Category Archives: Education

How Much Do You Know about the Book of Change (& Why Should You Care)?

Tai Chi Tu - sized

Listed below are eight common myths and misconceptions shrouding the perennial, venerable Chinese I Ching. Answers to these commonly asked questions give good reasons why you would benefit greatly from working with it.

circled Q

ONE

Q. What does an ancient book from a foreign land have to do with me, here and now?

A. Everything. The I Ching as a compendium of Natural Law is neither time nor place-bound. It speaks to the questions we all ask about the human condition. For over 8,000 years, with good reason, it has endured as the foundation of Chinese healing, governing and military arts alike. No equivalent exists in the West. Most importantly, it fills a fatal gap in the way Westerners have been taught to think.

TWO

Q. If it is so important, why isn’t it taught to young people in schools?

A. Good question! Probably because the assumptions described below are taught as if fact.

THREE

Q. Isn’t the Book of Change unscientific – just hocus pocus? Primitive or New Age superstition?

A. Like any other wisdom tradition which has endured over time, the I Ching has inevitably been subject to misuse. This doesn’t, however, reflect on its inherent value. In fact, this compendium of Natural Law is so highly sophisticated that Western science is just beginning to catch up with it.

For example, in the 1800s, Leibniz acknowledged that its mathematical foundations long preceded his calculus. The single and broken lines of the hexagrams are analogous to binary-digital computer code. Further, its 64 hexagrams have been directly correlated with DNA structure.

FOUR

Q. Question: Is the I Ching a sacred book, like the Bible? Is it part of a religion?

A . Answer: Yes and no. Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucians, despite their differences, hold the I Ching in highest regard. It is used to connect with inner knowing, on the one hand, and consulted for practical advice regarding every aspect of daily life, on the other. To them, the sacred and secular are inseparably intertwined, interwoven as the warp and woof of the fabric of life.

This book maps the dynamics of the Law of Karma – the foundation of practical ethics. Much has been written elsewhere on this subject.

FIVE

Q. Isn’t The Book of Change pagan and therefore off-limits to Christians? Doesn’t it contradict or oppose the teachings of the Bible?

A. There is no conflict. Natural and Divine Law are two different subjects. The Book of Change is a compendium of Natural Law. The two are compliments. As such, Chinese sages respected nature as a manifestation of the Tao, or God. As described elsewhere, both the Old and New Testaments show an understanding of the nature compatible with the I Ching worldview. This is quite different from pagans who by-pass Divine Law, worshiping nature instead.

In fact, many people with the best of intentions find their lives going terribly wrong for lack of the understanding (call it emotional intelligence) cultivated by working with Natural Law. Ongoing sexual and financial scandals which plague hierarchies secular and religious are directly linked to this ignorant lack of awareness: a fatal blind-spot in our education.

SIX

Q, Is the I Ching used to predict the future, like a crystal ball? Is it meant for divination, meaning to get what one wants or locate missing objects?

A. Advanced sages who understood numerology used it to produce astonishing results. But the I Ching is most often used as a method for making better decisions, in part because it serves to make the unconscious conscious. Truer to original meditative intent, people often use it to practice mindfulness. Working with The Book of Change helps quiet the mind, increase self-understanding, and then better understanding of others.

SEVEN

Q. Can the I Ching be fully understood or appreciated without knowledge of the Chinese language?

A. Hindu’s are attached to the exclusive value of the Sanskrit language, Jews to ancient Hebrew, and Muslims to the original language of the Koran. However, the source of truth is beyond language. Its cultural expression at a particular time and place varies, but the basic essentials are necessarily the same.

EIGHT

Q. Isn’t it better to learn about natural law from the European philosophers Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau, as America’s founding fathers did?

A. No. Their philosophy is intellectual speculation. Although they use the same words, that is where the similarity ends. The I Ching is based upon thousands of years of experience by leaders trained in the meditative arts to observe their inner states. They recognized exact correlations between inner and outer experience. Through careful observation, they detailed the operations of nature and the dynamics which drive human relationships.

How to Recognize the Difference Between Signal & Noise

towers in distress

What’s wrong with this picture? What can we learn from it?

A dark storm twister threatens the foundations of three increasingly smaller signal towers. Like dominoes, the largest is falling, knocking the middle one off its base, which in turn is lined up to crush the smallest.

It’s an apt image of our mental. emotional and physical bodies – instruments designed to receive and transmit the Creator’s signal.

It pictures what happens when the noise of current events on the surface of the Life Wheel clouds the inner signal of conscience. Our fractured knowledge base is so fatally flawed, we’re left powerless to withstand approaching storms of destruction.

As partisans along the full spectrum of opinion rage to proclaim competing, partial pictures of reality, the universal signal all were built to transmit is lost. Noise reigns.

I put it another way in Rethinking Survival.

Alien invaders infiltrating Planet Earth, weakening humans to eventually take over and enslave them, is a familiar theme in science fiction. For example, in his various incarnations, Dr. Who — television’s time traveler — continuously detects nefarious alien plots and rescues heedless humans from annihilation.

Current events indicate there’s considerable truth cloaked in that “fiction.” Starting with the premise that hidden alien enemies are covertly scheming to undermine humanity, ask, “How would they set about to destroy us?”

Logically, they’d create chaos, setting everyone at each others’ throats. They’d trick humans into mutual self-destruction by stirring up dissension and fragmenting their governments.

. . . Their agents will do whatever it takes to pollute your mind. They confuse it with false paradigms. They clutter and distract it with the ongoing media circus.

Every doubt planted in your mind, causing you to forget who you are, to disbelieve in your ultimate origins and creative potentials, is a victory for the dark side.

To totally undermine humanity, atheism is a must. The unifying beliefs which hold families and nations together and fortify them in times of adversity must be destroyed at all costs.

Again, how would this be accomplished?

For one thing, language which makes communication and community-building possible would have to be polluted beyond repair. . . . this ongoing process is described as the Tower of Babel factor. . . . Alien agents are masters of double-speak, the child of deception and second-cousin of spin. . . .

. . . Diversions would be a must. Rile the public with non-issues to distract them from very real dangers. Using lame-stream media shills, manipulate the masses with the weapons of psychological warfare. Insult them with the lie that they’re not okay. Sell them on the belief that they’re helpless “victims” of oppressors who must depend on tough guys to rescue them (and pay the heavy price of obligation at the voting polls). . .

Divide and conquer. Pit each group against the others.

I can almost see alien puppeteers behind the scenes clapping their hands in glee over Alinsky’s contribution to escalating worldwide conflict. It matters not to them which side wins. Let Sharia law advocates, members of Putin’s Eurasian Union and American exceptionalists squander their precious resources duking it out.

If they destroy each other and no one’s left, so much the better.

All this is by means of introduction to an article published in the February issue of Prabuddha Bharata as “Hubba Hubba’s Riddle.”

I’ve already included snippets in earlier blogs, Yes AND .  . . and Psychology’s Blind Spot.

What follows here, with permission, is the full article. Origins of this assignment are described in Be Careful What You Hope For:

I brought up the article just finished for Prabuddha Bharata, a premier yoga journal, one in existence for over a century, dating back to the introduction of yoga to the United States in the 1800s.

The Editor’s suggested topic: “It would be nice if you could address the issue of increasing polarisation across the world.” The time frame: “as early as possible!”

Writing it was intense, I told OA. I felt inspired . . . as if it were writing me. I watched as it flowed through me. Wow.

This introduction serves to return us back once again to my central subject: acquiring the ability to recognize the difference between signal and noise.

The journal’s required word length is longer that a usual post. But as a matter close to home – human survival – the article repays your careful attention.

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Hubba Hubba’s Riddle

My paternal grandfather, Hubble West, loved the English language. An enormous dictionary, well-worn from decades of use, sat opened atop a wooden pedestal next to his chair at the head of the dinner table. During meals, he’d challenge the children to define words used by adults in conversation and look up the ones they weren’t sure of.

Hubba Hubba, as we called him, was also keen on riddles. Lodged permanently in my mind is this one: “Why is the monkey that spins?”

His sage-like answer: “The higher the fewer.”

Huh? It made sense in a koan-kind-of-way. But there was more that eluded me. His riddle lingered in the back of my mind as unfinished business.

Over time, it continued to resonate with my growing understanding of the universal Life Wheel as a mysterious but dynamic, multi-dimensional phenomena imbued with life-changing implications.

At the very least, it functions well as a yoga-like diagnostic and decision-making tool. It is highly useful in resolving inner conflicts as a preliminary step towards overcoming polarization in the world, whether it be conflict between empirical science and religious values, or between different nations.

But there’s much more.

Here I’ll begin with a basic description of the Life Wheel, the subject of an earlier article published in the August 2015 edition of Prabuddha Bharata, As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Cone Now?1

After reintroducing the Life Wheel, I’ll expand from there, elaborating on applications and expansions of its riddle-like essence.

In Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This2, I describe the Wheel. It is not “new,” nor is it an arbitrary mental confabulation. Its archetypal structure repeats throughout nature from atoms to planets orbiting around the sun. Its wheel-like pattern of concentric circles orbiting a central hub is mirrored in art and architecture from the beginnings of time. It embodies a timeless healing solution to the comparatively recent rift between materialist and philosophical definitions of “reality:”

The archetypal Life Wheel formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is a modern day descendant of the time-tested Book of Change which leaders in every field of endeavor have consulted for over eight-thousand years.

While true to the ancient teachings of India and China, it abstracts their essence in a simple and complete manner designed to be accessible to us today.

It places the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 – mass, energy and light – on increasingly deeper levels within the Life Wheel. The result is the Unified Theory which Einstein already had, though didn’t know it.

PPoC gold

The three outer levels are interrelated and interdependent. Each is necessary but not sufficient. Their existence depends upon the unchanging hub of the Wheel. The true SELF — also called Conscience, the Tao or God — holds the spokes together as spinning events on the Wheel’s surface rim change continuously. Creation in the form of primal consciousness emanates from and returns to this silent alpha-omega center.

Complete and accurate, the Life Wheel meets the Occam’s Razor standard by explaining the totality of human experience with maximum inclusiveness and utmost simplicity.

This wheels-within-wheels model is equally compatible with modern physics, yoga philosophy and the world’s great religions. It is a reality map upon which scientists and sages can agree.

A variation of the Life Wheel shows the relationship between surface flux and inner stability. That which is superficial and ephemeral is generated from and sustained by the eternal absolute.

Flux & Stability

In Rethinking Survival, I connected with the idea that the Life Wheel is the answer to an ancient Upanishad question: “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” In essence, correctly understood and implemented, it holds the KEY to Life.

The Positive Paradigm of Change can be personalized to facilitate positive personal change on all levels. Applied on increasingly larger scales of magnitude – to relationships, families, communities and organizations – it has significant social implications.

APPLICATIONS

In the yogic tradition, breath awareness is used to “go deep,” quieting the scattered monkey mind of Hubba Hubba’s riddle. By making the breath slow and even, it is possible to enter into a focused, contemplative mind state. Pranayama practices regulate the noisy mind that ordinarily functions on the most rapid, beta brainwave frequency. Meditation cultivates alpha waves associated with relaxation and then the still slower theta waves associated with deep learning and inspiration.

Further, according to scripture, the fully attained sage links the levels of awareness, consciously living “here yet there.” This fully-actualized state, “turyia,” been likened to “Christ consciousness.”

So modern science now confirms what the ancients knew. Brainwave science applied in biofeedback therapies correlates increasingly slower rates of breathing with entering into increasingly deeper, more inward levels of awareness. The following variation of the Life Wheel correlates scriptural descriptions of altered states of consciousness with Western medical science.

Brainwave Patterns

Another important application shows how the individual fits within the Life Wheel. Each of us is like a small sliver, a pie-slice part of the whole. Each of us is potentially complete, with all levels present and linked to a central, unifying central hub. This picture speaks to the right as well as left-brain. It’s worth a thousand words.

illumined minds

As this application shows, the true pinnacle of success is not experienced at the surface of the Wheel. Paradoxically, the “height” of human attainment resides not on the shallow level of outward surface appearances, but rather by going “deeper.”

It is not defined by accumulation of material wealth, prestige, power and control over others. In a holistic view, success cannot be equated with rising to the top of any social/political hierarchy. For the true hierarchy is defined in the context of the Life Wheel, where power and wealth are put into correct perspective as equal parts blessing and responsibility. Accomplishments on the surface demonstrated by competence are important and necessary. However, they are completed and fulled only by the attainment of access to inner wisdom and light – and then acting consistently with conscience.

As a single individual reconnects with the center which everyone everywhere shares in common, separatist illusions cease. Selfish exploitation of others recedes, partly because awareness of karmic returns heightens. As this happens, self-interest is increasingly aligned with socially responsibly behavior.

Further, this application of the Life Wheel explains why the true teachings of all times necessarily share the basics in common. Although surface versions necessarily take on new forms – expressed in different languages, images and customs according to time and place – of necessity, they share central timeless truths in common. Truth is truth. It is, was, and always will be.

With determined effort, over time, Hubba Hubba’s riddle monkeys spin [evolve] upwards (or deeper, depending on how you look at it) through the inward-receding layers of the Life Wheel. In the archetypal process of the hero’s journey, they encounter severe challenges. By overcoming obstacles (learning life lessons), they penetrate ever deeper towards the silent core.

Few indeed are those imbued with sufficient love of truth, fierce desire to be one with it, and the courage to persist in the self-discipline and self-sacrifice required to reach the ultimate goal of human perfection. True, Jesus said, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven.” He never said the journey would be easy.

EXPANSIONS

From here, things get even more interesting.

Now, the Life Wheel is a reality map, a meta-map – an archetypal map of maps, if you will. It is complete and accurate . . . as far as a two-dimensional representation can be.

But . . . maps, say of Earth’s geology, or of the human habitations superimposed upon it, are flat. They are two-dimensional, whereas the territory they represent is at least three-dimensional. Still further, however, the reality towards which the Life Wheel points (equally material and non-material) is multi-dimensional. It includes at least four dimensions – up to as many as eight by some accounts. And the meta-map mutates to represent these extra dimensions.

For example, the concentric circles of the Life Wheel pattern can be compared to the cross-section of a tree. When looked at from a horizontal perspective, an oak tree has expanding circular layers growing around a central pithy core. One can also look at the same phenomena in its vertical dimension. Like a tree, the Life Wheel stretches infinitely upwards towards the sky. And downwards, deeper than the sea.

For it is not just any tree, like an oak, of course, but rather a mystical, archetypal Tree of Life which echoes through the traditions of many world cultures. Here is one particularly suggestive example: the biblical Tree of Life.

Tree of Life

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,3 the “tree of knowledge” is said to connect all forms of creation, linking heaven to the underworld. Not only is this universal concept widespread in religious and philosophical traditions. In a famous passage by Charles Darwin, the Tree of Life was also used as a metaphor for the phylo-genetic tree of common descent in the evolutionary sense.4

Then again, the Life Wheel nicely accommodates the subtle energy centers described in both Asian and Indian records. In Sanskrit they are called chakras. The picture looks like this:

Wheel2

Not coincidently, the translation of chakra (a spinning a vortex of energy located along the central axis of the human spine) is Wheel or circle. The term is associated with cycles of nature, the “wheel of time,” and the “wheel of fate.”

