“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” ―Lao Tzu
There are so many problems in the world; huge, convoluted, intricate, life and death problems that have no easy answers or solutions. If you are listening to someone who is saying: “I KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD.” This person has no clue what is wrong or what to do about it.
Humanity in its broadest sense is floating once again on a vast and mighty Sea of Uncertainty. For some (and I am only talking about the individual level, not the collective), the uncertainty is no less than life or death. For others, they can only watch as a helpless observers to the multiple crises unfolding and must bear witness to the individual and collective descent of humanity, doing whatever they can to help, no matter how small the action may seem. For still others, this moment fills them with fear and they run away and deny the realities of this moment, preferring to hide their light of consciousness under a bushel. The worst among us, are using this moment and their light of consciousness to misled, misdirect, confuse, and frighten others so they may benefit and profit from the disorientation, confusion, and mayhem touching everyone’s life right now (e.g., this might mean they cultivate a flock of admirers who hang on your every word; they sow seeds deceit to gain money, power, status; or they indulge their criminal instinct certain no one will notice in all the chaos).
An illustration of the parable, together with the parable of the Growing Seed, which follows it in Mark chapter 4 (Source: Wikipedia)
"And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they that enter in may see the light. For nothing is hid, that shall not be made manifest; nor [anything] secret, that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath."— Luke 8:16-18, King James Version
Crisis and complexity is not new to us as human beings. We have always been a species who had to find a way to survive through crisis and calamity. Long ago, such fate was visited upon us as a species by nature. More recently, we create the fate we must survive be it culturally, socially, politically, or any thing that calls upon our membership to the human race. It is not possible to be alive today without wearing both hats: that of an individual and that of a member of a collective.
Today, witness the shambalic pull out of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The destructive earthquake in Haiti:
The brutal, heartless War in Yemem and the death toll of children.
The desperate journey immigrants from around the world make across the Darien Gap.
Anti vaxxers fueling the Delta variant’s death toll, even among children.
I have left many tragedies out. But if you are a human of goodwill and good conscious, you know what I have left out. Again, I am focusing on the actions and consequents or non-actions and consequents of individuals, not collectives (of which we are all members of one kind or another; the actions/consequents or non-actions/consequents of collectives are an entirely different order).
Because I am human and because I am enraged by the tremendous amount of misinformation spread by anti vaxxers, I am going to pick on the anti vaxxers for a moment to illustrate something critical in understanding the Secrets of the Golden Flower and Diamond Body.
I have had a glimpse into their world, and I have seen them congratulating each other for getting kicked off social media platforms when the spread misinformation. I see them admitting to each other how they choose not to get vaccinated nor wear a mask and then just pretend in crowds they are vaccinated–taking a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to what they view as an unjust infringement of their individual liberties. I see them celebrating sickness and their body’s ability to fight off anything. I see them comparing mask mandates to Hitler’s Germany. I hear them proclaiming if they resist, they will rise up on the other side of this as the people who are going to bring in a more beautiful world or the people who are going to overthrown totalitarianism in all its manifestations or the people who will be the new Super Athletes of the world (a echo of Hitler’s Super Race myth). I hear them crying fowl that they might not be allowed into bars, restaurants, gyms, workplaces, or even to donate an organ if they cannot prove they’ve had the vaccine.
Have they not seen the suffering of individuals crossing the Darien Gap? Have they not seen the children dying in Yemen because they don’t have food? And there are many children in the mighty Untied States suffering from food shortages too–where is their attention and empathy for striving children anywhere in the world. Or for the plight of the people in Haiti who 6 days later still lack medical equipment, food, water, or help of any kind! Or the millions of people left stranded in Afghanistan after Western powers left (primarily my country: the U.S.) leaving them to the mercy of a brutal, barbaric, backwards, twisted regime that hunt and kill people based on a warped and twisted worldview and religious interpretation filled with hate, especially against women and girls or men who choose to believe different than they do.
Apparently, they have not. They have been too focused on their own fears (real or not) that their rights are being trampled on and the world is going to be ruled by Hitler’s once again.
I have also caught a glimpse into some who are promoting some of the most stubborn and kooky anti-COVID theories. Among some of the staunchest anti-vaxxers, you will hear how society is sick and going to die now. These messages send their followers into pure panic to the point some are digging bunkers and preparing for the end of the world. I know some who are doing this.
Many of the farthest out narratives draw upon religious symbolism and language such as expressed by Catholic Cardinal Burke, who recently was put on a ventilator due to the disease he denied existed. Just in December of 2020, he preached about forces, totalitarian in nature, determined to rule over us .
Where I have seen some of the most infantile responses to COVID-19 is inside the Facebook bubble that I got sorted into. It is a group of people who are passionate about Climate Change. They are people who want to change the system in order to bring in a new, better, more beautiful world. Who could argue this is wrong, expect COVID-19 has revealed to me that there is a long and very dark shadow carefully hidden underneath many of my duly sorted Facebook men and women good intentions to save the world (and I count myself among those concealing a dark shadow).
Here is what Alan Watts says about do gooders:
I know for a fact that I suffer from the same unconscious desire to save the world, and I hide the same shadow underneath all my flowery virtue-isms. I am not that guy standing in the creek, facing down the alligators while holding a log for others to walk safely across. I am a slow learner and it has been hard to accept I can’t do a damn thing about the world, expect possible try to live my own life with a little joy and attention to those I love, and possibly cultivate a little more High Virtue actions by accepting all of who I am.
I know that most of my vexation and annoyance at the selfish and immature behavior of the anti vaxxer crowd is a sign I am not fully become conscious of my own annoying, naive, and stupid behavior. Nor have I fully forgiven myself for the foolish, puerile behavior I have become conscious of.
Alan Watts also says further that when one sets out upon the path of self-development, all the debtors suddenly appear seeking payment for your past karma (karma is nothing more than action and all action (or non-action) has a consequence).
“It is believed generally in India that when a person sets out on the way of liberation his first problem is to become free from his past karma. The popular theory of karma the word that literally means action or doing in Sanskrit. So that when we say that something that happens to you is your karma it’s like saying in english it’s your own doing. But in in popular Indian belief karma is a sort of built-in moral law or a law of retribution such that all the bad things you do and all the good things you do have consequences which you have to inherit. And so long as karmic energy remains (all the bad things you do and all the good things you do) you have to work it out and what the sage endeavors to do is a kind of action which in Sanskrit is called: nishkama karma nishkama. This means without passion or without attachment.” — Alan Watts
“Now when the time comes that you start to get out of the chain of karma all the creditors that you have start presenting themselves for payment. In other words a person who begins say to study yoga is felt that he will suddenly get sick or that his children will die or that he’ll lose his money or all sorts of catastrophes will occur because uh the karmic debt is being cleared up and uh it there’s in no hurry to be cleared up if you’re just living along like anybody. But if you embark on the spiritual life a certain hurry occurs and therefore since this is known uh it’s rather discouraging to start these things. The christian way of saying the same thing is that if you plan to be to change your life shall we say to turn over a new leaf you mustn’t let the devil know.” — Alan Watts (around minute 23)
I foolishly got into a debate about which perspective was right regarding COVID–is it a lie or is it really happening. It was a futile discussion for if I had truly learned anything from listening to hours and hours of Alan Watts via YouTube, I would have simply accepted this position as part of the great happening we are all apart of… and yet, sometimes, I find myself separating from Watts universal, masterful perspective and descending into questioning… but why?
In the course of this rather rancorous discussion, we found we agreed on relative realities and I shared my series on bubble realities.
However, that was about all we agreed upon. After a lengthy illness from which I have still not recovered, I found considerable criticism of my thinking. It is futile to engage in further thought of our ongoing disagreement, but one negative assessment must be addressed. My dialogue partner said: “A story is just a story.”
Well this is true if you are perceiving and arguing simply from the physical realm of reality that we all live in. This includes bodies and bridges, cities and towns, trees and skyscrapers– you get the picture. This is not true when you are perceiving and working from the non-physical world. The dimension where the Diamond Body exists.
In this realm of being, nothing is concrete or enduring. Here, we are confronted with the very best that dwells inside of us and is part of our psyche and developing personality. And, here, we are also confronted with the very darkest, destructive, may I say, evil parts of ourself. Every human being on the planet has a good and bad side. Without these poles, consciousness as we know and understand it would not be possible.
To live together in harmonious groups of people and not tear each others heads off, human beings had to build internal ramparts to protect the individual from out-of-control collective action and to protect the collective from out-of-controlled individual action. We call individual action that is not in accord with the harmony of the collective criminal behavior.
Stories are one of the most important ways societies build and maintain these inner ramparts that protect individual and collective from catastrophe action. When these powerful inner forces begin to crash over and break down the social ramparts carefully constructed over centuries, some of man’s most destructive instincts are let loose. For some of us, this brings death.
Carl Jung was well aware of the dangers that come from inside a perfectly normal man and a perfectly respectable woman, even child. Here are several case Jung handled during his career that helped him understand what is happening the psyche of human beings–the realm of the Diamond Body.
That’s about all I am going to say about current events, anti vaxxers, clearing karma, and the Diamond Body for now. I may turn this into another series. I would just like to point you to the work of Richard Wilhelm who wrote The Secret of the Golden Flower in 1931. He work proved pivotal to Jung’s work on human psychology and psyche, and Jung and Watts were close friends. Watts often drew on the understandings he obtained through long conversations with Jung before Carl Jung died in the early sixties. Sadly, Watts, though much younger, would die himself in the early seventies.
We have been here before as a species on the brink of unrecoverable disaster. If we are luck, we will find a way forward together (as we have done before) and have another opportunity to pull ourselves back from the brink of extinction. Or, as Alan Watts, loved to say, “Perhaps we are that species who does itself in in interesting ways.”
The original German edition of The Secret of the Golden Flower, of which the following is the authorized English translation, appeared first in the autumn of 1929. On March 1st, 1930, Richard Wilhelm died. In May, 1930, memorial services in his honour were held in Munich, and Jung was asked to deliver the principal address. The latter finds an appropriate place in the English version, 1 which is published a year or more after the co-author's death. The address will be welcomed, not only for what it tells the reader of Wilhelm, but for the further light it throws on the standpoint of the East.
The relation of the West to Eastern thought is a highly paradoxical and confusing one. On the one side, as Jung points out, the East creeps in among us by the back door of the unconscious, and strongly influences us in perverted forms, and on the other we repel it with violent prejudice as concerned with a fine-spun metaphysics that is poisonous to the scientific mind.
If anyone is in doubt as to how far the East influences us in secret ways, let him but briefly investigate the fields covered to-day by what is called "occult thought ". Millions of people are included in these movements and Eastern ideas dominate all of them. Since there is nowhere any sign of a psychological understanding of the phenomena on which the ideas are based, they undergo a complete twisting and are a real menace in our world.
A partial, realization of what is going on in this direction, together with the Westerner's native ignorance and mistrust of the world of inner experience, build up the prejudice against the reality of Eastern wisdom. When the wisdom of the Chinese is laid before a Westerner, he is very likely to ask with a sceptical lift of the brows why such profound wisdom did not save China from its present horrors. Of course, he does not stop to think that the Chinese asks with an equal skepticism why the much boasted scientific knowledge of the West, not to mention its equally boasted Christian ethics, did not save it from a World War. But as a matter of fact, present conditions in China do not invalidate Chinese wisdom, nor does the Great War prove the futility of science. In both cases we are dealing with the negative sides of the principles under which East and West live, and it has not yet been given, either to individuals or to nations, to manage the vices of their virtues. Mastery of the inner world, with a relative contempt for the outer, must inevitably lead to great catastrophes. Mastery of the outer world, to the exclusion of the inner, delivers us over to the daemonic forces of the latter and keeps us barbaric despite all outward forms of culture. The solution cannot be found either in deriding Eastern spirituality as impotent, or by mistrusting science as a destroyer of humanity. We have to see that the spirit must lean on science as its guide in the world of reality, and that science must turn to the spirit for the meaning
This is the point of view established in The Secret of the Golden Flower. Through the combined efforts of Wilhelm and Jung we have for the first time a way of understanding and appreciating Eastern wisdom, which satisfies all sides of our minds. It has been taken out of metaphysics and placed in psychological
experience. We approach it with an entirely new tool, and are protected from the perversions the East undergoes at the hands of the cult-mongersof the West. At the same time, its meaning for us is greatly deepened when we know that, despite the gulf separating us from the East, we follow exactly similar paths when once we give heed to the inner world.
But this book not only gives us a new approach to the East, it also strengthens the point of view evolving in the West with respect to the psyche. The reshaping of values in progress to-day forces the modern man out of a nursery-world of collective traditions into an adult's world of individual choice. He knows that his choice and his fate now turn upon his understanding of himself. Much has been taught him in recent years about the hitherto unsuspected elements in his psyche, but the emphasis is all too often on the static side alone, so that he finds himself possessed of little more than an inventory of contents, the nature of which serves to burden him with a sense of weariness rather than to spur him on to master the problems that confront him. Yet it is precisely the need of understanding himself in terms of change and renewal, which most grips the imagination of modern man. Having seen the world of matter disappear before his scientific eye and reappear as a world of energy, he comes to ask himself a bold question ; does he not contain within his psyche a store of unexplored forces, which, if rightly understood, would give him a new vision of himself and help safeguard the future for him ? In this book his question is answered from two widely different sources, an ancient Chinese yoga system and analytical psychology. Stripped of its archaic setting, The Secret of the Golden Flower is the secret of the powers of growth latent in the psyche, and these same powers as they reveal themselves in the minds of Western men also form the theme of Jung's commentary.
In the commentary he has shown the profound psychological development resulting from the right relationship to the forces within the psyche.
In the German edition Jung's commentary comes first, followed by Wilhelm's exposition of the text, and then by the text itself. At the author's request, the order has been changed so that his commentary follows the text.
The Chinese words in this edition are in the Anglicized form. For making the necessary transcriptions, I am indebted to Mr. Arthur VValey, and to Colonel Egerton of Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. The latter has been kind enough to give his personal attention to the editing of my manuscript.
As a possible aid in keeping in mind the relationships between the various Chinese concepts such as ksing-ming, kuei-shcn, etc., I have added two summaries, one written and one diagrammatic.
Fortunately for me, I have made this translation under the supervision of Dr. Jung, and to that fact, and to the further aid I have received from Mrs. Jung, I owe any success I may have had in meeting the difficulties presented.
It has also been my privilege to have the completed manuscript read and criticized by Dr. Erla Rodakiewicz, and for her invaluable
assistance I am deeply grateful.
1 See Appendix, p. 139. | Cary F. Baynes. Zurich, March, J 931.
May we find peace, understanding, and love among all humans once again.
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
In the previous pieces of the Storytelling Species Series, we have explored how individual attitudes, beliefs, and thinking styles can influences our individual perceptions of reality. We also looked at how stories can influence our understanding of reality (inner and outer). We even explored how stories can become shared narratives that serve as foundational building blocks of our great civilizations and complicated societies. We also looked at how other kind of stories (e.g., conspiracy myths) can pull us together and shred our shared reality. These types of stories are carefully crafted narratives created by people craving attention and power and such people make up stories designed to tear us apart and make us distrust each other. They do this because in a civilization that is in a state of chaos and distrust, it is much easier to carve out a group of people who they can manipulate and control.
Each and every person alive today contributes to the quality of our shared reality–at local levels, at national levels, and at global levels. It all begins with our individual understanding of reality (our inner world), which is contributed to our shared reality (our outer world) through our thoughts, words, and deeds (conscious and unconscious), through our feelings (conscious and unconscious), and through our sensations, specifically, what we pay attentiontoand what we ignore. We also contribute to our individual and shared reality through our instinctual and intuitive responses to what happens to us as we journey through space and time.
Many of us know thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition as components of psychological tests like the Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Finding out what our default psychological operating system is can help us navigate the world better such as figuring out what kind of job or career we might be good at doing or happiest doing. Most of us consider this knowledge not much more important than knowing what our astrological sign is. But I suggest this knowledge is critical to understand not only how to navigate the outer world, but also how to navigate our inner world (the hidden world inside of us).
One of the most tragic aspects of being a modern human today is an all out denial of the reality of one’s inner world. Denying the reality of our inner world denies us the ability to navigate it. We must know our inner world in the same way we know the physical world (the outer world). We must know where the dangerous areas are inside of ourselves and why they are dangerous. We must know where the safe and nurturing areas are inside ourselves and how to navigate between these hidden places. Without this inner knowledge, we can feel lost, anxious, and fearful in the world.
This is what crystalized for me the day I met the bubble maker. The quality of our individual batch of consciousness is how we know and understand our outer (physical) world as well as our inner world (hidden world). The quality of our stream of consciousness can be greatly influenced by how we employ our thinking style, or how much we allow our feeling style to help us understand the world around us. The quality of our consciousness can be increased or decreased by the degree of sensation information we pay attention to (e.g., who is around us, how are we feeling around them) as well as the degree to which we are aware of how we are responding to people and things around us (i.e., are we acting unconsciously, in an instinctual way to people and things around us). When we react unconsciously, this impacts how much intuition we can access in the moment.
Our individual batch of consciousness is constantly changing for it needs to be dynamically balanced moment by moment with what remains unconscious inside of us. Many of us who have grown up in modern Western society are taught from very young ages to deny the reality of our inner world. We were taught to do this to survive the ways in which power is wielded in our super-huge, mega system of consciousness. We have evolved these systems of being because they have been super successful strategies to survive in an unpredictable and complicated world. These systems have allowed human beings to dominate the outer world.
When we deny the reality of our inner worlds, we do not to stick out, we do not individuate (i.e., we do not become a singular and unique human being as we were meant to be). We do not grow up to become the person only we can be. By not being unique and different we fit nicely inside our system of consciousness that values sameness (i.e., people and things that are readily replaceable within the system). By being the same as everyone else, we do not draw undo attention to ourselves by individuals who are more powerful than us and who could do us harm. Especially if our uniqueness and difference threatens their view of reality or if our uniqueness threaten’s their power (watch out then!).
When we become a target of a more powerful person, it is bad. We all know this. So most of us go along with the system because it is easier, and we can have comfortable enough life doing so. If we play it right, we can even possibly grow to have more power in the system too. However, do not delude yourself that if you become a person with power that you are immune to the corrupting force of power. Power corrupts and corrupts completely. It takes a great deal of consciousness to withstand the corrupting force of power. This can only be done by balancing power with honesty and humility. Since most of us lack awareness of our inner worlds, it is rare to find powerful people who can balance power with honesty and humility. It is also rare because our current system of consciousness does not reward individuals for doing this.
In addition to being very vulnerable to the corrupting forces of power, when we do not know our inner world, our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being is greatly diminished. We become victims to our own unconsciousness, which condemns us to a life of ignorance that can incur terrible damage to our psyche. This damage is readily visible to other people because unconscious people are much more likely to participate in spontaneous acts of violence that they inflict on “other” people because they have projected that part of themself on the “other”, refusing to see it lives inside them and it is themself they are destroying.
If you think our current system of consciousness stinks and needs to change, the only lasting way to change the system is to change yourself. You change yourself by knowing more about yourself inside and out, which means understanding your inner/hidden world is real and has a reality that impacts you in powerful and significant ways. Doing this can be painful for it means going into the darkness of your soul and finding your inner divide.
If you are human, you have an inner divide. It is what allows us to be conscious. It becomes dangerous for us and other when we remain ignorant of this inner divide because this is how our unconsciousness flows into the world (our shared reality). When it does, all sorts of mischief and mayhem happens. So, if you are serious about creating a more beautiful world, get busy getting to know what is living inside of you–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is only by knowing all of one’s self that a person can balance the oppositional powers always moving and flowing inside of us. It takes an equal and opposite force inside of us to balance a powerful force. When we remain unconscious of the psychological forces inside of us, we weld power in lopsided and destructive ways that hurt us and hurt others.
Recipe for Making a Better Batch of Reality Bubble Mix
Step1: Finding the Right Balance Between the Stories Rising Inside of You and the Ones Swirling All Around You, Especially the Ones You Choose to Eat
The Bubble Maker
On this day, I biked to the Big Wheel at National Harbor in Maryland, going across the Woodrow Wilson bridge. On some days when I cross this bridge when the wind is blowing it feels like flying. It was on my way back after this wonderful ride that I meet this extraordinary woman making gorgeous giant bubbles.
Earlier that day, I wished I had asked a group of men who were practicing a dance with scarfs that they waved above their heads if I could film them. The dance was so beautiful, even though I thought it was quite feminine for men to be dancing with scarfs. But I was too scared to ask them. Then, on my way home, I saw two construction workers horse playing after work. One held his hands up like a boxer looking for a good punch on his friend. His friend waved his t-shirt at him to distract his friend from landing a good punch. They were laughing…that’s how I knew they were playing around. And then, I knew what the men dancing with scarfs were doing–it was a highly ritualized war dance!
So, when I saw the Bubble Maker, I said to myself… ‘I’m not going to let this one by!’ I asked her and she said yes. We had such an amazing conversation as I filmed her making beautiful bubbles. She told me this batch bubble making solution was not her best batch. She explained each bubble mixture is a little different. Some batches make bubbles better than others, so she was struggling with this one. Despite this, she was a master bubble maker, and I got many beautiful shots of giant bubbles. It was magical in every sense of the word.
Step 2: Synthesize, ferment, and transmute your flow of consciousness.
Bubbles of Consciousness
As I watched her, I thought about a conversation I was having with my good friends in Germany about how the human mind is capable of crafting and believing such fantastic versions of reality. I began to think of these bizarre versions of reality were like bubbles created by the mind. Thus, the idea of Reality Bubbles popped into my mind. Some mind bubbles are very stable and last for a long time. Other Reality Bubbles are inherently unstable and pop almost as soon as they leave our minds. Most Alternative Reality Bubbles will pop soon after leaving the mind because the Rock of Reality is very hard.
I imagined the human mind is like the wand the woman making bubbles was holding in the park. With our minds, we make bubbles of reality that we put out into the world, which are visible through our thoughts, words, and actions. Consciousness is like the bubble making mixture in the bucket. As human beings, we channel and distill consciousness continually as it flows through us as experienced by our circumstances, station in life, visions, and dreams (sometimes nightmares). The consciousness contained inside of us is used to generate ideas that inform our individual actions. Thus, the quality of our individual consciousness determines the strength of the mixture used to manufacture the ideas we put out into the world through our Wand of Mind. It is the same wand every human being uses to put out bubbles of reality into the world, but the mixture of consciousness used can be vastly between humans.
Step 3: Explore, discover, repair, and revive your inner landscapes.
Reviving Our Lost Inner Landscapes
This mixture also forms our inner landscapes, mind-scapes. These inner landscapes are illuminated by the light of our conscious understanding. This is how we come to know who we are. This inner light of consciousness is what we inherited when we stepped across the threshold of consciousness many thousands of years ago. Despite all this time, this part of our consciousness is the smallest part of us. Vast amounts of every human mind remains cloaked under the darkness of inner unconsciousness.
But this is what we are here to do–to explore, discover, and claim inner landscapes by illuminating them with the light of our awaken consciousness. The more unconsciousness contained inside your mind, the less stable your inner landscapes will be as well as the bubbles of reality you manufacture with your mind and put into the world through your actions.
This is why it is important to see more of who were are as a human being, which always includes good and bad parts of ourselves. To make stable bubbles that are able to last through time, we need to maintain dynamic balances between good and bad elements existing inside of us and flowing all around us all of the time. We get glimpses of these cloaked areas through thoughts, dreams, and visions. But more often we become aware of our unconsciousness because we get triggered by the unconscious content living inside of us. They pop up just like instincts pop into action due to environmental stimuli that spurs an animal into action. When an animal acts based upon their instincts, nature has already worked out the dynamic balances over billions and billions of years evolution.
