Category Archives: wisdom

Lao Tze & the I Ching Go Hand in Glove

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

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

SunriseSunrise

 

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

01 Creative Power

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

01

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

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

04

Chinese landscape

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

 

Advertisements

Hidden in Plain Sight

yoga image

Here, Yoda’s words of warning are wise, but by no means complete.

Pride, for example, is left out of the mix. So are ignorance and insecurity.

As to the cause and effects of suffering, I couldn’t tell you. It seems to me a bit like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Maybe they’re interactive, lined up like a wall of domino pieces.

In any case, we’re still stuck with the question of how to get clear of the whole mess, much less avoid it in the first place. Self-improvement teachers have a variety of different answers to offer.

But ideologues take a different tack. “Life is inherently unfair,” they argue. Placing the blame, for them, is easy: “Human systems are a fault.” Their solution? Easy. “Smash them.”

Never mind the inevitable consequences of playing out anger and hate: still more suffering. As the song goes, “’Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Werner von Braun.”

But today I’m focused on the biblical view of suffering.

Solomon summed it up. “To everything there is a season.” The pairs of opposites – gain and loss, pain and pleasure – are natural parts of life. Over the long term, they pretty much balance out.

Now, it’s easy to love life and believe in God when things are going your way. It’s when things get rough that trust, faith and commitments are put to the test. The proof of sincerity is steadfastness during the rough times.

The Book of Job is a story of steadfast faith. Hidden in plain sight, it echoes the key to overcoming suffering found throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Summing up my understanding of the story, the most righteous of men, Job, was equally prosperous in the world. But little by little, his assets failed, hitting ever closer and closer to home. In the balance, the greater the gifts the greater the opposite and equal responsibilities and related tests.

During this tail spin, he groans in misery. But never gives up the faith.

He dialogues with wordy critics who question the grounds of his faith. Misfortune, they say, is a sign that God has abandoned him, if there were such an entity to begin with. (Temptations of the ideologue are nothing new.)

Job’s steadfast response, as materials goods, family and finally physically health fall away is this:

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Long story short, for holding fast to faith, in God’s time, Job is restored. Health, family and goods are returned to him in even greater measure than before.

What is that Name of the Lord??? This is important. For Job is not the only one who calls on the name in trouble. David called upon this name in facing Goliath. It is key in Psalm 91, the warrior’s psalm. The Lord’s Prayer given by Christ as the right way to pray also invokes that name. It is a mystery well worth seeking to its heart.

The boy David draws his courage from the name in facing the monster Goliath:

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (1 Samuel 17:45)

From Psalm 91: 14-15

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

And the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ begins:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Now, that name is a sacred vehicle. It carries the faithful, quite literally, from surface through the trials and tests of the middle realm safe home. .. . and back again. Christ, like Job, traveled and returned to example the way open to all of us with the steadfast love, trust and faith to face up when called to sacrifice and answer, Thy will be done.

It looks like this:

JOB

Now there’s even more to the mystery. The letters the spell out Christ’s name and those of the Father’s are identical, except for one additional letter placed in the center:

The Hebrew letter Shin represents the ‘eternal flame’ and ‘root of fire’ . Inserted in the middle of the name for God, it gives us the Hebrew name for Jesus–YHSVH (Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey) –commonly pronounced “Yesh-u-ah”.

Saving the Best

Here’s a confirmation, from the December 3 page of Jesus Calling.

When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus help me!” In that instant, the battle becomes Mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.

My Name, properly used, has unlimited Power to bless and protect.

Angel Calling

If these words resonate with you, please share them to magnify the effect.

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goal of I Ching-based, Taoist training is to

release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning,

so that the mind is freed to return to its universal, pristine nature.

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools

to give them the practical edge,

help them meet the challenges of adult life

with intelligence and self-confidence.

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

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

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates,

the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships

isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards.

It requires looking inward.

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

If enough of them find common cause to band together,

they form alternative groups

which become the foundation of new communities.

