Tag Archives: mental metabolism

Under Construction

Inner Compass.sized

The way drivers from my state tell it, “Wisconsin has two seasons – winter and Under Construction.”

The month of June was living proof. The stretch of highway from home into Madison was an obstacle course of Road Work signs, hard hatters digging muddy trenches, and side-tracking detours.

The recent experience of driving this altered route wove itself into my thoughts about website changes, for I promised that it too will be under construction during summer months and into fall. (See My Worst Fear).  

Local highways and my writing path both reflect an uneasy tension between human planning and the ongoing assaults of natural forces. Engineers design roads to stand up under the wear and tear of daily traffic. But there’s more. Midwest roads are exposed to alternating extremes of hot and cold, not to mention floods and a wide assortment of spectacular storms. Under these pressures, erosion sets in. Even the best made roads start to buckle and crack. Pot holes begin to pock small town main streets, making for a bumpy ride.

Mental metabolism” is the writer’s equivalent of ongoing road maintenance. The physical body is built to take in food, digest it, assimilate the beneficial parts and eliminate the rest. The same goes for the mind. We are continuously assaulted by external influences. The people and events of our daily lives impact our thoughts and feelings. So do the dramas of politics, massacres and heart-wrenching suffering broadcast on the news.

Mental health – and quality writing – depends, among other things, on the ability to digest this information, incorporate what is useful, and delete the rest all the way out of the mental computer.

So back to the drawing board. Nothing extreme or overwhelming. Just small baby steps. Place one foot in front of the other, one steady step at a time, one day at a time, until I bring us back from temporary detours and onto a freshly repaired road.

As promised, after facing and walking through the fears which have kept me in writer’s limbo, here are a few of the significant website changes to come.

1. For a multitude of reasons, as time and resources permit, I intend to make the content of books sold through Amazon available on the website.

In particular, I wrote the personal part of Rethinking Survival so people could get to know the person behind the ideas. I told the story of how the working tools I have to offer evolved and the value I place on them. This (often fantastical) background puts ongoing posts in context.

I owe this information to readers who, without it, have drawn unjust conclusions. For example, it has been assumed that I must have been born to a family of well-off intellectuals or that I married into money to subsidize my writing.

Wrong. I grew up in a situation so complicated and confusing that, to survive, I clung to books. It started when I took literally what a librarian told the newly-orphaned six-year-old me – then living at the mercy of heartless relatives. “Books are your best friends.”

Books saved my life. They fed my insatiable curiosity and need for connection. The best of them gave me tools for thinking about how the world works and understanding my place in it. They confirmed my hopes. In their presence, I lived as a member of the community of minds that reaches out across the span of time, offering the best of human achievement to sustain the best part of me. And, as someone who believes in paying my debts, my life has been dedicated to paying that debt forward.

2. Immediate practical needs in combination with unfortunate experiences inside the shark-infested publishing world lead me to the following website solution.

Some background will help you understand where I’m coming from. I will be 70 in August. (The photo I use as my gravatar happens to be one of the only two I have. This is another misunderstanding to be corrected. Current photos are in the works and will be incorporated in the improved website.)

At the moment, my only income is a pittance of Social Security. Financial pressures increasingly keep writing output to bare minimum. I keep adding to the long list of useful and entertaining ideas which wait their turn on the drawing board, but don’t have the resources to complete as many as I’d like.

Up to this point, the website has been a one-person project, created with ingenuity, love and hours of effort, but on a zero-dollar budget. There’s no return from the books. Quality aside, I can’t afford to pay for the networks and machinery required to market them.

As a work-around, if you will, my solution is to add a “Donate” page to the website. Instead of paying for books, visitors will be given the option donate on an honor system of sorts, only if and as much as they can, depending on their perception of value received and anticipated. No pressure. Just an opportunity.

I will also request that, if the Handbook content (which so far I’ve kept secret to prevent theft) proves useful, readers link family and friends to the website, to magnify its potential influence.

3. In an effort to be more responsive to your concerns, I will expand the Contact Page to include an email address where visitors can forward confidential questions. Starting now, you are welcome to contact me at rethinkingsurvival@yahoo.com.

