Tag Archives: Jordan B. Peterson

Your Choice

Yoda make good choices

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink is exactly the right medicine for me right now. It might be for you too.

Here’s the amazon.com summary of his credentials:

Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life.

JW’s perspective is radically different from that espoused in Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. As described in If You Love Your Children. . . and . . . Tell Them How the world Works:

Essentially, [12 Rules] advises people to “man up.” All of us have the potential to be much better than we are. Before criticizing the world, our first responsibility is to improve ourselves with discipline, carving out meaning in our lives as a bulwark against the chaos of life’s inevitable hardships.

But the two approaches are, each in its own way, complimentary.

Now – JW’s background is far different from mine.

I’m a woman brought up as a musician. As a college/university-educated scholar majoring in world history-philosophy-literature, much of my later years have been dedicated to unlearning and relearning.

As a violinist and yoga practitioner, my practice disciplines focused on harmony, balance and unity.

In school administration, I looked to the ultimate decision-making manual: the ancient Chinese I Ching — The Book of Change.

JW speaks of fighting. And aggression. I approach self-improvement in terms of transcendence. Our goals and results, however, are much the same. So my approach to discipline is also, in its own way, complimentary.

I find JW’s approach to discipline almost devotional. Similar to Chinese Taoists – including the Shaolin monks who based kung fu martial arts on the I Ching — he refers to The Way of Discipline. He writes:

Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow. . . . .

There is only one way.

THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE.

What inspired me to write this post was his chapter on NATURE VS NURTURE. He asks, What is more important? And he answers, Neither.

In the military, I worked with every type of person:

Ivy League kids with silver spoons, kids from blue-collar families, kids from strong families, and kids with no families, kids who were pampered and kids who were abused. And everything in between. Everything.

And with all those different types of people, there were good and bad. Successful and unsuccessful. And in working with businesses, I see the same thing: People from every walk of life. From the bottom to the top – and I have seen every type of person be successful.

His conclusion:

It is not about nature or nurture.

It is about choice.

He continues:

The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.

They choose who they are going to hang around and they choose who they will emulate.

Ultimately:

They choose to become who they want to become they aren’t inhibited by nature or nurture. They overcome both.

I totally agree. Choices and consequences hang together. And as pointed out elsewhere in describing the natural Law of Karma, failure to choose is also a choice — one with heavy consequences.

 

book header bird

There are two directions I could take from here. One is to share with you the post called What’s More Important – Nature, Nurture, OR . . ..

This subject is especially relevant in the context of answering ideologues who use the seeming unfairness of life and suffering as excuses for rebellion and destruction of social order . . . rather than discipline.

The other direction I could take is to share is the Essay on Discipline which give a balancing, complimentary perspective to JW’s military approach.

Here’s my choice. First I’ll offer a few snippets from the blog here. You’re welcome to click on the link if you’d like to see more.

Then I’ll post the Essay on Discipline below.

So. First. From What’s Most Important:

I’ll give one example here using the Positive Paradigm Wheel of Change. This picture talks to the right brain to balance the left-brain discussion which follows.

It places the relationship of nature, nurture and “much more” in prioritized context.

PPoC gold

The surface level that corresponds with MASS includes everything tangible and measurable. It’s the realm of empirical science. That would be “nurture.”

The middle ENERGY level corresponds not only with electricity, but with subtle but measurable energies that yogis call “chi” or “prana.” It’s the level associated with DNA, emotions and “gut” feelings. That’s “nature.”

The innermost level of LIGHT is associated with intangibles, including conscience. That’s the “. . . and More.”

My conclusion:

. . . leaders who intentionally live true their conscience and succeed in linking the levels of life are key to a viable future. The rest of us will depend on them to out-think, out-maneuver and succeed long after pretenders with no substantial connection to the center of life have been blown away like dust in the wind.

Phoenix - sized

And here’s the Essay. Hope you enjoy. Your comments are welcome. If you find this resonant, please share to magnify the effect.

