Tag Archives: inspiration

Fresh Start

 With four equally compelling bogs on the drawing board, it was hard to choose which to complete first. An article Pinned Tweeted to Jordan B. Peterson’s account boiled it down to two.

Tim Lott’s Life Spectator article, Jordan Peterson and the transgender wars, bears the subtitle, “The psychology professor is in trouble with the transgender crowd. He is also one of the foremost thinkers of our age.”

The first choice from this article echoes a book in the works, The Phoenix Response:

He [Peterson – JBP] points out that the INRI inscription on crucifixes has a mystical meaning, apart from ‘King of the Jews’ — ‘Through fire all nature is renewed.’ Which means that in order to renew your soul, you have to die and be reborn repeatedly.

The second choice, however, is closer to practical home. So that’s where I’m starting today. Besides being the eve of a projected doomsday event, Saturday, September 23. 2017 is close to the Fall Equinox, the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashona — a new moon and to Old Avatar’s birthday. He’s seated at his work desk, mentally traveling through Otherwhere space, to outward appearances reading through a stack of James Wesley Rawles books. “Do not disturb.”

Be that as it may, according to Lott:

More than 90 per cent of his [Peterson’s] audience are men, which seems a pity since there is nothing particularly gender-specific about his teachings. Why the imbalance then?

Because these men’s stress levels are very high,’ he says. ‘I’m telling them something they desperately need to hear — that there are important things that need to be fixed up.

‘I’m saying, “You guys really need to get your act together and you need to bear some responsibility and grow the hell up.”

Lott continues:

At this point, to my astonishment, Peterson begins to weep. He talks through his tears for the next several minutes.

Every time I talk about this, it breaks me up,’ he says. ‘The message I’ve been delivering is, “Find the heaviest weight you can and pick it up. And that will make you strong. You’re not who you could be. And who you could be is worthwhile.”’

They’re so starving for that message. Young men are so desperate for a pathway that they are dying for it. And it’s heart-breaking and terrible that this idea has been kept from them. . . . Some of the young men who come to my lectures are desperately hanging on every word because I am telling them that they are sinful, and insufficient, and deceitful and contemptible in their current form, but that they could be far more than that, and that the world NEEDS THAT. [emphasis added.]

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

For my story certainly includes gender-confusion issues. Here’s a snippet excerpted from the “Who I Am To Say” section of Rethinking Survival.

The specter of suicidal thoughts haunted my up-bringing. It’s taken me over fifty years to track this demon to its lair and tame it. In retrospect, in simplest terms, I was raised in a family, reinforced by a culture, which disconfirmed my very existence.

A girl who in no way matched demeaning stereotypes — who had no desire to either cynically exploit or fearfully cave into them — was simply a non-being. She could not and should not exist. The tacit message: “Make yourself gone.”

At first I coped with less catastrophic compliance — denial. I reasoned like this: “Women are stupid, fickle and helpless. If I’m not stupid, fickle and helpless, then I’m not a woman.” I disowned the labels associated with gender and escaped into music and books.

Only later, a yogic energy understanding of the difference between feminine essence and cultural molds allowed me to rescue the baby from the bath water, reestablish an identity in harmony with the facts.

Phoenix - sized

In any case, it remains that for those on both sides of the gender see-saw, there’s a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Historically, at critical mass, hidden opportunities buried within danger emerge. The dedication to Two Sides reads:

Though it may seem as if [Millennials] have been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune . . . contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.

Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared to the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those who choose to access the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.

Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the current conflict paradigm are so catastrophically dysfunctional that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of . . . the Tao Te Chings wisdom.

They’ve been given the greater opportunity to . . . become the truly radical agents of genuine, positive change. [They have] the means to see through Saul Alinsky’s pseudo-radical pose, answer his twisted rhetoric, and choose the truly radical approach to change.

In work presented elsewhere, I’ve described additional teaching tools which compliment Peterson’s array. BUT . . . I’ve long since come to the conclusion that books and videos aren’t enough. For several reasons.

First, young people need direct interaction with mentors. In addition to psychological advice, they need opportunities to build practical skills. Abstract internet connections are much better than nothing. But they’re not the same as immediate, face-to-face, working relationships.

Second, young people are starved for daily, immediate working environments which support their efforts towards positive change. It’s not enough to walk away from negative pseudo-friends and exploitative employers. There has to be someplace positive, healthy and supportive to go, to live, to sink roots. . . a place where creativity is valued, honesty is rewarded, and personal growth is encouraged.

