Tag Archives: survival

The I Ching Works Like a Cosmic Clock

Among other things, the I Ching works like a cosmic clock, telling us the time.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon expressed the natural, rhythmic alternations of time in poetic form:

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time build up . . . a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The Book of Change puts its users in touch with these pulsating, alternating rhythms of life. It connects us with inner knowing – call it intuition or conscience – that anticipates approaching changes, the better to prepare for what is to come.

It serves as a reminder that our lives change like the seasons of nature. Fall follows summer. Spring follows winter.

It lends perspective to the current times and what is likely to come next.

In I Ching context, faith is akin to trusting a highly refined sense of timing. It is an atunement with the same inner clock which guides migrating birds and informs heroic displays of virtue.

Some people experience this inner knowing as a sense of personal destiny or keen sensitivity to the zeitgeist direction of the times.

Faith guides our feet, not only towards good fortune, but away from danger. An example from the New Testament is Joseph, husband of Mary, protector of Jesus. He accepted Mary and her child on faith.

When a fearful King Herod was intent on killing new born males to thwart the prophecy of his downfall, Joseph “knew” it was time to escape from Jerusalem, thus saving the infant’s life. He also knew when danger had passed, and it was time to return the boy to his homeland.

When a fearful King Herod was intent on killing new born males to thwart the prophecy of his downfall, Joseph “knew” it was time to escape from Jerusalem, thus saving the infant’s life. He also knew when danger had passed, and it was time to return the boy to his homeland.

Using the interactive Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC) is a powerful way to get in touch with the native common sense we are all born with, but too often forget under the pressures of hectic daily life.

The text maps the natural patterns of change which trigger predictable passages from one stage to another in our lives.

Those who live close to nature are instinctively closer to their own natural rhythms, something city dwellers too often lose touch with. For those who long to remember who they truly are, but have forgotten, working the I Ching is especially rare and precious blessing.

 

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How to Recognize the Difference Between Signal & Noise

towers in distress

What’s wrong with this picture? What can we learn from it?

A dark storm twister threatens the foundations of three increasingly smaller signal towers. Like dominoes, the largest is falling, knocking the middle one off its base, which in turn is lined up to crush the smallest.

It’s an apt image of our mental. emotional and physical bodies – instruments designed to receive and transmit the Creator’s signal.

It pictures what happens when the noise of current events on the surface of the Life Wheel clouds the inner signal of conscience. Our fractured knowledge base is so fatally flawed, we’re left powerless to withstand approaching storms of destruction.

As partisans along the full spectrum of opinion rage to proclaim competing, partial pictures of reality, the universal signal all were built to transmit is lost. Noise reigns.

I put it another way in Rethinking Survival.

Alien invaders infiltrating Planet Earth, weakening humans to eventually take over and enslave them, is a familiar theme in science fiction. For example, in his various incarnations, Dr. Who — television’s time traveler — continuously detects nefarious alien plots and rescues heedless humans from annihilation.

Current events indicate there’s considerable truth cloaked in that “fiction.” Starting with the premise that hidden alien enemies are covertly scheming to undermine humanity, ask, “How would they set about to destroy us?”

Logically, they’d create chaos, setting everyone at each others’ throats. They’d trick humans into mutual self-destruction by stirring up dissension and fragmenting their governments.

. . . Their agents will do whatever it takes to pollute your mind. They confuse it with false paradigms. They clutter and distract it with the ongoing media circus.

Every doubt planted in your mind, causing you to forget who you are, to disbelieve in your ultimate origins and creative potentials, is a victory for the dark side.

To totally undermine humanity, atheism is a must. The unifying beliefs which hold families and nations together and fortify them in times of adversity must be destroyed at all costs.

Again, how would this be accomplished?

For one thing, language which makes communication and community-building possible would have to be polluted beyond repair. . . . this ongoing process is described as the Tower of Babel factor. . . . Alien agents are masters of double-speak, the child of deception and second-cousin of spin. . . .

. . . Diversions would be a must. Rile the public with non-issues to distract them from very real dangers. Using lame-stream media shills, manipulate the masses with the weapons of psychological warfare. Insult them with the lie that they’re not okay. Sell them on the belief that they’re helpless “victims” of oppressors who must depend on tough guys to rescue them (and pay the heavy price of obligation at the voting polls). . .

Divide and conquer. Pit each group against the others.

I can almost see alien puppeteers behind the scenes clapping their hands in glee over Alinsky’s contribution to escalating worldwide conflict. It matters not to them which side wins. Let Sharia law advocates, members of Putin’s Eurasian Union and American exceptionalists squander their precious resources duking it out.

If they destroy each other and no one’s left, so much the better.

All this is by means of introduction to an article published in the February issue of Prabuddha Bharata as “Hubba Hubba’s Riddle.”

I’ve already included snippets in earlier blogs, Yes AND .  . . and Psychology’s Blind Spot.

What follows here, with permission, is the full article. Origins of this assignment are described in Be Careful What You Hope For:

I brought up the article just finished for Prabuddha Bharata, a premier yoga journal, one in existence for over a century, dating back to the introduction of yoga to the United States in the 1800s.

The Editor’s suggested topic: “It would be nice if you could address the issue of increasing polarisation across the world.” The time frame: “as early as possible!”

Writing it was intense, I told OA. I felt inspired . . . as if it were writing me. I watched as it flowed through me. Wow.

This introduction serves to return us back once again to my central subject: acquiring the ability to recognize the difference between signal and noise.

The journal’s required word length is longer that a usual post. But as a matter close to home – human survival – the article repays your careful attention.

Phoenix - sized

Hubba Hubba’s Riddle

My paternal grandfather, Hubble West, loved the English language. An enormous dictionary, well-worn from decades of use, sat opened atop a wooden pedestal next to his chair at the head of the dinner table. During meals, he’d challenge the children to define words used by adults in conversation and look up the ones they weren’t sure of.

Hubba Hubba, as we called him, was also keen on riddles. Lodged permanently in my mind is this one: “Why is the monkey that spins?”

His sage-like answer: “The higher the fewer.”

Huh? It made sense in a koan-kind-of-way. But there was more that eluded me. His riddle lingered in the back of my mind as unfinished business.

Over time, it continued to resonate with my growing understanding of the universal Life Wheel as a mysterious but dynamic, multi-dimensional phenomena imbued with life-changing implications.

At the very least, it functions well as a yoga-like diagnostic and decision-making tool. It is highly useful in resolving inner conflicts as a preliminary step towards overcoming polarization in the world, whether it be conflict between empirical science and religious values, or between different nations.

But there’s much more.

Here I’ll begin with a basic description of the Life Wheel, the subject of an earlier article published in the August 2015 edition of Prabuddha Bharata, As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Cone Now?1

After reintroducing the Life Wheel, I’ll expand from there, elaborating on applications and expansions of its riddle-like essence.

In Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This2, I describe the Wheel. It is not “new,” nor is it an arbitrary mental confabulation. Its archetypal structure repeats throughout nature from atoms to planets orbiting around the sun. Its wheel-like pattern of concentric circles orbiting a central hub is mirrored in art and architecture from the beginnings of time. It embodies a timeless healing solution to the comparatively recent rift between materialist and philosophical definitions of “reality:”

The archetypal Life Wheel formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is a modern day descendant of the time-tested Book of Change which leaders in every field of endeavor have consulted for over eight-thousand years.

While true to the ancient teachings of India and China, it abstracts their essence in a simple and complete manner designed to be accessible to us today.

It places the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 – mass, energy and light – on increasingly deeper levels within the Life Wheel. The result is the Unified Theory which Einstein already had, though didn’t know it.

PPoC gold

The three outer levels are interrelated and interdependent. Each is necessary but not sufficient. Their existence depends upon the unchanging hub of the Wheel. The true SELF — also called Conscience, the Tao or God — holds the spokes together as spinning events on the Wheel’s surface rim change continuously. Creation in the form of primal consciousness emanates from and returns to this silent alpha-omega center.

Complete and accurate, the Life Wheel meets the Occam’s Razor standard by explaining the totality of human experience with maximum inclusiveness and utmost simplicity.

This wheels-within-wheels model is equally compatible with modern physics, yoga philosophy and the world’s great religions. It is a reality map upon which scientists and sages can agree.

A variation of the Life Wheel shows the relationship between surface flux and inner stability. That which is superficial and ephemeral is generated from and sustained by the eternal absolute.

Flux & Stability

In Rethinking Survival, I connected with the idea that the Life Wheel is the answer to an ancient Upanishad question: “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” In essence, correctly understood and implemented, it holds the KEY to Life.

The Positive Paradigm of Change can be personalized to facilitate positive personal change on all levels. Applied on increasingly larger scales of magnitude – to relationships, families, communities and organizations – it has significant social implications.

APPLICATIONS

In the yogic tradition, breath awareness is used to “go deep,” quieting the scattered monkey mind of Hubba Hubba’s riddle. By making the breath slow and even, it is possible to enter into a focused, contemplative mind state. Pranayama practices regulate the noisy mind that ordinarily functions on the most rapid, beta brainwave frequency. Meditation cultivates alpha waves associated with relaxation and then the still slower theta waves associated with deep learning and inspiration.

Further, according to scripture, the fully attained sage links the levels of awareness, consciously living “here yet there.” This fully-actualized state, “turyia,” been likened to “Christ consciousness.”

So modern science now confirms what the ancients knew. Brainwave science applied in biofeedback therapies correlates increasingly slower rates of breathing with entering into increasingly deeper, more inward levels of awareness. The following variation of the Life Wheel correlates scriptural descriptions of altered states of consciousness with Western medical science.

Brainwave Patterns

Another important application shows how the individual fits within the Life Wheel. Each of us is like a small sliver, a pie-slice part of the whole. Each of us is potentially complete, with all levels present and linked to a central, unifying central hub. This picture speaks to the right as well as left-brain. It’s worth a thousand words.

illumined minds

As this application shows, the true pinnacle of success is not experienced at the surface of the Wheel. Paradoxically, the “height” of human attainment resides not on the shallow level of outward surface appearances, but rather by going “deeper.”

It is not defined by accumulation of material wealth, prestige, power and control over others. In a holistic view, success cannot be equated with rising to the top of any social/political hierarchy. For the true hierarchy is defined in the context of the Life Wheel, where power and wealth are put into correct perspective as equal parts blessing and responsibility. Accomplishments on the surface demonstrated by competence are important and necessary. However, they are completed and fulled only by the attainment of access to inner wisdom and light – and then acting consistently with conscience.

As a single individual reconnects with the center which everyone everywhere shares in common, separatist illusions cease. Selfish exploitation of others recedes, partly because awareness of karmic returns heightens. As this happens, self-interest is increasingly aligned with socially responsibly behavior.

Further, this application of the Life Wheel explains why the true teachings of all times necessarily share the basics in common. Although surface versions necessarily take on new forms – expressed in different languages, images and customs according to time and place – of necessity, they share central timeless truths in common. Truth is truth. It is, was, and always will be.

With determined effort, over time, Hubba Hubba’s riddle monkeys spin [evolve] upwards (or deeper, depending on how you look at it) through the inward-receding layers of the Life Wheel. In the archetypal process of the hero’s journey, they encounter severe challenges. By overcoming obstacles (learning life lessons), they penetrate ever deeper towards the silent core.

Few indeed are those imbued with sufficient love of truth, fierce desire to be one with it, and the courage to persist in the self-discipline and self-sacrifice required to reach the ultimate goal of human perfection. True, Jesus said, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven.” He never said the journey would be easy.

EXPANSIONS

From here, things get even more interesting.

Now, the Life Wheel is a reality map, a meta-map – an archetypal map of maps, if you will. It is complete and accurate . . . as far as a two-dimensional representation can be.

But . . . maps, say of Earth’s geology, or of the human habitations superimposed upon it, are flat. They are two-dimensional, whereas the territory they represent is at least three-dimensional. Still further, however, the reality towards which the Life Wheel points (equally material and non-material) is multi-dimensional. It includes at least four dimensions – up to as many as eight by some accounts. And the meta-map mutates to represent these extra dimensions.

For example, the concentric circles of the Life Wheel pattern can be compared to the cross-section of a tree. When looked at from a horizontal perspective, an oak tree has expanding circular layers growing around a central pithy core. One can also look at the same phenomena in its vertical dimension. Like a tree, the Life Wheel stretches infinitely upwards towards the sky. And downwards, deeper than the sea.

For it is not just any tree, like an oak, of course, but rather a mystical, archetypal Tree of Life which echoes through the traditions of many world cultures. Here is one particularly suggestive example: the biblical Tree of Life.

Tree of Life

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,3 the “tree of knowledge” is said to connect all forms of creation, linking heaven to the underworld. Not only is this universal concept widespread in religious and philosophical traditions. In a famous passage by Charles Darwin, the Tree of Life was also used as a metaphor for the phylo-genetic tree of common descent in the evolutionary sense.4

Then again, the Life Wheel nicely accommodates the subtle energy centers described in both Asian and Indian records. In Sanskrit they are called chakras. The picture looks like this:

Wheel2

Not coincidently, the translation of chakra (a spinning a vortex of energy located along the central axis of the human spine) is Wheel or circle. The term is associated with cycles of nature, the “wheel of time,” and the “wheel of fate.”

Readers familiar with yoga anatomy are already well-familiar with the concept. Suffice it to say here that starting with Rigveda, we know of seven energy centers that traverse the spine. They comprise a subtle body interior to the physical body, connected to it through channels called nadis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the channels are called meridians, which also parallel the physical nervous system.

A primary pair of nadis, ida and pingala, twine around the spine, intersecting at the major energy centers and joining at the sixth, or Ajna center known as the third eye. Pictured as snakes, this pair correlate with the primal energies called yin and yang in Chinese philosophy.

