Category Archives: Leadership

Practical Ethics

After outlining an article on ethics, which Stefan Molyneux passionately, intuitively reasons is the necessary foundation of civilization, I did my homework. Come to find out, he went rounds on the subject with an atheist critic.

Unfortunately, for lack of the holistic Life Wheel framework which encompasses the full range of logic complimented by and reinforced with gut feeling and inner knowing, Stefan was hard put to defend his “feelings” from his ruthlessly, exclusively logical (but dead wrong) antagonist.

As shown elsewhere, the “hollow,” exclusively materialist-atheist belief system rules out the levels at which “gut feeling” and intuition reside.

MaterialistAthest

An updated version of the complete Wheel shown earlier puts ideology -isms in their limited place: on the surface, material rim, far removed from the vital energy level of gut feelings, even further detached from the core from which wisdom flows.

expanded wheel

What is fundamentally (fatally) missing from logician’s concept of ethics, however, is the dynamic action of karma. The Law of Karma is a fact of life which can’t be argued, but rather is known through direct  experience by those who pay attention. It’s axiomatic.

Though there’s more to the subject, which I’ll bring up below, for starters, here is an excerpt to the point from The Handbook:

AXIOM FOUR

Consequences of Actions Are Inevitable; Those Who Respect the Law of Karma Succeed.

Axiom Four is the practical foundation of ethics. Were it taught earlier in schools both public and private as the survival basic which it is, today’s world would be very different indeed.

For in an exclusively materialist, linear worldview, it seems possible to “get away with murder.” Unethical leaders mistakenly continue to act on the false premise that they can avoid the consequences of their actions by hiding selfish motives and evil deeds behind a mask of false appearances.

But ultimately, they deceive no one but themselves. (Remember the fate of ponzi racketeer Bernie Madoff and his two tragically unfortunate sons?)

Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray dramatizes the horrific consequences of hiding hideous deeds behind an unnatural mask of eternal youth and physical beauty. Just as Dorian comes to an awful end, in the circular and richly textured fabric of the Positive Paradigm worldview, attempts at evasion and deception are ultimately futile. The concept of a “perfect crime” is an oxymoron. . . .

The Old Testament describes the karmic law of return in agricultural terms. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap” and “For everything there is a season. . . ” In modern parlance, the saying that underscores the circular dynamic of poetic justice is, “What goes around comes around.”

. . . a popular riddle asks, “Why do con artists do shabby work, charge unreasonably high prices, and get away with murder?” The cynical answer: “Because they can.” However, this cynical half-truth tells only part of the story.

They can, because there’s Free Will. They can, because they’re ignorant, or else incredibly stupid. Choices have (all too often unforeseen) consequences.

Whether one believes in God or not, whether one respects Natural Law or chooses to be blind to it, these consequences are the same. In modern parlance, “Do the Crime. Do the time.” Or, as it’s also said, “Pay back is a bitch.”

Punishment for unrepentant wrong-doing can take many forms. The consequences of breaking human laws include fines, jail-time, and in the extreme, death.

But on a deeper level, over time, retribution for violating Natural Law is visited in many forms, from mental or physical disease, to personal, professional or financial misfortune.

Consequences of misdeeds often return on the psychological level. Carl Jung, the Swiss analyst who popularized the concept of archetypes, also wrote the introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching. He noted the unintended kickback from rejecting the basic axioms of religion and natural law with mere reason. There are consequences not only for decision-makers, but also those they influence.

In sum, Jung noted that modern thinkers have made a fatal mistake. The facts of inner life can’t be driven out of existence by arbitrarily banishing them from the decision-making equation. Saying God doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. It just leaves the unbeliever at the disadvantage of being cut off from the center.

According to Jung, denying the facts of inner life has the effect of burying rejected aspects of the whole in the “unconscious,” where they continue to reap havoc on our daily lives. Politicians and journalists under the influence of unacknowledged emotional demons “unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.”

Phoenix - sized

Here is a picture of the Law of Karma (a practical function of Natural Law). It resides at the middle, energy level of the Life Wheel associated chi, prana and emotions. Beliefs (at best, emanating from conscience – the domain of Divine Law – and experienced as intuition) trigger emotions. In turn, beliefs fueled by passionate feeling drive actions which produce results of the surface level — the domain of Human Law:

 

Law of Karma

Phoenix - sized

The “more” to the issue of ethics suggested above is this. Because karmic return emanates from the energy level, functional ethics necessarily has a DYNAMIC component. What’s right depends to some extent on the specifics of time, place, person and historical context.