ESSAY 26. DISCIPLINE

Tai ji is a discipline that can help you settle into the experience of your body and your surroundings and re-establish contact with what is happening now. — Chungliang Al Huang, Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn. — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When our emotions hijack us into overdrive, we react to others without the benefit of reason. By managing our emotions more effectively, we are able to dissolve distressing emotions, which allows us to think more clearly and use our emotional intelligence to make better decisions. — Lambrou & Pratt, Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions

THE FRONT

“Discipline” comes from the same root as “disciple,” meaning “learner.” Webster’s first definition is a branch of knowledge or learning.

Second, it’s training that develops either

  • self-control, character, or

  • orderliness and efficiency, or

  • strict control to enforce obedience.

Third, it’s the result of such training or control, specifically either self-control and orderly conduct or acceptance of or submission to authority and control.

Fourth, it’s a system of rules, as for a church or monastic order.

Fifth, it’s treatment that corrects or punishes.

The pristine word means love of learning. In self-actualization traditions, discipline refers to the process by which ignorance is decreased and wisdom is increased.

In balanced measure, incorrect ideas and behavior are recognized, corrected and put away, while correct ones are introduced to replace them. This entails digging deeper than cultural conditioning to reconnect with innate potentials and inner aspirations.

The word “correct” is intrinsic to the concept of discipline. Webster’s defines correct as to change from wrong to right, removing errors. The word is also means to make conform to a standard. Further, it means to scold or punish, or to cure, remove or counteract a disease or fault. Correct also means conforming to fact or logic, to be true, accurate or free from errors.

Whether discipline is a joyful privilege or painful punishment

is decided by the motives of involved participants.

If the learning and correction are imposed externally upon unwilling parties, it’s onerous. The subjects can perhaps be forced to alter behavior. No positive inward change results from coercion, however. If anything, force breeds the opposite of intent: resentment and rebellion.

Societies that fail to inspire and foster internal self-discipline therefore pay a high price in the form of escalating crime rates, overburdened judicial systems and costly prisons.

If, however, through the power of example, a sage attracts students hungry for wisdom and self-improvement, then the condition for positive change exists. When the teacher is motivated by compassion and generosity, and students with respect and love of learning, then innate potential for transformation can be actualized.

Negative emotions can be healed and self-mastery achieved. Mutual consent and willing compliance set the stage for improving oneself and, by extension, society.

As correction agents, coercive prisons impose external discipline on people perceived as threats to society. Those capable of inner discipline, however, remain free to use even external confinement to advantage.

For example, during the time he was imprisoned by a political rival, King Wen turned apparent defeat into the opportunity to order the hexagrams of the I Ching and write commentaries. Upon release, he helped found the next Chinese dynasty. The legacy of his steadfast resolve during dark times and ability to transcend adversity remains with us even today.

Nelson Mandela used thirty years of incarceration to carefully examine and correct his character. When the time was right, the extreme revolutionary became South Africa’s most responsible elected leader. His extreme isolation changed to an opposite and equal status of unparalleled international influence.

THE BACK

Absence of discipline is of the opposite of discipline. Though the immature may regard disorganization and irresponsible disrespect for worthy seniors as a measure of freedom, it isn’t. Without self-discipline and self-correction, there is no self-improvement or sustained achievement.

External regimentation can be a perversion of discipline. In the extreme, it suppresses creativity and initiative. Coercive military conscription, slavery, or other involuntary work are violations of free will that degrade the value of life.

 

. . . 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

Yes, AND . . .

What follows is the irrefutable answer to bogus post-modernist views. Psychologists’ tool boxes are incomplete without it. Political theorists’ speculations are void.

Here’s the plan: I’ll give you the remedy up front, then paint with a broad brush its applications and implications. As a wrap up, I’ll ask why the answer has been overlooked, listing and dismissing arguments (prejudices) that have blinded us to this answer. A P.S. suggests why this post is longer than most.

The key I’m referring to is embedded in Asian teachings that predate Christ’s incarnation by thousands of years. (Mind you, this remedy in no way conflicts with his teachings. Quite the contrary. I’ll get back to this important point in good time.)

Interestingly, Jordan Peterson opened the door to acceptance of this investigation. In describing the classic Tai Chi Tu, the Chinese yin-yang symbol, he refuted the familiar objection that the idea is too abstract. It’s “not real” in the sense that it can’t be quantified or measured. He fired back, it’s hyper-real. It is the substratum which underlies and supports physical reality.

