Tag Archives: mindfulness

The I Ching and ME

A guest blog I’ve enjoyed writing focuses on using the Book of Change to experience the difference between KNOWLEDGE (information) and KNOWING (introspection). Maintaining a balance between the two is a survival priority.

The article’s section headers include Lao Tze and the I Ching, Jung and the I Ching, and The I Ching and You.

After submitting it, this thought flashed into mind. A section was missing: The I Ching and ME. So here it is.

For me, the Book of Change is a gateway to magic. On this side, it has been a close companion, good friend and advisor through the years. On the far side, perhaps remembered from lifetimes past, it speaks to me from a place beyond time and space.

With it, I was never alone, even and especially when I was loneliest in crowded rooms. When the world impelled suicide, it brought me back to a deeper, all-pervasive love of life.

So I will share a few sections from Rethinking Survival about how I met the book, and how it has grown on me.

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First Introductions

. . . I’d had a hunch about [the I Ching] for a very long time. Ellsworth Carlson, who lived in Shansi, China during WWII, was a classmate of my parents at Oberlin College. When I was nursery school age, he bounced me on his knees at Harvard.

As Freshman student, I took Dr. Carlson’s course in Asian History at Oberlin. What stuck with me how vast an influence the I Ching had on China for 8,000 years and counting.

So, when I left the U.S., all I took with me was my violin and one small suitcase. Of that, half contained clothes. The other half held sheet music and one small book: the Legge translation of the I Ching.

It made no sense to me. I could barely get through a page or two before giving up. But I kept coming back to it. It led to something important I had to know more about.

When I happened upon the Wilhelm/Baynes edition in Düsseldorf’s International Bookshop on Konigs Allee — Finally! — I had a version I could relate to. It literally became my teacher. It gave me a whole new concept of how the world really works.

Not just this family or that institution or the other county. Not arbitrary and capricious, fluctuating fashions, but the constant anchor over time.

From it, I could deduce the fundamental energy dynamics of action and reaction which drive behavior, internally at a psychological level, and externally in relationships and day-to-day events.

It was an extension of the logic my English teacher Miss Elson impressed on my high school brain. But more. It gave me a map of logical consequences, as inevitable as computer language. “If this, then that.”

For example, If you kick people, they kick back (if they can) or otherwise resist. If you are kind, you inspire love and trust in others. If you violate natural law, nature bites back — your mental health suffers; relationships deteriorate; your behavior becomes erratic and social/physical survival is imperiled.

Asian cultures call this “the law of karma.” Its operation is also described in biblical terms: “As ye reap, so shall ye sow,” and “to everything there is a season.”

In sum, its 64 permutations map a progression of the AC-DC energy changes which constitute the natural law of repetitive, cyclical change.

Value

From my point of view, this ancient, timeless science fills a critical blind-spot in Western thinking, lacking which, all efforts are partial and incomplete. Put another way, the glaring absence of this information explains why so much goes so wrong, despite even the best of intentions on the part of politicians, priests, coaches and leaders of every ilk.

The Book of Change combines the best of many worlds. On the one hand, it’s pure logic and math. Its binary-digital code long predates both Leibniz’s calculus and computer science. On the other hand, it leads inwards, serving to link the material world of physical experience (empirical science) with its ultimate source (the realm of con-science).

Working with it, one starts with immediate, practical experience, with the option to travel with it to the opposite end of the reality scale that merges with the apparently mystical. This interactive book, regarded by some as magical, depends on the phenomena of synchronicity to link person, time and events in the decision-making process.

The longevity of ancient Chinese dynasties is attributed to sages who advised their emperors on ways to balance and thus survive historical yin-yang cycles of decay and regeneration. By working in harmony with the laws of nature, rulers succeeded in maintaining social and political stability, riding out the predictable, alternating pendulum swings between extremes.

Even the Communist Chairman Mao, an avowed atheist, owed his success to the I Ching. Its influence permeated both his moving poetry and highly successful, if unorthodox, military strategies.

When I described the many benefits of working with The Book of Change to a business consultant, she summed it up for me. “It sounds to me like the ultimate personal survival guide.” She was exactly right. So I used her description as the title of a book describing its many virtues (as well as answering the unfortunate prejudices/assumptions which have kept the book too much in the shadows).

