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Time to Choose: Life or Death

Today I revisited a blog called Choose Life II.  Back then — January of 2016   — its resonance with biblical verses was in the back my mind. Today, I will put them up front. They add yet another layer of meaning to the original post:

In Deuteronomy, Moses said to Israel:

15 Today I am giving you a choice. You can choose life and success or death and disaster. 16-18 I am commanding you to be loyal to the Lord, to live the way he has told you, and to obey his laws and teachings. You are about to cross the Jordan River and take the land that he is giving you. If you obey him, you will live and become successful and powerful.

19 Right now I call the sky and the earth to be witnesses that I am offering you this choice. Will you choose for the Lord to make you prosperous and give you a long life?

Three years later, I found the substance republished here just as timely and helpful as before. I hope you find it helpful too.

body-mind-spirit

Last fall’s mystery illness became a strict teacher, a blessing in disguise. It dramatically reinforced my awareness of the mutually dependent relationship between brain and gut long recognized by Asian healing traditions.

As modern medical research documents, mental distress manifests as a myriad of gut-spawned diseases – Crone’s disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and eventually cancers, to name but a few.

Conversely, the broad spectrum of diseases arising in the gut spawn a host of mental illnesses – not only depression, memory loss, dementia and schizophrenia, but autism and A.D.H.D, for example.

The hopeful application is this. Correctly steered, interventions on either side of the gut-psychology continuum positively affects the other. The relationship spans an infinite loop. So wherever one starts, given time and effort, it’s possible to complete the cycle, eventually restoring balance and good health.

Follow along if you like and I’ll connect the dots that led to this conclusion.

It started with asking WHY. Medical people failed to correctly diagnosis what went wrong. The ER physician (nice lady) jumped to the convenient assumption that, given my demographics, a lower tract infection was the problem. Antibiotics would make symptoms go away.

When the first round of drugs didn’t help, instead of questioning the assumption, the local nurse practitioner prescribed a battery of (expensive!) different antibiotics over following months – in increasingly stronger doses – each with its “interesting” side effects.

The duration of this “illness” was cause for some serious introspection on my part. Certainly the WHY had a mental origin. Stern teacher that LIFE is, I came to accept that I wasn’t going to be let off the hook until I came clean with myself. Release demanded self-honesty.

What I unburied was a death wish of sorts. It wasn’t that I wanted to be gone, so much as that negative suggestions from false friends absorbed over the years had worn me down to the point of critical mass.

I was increasingly motivated by dread of facing a future based on past experience. Subconsciously, I had succumbed to a death sentence suggested by people far too “nice” to kill me outright, but all too capable of driving me to slow suicide.

LIFE had sounded a warning alarm to bring me back to my Self.

Something had to change. It started with a stark decision. A conscious commitment to LIFE, whatever it takes. I wrote a confirming article, Choose Life.

Once recognition and the decision were made, LIFE responded most generously. The help and information needed to support my choice appeared from several directions.

The next step was for me to ask HOW do I return to health? And how do I change my attitudes and behavior to make my personal future different and better from the past?

Critically important information was found in Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I was instantly inspired to borrow the book from the library after reading a top-ranked review of the book which starts:

This book does a very clear job of defining emotional blackmail so you can begin to easily spot emotional blackmailers in your life. It then concludes with telling you specifically how to deal with emotional blackmail, that is, how to keep your energy, resources, and sometimes your very soul, from being stolen by them.

WOW. I could relate to that!

She writes, At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.

Forward explains:

Manipulators work hard to deny, obscure, camouflage, prettify, excuse, rationalize, disguise, HIDE what they are doing. They make it hard, if not impossible, to see HOW they’re manipulating us. They lay down a thick FOG that obscures their actions.

FOG is an acronym that stands for the psychological warfare tactics used against targets: Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

This information is reinforced by Harriet Braiker in Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life:

People who manipulate are often so hard to spot. They become your friend and then find ways to have their way with you. . .

A reviewer summarizes:

You can’t reason with a manipulator because of their insecurities but you can reason with your own insecurities; and best of all are the practical ways you can change your behavior to take back the power.

This book teaches you to get up, learn what you did wrong and what you should have done, and even better how not to repeat the same mistakes.