It’s not only a mental/spiritual pathway young people are starved for. Optimally, they need community: physical locations where they can gather and work together under structured supervision towards a noble goal: human survival, for example.

As it stands now, one of the major reasons many fear change is that personal transformation is the social equivalent of suicide. Too often, there are few rewards and heavy punishments associated with personal growth. In a world where old paradigms are dying, those with vested interests in the status quo are fiercely protective of “normalcy.”

My own university experience is a good example. When I entered the UW-Madison Department of Educational Administration, the doctoral thesis of my choice was “The Origin and Future of Universities.” The plan was to expand on a paper written for an Educational Policy course. It found that universities no longer meet basic student needs and advocated building alternative schools which do.

How naive. Professors married to their comfortable status quo would not allow it.

As a condition of graduation, I was obliged to conduct a statistical research study on women principals in elementary public schools – far afield from my interests in every respect. For a complex set of reasons, including that the Ph.D. credential was essential to accreditation of an alternative school – I completed the study.

Unfortunately, as “fate” would have it, I inadvertently produced statistically significant results that were just as controversial as my original thesis topic. Scratch the surface, it seems. You’ll find problems lurking just beneath.

In this case, analysis of the principal selection process showed that public school administration is a closed-shop monopoly. A pre-selection process grooms candidates who reflect the values and personal attributes of current power-holders. The only teachers who pursue administrator degrees or credentials are those who have already been quietly promised a job. Only pre-approved candidates enter the formal selection process.

Was I rewarded for exposing what insiders already knew? Not in the least!

In retrospect, this career was not meant to be. At least not yet, or as I imagined it then. Within months of my thesis defense in 1978, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. Both of the protectors who guided me safely through the politics of education disappeared. My statistics professor, who was astonished at the quality of my work, died suddenly in his sleep. The job we’d lined up was defunded. My major professor, who never doubted I’d land on my feet, no matter what, retired early and moved out of state (in large part in protest over the way his colleagues had treated me).

I was stranded, left out in the cold – with school loans to pay.

I’m not complaining, mind you. In retrospect, it was the ongoing work of an invisible, friendly hand, closing doors to open windows. But from direct experience, I well appreciate that creative people, no matter how conscientious and agreeable, are likely to find themselves excluded from thoroughly corrupt institutions. It’s simply not a match. Truth seekers and unnatural institutions are – with rare exceptions – a contradiction in terms.

I did, of course, manage to land on my feet. In turn, it has become my calling to facilitate safe landing for as many others as possible.

The alternative school I had in mind earlier was a School-Without-Walls. It would have allowed self-responsible students to define a professional goal and then select all relevant courses combined with internship experiences that furthered that goal. For example, a golfer could study everything from physiology to design and maintenance of greens to teaching golf students to acquiring the business skills necessary to run his business.

JBP speaks of a future Truth University. Yes. That’s foundational. But it’s not enough, especially because the times are growing ever more precarious, on many fronts. There’s no guaranteeing how long the infrastructure that sustains civilization will remain functional. So now I’m thinking more along the lines of monasteries established as islands of survival, community and learning during dark ages, both in Europe and Asia.

The James Wesley Rawles books OA has been browsing are much to the point. Reading these would be an excellent use of time.

Here’s the amazon description of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse:

America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse— the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point. Practically overnight, the fragile chains of supply and high-technology infrastructure fall, and wholesale rioting and looting grip every major city.

As hordes of refugees and looters pour out of the cities, a small group of friends living in the Midwest desperately tries to make their way to a safe-haven ranch in northern Idaho. The journey requires all their skill and training since communication, commerce, transportation and law enforcement have all disappeared. Once at the ranch, the group fends off vicious attacks from outsiders and then looks to join other groups that are trying to restore true Constitutional law to the country.

Patriots is a thrilling narrative depicting fictional characters using authentic survivalist techniques to endure the collapse of the American civilization. Reading this compelling, fast-paced novel could one day mean the difference between life and death.

One review reads:

I read this book after reading “One Second After”. [a nuclear holocaust scenario] They are two different books by two very different authors. I think it’s a very good follow-up book if you have already read that one. This book is written as a story with integrated prepper “how too” instructions.

From more points of view than can be detailed here, it is becoming increasingly evident that the collapse Rawles foresees is only a matter of time. In fact, it often seems to me as if humans and nature are in a race to see which will do us in and under first.