What You See Is What You Get

The I Ching‘s value, I’ve finally come to understand, is measured by the quality of focused attention, self-honesty and positive intention with which it’s used. Those who dismiss it, who “believe” it is superstitious nonsense, fulfill their expectations. In a way, the book has its own fail-safes. Those who approach it with arrogance or evil motives get little from it.

In my case, it has provided ongoing, life-confirming support, most especially when humans failed me totally. Probably any truth book approached with concentrated attention and an open heart connects the personal mind with the guidance of the Universal Mind. Truth is timeless, so whether the catalyst that triggers inner knowing is ancient or modern doesn’t much matter.

But for me personally, working with The Book of Change is an especially powerful form of introspection. It’s a favorite mindfulness practice, if you will. Best translations link magic with science to satisfy head, heart and soul.

I admit that, as with any good friend, it took a while to break the ice and get to know it. For example, once, when I was relatively new to the book, on an early winter morning in Spring Green, I woke up with a bad feeling and consulted the I Ching for feedback. Its advice, in essence: “Don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. Anything you do now will go wrong.”

Friends were skeptical. I was scheduled for a job interview that couldn’t be missed. Even when the bald tires on my vintage Buick skidded on the ice, spinning me into a snow bank along Willow Gold Farm’s long driveway, they refused to quit. They drove up the tractor and jammed a curved metal hook under the front fender. It punctured the radiator, emptying its yellow-green fluid onto the crystal white snow.

I wasn’t going anywhere that day. Or, after their “help,” even the next.

This was definitely a book to be taken seriously!

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But enough for today. There’s much more, of course. Will have to wait for later.

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Where Is the Unity in COMM-UNITY?

Working with words mindfully is an interesting challenge.

For example, have you ever wondered about the names United States and United Nations? Why did Founders choose to describe their country as United? United on what levels and in what way(s)? By common principles? Common interests, commitments, or vision for the future?

What did charter members of the international organization intend by using the same word, United? Pursuing common goals, pooling resources and/or standing firm against common dangers? Does the word hold the same meaning today as it did earlier? What does it mean now, and to whom? Does United mean the same thing to insider elites as to the rest of us? Why does this matter?

The use of the word United is ironic with overtones of tragedy, given the current fragmented and contentious condition of both entities.

It part, current problems were inherent from inception, a consequence of failing to be philosophically correct in foundations. This single picture shows wherein unity can truly be found, and where not.

0 Def of Paradigm

Looking for unity in the wrong places was fraught with potentially dangerous consequences which are still bearing poisonous fruit today.

It’s especially important to rethink the meaning of Unity in the context of building intentional communities, for the chain of individuals bound together by common purpose is no stronger than its weakest link. The foundation of viable, sustainable communities begins with the integrity of each participating member.

The following Essay from Conscience provides food for thought along these lines. It offers a holistic perspective on unity, both within and without. This comprehensive view offers a useful understanding for building effective communities, as well as diagnosing past failures experienced as a consequence of limited vision and follow-through.

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Essay 60. UNITY

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. — Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The scientist or the artist takes two facts or experiences which we separate; he finds in them a likeness which had not been seen before: and he creates a unity by showing the likeness. . . . All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses. — Jacob Bronowski, quoted by Todd Siler in Think Like a Genius

I have always felt that one of the simplest and most apt metaphors for an organization as complex as the United Nations is the Rorschach inkblot test. What one person sees as the hope of a world free of war, famine, poverty, and disease, another interprets as a global boondoggle comprised of uncaring civil servants threatening the cherished concept of state sovereignty. — James Holtje, Divided It Stands: Can the United Nations Work

THE FRONT

The Latin root of “unity” means oneness. Webster’s first definition is the state of being one, or united; oneness, singleness. It means something complete in itself, single, or separate. It can be the quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose; harmony, agreement or concord. In contrast, it can also mean uniformity.

It can refer to an arrangement of parts or material in a work of art or literature that produce a single, harmonious effect. It can refer to constancy, continuity, or fixity of purpose or action.

