Tag Archives: psychology

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. 

The Middle E=Energy Level of the Life Wheel

The stand-alone I Ching reading for October 22, 2020 is ENERGY. In conjunction with that reading, I’m publishing a bonus blog on the vastly important but misunderstood, overlooked middle, e=energy level of the Life Wheel.

This information was originally published in Rethinking Survival, and again in abbreviated form in the Handbook.

Most is written in the language of the person who I was in 2014, which at end-stage 2020 seems a lifetime ago. I’ve reworked it a bit for brevity and timeliness. I’ve sectioned off bite-sized pieces where some has been deleted.

Most, however, stands for itself. Given the dynamics of 2020’s prior-election chaos, with swirling rumors of drug addiction and treasonous corruption in high places, the following is highly relevant RIGHT NOW. None of it makes sense without the whole picture. So it deserves your careful attention.

e =energy. Much ignorance, misinformation and confusion surrounds the middle, energy level of the quantum paradigm.

Chaos in 2020 is a consequence of this tragic information deficit.

The middle level of the Life Wheel is the domain of Natural Law. The Chinese I Ching, the Book of Change, maps its repetitive, cyclic patterns. This body of knowledge evolved over eight thousand years as sages observed the operations of energy and documented the essential dynamics of change.

Natural Law maps the underpinnings of the physical world. Though invisible, everyone experiences its influence in their lives. Changing seasons occur on all levels in nature. They also repeat on every scale of magnitude in human experience, from the personal pattern of birth, growth, decay and death to the repeating cycles of human history. (Strauss and Howe’s The Fourth Turning is but tip of the iceberg.)

The middle level is the realm of less tangible but still measurable states of energy, including electricity. More subtly, it is the chi, ki or prana described by Chinese, Japanese and Indian traditions as the life force which animates all living beings. In Greek and Christian contexts it correlates with the breath, the psyche.

These subtle energies influence internal psychological states and drive external human behavior, which in turn affects social relationships. Knowledge of these dynamics is essential to personal survival.

Effective leadership and the quality of life within organizations hinge on the quality of awareness brought to dynamics at this level. Some leaders understand the dynamics of change at a gut level as a matter of common sense. However, systematic education would significantly improve results of the decision-making process.

Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction.

Humor provides another outlet for releasing the pent-up emotional tensions which cause illness. The quantum paradigm gives credence to the Norman Cousin’s belief that “laughter is the best medicine.” It validates the healing wisdom of Patch Adams, the paradigm-breaking physician who’s earned international fame for clowning with patients.

Rather than merely releasing pressure build-up, however, yogic practices harness that energy. They integrate the levels. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the purpose of preliminary disciplines is to to heal the physical body of disease and then correct ignorant character flaws which result in personal misfortune.

The next step is to purify the body-mind of toxic, emotional disturbances which clog the middle level. This enables students to penetrate the so-called astral sheath and prepares them to travel deeper to merge with the innermost source, thus fulfilling the ultimate purpose of life. Incidental powers (siddhis) which sometimes occur at this mid-stage of development are warned against as obstacles: dangerous distractions from the goal of enlightened inner peace.

The power generated at this level is the driving force that allows seemingly ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats of strength and endurance. The mother who single-handedly lifts a vehicle off of a beloved child trapped beneath demonstrates the stored energy potentials which can be released in response to a crisis of Titanic proportions.

When sufficiently purified and mastered, disciplined and intelligently harnessed to positive goals, the middle level fuels Anthony Robbins’ “unlimited power.” These subtle energies explain the possibility of seemingly impossible feats, including the miracles attributed to Moses and Jesus.

The concept of Natural Law as America’s founding fathers understood it was based on the writing of European philosophers: Rousseau, Locke and Hobbes. Though in some ways similar, for the most part it’s a different subject. In the 20th century, Wetherill reinvented “natural law.” Unfortunately, his valid contribution is distorted by the imposition of an evangelical agenda.

Other than to acknowledge that different approaches to Natural Law exist, they’re outside the parameters of this discussion.

In Life Wheel context, the “subtle” energy realm exists between the outer, surface level of matter and the deepest center of unchanging stillness. As the functional link between extremes, both on the out-going and the in-going paths, it serves as the gatekeeper and mediator between the two. “You can’t get from here to there,” except through this middle level of experience. Cluttering or denying access to it make connection with the Center difficult, at best.

