Tag Archives: meditation

Truth IS . . .

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson says, “Truth is the handmaiden of love. Dialogue is the pathway to truth.”

I say, “Dialogue may be the instrument of coming to common understanding between individuals and amongst groups. But Truth has many levels.”

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At the center of the Life Wheel, Truth partakes of the absolute, unchanging source. But ephemeral manifestations of truth depend upon the focus and direction of travel – the inward or outward pathway – within the Life Wheel.

These distinctions serve to solve much confusion. Understanding them simplifies and clarifies experience.

“Hard evidence” partakes of facts and data verifiable by standard research methods. It lives on the ephemeral surface of the Wheel.

The truth of subjective opinions and feelings/emotions is also subject to continuous change. They reside at the middle level.

Absolute, unchanging Truth rests within the innermost center of the Life Wheel. Several bible study blogs elaborate on Truth at this level:

If we ever hope to determine if there is such a thing as truth apart from cultural and personal preferences, we must acknowledge that we are then aiming to discover something greater than ourselves, something that transcends culture and individual inclinations.  To do this is to look beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves.  In essence, it means we are looking for God.  God would be truth, the absolute and true essence of being and reality who is the author of all truth.  If you are interested in truth beyond yourself, then you must look to God.

References include:

Proverbs says, “one who speaks the truth gives honest evidence. (12:17)

Truth is also a quality used to describe utterances that are from the Lord. The psalmist tells God to “guide me in your truth” (25:5); the psalmist asks God to “send forth your light and your truth.” (43:3)

Ultimately, Jesus said,”I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6)

Now, the absolute truth experienced and then described in scripture is unfathomable to most of us. As written elsewhere:

The bad news is, it’s like trying to explain what colors look like to a blind person, or how chocolate tastes to someone who’s never had any.

The good news, however, is that inner truth can be known by direct experience. And there are means and methods for getting from here to there.”

Were you to ask a Zen master how to achieve enlightenment, the simple answer you’d probably get is: “SHUT UP!”

In gentler form, the Yoga Sutras of Patajani offer the same solution.

As I’ve also written elsewhere, the path of a Truth is a two way street.

To know the truth, be quiet. “Shut Up.” “Be still and know that I AM God.” Travel the inward path from surface to center of the Life Wheel to reunite with the Creative Source experienced as Conscience.

If you want know the world, then reverse course. Move in the opposite direction. Extend outwards from stillness towards the manifest world on the hub of the Wheel.

Lao Tze puts it this way:

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On another tack, in two separate posts, I’ve written about truth as game. Popular shows you’re probably familiar with include TO TELL THE TRUTH and TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES.

In Yes, AND. . . I wrote:

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.

As for Truth or Consequences, it may be well worth your while to check out the entire post. Here’s a snippet:

I remembered this experience while writing about Terry Silver’s three rules for winning an unfair fight. He advised Daniel-san, the Karate Kid:

  • If a man can’t stand, he can’t fight. So break his knees.
  • If a man can’t breathe, he can’t fight. So break his nose.
  • If a man can’t see, he can’t fight. So gouge out his eyes.

Granted, I appreciate what the monkey prohibitions were getting at originally. It has to do with the meditative discipline of Stillness. If the bans are a warning not to get entangled in negative situations that poison mental clarity, not to speak impulsively or slander others, and not to project dark side urges onto others, then fine. Otherwise not.

 

Angel Calling

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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.

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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:

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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

Stillness and Peace

Sometimes words fail me. Keeping quiet seems the better way. To share my immediate preference for silence, I’m offering two earlier approaches to Stillness. The simplest comes from the Common Sense Book of Change. The second elaborates on the first, and as a compliment may prove helpful.

Hexagram 52. STILLNESS

Peace within and harmony without come from STILLNESS.

When immediate answers to important questions

cannot be found,

sometimes keeping still is the best way out.

Burning desires produce chaotic thinking.

This only clouds the issue

and makes life painful.

Meditation is a valuable method for finding stillness.

Avoid useless activity.

Essay 47 from Conscience offers alternative perspectives on the meditative tradition, practiced throughout the ages around the globe.

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Essay 47. STILLNESS

Knowing where and how to settle the mind, one will become calm.

Having attained calmness, one will be undisturbed.

Having attained an undisturbed mind, one will have peace.

Having attained peace, one’s mind will respond correctly to all situations.

One who responds correctly to all situations will find the way.