The difference amongst these definitions reflects a general cultural confusion as to the optimal relationship of the individual to nature, society, and their creative Source. Effective, consistent action depends on an integrated concept of self and a comfortable relationship of each part with the whole. Therefore, thinking carefully about what unity means — as well as what it doesn’t — is a necessary prelude to ultimate success in life.

Accepting the I Ching view that accomplishments begin with the smallest unit, unity is first to be attained within. It’s common to say, “My mind’s not made up” or “Get it together.” The familiar saying, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” could also be phrased, “The left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is doing.”

When Westerns say, “I’m of two minds on this,” it reflects confusion, ambivalence or lack of discipline. However, the martial arts advice to have eight brains and eight hearts refers to the height of attainment. It suggests ability to intentionally shift internal gears to meet any situation. From the totality of unified mind, the ideal I Ching master focuses from above while acting through each of the energy centers according the immediate need at the time.

According to the MPI Standard, the Motive, the WHY of psychologies and meditative practices is the same: to unify fragmented, antagonistic functions of mind, personality and behavior.

The Purpose, the HOW they accomplish this is diverse. Some practices start from the outside with behavior and work inwards. Others start with the mind, ideas and attitudes, and work outwards. Still others work on both simultaneously, which is possible in comm-unities where work and self-awareness training go hand-in-glove.

The Intent, the WHAT, ranges from personal self-mastery to inner peace and/or functional relationships.

As pictured above, in a holistic world view, external diversity complements inner unity. The core of life’s concentric circles, like the hub of a wheel, remains still as the outer rim revolves, constantly changing and in motion. Meridians, like spokes of a wheel, link center to surface, connecting and organizing the Wheel of Life in a dynamic unity.

It hardly matters how the goal of inner unity is attained. Once one is focused and all the facets of inner energy are coordinated by a single-minded purpose, the pieces of life’s mosaic fall into place, forming a coherent picture. Then life becomes a work of art, like a poem or a song.

Albert Einstein — equal parts musician, philosopher, physicist and world citizen — searched lifelong for a Unified Theory. The Book of Change embodies the universal code he sought. We’ve failed to recognize the clues hidden for centuries in a venerable text that have the potential to lead us to solutions desperately needed NOW. Restoring this treasure to the general culture would provide a fully functional paradigm from which positive, life-sustaining results can be generated across-the-board.

THE BACK

Regimentation and conformance are perversions of unity. Nature flourishes in diversity. Like snowflakes, each individual is a unique variation of its kind. Yet, in extreme social contexts, variations are suppressed and punished. While this unnatural state might be appropriate to unnatural situations like war, it’s antithetical to personal well-being.

Technically, because all things are connected, it’s possible to dabble in the dark worlds of demons and departed souls. However, though these realms do exist, it is dangerously unwise to explore them without a specific, positive purpose (“know the enemy”) and a white magician’s guidance.

Rethinking COMMUNITY

For years now, the same familiar pattern repeats. Whenever I decide I’m finished with writing, something comes along to make me rethink my decision. Two such events triggered today’s post. One was a thought-provoking article, “Mindfulness, Behavior and Social Change” by Mark Leonard, Director/Mindfulness Trainer at the Oxford’s Mindfulness Exchange.

I responded with a question: I’ve often thought about the possibility of building intentional communities, despite the evidence that experiments in the past have not always worked out well. Any thoughts on the subject?

In fact, I had mentally sketched but not followed-through on an article about intentional communities based on my connection with Spring Green and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship. It was an example which, for many important reasons, I would not recommend following.

He replied: I suspect an intentional community needs a suite of conditions including contemporary analogs of functions which hold traditional societies together. I think that mindfulness meditation could play a part here.

The basic axioms listed in The Positive Paradigm Handbook are my recommended contribution to this cohesive foundation. They were fatally lacking in the Spring Green experiment.

Coincidently, these axioms were the reason for accepting an invitation from Swami Narasimhananda to submit an article to Prabuddha Bharata, a journal devoted to the social sciences and humanities started by Swami Vivekananda and in continuous publication since 1896.  [See When Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW? ]

Timing being everything, I had decided a few hours earlier to list them there in the context of rethinking leadership, family and community based on timeless wisdom traditions.

