Psychology’s Blind Spot

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

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

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

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

Jupiter

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

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

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

heaven opening.jpg

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

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

blake JL

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

crown lotus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

crown chakra x 4

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

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

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

chakras

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

The other six are briefly described:

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

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

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

invisible geometry sized

In addition, as described earlier:

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

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

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

closing

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

 

 

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JBP at His Best

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

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

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

jbp w friends

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

jbp Stumble Forward

But then, my rational mind took over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

book header bird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further,

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

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

Tai Chi Tu

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

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

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

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

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

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

TruthLevels021713

A Rare Opportunity

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

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

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

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

Angel Calling

Life is Eternal

In JBP at his best, I wrote A great deal of suffering comes from ignorant fear of death. Many have been deceived into doubting the existence of the immortal structure that supports the mortal frame.”

Here, due to time constraints, it must suffice to expand on my meaning by drawing from earlier work. In Contemplation of Mortality, I quoted from Essay 2 on DEATH.

Dying patients went through the five stages, but then after “we have done all the work we were sent to Earth to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly,” and . . . well, then a person had the greatest experience of his life. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, The Wheel of Life

I continue:

Webster’s definition of death is the act or fact of dying — the permanent ending of all life in a person, animal or plant. Personified, death is pictured as the grim reaper, a hunch-backed, black-robed skeleton wielding a scythe. The term refers to extinction, as in the death of hope.

These definitions, however, represent an extreme cultural bias with important effects on behavior. They reflect the materialistic belief that the physical is all there is. When the body fails, there is nothing else. There is no essence which survives to travel on.

The I Ching embodies a more inclusive, comprehensive view. Like the learned amongst most ancient cultures, Chinese sages regarded birth and death as natural changes, complementary stages of an ongoing cyclical life process.

Sages continue to regard death not as extinction, but the culmination of a winter season most wisely spent preparing for the coming spring. They teach that a soul, having learned the lessons and completed the work of one life cycle, separates from its used up shell. The shell, once the spirit moves on, collapses. The life essence, however, simply migrates, possibly to take on another form.

Further:

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

book header bird

Also to the point are the following sections from Rethinking Survival. The first is “Higher Love, Unity and Inclusiveness.” The other is “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth.”

Higher Love, Unity and Inclusiveness

The Positive Paradigm Wheel is the image of wholeness and completion: Higher Love. It pictures the inclusiveness which Campbell and Einstein believed essential to planetary survival. All parts are present, each in right relationship to the others. No part of life’s experience is lacking. No part is distorted or out of place.

This is the harmonious unity each one of us, by birthright, has the potential to experience. Poets describe the joining of the center with the surface as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Given today’s paradigm malfunctions, the bliss of Higher Love seems like a distant dream. Yet we each have memories, however distant, mirrored in our art and sacred symbols. The mandalas and stained glass church windows are just a few of the countless examples. We each have persistent longings for “home” and romance that remind of us of what’s possible.

These longings are captured in the often quoted “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” The 19th century English poet William Wordsworth lamented the socialization process that represses early awareness of divine origin:

Wordsworth

Like Wordsworth,  Einstein had glimpses, notably at the beginning and at the very end of his life. As chronicled by Walter Isaacson:

The great awakening that happen in childhood are usually lost to memory. But for Einstein, an experience occurred when he was 4 or 5 that would alter his life and be etched forever in his mind:

The catalyst of this lasting impression was a compass his father gave him. He remembered trembling and growing cold in excitement, awed by the “mysterious powers” of a magnetic needle that behaved as if influenced by a hidden force field. As he recalled later, “Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”

inner-compass-sized

At about the same time, his mother introduced to him to music. It awakened awe before the magic and mystery of nature. “Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe itself,” Einstein wrote.

For him, “love [of music] is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

Phoenix - sized

The Mystery of Death and Rebirth

The yin-yang mysteries of life and death apply to experience on every level, from the individual, to families, nations and even planets.

. . . “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, he 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 passage of the Tao Te Ching. From Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change:

Unmanifest and manifest are two sides of a coin, seamlessly joined, though apparently opposite.

