Category Archives: Philosophy

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.

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A Magical Day

magic

Did you ever have a magical day – one that stands out amongst the countless miracles that abound, most often unnoticed and unappreciated, in the midst of daily life?

Today offered one of those rare and precious times for me, bringing up basic life questions important to us all – about the quality of life and very purpose for surviving.

So I’ll share with you what happened and why, in the seemingly endless blur of discouragements and doubts, it shone like a confirming ray of hope, strengthening my resolve to complete the book now listed on CreateSpace as The Phoenix Response.

Today’s story begins, once again, by connecting the dots between two seemingly ordinary events leading to an extraordinary outcome.

The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz sparked the first. My eyes halted over it while scanning the bestseller bookshelf at Walmart. The hunch flashed that it had an important message for me. I should look into it.

The second was triggered by the first. I thought back to my grandmother, Ellie West, who gave up a promising singing career to marry my grandfather, Hubble.

Late in her life, Ellie told me about the day he proposed. During a walk in the local park, he stopped in front an enormous sun dial set in granite and pointed to the attached plaque. Engraved onto the metal were the words of poet Robert Browning. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”

It won her heart.

As she described the event, now white-haired and ill, she shook her head. If not cynical, she seemed at best remorseful. For her, life hadn’t turned out the way the poet promised.

Until today, however, I hadn’t thought carefully about her disappointment. Although I remembered the first two lines of the poem, I’d forgotten the name of the poet and never knew the context of those lines, much less the name of the poem from which they came.

Nor had I wondered what she hoped living to old age would be like, or how and why her expectations were left unfulfilled.

Thinking further on these things now brought magical gifts that answered doubts as to my own future directions.

With a little effort, I recovered the poet’s name, the context of the lines and the poem’s name.

The first stanza of Robert Browning’s poem begins:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

I also searched out a link to the complete poem in which the stanza appears, Rabbi Ben Ezra

This, of course, led to further questions, as well as an Aha! Who was Rabbi Ben Ezra? When did he live? How are his personal story and life work relevant to us now? More specifically, how does his history and Browning’s poem matter to my immediate question – whether or not to complete The Phoenix Response?

Long story short, the good Rabbi born and died in in northern Spain, 1089-1167distinguished himself as a poet, philosopher and astrologer. Between earliest and end years, persecuted for his beliefs, his restless wanderings took him through North Africa, Israel, Italy, England and France.

His ideas outlasted him to influence Browning. Remarkably, the longer poem is interspersed with phrases that could as easily have been drawn from my own writing: I see the whole design, Perfect I call Thy plan.

There is a hint of the phoenix legend: Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold.

And a foreshadowing of Christ’s enduring presence throughout human history:

Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time’s wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

Not only are there references to a divine Potter and “earth’s wheel” but actually, in conclusion, the WHEEL of LIFE itself. He names the very image (Platonic Idea, meme, archetype – call it what you will) that serves as the substantive foundation of the Positive Action response.

The poem concludes:

My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!

At first reading, I cannot begin to fully understand this poem, much less the philosophical works which inspired it. The writing is complex and terse — more than a little bit difficult. But this much seems clear. There is a succession of ideas being handed down through the generations. Each writer starts up where the last left off, competes the next piece, and hands the work forward for another generation to pick up and continue.

I was comforted to think that my work is interwoven within a larger pattern, connected in the world of ideas with forerunners. Surely I am linked with a larger whole and charged with contributing to the evolution of an ongoing heritage.

On a personal level, Grandma Ellie handed down her unfinished aspiration for me to take the next step. John Philip Sousa auditioned and invited her to travel as a soprano soloist with his band during their European tour. Because she decided to marry instead, she saw in my life the completion of her early aspirations. She was delighted when she heard that I was studying and performing as a violinist in Europe.

And just as Grandma Ellie left me unfinished work to complete, so my writing on holism and the Life Wheel may fulfill fellow violinist Albert Einstein’s heartfelt desire. He intuited the existence of a Unified Theory. Ironically, he’d already received it, but lacked the yogic training to recognize it for what it is:

IF

Returning, however, back to the first strand — the book that sparked this line of thought. Diaz’s best-seller  promises to address a holistic life view. Its description claims: “The Longevity Book offers an all-encompassing, holistic look at how the female body ages —and what we can all do to age better.

There’s so much that could be better accomplished by applying the multi-dimensional Life Wheel model to the claim of being” all-encompassing.” This includes the concept of Einstein’s beloved compass and his call for compassion. For those unfamiliar with the work to which I’m referring or who would like a reminder, here’s a link to bring you up to speed on The Positive Paradigm.

Among reviews, I found a comment supporting my first take that The Longevity Book begs for a sequel – one which I’m eminently qualified to supply. The Phoenix Response fills many gaps crying out for completion. As the reviewer points out, Diaz wrote one book for young women, and now this second for those entering middle age.

The reviewer’s Re line states “Wish she would have taken it to a woman’s age when she’s elderly.” The comment continues “There are so many things mothers did not tell daughters that many of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have had to find out on our own – sadly.”

My basic message for everyone, up to and including baby-boomers of both genders: it’s never too late. It’s not over til it’s over. Even for those of us who’ve let go of self-care and are now paying the price, there’s always a second chance. There’s always the Phoenix Response of regeneration – going back to the magical creative process of genesis embodied in the Life Wheel.

With this knowledge, it’s possible for self-healers to repair not only original the DNA of the physical body, but also the more subtle pattern of the soul, restoring wholeness by healing literally — as the infinity pattern shows — from the inside out.

So yes, without a doubt. Not only is this work dearly needed. The way for it is actually being paved and readiness created.

So – I’m especially grateful for life-confirming days like this one when the ever-present magic speaks with exceptional clarity.

So my best wish for you is the same. May you have a magical day as well!

THOU SHALT NOT MURDER

 

10 commandments

A friend recently drew sharp attention to a little known mistranslation with enormous cultural implications.

Like most pacifist vegetarians of my generation, I grew up taking a misleading translation of the Old Testament sixth commandment quite literally. “Thou shalt not kill.”

Currently, however, the generally accepted wording is, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” World of difference.

Murder is a very specific type of killing, defined as unlawful killing committed with malice aforethought, anti-social behavior often associated with other crimes like robbery and political intrigue. Murder is synonymous with assassination and extermination on the one hand, but also with mutilation or mangling.

At the very least, there are two outstanding differences between an across-the-board prohibition on murder versus a blanket prohibition on all killing whatsoever, whensoever, whysoever.