My interest is based on the observation made in The Age of Heretics (Charles Krone) that when chaos enveloped the civilized European world, monasteries appeared during the dark ages as islands of purposeful community — centers of learning, healing and hospitality. Similarly, monasteries of refuge from barbarism appeared in Asian lands during particularly harsh historical times.

This dynamic seems highly relevant today, for, as Mark Leonard details in his article, the world is surely sinking into another dark ages. Intentional communities may once again become the necessary counter-balance of positive change — the means for ensuring human survival, which, as Einstein warned us, can no longer be taken for granted.

So for starters, from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, here are my original thoughts on community. It forms a hopeful basis for rethinking intentional communities. Although my frame of reference for thinking about the dynamics of change is the Chinese Book of Change, resonance with the immediately popular mindfulness movement will be immediately apparent.

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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 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 timeless values which the human community shares 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 one cleans out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life projects into external experience, fighting tyranny in the turmoil of anger and hatred reaps results in kind. Therefore, working to establish positive community relationships before attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is a futile exercise. 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 to community and able to play 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 [heretics!] 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.

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Use the Wheel to Make Yourself Whole

AXIOM SEVEN of the Positive Paradigm states, “With a Correct Paradigm and Useful Tools, You Can Make Yourself Whole.”

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The Handbook’s preface starts with a caveat. Everyone is already intrinsically whole. Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” This is the wisdom behind the biblical admonition, “Ye must be perfect like your father.”

However, just as Einstein already had the Unified Field Theory but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

Worse, many have been deceived into believing they’re inherently not-okay. The Handbook confirms inherent wholeness. Its structure provides a practical, hands on method for waking up. The goal is to re-member (“get it together”) and actualize in-born potential. It initiates the on-going process of making and keeping ourselves FUNCTIONALLY whole, over and over again.

The subtitle Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change isn’t intended to suggest that this or any other book can magically or literally make anyone whole, or that once through the book, you’re done. It requires not only initial work, but on-going follow-through. It’s personal intention and consistent effort that produce results. This is just a really useful tool.

But it is tremendously important to start this life journey with a reality map that accords with the way things really are. As written in Rethinking Survival:

Chances of success in life are slim to none without an accurate reality map. It’s imperative to have a complete picture of your potentials along with a correct understanding of the world around you, and what’s required to survive in that world.

Basing decisions on a worldview that’s distorted, incomplete or otherwise out of synch with the way things really are seriously diminishes chances of survival. In times as dangerous as these, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re operating on complete and correct information.

Unfortunately, many have been led to believe, not only that they’re no-okay, but that they have to look outside themselves for permission to be okay, usually at a stiff price. There’s a method to this madness.

. . . tyrants want you to sleep on. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that you’re inherently okay. Because once you do, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness.

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

The Positive Paradigm is the viable basis upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear.

It’s the rock-solid foundation of functional democracy. It’s grounds for rethinking what the word really means and how to implement its promise.

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up.

Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for. A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

Useful tools do make a difference, however. Part Four of The Handbook gives examples of putting the Wheel into motion. Part Five supplies instruction on how to modify the Wheel with virtually limitless applications to suit personal interest and needs. Forms supplied in the Appendices help complete the process.

For example, Rethinking Survival shows my personal, evolving uses of the Wheel:

Over time, I began sectoring the circles into quarters, giving it North-South, East-West compass directions. I cut out a single eye from a graphic tiger and pasted it into the center of my template Wheel to represent an all-seeing eye.

I plugged the aspects of my daily life into the model. I chose major categories: work, personal life, social life and public service. I used it to analyze where sectors had changed to take too much or too little space within the wheels, where the layers had grown too thick or thin, or how sectors or levels were coming into conflict.

I repeatedly worked with this information to bring the various demands on my life back into balance, to continuously reintegrate the aspects of daily life.

Later, I found it necessary to break the quarters down into smaller subcategories. The concentric wheels began to look oddly like the twelve-sectored zodiac used by astrologers to diagram the placements and interactions of planetary energies.