Interestingly, the roots of “hatha”in ha-tha yoga translate as “sun” and “moon.” Since “yoga” means as union, the larger term translates as “union of sun and moon.” It refers to balancing of the constituent masculine and feminine energies inherent within each of us, regardless of gender.

According to TCM, when complimentary masculine and feminine polarities are properly balanced, harmonized and unified, they produce health on all levels. Conversely, separating them or placing them in unnatural conflict produces unhealthy polarized extremes of excess and deficiency. As energies fragment, they tear the physical body and body politic apart. For by extension, escalating polarization of today’s societies is an external reflection of inner imbalances.

The Greek caduceus, the familiar symbol of the Western medical profession, serves as a vestigial reminder of the medical sciences historically shared common by the Western and Asian healing arts, dating even further back to ancient Egypt’s Hermetic tradition.

Caduceus

In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods. It links heaven and earth. The axis of the staff represents the human spine. The pair of snakes winding around the axis represent alternating, cyclical patterns of negative and positive (yin and yang) energy currents.

The six chakras are the intersecting points where the curving snake-like energy forces meet and cross at the axis. These are the major centers of transformation and evolution.

The wings at the top of the axis represent the integrating crown chakra.

PSYCHOLOGY’S BLIND SPOT

Unfortunately, the operation and influence of chakras is associated with the e = energy level of the Life Wheel – which is a (fatal) blind spot of Western psychologies. Although the presence/influence of energy centers is experienced and described by experienced meditators, they cannot be observed, quantified or standardized in empirical terms. “Scientists” have therefore ruled out the reality of their existence.

Thus stranded from the mainstream of traditional psychologies, Western scientists ironically lament that their empirical science cannot account for consciousness. Solutions to their unanswered questions rest in ancient subtle sciences. (Science, by the way, simply means, with knowledge. Where or how knowledge is obtained is not exclusive to empirical means.) The existence of chakras within the context of the Life Wheel fills a glaring gap in the academic knowledge base.

It gives a new view of evolution as well. The spinning monkey-mind moves up the chakra chain, slowly reversing the bifurcating process of duality to attain, at long last, the peace of unified stillness. So, Why is the monkey that spins? What is its motivating Nietzschian purpose? Unity. Moving successively through the chakras, spinning in resonance with each in them in turn, the monkey evolves upwards. The higher up the ladder of life the monkey mind goes, the fewer doubts and fears, the less ignorance and confusion in life. The less fragmented, aimless chatter.

One Western psychologist is fascinated with the Egyptian worship of the eye as a function of consciousness – the ability to focus, to pay close attention to the calling of conscience. The Ajna center nicely explains the connection. It serves to link heaven and earth. As Command Center of the physical endocrine system of ductless glands, it coordinates bodily functions. At the level of intelligence, it mediates in the decision-making process so that choices are aligned with higher will,

Now, the Western way of ignoring and denying the reality and influence of chakras makes life’s journey far more difficult than need be. But it can’t and doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. Most of us still have glimpses of transcendent experience, most often through the arts.

For example, music moves us because its sound sets the chakras in sympathetic vibration. Inspired music has a healing, uplifting affect on the nervous system, the emotions, and the soul. It is not coincidence that the seven notes of the Western chromatic scale correspond with the vibratory rates of the seven major chakras. Indian ragas intentionally draw on chakra correlations to soothe emotions or lift the spirit. In the West, similar effects of inspired music, especially by Mozart, has been correlated in The Mozart Effect.5

In addition, the (albeit too-often unconscious) effect of the chakras on human experience is particularly strong in the visual arts, including the full spectrum from fashion and home-making to interior design, architecture and fine arts. This in due to the fact that the chakras are associated with geometric shapes, as well as with specific colors of rainbow spectrum.

This blind spot explains why many of Hubba Hubba’s monkeys get stuck, so that the number which continue to dance and spin upwards grows ever fewer. This point therefore bears especially close attention. The only way to truly heal or overcome conflict generated by false and incomplete belief systems (rather than just masking or exploiting it), is to expand the widely-held belief system to include all levels of human experience. Only then can we turn stuck, jagged, southward directed energies around. Our hope rests in reversing their flow towards True North.

Mainstreaming correct information in the form of maps and methods is essential

if we are to stop the process of escalating polarization and restore inner unity,

the necessary precursor of world peace.

TWIN DANGERS

The hollow shell of empirical science which rules out the reality/existence of inner levels of experience generates two related and especially dangerous mistakes. The first is literalism, taking poetic symbolism at face value.

Here is a representation of the first mistake, literalism – separating intrinsically interrelated energetic pairs of natural opposites and putting them in unnatural opposition. Sexism and racism are among its symptoms. It results in an adversarial, either/or mentality, neither side respecting, accepting or communicating with the other. It leaves both sides incomplete and unfulfilled.

II-10 rev

 

The second mistake is an extension of the first. The second is confabulation, superimposing or substituting culturally conditioned non-equivalents for natural essences. The Chinese, for example, make a clear distinction between true yin and yang on the one hand, and false yin and yang on the other. True yin and yang manifests as the natural differences between biological males and females. False yin and yang include unnatural differences stemming from rigid, culturally-conditioned gender stereotypes.

Here’s another example. Western psychologists talk about the unconscious mind in terms of it being a “shadow” or “dark” side. It is all too easy to slide from here into the mistake of equating the unknown, passive or yin valence with daemonic, unnatural evil.

In this, the Chinese view of energy centers, which they call dan tiens, is helpful. Each of the internal organs is associated with a specific set of emotions. When these emotions are harnessed, balanced and harmonized as a whole, they are experienced as positive virtues. Out balance, in states of either excess or deficiency, they manifest as negative emotions and produce physical illness.

For example, in balance, the positive virtue of the heart manifest as confidence and courage. Out of synch, the heart expresses as harshness and cruelty, making the excessively cruel person prone to heart disease.

What is important here to establish is the correct definition of evil. The yin, subtle side of nature is not evil. It is a necessary part of the whole. What is evil is any attempt to fragment, even destroy, the integrity of the life pattern itself. (Variations of the Life Wheel represent levels out of synch and disconnected. They are shown briefly in the earlier Prabuddha Bharata article, so are not repeated here.)

A necessary first step in overcoming this second danger is to restore the Life Wheel to generally accepted awareness.

Put another way, it is difficult indeed to counter and correct escalating political polarization when its underlying cause, false belief systems, isn’t recognized and remedied. In the creative process represented in the Life Wheel, first ideas trigger emotions,. In turn, these lead to action. When the initial, causative ideas are false or incomplete, they trigger negative emotions which in turn generate destructive behavior. Therefore, to change destructive behavior patterns, it is necessary to first replace the systems that generate them with a complete and correct one.

The first step towards positive change is to accept and live by correct belief ideas supported by useful methods, one person at a time, and from the inside out.

RETURN TO SIMPLICITY

We chattering, hyper-intellectual but undisciplined mental monkeys too often block out conscious awareness of the inner levels of the Life Wheel. We dismiss the disciplines required to spin through the lower chakras, evolving towards the higher/deeper ones.