For example, while the motive – compassion – remains constant, the correct actions taken to express this motive change with the situation. Working in a day care environment with an unruly child who doesn’t know better will require different methods of correction than would dealing with a raging psychopath who intends someone you dearly love violent, deadly harm.

For this reason, the best leaders, and the most successful people in every area of life, are the ones who are most self-aware, the ones competent to link the unchanging innermost level of Motive with the fluctuating levels of strategic Purpose and practical Intent. (Hence the admonition,”Get your act  together!”)

Conversely, those who shun self-awareness, ignore the call of Conscience and go after what they want — others be damned — are a danger to themselves and others. In any case, while the Free Will to choose remains constant at the center, the unavoidable consequences implicit in the bargain will return in kind — it’s a package deal.

So here follows an Essay on Consequences:

Phoenix - sized

Essay 43. CONSEQUENCES

Unlike any kind of fortune-telling, prophecy, or magic, the I Ching does not tell the future, it can only analyze the present. Its use does not allow one to make forecasts, only diagnoses. If there were a comparison possible with a Western equivalent, it would not be to the crystal ball but to a chess playing computer program that analyzes the current situation in order to choose one of a number of options. — Cyrille Javary, Understanding the I Ching.

Quantum mechanics is a procedure. It is a specific way of looking at a specific part of reality. The only people who use it are physicists. The advantage of following the procedure of quantum mechanics is that it allows us to predict the probabilities of certain results . . .– Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics

One of the principles of modern physics which has contributed heavily to current organizational theory states that matter is nothing but relationships. That’s the glue of an organization — relationships. Without honesty, there is no trust, and consequently, very weak relationships. — Alan Downs, Seven Miracles of Management

THE FRONT

The literal meaning of the root word is “to follow after.” Webster’s first definition of consequence is a result of an action or process, an outcome or effect. Second, it’s a logical result or conclusion, an inference. Third, it’s the relationship of cause and effect. Last, it’s defined as importance or influence, as in a high-ranking person of consequence.

Board games like chess challenge the intellect to think in terms of strategy. High ranking players, white and black, oppose each other. Contestants maneuver their pieces, the object being to take over the field. Pieces of different consequence are ranked by medieval social status as kings, queens, and bishops, down to lowly pawns.

Each has a proportional range of motion, pawns having the least. But, with persistence, pawns can traverse the field and change rank, becoming powerful players in the end.

The United States was founded in reaction to European governments that violated Natural Law, subordinating merit to class interests and siphoning the resources of workers to fill the coffers of a privileged few.

In contrast, the ideal of the original American dream honored the natural law of cause and effect. Every person was free to advance according to merit. Each was entitled to receive just compensation for honest work. All were entitled to protection of individual civil rights under the law.

Throughout history, there’s been a push/pull tension between those who respect the biblical maxim, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” and those who would make themselves exempt from the law. In nature, there are times of plenty and times of want, times of success and times of defeat.

Some, however, ignorantly try to short-circuit the process, by-passing the hard times that teach us humility, abusing human law to short-sighted, personal and political ends. They’d rather, by cheating natural laws, be ceaselessly, excessively prosperous, at the expense of others who suffer in perpetual want.

Rather than engage in the give-and-take process on the chess-board of life, where the light and dark, yang and yin, alternate in orderly succession, such people would fold the board, refuse to play, and withdraw from the life process. But even the attempt to evade natural consequences has consequences.

The I Ching, like the game of chess, is a miniature of the human psyche and of community relationships. Like playing three-tiered chess, working with the I Ching not only engages the intellect, but cultivates a keen sense of the hidden forces, deeply irrational and sometimes sublime, which drive and even occasionally inspire the players.

These disciplines teach us to make our choices in terms of cause and effect, mindful of long-term implications. They help us to overcome daily challenges with wisdom and grace, and prepare us to survive and prevail when confronted by opponents who would wipe us off the board.

The title Dancing Wu Li Masters refers to the Chinese word for “physics,” translated as “Patterns of Organic Energy.” Sadly, the logical connection to the I Ching wasn’t made. The Positive Paradigm of Change derived from I Ching — consistent with Einstein’s physics — holds the key to fundamental life questions which continue to elude physicists, social and medical scientists alike. Whether or not we follow through has dire consequences for future survival.