Tai Chi Tu

So too are the chakras. Ancient Hindus mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras (“wheels).” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment. (This opens up the subjects of Einstein, the science of human energy transformation, and psychologists as agents of positive change – all of which I’ll also get back to briefly later on.)

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

Here’s the basic picture of seven subtle energy centers aligned along the spine. It sums up the evolutionary stages of human development from base to crown. Increasingly more sophisticated psychological states are assigned to each of the centers, as are specific emotions, endocrine glands, internal organs and life issues.

chakras

Albeit subtle (which is different from “abstract”), this image, like the DNA imprinting of cells, is intrinsic to the very structure of our souls. It includes both the vertical alignment of centers and their interdependence. Its hierarchal nature can no more be debated than can the importance of breathing. Further, the vital structure of inner organization naturally reflects outwardly, mirrored in analogous family and extended social relationships.

So. Arguments that hierarchical relationships are invalid or that value systems have been negated, however apparently seductive to some, are WRONG! FALSE! The image of chakra organization supports the conclusion drawn in Be an Instrument of Light:

God is not

and could not possibly be

dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof

of God’s existence.

Before you reflexively dismiss this imagery as foreign to Western thinking, let me remind you that, though overlooked, it is intrinsic to Western civilization’s deepest roots. The caduceus is associated with both Greek mythology and the Western medical profession. It serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences which are shared in common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.

Caduceus

In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.

(These twin currents regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which explains why focusing the eyes where they intersect at the nostrils evens the breath, calms the mind and heals the body.)

The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution. The wings atop the axis represent its integrating ruler: the crown chakra.

Another view brings it closer to home. Dr. Peterson also opened the door to this picture, which explains the different orientations (he calls them temperaments) amongst the psychologist’s approaches in his “tool box,” each applied at discretion according to individual client needs:

invisible geometry sized

This suggestive picture could be unpacked at length. For those familiar with psychological traditions, however, it speaks volumes unto itself.

The concept of Invisible Geometry, by the way, comes from comparative religion teacher Huston Smith, who wrote:

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

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

Much is available on the web for those interested in researching the details. What’s relevant to the forward movement of this particular discussion is that this picture shows the innate hierarchal nature of human development and social organization. Not coincidentally, the highest center, associated with Christ consciousness, is called the crown center. It rules over all lesser states of being.

Next in line is the Ajna or Command Center, usually referred to as the “third eye.” It receives messages from above and coordinates functions of the lower centers.

In an article to be published in Prabuddha Bharata, I expanded:

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

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

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

Yes, AND

The Yes, AND was originally a response to a JBP video: Bravo, JBP – But there’s more!”

Yes. This is necessary, but not sufficient. My work compliments and completes yours. Knowledge, as written elsewhere, is a two-way street.

Make no mistake. I’m a great fan.

But there’s more. I MUST hope and trust that, as the declared truth-seeker and teller that he is, he’ll welcome the opportunity to learn and grow.

In one video, JBP says he’s deliberately working to improve himself, taking advice from friends who advise when he comes on too angry, too this or that. But these comments are at the level of presentation. What I’m addressing is deeper and directional. One approach starts from the outside and works inwards. The other starts from the inside and radiates outwards.

As the medieval Great Debate detailed in The Highway to Heaven is a Two-Way Street concluded, there is no contradiction. Truth travels in an infinite loop, joining surface with center, highest to lowest. So, no matter where you start, you’ll eventually cover all the bases and arrive at the same destination.

I’m guessing that limits on his approach might be intentional — strategic and necessary. His options are restricted by the professional hats he wears as clinical psychologist and teaching professor at an established university.

Whatever the case, I am free to take the next steps.

book header bird

Here’s a good example of what I mean. The Youtube video How To Transform is packed with statements that beg to be unpacked – taken the logical next step that leads outside the domains of empirical science.

What got my immediate attention was his mention of the phoenix. That happens to be the subject of a book on my drawing board, The Phoenix Response.

Referring to sorting oneself out, Dr. Peterson says:

. . . you have to allow yourself to shake off those things about you that you might be pathologically attached to – habits and people, for that matter, ways of thinking . . .