Under stern (and wise) advisement, I’ve relinquished grandiose desires to “save the world,” or even to finance physical Positive Action Communities (see the illustration labeled “Super-Objective” at the bottom of this page: https://rethinkingsurvival.com/handbook/ .)

Even so, I persist in day-dreaming about the possibilities inherent in intentional communities. For now, as a baby step, I satisfy myself with this known simplicity: “To save one life is to save the world entire.” Perhaps, by “thinking small,” it remains within the realms of the possible to build a small internet community of supportive like-minded thinkers. It would be qualitatively different from the LI self-promotional mind-set or WB’s adversarial smack-down approach. Instead, its basic mind-set will reside in our innate quest for self-awareness and a universal respect for life.

Just perhaps, together, we could begin the construction of another road less (but well) traveled.

 

globe bullet size

François Zuccheri

July 7, 2015, 7:54 AM

Patricia, I just got your email so I quickly skimmed your article. Will read and listen to it later tonight when solitude soothes. Just a question: does your site allow for other people [writers] to actually post their own articles related to your topic as opposed to just leaving a reply? Cheers.

ME:

Good question, François. Thanks for asking.

I‘ve thought about adding a GUEST POSTS page. So long as basic rules of the game – civility and relevance – are honored, I would welcome them. How these would be included becomes an administrative question. I’ll have to look into it.

Although hosting guest blogs would be a pleasure, it would require precious time and be an additional expense. One solution I’ve considered is looking into CrowdFunding. Another would be to make guest posting a privilege associated with paid membership. “Pay to play.”

Recently, a WB commenter took offence at the option to order books. He jumped to the contusion that money motivates me. But it takes an entitlement mentality to expect that I should give away the product of a lifetime of work, education, research, experience, etc. etc. for nothing. Even if I could afford to, it devalues the work. There’s some truth to the saying, You get what pay for. Something given away for nothing runs the risk of being valued accordingly.

ME Again:

François. It seems most readers quickly skim and leave it at that. I patiently await your careful “read and listen.” Wish others would take the trouble to do so as well. It’s worth it. : )

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The Evolution of My Understanding

A post-Thanksgiving exchange with a LinkedIn connection (I’ll call him Dave, a favorite name) made me realize I owe it to readers to describe from personal experience why I’ve come to place so much importance on Natural Law. It’s critically important to be fluent in its operations. It’s equally essential to understand how it’s related to, though different from, Divine Law. As I’ve learned from personal experience, a little knowledge can get you in a lot of trouble.

dragon

Dave and I have never met. He hasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, read any of my books, so isn’t familiar with the autobiographical account written in Rethinking Survival. So other than candid answers to his frank questions, his impression is based on posts I’ve written.

We originally hit it off in an exchange of comments. In response to “Boundary Spanners Connect at the Center,” posted September 10, 2014, he wrote:

Wow and thanks Patricia! That was Profound and easy to read. Writing such articles take real skill and something of real value to communicate. I especially liked the hors d’oeuvre at the beginning that made me want to read the rest. Half way through I said out loud, “I think I love you”. I certainly enjoyed reading your article very much. I just clicked “follow”, although I hate the concept of “leaders” and “followers” because I am fiercely independent. I think of it instead as “subscribe”; as in “offer me some more of your tasty wares”; rather than tell me what to think…

I can relate to independent. Mom didn’t call the toddler-me an “independent critter” for nothing. So I answered back:

In-dependent = depending on the True Self deep within. Fiercely = connected with the passionate energy of the middle level. Love you too! Thanks for the subscribe, Dave. : )

Dave’s 80-something parents, who live in South Africa, flew to California, where both he and his brother now live. He dedicated the duration of the Thanksgiving holiday season to family. After they left, he wrote:

I told my mother about you and she asked me if you were a Christian. I said that you were aware of God and often reference Christian tenets in your writing, but that your belief system seemed much wider than that. I did not feel the need to try and label you, but said that you are driven by natural law that springs from the Creator; and that is enough for me.