THE BACK

The opposite of consequence would be inconsequential, having no meaning or importance. However, the Chinese saying goes that even one small grain of rice can tip the scales one way or the other. Logically, if there is no action, there would be no consequences. But consequences also follow from failing to take action.

Perversions of consequences include attempts to break the cause-effect connection, either to act without paying the price or to collect unearned rewards. Out of laziness, fear or greed, wrong-doers attempt to cheat life, change the course of events by unnatural means. In the long-term, it never works as intended. Instead, violating Natural Law sets chain reactions in motion that explode when events reach critical mass.

Angel Calling

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Clarion Call

 

The day after America’s momentous national election, as I watched replay video of Donald J. Trump’s acceptance speech, for the first time in months I felt a genuine hope for human survival. It may not be exactly the hope of which he speaks, or what others expect, be their motives for better or worse. But here, I’ll tell you what triggered this surge of hope in me.

I’ll also tell you why today, after eight months without posting a single blog, I feel a sense of urgency to spell out the opportunities and shadow dangers that move me to write again as predictable media backlash sets in.

My conclusion: Listen up America! Pay attention, people of the world! Regardless of what noisy, dark distractions his enemies throw at us, we dare not forfeit the reprieve we’ve been mercifully granted by failing to fully recognize, respect and hold fast to his message as a last hope for human survival.

For starters, I am focusing today on the message of the President-Elect’s victory speech, transcribed word for word. They are words of power because deeper than shallow politician-speech, they were spoken with utmost sincerity from the heart.

Surely he isn’t familiar with the Life Wheel and Einstein’s Unified Theory I’ve described over the past three years. Nor, for him, is it necessary. However, for the rest of us, this work might make a huge difference, perhaps even tipping the scales of history in favor of human survival. It shows exactly the ways in which he surpasses usual politicians, and what people worldwide have at stake in DJT’s success.

The Life Wheel validates Donald J. Trump as an authentic leader who lives true to his inner North Star. Though others may mouth similar words, rare indeed are those with the genuine inward authority to speak them. (Can you imagine expressions of LOVE for the American people coming credibly from the mouths of the politicians who opposed him?)

What I heard that day was a voice that speaks true to the basics of the humanity’s enduring wisdom traditions. Granted, he is a highly intelligent leader who deliberately surrounds himself with the best talent he can find. But significantly, he is also a “natural” – one who radiates the vitality and confidence to live true to himself, one who trusts his natural gut instincts.

Deeper than mere philosophy, DJT projects the presence of someone instinctively attuned to our common Source. His call for Unity in the spirit of humility and gratitude rings authentic and true to my ears.

His first words were inclusive.

It’s about US – OUR victory. Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of this land that I will be president for all Americans. And this is so important to me.

He continued:

For those of you who have chosen not to support me in the past – of which there were a few people – I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.

He added:

As I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their families. It’s a movement comprised of Americans from all races, backgrounds, religions and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people – and serve the people it will.

What I heard is the voice of a dedicated servant leader, in stark contrast to finger-pointing opponents who have boldly and corruptly violated the responsibilities of public office to enrich themselves and brainwash the public – notably gullible young people — with divisive political-speech.

He observed:

I’ve spent my entire life in business looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country. Tremendous potential.

Ah. Here is language that acknowledges the E = energy middle level of the Life Wheel, welcome to my ears. He is in touch where his opponents are not with inner levels of the Life Wheel. Energy potential, though invisible, is very real indeed. It is the generator of true wealth.

I’ve gotten to know our country so well. Tremendous potential. It’s going to be a beautiful thing. Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

This is the view of a world citizen, a voice of good-will, universal respect and self-actualization. It is neither new agey nor hocus pocos to those who understand the heart of enduring wisdom traditions.

He promised:

We will embark upon a project of national growth and renewal. I will harness the creative talents of our people and we will call upon the best and brightest to leverage their tremendous talent for the benefit of all. It’s going to happen.

Significantly, he concluded:

I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone. With everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility. Partnership, not conflict.

This got my heart-felt YES! Here at last is a voice of the genuine Common Sense called for in my work.

It accords with the compassionate, common sense vision I sought to express in creating this composite image of Einstein’s compass superimposed on the concentric circles of the Life Wheel, quickening the globe of Planet Earth from within. My common sense survival meme, if you will, speaks to humanity’s common origin, universal values and shared interests.

inner-compass-sized

Perhaps deeper than the President-Elect consciously knows (or even needs to), his words ring true across the full continuum of the Life Wheel.

