Category Archives: Philosophy

Lao Tze & the I Ching Go Hand in Glove

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

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

SunriseSunrise

 

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

01 Creative Power

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

01

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

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

04

Chinese landscape

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

 

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

Tai Chi Tu - sized

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

circled Q

ONE

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

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

TWO

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

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

THREE

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

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

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

FOUR

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

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

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

FIVE

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

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

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

SIX

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

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

SEVEN

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

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

EIGHT

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

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

How to Recognize the Difference Between Signal & Noise

towers in distress

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

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

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

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

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

I put it another way in Rethinking Survival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, how would this be accomplished?

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

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

Divide and conquer. Pit each group against the others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hubba Hubba’s Riddle

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PPoC gold

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

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

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

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

Flux & Stability

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

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

APPLICATIONS

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

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

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

Brainwave Patterns

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

illumined minds

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPANSIONS

From here, things get even more interesting.

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

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

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

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

Tree of Life

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

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

Wheel2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caduceus

In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.

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

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

PSYCHOLOGY’S BLIND SPOT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the necessary precursor of world peace.

TWIN DANGERS

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

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

II-10 rev

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RETURN TO SIMPLICITY

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

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

monkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————-

Footnotes

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

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

3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. See “World Tree.”

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

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

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

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

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

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

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

Angel Calling

Yes, AND . . .

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

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

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

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

Tai Chi Tu

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

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

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

chakras

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

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

God is not

and could not possibly be

dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof

of God’s existence.

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

Caduceus

In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.

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

The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution. The wings atop the axis represent its integrating ruler: the crown chakra.

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

invisible geometry sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, AND

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

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

Make no mistake. I’m a great fan.

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

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

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

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

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

book header bird

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

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

Referring to sorting oneself out, Dr. Peterson says:

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

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

But, continuing:

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

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

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

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

Here’s my summary or the phoenix book:

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

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

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

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

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

Politics and Unnatural Change

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

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

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

blindmen & elephant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s part of my analysis:

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

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

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

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

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

Transformation and Psychologists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Asian Sciences Are Overlooked and Undervalued

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

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

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

extremes

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

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

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

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

christ & elephant

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

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

Wheel2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angel Calling

P.S.

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

 

The Heart Doesn’t Lie

Here’s the dilemma.

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

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

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

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

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

listen with the heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the sentence in context:

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

So I responded, “Yes, BUT . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To tell the truth - image

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

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

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

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

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

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

11th hour

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

Sufi saying sized

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

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

Ain’t Playing Their Game

Angel Calling

Respect vs OPOs

Namaste1

Without a complete and accurate paradigm, one centered around the universal essence of existence which everyone everywhere shares in common, how can one respect oneself, much less others?

In Life Wheel context, essential respect rests at the center of the Wheel, ever the same, despite the fact that it is ruled out in dangerously incomplete and inaccurate belief systems.

Sadly, we train our young people to base their self-respect on other people’s opinions. Ah. The dreaded OPOs.

Why? Does your survival depend on them? Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. Do you let your self-respect go up and down with them? If so, life’s a rocky ride indeed. For OPOs are as fickle as any Hollywood fad.

Dependence on OPOs leads to this: mobs protesting in the streets, demanding respect while showing none for others. It’s oxy-moronic. A stupid contraction in terms. Look it up. Moron, meaning stupid, is actually part of the word’s Greek root.

Respect on what level, and for what? People unaware of their eternal soul define themselves in terms of their looks, or belongings, or social status. Or their feelings. But these are in continuous flux. They’re as changeable as the daily weather.

As for other people’s opinions. Most often they are a hodge-podge of assumptions, media-influenced “facts,” and mindlessly absorbed cultural conditioning. For the most part, they are myopically self-serving.

But the eternal soul? Ah. That’s something of substance one can depend on, in all weather, that never goes out of fashion.

Here’s a picture worth a thousand words:

Respect in the Center

It suggests that perhaps self-respect might well be based on achievement of consciously chosen goals, ones consistent with the welfare of all. Or living true to conscience, no matter what.

Respect for others on the surface level of results would depend on the same standard held for oneself – ability to choose and work consistently towards the achievement worthy goals.

The Book of Change describes the Self-Possession demonstrated by true leaders.

Great leaders demonstrate the SELF-POSSESSION to remain true to what they know is right despite all hardships. They act gently but fairly with others. Because they are consciously in harmony with the source of creative power, they express ideas brilliantly.

And another picture worth many words:

Namaste2

Essay 53 from Conscience weighs the balance in favor of inward-based and mutual respect:

Essay 53. RESPECT

Through the text runs a moral thread, which foreshadows the most noble ideals of Confucianism: A respect for the Natural Order, an esteem for self-cultivation, and a sense of social justice. — Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching

As long as companies think of employees as costs rather than assets, they will always be tempted to reduce the costs rather than invest further in the assets by providing safety nets for health care, retirement, and all the things that help people to get through their lives with dignity. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Our respect for ourselves determines (a) the amount of respect we crave from others and (b) our need to push for control and dominance. . . when you are in a situation when you feel disrespected, it causes a negative response [as if] the outside world, through your ego, is your only source of psychological support or nourishment. — David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone

THE FRONT

Roots of “respect” mean to look at, or look back on. Webster’s first definition is to feel or show honor or esteem for, to hold in high regard, or to treat with deference. It also means to show consideration for, to avoid intruding upon or interfering with, as to respect others’ privacy. It can mean a deference or dutiful regard, as in respect for the law. Respect is used to indicate courteous regard, as in respect for others’ feelings.