First, according to I Ching wisdom, mirrored by King Solomon’s famous words in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and place for every purpose under Heaven. Within the cyclical laws of nature and nature’s God, purposeful killing is intrinsic to life’s rhythm.

ecclesiastes

Second, if one is prohibited from killing regardless of context, this prohibition, in extreme circumstances, is misconstrued as a guilt-inducing, paralyzing, self-defeating command: “Thou shalt not protect thyself.”

Further, examples of murder are less obvious that one might first think. There are many more forms and levels of crime than those acknowledged by legal systems designed to protect human life and property.

As psychologist Erik Erikson, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in Death at an Early Age, wrote:

Some day, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit; for such mutilation undercuts the life principle of trust.

To this point, in Rethinking CRIME I wrote:

Those who dismiss, demean or control children with fear condemn them to empty lives of masked conformity on the material surface of the Life Wheel. Instilling extreme ideas about death, as if it were either a reward or ultimate punishment, one’s only hope or worst enemy, results in living inappropriate to reality.

To take another tack, I’ve more than once observed that the people who on the surface of the Life Wheel give the appearance of being the most conformist, are at deeper levels, the least so. They simply have the most to hide.

Conversely, those who may not be so strict in social correctness have less to hide. Often, they live more faithful to the heart of human kindness. In fact, this is the consistent pattern.

The Laws of Nature explain this consistent inconsistency. Consistent with I Ching wisdom, Michio Kushi lists “Twelve Principles of Order in the Universe.” They include:

1. Everything is a differentiation of ONE Infinity.

2. Everything changes.

3. All antagonisms are complementary.

4. There is nothing identical.

5. What has a front has a back.

6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

The dynamics of this natural law explain why what appears so on the surface inevitably has a shadow, complimentary opposite side lurking beneath. Those who know them best find the nicest people can be shockingly cruel.

The most seemingly non-violent – apparently squeamish and helpless when it comes to physical self-defense can be extraordinarily violent in non-physical ways – ruthless when it comes to money matters or partisan politics.

The bravest and most accomplished of performers, if naive about the ways of the financial world, can be undone by a ruthless agent and end up ruined.

Herein lies the stuff of human tragedy. As the Greeks understood, a hero’s greatest strength, untempered, becomes (ironically) the cause of his downfall.

These dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude. We find them in operation within the family, played out in communities, corporations and nations. In some cases, murder is a question of degree. How different is it from character assassination, for example? Or invalidating others. Or wearing them down, depleting their energies and resources.

People who pride themselves on being powerful in terms of economic and social resources adopt extreme yang lifestyles. This includes using the force of personality and, in extremes, physical violence, to get what they want.

In contrast, those who lack external, material resources take refuge in extreme yin strategies. They too maneuver to get what they want, just in more subtle ways, including psychological warfare. They are just as violent. Just in ways and on levels hidden from most of us.

A current example is a politician who as an outsider, superficially seemed the most liberal and egalitarian. Once inside, however, the opposite side came forward. Outward appearances belied the character of a despot with no qualms about lavishly squandering tax dollars to fund an extravagantly opulent lifestyle.

Hence the virtue of a middle path, free of extremes in any direction. The ideal of health, on every scale of magnitude, is balanced strength on all levels rather than imbalances – excesses on one level masking deficiencies at another.

Understanding the levels and layers of life and the dynamic interplay amongst them is critical to social and economic survival. Adhering to that deepest, infinite core from which integrity, balance and wisdom flow remains the key to ultimate survival.

Especially in troubled times such as these, I think back on the Psalms of King David, equal parts musician, warrior and ruler. In all aspects of his reign, he survived by allowing his life to be ruled by that ONE Infinity acknowledged throughout time as the bedrock of life.

Although in family affairs and matters of state, he suffered dearly from the inconsistencies of human behavior, he inevitably found the safe way through trouble.

David-sized

Thus in Psalm 27 he sang:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

In all, the survival path is marked by adherence to the Law. Conversely, it requires avoidance of that which is unlawful. This includes both refraining from acting unlawfully — violating the laws of nature and nature’s God —  and protecting oneself and those one loves from unlawful behavior perpetrated by others.

Therefore, thou shalt not murder. By extension, thou shalt not murder the language, rendering the God-fearing defenseless before enemies and foes.

victory-sized

Keep It Together

star of david

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

Here’s the back story.

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

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

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

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

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

Well, let’s see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

120115 2 Sides 41

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

For in duality, as Solomon wrote:

120115 ecclesiastes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Yantra

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

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

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

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

 

As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?

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

globe bullet size

by Patricia E. West, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Universal Key

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

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

Utopia.sized

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

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

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

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

This well-familiar atomic structure repeats smallest to largest in the patterns of nature, from snowflakes and intricate flowers to spiders’ webs and sea shells. Similar symmetrical patterns repeat worldwide in the art of every culture — including, to name but a few, the prayer wheels of Native Americans, the colored sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhists, the stained glass windows of European cathedrals and the intricate geometrical patterns that cover Muslim Mosques. They offer proof of the universal awareness of a central inner reality, of an inner structure common to all humanity, and to a continuity of experience deeper than individual lives or transitory cultures.”5

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

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

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

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

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

062514 Balanced World View

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

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

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

Distortions of the Universal Pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

world gone mad.sized

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

Sages Transcend Conflict

Now then, wherein is consolation to be found during the present difficult times? For Hindu sages foresaw them. We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times.

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

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

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

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

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

PB LT 1

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

PB LT 2

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

What Can We Do NOW?

Now then, wherein is consolation to be found during the present difficult times? For Hindu sages foresaw them. We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Unity and diversity are necessary compliments.

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

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

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

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

Herein lies another discussion, complete in itself.

Conclusion

Resolving conflict necessarily occurs one person at a time, and from the inside out. For this reason, however complex and overwhelming world problems may seem, we each have the option and responsibility to improve that which is closest to home: ourselves. By reducing internal conflict within, each of us has the potential, if only in modest ways, to reduce the conflict without. By remaining ever mindful of the breath and the Divine Source from which it flows, self-selected survivors will surely find from deep within the answers to every question along with sufficient intelligence, courage and power to overcome and outlast every challenge.

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References

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

  2. Meditation as Medicine, 55

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

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

  5. Rethinking Survival, 104

  6. Meditation as Medicine, 64

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

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

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

  4. Two Sides of a Coin, 70

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

Truth or Consequences

truth or consequences

Have you ever wondered what Truth has to do with TV game shows? I have.

Follow along, if you will, and I’ll entertain you with what I’ve learned.

It started with an earlier post using as its title the name of a long-running show: To Tell the Truth. I had to wonder, what did Truth mean in this setting?