But that got me to thinking. How would I have answered if she had asked me directly? Then one thing led to another. Later I wrote back:

I was thinking of how to answer your mother’s question, and remembered a post from last December, “Rethinking Christ at Christmas.”. . . I’ll include the link so you can forward it to her – in case she would like to see it.

I continued:

In terms of her asking if I am Christian, the correct answer is that I love, respect and do my best to follow Christ. I’m not sure that’s the same thing as being a “Christian.” (I was not born/raised in a Christian family.)

But, having reservations about his description, I continued.

However, I am not driven by natural law. Rather, ignorance regarding the relationship of divine, human and natural law is a fatal blind spot in our education. It prevents us from understanding and connecting with Christ. (The blog will show you, literally, what I mean. If we can’t recognize/navigate that middle, energy level of natural law, we’re left stuck on the material surface.)

My belief system is “much wider” than Christian tenants, but, then again, so is Christ.

My understanding is that the essence of Christ is vastly greater in time/space than institutionalized Christian religions. Again, the illustration in the blog shows how this must be so. Christ told us he was before the world, is with us always, and will continue to exist long after the world does not. So, if his presence permeates all time and space, in effect of his presence permeates all religions.

Dave’s lengthy, astute response is too long to quote in entirety. Two paragraphs relevant to the critically important distinction which is the purpose of my blogging today (12-13-14 is an “interesting” date – perhaps the right time to make a breakthrough, finally get across the all-important sequence I’ve been laboring to define).

Religions have too much dogma. For me, the only absolute truth is that every individual is responsible directly to God for their own decisions and actions. No human intermediaries are required. Any person can communicate directly with God. Not only can they; they should.

I could not say it better!

But here’s where the conversation became murky, and needs clarification:

My remarks about natural law may not fit your definition exactly, but to me, natural law is God’s law. That said, I use the term more often in the context of physics and chemistry, without declaring who the author is.

From my point of view, two critically important distinctions must be emphasized. First, Divine Law is the Creator’s law. It rules that which is timeless, unchanging and eternal. It pertains to the source of (but cannot be equated with) the created world measured and quantified by human sciences. I don’t quibble about names. The Creator is an essence beyond words. Call it the Tao. The Universal Mind. The Divine by any other name is still eternal.

Second. Natural Law is a related but distinctly different subject. The Book of Change, the Chinese I Ching codifies the 64 permutations of alternating, cyclical change. It is the binary-digital code of duality, the blueprint of DNA – that which has a beginning and an end in time. It maps the dynamics by which creation emanates from the hub at the timeless center of the Life Wheel, and then recedes, being absorbed back into the stillness of original silence.

That’s a lot of big words and still bigger, mind-boggling ideas. But, in simple language, I’ll want to tell you why this distinction between Divine and Natural Law is so critically and personally important to me.

In the evolution of my understanding, I began an as agnostic. As described in Rethinking Survival:

The silver lining to being uprooted early and often is that assumptions others take for granted weren’t deeply ingrained. I was raised by adults from different religions who held conflicting political beliefs. Not all of them could be right. It was my responsibility to sort things out, make sense out confusion and choose for myself. “Take the best and leave the rest.”

As to the existence of God, I had no opinion. I didn’t know whether or not God existed. I didn’t really care. It didn’t seem to make a difference in the conduct of my daily life one way or the other. I was quite content to live according to the maxim,“The reward for a good life is a good life,” which appealed to me as sensible and satisfying.

But then things changed. I began to have experiences which were outside the boundaries of anything I’d thought possible, unlike anything I’d learned from anyone anywhere. One day at the downtown YWCA, a yoga teacher intoned, “When the student is ready, the master appears.” And the very next day, as I was hitch-hiking to a concert, violin case in hand, out-of-town yoga disciples stopped their VW bug to pick me up. They were in Madison to attend a seminar. I was invited. Their teacher picked up on me. I ended up in India, and doors to a new life opened.

In retrospect, there was nothing in my training that gave me a frame of reference to help put this swami in context. He was a con artist. He performed cheap magic tricks that impressed gullible physicians and therapists, and seduced vulnerable women.

