Category Archives: I Ching

Magic Is in the Eye of the Beholder

eye of the beholder

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

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

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

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

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

hist of magic

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

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

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

image - harry potter

ESSAY 37. MAGIC

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

The I Ching Works Like a Cosmic Clock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Use the CSBOC To Increase Self-Awareness

Did you know that Swiss analyst, Carl Jung, who gave us the concept of archetypes and influenced appreciation of dream analysis, also had great respect for the Chinese I Ching? He used it as as a tool for making the unconscious conscious.

In fact, Jung was instrumental in bringing the first usable English translation to the West. He wrote the introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version by giving an example of using it. He queried asking for a comment on the translation. The answer received was, in effect, that a vessel of great value which had fallen into disrepair was being restored.

My small yellow book follows Jung’s example. In the Introduction, I ask, “What does the Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC)  have to offer its readers?”

Its answer: “Awareness.” A changing line yields the likely future outcome of following through. “Gain.” (I’ll show you how this works below.)

But even before starting, the book emphasizes the importance of practicing a thoughtful process of question- asking:

The quality of results depends on the state of mind in which information is received. It is therefore essential to learn how to approach the Book of Change in the best possible frame of mind.

So quiet yourself. Get past the clutter of chaotic thoughts to focus on forming a worthy question.

. . . There are many techniques for calming the mind and focusing attention. One of these is usually practiced before asking the question.

Bottom line: consulting the Book of Change is not only compatible with yogic and mindfulness practices of introspection, contemplation and meditation. They work synergistically. Settling the mind to ask the right question induces a meditative state. The ability to induce a meditative state enhances the quality of questions asked and value of answers received.

To give you the flavor of working with The Common Sense Book of Change, I’m sharing the example given in the book.

If you initially feel uneasy with this approach to increasing self-awareness, you might find the answers to commonly asked questions reassuring.

If this is new to you, try approaching it with the attitude for approaching the unfamiliar recommended by Samuel Coleridge, a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Or, as I do, at the start, prayerfully invoke protection and guidance according to your beliefs.

 

 

SAMPLE READING

First I collect my materials. I need three pennies, a pad of paper or notebook, a pen or pencil and the Book of Change.

Then I find a quiet place to sit. I take a few minutes to settle down. I clear my mind of other thoughts and silently watch the breath until it becomes slow and even.

Then I think carefully about what is going on, what is troubling me, and the issues I need to know more about. I list the decisions I have to make and consider what consequences are likely to follow from my future actions.

For the example in this book, I have decided to ask, “What does The Common Sense Book of Change have to offer its readers?”

I enter the date and my question in the Diary Section at the back of the book.

Concentrating on my question, I take my three pennies, shake them a few times in my gently closed fist and roll them onto the flat surface in front of me.

The first throw of my three coins comes up three heads. The value of heads is two, so I multiply three times two to get six.

Since this is an even number, I draw a broken line on my pad of paper. It will be the bottom line. Because all three coins were the same, I place an “X” next to this line to show that it is a changing line.

My bottom line looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___X

Then I take the three coins and throw them again. This time I get two tails and one head. The value of tails is one, so I add one and one to get two. I add this to the two for the heads coin to get four.

Since four is an even number, I place a broken line in the second place over the bottom line. My pad of paper now looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Line 2    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

̀I follow the same procedure four more times. My final hexagram looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Top       T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 5   T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 4    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 3     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 2     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom  H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

The next step is to find the number of my reading. I turn to the chart at the back of the book. The bottom three lines of my hexagram are all broken.

I turn to the chart at the back. In the “lower trigram” column of the chart, the picture which matches this figure is “k’un.”

The top three lines of my hexagram are two solid lines over a broken line. In the “upper trigram” row of the chart, the picture which matches this figure is “sun.”

By going to the box which shows the combination of upper and lower trigrams, I find the number 20. I therefore turn to Hexagram 20 for answers to my question.

Hexagram 20 is AWARENESS. So the answer to my question, “What does the Common Sense Book of Change have to offer its readers?” is AWARENESS. It reads:

Seek increased AWARENESS of the patterns which underlie all natural events. Tune yourself to the creative source of natural change. Then harmony becomes a way of life. Secrets of the arts and sciences will be revealed. Human relationships will become smooth. Mistakes of mis-calculation will be prevented. Avoid unnatural leaders.