Readers familiar with yoga anatomy are already well-familiar with the concept. Suffice it to say here that starting with Rigveda, we know of seven energy centers that traverse the spine. They comprise a subtle body interior to the physical body, connected to it through channels called nadis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the channels are called meridians, which also parallel the physical nervous system.

A primary pair of nadis, ida and pingala, twine around the spine, intersecting at the major energy centers and joining at the sixth, or Ajna center known as the third eye. Pictured as snakes, this pair correlate with the primal energies called yin and yang in Chinese philosophy.

Interestingly, the roots of “hatha”in ha-tha yoga translate as “sun” and “moon.” Since “yoga” means as union, the larger term translates as “union of sun and moon.” It refers to balancing of the constituent masculine and feminine energies inherent within each of us, regardless of gender.

According to TCM, when complimentary masculine and feminine polarities are properly balanced, harmonized and unified, they produce health on all levels. Conversely, separating them or placing them in unnatural conflict produces unhealthy polarized extremes of excess and deficiency. As energies fragment, they tear the physical body and body politic apart. For by extension, escalating polarization of today’s societies is an external reflection of inner imbalances.

The Greek caduceus, the familiar symbol of the Western medical profession, serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences historically shared common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.

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.

The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution.

The wings at the top of the axis represent the integrating crown chakra.

PSYCHOLOGY’S BLIND SPOT

Unfortunately, the operation and influence of chakras is associated with the e = energy level of the Life Wheel – which is a (fatal) blind spot of Western psychologies. Although the presence/influence of energy centers is experienced and described by experienced meditators, they cannot be observed, quantified or standardized in empirical terms. “Scientists” have therefore ruled out the reality of their existence.

Thus stranded from the mainstream of traditional psychologies, Western scientists ironically lament that their empirical science cannot account for consciousness. Solutions to their unanswered questions rest in ancient subtle sciences. (Science, by the way, simply means, with knowledge. Where or how knowledge is obtained is not exclusive to empirical means.) The existence of chakras within the context of the Life Wheel fills a glaring gap in the academic knowledge base.

It gives a new view of evolution as well. The spinning monkey-mind moves up the chakra chain, slowly reversing the bifurcating process of duality to attain, at long last, the peace of unified stillness. So, Why is the monkey that spins? What is its motivating Nietzschian purpose? Unity. Moving successively through the chakras, spinning in resonance with each in them in turn, the monkey evolves upwards. The higher up the ladder of life the monkey mind goes, the fewer doubts and fears, the less ignorance and confusion in life. The less fragmented, aimless chatter.

One Western psychologist is fascinated with the Egyptian worship of the eye as a function of consciousness – the ability to focus, to pay close attention to the calling of conscience. The Ajna center nicely explains the connection. It serves to link heaven and earth. As Command Center of the physical endocrine system of ductless glands, it coordinates bodily functions. At the level of intelligence, it mediates in the decision-making process so that choices are aligned with higher will,

Now, the Western way of ignoring and denying the reality and influence of chakras makes life’s journey far more difficult than need be. But it can’t and doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. Most of us still have glimpses of transcendent experience, most often through the arts.

For example, music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music, especially by Mozart, has been correlated in The Mozart Effect.5

In addition, the (albeit too-often unconscious) effect of the chakras on human experience is particularly strong in the visual arts, including the full spectrum from fashion and home-making to interior design, architecture and fine arts. This in due to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.

This blind spot explains why many of Hubba Hubba’s monkeys get stuck, so that the number which continue to dance and spin upwards grows ever fewer. This point therefore bears especially close attention. The only way to truly heal or overcome conflict generated by false and incomplete belief systems (rather than just masking or exploiting it), is to expand the widely-held belief system to include all levels of human experience. Only then can we turn stuck, jagged, southward directed energies around. Our hope rests in reversing their flow towards True North.

Mainstreaming correct information in the form of maps and methods is essential

if we are to stop the process of escalating polarization and restore inner unity,

the necessary precursor of world peace.

TWIN DANGERS

The hollow shell of empirical science which rules out the reality/existence of inner levels of experience generates two related and especially dangerous mistakes. The first is literalism, taking poetic symbolism at face value.

Here is a representation of the first mistake, literalism – separating intrinsically interrelated energetic pairs of natural opposites and putting them in unnatural opposition. Sexism and racism are among its symptoms. It results in an adversarial, either/or mentality, neither side respecting, accepting or communicating with the other. It leaves both sides incomplete and unfulfilled.

II-10 rev

 

The second mistake is an extension of the first. The second is confabulation, superimposing or substituting culturally conditioned non-equivalents for natural essences. The Chinese, for example, make a clear distinction between true yin and yang on the one hand, and false yin and yang on the other. True yin and yang manifests as the natural differences between biological males and females. False yin and yang include unnatural differences stemming from rigid, culturally-conditioned gender stereotypes.

Here’s another example. Western psychologists talk about the unconscious mind in terms of it being a “shadow” or “dark” side. It is all too easy to slide from here into the mistake of equating the unknown, passive or yin valence with daemonic, unnatural evil.

In this, the Chinese view of energy centers, which they call dan tiens, is helpful. Each of the internal organs is associated with a specific set of emotions. When these emotions are harnessed, balanced and harmonized as a whole, they are experienced as positive virtues. Out balance, in states of either excess or deficiency, they manifest as negative emotions and produce physical illness.

For example, in balance, the positive virtue of the heart manifest as confidence and courage. Out of synch, the heart expresses as harshness and cruelty, making the excessively cruel person prone to heart disease.

What is important here to establish is the correct definition of evil. The yin, subtle side of nature is not evil. It is a necessary part of the whole. What is evil is any attempt to fragment, even destroy, the integrity of the life pattern itself. (Variations of the Life Wheel represent levels out of synch and disconnected. They are shown briefly in the earlier Prabuddha Bharata article, so are not repeated here.)

A necessary first step in overcoming this second danger is to restore the Life Wheel to generally accepted awareness.

Put another way, it is difficult indeed to counter and correct escalating political polarization when its underlying cause, false belief systems, isn’t recognized and remedied. In the creative process represented in the Life Wheel, first ideas trigger emotions,. In turn, these lead to action. When the initial, causative ideas are false or incomplete, they trigger negative emotions which in turn generate destructive behavior. Therefore, to change destructive behavior patterns, it is necessary to first replace the systems that generate them with a complete and correct one.

The first step towards positive change is to accept and live by correct belief ideas supported by useful methods, one person at a time, and from the inside out.

RETURN TO SIMPLICITY

We chattering, hyper-intellectual but undisciplined mental monkeys too often block out conscious awareness of the inner levels of the Life Wheel. We dismiss the disciplines required to spin through the lower chakras, evolving towards the higher/deeper ones.

Western cultures have this universal wisdom embedded in their teachings. But these roots are tacit and overlooked. To make matters worse, insincere leaders corrupt the language, thereby distorting truth. This confuses the weak-minded. It seems as if academic social/political theorists are devolving, trapped in the hollowness of empirical science, debasing human thought and behavior to animal status.

monkey

People of simple faith enjoy a peace of mind forfeited by overeducated monkeys. Those deaf to conscience continue to chatter away — arguing, debating, theorizing and speculating, while quietness is required to enter through the higher gates.

The passage from Jesus Calling for the very day of this writing expresses the universal calling to stillness and the monkey mind’s predicament, as well as the remedy:

The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. . . A refreshed, revitalized mind is able to sort out what is important and what is not. In its natural condition, your mind easily gets stuck on trivial matters. Like the spinning wheels of a car trapped in the mud, the cogs of your brain spin impotently when you focus on a trivial thing. As soon as you start communicating with Me about the matter, your thoughts gain traction, and you can move on to more important things. Communicate with Me continually, and I will put My thoughts into your mind.6

Whirling dervishes spin to quiet and transcend the ordinary mind, cultivating stillness to enter into an altered state of higher consciousness. Similarly, the American Shaker community in Alfred, Maine used dance to shake off the dross of worldly stress. Elder Joseph Brackett wrote the words to the dance tune “Simple Gifts” for this intentional community:7

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

The blessing hidden in an increasingly complex world is that, as a matter of survival, truth seekers are obliged to return to – and appreciate – the simple values in life. Of necessity, these survivors must build communities and train warrior-priests like the Shaolin monks of old: fiercely competent lovers of principle and peace, motivated by the purpose to protect innocents, sustained by the will to survive dark age madness and prevail.

CONCLUSION

He knew a lot, my stoic grandpa Hubba Hubba. He knew more than he knew he knew. Though a simple, uneducated man, he loved language and taught his grandkids to appreciate the importance of using words correctly. Grounded in his Native American origins, he knew the name of every plant in the forest. He kept a hand-crafted wood and bark canoe in the attic of his sagging barn. Yet he also worked many years as a foreman at the local asbestos plant, a job he despised, to put food on the table for his family.

His wife, my Grandma Ellie, called him simply “Hub.” Small wonder. The word hub is also used to signify the center of a wheel.

I remember him best because, with his simple riddle, he planted a seed in my childish brain that bore fruit in my adult mind. He gave me the opportunity to access what he knew, then articulate it a bit better thanks to his gift of careful words.

Hubba Hubba came to me in a dream while I was living in Germany, immersed both in string music and in reading Jung’s memoir. Since it applies to equally well to the world situation now, I pass on the warning he gave me. From Rethinking Survival:

In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.

I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.

This article could never have been written except for his simple fidelity to inner truth. May he smile on us now from above, gratified that his sacrifices were well-worth the price, knowing that his grandchildren, following his example, are doing their best to pay his blessings (including warnings) forward.

This one’s for you, Hubba Hubba, with love and gratitude.

——————————————-

Footnotes

1. West, Patricia. “As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?” Prabuddha Bhrata, August 2015.

2. West, Patricia. Published as https://rethinkingsurvival.com/2014/06/15/scientists-sages-can-agree-on-this/.

3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. See “World Tree.”

4. Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species (1872), 104f.

5. Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit. (Quill: NY, 2001).

6. Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. (Thomas Nelson: Dallas, 2000.) September 3.

7. Brackett, Elder Joseph. “Simple Gifts.” (Maine, 1848).

8. West, Patricia. Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change. (Positive Action Press: Madison WI, 2014.) p. 41.

What You See Is What You Get

This post continues the threads, “If You Love Your Children . . .” and “. . . Tell Them How the World Works.”

Tragically, schools have been being co-opted by ideologues who promote the false belief that the way to end human suffering is to destroy unjust social structures. This brainwashing poses a grave danger to young people. It is more likely to end human life on the planet than to end suffering.

In thinking how to best counter destructive lies, I recalled these lines from Essay Sketches on Positive Action:

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.

Life is whatever you choose to make it.

I also remembered the words of a mentor at the Wisconsin School Board Association. Shaking his head, Senn Brown told me, “You are ahead of the times.”

Well, as the song goes, “Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.” Though I was already on track, I’ve learned a bit since then.

In If You Love Your Children . . , I described Dr. Peterson’s advice for withstanding unfairness and suffering. It’s summarized in 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos:

Essentially, his book advises people to “man up.” All of us have the potential to be much better than we are. Before criticizing the world, our first responsibility is to improve ourselves with discipline, carving out meaning in our lives as a bulwark against the chaos of life’s inevitable hardships.

Certainly this is excellent advice for coping with circumstances, literally standing on the circle’s rim.

But there’s much more to life than circumstances experienced on the surface. And the origins and solutions to most of our problems lie hidden beneath that surface.

For positive solutions to current circumstances, we have to look deeper. We need to remember the fabulous inherent inner resources whose very existence is denied by believers in shallow, exclusively materialistic science who give us permission to know only that which is tangible, measurable and quantifiable.

In contrast, the wisest among the teachers of any other time and place than our immediate circumstance have consistently told us that we are far more than a physical body.

The rules of this deeper wisdom are summed up in The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change. It lists Seven Axioms which compliment and complete Dr. Peterson’s 12 Rules. They give depth to his assertion that all of us can be much better than we now are.

Consistent with its predecessor, the Book of Change, The Handbook holds:

  • Dysfunctional paradigms tie us in knots. They tear us apart. They drive us crazy. They push us (first individually, then collectively) to murder and even suicide.
  • To survive intact, we must cleave to the essence of the perennial philosophy. The universal Life Wheel is a snapshot of the essential truth which the world’s great religions share in common. It offers us a way out of global madness. It gives us a means for restoring sanity to our world outlook.
  • Peace and positive change necessarily begin one individual at a time, and are accomplished from the inside out. So long as dysfunctional paradigms put individuals at war with themselves, general ignorance will continue to escalate into worldwide conflict.

The Seven Axioms, along with basic corollaries, are based on the multi-dimensional, two-directional Life Wheel that looks like this:

levels of law - sized

These are the axioms:

AXIOM 1.  A complete and correct paradigm is the key to personal well-being and success.

AXIOM 2.  We are each a world complete, containing the potentials of the universe.

AXIOM 3.  Unity at the center and diversity on the surface are necessary compliments.

AXIOM 4.  The consequences of action are inevitable; those who respect the law of karma succeed.

AXIOM 5.  History is cyclical, not linear or progressive; nor can human survival be taken for granted.

AXIOM 6.  Used as a linguistic tool, the Life Wheel promotes clear, accurate and effective communication.

AXIOM 7.  With a correct paradigm, practical methods and useful tools, you can make yourself whole.

book header bird

Here is how I would apply these axioms to answer the radical student’s question to Dr. Peterson about unfairness, alienation and loneliness.

Taking up where I left off in “ . . Tell Them How the World Works,” I mentioned creating images to illustrate written text. This is important, because words function in the analytical (yang) left-brainer mode, while pictures speak to those of us who function primarily in the creative non-verbal (yin) right-brainer mode.

What you do or don’t see, through which ever side of the brain you favor, depends on you. If you’re fortunate to have both sides active, balanced and cooperating harmoniously, all the better.

To refresh your memory, a primary excuse ideologues use to rationalize overthrow of the established order is “thrownness:”

. . you’re a certain race and you’re born with a certain level of intelligence. You’re born in a certain culture with a certain language and in a certain socio-economic class and with a certain degree of attractiveness. And those are all things that are handed to you.

As Dr. Peterson paraphrases their argument:

The talents and catastrophes of life are by no means equally distributed. From the perspective of the standards of human justice and perhaps human mercy as well, there is something intrinsically unfair, unjust about the structure of existence itself.

Here is my picture of the catastrophes that result from living exclusively on the surface, ignorant of the workings of our inner universe. Both center and middle levels of life are repressed to comply with exclusively materialistic rules of the knowledge game.

