Friday, February 28, 2020

We're All Doing Our Best, and Yet ...

     We're all just trying to do our best to be happy, no matter how our behaviors may appear to outside observers. In the process, we unintentionally create, or at least maintain, a lot of needless suffering for ourselves & others.
     Meditation, first & foremost, allows us see clearly, with a far deeper intelligence (than the conditioned, fear-based, self-talk-filled, superficial level with which we're usually identified).
     In his fascinating paper, Roger Walsh MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, philosophy, anthropology & religion, describes his remarkable insights & discoveries during meditation, despite his strong initial skepticism & fears
     These same fears keep many away from meditation. And even those of us who choose to meditate, only disengage from our momentum of distracted self-talk ("the story of me") very, very gradually, at our own pace. The shift from noisy psychological defenses to the sublime silence & stillness of our deeper intelligence tends to be slow & delicate.

     “Whereas initially I had believed that the inner world must of necessity harbor unwholesome collections of monsters, which I had avoided confronting all my life, I now came to think of this inner world as a very attractive, pleasant source of positive information.
     I was beginning to agree with the statements such as those of Willis Harman (1962): ‘We are all hypnotized from infancy … We do not perceive ourselves and the world about us as they are but as we have been persuaded to perceive them.’
     … it was becoming clear that from the perspective of this hypnotized, illusory world view, my symptoms and defenses appeared not only logical but optimal. It would have seemed stupid to act in any other way. And here was the key to a new understanding of the nature of defenses and resistance. If from our perceived world view we are already acting optimally, then of course we would resist change of any type and would seek to strengthen our defenses rather than relinquish them. To relinquish them would feel like sacrificing those very strategies which we believe to be essential for our well-being. Now I could begin to make sense out of the old adage that neurotics don’t come into psychotherapy to get better; they come in to learn how to be better neurotics. A corollary of this is that the really important growth choices involve changes in the beliefs, perspectives, and viewpoints from which we are perceiving rather than attempting to change that which we are looking at. That is, the changes are process, second order, contextual, or perspective changes.
     These insights gave me a very new perspective on the nature of personality, neurosis, neurotic symptoms, self-actualization, authenticity, and courage. Now I could look at people and see that each and everyone of them, each and everyone of us, was courageously coping with reality and themselves as he or she believed, and hence perceived, them to be. Furthermore, they acted and perceived with total commitment in ways that seemed to them absolutely necessary and appropriate. Moreover, each person daily created and endured an extraordinary amount of well-intended suffering in a continuous battle which was fought day in and day out with total but almost totally unappreciated commitment and courage. For each of them, for each of us, every response appeared to represent the optimal self-actualizing strategy, and I could now understand the humanistic psychology position as enunciated by Carl Rogers (1959) that the ‘basic actualizing tendency is the only motive which is postulated in this theoretical system.’
     Thus it became apparent that many of the beliefs and fears I encountered were not unique to me but rather were widespread in our culture. This raises the interesting question as to what extent they are transmitted and taught to us as part of the cultural hypnosis mentioned above.” 
       Roger Walsh. “Journey Beyond Belief.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 24(2); 30-65, 1984.

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