In the context of Affirmative Action objectives, respect refers to acceptance of diversity in public life, honoring each individual’s dignity and value, regardless of national origin, age, gender or personal beliefs. This implies more than an obligation to pay token lip service to legislation or an attitude of condescending tolerance. It supports the welcoming, embracing view that everyone has something of unique value to offer; that the whole is completed and enriched by contributions from every possible point of view.

In Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions alike, children are taught a reverence for all of life, extending not only to humans but nature as well. This includes creatures of the animal and insect kingdoms, as well as rivers and oceans, forests, mountains, deserts, jungles and even the air we breathe. Together they weave the fabric of life on earth, and evoke a commitment to maintaining the delicate balance of life-sustaining elements.

In corporate context, unfortunately, respect takes on the qualities of intimidation, fear of retribution, and enforced loyalty. In the context of inner city gang cultures, respect takes on intense meaning. The slang word “dis” means to disrespect. News stories tell of youth so outraged when strangers show disrespect that they kill for revenge. Their extreme desire for external show of personal respect changes to its extreme opposite, the ultimate show of disrespect for life.

Sages teach enduring respect for the timeless essence of all traditions, but do not hold onto particular forms of its expression after their usefulness has been outgrown. In Chinese history, the life span of successful dynasties was extended not by resisting change, but by embracing it.

When barbarians hordes assailed the empire’s gates, royal advisors, knowing that resistance was futile, recommended that the newcomers’ vitality be respectfully assimilated by mutually beneficial intermarriage of races and ideas.

When paradigms are in flux as new approaches are sought to answer new questions and meet new needs, messengers of change are often shot as if traitors by short-sighted, self-serving gatekeepers of the passing order.

This may impede progress, but cannot turn back the clock.

When the times are dangerous and the need for growth imperative, attempting to inhibit urgently necessary change is as dangerous to the civilization as is attempting to stop a mother’s labor pains once the birthing process has begun.

If, through our examples, we taught our children self-respect, self-awareness and a fearless respect for life, they’d experience no need to demand respect from others. Then disrespectful behavior would trigger not rage, but rather compassion and a commitment to uplift the ignorant and less fortunate.

THE BACK

Disrespect is the opposite of respect. Often it’s a product of sheer laziness and inattention. It can manifest as careless word choice or manner of dress. It’s reflected in failure to maintain one’s health, relationships, tools or property. This attitude is passed down through the generations and perpetuated by imitating bad examples.

The word respect is perverted when used in the context of Mafia-like extortion. It becomes a euphemism for submission due to extreme fear, the illusion of powerlessness and paralysis. Corrupt governments and organized crime rings which depend on passive acquiescence to stay in power are not respecters of life, nor do they receive of authentic respect.

Paradigms Are a Matter of Life or Death

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

BECAUSE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phoenix - sized

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Angel Calling

Virtue – Rewards and Punishments

On a personal note, I’ll confess that the following was written because of an early morning dream. The previous night, being overwhelmed by the illusion of futility, I’d decided not to write further unless invited, and with a promise of financial reward attached.

But the dreaming mind knows better. I can’t recall how the dream started. What I do remember was sitting in a large convention hall at a dinner hosted by a football coach. He was chastising (in absentia) ticket holders who hadn’t shown up. And he was honoring fans who had. He rewarded the most loyal ones with lifetime game tickets. The middling ones received the current season’s tickets only.

Exactly how this followed, I cannot tell you. But I knew I had to keep writing, and that a blog on Virtue was what needed to be thought through and posted.

Phoenix - sized

In rethinking the recent blog on ethics, I connected several dots for the first time. I’ll also connect what I’ve written on Virtue to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s most excellent videos on the subject. Spoiler alert: we agree in substance entirely. My particular contribution is the multi-dimensional Life Wheel geometry. It adds depth and dimension — a new perspective — to the mix. In addition, I look to the energy concepts embedded in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a more comprehensive take on Virtue.

But, Dr. Peterson first.

In Why be Virtuous, he says:

If you’re going to rely on your sense of meaning, make sure that you don’t pollute the mechanism. . . . try not to utter falsehoods, because you warp your neurological structure by doing so. . . it will read out pathologically. . . if you rely on it to guide you, it will run you right off a cliff. So that’s why there’s a moral element to this.

. . . Why be virtuous? That’s the question. It’s so that you can bear the suffering of life without becoming corrupt [forgetting, becoming disconnected, dissociated from the core center of who you truly are] . . . it’s practical. There’s nothing more practical than that. Unless you want misery . . .

Listening really closely to Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Necessity of Virtue helped me recognize that in fact, he is fully aware of and gives us all the elements of the Life Wheel. It’s as if he as a “natural,” intuitively aware of the Wheel’s existence. But he zips right passed it, like Einstein and his famous equation, not knowing what he has been given.

With emphasis to underscore the correlation with the Wheel, he says:

Virtue, ethics, morality isn’t a field of study. It’s a mode of being upon which all fields of study rest. It’s also a mode of being upon which all everything you do in your life rests. . . And more deeply than that, what role it is that you play in your life in the world.