Western cultures have this universal wisdom embedded in their teachings. But these roots are tacit and overlooked. To make matters worse, insincere leaders corrupt the language, thereby distorting truth. This confuses the weak-minded. It seems as if academic social/political theorists are devolving, trapped in the hollowness of empirical science, debasing human thought and behavior to animal status.

monkey

People of simple faith enjoy a peace of mind forfeited by overeducated monkeys. Those deaf to conscience continue to chatter away — arguing, debating, theorizing and speculating, while quietness is required to enter through the higher gates.

The passage from Jesus Calling for the very day of this writing expresses the universal calling to stillness and the monkey mind’s predicament, as well as the remedy:

The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. . . A refreshed, revitalized mind is able to sort out what is important and what is not. In its natural condition, your mind easily gets stuck on trivial matters. Like the spinning wheels of a car trapped in the mud, the cogs of your brain spin impotently when you focus on a trivial thing. As soon as you start communicating with Me about the matter, your thoughts gain traction, and you can move on to more important things. Communicate with Me continually, and I will put My thoughts into your mind.6

Whirling dervishes spin to quiet and transcend the ordinary mind, cultivating stillness to enter into an altered state of higher consciousness. Similarly, the American Shaker community in Alfred, Maine used dance to shake off the dross of worldly stress. Elder Joseph Brackett wrote the words to the dance tune “Simple Gifts” for this intentional community:7

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

The blessing hidden in an increasingly complex world is that, as a matter of survival, truth seekers are obliged to return to – and appreciate – the simple values in life. Of necessity, these survivors must build communities and train warrior-priests like the Shaolin monks of old: fiercely competent lovers of principle and peace, motivated by the purpose to protect innocents, sustained by the will to survive dark age madness and prevail.

CONCLUSION

He knew a lot, my stoic grandpa Hubba Hubba. He knew more than he knew he knew. Though a simple, uneducated man, he loved language and taught his grandkids to appreciate the importance of using words correctly. Grounded in his Native American origins, he knew the name of every plant in the forest. He kept a hand-crafted wood and bark canoe in the attic of his sagging barn. Yet he also worked many years as a foreman at the local asbestos plant, a job he despised, to put food on the table for his family.

His wife, my Grandma Ellie, called him simply “Hub.” Small wonder. The word hub is also used to signify the center of a wheel.

I remember him best because, with his simple riddle, he planted a seed in my childish brain that bore fruit in my adult mind. He gave me the opportunity to access what he knew, then articulate it a bit better thanks to his gift of careful words.

Hubba Hubba came to me in a dream while I was living in Germany, immersed both in string music and in reading Jung’s memoir. Since it applies to equally well to the world situation now, I pass on the warning he gave me. From Rethinking Survival:

In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.

I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.

This article could never have been written except for his simple fidelity to inner truth. May he smile on us now from above, gratified that his sacrifices were well-worth the price, knowing that his grandchildren, following his example, are doing their best to pay his blessings (including warnings) forward.

This one’s for you, Hubba Hubba, with love and gratitude.

——————————————-

Footnotes

1. West, Patricia. “As Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW?” Prabuddha Bhrata, August 2015.

2. West, Patricia. Published as https://rethinkingsurvival.com/2014/06/15/scientists-sages-can-agree-on-this/.

3. Encyclopaedia Britannica. See “World Tree.”

4. Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species (1872), 104f.

5. Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit. (Quill: NY, 2001).

6. Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. (Thomas Nelson: Dallas, 2000.) September 3.

7. Brackett, Elder Joseph. “Simple Gifts.” (Maine, 1848).

8. West, Patricia. Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change. (Positive Action Press: Madison WI, 2014.) p. 41.

Hidden in Plain Sight

yoga image

Here, Yoda’s words of warning are wise, but by no means complete.

Pride, for example, is left out of the mix. So are ignorance and insecurity.

As to the cause and effects of suffering, I couldn’t tell you. It seems to me a bit like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Maybe they’re interactive, lined up like a wall of domino pieces.

In any case, we’re still stuck with the question of how to get clear of the whole mess, much less avoid it in the first place. Self-improvement teachers have a variety of different answers to offer.

But ideologues take a different tack. “Life is inherently unfair,” they argue. Placing the blame, for them, is easy: “Human systems are a fault.” Their solution? Easy. “Smash them.”

Never mind the inevitable consequences of playing out anger and hate: still more suffering. As the song goes, “’Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Werner von Braun.”

But today I’m focused on the biblical view of suffering.

Solomon summed it up. “To everything there is a season.” The pairs of opposites – gain and loss, pain and pleasure – are natural parts of life. Over the long term, they pretty much balance out.

Now, it’s easy to love life and believe in God when things are going your way. It’s when things get rough that trust, faith and commitments are put to the test. The proof of sincerity is steadfastness during the rough times.

The Book of Job is a story of steadfast faith. Hidden in plain sight, it echoes the key to overcoming suffering found throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Summing up my understanding of the story, the most righteous of men, Job, was equally prosperous in the world. But little by little, his assets failed, hitting ever closer and closer to home. In the balance, the greater the gifts the greater the opposite and equal responsibilities and related tests.

During this tail spin, he groans in misery. But never gives up the faith.

He dialogues with wordy critics who question the grounds of his faith. Misfortune, they say, is a sign that God has abandoned him, if there were such an entity to begin with. (Temptations of the ideologue are nothing new.)

Job’s steadfast response, as materials goods, family and finally physically health fall away is this:

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Long story short, for holding fast to faith, in God’s time, Job is restored. Health, family and goods are returned to him in even greater measure than before.

What is that Name of the Lord??? This is important. For Job is not the only one who calls on the name in trouble. David called upon this name in facing Goliath. It is key in Psalm 91, the warrior’s psalm. The Lord’s Prayer given by Christ as the right way to pray also invokes that name. It is a mystery well worth seeking to its heart.

The boy David draws his courage from the name in facing the monster Goliath:

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (1 Samuel 17:45)

From Psalm 91: 14-15

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

And the Lord’s Prayer given by Christ begins:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Now, that name is a sacred vehicle. It carries the faithful, quite literally, from surface through the trials and tests of the middle realm safe home. .. . and back again. Christ, like Job, traveled and returned to example the way open to all of us with the steadfast love, trust and faith to face up when called to sacrifice and answer, Thy will be done.

It looks like this:

JOB

Now there’s even more to the mystery. The letters the spell out Christ’s name and those of the Father’s are identical, except for one additional letter placed in the center:

The Hebrew letter Shin represents the ‘eternal flame’ and ‘root of fire’ . Inserted in the middle of the name for God, it gives us the Hebrew name for Jesus–YHSVH (Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey) –commonly pronounced “Yesh-u-ah”.

Saving the Best

Here’s a confirmation, from the December 3 page of Jesus Calling.

When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus help me!” In that instant, the battle becomes Mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.

My Name, properly used, has unlimited Power to bless and protect.

Angel Calling

If these words resonate with you, please share them to magnify the effect.

