Tag Archives: Jack Balkin

What IS Your Calling

Angel Calling

A timely message from Charles Caro, a senior LinkedIn expert who was most generous with his knowledge when I was a social media newbee, sparked this post. He wrote:

Patricia, You are on my list of the top people I want to contact related to my new book titled “Job Seeker’s Faithful Guide” . . . The book is targeted to job seekers wanting a resource to sustain themselves mentally and spiritually during their job search journey.

I was hoping you would share information on my new book with your connections either by message or simply sharing my posted Pulse article.

I immediately emailed back congratulating him: You’ve found an important blind spot in the job-seeking canon, and trust you’ve filled it admirably.

And forthwith posted this update:

I highly recommend Charles Caro’s work. I owe him a debt of gratitude which I’m very glad to repay in any small way possible. Please see https://lnkd.in/bX–TjH.

After further thought, I added:

You’ve got me thinking. These are times that test us all, serving to separate the wheat from chaff — those who will hear and survive, from those who have hardened themselves and will thus fall by the wayside. Perhaps I will write a post to rethinkingsurvival.com to this end that mentions your book as its trigger. Your words could well make a positive difference to those who choose to “endure to the end.”

Now where was the perfect timing – the synchronicity – in this exchange? His job-search approach touched on a burning question of my own, a follow-up to my last post confirming the personal decision to endure, Choose LIFE II.

Although the basic decision was made, I was finding it not sufficient. I was filled with grave doubts about the future. As the vitally urgent next step, I had just journaled my burning question as an I Ching query. “Why am I still Here? What is My Calling?”

A review of past LinkedIn correspondence underscored my discouragement. In a professional environment where carving niches is the norm, resonance with my boundary-spanner idea was sparse to nil.

In our earliest exchanges, what I asked Charles was how to connect with like-minded thinkers. By this I meant interdisciplinary innovators who span and link professional disciplines (sciences, religions, and philosophies) by recognizing the universal source that underlies and sustains all life, on every corner of the globe. This was the thought behind illustrating Einstein’s quote in Rethinking Survival.

circle compass of compassion

As good fortune would have it, Charles himself is a boundary-spanner, demonstrated by his ability to recognize the relevance of Chinese wisdom to his Christian worldview. As a practicing Christian, his connections support his approach. For example, he wrote:

Timothy Tobin, who is one of my 1st level connections, lives in Peoria, Illinois where Caterpillar has cut 30,000 employees of the past couple years. Tim has predicted I will sell a million copies in a year. He has let his wife know she can stock the book in their Church bookstore.

In turn, the Life Wheel which is equally compatible with ancient yogic scriptures and modern physics is also compatible with a profound reverence for Christ.

Although coming from very different traditions, what we share in common is a recognition of basic human concerns. For example, my published work focuses on creating awareness of the natural laws of change as well as their relationship to their unchanging source. In describing his new book, Charles choses to call change “transition.”

The “Job Seeker’s Faithful Guide” targets everybody involved in a career transition regardless whether they are unemployed, underemployed, seeking a new opportunity or launching a new business on their own. 

So later I added this observation:

I find repeatedly when researching that two out of three levels of experience are covered — the mental and physical (“think” as in strategize and action/behavior), but the central, driving core — which depends on hearing (“knowing,” trusting, believing in the creative source) is overlooked.

Now, as to the answer to my query, the main text I consulted to examine the implications of my answer was the Jack Balkin version of the I Ching (Book of Change).

Balkin is another, formidable boundary-spanner. As underscored by his title choice, The Laws of Change, Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional LAW and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. (As an aside, I urged him to write on a question that fascinates me: the relevance of the Book of Change to Constitutional Law. Sadly, he responded that other work is prohibitive – for the time being.)

Like every other version, being the product of a human mind, this version is limited by the constraints of duality. Yet it is a brilliant contribution to the field and clearly a labor of love. While some might complain that he lacks the traditional linguistic and/or yogic background which Asian translators bring to the subject, in an intuitive way (perhaps exactly for that reason), his understanding rings true.

Be that as it may, to repeat, I asked, “What is My Calling?” In my case, the I Ching Answer was Hexagram 30, Li (double Fire), with no changing lines. Balkin translates Li as RADIANCE, and lists these Key Words:

The Clinging; Interdependence; Synergy; Understanding connections and interdependencies; Fire; Brilliance; Clarity; Shedding Light on Things; Enlightenment

Ah. I instantly recognized the relevance to my boundary-spanner quest.