BUT: here is the danger whereof I spoke earlier. Many people, due to a host of unfortunate circumstances, live primarily on the shallow surface of the Life Wheel. They haven’t the depth to recognize or respect what,  for whatever reason, they’ve forgotten. Worse, some, unintentionally or otherwise, live at odds with inner truth. They will continue to spin, distort and attempt to delegitimize DJT’s victory for the people of the world. They will definitely stir up unnecessary conflict to destabilize the world, as if to prevent his best intentions from coming True.

Prior to the election, thanks to the persistence and personal sacrifices of Julian Assange, people worldwide were exposed to the depths of government corruption, including treasonous influence pedaling, satanic pedophilia and – Einstein’s worst nightmare – unconscionable provocation of nuclear war.

Thanks to valiant reporters operating outside the globalist corporate-dominated media, voters in this election were given the opportunity to see through the double-speak – recognizing the stark choice they were being offered, literally between good and evil.

For there is an archetypal, ancient war going on, not between nations, but far deeper, between those within every nation who affirm LIFE and those who destroy it.

Like every other value word in the English language, evil has been abused, confused, and ladened with nonsense spin. But the point I’m making here is based on science elsewhere explained at length.

For example, in How Bad People Become Leaders, I showed how the Life Wheel is fragmented into a functional picture of evil:

world-gone-mad-sized

As explained, in this picture of evil, the concentric levels representing body, energy/emotions, mind and spirit operate out of synch, each disassociated from the others. The smallest circle which represents Conscience floats outside, detached from daily experience.

In this context, Trump’s clarion call to restore Unity to the United States is given depth and urgency. Agents  of evil will predictably do their utmost to undermine all he seeks to accomplish. We must steadfastly refuse to be fooled or intimidated, choosing to stay the creative course of growth and renewal. The forces of destiny at work today are infinitely greater than any human individual. It is vitally important to see the results of the election from this larger perspective and to support America’s President Elect, mindful of all that is at stake.

angel-sized

God speed you in your chosen role as a messenger of unity and hope, Donald J. Trump. May God and his good angels protect, guide and bless you in all things, always.

Keep It Together

star of david

Although it seems there’s no longer much more to be said, yesterday’s Aha moment is an exception.

Here’s the back story.

Over Thanksgiving week-end, for the benefit of those who hadn’t seen The Walking Dead series, we spent several hours here watching back-to-back episodes of the first two seasons.

For me, this second go round had an even greater impact. The content speaks on many levels, in many ways, to our increasingly dangerous times.

Like life itself, the series is a complex counterpoint of relationship drama, political intrigue, philosophical ponderings and soul searchings. It’s intense: not for the weak of stomach or for lovers of sentimental fluff.

Beyond the surface story line, however, it is poignantly symbolic. Perhaps in a very deep way, it’s prophetic. Which explains why a simple pilot unexpectedly took off to become a sensational success. For those with ears to hear, it resonates straight to our very core.

How, you might ask, does a story about a world overrun by hoards of cannibalistic zombies apply to current events and leadership issues?

Well, let’s see.

In The Walking Dead, zombies are mindless corpses that carry on after humans die. All but the primal, limbic functions of the human brain have been disease-destroyed.

When you think about it, it’s not such a far cry from the end result being achieved (perhaps intentionally, perhaps not) by manipulating humans (programming them in the name of education) based on brain science.

Neuro-marketing, for example, stimulates the same vestigial, animal part of the brain that drives zombiesintentionally bypassing rational cognitive functions involved in critical thinking and rational decision-making.

An academic website defines neuro marketing as : the formal study of the brain’s responses to advertising and branding, and the adjustment of those messages based on feedback to elicit even better responses. Researchers use technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to measure specific types of brain activity in response to advertising messages. With this information, companies learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what parts of the brain are motivating them to do so.

It increasingly seems as if walking dead hoards include not only fictional zombies, but average consumers and citizens — even the college professors, marketing professionals and politicians who direct their communications to these same animal brain functions.

Economists and politicians have jumped on the marketing bandwagon, exploiting brain science. Earlier, I expressed strong reservations about the ethics and consequences of applying brain science research to marketing and policy making.