— Confucius, Great Commentary. [emphasis added]

I suggest you begin with such a primary procedure as simply the practice of keeping physically still. . . In developing a calm control it is necessary to think calmness, for the body responds sensitively to the type of thoughts that pass through the mind. It is also true that the mind can be quieted by first making the body quiet. That is to say, a physical attitude can induce desired mental attitudes.” — Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Taoism advises us to try neither to win nor lose, to seek neither resolution nor impasse, but to study the rising and falling of the way as it moves through the field of our conflict. . . At all times, we search for the center, the fulcrum that creates balance. We stay within the eye of the hurricane. We look for the center, for that is where truth is to be found.” — Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict

THE FRONT

The root of “still” means immobile. By extension, the quality of stillness means being without sound; quiet, silent. It means not moving, stationary, at rest, motionless. It is characterized by little or no commotion or agitation, being tranquil, calm, and serene, like the still water of a lake.

The “where” Confucius refers to in the Great Commentary is the point of focus, called the ajna center, known as the third eye – Muldoon’s “eye of the hurricane.”

The “how” refers to meditative breathing and exercise practices which direct the flow of energy (chi). The intent is to circulate chi freely throughout the subtle nervous system and energy centers, thus linking and harmonizing the interrelated functions of mind and body.

Peace” refers to inner equilibrium, regardless of whether the external world is in harmony or conflict. “Correctly” refers to behavior in accord with natural and divine law. “The way” refers to the unfathomable Tao, the undivided source of creation.

In the Bible, we’re told, “Be still and know that I am God.” Similarly, in Asian traditions, meditators cultivate a quiet heart through physical stillness to experience the supreme ultimate, Tai Chi.

The practical methods outlined in Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras are helpful in this regard. This classic lists sequential stages of development, as well as obstacles to be avoided. When the beginner first starts the process of calming and disciplining the mind, temptations arise.

One, for example, is the quicksand of astral experience. Others include “siddhis,” or “powers” – sometimes offered by the “dark side of the force.” The beginner is warned to recognize the important difference between between the multitude of seductive astral voices and the quiet, still voice of conscience.

During initial stages of training, distracting voices are silenced. Discrimination is cultivated. helping meditators recognize the difference between fantasies, old mental impressions and genuine intuition. The goal is to penetrate the clouds of the middle astral/energy level of the Life Wheel in order to access the still, timeless center.

THE BACK

Information overload is the opposite of stillness. Visual and audio clutter pull attention in thousands of fragmenting directions, diminishing personal integration and mental cohesion. In extreme situations, the mind and nervous system shut down in self-defense, going catatonic to close out mind-shattering external influences.

Rigid tension, blocking out whatever was seems threatening or inconvenient, obstructs the relaxed, receptive attitude of genuine stillness. Those who ignore the still voice of inner calling and the good advice of true friends can’t receive help. Impervious minds, deaf ears and hard hearts are perversions of stillness.

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Healing the Past

I highly recommend Brain Longevity by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth. They explain how meditation-as-medicine (the “magic bullet”) opens windows to personal transformation. It’s relevant to my LinkedIn post on the nature of Time. So I’ll give you an example of how medical “matter over mind” leads to its compliment, “mind over matter.”

People get “stuck” when they constantly relive the traumas that occurred when they really didn’t have much control over their lives. Specifically, many people can’t “get over” their childhoods, mostly because they suffered painful events then that they really couldn’t control.

Many continuously revive past traumas by recreating similar situations throughout later adult life. However, rather than “acting out” painful memories, some choose to confront their fears under the safe supervision of a therapist. The goal is to recognize unconscious negative patterns and replace them with intentional, positive action.

Meditation, however, takes healing the past to a whole new level.

. . . mind and spirit can heal. . . the space between our thoughts – what the Asian healers “the sacred space” – is where most spirit-directed healing originates.

They continue:

When you meditate and elicit the relaxation response, your mind stops racing with thoughts, and there are longer spaces between your thoughts. The space between thoughts usually feels timeless.

The concept of a fourth time/space dimension is familiar from Chinese yoga as well as Einstein’s physics. It repeats in the 1913 classic Sadhana: The Realization of Life by Indian mystic, musician, poet, novelist, painter, teacher, political activist and Einstein contemporary Rabindranath Tagore.

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He wrote:

Yes, we must know that within us we have that where space and time cease to rule and where the links of evolution are merged in unity.