There, celebrity panelists were challenged to identify one from among three guests. One was authentic, presenting personal facts correctly. The others were impostors who pretended to be the first. Their goal was to deceive the panelists about the Truth.

So Truth was being defined exclusively at the material surface level of the Life Wheel – accurate representation of the facts. Truth of the middle, energy level of the Life Wheel – honesty about feelings and behavior – wasn’t a factor. At a still deeper level, Truth -– meaning honesty about underlying motives — was irrelevant. For impostor guests, lying to hide one’s true identity was highly valued — an accepted part of the game rules.

If you recall, in To Be or Not To Be PC, I used the story-line of Karate Kid III as an example of why awareness on all three levels – three-out-of-three – is essential to survival. In that movie, until the end, Daniel-san fails to understand who is truly his best friend and who is, in fact, his worst enemy.

Judging only from surface appearances, Daniel is deceived into believing Terry Silver is teaching him how to win. What he doesn’t know is that Silver is acting as the agent of an old enemy. This false friend’s underlying, hidden motive is to destroy Daniel as a way to get revenge on Mr. Miagi.

Mr. Miagi, in contrast, appears to be unhelpful, but only because he has Daniel’s best interests at heart. His deepest motive is to protect Daniel, whom he loves as a son.

Now this is an important point for all of us, because the war between Truth v. Deception is pervasive and ongoing. First, we experience conflicts internally. Then, externalized, they are mirrored in the politics of personal relationships, and continue to expand with an ever-broader ripple effect into the conduct of national and global affairs.

I’m not finger pointing. Just saying: For those concerned with survival on any or all of the Life Wheel’s levels, it’s something to think about very very carefully.

Moving on, the second Truth-named game show I’m remembering was called Truth or Consequences. It started as a radio show in the 1940-50s, followed by several television versions into the late 1980’s.

As ominous as the game name sounds, content was strictly light-hearted entertainment, often with an emotional “feel-good” component. Contestants were asked questions of fact –-  usually ones with no clear answer. If contestants could not correctly tell the “Truth” in short time, there were “Consequences,” usually involving a hilarious or embarrassing stunt.

In many broadcasts, stunts included a heart-warming surprise for the contestant. It could be a reunion with a long-lost relative or with an enlisted son or daughter returning from military duty overseas. When the military person was based in California, spouse or parents were flown in.

So here again, the game concept of Truth was shallow and incomplete. The idea of Consequences was similarly given short shrift. (For those interested, the Essay on Consequences offers a comprehensive view.)

Next, please stay with me and I’ll take the notion of Truth or Consequences to the next level.

For this, I need to tell you a story from childhood. It images much the same lessons Daniel-san learned the hard way.

The year would have been about 1953. It was after my father died, but before Mom remarried. That made me between six and seven years old. For that short time, we lived in a run-down old apartment building on Buffalo’s show-case Delavan Boulevard.

The incident I’m recalling involved a neighbor lady who lived all alone in an attic-like room on the top floor. To me, she looked very old and seemed terribly sad. Being a friendly and curious kid, I tried to get to know her.

Not so easy. I pestered her with childish questions. She wanted no part of it. Instead of speaking, she diverted my attention, pointing to a chipped and faded plaster-of-Paris nicknack on her shabby dresser that said it all.

I picked it up and examined it closely. On the water-colored figurine sat three monkeys. The first covered its ears with its hands. The second held both hands over its mouth. The third held both hands over its eyes. This motto was carved into the base: “Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil.”

Three wise monkeys

This childhood experience made such a powerful impression because it was loaded with contradictions that left me bewildered. I had no idea what evil was. Why did she feel compelled to point out non-verbally that recognizing it was taboo? Most importantly, why was she so . . . now it seems . . . yes, afraid.

I remembered this experience while writing about Terry Silver’s three rules for winning an unfair fight. He advised Daniel:

  • If a man can’t stand, he can’t fight. So break his knees.
  • If a man can’t breathe, he can’t fight. So break his nose.
  • If a man can’t see, he can’t fight. So gouge out his eyes.

Granted, I appreciate what the monkey prohibitions were getting at originally. It has to do with the meditative discipline of Stillness. If the bans are a warning not to get entangled in negative situations that poison mental clarity, not to speak impulsively or slander others, and not to project dark side urges onto others, then fine. Otherwise not.

First off, humans are not monkeys. Unless drugged, lobotomized or otherwise incapacitated, the faculties of reason and intuition compliment and complete the animal part of our being.

Today, repressing the sensory faculties of awareness is proof of an increasing sense of helplessness. Looking back, I understand that my neighbor lady was telling me without words that her life was unspeakably difficult and painful. She survived by not being aware. The battered wife syndrome fits here, as does the slave mentality – passively accepting an unfulfilling life of toil and misery.

Second, genuine evil does exist. To deny that it does makes one powerless to deal with its effects, opening the door to a world of hurt. I’ve defined what I mean when I use the word elsewhere. Here are quotes:

Evil in Positive Paradigm context is defined as “destructive acts or intentions which violate the integrity of the whole, with the aim of destroying the life pattern itself.”

And again:

In Positive Paradigm context, the intentions and actions of any person (or group) that destroys its own and/or threatens to annihilate enemy groups, devoid of respect for the inherent sanctity of life, are defined as evil.

Tai Chi Tu - sized

One final point about Truth or Consequences. This article initially came to mind over concern for LinkedIn readers who gladly gobble up superficial articles written by polished prosperity-consciousness authors to promote purchase of their books. In one place, I was actually moved to comment:

I’ve found the formula for this author’s content. To make yourself popular and rich, tell people whatever it is you think they want to hear. End of story.

Was it unkind of me to say this? In the same way Mr. Miagi seemed unkind, maybe so. But I was motivated by good will. I have readers’ long-term interests at heart. I have, for a long time, had a survival issue with gurus who make themselves rich by selling abundance consciousness masked as spirituality. (Sketches below explain why.)

In essence, going full bore for whatever it is you want lacks realistic balance. In a natural world view, there is a time for every purpose under heaven: a time for gain and a time for loss, a time for prosperity in the cycles of history and times of inevitable adversity as well.

Remaining blind to the cycles of history – pretending everything can be however we want it to be because we really really passionately want what we want, is, well . . . unrealistic. In the real world, pretending everything is rosy even when it’s not is disempowering. Buying into the temptation to seemingly pleasant self-deception doesn’t change the way things are. It only renders those who choose to remain unaware at extreme disadvantage, unable to make situation-appropriate, effective decisions.

Put another way, positivity has become the new opiate of the masses. It prevents starry-eyed dreamers from seeing the world as the gravely dangerous place has become. It prevents them from recognizing and responding wisely to protect themselves and those they care for from genuine evil.