Immediately I thought, Aha! Because Rethinking Survival is premised on an Einstein quote: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

But, continuing:

You have to allow yourself to shake those off. That’s more like a burning. That’s why the phoenix is the symbol. It’s old and it deteriorates, bursts into flame and then it’s reborn.

Well, do you want to be reborn? Do you want to burst into flame?

The answer to that generally is NO. But that’s the wrong answer. The right answer is, You let all that nonsense burn away.

Agreed. This is the hero’s journey, facing the challenges of Chapel Perilous, knowing that “the only way out is through.” Facing fears is part of the hero’s territory.

Here’s my summary or the phoenix book:

The phoenix is a mythical, magical fiery bird that recreates itself, repeatedly rising from its own ashes to begin life anew. An inspiration to self-healers, The Phoenix Response details the ultimate survival option that always remains open, even in a dangerous world which too often compels suicide.

Using time-tested methods, we can continue to repair and rejuvenate, even in the face of overwhelming stress. Yielding before life threats, we can die to the old – to be reborn IN THIS LIFETIME, over and over, each time better than before.

The Phoenix Response draws on universal wisdom written in every human heart, sought after as if lost, and esteemed as a priceless treasure by those who succeed in actualizing the hope of self-renewal.. . . anyone who deeply desires positive personal change can activate the archetypal Life Wheel, going deep within and returning to daily life again, transformed and renewed.

Just one sobering caution, however, before moving on. Ancient practices regarded each day as the microcosm of a life complete. They began and ended the day’s cycle with book-ends of prayer and preparation. Thus made themselves ready to meet the closings of larger-scale cycles whenever they should come, as prelude to the next day’s awakening.

Similarly, we can no more forestall the cyclical downturn we’re now engaged in than we could stop the sun and moon from making their rounds. Though the phoenix can usher in new beginnings, it knows better than to resist the call to transformation.

Politics and Unnatural Change

For a lighter angle, I’ll share the famous Upanishad story about blind men and an elephant as it applies to atheism. I refer to it in part to lay the groundwork for another application. I’m quoting from “The Ant and the Elephant,” a section in the “Atheism Answered” chapter of Rethinking Survival.

An ancient parable from India captures the dilemma of human inadequacy in the face of Truth. Five blind men were introduced to a gigantic elephant. After touching only one part, each reported his experience.

The one who embraced a leg said elephants are round and rough, like the trunk of a tree. The next, who felt a tusk, said elephants are hard and sharp, like a sword. The one who felt an ear described elephants as thin, flat and flexible like a fan. The next, who grabbed hold of the tail, was certain elephants are like ropes, perhaps even whips. The last, who felt its belly concluded that elephants are thick and heavy, like walls.

blindmen & elephant

Now add to the mix a contemporary riddle which captures the humor of human gropings. Question: “What is the height of ambition?” Answer: “An ant climbing up an elephant’s leg with sex on its mind.”

Next question: “What’s the height of fulfillment?” Answer: “The ant climbing back down the elephant’s leg with a smile on its face.”

Just so, we’re like blind beggars, groping towards fulfillment and comprehension of universal Truth. We mistakenly generalize our partial perceptions of a reality which none can see in entirety. We’re like ants who aspire far beyond our limits, sometimes fortunate enough to enjoy a taste of satisfaction.

Heated arguments between religionists and atheists are equally noisy, short-sighted and futile. Each disputant has a partial piece of the larger puzzle. But only that. Their antics — posturings and posings — would be comical, were it not for the extraordinary waste of time and energy lost to creative endeavors.

Atheists who deny the existence of God are equally ignorant and silly. They might as well argue that atoms have no nucleus, or that the solar system has no sun. It’s like ants presuming to deny the existence of elephants.

Their superficial (often angry, self-pitying and self-serving) arguments have no affect whatsoever on the eternal center which always was, IS, and always will be.

Have authority-cloaked religionists, for thousands of years, abused the name of God to excuse abuse of power, claiming divine rights for human rulers — be it European kings, Chinese emperors, Russian tzars, Arabian caliphs, or whomever? Certainly.

Have their enemies repeatedly wrested temporal power away from its holders, only to abuse it in even worse ways themselves? Definitely.

Have humans suffered unspeakable cruelties and injustices at the hands of fellow humans from time immemorial? Sadly so. Continuous upheavals on the surface of the wheel are part of life. It’s nothing new.