Virtue – Rewards and Punishments

On a personal note, I’ll confess that the following was written because of an early morning dream. The previous night, being overwhelmed by the illusion of futility, I’d decided not to write further unless invited, and with a promise of financial reward attached.

But the dreaming mind knows better. I can’t recall how the dream started. What I do remember was sitting in a large convention hall at a dinner hosted by a football coach. He was chastising (in absentia) ticket holders who hadn’t shown up. And he was honoring fans who had. He rewarded the most loyal ones with lifetime game tickets. The middling ones received the current season’s tickets only.

Exactly how this followed, I cannot tell you. But I knew I had to keep writing, and that a blog on Virtue was what needed to be thought through and posted.

Phoenix - sized

In rethinking the recent blog on ethics, I connected several dots for the first time. I’ll also connect what I’ve written on Virtue to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s most excellent videos on the subject. Spoiler alert: we agree in substance entirely. My particular contribution is the multi-dimensional Life Wheel geometry. It adds depth and dimension — a new perspective — to the mix. In addition, I look to the energy concepts embedded in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a more comprehensive take on Virtue.

But, Dr. Peterson first.

In Why be Virtuous, he says:

If you’re going to rely on your sense of meaning, make sure that you don’t pollute the mechanism. . . . try not to utter falsehoods, because you warp your neurological structure by doing so. . . it will read out pathologically. . . if you rely on it to guide you, it will run you right off a cliff. So that’s why there’s a moral element to this.

. . . Why be virtuous? That’s the question. It’s so that you can bear the suffering of life without becoming corrupt [forgetting, becoming disconnected, dissociated from the core center of who you truly are] . . . it’s practical. There’s nothing more practical than that. Unless you want misery . . .

Listening really closely to Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Necessity of Virtue helped me recognize that in fact, he is fully aware of and gives us all the elements of the Life Wheel. It’s as if he as a “natural,” intuitively aware of the Wheel’s existence. But he zips right passed it, like Einstein and his famous equation, not knowing what he has been given.

With emphasis to underscore the correlation with the Wheel, he says:

Virtue, ethics, morality isn’t a field of study. It’s a mode of being upon which all fields of study rest. It’s also a mode of being upon which all everything you do in your life rests. . . And more deeply than that, what role it is that you play in your life in the world.

. . . To the degree that they [clinical clients] are embedded in a network of relationships where virtue is fundamentally absent, they’re tortured and tormented and they’re unable to find firm ground.

. . . Modern people are fundamentally materialistic. There’s some utility in that. We’re masters of material transformation. And the fact that we’re materialistic in our scientific philosophies has made us extremely powerful – maybe too powerful for our morality – extremely powerful from a technological perspective. But it has blinded us to certain things.

I think one of the things that it has really blinded us to is the nature of our own being. 2:32 because we make the assumption that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are material. We fail to notice that the fundamental constituent elements of our own reality are NOT material [outer surface rim of the Life Wheel]. They”re emotional [energy level]. They’re motivational [light and conscience levels]. They’re dreams. They’re visions. They’re relationships with other people. They’re dependent on consciousness – and Self-consciousness. And we have no materialist explanation whatsoever either for consciousness or Self-consciousness. And we don’t deal well from a materialistic perspective with the qualities of being.

Phoenix - sized

Now me.

First, as an aside, here is a personal example of how life experience has prepared me step-by-step for the unforeseeable future. I started as a musician, training my hands and building keyboard skills. This translated into typing faster than a speeding bullet, which made it possible to pay the bills as a legal secretary. In that job, I learned transcription, which later served me well as a graduate student taking ethnology courses. During that time, I learned that recording interviews not only freed me from having to take notes, the better to give the subject my full attention. Transcribing afterwards gave me the humble awareness that – of what I thought I had heard — I’d consciously registered at best a small fraction of what had been spoken.

The payoff even further down the pike is that now, when I listen to youtube videos dense in spoken content, I know to transcribe them word-for-word, the better to really “hear” all that has been spoken.

A second important aside – an inversion of the Crime and Punishment theme. While full-spectrum virtue has its intrinsic rewards, in corrupted civilizations, virtue sometimes has short-term punishments. Socrates’ death, described by Plato, is an example. Described in Essay 2 on Death:

Fear is the natural outcome of limited materialistic beliefs equating the end of physical life with total extinction. Those who experience the True Self as immortal and indestructible are not plagued by fear of mortality. No doubt the courage and solace which sustained Socrates as he calmly accepted his death sentence — not as an escape, but an affirmation of principle — came from the depth of his soul awareness.

Now then, to the point: the complete and accurate paradigm embodied in the Life Wheel makes it possible to distinguish the differences between morality, ethics and virtue.

This is one reason why restoring a complete and accurate paradigm to common understanding is a matter of human survival. For without agreement upon a complete and correct paradigm, a community of shared, effective communication is not possible. (Who would actively promote this negative/destructive outcome, and why? Who stands to benefit?)

Conversely, there is no place for genuine Virtue in a hollowed out, atheist world view. Its origins and home have been ruled out.

Phoenix - sized

In the complete and correct paradigm, Christ shines forth from the eternal center of the Life Wheel. His light illumines the middle level, which filters light into the full spectrum of natural virtues. Virtues, including kindness, gentleness and courage, reflect inner light. They are hardwired at the energy center, woven into human DNA.

Dr. Peterson says the significance of Christ’s being a carpenter is that he had to do good work – build houses that stay standing. Agreed. In addition, however, historically a “carpenter” is “joiner,” meaning one who connects all the pieces together – one who has the ability to unify separate parts into a single, coherent whole. The Life Wheel which links center to surface in an infinite loop represents this reality.

In this context, morality is a socially useful code of conduct located on the surface rim of the Wheel. Genuine virtue, like the Law of Karma, is an energy concept located in the fatally forgotten middle level of the Life Wheel. As described earlier, this level serves as the necessary two-way Gate-Keeper between the eternal center and its manifest world.

Morality has a virtue component, but with add-ons. It can reflects Divine Law. An example of this is the Ten Commandments handed down from God on Mount Sinai to Moses. On the other, it sometimes, though not always, is reflected in Human Laws. Warrior codes of conduct are one example. Others include religious sanctions and secular legislation which dictates moral behavior. Outcomes are inconsistent at best.

Whereas ethics are strictly intellectual, moral courage blends mental commitment to a code of conduct with the virtue of fiery conviction.

Phoenix - sized

 

Here is an essay that expands on what I mean:

Essay 54. VIRTUE

In the West, virtue suggests righteousness, but in fact Te is a term that refers to the potential energy that comes from being in the right place and in the right frame of mind at the right time. — R.L. Wing, The Tao of Power

The last thing to say about strategy is that it exploits opportunity, the right moment. Greek theologians called it Kairos, the point when the new is received. . . Ask: “Is this something that fits our strengths? Can we develop the service that satisfies?” Then comes the third element, the right moment to seize the opportunity by the forelock, to run with success. — Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Non-Profit Organization

The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world. . . we learn we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. — Sir Winston Churchill, Radio broadcast to America

THE FRONT

Definitions of virtue are mixed and confusing. Ancient derivations suggest goodness or power. Latin roots imply manliness or worth. Webster’s definitions refer to moral excellence, right action and thinking. In a woman, virtue is said to imply chastity. In a man, it implies effectiveness or force. It can also mean the power to heal or strengthen.