However, as newly awaken conscious beings, we have a lot to understand and work out dynamic sustainable balances. This is hard work and it is far easier to revert back to simpler ways of seeing the world such as black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, and then choose one side or the other side to rally along side. But, ultimately all opposites are inseparable because inside goes with outside, up goes with down, light goes with night. Every opposite is inseparable from its other side just like the other side of a coin. You can cut off the other side, but it is still there…the coin is simply thinner… and that is exactly what we do when we split reality and exist in only one side–we make it smaller. Another serious problem of existing only on onside or the other side of the Coin of Realityis a fatal lopsidedness will result. Living in our huge human collectives with lots of technology can delay the consequences of this fatal lopsidedness, but not forever… that is the Gift of Reality… it will always flow towards balance in the end, and as you are carried in this flow, you will hit the Rocks of Reality along the way.
So, think about your thoughts and how they are turn into actions in the world, which shape and create our shared reality.
I know this is all pretty abstract, but perhaps you will read the story I am writing about this when I finally finish it (Sapience: The Moment is Now). For now, I continue to make these mini movies to help me feel grounded to the Earth and connected to all the beautiful life around me and inside of me. By appreciating the beauty of Earth, I am able to continue gathering inner strength to pull back the projections I have put out into the world. As I pull them back, I find my inner reservoir of consciousness is replenished, which helps me endure.
Projecting our consciousness out into the world is perfectly natural because we cannot see ourselves when we are first born into the world unless we look in a mirror. That is what projections do. They allow us to see ourselves through others.
The trick is seeing: “Oh – that is me!” And, reclaiming that part of ourself that has been temporally lost into the world as a project. This is your power. This is all in my book… but I still must find deeper calm to write again since the latest calamity befell me and my family.
Step 4: Be here, now, that is all we ever have… everything we know, do, feel, become is wrapped in the now.
It is up to each of us to find critical inner balances between the self of the present and the self of the future. It is simply the price of being a conscious creature, and so, it must be navigated. At times, it can be very hard navigating between the needs, desires, fears, and fantasies of present self with the concerns and needs of future self, but that is what we are called to do a conscious human beings who have the gift of knowing.
Following are some of the activities I do that have helped me navigate my inner divide, which exists inside every human being. Often, it comes down to calming down my self-talk (the thing we call thinking and prize so much as modern human beings). Alan Watts often says that thinking is a good servant but a bad master. This is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism that the Western trained mind has a very hard time understanding.
Nature helps us see ourselves in balance with everything else. Being outside, we can step outside of our minds and open us to other ways of knowing and understanding ourself in relationship to everyone and everything else. But to do this, one must be willing to slow down and look! I’ve made a series of nature videos throughout the months of lockdown and social distancing due to the global pandemic, which required individuals to put the well-being and health of others ahead of themselves–that is why we were asked to wear masks and keep distances, not because we were being controlled by evil politicians and scientists. My goodness the stories circulating on the Internet are so creative and more entertaining in conspiracy myths than a Marvel movie. I would ask those flocking to such narratives, what is it inside of you that these stories are activating? If a story you read makes your blood pressure rise, your heart beat faster, your anger increase, who is trying to manipulate you to their point of view? Instead, go outside. Let your own inner truth rise. If you are holding your inner split in balance, you will feel peace, you will feel confidence, you will feel in control and trust yourself to know who is telling you porky (aka bullshit) and who is telling you something real (be it good or bad). Life is complicated. Nature is complicated. We are constantly surrounded by complications and need each other to understand and navigate a complicated world as we travel inside very complicated collectives (i.e., our super-huge civilizations). To see the full nature series, click here: Have You Been Outside Today?
Description: Think about the resolutions you made this year: to quit smoking, eat better, or get more exercise. If you’re like most people, you probably abandoned those resolutions within a few weeks. That’s because change is hard. Behavioral scientist Katy Milkman explains how we can use our minds to do what’s good for us.
Towards the end, Katy says, “So often we don’t understand the forces of opposition inside of us, such as the desires of present me (I want to eat that ice cream now) and the consequences of future me (I’ll have to deal with the extra load of calories and fat that might be bad for my weight, cholesterol, mood).” Through out the episode, she gives plenty of examples where her present me created problems for her future me. She said she found it far more productive to approach these situations as an engineering problem rather than falling back to judgemental self-talk (also known as thinking). To do this, a person needs to recognize the forces of opposition operating inside themself, such as Seinfeld’s conflict between Night Guy and Morning Guy and Day Guy. between present self and future self honestly and fully without judging them as lazy, no good, stupid, or anything else one has been told by family members, friends, and culture about the behavior.
Basically, my take away from Katy’s presentation is that anything that trips us up and subverts us from achieving our long-term goals is human. It is normal. And, it can be handled by understanding the inner conflict and engineering simple work arounds. To do this, we need to see the forces at work honestly and fully without judging them (e.g., I’m a lazy, no good, stupid *#$). Often we internalize negative self talk because we have been told this by family, friends, and our culture. It is easy to label and judge. It is much harder to see our internal conflict, which in an inner spilt due to being a consciousness creature, honestly and to accept it as part of one’s self that must be loved and nurtured just as much as the parts of ourself that are heralded as good traits (e.g., over-achieving guy or gal, bringing home the bacon guy or gal, or anything else we or others label as desirable behaviors).
Watts often liked to ask in his lectures: “Why don’t you know what you want?”
“First, you don’t know what want because you haven’t thought about it or you’ve only thought superficially about it. Then when you somebody forces him to think about it and go through and say yeah I think I’d like this, I think I like that, I think I’d like the other as the middle stage. Then you get beyond that say: “Is that what I really want? The end news day, now I don’t think that’s it. I might be satisfied with it for a while and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, but it’s not really what I want.”
“Why don’t you really know what you want two reasons that you don’t really know what you’re not number one you have it.”
“Number two, you don’t know yourself because you never can. The Godhead is never an object of its own knowledge, just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, light doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself.”
“I don’t know.”
“And this I don’t know, other than the infinite interior of the Spirit, this I don’t know is the same thing as I love, I let go and I don’t try to force or control. It’s the same thing as humility, and so the Upanishads say, “If you think that you understand brahmin, you do not understand it and have yet to be instructed further.”
“If you know that you do not understand it (dharma), then you truly understand for the brahmin is unknown to those who know it and known to those who know it. And the principle is that anytime you as it were voluntarily let up control, in other words cease to cling to yourself, you have an access of power because you’re wasting energy all the time and self-efense trying to manage things trying to force things to perform (the way you think things ought to be–like Rush H. Limbaugh–lol!). The moment you stop doing that that wasted energy is available. Therefore, you are in that sense having that energy available. You are one with the Divine Principle. You have the energy.”
“When you’re trying however to act as if you were God–that is to say you don’t trust anybody and you’re the dictatorand you have to keep everybody in line–you lose the divine because what you’re doing is simply defending yourself. So then the principle is the more you give it away, the more it comes back. Now, you say I don’t have the courage to give it away I’m afraid. And you can only overcome this by realizing you better give it away because there’s no way of holdings onto it.”
Haunted and the Edge
The haunted and the edge offer much in understanding our inner realities better, but they are often taboo and little understood. This is a playlist created by the Last DJ of Earth who is trying to save survivors of Earth after a global catastrophe. He hacks Multinational satellites to broadcast his musical sermons, working day and night to bring down Earth’s new overlords–the ones who worship money. Consciousness is the key. The Sapience Series tells the tale. Follow Sapience: The Moment is Now for when Book 1 is available.
You are beautiful. You are vital to this now. So, take care of yourself. Stay safe, stay well, and find some time to cultivate your beautiful patch of consciousness for it connects you to me and to all of life and the natural world! This is how we create a more beautiful world by seeing the beauty in each other, even when we disagree about things.
— Myths Are Passages Channeling Energies That Can Hold Us Together or Tear Us Apart
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 4 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The truth of any civilization is that it is not a monolithic, inanimate thing. Human civilizations live. They are complex living entities that are fed and sustained by each individual living within it. Because of this, civilizations can die when they become sick or too rigid to flow with the pressurizing forces of time.
Many years ago, long before humans where considered human, the motivation to live together in groups was pretty straight forward—survive. Lots of species on Earth live in groups or herds or packs or flocks because it is beneficial to individual survival. Of course, individual sacrifices are required to live harmoniously in groups. For example, there always seems to be many more low status individuals than high status individuals in a group. However, overall the enhanced survival benefit of being in the group rather than outside of it tends to be a powerful motivator.
The structure of groups and how they operate is determined primarily by instincts. There are lots of similarities in instinctual responses between species because all life has had to adapt to common environmental challenges on Earth, making lots of similarities of group life between species. But, there are plenty of examples of uniquely tuned instincts species have evolved to equip them to thrive in very specific niches, making very unique group structures–consider what it would be like to live inside a beehive.
What Are Instincts?
I will let Dr. Robert Sapolsky tell you about instincts and how human beings are exactly the same in these fixed action patterns as any other mammal on Earth, but also utterly unique in how we use fixed action patterns to do things as individuals and groups. He is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He has possesses an impressive body of field research and artfully combines his mastery of his field with a charismatic ability to communicate with others, allowing him to make complicated concepts understandable to just about anyone.
This is one of his shorter talks that it is well worth listening to if you have ever wondered about human behavior and why we do the things we do. In this talk, Dr. Sapolsky dispels every myth of how humans are unique and different than animals; however, in each instance where we act exactly the same as everyone else here on Earth, he also points out how we do it bigger, more extravagantly, and ostentatiously than any other animal on Earth, and that makes us utterly unique.
Living in groups is one of the things we do as humans that is utterly different than other animals on Earth. When we live in groups, we do it with pizzazz and with style. We like our groups to proceed in a manner and approach that generates vast, complicated, and intricate social systems that operate more like ecosystems, allowing the humans existing within them to seemingly live outside of or beyond the constraints of nature. No other animal lives quite like humans do in groups–that is for sure. Our precocious ingenuity has allowed us to occupy just about every livable niche on the planet. And when we encounter a non-livable niche, we can change it so we can live there too!
Stories of Hermits
It is possible to live utterly alone as a human being and still survive. There are many stories of hermits and monks who have lived alone for years, decades, their entire adult lives. Many are fabled to do this in order to overcome and master their most primal fixed action patterns. But some simply do not want human interaction or the entanglements that human relationships entail. These are important stories. However, our current collective story is not one about a world populated by 7.8 billion hermits. I doubt Earth could even sustain 7.8 billion human beings living utterly alone and unconnected to each other.
For a modern true tale of a man living utterly alone, Snap Judgement tells a riveting tale titled The North Pond Hermit.
Snap Judgment Description:
There was a legend in central Maine, about a hermit who had lived in the woods, unseen, for 30 years. Then, in 2013, the police arrested a man named Christopher Knight.
Produced by Joe Rosenberg, original score by Renzo Gorrio & Andrew Vickers
Why Do We Need to Care About Instincts?
To me, this is simple. If we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our daily lives, we are destine to act based on fixed action patterns (e.g., deeply encoded urges, impulses, and instincts). When we live in an unconscious manner, we do not feel and thus cannot fulfill our full potential as a human being. We live rather as our parents, forebears, and ancestors lived seldom taking a moment to consider if what we are doing now, what we have been taught to do and think and believe, is right for the moment we are living in.
When we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our constantly changing circumstances, our preprogramming is bound to kick in and run wild. Acting in this way stagnates our spark of consciousness as individuals and as a species. It can even make us lose consciousness, going backwards as an individual or a group (devolving rather than evolving).
In addition to instincts, human beings (being so darn clever and unique in how we live in groups) also bring cultural precepts, religious doctrines, community rules, and all the decrees, commandments, and directives deemed necessary to live in big, complicated societies and civilizations. We willingly agree to abide by these rules whenever we join a new group or alliance or club or clique. It’s the price we pay as human beings to belong to things we think benefit us in some way or another. In highly technological, modern societies, this can add up to be a lot of groups to which an individual must belong. If a person is not careful, this sort of belongingness can end up sabotaging the amount of and quality of consciousness that can be brought to bear, without fear or favor, to our situations, circumstances, struggles, and challenges encountered in life.
When we act unconsciously to our circumstances, we often fail to apprehend, understand, and act in ways that are needed to maintain harmony in our life and in the lives of those around us. Instead, we often end up acting no better than a troop of baboons. However, because we are human, we tend to put highly creative and imaginative spins on making our lives more miserable and difficult than they need to be, if only we would have brought a little more attention and consciousness to the situation, which would have allowed us to see the bigger picture and understand the interconnections present in all events transpiring here on Earth.
Stories Act Like Glue Holding Complicated Groups Together
So what keeps us from tearing each others faces off (like baboons can do when their status is provokedby a young upstart or lower status member)? What allows us to work together in more or less harmonious ways within our massive social conglomerations?
Religions have long served a fundamental role in creating and maintaining cooperative groups. Sports can unify and unite groups, even pull different groups together in friendly competition. Food is a great unifier too, so is music. And so are stories, especially mythical stories that activate numinous content in our psyche (I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
Here are some of the foundational stories that have helped create and define Western Civilization. It is a list put together by the BBC of the top 10 stories of Western Civilization. Let’s look at a few:
1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
Bethanne Patrick, Contributing Editor of Lit Hub, says, “I believe the journey of Odysseus defined a streak of individualism particular to Western culture that has led to much change in the world – good and bad.”
Kenneth W Warren, Professor of English at University of Chicago, agrees. “The Odyssey has provided the architecture for the quest narrative and template for characterising male and female virtue in ways that shape, enable, and limit our storytelling habits into the present.”
Novelist Beverley Naidoo hones in on: “The multiple stories within Odysseus’ 10-year journey home after the Trojan war, while faithful Penelope waits for him and son Telemachus seeks him, have seeped deep into our cultural consciousness. The human elements within this myriad of stories continue to resonate down the centuries, allowing endless reinterpretation.”
Jenny Bhatt, writer and Contributing Editor at PopMatters calls it “the first widely-read political novel in the US” and “the first work of fiction that openly addressed the cruelty of slavery, human exploitation, the lopsided legal system, the entrenched patriarchy, the need for feminism, and more.” It became one of the most popular books of the century – in the US and abroad – and is credited with radically altering the perception of slavery, with many voters noting its influence on the abolition movement. Its human focus and call for empathy struck a chord among readers.
Author and novelist Roxana Robinson says it “told the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved, and was one of the first novels to show black characters as fathers and mothers, parents and children – human beings, who were living under inhuman conditions.”
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
Nilanjana S Roy, novelist and Financial Times columnist, points out: “Frankenstein influenced scientists as well as writers… [and] speaks to the modern fear of the creations that spin out of our control”;
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, is “the quintessential story of the modern world” says Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern-Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck College, London.
The compelling story of the scientist who brings a creature to life has become one of the most enduring images in modern literature and beyond, and the monster serves as the “ultimate metaphor”, says Lena Wånggren, Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
There is an “uncanny accuracy” says Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at Westminster University, in the book’s definition of modern tyranny: “Now more than ever, we seem to live in the framework it identified… Even the author’s name – ‘Orwellian’ – conjures up a world of thought control. Its precision about the mechanisms of propaganda and the machinery of oppression has got it banned by every authoritarian regime: they are scared of its power to name horror. It is a handbook for those who want to resist.”
All those who chose Orwell’s masterpiece seem to agree on one thing – the novel’s scary prescience. “Big Brother gets all the attention,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana S Roy. “But it’s the rest, the eagerness to join mobs, to obey, to hurt, that he caught so unforgettably.”
Or, as BBC Culture Editor Rebecca Laurence succinctly puts it: “The ultimate 20th-Century novel becomes the ultimate 21st-Century novel. Terrifying.”
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
Telling the story of the colonisation of a Nigerian tribe from the point of view of an African, Things Fall Apart explodes stereotypes about Africa and brought to life the true impact of cross-cultural misunderstandings. Achebe said that “this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people, or as Conrad would say, ‘rudimentary souls’”.
The European colonial narrative could never be the same after this was published. “It’s an empowering African novel: it brought African experience to the world like no other African fiction has”, according to Dominica Dipio, Associate Professor of Literature at Makerere University in Uganda.
By changing the filter through which the continent was seen, “The novel showed readers what an African world looked like when it was not being reduced to canned images animated by racist assumptions,” says Ainehi Edoro-Glines, a Nigerian academic. “Achebe’s innovation was to change the conventions of modern storytelling so that instead of seeing darkness any time readers looked at Africa, they’d see what every novel was designed to show – a complex representation of life.”
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
“It gets at the primordial human desire for the story that never ends – which can very easily stand for life that never comes to an end.” Ahdaf Soueif, novelist, writer and commentator, points out: “Many characters, motifs and quotations (‘Open Sesame!’) from this set of stories within stories have become common parlance across the world.”
“It’s the deepest of wells,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana Roy. “In medieval & modern times, from writers to singers and film-makers, we never stopped drawing from it.”
Critic Muneeza Shamsie admires “Sheherazade’s courage, intelligence and confidence and fact she succeeds, asserts the power of storytelling and imagination over tyranny and terror – a concept which has strongly influenced the ideals and ideas of our world.”
Lena Merhej, a comic artist from Lebanon, picked the book “because it gives a subversive voice to a woman that uses it as a weapon for her survival.”
To see the rest and read all of the reasons why these stories were selected, go to the BBC Culture page (note book images come from this page as well).
We Are An Unfolding Story
One could even say the United States’ Declaration of Independence is a collective story of the highest order and complexity that all its citizens (and even its non-citizens for no country or civilization operates in a vacuum no matter how powerful they have grown) play out every day. And so as it is played out, it is written–an unfolding story through time in space.
Manoush Zomorodi introduces him this way: “And it has been a year of thinking how our actions affect our neighbors, a year of realizing that many of our systems do little for the most vulnerable among us and here in the U.S., a year when the population further splintered over what it means to be an American. And so how do we talk about all this stuff without alienating each other? How do we move forward collectively? And what is our civic duty in the 21st century? These are big questions. And so on the show today, we’re going to explore ideas about How To Citizen with Baratunde Thurston. He’s been working on and thinking about this topic for years. And he recently came out with a new podcast series appropriately called How To Citizen.“
Through this episode Manoush and Baratunde explore some of his notable podcasts and TedTalks. The first individuals he brings up is the lawyer and civil rights activist Valarie Kaur and what she calls Revolutionary Love. He tells Manoush, “I picked Valarie as the opening voice in the podcast series, the How To Citizen podcast. I wanted her to offer a spiritual invocation to the whole idea of what it means to citizen as a verb. And that means to commit to each other.”
Thurston highlights something Valarie talks about, which is “In order to love others, see no stranger. We can train our eyes to look upon strangers on the street, on the subway, on the screen and say in our minds, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. When we say this, what we are saying is, you are a part of me I do not yet know. I choose to wonder about you. Number three, in order to love our opponents, tend the wound. Tending to the wound is not healing them. Only they can do that. Just tending to it allows us to see our opponents, the terrorists, the fanatic, the demagogue. They’ve been radicalized by cultures and policies that we together can change.“
Another person they highlight is
Thurston says, “So yeah. So to empathize and identify with the idea of hurt and pain and to acknowledge that I have played a role in probably someone else’s life where I was the opponent – to extend that to others, that’s when it makes sense to me, and it’s not just this masochistic endeavor.”
The next person Thurston brings up is Eric Liu (who he likes to call Mr. Democracy).
Thurston tells Manoush, “Yeah, I had been talking about this project of How To Citizen for years in some form, and I saw his talk at TED about making civics sexy again and these Civic Saturdays events and sermons, all this kind of religious faith language. But the faith was not in an all-seeing, all-knowing deity. It was in very fallible human beings and our institutions.“
There is much more to this talk and all of it is well worth your time to listen to in full or to read the transcript if you are interested in a healthy, diverse, thriving, democratic system. But this is why I am zeroing in on language and storytelling. We tell the stories through our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions (or non-actions). We are writing our living systems as we live it.
It is hard to keep a democratic nation. It is hard to balance differences (e.g., different perspectives, needs, desires, beliefs) as expressed and lived by lots and lots of different people from all over the world who have come to live in the United States. In the TedTalk mentioned above, Liu says: ” Democracy works only when enough of us believe democracy works.”
It takes work to keep a democracy. One of the most memorable points Liu made was out democracy does not automatically spring from constitutional rules but from the inner workings of civic spirit–that is us. We all contribute to the quality of this spirit and whether it is healthy or not.
I know it is hard to stay informed and to pay attention to all the things a complicated society like the United States of America requires its citizens know, but this sort of knowledge is important for the system to continually sustain and renew itself. It is tempting to clamp down and claim that one’s own personal set of principles or beliefs are the only ones to follow to move forward. It is hard to compromise and walk another’s path.
Moments of Illumination& Seeing More of the Story
One of things I think the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated is weakness in our existing systems of being around the world. Many of these weakness can be traced back to individuals living unconsciously; people choosing to live in narrow channels and closing themselves off to points of views that are not in alignment to their preconceived ideas and beliefs; people who refuse and are unwilling to see the world from someone else’s perspective–to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
An interview with Kai Ryssal of MarketPlace demonstrates vividly what is happening to millions of people who have lost jobs and feel like they have been forgotten, even thrown away by our current system of being in the world. A brief clip from this interview that drills down on the fissures in our system and collective way of doing things that is doing us in as a collective is the following:
Ryssdal: When we talked last time, I don’t even remember what I said, but you in essence said you felt you had been forgotten and overlooked. And just to break the fourth wall a little bit here, we kept in touch and you sent us a text in January that said, and this is you now, “I feel so astonishingly betrayed by the systems responsible for protecting and providing for our nation.” Do you as a guy on the lower rungs of the income ladder in this country, do you feel any hope that it’s going to get better post-virus?
Cairns: You know, I really don’t see a lot of silver lining. We are so eager to get back to normal that we’re probably going to ignore a lot of the lessons learned from this pandemic. You know, restaurants and bars are already trying to go back to business as usual. Customers, people in general, definitely want to just go right back to normal. And without some sort of structure, some sort of system in place to help facilitate people taking things easier, I don’t see how this is going to get much better in the future.
Ryssdal: But Neil, if a bar or restaurant opened up around the corner from you and said, “Hey, we can give you 25 hours a week,” would you do it?
Cairns: Probably. Yeah. I don’t think I’d have a whole lot of choice, and that’s exactly the problem — we should. You know, providing for people in situations like mine, like those who are in worse positions than mine, to be able to stay home, to choose when to go back to work in a way that is best for them, I think is really important, and I don’t see any indication that we’re gonna make any attempt to do that.
How toTell Better Stories
To tell better stories, we need to see each other–everyone. The PBS NewsHour explores this idea in the rising occurrence of hate crimes against Asian Americans. In large part, Trump ignited and inspired this collective hate to be acted out in cruel and brutal ways. He gave a green light to let this hate rip through the delicate fabric that holds us together as an utterly unique collective–something that has never existed on this Earth below at this level, but only if we can keep it, as Thurston so beautifully expresses in the TedTalk above.
In the PBS piece, it is said:
“The absence of knowledge is a way of keeping people fighting each other.” Missing in History – The void of knowledge of Asian Americans has and is being replaced by garbage – caricatures of Asians being animals, disease infested, monsters.”
“The problem is invisibility. Justice is not a zero sum game. Justice is a fabric that extends across all communities.”
To tell better stories, we need to see more of ourself by embracing moments of illumination (often triggered by a crisis, a setback, a disaster) to boldly go where we have not yet ventured inside ourself, the realms where our invisible self dwells. Sometimes to tell better stories means we need to see the biases we harbor, the prejudices we protect, and the injustices we perpetuate. Other times it means seeing the power we have lost because we have projected onto someone else. But when we see it exists inside of us too, we grow stronger, we heal, we become more whole inside–we grow as a conscious being. When we finally see we are the thing we hate, we can even transform.
HiddenBrain did a beautiful piece on the power of stories in transforming ourself.
Description: The Story of Your Life: “We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? In the second part of our series on storytelling, we look at how interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever.”