There’s also a warning given from experience:

I’ve put an end to so much manipulation in my life. It takes the wind right out of the manipulator’s sails. The book is right…the manipulator will blow really hard, so prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.

choose life

Another fortunate form of help followed from my decision to seek medical advice elsewhere. An intern at the UW kindly saw me on short notice. Intrigued by my situation, she brought in her mentor. Together, after reviewing the history of lab results, they confirmed that the initial diagnosis wasn’t right. The medications hurt more than helped.

Although I knew enough to eat yogurt to offset the effect of antibiotics, to repair the damage done by antibiotics they recommended taking pharmaceutical probiotics as well. This opened the door to a whole new world of science and healing.

Probiotics for Dummies, for example, includes a useful section on the brain-gut connection.

Medical researchers have long known that stress depresses immune function, but only recently have they linked stress to changes in gut bacteria.

The medical community’s interest in probiotics was initially sparked by the seminal work on GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) published by researcher Natasha Campbell-McBride.

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression and Schizophrenia, she notes that Western medicine has long acknowledged the brain-gut connection:

The father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (17-45-1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Interestingly, she uses the same word, FOG, when in describing the mental-emotional relief experienced as the intestines heal by using probiotics to restore balance. “It is as if the fog lifts.” Ahh!

But, like cutting through the psychological FOG, cleaning out the gut doesn’t happen over night, or without difficulties. Campbell-McBride warns things often seem to get worse before they get better. Detox is a necessary but challenging middle step along the road that leads from here and there. So, again, “prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.”

There are important parallels between the so-called Leaky Gut Syndrome and psychological distress. In the first case, weakened intestines become permeable. Toxins and undigested food leak out and are circulated by the blood stream throughout the entire body, poisoning other internal organs – including the brain.

Similarly, psychological defenses can also be worn down and compromised, sometimes due to “second-hand stress.” In this case, when protective borders between self and others break down, toxic influences from outside undermine mental-emotional balance. Others’ fears, rage and general unhappiness poison the unprotected mind. Toxic people preoccupied with their own wants and personal dramas, even when unintentionally, do great harm.

Interestingly, the GAPS/probiotics approach is highly compatible with the wisdom of Asian healers. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, carefully maps the gut-psychology connection. They describe the dynamics of what is called “the abdominal brain.” The following illustration captures thousands of years of wisdom in a single picture.

0 012316

According to Mantak Chia, when the intestine becomes congested, it cannot perform its physiological functions. Though you may eat well, you may be under nourished.

As he explains, each of the organs is correlated with one of the five elements. In turn, each is associated with specific positive or negative emotions:

All negative emotions are expressed in the small intestine by contraction and circumvolutions, Anger contracts the right side of the intestine near the liver. Worry affects the upper left side near the spleen. Impatience and anxiety affect the top. Sadness affects both lower lateral sides. Fear affects the deeper and lower abdominal areas.

As the I Ching instructs, the same dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude, from cellular to universal. So many hints from sciences both ancient and modern could be taken in many directions. They apply to relationships on a personal level, to community dynamics, and governance. But those will be subject of posts yet to follow.

For starters, I’ll offer just one hint.

Campbell-McBride uses the image of a medieval fortress under attack to describe the breakdown of  defenses that result in auto-immune diseases. It parallels the Interleukin II research described earlier, where the grad students saw their research on pediatric leukemia in terms of a war between good and evil.

When confusions in gut mirror confusions of the mind – when the difference between friend and enemy is fogged — anabolic (building up) and catabolic (breaking down) functions are thrown off balance. The body  is fooled into turning against itself in self-destructive ways.

In conclusion, however, a key component overlooked in the popular gut-psychology formula must be noted. Spirit — that third, underlying, unifying and overriding component of the e = mc2 equation – plays a deciding role in the outcome of the LIFE versus death struggle to survive.

It is said, “The mind will play any tune you tell it to play.”

choose wisely

So – who is it that quietly instructs the mind which tune to choose?

LIFE itself, the soul’s advocate, is the tie-breaker that tips the balance.

Here, I allow Mantak Chia to have the final word. He describes the discipline of cultivating chi – the subtle energy that links mind and body — and the end goal of the path to which all endeavors ultimately lead: 

  • If one wishes to be a healer, success depends upon the ability to channel energy through the hands.
  • If one wishes to be an athlete, success depends upon the ability to convert energy into strength and endurance.
  • If one wishes to be free of negative influences, success depends upon the ability to transform negative energy into positive energy.
  • One who seeks enlightenment is searching for the highest source of all energy.