Bottom line: What I’m hoping you’ll gather from all this is: 1) Truth embodied as keen, alert awareness on all levels is life sustaining; and 2) today, in the real world, Truth or Consequences is NOT a game. Ignoring the facts as they are, refusing to hear warnings and failing to take positive action is having disastrous CONSEQUENCES.

If you’ll forgive me for repeating myself once again, human survival hangs in the balance. It is that serious.

Just saying. Food for thought.

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Although it never happened, I originally planned to expand thumbnail sketches into full chapters to include in a book called Essays on Positive Action. They were written in the year 2000, but are as relevant now as they were earlier. The following four address the prosperity-consciousness issue.

WHO TURNED NAPOLEON HILL UPSIDE DOWN & WHY? At Andrew Carnegie’s request, Attorney Napoleon Hill undertook a 20-year research project to discover the common denominators which explain the effectiveness of highly successful businessmen. The upshot, Think and Grow Rich, has had vast international influence and inspired a small army of imitators to build a lucrative “prosperity consciousness” profession. Perhaps coincidentally (perhaps not), his findings are reminiscent of occult teachings. An organization claiming to further Hill’s work continues to publish new titles using his name, including Napoleon Hill’s Positive Action Plan. Something’s been seriously distorted in the translation.

NATURAL LAW VERSUS UNNATURAL GREED. A host of imitators jumping on the lucrative prosperity consciousness bandwagon, each selling seductive feel-good half-truth formulas for material success, are misdirecting pristine natural law into the twilight zone of insatiable greed. The ancient law is that every extreme changes to its opposite. In The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make and How To Avoid Them, Dr. Freeman correctly observes that “an overdose of positive thinking can produce negative results.” Economic euphoria driven by a misleading paradigm of science at end-century will inevitably cycle past unnatural expansion to opposite and equal contraction in the next millennium.

THE QUESTION DETERMINES YOUR RESULT. “Ask and it shall be answered. Seek and ye shall find” — but only what you have the heart/vision to ask/seek. Ask along with Dale how to win friends and influence people. Ask with Napoleon how to become a millionaire. Ask Deepak how to use spiritual laws to get worldly success. Ask Anthony how to awaken the giant within. But the will of God? To know it? Serve it? Who asks this? Who asks what is right? What is wise? Could current human condition be result of failure to ask wisely? Shallow questions yield paltry results. So in wishing, remember the law of karma and be very careful what you ask for. Long-term payback for greedy goals is frightful to behold.

NO MATTER WHERE YOU START, THE GOAL IS HERE & NOW. Though cultures East and West begin from opposite ends of the planet, in striving for wisdom they join as one at the center of life’s wheel. The financially rich at apex and poor at nadir of life’s arc are same in inner origin and ultimate destination. So also, those of every persuasion who do their best to live with uncompromising courage, heart, wisdom and strength find common home at day’s end. Like Job who endured unimaginable torment but remained steadfast in faith, like Noah who listened and followed through regardless of heedless/scornful contemporaries, those who hold to fast to center actualize promise of safe passage to new beginnings.

I’m Writing To . . .

 

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

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

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

For a split second, I went on the defensive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I continued with Good News and Bad News for Millenials.

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

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

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

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

So, moving on to other audiences.

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

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

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

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

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

The list goes on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Under Construction

Inner Compass.sized

The way drivers from my state tell it, “Wisconsin has two seasons – winter and Under Construction.”

The month of June was living proof. The stretch of highway from home into Madison was an obstacle course of Road Work signs, hard hatters digging muddy trenches, and side-tracking detours.

The recent experience of driving this altered route wove itself into my thoughts about website changes, for I promised that it too will be under construction during summer months and into fall. (See My Worst Fear).  

Local highways and my writing path both reflect an uneasy tension between human planning and the ongoing assaults of natural forces. Engineers design roads to stand up under the wear and tear of daily traffic. But there’s more. Midwest roads are exposed to alternating extremes of hot and cold, not to mention floods and a wide assortment of spectacular storms. Under these pressures, erosion sets in. Even the best made roads start to buckle and crack. Pot holes begin to pock small town main streets, making for a bumpy ride.

Mental metabolism” is the writer’s equivalent of ongoing road maintenance. The physical body is built to take in food, digest it, assimilate the beneficial parts and eliminate the rest. The same goes for the mind. We are continuously assaulted by external influences. The people and events of our daily lives impact our thoughts and feelings. So do the dramas of politics, massacres and heart-wrenching suffering broadcast on the news.

Mental health – and quality writing – depends, among other things, on the ability to digest this information, incorporate what is useful, and delete the rest all the way out of the mental computer.

So back to the drawing board. Nothing extreme or overwhelming. Just small baby steps. Place one foot in front of the other, one steady step at a time, one day at a time, until I bring us back from temporary detours and onto a freshly repaired road.

As promised, after facing and walking through the fears which have kept me in writer’s limbo, here are a few of the significant website changes to come.

1. For a multitude of reasons, as time and resources permit, I intend to make the content of books sold through Amazon available on the website.

In particular, I wrote the personal part of Rethinking Survival so people could get to know the person behind the ideas. I told the story of how the working tools I have to offer evolved and the value I place on them. This (often fantastical) background puts ongoing posts in context.

I owe this information to readers who, without it, have drawn unjust conclusions. For example, it has been assumed that I must have been born to a family of well-off intellectuals or that I married into money to subsidize my writing.

Wrong. I grew up in a situation so complicated and confusing that, to survive, I clung to books. It started when I took literally what a librarian told the newly-orphaned six-year-old me – then living at the mercy of heartless relatives. “Books are your best friends.”

Books saved my life. They fed my insatiable curiosity and need for connection. The best of them gave me tools for thinking about how the world works and understanding my place in it. They confirmed my hopes. In their presence, I lived as a member of the community of minds that reaches out across the span of time, offering the best of human achievement to sustain the best part of me. And, as someone who believes in paying my debts, my life has been dedicated to paying that debt forward.

2. Immediate practical needs in combination with unfortunate experiences inside the shark-infested publishing world lead me to the following website solution.

Some background will help you understand where I’m coming from. I will be 70 in August. (The photo I use as my gravatar happens to be one of the only two I have. This is another misunderstanding to be corrected. Current photos are in the works and will be incorporated in the improved website.)

At the moment, my only income is a pittance of Social Security. Financial pressures increasingly keep writing output to bare minimum. I keep adding to the long list of useful and entertaining ideas which wait their turn on the drawing board, but don’t have the resources to complete as many as I’d like.