Here then, is the original article:

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ALTERING TIME

The pattern repeats. Three strands emerge and merge to show how the apparently abstract and universal can be importantly relevant in an immediately personal way.

The subject of Time isn’t new. I’ve approached it twice before, both “times” from a practical point of view. Since then, however, I’ve been looking at Time from another perspective to find out how Einstein, experienced sages past and present, as well as science fiction writers describe its nature. Their views are in some ways similar, but in others importantly different.

Above all, what does all this mean to every day people like you and me? And why does it matter NOW?

If matters a great deal, for example, whether what we regard as the past is immutable/unalterable as if cast in stone. Or if, instead, as some say, it is possible to alter – even heal – a fluid past and thereby create a more hopeful, alternative future. If this truly is possible, HOW can we – you and I – alter at least a few minuscule threads in the fabric of time?

Strand ONE. If we compare Einstein’s comments regarding time, it seems he was of two (or more) minds about it. In his last years, consistent with ancient scriptures, he concluded that past, present and future exist simultaneously. In his 1952 book, Relativity, he wrote:

It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional [time-space] existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.

This conclusion, however, is the objective overview of a reflective senior scientist. In contrast, and not necessarily a contradiction, he earlier described a highly subjective and situational aspect to perceived time:

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think its two hours. That’s relativity.

Strand TWO. In the context of writing an invited article for the international journal Prabuddha Bhrata, I was so bold as to speculate about the prophecized End of Times:

. . . We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times. . . . [Yet] Time does not exist for accomplished sages who dwell in the changeless center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. They experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues.

To the point, in an post to my personal website, I quoted a marvelously articulate and entertaining book, The Tao of Meditation:Way to Enlightenment, by Tsung Hwa Jou. Experienced practitioner as well as author of a balanced tripod of books on Tai Chi and the I Ching as well as meditation, Mr. Jou describes the difference between three- versus four-dimensional experiences of time in terms of tadpoles and frogs.

A mother frog, so the story goes, answered her babies’ questions about sunlight, trees and land by telling them they must wait until they mature, shed their tails and swim to the surface of the pond to experience the beyond for themselves:

We who philosophize about time, we who are limited to three dimensions are like a school of tadpoles wondering about another world. Until we too are able to “drop our tails” and step into that dimension, time must remain a subject of speculation to us, as a drinking glass is to a shadow. Until we can experience time as a dimensional context, it must remain a flat reflection to us as the upper world is to the water-bound tadpole.

With Einstein at the end of his years, Mr. Jou agrees that time cannot be measured in discrete units, but rather, is a unified a fabric, a continuum in another dimension complete unto itself. But whereas Einstein arrived at his conclusion through abstract deduction, Mr. Jou was an experienced practitioner.

In sum, he agrees with other accomplished meditators. The concept of beginnings and endings is the subjective perception of limited, three-dimensional experience. Without making claims, he modestly asks:

What is the shape of life from a four-dimensional point of view? . . . Suppose there are sentient beings who have a natural capacity to see the four-dimensional shape of things. They could tell us what the shape of our life is; that is, they could see all at once what to us is separated as past, present and future.

Why does he bother to share this information? Mr. Jou’s Motive, his WHY appears to be a kindhearted desire to share wisdom received from direct experience, for which he is infinitely grateful. His Purpose, the HOW is to detail in a book the methods and benefits of meditation along with the supporting science which explains its effectiveness. His Intended end result, the WHAT, is to give readers a time-tested way to improve the quality of daily life for both individuals and their social combinations:

If people began to think past [sic. beyond] the limitation of three-dimensions, there would be more respect between men in the business of living together for the common good. Three-dimensional tensions would dissolve, and a spirit of cooperation and mutual generosity would spring up in human affairs.

To repeat, as Einstein warned, “We shall require a substantially different manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Perhaps that manner of thinking requires the courageous willingness and competence to enter an entirely different dimension of experience — a Star Trek-like journey through inner rather than outer space. This requires not only acquiring the theoretical concept of four-dimensional time which Einstein held, but further, its immediate, direct experience as consistently reported by accomplished meditators.

To take this the next step, however, even immediate personal experience is not enough. For completion of the infinite loop, inner attainment then requires application of awareness to the outer world of experience, changing relationships and even institutional governance for the better. Sound like science fiction? For the most part, Yes. Which leads to:

Strand THREE. By coincidence (if there is such a thing), I was recently lent a science fiction book, Beth Benrobich’s The Time Roads. I chose to read it simply as a diversion.