But the existence of the unchanging silent center continues into infinity, regardless of what’s happening at the surface. Whether you honor it with awe in simple silence or choose a particular name for it makes no difference. It remains the same.

If you’re totally disillusioned by bad luck or the particular version of religion enforced by your elders, your quarrel is with the ways of the world and its human institutions. Your misfortunes don’t reflect on the Creator’s existence, which is a different subject. God continues to broadcast. Whether you listen remains your choice, the exercise of God-given Free Will.

Here’s a quick summary critique of Saul Alinsky’s concept of “change.” It’s literally antithetical to the Natural Law embodied in the Chinese Book of Change.

It would seem that Edward Bernays — the so-called “father of spin” — was a foremost henchman of the invading aliens. If so, Saul Alinsky was their number one point man. The “coach” was a self-proclaimed radical.

In a twist of our poor abused language, Christ was rightly regarded as “radical” in his day. He would be today as well (in the original meaning) were he to walk among us now, because “radical” originally meant “going to the foundation or source of something; fundamental.”

That’s a far cry from Alinsky’s extremist meaning of “radical.” He was intentionally the antithesis of Christ, going so far as to acknowledge Lucifer in the dedication to Rules for Radicals: ‘the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.’

His logic is so twisted that a critique would have to move line-by-line to unravel his spiderweb of tangled assumptions. The attempt would be like wading in quicksand. A Jesuit-trained logician would be hard-pressed to come out clean. Yet Rules for Radicals is sometimes made required reading for impressionable teenagers.

In the first chapter, Alinsky stated his exact purpose, namely to coach those who “want to change the world” from what it is “to what they believe it should be.”

In this book we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people. . . We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world . . [emphasis added.]

Here’s part of my analysis:

Note the use of the “royal we.” This is a megalomaniac talking. He wants to change the entire world. His attitude is towards power holders is openly aggressive. He doesn’t just want to take what they hold. He wants to seize it. To violently “change the world” by means of a “mass power organization” makes no positive sense. History tells us that repeatedly, when power is seized from one set of Haves, it merely passes to another set of worse ones. Never, ever has it been “given” to “the people.” This assumption-packed premise is an extraordinary feat of tragedy-fraught hubris.

First off, what blind, ant-like mortal would dare to think that he can comprehend what, in its entirety, the world — the elephant — really is? What human could possibly be so foolish as to think she is qualified — on the basis of one puny view — to judge what it should be? Alinksy’s rules extended an invitation for blind mortals to jump in feet first where good angels know far better than to tread.

Second, who really understands change? Many bandy the word about. But it’s a profound science of which few have in-depth knowledge. Confucius dedicated a lifetime to understanding the dynamics of Natural Law encoded in the perennial Book of Change.

So, for starters, the “belief” that anyone can change the world from what he assumes it is to what he assumes it should be is unspeakably misguided. Building on this false premise, Alinsky then fueled the undermining alien arsenal with a full battery of destructive tactics. In essence, political radicals should feel “free” to violate the ten commandments. The ends (getting what you want) justify any means.

His version of social change is engineered by stirring up conflict. Use fabricated information to bear false witness against inconvenient neighbors. Alinsky advocates scapegoating, not unlike the dynamic which propelled Nazis to power. Create the illusion of an outside enemy as the way to unify your base. (How is that for the ultimate double-speak? Conflict is the opposite of unity.)

Transformation and Psychologists

Looking back on the story of blind men and the elephant, I now recognize that the seers who told this story were alluding to the chakras, telling us that the world looks very different, depending upon which set of filters you’re seeing through.

That’s why, for example, the world seen through the first chakra makes sense to a behaviorist like Skinner. Whereas, seen through a more evolved lens, human potentials look quite different. Thus, in The Carl Rogers Reader we find this prophetic comparison:

Skinner argued for the intelligent and hopefully humane use of reinforcement theory to direct the course of the individual’s and the society’s development. . . freedom and choice are mere illusions. . . Rogers argued that freedom and choice were not illusory but real phenomena, and that a science that dehumanizes the individual and attempts to control human development paves the way for dictators and despots to move society inexorably toward a totalitarian, Orwellian future.