Because the bottom line is a changing line, I go to the page directly opposite the hexagram, titled “Direction of Change.” I read the sentences for the bottom line. They advise:

Narrow-minded self-interest is not enlightened. Broaden your views. Include others. (42)

The number in parens after the warning represents the hexagram which results when the bottom line changes to its opposite, a firm line.

The new hexagram, GAIN, indicates the change that would result from the AWARENESS this book has to offer its readers. Turning to Hexagram 42, I read:

GAINS can be made after analyzing the situation correctly. When a person’s life goals are kept firmly in mind, no time is wasted. A way can be found to use whatever resources are at hand to serve one’s purpose. Serving others can be compatible with personal gain. Avoid smug self-satisfaction.

I then turn to the back of the book. In the Diary Section, I write the numbers of the hexagram and any changing lines next to my question. Then I decide what future actions I to take.

Finally, I enter a few sentences to describe my thoughts and decisions into the Diary Section. That way, I know I can return to my question, the reading and my decisions later to think more about them.

I hope this helps. Any questions? Comments? Your feedback is welcome.

How the CSBOC Came To Be

For those who wondered, I’ve already answered eight of your most often asked questions, including“What makes the Book of Change so unique and important? Why is it especially relevant worldwide?”

wondering face

Here, I’m answering another question: “Why is this particular version, the Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC), an excellent choice for me to work with right now?”

As strange as it appears at first glance, there are actually several good reasons. So let me tell you more.

Discourse sized

First, I should let you know that today, publishing is a just hobby for me. The world will go its own way. I no longer think can any book change the world.

But it certainly changed me. It’s no exaggeration to say the I Ching saved my life. More than once.

So, for me, if the Common Sense Book of Change helps even one of you, that is enough. I would be satisfied. As it has been written, “To save one life is to save the world entire.”

I also recognized that the I Ching is not the only book with life-saving potential. The most powerful is the Bible. In my case, however, early in life, poor examples confused and repelled me. I do believe that in their infinite mercy, good angels guide and protect truth seekers through any medium available. Angels are not limited by the restrictions of human religion. : )

So long before I was ready for the New Testament, the I Ching was there to get me through some rough transitions.

Angel Calling

Now, then. How did I come to create this little book? I am American, not Chinese. Nor am I a scholar with advanced degrees in Chinese language and literature. I’ve described my personal journey in several places. For example, in The I Ching & Me, I wrote:

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.

ICgraph

I wrote about the origins of CSBOC in Rethinking Survival:

. . . 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 repetitive, cyclical change.

Tai Chi Tu

I’ve also explained why I felt compelled to write a simpler, accessible version, free of unnecessary jargon, sexism and cultural baggage:

There was, as in all things, a downside to the Wilhelm/Baynes version. It was unnecessarily difficult, sexist and elitist. A confusing overlay of cultural baggage obscured its meaning. After working for ten years with every version I could find, I wrote an easy-to-use version called The Common Sense Book of Change, intending to make this treasure available to anyone with an open open heart and basic reading skills.

I fantasized on the possibility of teasing the Chinese people into reclaiming their heritage, self-publishing it as small yellow book (the traditional Chinese color of wisdom) in a pocket-sized form to replace Mao’s little blood-red book. No matter how many new versions have come out since then, it still works for me.

seated crosslegged
Here is the story of how the CSBOC came to be:

More “neatsies” surround my small version of the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change. I wrote it in 1975 during the window of time after I moved back from Spring Green to Madison, but before I had a job. As a leap of faith, I concentrated on the writing, putting off a job search until the book was done. This was a bit scary. Money was going to run out very soon.

I sat cross-legged on the bare wood floor of a living room furnished with cardboard boxes. I spread every version I owned in a half-circle around me. They included the Wilhelm/Baynes translation brought back from Germany, of course. There was a battered second-hand paperback by Joseph Murphy, a research fellow in Andrha, India, as I recall, who quoted the Old Testament in the judgments. Others included the spiral-bound Workbook by R. L. Wing, a hardbound version which presented the I Ching as a form of astrology and a hippie-like paperback.

I trusted that the Platonic-like ideas of the I Ching are timeless, the common heritage of all humanity. They’re not the exclusive property of a particular culture or class. Each of these authors was drawing on the same source for inspiration, expressing universal experience from different viewpoints. So I opened my mind, asking for the deeper meaning these versions shared in common.