As an aside, let me emphasize that suffering of the natural world is magnified and twisted beyond recognition by the unnatural, unnecessary overlay of ignorance humans add to the mix.

Unfair-sized

What do you make of it?

At first glance, it makes me think of PTSD victims, suicidal drop-outs, violent protesters and serial killers. At second, it reminds me of Pastor Joe Fox’s survivalist advice. “If you believe you are helpless, that whatever you do makes no difference, that there’s no hope, it’s true.” Believing it makes it so.

To name just a few who rose above harsh circumstances – What if Nelson Mandala, born black in an apartheid nation and incarcerated for dozens of years, had acted on this world view? Or Anne Frank, who hid in an attic from Nazi oppressors until betrayed, and died at age 15 in a concentration camp? Or Helen Keller, left deaf, dumb and blind after an early disease?

In contrast, here’s a picture of life completed by inner wisdom. Mandela, Frank and Keller drew on these resources to overcome harsh circumstances. So can each of us. The image gives new meaning to Dr. Peterson’s repeated advice, “Go deep!”

Life is Mysterious

It reminds me of Solomon’s words, “To everything there is a season.” In a complete world view, through the times friendship, love, work and conflicts, the full spectrum of emotions is in-formed by self-aware introspection and, at the deepest level, the abiding stillness of inner peace.

Based on this world view, I would ever so briefly suggest that each of our present circumstances is the result of a long history of past actions. And our futures depend upon the choices made and actions we take NOW.

Also, as concluded in If You Love Your Children. . . :

What if (like Christ born in a filthy stable) you came here on a soul mission, given challenges perfectly matched to your unique calling – perhaps life lessons to be learned? What if life is complex and mysterious, but inherently just? It’s quite possible.

Phoenix - sized

But this is plenty to absorb for now. Another set of pictures shows an alternative, wisdom response to life’s suffering. But it will wait.

Closing where I started today, my School Board Association mentor, Senn Brown, told me I was ahead of my times. He said this because I warned out of the gate that Affirmative Action legislation missed the point. Not only was it unenforceable. It would trigger inevitable backlash.

I’m one of Camille Paglia’s generation. Toxic, irrelevant universities could not contain creative thinkers. She told Dr. Peterson her peers dropped out, overdosed and disappeared off the radar.

But I chose a less traveled path. Though having no illusions about the University, I completed the Ph.D., committed to earning the credential required to build relevant schools which DO meet students’ needs.

Deeper still, I held fast to the belief that relevant sciences and teachers are still available to those who sincerely seek them. And in that I was not disappointed.

I continue to write, sustained by the hunch that the day is soon coming when I and the times will finally come into synch.

In any case, you might find the rest of the Essay Sketch I opened with interesting:

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET. Life is whatever you choose to make it. Make cultural heroes of people who pride themselves on their ability to beat the system and stand above the crowd — eager-to-please imitators will strive to replicate that model.

What would the world be like if, instead, value were placed on good will, friendship and cooperation? Not leveling, mind you. Communist experiments in China and Russia have proven that starving personal initiative doesn’t work any better than the everyone-for-himself approach.

Try the middle road. Give Positive Action a chance, and see what you get. Start small, with what can be done in your own personal life and inner circles. The ripples will spread in all directions.

Angel Calling

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

In writing this post, I surprised myself and took a different direction. I intended to pick up where the last left off, completing Dr. Phil’s sentence: “If you love your children, tell them how the world works.”

There, I quoted an exchange between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and a radical student on the subject of identity.

Student: My question isn’t about [the article], but more about identity. . . . Maybe nature lends itself to creation of arbitrary structures within society. But then people self-identify with these categories. . . . How do people reckon with the parts of their identity that may or may not contribute to environments where people feel more estranged, more alone?

JBP: That’s why you educate . . to separate the wheat from the chaff. Because you’re a historical creature. And it’s outside of you and inside of you.

Well. He’s right . . . but only partially so. For we are more than mere “historical creatures.”

What I would add to the mix is a deeper, more comprehensive component of identity. For that, I rely on the gravely misunderstood and underrated I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change, along with its more accessible and familiar spin-offs: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu’s classic Art of War. Together, they represent a blind spot in Western thinking, a glaring deficit in our knowledge banks responsible for dangerous deficits in every aspect of today’s civilization.

The I Ching and both spin-offs detail how the world works. They are especially useful when dealing with conflict.This is the gift of love I’ve labored long to restore to common knowledge.

To the extent we applied this knowledge to questions of identity and social structure, we’d have a hope of restoring common sense and sanity to our lives.

Earlier, I spend hours putting together pictures of shallow circumstance and the biblical answer to suffering. However, instead, what I decided to do here is share three related essays. Each applies ancient wisdom to current confusions.

Essay 15 on Roles offers a broader view of gender and social identity. Essay 13 addresses how roles are learned in the Family. This in turn builds into rethinking the structure of Community, Essay 14. This is a lot to take in, I know. But please stay with me. It’s well worth taking the time to give these tried and tested truths your careful consideration.They could well make your New Year go much better.

Also, by the way . . . Dr. Peterson repeatedly states his respect for Taoist philosophy. Everything below is in harmony with and supports his view of how the world works.

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

Traditional business concepts of organizational structure and management technique often condition managers to classify and measure everything and everyone they are responsible for. Organizational charts assign names to little boxes in hierarchal order. . . Not that there is no value in all these charts and systems; on the contrary, they offer a worthwhile way of understanding the fundamental structure. But the structure should serve, as chords do in jazz, as a basis for innovation and improvisation. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Leaders must be people who will not fight change but who will anticipate it, and can be challenged enough by it to enjoy it. . . We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who feels strong and courageous and trusting enough to trust himself in the present situation. — Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

THE FRONT

“Role” refers to a part or character that an actor plays in a performance. By extension, it refers to a function or office assumed by someone for limited duration to fulfill a particular purpose. We wear roles like clothing put on by day, shed by night.

Success in the world depends on the ability to choose a suitable part and play it with sincerity and skill, aware of how that role fits into the larger pattern of family and business organization. When studied, practiced and performed to perfection, a well-defined role provides a structure from which to relate to others and serve a useful function within the whole.

Knowing one’s particular place in the universe at any given time, in specific contexts, is an important part of self-knowledge. It’s possible to wear an array of “hats,” suitable to many complimentary roles, even during the course of a day.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, MacBeth laments, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

When we live unconsciously, we identify not with our essential true selves, but only the roles arbitrarily assigned by accidents of birth and later, by chance.

Though there are exceptions to the rule, and many variations on the theme, gender is a primary dictator of roles. In the West, girl children are traditionally dressed in pink and trained for reproductive and housekeeper roles with no preparation for transition to a productive middle or old age. Boys are dressed in blue and expected to participate in contact sports, fight wars, earn a living and support a family, also with little thought for what else life may have in store.

For the most part, one’s wealth, business and social opportunities are largely determined by whom one’s parents happen to be. Likewise, religious beliefs and nationality traits are mind-sets usually fixed by place and time of birth. In The Taoist I Ching, the sum of these factors is called cultural conditioning.

A life thus lived on automatic pilot, running on programming that has never been examined, is barely human. One cannot say such a life measures up to God’s gift of free will. There’s no conscious choice involved in the way it’s lived.

The goal of I Ching-based, Taoist training is to release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning, so that the mind is freed to return to its universal, pristine nature.

The purpose of overcoming cultural conditioning is not to withdraw from life, but rather to live it consciously and intentionally, to the full. Those who truly know how to act, do so with heart and soul. Rather than merely going through the mechanical gestures of scripted parts spoken without understanding, they play out a changing succession of roles over a lifetime with full awareness and conviction.

Taking on and letting go of roles is either growth-productive or traumatic, depending on one’s philosophy of life. In I Ching context, ephemeral change is natural, not subject to moral judgment as good or bad.

But, to the extent we live unconsciously, we’re but tragic shadows of our true potential. We’re poor players because we know not what we do. The more we become conscious, the more we are able to bring vitality, depth and meaning to the roles we choose, and the more radiant our lives become.

Those in leadership roles with I Ching awareness carefully prepare followers for change, equipping them to meet challenges and survive adversity. People who depend on leaders stuck in the past, unwilling or unable to change, are in deep trouble. Their survival depends on listening to the warnings of conscience in combination with gut instincts, finding positive ways to work around and overcome the dangerous consequences of mismanagement.

THE BACK

The opposite of roles is to be without a part to play. Jobless and/or homeless people are excluded from the give and take of productive daily life, as are incarcerated criminals and those institutionalized with mental or physical health problems. So are slum dwellers whose extreme poverty results in lack of education, skills and access to the work world.

The value of roles is perverted when they’re frozen into masks and performed without authentic involvement. When people identify with roles (or hide behind them) to such an extreme that they forget their true identity, they become disconnected from life. People who think of others only in terms of their roles stereotype them, disrespecting their essential humanity.

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

The nature of the chakra cords that you build in your first family will be repeated in all the following relationships that you create later. . . As an adult, you will most likely grow dependent child/mother cords between you and your mate. As you move through life and mature, you gradually transform the child/mother cords into adult/adult ones. Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

In the family we learn love, patience, respect, nurturing, affirmation, and health. The family also teaches us about competition, domination, selfishness, and deceit. The family is thus a relatively efficient learning system for the development of mind, spirit, and body. It involves the whole self. — Tom Chappell, The Soul of a Business

For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. – Jesus Christ, St. Matthew 12:50

THE FRONT

The Latin root of “family” means household establishment. An obsolete usage refers to all the people living in the same house, including servants and slaves. A later definition refers to all the relatives living in the same house, including extended family. Only recently has it come to mean a nuclear unit, the traditional set of parents (one husband, one wife) and their off-spring.

A family can mean a group of people related by ancestry or marriage, including relatives. It can be all those claiming descent from a common ancestor, tribe, or clan — a lineage. A crime syndicate under a single leader is also called a family.

The extended Kennedy clan is a shining example of family cohesiveness. Yet, in an interview with Larry King, Maria Shriver described lessons her family never taught her. The “real world” lessons in her book, intended to spare others from learning the hard way, are strikingly similar to I Ching basics. For example, she observes, “Behavior has consequences.” This, of course, is the Law of Karma.

Ideally, children should learn the basics within the family. If we trained ourselves and our children in I Ching ways, there would be no need for each generation to reinvent the Wheel over by repeating the same mistakes. Sheltering them from the “real world” isn’t a kindness.

A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools to give them the practical edge, help them meet the challenges of adult life with intelligence and self-confidence.

As Brennan indicates, first family bonds are instinctual. As we extend outwards, we unconsciously tend to replicate parent/child dynamics in later relationships. However, if we succeed in maturing and evolving over time, we can put childish ways behind and succeed in forming adult relationships based on conscious choice and commitment.

As Chappell indicates, within the nuclear family as in the family of man, everything, both positive and negative is possible. As we learn to articulate what we see and respond wisely to experiences in the family environment, we become increasingly able to apply these skills in school, business and extended political situations.

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates, the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards. It requires looking inward.

Efforts to improve personality lead to the necessity to know one’s mind. This in turn leads still deeper into exploring one’s innermost awareness. Then, in due time, inward movement cycles outwards once again, incorporating the benefits of inward journey into one’s personal and practical everyday life.

Within families of every size, whether communities, religions, corporations and governments, some live the law while others do not. As Christ taught, those who love and choose truth form the nucleus of his ultimate extended family.

Those who love life, who seek truth and understanding and do their best to help others as they can wherever they may be, have more in common with each other than with evil-doers within their own groups.

THE BACK

Opposites of family include strangers in our community whom we’ve never gotten to know, foreigners raised abroad who speak languages and practice customs we don’t understand, as well as others we’ve been taught to mistrust and dislike.

The antithesis of family is foe, including competitive opponents and military enemies. Whereas families are ideally founded on common beliefs, goals and mutual support, those who threaten or sabotage others undermine healthy relationships. Gratitude and hope build communities. Mistrust, hostility and abuse break them down.

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate. — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat! — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole. – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound

THE FRONT

“Community” stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or as idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy.

Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times.

Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable.

The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching Natural Law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based on energy dynamics which the human community share in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions.

True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before first cleaning out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life conditions attract corresponding external experience, fighting in anger and hatred reaps results in kind.

Working to establish positive community relationships before personal attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is futile. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Put the other way around, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling of conscience. They then become increasingly fit to participate as members of a viable community, able to fulfill their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms.

If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

Angel Calling

The Heart Doesn’t Lie

Here’s the dilemma.

The education/information business is an overwhelmingly noisy market place. How can a humble writer with a calling hope to be heard? Is there a way to cut through the cluttered field of competitors out merely to make a big name and bigger buck?

The dark-side method to media madness is that mind-numbing clutter shuts intelligence down. Technology has made it too easy for anyone with a political ax to grind – any agenda however nonsensical or vicious – to build a platform.

The protective, instructive voice of conscience, however, resides in stillness. If people don’t value and have the skills to cultivate peace of mind, they can’t hear conscience. They forfeit the ability to practice conscious discrimination in the original, pristine and positive meaning of the term. They’re rendered helpless, unable to know the difference between true and false messengers.

The logical balance to extreme complexity is to return to utmost simplicity. Scriptures advise, Be still and KNOW, I am God. Listen to the heart of hearts. Not noisy, needy emotions, mind you. But the silent unerring voice of Conscience. It never lies.

You can run. Hide. Deny it. Deceive yourself. But the heart of hearts . . if you have the courage and self-honesty to listen . . . really listen . . never lies. It can’t. It is at one with the truth. Always was. Always will be.

listen with the heart

So this is a call to conscience. Listen with your heart. It will not fool you as to who is who, or what is what.

My immediate dilemma is this. I need to effectively persuade Jordan B. Peterson that I continue to extend cordial greetings him in good faith. That I am a messenger come to meet him half way in good will, offering hard-earned and extraordinarily useful information that completes (neither challenges, competes with nor diminishes) his admirable accomplishments.

That, from opposite sides a perceptual continuum, each us working to complete the same good work. That I persist in communicating because I am listening, without projecting or anticipating outcomes. Simply because it seems like the thing to do.

Naturally, he must be suspicious. And, being very busy, is a bit too quick to judge, assuming the usual worst. Surely his twitter account is inundated with off-the-wall comments.

After a recent post, Fresh Start, I tweeted to Dr. Peterson,“Young women are just as much at risk as young men!” together with the link.

Apparently he didn’t look at my post, but instead on September 27th posted to his account the link to a video I’d already seen, as if to refute a perceived criticism. The header: “More than half a million people have watched this clip: Every young woman needs to see this!”

The video speaks to the idealized mother-child relationship as foundational to civilization, one that is being undermined by demanding careers.

Had he taken my sentence in the context of the full paragraph, the motherhood vs. career issue wouldn’t have seemed the right response.

Here’s the sentence in context:

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

So I responded, “Yes, BUT . . .”

Among others, one woman commented: “. . you would have a bigger female following if you made more aimed at women.”

