Tag Archives: Art of War

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning,

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

to give them the practical edge,

help them meet the challenges of adult life

with intelligence and self-confidence.

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

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

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates,

the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships

isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards.

It requires looking inward.

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

If enough of them find common cause to band together,

they form alternative groups

which become the foundation of new communities.

Angel Calling

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Human Survival Cannot Be Taken for Granted

Utopia.sized

AXIOM FIVE of the Positive Paradigm states, “History Is Neither Progressive or Linear, Nor can Human Survival Be Taken for Granted.”

This concept runs deeply against the grain of progressive beliefs. It’s so apparently threatening to even consider that many are unwilling and/or unable to wrap their minds around these basic facts. However, denial doesn’t change what IS. It only leaves the fearful unprepared – unable to make the in-formed, correct decisions necessary to meet and survive immanent dangers.

The dangers are no surprise. Einstein warned, “We will require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” In answer to his call, the methods included in the Handbook embody that substantially new manner.

Survivalists have warned of a Near Extinction Level Crisis (NELC). Some say it’s already under way. We’re already in its midst. Others speak of a catastrophic “deep well die off.”

Be that as it may, in Positive Paradigm context, some things never change. Others do. Knowing the difference between absolutes and ephemerals is a matter of life or death. The center of the Wheel is changeless. Those in the know depend on this. But the Wheel’s rim spins in endless circles of repeating, patterned change. Therefore, survivors anticipate the predictable, cyclical changes of nature.

They know far better than to take immediate appearances at face value. They’re not fooled by wishful thinking into the false belief that what can be seen is permanent.

Lao Tze, author of the world-loved Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power), knew this and tried to warn the world. Sun Tzu, Chinese author of The Art of War — a manual used by successful military leaders for hundreds of years — taught savvy strategists how to exploit the knowledge of human dynamics to win their battles.

Today’s international business leaders have adapted this wisdom, as well as spin-offs like the 36 Stratagems, not with an eye to human survival, but only to capture markets, maximize corporate profits and beat out the competition.

These various texts all draw on the wisdom encoded in the Chinese I Ching, the venerable Book of Change to steer the decision-making process. They rely on applications of the laws of subtle change to stay ahead of the curve. Knowing that surface appearances are deceptive can be used either as a protective, self-defense measure or as a means for taking advantage of the less informed.

Those who love life and take human survival to heart have passed on the basics of how the world really works to those with ears to hear. In contrast, others hoard this knowledge as if to prosper themselves at others’ expense. They deny or even ridicule it, keeping perceived enemies “in the dark” to prevent their success.

In the dark ages, Europeans were taught to believe that the world was flat. The fact that the globe of spinning Planet Earth is in fact round was received as life-changing information that dramatically changed the way people thought and lived.

Similarly, today some still continue to think of history as a flat, perpetually forward-moving straight line. But they are as sadly mistaken as were the ancient seafarers who guided their ships on the assumption that the world was flat.

In fact, the dynamics of human history resemble a multi-layered clock whose second, minute and hour hands continuously return to the same starting point at different rates of speed. Rethinking the paradigm of history to align with known facts would give future leaders an edge on survival.

compass clock

Hegel and Marx had a partially correct, but disastrously hollow view of historical change. They pictured it as a rectangular-shaped grandfather clock with a pendulum that swings back and forth, repeatedly moving right and then left of center.

Their concept of a dialectic prescribed an eventual synthesis of both sides in an upwardly moving, progressive direction. The partial truth in this model is obscured by its inaccuracies and politically destructive applications.

It’s important to note that the interrelated, interconnected fabric of life pictured by the Positive Paradigm Wheel isn’t limited to this particular planet or even one solar system. As a universal model, it literally has applications to how the universe, or even multiple universes, work as well. This possibility is not completely foreign to our human history.

For example, the Anastazi, a highly sophisticated culture of eco-savvy cave dwellers located in Mesa Verdi, Colorado, thrived and then mysteriously disappeared. Like the Inca civilization located in Peru, and ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids, their detailed and accurate understanding of astronomy led archaeologists to conclude that they came from, were in correspondence with, and might eventually have returned to destinations far beyond Earth.

Just as humans continue to navigate their ships in the waters of Earth’s oceans, there may have been — and may again be — times when star travelers operate on paradigms that allow them to travel the oceans of distant space. The wheel-shaped Star Gates of the science fiction series by the same name are suggestive of imagined (or carefully kept) secrets.

In sum, there’s far more to human origins and history than people dream of. Science fiction teases us to think outside the limited historical paradigm. There’s truth in supposed “fiction” that would enrich our possible futures if we use it to expand our knowledge paradigm to match the facts of what has been and could yet still be.

globe

Corollary A: The seasonal, cyclical model of history applies equally to personal lives and the dynamics of organizational and even dynasty life-spans. Knowing the current time, as well as the direction in which its going, is important information to be taken into account in any decision-making process.

Corollary B: Just as the hour hand returns to its beginning point and then continues on to start the next hour, our lives do not end with one span, but continue on. This accords with metaphysical and religious views on reincarnation and immortality. These are not mutually exclusive beliefs. Reincarnation occurs on the surface of life’s wheel, while immortality resides at its center.

Corollary C: Facing the prospect of human extinction may be threatening. But refusing to consider and act on the possibility doesn’t make the danger go away. It renders us unprepared to meet and mitigate danger, preventing the possibility of re-charting the course of history for the optimal use of available options.

Keeping the subjects of magic and space exploration secret, relegating them to the genres of so-called fantasy and science fiction is form of denial. It limits our options for meeting whatever is to come fully and optimally prepared.

When life transitions are anticipated and wisely prepared for, they can be faced without fear and navigated successfully. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ research on death and dying has equally useful applications to both individual experience and the history of civilizations.

