Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Two Main Ways of Seeing and Being

      Have we not all - individually, or as part of a group - said or done things that just boggles our minds? As we privately reflect on our misbehavior, we may be shocked & disturbed, vowing to do better from now on.
     Amazingly, if the very same misbehavior is criticized by another, or from outside our group, we - individually or collectively - tend to quickly 'circle the wagons' in defense mode, & even mount a 'no holds barred' counterattack! We rationalize, loudly justifying our (inappropriate) behavior, and express outrage towards the stupid, evil 'enemies' who dared criticize us. Examples of this happen daily on the news and in our private lives.
      Maybe there's more to this bizarre dichotomy than hypocrisy & lax morality. Maybe our neurobiology has evolved this way.
     In the first instance, we have the luxury of being able to self-reflect - to examine our past behavior in private, without fear of judgement & punishment. We can remember or imagine how our misbehavior negatively impacted ourself & others involved. Our felt safety of unconditional self-acceptance (vs harsh self-judgement) frees our essential spaciousness & wisdom, allowing us to see, connect with & inhabit a far larger context (than the 'normal' immediate egocentric fears & desires). Self-reflection also provides more subtle, more evolved, longer-term positive evolutionary payoffs: more acceptable behavior = better approval by one's group = greater probability of survival, mating & passing on of DNA.
      Self-reflection is temporarily suppressed on rare occasions when we legitimately fear for our life - we may automatically lock into fight-flight-freeze. For many, self-reflection is chronically suppressed when many times each day, relatively-meaningless threats to our ego (personal or group) are misinterpreted as life-threatening. We confuse slights to the ego with threats to our life; personal ego with our group ego; hoarding & overeating with nurturing love. Stress seems to be the new norm. Anxious, fearful 'noisy egos' continue to fuel endless, childish but often lethal conflicts - 'my/our noisy ego is bigger & better than your/your group's noisy ego!' Our materialistic society only offers shopping & antidepressants for our profound dys-ease. But egocentricity & associated fervent accumulation of things & experiences in a meaningless universe is not the cure but the cause of our unhappiness. Remaining at this low level of consciousness, means doing more of the same, with the same results.

     Real life far, far exceeds materialism's dogma of a 'random, meaningless, dead-matter' universe: http://www.johnlovas.com/2021/05/trajectory-of-consciousness.html
     Investigate, see for yourself, how letting go of compulsively chasing shiny objects effects your life! Experience what many have - that only fearful egocentricity keeps us from our natural state of peace, silence, stillness, spaciousness, contentedness, equanimity & intimacy with 'the big picture' - everyone, nature, life as a whole.
     Steve Taylor. “The Leap. The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.” New World Library, 2017.

“As we travel through life, we are all seekers
after something larger than ourselves…”
Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer PhD
     Other useful perspectives on our frequently divisive dualism:


Monday, May 24, 2021

Trajectory of Consciousness

     “Teilhard de Chardin said that complexity of consciousness is the direction of travel of human evolution. Now if you say that, then you ask yourself, ‘What are the qualities of more complex consciousness?’ And he would say, ‘At its core – and this is what people experience – the deepest structure of reality is love and light. And so the mystical experience, the near death experience is an immersion in love and light, so that you are actually that. You are love, you are light. You realize that, and you realize that is the essence of what a human being is. It’s not a kind of computer program.

     And so that is why I say that we have to have a multidimensional model of the human being. We have to bring back the heart into all of this. Julia Mossbridge, a scientist … recently attended an artificial intelligence meeting – there were 50 people there, and she was the only woman. That, I think tells you something about the field. And this is where we go back to Iain McGilchrist, author of “The Master and his Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.” He says that we are dominated by this left-hemisphere analytical view, which of course you see going straight into artificial intelligence. And we’ve neglected the right-hemisphere creative, intuitive, holistic side of ourselves. For him, the master hemisphere, in terms of his book’s title, is the right hemisphere, not the left hemisphere, because the right hemisphere is what gives us an idea of the whole, then information is sent to the left hemisphere for analytical elaboration, and then it should be sent back to the right hemisphere for a higher level of integration. So he never says we only need one hemisphere. He says we must create a culture in which these hemispheres are working together and we therefore re-establish our balance
. Watch the excellent 12-minute summary of Iain McGilchrist's 20 years of research & 600-page book: "The Divided Brain" RSA Animate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI
     So for instance, notice all the accounting mentality in public institutions that has come in over the past 30 years. Bean counters, inspections, reports, all of this is left hemisphere stuff, and it’s aimed at control. You can control a machine, but you can’t control human beings – except to the extent you reduce them to this kind of mechanistic idea. And this is what the Chinese state is trying to do in terms of developing their technology, their surveillance and their point system. They’re really just treating human beings as kind of pawns in their big system.