In ancient Asian traditions, virtue is used as an umbrella term. Healing sciences correlate the healthy functioning of each internal organ with a specific virtue, while weakened energy centers generate negative emotions.

For example, heart energy produces either the experience of love or expressions of cruelty. Kidney energy manifests as either gentleness or fear. Liver energy has the potential for either kindness or anger. Lung energy produces confidence or grief. Spleen energy manifests alternatively as openness or anxiety. Combined positive energies blended together create a transcendent virtue called compassion. In Western traditions, this compassion is called charity.

Though in medical schools it remains a little know fact, oriental and occidental healing traditions have common origins. The caduceus, the familiar symbol of the modern medical profession, has its origins in Greek mythology, which in turn extends back to Himalayan traditions, and still further to ancient Egypt. In Greek mythology, the caduceus is the healing staff of the messenger god, Mercury. In yoga traditions, this symbol represents energy anatomy.

Caduceus.jpg

As a shorthand logo, the staff represents the spine. Twin snakes encircling the axis represent alternating positive and negative energy currents. Intersecting points where cyclic energy forces meet at the axis are the major centers of transformation, chakras. Wings sprouting from the bija point at the top of the axis represent the ajna center, known as the “third eye.”

I Ching traditions describe virtue as the competence acquired by coordinating and balancing the yin-yang functions and concerns associated with each subtle energy center, then harnessing these energies to serve consistent, positive ends. It is not gender-specific.

Confucius compared virtue to an oriel. He observed this bird as being perfectly in harmony with nature: precisely accurate in the timing of its flight, poised upon well-chosen landing, and sweet in its song. Who, he asked, could hope to be more virtuous than this winged messenger?

Such virtue is radically different from arbitrary moral codes specific to a particular time and place. Sometimes an elite class imposes morality upon presumed inferiors in order to exploit them. Often, the unspoken maxim is, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Rich corporate owners, for example, expect their workers to be hard-working, law-abiding and honest. For the most part, however, they themselves act as if above the law. Compliant workers though moral, aren’t necessarily virtuous.

Soldiers follow orders, mindlessly destroying life and property for the sake of pay. Warriors uphold the codes of their particular tribe or clan. Heroes act from love to protect life. Great leaders like Lincoln, Churchill and most recently Giuliani, however, shed light on the human condition during history’s darkest hours and times of greatest need. They exemplify innate virtue — the courage which leaders of all cultures share in common.

THE BACK

Vice is the opposite of virtue, while sin is the opposite of morality. Villains are those who abuse energy potentials to destructive ends. Chief among the vices is pride, taking natural gifts for granted, forgetting their universal Source. Another is deception, pretending to have virtues one lacks in order to get respect and compliance from others.

Indifference, apathy and paralysis are perversions of virtue. Stagnations in the human body and body politic reduce an organism’s vitality and capacity for positive action. Macho moral codes which assume virtue is exclusively gender-related become self-fulfilling prophecies — IF women and men are fooled into accepting them.

What Do YOU Think?

confusion

I have an important question for you. Your thoughtful answer(s) are greatly appreciated!

Here’s the problem, wonderfully put in The Art of Growing Old – Aging with Grace by Marie De Hennezel:

. . . the worst is not inevitable. The keys to a fulfilling old age do exist, and it’s up to our generation to discover them and pass them on. It’s up to us, the baby boomers, to invent a new art of growing old – which is a paradox, as it means accepting the inevitablity of aging without becoming “old.”

She continues:

. . . we can grow old intelligently; we can accept what we cannot change, and look toward all that has yet to be discovered.

I totally agree. But there are issues. First, although she states the challenge (opportunity!) wonderfully and touches on important responses, she doesn’t really have The KEY.

Second, I do. It’s what The Phoenix Response is about.

Why is that an issue? That’s where YOU come in.

In 2014, I wrote about “The Key to Everything” in Rethinking Survival – from my point of view. For me, it explains “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth.” Looking back, I was clarifying my thoughts for me.

Now the burning question remains, How do I bridge the gap between where I stood then and where you are NOW? For me, The Key and it’s implications for ultimate survival are breath-taking. How could I present them better, in a way YOU can usefully relate to and enjoy?

Or is all this something you’d rather not think about? If so, Why not?

Please tell me. And while you’re at it, it would help to know your (relative) age, gender, and location along with any comments on what shapes your current needs.

So, what do YOU think about “The Key to Everything” and “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth?”

The KEY

The Key to Everything

My “take away” from yoga years was the parable of a young boy who asked his teacher, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known.” The implication to this question, put forth in the ancient Sanskrit Mandukya Upanishad,41 is that, with the right key, everything can be known.

It reminded me of the medieval masterpiece in the Prado Museum that grabbed my mind earlier, the one which showed me that it’s possible to see with a larger point of view, beyond time, where all history is like a static painting and everything is actually going on at the same time.

I ardently wanted that key to life and the universe. I asked myself this question over and over and compared everything I read to this standard.

Years ago, I put the question to a wise friend, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” His cryptic reply: “Look it up in the encyclopedia.”

“Huh?”

I parsed this one-liner for every hint and clue. What does this riddle in answer to a riddle mean? “Look upwards?” And “en-cyclo-pedia?” That which encircles (cyclo, cycles). Pedia meaning feet. The foundation? The fundamental base which supports the whole body. Perhaps the functional impetus of movement and action.

According to Webster’s dictionary, “encyclopedic” means “comprehensive in scope.” All-encompassing view. Aha! I got it!The Positive Paradigm is the answer to the riddle. Look there.

I’m now convinced that the Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ancient ultimate question. It’s the literal proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm resonates with the macro. I AM that I AM.

Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” In this context, the exhortation, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven” makes perfect sense.

Just as Einstein 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.

And 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.

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.

Innocence

The Mystery of Death and Rebirth

The yin-yang mysteries of life and death are embedded within every in- and out-breath of our lives. They alternate, however unappreciated, inside each unit of time: from minute-to-minute, day-to-day and season-to-season. They repeat on every scale of magnitude, from the individual, to families, corporations, nations, whole civilizations and even planets.

Buddhist teachings reflect these mysteries, compatible with the Positive Wheel model and its central hub. For example, in Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death, Roshi Joan Halifax explores the transformative power of the dying process, advising readers to be still, listen and open to the unknown.

Indian film actor Rajini captures the Rethinking concept succinctly in his review: “This book helped me touch that divine part that we all share; it is the Deathless, eternal part of us that will never die because it was never born.”

“The strange thing about growing old,” Einstein wrote, “is that the intimate identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels transposed into infinity . . . ”

In the year before his death, commenting on the passing of colleague Michele Besso, Einstein wrote, “He has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. It means nothing.”

