Tag Archives: Abelard

The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street

jacob's ladder

Balance yin and yang approaches to solving your problems. It gets better results.

Jordan B. Peterson gives a good example. Early in their marriage, when conflicts arose, he wanted to argue. His wife, however, would turn over and go to sleep. When she awoke, she reported insightful dreams which helped resolve their issues.

Dreams, as you’ll recall, are associated with the middle, Gatekeeper level of the Life Wheel which links the yang surface with inward, yin levels of intuition and conscience.

I’m well familiar with her problem-solving method, as well as how it compliments his.

Here’s an example from my graduate school experience. An Educational Administration professor wanted to know, “Why are there so few women principals in school administration?”

To me, the answer was intuitively obvious. Women teachers get no support. If they received support from family and school administrators, I told him, more would be promoted.

Two years later, after an extensive review of the research literature and a statistical study yielding 99 percent statistically significant results, these yang methods confirmed my yin intuition. My stats prof was amazed at the high probability correlations. Most of his students got garbage results. How did I manage to get significant ones, he wanted to know. And how did I explain the unusually high response rate?

Well. For one thing, because I already “knew” the answer, I knew where to look and what to ask. All I had to do was design a study that allowed the evidence to come forward. In addition, in the statistical portion of the questionnaire, I limited myself to the kinds of questions which statistics can measure. To obtain information about subjective values, I asked open-ended questions requiring written responses.

Finally, the form itself was non-threatening, attractively presented on light blue paper. I used plain language. I intentionally made the content intriguing —  even fun.

Now, for me, empirical methods are an unnecessarily complicated way to arrive at an answer. But we got to the same place, just the same.

The difference between these yin and yang approaches explains the particular value I have to offer in matters philosophical. My yin perspective compliments Dr. Peterson’s yang presentation.

We share in common a desire to understand human nature. In college, my question was, what educational discipline was the best route to answers. Psychology might have been the logical choice. But a discipline that categorizes using statistical methods (often based on rat and monkey research) left me cold.

B.F. Skinner’s presentation as a guest lecturer at Oberlin decided the issue. In his general presentation, he described toilet-training his daughter using music, so her associations would be pleasant. In the question and answer session that followed, a student asked, “What happens the first time she goes to a concert?”

No answer.

Skinner’s work has an important place, no doubt. But as teachings acquired later confirm, it focuses exclusively on behavior – a first chakra center issue. There had to be more! In addition to inhabiting physical bodies constrained within socially conditioned environments, humans have rational minds, hearts capable of empathy, creative aspirations, and, yes – souls.

So for my understanding of humans, I opted to major in comparative history rather than “science,” rounded out in equal parts by philosophy and comparative literature courses.

The places I looked for answers gave me different approaches to the devastating division between faith and empirical science. The Life Wheel described in The Key That Reconciles Science & Religion came both before and after the history course described below.

Critics have complained that its wheels-within-wheels geometry is “too abstract” and unaccessible. In thinking it through, however, I’ve concluded that the problem lies not with the concept. Rather, alienated yang intellects obscure the yin mind which intuitively grasps non-verbal truths.

From personal experience, I know that the Life Wheel is natural and intuitive. Going through puberty, I spontaneously started drawing wheels with multi-colored pencils. Without naming a reason or purpose for doing so, I filled notebooks with mandala-like geometric flowers circling outwards from a center, building layers upon layers.

childish

My step-father thought I was an artist. But it had nothing to do with professional calling. I was going through a natural change. My consciousness was blossoming, expressing itself in the non-verbal language common to native cultures from the beginnings of time. Native Americans draw prayer wheels.

Native American

Buddhists create intricate mandalas with colored sands.

buddhist

Medieval architects built radiantly multi-colored stained glass windows into their cathedrals.

Mandala1

Later, I felt compelled to return to the Life Wheel. As I applied left-brain reasoning to penetrate its meaning, it continued to develop, changing into a diagnostic and decision-making tool, a means of linguistic analysis, a zodiac-like measure of time, and more.

It’s not concentric circles that are too abstract. Quite the contrary, this primal way of understanding has been forgotten by isolated intellectuals out of touch with their universal roots.

In The Key that Reconciles Science & Religion, I showed how the Life Wheel reconciles the conflict which Nietzsche, later Jung and then Dr. Peterson, describe as devastating. I quoted Dr. Peterson, who assures us that “there’s much more to ‘reality’ than current assumptions allow.”