The Power of Myth
This is the power of myths and storytelling. They show us ways to channel the intense energies that surge inside of us when we are provoked by our circumstances. These energies begin as instincts but what consciousness allows us to do is to sees these energies rising before we act on them. This ability gives us a moment to choose an action different than what our innate instincts would otherwise dictate that we do.
In the heat of the moment, many of us may well act on the instinct triggered. However, when we do bring our conscious attention to these moments, we can alter our instincts in a great variety of ways. This is what Jung calls archetypes. They are mirror images of instincts but altered by consciousness. This allows the energy to flow forward in any number of different ways different from how they would have otherwise contained in nature. The number of variations of rising instinctual responses are as vast as the number of human beings who have chosen something differently.
These are the stories of Gods and Goddesses from every culture around the world. These stories tell about what befell a God or Goddess after choosing an altered instinctual response to a situation encountered. Each God and Goddess embodies qualities and energies of our most primal, basic instincts. Together, instincts and archetypes make up the building blocks of the human psyche.
Jung came to believe archetypes are empty templates that we fill anew each time we alter our instinctual responses triggered by circumstances we encounter. They are fluid, flexible, and powerful like water. When we meet our situations and circumstances consciously, we live mythic lives.
A Few Modern Stories Offering Strong Modern Mythic Images to Ponder
A new Netflix series I have loved watching is Invisible City. The trailer says, “What if the legends of your childhood are living in plain sight?” Which of course, they are. This is a beautiful drama that weaves in the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and its people and animals with Brazilian Folklore entities and deities. Season 1 explores what happens if one of these vital entities gives up.
Previous Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 3: Death of the Father
Next Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 5: Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti-Vaxxers All About?!!
“Breath Is Too Precious for Hate” — Rev. William Barber
In a time of Great Grief, one must find a thread of Great Belief to hang onto. Not just any thread, but one grown and spun from the center of your heart… the core of who you are as a living being traveling through space and time with other living beings all struggling to survive the setbacks and challenges inherent in being a space-time being. It must be a thread spun with compassion, understanding, truth (at least a willingness to sink into and see truth as it is revealed through time), kindness, patience, and love. This is an elusive thread to find because so many of our systems of being are based and reward the opposites of all these precious qualities of being human. But to survive Great Grief, this is the only way that will lead you and everyone you love to a better place in space and time.
But how do you do this? How does one find this rare and precious thread inside oneself to hang onto as the waves of lost, injustice, disease, death, isolation, exploitation, cruelty, ill treatment, and so many other things that happen to us as we try to survive through time…things that wash away at our very soul?
Just breathe… breath is powerful.
In a Scientific American article that I link to below (Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020), the Stanford neurobiologist Andrew Huberman discusses two things all of us can do to control our response to distress, trauma, pain, and suffering, even during a high-stress time such as this past year has been with an extremely divisive election, racial disparities spotlighted in brutal, traumatic ways in the killing of George Floyd (and so many more individuals unjustly) and unequal access to wealth and healthcare causing black and brown people to suffer the highest death tolls from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.
Breathe has never been more forefront and center than it has been this past year with the tragic events leading to chants across the country, indeed the world, of “I can’t breathe” combined with COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe as the novel coronavirus robs them of their ability to do so.
In the article mentioned, Andrew Huberman says, “Breathing represents a bridge between the conscious and unconscious control of the body.” Since I’ve been writing about consciousness and unconsciousness in my story Sapience, drawing much from Carl Jung’s work, I wondered what is the equivalent to breath for the psyche. Then, I remembered this song Breathe by Télépopmusik.
I brought you something close to me Left for something you see though you’re here You haunt my dreams There’s nothing to do but believe Just believe Just breathe
Another day, just believe Another day, just breathe Another day, just believe Another day, just breathe
Breath has long been a symbol for spirit–that invisible force powering all living beings. As human beings, we are aware of this spirit that is powering us and flowing throughout our life on Earth. Jung talks of the importance of this thing that is aware, he calls it Self or psyche. He explains that this small part of self that is aware must swim between that which is conscious inside oneself and that which is unconscious inside oneself to generate the energy necessary to maintain consciousness. This is what gives us the ability as human beings to choose actions different than what our instincts would otherwise dictate. It requires us to ascend up and down within the parts of ourselves that we know about because they exist within our sphere of consciousness and the parts of ourself that we do not know about because they exist within the sphere of our unconsciousness (the bigger sphere). Belief might be like a psychic vessel (a ship, a submarine, or maybe a fish) that we create inside ourselves (in our mind space) in order to make our epic journey through space and time.
However, belief is not omniscient (all-knowing, all-wise, all-seeing) in and of itself. Belief is a part of the immortal body that exists somewhere in the realm of mind, but it is also very mortal and because of that imperfect. For belief to exist through time, just as the body exists through time, beliefs must be refreshed and refined with new knowledge (hopefully even wisdom) all the time, just like the lungs must be refreshed all the time with new air, fresh air so the corporeal body may live.
So how does one hold on during a time of Great Grief, Great Sadness, Great Stress, and Great Lost--like now? It is breath. It is belief. But one must take care to keep the immortal and mortal air breathed clean and refreshing for beliefs can lead individuals into very dark places as well as into illuminated places. It is up to you to choose which place you journey through space and time.
Following is a collection of stories percolating through me since I heard them that have inspired these thoughts. Or perhaps, I should say immortal breaths…and so, another day, just believe, another day, just breathe…
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: And finally today, it’s been less than two weeks since the Biden administration took office, and it has already been a whirlwind. The president has signed more than two dozen executive orders addressing everything from immigration to climate change, as well as one of the issues he says propelled him to run for the presidency for this third time, racial justice.
So we thought this would be a good time to check in with civil rights activist, the Reverend William Barber II. He was invited to offer the homily at the inaugural prayer service. The text came from the prophet Isaiah.
SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING of the Rev. WILLIAM BARBER II:
“And so the prophet gives the nation God’s clear guidance out of the jam it is in. Choose first to repent of the policy sin, and then repair the breach. The breach, according to the imagery of Isaiah, is when there is a gap in the nation between what is and how God wants things to be.”
MARTIN: It was both an affirming message but also a call to action, so we wanted to hear Reverend Barber’s take on what that should look like. To remind, he is the president of an organization called Repairers of the Breach, which is based in Goldsboro, N.C. He’s a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, and the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. And he is with us once again.
Reverend Barber, welcome back to the program. Thanks for joining us.
BARBER: Thank you so much for having me on today.
MARTIN: What gave you the inspiration for the sermon?
BARBER: Well, I was asked to deliver it, and that was quite a humbling request. And then they asked me, did I know much about Isaiah 58? And, of course, that is one of the major passages of scripture recognized by Jews, Muslims and Christians especially. It is a scripture specifically speaking to the nation about how to repair itself after it has been through lying leadership, extreme leadership, mean-spirited leadership, oppressive leadership. And it really gives a step-by-step what has to be done.
MARTIN: Well, to — you know, to that point, I mean, the president in – President Biden in running for office and certainly at his inaugural message has been stressing a message of unity. And during your homily, you spoke of unity. I mean, you said the breach would be knowing the only way to ensure domestic tranquility is to establish justice, but pretending we can address the nation’s wounds with simplistic calls for unity. Can you expand on what you’re saying here?
BARBER: Well, surely. You know, one of the things I think more than just being a civil rights activist, I’m trying my best with others to be, you know, a moral leader, one who looks at things through the lens of moral analysis, moral articulation and moral activism. And you can’t have a simplistic view that all we need is “Kumbaya.” All we need to do is slap back — is pat each other on the back. No, no, no, no. There are real forces — and we have seen them — forces that we saw that would rather put a person on the Supreme Court than protect people from dying in caskets from COVID, forces that would rather give trillions of dollars — trillions — to corporations during COVID while billionaires make almost a trillion dollars and then fight to just give a few trillion to poor and low-wealth people and those who are hurting. These are real battles. And some people are not going to unite with justice. But if enough of us can unite with justice and love, we can move this country forward.
MARTIN: But I am interested in how you feel that happens when some have made it abundantly clear that they do not agree with this agenda. I mean, for example, I mean, your first, as I – you announced on Twitter that beginning tomorrow, the Poor People’s Campaign will be holding special Moral Mondays events. Your first event will center on increasing the minimum wage. Your group is calling for some very ambitious things like universal health care, limiting defense spending. I mean, the fact is that a significant number of people in this country don’t agree with that. So how does he reconcile both the desire that some people clearly have for a more sort of temperate, more moderate, more constructive tone and yet people like yourself who say, no, there are ambitious things that need to happen? How does he resolve that?
BARBER: Now, yes, 70 million people voted for Trump, but over 80 million people voted for Biden and Harris. They knew they were going to pass – they were going to fight for living wages, addressing systemic racism and to address health care. Biden won 55% of all poor and low-wealth people voting under – that made under $50,000 a year. In Georgia and other places, poor and low-wealth people voted for Biden and Harris at a rate 14% higher.
We’re talking about, how do we heal the soul of the South Side? And it’s only by healing the sickness in the body. And so what we’re talking about is a must – is a must. These things must happen, and when you have the power, even if you only have one vote – Republicans showed us something. They did it for the wrong reason, but they didn’t care if they had just one vote. They did what was wrong. So people who have one vote now must do what is right.
MARTIN: I can’t tell from listening to you whether you feel encouraged or you still feel frustrated.
BARBER: So I’m encouraged because the movement is encouraged. I’m encouraged because more people turned out to vote in the midst of COVID than ever turned out in the history of this country. I’m encouraged because 6 million more poor and low-wealth people turned out in this election than they did in 2016. I’m encouraged because this country has shown us that if you run on a progressive agenda, if you talk about health care, living wages and dealing with racism, you can win in California. You can win in Georgia. You can win in Pennsylvania. You can win all over this country if you give people a vision of progress for which they can vote.
I am discouraged on one thing, and it’s — but it’s going to come — that we still don’t hear enough about poverty. We hear Democrats talking about the middle class and workers. But if 43% of this country was poor and low-wealth before COVID, and 8 million more have been thrust into poverty since May of last year, and if only 39% of this country can afford a thousand-dollar emergency, we must use the word poverty. We must talk about poor and low-wage people. We must say their name and say their condition. And we must say we’re not going to lift from the middle up. We’re not going to trickle down. We’re going to lift from the bottom up.
MARTIN: So before we let you go, I want to acknowledge that, as you have acknowledged, that many people are still struggling because of the pandemic, because of the downturn. Obviously, some people – many people were struggling before that, but a lot of people are suffering right now. And this is something that you brought up in your homily. And I just wondered if you had some words of encouragement for people who are struggling.
BARBER: You know, as a pastor, I will tell you, in this season, sometimes I have not had words. I’ll just be honest. All we’ve had is presence, even if it was distant presence. All we’ve had is love. All we’ve had is sometimes just getting on a video and crying together when people couldn’t go visit their loved one. Sometimes that’s all we’ve had.
You know, one of the things some of us have done is ask the question real seriously, why are we still alive? I mean, in this moment when any of us could be gone in seven days, seven minutes – you know, we could contract COVID. We could be breathing fine one minute, and it could all shut down – why is it that we’re still alive? Or more importantly, what is it that we’re going to do with the breath we have?
And some of us have decided in the midst of the tears, in the midst of the hurt, in the midst of the pain, we decided that breath is too important to waste. We don’t have any breath to waste on being mean and hateful and unjust and hurting people. The only real use of our breath is to try to breathe some more love and truth and grace and justice into this world and in this society.
And so whether we live seven minutes, seven days, seven months, seven years or 70 years, that’s what we’re committing ourselves to do with every breath we take from now on because this moment has been a moment where we all have to face the potential of our own mortality in a very real way. We can end any moment, be alone on a breathing machine with nobody able to come and see us. And many people have died like that. And in their name and in their memory, even with our pain, we must use every breath we have to turn things around, to push our political system to do right from the bottom up, with every breath we have left until we have no more breath in us.
MARTIN: That was the Reverend William Barber II. He’s president of Repairers of the Breach. He’s co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. Reverend Barber, thank you so much for joining us once again.
BARBER: Thank you so much. And blessings to you and your staff.
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After hearing the Rev. William Barber speaking with Anderson Cooper earlier in the year of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and then again in the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd, I was so inspired by his deep wisdom, knowledge, and words that I created a playlist: Repairers of the Breach. We are all responsible for the existence of this breach, which grows deeper and wider with every act of ignorance, malice, and hate that we conduct into the world through our thoughts, words, and actions.
But we are all also healers of this breach, and we can repair this breach when we act with knowledge that we have distilled from our experiences in the world and that we have gained by taking the time to educate ourselves about things, about great mysteries and unknowns in this complex and beautiful world, and when we pay attention to great masters/teachers who have lived throughout time who can help us remove the veils of illusions and delusions–sadly created by others who have chosen to trick and deceive people for their own self-betterment.
We can repair this great divide, the breach we have all forged inside ourself and between each other when we conduct ourself with love and compassion, when we take time to pay attention to other people, especially to people who are suffering, who are in need, who have been ignored and left behind, who have not received the blessings meant for all living being on Earth because these blessings have been diverted and hoarded by a few, especially in these modern times.
Each of us is a healer and repairer of this terrible breach that has broken so many families and friendships recently, but we must constantly refresh our beliefs.
I had heard Act 1 of This American Life before (Down the Rabbit Hole, which is the story of Lenny Pozner, whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook. In the years after Noah’s death, Lenny and his family were harassed by people who believed the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened – that it was all a conspiracy. Until one day, Lenny decided to fight back).
This is a powerful, heart-breaking, and terribly important story to hear. So, if you have not heard it, you should start with Act 1.
Act 2 is new to me, and it blew me away. Reporter Jon Ronson travels to Texas to uncover the origin story of Alex Jones, infamous founder of InfoWars. Having just finished watching HBO’s Watchmen, I was into origin stories. This is one that needs to be heard because it encapsulates an Archetype of our time. One that is dominating the minds of millions and millions of people these days. One defined by Conspiracy Obsession—Satan Fixation—Bully Compulsion tendencies. It is so prevalent in America society today, percolating even more fiercely by the isolation imposed on every human being in the world due to COVID-19. Alex Jones is a man who had great sway and influence on our former President, Trump, who has a very similar mental world bound by the same Conspiracy Obsession—Satan Fixation—Bullying Compulsions as Jones—something we all saw fall off the page of Facebook and come to life in the storming of the Capitol of the United States of American on Jan. 6, 2021.
I can just feel how one’s breath must tighten and grow shallower and shallower as one depends deeper and deeper into such rabbit-holes of deception and obsession that leads to hate, grief, and pain all for the good of someone like Alex Jones or Donald Trump, not for the good of the ones going into the holes.
Which direction in life will you choose to go? The journey running away from grief and pain by going to fancy parties and coronations in fancy golden high heels? Or will you choose to climb the highest mountain to see the llama or the Lama? 😉
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The TedRadio Hour
Breathe— “Breathing is essential to life. And lately, the safety of the air we inhale, or the need to pause and take a deep breath, is on our minds a lot. This hour, TED speakers explore the power of breath.”
This episode is all about breath. I did not think too much about it after I heard it, but then I heard the words of Rev. William Barber and I saw the importance of these stories in a new light. Because of this, I am highlighting them here and providing links to them so you can listen to them as you have time and interest to do so if you decide to explore the links between breathing, believing, and life. [Note that the images accompanying each story do not necessarily match the TedRadio Hour images but rather link to similar ideas/stories but different sources.]
Description:In 2002, free diver Tanya Streeter completed a record-breaking dive of 525 feet—in one breath. She reflects on the obstacles she faced, and the experience of pushing her body and lungs to the limit.This is a riveting story!
About:Tanya Streeter is a world champion freediver who was inducted into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame in March 2000. For more than two months, she held the world record — for both men and women — diving to 525 feet in the “no limits” category, which is still the women’s world record for No Limits Apnea.
She has been featured in the documentaries, Freediver, and A Plastic Ocean. She also hosted a show on BBC Two called Shark Therapy, in which she attempted to overcome her fear of sharks.
Streeter received degrees in Public Administration and French from the University of Brighton.
Description: Journalist Beth Gardiner and activist Yvette Arellano explain the long-term health effects of air pollution. Yvette lives in a Houston neighborhood near the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.
About: Beth Gardiner is an American journalist based in London. For ten years, she reported for the Associated Press in New York and London.
Now, her reporting primarily focuses on the environment. She has discussed her work on NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and the BBC’s World at One.
Gardiner is the author of Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, an exploration into the long-term health effects of air pollution. Gardiner received grants to support her work on Choked from both the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Description: Dinosaurs ruled Earth for 180 million years, but to dominate they had to outcompete a slew of other animals. Paleontologist Emma Schachner thinks their lungs could have been the competitive advantage.
About:Emma Schachner is an anatomy professor at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She also specializes in the 3D digital modeling of anatomy from CT and MR images, as well as scientific illustration, which merges anatomy, art, and scientific communication.
Schachner’s research uses an interdisciplinary approach to study the soft tissue and skeletal anatomy of a broad range of animals including alligators, chameleons, parrots and ostriches. She uses these data to reconstruct the biology of extinct reptiles, particularly dinosaurs and the fossil ancestors of crocodilians.
She received her master’s degree in paleontology at the University of Bristol and her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fifth Story: Andy Puddicombe: How Can Breathing Help Us In An Ever-Changing World?
Description: Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on breath and impermanence.
About:Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives.
Puddicombe also writes for The Huffington Post and The Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.
He attended Wellsway Comprehensive School in Keynsham, and studied Sports Science at De Montfort University. He also has a Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.
Each day, we breathe about 22,000 times–and all that time we smell. Scent historian Caro Verbeek recreates scents of the past. She says, just like music and art, smell is a part of our heritage.
About:Caro Verbeek is an embedded researcher of olfactory heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and International Flavours & Fragrances. She creates olfactory tours and interventions for museums.
Verbeek teaches the course ‘The Other Senses’ at the Royal Academy of Arts The Hague and is the curator in chief of the olfactory culture program ‘Odorama’ at Mediamatic Amsterdam. She is also an advisor for immaterial heritage projects at Mondriaan Fonds.
She received her M.A. in curatorial studies at VU Amsterdam University and her M.A. in art history at the University of Amsterdam.
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with Sophie Fustec, known artistically as La Chica, about her new album La Loba, in which she comes to terms with her brother’s recent death who died after jumping into a hot spring to save his dog. I was deeply touched by this interview and Sophie’s beautiful voice.
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Then there is the tragic death of another beautiful Sophie–Sophie Xeon who was popularly known as just Sophie. She died at 34 after a terrible accident where she fell from a roof that she climbed to get a picture of a full moon. Ludovica Ludinatrice, Sophie’s representative, said: “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell. She will always be here with us. The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time.”
Each breath we take is precious for every breath links us to every individual we ever come into contact with each and every day. Breathing\believing is how we weave the web of life (our shared reality). It is a timeless process done in our corporal bodies through breath and in our immortal bodies through belief. We all need to breath…to believe to survive and thrive.
What will you do with your breath today?
It is so precious…you are so precious…and life is so fragile and short.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung, The Philosophical Tree
This is a simple and very common story. It is a story about a mistake that lead to a misunderstanding that descended into fatuity. Stuff like this happens all the time between people. Most of the time, it leaves both parties feeling moronic, doltish, and foolish.
The exception is when one person holds more power or authority than another person. Then such common occurrences get channeled down a most menacing passage way. One socially designed to keep the power holder’s dignity and respectability in place while decimating the other’s social standing or means of making a living.
You think I am exaggerating?
Injustices use the energy created inside the mind to effect action in the world. Systems of consciousness evolved to divert the psychological energies generated by simple mistakes and common misunderstanding unto a few. The few are the handful of people who have amassed resources and become rich and powerful in the world of human beings. These rich and powerful folks then engineer the social systems to reroute the blessings meant for all people living within a system (e.g., a family, a tribe, a city, a state, a nation, a civilization) unto themselves. This has been happening for centuries, entrenching power unto a few people existing on the top of the social hierarchy.
Still doubt me? Watch Poldark to see how the system worked in the late 18th century and early 19th century in England–a country that emerged as a supersized powerhouse in molding how modern day Western Civilization works today. Sure Poldark is a work of fiction, but all good fiction draws upon archetypal characters acting in the real world.
But even a foolish, stupid thing can be turned into a source of knowledge, even wisdom, if one seeks deeper understanding and is not committed to upholding the existing system of being, most often referred to as civilization. It is for this reason I choose to tell and share this story.
To me it is a navigation map. Something an individual in a conflict can refer to as a reference point for guidance in navigating the depths of misunderstanding, especially when all the Cards of Knowledge are not being lain down on the Table of Resolution. Knowing how to navigate the strong currents created by deception, power plays, and one upmanship maneuvers can help both parties avoid dropping down into the even darker realms of being human. Down there in these darkest realms of the human psyche, mistakes can quickly transform into ugly beasts of folly that are quite capable of inflicting terrible suffering on other people, and even of swallowing a fragile ego whole, just like a snake swallows an egg.
You think I am exaggerating again, don’t you?
If you are like me and taught the edges of your thought are the edges of yourself and believing this, you have probably constructed a pretty nice ego (or perhaps it should be called an egg-o!..lol..) to comport yourself through life, just like I did. Most of the time, your ego construct probably serves you just fine, just like mine did. But if you are like me and believed this to be all that you are–like that pretty egg just sitting there doing nothing to invite the devastation and destruction fate so often serves–then you encountered autonomous unconscious content inside yourself but outside of your egg-o, it was probably pretty traumatic, just like it was for me.
But wait, there is more: you realize such autonomous unconscious content exists inside everyone who you love, respect, answer to at work, depend on as friends, etc., ect. When you realize this, such an encounter with autonomous unconscious content can turn into something very devastating, just like it did for me.
I chronicle it in my girl with dragon story that tells about what happened to me as my autonomous unconscious content mixed with everyone’s else around me to create the perfect dragon storm of autonomous unconscious content acting in the world.
If you’re not into reading blogs (even super short ones), I turned this story into a video series. But, there are only 3 because during this time of my inner journey, I needed encouragement and attention. This first video got a lot of likes and comments when I shared it, but the next two seemed to reach no one. So, I stopped making them. I didn’t have any more energy inside to do it even though they made me happy. I was relying on the time and attention others were giving me then. It is not a good way to live; however, the Facebook universe is built this way. It incites us to live on the outer most edges of ourselves, which are the most public, the social roles we play in our groups and society. Facebook promises fame and fortune for those who learn how to play this game well. But, there is a dark side to this game we are all playing on this platform.
The brutality is built right into the platform (as well as other social media platforms) and it can spill over into reality in terrible, evil ways. Consider the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. This genocide used Facebook to incite terrible, brutal violence in the real world. The New York Times conducted an in-depth investigation of this genocide and reported what they found in this article: A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military
“Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group, the people said. The military exploited Facebook’s wide reach in Myanmar, where it is so broadly used that many of the country’s 18 million internet users confuse the Silicon Valley social media platform with the internet. Human rights groups blame the anti-Rohingya propaganda for inciting murders, rapes and the largest forced human migration in recent history.”
“They posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes as they flooded Facebook with their hatred. One said Islam was a global threat to Buddhism. Another shared a false story about the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.”
There is also a brutality conducted daily on ordinary users of this platform. It is quite invisible but follows the currents of time and attention generated by everyone using the platform that day or point in time. We, the users, create the currents of time and attention swirling around on all the social media platforms. But since they are a collective creation, no one individual controls them. That’s what makes it fun–learning how to galvanize, shock, and stir up attention, and then send it this way or that. These are little streams of course, but if you’re good… they can grow… and if you’re really good, the currents of time and attention can transform you into a top dog or a shark inside a fish tank. Then, all the other little fishes in the tank will follow you anywhere you go.