Science fiction generally treats time travel as a hybrid of three- and four-dimensional experience. Past, present and future are understood to be happening simultaneously. However, the characters are only capable of being in one place “at a time.” Moving from a current time location to a different one requires machines.

The premise of this particular story was familiar from Amelia Pond’s dilemma in Dr. Who episodes, where dangerously expanding cracks in Time threaten to shatter and END it altogether. Scientists specializing in math and physics explore the mechanical possibility of traveling to either the past or future by moving along tears in the fabric of time. Political motives to alter history contaminate scientific inquiry. Madness, grotesque murders, bazaar explosions and scrambled perceptions of violent events follow. So far, nothing unusual to this genre.

But then, an unexpected surprise. (Spoiler alert!) A reconciliation occurs. A brief visit to the future allows the heroine to discover a plot in time to confront would-be traitors and redirect their plans. For reasons equally compassionate and astute, the red-haired Queen of Ēire extends mercy instead of retribution, and in so doing forges new pathways to a hopeful future. Long story short, in the end, the murders and violent upheavals never happened. Time lines are healed. In the process, both past and future are altered.

This surprise ending is a filled with fascinating implications, suggestive of radically important possibilities, directly relevant to the immediate discussion.

NOW, how do these strands weave together, and how might this information be usefully applied on a personal level? How can tadpole-like humans limited to three-dimensional consciousness bridge the illusory disconnects of time without the aid of high-tech machines?

I confess that, although familiar with political and fiction fascination for travel through both time and outer space, I find the very real inner possibilities closer to home much more interesting. For time as a quantifiable third-dimension experience remains plastic insofar as that, by changing subjective perceptions of the our personal past, we each have the possibility to heal that past and thereby alter the future.

In this, forgiveness is an important key. I know, for example, that whenever I hold a grudge, it distorts and even fractures the fluidity of present time. The baggage of fear, resentment and negative expectations layered onto an initial awful experience locks me in the time of the perceived injury. This seriously distorts my possible futures.

By letting go of injuries (naming them would only confirm and magnify the undesirable “reality” to be left behind), I can return my exclusive focus to the present moment and thereby expand the range of my possible positive futures.

Is this possible on larger scales of magnitude as well? I suspect so. Skeptics ridicule dire End of Times warnings. Repeatedly, disasters seem to loom, only to elude us as deadlines pass without catastrophe. But – just may be – white magicians are continuously working behind the scenes in the fourth dimension to heal the past- present-future as did the Queen of Ēire in science “fiction,” unrecognized and unrewarded except for the satisfaction of having ensured human survival – at least for a short while longer.

I think perhaps, just perhaps, every time every one of us forgives, releases the past, and alters our attitudes for the better, we are contributing, one person at a time, to an extension of the future we’ve been mercifully granted in which to improve our ways, thereby entering the fourth dimension before it’s too late and Einstein’s warning is fulfilled for those who fall between the cracks.

What do you think?

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Happy One-Year Anniversary

October marks the one-year anniversary of the +A Positive Action Press WordPress website, RethinkingSurvival.com. Looking back, I’m amazed at the way daily, incremental baby-steps have added up.

With the help of (sometimes) forbearing computer savvy friends, I’ve gone from cut-and-paste technology to working with a photo-shop clone to produce illustrations. Starting with no marketing skills and less interest, I’ve swallowed my pride and actually gotten interested in the process. From being overwhelmed by Twitter, I now really enjoy direct messaging with savvy, fun new folks. Certainly limiting myself to messages of 140 characters or less has significantly altered my writing style for the better. : )

So tonight I thought I’d take a break from my current projects to revisit the Essay on Practice from Conscience. Written in the year 2000, it’s not in my current voice. But it speaks to my immediate appreciation for the benefits of daily discipline.

