Tag Archives: Michio Kushi

Looking in the Wrong Place for Answers

 

A poetic I Ching warning advises:  

Don’t hunt for deer in a forest in which none dwell. 

In plain English, it translates as, Don’t look for right answers where they’re not to be found. 

Let’s start with the most basic, universal question, “Who Am I?”  

If we look to the paradigm of empirical science for answers, they’re, at best, incomplete. Often misleading. And they change over a lifetime. 

I am so and so’s child. At times, I’m so and so’s friend, brother, sister, wife, or husband. Other times, I’m orphaned, abandoned, isolated and alone in the world. 

I’m born rich or poor, or somewhere in-between.  

I’m a farmer, plumber, doctor, lawyer or Indian chief; a housewife, salesman, cook or cleaner. 

I’m a skeptic or believer; an atheist, agnostic, humanitarian, pagan, shaman, sage, Jew, Muslim, Christian, or whatever. 

I’m a democrat, republican, libertarian, communist, iconoclast, rebel without a cause, or whatever.  

And these identities continuously shift over a lifetime. 

For most, biological identity is less mutable. I inhabit a male or female body which gradually ages over time. For all but the most imaginative, sexual preferences remain fairly fixed. 

But these identities are all restricted to the ever-changing surface of the quantum Life Wheel.  

Hidden within these answers is an implicit assumption. My things, my status and others — parents, teachers, community, church, state, or whatever — define Who I AM. Do they? Really? ?  

Is it possible that I have the right – ultimately, a responsibility — to define myself? 

In any case, in the long run, none of the usual answers are satisfying or fulfilling.  

The cabaret singer wails, “Is that all there is?”  

And the soul knows, “No.” What we see is the tiniest tip of an infinite iceberg. There’s so much more to life! None of these ephemeral, physical expressions of the True Self define the Me who I truly AM. 

Attempting to change things for the better inside the trap of the materialistic paradigm is an exercise in futility. To exchange one lifestyle for another, one gender expression for another, a new hairstyle, political affiliation, profession . . . whatever . . . is to look for answers to universal discontent in the wrong place. 

Fulfillment and satisfaction aren’t be found anywhere on the surface of the Life Wheel. Not really. Not in the long-term. 

The deer we desperately seek – our deepest longings, our true heart’s desire – dwell deep within the energy, light and Source levels of the Life Wheel which, in its arrogance, empirical science has ruled out. 

The more spacious, complete Quantum Paradigm is the right place to look for answers to our questions. 

For example, over a lifetime, I’ve struggled with understanding how to define myself as a woman. It was agonizing. I won’t bore you with the pages of details confided into journals over the years. Suffice it to say, going back for generations, the war between the sexes left causalities on all sides. 

Only by redefining myself in quantum perspective have I been able to put old demons to rest, saving the baby of feminine essence from the bathwater of unnatural stereotypes. 

Great compassion for my father and brother, who suffered as much from the oppression of limiting stereotypes as did I, compels me to wish for others what my family lacked. Namely, the awareness that each of us is, in essence, an immortal soul.  

Further, within each of us are the innate potentials to express both yin and yang qualities, balanced according to time, place and situation.  

In comparison, the biological bodies we chose for this particular incarnation are but a tiny percent of the vastness of who we each truly are. 

Even further, empirical science measures IQ. But it has no language for expressing the unique evolutionary path upon which each of us traveling.  I’ve left you some hints in Psychology’s Blind Spot. It’s worth a look. 

From another angle, I spoke to gender confusions in a comment to a locals website. The host was advocating civil unions as a way to keep all sides “happy,” avoiding religious conflicts. I responded:  

“Okay. My pesky muse insists I engage in your marriage discussion. How to do this briefly, clearly & usefully is quite the challenge. But will give it my best shot. 

“Restoring clarity and correctness to human relationships can only be achieved by starting with the basic understanding that everyone, everywhere shares in common the existence of a central, eternal core of divinity. From this point of view, genuine self-respect arises and from it, reverence for all life follows. 

“Secondarily, there’s an energetic substratum which all share in common, the e=energy level of the Quantum Paradigm. Though suppressed by cultural conditioning with grotesque consequences, by nature we all have the capacity to blend and alternate between different combinations of yin and yang: being submissive or assertive, gentle or firm, yielding or solid, nurturing or protective, etc. etc. 

“It’s only at the m=mass level of material tangible expression that souls separate into sexes, presumably for purpose of reproduction (though as Margaret Mead eloquently established in her research, the roles and attitudes assigned and assumed to these differences are not fixed. They vary greatly in different cultures).   

“These basic differences are matter of fact, and can’t be altered surgically/chemically. For example, at a seminar I once attended, Michio Kushi randomly called a man and woman up from the audience to prove this point. He held a pendulum over the head of each. It circled in one direction over the man, in the opposite direction over the woman. 

“Now, both men and women get bent out of shape because limiting either/or gender stereotypes are stifling across the board. The solution, however, is NOT any of the liberal BS which compounds problems rather than solving them. It is to link the levels, allowing for the natural and divine to filter through to and illumine human relationships in the infinitely variable ways they can express. 

“It would be an understatement to say that the radical, extreme separation and conflict generated by misunderstanding and disrespect for feminine essence (on the part of both men and women) is at the root of current dysfunctions . . . from personal relationships up to and including cultural breakdowns.  

“Legalities one way or the other don’t address the real issues, nor can they change what needs to be changed. 

“Amen. 

“PS. The problem with an exclusively rational approach is that, while it may be better than a reactive, emotional approach, it’s still half-assed. It’s divorced from the levels where problems begin and levels deeper still where genuine solutions are found.” 