A masculine comment reads: “You’re a warrior Prof. An example for us all, keep fighting the good fight.”

My point: Dr. Peterson has tapped into a crying unanswered need. He speaks to it admirably, but only partially. Nor could more be expected of any one person.

I didn’t say there’s no discussion about women. Rather, that the perspective is intensely yang in presentation. From a young man’s point of view, the professor is “an example for us all” (meaning all young men?) of fighting the good fight. Great. We need that.

The woman’s comment, however, also carries weight. More attention to women’s needs would attract a larger female following. Just not from the same, intensely yang perspective, please. It’s not female bodies that are underrepresented so much as the calm, quiet state of mind which is receptive to inner knowing – an energy valence, if you will, which Asians call “yin.”

When I responded with “Yes, BUT . . ,” what I meant to say is that there’s more to women [and men] than the either/or choice between reproduction/family versus lucrative careers. There’s whole universes of other options to choose from, not just the extremes of virgin mothers versus snake-headed monsters. I can tell you this from personal experience, having traded all other opportunities and resources to put the books on the shelves for others that were missing when I dearly needed them.

As a woman, I’ve experienced first hand the consequences of being given equally false either/or choices. But the fact remains, no matter how punitively society dictates to the contrary, like some men, some women are truth seekers. Philosophers. Fascinated by history and alarmed at the course of current events. Who speaks to them? What are their options?

Sigh. I didn’t even bother to tweet out the last post, Be an Instrument of Light, even though I thought it one of my best.

My ordinary rational mind asks, Why bother? Why not focus on winning a lottery? Carry on with daily routines without the fuss and frustration of writing. The odds of a breakthrough are probably about the same, if not better.

But then that pesky inner voice (Dr. Peterson likens it to Pinocchio’s Cricket) answers me back. “Why bother? Because to survive what’s roaring down the pike at breakneck speed, young people, male and female alike, desperately need the complementary view which balances Dr. Peterson’s example, without which results (like the percentages of his following) would continue to be skewed.” (More on this later, in a separate post, Yes, AND . . )

For now, let me share the ongoing dilemma expressed from anther, earlier angle.

To tell the truth - image

Bogus claims . . . remind me of the long-running TV game show, “To Tell the Truth.” In this format, three challengers are introduced to a celebrity panel, each claiming to be the featured guest. Impostors can lie and pretend to be the central character. Only the real one is sworn to tell the truth. Panelists are challenged to ask penetrating questions, see through deceptions, and correctly identify the truth teller.

In this game reality, the best liars are rewarded. But that’s not how it works in the real world. There’s nothing entertaining or ultimately rewarding about deceiving the public. Yet, at this stage of history, it’s nigh unto impossible for all but the most discriminating (in the positive sense) to tell the difference between imitators and the “real deal.” Shameless parodies of wisdom traditions abound.

Hucksters out to make a quick fortune while basking in their 15-minutes of fame misrepresent both their intentions and abilities. The sure-fire get-rich formula “spiritual” entrepreneurs use is to tap into people’s deepest desires and fears. Associate your product with an accepted wisdom tradition to piggy-back on its credibility. On the one hand, offer gullible marks whatever they want; on the other, guarantee protection from the consequences of stupidity.

In a crowded market place full of unscrupulous pretenders, how do messengers of substance and integrity stand out from the noisy crowd? Even screaming isn’t heard over the ruckus.

The only option is to play by the rules – quietly, persistently Tell the Truth.

To Tell the Truth” is the longest-running show in history. It’s not a game, however, nor is it for the faint of heart and spirit. But human survival is at stake.

11th hour

From another angle, I’m concerned that generosity to a fault puts our good warrior Prof at risk of distraction, if not burnout. I’m mindful of a Sufi saying that I’ve found useful as a standard for allocating positive attention:

Sufi saying sized

Put another way, after a certain point, debating noisy protesters and exposing seemingly endless corruption is a bit like wading in quicksand. It’s not good for peace of mind. There are far more important things to do, more productive uses of precious time and attention.

Ah! Perhaps this is what you mean by refusing to play their game.

Ain’t Playing Their Game

Angel Calling

Fresh Start

 With four equally compelling bogs on the drawing board, it was hard to choose which to complete first. An article Pinned Tweeted to Jordan B. Peterson’s account boiled it down to two.

Tim Lott’s Life Spectator article, Jordan Peterson and the transgender wars, bears the subtitle, “The psychology professor is in trouble with the transgender crowd. He is also one of the foremost thinkers of our age.”

The first choice from this article echoes a book in the works, The Phoenix Response:

He [Peterson – JBP] points out that the INRI inscription on crucifixes has a mystical meaning, apart from ‘King of the Jews’ — ‘Through fire all nature is renewed.’ Which means that in order to renew your soul, you have to die and be reborn repeatedly.

The second choice, however, is closer to practical home. So that’s where I’m starting today. Besides being the eve of a projected doomsday event, Saturday, September 23. 2017 is close to the Fall Equinox, the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashona — a new moon and to Old Avatar’s birthday. He’s seated at his work desk, mentally traveling through Otherwhere space, to outward appearances reading through a stack of James Wesley Rawles books. “Do not disturb.”

Be that as it may, according to Lott:

More than 90 per cent of his [Peterson’s] audience are men, which seems a pity since there is nothing particularly gender-specific about his teachings. Why the imbalance then?

Because these men’s stress levels are very high,’ he says. ‘I’m telling them something they desperately need to hear — that there are important things that need to be fixed up.

‘I’m saying, “You guys really need to get your act together and you need to bear some responsibility and grow the hell up.”

Lott continues:

At this point, to my astonishment, Peterson begins to weep. He talks through his tears for the next several minutes.

Every time I talk about this, it breaks me up,’ he says. ‘The message I’ve been delivering is, “Find the heaviest weight you can and pick it up. And that will make you strong. You’re not who you could be. And who you could be is worthwhile.”’

They’re so starving for that message. Young men are so desperate for a pathway that they are dying for it. And it’s heart-breaking and terrible that this idea has been kept from them. . . . Some of the young men who come to my lectures are desperately hanging on every word because I am telling them that they are sinful, and insufficient, and deceitful and contemptible in their current form, but that they could be far more than that, and that the world NEEDS THAT. [emphasis added.]

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

For my story certainly includes gender-confusion issues. Here’s a snippet excerpted from the “Who I Am To Say” section of Rethinking Survival.

The specter of suicidal thoughts haunted my up-bringing. It’s taken me over fifty years to track this demon to its lair and tame it. In retrospect, in simplest terms, I was raised in a family, reinforced by a culture, which disconfirmed my very existence.

A girl who in no way matched demeaning stereotypes — who had no desire to either cynically exploit or fearfully cave into them — was simply a non-being. She could not and should not exist. The tacit message: “Make yourself gone.”

At first I coped with less catastrophic compliance — denial. I reasoned like this: “Women are stupid, fickle and helpless. If I’m not stupid, fickle and helpless, then I’m not a woman.” I disowned the labels associated with gender and escaped into music and books.

Only later, a yogic energy understanding of the difference between feminine essence and cultural molds allowed me to rescue the baby from the bath water, reestablish an identity in harmony with the facts.

Phoenix - sized

In any case, it remains that for those on both sides of the gender see-saw, there’s a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Historically, at critical mass, hidden opportunities buried within danger emerge. The dedication to Two Sides reads:

Though it may seem as if [Millennials] have been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune . . . contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.

Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared to the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those who choose to access the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.

Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the current conflict paradigm are so catastrophically dysfunctional that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of . . . the Tao Te Chings wisdom.

They’ve been given the greater opportunity to . . . become the truly radical agents of genuine, positive change. [They have] the means to see through Saul Alinsky’s pseudo-radical pose, answer his twisted rhetoric, and choose the truly radical approach to change.

In work presented elsewhere, I’ve described additional teaching tools which compliment Peterson’s array. BUT . . . I’ve long since come to the conclusion that books and videos aren’t enough. For several reasons.

First, young people need direct interaction with mentors. In addition to psychological advice, they need opportunities to build practical skills. Abstract internet connections are much better than nothing. But they’re not the same as immediate, face-to-face, working relationships.

Second, young people are starved for daily, immediate working environments which support their efforts towards positive change. It’s not enough to walk away from negative pseudo-friends and exploitative employers. There has to be someplace positive, healthy and supportive to go, to live, to sink roots. . . a place where creativity is valued, honesty is rewarded, and personal growth is encouraged.

It’s not only a mental/spiritual pathway young people are starved for. Optimally, they need community: physical locations where they can gather and work together under structured supervision towards a noble goal: human survival, for example.

As it stands now, one of the major reasons many fear change is that personal transformation is the social equivalent of suicide. Too often, there are few rewards and heavy punishments associated with personal growth. In a world where old paradigms are dying, those with vested interests in the status quo are fiercely protective of “normalcy.”

My own university experience is a good example. When I entered the UW-Madison Department of Educational Administration, the doctoral thesis of my choice was “The Origin and Future of Universities.” The plan was to expand on a paper written for an Educational Policy course. It found that universities no longer meet basic student needs and advocated building alternative schools which do.

How naive. Professors married to their comfortable status quo would not allow it.

As a condition of graduation, I was obliged to conduct a statistical research study on women principals in elementary public schools – far afield from my interests in every respect. For a complex set of reasons, including that the Ph.D. credential was essential to accreditation of an alternative school – I completed the study.

Unfortunately, as “fate” would have it, I inadvertently produced statistically significant results that were just as controversial as my original thesis topic. Scratch the surface, it seems. You’ll find problems lurking just beneath.

In this case, analysis of the principal selection process showed that public school administration is a closed-shop monopoly. A pre-selection process grooms candidates who reflect the values and personal attributes of current power-holders. The only teachers who pursue administrator degrees or credentials are those who have already been quietly promised a job. Only pre-approved candidates enter the formal selection process.

Was I rewarded for exposing what insiders already knew? Not in the least!

In retrospect, this career was not meant to be. At least not yet, or as I imagined it then. Within months of my thesis defense in 1978, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. Both of the protectors who guided me safely through the politics of education disappeared. My statistics professor, who was astonished at the quality of my work, died suddenly in his sleep. The job we’d lined up was defunded. My major professor, who never doubted I’d land on my feet, no matter what, retired early and moved out of state (in large part in protest over the way his colleagues had treated me).

I was stranded, left out in the cold – with school loans to pay.

I’m not complaining, mind you. In retrospect, it was the ongoing work of an invisible, friendly hand, closing doors to open windows. But from direct experience, I well appreciate that creative people, no matter how conscientious and agreeable, are likely to find themselves excluded from thoroughly corrupt institutions. It’s simply not a match. Truth seekers and unnatural institutions are – with rare exceptions – a contradiction in terms.

I did, of course, manage to land on my feet. In turn, it has become my calling to facilitate safe landing for as many others as possible.

The alternative school I had in mind earlier was a School-Without-Walls. It would have allowed self-responsible students to define a professional goal and then select all relevant courses combined with internship experiences that furthered that goal. For example, a golfer could study everything from physiology to design and maintenance of greens to teaching golf students to acquiring the business skills necessary to run his business.

JBP speaks of a future Truth University. Yes. That’s foundational. But it’s not enough, especially because the times are growing ever more precarious, on many fronts. There’s no guaranteeing how long the infrastructure that sustains civilization will remain functional. So now I’m thinking more along the lines of monasteries established as islands of survival, community and learning during dark ages, both in Europe and Asia.

The James Wesley Rawles books OA has been browsing are much to the point. Reading these would be an excellent use of time.

Here’s the amazon description of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse:

America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse— the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point. Practically overnight, the fragile chains of supply and high-technology infrastructure fall, and wholesale rioting and looting grip every major city.

As hordes of refugees and looters pour out of the cities, a small group of friends living in the Midwest desperately tries to make their way to a safe-haven ranch in northern Idaho. The journey requires all their skill and training since communication, commerce, transportation and law enforcement have all disappeared. Once at the ranch, the group fends off vicious attacks from outsiders and then looks to join other groups that are trying to restore true Constitutional law to the country.

Patriots is a thrilling narrative depicting fictional characters using authentic survivalist techniques to endure the collapse of the American civilization. Reading this compelling, fast-paced novel could one day mean the difference between life and death.

One review reads:

I read this book after reading “One Second After”. [a nuclear holocaust scenario] They are two different books by two very different authors. I think it’s a very good follow-up book if you have already read that one. This book is written as a story with integrated prepper “how too” instructions.

From more points of view than can be detailed here, it is becoming increasingly evident that the collapse Rawles foresees is only a matter of time. In fact, it often seems to me as if humans and nature are in a race to see which will do us in and under first.

Who is Rawles to say? From his bio:

James Wesley Rawles is a internationally recognized authority on family disaster preparedness and survivalism. He has been described by journalists as the “conscience of survivalism.” Formerly a U.S. Army intelligence officer, Rawles is now a fiction and nonfiction author, as well as a rancher. His books have been translated into seven languages. He is also a lecturer and the founder and Senior Editor of http://www.SurvivalBlog.com, the Internet’s first blog on preparedness that has enjoyed perennial popularity and now receives more than 320,000 unique visits per week.

Interspersing JBP videos with visits to this website might be an effective way to fortify self-improvement goals. Gathering practical survival information, “real,” survival-related news and other interesting tidbits could make a significant contribution towards future positive outcomes. Today’s quote, for example is, Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophesies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” Eric Hoffer.

Surely unknown opportunities are embedded within inevitable disasters that loom ahead. However, things are sure to go better for those who proactively prepare to meet them. This includes building viable support systems.

The model of intentional communities I now have in mind is similar to the rural one upon which my alma mater, Oberlin College, was built. Its motto is “Learning and Labor.”

For urban centers are quickly becoming death traps. If and/or when the grid goes down, it may be too late to escape. Better to get out while it is still an option. (Gives new meaning to “safe place.”) Inland locations, not too close to military bases or downwind from nuclear facilities, are preferable. Further, rural settings provide the opportunity to tune in again to nature, restoring harmony with rhythmic cycles which our forefathers took for granted.

Intentional preppers, regardless of their personal beliefs, are dedicated to restoring practical survival skills: learning how to live outdoors and off grid, work with tools to construct basic housing, farm, raise livestock, preserve food, feed and protect their families.

There’s lots of to be relearned by those willing to work in the process of sorting out their personal lives. This is a relatively gentle, voluntary way to make a fresh start, one person at a time.

book header bird

Interestingly, from the Taoist canon which Dr. Peterson greatly respects, Numbers 18 of both Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching and its ancient great-great-grandfather, the I Ching, both speak the point in repeating cycles of time where – out of the ashes of corruption — new beginnings emerge. For it’s not only humans who crash and burn to be reborn, On larger scales of magnitude, entire communities and civilizations do as well.