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27. PRACTICE

Each T’ai Chi movement is related to a particular hexagram of the I Ching. This relationship holds vital clues to a deeper understanding of Chinese thought which, like all valid world-views, is based on knowledge of the self gleaned from the practical experience of meditation. — Dal Liu, Tai Chi Ch’uan and I Ching: A Choreography of Body and Mind

Practice is essential. Through regular practice, you will become familiar with the feeling of being relaxed. You will find that you can achieve results with shorter and shorter practice sessions. You will become like a pianist who is ready to play a beautiful Mozart sonata as soon as her hands touch the keyboard. — Kenneth S. Cohen, The Way of Qigong

One should never rush in entering Taoism. . . One must proceed step by step, never advancing to the next stage until one is ready. One need not fret. If one discharges one’s tasks and proceeds with training perseveringly, then the transitions are virtually automatic. — Deng Ming-Dao, Chronicles of Tao

THE FRONT

Practice means to do or engage in frequently, make a habit or custom. It means to do repeatedly in order to learn or become proficient; to exercise or drill oneself. Practice is using one’s knowledge, as in a profession. To practice is to adhere to beliefs or ideals. It means to teach or train through exercise. An archaic definition suggests intrigue, trickery, or scheming.

Practice is closely related to the words discipline and preparation. It implies the ability to anticipate the future and make decisions about how best to make ready for it. It was the practice of Chinese emperors to consult ministers and sages for information on how to prepare for the future. They, in turn, consulted the I Ching to decide the best ways to adjust to alternating seasons of hardship and plenty in order to maintain social, political and economic equilibrium.

By biblical account, Joseph was sold into slavery by jealous older brothers and taken to Egypt. Thus, he found himself in the right place at the right time to fulfill his destiny. By correctly interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, he saved countless lives, including those of the brothers whom he forgave.

He foresaw coming changes in nature and drew conclusions as to how prepare for the future. The practice of disciplined conservation during seven years of plenty allowed Pharaoh to feed his people during the seven years of drought which followed, thus preventing starvation, mass suffering and social upheaval.

Applications to current economic practices should be abundantly clear. Squandering resources during times of abundance is a sure recipe for famine, widespread misery and unrest when the rhythmic pendulum of history swings, replacing times of plenty with times of hardship. Wishing and hoping current “good” times will last forever because we want them to, refusing to heed clear warning signs that they never do, foolishly puts everyone at risk.

Music is a demanding discipline which emphasizes the importance of regular practice, preparing in advance to perform well. Similarly, martial arts instill respect for regular practice, cultivating the ability to adjust quickly and skillfully to sudden danger. In this case, the body itself is the instrument and tuning it a fine art. As Chuck Norris says, “Practice, practice, practice! Practice can save your life.” God forbid you’ll ever be attacked. But be ready.

Through the daily practice of meditation balanced by Tai Chi meditation-in-action, it is possible to make teachings real through experience, fulfilling the maxim “Learn by doing.”

Then, with sustained focus and loving attention, everyday activities and relationships are transformed into spiritual and martial arts training. Practice becomes a way of life, an ongoing proof of commitment in action. It’s not just a few hours set aside from the rest of the day. Nor is it to be flaunted, foolishly attracting envy and vengeance.

In Cleary’s translation of The Taoist I Ching, meditation and action alternating in rhythmic sequence are described as equally important complements. Inner stillness develops the abode of rest. Action completes and tests the abode of rest. Progress achieved by steady, gradual, consistent efforts accomplishes far more than dramatic spurts of activity that can’t be sustained over time.

Understanding the philosophy and science of the I Ching intellectually is relatively easy. Putting it into practice is more of a challenge. It’s not like something memorized for class, and then you’ve got it forever. It requires consistent attention and renewal, applying the readings to myriad kaleidoscope changes during the ongoing process of a lifetime.

THE BACK

The opposite of practice is lack of foresight and disciplined preparation for the future. Aesop’s fable of the race between the tortoise and the hare captures the difference between making steady progress toward a goal and the lazy assumption of inevitable victory, sleeping until it’s too late.

Enforced drilling is an inadequate substitute for intelligent practice. Mechanical repetitions without understanding and involved commitment are pointless. Repeating affirmations instead of taking positive action doesn’t produce quality results.

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It Is Possible to Make A FRESH START

I started “A Fresh Start is Urgently Necessary” by saying two coincidental things happened that day. I described the first, the internet being down. (Turns out a heedless farmer severed a fiber optic cable.) The second had to wait until today. Namely, I connected the dots between an overnight YouTube music search and the challenges inherent in presenting the  timeless I Ching to the Millennial generation in a way they can identify with and own.

For starters, here’s the Common Sense Book of Change version of Hexagram 18.

hex 18

FRESH START

Even when it seems that all has been spoiled,

it is possibleto make a FRESH START.

Be willing to face your faults.

Find out how to correct them.

The situation will gradually improve

if you are sincere and work hard.

Be sure you know what you want.