Who is Rawles to say? From his bio:

James Wesley Rawles is a internationally recognized authority on family disaster preparedness and survivalism. He has been described by journalists as the “conscience of survivalism.” Formerly a U.S. Army intelligence officer, Rawles is now a fiction and nonfiction author, as well as a rancher. His books have been translated into seven languages. He is also a lecturer and the founder and Senior Editor of http://www.SurvivalBlog.com, the Internet’s first blog on preparedness that has enjoyed perennial popularity and now receives more than 320,000 unique visits per week.

Interspersing JBP videos with visits to this website might be an effective way to fortify self-improvement goals. Gathering practical survival information, “real,” survival-related news and other interesting tidbits could make a significant contribution towards future positive outcomes. Today’s quote, for example is, Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophesies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” Eric Hoffer.

Surely unknown opportunities are embedded within inevitable disasters that loom ahead. However, things are sure to go better for those who proactively prepare to meet them. This includes building viable support systems.

The model of intentional communities I now have in mind is similar to the rural one upon which my alma mater, Oberlin College, was built. Its motto is “Learning and Labor.”

For urban centers are quickly becoming death traps. If and/or when the grid goes down, it may be too late to escape. Better to get out while it is still an option. (Gives new meaning to “safe place.”) Inland locations, not too close to military bases or downwind from nuclear facilities, are preferable. Further, rural settings provide the opportunity to tune in again to nature, restoring harmony with rhythmic cycles which our forefathers took for granted.

Intentional preppers, regardless of their personal beliefs, are dedicated to restoring practical survival skills: learning how to live outdoors and off grid, work with tools to construct basic housing, farm, raise livestock, preserve food, feed and protect their families.

There’s lots of to be relearned by those willing to work in the process of sorting out their personal lives. This is a relatively gentle, voluntary way to make a fresh start, one person at a time.

book header bird

Interestingly, from the Taoist canon which Dr. Peterson greatly respects, Numbers 18 of both Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching and its ancient great-great-grandfather, the I Ching, both speak the point in repeating cycles of time where – out of the ashes of corruption — new beginnings emerge. For it’s not only humans who crash and burn to be reborn, On larger scales of magnitude, entire communities and civilizations do as well.

Passage 18 from Two Sides of a Coin reads:

18

Hexagram 18 from The Common Sense Book of Change describes a positive approach to encroaching chaos:

18 IC FRESH START.jpg

Our collective future depends upon the quality of individual choices. Is it worth going through the testing fires of positive change to get from here to there? The choice is yours. But be aware. Failing to choose is also a choice, one with dire consequences. In any case, the time is NOW.

Jordan Peterson is doing his heroic best to tip the scales of history in favor of human survival. Clearly, he dearly hopes the young men he grieves for will choose wisely. As do I.

For those with ears, let them hear. And do.

Angel Calling

 

Coming next:

  • Yes, AND . . . .
  • The Heart Doesn’t Lie
  • Be an Instrument of Light

 

 

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Respect vs OPOs

Namaste1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a picture worth a thousand words:

Respect in the Center

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

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

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

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

And another picture worth many words:

Namaste2

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

Essay 53. RESPECT

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

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

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

THE FRONT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BACK

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

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

Take the Best

grain

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 thirty-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.

I tell you this because I just now revisited the premise of Rethinking Survival, written in 2014. By mid-2017 it seems like a life-time ago. Then, I wrote:

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 .. .

Like passengers on the ship Titanic, we’re approaching ever closer to disaster, not recognizing that we’re steering in a collision course towards extinction.

Though fundamentally the same person I was then, so much has changed that I find myself applying the 30/70 principle to that distant piece of writing.

Yet, the basic concepts are not only valid. They are urgently timely. We are in a world of hurt for lack of their practical applications. So I humbly ask that you read the following excerpt mindfully, take the best, and forgive me the rest.

Still further, if the value of the concept, however imperfectly expressed, touches your heart-mind, then please – for everyone’s sake – take whatever action you can to share them them those who stand to benefit.

flower

PART ONE

GETTING THERE: WHO I AM TO SAY

PREFACE

“Survival” is a primal word. It means to LIVE, the alternative being extinction. Survival is the bottom line. In a life or death situation, the natural instinct is to survive at the cost of everything else. The basics must be secured first. If you’re dead, thriving isn’t an option.