. . . To the degree that they [clinical clients] are embedded in a network of relationships where virtue is fundamentally absent, they’re tortured and tormented and they’re unable to find firm ground.

. . . Modern people are fundamentally materialistic. There’s some utility in that. We’re masters of material transformation. And the fact that we’re materialistic in our scientific philosophies has made us extremely powerful – maybe too powerful for our morality – extremely powerful from a technological perspective. But it has blinded us to certain things.

I think one of the things that it has really blinded us to is the nature of our own being. 2:32 because we make the assumption that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are material. We fail to notice that the fundamental constituent elements of our own reality are NOT material [outer surface rim of the Life Wheel]. They”re emotional [energy level]. They’re motivational [light and conscience levels]. They’re dreams. They’re visions. They’re relationships with other people. They’re dependent on consciousness – and Self-consciousness. And we have no materialist explanation whatsoever either for consciousness or Self-consciousness. And we don’t deal well from a materialistic perspective with the qualities of being.

Phoenix - sized

Now me.

First, as an aside, here is a personal example of how life experience has prepared me step-by-step for the unforeseeable future. I started as a musician, training my hands and building keyboard skills. This translated into typing faster than a speeding bullet, which made it possible to pay the bills as a legal secretary. In that job, I learned transcription, which later served me well as a graduate student taking ethnology courses. During that time, I learned that recording interviews not only freed me from having to take notes, the better to give the subject my full attention. Transcribing afterwards gave me the humble awareness that – of what I thought I had heard — I’d consciously registered at best a small fraction of what had been spoken.

The payoff even further down the pike is that now, when I listen to youtube videos dense in spoken content, I know to transcribe them word-for-word, the better to really “hear” all that has been spoken.

A second important aside – an inversion of the Crime and Punishment theme. While full-spectrum virtue has its intrinsic rewards, in corrupted civilizations, virtue sometimes has short-term punishments. Socrates’ death, described by Plato, is an example. Described in Essay 2 on Death:

Fear is the natural outcome of limited materialistic beliefs equating the end of physical life with total extinction. Those who experience the True Self as immortal and indestructible are not plagued by fear of mortality. No doubt the courage and solace which sustained Socrates as he calmly accepted his death sentence — not as an escape, but an affirmation of principle — came from the depth of his soul awareness.

Now then, to the point: the complete and accurate paradigm embodied in the Life Wheel makes it possible to distinguish the differences between morality, ethics and virtue.

This is one reason why restoring a complete and accurate paradigm to common understanding is a matter of human survival. For without agreement upon a complete and correct paradigm, a community of shared, effective communication is not possible. (Who would actively promote this negative/destructive outcome, and why? Who stands to benefit?)

Conversely, there is no place for genuine Virtue in a hollowed out, atheist world view. Its origins and home have been ruled out.

Phoenix - sized

In the complete and correct paradigm, Christ shines forth from the eternal center of the Life Wheel. His light illumines the middle level, which filters light into the full spectrum of natural virtues. Virtues, including kindness, gentleness and courage, reflect inner light. They are hardwired at the energy center, woven into human DNA.

Dr. Peterson says the significance of Christ’s being a carpenter is that he had to do good work – build houses that stay standing. Agreed. In addition, however, historically a “carpenter” is “joiner,” meaning one who connects all the pieces together – one who has the ability to unify separate parts into a single, coherent whole. The Life Wheel which links center to surface in an infinite loop represents this reality.

In this context, morality is a socially useful code of conduct located on the surface rim of the Wheel. Genuine virtue, like the Law of Karma, is an energy concept located in the fatally forgotten middle level of the Life Wheel. As described earlier, this level serves as the necessary two-way Gate-Keeper between the eternal center and its manifest world.

Morality has a virtue component, but with add-ons. It can reflects Divine Law. An example of this is the Ten Commandments handed down from God on Mount Sinai to Moses. On the other, it sometimes, though not always, is reflected in Human Laws. Warrior codes of conduct are one example. Others include religious sanctions and secular legislation which dictates moral behavior. Outcomes are inconsistent at best.

Whereas ethics are strictly intellectual, moral courage blends mental commitment to a code of conduct with the virtue of fiery conviction.

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Here is an essay that expands on what I mean:

Essay 54. VIRTUE

In the West, virtue suggests righteousness, but in fact Te is a term that refers to the potential energy that comes from being in the right place and in the right frame of mind at the right time. — R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

The last thing to say about strategy is that it exploits opportunity, the right moment. Greek theologians called it Kairos, the point when the new is received. . . Ask: “Is this something that fits our strengths? Can we develop the service that satisfies?” Then comes the third element, the right moment to seize the opportunity by the forelock, to run with success. — Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world. . . we learn we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. — Sir Winston Churchill, Radio broadcast to America

THE FRONT

Definitions of virtue are mixed and confusing. Ancient derivations suggest goodness or power. Latin roots imply manliness or worth. Webster’s definitions refer to moral excellence, right action and thinking. In a woman, virtue is said to imply chastity. In a man, it implies effectiveness or force. It can also mean the power to heal or strengthen.

In ancient Asian traditions, virtue is used as an umbrella term. Healing sciences correlate the healthy functioning of each internal organ with a specific virtue, while weakened energy centers generate negative emotions.