But, if you fall outside the collectively generated currents, you will feel the coldness of being ignored, the silent treatment (even by your friends and family in your network) inflicted upon you for crossing some unseen social boundary, usually a taboo. In short, Facebook is slowly but surely turning its users into Attention Addicts. Any addiction of any nature usurps an individual’s inner psychological energy that is needed to think, to feel good about self and others, and to act with intergirty in the world. I believe this is a new type of addiction we are growing in ourselves, all around the world. It is to our own detriment for it is another channel being carved into our collective consciousness diverting the blessings meant for everyone unto a few. Not much is written about this evolving new addiction, much more needs to be written. However, I found this article, which is very interesting: Why I Was Addicted to Attention, Lies, and Drama byVironika Tugaleva.
This is a tangent, and I will not take any more time to talk about now other than to say these places I speak about that are concealed deep inside the human psyche have been mostly forgotten by our civilized, modern world. They have been suppressed, denied, and rejected for centuries. The most common refrain used to justify this refusal to be a whole human being is ‘that’s not civilized.’
But these uncivilized parts of self exist inside every person’s psyche. They are the empty-headed, slow-witted, dopey, short-sighted, ill-considered, inept, cocked-eyed parts of self. They are the parts of ourselves that have been stashed and locked, and double locked away. No one wants to admit these parts exist: the asinine, loopy, unthinking parts of ourselves that can make us feel or look repulsive to others–perhaps even dangerous.
To admit such detestable vulnerabilities publicly can result in being ostracized. This is most of all true of modern day Western Civilization. And social shunning can have severe and damaging effects on the social roles that we are forced to assume and inhabit in order to live a modern, Westernize life that allows us to feed, cloth, and shelter ourselves and our loved ones.
The silent treatment is very effective, and it is a very old practice. It can be traced far back into the dawning of Western Civilization. My friend Barry Kort pointed this out recently, and I have researched shunning several years ago for the story I am writing.
Ignoring someone for some socially perceived fault was encoded into law by Hammurabi who was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty of the Amorite tribe, reigning from c. 1792 BC to c. 1750 BC. The Hammurabi code of laws, a collection of 282 rules, established standards for commercial interactions and set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of justice. The laws varied according to social class and gender, and it took a brutal approach to justice. And these codes did not die out with the conquering of Babylon. There is a fascinating discussion of this code in this interesting book: Shared Reality: What Makes Us Strong and Tears Us Apart. Public shunning was one of the punishments devised by Hammurabi and disguised as coming from God. Today, we know the silent treatment is a form of psychological abuse.
An article in Psychology Today states: “The silent treatment is a strategy frequently used by people who appear to possess great self-control and claim to be more rational than emotional. At the same time, it is related not only to an expression of passive violence but also to a concealed strategy of psychological abuse. That is to say, it can profoundly damage the person on the receiving end.”
“The worst sin to our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that is the essence of inhumanity”
I postulate there is another way to navigate mistakes and misunderstandings. A way that evolves us as a species and helps us individually grow more whole. It is not an easy way, but it is a way that sheds light on these unseemly parts of ourselves that allows us to see them and bring them to the fire of one’s flame of consciousness. I propose that it is exactly these parts of ourselves that desperately need rescuing now. To not do so will condemn us to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors who have given us this current brutal system of consciousness. I put forward it is percisely the primitive, most primordial parts that live inside every human being’s psyche who needs the gentle hand of understanding and tenderness of love for no other reason that for being.
I write about all this in my story titled Sapience: The Moment is Now. It is a story that required me to descend to great depths inside myself. It was so dark down there, I got lost. But the descent allowed me to resurrect some of the deepest, most forgotten parts of myself. And strangely, it is these parts that have helped me survive a terrible year–a year of sudden reversals and suffering around the world. Nothing more needs to be said except 2020.
All things, good and bad, hold power to awaken and illuminate more of who we are as tiny flecks of illuminated consciousness. Four years earlier, I was searching for venues to share a documentary I made about the first Women’s March. It was a super historical event. One that emerged organically like a super sentient being dressed in pink. This being, feminine of course, was a counter force rising in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. The election that landed him in the White House.
I interviewed 39 people that day, then used my new skills in iMovie to assemble a homemade documentary. It’s not that good. It’s too long and amateur. Some would say it’s exceedingly boring—except for the interviewees. Their voices are powerful.
After making this long video, I wanted to share it. And so, I ventured into the Netherworld of social media. It is a place until this moment in time that I instinctively avoided as a vile, loveless Pit of Perdition. And, I was not wrong about this.
I’ll get back to this later.
In the wake of Trump’s election, lots of new Facebook groups were forming around the world. There were Women’s March groups, Indivisible groups, and groups dedicated to the idiocracy of Donald Trump’s America. I joined many of these groups across America and around the world. I also joined Climate Change and Environmental groups because these issues run through the storyline of the narrative I’ve been chasing since before 2009 and writing daily since 2012. A story that was bursting into reality with the election of Donald Trump. That’s why I went down and interviewed people. It was so uncanny–what I had written and what was happening–I had to talk to other people. Indeed, I can sum up my story in three words; it is one about Climate Change and Consciousness.
At this time of rapid uptake of joining Facebook groups, I came across a group called the Ecology of System Thinkers (EoST). It was a bit outside my wheelhouse. However, I reasoned I had a degree in Human Ecology with a concentration in the sciences. Plus the group promoted itself as an intersection of diehard Systems Thinkers and everyone else. So, it seemed to me that I fit the parameters they had defined.
At this time, I noticed the time and attention one admin gave to members, especially to members experiencing conflict and arguing (boy—were there arguments back then!). I was impressed by this and came to understand he was one of the founders of the group. I found him inspiring. We became Facebook friends.
About a year later, I recall he took time off from his deep involvement in the group citing it took too much of his time, and he needed to put more of it into his family and other things going on in his life. I thought this was an admirable action too. The new admin replacing him was highly at first involved too. And we were already Facebook friends from another group. We had several in-depth, probing conversations. Then, the other guy came back and a few more admins were added. I noticed the first admin however was no longer as highly involved as before, except for a rare post here and there. In fact, he rarely commented any more on posts.
I remember being named as one of the members in this group who got high engagement from other members, but who was not participating or liking other members posts. He was trying to get more engagement from all the members. He was right. There is nothing more boring than a group where no one likes or comments on anyone’s posts. I liked and commented on other members posts for a time. But no one noticed. So, my engagement naturally declined, falling back to my pervious occasional posts. When I shared something I had done, I tried to make sure I connected its content with the interests of group with a comment of how it was relevant.
After my father died, this admin and others added as admins in this group or would be soon added to the admin team of this group, appeared super supportive of my sad situation. But it was short-lived support. All of them soon moved on in their own veins of being and interests in Facebook endeavors. In fact, none of the admins (5 of whom were my Facebook friends) ever liked a post I shared in EoST or commented on a post I shared in this group.
One day this year, I noticed the group no longer appeared as one I belonged to. I thought this odd but paid no mind to it until one day I searched for the group and could not find it, I became more curious about what had happened.
By now, it had been several weeks after I noticed the group had disappeared. I decided to ask my Facebook friend who was one of the head admin of this group what had happened. After a day of inquiring with the other admins, he simply told me one of his admins (he didn’t know who) was cleaning up spam and removed me on that basis. Apparently, this admin did this without consulting with any of the other admins assuming that I was a fake account that was spamming the group. My friend, the admin, expressed no shock, no sadness, no remorse about what had happened. Rather, his message to me was more like a lecture: It was overly zealous admin who failed to be as zealous in checking who or what was spam. He also told me matter-of-factly none of the other admins were at all regretful of this zealous admin’s actions. To me, this demonstrated an unconscious complacency by the whole admin team in support of questionable, overly harsh actions.
I had a bad feeling. I could not say exactly what or why I was feeling this, but I felt I had to act immediately. So I did. I blocked all 10 admins from my personal account. Then, I answered 3 unanswered messages in messenger. I told them I was deactivating my Facebook account and very briefly why. Then, I deactivated it and was gone. I didn’t think anyone would even notice my absence.
TheAfterMathof What Happened
But it turns out I left a wake.
It turns out I had an ally after all, Barry Kort.
I had recently featured him in my last blog titled AfterMath — The Magical Calculus of Consciousness. In this blog, I tell the story of how a casual conversation in another Facebook group sparked insight in me that aligned with content I was wrestling with in my story.
Unbeknownst to me, Barry was championing my case. He had taken it up with the admins of EoST. From what I’ve gleam from bits and pieces I learned about later, Barry was assessing and analyzing what had happened and why. He was spelling it out eloquently and illuminating deeper currents of thinking that were informing the actions occurring inside the group.
He did not have all the information because much of it remained hidden; however, his analysis is excellent and offers opportunities for insight and growth. But of course, this kind of growth is hard. Because of this, it is often rejected, especially by collectives, because it is not pretty, it is not nice. It is the stuff about ourselves we have all had to reject and hide away because we would be viewed as monsters by others for revealing these parts of ourselves.
This is a trap. It is a trap built into our modern systems. It was built to divert the blessings meant for everyone within a system or a group unto a few. It happened long ago. Most of us now no longer remember how it use to be. We are taught to believe this is normal.
It is not.
It is inherently cruel.
Left unchecked and unchanged, our modern systems of consciousness are growing more and more lopsided. They are turning in on themselves and will soon devour themselves. Just like Beth Harmon, the star in the Netflix Original story about a young orphan girl who is a chess prodigy, we (the humans of Earth) are inflicting the consequences of our individual and collective unconsciousness on ourselves and on each other through thoughtless, careless, cruel actions.
Barry has given me permission to share some of his analysis here:
Bébé, in her E-Mail to me, expressly decried the absence of an empathic human response. That created a dilemma for me, because Π was unable to provide the original context, so I had no useful information on what happened to cause Bébé to feel betrayed and wounded. Π could similarly see no reason for Bébé to be angry at him. But after I shared with him a bit more information, Π did see why her anger was directed at him. In other words, the failure to share relevant information blocks the possibility of empathy. If having and expressing empathy is the ultimate goal, then concealing information is anathema to that goal. — Barry Kort — December 17 at 6:13 PM
Barry has hit on something extremely important here in that: concealing information is anathema to the goal of expressing empathy…this something that is actually very important to the world of Systems Thinkers. In the past 4 years that I’ve belonged in this group, no one has ever talked about the importance of empathy and understanding. I learned more about Systems Thinking in this one paragraph written by Barry than I gleaned over 4 years of being a member of this this group. The power of empathy in constructing Bridges of Understanding allows for repairs to the deep divisions engineered into modern living–systems designed to keep us separated and isolated in our individual thinking and group silos.
As near as I can tell, this one admin departed from the model that Π and the other admins would have employed. As I understand it, this lone rogue admin unilaterally determined that it was correct to summarily boot Bebe out of the EoST and does not repent of that belief. It’s unclear to me how this lack of consensus among the Admins can be resolved. It may be too late for Bébé, but it means that this phenomenon is likely to recur, perhaps with another would-be contributor in the future. What has occurred is what Gregory Bateson would have called “Schismogenesis” meaning a fracturing and a fragmenting of Systems Thinking into two or more conflicting factions, each of which would employ disparate practices. As near as I can tell, this is why Bebe has lost faith in the integrity of the Systems Thinking culture. At least one faction would retain the practices of the anachronistic and deprecated model of the Police Culture. This disparity has roots that goes all the way back to the disparity between Theology and the secular Rule of Law. I had long hoped that the contributions of the more enlightened systems science would have at long last resolved that hoary and lamentable rift. — Barry Kort — December 17 at 11:37 PM
What more can I say, Barry sees a phenomenon at work and operating below the threshold of conscious awareness of this group. He has chronicled it in a most palatable way. Refusal to look at his analysis or to consider it in the light of understanding can only mean the undercurrents of concealment and denial are running deep and strong.
That’s what Π said, too. But it also reveals a phenomenon that troubles me far beyond this kind of commonplace mistake. Intention is one element in a Theory of Mind. Clearly the rogue admin misjudged Bébé, with respect to her intention. It’s clear from copious evidence that her posted content originated from a thread in GCC that included Sam, Doug, and myself (I am leaving Sam and Doug as they have been allies in this situation too). But another element of a Theory of Mind is emotional state. I was astonished at how erratic Π was in characterizing my emotional state. And Π’s inexplicable misconceptions in that regard helped me appreciate why Bebe reacted so strongly about the lack of empathy she encountered in EoST. I’m quite used to it, as almost no one ever gets it right when they try to assess my emotional state. Long ago, I learned that I have to expressly say that I’m chagrinned or disappointed or vexed and perplexed by some observable phenomenon on the social networks. But even having done so, Π still asserted an inexplicably incorrect character model, as if I were some chimera of his imagination. How the devil could he have gotten it so wrong? I reckon Columbo, Poirot, or Miss Marple would have a field day with this one. — Barry Kort — December 18 at 3:24 AM
Barry is absolutely correct, this is a case for the all the Columbo(s), the Poirot(s), and the Marple(s) of the underworld of man’s psyche. I’ve been writing about this (and by the way sharing it in EoST to the sound of silence) for quite some time. I dubbed this work the work of Consciousness Warriors. I suspect my work is too artistry and suspicious for the Systems Thinkers of EoST. Indeed, Barry’s thinking seems to be received this way as well, which is a lost for the group.
«Clearly the mistaken action by the admin touched a deeper nerve, no?» Precisely so, Doug. As I understand it, Bébé posted something in EoST, whereupon some undisclosed Admin summarily deleted it and unceremoniously blocked Bébé, erroneously believing it was spam. Π said that’s all he knew; he didn’t even know which of 11 Admins it was. But according to Π, whoever it was did not believe it was an error to have deleted Bebe’s post and to have summarily blocked her. As to what Bébé posted, my surmise is that it was something related to this contemporaneous blog post, which contains content Bébé had just gleaned from a discussion thread in GCC.
–Barry Kort — December 19 at 9:57 AM
cc: several people ~I wonder if Einstein would have been unceremoniously ejected from the same Systems Thinking communities that Doug and I got booted out of. If so, would he have soothed himself by playing the violin? — Barry Kort — December 18 at 7:06 PM
Doug and Barry are indeed right, a deeper nerve was hit and exposed. It is right for Barry to point out this type of thinking/reaction sequence and how an individual who did not fit in such as Einstein would have been treated if the systems operating now and are ubiquitous in modern society had operated then. Would we know about black holes, the theory of general relativity, and the photoelectric effect?
«I try to remember the devil of second order cybernetics. Observe the observer. When I do, I am of course observing myself observing someone observing.» That’s the opening lines of one of the paragraphs in Nora Bateson’s article in the O.P. And it occurs to me that the long comment thread initiated in response to BPT’s question, “What happened?” is an instance of “the devil of 2nd order cybernetics: reckoning the observer. What did the observer know and when did he know it? What did the observer report, and when did he report it? Did the observer know and report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Was anything left out or distorted? Was any of it paraphrased, glossed over, or taken out of context? To my mind, this cuts to the issue of Bearing Accurate Witness (and the consequences of redacting information that one would rather not have brought to light). I don’t know that we’ll resolve this issue here, but I submit that the political decision not to bear accurate witness is inconsistent with the fundamental tenets of cybernetic systems theory. As I understand it at this juncture, Bébé lost faith in the culture of systems thinking because it morphed from science to politics, and that departure introduced what she calls a “darkness” (and I call a corruption) of the fundamental tenets of systems science and systems thinking. — Barry Kort — December 19 at 6:15 PM
Barry is shining a brilliant light into a dark place. I have lost faith in the culture of Systems Thinking. The darkness of the human mind is indeed the source from which all corruption infiltrating the systems man has made creeps in. It takes conscious work to keep the darkness at bay. Most people don’t want to do this work because it is icky, painful at times, and humiliating at other times. So, we hide it in the dark places inside ourselves. But it does not go away. It remains quite actively there and very capable of acting autonomously and antithetically to our own self-interests. This is how the corruption works. I write extensively about it in my book.
As I see it, the community of systems thinkers have splintered into two discernible factions. The smaller faction, to which you and I subscribe, is that we employ the axiomatic principles and tools for thought of systems thinking to solve both systemic problems “out there” in the world at large, as well as systemic problems that arise within the corridors of our own discipline and practices. Moreover we do our work in public, so as to demonstrate that we are role models for our methodology even when we are addressing internal issues within our own community.
The larger faction (as apparently exemplified and revealed by at least three of the more prominent leaders in EoST) is that internal misadventures and departures from the governing axioms, principles and practices of systems thinking are not addressed in public (and perhaps not even addressed at all).
In yesterday’s Barn Raising, it occurred to me that you and T. were especially articulate in characterizing this dichotomy that divides Systems Thinking into these two mutually incompatible factions — a dichotomy that only surfaces when the practice of systems thinking itself has veered off the rails with respect to keeping its own house in order.
If that analysis has any merit, then it’s our minority faction which is obliged to devise a way to proceed in a constrained manner that is true to the core principles without alienating ourselves from the larger faction. Per G.‘s methodology, the title of this drama would be, “Physician, heal thyself.”
Bébé uncovered a “darkness” in EoST that might be characterized as a shame-based cover-up that is then seen as a “corruption” of the professed principles and practices of systems thinking. At least that model explains her loss of faith in systems thinking as she experienced it first-hand in EoST. At least that model explains why she characterized them as a bunch of “fakes” (because they didn’t practice what they preached). In classical stories such as those found in the New Testament, the corresponding term of art would be “hypocrisy.”
There must be a “third way” to proceed that is both effective as a diagnostic process and acceptable to the likes of Π, Beta, and the otherwise unidentified “zealous admin” whose rogue actions precipitated the ensuing liminal social drama (and its 2nd-order offshoot on my timeline).
Sam, in the process of recusing himself, Beta (not real name) referred to a non-private chat in which he declared his intention to de-attend the conversation over the issue of doing it in public.
May I add your name to that non-private chat so you can provide your insight on why this process is going awry?
The Folly& the Fake
Barry has provided a powerful and in-depth analysis for those who have the strength to digest it. A lass, I doubt many do. In addition to these tidbits I gleaned from my deactivated account; Barry shared something further with me that floored me. It is the reason I felt I had to deactivate my account though at the time I could not tell you why I felt this.
Below is a small excerpt of a longer exchange. It is the most hurtful and it so full of misperceptions and misrepresentations; I do not even know where to start. I feel compelled to dissect it sentence by sentence from my point of view. The truth lies in-between and so too is our shared reality. Where you fall as a 3rd Party Reader depends on where you stand upon your own inner terrain of being. It has been this way with truth ever since man crossed the threshold into consciousness so long, long ago.
Π: “I already get a lot of email I would rather not have.“
My interpretation: “Dam it, Barry! Don’t you understand how busy and important I am! Why are you bothering me with this?”
Π: “Her anger, then, is pointless and achieves nothing, in terms of anything I can do, it’s too late for that. Rather it’s a phase she needs to go through personally to get to a period of acceptance.“
My perspective: Π is pretending he knows me so well that he can instantly infer why and what I am angry about. His foolish attempt to assign value to someone else’s anger is folly. It reveals a reckless irrationality that is swimming about inside his mind. Not realizing the monster he fears lives inside him, he attempts to deflect blame of the injustices I have complained about as self-inflicted. This is a gross oversimplified of reality. One that is bound to create blow back.
Π: “However …Over many years, I have suggested to her, indirectly, that writing her book was not in the end going to be the catharsis she seeks for the death of at least one parent.“
My perspective:Π demonstrates his vast knowledge and understanding of me by showing he doesn’t even know which parent died. In fact, he doesn’t even remember when or how the death occurred. He is knocking his brain to recall if I even have already lost both parents. So, to not look completely stupid, he’s covering his bases with the stony-hearted phrase: the catharsis she seeks for the death of at least one parent. Besides being muddled in his mind about how long my parent has been dead, he demonstrates his utter lack of listening skills. I’ve told him many times I’ve been writing this story long before I ever met him or joined the EoST. I have written down enough material for 12 books with 12 more in my head. This is not a catharsis process grieving for a dead parent—what an inconsiderate, thoughtless, self-centered jerk!
Π: “I suggested she was better engaged in writing for other people, but she did not want to pursue that. She has chosen her own path, in terms of adjusting to loss, especially ignoring counsel from others, and there are consequences for that in terms of teaching m recovery rates. Feeling sad about loss is one thing, taking out anger on others is actually counterproductive.“
My perspective: Here again Πdemonstrates utter ignorance of who I am, what I’ve done, even how old I am. He says, “I suggested she was better engaged in writing for other people…” …as if I were 22 or 23 years old. You know… I bet he does think that’s how old I am poor bloke. He’s about 30+ years off. I’ve written for lots of other people. I have raised more than $10 million dollars for individuals, non-profits, and corporations around the world from the things I have written for other people. I’ve been part of huge proposal teams that have written winning proposals for huge government contracts totaling another $10 million dollars. I’ve written media and new releases and planned/implemented special events, planned-giving, and other types of fundraising things raising another $1 to 2 million for other people.
Writing for other people provides as much safety and security as being the Press Secretary on board the Titanic who is ordered to whip out a flashy News Briefabout how fabulous, sea-worthy, and unsinkable the ship is while it is sinking into the watery, cold depths of the North Atlantic. I made a video about this recently. Not that Π would have seen it as clearly I am not a person worth his time or attention.
So forgive me if I’m done writing stories for other people! These comments drip with his shallow, flaccid, artificiality. He reveals himself here as a self-obsessed, self-conceited bloke of magnificent proportions. Boy was my admiration misplaced in him.
Π: “Namely, I feel she has not properly got over the death of her parent, and also seems to blame others without reason for their ignorance – stupidity even – when she thinks they should know better. But I’m afraid we are all human beings. We all make mistakes. There’s nothing personal involved. No one knows everything, as pointed out at considerable cost by Socrates, a deep Systems Thinker himself.“
My perspective:HereΠ demonstrates once again how well he knows me. Again, he can’t even name which parent died–mother…father? He leaves the door open that both parents may very well be dead…because he really doesn’t know. Not only that, he asserts himself as an expert on grief. Then callously and cruelly blames me for my own suffering and pain.
Side Note: I wrote about this too…being blamed by those who really don’t know me at all for my misfortune on 10/31/18. At this point in time, my personnel tragedy was about 3 months old having occurred on 8/4/18. On Facebook, it was old news now. Looking back, this is when most of my Facebook friends vanished! Vamoose–all the individuals who were paying me so much attention before my father died…disappeared. And all the individuals who were not paying me much attention before dad died, joined the bandwagon of condolence wishing because–WOW–I was getting a lot of attention on Facebook then, and it would be a missed opportunity not to be seen by others on Facebook (you know… the murky, mutual friends that Facebook has engineered for us). Who hasn’t got Facebook suggestions: Hey, ‘so and so‘ is a friend of ‘so and so‘… someone you just became friends with on the platform and so you become friends with everyone else’s friends and pretty soon, you don’t really know who your friends are any more because everyone’s friend have become so inbred and artificial. Now, I understand why and what has been going on at a deeper, seedy level.
But, back to the conflict… that’s what you really want to read, right? (wink):
Indeed, there are plenty of times I have brought misfortunate on myself, but this is not one of them. I along with millions of other people just like me get far more misfortune than we deserve. It is inflicted on us by the Systems of Thinking that have been designed this way. They are cruel systems dreamed up by unconscious Systems Thinkers. Our modern Western systems have been engineered to divert the blessings meant for everyone existing inside the system unto a few.
[See Postscript at the end of this blog about Charles Dickens Scrooge and how fair “the system” has been for so long of time to the masses–-the ordinary men and women just trying to survive another day in it.] And you dare to call yourself an enlighten Systems Thinker… shame on you Π.
Even though this statement drips with cruelty and contempt, now, we are finally getting somewhere!!! This is what all the bells and whistles Π’s been throwing up into the air are all about. They are simply distractions because he’s afraid he will look stupid and cold-hearted (reptilian). He begs for his humanity meanwhile denying me mine. Then, in the next sentence, he has the gall to elevate himself to the level of Socrates—the father of Systems Thinker – ‘Oh my – we must be impressed with him now, mustn’t we?!’