Entering this paradox is the beginning of magic.

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 necessary to accomplish goals is found only by daring to let go of the familiar surface to travel true home to the center from which blessings then flow outward.

In the words of the God of Moses, “Return unto me, and I return unto you.”

In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:

16

Here, the sage not only repeats the vision of the hero’s journey. He also describes the methods of the journey — the meditative practice of stilling the mind and emptying the heart, followed by contemplation from the detached observer’s perspective. He also describes the consequences of failing to complete the life pattern and the blessings of succeeding.

The ignorant, through inattention and willfulness, generate 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.

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:

I Ching # 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.

Angel Calling

Truth IS . . .

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson says, “Truth is the handmaiden of love. Dialogue is the pathway to truth.”

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

TruthLevels021713

At the center of the Life Wheel, Truth partakes of the absolute, unchanging source. But ephemeral manifestations of truth depend upon the focus and direction of travel – the inward or outward pathway – within the Life Wheel.

These distinctions serve to solve much confusion. Understanding them simplifies and clarifies experience.

“Hard evidence” partakes of facts and data verifiable by standard research methods. It lives on the ephemeral surface of the Wheel.

The truth of subjective opinions and feelings/emotions is also subject to continuous change. They reside at the middle level.

Absolute, unchanging Truth rests within the innermost center of the Life Wheel. Several bible study blogs elaborate on Truth at this level:

If we ever hope to determine if there is such a thing as truth apart from cultural and personal preferences, we must acknowledge that we are then aiming to discover something greater than ourselves, something that transcends culture and individual inclinations.  To do this is to look beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves.  In essence, it means we are looking for God.  God would be truth, the absolute and true essence of being and reality who is the author of all truth.  If you are interested in truth beyond yourself, then you must look to God.

References include:

Proverbs says, “one who speaks the truth gives honest evidence. (12:17)

Truth is also a quality used to describe utterances that are from the Lord. The psalmist tells God to “guide me in your truth” (25:5); the psalmist asks God to “send forth your light and your truth.” (43:3)

Ultimately, Jesus said,”I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6)

Now, the absolute truth experienced and then described in scripture is unfathomable to most of us. As written elsewhere:

The bad news is, it’s like trying to explain what colors look like to a blind person, or how chocolate tastes to someone who’s never had any.

The good news, however, is that inner truth can be known by direct experience. And there are means and methods for getting from here to there.”

Were you to ask a Zen master how to achieve enlightenment, the simple answer you’d probably get is: “SHUT UP!”

In gentler form, the Yoga Sutras of Patajani offer the same solution.

As I’ve also written elsewhere, the path of a Truth is a two way street.

To know the truth, be quiet. “Shut Up.” “Be still and know that I AM God.” Travel the inward path from surface to center of the Life Wheel to reunite with the Creative Source experienced as Conscience.

If you want know the world, then reverse course. Move in the opposite direction. Extend outwards from stillness towards the manifest world on the hub of the Wheel.

Lao Tze puts it this way:

01

Phoenix - sized

On another tack, in two separate posts, I’ve written about truth as game. Popular shows you’re probably familiar with include TO TELL THE TRUTH and TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES.

In Yes, AND. . . I wrote:

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

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

As for Truth or Consequences, it may be well worth your while to check out the entire post. Here’s a snippet:

I remembered this experience while writing about Terry Silver’s three rules for winning an unfair fight. He advised Daniel-san, the Karate Kid:

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

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

 

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 make okay. Sages grounded in reality, however, know better.

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

Phoenix - sized

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

Angel Calling

Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless

Jordan Peterson is drawing predictable backlash upon himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the poster:

jbp

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

Phoenix - sized

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

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

I dearly want that NOT to happen again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lao Tze on Ox

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

snake

Passage 50 reads, in part:

Those who live by the law are protected by it.

They travel the world without being injured.

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

Wild beasts sense no openings to penetrate.

Enemies find no weaknesses to exploit.