I write in hopes that you will find this saga helpful. If you relate, I invite you to apply your imagination and follow wherever the subject leads you.

To your health!

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Use the CSBOC To Increase Self-Awareness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

SAMPLE READING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My bottom line looks like this:

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___X

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

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

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Line 2    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

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

Place Throws Values Sum Line

Top       T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 5   T H H 1 2 2 5 _______

Line 4    T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 3     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Line 2     T T H 1 1 2 4 ___ ___

Bottom  H H H 2 2 2 6 ___ ___ X

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the CSBOC Came To Be

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

wondering face

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

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

Discourse sized

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

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

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

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

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

Angel Calling

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

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

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

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

ICgraph

I wrote about the origins of CSBOC in Rethinking Survival:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In sum, its 64 permutations map a progression of repetitive, cyclical change.

Tai Chi Tu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat and Sarge

Finally, you might ask, why do I still use a photo dating from the mid-1980s in the CSBOC and as my website gravatar?

That picture was taken during an interview for an article published in the Wisconsin State Journal. So it serves as a poor-man’s copyright, dating the earliest publication of the Life Wheel concept.

Just as importantly, as concluded on the “New Photos” page:

Though I don’t look like the 33 year-old me on the outside any more, I’m still the same person I’ve always been on the inside. My gravatar photo was taken by a professional photographer while I was fully engaged in talking with a reporter about a subject dear to my heart. He captured that passion. I identify with the feelings projected in that photo. It’s the true me. So, for now, I will keep it as my avatar.

listen with the heart

So, that’s the story behind the CSBOC. Any comments? Questions? Your feedback is most welcome.

Psychology’s Blind Spot

In his free-association-style Bible Series lecture on Jacob’s Ladder, JBP pulled just about everything out of his hat except the one relevant personal experience he could have brought to bear on Jacob’s dream. Let me tell you what I mean.

What Dr. Peterson did bring to bear on the Old Testament story – the one that inspired the rock song “Highway to Heaven”included the psychological sufferings of Freud, Jung and even Darwin. He drew on his favorite Russian writers — Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn, the Kwakwaka’wakw people (he’s an initiate) and a potlatch he attended, as well as research on administering hallucinogenic mushrooms to dying patients to induce mystical experience. The implication: Jacob’s vision might have been a chemically induced shamanic journey.

Wow. For me, that’s more than quite a stretch.

Here’s the experience I hoped he would focused on. It grabbed my attention as a valid confirmation of Eastern meditation traditions. Sadly, just as Einstein missed the unified theory implicit in his famous formula, Dr. Peterson missed the significance of the glimpse he’d been given. He persistently by-passes it, which puzzles and frustrates me. Hard to say whether the problem is cultural bias, wariness of “new age” distortions, deliberate denseness, or “professional” qualms.

Jupiter

I’m drawing from memory of a video interview, so the details may not be perfect. In any case, the substance is correct. The interviewer asked Dr. Peterson about the mystic experience he had while listening to classical music. I’m pretty sure it was Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.

In the Greek pantheon, Jupiter was king of the gods. He ruled over the affairs of gods and men from his throne on Olympus, akin to the way God is said to reign in heaven.

Dr. Peterson said in his mind, it was as if the gates of heaven opened up before him.

heaven opening.jpg

The imagery of a stairway leading to heaven is universal and no coincidence. It bears an unmistakable resemblance to the ladder of Joseph’s dream.

Blake’s artistic depiction of the ladder below was included in the lecture. JBP pointed out that the spiral effect is suggestive of the DNA helix. The transformative implications are implicit.

blake JL

The best way he could describe his personal experience of the heavens opening, he said, was that it seemed like a lotus flower unfolding. I instantly thought of the crown chakra lotus.

crown lotus

JBP’s finest moment (from my point of view) came in his answer to the last question of the lecture’s Q & A session. He came very close to touching on the tradition which explains his mystical experience as well as Jacob’s dream. Almost.