Π:“I have deliberately not sought to take control of EOST, although I could have done so, BECAUSE I’m a system thinking guy, who sees those control patterns repeated again and again over history, with largely unsuccessful results, and much pain along the way. I will cite Hitler and the Jews here.”
My perspective: This part of Π’s soliloquy is between him and Barry. But really man, come on… citing Hitler and the Jews just because Barry is asking you for accountability of the group you founded. Pretty high and mighty… and very sad.
Π:“I have tried to work collaboratively with other Admins because I believe 💯% in working that way, and I’m unwilling to change that, underpinned by ST reasons.“
My perspective: This part of Π’s speech continues to be between him and Barry. He’s a System Thinking guy… just so you don’t forget that aspect of who he is.
Π: “Bébé can return but chooses not to. Again, it’s not my choice, but a self-inflicted wound on her part. If she wants to return I will 💯% support that, because I know that it was a mistake on the part of Admins that we have discussed and can rectify.“
My perspective: Thank you Π but no thank you!! For 4 years, I’ve contributed thoughtful content related to the “Systems Thinking ” from a non-systems thinker’s perspective (something you told Barry that was part of your aspirations for starting the group in the first place). During this entire time, neither you nor your admin team have given so much as a blue thumbs up… much less commented on a single post I’ve made in this group.Rather, I’ve been ignored, and now possibly, I see this is no accident,
Rather, in the past 6 months, I have engaged with your members more so than you or most of your admins who rarely post or comment on anything (except one who posts but rarely comments on members posts). During this time, I have encountered some of the most misogynistic, potty-mouth men than in any other group I have belonged (and that is a long list).
Self-inflicted wound?! I don’t think so. It is more like you’ve been a poison swirling around in my pools of friendships on Facebook. Silently, but decisively, your hidden attitudes and beliefs about me have been undermining me and belittling me to others. You think your disparaging attitudes and false beliefs of me go unseen just because you don’t say them like you’ve said to Barry… but you are wrong… these things permeate and infect the mutual Pools of Consciousness we have shared…like the group of 11.8K members amassed and growing into a gelatinous pool of goo because big groups tend to pull the collective consciousness down to the lowest levels of being unless hard work (like Barry is doing here) is attempted.
Π: “That’s the real point that she and you should be focusing on.“
My perspective:More distraction – “Oh look… look over there… that’s where the fire is…” Aren’t we all sick if these types of shenanigans after 4 years of Trump?”
Π: “For Bébé to blame humanity for being human and making mistakes is to expect folk to be superman. I’m sorry but that’s not a reasonable or Systems Thinking approach to take.“
My perspective: No, I am blaming you. I simply expected that you wouldn’t be so shallow, fake, and artificial. Once again, Π reveals himself to be self-conceit and superior to others. [See It Feeds on Fear and Sadness… scroll to the bottom where you will find information about Superiority and Inferiority Complexes]
Π: “Consider her anger shared, BTW!“
My perspective: Good, you are finally beginning the process of waking up.But given what I’ve seen, you’ll find a way to throw cold water on it.
Π: “But please note, again from a Systems Thinking perspective, I think anger that blames others is a pointless and net negative activity, a view clearly endorsed by the Dalai Lama, another Systems Thinker, and this anger is currently a self-inflicted and perpetuating wound.“
My perspective: Ah…the Dalai Lama! Yes, it would be nice to insert a little wisdom into such abundant false conjectures and accusations of a person that you clearly do not know. If he used even a little bit of wisdom, Π might even be able to locate the compassion inside of him, locked away in a place forgotten. He is so fixated on self-inflicted wounds… it makes me wonder if it is not himself that he is referring to. I am simply a convenient target to project it onto for a time. He’ll need another one soon.
Π: “If you choose to share this with her, please give her the whole context, not a juicy extract of your choosing, where I think sometimes your own past suggests that you miss some of the fine points involved.“
My perspective: Yep, got it all—loud and clear! Now I see you for what you really are: a self-absorbed, conceited man who needs to put others down in order to feel big and powerful and like a Superman or like Socrates or the Dalai Lama. Rather you are petty and cruel. It is really rather sad realization.
Why Calculating Consciousness is a Useful Activity
This is the accounting, the AfterMath, of a simple, reckless mistake, something that occurs frequently on a platform such as Facebook. Actually, something that is accelerating and growing within all social media platforms that are acting like incubators for unconscious autonomous content that exists inside every human being.
What Barry revealed in his calculus of what went wrong rises beyond a simple, reckless mistake, but a refusal to grow consciously. He uncovered an aggressive unconscious projection that had been conducted upon me, and even onto him for his efforts to understand. Had Barry not undertaken this work, I would not have known the underlying inner narrative that was acting like a toxin between me and Π and that was having a corroding effect on everyone with whom we were mutual Facebook friends. Inner narratives are powerful. Even if never shared or spoken to someone else, they influence an individual’s choices and action in the world and this is how reality is made.
Without Barry’s intervention, analysis, and willingness to share what he learned with me, I would have remained in the dark with my feelings of worthlessness and that something nefarious was afoot, but unseeable. I sensed there were foul undercurrents working against me. Now, I know. Barry has shown me my feelings are valid and can be trusted.
When someone is not treating you as as a friend should treat a friend, consider there may be a hidden inner narrative at work that is acting more like a devilish poison designed to wear you down and dissolve you for the benefit or entertainment of another.
These things happen in real life as well as in the fake lives we live in social media. I call them fake lives because on social media platforms we are really performing–constantly curating our content and pretending to be our most ideal selves (never mentioning or acknowledging our other half because that would be less than ideal to mention). Even more nefarious, some people pretend to be someone or something they are not in order to sell or swindle things from other human beings who are simply seen as resources to be used then thrown away.
So trust your feelings. If someone who has befriended you is not treating you as a real friend, a true friend, trust yourself and take action to protect yourself.
Thank you Barry!
The Numinous Power of Stories in the Human Psyche
Stories and narratives, especially those running inside our heads, have long played an oversize role in shaping our shared reality. All stories emerge from our inner spaces of mind. I call them mindscapes. We all have these sacred internal spaces that we build over time and reshape as we tell ourselves what has happened to us on our journey through time and space. These inner stories are powerful.
In this episode from This American Life, the power of how stories can shape reality is beautifully told in this Christmas mishap of storytelling that was a little bit too real.
How Narratives Shape Human Reality
Ever since humans gained consciousness, they have told stories about their experiences in space and time. We tell stories because we can, and they imbue life and energy into everything we do and believe and influence how we act in the world. This American Life tells wonderful stories about being human. I am selecting this one here as a prologue to the story of the Misadventure and Folly of Facebook to illustrate how power the narratives we hold in our head are in shaping our reality.
Lights, Camera, Christmas! — This holiday season, we bring you a show filled with stories of people going to great lengths to throw a special Christmas for their families. In particular, I want to highlight the story of the Mutchler’s who embellished the Christmas story of Santa and his reindeer and his elves in ways that grew to gigantic proportions within the minds of their 3 children.
Humans: The Storytelling Species
We are a storytelling species. And, human beings can conceal these internal stories that shape our motivations and actions in the world. In the real world, where people encounter each other in the flesh and blood, bodies and faces reveal hints of underlying motivations, conscious or unconscious, that are propelling action in the world.
Over millions and millions of years, living beings evolved complex ways of perceiving and decoding essential clues contained in bodies and faces. Clues that if deciphered fast enough could hint to possible life-threatening or predatory intentions.
In the human world, our basic animal instinct to survive has been raised us above the ground of basic survival by becoming conscious. Consciousness also gives us our ability to think, and this has allowed humans to outcompete every other living being on Earth. It has also allowed us to change reality to suit our needs.
But there is a price for this power. The price of consciousness is to grow it or to incur a debt that must be paid by costly misadventures that arise from unconscious behavior and actions in the world. Some will be good, but other misadventures will result in trial, torment, and tribulation. They will be ordeals of misfortune, suffering, distress, trouble, worry, and woe.
No human is perfect, of this there is no doubt, but some humans conduct themselves with greater compassion, gentleness, and humanity that conduct peace, warmth, and brotherly love into the world. Meanwhile, other human beings conduct themselves with heartless indifference in the world, a consequence of unconsciousness that burdens the bearer over time by warping our marvelous abilities of thought bending them into monstrous variants of the survival instinct rapacious greed and vulturine avaricious.
What Does Scrooge Have to Do with Anything?
The classic story of Scrooge and the manifestation of Ignorance and Want as the children hiding inside the robes of Christmas Present. The Ghost tells Scrooge the children are the responsibility of all mankind.
On Quora, Gwendolyn Smith, a former teacher who has taught adolescents for 27 Years, answers this question: What is ignorance and want in ‘A Christmas Carol’?
Charles Dickens was a strong believer in social justice. He also understood that ignorance and want had the potential to doom our society if left unchecked. His use of the term want is different from our use today. To us, want means desire; to Dickens, it meant abject poverty, a complete lack of the barest necessities of life. Remember what the men who were collecting for the poor said — that want was felt even more keenly during this time of year — and Scrooge’s response: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” His solution was to throw the poor and starving into prison and the jobless into workhouses. In other words, “It’s not my problem.”
The Spirit emphasizes that, as bad as want is, ignorance is worse. Why? Because as long as people remain ignorant — lacking in knowledge, information, and understanding — they will continue to lack the resources to gain jobs and work their way out of want. Instead, the problems will just compound, until society is destroyed by them. Want is self-perpetuating. Those of us who have the resources to do so must help those who languish in want and ignorance if we are ever to do away with them.
Dickens believed so strongly in the dangers of ignorance and want that he allegorized them as children, possibly to show that we as a society must take a hand in caring for the poor and the ignorant and help them learn the tools and skills to help themselves — the way we help our children. If we refuse, we, like Scrooge, are doomed.
Ignorance and Want from Pinterest (no source cited)
Just as ignorance and want are the terrible consequences of people who have been subjected to injustice in the real world because of the unjust systems we have created and imposed on ourselves, but mostly we have forgotten this small detail. They also have devastating consequences inside the minds of men and women. They are born and sustained by beliefs and inner narratives that operate much like algorithms or sheep dogs that shape one’s mind into an ignorant, stupid, one-eyed ogre. The story of Scrooge is very much about this kind of ignorance and want… indeed, it is the external expression of ignorance and want in the world suffered by the poor and disenfranchised people of the world that individual’s like Scrooge could help alleviate in the world exactly because of his wealth and the opportunities this afforded him.
It is because of the unlikely appearance of the apparition of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s very miserly business partner that affords Scrooge to conduct an inner accounting of his beliefs and internal systems of consciousness that have governed his equally penny-pinching actions in the world. When we remain ignorant of the many different aspects of ourselves that exist inside our psyche, we tend to become very lopsided human beings that despite our best intentions to do good in the world usually end up doing a lot of bad things in the world, indeed, wicked things. This is because everything existing within the spectrum of consciousness is an energy and just because an individual refuses to admit certain aspects of who they are does not make them disappear. In fact, these lost, forgotten, unseen parts of self tend to gain energy and grow within the psyche, thereby gaining an outsized influence on an individual’s choices and actions. Even more dangerous, these splintered, unacknowledged aspects of one’s own psyche in a desperate effort to be seen by the Self so that it can be integrated into the wholeness of who one is as a conscious being, it will be projected onto “the other person” who becomes the villain or the cause of an undesired situation. This happens suddenly and naturally when an individual encounters a circumstance that triggers unconscious content into action. It is when we fail to recognize these aspects of ourselves and integrated them into the wholeness of who we are when we are most capable of conducting the greatest evil in the world.
The Real Story of Scrooge is Individuation
Scrooge is the story of individuation.
My friend Fabian Navin finds and shares absolutely wonderful concepts distilled and illuminated by Carl Jung and other individuals who took the process of individuation seriously. Ultimately, every man and every woman choose: to remain in the darkness of our own unconsciousness into which we all are born, or to release the light inside of us (trapped in matter) and reveal the divine, limitless being who walks between heaven and hell and survives.
Fabian Navin:December 26 at 8:30 PM
“To many people it seems inconceivable that there could be in their psyche autonomous contents and an activity which is not “done” or “willed” by them. It is one of the most important achievements of the individuation process to experience this non-ego, to make it conscious to a large extent and to accept it as a helpful, constant companion. To live only within the limited confines of the ego is senseless and painful. But to participate knowingly in the boundless creative life of the psyche and in the archetypal images of the non-ego is full of meaning because whatever we do or omit to do is then resolved in something greater than the ego.
Here a bridge may be thrown across to the metaphysical realm, and here Jung’s belief in God reveals itself. He asks: “The decisive question for man is: Are you related to something infinite or not? That is the criterion of his life . . . Only consciousness of our narrow confinement in the self-forms the link to the limitlessness of the unconscious. In this consciousness we experience ourselves concurrently as limited and eternal, as both the one and the other. In knowing ourselves to be unique in our personal combination—that is, ultimately limited—we also possess the capacity for becoming conscious of the infinite.”
Knowing participation in the “infinite” follows, in the psychological realm, from the awareness of the inner God-image, of the Self. Intimations of heaven and hell have been man’s since the earliest times, for these are the two poles—the light and the dark—between which his soul swings. A swing towards one side is always followed by an equal swing towards the other. Peace is found only at the centre, where man can be wholly man, neither angel nor devil, but simply man, partaker of both worlds. The search for this centre, for this balance of the soul, is a lifelong undertaking. It is the basic task and the ultimate goal of psychotherapy.
For this centre is also the place where the Divine filters through into the soul and reveals itself in the God-images, in the Self. It represents the moment of quiescence when the image of God can be perceived in the polished mirror of the soul. The “balance” meant here has nothing to do with what we call “happiness” in the ordinary sense of the word, nor with that state of freedom from care, suffering, and effort which hovers before most people’s eyes as the goal of their heart’s desire. Rather, it means a state in which both worlds, the light and the dark, the good and the bad, the joyful and the sorrowful, are united in self-evident acceptance and reflect the true nature of man, his inborn duality.
In this sense the individuation process leads to the highest possible development and completeness of the psychic personality and is a preparation for the end of life. Whether one goes the “natural”, more, or less unconscious way of individuation or takes the consciously worked through way depends, presumably, on fate. But one thing is certain: unconsciousness or wanting to remain unconscious, to escape the call to development and avoid the venture of life, is sin. For though growing old is the inescapable lot of all creatures, growing old meaningfully is a task ordained for man alone. What meaning has our life? None but what we give it.
The consciously undertaken way of individuation can, as we have seen, be considered from several points of view. In conclusion, we will list some of the most important.
As a process of psychological development, it represents the step-by-step maturation of the human psyche to the point where all its potentialities are unfolded, and the conscious and unconscious realms are united by integrating its historical roots with present-day consciousness.
From the point of view of characterology, it throws the typological profile of the individual into ever clearer relief. It facilitates increasing control of the auxiliary functions and of the undeveloped, inferior function and attitude, resulting in a growing capacity for judgment and decision and an extension of the freedom of the will.
From the sociological point of view, it integrates the individual with the collective and adapts the ego to the demands of life.
In psychotherapy it brings about a redistribution of psychic energy, assists the dissolution of complexes, identifications, and fixations, as well as the withdrawal of projections. It furnishes a means of recognizing and enduring one’s own shadow qualities, of finding one’s own values, and thus of overcoming neurosis.
Finally, from the religious point of view, it creates a living relation between man and the suprapersonal and gives him his proper place in the order of the universe. Through the encounter with the contents of the unconscious realm of the psyche and their integration with consciousness it lays the foundations of an independent, personal philosophy of life which, depending on the individual, may also ally itself with a particular creed.
The individuation process, however, cannot be grasped in its deepest essence, for it is a part of the mystery of transformation that pervades all creation. It includes within it the secret of life, which is ceaselessly reborn in passing through an ever renewed “death”.
“If man is to live,” says Jung, “he must fight and sacrifice his longing for the past in order to rise to his own heights. And having reached the noonday heights, he must sacrifice his love for his own achievement, for he may not loiter. The sun, too, sacrifices its greatest strength in order to hasten onward to the fruits of autumn, which are the seeds of rebirth.” If this sacrifice is made willingly—a deed possible for man alone and demanded again and again on the way of individuation — transformation and rebirth ensue.
Most people, however, prefer to be born only once. They are afraid of the pains without which there can be no birth. They have no trust in the natural striving of the psyche towards its goal. And so there are all too many who halt on life’s way. They venture nothing, they would rather forgo the prize.
Often even those who go the conscious way of individuation have not understood that the greatest problems in life can never be finally solved. “The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly.” These words of Jung’s should console us for never having met a “fully individuated” person. For it is not the goal but the striving towards this goal that gives our life content and meaning.“
~Jolande Jacobi, The Way of Individuation, pp. 129-134
And here is another gem shared by Fabian Navin about individuation as experienced by the alchemists whom Jung studied and learned from greatly.
Fabian Navin:December 26 at 6:53 PM
“One of the most fascinating aspects of the esoteric tradition is that they view the human being as a sleeping God, there’s none of the sin stuff, we are not sinful creatures, we are divine creatures, but we have forgotten who we were, because the light has been trapped in matter, and so long as my spark of light is trapped in matter I’ll just keep reincarnating over and over again.
But if I can liberate that spark and then unite with it then, that would be the definition of enlightenment that the Anthropos symbolizes. So the Alchemists also believed that they were Redeemers ,they believed that they were Redeemers in many different ways, according to the Alchemists if the act of Christ’s redemption of the world was insufficient, it wasn’t complete, we have to complete it.
And again it views the alchemists as a very powerful spiritual being on par with the divinity in some ways. One of the ways they express this: they would use the book of Genesis, as in alchemical texts, and so they would work with light, try to create light in the way that God did, in order to create in their little world this new divine being. But the ones that were a little less philosophic and ambitious also believed that alchemists were Redeemers because they were transmuting lead into gold.
Now from their perspective, and I think this goes back to Aristotle, there was the idea that metals grew in the earth, that lead, if left in the earth for a million years would naturally become gold, it was their evolution. so lead is the sick gold, it’s a deformed gold, it’s an undeveloped gold. So the alchemist says: well I don’t want to wait a million years, I can do this in my laboratory in maybe five. They’re not just making gold so they have money, they’re trying to redeem lead, they’re trying to transmute it into its healthy form, and they had this idea with all of matter, that this earth could be a paradise if the impurities could be transmuted out and the lead of our own world could become a golden world.
They applied that to the human being, as Jung does, we start out lead, we’re unconscious, we’re chaotic, we’re impulsive and destructive and what-have-you, but we can transmute our psyches into gold, and if we do that, then we experience the Anthropos and then we experience ourselves as more than human, as more than lead. You know, as was said earlier: if you take the world that we live in at its concrete terms it’s a pretty hopeless situation, but if you take the world that we live in as something that could be transmuted and redeemed especially through the imagination, and through the finding of meaning, then it’s not so hopeless.” — Jeffrey Raff – Jung and the Alchemical Imagination
We Are Numinous Creatures Who Have Forgotten So Much of Who We ARE
Interlocuteur: “If we became aware of the ancestral lives in us, we might disintegrate. An ancestor might take possession of us and ride us to death.” ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Page 139
“[W]ithout relatedness individuation is hardly possible. Relatedness begins with conversation mostly. Therefore communication is indubitably important.” –Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 609-610
We think we shape ourselves and try to act authentically. But our identity is malleable, and the unconscious plays a big role in that. To adapt with integrity, to be true to yourself, would require a clear sense of who you are, really and it is still context dependent. We are not the authors of our own narrative. Psychological well-being is tied to a coherent sense of self identity but is not its only source.
Here is a Real Systems Thinking Man
And this man is not known for his Systems Thinking, but he has done more to improve the systems we live inside than any Systems Thinker I have yet encountered:
“I should like now to pull together into one statement the conditions of this general hypothesis, and the effects which are specified. If I can create a relationship characterized on my part: by a genuineness and transparency, in which I am my real feelings; by a warm acceptance of and prizing of the other person as a separate individual; by a sensitive ability to see his world and himself as he sees them; Then the other individual in the relationship: will experience and understand aspects of himself which previously he has repressed; will find himself becoming better integrated, more able to function effectively; will become more similar to the person he would like to be; will be more self-directing and self-confident; will become more of a person, more unique and more self-expressive; will be more understanding, more acceptant of others; will be able to cope with the problems of life more adequately and more comfortably. I believe that this statement holds whether I am speaking of my relationship with a client, with a group of students or staff members, with my family or children. It seems to me that we have here a general hypothesis which offers exciting possibilities for the development of creative, adaptive, autonomous persons.”
~Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy
One, Two, Three — Go Forth, Be Conscious!
This is one of the videos I have been making during 2020 to survive it. I always end my video notes with the following questions:
What will you do with your Field of Consciousness today?
More importantly, what will your Unconsciousness doe with you today?
On Presencing — fair warning to my friends on this artificial platform, which is any social media platform you choose to use because all pit us against each other for ungenerous, teensy-weensy, Lilliputian amounts of limited and fractured attention. And, these platforms continue fracturing what conscious attention we have left as a human species, so if you bring up presencing with me, you will trigger my anger.
Let’s Define It
In the past year, I have been observing more and more individuals who have become completely captivated and activated by this movement called prescencing. So, I looked it up:
“Presencing is a movement that lets us approach our self from the emerging future. In many ways, presencing resembles sensing. Both involve shifting the place of perception from the interior to the exterior of one’s (physical) organization.” — seems that Otto Scharmer may have begun this movement.
Pat Yourself on the Back
I say to you — congratulations! Now you know what all of life knows, you are submerged in a sea of consciousness that is becoming visible through your senses.
Now, I ask you, what are you going to do about it?
If you are just going to bask in the beautiful (and terrible) light of consciousness (for consciousness has both sides–they go together like two sides of a coin) but do nothing with it but look to your left and then look to your right and smile in the glory of being: why not be incarnated as a sponge on the bottom of the ocean, or a flower basking in the glory of the sun, or a bee buzzing about a flower.
You have grown out of this Earth for a reason. You are aware of your consciousness for a reason. So, I ask you again, what are you going to do with your tiny plot of consciousness?
I made this video yesterday after sinking down to figure out why I got angered by this word.
Where you put your time and attention grows in this world. So, I ask you again: What are you going to do with your plot of consciousness? Where are you sowing your seeds of time and attention? What grows in this world right now in this very moment because of where you are putting your time and attention? These are just some of the places individuals are placing this most precious resource in the universe, human time and attention:
Taking a break from the news over the weekend, I had not paid attention to the emergence of Naked Athena until I heard NPR’s Michel Martin talk with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about ongoing protests taking place there. Martin begins saying:
“Let me just go to the piece that you wrote. It’s gently worded, but it’s very tough in its message. You said that I don’t believe it’s a time for spectacle; unfortunately, spectacle is now the best way to describe Portland’s protests. Vandalizing government buildings and hurling projectiles at law enforcement draw attention. But how do these actions stop police from killing Black people? Was there a particular moment in the course of all this that made you feel this way? I mean, in your piece, you speak about the woman who’s being described as Naked Athena…”
Reality is Messy & There is Never One Simple Narrative to Explain It, Ever
I had to see Naked Athena in Portland, OR. When I found her, I did not see spectacle. I saw splendor. For centuries, women have live under lopsided male-centered, patriarchal cultural bondage. It goes on today taking many forms, but the core impulse is to control women and deny them their rights as a human being–often cruelly and violently. The same weekend as Naked Athena made her appearance in Portland, teenage girls were harassed and spit on by the Moral Police in Iran. I heard this report on the BBC and found it written up in UK The Daily Mail.
“An Iranian undercover morality agent spat at teenage girls and asked them ‘where’s your dirty owner?’ after seeing them without a hijab. In a shocking video, which has been circulating on social media, a man stops his car and gets out before hurling abuse at the youngsters.”
Think again. Reality is never as simple as we would like it to be as human beings. It never has been, nor will it ever be. But our propensity as a species to simplify reality is tremendous. It always has been, and probably always will be.