For example, heart energy produces either the experience of love or expressions of cruelty. Kidney energy manifests as either gentleness or fear. Liver energy has the potential for either kindness or anger. Lung energy produces confidence or grief. Spleen energy manifests alternatively as openness or anxiety. Combined positive energies blended together create a transcendent virtue called compassion. In Western traditions, this compassion is called charity.

Though in medical schools it remains a little know fact, oriental and occidental healing traditions have common origins. The caduceus, the familiar symbol of the modern medical profession, has its origins in Greek mythology, which in turn extends back to Himalayan traditions, and still further to ancient Egypt. In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of the messenger god, Mercury. In yoga traditions, this symbol represents energy anatomy.

Caduceus.jpg

As a shorthand logo, the staff represents the spine. Twin snakes encircling the axis represent alternating positive and negative energy currents. Intersecting points where cyclic energy forces meet at the axis are the major centers of transformation, chakras. Wings sprouting from the bija point at the top of the axis represent the ajna center, known as the “third eye.”

I Ching traditions describe virtue as the competence acquired by coordinating and balancing the yin-yang functions and concerns associated with each subtle energy center, then harnessing these energies to serve consistent, positive ends. It is not gender-specific.

Confucius compared virtue to an oriel. He observed this bird as being perfectly in harmony with nature: precisely accurate in the timing of its flight, poised upon well-chosen landing, and sweet in its song. Who, he asked, could hope to be more virtuous than this winged messenger?

Such virtue is radically different from arbitrary moral codes specific to a particular time and place. Sometimes an elite class imposes morality upon presumed inferiors in order to exploit them. Often, the unspoken maxim is, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Rich corporate owners, for example, expect their workers to be hard-working, law-abiding and honest. For the most part, however, they themselves act as if above the law. Compliant workers though moral, aren’t necessarily virtuous.

Soldiers follow orders, mindlessly destroying life and property for the sake of pay. Warriors uphold the codes of their particular tribe or clan. Heroes act from love to protect life. Great leaders like Lincoln, Churchill and most recently Giuliani, however, shed light on the human condition during history’s darkest hours and times of greatest need. They exemplify innate virtue — the courage which leaders of all cultures share in common.

THE BACK

Vice is the opposite of virtue, while sin is the opposite of morality. Villains are those who abuse energy potentials to destructive ends. Chief among the vices is pride, taking natural gifts for granted, forgetting their universal Source. Another is deception, pretending to have virtues one lacks in order to get respect and compliance from others.

Indifference, apathy and paralysis are perversions of virtue. Stagnations in the human body and body politic reduce an organism’s vitality and capacity for positive action. Macho moral codes which assume virtue is exclusively gender-related become self-fulfilling prophecies — IF women and men are fooled into accepting them.

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.”

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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

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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:

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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

Cordial Greetings

Hello to Stefan Molyneux and Jordan Peterson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

52 Stillness

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

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

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

The Danger

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

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

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

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

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

WHY PARADIGMS MATTER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PPoC gold

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

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

II.05 Unity & Diversity

 

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

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

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

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

Hero's Journey

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

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

Saving the Best

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

 

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

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

MaterialistAthest

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

 

The Many Faces of Discrimination

Sorting Yourself Out, a fascinating conversation between Stefan Molyneux and Jordan Peterson, is a  demonstration of critical rational thinking at its best. In response, I’m sharing these earlier thoughts on reason and discrimination.

Up front, I’ll tell you, I’m not persuaded that critical thinking, even at its finest, is enough. I explained why in The Handbook:

Reason is necessary but not sufficient. When used to link the material surface with the middle and inner levels of the Life Wheel, it is a powerful tool. When turned against the life force, elevating itself as if it were the exclusive way of knowing, it presumes to judge what is beyond it. This is hubris, the catalyst of tragedy. [As bureaucratic regulations example] Rationality in the extreme changes into its opposite, producing desperately irrational results.

In Conscience, I elaborated on the uses and political abuses of reason:

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which defines the rules of knowledge at any given time/place, setting limits by its answers to these questions: What can be known, how, and by whom?

Answers have political overtones, often assigning roles according to class, race, age or gender. Rules governing who may know what drive cultural decisions regarding the distribution of wealth, power, social status and access to legal protections.

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

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

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

Though this might sound dry in the abstract, the story excerpted in Rethinking Discrimination of my working as an Affirmative Action Consultant for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards gives it a human face.

Further, in The Tower of Babel Dilemma I wrote:

It seems to me that language has devolved into quite the opposite of the English I’d learned to love and respect in high school. There, we were taught to regard language as the premier tool of logic. When used with Sherlock-like diligence, applied the powers of keen observation and heightened awareness, it could solve mysteries — not only to detect the crimes of evil-doers and the nefarious plots of national enemies, but to unravel the mysteries of life and the universe.

Turned inwards, used with self-honesty, language is essential to cultivating self-awareness. For the truth-seeker, language is a necessary vehicle of information both on the inward quest and on the return journey outwards to share results.

But even people with the best of intentions use the same words to mean very different things. They miss each other coming and going, only vaguely aware of the disconnect.

. . . Instead of being used as a means for unifying human beings, language is often degraded into chaotic paralyzing noise – a weapon for stirring up animosities, division and confusion.

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As one example, the following Essay on Discrimination plugs the many definitions of the over-used and abused word “Discrimination” into the levels of the Life Wheel.