Historically, Asian cultures are more comfortable with this middle level. Asian healing arts and practices including as chi kung, tai chi and hatha yoga use exercise to intentionally circulate, balance, harness and direct subtle energies through the physical body.

Westerners are beginning to catch up. As international business and educational exchanges increase, Western technologies and Eastern subtle sciences are cross-fertilizing.

Musicians, especially ones educated in the Eastern and Western sciences of sound vibrations, are keenly attuned to this level. Inspired, harmonious music can heal the physical body and uplift the soul.

It’s no accident that Einstein was an accomplished violinist. Or that the biblical David — first musician, later warrior and king — soothed King Saul’s feverish fits by singing to the accompaniment of his stringed lyre.

Don Campbell describes the benefits of performing or just listening to classical music. His title, The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit suggests music’s ability to harmonize and coordinate the levels of the Life Wheel. Research has shown that the effects of music delay or even prevent dementia. Harsh, strident sounds, however, trigger negative emotions and can damage the nervous system.

The middle level is also the repository of karmic information, where the history of past actions is kept, along with a record of debts to be repaid. In psychological terms, it’s the repository of short and long-term memories. The composite of emotions — fears, desires and repressed tendencies — are stored here in what Western psychologies call the “unconscious.” It is the stuff of dreams — inspired visions, nightmares and everything in-between.

The bardo, where (according to The Tibetan Book of the Dead) recently departed souls travel, is located within this level. Spirits, ghosts, leprechauns, angels and demons or jinn acknowledged by various mystic traditions also reside there. From here, unseen hands from the “dark side of the force” reach out to derange the minds of power-hungry rulers and undermine political affairs. (It’s for this reason that disciplines for “cleaning out the swamp” precede introduction to advanced yogic practices.)

So long as invisible energetic influences remain unaccounted for, the failings and depravities of human leaders remain mystifying. Conspiracy theorists can track the complicated networks of human crime on the surface. But to trace world domination plots back to their lair, one must look deeper. St. Paul described it in his letter to the Ephesians:

6:12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

When cluttered and undisciplined, the middle energy level is like a swamp full of alligators.

Once the swamp is cleared out and the alligators are tamed, however, energetic potentials can be harnessed to worthy goals. They’re like the gas that fuels the car engine, or the horses that drove Plato’s chariot. They become the generator of what Tony Robbins calls “unlimited power.”

But easier said than done. The quantum paradigm validates experiences which report a dark side to the subtle realm, which the life traveler must be prepared to encounter and survive. Some describe it as “Chapel Perilous” or “the Hero’s Journey.”

There’s much truth to the classic lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The beleaguered prince, haunted by the horrific vision of his murdered father’s ghost, tells his steadfast friend, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Here are three examples of encounters with the dark side. The first has a positive outcome, the second a tragic result, and the third a comic twist.

The most familiar is the temptation of Christ. After forty days and nights spent fasting in the wilderness, he was approached by the devil. All the kingdoms of the world were promised to him in return for bowing down in worship. Jesus answered, “Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only him shalt thou serve.”

The tragic example of temptation is the Faust story, most famously told by the German romantic poet, Goethe. Fed up with the arid emptiness of intellectual life, an aging scholar agrees to sell his soul to Mephistopheles in return for youth, power and the love of an innocent woman. Inevitably, he pays a terrible price.

The third example is the comical but cautionary tale of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, animated as a Disney cartoon, staring (appropriately) Mickey Mouse. In his master’s absence, a lazy student tries to harness the forces of nature to do his cleaning chores. He succeeds in casting a spell on the element of water, but can’t turn it off. He escapes drowning only because the master returns to rescue him.

This third example brings up an important point which deserves emphasis. The Life Wheel’s paradigm is called “positive” because all the components of Einstein’s formula included, balanced, aligned and prioritized. The center is the first and primary core. Energy is subordinate to it. It emanates from this source and returns to it. The surface, though largest in circumference, is but the final and transitory manifestation of the creative process. It depends on the center for its existence and upon the energy level for life-sustaining vitality.

History is full of seekers who get a taste of power and then, tragically, forget from whence it came and to which it must return. They presume to challenge and rebel against the Creator, as if it were possible to usurp the center place within the wheel. They distort the relationship amongst the variables, attempting to turn things upside down. Inversions and perversions inevitably bring harm to those who try to put themselves first, mistakenly attempting to subordinate either nature or nature’s God to the whims and ambitions of human ego.