Now, it’s important that Jordan Peterson holds Rogers in high regard. The video called A Psychotherapist Is An Engineer Of The Soul is well worth quoting:

. . . read the damn therapists, man. Those people were smart. It’s like each of them gives you a different tool box. They’re not scientific theories, exactly.

But as a clinician, you’re not a scientist. You’re an engineer of the soul. That’s a better way of thinking about it. Because it’s applied. It’s like engineering. It’s an applied science. So that makes it not a science exactly. You can use scientific knowledge. But you’re still aiming at the good. Right? That’s what you are doing as a therapist.

You say, Look. You already know that things aren’t as good as they need to be. We’re going to work on that. We’re here to make things better. And I’m going to help you figure out how to make things better. Then I’ll listen to you. And we’ll move towards some place that’s lighter and better.

Then you have tools you can use. Those great psychotherapists, man. Those people had their 10,000 hours. They all come at it from slightly different temperamental perspectives. [chakra filters!] Like Jung’s work is really useful for dealing with people who are high in openness. You have an open client? Jung works. If you have a conservative client, forget it. It’s a whole different thing.

His attitude reaffirms the conclusion drawn in Therapists as Positive Change Agents. Given Alinsky’s nefarious influence on politicians and governments, you don’t dare look to them for positive change. Nor to religionists with their scripture-defying double-talk about “social justice.”

Filling a glaring need, therapists have been obliged to take on that important role:

In the past, those in psychological pain, suffering from self-doubt and looking for a better way to live, would have turned to sages or kings for guidance. At this stage in history, however, therapists as healers (meaning “to make whole”) are often the best secular refuge.

Just imagine, if you will, how even more effective they’d be if they added chakras and the Natural Law of Change to their tool chests.

Why Asian Sciences Are Overlooked and Undervalued

Many in the West devalue Asian teachings, though in some ways, they are more sophisticated than our own. Their sages obtained knowledge from the inside, in prayer and meditation. Unfortunately, this inward focus, taken to yin extremes, explains the material poverty of the masses, which materialist Westerners find abhorrent.

But extreme-yang Westerners swing to the opposite and equal mistake. Making a deity of empirical science, they acknowledge only the “reality” of that which can be quantified and measured. As a result, generally speaking, the vast majority enjoy a relatively high standard of living, but suffer terribly from spiritual poverty.

Here’s a picture of the way each approach fractures the Life Wheel. Extreme yin religionists value the center of the Life Wheel to the exclusion of the material surface. Extreme yang materialists go the other way, valuing material wealth while denying, if not defying, the existence of its Creator.

extremes

Reminiscent of the Hindu parable, extremists are blind to the whole, mistaking a limited experience of a part for all there is. Asians, atheists, theists all have partial understandings of reality.

Now, Christ did not make this mistake, though Western religionists who call themselves Christians often do. Nor could he possibly have sanctioned the out-of-hand rejection of Asian wisdom as if pagan and therefore “unChristian.”

I’ve been told by one who knows, OA, that few people actually understood what Christ was about during his lifetime. Even fewer can claim to completely fathom the vastness of his essence now. But surely, to the extent ancient teachings contain part of universal Truth, they partake of Christ’s essence. For Christ Consciousness pervades the entire field of creation, the full chakra spectrum of potential experience.

Since, as he told us, he existed before and will endure after this Earth, permeating the entire world, how could the truth teachings of distant times and civilizations not be part of Christ? I love this cartoon, in which the Christ corrects the blind men. He gets it! (Now it’s up to the rest of us to take the hint!)

christ & elephant

So let’s drop bogus excuses for overlooking the validity of Asian teaching. They speak to fatal blind spots in Western knowledge banks. They are no more foreign or outdated than are the teachings held up to us as the foundations of Western civilization. To reject them is to forfeit the immeasurable benefits to be gained from restoring that yin part of the metaphorical elephant to our yang arsenal.

It’s the abuse of the teachings, the corruption that has occurred in every time and place, the overlay of dross and foolishness which we must shed. Do this to let pristine Truth rise once more out of the ashes of outworn customs, ignorant prejudices and greedy exploitation.