      We obviously have to work together, and we are doing that. Each person has to ask themselves what they can do in their own, as it were, backyard, their own context, their own scope. But the principles for me are love and wisdom. So what we need to be pointing our compass to is a culture of love & wisdom, to care for each other, & enlightenment

     I think we underestimate the power of love. I think we totally underestimate this and it’s the most powerful force in the world. And if we realized its force and applied it, there could be huge changes. But I do also think that we need, at the same time, an expanded and deepened metaphysic where we understand that we are all one, that there is no ultimate separation, and I talk about this in my book ‘Resonant Mind.’ We need to act out of an ethic of interconnectedness, because we are all one at that deep level. So what we do to someone else, we are doing to ourselves. What we’re doing to the planet, we’re effectively doing to ourselves. But we just don’t seem to realize this. We’re so intent on this individualism and separation. ... we need to bring back the community. Not the collective, because that implies uniformity to me, but community implies diversity within and tolerance and openness to each other.
     David Lorimer - the entire 23min interview below is well worth watching


David Lorimer “The Skeptics Have No Clothes”

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Wise Grandparents

     Wise grandparents or wise elders are content, at peace, equanimous, unconditionally loving, nurturing, grounded in spaciousness, stillness & silence. There is, of course, an infinite gradient in the aging process - from nasty miserable old cranks, all the way to fully enlightened beings embodying 'pure consciousness.' Most of us can do better - we can't imagine how much better!
     Contentment is very different from the sugar-high we tend to associate with happiness. 'Happiness' compared to contentment is like the sound of metal garbage cans being beaten with sticks in comparison to Beethoven's symphonies. One is 'quick & dirty,' but soon annoys everyone; the other takes a lifetime to perfect, nurturing both the musician & audience to flourish. There are far more air-guitar players around than Eric Claptons.
     Wise grandparents are equanimous - reliably stable, grounded, in good times and even the most challenging times. They're not afraid if they might die; they know death is imminent - no time left to waste. Through lived experience, they also realize that it's not worth sweating the small stuff and, that in the greater scheme of things, it's all small stuff. When a young child breaks a toy, he might be devastated, screaming as if life was no longer worth living. A wise grandparent simply smiles and comforts the child, knowing from lived experience that the event is meaningless, quickly forgotten. Yet in the heat of suffering, even adults are often blind to this critically important 'big picture' perspective.

      "All of the astronauts that have been to the moon have had some similar type of experience ... Frank White called it ‘The Overview Effect’ - I call it “the big picture effect.’ And it’s this notion of wonder & awe at seeing the universe, and seeing life on Earth from that point of view ...” Edgar Mitchell, astronaut

     There's a LOT to 'unpack' here. And today, it takes interest, patience & courage to immerse ourselves in areas beyond materialism. It's ironic that many adults continue to fearfully avoid this territory partially because they dread aging & death. Most of us lack the training, knowledge & experience to refute materialist theory that everything, including consciousness, is no more than a meaningless accident of physical particles.
      "... it’s healthy for scientists to recognize what the scientific method can tell you, and what it cannot, so you can do good science, instead of bad philosophy." Bernardo Kastrup PhD

      Especially in academic circles, being jaded, skeptical & cynical tends to be conflated with sophistication & intellectual superiority. If at a meeting, a new creative idea is proposed to solve an existing problem, kudos go to the first one to throw a wet blanket on the idea with, "I hate to be the devil's advocate, BUT ..." If everything is dead matter & everyone is a meaningless machine without free will, what's the point of doing anything? The notion that "life's hard, and then you die" hangs heavily in the air.

     Fortunately, experience can knock some sense into us. Unexpected trauma can in roughly 40% of cases result in post-traumatic growth, a brush with death can cause near death experiences (NDEs), and other 'psi experiences' all clearly show that materialism cannot be a 'theory of everything.'
      • Bruce Greyson. “After. A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” St. Martin’s, 2021.
      • Jeffrey J. Kripal. “The Flip. Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge.” Bellevue Literary Press, 2019.
      • Bernardo Kastrup. “The Idea of the World: A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality.” IFFS Books, 2019.
      • Steve Taylor. “The Leap. The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.” New World Library, 2017.

     Wise aging, meditation-mediated awakening, spiritual-practice-mediated mystical experience, entheogen-mediated experiences, spontaneous awakening, post-traumatic growth, NDEs, etc can all elicit at least temporary shifts into a higher, more evolved level of consciousness. This is not weird magic woowoo, simply glimpses into our next stage of human evolution. Such shifts occur when the noisy ego quietens down to a whisper. Then, temporarily or permanently, the self-centered struggle to get somewhere, to become someone, to compulsively do stuff, all stop. Under these conditions, our more evolved intelligence, wisdom, consciousness, true nature - naturally, spontaneously manifests.