Turning off consciousness is far from an optimal option. Inhibiting awareness of the energy level cripples efforts to acquire self-knowledge, much less enlightenment. Religionists, moralists and even poets like Edgar Alan Poe warn against exploring the middle realm, portraying it as dangerous, fearful or unclean.

But in effect this slams the lid on libido, the motivating life force. Doing so doesn’t avoid its dangers. It just banishes this level from conscious awareness. This part of inner experience then festers, rendered inaccessible, relegated to “unconscious” status.

Enforcing taboos on access to energy level awareness backfires, resulting in mental illness, socially aberrant behavior, addictions and personal tragedy. Jung’s observation, quoted in relation to irrational prejudice, bears repeating here:

Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually. . . The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.

The facts of religion Jung referred to include not only the existence of a supreme being residing at the center of and permeating the whole of creation, but also the middle energy level — including the dangers of its satanic potentials — as an integral part of that whole.

Chinese sages, who trod lightly but surely in that middle realm, used the I Ching as their instruction manual. Recently, it’s been correctly called a “spiritual GPS.” Jung understood the potential good that could come from introducing this wisdom to the Western world, where it could be used as an instrument for making the unconscious again conscious, restoring intelligent competence at this level.

– – –

I summed up the repressive attitude of the materialistic science paradigm in the following Essay Sketch:

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Funny how the mind works. For centuries it’s been known that if you tell people not to think of white elephants, they’ll think of nothing else. So, to pervert children, forbid them to think about sex.

Slamming the lid on libido drives it into the inaccessible “unconscious.” While publicly feigning compliance, people thus repressed will privately indulge compulsive sexuality in extreme.

Energy science trains students to be wise/skillful in sexual matters, fulfilling intimate needs without tearing the fabric of their emotional/social life apart or harming innocents. Why aren’t these basics taught in schools, instead of filling young heads with ignorant fear and shame of their bodies and God-given potentials?

Havoc reaped now for enforcing ignorance/silence is sure indicator that long-neglected basics should be top educational priority of Positive Action advocates.

And ask this: Who, if anyone, stands to profit by the results of ignorance?

Many a politician and educator knows this sad truth. It would be instructive to look at the tragic (if predictable) sex abuse scandals which plague the Catholic church through the lens of the quantum paradigm. See Daniel Goleman’s work on “emotional intelligence” (why it can matter more than IQ) for an approach to educating competent behavior at this level of experience.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at emotions from a complimentary perspective. “E-motion” is an energy-suggestive word, suggesting kinetic potential. It’s closely associated with “motives.”

Each of the basic emotions correlates with an internal organ, giving new meaning to clichés like, “My gut tells me . . .” or “It makes my heart ache . . .” In TCM, anger is associated with the liver, fear with the kidneys, worry with the stomach, and so forth. When the physical body is basically healthy and the energies of the internal organs are harmoniously balanced, each is associated with a specific virtue. The virtue of the lungs is courage. The virtue of the liver is kindness. The virtue of the heart is compassion.

Those denied access to material and social resources are often forced inside. Of necessity, turning inward, they develop and depend for survival upon strengths drawn from the middle and center of the Wheel. It these cases, it expresses as “street smarts.”

At times, material deprivation and hardships yield the opposite and equal blessings of in-sight and emotional fortitude. Other times, however, excessive investment at the middle level results in delusions, latent with the potential for erupting into violence.

In any case, making a virtue of necessity by rejecting the material world prevents completion of the pattern. It can’t correctly be equated with spirituality.

Cultures which enforce an exclusively materialistic worldview and deny the experience of everything which isn’t tangible and measurable place severe hardships on those whose inner lives are especially active. The Handbook gives ample opportunities to diagnose such imbalances, the better to remedy them.

Societies which deny their citizens practical outlets for harnessing inner energies creatively drive people crazy — to political extremes, homicidal violence, to suicide — or at best, underground.

Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness and longing for self-fulfilling adventure into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction.

This is a great loss to society. The world would be better off if high-energy, creative individuals were identified as potential leaders, trained and given employment options accordingly.

Boundary Spanners Connect at the Center

Recently I posted what follows on LinkedIn. Because it reached a different community of followers, I’m reposting the substance here for the benefit of WordPress followers.