Intentionally targeting instinctual, animal functions of the brain with subliminal messages represents an intentional effort to control and dehumanize the general population. The results could be scary indeed.

In a LinkedIn article that points out serious problems with Thinking, fast and slow, Kahneman’s book on behavioral economics, I concluded:

To continue sleep-walking on the shallow surface of life as most of us do now plays into the hands of madmen and tyrants, some of whom, if it seemed to further their ambitions, would have no compunction whatsoever about plunging the entire world into nuclear war.

But back to The Walking Dead. As a commentary on leadership options in this scary new world, it triggered my Aha on the importance of “keeping it together” as a devolving world militates to tear us apart. The answer I came up with is part mystical, part medical for those with the training and diligence to practice yogic breathing and concentration methods.

The primary questions this series challenges us to think about are, “Who is going to survive in such a chaotic future, How, and Why?”

The protagonist, Rick represents the voice of reason. His words and actions show him to be more evolved than most. He’s a “natural leader,” if you will. This former sheriff’s deputy knows weapons and can handle himself in a fight. But in balance, he is also a “righteous dude.”

Rick earns farm-owner Hershel’s respect by showing him respect.

Hershel – a religious optimist who chooses to deny the existence of danger closing in on all sides – wakes up the hard way, losing all he owns in the process. He’s highly evolved, but out of balance. The practical street smarts were too late coming. At least in the beginning, he was extreme yin, out of balance.

And then there’s the opposite side of the coin. Shane. His exudes extreme yang energy. This treacherous shake in the grass, ruled by animal appetites, rationalizes his lusts and takes whatever he wants however he can.

Shane dogs Rick’s every step, working to undermine him, scheming to take everything – Rick’s wife, son, and leadership role in their small community. Shane operates from the solar center, with little heart awareness and no functional conscience. He has no concept (much less respect) for higher levels of consciousness. Mercy is outside his range of awareness. To Shane, Rick and Hershel seem weak.

Shane seduces whomever he can with the argument that, civilization being destroyed, he is the wave of the future. Only he is qualified to protect the group. But, depending on the rest of us, that vision remains to be seen.

How to deal with the Shanes of the ugly new world? I’m reminded of Lao Tze 41:

120115 2 Sides 41

In thinking about what combination of leadership qualities will succeed in steering small communities through both the internal and external dangers they will face if/when “civilization” breaks down, I was amazed at how skillfully the leaders in The Walking Dead adjust to change. Like the ancients, they keep their balance by adjusting to the fluctuating demands of a dualistic world.

For in duality, as Solomon wrote:

120115 ecclesiastes

In the future, those in small communities who persist in old ways of thinking, clinging to one extreme or the other, either rational or animal, rigidly ignoring the complex demands of an altered, endangered new world, risk forgetting Henry David Thoreau’s warning: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of feeble minds.”

Certainly Christ knew this. He taught, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Yet his was not an example of foolish sentimental permissive “tolerant” love. Certainly he had no use for the money changers and demonstrated fierce anger towards hypocrites.

It was at this point in my thinking that the Aha happened. The Star of David, traditionally worn over the heart, is the perfect symbol of balancing the polar qualities future leaders will need to keep civilization from devolving into the exclusively animal realms of a zombie-like existence.

This Star is housed in the “secret place of the Most High” described in Psalm 91. It is associated with the heart center located in the middle Dan Tien. It is the seat of compassion, the place where the upper Tan Tien’s mental light and lower Tan Tien’s solar fire join, blend and balance.

This joining is mirrored in the meaning of Ha-tha (sun & moon) yoga = union.

This six-pointed Star is formed by the intersection of two equilateral triangles. According to Chinese medical notation, the upward pointing triangle represents the quality of yang energies. The downward pointing triangle represents yin.

It is no accident that equilateral triangles are the strongest, most stable of geometric structures. Those who internalize and actualize these realities have the practical means to keep themselves and their communities together.

In the Hindu tradition, the Sri Yantra is similarly constructed of nine interlocking triangles that surround and radiate outwards from a central point.

Sri Yantra

These variations are each based on the same subtle geometry. They express the same inner experience of a central, underlying reality.

To repeat, while on one hand, the universal secret of these interlocking triangles is a profound mystery, on the other, for those familiar with yogic breathing and concentration methods, they are the foundation of practical disciplines with physical, mental and spiritual results.

Given time to refine what is written here, the ideas could be better expressed. But the substance remains as a Christmas gift offered to those prepared to receive it as such.