Passage 18 from Two Sides of a Coin reads:

18

Hexagram 18 from The Common Sense Book of Change describes a positive approach to encroaching chaos:

18 IC FRESH START.jpg

Our collective future depends upon the quality of individual choices. Is it worth going through the testing fires of positive change to get from here to there? The choice is yours. But be aware. Failing to choose is also a choice, one with dire consequences. In any case, the time is NOW.

Jordan Peterson is doing his heroic best to tip the scales of history in favor of human survival. Clearly, he dearly hopes the young men he grieves for will choose wisely. As do I.

For those with ears, let them hear. And do.

Angel Calling

 

Coming next:

  • Yes, AND . . . .
  • The Heart Doesn’t Lie
  • Be an Instrument of Light

 

 

Paradigms Are a Matter of Life or Death

Jordan B. Peterson, psychologist, truth-sayer and rock star of recent months, said the most important work that can be done is establishing the relationship between belief systems and the outcomes they generate. I agree.

BECAUSE:

It doesn’t help to tell people to follow their dreams, to be the best they can be, or that nothing is impossible with the right attitude. When they live in societies that enforce limiting, false beliefs, they are (so to speak) paddling upstream in a leaky canoe without oars.

If you thinking you can wish on a star and get what you want, whenever you want it, with no concept of history, you’re in for a rude shock or two. Easy times are over.

If you think it’s possible to eliminate irrational hatreds and eradicate self-serving prejudice with logic and love alone, you’ll have as much success as a man pissing on a forest fire.

Here are (just a few) examples of disastrous results that flow from static, incomplete and incorrect paradigms:

People who live in the poverty of a flattened, empirical science belief system are being told, in effect, by their parents, educators and political leaders that they don’t (and shouldn’t) exist. That only their physical appearance, social status and material possessions matter. Wonder why suicide rates are so high? Or that respect for authority is at an all time low? Or that government corruption is rampant? Or that underworld violence is escalating over the top? (Surely you can add to the list.)

Deny inner emotional levels of the Life Wheel. Suffocate innate impulses to play and seek adventure. Ridicule innermost intimations of immorality and highest aspirations. Starve people of meaning and joy in the name of duty and obligations to serve the collective. That’s the sure recipe for destruction of highest magnitude. It begins one destroyed individual at a time. And ends with the collapse of whole civilizations.

The only way out of this madness is to restore a complete and accurate paradigm. Acknowledge the multi-dimensional quality of life – the inherent pattern of perfection – which is everyone’s inalienable birthright.

Further, the Life Wheel doubles as a time clock. You need to know not only who you are, but where you stand. The precise point in the cycles of history you’re in right now tells you the specific dangers and opportunities open to you NOW.

For example, the biblical stories which Dr. Peterson recommends as Maps of Meaning show repeating cycles of events. Which of these stories apply to us NOW? More specifically, which point in time within those stories is relevant?

Dr. Peterson is looking to Abraham right now, possibly because he was the progenitor of three major religions currently engaged in mutual self-destruction.

But I’m more interested in King David, who, like Christ, was born in Bethlehem, and who as a young shepherd was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be future king. The point in time that’s appropriate to us now, I think, is the confrontation between the boy David and the giant Goliath. Today, this might represent individuals of good will in the face of impending totalitarian global government.

What’s important here is that David exemplifies acting from a complete and accurate paradigm. He acted fearlessly on the belief that “God is with me.” With a single shot to the center of the giant’s forehead (not coincidentally seat of the third eye), he brought the monster down.

David trusted that he was not alone. He “knew” exactly where to aim. His vision was clearly focused on his target (light). He had the vigor (energy) and physical strength (mass) as well as coordination (unity) to overcome the fearsome obstacle that threatened to annihilate him and enslave his people.

There are other biblical figures who at critical points in their cyclical (hero’s journey) experience, are being picked up upon as useful role models. One is Noah anticipating the flood. Another is Joseph at the time he foresaw and was allowed to prepare for times of famine.

There’s Moses at the critical time when the Angel of Death upon the Land of Egypt passed over the homes of the faithful.

And then there’s Job, the model of faith enduring to the end and being restored, even better than before. The phoenix image.

Here’s the secret to be gleaned from this story, illumined by the infinity symbol that links the levels of the Life Wheel. Job says, “The Lord giventh.” This is the outward, materializing movement from center to surface of the Wheel. “And The Lord taketh away.” This is the receding path of return to center. In all, “Blessed be the NAME of the Lord.” The Logos. Think Indy Jones in the Grail movie, the Last Crusade. The receding steps leading to treasure are marked with the Hebrew letters that spell out the Name of God. The creative Name. Remember his “Leap of Faith.”

Also remember that he’s not the only one seeking the Grail . . . power-hungry Nazis are close on his heels, seeking immortality not for love of human/divine fathers, but for the fatherland.

Phoenix - sized

The 11th hour we’re now approaching was foreseen in 1998. I continue to write in this mode, most currently in As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done Now? Here is summary and conclusion:

In the past, monasteries arose as islands of hospitality, learning and civility during Europe and Asia’s so-called dark ages. Once again, as another dark age looms on the horizon, intentional communities dedicated to preserving the essential teachings will naturally arise. My best hope is that future leaders will meet the responsibility of shaping hopeful new beginnings; that they will succeed in transmitting the wisdom of the ancients to future generations along side the complimentary technical know-how of today’s sciences.

In the Positive Paradigm reality map, future educators have a versatile self-awareness tool with which to teach the basics of leading an integrated, self-responsible life. Building on the seven basic axioms which flow from it, tomorrow’s leaders have a viable model upon which to structure healthy social organizations.

Conclusion

Resolving conflict necessarily occurs one person at a time, and from the inside out. For this reason, however complex and overwhelming world problems may seem, we each have the option and responsibility to improve that which is closest to home: ourselves. By reducing internal conflict within, each of us has the potential, if only in modest ways, to reduce the conflict without. . . .

Angel Calling

Two Out of Three Ain’t Enough

 

Eight months that seem like a life-time ago, I wrote the LinkedIn article I’m sharing below, along with excellent comments made to the post.

At the time, I was rethinking the empathy aspect of writing about the Positive Paradigm. Now, I’m about to launch another approach, one focused on healing on all three levels. Again, unless the three are present in a balanced, integrated way, it’s not sufficient.

As an intriguing book I’m reading explains, wholeness and holiness are necessary compliments. It expands on the Phoenix Response as my comprehensive approach to transcending adversity, when mere physical survival is not enough.

I’ll explain as I go what I mean. But, for today, for starters, here’s a recap of the basic concept, the spring board of what’s to come.

It concludes with questions that invite your feedback, the better to adjust to meet your specific needs in future articles. What do you think? And thanks.

 

pinnacle-sized

Two Out of Three Isn’t Enough

Some leaders are satisfied to sing along with Meatloaf, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”

But Authentic Leaders know better. It ain’t enough.

As I’m learning the hard way, when any part goes missing, everything suffers.

Bear with me. I’ll share why three-out-of-three is a must for me – and for effective leaders in every walk of life.

The Life Wheel — the Positive Paradigm based on the Unified Theory Einstein had, though he didn’t know it — is the personal Truth I’d dearly love to share with the world – starting with you.

IF

From Rethinking Survival:

This familiar atomic structure repeats smallest to largest in the patterns of nature, from snow flakes and intricate flowers to spiders’ webs and sea shells. Similar symmetrical patterns repeat worldwide in the art of every culture — including the prayer wheels of Native Americans, the colored sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhists, the stained glass windows of European cathedrals and the intricate geometrical patterns that cover Muslim Mosques, to name but a few. They offer proof of the universal awareness of a central inner reality, of an inner structure common to all humanity, and to a continuity of experience deeper than individual lives or transitory cultures.

The Life Wheel reflects the perennial philosophy shared in common by the world’s enduring wisdom traditions – free of historical baggage. It is equally compatible with yoga and modern physics. It converts easily into a method for introspection and decision-making. Like a modern day Book of Change, it has the potential to become the best friend of change agents everywhere.

The value unique to the Life Wheel is, because it highlights the innate potentials we share in common, it serves as a foundation of common discourse.

Just as importantly, from personal experience, I’ve found the Life Wheel to be a great tool with virtually universal applications. Point it like a laser beam in any direction. It illumines the field.

In Authentic Leaders Depend on the Center I presented a variation on the Wheel – the MPI (Motive-Purpose-Intent) Standard – used to increase self-awareness.

One LinkedIn connection really got it! After a back-and-forth exchange, he commented:

I can also see how the MPI can work in a variety of contexts, both religious and secular. In fact, I think it could have virtually universal application – – – I hope it catches on!

BUT – it hasn’t. Not yet. For that I take full responsibility.

I have yet to demonstrate how I use the Life Wheel for introspection and goal setting. I have yet to show how it can be adapted as an analytical tool for virtually any purpose.

I haven’t effectively explained that this picture answers the plaintive question, “Why can’t we just get along?” Namely, very few of us work from a unifying concept of our common humanity. We were never taught the basics of natural law, much less how to live in harmony with it and each other. )

I’ve failed to communicate powerfully enough the connection I see between the Life Wheel and its potential to relieve human suffering. Those who’ve been taught to look for fulfillment on the shallow surface have been set up for a world of hurt. Joy returns when we know where to look, when we finally return our focus to the center, where eternal love resides deep within the heart of hearts.

The Wheel explains today’s pervasive sense of loneliness, a result of living exclusively on the noisy, frantically busy surface. It offers a hopeful, alternative life picture. When we reconnect with the center, we know that we are never, ever truly alone. Not possible.

SO – why hasn’t all this vitally important stuff been successfully communicated? In retrospect, I’m recognizing I have yet to live up to my own “three-out-of-three” standard!

For one thing, I’m still building the technical skills needed to do the Life Wheel idea justice.

For example, my first LinkedIn article, Boundary Spanners Connect at the Center, isn’t illustrated. In September of 2014, I didn’t yet know how to create images with photo-shop software. Though I’ve come a far distance in the ten months since then, I am still picking up necessary skills on a daily basis.

Just as importantly, I’m getting important feedback that my communication skills need work. Which is different from language skills. In fact, past academic background sometimes gets in the way. I’ve been faulted for seeming so precise and confident that I’m intimidating. Makes me very very sad. Not at all what I intend.

For this, the recent process of writing a guest post for authorunlimited was good medicine. I submitted a draft on the suggested subject: The important difference between knowledge and knowing. Cathy Presland emailed back an edited version.

Ouch!

Fortunately, I had an inkling as to why she made changes. I already saw her most excellent article Writing with Empathy and taken it to heart. I also followed the link to Seung Chan Lim’s video, How empathy fuels the creative process. Like magic, on that particular day, his message was exactly what I needed to hear.

My sheepish Aha. In my rush to get from “here to there,” from surface results to common understanding, I’ve been leap-frogging over the linking, middle level of empathy.

So I can tell you from sad experience, two out three – ideas and technical skills without empathy –ain’t enough!

Cathy’s quote reminded me:

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they might have different tastes.”

In other words, I have been writing as if LinkedIn connections all understand and agree that everyone, everywhere shares the same center in common. But “it ain’t necessarily so.”

True, boundary spanners, no matter where they start on the surface of Planet Earth, meet at the universal center. But not everyone sees the value in being a boundary spanner. It’s on me to accept this, adjust and improve accordingly.

So back to the drawing board. As part of the Under Construction operation, I promised to restore empathy to the larger picture, accepting that not everyone is boundary spanner. And remember, respectfully, that many are not only asleep but perhaps a bit afraid of waking up.

Yet my worst worry remains. Unfortunately, it usually takes a horrific wake up call to shake people out of their complacent slumbers. From Rethinking Survival:

While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up. Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for. A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the Land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

My preference, which I’d dearly love to share with you is this. Rather than wait for inevitable shocks, when it might be too late to survive, I’d rather you be proactive. Use the tools for anticipating change I have to offer.

As I urged in Being Proactive in the 21st Century, make yourself ready to meet whatever unknowns life has in store, coming around the next bend or two.

Working with Life Wheel maps helps mindful, authentic leaders link the levels, making the three-out-of-three option possible. With it, we can choose to be true to ourselves and realize the vision of a positive future.

Bottom line: Change is inevitable. We can experience it as resisting, passive victims or as proactive agents of positive change. I’ve given you tools to put the choices for change in your hands.

Am I communicating yet? Questions? Comments? Please let me know how I can better meet your needs.

=============================

COMMENTS

Mark Hayward st Head of Sales at TheSmallPicture.biz | NIKKEN Independent Consultant: Helping people to take control of their Wellbeing

 

No worries Patricia West, you made an instant fan out of me 😉

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Peter Fellingham sVice President of Engineering and Co-Founder at ProtoStar Inc

Hi Patricia, I enjoy your writing style. That said, one must write with a target audience in mind; at least commercially. Otherwise you are just writing for yourself.

Patricia West AUTHOR Blogger; Author of Books on Change, Einstein & Human Survival

When writing for authors as a guest of authorulimited, I welcomed the opportunity to write for a specific audience. Here, am focused on authentic leaders, albeit in every walk of life. If you (or anyone else) has another audience in mind, I’m open to your suggestions. : )

————————-

Bob Hemmerle Senior Zen Practitioner/Baseball Umpire

If you get 1 world leader with nukes to understand this then when he sits down with the others he will have something worthwhile to share, Bravo

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Richard Lipscombe THE MEMES MAN

Patricia: This is a great post. I first read this quickly last night. I had an immediate reaction. You can not, we can not communicate with someone who does not hold to their ‘truth’. I re-read it now and listened to TED talk.I still think the same. Inside all of us is mass, energy, and light as a combination – it is what I call my ‘truth’. I can deny it. I can avoid it. I can run away from it. But I can never hide from it. Most people conceal it.

So most people can never ever admit to hearing your message. It is too painful. In simple terms they can not hear that change is your choice and to choose well for yourself you have to listen to your truth.

Most posts on LinkedIn help people to consider ‘change’ as a surface ripple, a mere happening, an entertainment, a dynamic shift without meaning, and so on. They can do this because this is a place for collectives, cliques, false wisdom, fashions, and fads. They welcome all that because it does not challenge the essence of who they are and thus it can never change them. Change their ‘truth’. Truth can be changed easily if you know what it is and embrace it. Truth is continuity – we cling to it even if we do not acknowledge its existence within us. Change to truth sets up a new continuity for us. Richard.

Patricia West AUTHOR Blogger; Author of Books on Change, Einstein & Human Survival

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Richard. That courageously mindful folks are in the minority, everywhere . . . not just on LinkedIn. . . is the stuff of tragedy. But deep within we all harbor the latent seeds of heroism. As I said, Sooner or later comes the inevitable wake-up call. Last night, after posting this, I came across an excellent example of how 9/11 changed one leader forever. I highly recommend reading – and heeding – this article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/crises-changed-what-i-expect-from-leaders-gerald-hassell

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Cathy Presland Strategist, Trainer, and Editor-in-Chief at Author Unlimited

Patricia this is such a thoughtful piece — I love it! And the concept that we need all three of ideas, technical skills and empathy — I will take that to heart.