     “… consciousness is our true nature, and when we rest within it, we feel a powerful sense of ease and contentment.
     • Russel Williams, edited by Steve Taylor. “Not I, Not other than I. The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams.” O-Books, 2015. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Practicing Gentle Nurturing

     Handling even a cup as gently as if it were an eggshell “is a practice which reflects back on you. The world is a mirror. Whatever quality you put out will be reflected back to you. This is what mindfulness is all about: to be well aware of the condition in here (hara / dan tien - in the center or core of the body, 2 inches above the navel), and make sure that what you give out is of the same nature. If you want to live peacefully, give peace. If you want chaos, put chaos out there and you’ll soon get it back.
     If you are wise, you learn to be very, very gentle in almost everything you do. Then you get that subtlety of feeling, and it is the subtlety that matters most. It means slowing down somewhat. Not allowing immediate response. Wait. Be gentle. Does it really need a response? If it does, take it gently. There’s no need to be tough. And also, whatever you do, give it your full, undivided attention.
     Often you come to know rather than understand. Thought has its place; nobody is denying this. There are times when we need to think about things, but if those times are not present, we don’t have to think. If you stop thinking about them, they will still be there when you need them. But in between thoughts, you can learn to experience what is there. That is where living takes place. In thought there is no living, only delusion.
     If you give your whole attention, your wholehearted attention to any person, if only momentarily, you’ll see how they respond and blossom. They will feel, ‘I am recognized, I am a somebody.’ But if you give half-hearted attention, whilst you’re thinking of something else, they’ll feel, ‘I’m not here; I am not being recognized.’ People need that recognition.
     The same applies to household tasks: dusting, polishing, washing the floor, washing the dishes, and so on. Give them your full attention, don’t think of other things. The now is all there is, so learn to live in it. And surprise, surprise, when you do, all fear disappears. The alternative is to live in fear all the time, through being concerned about what might happen next. But if you are only in the now there is no next moment. Strangely, you can move through time with this attitude – with full attention here, there, there, there, there – but it’s all one continuous moment. There is no tomorrow.
     Am I really saying that you should give your whole attention – with a loving aspect – (even) to a piece of crockery? Yes. As if it were a living creature. In the moment of doing, the object reflects your love back to you by virtue of its mirror action. Try it and see ... Whenever you come to do these tasks, be it washing the dishes or washing your socks or stockings, whatever, do them with your whole attention just for those moments; gently, carefully, as if you’re dealing with a living creature. Observe how you feel and you’ll find it’s really worthwhile. A lot of extraneous thoughts disappear, things that would otherwise worry you, so that you have a contented mind which you carry with you to the next activity. You begin the new task contented, free from agitation, and see things more clearly, so you’re able to deal with every situation better. You don’t have to do anything special, just the things you normally do, but with your full attention.
     You might forget to do it of course – if so, try again and watch how the process works. Once you realise how it works, and once you experience its benefits, you’ll continue to do it. It’ll enter into different parts of your life more and more and you will be much more content. ... You’ll become much more friendly to other people and they will begin to respond, after a period of time, if not immediately. Some people take longer than others. ...
     Generally, this is the way we can begin to change ourselves, in little everyday things that don’t require a great deal of effort at all. Where possible, we should give ourselves a bit of time and sit down for 10 minutes, be still, quiet, and allow things to subside and to feel deep within ourselves the still peacefulness from which the nurturing arises. Just like that.
     There’s a bit of a joke here: it’s been said that Buddhist monks spend their time contemplating their navels. Actually, there is a lot to be said for that, because that’s where that still small space is, deep within the body
(hara / dan tien). If you allow your consciousness to drop down into that area and be more peaceful and expansive in consciousness, you find it is very warm and comforting and that it takes you away from the ‘thinking box’ for a while.
     So in that way you can learn to be still. You don’t have to try to stop your thoughts; they will cease on their own when you become complete within that wholeheartedness. They just stop by themselves. If you try to stop them, that would be suppression and not a good thing. But even if they don’t stop, it’s okay because you see them as peripheral, on the sidelines. When you are down there (hara / dan tien), thoughts don’t really matter.
     So we learn to live with our basic nurturing instincts, in a more homely way. We begin to base ourselves there rather than in our thoughts, and then we find that even our thoughts begin to change in their nature into a much better form. We can bring about a great deal of change within ourselves without a great deal of concentrated effort. It doesn’t require effort – just a quiet casual way of doing things, but with full attention.

     Russel Williams, edited by Steve Taylor. “Not I, Not other than I. The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams.” O-Books, 2015.