Arguing and nit-picking would miss the point. The better choice is to bring your own understanding to an urgently important subject and make it your own. It is a key to not only personal survival, but the hope for a better future.

 

As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?

As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW? originally appeared in the August edition of Prabuddha Bharata, or Awakened India – an English-language monthly magazine of the Ramakrishna Order. Founded by Swami Vivekenanda — a disciple of Ramakrisha who traveled to the West — it has been in publication since July 1896. With the kind permission of Editor Swami Narasimhananda, I am reposting the full-length article here.

globe bullet size

by Patricia E. West, Ph.D.

The Creator’s most miraculous and precious gift is often the least appreciated. In fact, in the midst of hectic daily life, it sustains everyone – friend and foe, good and evil doers alike – virtually unnoticed by all. Increasing strife and conflict bombards us from every direction. Yet we have very close to our hearts the elusive means of reconciling illusory differences and restoring original unity, first within and then without.

The priceless gift of which I speak is, of course, the breath.

Magically and mystically, every breath each person on the planet takes is infused with prana, that which links the individual being with the Universal Life Source.

Swami Vivekananda defined prana as “a manifestation of the universal power, indefinite and omnipresent.”1 Riding on the vehicle of the physical breath, prana is the most basic, potentially unifying aspect everyone everywhere shares in common.

In Meditation as Medicine, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. writes, “According to the ancient masters, prana is the mystical force found in all living physical entities. It is in the air without being air. It is in water without being water. It is in food without being food.”2

This commonality repeats on every scale of magnitude. Thus Vivekananda quoted, “I am the thread that runs through all these pearls.” According to him, “Each pearl is a religion or even a sect thereof. Such are the different pearls, and God is the thread that runs through all of them.”3

He continues, “most people, however, are entirely unconscious of it.”

So how has it come to pass that most people remain unaware of the energizing life force that breathes through them every minute of every day, and even dare to deny its single origin? How is it that so many pass through their lives ungrateful for the waves of potential abundance they move through like fish in the ocean, seemingly starving for what is so close and so freely given?

As a possible answer, let me tell you a favorite story. It seems that long ago, there was a very old man who took his lunch every day at the same restaurant. He often complained about the service. So, one day when he called the waiter over, the waiter asked impatiently, “What is the matter this time, old man?”

The answer: “Taste the soup and find out for yourself.”

All right,” said the waiter. “Where is the spoon?”

Aha,” exclaimed the old man, delighted. “Now you see!” There was a delicious soup, but no spoon for taking it in.

Which is to say, most people have the nourishment of their heart’s desire everywhere about them, but no means or methods for accessing it. Medical research finds that, for many reasons, very few humans get enough oxygen into the body to fuel the brain or move the muscles properly. Although many are learned and accomplished in intellectual matters, the basics of practical breath control are often ignored. All too few have learned basic paranayama exercises or benefited from the profound insights gained from regular practice.

Workers who slouch long hours at their desks cut off their wind. Tight-fitting clothes force shallow breathing that fills only the top part of the lungs. Habitual tension and chronic anxiety further reduce the limited portion taken in. Attitudes of boredom, apathy and depression produce postures that strangle and suffocate the lungs. Pride stiffens the neck and twists the spine, strangling air circulation. Anger hardens and explodes the heart. Terror causes panic breathing and paralysis in the face of crisis, exactly when full powers are most urgently needed.

In such ways, sadly, many people ultimately cut themselves off from that Universal Source of blessings which everyone everywhere shares in common. So here we have a “chicken and egg” question. Which comes first? Does escalating religious intolerance and extreme violence cause people to increasingly forget their common humanity? Or does lack of fundamental awareness and oxygen deprivation increase the sense of alienation, illusion of lack, and rush for retaliation? Perhaps each feeds the other, causing a downward-spiraling disaster.

The Universal Key

To address the related question of why leaders at every level have failed to correctly identify and heal the root causes of conflict, first within and then without, I will draw contrasting pictures. One is the complete and accurate world view I’ve called the Positive Paradigm. Another shows distortions of the Universal Life Wheel responsible for today’s worldwide deficit of inspired leadership.

Here is the Life Wheel described in Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change.4 It embodies Einstein’s dearly sought Unified Theory. Ironically, he had already received it, but, for lack of yoga training, didn’t recognize what he’d been given. Being universal, its applications are seemingly infinite.