Making an observation that could have come directly from the Yoga Sutras, consistent with the Positive Paradigm, Einstein consoled Besso’s family, “For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn illusion.”

It is said that in the middle ages, Carmelite nuns retired to their cells each night to sleep inside the wooden casket in which, when they died, they would be buried. Taken out of context, this may seem morbid. But in fact, they had it right. They were aligning themselves with the patterns of nature, the better to ultimately survive them. For each in- and out-breath repeats the cycle of release and renewal. Each night that we sleep, we let go of bodily awareness and return refreshed the next day.

On every scale of magnitude, the pattern is the same. Paradoxically, survivors who have released unfounded fears of death are freed to live to the full, here and how.

Lao Tze’s work, which breathes I Ching wisdom, illumines this paradox. He describes the relationship between the Creator and creation in the first aphorism of the Tao Te Ching. From Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change:

01

Figure II.8 shows what this vision looks like when the words are properly placed within the Positive Paradigm Wheel. To the uninitiated who live exclusively on the surface of the Wheel, the eternal may seem illusive. However, the inner vision is accomplished by daring to let go of the familiar surface to travel true home to the center, from which, completing the cycle, blessings then flow outward.

II-8 rev

(Reminiscent is God’s promise in Genesis, “Return unto me, and I return unto you.”)

In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:

16

Here, Lao Tze’s sage not only repeats the vision of the hero’s journey. The methods of the journey are given — the meditative practice of stilling the mind and emptying the heart, followed by contemplation from the detached observer’s perspective. Lao Tze also details the consequences of failing to complete the life pattern: misfortune, pain and suffering.

Those who attain the source, however, (usually with the guidance of an enlightened teacher) achieve the overview which leads to acceptance, compassion and omniscience. Those who survive intact, merge with the eternal source and begin anew, like the New Adam and Christ in The New Testament. (See Figure II.9.)

II-9 rev

Preparation makes the difference, deciding who is most likely to survive coming transitions, emerging better than before through the experience. Here is the root of Positive Change, described in Hexagram 49 from The Common Sense Book of Change:

49. CHANGE. Day and night replace each other in endless cycles of CHANGE. The same natural law generates flux in human events. The unprepared see Change as a threat, but the well-prepared face the unknown calmly. They know that after degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows. Welcome the new. Avoid short-sighted fear.

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So, now it’s your Turn. Please tell me what YOU think about all this. And, thank You.

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Rethinking HOPE

hope

Paradoxically, the following Essay on Hope compliments the one on Death shared in The Phoenix Response. Tellingly, it reflects beliefs significantly different from those held by my grandparents, Ellie and Hubble West. It might explain, at least in part, their experience of old age.

Nor is the subject merely academic. As I currently face unanticipated health challenges, like many baby-boomers of my generation, I’m being challenged to face and rethink my personal survival expectations.

I’ll explain all this at length later. But for now, here are my earlier thoughts on Hope, for your thoughtful consideration.

Essay 63. HOPE

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you wisdom the spirit of and revelation in the knowledge of him:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. . .

— St. Paul, Ephesians

Here the people could stand it no longer and complained of the long voyage; but the Admiral cheered them as best he could, holding out the good hope of the advantages they would have. He added that it was useless to complain, he had come [to go] to the Indies, and so had to continue it until he found them, with the help of Our Lord.  — Christopher Columbus, Journal of the First Voyage

We live at a particularly perilous moment, one in which self-deception is a subject of increasing urgency. The planet itself faces a threat unknown in other times: its utter destruction. . . The splitting of the atom, said Einstein, has changed everything, save how we think. And thus, he observed, “we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” — Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths

We are seeing a health care system in pain, people in pain, and a world in pain. I believe that something can be done to make it better. — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines hope as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. It’s a desire accompanied by expectation. It can mean that which one has a hope for. It can mean a reason for hope. A meaning listed as archaic is to trust or rely.

In I Ching context, hope transcends short-sighted wishing and emotional wanting. It is a trust that one has the wherewithal to respond appropriately to every change of fortune. It is not total self-sufficiency, but awareness that one’s efforts are met half way. When one does the best one can, the rest is supplied in the right way, at the right time.

Daniel Goleman emphasizes the direct relationship between honest self-awareness and survival. Like Einstein and like Strauss and Howe (authors of The Fourth Turning), Goleman is a messenger of awareness we’re often trained to block out.

His vision accords with The Book of Change philosophy in this: ignoring dangers, deceiving ourselves that all is well when it isn’t, doesn’t make problems go away. It only renders us powerless to recognize early warning signals in time to prepare and ameliorate the worst that might come.

In The Fourth Turning, Strauss and Howe emphasize that declining resources will necessitate major changes in healthcare delivery. Anticipating that the cost of health-care will continue to rise and become increasingly unaffordable, they recommend that cost-effective, affordable alternatives along the lines of Adams’ work be put in place now.

Forward-looking health practitioners are therefore now turning to inexpensive, preventive self-maintenance practices like Tai Chi, Qigong and yoga.

There are hidden benefits to timely austerities. Though it is unfortunate that people see fit to return back to self-responsible methods only as a last resort, if the prospect of hard times returns people back to their more simple and beneficial roots, it is a (however well disguised) blessing.

In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote of hope in the context of faith and charity. His hope isn’t Webster’s hope of wanting and expecting. Like I Ching hope, it is trust that human events which make no sense in the short-term fit into the larger pattern of life, and that God’s will inevitably in the long-term prevails.

THE BACK

The opposite of hope is despair. Seeing one’s situation as hopeless is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So long as one places hope in externals, one feeds the illusion of powerlessness. Turning the focus of hope inwards makes all the difference.

Self-deception is a perversion of hope. Lacking a concept of cyclical change, linear thinkers hope to control time. They defy the aging process or pretend change can’t or hasn’t happened rather than adjusting and benefiting from new opportunities that arise to replace the ones which pass away.

Choose LIFE II

body-mind-spirit

Last fall’s mystery illness became a strict teacher, a blessing in disguise. It dramatically reinforced my awareness of the mutually dependent relationship between brain and gut long recognized by Asian healing traditions.

As modern medical research documents, mental distress manifests as a myriad of gut-spawned diseases – Crone’s disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and eventually cancers, to name but a few.

Conversely, the broad spectrum of diseases arising in the gut spawn a host of mental illnesses – not only depression, memory loss, dementia and schizophrenia, but autism and A.D.H.D, for example.

The hopeful application is this. Correctly steered, interventions on either side of the gut-psychology continuum positively affects the other. The relationship spans an infinite loop. So wherever one starts, given time and effort, it’s possible to complete the cycle, eventually restoring balance and good health.

Follow along if you like and I’ll connect the dots that led to this conclusion.

It started with asking WHY. Medical people failed to correctly diagnosis what went wrong. The ER physician (nice lady) jumped to the convenient assumption that, given my demographics, a lower tract infection was the problem. Antibiotics would make symptoms go away.