I was certain that the most powerful ideas are the most simple. They deserve to be expressed in the clearest language with fewest words possible, free of flowery poetry, scholarly hocus pocus, sexist assumptions (the so-called “superior man”) or other distortions. I intended to make my version easy to read – accessible to anyone with basic reading skills and an open heart.

The format just “came” to me. It worked fine. Fifty words, no more or less, for each hexagram. Ten words, no more, no less for each changing line. The images came easily. I worked systematically from start to finish, no looking back. With the exception of “Sacrifice,” which I revisited fifteen years later, I’ve made no revisions.

Eventually, I called this version The Common Sense Book of Change. I like the word “common.” To me, it doesn’t signify “ordinary” or even “vulgar,” as some use the term, but rather “universal.” “Common” is the root of both “communication” and “community.” And the allusion to Tom Paine’s Common Sense isn’t accidental.

But there’s more to this story:

Upon its completion, the kaleidoscope turned instantly.

Results of the civil service test for Typist III positions came in the mail, along with a list of job openings.

My first interview was at the UW-Madison Department of French and Italian. The Chairman not only gave me the job on the spot. He decided from my resume that I had administrative potential and made me an offer. The Department’s Administrative Secretary III had given notice. She was moving out of town soon. There was no replacement. If I was willing to do her job for Typist III pay, and if I took the pending Ad Sec civil service exam, and if I got one of the five highest scores to qualify for an interview, I could have the job. . . .

I agreed, did administrative work for typist pay, took the exam, qualified for an interview, and within a few months took a leap up the career ladder that secretaries usually took years to accomplish. I was suddenly earning more than ever before. . .

I concluded:

The reward for this leap of faith was immediate. I took it as confirmation from the powers that be that I’d made the right choice to put the book first.

listen with the heart

 

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.

Your Choice

Yoda make good choices

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink is exactly the right medicine for me right now. It might be for you too.

Here’s the amazon.com summary of his credentials:

Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life.

JW’s perspective is radically different from that espoused in Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. As described in If You Love Your Children. . . and . . . Tell Them How the world Works:

Essentially, [12 Rules] 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.

But the two approaches are, each in its own way, complimentary.

Now – JW’s background is far different from mine.

I’m a woman brought up as a musician. As a college/university-educated scholar majoring in world history-philosophy-literature, much of my later years have been dedicated to unlearning and relearning.

As a violinist and yoga practitioner, my practice disciplines focused on harmony, balance and unity.

In school administration, I looked to the ultimate decision-making manual: the ancient Chinese I Ching — The Book of Change.

JW speaks of fighting. And aggression. I approach self-improvement in terms of transcendence. Our goals and results, however, are much the same. So my approach to discipline is also, in its own way, complimentary.

I find JW’s approach to discipline almost devotional. Similar to Chinese Taoists – including the Shaolin monks who based kung fu martial arts on the I Ching — he refers to The Way of Discipline. He writes:

Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow. . . . .

There is only one way.

THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE.

What inspired me to write this post was his chapter on NATURE VS NURTURE. He asks, What is more important? And he answers, Neither.

In the military, I worked with every type of person:

Ivy League kids with silver spoons, kids from blue-collar families, kids from strong families, and kids with no families, kids who were pampered and kids who were abused. And everything in between. Everything.

And with all those different types of people, there were good and bad. Successful and unsuccessful. And in working with businesses, I see the same thing: People from every walk of life. From the bottom to the top – and I have seen every type of person be successful.

His conclusion:

It is not about nature or nurture.

It is about choice.

He continues:

The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.

They choose who they are going to hang around and they choose who they will emulate.

Ultimately:

They choose to become who they want to become they aren’t inhibited by nature or nurture. They overcome both.

I totally agree. Choices and consequences hang together. And as pointed out elsewhere in describing the natural Law of Karma, failure to choose is also a choice — one with heavy consequences.

 

book header bird

There are two directions I could take from here. One is to share with you the post called What’s More Important – Nature, Nurture, OR . . ..

This subject is especially relevant in the context of answering ideologues who use the seeming unfairness of life and suffering as excuses for rebellion and destruction of social order . . . rather than discipline.

The other direction I could take is to share is the Essay on Discipline which give a balancing, complimentary perspective to JW’s military approach.

Here’s my choice. First I’ll offer a few snippets from the blog here. You’re welcome to click on the link if you’d like to see more.

Then I’ll post the Essay on Discipline below.

So. First. From What’s Most Important:

I’ll give one example here using the Positive Paradigm Wheel of Change. This picture talks to the right brain to balance the left-brain discussion which follows.