Up to this point, the website has been a one-person project, created with ingenuity, love and hours of effort, but on a zero-dollar budget. There’s no return from the books. Quality aside, I can’t afford to pay for the networks and machinery required to market them.

As a work-around, if you will, my solution is to add a “Donate” page to the website. Instead of paying for books, visitors will be given the option donate on an honor system of sorts, only if and as much as they can, depending on their perception of value received and anticipated. No pressure. Just an opportunity.

I will also request that, if the Handbook content (which so far I’ve kept secret to prevent theft) proves useful, readers link family and friends to the website, to magnify its potential influence.

3. In an effort to be more responsive to your concerns, I will expand the Contact Page to include an email address where visitors can forward confidential questions. Starting now, you are welcome to contact me at rethinkingsurvival@yahoo.com.

Under stern (and wise) advisement, I’ve relinquished grandiose desires to “save the world,” or even to finance physical Positive Action Communities (see the illustration labeled “Super-Objective” at the bottom of this page: https://rethinkingsurvival.com/handbook/ .)

Even so, I persist in day-dreaming about the possibilities inherent in intentional communities. For now, as a baby step, I satisfy myself with this known simplicity: “To save one life is to save the world entire.” Perhaps, by “thinking small,” it remains within the realms of the possible to build a small internet community of supportive like-minded thinkers. It would be qualitatively different from the LI self-promotional mind-set or WB’s adversarial smack-down approach. Instead, its basic mind-set will reside in our innate quest for self-awareness and a universal respect for life.

Just perhaps, together, we could begin the construction of another road less (but well) traveled.

 

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François Zuccheri

July 7, 2015, 7:54 AM

Patricia, I just got your email so I quickly skimmed your article. Will read and listen to it later tonight when solitude soothes. Just a question: does your site allow for other people [writers] to actually post their own articles related to your topic as opposed to just leaving a reply? Cheers.

ME:

Good question, François. Thanks for asking.

I‘ve thought about adding a GUEST POSTS page. So long as basic rules of the game – civility and relevance – are honored, I would welcome them. How these would be included becomes an administrative question. I’ll have to look into it.

Although hosting guest blogs would be a pleasure, it would require precious time and be an additional expense. One solution I’ve considered is looking into CrowdFunding. Another would be to make guest posting a privilege associated with paid membership. “Pay to play.”

Recently, a WB commenter took offence at the option to order books. He jumped to the contusion that money motivates me. But it takes an entitlement mentality to expect that I should give away the product of a lifetime of work, education, research, experience, etc. etc. for nothing. Even if I could afford to, it devalues the work. There’s some truth to the saying, You get what pay for. Something given away for nothing runs the risk of being valued accordingly.

ME Again:

François. It seems most readers quickly skim and leave it at that. I patiently await your careful “read and listen.” Wish others would take the trouble to do so as well. It’s worth it. : )

History Repeats Itself – Renaissance or Another Dark Ages?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bell curve sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY Worst Fear

When I posted What is YOUR Worst Fear, I intended to follow the next week with a sequel, MY Worst Fear. But it has taken a full month of soul-searching labor to deliver. The outcome – a yin-yang re-birthing of this website.

062115 embryo

The original sequel would have expressed the persistent fear described in Rethinking Survival:

The greatest personal obstacle I listed was pessimism, an attitude embedded deep in my upbringing, which crops up from the reservoir of inherited weaknesses from time-to-inconvenient-time. . . . the demon that surfaces when things get especially rough, taunting that all I’ve learned has been in vain, all the books I’ve written were for naught.

I feared the fate of Cassandra. I feared that I’ll fall short in warning that we urgently need to recognize an unwelcome elephant’s presence in civilization’s room – the hovering uncertainty of human survival.

Then doubts crept in. I decided to learn more about Cassandra, sung of by the bard, Homer, in The Iliad. I knew she was a priestess gifted with foresight. I knew her warnings went unheeded. Her prescience failed to prevent the destruction of her people.

But research uncovered another side to her story. According to legend, she received her gift from the Sun god Apollo in exchange for promises which she failed to keep. The curse of disbelief was attached to her prophetic abilities – so it is said – as punishment for deceiving the gods.

Obviously, I hope there’s no similarity between us on that count. Also, Cassandra died a hideous death, a fate which isn’t included in my particular fear portfolio.

So I searched my memory banks for a more accurate image of my worst fear. Immediately, one came forward.

As a teen, I spent two wonderful summers at Interlochen, the National Music Camp. One night, as was my habit, after the bugle sounded taps and the lights went out, I hid, wide awake, completely covered under my wool olive-drab army blanket and turned on a flashlight to read in the dark.

My borrowed book chronicled atrocities of the WWII holocaust. The powerfully horrifying image that remains with me was an enforced still birth. Enroute to death camps, Nazi guards responded to calls for help when a Jewish woman went to labor by chaining her legs tightly together at the ankles. Suffering oceans of agony, she died together with her unborn child.

Over the years, this is the repeating image of agony that comes to mind whenever the constellation of conspiring events seems to prevent me from bringing my writing into the world.

But again, rethinking led to doubts. I put this fear to Plato’s test, remembering his standard:

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

I decided, figuratively speaking, to turn the flashlight formerly hidden furtively under my youthful pillow for secret night-time use to submit my adult fears to the daylight of reason. Knowing that fear invites danger, I asked myself, “Am I allowing festering fears to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

So I named my immediate fears, one-by-one, and took responsibility for allowing them to influence my decisions, yielding a new array of options for correcting old mistakes. I can now proceed to direct future choices toward better outcomes.

For one thing, I decided to take on the paralyzing web of Catch 22s that plague a writer’s career. This is not the place to digress into war stories and bitter complaints. Suffice it to say that trusting authors are all-too-easy prey for members of the established publishing profession who specialize in eating them for their lunch.

But then, the alternative – to do everything alone, wear the many diverse hats required to bring a finished product to the general public – has just as many pitfalls. Marketing especially has been an issue. I took this position in The Positive Paradigm Handbook:

To my way of thinking, a person with something of extraordinary value to offer should be eagerly sought out and welcomed.

This is the book I dearly wanted for myself, the one that wasn’t on the shelves no matter where I looked. I’d have given everything I had for the knowledge in the Handbook. It’s the sum of what I’ve searched a lifetime to find. I’ve sacrificed a great deal to write and make the information usefully available. I’m offering it whole, on a silver platter, to those with an ear to hear.

So courting readers seems inappropriate and undignified, even embarrassing. I’ve accepted the necessity of marketing as a humbling, character-building opportunity. I can gladly swallow personal pride for the sake of human survival. The trade-off is more than worth it.