People who are interested in grand narratives have pointed out that there’s a set of common mythological themes across many cultures. They can be the same on one level, different on another. But humanity coalesces on what’s the same over a reasonable period of time.

. . . there’s this constant force [literally, energy structure] that makes our ethical presuppositions converge. And then that’s automatically expressed in those stories.

In one way, he is correct. But in another, significant way, not. Stories take on the images of each specific culture. In that way they are different. What they share in common, however, is not myth or archetype but SCIENCE, meaning “with knowledge.” Jacob’s ladder is certainly a striking example.

Lacking this universal, underlying science, humanity cannot be properly, completely understood. Psychologies remain incomplete and inaccurate. They have grievous blind spots.

Put another way, Huston Smith, premier comparative religion teacher and devout practitioner of what he calls “timeless wisdom,” wrote:

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

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

This “invisible geometry” is literally the snake-like intersections of energy path ways criss-crossing and intersecting at the spine. They link the seven centers in a pattern strikingly similar to the DNA double helix represented in the Caduceus, the healing staff of the messenger god Mercury, familiar now as the symbol of modern medicine.

In Yes, AND . . . I underscored that chakras are NOT merely myths or stories.

Ancient Himalayan sages mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras (“wheels).” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment.

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

Chakras as energetic concept are key to the process of psychological transformation. I address the middle, e = mc2 level of the universal Life Wheel in The Gatekeeper and the consequences of psychology’s blind spot in Paradigms are a Matter of Life or Death. In The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street, I put Jacob’s Ladder in this larger context.

Bottom line: mystical experiences and genuine psychological transformation are not accomplished by mental speculation or even acts of sheer will power. They occur in the deeper layers of the Life Wheel which have, disastrously, been made taboo in Western civilizations. Einstein called the blind spot “the fateful fear of metaphysics.” The fateful-fear of self-awareness comes in its train, sometimes justified, most often times NOT.

Descriptions of heaven’s gates opening and unfolding lotus flowers come straight out of the ancient Vedas. The seventh chakra located above the head is described as a Thousand Petaled Lotus. To mystic vision, it looks something like this:

crown chakra x 4

Chakras, again, are “spinning wheels of light.” Seven basic ones are aligned along the human spine. In ascending order, each is associated with an increasingly more sophisticated developmental stage, state of consciousness and related psychological issues. Here is a brief description of the crown chakra:

The 7th or crown chakra is located at the top of the head and is related to the induction of spiritual energy into the body. Said to control every aspect of the body and mind, it is associated with full enlightenment and union with God. This chakra is normally not fully opened in most humans, although pictures of saints and other spiritual beings with”halos” are depictions of activated crown chakras.

Here’s a picture of all seven, putting the heavenly ruling seventh center in context:

chakras

In the creative process, the non-physical precedes and drives the physical. Western psychologists therefore would benefit greatly from understanding the correlations of each subtle energetic center with resultant mental and biological conditions. Put the other way, lacking this foundation, their understanding of human nature is seriously skewed.

The other six are briefly described:

  • The 1st or root chakra, located at the base of the spine, is involved with the physical process of elimination and the organs that work with that function. It is the chakra associated with the emotional energy of survival, as well as with grounding to the physical plane.
  • The 2nd or sacral chakra is located about three inches below the navel. This chakra corresponds to sexual energy and the reproductive organs. It is also associated with creativity and intrinsic life force.
  • The 3rd or solar-plexus chakra is located at the navel and several inches above. Its energy is associated to digestion and the digestive organs, personal power, and self mastery.
  • The 4th or heart chakra it located in the center of the chest. On the physical level, it works with the lungs and heart. On the emotional level, it works with the energy of compassion and love.
  • The 5th or throat chakra is located in the throat area, at the base of the neck. It is the chakra that is involved with the process of communication, speech, and hearing. The ears are associated with this chakra, as well as the vocal apparatus.
  • The 6th or brow chakra is located in the center of the forehead, between and slightly above the eyes. Often called “the third eye,” it is associated with imagination and psychic abilities, along with mental activity and brain function.

We are not completely out of tune with the effects of chakras, although due to taboos on conscious awareness, we experience them for the most part subliminally, sometimes at the hands of skillful, unscrupulous exploiters.