However, as the title suggests, the focus of Rethinking Survival isn’t on “how to” survive. Here, survival implies that there’s more than martial arts skills, back woods know-how and environmental smarts to staying alive. It requires self-knowledge and a connection to one’s deepest roots of origin, as well as a powerful, clearly defined and positive purpose for living. It also requires an educated sense of timing: an acute awareness of alternating cycles — natural pendulum swings between extremes of expansion and contraction — along with the will and patience to ride them out.

This view of survival is the end result of many rethinkings. When answers at home weren’t enough, I searched abroad. Europe. India. Much had to be unlearned as better information replaced cultural conditioning and the -ism filters that distort common sense experience.

Over my lifetime, in the host of different situations described here, I’ve seen the same, increasingly familiar dynamics play out, predictably, comically, were it not for the tragic consequences for individual lives, businesses and even nations.

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.

Logically, if corrupted ideas are the root of the problem, then restoring a complete and accurate, consciously-held knowledge base is the necessary starting-point of positive change. Our tragedy is that we continue to look for solutions in the wrong places. We depend on experts who, themselves products of a skewed educational system, are not only unable to help. They’re actually part of the problem. Like passengers on the ship Titanic, we’re approaching ever closer to disaster, not recognizing that we’re steering in a collision course towards extinction.

Rethinking concludes that the way out of this terminal confusion begins with shifting to a complete and correct worldview. We need to start over with fresh deck. All the cards have to be there, and none of them marked.

Answers I found in my personal quest reside in the simple eternal truths which people everywhere share in common. Return to these too often forgotten basics heals confusion and paralysis. They’re the foundation of the Positive Paradigm of Change described in Part Two.

I tell my story with the understanding that all of us face the same basic survival questions. They’re common to all humanity, however different the settings and challenges (opportunities) that drive them home. I was raised with America’s myths and got stuck in their misconceptions. I’ve labored to get free of them. It’s my hope that my story will stimulate others to rethink their options as well.

I tell about my journey to make other people’s lives easier. Ultimately, it’s done to tip the scales in favor of human survival.

 

 

 

 

What Do YOU Think?

confusion

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

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

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

She continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The KEY

The Key to Everything

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

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

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

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

“Huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

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

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

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

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

Innocence

The Mystery of Death and Rebirth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:

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

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

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

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

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

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Friends Coming Full Circle

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Thursday, April 20th of 2017 wasn’t an ordinary shopping day. Once every two weeks, I routinely make the hour plus drive into Madison to buy groceries. But this day became a one-year book-end to last April’s Magical Day. That day, two parts woven into The Phoenix Response appeared. This day, given hints as subtle as two-by-fours, I clicked on the missing third part.

I look forward to these drives as a time to collect my thoughts and make plans. Truth funnier than fiction, a few days earlier, our teething brindle hound puppy dog trotted off with my reading glasses and thoroughly mangled them. So part of this day’s errands was an optometrist appointment to get new ones. I always take incidents affecting vision as a cue that it’s time to start seeing things differently.

As I drove, enjoying the rural Wisconsin spring greenery, one thing led to another. It started with mentally composing an email about the puppy to Lynn, my college roommate and dear friend.

We go back a long way, Lynn and I. On the surface, we couldn’t be more different. Tall and short, blond and brunette, scientist and musician. Yet, to my mother, we looked alike. The similarity she saw was the same expression on our faces. In some intangible way, we were on the same wavelength.

Back then, our unknown futures lay ahead of us.

Over time, we lost track of each other. But just before Christmas, Lynn found me again through this website. Since then we’ve been writing back and forth, reminiscing and catching up on the last forty years.

Lynn says she’s not a dog fan, so, thinking to entertain her, I was mulling over memories of different dogs I’ve known — the point being that, as with humans, some are definitely more likable than others.

In the process, it dawned on me that our renewed connection was the missing piece that ties The Phoenix Response together.

A year ago, I blogged:

Did you ever have a magical day – one that stands out even amongst the countless miracles that abound, most often unnoticed and unappreciated, in the midst of daily life?

Today offered one of those rare and precious moments to me. It had to do with basic life questions important to us all – about the quality of life and our purpose for surviving.

It was an encouraging day . . .[that] shone as a confirming ray of hope, strengthening my resolve to complete the book listed on CreateSpace as The Phoenix Response.

The initial cue came from finding The Longevity Book on a bestseller store shelf. Carmen Diaz’s first book was written for young women. This, her second, focuses on women entering middle age. But where’s the third?

An amazon reviewer’s Re line states “Wish she would have taken it to a woman’s age when she’s elderly.” The comment continues “There are so many things mothers did not tell daughters that many many of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have had to find out on our own – sadly.”