In some respects, however, I stand my ground. When marketing standards go against the grain of the Positive Paradigm, I draw the line. One fashionable marketing concept is called branding. “The author is the brand.”

Here I disagree wholeheartedly. It’s not about me. I’m just an imperfect messenger, not the message. I am but a transient visitor, briefly here, soon enough gone. The universal structure of the Positive Paradigm is the brand and its center hub is forever.

In this, yet another Greek myth is relevant. Again, from Rethinking Survival:

The Titans were gods sired by Kronos (Father Time). Fearfully jealous, as each was born, Kronos stole the male infants from his wife Gia (Mother Earth), swallowing his sons whole. This story is a metaphor for the Law of Karma. Our deeds may seem to be swallowed up by time, but in fact they never die.

In the cyclical course of natural events, they come back, as did the Titans, returning to conquer and replace the old gods.

Suffice it to say this self-assessment has resulted in a total rethinking of my attitudes and approach. These will be mirrored in the redesign of this website, to take place gently and gradually over the summer months. I’ll save the transformations of specific fears into action plans for a future post, “Under Construction.”

Nothing of substance – the archetypal ideas presented here – will change, but presentation will improve dramatically.

In sum, facing my worst fears for the purpose of writing this post has had a marvelously healing effect. Just so, I remember the Bene-Gesserit fear mantra from Frank Herbert’s Dune:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

062115 eye of the tiger

What Is YOUR Worst Fear?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essay 34. FEAR

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

Who Is Qualified to Know What – and How?

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

I certainly do. Often.

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

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

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

contract

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

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

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

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

I responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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Essay 20. KNOWLEDGE

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

Now Needed: An Army of Arjunas

Sometimes it seems the magic is gone forever from my life. All that remains is chores, living like an unwelcome fugitive, dodging the condescending cruelties of householders who bring in more money. Pretty grim.

But suddenly that changed. Today the magic is back, full force. Coming out of the blue, encouraging messages from strangers sparked me back into the writing mode.

It started this morning (Saturday, April 18. 2015) with an email notice. A recommendation had been voluntarily added to my [now cancelled] LinkedIn profile. “Insightful, ground breaking, immensely important.”

Shortly afterwards, a delightful, koan-like message (re: Humanity) appeared: “Very acknowledgeable am smiling please carry on.”

That me jolted out of my funk. After thanking these messengers of the Universe (no naming names, so as not to offend anyone), I continued, responding to overlooked messages I earlier hadn’t had the heart to answer. One simply said, “Hey Patricia, Thanks for the new post.”

Another wrote, “Patricia, Good morning, I trust you are doing well. Take good care.”

After that, I checked an abandoned blog site to see how old friends are faring there. I was delighted to find a post from an earlier commenter whom I thought I’d offended beyond repair. Resonance with my work showed he’s following through in his own way. He wrote:

We tend to miss that our immediate environment is part of a much bigger ecosystem whose dynamics and ramifications extend far beyond our limited grasp of space and time.

Though delighted, I kept my response short: Well said. Agreed. : )

But I still had questions about writing. If I should I continue, in what in direction? I’ve been stuck on the topic of intentional communities, which has stalled on the drawing board for months. The content continues to elude me. Outlines only generate more questions.

Further, one LinkedIn connection who’s now occupied elsewhere rejected the topic, assuming communism is what I have in mind. (No way!) Another connection with enormous potential to do great good has taken a different direction, choosing to engage in a family-run start-up.

I considered listing my doubts and inviting comments. But that didn’t click either.

So now, in thinking about the “interesting” timing of encouraging emails, I remembered that today – April 18th – – is a new moon, traditionally associated with new beginnings. Before checking for a description of the day’s potential, I “knew” I should first consult my old, best friend, the Book of Change.

That’s when the magic kicked in big time.

Granted that the I Ching (especially useful as a vehicle for entering the fourth dimension of time-space where synchronicity comes into play) is outside the comfort zone of some professionals. Nevertheless, please stay with me. After all, it has also been the enduring, practical foundation of leadership training in Asian cultures for many thousands of years – with good reason.

Be that as it may, I queried for direction. The resulting hexagram COMMUNITY was directly to the point of my concern. The CSBOC reading for #13 is:

IC 13

A changing line in the second place reinforced the concluding warning against selfishness: Avoid special interest groups. Selfish and corrupt motives bring downfall.

The resultant change, were the warning heeded, is #1 – CREATIVE POWER, which further reinforces the text.

The changing line in the fourth place reads: If you have become isolated, understand why and correct yourself.

This warning line pin-points a major problem. If heeded, the resultant change would result in # 37 – FAMILY, the cornerstone of community. I take the concluding warning very personally: Avoid roles not suited to your nature.

This returns full circle to my immediate dilemma. As a writer, my topic – the uncertainty of human survival – puts me in the role of a Cassandra relative to the larger, defiantly oblivious society. Being the messenger of an unpopular warning, though it seems my calling, can be isolating, not to mention unrewarding. It results in lifestyle issues with no immediate solutions in sight.

Nevertheless, I persist in believing that as increasingly more people find themselves in desperate social and economic straits, readiness will increase and my time eventually will come. The funding needed to support the intentional communities I envision will eventually materialize.

The situation reminds me of the dilemma faced by the warrior-charioteer Arjuna in the Bhadavad Gita. Those who opposed him were corrupt relatives, which posed a great conflict. Was it morally right to take sides against family, even if they were in the wrong? Forced to make an apparently no-win choice was paralyzing. On the battlefield, overwhelmed, he put down his weapons and refused to fight.

But at this crisis and turning point, his chariot driver, Lord Krsna, revealed his true identity. With inspirational encouragement, he encouraged the warrior to take heart, stand firm and win the righteous battle against evil.

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Similarly, the communities which timeless scriptures encourage, of which Einstein wrote, and of which I am thinking, are not based on biological or even cultural kindred, but rather on resonance of heart and mind. Communities connecting kindred souls, if you will. And in this, the exceedingly dangerous times in which we live hold magical seeds of opportunity. From Two Sides of a Coin:

Whereas most rulers suffer the unanticipated consequences of ignorance, pride and greed as shock, humiliation and undoing, sages intentionally harness the forces of nature to positive ends. Thus it is, that throughout history, at the right time, in the necessary circumstances, leaders of ordinary and humble beginnings have catapulted to extraordinary levels of accomplishment, effecting broad political and social change.

By voicing the collective yearnings of the suffering masses, perennial sage-leaders shed the light of eternal hope on times of greatest darkness. By inspired words and living example, they recreate ever-new the Gita’s vision of opportunities hidden within the outward experience of hardship.