For one thing, differences amongst therapeutic approaches is proof of differences in chakra orientation. A lateral view of chakras aligned along the spinal column reflects the qualitative differences in focus (Dr. Peterson calls them temperaments) amongst well-known  psychologists.

invisible geometry sized

In addition, as described earlier:

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

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

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

closing

JBP’s Jacob’s Ladder Part I lecture compels two spin-off blogs. One will expand on the effects music has on health on each of the seven levels. Being composed of vibrations, it resonates with and activates the chakras, for better or worse. The other will address literary criticism, which Western civilization has backwards.

 

 

JBP at His Best

On September 30th, I found two particularly endearing tweets posted by JB Peterson Quotes. I thought, I owe him a post showing him at his very best.

The first one shows Dr. Peterson outdoors, sun shining on his brow, hugging smiling students from a surrounding crowd. There’s actually a broad grin on his face! It made me want to smile back at him.

The quote assigned to this photo: “Make at least one thing better every single place you go” – JBP

jbp w friends

The second shows Dr. Peterson gesturing in the professor mode, pronouncing a noble set of maxims. My first response: “What a great heart this man possesses!” It warmed my heart.

jbp Stumble Forward

But then, my rational mind took over.

After the warm fuzzy feelings he stimulates subside, clarity arises. What’s left is this: At each step, his reasoning is based on false assumptions. More fundamentally, the paradigm he’s operating on is incomplete and incorrect.

Life is suffering” is what Mephistopheles (Satan) argues to Faust. This is pure irony, of course, because Satan’s lies are the primary cause of human suffering.

Christ’s example taught us quite the opposite, that Life is Eternal. Suffering exists on the ephemeral surface of the Life Wheel, in large part due to poor decisions based on false beliefs that lead to catastrophic mistakes. Suffering does not exist at the unchanging Center of the Wheel. I’ve dedicated an entire post, Life is Eternal, to support this alternative premise, from which very different results follow.

Further, however obscured by deception, humans are made in the image of God. They suffer terribly because they have forgotten who they truly are and don’t know how to re-member what they sense they’ve lost and dearly long to recover. Insufficiency is a surface illusion, though a very persistent one. (In the context of mortality, Einstein said the thing about time.)

A great deal of suffering comes from ignorant fear of death. Many have been deceived into doubting the existence of the immortal structure that supports the mortal frame. Sages act on the belief that the consequences of their actions inevitably return. They know of a certainty that upon physical death the immortal part continues on to complete whatever has been left unfinished in future life cycles. So they behave very differently from those who mistakenly believe they can get away with murder or that suicide puts an end to suffering forever.

So what’s the problem? Certainly it’s not lack of intelligence or sincerity. Dr. Peterson is looking for Love and Truth using the limited tool of reason to fathom what exceeds and transcends it.

The rational mind cannot fathom or encompass super-rational realms. Further, he’s looking in the wrong place, on the surface. According to an old saying, “It is futile to hunt for deer in a forest in which none dwell.” Even religions as codified, institutionalized teachings, though speaking to direct experience of the Center, partake of surface limitations.

Nor is truth to be found in the duality of human relationships. That’s an especially hard sell. Not very likely. Actually, it’s the other way around. To the extent individuals align with the Center, the more wisdom, compassion and competence they bring to their relationships. If more of us aligned our personal lives with the Center, increasing numbers would find ways to overcome interpersonal conflicts.

Nor do we need to “stumble” towards the Kingdom of God. As Christ confirmed, the Kingdom of God is already present. It rests within. Getting there, for most of us, however, requires a leap of faith.

He says, “To learn is to die voluntarily and to be born again, in great ways and small.” This is the Phoenix response, of which I’ve written at length.

Nor is any of this a quibble, because a great many people right now are influenced by Dr. Peterson’s logic.

book header bird

I felt compelled to address this quote one word at a time.

SUFFERING. To repeat, stating categorically that life is suffering is misleading. While Buddhists equate human experience with suffering, they also teach that the root of suffering is IGNORANCE. And the primary way to ameliorate suffering is to dispel ignorance. In this case, false, incomplete and incorrect paradigms perpetuate ignorance and generate suffering. As he has also made clear, there’s a direct correlation between beliefs and outcomes.

