Category Archives: Yoga

How to Recognize the Difference Between Signal & Noise

towers in distress

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

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

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

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

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

I put it another way in Rethinking Survival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, how would this be accomplished?

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

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

Divide and conquer. Pit each group against the others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phoenix - sized

Hubba Hubba’s Riddle

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PPoC gold

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

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

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

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

Flux & Stability

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

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

APPLICATIONS

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

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

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

Brainwave Patterns

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

illumined minds

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPANSIONS

From here, things get even more interesting.

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

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

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

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

Tree of Life

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

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

Wheel2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caduceus

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

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

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

PSYCHOLOGY’S BLIND SPOT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the necessary precursor of world peace.

TWIN DANGERS

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

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

II-10 rev

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RETURN TO SIMPLICITY

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

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

monkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————-

Footnotes

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

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

3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. See “World Tree.”

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

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

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

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

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

What Do YOU Think?

confusion

I have an important question for you. Your thoughtful answer(s) are greatly appreciated!

Here’s the problem, wonderfully put in The Art of Growing Old – Aging with Grace by Marie De Hennezel:

. . . the worst is not inevitable. The keys to a fulfilling old age do exist, and it’s up to our generation to discover them and pass them on. It’s up to us, the baby boomers, to invent a new art of growing old – which is a paradox, as it means accepting the inevitablity of aging without becoming “old.”

She continues:

. . . we can grow old intelligently; we can accept what we cannot change, and look toward all that has yet to be discovered.

I totally agree. But there are issues. First, although she states the challenge (opportunity!) wonderfully and touches on important responses, she doesn’t really have The KEY.

Second, I do. It’s what The Phoenix Response is about.

Why is that an issue? That’s where YOU come in.

In 2014, I wrote about “The Key to Everything” in Rethinking Survival – from my point of view. For me, it explains “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth.” Looking back, I was clarifying my thoughts for me.

Now the burning question remains, How do I bridge the gap between where I stood then and where you are NOW? For me, The Key and it’s implications for ultimate survival are breath-taking. How could I present them better, in a way YOU can usefully relate to and enjoy?

Or is all this something you’d rather not think about? If so, Why not?

Please tell me. And while you’re at it, it would help to know your (relative) age, gender, and location along with any comments on what shapes your current needs.

So, what do YOU think about “The Key to Everything” and “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth?”

The KEY

The Key to Everything

My “take away” from yoga years was the parable of a young boy who asked his teacher, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known.” The implication to this question, put forth in the ancient Sanskrit Mandukya Upanishad,41 is that, with the right key, everything can be known.

It reminded me of the medieval masterpiece in the Prado Museum that grabbed my mind earlier, the one which showed me that it’s possible to see with a larger point of view, beyond time, where all history is like a static painting and everything is actually going on at the same time.

I ardently wanted that key to life and the universe. I asked myself this question over and over and compared everything I read to this standard.

Years ago, I put the question to a wise friend, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” His cryptic reply: “Look it up in the encyclopedia.”

“Huh?”

I parsed this one-liner for every hint and clue. What does this riddle in answer to a riddle mean? “Look upwards?” And “en-cyclo-pedia?” That which encircles (cyclo, cycles). Pedia meaning feet. The foundation? The fundamental base which supports the whole body. Perhaps the functional impetus of movement and action.

According to Webster’s dictionary, “encyclopedic” means “comprehensive in scope.” All-encompassing view. Aha! I got it!The Positive Paradigm is the answer to the riddle. Look there.

I’m now convinced that the Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ancient ultimate question. It’s the literal proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm resonates with the macro. I AM that I AM.

Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” In this context, the exhortation, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven” makes perfect sense.

Just as Einstein had the Unified Field Theory, but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

And tyrants want you to sleep on. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that you’re inherently okay. Because once you do, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness.

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

The Positive Paradigm is the viable basis upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear.

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up. Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for.

A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the Land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

Innocence

The Mystery of Death and Rebirth

The yin-yang mysteries of life and death are embedded within every in- and out-breath of our lives. They alternate, however unappreciated, inside each unit of time: from minute-to-minute, day-to-day and season-to-season. They repeat on every scale of magnitude, from the individual, to families, corporations, nations, whole civilizations and even planets.