Wheel2

Wheels within wheels within wheels. Got the picture? : )

Now, here’s what I’ve been trying to get across to JBP in one form or another. Christ, like many before and after him – from ancient Hindus to Mayans – spoke about end times. However detestable, like Judas, today’s postmodernist neo-Marxists have role to play. Crossing swords with them isn’t the Phoenix way of redemption.

The irrefutable answer to bogus postmodernist views is helpful only in so far as it used to prevent deceivers from confusing those who serve truth. It’s not going to “change” the course of history as it has long been foretold.

Resigning oneself to the inevitable crash and burn of civilization is a sad but necessary preliminary step which must be endured as the prelude to its rebirth. Titanic-like victims have chosen to take a joy ride on an ill-equipped, fated ship. Squandering regretful attention on their fate is fruitless. The wiser to choice is to devote limited resources of time and attention to what can be redeemed.

Christ compared today’s end times to the fate of Noah’s civilization. The wise heeded warnings and survived. Fools partied on, oblivious to danger until the flood waters rose up to carry them off. Now as then, those deaf to calling and hardened against Truth will choose to party on, oblivious. It’s their choice. And their consequences.

Let us, instead, choose to follow Noah’s example. Prepare for what coming. Preserve the timeless teachings and protect those willing to listen and follow Truth. The process necessarily begins one person at a the time, living according to a complete and accurate reality paradigm in which yin and yang ways of knowing complete each other, bringing the music of life once again into harmony.

Angel Calling

P.S.

There’s necessity to the length of this post. It’s the last for now, so I’ve reduced the content of what might otherwise have been four separate pieces, to include everything that wanted to be said. As it stands, writing takes too much out of me, for too little in return. I’ll consolidate past work into a book, whose whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. But unless balance is restored in terms of feedback, the rest must remain unsaid.

 

The Heart Doesn’t Lie

Here’s the dilemma.

The education/information business is an overwhelmingly noisy market place. How can a humble writer with a calling hope to be heard? Is there a way to cut through the cluttered field of competitors out merely to make a big name and bigger buck?

The dark-side method to media madness is that mind-numbing clutter shuts intelligence down. Technology has made it too easy for anyone with a political ax to grind – any agenda however nonsensical or vicious – to build a platform.

The protective, instructive voice of conscience, however, resides in stillness. If people don’t value and have the skills to cultivate peace of mind, they can’t hear conscience. They forfeit the ability to practice conscious discrimination in the original, pristine and positive meaning of the term. They’re rendered helpless, unable to know the difference between true and false messengers.

The logical balance to extreme complexity is to return to utmost simplicity. Scriptures advise, Be still and KNOW, I am God. Listen to the heart of hearts. Not noisy, needy emotions, mind you. But the silent unerring voice of Conscience. It never lies.

You can run. Hide. Deny it. Deceive yourself. But the heart of hearts . . if you have the courage and self-honesty to listen . . . really listen . . never lies. It can’t. It is at one with the truth. Always was. Always will be.

listen with the heart

So this is a call to conscience. Listen with your heart. It will not fool you as to who is who, or what is what.

My immediate dilemma is this. I need to effectively persuade Jordan B. Peterson that I continue to extend cordial greetings him in good faith. That I am a messenger come to meet him half way in good will, offering hard-earned and extraordinarily useful information that completes (neither challenges, competes with nor diminishes) his admirable accomplishments.

That, from opposite sides a perceptual continuum, each us working to complete the same good work. That I persist in communicating because I am listening, without projecting or anticipating outcomes. Simply because it seems like the thing to do.

Naturally, he must be suspicious. And, being very busy, is a bit too quick to judge, assuming the usual worst. Surely his twitter account is inundated with off-the-wall comments.

After a recent post, Fresh Start, I tweeted to Dr. Peterson,“Young women are just as much at risk as young men!” together with the link.

Apparently he didn’t look at my post, but instead on September 27th posted to his account the link to a video I’d already seen, as if to refute a perceived criticism. The header: “More than half a million people have watched this clip: Every young woman needs to see this!”

The video speaks to the idealized mother-child relationship as foundational to civilization, one that is being undermined by demanding careers.

Had he taken my sentence in the context of the full paragraph, the motherhood vs. career issue wouldn’t have seemed the right response.