———————————–

Catherine Hamrick Communications Manager at the School of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of Delaware

On target–as usual. Thanks for shakin’ up my brain.

I’m Writing To . . .

 

globe

Like magic, hints about the baby steps to take next have been coming from all directions.

Today, I’m writing in answer to a comment made on Two Out of Three Isn’t Enough:

Hi Patricia, I enjoy your writing style. That said, one must write with a target audience in mind; at least commercially. Otherwise you are just writing for yourself.

For a split second, I went on the defensive.

What??!! Just mental masturbation? Focus on making money?

This particular LinkedIn connection has followed my posts from the beginning. He should know me better by now.

To state once more what I’ve repeatedly said, I write because — like so many men and women – my lonely, early years were haunted by unspeakable specters of suicide and abuses of power. If what helped save me could, paid forward, make a difference in even one life, it would, for me, be enough.

To save one life is to save the world entire.” This is the mantra that keeps me going late nights, after daily tasks are completed, even when my physical body urgently wants rest.

Though surely not intended, what “a target audience” conjures in my mind is the image of armed game hunters dressed in orange and camo garb, scouting for animals to snuff the life out of and eat for dinner.

Not that I haven’t given conventional writers’ wisdom – “know your audience” – some thought, thank you anyway. I have. A lot, in fact.

Here’s part of the problem. The Life Wheel is universal. It offers a scientific underpinning to support humanistic calls to live in peace. As written in Sages and Scientists Can Agree on This, it has the potential to restore awareness of the common humanity everyone everywhere shares in common.

On the opposite, shadow side, today’s lack of a universally accepted, complete and accurate paradigm answers the plaintive question, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Limiting, misleading paradigms are a root cause of widespread conflict and suffering in today’s dangerously volatile world.

Everyone is fascinated by both sides of change. On the one hand, we yearn for positive improvements. On the other, we dread the unknown. That’s because no one taught us the survival basics in school. We never learned how the dynamics of duality drive relationships in the world. We don’t know how to balance yin-yang opposites to maintain stability, first within, then without.

So we remain conflicted – on all levels. Ambivalent. Paralyzed. In fact, lack of survival basics has become our Achilles Heel – our fatal flaw.

Change is a word on the lips of CEOs, politicians, radicals, therapists, pastors everywhere. All use it. But very few have an in-depth understanding of what it’s about, much less have the methods and means to act as effective agents of positive change.

That’s one reason why I have a problem with niche thinking. The current trend of carving humanity into smaller and smaller, mutually exclusive either/or interest groups is a symptom of the fragmented, isolating thinking we desperately need to overcome. . . . which the Life Wheel has the potential to heal.

Fortunately, however, this coin has a flip side too. Being universal, the Life Wheel can be brought to life – animated and applied to illumine each and very tiny corner niche.

So, I’ve done my bestest to go with the flow of common wisdom.

For example, for a time I focused on MILLENNIALS. Being tech savvy, I thought, they are especially well qualified to resonate with the digital technology of the Book of Change — The I Ching. Further, they’re the ones most disillusioned of the “American dream.” Being less invested than their elders in prevailing, dysfunctional paradigms, I thought they would “get it.”

In When the Lights Go Out, Who Will Millennials Call? I wrote what still reads to me like a wake-up tour de force.

I continued with Good News and Bad News for Millenials.

Did any one get it? What more can I say? (Perhaps, I sometimes think, someone else might say it differently and better.)

Nevertheless, I tried again, suggesting what could have been billion dollar game and app ideas in An Inner Compass App for Millennials

Response? Instant contact from a venture capitalist. He wanted to pick my brain; tried to coerce me into signing a non-competition agreement that would, in effect, block further blogging. So sorry. No can do. (Reminded me of Hannibal’s words, “When the lamb cries, the wolf comes. But not to help.”)

Next, in frustration over the foolishness of a self-proclaimed millennial leader who didn’t get it whatsoever, I wrote What the Generations Share in Common.

So, moving on to other audiences.

The I Ching has been the primary decision-making tool used by LEADERS in every walk of life – government, military, monastic, medical, mercantile . . you name it . . . for thousands of years.

So I applied the Life Wheel, as the next generation Book of Change, to address a host of leaderships issues. For example, in response to a direct question, I wrote How Bad People Become Leaders; and then Savvy Leaders Go with the Flow.

In True Leaders Trust Their Inner Compass to Over Come Confusion, I introduced the Life Wheel to Authentic Leaders who already accept the importance of following their North Star.

In The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change, I’ve shown how THERAPISTS and SELF-HEALERS can turn the Life Wheel into a diagnostic and a decision-making tool. I have a special fondness for Jungian analysts, and said so in Therapists as Positive Change Agents.

For those who chose to frame their truth in the language of PHILOSOPHY, I wrote Change the Rules of the Knowledge Game. Here I focused the Life Wheel on the field of epistemology – the (politically charged) study of who can know what, and how.

The list goes on.

But . . . I still ask myself, how does one “target” the diverse and widely scattered audience of readers who hide painful dark secrets under the facade of their ordinary lives as housewives, students, soldiers, athletes, priests, poets, politicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs and on and on. . . ?

How does one “target” the hidden army of loved ones so poorly equipped to win the war to rescue sons, daughters and spouses from quiet desperation?

How does one effectively extend compassionate hope to the multitude of isolated, face-saving power abusers in high office — addicts driven by psychological forces outside their conscious awareness, rendered taboo by current dysfunctional paradigms.

How do I tell all of them, that like me, with the I Ching as a confidential best friend, they would find out that they are never, ever truly alone. And that everyone can choose to change for the better.

With its wisdom and support (explain its magic as you will), I have brought myself back from every temptation – from hated, the impulse to revenge, from self-pity and despair.

With its help, I’ve gleaned the benefit of lessons to be learned from adversity.

It has inspired me, instead reacting against abuse and succumbing to the danger of becoming an abuser myself, to live and to serve as a healing beacon to others.

What follows is a personal example of desperation and life-saving help excerpted from Rethinking Survival:

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The scriptures were inspiring. [the swami] cynically perverted them. A pundit disciple based in Minneapolis initiated gullible students in the rituals of guru worship. This aristocratic charmer held Western seekers in contempt and dummed the teachings down.

The powers of this smooth, flamboyant “holy man” were foreign to Western sensibilities. He flaunted a repertoire of magic tricks. He could change blood flow in his feet. He read minds and hypnotized students.

He reportedly bilked American students out of thousands of dollars for nonexistent hospitals in India.

By his own admission, disciples in India would have burned his ashram to the ground had they known he was habitually performing sexual tantra (rape) on unsuspecting American women. . . .

At his ashram in Rishikesh, India, three women he’d seduced got together and traded information. We realized none of us was a “special exception” to his vow of celibacy.

When we blew the whistle, he flipped out. Tantric teachings, he raged, were sacred teachings. Exposing them would damn us forever. We were terrified and backed down.

To the detriment of other relationships, I obeyed his command, “Keep still!!”

Covering his backside, the swami informed his psychologist henchmen that I was “mentally disturbed.” Protecting vested interests in their careers, they treated me as if I were crazy.

It took years to get over the pain, anger and confusion caused by their betrayals.

But I healed. I used yogic introspection to get over it mentally. To repair emotional damage, I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine. For solace and hope, I looked to the New Testament.

But my best friend and advisor throughout was The Book of Change. I didn’t dare talk with people who knew the swami. They would have turned against me, not helped.

His powers were outside the experience of university-trained therapists. There were no qualified professionals to turn to.

Confiding in family was out of the question. If I went to them with one problem, I’d end up with two.

But with the I Ching, I could be completely honest. It has no agendas. Opening my heart to ask my questions was like talking with my True Self. Its answers rang true. Instead of tearing myself apart by warring against abuse of power, I used it to turn inward to the higher authority I could trust: my own conscience.

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The I Ching and ME

A guest blog I’ve enjoyed writing focuses on using the Book of Change to experience the difference between KNOWLEDGE (information) and KNOWING (introspection). Maintaining a balance between the two is a survival priority.

The article’s section headers include Lao Tze and the I Ching, Jung and the I Ching, and The I Ching and You.

After submitting it, this thought flashed into mind. A section was missing: The I Ching and ME. So here it is.

For me, the Book of Change is a gateway to magic. On this side, it has been a close companion, good friend and advisor through the years. On the far side, perhaps remembered from lifetimes past, it speaks to me from a place beyond time and space.

With it, I was never alone, even and especially when I was loneliest in crowded rooms. When the world impelled suicide, it brought me back to a deeper, all-pervasive love of life.

So I will share a few sections from Rethinking Survival about how I met the book, and how it has grown on me.

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First Introductions

. . . I’d had a hunch about [the I Ching] for a very long time. Ellsworth Carlson, who lived in Shansi, China during WWII, was a classmate of my parents at Oberlin College. When I was nursery school age, he bounced me on his knees at Harvard.

As Freshman student, I took Dr. Carlson’s course in Asian History at Oberlin. What stuck with me how vast an influence the I Ching had on China for 8,000 years and counting.

So, when I left the U.S., all I took with me was my violin and one small suitcase. Of that, half contained clothes. The other half held sheet music and one small book: the Legge translation of the I Ching.

It made no sense to me. I could barely get through a page or two before giving up. But I kept coming back to it. It led to something important I had to know more about.

When I happened upon the Wilhelm/Baynes edition in Düsseldorf’s International Bookshop on Konigs Allee — Finally! — I had a version I could relate to. It literally became my teacher. It gave me a whole new concept of how the world really works.

Not just this family or that institution or the other county. Not arbitrary and capricious, fluctuating fashions, but the constant anchor over time.

From it, I could deduce the fundamental energy dynamics of action and reaction which drive behavior, internally at a psychological level, and externally in relationships and day-to-day events.

It was an extension of the logic my English teacher Miss Elson impressed on my high school brain. But more. It gave me a map of logical consequences, as inevitable as computer language. “If this, then that.”

For example, If you kick people, they kick back (if they can) or otherwise resist. If you are kind, you inspire love and trust in others. If you violate natural law, nature bites back — your mental health suffers; relationships deteriorate; your behavior becomes erratic and social/physical survival is imperiled.

Asian cultures call this “the law of karma.” Its operation is also described in biblical terms: “As ye reap, so shall ye sow,” and “to everything there is a season.”

In sum, its 64 permutations map a progression of the AC-DC energy changes which constitute the natural law of repetitive, cyclical change.

Value

From my point of view, this ancient, timeless science fills a critical blind-spot in Western thinking, lacking which, all efforts are partial and incomplete. Put another way, the glaring absence of this information explains why so much goes so wrong, despite even the best of intentions on the part of politicians, priests, coaches and leaders of every ilk.

The Book of Change combines the best of many worlds. On the one hand, it’s pure logic and math. Its binary-digital code long predates both Leibniz’s calculus and computer science. On the other hand, it leads inwards, serving to link the material world of physical experience (empirical science) with its ultimate source (the realm of con-science).

Working with it, one starts with immediate, practical experience, with the option to travel with it to the opposite end of the reality scale that merges with the apparently mystical. This interactive book, regarded by some as magical, depends on the phenomena of synchronicity to link person, time and events in the decision-making process.

The longevity of ancient Chinese dynasties is attributed to sages who advised their emperors on ways to balance and thus survive historical yin-yang cycles of decay and regeneration. By working in harmony with the laws of nature, rulers succeeded in maintaining social and political stability, riding out the predictable, alternating pendulum swings between extremes.

Even the Communist Chairman Mao, an avowed atheist, owed his success to the I Ching. Its influence permeated both his moving poetry and highly successful, if unorthodox, military strategies.

When I described the many benefits of working with The Book of Change to a business consultant, she summed it up for me. “It sounds to me like the ultimate personal survival guide.” She was exactly right. So I used her description as the title of a book describing its many virtues (as well as answering the unfortunate prejudices/assumptions which have kept the book too much in the shadows).

What You See Is What You Get

The I Ching‘s value, I’ve finally come to understand, is measured by the quality of focused attention, self-honesty and positive intention with which it’s used. Those who dismiss it, who “believe” it is superstitious nonsense, fulfill their expectations. In a way, the book has its own fail-safes. Those who approach it with arrogance or evil motives get little from it.

In my case, it has provided ongoing, life-confirming support, most especially when humans failed me totally. Probably any truth book approached with concentrated attention and an open heart connects the personal mind with the guidance of the Universal Mind. Truth is timeless, so whether the catalyst that triggers inner knowing is ancient or modern doesn’t much matter.

But for me personally, working with The Book of Change is an especially powerful form of introspection. It’s a favorite mindfulness practice, if you will. Best translations link magic with science to satisfy head, heart and soul.

I admit that, as with any good friend, it took a while to break the ice and get to know it. For example, once, when I was relatively new to the book, on an early winter morning in Spring Green, I woke up with a bad feeling and consulted the I Ching for feedback. Its advice, in essence: “Don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. Anything you do now will go wrong.”

Friends were skeptical. I was scheduled for a job interview that couldn’t be missed. Even when the bald tires on my vintage Buick skidded on the ice, spinning me into a snow bank along Willow Gold Farm’s long driveway, they refused to quit. They drove up the tractor and jammed a curved metal hook under the front fender. It punctured the radiator, emptying its yellow-green fluid onto the crystal white snow.

I wasn’t going anywhere that day. Or, after their “help,” even the next.

This was definitely a book to be taken seriously!

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But enough for today. There’s much more, of course. Will have to wait for later.

History Repeats Itself – Renaissance or Another Dark Ages?

A recent post described the unfortunate end of Abelard, the medieval philosopher best known for his tragic love of Heloise.

Out of synch with his times, this celebrated cleric taught that men gain knowledge – including faith – through reason. For this, he was convicted by his monastic superiors of heresy. Abelard’s books were banned and burned. He died shortly afterwards in prison.

St. Augustine’s exclusively faith-based Rules of the Knowledge Game were balanced with Abelard’s opposite approach only after St. Aquinas harmonized the two extremes. According to the new Rules, no matter where you start, each approach leads to and reinforces the other.

This broad-based approach to knowing as a two-way street set the foundation for the flowering of arts, sciences and commerce known as the 12th Century Renaissance.

But, I suspect you’re wondering by now, is medieval history relevant NOW?

It’s highly relevant, particularly when taken in the context of patterned, repeating cycles of human behavior. Learning the basic lessons of history is an important way of leveraging the future.

Back to the 12th Century Renaissance. It was during this time of creative balance that universities evolved to replace monasteries as centers of learning.

I’ve thought about this a lot. The Origin and Future of Universities was the dissertation topic of my choice. In my proposal, I drew a bell-shaped curve that cycled above and below a median-line that represented historical times of creative balance between extremes. It looked like this:

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In the late 1970’s, when I wrote my proposal, universities were at a critical point of intersection. There was still a window of time left during which to mitigate a predictably dangerous direction of change, before a narrow window of opportunity closed.