Armies can’t locate a fortress to assault.

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

Non-Violence

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

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

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

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

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

Sages who master the infant’s harmlessness:

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

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

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

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

The best leaders act with subtle dignity.

Successful warriors move with alert caution.

Enduring winners shun prideful vengeance.

Good employers quietly support their workers.

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

founded in the eternal Tao.

book header bird

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

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

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

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

Angel Calling

Be a Warrior, NOT a Monster

Here I must make an exception to my usual rule, “Take the best. Leave the rest.”

As a reminder, here’s the Take the Best standard:

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

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

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

From Rethinking Survival:

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

Sadly, I now recognize that Jordan B. Peterson is no exception. On one point in particular, he is dead and dangerously WRONG!

He claims that everyone is a potential monster. Each of us, in certain circumstances, would behave no differently than sadistic Nazi prison guards.

Here, briefly, is how he arrived at that conclusion. He recognized that potential in himself. In reading Jung, he came to mistakenly equate the experience of evil impulses with the “unconscious” shadow side of the human psyche. Ergo, since we all are in part unconscious, we are all in part evil.

Now, his experience of cruel impulses and his buying into Jung’s confusions about the “shadow” are his own personal problems.

I draw the line, however, when he uses his bully pulpit as professor and now media rock star to mislead sincere young people (primarily men). Like the Evil Emperor, he is seducing potential heroes like Luke Skywaker to the dark side of the force.

He asserts as if undeniable fact that we are all intrinsically capable of evil. To deny the dark, shadow, evil side of oneself is self-deception. It is foolish and naive – the mark of victims.

This assumption is so repugnant to me that I asked for OA’s opinion. He shook his head, No. Sadistic Nazi guards, he said, were the ones who as young boys tore the wings off flies and tortured their pet dogs. To the contrary, for example, forensic researchers who studied the remains of America’s Civil War battlefields found that frequently, dead soldiers carried fully loaded weapons on their bodies. Killing a fellow human being was apparently so unacceptable that they preferred to go down without firing a shot. That’s closer to the “norm.”

Yet Dr. Peterson insists on instructing students that they must accept and integrate into their personalities evil (a.k.a. the shadow dark side) as part of their essence. I say, NO! Light is our true and universal essence. To repeat from Be an Instrument of Light:

God is not and could not possibly be dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof of God’s existence.

The truth cannot be altered. Each of us is the embodied form of a musical instrument. Even if, for any multitude of reasons, your light is switched off right now, you still have the innate potential to conduct electricity (energy, prana, chi) that in turn transforms into light.

The problem lies in the abuse of God-given Free Will. Perversions of our essential nature – including gratuitous cruelty – are the cumulative result of bad decisions made over a very long period of time.

Dr. Peterson’s way to prevent acting out evil is to “tell the truth.” But what does he mean by truth? Does it mean point an accusatory finger outwards towards others to expose their faults? Exposing problems within human institutions?

Or does he point the finger inwards towards his own (and by extension, everyone’s) limitations? Admitting fears, rage, resentments and malevolent intentions driven by envy and greed is NOT divine Truth – certainly not the truth intended when Christ said, I am the Truth and the Way. Far from it.

OA calls identifying with personal limitations “Honest Bullshit.” The Herculean solution is to clean out the Aegean horse stables – releasing negativity to restore underlying, fundamental, universal Truth. Clean out the inner emotional swamp. Just as sculptors chip away at a block of stone to reveal the figure hidden within it, so true teachers show us how to shed human dross and release inborn greatness.

This admittedly “hyper-verbal” professor is fiercely passionate, apparently sincere and highly entertaining in the delivery of false ideas. His personal magnetism – his manly panache – distracts away from critical analysis.

Here’s why I make my exception to the Take the Best rule. While I appreciate the value of Dr. Peterson’s  work, this one point is too dangerous to give a pass. It’s one thing to admit his potential for malevolence. That’s between him and God.