The text explains:

The two great themes of Li are enlightenment and interdependence. Fire sheds light on everything as its radiance extends outward; but it burns brightly only as long as it has fuel to draw on. As long as the fuel lasts, the fire lasts. Whatever gives light, clarifies, and enlightens depends on something else to which it clings, something whose persistence and perseverance allows the light to shine.

My intuitive response clicked on the image of the burning bush of Exodus, from which the voice of God called out to Moses.

Burning Bush image

Balkin continues, applying these themes to relationships:

So it is with human life. The life of human beings is not free and independent. It is conditioned on circumstances, and, in particular, other human beings. If you wish to gain clarity in your life, you must understand who and what you depend on, and who and what depends on you.

Balkin advises:

Enlightenment means accepting the world for what it is, recognizing one’s connection to others, and taking care of what needs to be taken care of. This is the path to clarity and peace. Acceptance does not mean pessimistic resignation. It means facing up to the facts. Only when we can accept the world can we begin to work with it to improve it and our situation within it.

Relevant to job seekers attached to past successes (or failures), he admonishes:

Do not cling to the past, for it is gone and it will not return. Accept change. Be open-minded and adaptable. Don’t bemoan your fate. Consider how you can change things for the better, given the situation you now face. Nurture others and you will nurture yourself.

His summary states:

Fire is an apt symbol of enlightenment because the power of truth is increased when it spreads to other minds. One candle lights another, and the amount of illumination is doubled without anyone’s light being diminished. For this reason, superior people do not hoard their knowledge or their wisdom, but share it with others who are willing to accept it. In this way enlightenment eventually can reach “to the four corners of the world.”

Food for thought indeed. What do you make of it?

And, as I continue with my own reflections, I encourage you to ask your Self, what is YOUR calling?



Saturday morning, May 17th, while browsing on Twitter, I happened upon the question, “Is Affirmative Action still necessary?” I tweeted straight back, “It was NEVER necessary. The goals are still valid; the legislation missed the point, triggering backlash without valid solutions.” On second thought, I tweeted “AA my thesis subject; response not made lightly; see  http://wp.me/p46Y5Z-7h. All best!”

Then, out of curiosity, I looked up the folks who asked. It’s a suspiciously faceless group using the same familiar but empty buzz words that attract all, but satisfy none. “Change is Coming. Engage. Unite. Inspire.”

It’s my ongoing work to take back and revitalize the language. Change is my subject. The Unified Theory inherent in Einstein’s famous formula is the message. Reinventing democracy by inspiring careful thinkers to Positive Action is my intended result.

Hence, today’s blog is dedicated to the history behind my answer. Take time to balance the overlooked neutral and positive meanings of “discrimination” with the overworked negative ones. It’s important.

An earlier blog posted on January 5, 2014, I spoke to a comment about discrimination made on “Off the Record” by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. She said racism exists and it’s terrible. But using the race card wrongfully is just as bad. Public figures who stir up the pot are dividing the nation, not healing it. They’re doing a real disservice to those with valid grievances. She called for “Real Solutions to Solve Real Racism.” I agreed whole-heartedly.

I continued, “Bottom line: exploitation is an energy dynamic, a symptom of self-destructive imbalance. To the extent that individuals operate on incomplete, inaccurate and false paradigms, they remain insecure, unconscious and functionally disconnected from their higher potentials. Out of that pain and suffering, like Kissinger, like Soros in the extreme, they will continue to feel justified in dominating, controlling and exploiting whomever they can, however they can — playing out power addictions with hypocritical talk of philanthropy.

“Affirmative Action legislation has not changed these dynamics — nor, as discussed earlier, could it. Looking in the wrong places doesn’t help. Tacking Affirmative Action legislation as an overlay on the surface level, while failing to address a deeper, divisive worldview, couldn’t help, and most likely would make matters worse.

“Blaming outside enemies as an excuse to avoid self-examination and correction is a futile waste of precious time and energy. Although venting frustration in politically motivated social movements — even terrorism and outright war — may temporarily feel good, it doesn’t address the underlying paradigm deficiency that drives hatred, violence and injustice. It therefore can’t put an end to catastrophic outcomes.”