Angel Calling

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

Respect vs OPOs

Namaste1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a picture worth a thousand words:

Respect in the Center

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

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

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

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

And another picture worth many words:

Namaste2

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

Essay 53. RESPECT

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

The Many Faces of Discrimination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further, in The Tower of Babel Dilemma I wrote:

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

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

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

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

globe bullet size

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

ESSAY 19. DISCRIMINATION

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discrim2.jpg

THE BACK

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

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

It’s Hard

I identify with Jack Kornfield‘s stories about the hard work between leaving everything behind and coming to a bit of self-knowledge and calm. In the 1960s, walking away from an unhappy childhood in a troubled American society, he sought out Asian teachers via the Peace Corps and apprenticed himself to Buddhist masters.

However, a warning maxim sums up what he quickly learned: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

When Kornfield – a senior founder of the mindfulness movement – sat in a far away jungle monastery practicing meditation, he didn’t experience bliss. Instead, what came forward was a powerful mix of painful emotions – buried disappointment, fear, rage, and hatred – triggered by memories of an abusive father which he’d failed to heal earlier.

His experience confirms another cautionary maxim. As I was warned early on, best not expect quick results from introspection. “It’s hard to remember you’re here to clean out the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.”

alligators

I wrote about my own personal challenges in Rethinking Survival:

Rethinking Survival is a hybrid. It’s part memoir. But far deeper, it’s the stuff of a paradigm shift. It voices the aspirations which everyone shares in common. But it also fingers the false assumptions that too often tie us in paralyzing knots. 

Inevitably, shadow issues to face were embedded within the wonderful opportunities I’ve been granted.

Each opportunity that presented itself contained within it an opposite and equal challenge to divest myself of limiting myths and misconceptions. Yogis compare the process to peeling away the layers of an onion. The Taoist I Ching scholar translated by Thomas Cleary described it as stripping away artificial veneers of cultural conditioning to restore the original True Self. Another source likens the process to the Herculean task of cleaning out the Aegean horse stables.

Further:

The same friend who told me about neatsies also reminded me about R.D. Laing’s Knots.2 Undetected assumptions wrapped in twisted logic can tie people in knots. They act like a life-draining cancer. False beliefs can drive people crazy, even to acts of criminal violence. We agreed about the dangers of living a lie, as if there were no options. This is how individuals (then dysfunctional families and nations) self-destruct.

One benefit of respecting the wisdom to be found in ancient cultures is this: Those who lived simply, close to nature, remind us of timeless truths which we as complicated urban dwellers have forgotten. Asians seeped for thousands of years in the I Ching understood much that harried moderns dearly need to recover.

For example, Confucius understood the primary importance of personal responsibility:

Confucius

Though stated in reverse order in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze also held that the world is necessarily changed one person at a time, and from the inside out:

18

With this in mind, I had mixed emotions about the recent American election. In Clarion Call I wrote:

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

Many people, due to a host of unfortunate circumstances, live primarily on the shallow surface of the Life Wheel. They haven’t the depth to recognize or respect what,  for whatever reason, they’ve forgotten. Worse, some, unintentionally or otherwise, live at odds with inner truth. They will continue to spin, distort and attempt to delegitimize DJT’s victory . . .

They will definitely stir up unnecessary conflict to destabilize the world, as if to prevent his best intentions from coming True.

Today, looking back with the advantage of hindsight, I shake my head. What a noble but sadly mistaken approach, to focus on ending corruption on a national scale, while individual hearts, families, communities and states are, for the most part, alligator-infested swamps.

Current events reinforce earlier my conclusion:

Changing the world, especially in dangerous times, is an overwhelming prospect. It’s also unnecessary. No matter how much is going wrong “out there,” the manageable unit that’s one’s first responsibility to change is the one closest to home: oneself.

Our best hope is, still yet, to think small. Begin with one’s self.

Yes, taming one’s inner alligators is hard work. Very hard. But it’s infinitely worth it.

climbing alligator