Utopia.sized

This multi-directional, mandala-like pattern of interdependent wheels-within-wheels is equally compatible with the world’s enduring religions, the teachings of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and modern physics.

It is universal key, the answer to Shaunaka’s question, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?”

This structure mirrors the pattern of each cell, where electrons and protons spin around a single nucleus.

It likewise pictures our solar system’s organization of planets circling the sun. As written:

This well-familiar atomic structure repeats smallest to largest in the patterns of nature, from snowflakes and intricate flowers to spiders’ webs and sea shells. Similar symmetrical patterns repeat worldwide in the art of every culture — including, to name but a few, 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. 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.”5

The “m = mass” level at the surface correlates with daily experience and tangible, physical objects measured by empirical science. The “e = energy” level corresponds with subtle energies which, though invisible, are experienced by their effects. Prana and electrical energy reside here. It is the field of motion and e-motion. The level of “c = light” is associated with intuition and guidance. Deeper still, within the stable hub of the Wheel, beyond the duality of polar opposites, resides the changeless eternal source.

According to medical brain science, the vibrational speed of the levels slows with inward progression. Beta waves correlate with the busy, cluttered surface of the Life Wheel. Alpha waves associated with relaxation and then theta waves produced in revere or meditation rest increasingly deeper within. Delta waves are slowest of all. Measurable brain waves, in turn, match closely with the states of waking, dream and dreamless sleep described in the Mandaka Upanishad.

In clinical psychology, intelligence at the outermost level is measured by IQ tests. At the middle level it is described as EQ (emotional intelligence) and towards the center as SQ (spiritual intelligence). The levels, which flow along a continuum, neither separate nor totally distinct, are linked in an infinite, two-way loop. One who succeeds in joining the levels, living here and yet there, in the world but not of it, enjoys the experience of enlightenment – Christ Consciousness.

Integrating and balancing the levels of the Life Wheel produces health in every aspect of life – personal, social, economic and political. The executive equally capable of both inspired decisions and effective action embodies Plato’s ideal of the Philosopher-King. Such accomplishment is the goal of Raja Yoga and of holistic leadership. Masters of the creative in- and out-breathing process hold the key to Life itself. For teaching purposes, they occasionally demonstrate their ability to perform apparently miraculous feats of magic.

The Life Wheel is especially useful because, in a clear, simple way, it shows the critically important distinction between 1) what is absolute, eternal and real at the center hub and 2) that which is ephemeral, transitory and subject to change on the surface rim. A very early version the Life Wheel shown below pictures where genuine Unity is to be found as well as where it is NOT.

062514 Balanced World View

The “Pleasure and Pain” level includes the pairs of opposite sensations/ emotions, hot and cold, anger and fear.

The “Right and Wrong” level includes not only competing religions, but also the social/political and economic “-isms.”

The surface, material rim of the Life Wheel is the abode of fashions and fads as well as power and ego contests. Generational swings are reflected on the surface. Enduring, timeless values abide at the eternal center.

Distortions of the Universal Pattern

Those who focus exclusively on the material surface of the Life Wheel cause themselves and those obliged to depend upon them untold amounts of unnecessary pain and suffering. Sometimes, calling it “unity” – whether in the name of God, the common good, or world domination – they seek to impose unnatural social regimentation and political conformance upon others. This naturally stirs up violent reactions from those who have different ideas about such things.

Now, why is it that international leaders have brought the world to its current state of violence and fragmentation? Put another way, why — given the demonstrated and documented benefits of something as basic and simple as mindful breath awareness – is this not taught to every school child and to every medical patient suffering from degenerative diseases and mental disorders? Where is the method in such irresponsible madness?

One hint can be gleaned from the description of a basic pranayama exercise, the Complete Breath. Benefits listed include increased calmness, reduction of toxins, increase of pranic intake, enhanced oxygenation of the blood and even synchronization of personal breath rhythm with universal vibration. However, another benefit is “increased consciousness of unconscious acts.” 6

Sadly, for a host of different reasons, most are unwilling to increase conscious awareness of matters “conveniently” tucked out of sight. They lock themselves in uncomfortable, rigid postures that freeze out self-awareness. There is too much they prefer to hide from themselves and others. Further, monied elites and tyrannical governments have no interest in the education of a self-aware, self-responsible public capable of throwing off the chains of functional slavery.