I observed: The Longevity Book begs for a sequel – one Im eminently qualified to supply. The Phoenix Response fills many gaps crying out for completion.

That day, however, thoughts about the aging process triggered personal memories. I wrote:

I thought back to my grandmother, Ellie West, who gave up a promising singing career to marry my grandfather, Hubble.

Late in her life, Ellie told me about the day he proposed. During a walk in the local park, he stopped in front an enormous sun dial set in granite and pointed to the attached plaque. Engraved onto the metal were the words of poet Robert Browning. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”

It won her heart.

As she described the event, now gray and ill, she shook her head. If not cynical, she seemed at best remorseful. For her, life hadn’t turned out the way the poet promised.

Her story left me with questions to ask in The Phoenix Response. Why did the poet associate growing old with the best yet to be? Why wasn’t this Ellie’s experience? What are the implications of her disappointment for Lynn and me as we come full circle, now even older than Grandma Ellie was when she told the youthful me about Hubba Hubba’s proposal?

Over time, the phoenix concept has expanded. In the blog with that title I wrote:

. . . here is the solution recorded in notebooks over the years. Whenever circumstances or people push me to suicide, I will die – but only to be reborn in this lifetime, over and over, each time better than before.

I called it The Phoenix Response.

I associated this intentional positive decision with the death and resurrection of Christ, whose archetypal pattern is an example for each of us to follow, at any time, as a matter of personal choice, commitment and dedicated follow-through.

Later I added:

My message for baby boomers: it’s still not too late. It’s not over til its over. Even for those of us who’ve let go of self-care and made mistakes along the way, there’s always a second chance. There’s always the Phoenix Response of regeneration – returning to the creative process of genesis itself, repairing not only original DNA of the body but of the soul.

Not only is this book dearly needed. The way for it is actually being paved and readiness created.

This April, I was receiving powerful hints from the powers that be that it’s time to start writing again. Further, I should seek out whatever assistance it takes to assure the widest publication possible.

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the eye exam. My long-distance vision has actually changed for the better! And because I was from out of town, it was arranged to have the new reading glasses ready within an hour. I was able to take them home and start working the same day.

There was also a special cup I “knew” was waiting for me to find at the grocery store. A month earlier, I splurged on one with a geometrical blue-gray-violet Native American design. It bears this hopeful omen: “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”

This day’s companion cup pictured a scene reminiscent of ancient Asian landscape paintings. A bridge connects a valley in the foreground with distant mountains disappearing into a vast sky. The cup’s quote confirmed my experience: “Some days have God’s fingerprints all over them.”

The cup now sits directly above my computer. As I continue to gaze on it, the bridge image grows on me. For we both are inevitably approaching life’s completion in death. Lynn has had bouts with breast cancer. I’ve had my share of physical health scares as well.

But I am of a certainly that death is a bridge to another dimension, whereas fatalistic Lynn probably thinks of it as a dead end, an abrupt full stop, a dark extinction.

This, then, has become the central challenge of The Phoenix Response. How do I lovingly, persuasively communicate to her, to our whole generation, and for that matter, her daughters and their children, about our marvelous but sadly forgotten, neglected and denied potentials.

What practical, proactive methods can we bring to our life and death questions while there’s still precious time left to make positive changes?

How can we make friends with the opportunity inherent in our ultimate transformation, accepting physical death as integral to the larger pattern of repetitive, cyclical change?

How do I bypass tenaciously held prejudice and culturally enforced taboos to help reconnect others once again with the innate birthright we all share in common?

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The Tower of Babel Dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three-Part Format

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unity & Diversity Are Necessary Compliments

AXIOM THREE of the Positive Paradigm of Change is now “Unity and Diversity are Necessary Compliments.” Although the idea isn’t necessarily fun or sexy, understanding this essential relationship will significantly improve the quality of both your personal and professional life.

Taken out of context, the second axiom is subject to distortions and misunderstandings. Resulting confusion can generate conflict in family relationships and on, all the way up the life chain to conflict amongst nations. That’s why Axiom Three is an such important extension of the second.

According to Axiom Two, “We are Each a World Complete, Containing the Potentials of the Universe.” This inherent inner similarity is the realistic foundation of common understanding. However, the fact that we each have the same inner structure does not mean that everyone is identical and that we should act as if we’re all the same.

Like snowflakes, humans are identical in their basic structure. Each, however, is a unique expression of the universal pattern. Personal abilities and needs are the result of an infinitely complex set of variables.