Once one escapes from the trap of the materialistic paradigm, the field opens wide to infinite possibilities. So I dearly wish every one of you the best in your quest for better answers.  

As a matter of fact, it seems that events are conspiring to push the collective in the direction of quantum solutions. Everything we thought we knew and could take for granted in the material world is relentlessly being swept out from underneath us.

There’s no guarantee that the future will be easy. But it’ll be grand! Because you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Why do I say this? Tune in for the next installment: The Grand Finale. 

 

Patricia West is author of The Common Sense Book of Change and Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change. She’s currently working on The Phoenix Response: Dying To Be Reborn – in the Same Lifetime. 

THOU SHALT NOT MURDER

 

10 commandments

A friend recently drew sharp attention to a little known mistranslation with enormous cultural implications.

Like most pacifist vegetarians of my generation, I grew up taking a misleading translation of the Old Testament sixth commandment quite literally. “Thou shalt not kill.”

Currently, however, the generally accepted wording is, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” World of difference.

Murder is a very specific type of killing, defined as unlawful killing committed with malice aforethought, anti-social behavior often associated with other crimes like robbery and political intrigue. Murder is synonymous with assassination and extermination on the one hand, but also with mutilation or mangling.

At the very least, there are two outstanding differences between an across-the-board prohibition on murder versus a blanket prohibition on all killing whatsoever, whensoever, whysoever.

First, according to I Ching wisdom, mirrored by King Solomon’s famous words in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and place for every purpose under Heaven. Within the cyclical laws of nature and nature’s God, purposeful killing is intrinsic to life’s rhythm.

ecclesiastes

Second, if one is prohibited from killing regardless of context, this prohibition, in extreme circumstances, is misconstrued as a guilt-inducing, paralyzing, self-defeating command: “Thou shalt not protect thyself.”

Further, examples of murder are less obvious that one might first think. There are many more forms and levels of crime than those acknowledged by legal systems designed to protect human life and property.

As psychologist Erik Erikson, quoted by Jonathan Kozol in Death at an Early Age, wrote:

Some day, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit; for such mutilation undercuts the life principle of trust.

To this point, in Rethinking CRIME I wrote:

Those who dismiss, demean or control children with fear condemn them to empty lives of masked conformity on the material surface of the Life Wheel. Instilling extreme ideas about death, as if it were either a reward or ultimate punishment, one’s only hope or worst enemy, results in living inappropriate to reality.

To take another tack, I’ve more than once observed that the people who on the surface of the Life Wheel give the appearance of being the most conformist, are at deeper levels, the least so. They simply have the most to hide.

Conversely, those who may not be so strict in social correctness have less to hide. Often, they live more faithful to the heart of human kindness. In fact, this is the consistent pattern.

The Laws of Nature explain this consistent inconsistency. Consistent with I Ching wisdom, Michio Kushi lists “Twelve Principles of Order in the Universe.” They include:

1. Everything is a differentiation of ONE Infinity.

2. Everything changes.

3. All antagonisms are complementary.

4. There is nothing identical.

5. What has a front has a back.

6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

The dynamics of this natural law explain why what appears so on the surface inevitably has a shadow, complimentary opposite side lurking beneath. Those who know them best find the nicest people can be shockingly cruel.

The most seemingly non-violent – apparently squeamish and helpless when it comes to physical self-defense can be extraordinarily violent in non-physical ways – ruthless when it comes to money matters or partisan politics.

The bravest and most accomplished of performers, if naive about the ways of the financial world, can be undone by a ruthless agent and end up ruined.

Herein lies the stuff of human tragedy. As the Greeks understood, a hero’s greatest strength, untempered, becomes (ironically) the cause of his downfall.

These dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude. We find them in operation within the family, played out in communities, corporations and nations. In some cases, murder is a question of degree. How different is it from character assassination, for example? Or invalidating others. Or wearing them down, depleting their energies and resources.

People who pride themselves on being powerful in terms of economic and social resources adopt extreme yang lifestyles. This includes using the force of personality and, in extremes, physical violence, to get what they want.

In contrast, those who lack external, material resources take refuge in extreme yin strategies. They too maneuver to get what they want, just in more subtle ways, including psychological warfare. They are just as violent. Just in ways and on levels hidden from most of us.

A current example is a politician who as an outsider, superficially seemed the most liberal and egalitarian. Once inside, however, the opposite side came forward. Outward appearances belied the character of a despot with no qualms about lavishly squandering tax dollars to fund an extravagantly opulent lifestyle.

Hence the virtue of a middle path, free of extremes in any direction. The ideal of health, on every scale of magnitude, is balanced strength on all levels rather than imbalances – excesses on one level masking deficiencies at another.

Understanding the levels and layers of life and the dynamic interplay amongst them is critical to social and economic survival. Adhering to that deepest, infinite core from which integrity, balance and wisdom flow remains the key to ultimate survival.

Especially in troubled times such as these, I think back on the Psalms of King David, equal parts musician, warrior and ruler. In all aspects of his reign, he survived by allowing his life to be ruled by that ONE Infinity acknowledged throughout time as the bedrock of life.

Although in family affairs and matters of state, he suffered dearly from the inconsistencies of human behavior, he inevitably found the safe way through trouble.

David-sized

Thus in Psalm 27 he sang:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3  Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

5  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

In all, the survival path is marked by adherence to the Law. Conversely, it requires avoidance of that which is unlawful. This includes both refraining from acting unlawfully — violating the laws of nature and nature’s God —  and protecting oneself and those one loves from unlawful behavior perpetrated by others.

Therefore, thou shalt not murder. By extension, thou shalt not murder the language, rendering the God-fearing defenseless before enemies and foes.

victory-sized