ESSAY 19. DISCRIMINATION

We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. . . this delusions is a kind of prison for us . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion. . We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. — Albert Einstein

Dealing exclusively on a rational level with an issue like discrimination which is deeply emotion-laden (sub-rational) on the one hand, and highly value-laden (super-rational) on the other, fails to acknowledge and draw on the levels where problems begin and where solutions can be found. — Patricia West, Positive Action: The Next Generation

Seeing and hearing are like food and drink; you need them every day, but you also need to digest and eliminate them every day. If they are not digested and eliminated thoroughly, they remain in the gut, eventually producing illness.Taoist Meditation, trans. Thomas Cleary

THE FRONT

Three levels of definition attribute opposite, contradictory meanings to the single word discrimination. In the context of Affirmative Action legislation, failure to recognize and sort out this confusion has resulted in muddled perceptions its purpose, inconsistent implementation and half-hearted compliance.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s rational definition of discrimination posits a neutral function of mind. To discriminate is to distinguish with the mind or intellect; to perceive, observe, or note the difference in or between.

As an analytical tool, discrimination is the neutral function of mind used to dissect a situation’s parts and deduce cause/effect relationships amongst them. As a tool, effects of its use, whether creative or destructive, depend on motives and competence.

The final definition adds a preposition: against. To discriminate against is to make an adverse distinction in regard to, to distinguish unfavorably from others. This negative definition is the sub-rational use.

It describes abuse of the critical faculty of mind to separate, distance and subordinate others, and to rationalize exploitation. Discrimination as a function of biased, negative emotions such as fear, hate, envy, arrogance or greed is the polar opposite of objective analysis.

Still further from the rational meaning of discrimination is its super-rational definition. It is not included in The Oxford English Dictionary. However, in Eastern scriptures, the highest function of mind is called “buddhi” (hence the name Buddha), translated into English as “the power of discrimination.”

This usage alludes to the ability to see through deceptive illusions, to recognize the eternal in the midst of change, to be aware of all-pervading spirit operating within gross material forms.

While rational discrimination is neutral and sub-rational discrimination has separatist results, the super-rational function of discrimination is unifying in effect. Depending on the user’s mind-set, the I Ching can be used to serve rational, sub- or super-rational motives.

Ideally, it’s used to facilitate the process of mental metabolism. When the senses are overloaded with impressions, the Book of Change can be approached as a discipline for settling the mind and organizing one’s thoughts sufficiently to define the immediate situation and ask questions about it.

As negative emotions surface, they’re named and released, not unlike the process of separating toxins from useful nutrients, eliminating them as waste. Rational thoughts are then simplified, prioritizing essentials and aligning them to basic purpose. Then, when emotions and rational mind are harmonized and stilled, the higher mind is invoked. It is in this state of tranquil revere that one pierces the veil of ordinary thought, allowing the transcendent awareness attributed to genius to come forward.

Einstein, for example, acknowledged that his famous e = mc2 formula came in a flash of inspired contemplation. He faulted his peers for what he called the “fateful fear of metaphysics,” a pernicious prejudice that’s easily as dangerous as racism or sexism.

Here are levels of discrimination placed in their Life Wheel context:

Discrim2.jpg

THE BACK

Mercy and compassion ameliorate the effects of negative discrimination. Introspective activities like self-analysis and use of the I Ching promote the positive capacity to discriminate, make correct decisions, and act wisely. In human law, the opposite of discrimination is justice and equity. In an equitable society, wisdom is promoted as the foundation of harmony and order.

In an unjust world, the discipline of positive discrimination is neglected. Ruthless extortionists in positions of political power will kill to prevent discriminating thinkers from recognizing and opposing their abuses. Tyrants promote negative discrimination. They exploit hatred, weakening their people by turning them against each other, conquering by dividing them.

Take the Best

grain

In reading opinion and even “how to” pieces, I recommend the 30/70 principle. With careful attention and a little bit of luck, it’s possible to extract the thirty-percent value from the 70-percent rubbish in which its embedded.

At Oberlin, where I had the good fortune to attend college, this process was described in agricultural terms: “sifting and winnowing.” Founders probably had a biblical allusion in mind: the end-time sorting of wheat from chaff.

Were it not so over-used, “discrimination” in its original meaning would be another way to put it.

I tell you this because I just now revisited the premise of Rethinking Survival, written in 2014. By mid-2017 it seems like a life-time ago. Then, I wrote:

I’ve come to recognize that it’s ideas — usually unconsciously held in the form of automatic-pilot, programmed assumptions — which drive decisions, actions and ultimately, survival options. Even with the best of intentions, people who operate on incomplete, inaccurate and conflicting beliefs undo themselves and harm others .. .

Like passengers on the ship Titanic, we’re approaching ever closer to disaster, not recognizing that we’re steering in a collision course towards extinction.

Though fundamentally the same person I was then, so much has changed that I find myself applying the 30/70 principle to that distant piece of writing.

Yet, the basic concepts are not only valid. They are urgently timely. We are in a world of hurt for lack of their practical applications. So I humbly ask that you read the following excerpt mindfully, take the best, and forgive me the rest.