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Several LinkedIn experiences sparked this blog. Here’s the initial back and forth:

Me to John K. Dunston: I’m writing a LinkedIn blog that speaks about the importance of “‘boundary spanning.” I’d like to mention your name as a great example. Am asking your permission to do so.

John K. Dunston to Me: I’m flattered that you would consider me an example. What is your idea and why am I a good example?

Me back to John: Basically, your profile and answer to my question are a great example of how love of wisdom (the definition of philosophy) is surely linked to your success at work. Also, coming full circle in an infinite loop, your work — surely done with love and keen intelligence — has been a great wisdom teacher. This is the short story. Do you agree?

John back to Me: I concur and would be honored to participate.

The story behind our connection is this. When John originally initiated contact a few months ago, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I accepted his invitation. But I was baffled as to why a Master Plumber/Project Manager would seek out an Author of books on Human Survival, Einstein and the Positive Paradigm of Change.

So I asked, and got back this humbling response:

“I’m a student of positive change and having an impact in life. I have studied the masters from Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, John Maxwell, John Kotter, Viktor Frankl, etc. Your profile seemed interesting. I hope I have answered your question. I have also studied Dr. Einstein.”

Though there’s no quick way to recognize it from his profile, John has balanced technical and leadership responsibilities with philosophy to become a master of not only plumbing but of life as well. His profile does show the broad range of abilities that are the mark of an interdisciplinary boundary spanner.

His competencies span a wide range from project estimation and scheduling to construction code compliance, from material ordering and installation to direct supervision of journeymen and apprentice plumbers. And much more.

I can relate. I started as a musician, but. as described in I’m a Boundary Spanner. Are You? , technical skills weren’t enough.

“As a musician, I wasn’t satisfied with training limited to violin technique. I wanted to know everything about everything that goes into music from every point of view.

“I wanted to know about the physics of sound vibration and the science of violin making. I needed to know about the history behind composers’ biographies, the literature they read, about psychology and the religions that inspired their music. Eventually, my search included kinesiology and yoga, the fundamental disciplines of movement and breath- awareness practiced by musicians in India.

“Traditional schools didn’t help much in this quest.”

It seemed to me that the benefits of specializing, taken to extreme, have opposite and equal drawbacks. This narrow approach to expert-education has an isolating, “divide and conquer” effect. The right hand has no idea of (or interest in) what the left hand is doing. Nor does the right brain coordinate optimally with the left.

Personally, I was fascinated by human nature. I didn’t major in psychology, however, because research-oriented departments didn’t seem relevant. History, literature and philosophy better satisfied my curiosity. Applications to leadership issues were an inevitable extension.

But when I recently sought to reach outside the “author” box on LinkedIn to connect with like-minded therapists and leadership coaches to share the value of my ideas, I found that the shoe was now on the other foot (so to speak). Just as I initially couldn’t compute a person with John’s background having much in common with my work, some didn’t appreciate my invitations. In fact, I found myself blocked!

This experience reinforced key ideas which I’d like to share with LinkedIn colleagues. First, it’s critically important to cross disciplinary lines to become fully competent in the many aspects that impinge on any particular profession. Second, in balance, “well-rounded” success depends on moving increasingly inwards through the levels of the Positive Paradigm Wheel associated with emotional intelligence and intuition to the eternal silent core called “conscience.”

We urgently need to restore an approach to education, especially leadership training, that enables social and physical scientists as well as business and government leaders to first link the multi-faceted aspects of everyday experience and second, balance the outer rim of their Life Wheels with the deeper, full-spectrum levels of emotional-spiritual self-awareness, linking these levels in an mutually reinforcing, infinite loop of intuition, passionate aspiration, intelligent planning and effective action.

Positive Paradigm of Change

No matter where we start on the surface rim, the deeper we dig into the mysteries of any profession (whether in the arts and sciences or business-government-military leadership), the closer we come to our common core — the eternal center which everyone everywhere shares in common. Connection with that center is the foundation of authentic communication and viable community building. Lacking it, we remain, as most of us find ourselves today – disconnected and in a world of hurt.

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P.S. In fairness, I should add the “happy ending” to this story. Yesterday, when I asked Victoria Ipri, a savvy and generous LinkedIn expert, if there was anything I could do about being blocked, she advised that I could contact customer service. If I promised to do better, they would lift their restriction. I contacted, promised, and the restriction was lifted. She’s one of the good guys!