Whereas Dr. Peterson looks to Goethe’s Faust to explain suffering, I prefer the Old Testament:

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

Here’s the secret to be gleaned from this story, illumined by the infinity symbol that links the levels of the Life Wheel. Job says, “The Lord giventh.” This is the outward, materializing movement from center to surface of the Wheel. “And The Lord taketh away.” This is the receding path of return to center. In all, “Blessed be the NAME of the Lord.” The Logos.

LOVE. “Love,” Dr, Peterson says, “is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.” To answer that one, I had to write an entire post to reply, Yes. And much more:

[Love] can be an expression of one’s affection. It can mean a feeling of brotherhood and good will towards other people.

It can be strong liking for or interest in something (a love of music). It’s a strong, usually passionate affection, partly based on sexual attraction.

In theology, love refers to God’s tender regard for mankind, or mankind’s desire for God as the supreme good. Love is the ultimate mystery. It sparks and keeps the life process going, more to be accepted and honored than psychoanalyzed.

Further,

Plato described seven stages of love. Each is a rung on an evolutionary ladder which leads from a child’s love for parents, to erotic love, to friendship, and eventually the pinnacle of divine connection. These seven steps correlate exactly with the hierarchal seven energy centers of yoga anatomy.

Plato traces the attraction between males and females to jealous gods who split a complete, content person in half at the navel. Ever since, each part has chased after the other, longing to become whole again – another yogic priority.

Tai Chi Tu

Next, he says,”TRUTH it the handmaiden of love. Dialogue is the Pathway of Truth.”

WOW. What a partial truth. Again, it takes another post to even come close to addressing it.

I say, “Dialogue in good faith may be the instrument of coming to common understanding between individuals and amongst groups. But Truth has many levels.

So, truth meaning what? Facts? Data? Axiomatic laws of nature? Absolutes? All of the above.

What does it mean to tell the truth? About what one is doing? Thinking? Feeling? Believing? Layers and levels of truth. How do they hang together?

I even supplied a picture, put together early on in my blogging years before I’d acquired photo-shopping skills:

TruthLevels021713

A Rare Opportunity

Immediately after posting Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless, a twitter message from JBP came to my attention. He will be speaking in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday, November 16th. Small world. This happens to be a day when I’m already scheduled to be in town.

The event will take place on the UW-Madison campus in the building where I worked two years as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Administration. My office on the eleventh floor was so high above ground that I could watch incoming weather changes in the sky, far above the railroad tracks and coal yard below.

Since meeting face to face is the only way to answer inevitable questions on both sides, fate seems to be offering us an unlikely and rare opportunity.

Certainly he has many reasons to avoid it. But I have a hunch the best part of him will push past excuses. The opportunity may seem strange, uncomfortable and inconvenient. But on the opposite side of the coin, uncommonly valuable gifts might emerge from a “. . . dialogue . . . so that we can all humbly learn . . .”

Angel Calling

Love IS . . .

Dr. Jordan Peterson says, “Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.”

I say, “Yes . . and much, much more.”

Here’s what I mean:

Essay 38. LOVE

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Moses, Deuteronomy 6:4-5

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. . .This is my commandment. That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  — Jesus Christ in St. John, The New Testament

In Taoism, we say the heart is the seat of love, compassion, joy and happiness. This is what people are looking for. But they are looking outside. We don’t know that joy and happiness is seated INSIDE our heart. We’re running around the whole world. Going to the amusement park, night club, theaters, all kinds of places in search of happiness, peace, joy. But the peace, joy and happiness are within us. – — Mantak Chia, The Inner Smile

THE FRONT

Roots of love mean to be fond, or to desire. Webster’s first definition is a deep and tender feeling of affection for, or attachment to. It can be an expression of one’s affection. It can mean a feeling of brotherhood and good will towards other people.

It can be strong liking for or interest in something (a love of music). It’s a strong, usually passionate affection, partly based on sexual attraction. In theology, love refers to God’s tender regard for mankind, or mankind’s desire for God as the supreme good. Love is the ultimate mystery. It sparks and keeps the life process going, more to be accepted and honored than psychoanalyzed.

Plato described seven stages of love. Each is a rung on an evolutionary ladder which leads from a child’s love for parents, to erotic love, to friendship, and eventually the pinnacle of divine connection. These seven steps correlate exactly with the hierarchal seven energy centers of yoga anatomy.