I used the model not only to organize the sectors of my life, but to plan for alternative futures. I used it to picture not only where I was, but where I intended to go and what changes were necessary to get from here to there.

Another time, I used the Wheel to record my life history. I used compass North to mark my beginnings. On the surface I noted the date and place of my birth. On the middle level, I plugged in the names of my parents and grandparents. I created new sectors (pie-slices of experience) for each move, from Peoria to Boston to Tucson to Buffalo and so forth.

Inside, I drew significant events and people associated with each time in my life. I used stick figures striding along the surface to represent me in the role I played at that time. I drew happy or sad faces to indicate my state of mind during that particular period.

Personal work with the Wheel over many years has evolved into the inclusive method presented in the Handbook.

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Corollary A: The Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” It’s proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm mirrors the macro. It’s the universal confirmation that everyone everywhere is inherently okay. The purpose of working with the Wheel of Change is to remember who you truly are, to repair the pattern and make yourself whole.

Corollary B: The Wheel can be used to discriminate between absolutes and ephemerals. The “small stuff” goes on the surface. Unrealized hopes, dreams and plans fit in the middle level. Basic commitments are placed close to the center, next to guidance and connection with Conscience.

The Wheel can be used to separate the signal from the noise. Used as a meditative practice, it is a discipline for quieting the mind, withdrawing from draining distractions, eliminating bad attitudes and healing negative emotions.

The Wheel serves to prioritize the levels. By placing first things first, you can see what’s irrelevant and weed it out of the picture. Once Conscience as your ultimate personal survival guide is placed at the center, then everything that gets between you and your conscience is recognized as antithetical to ultimate survival.

Corollary C: Those who’ve done the hard, honest work of mental house-cleaning not only understand themselves better, but also others as well. You can’t leave a place you’ve never been. But once you’re been there and prevailed, you’re in a much better position to empathize with and serve others humanely. Nor can you be easily fooled. Compassionate, skillful leaders/therapists have earned their in-depth worldview through experience.

Conversely, those who block out memories or reject some sectors and levels of experience find it difficult to relate to the needs and experiences of others which they’ve rendered invisible to themselves.

Corollary D: Especially in dangerous times, changing the world is an overwhelming, seemingly impossible prospect. But that’s not your job, nor do you need to be overwhelmed. It doesn’t matter how much is going wrong “out there.” As your primary responsibility, the one manageable unit is the one closest to home: yourself.

The premier self-management method for linking and balancing the levels of the Wheel is the Motive + Purpose + Intent formula given in Chapter Five. Using the Wheel, you can map out and balance the Why (motives) at the center with the How (strategies/actions) in the middle level and the What (results) on the surface.

With this process, there are always choices. Hence the motto, “Because I can’t change the world, I change myself.” The world is a great motivator. The time to remember and wake up is NOW, while there’s still precious time left!

In the face of daunting odds, there’s comfort in the wisdom of quantum realities. The beating of a single butterfly’s wings can change weather patterns continents away. The same is true of personal change. The long-term effects of personal improvements and good deeds may never be known to the doer. But as a simple law of nature, good karma returns over time, exponentially.

Corollary E: Unity is accomplished through personal effort, one person at a time. Attempts to enforce global unity through world organizations operating at the surface of the Wheel are unnatural, unrealistic and no matter how seductively presented, “scary bad.”

Corollary F: Numerous authors have written about to the necessity of changing from the inside out. They include, but are not limited to, Stephen Covey, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, Dr. Phil McGraw, and Julie Morgenstern. The Positive Paradigm Handbook is a useful compliment that gives a memorable picture of the dynamic process which they advocate.

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Where in the Wheel Are We NOW?

Utopia.sized

Comments on my last post, A Philosopher’s Response to Boomer & Millennial Blogs, are the logical springboard to a series. This the first installment.

Jerry Pociask (Life Coach | Inspirational Mentor | Author | Speaker) remarked, I have seen this diagram many times in the past.

Of course. This archetypal, mandala structure repeats in every civilization throughout history. It’s a map of the basic internal dynamics that make everyone, everywhere tick. It’s present throughout the records of cultural anthropology and embodied in the creation stories of the world’s enduring religions.