He had a modest degree of attainment, mistakenly assumed to be “spiritual.” He could read minds and manipulate material objects. He knew just enough about Natural Law to seem powerful to naïve Westerners. He cynically claimed to be a man of God, a celibate monk and penniless renunciate. But he wasn’t.

What was lacking in my education was an understanding that Natural Law exists. With simple mastery, anyone can do magic tricks. (They’re called sidhiis, or powers.) My pesudo-logic went something like this: “The Swami is powerful. Power comes from God. Therefore he is a man of God. God is good. Therefore the Swami can be implicitly trusted as good.”

His hapless students had never been taught to discriminate in the positive meaning of the word. We didn’t recognize the importance difference between holiness and magnetism, between sincerity and smooth-talking charisma.

Here’s the bottom-line, the extremely important point I want to impress, the lesson learned from this sad experience, to be passed along as a cautionary tale. Divine Law and Natural Law are NOT the same. One is an off-shoot of the other. But there is nothing sacred about Natural Law. Depending on the motive, purpose and intent of the user, power can be used to serve and heal. It can also be abused to exploit and even destroy. It can be turned to serve good or evil. It expresses in the extremes of black and white magic, was well as intermediate shades of gray and yellow.

Tony Silver’s rules for an unfair fight (remember the Karate Kid?) sum up the disadvantages of limited and limiting education:

A man who can’t stand, can’t fight. So break his knees.

A man who can’t breathe, can’t fight. So break his nose.

A man who can’t see, can’t fight. So gouge out his eyes.

In effect, education which doesn’t teach us how to take a stand, breathe deep and see life for what it is, complete and whole, cripples and suffocates us. It blinds us to the dangers inherent in our immediate circumstances. It renders us powerless in the face of dark-side puppet masters who practice black magic to dominate and control unsuspecting innocents. It renders us unable to protect ourselves and those we care for. It sets us adrift, unable to recognize the difference between shadow and substance, between lies and truth, and between illusory, false teachers who distract with cheap magic tricks versus true leaders who offer genuine hope.

In the evolution of my understanding, here’s my take-away from the swami experience. Just as the biological process of metabolism is essential to physical health, so also the process of mental metabolism is equally important to psychological well-being. We take in experience raw and whole. But then it’s imperative to digest it. Take responsibility to decide what is beneficial and healthy. Put it to good use. But eliminate the rest before it festers, causing disease and decay. Release release poisons from the system completely.

In the case of the swami experience, the beneficial effect worth keeping was that it shook me out of my culturally-induced coma. It gave me first-hand experience of invisible forces which bad guys manipulate with impunity to get whatever they want, at everyone else’s expense. It also led me to other experiences. There are protections. Working with the Book of Change, for example, was a life saver. It gave me the leverage to recognize danger, put it in perspective and protect myself from it.

My choice was to honor and maintain connection with the life-sustaining eternal center. I released as poisonous the anger/pain which causes many to react to unfortunate experiences with false teachers by rejecting the Creator whom they only pretend to represent. That would be to choose starvation rather than taking responsibility to process life’s challenges intelligently.

As a child, I thought the question of God’s existence didn’t matter. Now I recognize that operating on the basis of a complete and accurate reality map makes all the difference. There’s more to life than our materialist teachers taught us. Seeing life whole and complete is the starting point of clear thinking and effective, positive action. It’s imperative to recognize that there is an eternal center which abides deep within, regardless of whatever abuses of power are perpetrated in the name of God. It continues to exist whether or not we choose to be aware of it.

In the evolution of my understanding, I’ve come aware that bad guys succeed in wielding temporal power by abusing natural law with impunity. They succeed only by keeping the rest of us in ignorance, the mother of slavery and seed of suffering. I’ve become convinced that the way out of mortal danger is for good guys to open their eyes, breathe in their courage and take a stand. Human survival will depend upon the leadership of those who exercise their God-given free will, who choose to wake up to the magnitude of the danger we’re in, and who are capable of wielding their natural powers/potentials in the service of the larger good.