Still further, if the value of the concept, however imperfectly expressed, touches your heart-mind, then please – for everyone’s sake – take whatever action you can to share them them those who stand to benefit.

flower

PART ONE

GETTING THERE: WHO I AM TO SAY

PREFACE

“Survival” is a primal word. It means to LIVE, the alternative being extinction. Survival is the bottom line. In a life or death situation, the natural instinct is to survive at the cost of everything else. The basics must be secured first. If you’re dead, thriving isn’t an option.

However, as the title suggests, the focus of Rethinking Survival isn’t on “how to” survive. Here, survival implies that there’s more than martial arts skills, back woods know-how and environmental smarts to staying alive. It requires self-knowledge and a connection to one’s deepest roots of origin, as well as a powerful, clearly defined and positive purpose for living. It also requires an educated sense of timing: an acute awareness of alternating cycles — natural pendulum swings between extremes of expansion and contraction — along with the will and patience to ride them out.

This view of survival is the end result of many rethinkings. When answers at home weren’t enough, I searched abroad. Europe. India. Much had to be unlearned as better information replaced cultural conditioning and the -ism filters that distort common sense experience.

Over my lifetime, in the host of different situations described here, I’ve seen the same, increasingly familiar dynamics play out, predictably, comically, were it not for the tragic consequences for individual lives, businesses and even nations.

I’ve come to recognize that it’s ideas — usually unconsciously held in the form of automatic-pilot, programmed assumptions — which drive decisions, actions and ultimately, survival options. Even with the best of intentions, people who operate on incomplete, inaccurate and conflicting beliefs undo themselves and harm others.

Logically, if corrupted ideas are the root of the problem, then restoring a complete and accurate, consciously-held knowledge base is the necessary starting-point of positive change. Our tragedy is that we continue to look for solutions in the wrong places. We depend on experts who, themselves products of a skewed educational system, are not only unable to help. They’re actually part of the problem. Like passengers on the ship Titanic, we’re approaching ever closer to disaster, not recognizing that we’re steering in a collision course towards extinction.

Rethinking concludes that the way out of this terminal confusion begins with shifting to a complete and correct worldview. We need to start over with fresh deck. All the cards have to be there, and none of them marked.

Answers I found in my personal quest reside in the simple eternal truths which people everywhere share in common. Return to these too often forgotten basics heals confusion and paralysis. They’re the foundation of the Positive Paradigm of Change described in Part Two.

I tell my story with the understanding that all of us face the same basic survival questions. They’re common to all humanity, however different the settings and challenges (opportunities) that drive them home. I was raised with America’s myths and got stuck in their misconceptions. I’ve labored to get free of them. It’s my hope that my story will stimulate others to rethink their options as well.

I tell about my journey to make other people’s lives easier. Ultimately, it’s done to tip the scales in favor of human survival.

 

 

 

 

The Wright Connection

 

connection

On two separate occasions, I’ve recently had reason to revisit a blog about Frank Lloyd Wright originally posted elsewhere.

The first was reading about Judith Orloff being jilted because her boyfriend’s rabbi called her a witch. Contact with her deceased grandfather was judged unacceptable. Especially because — though living in Europe with no way to know that he’d died — I had vivid dream warnings from my Grandpa West at the time of his passing. It’s described in Rethinking Survival:

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

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

So, to me, the clergyman’s assumption seems most unjust. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Orloff’s dream guidance had nothing to with witchcraft. The Wright post serves to vindicate her, putting her experience in larger context.

In brief, as I understand it, our experiences of nature or the so-called “supernatural” are pagan only if we  seek them out, especially to the exclusion of or elevating them above their deepest, original Source. Wright overtly courted the pagan god Taliesin, defiantly rejecting Isaiah’s Hebrew God. Dr Orloff’s stated beliefs, however, are completely compatible with the Positive Paradigm shown below.

The second occasion was an email exchange with friend describing a museum visit. She wrote:

Seeing a tapestry/hanging from Frank Lloyd Wright in the crafts section brought you to mind, although I’ve forgotten just how you ended up with your connection to Taliesin. Through music perhaps? The same association came to me as I listened to a talk at the Seattle public library on the history of Seattle architecture just before leaving for Boston.

I reminded her:

The Taliesin connection was music and yoga related. I was at Hill Top for a yoga retreat. It’s just down the road from Taliesin. The owner, Herb Fritz, was one of Wright’s apprentices. Also a cellist, he heard me play violin and invited me back to play chamber music. The rest, as they say, was history.

She isn’t familiar with the context of that connection, however. This Wright post also fills in those blanks for her. For example, as described below, Herb Fritz was sole apprentice to survive the Taliesin mass murder and testify about what happened.

So for those reasons, I’m posting below an edited version of the earlier LinkedIin post.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Had It Wrong!

Why does it still matter that a century ago, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin burned, torched by an ax-wielding mass murderer?

It matters a great deal. Not because of the tragedy’s lurid details. But because Taliesin East – located in Spring Green, Wisconsin – is an important example of how NOT to organize an intentional community.

Years ago, from stories told in Spring Green at dinner tables and around fireplaces, I learned how powerful an effect Wright’s personality had on apprentices and their families. They remembered him with equal parts awe and dread. He was, so they believed, an architectural genius. He was not, they all agreed, a good neighbor or compassionate, trustworthy friend.

What I learned from those close to him motivated me to read books written by the Wrights, as well as biographies by others – notably The Fellowship. I came to the conclusion that intentional communities like Taliesin – an inherently worthy endeavor — deserve careful rethinking.