What IS news here is that this perennial diagram is also the stuff of modern physics, as well as the foundation of an inclusive Self-Awareness psychology. Rethinking Survival correlates this universal pattern with both the ancient Chinese Book of Change and Einstein’s famous formula of energy conversion.

It describes the universal pattern:

The Positive Paradigm’s Synthesis Wheel mirrors the micro-cosmic structure of atoms as well as the macro-cosmic structure of planetary systems. At the microscopic level, its concentric rings mirror the structure of atoms around a nucleus. It equally mirrors the symmetry of the planets orbiting around an organizing star, the sun. On the largest scale of magnitude, it reflects the in- and out-breaths of perpetually expanding and contracting universes.

This familiar atomic structure repeats smallest to largest in the patterns of nature, from snow flakes and intricate flowers to spiders’ webs and sea shells. Similar symmetrical patterns repeat worldwide in the art of every culture — including the prayer wheels of Native Americans, the colored sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhists, the stained glass windows of European cathedrals and the intricate geometrical patterns that cover Muslim Mosques, to name but a few.

They offer proof of the universal awareness of a central inner reality, of an inner structure common to all humanity — a continuity of experience deeper than individual lives or transitory cultures.

This structure continues to take on new expressions to meet the unique needs of immediate times. Today is no exception. Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies are examples of how a timeless fascination with the war between good and evil is being retold using modern technologies. Today, a worldwide audience relates to archetypal adventure stories reenacted by dynamic action heroes.

Similarly, The Positive Paradigm Handbook gives new clothes to the timeless perennial philosophy. It is intentionally designed to meet the needs of decision-makers in every walk of life. Its practical methods and examples show how to personalize the timeless pattern, first bringing one’s individual life into alignment with the universal pattern and then restoring harmony to a chaotic environment.

For example, the universal pattern has been modified to use as a method for restoring mindfulness to the decision-making process. It emphasizes the critically important relationship between self-awareness and effective leadership.

Be Aware.sized

The Life Wheel in pristine form is complete. The levels are all present, correctly prioritized, and in balanced proportion. Were our lives so complete, we would be called “perfect.” Were our society equally whole and balanced, it would be called “Utopia.”

Few of us are there now. Although originally created in the image of the Creator, as a consequence of our own choices and actions over a very long time, our personal Life Wheels have become fragmented and “bent out of shape.” Like Dorothy stranded in the Land of Oz, our dearest, deepest wish is to find our way home again.

Getting there requires a map, methods and proactive discipline. Converting the abstract Wheel into a practical diagnostic tool is a first step. The self-healer can use it to diagram the immediate situation, design a better future, and then decide on the steps necessary to get from here to there. Initially, the levels and sectors of one’s own life are drawn into a Wheel template. Then, taking a sequence of steps one-at-a-time leads towards the experience of an increasingly full and satisfying life.

For example, here is the diagram of an intermediate Life Wheel. It pictures the “state of the art” of an individual whose life is a work in progress. The X at the center represents the conviction that there is no God. The possible existence of a vital center has been ruled out. The innermost level of light (intuition, guidance) is therefore missing.

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Nevertheless, this improved personal Wheel a represents a major step forward from the starting point. New sectors have been added. Excessive focus on the Professional sector has been reduced and brought into relative balance. The sliver of a missing Family sector has been restored to the picture. An honest NO to the question of whether life is experienced as fulfilling has resulted in the decision to expanding the Entertainment sector to include time for self-improvement.

Redrawing the map can become a daily morning discipline. Ask yourself, “Where in the Wheel am I NOW?” And, if you don’t like it, “What am I willing and able to do about it NOW?”

In addition, however, there’s plenty more work to be done. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.

Jerry Pociask’s comment hints at what’s next. He concludes, The diagram can be applied in so many ways . . . unfortunately it probably isn’t available on mobile phones!

That’s where I’ll begin next time.

Rethinking POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION

An earlier blog took a different approach to racial prejudice in the context of Affirmative Action legislation. Here is the balancing, opposite and equally positive approach to discrimination.

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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, 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 UPSG for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.