Buddhist teachings reflect these mysteries, compatible with the Positive Wheel model and its central hub. For example, in Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death, Roshi Joan Halifax explores the transformative power of the dying process, advising readers to be still, listen and open to the unknown.

Indian film actor Rajini captures the Rethinking concept succinctly in his review: “This book helped me touch that divine part that we all share; it is the Deathless, eternal part of us that will never die because it was never born.”

“The strange thing about growing old,” Einstein wrote, “is that the intimate identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels transposed into infinity . . . ”

In the year before his death, commenting on the passing of colleague Michele Besso, Einstein wrote, “He has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. It means nothing.”

Making an observation that could have come directly from the Yoga Sutras, consistent with the Positive Paradigm, Einstein consoled Besso’s family, “For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn illusion.”

It is said that in the middle ages, Carmelite nuns retired to their cells each night to sleep inside the wooden casket in which, when they died, they would be buried. Taken out of context, this may seem morbid. But in fact, they had it right. They were aligning themselves with the patterns of nature, the better to ultimately survive them. For each in- and out-breath repeats the cycle of release and renewal. Each night that we sleep, we let go of bodily awareness and return refreshed the next day.

On every scale of magnitude, the pattern is the same. Paradoxically, survivors who have released unfounded fears of death are freed to live to the full, here and how.

Lao Tze’s work, which breathes I Ching wisdom, illumines this paradox. He describes the relationship between the Creator and creation in the first aphorism of the Tao Te Ching. From Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change:

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Figure II.8 shows what this vision looks like when the words are properly placed within the Positive Paradigm Wheel. To the uninitiated who live exclusively on the surface of the Wheel, the eternal may seem illusive. However, the inner vision is accomplished by daring to let go of the familiar surface to travel true home to the center, from which, completing the cycle, blessings then flow outward.

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(Reminiscent is God’s promise in Genesis, “Return unto me, and I return unto you.”)

In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:

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Here, Lao Tze’s sage not only repeats the vision of the hero’s journey. The methods of the journey are given — the meditative practice of stilling the mind and emptying the heart, followed by contemplation from the detached observer’s perspective. Lao Tze also details the consequences of failing to complete the life pattern: misfortune, pain and suffering.

Those who attain the source, however, (usually with the guidance of an enlightened teacher) achieve the overview which leads to acceptance, compassion and omniscience. Those who survive intact, merge with the eternal source and begin anew, like the New Adam and Christ in The New Testament. (See Figure II.9.)

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Preparation makes the difference, deciding who is most likely to survive coming transitions, emerging better than before through the experience. Here is the root of Positive Change, described in Hexagram 49 from The Common Sense Book of Change:

49. CHANGE. Day and night replace each other in endless cycles of CHANGE. The same natural law generates flux in human events. The unprepared see Change as a threat, but the well-prepared face the unknown calmly. They know that after degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows. Welcome the new. Avoid short-sighted fear.

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So, now it’s your Turn. Please tell me what YOU think about all this. And, thank You.

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The Tower of Babel Dilemma

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There was quite a while when I didn’t speak with people, other than to exchange empty greetings and conduct routine business. I was so disillusioned, attempts to communicate about anything of substance seemed futile.

During this time, working with the Book of Change kept me in touch with the deeper, better side of myself and the universe. As this work led me to reestablish meaningful connection with others, my aspirations turned towards seeking ways to share this life-saving gift with others.

If the best I had to offer humanity was the same book which had served to keep me whole, how could I persuade others of its value? Whether intentionally or not, what I have come to call “The Tower of Babel Dilemma” – the degeneration and fragmentation of the English language – is a formidable obstacle to effective communication. Glib labels and false assumptions associated with the book led to out-of-hand rejection. “Foreign.” “Ancient.” “Unscientific.” “Unchristian.” “Pagan.” “Superstitious.” “Difficult.”

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.

Tracking the meanings of words, I was fascinated to find that their devolution is systematic. In some cases, the same word actually means not only one thing, but its exact opposite as well.The “positive” word is an important example. Webster’s dictionary lists seventeen (!) contradictory uses.

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.