Here then, is the supporting Essay from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.*




“Relying more on the social scientists than on legal precedents . . the Court insisted on equality of the mind and heart rather than on equal school facilities. . . . Brown symbolizes the Good America, rather than the country that slaughtered Native Americans, subordinated women, and enslaved blacks. — Jack M. Balkin, What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said

Dealing exclusively on a rational level with an issue like discrimination which is deeply emotion-laden (sub-rational) on the one hand, and highly value-laden (super-rational) on the other, fails to acknowledge and draw on the levels where problems begin and where solutions can be found. — Patricia West, “Positive Action: The Next Generation”

Seeing and hearing are like food and drink; you need them every day, but you also need to digest and eliminate them every day. If they are not digested and eliminated thoroughly, they remain in the gut, eventually producing illness. — Taoist Meditation, trans. Thomas Cleary.


Three levels of definition attribute opposite, contradictory meanings to the single word discrimination. In the last century, failure to recognize and sort out this confusion resulted in muddled perceptions of purpose, inconsistent implementation and half-hearted compliance with Affirmative Action legislation.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s rational definition of discrimination posits a neutral function of mind. To discriminate is to distinguish with the mind or intellect; to perceive, observe, or note the difference in or between. As an analytical tool, discrimination is the neutral function of mind used to dissect a situation’s parts and deduce cause/effect relationships amongst them. As a tool, effects of its use, whether creative or destructive, depend on the motives and competence of the user.

The last given definition adds a preposition: against. To discriminate against is to make an adverse distinction in regard to, to distinguish unfavorably from others. This negative definition is the sub-rational use. It describes abuse of the critical faculty of mind to separate, distance and subordinate others, and to rationalize exploitation. Discrimination as a function of biased, negative emotions such as fear, hate, envy, arrogance or greed is the polar opposite of objective analysis.

Still further from the rational meaning of discrimination is its super-rational definition. It is not included in The Oxford English Dictionary. However, in Eastern scriptures, the highest function of mind is called buddhi (hence the name Buddha), translated into English as the power of discrimination.

This usage alludes to the ability to see through deceptive illusions, to recognize the eternal in the midst of change, to be aware of all-pervading spirit operating within gross material forms. While rational discrimination is neutral and sub-rational discrimination has separatist results, the super-rational function of discrimination is unifying in effect.

Depending on the user’s mind-set, the I Ching can be used to serve rational, sub- or super-rational motives. Ideally, it’s used to facilitate the process of mental metabolism. When the senses are overloaded with impressions, the Book of Change can be approached as a discipline for settling down and organizing one’s thoughts sufficiently to define the immediate situation and ask questions about it.

As negative emotions surface, they’re named and released, not unlike the process of separating toxins from useful nutrients, eliminating them as waste. Rational thoughts are then simplified, prioritizing essentials and aligning them to basic purpose. Then, when emotions and rational mind are harmonized and stilled, the higher mind is invoked.

It is in this state of tranquil revere that one pierces the veil of ordinary thought, allowing the transcendent awareness attributed to genius to come forward. Einstein, for example, acknowledged that his famous e = mc2 formula came in a flash of inspired contemplation. He faulted his peers for what he called the “fateful fear of metaphysics,” a pernicious prejudice that’s easily as dangerous as racism or sexism.


Mercy and compassion ameliorate the effects of negative discrimination. Introspective activities like self-analysis and use of the I Ching promote the positive capacity to discriminate, make correct decisions, and act wisely. In human law, the opposite of discrimination is justice and equity. In an equitable society, wisdom is promoted as the foundation of harmony and order.

The discipline of positive discrimination is neglected in an unjust world. Ruthless extortionists in positions of political power will kill to prevent discriminating thinkers from recognizing and opposing their abuses. Tyrants promote negative discrimination. They exploit hatred, weakening the people by turning them against each other, conquering by dividing them.


What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said. Ed. Jack M. Balkin. (New York

University Press: New York, 2001.) pp. 4-5.

Patricia West, Positive Action: The Next Generation of Affirmative Action. Unpublished paper. (Madison, WI, 1976).

Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body, trans. Thomas Cleary. (Shambhala: Boston, MA, 2000.) P. 57.


* See the Conscience Page for illustrations, description of the structure-within-structure format of the Sixty-Four Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.