What follows is taken from an earlier post that draws on my history background. Snippet quotes are a spoiler alert intended to intrigue you into reading the rest.

closing

  • Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

  • According to St. Aquinas, It works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

  • As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

  • At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome is pictured by the Positive Paradigm of Change in the form of a multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

  • Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated? Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

book header bird

The GREAT RECONCILIATION

Like Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise are remembered in as tragic lovers separated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Here are the highlights from medieval history. Abelard, a monk, was rich-girl Heloise’s tutor. He seduced her. Their affair outed when she became pregnant. Her uncle exacted poetic justice: the offending lover was attacked in the night and castrated. Afterwards, the lovers exchanged celebrated letters, but were never reunited.

The low lights are usually overlooked. In fact, Abelard married Heloise. But to protect his reputation as a cleric, kept it secret. He urged her to take monastic vows, which she did, but under protest. She felt no calling. For her, living a cloistered life was most unfair.

Why is this story is relevant to the ongoing discussion about the Rules of the Knowledge Game? Because Abelard later distinguished himself a participant in The Great Debate of the Middle Ages.

During my Freshman year at Oberlin College, Professor Barry McGill presented the debate with style and passion. Tall, pencil-thin, graying and bespectacled, he dramatized the effect of pendulum swings on history.

Ideas, he insisted, have great power. They alter the course of human events. In particular, philosophers’ beliefs profoundly affect the forms governments take and the way leaders treat their people.

Long before Hegel wrote about dialectics, which in turn influenced Marx. a triad of medieval scholars — St. Augustine, our sadly altered Abelard, and St. Aquinas — completed the classic example of contrasting beliefs about What Can Be Known, How, and By Whom (epistemology).

St. Augustine sat on one extreme of the philosophical see-saw. Abelard perched on the other. The intellectual world was at odds until St. Aquinas came up with the balancing fulcrum.

see saw

St. Augustine’s approach was faith-based. He depended exclusively on his belief in God. In his worldview, knowledge is the result of divine grace. His credo: “I believe that I may know.” Faith in God is prior and necessary to human endeavors.

In Life Wheel context, Augustine’s primary reality rested at the center of the Wheel and extended outwards from it to include the surface of the physical, manifested world.

Abelard took the opposite approach. Man, he held, depends on observable things and tangible experience to acquire knowledge. This approach, taken to the extreme, results in the exclusively superficial, materialistic paradigm of research science.

Importantly, however, Abelard never denied the existence of God. He held that experience of the world leads the thoughtful man to deduce the necessary existence of God. In Life Wheel context, he started at the Wheel’s surface and pushed inwards to complete the circuit.

It took St. Aquinas to complete the loop. He concluded there is no conflict between the other two approaches. Knowing is a two-way street. No matter where you start, each position leads to and completes the other, reconnecting heaven and earth, center with surface. Complete knowledge flows continuously along the path of an infinite loop.

According to St. Aquinas, it works both ways. Observing the world leads to faith. Faith leads to effective behavior in the world.

Professor McGill beamed his approval of the solution to the either/or conflict between science and religion. Historians, he said, call it “The Great Reconciliation.”

Why have we forgotten this? Why do either/or controversies continue to rage as if the solution had never been articulated?

Who perpetuates this unnecessary separation? Why? Who benefits? Who pays the terrible price?

CONCLUSION

Allow me to point out a relevant conclusion from the sad story of Abelard and Heloise. Today’s exclusively rational philosophers are as sterile as was he. And Heloise’s feminine counter-parts, isolated and cloistered, are equally unfulfilled. Just as yin and yang yearn for unity and the fulfillment of creative balance, so also faith and reason depend upon one another for completion.

As Albert Einstein put it, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

At the 11th hour of human history, few people have time to learn much less apply the lessons of history. For the sake of simplicity and immediately useful applications, The Great Debate’s outcome has been summed up in the Positive Paradigm of Change and illustrated in the form of its multi-dimensional Life Wheel.

Here’s why it is so critically important to reconnect the surface with the center of the Life Wheel in an infinite two-way loop, joining the material surface with its innermost source. The times in history when the rules of the knowledge game allowed creative thinkers to access both sides of the infinite, two-way street were times of renaissance that saw huge outpourings of invention, commerce, arts and learning.

The renaissance at the end of the middle ages, first in Italy and later in England represented by Elizabeth I’s Shakespeare, were times of paradigm shifts. The origin of universities took place during this time. The rules were in flux. It was fair game to access both sides of the coin, so to speak. There was no perceived conflict between faith and reason. Separation of church and state was a non-existent issue. The result was a time of creative flowering in both the arts and sciences.

Our future may well depend upon

whether or not there’s a similar Positive Paradigm shift now . . .

It will take a reconciliation and reawakening

to the full spectrum of human potentials

to generate a flourishing of creative problem-solving

sufficient to tip the scales of history

in favor of human survival.

Phoenix - sized

N.B. “Re-nasissance” = “rebirth.”