I wrote about Taliesin in a LinkedIn email exchange.

Viewing my profile, a connection (“Senior Zen Practitioner and Baseball Umpire”) noticed mention of the time I spent in Spring Green. He emailed me RE. Taliesin West:

My Mom was the Office Mgr. for 21 years…small world

To which I responded:

This particular West has never been to Taliesin, either East or West. But the tales told by scarred survivors (some of whom are very dear to me) sparked keen interest in building BETTER intentional communities. . . . I’m sure your Mom has her share of stories to tell too.

The conversation continued from there. Quoted with his permission, he replied:

“particular West.”…you are cracking me up! My Mom knew everyone, was dear friends with all of them, one-on-one teaching. survivors…you are very wise. my Mom fell down and they fired her because they were afraid she would sue them and she is hard core Catholic and would never sue anyone. . . they broke her heart. . .

Later he wrote:

i just spoke with Mom, she says everything i already told you is true, which i already knew. She said FLW was a slave driver who made the apprentices build the buildings themselves, i did not know that. She said when they cut her loose the yearly tuition was 30K.

Later I responded:

Have been giving much thought to the best ways to use limited time and energy. (Did you see the blog posted over night on rethinkingsurvival.com?)

I mention this because it applies to the article on Wright. It’s important to keep my focus on how to do things RIGHT. Exposing the dark side of Taliesin isn’t my purpose. For the tabloid dirt on FLW, you can easily read The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Friedland & Zellman. In fact, you can just look up the book description on Amazon along with the comments to find out all you ever wanted to know . . . and more.

Though I will add that (unless I missed it), the authors omitted a significant detail. The third Mrs. Wright was not only a student of [the so-called mystic] Gurdjieff, but bore one of his illegitimate children (Svetlana the first). Gurdjieff wanted live at Taliesin, but Wright would have none of it . . .

So, moving on. My basic purpose is to address a viable approach to doing intentional communities RIGHT. As an intermediate step in this direction – proof of the larger point — it is instructive to consider what Wright did WRONG.

Here’s my underlying premise: Paradigms are of life-or-death importance. Incomplete, inaccurate beliefs result in tragedy. Achieving more positive, sustainable results requires the foundation of a complete and accurate worldview.

Like Wright, many today strive with all their hearts to accomplish great work. Sadly, even geniuses like Wright, despite the best of intentions, undo themselves, precipitating loss and disaster. In the process, they hurt others as well as themselves. Yet they rail against misfortune as if they were randomly selected, unjustly persecuted victims of fate.

From my point of view, positive solutions start with recognizing a major source of life problems: a knowledge deficit. For example, outcomes would significantly improve by expanding one’s reality map to include three kinds of law. Each regulates its own level of the Life Wheel.

levels of law - sized

The levels are interrelated and interdependent. When they are aligned, integrated and balanced, when they operate harmoniously, all goes well. When any of the levels is left out of the equation, nothing works right. When they are out of balance, so is life. When they aren’t correctly prioritized, all hell breaks loose.

The Positive Paradigm represented by the Life Wheel is a universal standard. In this context, Wright acted without respect for the whole of life. As a consequence, he experienced repeated setbacks — as do many of today’s leaders.

Here is Wright’s attitude towards each level of law:

  • Divine Law. He rebelled against it. In his equation, the innermost level of law was ruled out. To the extent God exists, the relationship between God and man is one of mutual enmity.
  • Natural Law. Instead of God, he worshiped a romanticized version of nature.
  • Human Law. In his financial and social behavior, he demonstrated an arrogant disregard for fellow human beings, acting as if he were out exclusively for himself.

Ironically, Wright seemed to think his genius (a gift of God) placed him above the laws which ordinary mortals respect and follow. He didn’t pay bills, didn’t honor family commitments, and later in life, presumed to act as if he were a god, dominating the lives of apprentice architects.

And, as the Greeks knew, the flaw of pride – hubris – precipitates tragedy.

From his books, we know that Wright hated and probably feared the wrathful prophet Isaiah. In reaction to the failings of his preacher father, he swung to an opposite extreme – replacing worship of God with deification of nature.

He may well have had valid grievances against his biological father. He may have been correct about the limitations of conventional morality.

But (if you’ll forgive the pun), “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Taliesin (meaning shining brow) is the name of the pagan Celtic god Wright invoked as patron of his unconventional lifestyle. When Taliesin East was built, Wright had just walked away from his first wife and their six children. It was designed as a love nest to share with the married mistress from Chicago whom he felt was his soul mate.

The dynamics of ancient Natural Law (a subject altogether different from Wright’s beliefs) explain the inevitable misfortunes that plagued him throughout life. The Law of Karma (“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”), is quite straight forward. Whatever you do returns in kind.

As a simple, infallible law of nature, if you hurt and harm others, your actions come back to you, in some form or other, at some time or other. (“What goes around comes around,” as they say. Or, “Payback is a bitch.”)

In this case, Wright had remarkable (dare I say, God-given) gifts as an architect. But on a personal level, he was despised by many people, for many reasons. Not all were forgiving. Newton’s law, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction,” caused his short-sighted desires to backfire in horrific ways.