Avoid delay.

The unfamiliar graph is called a hexagram. It’s an ancient short-hand method for expressing countless generations of experiential wisdom about the correspondence between chi (energy) flow in the human mind/body (the microcosm) and in the universe (the macrocosm). In yogic philosophy, these six lines correlate with six basic chakras (wheels, or subtle energy centers) located at intersections along the human spine. Each of the centers is associated with specific developmental stages. A primary purpose of yogic practices is to awaken, balance and integrate these levels of experience.

The straight and broken lines of the hexagram are a binary-digital way of expressing alternating, expanding and contracting life rhythms. In the Book of Change, any or all of the six lines can change into its opposite. This results in 64 possible permutations. It’s not coincidence that the ancient I Ching and modern DNA patterns are exact correlates. This is one explanation for the healing effects of medical sciences based on the I Ching hexagrams.

Admittedly, the specifics are beyond my comprehension, for the most part because I trust from experience in the practical results. Just as I use my computer without a deep understanding of how it operates, I have benefited greatly from working with the I Ching and its off-shots. Both sciences, modern and ancient, for many of the same reasons, simply work.

To carry forward the question — When the Lights Go Out, Who Will Millennials Call? (see wp.me/p46Y5Z-cm) — consider this. If/when today’s hospitals are rendered inoperable by grid failures, and/or healthcare as we know it is made unavailable due to social-political malfunctions (like Obama un-care, for example), where can we turn for practical health sciences that maintain health and heal dis-eases? Modern medicine as a profession and a social-political corporate conglomerate has become, for many people, for many reasons, a nightmare. We especially need a Fresh Start in this important area of our lives.

My short answer: long after grid-dependent lights go out, the same basics that work seeming magic with the I Ching will still be available to those familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) methods — including Chi Kung and Tai Chi. The sooner people become fluent in the self-healing arts, the better off — for countless reasons — most of us will be.

I’ve been emphatically told by the one I most trust that “The mind will play any tune you ask it to.” When he speaks, I unpack every word. (He doesn’t waste them.) There is more meaning to this key than simply “Mind over matter” or “Beliefs generate results,” though in terms of self-healing these are included. Training the mind as a musical instrument to skillfully, deliberately apply the I Ching‘s 64-permutations of dynamic “if-then” consequences (analogous to existing computer-driven chess games) would greatly enhance one’s ability to recognize prevailing self-defeating tunes. Further, one could discover better tunes, decide which to play when, and learn how to “ask the mind” to play them.

Advanced meditators describe hearing a celestial “music of the spheres.” Just imagine, if you will, what wondrous music is available to those with “ears to hear.”

Much of I Ching-based philosophy focuses on understanding how fluctuating energy patterns affect human behavior, as well as how they can be used to create harmonious relationships and orchestrate viable institutions of governance. Much has been spoiled by lack of awareness of these patterns (tunes) and ignorance as to how to steer institutions effectively. By reintroducing this vital information, correcting what I have repeatedly described as a “fatal information deficit,” the damage resulting from such ignorance could be repaired and a Fresh Start initiated.

Unfortunately, much of this tradition has a very bad “rep.” It’s been spoiled by a complex mix of misunderstanding, misapplication, and misrepresentation. For example, when I went on YouTube looking for music (the second coincidence I mentioned earlier — see wp.me/p46Y5Z-cJ), what I had in mind was chakra/DNA healing ragas. What I found instead was a commercialized, psychedelic offering of “feel good” audio engineering. Comments likened listening to taking psychotropic drugs that induce the illusion of mind-altering experience. They raved about hallucinations experienced while tripping and listening at the same time.

My Aha: So much of what has been spoiled and cries out for a Fresh Start is the I Ching itself. Today it needs to be approached from the modern science of mind-exploration. It needs to be repackaged as a delightful, game-oriented Lumosity experience, but founded on a profoundly motivating purpose: human survival. Not unlike the Christian tradition, which has suffered greatly in the wrong hands for centuries, the timeless wisdoms must be “reinvented” and approached as if new: First time, every time.

compass clock

It’s the 11th hour, for sure. But, as it has been written, With God all things are possible –including, even, at this late hour, a Fresh Start. But the clock is ticking. God — the Tao — is infinite. Time is not.

Rethinking DISCRIMINATION

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.*

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19. DISCRIMINATION

“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.

THE FRONT

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.

THE BACK

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.

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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.

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* 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.