Phoenix rising from its own ashes. Got it? : )

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History Repeats Itself – Renaissance or Another Dark Ages?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bell curve sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gatekeepers & the Knowledge Industry

The following open letter to physicist/author/media personality Dr. Michio Kaku virtually wrote itself. I was attempting to work on a very different, scheduled blog, but it nagged at me until it was finally posted on LinkedIn.

It leaves me with questions and second thoughts. Some, for example, have to do with the many levels of gatekeepers who guard the doors of the knowledge industry. Colleges and Universities grant degrees. Federal and state departments of education regulate curriculum and license those deemed qualified to administrate and teach in public schools. Professional associations certify members to practice in specific fields. Until recently, the publishing industry held yet another monopoly on the content and distribution of knowledge.

In all cases, the front side of the gatekeeper coin is “quality control.” The public interest is being protected,” is the rationale. But the opposite, back side of the same coin is the vested interest of insider power-holders in maintaining a status quo that operates to benefit a few at the expense of the many.

An overriding survival question looms large. Who protects the interests of the public from the multitude of self-interested gatekeepers? I speak with the authority of experience. My statistical research dissertation inadvertently proved with .99% significant results that the selection of principals in Wisconsin public schools is a closed shop, decided in an informal pre-selection process by existing administrators.

To discredit the messenger bearing this unwelcome news, professors used punitive grades to guarantee that I’d never teach at the university level. Just an example. It’s water long since passed under the dam. No real loss.

The point here is that the public loses big time when the knowledge industry devolves to the status of a power fiefdom. Nor do I post blogs with the expectation of winning popularity contests now. There’s far more at stake. Human survival hangs in the balance.

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An Urgent Open Letter To Michio Kaku

Dear Dr. Kaku:

Recently I received two messages apparently prompted by books on Einstein, Human Survival and the Positive Paradigm of Change. They deserve your attention. One claims to have found the Holy Grail of Physicists for which you’re also searching. The other asserts that I must submit my work, which if correct, would “revolutinate” physics, to the test of mainstream scientists. Both were sent by LinkedIn connections I’ve never met personally.

Someone of your stature and professional qualifications is best qualified to answer them. I can, at best, make a few personal comments from my point of view.

The first message was sent by a researcher educated in Madrid, now residing in Argentina. Jorge Barcellos lists Portuguese and Spanish as languages of proficiency. English isn’t on the list, though he seems to do okay.

In light of earlier blogs on Millennials, his avatar choice is especially interesting. It’s an Einstein photo and quote: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

I responded to his original invitation with another Einstein quote, the premise of Rethinking Survival. “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

Here’s what he wrote back:

Dear Patricia.

I finished this year’s work of uniting the whole physics.
I managed to complete the dream of Einstein.
The theory of everything is a theory of information.
which clearly demonstrates the existence of a creator.
Continuity of Awareness after death.
Board quantum mechanics and relativity theories about the same algebraic theory and simple.
Resolving the apparent paradox between time-space between the two theories.
And also 100% compatible with the classical mechanics and electromagnetism.
In general the theory unifies all the physics goes beyond allowing join the religious understanding of the existence of the universe!
However it is not very different from the final agreement would be imagined by physicists in the past!
The grand universe is a quantum computer that uses strings on your hardware!
And it creates in its interior a holographic structure that is called reality!
What I am describing here all the math supporting structure is not philosophy!
It is the result of a string theory in 5 dimensions!
Thank you for listening.

Jorge Barcellos.

WOW!

His closing, “Thank you for listening,” is poignantly simple and humble for someone who has accomplished a work with potentially huge historical impact. Why?

After taking a few days to think this over, I sent back a brief message thanking him for contacting me. I asked if he had published his findings, or is planning to. (It would seem that if Jorge has truly accomplished what he claims, his name would be worldwide news, well-familiar to everyone.) So far, no response.

Is he, perhaps, relatively unknown, as am I, because his work has necessitated working alone (as did Einstein’s until his discovery was completed and confirmed), sheltered from the slings and arrows of outrageous academic-publisher politics?

I have no doubt that all that he claims is possible. Even so, giving him this benefit of the doubt, I still have reservations. Most importantly, it’s this: Sages throughout time have discovered the Unified Theory of which I’m speaking, but experientially – not intellectually. This inner knowing transformed their lives, exponentially improving the quality of their personal relationships and physical health, as well as giving them supernatural, seemingly magical power over the forces of nature.

This inner illumination is not unique. It’s the essence of the perennial philosophy that pervades the world’s enduring religions. Everyone, everywhere shares this same innate potential for transformation in common.

So many questions. Why did his choose to share his discovery with me? Was it because his work confirms and reinforces mine?

Does Jorge intend, as do I, to use the Unified Theory which completes Einstein’s work to facilitate the new way of thinking which might – just maybe – ensure human survival? Would it be used to protect us from the consequences of poor decisions made by leaders by whose technology exceeds their humanity?