For example, to all appearances, the mass murder at Taliesin was an orchestrated hit. The assassin, 30-year-old Julian Carlton, an estate worker originally from Barbados, was recommended to Wright by Chicago associates who just might have held grudges. Carlton himself had no motive for butchering Mamah Borthwick or her two children. He didn’t have the education to plan his carefully calculated attack on the apprentices, standing outside the only door of their burning room, ax in hand, waiting to cut them down one-by-one as they tried to escape certain death by fire.

Killing the apprentices was probably a secondary priority. Had all of them died, there would have been no witnesses to the crime. One, however, though gravely injured, survived long enough to run from the isolated rural setting and sound an alarm. A second (Herb Fritz, my Spring Green host) lived to identify the killer.

How would a simple hired man have known to purchase and pack a vial of cyanide to swallow in case he was caught? It scarred his throat so badly he couldn’t have answered questions in jail even if he wanted to. Nor could he eat. He died within a few days of capture, starved, in agony. So today, no one knows for sure who commissioned his crime.

But then again, back in the day, no one really wanted the world to know the facts. Carlton’s death was a convenience not only for the unknown master-mind, but also for Wright and his followers. Being highly invested in their image, whether for personal or financial reasons, they preferred to deny any connection between Wright’s personal life and its logical consequences. Rather than recognizing the opportunity to learn from hard lessons, Wright wallowed dramatically in his grief. Rather than take personal responsibility, he blamed a vengeful God for this (as well as the following string of repeated tragedies – including a later fire at Taliesin which destroyed newly acquired treasures of Japanese art and then the drowning death of Svetlana I).

The lessons set by his example, however, remain useful for us now. Bottom line: communities based on upside-down worldviews are tragedy magnets. They never have and never will work out well.

What remains to be seen is whether, on the basis of a complete and correct paradigm, with sufficient motivation to do things RIGHT, we can do better now.

book header bird

Rethinking HOPE

hope

Paradoxically, the following Essay on Hope compliments the one on Death shared in The Phoenix Response. Tellingly, it reflects beliefs significantly different from those held by my grandparents, Ellie and Hubble West. It might explain, at least in part, their experience of old age.

Nor is the subject merely academic. As I currently face unanticipated health challenges, like many baby-boomers of my generation, I’m being challenged to face and rethink my personal survival expectations.

I’ll explain all this at length later. But for now, here are my earlier thoughts on Hope, for your thoughtful consideration.

Essay 63. HOPE

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you wisdom the spirit of and revelation in the knowledge of him:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. . .

— St. Paul, Ephesians

Here the people could stand it no longer and complained of the long voyage; but the Admiral cheered them as best he could, holding out the good hope of the advantages they would have. He added that it was useless to complain, he had come [to go] to the Indies, and so had to continue it until he found them, with the help of Our Lord.  — Christopher Columbus, Journal of the First Voyage

We live at a particularly perilous moment, one in which self-deception is a subject of increasing urgency. The planet itself faces a threat unknown in other times: its utter destruction. . . The splitting of the atom, said Einstein, has changed everything, save how we think. And thus, he observed, “we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” — Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths

We are seeing a health care system in pain, people in pain, and a world in pain. I believe that something can be done to make it better. — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines hope as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. It’s a desire accompanied by expectation. It can mean that which one has a hope for. It can mean a reason for hope. A meaning listed as archaic is to trust or rely.

In I Ching context, hope transcends short-sighted wishing and emotional wanting. It is a trust that one has the wherewithal to respond appropriately to every change of fortune. It is not total self-sufficiency, but awareness that one’s efforts are met half way. When one does the best one can, the rest is supplied in the right way, at the right time.

Daniel Goleman emphasizes the direct relationship between honest self-awareness and survival. Like Einstein and like Strauss and Howe (authors of The Fourth Turning), Goleman is a messenger of awareness we’re often trained to block out.

His vision accords with The Book of Change philosophy in this: ignoring dangers, deceiving ourselves that all is well when it isn’t, doesn’t make problems go away. It only renders us powerless to recognize early warning signals in time to prepare and ameliorate the worst that might come.

In The Fourth Turning, Strauss and Howe emphasize that declining resources will necessitate major changes in healthcare delivery. Anticipating that the cost of health-care will continue to rise and become increasingly unaffordable, they recommend that cost-effective, affordable alternatives along the lines of Adams’ work be put in place now.

Forward-looking health practitioners are therefore now turning to inexpensive, preventive self-maintenance practices like Tai Chi, Qigong and yoga.

There are hidden benefits to timely austerities. Though it is unfortunate that people see fit to return back to self-responsible methods only as a last resort, if the prospect of hard times returns people back to their more simple and beneficial roots, it is a (however well disguised) blessing.

In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote of hope in the context of faith and charity. His hope isn’t Webster’s hope of wanting and expecting. Like I Ching hope, it is trust that human events which make no sense in the short-term fit into the larger pattern of life, and that God’s will inevitably in the long-term prevails.

THE BACK

The opposite of hope is despair. Seeing one’s situation as hopeless is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So long as one places hope in externals, one feeds the illusion of powerlessness. Turning the focus of hope inwards makes all the difference.

Self-deception is a perversion of hope. Lacking a concept of cyclical change, linear thinkers hope to control time. They defy the aging process or pretend change can’t or hasn’t happened rather than adjusting and benefiting from new opportunities that arise to replace the ones which pass away.