In times long past, humans used myth, folklore, and magical tales to explain complicated, perplexing, and frightening things that confronted them and challenged their survival. In my last blog, The Beautiful Gift of Outrage, I give an example of old Scottish folklore about fairies that swap out a healthy human baby and replace it with a changeling to explain why a new born infant would fail to thrive. They did not know modern medicine. They did not understand that their newborn baby was sick and needed care, not to be left out on a fairy hill to see if the fairies would bring the real child back to them. But our species has created many stories that now days sound strange and outlandish to explain the unexplainable.
And, we are still doing it today.
Untied States of Conspiracy
Frontline is airing an episode tonight titled: The United States of Conspiracy. Also, Fareed Zakaria aired a special on CNN about Conspiracy Theories; Mondaire Jones; Hillary 2016 Communications Director; Your Anecdotal Census; and Protesting During a Pandemic. Both of these episdoes explore the deep roots of misinformation entering into American culture, politics, and the rise of Trump who has long purported kooky conspiracy theories, such as the birther theory hurtled against President Barack Obama. Trump used this cockeyed theory to launch his political career (or more aptly to launch his political farce and mockery of democracy). Zakaria covers all the conspiracy theories of the past 50 years, including one of the most recent to emerge: QAnon, which is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters. Zakaria makes the connection between believing in fairies and fairytales in times past to believing in whimsical, outlandish, bizarre conspiracy theories today. Doing so, provide simple, linear explanations to reality, especially to people who feel like they are losing control of their lives or their values or their culture.
From the Frontline report , a write up says:
“The United States of Conspiracy includes a striking sequence that illustrates how Trump adopted Jones’ claims — voicing them publicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers as he ran for the highest office in the land.”
As 2015 drew to a close, then-candidate Donald Trump made an appearance that was unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns.
It was on InfoWars, the hard-right outlet run by extremist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a trafficker in false information who had exploited national tragedies from 9/11 to Newtown. And it was brokered by Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, a frequent InfoWars guest, in a bid to win over Jones’ millions of viewers.
A new FRONTLINE documentary traces how the alliance between Jones and Trump, facilitated by Stone, would help to bring conspiracy theorist thought into the political mainstream — ushering in the current era, in which misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic has spread like the virus itself.
Everything. The spectacle is Trump and the rise of modern myths and fairytales that millions of people believe–stories that are just as strange and farfetched as fairies and changelings. Trump is taking advantage of this human fallibility to win. He got away with it in 2016, but reality is catching up with him. The Coronavirus refuses to comply to his fairytale, and his complete and utter failure to deal with it is causing him to lose in the polls. Of course, he is losing in the polls because of this. We are nearing 150,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Meanwhile, many European and Asian countries have successfully gotten the novel virus under control so they can reopen their economies safely and mark COVID deaths in the hundreds… not the hundreds of thousands. But, not us.
What exactly does 150,000 deaths looks like? What if all these deaths were concentrated in one geographic location? What would it look like?
It would be like losing McAllen, Mesquite, and Killeen, Tex.; Dayton, Ohio; Fullerton, Orange, Valencia, Torrance, Pomona, and Pasadena, Calif.; Syracuse, Borough Park, Astoria, and East Hampton, N.Y.; Savannah, Ga.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Naperville, Rockford, and Joliet, Ill.; Paterson, N.J.; Clarksville, Tenn.; Hollywood, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Alexandria, Va.; or Springfield, Mass. Eric A. Gordon captures this for us to imagine in a compelling article titled: 150,000 dead of coronavirus in U.S.: What monument will they have?
So Trump needs a distraction. He needs his loyal believers of his fairy tale about reality to not look at the real spectacle of this moment–his utter lack of interest and ability to deal with reality–but to believe that America is falling into the clutches of the fatal-thinking, wacky left wing democrats. So, what does he do? He co-opts the beautiful, genuine cascade of Black Lives Matter protests and marches that are sweeping across the country, and across the world, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who believed he could get away with murder. Well, he didn’t. Here is a map a professor created of all the protests around the world evoked by George Floyd’s death.
This is the battle Trump is fighting. He is turning a long overdo moral accounting of White Privilege into an urban war to scare the hell out of his core supporters. He and his collaborators (like Barr) are not interested in saving or protecting human lives. If so, Trump would be sending PPE and swabs to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, clinics in the 70% of the country he said not to look at when he was telling America how well we were doing in combating the coronavirus. He would be much more concerned with human life (black, brown, elderly, and everyone else) rather than abusing his power as President of the United States of America to protect a building in Portland. In the same insane compulsion to win the 2020 election, Trump is systematically and cruelly undermining all the hope and promise that the Black Lives Movement is bringing into the light of day. This means coming to terms and reckoning with everything this country has done to black and brown people–slavery, Jim Crow laws, Redlining, endemic impoverishment of black and brown people due to racism and structural inequalities putting white people first, and police brutality.
This is Trump’s War. He is making sure these changes don’t happen on his watch and that’s why his supporters need to reelect him in 2020, but what he keeps hidden to himself is that he doesn’t have an ounce of empathy for his supporters. He does not care what happens to them after he is elected. He is demonstrating this right now in more outlandish ideas about miracle cures for COVID-19 citing a doctor (just yesterday) who talks about demon sperm. He just wants to serve himself to more helpings of greed and gluttony for another four years.
Wag the Dog
Most U.S. Presidents who have gotten in trouble just before their second term are fabled to begin a war to keep in power. Trump’s war is with Americans. He is sending in federal troops (many contracted military units not trained to deal with lawful protesters) to stir up trouble precisely so he can get great photos and video footage to bolster his lopsided narrative of America falling into chaos and violence. This is the spectacle.
Naked Athena is the beautiful emergence of ancient knowledge and wisdom of dealing with men like Trump and the troops his has sent into cities that do not want them there. It is no accident she was named Naked Athena–the Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. These ancient Gods and Goddesses are not dead because we no longer believe in them. They live inside of us. They are part of us. They are the building blocks of our psyches that hold the energies inside each of us that move us to take action. How that action is expressed depends on the constellation of archetypes that begin to take shape when we are born and become consolidated when the ego is born at the moment of the Primal Split, as defined through Melanie Klein’s work and object relations theory. Archetypes were first described by Carl Jung. They are poorly understood by modern humans, but they hold the psychological templates of everything that we feel and do: love, fear, greed, war. If we do not pay attention to them and the balance of our inner worlds, they can get triggered and take over our minds–sometimes this is good, often it is bad. They can also emerge collectively in moments like these and quickly turn into monsters. Naked Athena placed herself between the beasts of our collective rage on both sides of the divide. She emerged at the right moment like soothing rain to calm the archetypes rising in rage against each other. That’s what the ancient myths, legends, and folklore are all about. They are stories about our own abilities to create reality or to destroy it. To me, Naked Athena is a beautiful counter force to hate and violence–in her nakedness, she is vulnerable and unadorned by trappings of modern civilization, placing her body bravely in the middle of the line of conflict. Some say this is the moment that these protests descended into spectacle. I say, it is a moment they ascended into a realm of transformation and good trouble. We must remember how to travel and navigate our inner spaces. This is where things become cloudy, inside the mind, for the body is a clear place.
Appendix of Resources
I am not going to digest all these things here, but all of them feed into my ideas about why Naked Athena is part of the Splendor of this moment rather than the Spectacle of it. White people have a lot to work out now and a lot of it is between other white people. So much has been hidden, kept secret, silently enforced. There is a reckoning going on many levels and the streams inevitably will spilt, but the force all of them are pushing back against is the spectacle of Trump, his base, and his collaborators, not naked Athena or any of the protests going on that include examples of Good Trouble and Bad Trouble, yes, reality is messy and there is not one easy, simple, all-inclusive narrative to explain any of it.
A flawed response to a global pandemic. A string of falsehoods concerning the efficacy of mail-in voting. A violent and undemocratic response to nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.
The president of the United States has a lot to answer for in the eyes of his critics.
Ibram X. Kendi is the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He’s written a cover story for The Atlantic detailing how President Donald Trump’s racism has forced America to confront its own, especially the prejudiced systems which have allowed the oppression of minority communities in the United States.
Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He recently published a piece for the same magazine painstakingly detailing the numerous failures and inadequacies in the federal government’s approach to combating the coronavirus. Yong explores how the underfunding of medical resources left minority communities particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, contributing to the country’s skyrocketing death toll.
We ask both of them: Is America ready to reckon with its past? And what happens to America’s future?
This is a five-minute listen that is time well spent. One of the thing Jonah says is ‘we are going to see glorious video clips of how violent and degenerate America has become in future Trump for President ads and during the republican national convention.’
Seattle mayor calls Trump’s response to protests ‘un-American’ — Protesters and police again clashed in a number of U.S. cities over the weekend, including Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. President Trump has defended sending federal law enforcement to the cities, but many local officials say their presence is only exacerbating the existing unrest. Amna Nawaz reports and talks to the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, about what she’s seeing in her city.
I found the following part of this interview particularly compelling:
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, I should point out, your critics will point to the fact that, for weeks, protesters several weeks ago had basically taken control of a few downtown city blocks.Your police chief had to go in earlier this month with heavy machinery and riot gear to clear that area. There was already concern about violence over the weekend. The police chief called it a riot on Saturday night.Do you think that the presence of federal forces could help quell these protests before they get out of control, and something similar to what happened before happens again, where protesters are able to take over some chunk of city space?
Jenny Durkan: I think that when you saw that the area on Capitol Hill that we were able to return to normal, that our police were able to go in there and clear that area with very little conflict and restore it back to a place that all the neighborhood and businesses could enjoy it.Contrast what’s going on in Portland, where, night after night after night, it is proven that what they’re doing is not working. They have not quelled anything. To the contrary, they have escalated it.So I do not believe that there’s any evidence whatsoever that any of the strategies that the president is trying to employ will lead to peace. And I don’t think he wants it to.He’s been very clear that what he is doing is targeting cities that are led by Democrats to show that there can be division and the lack of law and order, so that he can run on that as a president.That kind of political maneuvering of law enforcement really is un-American. And I think it’s dangerous for us to go down that path.
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, very briefly, you weren’t told before the current federal team that’s on the ground in Seattle was sent in. Do you have any assurance you will be told in advance of any further deployment?
Jenny Durkan: So, the assistant secretary did say he would call the chief of police and myself if the posture changed. But I know that — look, there’s one person who’s guiding the activities of this administration, and that’s the president of the United States. And so, regardless of assurances that anyone else might give me or any other local government official, we have to take the president at his word. And he keeps escalating his rhetoric, and then the behavior follows that rhetoric. And so, as a mayor of a city, I will tell you, I do need the federal government’s help. I need more testing for COVID-19. I need to make sure that, as this health emergency gets worse, that my hospitals can withstand it. I need the kids who are hurting not going to be back in school to be able to learn. That’s the kind of help we need from this federal government that we don’t get. A president should step forward and lead the nation. And, instead, he’s dividing the nation. And I think it’s a really dangerous time for America to be on this point of inflection in our history. And what — our choices today will decide what happens for generations of Americans to come.
When Trump first pulled this stunt (with Attorney General William P.Barr serving as his hedge man and is is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this very day about this despicable day of failed democracy), I published this short video blog:
“White supremacy has made recent local news, between Jeremy Christian’s murder trial in Portland, and the presence of white nationalist groups in rallies across the state. A special edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly is out now, that reminds residents that the problem is actually rooted deep in state history.
KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to the journal’s editor, Eliza Canty-Jones. Bull asked how ingrained white supremacy is in Oregon’s settlement.”
Chris Cuomo and Difference Between Good and Bad Trouble — The CNN anchor went on to define what is “good trouble” and “bad trouble.” Cuomo echoed Lewis’ assertion that the Black Lives Matter movement was “good trouble,” but noted that the “riots” and “touching to hurt” and “destroy” was not included, suggesting that focusing more on the violence rather than the protests is “bad trouble at work.”
This is a Fox News report. I watched this broadcast when Chris Cuomo made these comments and did not come to the conclusions being made in the Fox article. But, we all do this, twist what we see and hear to fit our narratives. Trump is a master in doing this. He has a natural born instinct how people are reacting and how to twist any reality playing out in front of him to appeal to his willing supporters and collaborators
“To the American reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.”
One of the powerful things Applebaum said during this interview is that politics are just ideas that men and women form in their minds, then get together to try to implement in society, nothing more. Often these ideas have nothing to do with the reality of the people. Rather, they tend to be overly idealized and simplified ideas of how to run a civilization. For Trump, it is even more lopsided because he knows the ideas he promotes has nothing to do with reality. To him, it is a game to see how many people he can get to believe them.
The example of the old Scottish folklore about fairies swapping out a healthy human baby and replacing it with a changeling, comes from Outlander. Claire is the lead character of this series, and she would soon find out why her friend Geillis Duncan warned her not to go up the Fairy Hill. Claire did not listen. She searched for the child, but found it too late. It died from exposure. All she could do was hold it tenderly; her heart broken because she could not find it in time. Her beloved Jamie finds her, puts the baby back in the tree, and takes her home… telling her perhaps believing the real child will live forever with the fairies will bring comfort to the parents who lost their child.
In the next episode or so, we find out why Geillis warned Claire not to go up the Fairy Hill. She was not warning Claire about the fairies, but the town’s people. When Claire and Geillis get arrested and put on trial for being witches, Claire listens in horror as the mother of the child she tried to save testifies to her witchery and spells. She realizes as she listens and looks at all the town’s people crammed into the court that they are turning into an alien, broiling, in-human lump of hate and violence that seeks only one thing: To see her and Geillis burned alive. The Fairy Hill was a metaphor for the townspeople who lived in a one-sidedness that was unsustainable. The monster inside of them all had to be let out once in a while, and it was coming out now as she and Geillis were about to be killed by these gentle folk. They were they fairies, and they were turning into zaries right before her eyes–evil, mischievous, in-human things.
Recently, my husband and I watched the movie: In the Heart of the Sea. It is based on a true story about a whaling ship the Essex that was rammed by a sperm whale in 1820. The whale sunk the Essex about 3,000 miles from the shores of South America. Several books have been written about this disaster then and since. The movie is based on a book of the same name written by Nathaniel Philbrick and published on May 8, 2000. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction that same year. The movie does an admirable job dramatizing events that led up to the sinking of the Essex and the crew’s 90-day struggle to survive storms, hunger, and despair. The movie also depicts how Herman Melville came to write his magnum opus, Moby Dick, though there are some inaccuracies in this part of storyline as well as in the main plot (see the video below). I think it is interesting to note that Melville was born on August 1, 1819 (one year before the Essex sunk). He died September 28, 1891. Moby Dick was published in 1851, essentially the middle span of his life.
The movie begins with Melville tracking down the last living survivor of the Essex, Thomas Nickerson (this is not historically accurate).
From Wiki: “In 1850, author Herman Melville visits innkeeper Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the sinking of the whaleship Essex, offering money in return for his story. Nickerson initially refuses, but then finally agrees when his wife intervenes. The story turns to 1820: A whaling company in Nantucket has refitted the Essex to participate in the lucrative whale oil trade, and 14-year-old Nickerson signs on as a cabin boy.” Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea
According to the movie, the rainy night Melville arrives, Thomas is consumed by his inner demons because he has never spoken about his ordeal. It is eating him up from the inside and causing hardships for himself and his wife. After some back and forth about the money Melville is offering Thomas to tell his tale, Thomas finally relents. Melville is shown listening and taking notes while Thomas sinks into the memories that are haunting him. I will not retell any more of the movie, except to highlight a few scenes that stood out to me as relevant to me personally and to our time, which is presently 2020. This is exactly 200 years after the Essex was sunk by a whale, which is weird… but I’ll get to that later.
The first thing that struck me as pertinent to our time was the importance of whale oil to the life and commerce of the early 1800s. It was whale oil that lit the Western World from Europe to the Americas, and then following the fracture lines of colonization to light the entire world. The movie does an excellent job depicting how the whaling industry operated. It shows how the corporations of this time were eager to mine the fortunes to be had from whale oil. And, it would become painfully clear just how willing these corporations were of doing despicable things in order to safeguard their money, their hierarchical structure, and their systems of commerce focused on profit at all costs.
At the end of the movie, there is a scene that hints at the discovery of oil that comes from out of the ground. It is a nod to the fossil fuel industry that will soon replace the whaling industry in less than 40 years after the sinking of the Essex. It is also a nod to the transfer of blueprints from hard-hearted industry to another. However, before the whaling industry would decline, nearly every species of whale is hunted to the brink of extinction. I could barely watch the scenes in this movie when the men of the Essex successfully hunted and killed a beautiful bull whale, then stripped him of every ounce of fat he had, which they boiled down to make the treasured Nantucket whale oil. By 1820, whales in the Atlantic had grown scarce. Thus, the Essex had to sail around Cape Horn, a dangerous strait between South America and Antarctica, to reach the whales in the Pacific. But, even here the whales were being hunted aggressively, and so they were moving further and further away from the continents to get away from man. But, man followed them.
* * *
The next scene I feel is germane to our time was when the men were boarding the Essex in Nantucket Bay. On the docks, there is a group of pilgrim-like people who are praying for the men as they board the Essex. You can see this scene at 6 minutes and 30 seconds in the video below. The preacher is heard saying:
“Oh Father (…) ensure they return safely with a full ship, so that the white flames of Nantucket’s whale oil continue to light our homes and fuel the machines of industry that drive our great nation forward as our noble species evolves…”
Clip of the Preacher’s Prayer from In the Heart of the Whale at minute 6:30
This idea of our species being noble and evolving ever forward plays out again after the Essex has been sunk. The men have been adrift for many days and nights and days. They are surviving on a single piece of hard tact per man per day, and a very small one at that. They are also allowed a single swig of water each day. Since the ship did not sink as dramatically as the movie depicts, the men had time to strip the Essex of her sails and supplies, but only what they could fit into the smaller boats they took out to chase whales, now turned into their life rafts. However, these three boats were hardly big enough to hold enough supplies so the men might survive their 3,000-mile journey back to civilization, especially since they were caught in the doldrums of the equatorial region of the sea. Thus, it does not take long before the men are slowly starving to death. Just before anyone dies, they come upon an island. It is a deserted island, but it provides a short respite from their ordeal. Soon; however, they eat up everything edible on the island. So, they have no choice but to shove off in their little boats again to try to reach the mainland if they want to live.
This is where the next scene occurs that I feel is closely connected to our time. It is the night before they are to set sail to try to make it back to South America. The first mate Chase speaks with the Captain Pollard about their differences. He is making a peace offering because he knows there is no other way to survive but to set aside all differences and work together from a place of unity. Chase comes from a working-class background. He is a man who knows his trade, which is whaling, and he is very good at it. According to the movie, he was supposed to have received commanded of the Essex, but it was taken from him because of his social class. It was given to Pollard instead because he came from a rich family within the whaling industry. But, Pollard did not know his trade, not like Chase did. Needless to say, there were problems. Pollard accepts Chase’s peace offering, but continues to cling to the idea of the supremacy of man saying something like… “God put us here to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all creatures.” Chase replies, “Does it look like we are so supreme given where we are at right now and what has happened to us.” Neither men at this moment has any idea how much worst their situation is going to get, but I think Chase senses things are probably going to get worse before they get better. And, they do get worse–-they get a whole lot worse.
* * *
After the movie, I thought I might dream about a white whale ramming the Essex. But I did not dream about a whale. Instead, I thought about all the signs I missed one month earlier when my beloved dog Cider died in my arms.
That terrible night occurred two days before Christmas. Her heart was racing so fast and her breathing labored. Her body was suffocating because it could no longer keep up with the depletion of hemoglobin in her blood. This was because she was bleeding internally, but we did not know this. The signs were subtle, even the doctors to whom we took her dead body in hopes they could revive her said it would have been hard for them to diagnosis her in time to save her. The symptoms she had displayed, I completely misread and misunderstood. I will not recap this super sad story. You can read it in the previous blog post, but her sudden and tragic death set me back adrift upon my inner sea of sadness, grief, despair, and now guilt, growing waves of guilt. It is a sea that has steadily risen inside me after a decade of struggle that got a whole lot worst just after our family vacation in 2015.
This would be the last vacation our family could afford due to mounting unfortunate and deteriorating circumstances. Now with hindsight (and this movie), I can see that this moment was when our family shoved off from our desert island. We had no idea we had already been rammed by the whale, or maybe I should say the buffalo or bull–or perhaps the buffalos were trying to bring our attention to our imminent danger just ahead of us in time. This really happened to us that summer.
After this trip, every fragile idea and frame of reality we had ever harbored about what it takes to create and sustain a home and maintain safety and security would be shattered, one painful one after another for 5 years in ways that were unreturnable to what we had known before. When people find themselves in such circumstances, overwhelming guilt is inevitable for how else can one confront such devastating losses and continue moving forward? The only other feelings I can say that I was aware of underneath the guilt was terrible despair, overwhelming helplessness, and a rumbling anger… a dangerous anger because this type of anger can blow up into hate, especially when a person feels abandoned, forgotten, or even worst, discarded, dispensable, disposable.
So, you see, guilt is a pretty good armor during times like these because it masks these other more threatening and extreme emotions bubbling up from unfathomable depths and threatening to submerge one’s already shattered ego. At least by feeling guilty, a thin veneer gets created, making a papery barrier that insulates the conscious part of one’s self from those other parts where these powerful emotions churn–and where one can feel these emotions could transform into forces that could sink the listing Ship of Self.
When our frames of reality are first shattered, the feeling of being cast adrift on a vast and foreign sea is almost inescapable. And perhaps it is necessary for these old frames pretty much have to be shattered or abandoned, just like the Essex had to be abandoned after it was rammed by the whale. This is so because they have failed us in significant and fatal ways. After one abandons the mother ship that had been carefully constructed by one’s former smaller frames of reality, one is suddenly confronted with a vast and bigger reality–one that is a great deal bigger–like Pacific Ocean bigger. And, this reality can be brutal. When one finds oneself adrift on this great Sea of Misfortune and Sorrow and sailing in a boat that is too small to sustain you for long, or even worse, clinging to a piece of wreckage, pretty much the only thing you can do is hold on for dear life. One also lacks the most basic tools to navigate by, so it can be hard to get one’s orientation. It is a lot like the situation the men who abandoned the Essex found themselves in without their tools of navigation, or at least, very few of them, which they needed to find their way back to civilization.
If you can hold on during such extreme times, and there is no guarantee that you can because I am talking about catastrophic circumstances that happen to perfectly normal and good people. These are events that come out of nowhere, they cannot be predicted, and they occur through no fault or short coming of the individual (well at least not from our current frames of reality, the ones we are taught from birth and punished if we don’t follow the rules our modern systems purport… so there is a bigger thing going on). These are events that just happen, and they happen to everyone like weather. They are crippling events, even lethal, regardless of whether they originate from inside oneself or come from outside like the whale who rammed the Essex. Now, I understand it is hard to spot a person in such a state. After all, they have ventured outside of the normal frames of reality in which we have all been taught to operate and to stay inside. Thus, such a person may be as hard to spot as the men of the Essex who were 3,000 miles from where most of the other humans who could have helped them were congregated. However, if you do happen to spot someone enduring such trauma and crisis, it is essential to believe this person and be kind to them. Pay them extra attention, so they know they are not disposable like a piece of trash to be thrown away because they are broken at the moment. It is important to do this because these individuals have survived a disaster, and they now possess information about reality that those of us who have not endured such a trial of survival still need to know in order to grow.
It is difficult and draining to support a person in crisis. I will not lie about that. And, inevitably survivors begin to grapple with the whys: why me, why now, why my beloved, why is the world like this? This is hard too, and these are not easy questions to answer. In fact, often they cannot be answered, only endured. But, catastrophic situations might be essential for our collective survival because they force us to confront our most cherished ideas, beliefs, and frames of reality. They force us to grapple with the unanswerable and re-examine how we have come to our beloved beliefs and mental frames, but ones that have kept vast parts of ourselves submerged in our unconsciousness–good parts and bad parts. When we begin to see these parts as a whole, we start to understand how they are essential to be integrated into our growing field of consciousness. Both superior and inferior qualities are essential to help us make more balance choices and live more wisely. With parts of ourself still submerged, we tend to move through the world in a lopsided way. We get stuck just like the men from the Essex who got caught in the doldrums. We do not move forward any more. Rather, we go around in smaller and smaller circles. It is only when we confront and integrate these lost parts of ourself that we can begin to move forward again. And, if bad things continue to happen, we have grown a deeper reservoir of fresh water inside ourselves, this is wisdom, and we can draw on it to help survive and recover from our ordeals a little more quickly.