For as sages know, “when social degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows.” From Passage 78 of the Tao Te Ching:

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Returning to this morning’s magical COMMUNITY reading: another next bend in the road occurred. Surprisingly, the changing lines combine to produce a most inauspicious outcome: # 9 – FRUSTRATION, which begins:

External factors you may not even be aware of will cause FRUSTRATION. New projects will not work out now. . . Your choice is either to wait patiently or to leave the situation.

It concludes by advising, Avoid major commitments.

So, turning to what I saved for last, I asked, What is the nature of the frustration in building intentional communities? The answer, when I checked the astrological description of today’s new moon was this. Timing. Major planets of communication and reform are currently going into hibernation, so to speak. Retrograde.

According to the calendar, the correct decision for me personally is to wait until the end September and into October. For the time being, continue to patiently endure unavoidable frustrations.

For others, for many other reasons, there will be other choices. What is consistent across the board is that building effective intentional communities will depend on an army of Arjunas, each of whom listens to the inner voice of conscience represented by Lord Krsna rather than to the dictates of their particular biological families or immediate social, political and religious prejudices.

Sometimes I wish I could win the largest lottery in history, as if that would end current frustrations. Yet I know bringing in money that way cannot solve the deeper problems. It would not influence hearts or minds, persuade the public of the wisdom needed to ensure human survival. For this, patience is required. So it is no accident that first three letters of PATIENCE are also the first letters of my name.

Today’s magic provided the immediate encouragement now needed to keep writing . . . balanced with acceptance of long-term timing. May my telling of it encourage fellow Arjunas-in-waiting, those who also will, when the time is right, God-willing, be ready to build on common ground.

Stillness and Peace

Sometimes words fail me. Keeping quiet seems the better way. To share my immediate preference for silence, I’m offering two earlier approaches to Stillness. The simplest comes from the Common Sense Book of Change. The second elaborates on the first, and as a compliment may prove helpful.

Hexagram 52. STILLNESS

Peace within and harmony without come from STILLNESS.

When immediate answers to important questions

cannot be found,

sometimes keeping still is the best way out.

Burning desires produce chaotic thinking.

This only clouds the issue

and makes life painful.

Meditation is a valuable method for finding stillness.

Avoid useless activity.

Essay 47 from Conscience offers alternative perspectives on the meditative tradition, practiced throughout the ages around the globe.

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Essay 47. STILLNESS

Knowing where and how to settle the mind, one will become calm.

Having attained calmness, one will be undisturbed.

Having attained an undisturbed mind, one will have peace.

Having attained peace, one’s mind will respond correctly to all situations.

One who responds correctly to all situations will find the way.

— Confucius, Great Commentary. [emphasis added]

I suggest you begin with such a primary procedure as simply the practice of keeping physically still. . . In developing a calm control it is necessary to think calmness, for the body responds sensitively to the type of thoughts that pass through the mind. It is also true that the mind can be quieted by first making the body quiet. That is to say, a physical attitude can induce desired mental attitudes.” — Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Taoism advises us to try neither to win nor lose, to seek neither resolution nor impasse, but to study the rising and falling of the way as it moves through the field of our conflict. . . At all times, we search for the center, the fulcrum that creates balance. We stay within the eye of the hurricane. We look for the center, for that is where truth is to be found.” — Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict

THE FRONT

The root of “still” means immobile. By extension, the quality of stillness means being without sound; quiet, silent. It means not moving, stationary, at rest, motionless. It is characterized by little or no commotion or agitation, being tranquil, calm, and serene, like the still water of a lake.

The “where” Confucius refers to in the Great Commentary is the point of focus, called the ajna center, known as the third eye – Muldoon’s “eye of the hurricane.”

The “how” refers to meditative breathing and exercise practices which direct the flow of energy (chi). The intent is to circulate chi freely throughout the subtle nervous system and energy centers, thus linking and harmonizing the interrelated functions of mind and body.

Peace” refers to inner equilibrium, regardless of whether the external world is in harmony or conflict. “Correctly” refers to behavior in accord with natural and divine law. “The way” refers to the unfathomable Tao, the undivided source of creation.

In the Bible, we’re told, “Be still and know that I am God.” Similarly, in Asian traditions, meditators cultivate a quiet heart through physical stillness to experience the supreme ultimate, Tai Chi.

The practical methods outlined in Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras are helpful in this regard. This classic lists sequential stages of development, as well as obstacles to be avoided. When the beginner first starts the process of calming and disciplining the mind, temptations arise.

One, for example, is the quicksand of astral experience. Others include “siddhis,” or “powers” – sometimes offered by the “dark side of the force.” The beginner is warned to recognize the important difference between between the multitude of seductive astral voices and the quiet, still voice of conscience.

During initial stages of training, distracting voices are silenced. Discrimination is cultivated. helping meditators recognize the difference between fantasies, old mental impressions and genuine intuition. The goal is to penetrate the clouds of the middle astral/energy level of the Life Wheel in order to access the still, timeless center.

THE BACK

Information overload is the opposite of stillness. Visual and audio clutter pull attention in thousands of fragmenting directions, diminishing personal integration and mental cohesion. In extreme situations, the mind and nervous system shut down in self-defense, going catatonic to close out mind-shattering external influences.

Rigid tension, blocking out whatever was seems threatening or inconvenient, obstructs the relaxed, receptive attitude of genuine stillness. Those who ignore the still voice of inner calling and the good advice of true friends can’t receive help. Impervious minds, deaf ears and hard hearts are perversions of stillness.

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Healing the Past

I highly recommend Brain Longevity by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth. They explain how meditation-as-medicine (the “magic bullet”) opens windows to personal transformation. It’s relevant to my LinkedIn post on the nature of Time. So I’ll give you an example of how medical “matter over mind” leads to its compliment, “mind over matter.”

People get “stuck” when they constantly relive the traumas that occurred when they really didn’t have much control over their lives. Specifically, many people can’t “get over” their childhoods, mostly because they suffered painful events then that they really couldn’t control.

Many continuously revive past traumas by recreating similar situations throughout later adult life. However, rather than “acting out” painful memories, some choose to confront their fears under the safe supervision of a therapist. The goal is to recognize unconscious negative patterns and replace them with intentional, positive action.

Meditation, however, takes healing the past to a whole new level.

. . . mind and spirit can heal. . . the space between our thoughts – what the Asian healers “the sacred space” – is where most spirit-directed healing originates.

They continue:

When you meditate and elicit the relaxation response, your mind stops racing with thoughts, and there are longer spaces between your thoughts. The space between thoughts usually feels timeless.