Here’s the sentence in context:

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.

So I responded, “Yes, BUT . . .”

Among others, one woman commented: “. . you would have a bigger female following if you made more aimed at women.”

A masculine comment reads: “You’re a warrior Prof. An example for us all, keep fighting the good fight.”

My point: Dr. Peterson has tapped into a crying unanswered need. He speaks to it admirably, but only partially. Nor could more be expected of any one person.

I didn’t say there’s no discussion about women. Rather, that the perspective is intensely yang in presentation. From a young man’s point of view, the professor is “an example for us all” (meaning all young men?) of fighting the good fight. Great. We need that.

The woman’s comment, however, also carries weight. More attention to women’s needs would attract a larger female following. Just not from the same, intensely yang perspective, please. It’s not female bodies that are underrepresented so much as the calm, quiet state of mind which is receptive to inner knowing – an energy valence, if you will, which Asians call “yin.”

When I responded with “Yes, BUT . . ,” what I meant to say is that there’s more to women [and men] than the either/or choice between reproduction/family versus lucrative careers. There’s whole universes of other options to choose from, not just the extremes of virgin mothers versus snake-headed monsters. I can tell you this from personal experience, having traded all other opportunities and resources to put the books on the shelves for others that were missing when I dearly needed them.

As a woman, I’ve experienced first hand the consequences of being given equally false either/or choices. But the fact remains, no matter how punitively society dictates to the contrary, like some men, some women are truth seekers. Philosophers. Fascinated by history and alarmed at the course of current events. Who speaks to them? What are their options?

Sigh. I didn’t even bother to tweet out the last post, Be an Instrument of Light, even though I thought it one of my best.

My ordinary rational mind asks, Why bother? Why not focus on winning a lottery? Carry on with daily routines without the fuss and frustration of writing. The odds of a breakthrough are probably about the same, if not better.

But then that pesky inner voice (Dr. Peterson likens it to Pinocchio’s Cricket) answers me back. “Why bother? Because to survive what’s roaring down the pike at breakneck speed, young people, male and female alike, desperately need the complementary view which balances Dr. Peterson’s example, without which results (like the percentages of his following) would continue to be skewed.” (More on this later, in a separate post, Yes, AND . . )

For now, let me share the ongoing dilemma expressed from anther, earlier angle.

To tell the truth - image

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

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

Hucksters out to make a quick fortune while basking in their 15-minutes of fame misrepresent both their intentions and abilities. The sure-fire get-rich formula “spiritual” entrepreneurs use is to tap into people’s deepest desires and fears. Associate your product with an accepted wisdom tradition to piggy-back on its credibility. On the one hand, offer gullible marks whatever they want; on the other, guarantee protection from the consequences of stupidity.

In a crowded market place full of unscrupulous pretenders, how do messengers of substance and integrity stand out from the noisy crowd? Even screaming isn’t heard over the ruckus.

The only option is to play by the rules – quietly, persistently Tell the Truth.

To Tell the Truth” is the longest-running show in history. It’s not a game, however, nor is it for the faint of heart and spirit. But human survival is at stake.

11th hour

From another angle, I’m concerned that generosity to a fault puts our good warrior Prof at risk of distraction, if not burnout. I’m mindful of a Sufi saying that I’ve found useful as a standard for allocating positive attention:

Sufi saying sized

Put another way, after a certain point, debating noisy protesters and exposing seemingly endless corruption is a bit like wading in quicksand. It’s not good for peace of mind. There are far more important things to do, more productive uses of precious time and attention.

Ah! Perhaps this is what you mean by refusing to play their game.

Ain’t Playing Their Game

Angel Calling

The Highway to Heaven Is a Two-Way Street

jacob's ladder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No answer.

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

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

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

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

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

childish

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

Native American

Buddhists create intricate mandalas with colored sands.

buddhist

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

Mandala1

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

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

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

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

closing

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

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

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

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

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

book header bird

The GREAT RECONCILIATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

see saw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

Our future may well depend upon

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

It will take a reconciliation and reawakening

to the full spectrum of human potentials

to generate a flourishing of creative problem-solving

sufficient to tip the scales of history

in favor of human survival.

Phoenix - sized

N.B. “Re-nasissance” = “rebirth.”

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