Eventually, as we continue to do inner work, we also confront the knowledge that what we did not know or understand contributed to the situation that caused us so much pain and suffering and to those we love. This can be difficult knowledge to bear. However, it is precisely this sort of knowledge that help us grow and transform ourselves and our situation. It is a choice of course to grow, and if we do choose to grow, then a lot of work is going to be needed to build a bigger boat. In fact, you are probably going to have to grow the wood, to turn into timber, to build your shiny new Ship of Self because now you are working beyond the frames of reality most people still must work within. This not easy. And, it can be very lonely. And, you need to build it yourself because only you have the blueprint for who you are and what you need to do. There will be many setbacks and challenges because no one has tried to be you before, and so you have to figure it out the hard way, which means lots of failures. So, I do not find fault with anyone who chooses to go back to a smaller frame of reality because, heck, it’s really scary out there. And, now the world has shown you just how harsh and dangerous it can be. And, it has also illuminated how utterly helpless you are. The biggest problem doing this is succumbing to a bunker mentality. So, moments like these tend to mold and shape us in the most significant ways…for the rest of our life… and these choices can ripple backwards and forwards along our thin strand of time… the one each of us spins and contributes to our shared reality.
But, if you choose to build this bigger Ship of Self, then just like Captain Pollard had to confront the idea of human beings a noble species put here by God to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all other creatures, you have to confront it too because it is an idea that forms some of the foundational aspects of Western Civilization. But, are we really so noble? Do we really possess the intelligence and wisdom needed to rule? I wonder if our species might have been better named Homo intelligentes rather than Homo sapiens. It seems to me we are still trying to get there…to wisdom.
I can say with absolutely certainty that I am not noble enough to rule the Earth, nor do I possess the intelligence, or more importantly the wisdom, essential to reign as a supreme being. But now I want to transition from this speculative stream of thought, to say 2015 was also the year this movie In the Heart of the Sea was released. I didn’t see it then. It turns out a lot of people didn’t see it then.
“In the Heart of the Sea was one of two flops released by Warner Bros in 2015, the other being Pan. It grossed $25 million in North America and $68.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $93.9 million, against a production budget of $100 million.” Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea
But, had I seen it in 2015, I would not have the thoughts I have now here in 2020; not that they are anything special, except possibly to me. During, these five years of mounting misfortune, wreckage, and deepening despair, I often saw myself floating on a piece of wreckage on an endless sea that I dubbed the Sea of Sorrow. It was an inner sea; I drew it many times, as the image below shows (see blog The Sea Within Us). It was also during this time that I came to understand how this sea had been created by my own unconscious choices, but I was not alone in these choices. I had been taught to make them by my culture, by the collective systems within which I must abide to survive. These are carefully crafted frames of reality created by mere mortals who were crafting corporations and all sorts of other systems to run our shiny new modern civilization. And, there are many systems that rule our civilized world: systems of commerce, systems of class, systems of favoritism, chauvinism, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and many other isms and frames used to exclude certain people while elevating others.
And so, this is why I very much relate to the suffering and hardships of these men of the Essex. Though I must admit I also rooted for the bull whale protecting his pod after the men harpooned one of his females who had a calf. One might say I am divided individual, and Carl Jung would agree with this. Indeed, to be human is to be divided inside. It is another price for being consciousness. How we resolve this divide can determine everything.
After the bull whale successfully saved the mother and her calf, my sympathies returned to the men and their dire situation. Sure, they were surrounded by water, but it was water they could not drink. Sure, the sea was filled with abundant food, but it was food they could not reach. It was rather as if they floated on a vast desert, and actually that is what happens inside of us when we accept frames of reality that are ultimately too small for who we are and what we ultimately need to do in our life. The men of the Essex had most definitely ended up in the middle of the Pacific partly due to their own poor choices, but in a greater part, they ended up their due to the priorities and short-sightedness of the industry for which they worked. A system of commerce hungry for whale oil that made it impossible for the men to turn back home until they had filled their ship with this precious oil. A hunger that would soon be replicated in full within the nascent fossil fuel industry about to burst out of the ground–imagine that.
* * *
The next day after watching this movie and not sleeping very well due to my great guilt over Cider’s death, my husband and I went for a run with our older surviving dog Sasha. I pointed up into the sky and said: “Look — that cloud looks like a White Whale.”
This was not the cloud I saw, but I think we have all seen clouds that look like White Whales at some point in our life. Captivated by the movie, and now by the cloud, a thought popped into my head: “The world has been struck by the White Whale again.”
It is clouds, is it not, that are being screwed up by climate change? Either they are growing too big and dropping too much water causing torrential floods, which are only supposed to happen every 100 years or so, but now seem to occur every other year around the world. Or, it is clouds that blow up into mega-typhoons and hurricanes that are far more devastating and deadly with terrible winds and tidal surges. Or, it is clouds that just don’t form at all, evaporating before they can release their precious water further inland from the sea, leaving the land dry and parched and extremely susceptible to wildfires and devastating famines due to droughts that never end.
Today, we live in a modern world that is populated by nearly 8 billion people, most of whom no longer understand the wisdom of our ancestors or the people who still live closely connected to nature and understand the balances necessary to sustain life. We live in a world where we no longer hear the wisdom of animals and life all around us, really enveloping us and sustaining us. We have become a people who are blinded by ideas of success, glory, and riches to be had in our grand new industrialized world. It is a world we created, but one begotten by short-sighted schemes and greed. And, there is a price for this too.
Recent data shows 2019 was the second hottest year on record.
As our man-made world, powered now by fossil fuels rather than whale oil, pushes nature’s delicate balances ever more out of whack, balances that nature worked out over billions of years, our framing of reality is snapping–just like the timbers of the Essex splintered after the whale rammed the ship. It is 200 year since the Essex sunk, and in this incredibly short amount of time, Earth is breaking, all because of our extreme enamoration with oil and coal.
The price for our collective short-sighted industriousness is going to be paid by all of us. No one will be spared the consequences of the choices made for far too long. We have changed the world to our liking, but it’s not to the liking of life. Despite this, corporate interests guarding their profit margins stay the course, like Captain Pollard going straight into the hurricane. It is a course that supersedes the needs of life on Earth… a dying Earth… an Earth rammed by the white whale. But this time, there is a twist to the story because this time we are the whale. We are the ones ramming our ship that is carrying us through the vast and desolate emptiness of space, and believe me, if we have to abandon this ship, where we end up is going to be a lot harsher than the Pacific Ocean, probably unendurable. This whale that is living inside us feeds on the powerful emotions that are found in great abundance within our inner Seas…of Sorrow, …of Despair, …of Grief and Guilt and …of Helplessness and Hate. Believe me, or don’t believe me, but modern life is full of people who have fallen into such seas.
If we happen to catch a glimpse of how our personal blindness and short-sightedness has contributed to this current moment, it is often overwhelming, and so, it is quickly concealed or we blame someone else for our sad and sorry fate. But soon, there will be no one else to blame. Soon, our individual seas will spill over and merge with every other sea spilling over to create one gigantic wave of despair for this will be the only emotion left to feel, if we survive that long. Much of this will be because of what our small frames of reality have wrought. Most likely, it will be a prolonged and brutal odyssey, just like the men of the Essex endured… unless we wake up, unless we change our frame of reality, unless we put aside our differences, unite, and help each other do the inner work essential to survive what is coming next.
This is not easy or pretty work, but what lies ahead of us is not easy or pretty either. Even though the situation is dire, each and every one of us can take action this very moment. This action is to heal ourselves and to help others heal. It requires one magical, elusive ingredient, which is love. It begins by self-love and being gentle with yourself. Love is what can stop this wave of destruction. But, love is work.
This is what I have learned about healing love:
Is quiet, unless it needs to roar.
Is kind, but not stupid.
Puts others needs above ones own needs and desires, but sees through false appeals for assistance and insincerity, then it simply nods and chuckles.
Listens, hears, and understands what others say.
Waits…sometimes a long time…without judgment… if judgement is necessary, love has a good argument with the Self… and pays attention to all the information, good and bad, then weighs it fairly with the intention of discovering truth and implementing justice.
Rearranges time to do the right thing… rescue a stray dog, listen to a lonely person, help someone in need… these are the moments that really matter… when someone else’s needs truly supersede your own.
Is inclusive knowing all beings are utterly dependent on each other to survive and thrive on Earth. Protects the rights, dignity, and well-being of all living beings.
Penetrates through everything… it is the great mixer of the universe, but even as it passes through every visible thing in the universe, it does not change or destroy a thing or being in any way, not like hate does, which also penetrates everything, but when it does, it rips things to pieces… love unites, bonds, supports, comforts, and sustains.
There are many other qualities to love. I still need to learn more. But, I am ready to keep learning. I am ready to deconstruct and reconstruct my frames of reality daily, if needed. Are you ready to do intense inner work? Are you ready to build a bigger Ship of Self by growing your own inner strength, resilience, wisdom, and capacity to love deeply? All of this is absolutely essential to be ready for the Great Transformation or whatever is supposed to come next because it has begun. There is no time to waste. Earth has already started listing severely to the side from the ramming we have given her.
* * *
One final thought on the importance of doing inner work since I’m all worked up about it. Many people think that we are on the cusp of a Great the Transformation, a Shift, or Metamorphosis, or Great Awakening of Gaia…but if we have not done critical inner work to get ready for it, to grow big enough for it, whatever you think is coming next, will not necessarily be what you think it is supposed to be. Nature does not care one wick for the transformation of consciousness or even if we survive as a species (case in point, note what happened to the dinosaurs). If we leave it up to Her, we might just all be transformed into Banana Slugs (see the 2nd song in the video below: Muy Tranquil — it’s at about 8 minutes… ah Cider is in this video! It is a concept video for one of the characters in the story I am writing).
We are the ones who stepped across the Matrix of Minds into consciousness (I explain what this is in the story I am writing, which you can read when I finally get the 1st book out; otherwise, just make up your own explanation). Now, we must make a choice. One of the choices is to learn how to love ourselves fiercely. And, I am not talking about narcissistic love. I am talking about the kind of love that leaves us in great grief when our loved ones are taken from us through death. This is how we save Earth. It begins with you. It begins with healing yourself, and then helping others to do the same. It is time-consuming, messy work, and one slides backwards all the time, it’s very frustrating… but one does not give up and one does not wince when another to small frame of reality is shed. Of course, this is painful, but without pain we do not grow.
I have included my friend Alena’s paintings, lots of them, because she is showing us through her art how to get back to inner, deeper spaces inside ourselves through dreams and visions and imagination. It is only here where we can see inner storms rising and circumvent navigate them in order to survive them. It is here where we learn that we can live a lot more simply and happily than we have been told. It is here where we can learn how to see, feel, taste, and hear our way back to what is really important, and that is love. When we love fiercely, we fight for truth and justice. We fight for life and self-determination. We help each other grow our fields of consciousness, so that we can all make better choices. Alena brought my attention to Robert Moss who recently published a blog on soul loss and recovery. Much of what I have written above can also be understood as soul loss. This is a beautiful analogy to what happens to us when we face situations and circumstances that overwhelm and crush us. He says: “Understanding soul loss and how our Active Dreaming approach facilitates soul recovery and helps us become shamans of our own souls.”
So, activate your imagination…make time to dream…find ways to re-engage your inner world, and most of all love deeply. When you find yourself in grief, which is a natural consequence of deep love, do not fear it… embrace it. Let it help you shatter your previous frames of reality because they were probably too small for your soul, which needs a bigger body and mind to do what it came here to do, so grow! All the while, love yourself and help others in whatever way they need. We will not survive any other way unless we put aside our differences and unite as a force of healing love for life.
I wrote the following as a reflection from a series of conversations people from around the world had to discuss the climate crisis. As I looked through the wondrous materials considered and assembled by the Conference Weaving Now What? Deep Dives, I was dazzled by the jewels in the Now What?! Consciousness Deep Dive Conversation Harvest. Immediately, I thought of Indra’s Net. Before telling you why, it is important to understand what this net is. And, to find out more about Now What, visit the beautiful new site: Now What?!The art of being fully human in a time of crisis
Śūnyatā (emptiness) – This is a Buddhist concept that has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditative state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience. [I believe for something new to emerge there must be space for it, thus this feature of reality both outer and inner is essential to all who seek to bring into the world a kinder, gentler, restorative reality.]
Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) – This concept “is commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] which states that all dharmas (“phenomena”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. [I cannot think of a more essential concept to consider as we engage together in these sessions and others along with the weaving done afterwards. I always need to be reminded what dharma means. There is no single English translation for this word. Essentially it is the behaviors that make life in the universe possible. I think fits beautifully with us joining together in conversations that seek to understand and uplift behaviors that sustain life on our planet. If we don’t understand each other, we are indeed stuck.]
Interpenetration (coalescence) – This concept developed from the Huayan school. It holds all phenomena (dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising, and every phenomenon contains all other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra’s net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels, while the reflections also contain every other reflection, ad infinitum. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. [So, there you go. Perhaps this is why Indra’s Net popped into my mind as I read through the jewels, which is only a tiny piece of the harvest and this is even a tiny part of what is happening when we connect with each other and seek mutual understanding. We are indeed reflected in each other. We are the jewels in the Indra Net enveloping Earth.]
I imagine two wonderous Indra’s Net. One net holds our universe. It is woven by time and space that create the matrix holding everything we see in our universe. The second Indra’s Net is like the first, but this one wraps around our beautiful Earth. All life on Earth create the threads that are woven together to create this web. Humans have taken on an exaggerated importance in this web because of the level of consciousness we have attained. I am not going to delve into my thinking on this now…perhaps later… but suffice it to say we have changed the matrix from which we were born, and now we have a Herculean Task upon our shoulders to repair what has been damaged by us so life may continue to exist on this precious jewel in the larger Indra Net—Earth.
I think when we come together and listen to each other, we repair Earth’s net. Each of us has a special place and unique abilities that are needed to sustain Earth’s Indra’s Net. Each human being is informed by individual passions, interests, experiences, and failures. Some of us are really good at speaking, others are really good at organizing, still others are healers, and others bring visions. Each human being weaves part of this wondrous web enveloping Earth. To heal and repair our net, Earthneeds all our insights, energies, passions, and gifts.
So, this is the idea that struck me as I read the harvest material from the conferences, deep dives, and other conversations. It seems to me every human being is a jewel in Earth’s Indra’s Net. Through us the energy needed to repair, strengthen, and heal this netis made visible. We are essentially portalsof transformation, and it is going to take as many ofus pulling in the same direction as possible to change our collectivefate.
I have not had much time to read everything, nor did I have participate in the Deep Dives, but what I have seen is beautiful pieces of wisdom being pulled up from depths inside ourselves. Wisdom that has become submerged and lost due to current ways of thinking and living in our world. Let me stress the weaving being done through our collective action is utterly essential for the moment we are in now.
Given limits on my time at this moment, I am only able highlight a few of the jewels that caught my attention as I looked through the excellent excel chart being created to preserve some of the harvest from this collective work. There are also notes and videos of Deep Dives and from parts of the conferences taking place around the world. My selection of a few of the jewels in no way diminishes any of the other jewels.I am a simple and small portal of consciousness informed by my individual experiences, passions, dreams, and failures. All this naturally limits what I can see and how I see it. But, then thisis the beauty of Indra’s Net. Each jewel is unique and reflects every other jewel in the net. I suspect there are as many jewels in Earth’s Indra’s Net as there human beings alive on the planet, and the energy coursing through the webbing of this net is the wonderous life alive on Earth right now.
The first jewel I want to highlight is one that I saw reflected in several discussions. This is the jewel of sacred ceremony. We need to remember our thoughts are powerful. They are able to collapse the infinite sea of possibilities in which we all swim into a single thread of reality. We do this by thinking, choosing, and acting (or not acting). Moment by moment we contribute our strand of reality to all the other strands being created by every living being on the planet. As the strands interweave, this becomes our shared reality. Humans have become particularly powerful in sculpting our shared reality by using our minds gifted with consciousness (or cursed – as many world myths account this moment as man’s great fall). I write about this in other places, so I will not delve into my meaning here, but only say humans emerged from a more primordial state of consciousness into the state we understand it as today. This singular accomplishment allowed humans to not only perceive the world, but to apperceive it. I will talk more about this ability to apperceive our world later, but for now, I will simply provide you with a definition of it:
From Wiki: Meaning in psychology – In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to the contextual presence of the other stuff already there, thus it is not perceived but apperceived.
Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analyzedand classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.
The next jewel is the significant of language in constructing our realities. Here again our ability of apperception is powerful for we have civilized and cultivated most of the world simply by seeing possibilities different from what nature originally provided for life to exist. And, so here we stand at the edge of every moment with this power to apperceive infinite possibilities, and language is the tool we use to share our visions of what is possible. So, yes, it is a commanding tool in constructing our shared realities because it allows us to cooperate in collective action.
It also comes with peril, as this group of jewels point out, for we can misunderstand each other if we do not take care in truly understanding how words are being used and what is truly being said. Our ability for language is an ability that we have perhaps grown too accustom to wielding. I really like the idea of reconnecting with other cultures and languages. This is a beautiful way to understand how utterly diverse our ability to communicate with each other is… and through communication, our ability to co-create. Human cultures and civilizations have unfolded in so many incredible and diverse ways across space and through time. So, getting stuck in our head with words that have become too small for our current reality is a trap, and it is good to learn how to get out of our self-created thought traps. Gaining perspective of different languages, different cultures, and even different ways of communication (e.g., dance, visual art, dreamtime, empathy), helps us re-appreciate our ability to communicate with each other in so many different ways. This I believe helps us to perceive nuances better for every word is really a universe. Here is one of my favorite shorts by Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words.
The next jewel is learning to let go of the story. Here the question was asked: What are the actions I might take now that allow me to fully offer my gifts in service to what is needed in response to the possibility that everything is going to work our just fine or it is not going to work out? I think this is wonderful because it helps one to understand they can take an active role in telling the story unfolding right now about Earth and her fate (or a passive role). I think most of us began to believe (for me it was around the 6thgrade) that our voice does not matter, that our thinking will never be good enough, and that our internal knowledge is wrong and has no place in the world of educated men (I do use men here purposively).
To survive in our modern civilization, we learn how to bend ourselves and squeeze into the tiny boxes of perception and apperception that are allowed by the systems dictated to us by our modern, civilized world. Most of these systems come out of Western Civilization for this civilization has had a huge propensity to colonize the world with its particular brand of thinking and mindset. For humans living in modern Western systems, there are patterns for how to make money, where to live, how much free time to spend with friends, family, or anything else that is important, even how to think and use our minds. Since so many human beings are born into this system, we do not even realize how much control of our shared narrative we have given up by making ourselves fit into this story being told mostly by powerful ones inside of Western Civilization.
Most of us do not realize how shallow the conscious waters have become inside of this great narrative. But, we have been told we must swim only in these designated waters—conscious waters that are too shallow to sustain us much longer. I think other cultures and civilizations have not taught this out of their people. This is why we need our indigenous brothers and sisters, but we do not need to misuse their precious knowledge (as another Jewel cautions), rather this knowledge is inside every person trapped inside Western thinking, we need to marshal our courage and venture back into the deep end of our conscious capacities. This is where our indigenous brothers and sisters can be guides, but we must do the work. And, help each other to take a more active role in telling our personal story that becomes part of the collective story…this is so important. Active storytelling is a precious jewel—indeed, it is a super ability.
Another really critical element in this list of jewels is letting go of the ending of the story. When we let go of what we hope or want the ending to be, we put ourselves squarely in the present moment. This is where our power is. It is not in the past (we’ve already been there). It is not in the future (we are not there yetand thusour choicesare only future possibilities). It is NOW—this is where we choose our thread of shared reality. This is where our voice can help guide the flow of the collective story being told about Earth and its inhabitants. By letting go of our attachmentto what the ending needs to be or should be, suddenly all possibilities open up again.
In this moment of infinite possibilities, we can get about doing what we are so good at doing. In fact, we have evolved as human beings to not only perceive the beautiful world around us, but to appercept it. I am using apperception in the psychological meaning of this word, as defined earlier: “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” With this ability, we become transformers. It is what we do better than any other species on the planet, and that is to take our individualized toolbox (the mind) equipped with individualized knowledge, experience, and hopefully wisdom and create something new. Even when we don’t employ our wisdom, when we choose from the infinite number of possibilities swirling around us every momentof every dayand act on one, we collapse the infinite stream of possibilities into one possibility. This becomes our thread of reality.
So you see, we are more powerful than we think… and yet, just like the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, we are completely dependent on each other making the best choices possible to survive within our shared reality—the web we weave together. What a dilemma!
The world cannot be saved by one human being, not even by the most powerful and rich 1 percent of human beings. I don’t know how many it is going to take to save Earthfrom the looming climate crisiswe have woven into the story, but it is probably going to take asmany of us as possible who are awakening to our new role as narrators in this collective story. So, releasing the ending you want is essential because to be a powerful narrator, it is essential to see the present moment for what it is and tell this story as accurately as you can… how you avoided the rocks or boulders in the stream, how you saw and out smarted the poisonous snake laying wait in the rocks, how you navigate the stream of possibilities.
These are power stories. They have always been power stories from timeimmemorial. Now we must learn how to tell these powerful stories about ourselves again against the backdrop of our modern age with all its distractions, pain, and fear thatcreates chaos meant to keep us docile and frozen in non-action. Or at least trap us in polarized action. Such action simply gets cancelled out by its equal and opposite action by others trapped on the other side of a false divide. It is a trick of the powerful narrators of our time who currently control most of our collective narrative. Too many of ushave fallenintotheir trap, makingus desperately grasp at things beyond our reach. This especially happens whenwe lose the firm ground of our inner reality; then, we are especially at the mercy of nefarious forces trying to control the collective story through fearmongering and other dramatic techniques.
We must grow stronger consciously. This is how we strengthen Indra’s Net because each one of us is a jewel in this beautiful net. We can help each other by giving freely our time and attention to lift each other when we falter or fall. We don’t have to leave anyone behind. When we stand on the plain of our present moment and really see what is in front of us, we are powerful beings. This is a link to some of my early writing and visual storytelling about these ideas. This began to emerge inside of me more than two years ago: Consciousness Waves.
Another jewel is pain. Here another critical question is asked: How do we create a space for pain? So much of Western Civilization is focused on avoiding pain at all costs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling it was not OK to admit to feeling pain. Physical pain was fine to admit. Everyone can clearly see if you have a scraped knee or broken arm. But, emotional or spiritual pain…this was scary. Often it is assumed you did not follow the prescribed rules you were taught, and thus you are the cause of your own pain and deserve to suffer. No one deserves to suffer. Hardly any of us has such control over all the things that impact us, it is ridiculous to blame a person in pain for their pain. But, so often this is what we do. I have been going through a year of pretty intense pain, I can tell you one thing: Pain focuses ones attention and time like no other stimuli. Pain tells us something is wrong, and it prods us to seek solutions. When we are in pain, trivial matters, mindless distractions, the things that use to fill our time fade away and the mind focuses on finding solutions. [I captured this idea in a fantastical little story about my trials in The Divine Dodo – Hanga Dyra Mingja.]
So, yes, make space for pain. Do not be afraid of the power pain offers. Perhaps this is what victim blamers are really afraid of… the person experiencing pain finding their power making them no longer so easy to control. Finding solutions to things causing pain is absolutely critical.