And just as an integrated balance of energy centers is necessary to the overall health of an individual, a balance of complimentary abilities and interests promotes the general health of society at large.

We share the potential for perfection in common. However, in balance, innate potentials are filtered by cultural conditioning. Each of us has an overlay of education and personal experience which tends to distort and even mask that common core.

Each of us has a long history of decisions, not all of them good. We live with the consequences of past actions as well as our hopes for the future.

Further, while our inherent structure is identical, within the evolutionary chakra scale, at any given time and place, most individuals are narrowly focused on only one or a small combination of the seven centers and their specific issues. The roles which meet our immediate learning needs and simultaneously best serve the whole are the outcome of these combined influences.

Bottom line: diversity on the surface is an inevitable, necessary and beneficial compliment to unity at the center. So long as the levels of the perfect pattern are understood and correctly prioritized, there is no conflict between unity and diversity.

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When the levels are not prioritized, problems follow. Unity at the surface — meaning regimentation, uniformity and coerced one-size-fits-all thinking — is antithetical to life, just as diversity is at the center is impossible.

So it’s essential to prioritize the levels correctly. Be clear and correct about what is absolute and unchanging. Conversely, worldly success depends on accepting what is ephemeral, non-essential, subject to change and short-lived for what it is . . . and is not. Recognizing the difference is critically important to maintaining both personal and institutional stability.

For example, when alliances are formed on the basis of surface appearances — whether it be immediate self-interest, perceived attractiveness, race, gender, age or other biological markers — the connection is weak and likely to be short-lived.

In contrast, relationships remain stable when they’re based on a personal connection with the unchanging, universal center – that which everyone shares in common and upon which everyone depends. They withstand the tests of time and prove to be mutually beneficial.

For eight-thousand years and counting, Chinese sages operated on an understanding of how the world really works based on The Book of Change. This explains the longevity of dynasties which were steered in alignment with the fundamental axioms of change.

To the extent that ancient societies understood and were governed in accordance with the universal pattern, their leadership choices mirrored this organization. At the family level, the leadership role of the biological father was regarded as a natural reflection of the divine pattern.

In increasingly larger levels of organization, in each case the greatest among the group was designated as its natural leader, seated at its center, and entrusted with the grave responsibility of maintaining stability and balance in the best interests of the whole.

Although rarely honored and only imperfectly implemented, the universal pattern pictured in the Positive Paradigm Wheel remains the organizational model which best accords with reality, and has the most likely chance of generating beneficial results.

Just as we dearly need to depend on the center of our personal lives for inspiration, wisdom and stability, we need to be able to look to the leaders in our lives – families, schools, business, and governments – as stewards of our trust.

When leaders at every level, worldwide cannot be trusted to maintain stability or protect the common good, the times grow exceedingly dangerous. In such times, personal balance and ultimately survival depends ever more greatly upon an unshakable connection with the unchanging center within.

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Corollary A: The levels of the Positive Paradigm Wheel are interrelated and interdependent. But they are qualitatively different and should be prioritized accordingly.

The surface is transient. Hurt it, and it can heal. Have a bad day, and there’s always tomorrow. This is “the small stuff.” The center, however is absolute and absolutely necessary. “With God, all is possible.” But without a conscious connection to the center, nothing of enduring value can be accomplished. Violate this connection with impunity long enough, and eventually there will not be another tomorrow.

Corollary B: Looking for completion and stability on the surface, where none exist, is a sure formula for disappointment. Creating false expectations and failing to teach realistic attitudes towards inevitable changes on the surface of the life wheel (as well as where to turn for wisdom and solace in the face of life’s disappointments) is bad for mental health and long-term relationships.

Corollary C: Unrealistic, dysfunctional paradigms are the root cause of addictions. When people are cut off from their center or deny their emotional/physical needs, they feel starved. Not knowing why, they turn to substitutes which don’t truly satisfy. When mental escapes aren’t an option, self-destructive alternatives present themselves.

Corollary D: Bigotry, discrimination and violence of every stripe are a function of ignorance in regard to Axiom Three. We are different on the outside, but eternally the same on the inside. Look past appearances which are often deceptive for the foundation of enduring relationships of value.

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

Corollary F: Forgetting (or denying) the existence of a nucleus at the center of our personal atomic structure along with fighting over the illusion of superiority and possession of ephemeral assets is a sure recipe for personal suffering, relationship problems and professional failure. On an international level, it leads to atrocities and genocidal wars.

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