What does he foresee as the consequences of his work, for himself and for others?

Has he remained in the shadows for fear that his work will fall into the wrong hands? This scenario is far from impossible After all, Einstein’s work was not used (as it might have been and still could be) to unify and lift humanity, but rather to build atomic bombs. Could this knowledge be used against humanity again, for example, to build high-tech, genetically engineered robots like the death-dealing “Sentinels” envisioned in the latest X-Men movie?

On a lesser scale, could Jorge be anticipating the vengefulness of professional rivals? The possibility is not unheard of. For example, it has been suspected that Mozart’s early, unnatural end was orchestrated by the jealousy of a lesser composer, Antonio Salieri,

Does Jorge dread the consequences of truth-seeking like those suffered by the medieval philosopher featured in last week’s post, Abelard? Power holders accused him of heresy. He was obliged to recant. His books were condemned and burned. He died in prison shortly afterward.

Or is it possible that Jorge dreads the competitive politics of mainstream academic scientists, who have a vested interest (on many levels) in preventing his ideas from getting into the hands of those who would use the information to change their lives – even society – for the better?

After all, tyrants hate truth and go to extraordinary lengths to bury it, discredit its messengers, and use the legal system (via exclusive contracts,non-competition agreements, dead-end patent lawsuits, the IRS . . . whatever dirty tricks work) to prevent life-saving ideas from reaching the public.

Can I help ensure that Jorge’s work reaches the new breed of humanistic corporate leaders described by Art Kleiner in The Age of Heretics – those who can and will put his ideas to good use? With the little clout I have, I’ll do my best!

I devoutly hope, Dr. Kushi, as a wielder of far greater clout in the fields of both physics and public opinion, that you too will give him the benefit of the doubt, do whatever it takes to bring these potentially scale-tipping ideas to the public, and protect their creator from the slings and arrows of outrageous academic politics.

globe

The second message I mentioned came Roberto Neves Silva. It’s copied to an intimidating list of scientists (much longer than the message itself). Their names suggest worldwide membership.

Roberto lists Portuguese as his native language and claims proficiency in English. He gives his location as Brazil and occupation as Prefeitura do Municipio de Sao Paulo –1993 – Present (21 years).

He lists the acronym EPCAR to represent his education, which he apparently assumes is meaningful to others. I searched several places, but the only EPCAR that comes up on the web is the East Polk County Association of Realtors. I don’t think that’s what he means.

Here’s what he sent:

I have read your ideas on your website
I see that if you are right it would revolutionate physics.
It must be tested by physics mainstream scientists, how many of them agree on test your theories ?

An extraordinary number of assumptions are packed into this brief communication.

First, it’s doubtful that he did little more than scan. Had he read thoughtfully, he would know for a certainty that he’s addressing someone who doesn’t agree with his faith in empirical science as a method for arriving at Truth.

Second, he assumes that he and/or his mainstream peers have the authority to require that my ideas be submitted to their validity tests. (Does he believe I am held to this standard as an absolute, regardless of whether or not I agree with it?)

Third, he assumes that my ideas aren’t valid until/unless a certain number of scientists test and validate them. From my point of view, Truth is not a matter of consensus. It certainly doesn’t require a stamp of approval from mainstream academic authorities (some of whom may be far afield from Truth themselves). I trust, Dr. Kushi, that you would agree.

The kindest response I can muster is simply to repeat, the Unified Theory of which I speak is first and foremost experiential. Its origins rest deep within each of us, at the center of the Life Wheel – something taboo and outside the narrow, constricting parameters of empirical science. Like Einstein, I’m advocating, as a matter of human survival, a substantial rethinking of this incomplete, dysfunctional paradigm.

Nowhere do I claim that the ideas I’m presenting are revolutionary. Though presented with a model that meets the dual standard of Occam’s Razor – utmost simplicity with maximum inclusiveness – the basic concepts are not news.

Nor is revolution in my worldview a positive value. According to the Chinese Book of Change, revolution simply implies revolving back and forth in cyclical pendulum swings over time, accomplishing little of substantive value.

In contrast, the Positive Paradigm of Change which embodies Einstein’s Unified Theory reflects the unchanging essence of eternal Truth as it has been consistently experienced by the deepest thinkers of every generation.

Truth itself is not revolutionary. Rather, time and time again we fall asleep. When inspired teachers or sudden shocks have the effect of reawakening us to who we truly are, we only imagine that it’s new and for the first time.

My bottom-line response to the verification demand: Truth is not subject to the whims of power-holding gatekeepers or rules of democracy, where the most influence and/or votes win the day. Consistent with Gandhi’s worldview, One with God is a majority.