In this collection of jewels, there is also discussion about the power of music. I write about the power of music in another story I am writing, so I will not wax on about it here. I will simply say our ancestors understood the power of music and how it can inspire action in the minds of individuals and groups. We have forgotten the power that music and dance give us. We have let them become co-opted into the realm of entertainment and money-making. It is so much more than this. It is part of our internal guidance system. Find your song. Find your dance. This is how the universe moves and expresses itself through us. Our magical powers to transform reality rises from inside of us and through us… and it is through our collective action that what rises from inside our minds is made visible through our collective action in the world—this is our shared reality.
Another jewel closely connected to pain is grief. Indeed, grief as this group discusses, breaks open the heart. The group also shares a beautiful poem expressing grief exquisitely. Grief connects us to our empathy. Our empathic powers are needed now more than any other time in human history. To me empathy is not just understanding that someone else is in pain or is grieving, but it is the capacity to stand beside the person who is suffering, to bear witness to their pain knowing we cannot take their pain from them, but perhaps we can help them hold it for a time… maybe help the person endure it, however long it takes.
I think really powerful empaths can absorb into their own bodies other people’s pain, anger, grief, and the unbearable emotions. I think our ancestors and indigenous people understand how this works and know how to help transmute these powerful emotional states. But, this takes time and skill to understand and most of us in Western Civilization have lost this ability. However, Medicine men and women around the world still possess it, and known how not helping people navigate these difficult parts of the journey can impact the health not only of the individual suffering but of the entire group. In most modern cultures, we have lost the rituals of transformation that can transmute and balance these negative and destructive energies with their equal and opposite energies. It is here where we have our power as individuals and as groups in helping each other find and maintain balance so that wisdom can rise and shine brightly.
This is all I have time to reflect on right now. I wish I could do more, and I am sure my thinking and efforts to communicate are inadequate for the rich reservoir of ideas, thinking, collaborative efforts transpiring through this collective work (collective action of transformation) unfolding right here and right now. I can only encourage each person who has participated in the dialogues or who is just discovering these resources to use your own unique toolbox of thought, perception, experience, ideas to continue strengthening this net we are repairing together. We do this by providing our time and attention in whatever capacity we feel called to do and with whatever time we have available to do so. Time and attention are the most valuable resources in the universe. It really is all we need to be powerful narrators of our personal stories, which of course become a part of the collective story of Earth.
After writing this, I came upon readings and conversations about the importance of emptiness. I quite frankly did not understand how absolutely essential emptiness is when I wrote the above. I intend to write more about it when I have time, but for now I must devote most of my attention to finishing editing the story I began 7 years ago (almost to this day for I remember first finding the thread to the story I have been writing ever since late one September afternoon–this story is Sapience). And so I leave you only with a quote from Carl Jung whom I was reading and finally understood the power and importance of emptiness. He said:
“The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result this explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey too. “
“If 30 years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death–why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic ‘representations collectives’ had risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people”
“There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.”
— The Portable Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, p. 66-67
I was with him when he died. I was reading him the story I have been working on for the past 7 years. The previous night, I made a very difficult decision. He had been making phenomenal recovery from what should have been a fatal event 10 days earlier. But on the 9th day, he was sitting up in his hospital bed. He had a bible under one hand, and a pen and paper in the other. He immediately greeted me warmly when I walked in with a huge smile on his face, and I greeted him equally warmly. I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had a lot of thank you letters to write but didn’t know where to begin. The nurse came in after a little while and fed him his medicine crushed up in pudding so he could swallow it. That was the problem. The day before, he had been more in a state of delirium than lucid consciousness. That day he worked his feed tube out of his stomach 4 times due to coughing or by using the back of his tongue. His entire critical care team was flummoxed by how quickly he was working it out, requiring it to be reinserted (not a pleasant experience… in fact, quite traumatic). The night nurse that night decided to leave it out. Dad rested peacefully. And, then I found him so happy to see me and wanting to write thank you cards. Everyone was so excited. Nurses who had cared for him earlier popped in to make sure I saw him. There was so much hope he would pull through this devastating event–where his heart had been stopped for more than 15 minutes as first responders worked so hard giving him CPR to get a shockable pulse.
So, here was the problem. To get him back to full health, he needed the feed tubing reinserted to get all the medicines he needed, and the doctors were not certain yet if his swallowing reflect had been damaged. How could we know after reinserting the feeding tube this final time that it would send him into a delirium he would never return from. That’s what happened. If I could do this over, I would have followed my gut and not allowed it. He would have died… I know this… but he would have died possibly more peacefully.
After almost 48 hours of non-stop movement of mind and body, my father was lost in space and time and utterly exhausted. The medicines were not calming him any more. Just before I was about to leave at midnight on the 10th night of him being in the ICU, his night nurse said, “If he was on Comfort Care, I could give him more medicine to help him calm down and rest.” The doctors had talked to us earlier that day about our options. I knew Comfort Care meant he was dying. And, so before I left, I gave instructions to move him to Comfort Care.
The next morning, he was sleeping. He nurse told me he had cleaned him and was doing everything to make him comfortable. He looked peaceful. He never woke, but I talked to him. I had a vision that morning about what I needed to do for him. So, after the nurse left, I told dad what I was going to do. Earlier that summer I promised to send him the latest part of my story. I hadn’t sent it yet. It is set in the time of the Vikings. My father was pure Norwegian. The girl in my story was on a glacier between Odda and Rosendal, Norway. My father’s family is from Odda. This girl in the story had just been in a terrible accident that left her companion unconscious and with broken ribs. My father’s ribs were broken from the CPR.
I told dad I was going to read him the story. It was going to be a sleigh made of sound to help him get across to the other side. In my story, my girl had just made a sleigh out of a bear hide to pull her injured companion across the glacier. So, my voice and this story they were going to serve as a sort of sleigh to help him cross. I told dad that his mother, his brother, brother-in-law, and all the people he knew and loved who had already passed were waiting for him. I told him he could leave any time during the story or wait until the end. Then, I started reading. The hospital Chaplin came after a while, and I told him all about dad. He said a prayer incorporating all the things I had told him. And, he recited Psalm 23.
I continued reading the story.
I read to him until 2:40 p.m. I held his hand as I read. I had just finished reading the part of the story where the priest meets a woman who mysteriously washes up on the shores of Dublin, Ireland. He helps her recover, find work, and get a home. They fall in love. They have to keep it hidden. They have a baby, but she dies during childbirth and the priest cannot admit he is the father, so he gives his daughter to the nuns who live in a nearby nunnery to be raised. I had read to him about this girl’s early childhood and a very scary nun she encounters. I was about to read him the part about Resurrection Sunday when I heard his breathing change–dramatically. I saw his pulse rate dropping–dramatically. I knew what was happening and rushed to him, my heart pounding. I told him mom and my brothers were 15 minutes away, he needed to wait. His breathing quicken and pulse went up, but only briefly. Then, it plummeted again. I knew the nurses could give him a drug through his IV to bring his pulse back up, but I also knew I had moved him to Comfort Care last night. Instead of running to get the nurse, I threw myself over him and hugged him fiercely. His nurse and doctor came in. They held my hand and hugged me. No one said anything. After some time I looked up and asked the doctor if he had gone. With the kindest face and deepest empathy, he nodded. Neither he nor the nurse left. They stayed with me and never once did I feel like they had anything more important to do–though I knew they were responsible for many people in very serious conditions. My mother and brothers arrived 10 minutes later. They had indeed been 15 minutes away, though when I told dad I had no way of knowing this. My brother thinks at the time of dad’s passing they were at the last rest stop, and mom was picking daisies. I had just been reading to dad about daises.
So, one year later, this is my telling of the journey I have been on since his death. It is told through music and art. The starting image I drew on the plane on July 27, 2018 as I flew out to be with my father one day after this heart attack. As I drew, I listened to Asura’s Life2 album. I listened to one song in particular over and over as the image took shape. This song was Celestial Tendencies. Each song from Asura’s album held special meaning and energy for me during this time. The music was a way to hold onto some divine and sublime at a time of great crisis and ultimate tragedy. The visual journey is an expansion of my original drawing in my notebook. Please forgive my indulgence as I spent a lot of time drawing the different layers. Ultimately, I decided to use each of the songs that helped me to be strong for dad and my family during this terrible time. I realize it is a video that probably only I will ever watch in its entirety.
The visual story of this journey can not be viewed. I have tried, but I believe algorithms used by most of the major social media platforms flagged this image possibly as a man on a cross and this has been tied to White Supremacy. I understand this concern. It is validate given our time. I would just say that this is how the vision of my father appeared to me as I flew out to be with him, and that during my 10 days with him, he indeed held his arms out this way many times for he was suffering. I think outstretched arms like this are also a symbol for the suffering of the world, and my father felt this deeply, our collective human suffering. It powered him and transformed him as a force of compassion in the world. As this image progresses, it transforms from an image of human suffering into one of transcendence. I am sorry I cannot share this work at this time, but that is our current reality and I accept the collective wisdom of our time.
You may be able to view the video if you can get to my Art Page on Facebook; here it is pinned to the top of the page.
As COVID-19 has steadily made its way around the world and really hit the United States of America particularly hard, I have thought a lot about those 10 days in the hospital sitting by my father’s side, hoping for the best but knowing he was skating between two realities–one was life, the other death. No one wanted to talk about the death reality, but it was there. It was always there. I could see it in the doctors eyes. I could feel it in the nurses voices. I drew it as I flew out to be with my beloved father.
He fought for life, absolutely he did. But, he was up against incredible odds, unbelievable odds that cannot be conveyed to a living person in good health because until you are at this threshold, you do not know. But, healthcare professionals learn to recognize the signs of approaching death, especially when people are fighting to just breathe, which is what dad was doing at the end because his lungs were filling up with the fluid. The doctors were watching for it because they knew Pulmonary edema or pneumonia is often a result after CPR because to do it right to save a person’s life, the first responders has to push hard often breaking ribs and pushing debris into the lungs, which causes the pneumonia.
This episode that I just heard on This American Life captures so vividly what I saw dad suffer through. I tuned in just as the nurses were describing what has to be done to save a person’s like can feel like torture. And my dad absolutely felt this way that day when he woke up, and he was writing thank yous, and we had a precious, fleeting moment of normalcy, until the feed tube had to be reinserted. This haunts me so much because he was wide awake and to him it felt like torture and he was counting on me to stop it…and I failed because I wanted to save him.
And now so many beautiful people are suffering through the very same thing. To find out more about this episode, click here.
I would like to end with two stories about my father that were given at his memorial service. One is by one of my brothers and the other by me. My father was one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate human beings anyone could ever hope to encounter. His deep and unconditional love for everyone was felt by all who got to know him, even when they messed up, he held them in patience and love. What a lesson for the times we live in now.
This is my brother’s eulogy:
Monrad Kicks the Hell’s Angels Out of Yellowstone
As we go through life, our impressions and feelings toward our parents change. I’m going to share with you some impressions from my childhood, Around the age of eight or nine when we lived in South Dakota. At this age boys want a tough dad with street creds and unfortunately, I was convinced my father was a wimp. The previous sunday he had preached Yet another sermon on love. By my count the 4th sermon on love that summer .
But it didn’t matter because we were about to commence on a treasured family tradition ; the summer vacation. We’d take a popup camper and head out West for one or two weeks . On this trip, I believe we went to either Grand Teton or YellowStone, let’s just say it was Yellowstone.
We had the camping routine down pat. We’d set up camp, spend a few days hiking or fishing then move on to the next location. In these popular parks you needed to get to the next campsite early, well before 5 pm, or the campsites could fill up. On this particular day we had had a long drive and almost all the sites were taken but we finally found one and a nice secluded spot at that. After we had set up camp and were settling in, some loud motorcycles pulled up to a clearing just across the road from our camper. They wore leather jackets and skull caps. We kids immediately knew who they were because they had been covered in last week’s TV news. This was none other than the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. About this time Monrad notices what is going on and Yell’s across to the gang “that is not a campsite, you can’t camp there.” The reply came back to “Mind your own business” or something similar. Monrad responded even louder and more angry “That is not a campsite you can’t camp there “. We kids were terrified, we were sure our dad was going to get beat up … or worse. But to our surprise after a few more exchanges, maybe a few insulting gestures exchanged as well, the bikers revved up their engines and moved on.
That was the day I was proud of my father, he just kicked the Hell’s Angels out of Yellowstone.
This is my eulogy:
Born: April 16, 1935; Died: August 4, 2018; Age: 83
My father… Monrad Mandsager… He is why you are here today… Monty! And, do you know what he would have said?
He would have said, “Goodness sakes… you’ve come all this way… for me! You shouldn’t have… thank you… thank you so much… thank you for coming!”
SHOWING UP & PAYING ATTENTION = LOVE
His whole life dad never felt worthy. In his mind, he was a poor, simple farm boy from Iowa who could never quite do all the things exactly the way his dad wanted them done, and he grew up without his mother’s kind and loving warmth and support. These early beginnings always left him questioning his worth. But my dad would always show up and give any task (big or small) his best! For him, what was most important was making time, paying attention, and creating a space to understand the needs of others because dad knew this is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other… for it is the most basic way we show our love to each other. Dad’s capacity to create and hold a sacred space for others was one of his superpowers! He would listen with empathy, kindness, and unwavering attention to someone’s life story, latest frustration, or good news. And, he would remember what you told him and ask you about it the next time he saw you.
SUPERPOWERS OF ATTENTION + LISTENING + UNDERSTANDING
Dad’s ability to pay attention and listen combined with his humbleness allowed him to be there for people at their greatest time of need. I remember one tragedy where dad demonstrated his tremendous capacity to empathize and be there for a grieving family after their 16-year-old son was killed in a hunting accident. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember my parents explaining to me how this family had lost several children before this tragedy and this was their last son. I remember going with mom and dad many times to visit the family after dad broke the terrible news to them. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness and sadness. But, I also remember knowing being there with my parents was important. I was no older than first grade, but I remember this experience vividly, and I’ll come back to this later for as I was reading through dad’s writings to figure out what I would say today, I found his reflections on this same tragedy for it had profoundly impacted him too. Grief it turns out is not bounded to one day or one week or one year… it is a deeply personal journey and dad understood this. He understood a time of grief is not a time to give people “pat answers” about why death or a tragedy occurred… neither is it a time to tell the person how and when to recover from it. He knew he didn’t know, but what he did know was he needed to be there for however long it took and at whatever capacity the family or individual needed, even if it meant just sitting in silence with them. I’m going to share with you several of dad’s amazing traits (I call them his superpowers), and now that he’s gone, I realize they were precious gifts given freely and in love to me and I suspect he gave them to many of you!
One of his wonderful superpowers was his adventuresome, wandering spirit. Little more than 6 weeks after being ordained at Luther Seminary and marrying mom, they took off to Brazil where dad was to serve as a missionary in Sao Paulo and the surrounding area. Mom and dad had to learn Portuguese and spent almost a year studying and learning it before dad began his mission work. He was one of the first missionaries to give all of his sermons in Portuguese, and of course, this is where I and my brother Craig were born. We learned Portuguese too and spoke it to everyone outside of our immediate family. I am told when we returned to the states, and I met my grandparents for the first time, I sat on their knees chattering happily away in Portuguese as they smiled and enjoyed meeting their granddaughter and grandson for the first time. I was pretty young in Brazil, but I have snap shot memories of life with my parents such as galloping on my father’s shoulders through the jungle with monkeys shrieking at us from high in the trees (that was magnificent)! Watching a steel drum band at a gathering and marveling at the beautiful music coming from the steel cans the musicians had turned into their drums dad had explained all this to me for he loved the steel drums! I also remember traveling with dad in our jeep over muddy, rutted, red roads and being surrounded by hundreds of sheep on their way home, leaving dad and I to revel in the wonder of the moment.
From Brazil, we flew back to the Midwest, this is where my brother Phillip was born. From there, dad helped his brother-in-law Bob start a new church in Southern CA – so, we moved to Sunnymead where my brother Peter was born – and, then our family was complete! I won’t go into all the places we moved or family vacations we took, but dad loved to travel, and he wanted us to experience and see the vast, beautiful, wondrous places of this land, and we saw many thanks to him!
THE DREAMER & LEARNER
My father was also a dreamer and lifelong learner! He loved geology, astronomy, anthropology, paleontology, and even astrophysics; he transferred his love of learning to me and my brothers! Dad would tell you that his love of learning and interests in science was sometimes disturbing to his faith, and he often navigated between the waters of faith and doubt. But, this made dad stronger, not weaker for he was able to transform his doubt into a deeper, vaster faith in God.
In his own words, he says, “Since I am often between faith and doubt, my stockpile of “pat answers” has diminished considerable. Life is discovery, growth, affirmation of faith in God in the midst of doubt. Life is affirmation of the creation of oneself, of others, of the goodness and love of God. Christ is our best light of this, pointing us to a loving Father God through the goodness and light His life has given for us in loving service through suffering even onto death.”
And, so here again you glimpse dad’s superpowers of kindness, compassion, and deep empathy for people and all living beings, and this guided him through his journey between the waters of faith and doubt; and it greatly informed his ministry for he saw himself as a humble servant who would stop to help anyone in need—and this is a gift he gave freely and frequently!
TRANSFORMATION OF FAITH
As I was reading dad’s writings, I found one piece he titled an Account of My Life to Age 43 where he describes honestly and elegantly his life journey, especially about the transformation of his faith. Here he accounts the same story I remembered about the 16-year-old boy. (I’ve changed the names for it seems even after all these years, the family is entitled to their privacy) Dad writes: “…the summer of ’72, we moved to Redway to serve Grace Lutheran Church. At that time, the KindFamily was a family of four: Joe, the father, a Roman Catholic and lumberjack; Corothy, the mother, a member of Grace; David (16) had been confirmed that Spring; and Lucy (13). Previous to our acquaintance, they had been a family of 7—two boys had been born with progressive muscular dystrophy and died in their young teens and a baby girl died of lung cancer at age 3. … About two months after our arrival Corothy talked about going to stay with her husband for a week in the woods – something she had never done before. She was apprehensive about leaving the kids. They ended up taking Lucy, while David was to stay with the next-door neighbors who were trusted friends. They left Sunday. Late Tuesday afternoon, council member, Karl came running up our steps, out of breath, a strained expression on this face. “Pastor, Pastor, something awful has happened, they found David dead beside his motorcycle and rifle along a trail. He’s been shot! This is awful. I can’t believe it… David’sthe only boy they had left! They were so proud of him. He was such a good kid. What are we going to do?”
Dad writes he was equally shocked as he attempted to reassure Karl that with God’s help they’d find a way to help the Kinds. Karl asked if dad would be there when the family arrived home to tell them what happened. Dad said yes, and he’d like Karl to be there too since he was a supporting friend of the family.” This event solidified for dad at a moment of great tragedy and grief, it is not a time to theologize or to tell a person not to protest to God as they grapple with the question why… why… why… Dad describes how he simply sat in the ditch with the father as he wept, and when he asked questions dad answered them simply with the information he knew. Then, they wept together, talked a little more, and wept again. Dad was there for days and weeks later walking with the family one small step at a time. He came to understand, as he tried to answer the agonizing question why, that we live in a world where accidents and disease happen, death is a mystery, and we don’t know all the answers. He came to believe it is not God who appoints the hour and manner of death, but more evil and death have come into our world through the backdoor (as it were). However, God is on the side of goodness and life; nevertheless, since evil, accidents, disease, and death have come among us, God Himself in Jesus, went through suffering, sorrow, and death… because he loves us and wants to show us he understands, cares, and shares our burdens and carries them with us during our greatest times of grief, pain, sorrow, and need. And, so the gift of faith was given to me—a gift dad demonstrated vividly throughout his life!
The Gift of Courage
The last gift I’ll mention today is courage. It was a heart attack that took him down the evening of July 25, and it was the heroic efforts of first responders and hospital staff in Albert Lea and the Mayo Clinic that brought him back along with our good neighbors who brought Mom to both hospitals that night to be with Dad. One nurse who had also been an EMT told me about 4% of patients flown in after such an event survive, so dad was a miracle—even if it was just one week. Each day on the ICU was a battle, but dad made amazing progress regaining consciousness and recognition surpassing the tempered hopes that the excellent doctors and nurses held for him and worked tirelessly to achieve. The best the team could work out is dad probably went without oxygen to his brain for 15 to 20 minutes—most agree after 9; severe brain damage can begin. Despite tremendous gains coming back consciously, his body continued to reel from catastrophic system failures. The doctors figured out one problem was a blockage in an artery in the heart, which they fixed this with a stint, but the other required a pace maker. This was a challenge because dad had several broken ribs since CPR is really only effective when ribs are broken. But, pneumonia set in creating a vicious cycle of needing to cough, which caused pain that sent him into cycles of delirium. It was a delicate balance the medical team at St. Mary’s walked, moment by moment to figure out what dad needed.
Two days before his death—I call it his Lazarus day. I arrived in the morning. He was sitting upright in bed with wonderful color to his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He was holding a pen, paper, and bible and exclaimed happily as I walked in: “Debbie!” I returned: “Dad!” I sat down beside him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he had a lot of thank yous to write but was having a hard time getting started.
The day before had been pretty rough for he had worked his feed tube out 3 times, earning him the title of the Hundi of Feeding Tubes. He still did not have it reinserted, and so his nurse fed him pudding with his pills crushed in it. It was slow, and dad was having a hard time swallowing. But, this day, everyone was so hopeful he could recover at least to this point; however, to do so, he would need the feed tube reinserted. This sent him into a delirium he would not come out of, and this is where the courage comes in… I had to have the courage to see the totality of his reality – I needed to reconcile the hope of his recovery with the despair of cascading system failures in his body. After 36 hours of continuous delirium, I made the tough decision to move him to comfort care, allowing the nurses and doctors to give him stronger medications to keep him comfortable and out of pain. The Mayo team was magnificent in providing me and our family with all the options ranging from further invasive interventions to comfort care, and it was his night nurse, Luis, who said something about being able to give dad stronger medicines that night, which finally made me understand the reality of dad’s situation. We had never made it out of the Sea of Delirium, and dad was suffering and needed me to make a courageous choice. So, I did.
When I returned the next morning, he was sleeping—the delirium was over. His day nurse told me he had cleaned him, and they were making him comfortable. He looked at peace. I could hear the gurgle of the pneumonia in his lungs, but he was not struggling for air. I sat down next to him and began to read part of the book I have written for I had promised to send him the manuscript but had not yet sent it. The Chaplin came in after a couple of hours. I told him all about dad and the past week. He recited the 23rdPsalm, and then he said a prayer incorporating everything I had told him. I resumed reading. His nurse came back to turn him. I continued reading holding his hand, comforted by his warmth. Less than 45 minutes later, his breathing suddenly changed. I looked at his monitor and saw his heart rate dropping just as it had been doing over the past week (this is why he needed a pace maker). I felt panic and pleaded with dad to wait for mom to arrive (for I felt she was 15 minutes away). Dad breathed, and his heart rate went up, but for less than a minute; then it plunged again. I wanted to run and get the nurse to give him a drug to increase his heart rate, but I didn’t… I knew he was going and I needed to let him go… this took tremendous courage… how could I let my father go? I couldn’t, so I threw myself on him, hugged him and cried. His nurse came in and put his arm around my shoulders as I held onto dad, and his doctor came in and held my hand. After a while, I looked up and asked, “Is he gone?” His doctor simply and compassionately confirmed dad had gone. My brothers and mom arrived 10 minutes later. His nurse and doctor stayed with us for a long time. I did not feel for one minute they had anything more important to do than to be a witness to dad’s passing and our grief—a tremendous gift.
The Gift of Love
So, thank you all for being here to remember dad and to celebrate his life and the many gifts he gave to so many of us.
I know dad never felt he deserved this sort of attention, but dad, if you are listening, you deserve it, every last bit of it for your gifts have healed so many people in our broken world, which desperately needs the compassion you shared and your capacity to listen and be with others during their greatest hour of need and to do so in kindness and with empathy, all of which came so natural to you.