Humanistic psychology and holistic health movements were leading the way towards another reintegration of faith and logic — a reconciliation of intuitive and rational ways of knowing. On the one hand, I held hopes that another creative renaissance was on the horizon. On the other, I foresaw the possibility that the curve would cross the median balance point and continue its downward slope, plunging the world into another dark ages of fanaticism and intolerance.

Departmental politics prevented me from writing the dissertation of my choice. (That story and its implications, however, are a different subject.) What’s pertinent here is the outcome. The window of opportunity has closed. Proof abounds. For example, during the Arab Spring, disillusioned Muslims who at first had welcomed violence as an opportunity for positive change were horrified at the repressive results. One Egyptian commented to a reporter that his country had entered a new dark age. News here and abroad continues to confirm that downward trend.

What remains are the mitigating possibilities open to I Ching users. The Chinese Book of Change keeps self-honest seekers in synch with the times, giving them survival insights and hints as to where to look for respite from the worst that might yet come. It keeps hope for the positive change we persist in holding dear to our hearts alive.

Here’s the key. Patterns codified in The Book of Change repeat on every scale of magnitude. That is to say, the same seasonal cycles repeat in an individual’s life. They also repeat in families, in the work place, in governments and even in the history of civilizations.

So even when the times are dangerously out of joint, individuals can still change for the better. So can intentional communities. So long as there’s this hope, it’s never to late. In the early dark ages, for example, monasteries were islands of hope, civility and sanity in a violent, barbaric world. Their equivalents might again serve the same purpose.

Further, personal, organizational and historical rhythms aren’t necessarily in synch. This explains why the same view is welcome at one place or time, but not in others. Abelard’s emphasis on reason, for example, would have been in synch in 17th century universities even though they were fatally out of harmony with beliefs held in the monastic circles of his day.

This information holds good or bad news, depending on whether it’s recognized and how it’s used. On one hand, acting as if personally preferred realities are fact, regardless of whether or not they’re in synch with the times, is unrealistic. For example, New-Agers who ardently believe the near future promises a widespread renaissance of human upliftment are quite probably mistaken. Worse, they may be misleading followers who will find themselves unfit and unprepared to survive in an increasingly intolerant, dark ages environment.

But on the other, positive side, it’s still possible, even as a dark age of fanaticism is gaining ground, to maintain personal balance. Personal renaissance – literally re-birth – is possible at any split second in time. Even when social trends are devolving into extremes, individuals aren’t required to forsake the ideal of personal integration just to fit in. In fact, personal and community survival may well depend on the capacity to maintain stable balance even in the most unbalanced of times.

Of a certainty, heightened, intentional balance will be essential to personal survival, even and especially as dark times cloud collective reason and threaten to extinguish faith.

What Is YOUR Worst Fear?

Stay just the way you are,” pleaded a friend. Another graduating pal scribbled in my 1964 year book, “Stay as sweet as you are.” A third warned, “Don’t ever change!”

Looking back, the strange and impossible expectation that we live the rest of our lives frozen in time, forever unchanged, was at best, unrealistic.

What lurked beneath the surface was fear of the open-jawed monster – the Unknown – looming ahead, threatening to swallow up this class of bright-eyed but poorly prepared graduates, changing each of us forever in unforeseen ways.

Back then, we were as cocky-confident as the youthful Luke Skywalker who boasted, “I’m not afraid.”

Little did we suspect then, as savvy Yoda warned, “You will be.”

Had we been cavemen, our dreads would have been limited to the instinctual fear of loud noises or falling off sharp cliffs.

But we were born in the year nuclear bombs ended WW II with horrifying finality. The list of fears we grew up was quite different from those of our earliest ancestors.

Even so, following the example of our elders, most of us have continued to engage in daily tasks, hiding behind a hedge of busy-work to fend off the unacknowledged terrors that lurk on the furthermost edges of awareness.

Today, international leaders and the rogue terrorists of shadow governments continue to flirt with Einstein’s dreaded nuclear destruction. Horrific headlines have become so familiar that we’ve become numb to bad news. Likely outcomes of nuclear war are so horrific that the mind refuses to wrap itself around the possibility of a world suddenly changed forever.

We say to ourselves, “If we deny the possibility, refuse to even think about it, it can’t happen.”

But according to Plato, we’ve got it backwards. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” For, seeking light on all levels – literal facts, metaphysical truth and inner illumination – leads us to recognize what inevitably changes as well as what does not. It secures triumph over petty fears and victory over illusory death.

Yet, rather than acknowledge danger and take decisive action to avert it, we continue to fend off awareness of the monster of all fears – total annihilation. Instead, we fritter away precious time and energy sweating over inconsequential “small stuff.” We allow ourselves to be seduced by the trivial and irrelevant . . . until, finally, inevitably, calamity strikes and finds us unprepared.

What is the greatest fear you allow yourself to be aware of?

Do you categorically dread any change to your comfortable (or at least familiar) status quo?

The list of specific possibilities is virtually endless. Fear of abandonment, of failure, of success, of poverty, of rejection, of ridicule. There’s the death of loved ones and finally one’s own decline and departure from the physical.

Importantly, are you aware of what you DO about your fears? For, in fact, you do have a wide range of options to choose from.

You can unconsciously project them onto others and make them happen. Or take responsibility to face and overcome them.

You can deny them, bury your head in the sand and hide. Or go to the opposite extreme and overcompensate: adopt a fatalistic hedonist “Eat drink and be merry” attitude. Or choose one of gratitude, focusing on and appreciating the good things of life now, while they last.

As ever, there are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, fear attracts danger. Dwelling on fears can make them come true. But, on the other hand, denying the existence of one’s fears invites danger as well.

Timing is also a important. Now versus later also factors into end results.

Where’s your balance point? It’s a puzzlement.

From Conscience, here are a few thoughts to help sort it out.

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Essay 34. FEAR

Tao does not seem to be something we need to acquire. We are already a part of it. We can, however, do a great job of blocking its manifestation within us. We primarily block the Tao through fear and tension. . . Fear is the source of blockage; it underlies our painful, negative emotions, even though its presence is usually hidden.” — Wolfe Lowenthal, There Are No Secrets

Ninety-five percent of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all these lies. In the dream of the planet, it is normal for humans to suffer, to live in fear, and to create emotional dramas . . . If we look at human society we see a place so difficult to live in because it is ruled by fear.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Fear is an essential part of our nature, installed in our DNA, no doubt for very good reason. Fear is an alarm system. It is there to push us in one direction or another, out of harm’s way. . . it is part of our intelligence, part of an ingenious guidance system to help ensure our survival — as individuals, as communities, and as a species.” — Thom Rutledge, Embracing Fear and Finding the Courage to Life Your Life

THE FRONT

An Old English root means sudden attack, ambush or snare. Webster’s first definition is a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, or pain. It suggests doubt, timidity, dread, terror, fright or apprehension.

Alternatively, fear is defined as a respectful dread, awe, or reverence. Fear of God is often a combination of both types, including both awe for the majesty of God’s creation and guilty anticipation of punishment for wrong-doings.

Fears are part natural, part the result of cultural conditioning. Those which are unreal are best dispelled by analysis and understanding. Those which are justified are best faced by correcting and atoning for one’s own mistakes as well as preparing to meet and overcome external dangers.

Working with the I Ching helps us discriminate between appropriate fears which require positive action and illusory fears to release and forget. It is an invaluable aid in the process of cultivating self-honesty for the purpose of self-correction. It is equally useful in the process of articulating immanent dangers and deciding on the best strategies for effective response.

Primal fears are associated with correlative chakras. At the first chakra level, the fear is of physical death. At the second, loss of sexual prowess or family support. At the third, the fear is of losing of material and financial accumulations, along with social connections and influence. At the fourth, failure in love relationships. At the fifth, fears turn to losing face or being judged wrong or inadequate in intellectual matters. At the sixth, one fears loss of connection with the creative source.

As one ascends the evolutionary ladder, emotion-based fears lessen, seen in larger perspective. Integrating and balancing the levels reduces the influence fear has on decision-making.

Some fears have physical causes. For example, habitual muscle tension packs lactic acid into the fascia, producing chemically-induced anxiety. Relaxation and stretching exercises which release tension and reduce acid levels relieve tension anxieties.

Fear is also stimulated by abusing internal organs. Excessive sugar and/or alcohol intake causes metabolic imbalances. The kidneys and liver are stressed by the burden of excess toxins and fluids. The nervousness, anger and fear associated with imbalance in these organs is corrected by improving lifestyle choices.

Cultural conditioning causes still other kinds of fear. Authorities who use terror as a means of control instill a sense of inadequacy and helplessness. Hitler, for example, was the product of an authoritarian, fear-based culture as well as the embodiment of its shadow opposite, destructive megalomania.

Fears denied or unresolved undermine self-confidence, sabotage love relationships, and turn life against itself. They manifest in the physical body as heart disease and cancers.

Fear of God, meaning awe, on the other hand, is life-protective. Direct experience of divine connection (the timeless heritage which everyone everywhere shares in common) overcomes ephemeral fears with the larger light of wisdom and higher love.

Awareness of unseen benevolent powers standing by us on all sides though danger and distress restores strength and courage. It is also the ultimate deterrent to wrong-doing.

THE BACK

Ignorance is the root of fear-caused suffering. Its antidote is confidence gained through inner knowledge and direct experience. Trust that deep within, we each hold the answers to every question and solutions to every problem is the beginning of wisdom.

Terror is a perversion of natural fear. Terrorists may believe playing on fear is the best way to control subordinates or get the attention of unjust leaders. However, unlike math, where two negatives make a positive, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Who Is Qualified to Know What – and How?

Have you ever thought about how the organizations you were born into – family, communities, governments – society in its many interdependent forms and interrelated facets – came into being? Or are you concerned about where they might now be headed?

I certainly do. Often.

Nor are we alone. Over history, serious thinkers have pondered the subject. A LinkedIn connection recently asked for my thoughts on the possible relationship between awareness and responsibility. He framed his question in the context of social contract theory.

Though initially the subject might seem academic, it’s the basic stuff of human survival. The quality of our lives – even, ultimately, our existence – depends on the level and quality of awareness leaders bring to their organizations.

In turn, their success as leaders depends on the trust, integrity and loyalty of their followers. For in fact, rights and responsibilities on both sides – leaders AND followers — are a two-way street. And when the delicate balance of expectations and obligations is violated, social fabric unravels.

contract

Yet the subject doesn’t get the serious attention it urgently deserves. The consequences of taking for granted what we have inherited, with too little awareness of dangers risked by squandering the fragile blessings we enjoy, need comprehensive rethinking NOW – before it’s too late.

I responded to the question with a LinkedIn article, “Natural Leadership or Authority – Where in the Wheel Do YOU Stand?” (See www.linkedin.com/pulse/natural-leadership-authority-where-wheel-do-you-stand-patricia-west.)

A comment on that post by Lloyd Amogan sparked this extension of the subject. With his permission, I’ll quote:

Yes, there is a relationship between social contract and awareness. The awareness has to involve both our physical levels and our Spiritual levels of Awareness/Consciousness, and not many are familiar with the Spiritual Levels, hence very few are qualified to teach.

I responded:

Your premise poses an interesting question, Lloyd. If the relationship “HAS to involve” full-spectrum awareness, yet many are NOT aware, how does lack of awareness impact of the status of the contract? Some theorize that the contract is “understood” or “implied.” Is this sufficient? What consequences follow from a lack of conscious, intentional involvement in the social contract?

An after thought, if Hobbes was unfamiliar, was he unqualified to write on the subject?

Hobbes, by the way, was famous for his view that, without the overseeing rule of a leviathan ruler, human life is necessarily “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Spiritual awareness, in his world view, was NOT a factor on either side of the leader-follower equation.

In contrast, trusted advisors to the rulers of long-lived Chinese dynasties depended on a high-level of awareness to maintain social-political stability. The Book of Change, the leadership manual upon which they depended, instills a comprehensive understanding of the human dynamics which drive social-political organizations.

The applications of the following Essay on Knowledge offer an approach to leadership awareness that might have a positive influence on the future directions of existing organizations:

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Essay 20. KNOWLEDGE

Lao Tzu believed that intuitive knowledge was the purest form of information. For that reason, he expressed his philosophy in the form of thought experiments — mental exercises designed to enhance and evolve the intuitive skills. In the Tao Te Ching, he compels us to use intuition as an equal partner with logic.” — R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

There is a stream of transcendental, information power flowing into the DNA. . . The I CHING, which, by this hypothesis, is coincident with the DNA system, is perhaps the textbook for this cosmic force, the static tension and dynamic flux flowing into the matrix of the DNA.” — Martin Schönberger, The I Ching & The Genetic Code

Modern science tells us that the human organism is not just a physical structure made of molecules, but that, like everything else, we are also composed of energy fields. . . We, too, ebb and flow like the sea. We, too, are constantly changing. How do we, as human beings, deal with such information?” — Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

THE FRONT

Roots of knowledge mean both acknowledgment or confession, as well as to play, give, or move about. Webster’s first definition is the act, fact, or state of knowing, specifically direct acquaintance or familiarity with a fact or place.

It can mean awareness or understanding. It can mean acquaintance with the facts, range of information grasped by the mind, or enlightenment. It can mean the body of facts, principles accumulated by mankind. An archaic meaning includes carnal knowledge.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which defines the rules of knowledge at any given time/place, setting limits by its answers to these questions: What can be known, how, and by whom? Answers have political overtones, often assigning roles according to class, race, age or gender. They influence cultural decisions about the distribution of wealth, power, social status and access to legal protections.

Empirical science respects only information known through reason. Universities train students to dissect and analyze with quantitative and verbal skills. At its best, reason is a tool of constructive discernment, capable of articulating both tangible and intangible information.

With proper training, it can be used to harness the sub-rational, serve the super-rational and link the two, balancing their extremes. As such, reason is a harmonizing function.

Using reason to rule out, avoid or even demean awareness of sub- and super-rational experience is an abuse of the critical faculty.

One overlooked knowledge matrix is ingrained in our very DNA. Many striking resemblances between the structure of DNA and I Ching hexagrams suggest at least one fascinating explanation for how/why this information source resonates with inner knowing. For example, it can’t be accidental that both are both based upon a binary-quaternary code that generates a system of 64 possibilities.

The chakra system of energy transformers which traverse the spine is another knowledge matrix that affects how we process and transmit information. Each chakra filters perception. Each influences the way we interpret experience. Their existence explains how/why the inspired ideas of every religion or science change over time, being diluted and narrowed to fit the thinking of less evolved followers.

One proof of this process is the wide array of Western psychologies, each relevant to a specific chakra issue. Skinner’s is a first chakra psychology based on behavior. Freud focused on sex, a second chakra issue. Adler thought in terms of power, the third chakra. Fromm wrote about love, the fourth chakra focus. Jung was interested in literary symbols and self-actualization, which are fifth and sixth center interests.