So I set about to build the all-important groundwork for communicating about The Book of Change. I needed to rescue the language – restore it from its debased status as a smoke screen spun to camouflage self-serving intent. To this end, I outlined chapters for The Yoga Dictionary: Answering the Tower of Babel Dilemma.

As a reminder, the biblical story describes defiant humanity’s fall from unity into confusion and separation:

In Genesis, a united humanity speaking a single language and migrating eastward, came to the land of Shinar שנער‎‎. There they wanted to build a city and a tower “tall enough to reach heaven;” God, however, disapproved of such behavior as disrespectful, scrambled their speech so they could no longer understand each other and scattered them throughout the world.

The Sixty-Four Essays found in Part Two of Conscience are an off-shoot of this project. They’re meant to be used, as is the Book of Change itself, to cultivate mindfulness. They bring attention to the complexity of basic words we too often take take for granted and the critical importance of establishing a shared common ground of understanding.

Three-Part Format

Like the 64 images of the I Ching, each of the 64 Essays in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide is self-contained – a miniature world complete. Each invites the reader to slow down and think carefully, taking the time to examine current beliefs and apply timeless wisdom to immediate personal experience.

There’s a method to the order of the Essays. Originally they were placed in a logical progression that seemed to tell a story. However, there’s no need to read them in sequential order. Using the Alphabetical Table of Contents is another option. If a particular subject stands out as immediately relevant or interesting, choose that one.

A three-part format gives each Essay structure-within-structure:

Part One. Though the Book of Change is dismissed as inaccessible and rarely taught in public schools, the number of influential thinkers whose ideas intuitively resonate with its timeless wisdom aren’t limited by either time or place. Quotes from the work of well-known figures serve as a springboard and bridge linking the familiar with the new.

Contrasting voices speaking to the same universal concerns highlight the yin-yang, old-new, East-West dynamic which everyone everywhere, deeper than deep, share in common.

Quotes from Chinese philosophers inspired by working directly with the I Ching include Confucius, Lao Tzu (The Tao Te Ching) and Sun Tzu (The Art of War).

Quotes from the Old and New Testament which resonate with I Ching wisdom include the Psalms of the musician/poet/ healer/warrior King David and the words of his direct descendant, Jesus Christ.

The Muslim tradition is represented, as are modern day medical practitioners, healers and teachers. Countless martial arts disciplines are based on I Ching science and philosophy, as are Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. Bruce Lee‘s Jeet Kune Do is one well-known example.

Also included are voices of Westerners in synch with I Ching wisdom, from Plato and Christopher Columbus to William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein; from Abraham Lincoln and Sir Winston Churchill to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela; from Norman Vincent Peale to Peter Drucker, Scott Peck, Steven Covey, Jim Loehr, Norman Cousins, and Tony Robbins.

Voices of creative women in harmony with I Ching wisdom include those of Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Naomi Judd and Oprah Winfrey.

Part Two. “The Front” examines a specific word’s meaning in depth, giving examples with emphasis on its use in I Ching context, elaborating on implications of the quotes. Quite often changes in meaning correlate with the evolutionary path of the chakra system, reflecting an increasing level of maturity and self-awareness.

Part Three. Just as the coins sometimes used to derive I Ching readings have two sides, every idea has its shadow, opposite side. Accordingly, a brief section called “The Back” balances The Front side of each Essay to round out the picture. It briefly describes each universal idea’s mirror opposite, as well as inversions and perversions.

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Revisiting these concepts at this particularly dangerous window of time would be a particularly helpful investment of energy and attention, as the gap between an historical election and projected inauguration stands in the balance.

Let those with an ear to hear and heart to understand take heed.

Keep It Together

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

Here’s the back story.

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

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

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

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

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

Well, let’s see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For in duality, as Solomon wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Yantra

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

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

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

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

 

As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?

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

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by Patricia E. West, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Universal Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distortions of the Universal Pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sages Transcend Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Can We Do NOW?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Unity and diversity are necessary compliments.

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

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

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

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

Herein lies another discussion, complete in itself.

Conclusion

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

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References

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

  2. Meditation as Medicine, 55

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

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

  5. Rethinking Survival, 104

  6. Meditation as Medicine, 64

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

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

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

  4. Two Sides of a Coin, 70

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