Like the protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s Faustian tale The Picture of Dorian Gray,7 many choose to focus exclusively on the surface of the Life Wheel. They strive to maintain the physical appearance of youth and beauty, while concealing the internal ravages of ill-spent time from public view. They delude themselves into believing that the paltry profits gained by saving face while heartlessly exploiting others are worth the ultimate price.

It appears as if many world leaders today, the ones we should be able to depend upon to help improve our lives, have themselves chosen the fragmented path of self-deception, cutting themselves off from conscience and inner truth. As educators, such leaders cram youthful heads with hypnotic information to make them passive yet useful workers. They deny followers the basic knowledge of who they truly are, thus preventing access to the Universal Source from which infinite intelligence and power flows.

The following illustration shows how levels become fragmented by living inauthentic to Life, cutting oneself off from the Creative Source. This is but one suggestive version of what it looks like to distort the natural, complete pattern of Creation. Those who themselves are cut off in turn enforce this sorry state on others.

world gone mad.sized

In the extreme, individuals dissociated from their inner lives become psychopaths capable of committing horrific crimes with no apparent remorse. Out of touch with their True Selves, they remain insatiably hungry, thirsty, afraid and very, very angry. No addiction can satisfy. No amount of wealth or worldly success can compensate for the loss of inner connection.

Sages Transcend Conflict

Now then, 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 sages established in the eternal center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. Because they experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator, their inner peace cannot be disturbed by outer violence. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues. Even if for this reason alone, seeking enlightenment should be a top priority.

To the point, a modern day Chinese meditator acknowledged the seamless continuity connecting his tradition with Einstein’s vision:8

Truly, Einstein was an exceptional man, not only because he proved the theory of relativity, but because he took the chance of pursuing the goal of his enlightenment. The important point is that although we might not reach enlightenment through meditation, it is a grand enough aspiration for us to make the effort.

In this, the wisdom of Jou, Tsung Hwa reflects the teachings of the much earlier, world-loved Lao Tze, who knew that true survivors ride the crest of repeating historical cycles to carry on.

Passage 42 of the Tao Te Ching describes the experience of sages who have purified, integrated and mastered the elements of their animal nature. Like the numerous watercolors and ink drawings which depict Lao Tze riding his ox, sages of all times harness instinctive impulses to the service of intentional goals to reach their metaphorical mountain top destination.9

PB LT 1

Wisdom is Lao Tze’s antidote to the instinctive dread of death. He assures us that merging with the Source, the unchanging Tao, overcomes the illusion of mortality. Passage 16 illumines the apparent paradox that death cannot change the sage:10

PB LT 2

For those of us who are less attained, the best efforts made to improve and preserve Life at all levels NOW are noble and worthy in themselves, as valuable as for the experience of the journey as for the end result of achieving immortality.

What Can We Do NOW?

Now then, 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 sages established in the eternal center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. Because they experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator, their inner peace cannot be disturbed by outer violence. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues. Even if for this reason alone, seeking enlightenment should be a top priority.

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.

As described in The Positive Paradigm Handbook,11 these basic axioms are:

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

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

3.  Unity and diversity are necessary compliments.

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

5.  History is neither linear or progressive, nor can human survival be taken for granted.

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

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

Herein lies another discussion, complete in itself.

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. By remaining ever mindful of the breath and the Divine Source from which it flows, self-selected survivors will surely find from deep within the answers to every question along with sufficient intelligence, courage and power to overcome and outlast every challenge.

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References

  1. Swami Vivekananda, quoted by Dharma Sing Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth in Meditation as Medicine: Activate the Power of Your Natural Healing Force. (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), 55

  2. Meditation as Medicine, 55

  3. Swami Vivekananda, quoted at http://izquotes.com/author/swami-vivekananda

  4. Patricia E. West, Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change. (Wisconsin: +A Positive Action Press, 2014)

  5. Rethinking Survival, 104

  6. Meditation as Medicine, 64

  1. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. (originally published in England, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 1891)

  2. Jou,Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Meditation: Way to Enlightenment. (Scottsdale, AZ: Tai Chi Foundation, 1983), 71

  3. Patricia E. West, Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change. (Wisconsin: +A Positive Action Press, 2014), 31-32

  4. Two Sides of a Coin, 70

  5. Patricia E. West, The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change. (Wisconsin: +A Positive Action Press, 2014)

I’m Writing To . . .

 

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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.

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.