Plato traces the attraction between males and females to jealous gods who split a complete, content person in half at the navel. Ever since, each part has chased after the other, longing to become whole again – another yogic priority.

Tai Chi Tu - sized

Unfortunately, rather than seeking to integrate male and female energies internally, most Westerners persist in externalizing this desire for re-union. In contrast, I Ching-related healing arts provide methods for restoring inner wholeness, attaining the ultimate level of Platonic love.

The new law Christ taught fulfills the law of Moses. Further, the Old Testament command to unify the three levels of soul, heart and might into a single-minded love of One God resonates with I Ching-related practices which coordinate upper, middle and lower energy centers.

Practical methods give people of every faith practical ways to actualizing their religious ideals. Put another way, only by integrating and harmonizing the levels of mind, body and emotions can love of God be complete or the universal law fulfilled.

Healing gender, race and religious splits calls for fluency in the complete spectrum of love. Even in grimmest times, love is the omnipresent, underlying bedrock. In Rocky IV, for example, Sylvester Stallione scripted an East-West reconciliation of opposite cultures.

A nature-trained David not only defeats a technology-mutant Goliath with love and relentless grit. He wins the hearts of a hostile crowd. His victory message to international TV viewers: “If I can change, and you can change, we all can change.”

Those who turn love into a commodity exploit what people out of touch with their true selves crave most. There’s a push-pull between those greedy to get what they’ve been fooled into thinking they lack and those who profit from this illusion.

False prophets profit from persuading followers that they’re incomplete and not-okay. Further, there’s a life-changing product that can fix them. If they buy it, do whatever they’re told, turn over their power and money, they’ll be transformed and made okay. Sages grounded in reality, however, know better.

The question then arises, what happens when one is focused and centered. Does all interest in the external world and motive to accomplish cease?

Actually, it’s the opposite. As one becomes more secure from within, fear-built barriers come down. New, more authentic motives arise to replace artificial desires. As one pares away the illusion of need, the native impulse to serve with generous compassion arises.

THE BACK

In duality, hate is the opposite of love. While love grows upwards from childish attachment through degrees of maturity to altruism, hate descends to the depths of destruction. It obliterates connections, shatters hope, and in the end destroys those it consumes.

Fear-based insecurities generate a host of love perversions. Possessiveness, envy, jealousy and rivalry are variations on the theme of illusory insufficiency. In all cases, it’s the result of looking on the outside for what can neither be bought nor stolen, for the completion of Higher Love is the timeless, abiding state of one’s innermost life.

Phoenix - sized

In this context, I say to the definition of Love as “the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated” . . YES. With this modifier: Love is an absolute. In duality it manifests in a multitude of ephemeral desires, altruism being one of the highest.

Angel Calling

Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless

Jordan Peterson is drawing predictable backlash upon himself.

Though a clinical psychologist, he seems irrationally intent on attracting danger, while at the same time, logically, persuasively but incorrectly protesting that retreating from conflict when you shouldn’t “will cause self-annihilation.”

The qualifier is “when you shouldn’t.” Sun Tzu, reputed author of The Art of War, is keen on the importance of knowing when to make strategic retreats. There is, after all, a time and place for every purpose under heaven.

Second, what does he mean by “self-annihilation?” As righteous warriors grounded in Old Testament faith know full well, the true Self is indestructible. So also, savvy martial artists who are seeped in I Ching wisdom trust that true identity is neither enhanced nor diminished by the dance of advance and retreat.

So what’s really at stake in pressing forward against the tide, against the grain, against the laws of nature? Why vent rage, disgust and contempt at despicable, treacherous, venomous opponents? If he exposes and humiliates them, however much deserved, they will mirror his negativity back – in spades. It’s called backlash. Every action generates an opposite and equal reaction. It’s a natural law of psychological physics.

There are other, wiser ways to shift gears — address valid grievances on higher ground without attracting inevitable vengeful retaliation.

Persisting in upping the ante, provoking human snakes, smells like pride to me. Hubris, to be precise. The stuff of tragedy in the making.

I am afraid for this highly articulate but unin-formed professor.

Here’s an example of the inevitable retaliation and escalating conflict he has drawn not only into his own personal life, but also into his neighborhood — not to mention the media.