When the first round of drugs didn’t help, instead of questioning the assumption, the local nurse practitioner prescribed a battery of (expensive!) different antibiotics over following months – in increasingly stronger doses – each with its “interesting” side effects.

The duration of this “illness” was cause for some serious introspection on my part. Certainly the WHY had a mental origin. Stern teacher that LIFE is, I came to accept that I wasn’t going to be let off the hook until I came clean with myself. Release demanded self-honesty.

What I unburied was a death wish of sorts. It wasn’t that I wanted to be gone, so much as that negative suggestions from false friends absorbed over the years had worn me down to the point of critical mass.

I was increasingly motivated by dread of facing a future based on past experience. Subconsciously, I had succumbed to a death sentence suggested by people far too “nice” to kill me outright, but all too capable of driving me to slow suicide.

LIFE had sounded a warning alarm to bring me back to my Self.

Something had to change. It started with a stark decision. A conscious commitment to LIFE, whatever it takes. I wrote a confirming article, Choose Life.

Once recognition and the decision were made, LIFE responded most generously. The help and information needed to support my choice appeared from several directions.

The next step was for me to ask HOW do I return to health? And how do I change my attitudes and behavior to make my personal future different and better from the past?

Critically important information was found in Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I was instantly inspired to borrow the book from the library after reading a top-ranked review of the book which starts:

This book does a very clear job of defining emotional blackmail so you can begin to easily spot emotional blackmailers in your life. It then concludes with telling you specifically how to deal with emotional blackmail, that is, how to keep your energy, resources, and sometimes your very soul, from being stolen by them.

WOW. I could relate to that!

She writes, At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.

Forward explains:

Manipulators work hard to deny, obscure, camouflage, prettify, excuse, rationalize, disguise, HIDE what they are doing. They make it hard, if not impossible, to see HOW they’re manipulating us. They lay down a thick FOG that obscures their actions.

FOG is an acronym that stands for the psychological warfare tactics used against targets: Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

This information is reinforced by Harriet Braiker in Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life:

People who manipulate are often so hard to spot. They become your friend and then find ways to have their way with you. . .

A reviewer summarizes:

You can’t reason with a manipulator because of their insecurities but you can reason with your own insecurities; and best of all are the practical ways you can change your behavior to take back the power.

This book teaches you to get up, learn what you did wrong and what you should have done, and even better how not to repeat the same mistakes.

There’s also a warning given from experience:

I’ve put an end to so much manipulation in my life. It takes the wind right out of the manipulator’s sails. The book is right…the manipulator will blow really hard, so prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.

choose life

Another fortunate form of help followed from my decision to seek medical advice elsewhere. An intern at the UW kindly saw me on short notice. Intrigued by my situation, she brought in her mentor. Together, after reviewing the history of lab results, they confirmed that the initial diagnosis wasn’t right. The medications hurt more than helped.

Although I knew enough to eat yogurt to offset the effect of antibiotics, to repair the damage done by antibiotics they recommended taking pharmaceutical probiotics as well. This opened the door to a whole new world of science and healing.

Probiotics for Dummies, for example, includes a useful section on the brain-gut connection.

Medical researchers have long known that stress depresses immune function, but only recently have they linked stress to changes in gut bacteria.

The medical community’s interest in probiotics was initially sparked by the seminal work on GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) published by researcher Natasha Campbell-McBride.

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression and Schizophrenia, she notes that Western medicine has long acknowledged the brain-gut connection:

The father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (17-45-1828), after working with mental patients for many years, concluded in 1807: “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Interestingly, she uses the same word, FOG, when in describing the mental-emotional relief experienced as the intestines heal by using probiotics to restore balance. “It is as if the fog lifts.” Ahh!

But, like cutting through the psychological FOG, cleaning out the gut doesn’t happen over night, or without difficulties. Campbell-McBride warns things often seem to get worse before they get better. Detox is a necessary but challenging middle step along the road that leads from here and there. So, again, “prepare yourself; it’s going to get stormy.”

There are important parallels between the so-called Leaky Gut Syndrome and psychological distress. In the first case, weakened intestines become permeable. Toxins and undigested food leak out and are circulated by the blood stream throughout the entire body, poisoning other internal organs – including the brain.

Similarly, psychological defenses can also be worn down and compromised, sometimes due to “second-hand stress.” In this case, when protective borders between self and others break down, toxic influences from outside undermine mental-emotional balance. Others’ fears, rage and general unhappiness poison the unprotected mind. Toxic people preoccupied with their own wants and personal dramas, even when unintentionally, do great harm.

Interestingly, the GAPS/probiotics approach is highly compatible with the wisdom of Asian healers. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, carefully maps the gut-psychology connection. They describe the dynamics of what is called “the abdominal brain.” The following illustration captures thousands of years of wisdom in a single picture.

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According to Mantak Chia, when the intestine becomes congested, it cannot perform its physiological functions. Though you may eat well, you may be under nourished.

As he explains, each of the organs is correlated with one of the five elements. In turn, each is associated with specific positive or negative emotions:

All negative emotions are expressed in the small intestine by contraction and circumvolutions, Anger contracts the right side of the intestine near the liver. Worry affects the upper left side near the spleen. Impatience and anxiety affect the top. Sadness affects both lower lateral sides. Fear affects the deeper and lower abdominal areas.

As the I Ching instructs, the same dynamics repeat on every scale of magnitude, from cellular to universal. So many hints from sciences both ancient and modern could be taken in many directions. They apply to relationships on a personal level, to community dynamics, and governance. But those will be subject of posts yet to follow.

For starters, I’ll offer just one hint.

Campbell-McBride uses the image of a medieval fortress under attack to describe the breakdown of  defenses that result in auto-immune diseases. It parallels the Interleukin II research described earlier, where the grad students saw their research on pediatric leukemia in terms of a war between good and evil.

When confusions in gut mirror confusions of the mind – when the difference between friend and enemy is fogged — anabolic (building up) and catabolic (breaking down) functions are thrown off balance. The body  is fooled into turning against itself in self-destructive ways.

In conclusion, however, a key component overlooked in the popular gut-psychology formula must be noted. Spirit — that third, underlying, unifying and overriding component of the e = mc2 equation – plays a deciding role in the outcome of the LIFE versus death struggle to survive.

It is said that “The mind will play any tune you tell it to play.”

choose wisely

So – who is it that quietly instructs the mind which tune to choose?

LIFE itself, the soul’s advocate, is the tie-breaker that tips the balance.

Here, I allow Mantak Chia to have the final word. He describes the discipline of cultivating chi – the subtle energy that links mind and body — and the end goal of the path to which all endeavors ultimately lead: 

  • If one wishes to be a healer, success depends upon the ability to channel energy through the hands.
  • If one wishes to be an athlete, success depends upon the ability to convert energy into strength and endurance.
  • If one wishes to be free of negative influences, success depends upon the ability to transform negative energy into positive energy.
  • One who seeks enlightenment is searching for the highest source of all energy.

 

I write in hopes that you will find this saga helpful. If you relate, I invite you to apply your imagination and follow wherever the subject leads you.

To your health!