Peterson compares the biblical example of Abraham’s “call to adventure” (and promise of exponential reward) to his intentional Self-Authoring process. It’s one example of what legendary comparative religion teacher Joseph Campbell called the “Hero’s Journey.” The cyclical, alpha-omega (but also inward) journey is also detailed by Clift and Clift in The Hero Journey in Dreams.

They tell us that journey starts with a call to adventure, followed by departure and initiation. These lead to sacrifice and suffering which in turn yields wisdom, then transformation and finally return to the world. We are told:

Dreams present one with symbols of transformation – the opportunity to expand one’s horizon. Painful experiences can be a great teacher – if one lets them. The hero is someone who has learned something, gained a new perspective.

Here, the stages of the Hero’s Journey are plugged into the Life Wheel, showing this multi-layered, dynamic process in motion. (N.B. This is not simply myth, but rather psychological necessity. We are each at one time or another in our lives – whether we choose to heed the call or not – invited to follow and complete the universal pattern.)

Hero's Journey

In essence, the Life Wheel is a Meta-Map. It forms the geometry of all Maps of Meaning, including the stories of not only the New and Old Testaments, but also Greek mythology and, significantly, the Bhagavad Gita.

A few examples of archetypal heroes from scriptural/literary history include Odysseus, Arjuna, Moses and Christ. Here (expanding on the narrow perspectives of secular atheists and religionists alike), is the dynamic Wheel which explains the ongoing presence/influence of the extraordinary teacher who told us, “Ye must be perfect like your Father.”

Saving the Best

The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change shows the way to use the Wheel as a multi-purpose tool of self-analysis and positive, personal change. We can apply it as a diagnostic and decision-making tool on any scale of magnitude – personal, organizational, or societal — marking investments of attention, time and effort over time (epochs) in various life sectors.

 

Phoenix - sized

Disastrously, the levels of the Life Wheel are becoming increasingly fragmented and out of synch in myriad ways. Here is just one example. It pictures what Stefan Molyneux repeatedly refers to as the increasing “hollowness” of communications. It equates with the incomplete paradigm of scientific materialism that recognizes only the reality of what is tangible and measurable.

Atheists rule out their awareness (though certainly not the functional existence) of inward levels of energy/emotions and intuition/light.

MaterialistAthest

Phoenix - sized

For the sake of brevity, additional applications must be addressed elsewhere. One post is already complete. Both Stefan and Jordan emphasize the importance of reasoned, critical thinking. This subject includes the highly political field of epistemology.

They also question of how to communicate their ideas to followers with Libertarian leanings. So a post on the interior level where innate Free Will resides as well as interrelated but qualitatively different levels of “freedom” is on the drawing board.

Stefan is a notable champion of ethics as foundational to viable civilizations. I agree heartily, and the post on the little known and gravely underrated Natural Law codified in the Chinese Book of Change (along with the implicit Law of Karma) supplies the insight/ammunition necessary to WIN this argument handily. Essentially, Freedom of Choice does not guarantee a free lunch. Far from it, it bears with it the responsibility to accept the inevitable Consequences of one’s choices. In this context, I’ve briefly introduced the MPI Standard for increasing self-awareness. The basic formula: Increase Awareness of What You are Doing, How and Why. Use the Wheel to articulate, prioritize and align the levels of Motive, Purpose and Intent.

CONCLUSION

I know this is a lot to take in. How can I be of help? Do you have questions or comments for me? If so, I’ll gladly respond to the thoughtful ones.

And, in balance, how might you help me? Let’s see. Value for value is the stated exchange. I used my 72nd birthday to write this post. As of now, writing is a low-priority hobby and working late hours takes a lot out of me. Lifestyle constraints are frustrating indeed. As food for thought along these lines, please take a peek at the mind-map of what could be materialized with this work if resources were made available.

With thanks for your kind attention and response, All best – Patricia West