On October 26th, 2017, he posted on Twitter: Those who consider themselves my enemies have been posting these all around my home neighbourhood.

Here’s the poster:

jbp

I tweeted back, “What else would you expect?” Afterwards, I realized that without this explanation, the remark wouldn’t make sense. Hence, this blog of explanation.

Phoenix - sized

Please understand. I do not write to humiliate or diminish Dr. Peterson. Quite the opposite. He has become to the current generation of young people what John F. Kennedy was to mine. A symbol of nobility. Of hope.

I remember as painfully as if it were yesterday what it felt like to me and my friends when we heard the news that his brains had been splattered by an assassin’s bullet.

I dearly want that NOT to happen again.

I’m writing to warn Dr. Peterson. To suggest ways to protect himself, not only for his own sake and for his family’s, but for those to whom he has become a hero – who would be shattered were he to come to harm.

To plead with him to rethink the limited psychology which allows him to rationalize such intensely emotional, dangerous risk-taking.

I’m writing to urge him to add to his armory of psychologies the survival wisdom of Lao Tze and the foundational attitudes prescribed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Their teachings have guided the lives of truth seekers of thousands years. There must be something of value to recommend them, having withstood this test of time.

For example, Dr. Peterson knows not whereof he speaks when he says, “Don’t be harmless.

Is he intentionally rejecting ancient wisdom by this word choice, or is he unaware of the significance of this virtue in ancient lore?

Lao Tze, in fact, uses harmlessness as his defense. It’s a time-honored strategy.

Here is a famous drawing of Lao Tze riding his ox. He is credited with writing The Tao Te Ching, which next to the Bible is the world’s most often translated scripture. It shows the enlightened sage as so intricately merged with the beast which carries him that they appear inseparable. This image represents the higher mind which has tamed and harnessed the energy of emotions. He uses them to carry him towards his destination.

Lao Tze on Ox

I will give you a hint of this survival approach to dealing with snakes excerpted from Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change.

snake

Passage 50 reads, in part:

Those who live by the law are protected by it.

They travel the world without being injured.

In the midst of hostilities, no one knows where to attack.

Wild beasts sense no openings to penetrate.

Enemies find no weaknesses to exploit.

Armies can’t locate a fortress to assault.

This accords with the following section about harmlessness used as defense strategy.

Non-Violence

Taoists abhor selfish meddling and gratuitous violence as equally destructive to individuals, society and the environment.

In this, their thinking is in accord with the most fundamental tenet of the yoga. Non-violence is the virtue listed first among the commitments which constitute the fundamental basis of yoga disciplines. The attitude of harmlessness, or non-violence, is the prerequisite upon which all more advanced spiritual practices depend.

In Sutra 35 of Book II, Patanjali informs us that:

When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.

Similarly, in Passage 55 Lao Tze describes sages as being accomplished in the ways of the ancient yoga masters:

Sages who master the infant’s harmlessness:

don’t startle wasps or snakes, and therefore don’t get stung;

don’t threaten angry beasts, and therefore are left in peace;

don’t bother birds of prey and therefore aren’t carried off.

Lao Tze describes non-violence as the cornerstone of social stability. In Passage 68 he tells us:

The best leaders act with subtle dignity.

Successful warriors move with alert caution.

Enduring winners shun prideful vengeance.

Good employers quietly support their workers.

The way of non-violence is the supreme treasure of communities

founded in the eternal Tao.

book header bird

Again, let me emphasize that I wish Dr. Peterson all the best. May he live long and prosper. Let him put on the full armor of God for protection. Give him the wisdom to tame his righteous indignation with the discipline of a seasoned sage. Let him survive as a shining inspiration to those who have come to treasure his innate nobility.

As yet, for whatever reasons, he remains unresponsive. The Catch 22 seems to be that since I’m not a well-known public figure, he assumes he has no grounds for communication. In Don’t throw pearls before swine, he says, “You cannot talk to people who will not engage in a discussion.”

So be it. He says he had no desire to engage in the legislative issue that catapulted him to fame, but felt compelled to do so. In exactly the same way, I had no desire whatsoever to write these blogs, but felt deeply compelled to do so. Unfathomable but somehow irresistible.

Whatever the outcome, at least I’ve done my best. And having done so, leave the future in trust to God’s will.

Angel Calling