The concept of a fourth time/space dimension is familiar from Chinese yoga as well as Einstein’s physics. It repeats in the 1913 classic Sadhana: The Realization of Life by Indian mystic, musician, poet, novelist, painter, teacher, political activist and Einstein contemporary Rabindranath Tagore.

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He wrote:

Yes, we must know that within us we have that where space and time cease to rule and where the links of evolution are merged in unity.

Here then, is the original article:

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ALTERING TIME

The pattern repeats. Three strands emerge and merge to show how the apparently abstract and universal can be importantly relevant in an immediately personal way.

The subject of Time isn’t new. I’ve approached it twice before, both “times” from a practical point of view. Since then, however, I’ve been looking at Time from another perspective to find out how Einstein, experienced sages past and present, as well as science fiction writers describe its nature. Their views are in some ways similar, but in others importantly different.

Above all, what does all this mean to every day people like you and me? And why does it matter NOW?

If matters a great deal, for example, whether what we regard as the past is immutable/unalterable as if cast in stone. Or if, instead, as some say, it is possible to alter – even heal – a fluid past and thereby create a more hopeful, alternative future. If this truly is possible, HOW can we – you and I – alter at least a few minuscule threads in the fabric of time?

Strand ONE. If we compare Einstein’s comments regarding time, it seems he was of two (or more) minds about it. In his last years, consistent with ancient scriptures, he concluded that past, present and future exist simultaneously. In his 1952 book, Relativity, he wrote:

It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional [time-space] existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.

This conclusion, however, is the objective overview of a reflective senior scientist. In contrast, and not necessarily a contradiction, he earlier described a highly subjective and situational aspect to perceived time:

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think its two hours. That’s relativity.

Strand TWO. In the context of writing an invited article for the international journal Prabuddha Bhrata, I was so bold as to speculate about the prophecized End of Times:

. . . We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times. . . . [Yet] Time does not exist for accomplished sages who dwell in the changeless center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. They experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues.

To the point, in an post to my personal website, I quoted a marvelously articulate and entertaining book, The Tao of Meditation:Way to Enlightenment, by Tsung Hwa Jou. Experienced practitioner as well as author of a balanced tripod of books on Tai Chi and the I Ching as well as meditation, Mr. Jou describes the difference between three- versus four-dimensional experiences of time in terms of tadpoles and frogs.

A mother frog, so the story goes, answered her babies’ questions about sunlight, trees and land by telling them they must wait until they mature, shed their tails and swim to the surface of the pond to experience the beyond for themselves:

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

With Einstein at the end of his years, Mr. Jou agrees that time cannot be measured in discrete units, but rather, is a unified a fabric, a continuum in another dimension complete unto itself. But whereas Einstein arrived at his conclusion through abstract deduction, Mr. Jou was an experienced practitioner.

In sum, he agrees with other accomplished meditators. The concept of beginnings and endings is the subjective perception of limited, three-dimensional experience. Without making claims, he modestly asks:

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

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

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

To repeat, as Einstein warned, “We shall require a substantially different manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Perhaps that manner of thinking requires the courageous willingness and competence to enter an entirely different dimension of experience — a Star Trek-like journey through inner rather than outer space. This requires not only acquiring the theoretical concept of four-dimensional time which Einstein held, but further, its immediate, direct experience as consistently reported by accomplished meditators.

To take this the next step, however, even immediate personal experience is not enough. For completion of the infinite loop, inner attainment then requires application of awareness to the outer world of experience, changing relationships and even institutional governance for the better. Sound like science fiction? For the most part, Yes. Which leads to:

Strand THREE. By coincidence (if there is such a thing), I was recently lent a science fiction book, Beth Benrobich’s The Time Roads. I chose to read it simply as a diversion.

Science fiction generally treats time travel as a hybrid of three- and four-dimensional experience. Past, present and future are understood to be happening simultaneously. However, the characters are only capable of being in one place “at a time.” Moving from a current time location to a different one requires machines.

The premise of this particular story was familiar from Amelia Pond’s dilemma in Dr. Who episodes, where dangerously expanding cracks in Time threaten to shatter and END it altogether. Scientists specializing in math and physics explore the mechanical possibility of traveling to either the past or future by moving along tears in the fabric of time. Political motives to alter history contaminate scientific inquiry. Madness, grotesque murders, bazaar explosions and scrambled perceptions of violent events follow. So far, nothing unusual to this genre.

But then, an unexpected surprise. (Spoiler alert!) A reconciliation occurs. A brief visit to the future allows the heroine to discover a plot in time to confront would-be traitors and redirect their plans. For reasons equally compassionate and astute, the red-haired Queen of Ēire extends mercy instead of retribution, and in so doing forges new pathways to a hopeful future. Long story short, in the end, the murders and violent upheavals never happened. Time lines are healed. In the process, both past and future are altered.

This surprise ending is a filled with fascinating implications, suggestive of radically important possibilities, directly relevant to the immediate discussion.

NOW, how do these strands weave together, and how might this information be usefully applied on a personal level? How can tadpole-like humans limited to three-dimensional consciousness bridge the illusory disconnects of time without the aid of high-tech machines?

I confess that, although familiar with political and fiction fascination for travel through both time and outer space, I find the very real inner possibilities closer to home much more interesting. For time as a quantifiable third-dimension experience remains plastic insofar as that, by changing subjective perceptions of the our personal past, we each have the possibility to heal that past and thereby alter the future.

In this, forgiveness is an important key. I know, for example, that whenever I hold a grudge, it distorts and even fractures the fluidity of present time. The baggage of fear, resentment and negative expectations layered onto an initial awful experience locks me in the time of the perceived injury. This seriously distorts my possible futures.

By letting go of injuries (naming them would only confirm and magnify the undesirable “reality” to be left behind), I can return my exclusive focus to the present moment and thereby expand the range of my possible positive futures.

Is this possible on larger scales of magnitude as well? I suspect so. Skeptics ridicule dire End of Times warnings. Repeatedly, disasters seem to loom, only to elude us as deadlines pass without catastrophe. But – just may be – white magicians are continuously working behind the scenes in the fourth dimension to heal the past- present-future as did the Queen of Ēire in science “fiction,” unrecognized and unrewarded except for the satisfaction of having ensured human survival – at least for a short while longer.

I think perhaps, just perhaps, every time every one of us forgives, releases the past, and alters our attitudes for the better, we are contributing, one person at a time, to an extension of the future we’ve been mercifully granted in which to improve our ways, thereby entering the fourth dimension before it’s too late and Einstein’s warning is fulfilled for those who fall between the cracks.

What do you think?

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