It’s quite another to thing say that, by extension, because he has cruel tendencies, EVERYONE does. That cruelty is innate — part of our essence. DEAD WRONG. Worse, he says we should actually cultivate it in ourselves as if owing it is the only way to recognize it and thereby prevent being victimized. “Be the baddest ass on the block to scare off wanna-be bullies.”

Dr. Peterson holds Disney’s Simba, the Lion King, up as an example to follow. Simba grows into a King, all right. King of the beasts. But there’s much much more to humans than that bestial component! Worse, he repeatedly states that you must develop your inner monster – your inner psychopath – grow TEETH, as if two wrongs make a right. NOOOOO. Two wrongs do not make a right. To the contrary, they magnify and compound the depths of evil.

Quite simply, Jung was probably advising us to make the unconscious conscious. Fine. Granted. But this process has nothing to do with mistakenly integrating hidden demons into our personality. Nor does it sanction acting them out. I doubt this Dr. Peterson’s intention. But it’s too easy, out of context, to misconstrue his meaning.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think what Dr. Peterson intends to recommend is that we become WARRIORS. Fierce. Competent. Able to protect ourselves and others from seductive evil.

That I can identify with and wholeheartedly recommend. In fact, it’s a frequent theme.

OA . . . described the necessary role of a “righteous warrior,” one who has the back of true peace makers. A farmer plows his field, plants and harvests his crops. He teaches his children, loves his family, and mends his fences. Day in and out, he does whatever it takes to support those he loves. And when an enemy approaches his gate, he defends them with his life. It’s all woven into the single fabric of life.

And what protections against monstrousness does a righteous warrior bring to the ongoing battles of daily life? The weapons of light – the equivalent of Luke Skywalker’s light saber, designed to defeat darkness. Members of every American military branch know this. They choose wisely, every day, living by scripture, making incrementally correct choices in every area of their lives.

They live, for example, by Psalm 91, Psalm 144, and Ephesians 6: 10-18.

The opening verse of Psalm 91 offers a radically different understanding of “the shadow.” It is worth your careful thought:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High

shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

The opening verse of Psalm 144 is also an eye-opener:

Blessed be the Lord my strength

which teacheth my hands to war,

and my fingers to fight:

Warriors for countless generations have suited up for battle in the full armor of God described in Ephesians.

righteous warrior

 

11. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15.  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16.  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18.  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints . .

This is the tradition which Jesus, as a practicing Jew who kept the sabbath, told us he came to fulfill.

Now, Dr. Peterson is rightly obsessed with how to stop genocides from recurring. Hitler, Stalin and Mao might well be precursors of far worse in the works. He’s got the problem right. But solutions remain where they have been since the times of Moses and later, King David:

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

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

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

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

It is surely no accident that Patton, the general who stopped Hitler, quoted scriptures like a bishop, knew Shakespeare’s verse by heart.

To repeat,

What’s needed now, OA told me, isn’t pacifists. Trying to reason with an evil enemy is like pissing on a forest fire. What we need now is a generation of warrior monks. Though they serve wisely, with peace in their hearts, at the same time they’re ever alert – competent to protect against intruders, whatever the level.

OA continued, People misconstrue the words, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” No fault or prohibition is implied. A soldier who fights for a living hopes to retire and die in bed. A righteous warrior, however, fights the good fight right up to the last breath. It isn’t a reproach to say he’ll die by the sword. Standing firm in his truth even to the very end earns him an honorable and worthy death.

Phoenix - sized

Here’s a hint. Though not an excuse, Dr. Peterson’s metaphysical /logical insufficiencies are the symptomatic, even  inevitable result of operating from an incomplete, flat and linear false paradigm. It is highly unlikely he would make the same recommendations if he were better in-formed. Were he operating from the complete Life Wheel, he would better understand where Truth resides, what unconscious shadows are about, and how monsters are made.

He owes it to himself, his beloved family, and the countless fans who hang on his every word to get it right.

Here another hint from a to-be-published article:

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. 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.

The second mistake, an extension of the first, 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 gender stereotypes.

Today’s “gender-confused” youth might find this information especially helpful.

Angel Calling