Asian sciences, however, have recognized the interactive relationships amongst these concerns. They provide practical methods for integrating the chakras to pave an optimally functioning two-directional highway of continuous energy and information.

Chakra filters also explain why some users interpret the I Ching through the filters of the sub-rational, using it as an oracle of divination. Farmers rely on it to predict the weather and agricultural yield. Others reject such use, preferring to regard The Book of Change as a rational manual for personal improvement and professional advancement.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners refer to it as a psychological and/or medical diagnostic instrument. Still others view it as a super-rational code book, giving it spiritual interpretations. For example Taoist masters interpret it as a yogic manual detailing the alchemical process of inner transformation.

Because it encompass the whole of human experience, the I Ching actually accommodates all of these perspectives – and more.

THE BACK

Ignorance is the opposite of knowledge. It can be the innocence of an inexperienced child, or the result of being kept in the dark, deceived or misled. Some people know, but deny who they are and what they know. The social price of being different seems too high. Others fail to use love and creativity to bridge the gap between inner knowledge and outer experience, and succumb to madness.

Delusion is a perversion of knowledge. It’s a belief that things are as one wants or fears, not as they actually are; or thinking one knows everything there is to know, when one doesn’t. Untrained mediums are sometimes misguided either by their own fantasies or dark angels posing as benefactors.

Overcoming Limitations

In writing an invited article for the international journal Prabuddha Bhrata, I was so bold as to speculate about the prophecized End of Times. In retrospect, I’m having second, third and fourth thoughts.

Here’s what I wrote:

. . . wherein is consolation to be found during the present difficult times? For Hindu sages foresaw them. We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times. It lies in this. Time does not exist for accomplished sages who dwell in the eternal center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. They experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues. If even for this reason alone, seeking inner enlightenment is an urgent priority.

How can one really know about such things? Such opinions are necessarily based on hearsay, albeit the testimony of sages is consistent on such matters.

To the point is a description of time as a fourth dimension in the marvelously articulate and entertaining book The Tao of Meditation:Way to Enlightenment by Tsung Hwa Jou. He writes:

Like the shadow, which cannot perceive something above or below its plane, we live in a three-dimensional world, able only to experience reality in segments of time.

According to Mr. Jou, Man’s epistemologies and methodologies are all right from a three-dimensional point of view, and since this is our only possible viewpoint, they constitute the best means to the truth about our reality. Every religion, philosophy, or science is right in three dimension. . . with this caveat: these partial approaches to truth are like different windows in a large building. Each affords us a different view of the outdoors. A unified perspective, however, is gained only by leaving the building.

He continues:

What is the shape of life from a four-dimensional point of view? . . . Suppose there are sentient beings who have a natural capacity to see the four-dimensional shape of things. They could tell us what the shape of our life is; that is, they could see all at once what to us is separated as past, present and future.

Likewise, he assures us that in the fourth dimension, birth and death are not separate, discrete experiences, but rather part of an ongoing, continuous whole. Our birth and death are just another transformation of one form to another.

In sum, he agrees with other accomplished meditators who regard time as we experience it as but an illusion. The perception of beginnings and endings is the result of human limitations – being capable of seeing in only three dimensions.

Why does this matter to us NOW? Look at it this way. Mr. Jou’s Motive, his WHY appears to be a kindhearted desire to share wisdom received from direct experience, for which he is infinitely grateful. His Purpose, the HOW is to detail in a book the methods and benefits of meditation along with the supporting science which explains its effectiveness. His Intended end result, the WHAT, is to give readers a time-tested way to improve the quality of daily life for both individuals and their social combinations:

If people began to think past the limitation of three-dimensions, there would be more respect between men in the business of living together for the common good. Three-dimensional tensions would dissolve, and a spirit of cooperation and mutual generosity would spring up in human affairs.

But he also admits that describing direct experience of the fourth dimension is like describing the taste of an apple to someone who has never eaten one. Similarly, he describes a mother frog who answers her babies’ questions about sunlight, trees and land by telling them they’ll have to wait until they mature, shed their tails and swim to the surface of the pond to experience what’s beyond for themselves:

We who philosophize about time, we who are limited to three dimensions are like a school of tadpoles wondering about another world. Until we too are able to “drop our tails” and step into that dimension, time must remain a subject of speculation to us, as a drinking glass is to a shadow. Until we can experience time as a dimensional context, it must remain a flat reflection to us as the upper world is to the water-bound tadpole.

The question/challenge for us as tadpole-like humans is HOW do we get from here (three-dimensional, conflict-driven either-or thinking) to there (fourth-dimensional awareness within and beneficial, harmonious relationships with others in the world).

Training the mind to expand awareness has been the systematic task of monastic Asian traditions throughout the ages. At the current “time,” the benefits of meditation – significantly improved awareness and effectiveness – may well be a matter of both individual and collective survival.

To that end, I’ve been looking through an assortment of books, each of which opens a different window on the subject of Spiritual Intelligence. In the PB article, I placed this term in the larger context of the two-directional, multi-layered Life Wheel:

In terms of clinical psychology, intelligence at the outermost level is described as IQ, at the middle level as EQ (emotional intelligence) and at the third as SQ (spiritual intelligence)..The levels, which actually flow along continuum, neither separate nor totally distinct, are linked in an infinite loop. The one who succeeds in joining them, living here and yet there, in the world but not of it, enjoys the experience of enlightenment – Christ Consciousness.

Each of the books on SQ (or SI) has its own point of reference, for example quantum physics, Christianity, etc. Interestingly, there’s also a forthcoming book on SI by and for Muslims based on teachings from the Koran. While a detailed summary is beyond the parameters of the current discussion, suffice it to say that although each author defines spiritual intelligence differently, they share a common intent.

Unfortunately, another thing Spiritual Intelligence books share in common is than none have gotten much traction. A quick tour through Amazon books shows that very few have been reviewed or purchased. Spiritual intelligence as a concept isn’t sexy. It is as if the concept is outside the “hearing” range of the general public. Why this remains so and what might be done to change this is yet another subject worthy of investigation and ACTION.

I do know, as do the authors of SI books who repeatedly call for “change,” that the future depends on such a reawakening. In the context of End of Time concerns, I’m reminded of Hexagram 49 of the Book of Change:

Day and night replace each other in endless cycles of CHANGE.

The same natural law generates flux in human events.

The unprepared see change as a threat,

but the well-prepared face the unknown calmly.

They know that after degeneration reaches critical mass,

regeneration follows.

In other words, one way or the other, preparation on every scale of magnitude will definitely make a great difference in the outcomes of as yet unforeseen futures waiting to be born. Overcoming the limitations of our current either/or way of thinking is an important first step. For, to repeat, as Einstein warned us, “We shall require a substantially different manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

For starters, thinking about this admittedly limited linear Essay on limitations may be helpful.

globeEssay 10. LIMITATIONS

The Chinese concept of change, which gives the I Ching its validity, has found its echo in chaos theory. The concepts presented by this theory give us vital information about how the I Ching functions. Understanding this may help us cross the bridge between determinist rationality and chance, and go further toward our comprehension of this age-old system, which could have a profound influence on the rest of our lives”. — Cyrille Javary, Understanding the I Ching

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds

Or bends with the remover to remove.

Oh no! It is an ever fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken.

— William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

The Bible encodes all the possibilities, and what we do determines the actual outcome. . .The only thing that can be predicted is the probability of different events. Yet quantum physics is a highly successful branch of science. It works. Perhaps because it recognizes uncertainty as a part of reality. In the same way, the Bible code works . . . because it recognizes uncertainty as part of reality.” — Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code

THE FRONT

A limit is a point, line or edge where something ends or must end, a boundary or border beyond which something ceases to be or to be possible. A limitation is something that limits, as some factor in make-up which restricts the scope of a person’s qualifications, activity, or accomplishment. In law, it’s a period of time, fixed by statute, during which legal action can be brought, as for settling a claim.

On the positive side, we limit ourselves consciously by choosing how to allocate our attention, time and effort. This is called discipline and commitment. On the negative side, we unconsciously diminish our potentials, tying them up in knots of insecurity and doubt. Attitude limitations are as debilitating as physical handicaps. Often they’re unconsciously acquired, internalized by cultural conditioning and negative suggestions. Identifying and correcting these attitudes, overcoming unnecessary limitations, is essential to personal growth and fulfillment.

Rules of empirical science limit the field of knowledge to tangible things. Yet when we exclude the data of extra-sensory experience, we impoverish our lives. Instinct is a survival mechanism built into animals and humans alike. Dogs and horses, however, are sometimes more savvy about people than we are; they’re not fooled by false appearances. Intuition, however, is a gift exclusive to humans. It flashes on inventive thinkers when they see new possibilities or dream of futures not yet born.

The I Ching supplies a method for revitalizing instinct and intuition gone numb through suppression or lack of attention. It helps us link the middle octave of reason with the lower and higher octaves of experience, expanding our range of hearing and awareness.

People raised exclusively on empirical science limit their concept of love and joy to tangibles — physical beauty and sex appeal. When youth fades, marriage partners who lack wisdom are tempted to break their vows. Using the I Ching, however, helps fine-tune awareness of what changes, as well as that which remains constant. Using the I Ching as the foundation of realistic relationships, we build the inner consistency necessary to sustain commitments and complete long-term goals.

But just as an individual’s time on Earth is limited, civilizations and even planets pass in due course. At each stage in history, wisdom appropriate to the times is revealed to those who seek. Drosnin speculates that Newton’s intuited but evasive Bible code was purposefully hidden until the time that computers were invented to unlock it. Similarly, Einstein’s Unified Theory eluded him because he lacked yogic I Ching wisdom. In turn, it may well be that the extraordinary value of this text has been hidden for centuries, waiting for public understanding of binary-digital computer code, energy chakras and DNA genome theory to revolutionize our approach to the Book of Change.

THE BACK

The opposite of limitations is the unlimited. We call this infinity or the unknowable unknown. We are told we have unlimited potentials, but on the material plane they are framed by choice and the structure of whatever language we speak. Only the unfathomable, unnameable essence referred to as the timeless Tao or God — the alpha-omega source of creation — is truly without limitation.

When humans defy natural limitations of time, space and form, they are said to be delusional. When they behave in reckless, unrestrained ways, in defiance of their mortality, acting as if they were invincible and above the law, this is arrogance and sheer ignorance. Knowing one’s place in the universe is wisdom; resisting it is futile.

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Therapists & Business Trainers as Mindfulness Teachers – Implementing Kahneman’s S2

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Comments added by Tony Ayaz, Business Trainer, to a recent LinkedIn article* deserve a post in themselves, not only for the important points he raised, but also as reminder of the mindfulness skill he calls “read-listening.”

Rather than speed-reading, skimming through articles for key phrases and/or surfing in search of attack points, he advocates a thoughtful reading between-the-lines. What does the author, deeper than words, really mean?

On first reading of the original comment, out of all that was written, alas, I focused only a single part, overlooking the rest. Out of context, I answered only the final paragraph. He wrote:

I think we expect too much from our brain, we have a choice, we either slow down our pace or keep going till we drop off and no retirement, except to retire in a grave, I live to work.

I responded: If you live to work, I sincerely hope it’s because you love your work and find enjoyment/ fulfillment in what you do.

But that didn’t do his comment-as-a-whole justice. I’d failed to “read-listen” to his words. He corrected me:

Patricia, I have never worked in my life, it has always been an employment and/or running a business and now teaching at uni . . . I have always found what they call as work as learning, teaching is just imparting what I learnt myself and from others like you too. I just prioritise my listed routines so my brain is kept in check, while I observe what is around me from outside my body (have you tried that, it guides your heart and mind together in sync!).

In rethinking his read-listen attitude, I connected it with lessons learned from ethnology research interviews. Here’s the description of how it works from RS:

Simply put, the researcher goes into the “field” and gets to know the people. Either formally or informally, she gathers information about the system from different insiders’ points of view and puts it together to form an overview. From this, the researcher can draw conclusions and, when appropriate, make recommendations regarding change options.

At that time, I found that all the skills previously acquired along the way served me well as an ethnology researcher. It was a living example of a favorite maxim, “Nothing is ever wasted.”

From youthful musician years, I gained listening and technical keyboard skills. Playing the piano eventually translated into typing at computers. This in turn found other applications. For example, when I paid the rent by working as a legal secretary, plugged into a Dictaphone, I transcribed dictated words faster than a speeding bullet.

All this, in turn, came in useful as a researcher. With permission, before beginning an interview, I set up a tape recorder. That way, rather than scramble to take sketchy notes during an interview, I could give the subject my full attention. I was free to observe body language, maintain direct eye contact, give non-verbal as well as verbal cues and gently keep the conversation on track.

But what a shock, when I later transcribed, word-for-word, what had been spoken! Of all that was said, I remembered only a small part. I thought I was listening carefully. But much went over my head. And of what I did hear, I often remembered it inaccurately. Only re-listening and quoting directly from transcripts allowed me to accurately report the information collected.

From this experience, I learned that, when we’re able to slow down and listen really carefully, we find out how much is missed during the rapid-fire pace of everyday communications, be it conversation or reading.

When Tony read-listens, he’s slowing down the pace, much as I should have done in reading his comments.

Read-listening is a form of practicing mindfulness, which is exactly to the point of the article in question. It compared full-spectrum awareness (repackaged in contemporary language as mindfulness) to the empirical research findings of Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman.

As Tony corrected me, in his own way, he practices what might be called “meditation-in-action.” I observe what is around me from outside my body (have you tried that, it guides your heart and mind together in sync!).

Other of his comments raise thoughtful concerns. I missed their full implications on the first go round, and definitely must slow down to read-listen better in the future: I do believe no one understands the brain, it is like finding the black hole or looking for GOD particle. And, I believe it is not only outside the research it is outside the human capability and will always remain a work in progress or humans will become the creator.

These are exquisitely important questions.

But now, an A-ah! Here’s another relevant Tony-clue: To fast and slow decision making of the mind S1 & 2 could simply be linked to time and stage of life and the environment one lives in.

Historically, changes have been observed to occur in repeating patterns on every scale of magnitude. That is to say, the seasons of one’s personal life are writ large on the pages of human history. Just as, on a personal scale, the applications of listening and keyboarding shifted from music to law firms and then to ethnology research, weaving a pattern of unforeseen but consistent adaptations, so also meditation sciences shift. They remain essentially the same, but at the same time are continuously renewed to suit immediate circumstances.

No matter how often things change, nothing of real value is lost. Not possible.

By repackaging ancient sciences as Mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn has adapted the timeless essence of meditative teachings, making them suitable to the pace and aptitude of today’s fractured and fracturing world.

Earlier I described therapists as agents of positive change. Now I would add, so also are thoughtful business trainers. By adopting the language of empirical research science, which has arguably reconstituted yin and yang in the contemporary terms of S1 and S2, they too are helping the next generation of decision-makers to slow down, become more self-aware and thus – one can only hope – improve the outcomes of the decision-making process.

 

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* See: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/re-search-look-again-patricia-west