Corollary D: Nothing on Earth lasts forever. Accomplishments in the fields of science, humanism and spiritual enlightenment cannot be taken for granted. In Positive Paradigm context, the creative source resides eternal at the center. While there’s evolution on the outward path, there’s also the opposite and equal potential for devolution on the return path. This includes not only physical dis-integration, but also corruption. This leaves savvy leaders with important choices to make, for themselves as well as the followers who depend on them.

Corollary E: An apparent death sentence makes time remaining all the more precious. In biblical terms, awareness of impending disaster is motive and opportunity to repent (meaning to change one’s heart and ways), and to atone (meaning to realign with the center), using the gift of whatever time is left gratefully, wisely and well.

Some will actually defy medical/historical prognosis and survive to carry on, whether it be here, in other dimensions or even different universes. (Science fiction fans of TV’s two-hearted, regenerating time traveler Dr. Who are well-acquainted with these possibilities.)

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Rethinking ACTION

One of the 64 Essays on Change is posted each consecutive Sunday. The choice is decided either by requests made on the Contact Page and/or immediate relevance to current events. See the UPSG Essays page for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays from which to choose.

On the new moon of March 9, 2014, the first of the Essays to be posted was Number 61 on PEACE. It was selected as a timely response to events in the Ukraine. The following Sunday, the very first Essay, CRIME, was selected, followed by its companion Essay Number 18 on MOTIVES.

The final Essay, Number 64 has been selected for Sunday, March 30th, the second new moon in the month of March. It completes a triad that started with CRIME, then MOTIVES, and now, consequent ACTION. This Essay has immediate applications to the progression of world events.

Bloggers have likened Putin’s actions to the strategy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. America’s leaders have been faulted for lacking the ability to think in terms of positive action responses. It therefore behooves everyone, everywhere with an eye to the future, in the interests of human survival, to fill in that void.

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64. ACTION

“Military action is important to the nation — it is the ground of death and life, the path of survival and destruction, so it is imperative to examine it. . . The Way means inducing the people to have the same aim as the leadership, so that they will share death and share life, without fear of danger.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“The warrior is always alert. He is always awake. He knows how to focus his mind and his body. He is what the samurai call “mindful.” . . . As a function of his clarity of mind, he is a strategist and a tactician. He can evaluate his circumstances accurately and then adapt himself to the “situation on the ground.” — Moore & Gillette, The Warrior in His Fullness

“We cannot stop the seasons of history, but we can prepare for them. Right now, in 1997, we have eight, ten, perhaps a dozen more years to get ready. Then events will begin to take choices out of our hands. Yes, winter is coming, but our path through the winter is up to us. . . History’s howling storms can bring out the worst and best in a society.” — Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines action on a sliding scale of meanings. Taking in the full spectrum as a whole is an eye-opener. Originally it was a physics concept, the state of being in motion. From there the definition changes to habitual conduct characterized by energy and boldness. It changes again to include the effect produced by something (like a drug), or the way organs or machines work.

Action is used to describe the function of a piano or a gun. It shifts to take on the connotation of a legal proceeding by which one seeks to have a wrong put right. It’s the term used to describe military combat. Lastly, in slang it denotes excitement, specifically gambling.

Over a life-time, novelist Earle Stanley Gardner worked to develop a best-seller formula: a virtuous hero whom everyone loves to see in action. The result, Attorney Perry Mason, solves crimes and puts wrongs right in the court of law. He’s a deliberate blending of Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes. Robin defended the betrayed and down-trodden. He took from the rich to give to the poor, helping them stand against oppressors. Sherlock used his highly trained powers of observation and deduction to trace devious crimes to the unseen hand of the evil Moriarty, then courageously drew the villain out to defeat him.

New law students are often grieved to find reality so far removed from fiction. Just so. Gardner knew people bought his books exactly because they longed for what’s missing in their lives. But fiction soothes without solving. The times call for a multitude of Positive Perrys taking positive action every day, here and now.

Movie action heroes also exemplify the intellect-action blend of leadership we miss. To become a Jedi knight, Luke SkyWalker first must train to attune himself to “the force.” Indiana Jones similarly blends the best of right and left brain worlds. Both he and Nazi opponents search out the arc of the covenant, then the grail. The enemy wants the key to world domination; Indy and his beloved father seek “illumination.” They respect the wisdom of ancient times and adventure to recover lost treasures. The I Ching is another of the ancient lost treasures, both used and abused by seekers through the ages.

Unlike these action heroes, intellectuals who contempt practical people and workers who enviously mistrust the educated are equally lop-sided actors. For positive results, scholars and street-smart frontliners must join ranks. Better still, we should each train ourselves like action hero role models to balance self-awareness and action, to live fully effective, each in our own way.

George S. Patton, the general who defeated Hitler’s army, quoted scriptures like a bishop, knew Shakespeare’s verse by heart.

THE BACK

The opposite of action is inaction. This may be appropriate. Those who patiently wait also serve. Other times it’s due to indifference or paralysis of will. Procrastination, delaying action, may be a result of ambivalence. Lack of commitment or conflicting goals and beliefs often work unconsciously to sabotage consistent action.

A perversion of action is hyperactivity, sometimes the result of a chemical imbalance, other times an effort to avoid thinking. Restricting youthful energies, forcing children to sit too long inactive, can trigger rebellion as an extreme and opposite reaction to boredom.

————

  • Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Thomas Cleary. (Shambhala: Boston, 1988.) p. 41.
  • Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, “The Warrior in His Fullness,” in The Awakened Warrior: Living with Courage, Compassion & Discipline, ed. Rick Fields. (Putnam’s Sons: New York, 1994.) pp. 29-30.
  • William Strauss & Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. (Broadway Books: New York,1997.) p. 7.