It places the relationship of nature, nurture and “much more” in prioritized context.

PPoC gold

The surface level that corresponds with MASS includes everything tangible and measurable. It’s the realm of empirical science. That would be “nurture.”

The middle ENERGY level corresponds not only with electricity, but with subtle but measurable energies that yogis call “chi” or “prana.” It’s the level associated with DNA, emotions and “gut” feelings. That’s “nature.”

The innermost level of LIGHT is associated with intangibles, including conscience. That’s the “. . . and More.”

My conclusion:

. . . leaders who intentionally live true their conscience and succeed in linking the levels of life are key to a viable future. The rest of us will depend on them to out-think, out-maneuver and succeed long after pretenders with no substantial connection to the center of life have been blown away like dust in the wind.

Phoenix - sized

And here’s the Essay. Hope you enjoy. Your comments are welcome. If you find this resonant, please share to magnify the effect.

ESSAY 26. DISCIPLINE

Tai ji is a discipline that can help you settle into the experience of your body and your surroundings and re-establish contact with what is happening now. — Chungliang Al Huang, Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn. — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When our emotions hijack us into overdrive, we react to others without the benefit of reason. By managing our emotions more effectively, we are able to dissolve distressing emotions, which allows us to think more clearly and use our emotional intelligence to make better decisions. — Lambrou & Pratt, Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions

THE FRONT

“Discipline” comes from the same root as “disciple,” meaning “learner.” Webster’s first definition is a branch of knowledge or learning.

Second, it’s training that develops either

  • self-control, character, or

  • orderliness and efficiency, or

  • strict control to enforce obedience.

Third, it’s the result of such training or control, specifically either self-control and orderly conduct or acceptance of or submission to authority and control.

Fourth, it’s a system of rules, as for a church or monastic order.

Fifth, it’s treatment that corrects or punishes.

The pristine word means love of learning. In self-actualization traditions, discipline refers to the process by which ignorance is decreased and wisdom is increased.

In balanced measure, incorrect ideas and behavior are recognized, corrected and put away, while correct ones are introduced to replace them. This entails digging deeper than cultural conditioning to reconnect with innate potentials and inner aspirations.

The word “correct” is intrinsic to the concept of discipline. Webster’s defines correct as to change from wrong to right, removing errors. The word is also means to make conform to a standard. Further, it means to scold or punish, or to cure, remove or counteract a disease or fault. Correct also means conforming to fact or logic, to be true, accurate or free from errors.

Whether discipline is a joyful privilege or painful punishment

is decided by the motives of involved participants.

If the learning and correction are imposed externally upon unwilling parties, it’s onerous. The subjects can perhaps be forced to alter behavior. No positive inward change results from coercion, however. If anything, force breeds the opposite of intent: resentment and rebellion.

Societies that fail to inspire and foster internal self-discipline therefore pay a high price in the form of escalating crime rates, overburdened judicial systems and costly prisons.

If, however, through the power of example, a sage attracts students hungry for wisdom and self-improvement, then the condition for positive change exists. When the teacher is motivated by compassion and generosity, and students with respect and love of learning, then innate potential for transformation can be actualized.

Negative emotions can be healed and self-mastery achieved. Mutual consent and willing compliance set the stage for improving oneself and, by extension, society.

As correction agents, coercive prisons impose external discipline on people perceived as threats to society. Those capable of inner discipline, however, remain free to use even external confinement to advantage.

For example, during the time he was imprisoned by a political rival, King Wen turned apparent defeat into the opportunity to order the hexagrams of the I Ching and write commentaries. Upon release, he helped found the next Chinese dynasty. The legacy of his steadfast resolve during dark times and ability to transcend adversity remains with us even today.

Nelson Mandela used thirty years of incarceration to carefully examine and correct his character. When the time was right, the extreme revolutionary became South Africa’s most responsible elected leader. His extreme isolation changed to an opposite and equal status of unparalleled international influence.

THE BACK

Absence of discipline is of the opposite of discipline. Though the immature may regard disorganization and irresponsible disrespect for worthy seniors as a measure of freedom, it isn’t. Without self-discipline and self-correction, there is no self-improvement or sustained achievement.

External regimentation can be a perversion of discipline. In the extreme, it suppresses creativity and initiative. Coercive military conscription, slavery, or other involuntary work are violations of free will that degrade the value of life.

 

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