Sunday, December 28, 2008

Defending Against Guilt

I find it interesting that some of the most hallowed spots on the planet are surrounded by starvation and abject poverty.
What does that mean?

When you completed the devouring of your stuffed turkey this holiday season (or whatever consumables you devoured), how did you rationalize the fact that your stomach was full while in 3rd world societies distended stomachs are indicative of the starvation and malnutrition of millions? We can't deny this as true, so how do we deny the guilt that most occur from such truth? How could we NOT feel guilt?

I'm just curious as to what rationalizations are used to offset guilt. I imagine, (from my own experience) just plain old denial or factual repression tends to work well for a time, but (also from my own experience) never entirely. Guilt seems to seep back into consciousness and of course, the "news" is not very helpful in repressing guilt when the images are right there in front of your face (just look at the situation unfolding in Gaza right now).
This has always been my difficulty with the concept of individual enlightenment as the Buddha and others proclaim. The prince left his palace to experience the suffering of the masses, only to sit under the Bodhi tree and become "enlightened." Unfortunately, that didn't seem to change conditions for the starving masses. They still kept on starving, even today. But I'm consistently told that I just don't understand Buddhism. Ok, so how do the Buddhists deal with guilt?
How do we dissolve the guilt that others starve, while we partake of abundance (or obesity)? Due to my particular field, I've always had an interest in the use of ego defense mechanisms (Freud) in order to cope with an absurd reality. So what do you use to defend yourself from this unfortunate aspect of reality? Do you absolve your guilt by "seeking enlightenment" or maybe by "being enlightened"? (so what the hell is that!?)

Suffering may be a part of this "oneness" we all love to speak about, but if we haven't fully worked to reduce suffering can we really say WE are part of "oneness"?

In fact, shouldn't we being doing everything we can? Shouldn't we ALL be selling our HDTVs or our Ipods and sending the money to the starving? LOL! Obviously, I'm as guilty as you, so the point is what should we do? Just accept that guilt is part of life?


I would imagine that an enlightened or awakened mind would have no difficulty alleviating starvation, otherwise why call it "enlightened"? Therefore, seems like more of the same old blah, blah, blah, to me.

Or maybe NO separate person has yet achieved "enlightenment" (yet), because NO one separate mind CAN? Maybe, inevitably, we will all need to be starving first, (spiritually/physically?) causing an equalization of 'experience' and, from there we can ALL be enlightened together!

Thanks for listening....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winning the Game (Finite and Infinite Games, pt. 2)

"A finite game has a precise beginning and end, and has clear spatial and numerical boundaries. There must be at least one opponent. In a finite game there can be only one winner, but other players may be ranked at the end of play." (James Carse, 'Finite and Infinite Games')
Many play the game of life as if it had a “precise beginning and end.” This applies a finite rule, making all games conform to a finite outcome of winning. You may not win a career game, however, you may generate enough points to facilitate a higher position within the boundaries of the game.

You may play the game of "simple country doctor" and improve the lives of many or play the game of "famous surgeon" inventing an artificial heart that saves lives. The country doctor may receive little public accolade, while the surgeon is awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. However, if the country doctor plays an infinite game there is no need for external rewards because he/she internally values the continuation of play. While the surgeon may play to win and go on to greater external rewards. A problem may arise should the surgeon lose his skills.

To be a doctor requires obedience to time parameters as far as education, internship, licensing, practice, etc, etc. Spatially, such games must be played within the society or country that sets the rules for winning. These rules are often predetermined by winners of past doctor games. You may win the prestige of being called a doctor by those who are not doctors, however, doctors play other games through which to voluntarily compete amongst themselves. Often times this may include monetary games. To play a finite game of "cosmetic surgeon" may have higher monetary value than the game of "podiatrist" even though both are "doctors."

Since there can only be one winner (or winning team) we play many different games to increase our chances of winning. Academic games, played in colleges and universities, have numerous finite games through which to compete for ranking and even possibly win. To win demands you attain the highest prestige in your specified intellectual domain. Universities are often rated on the accumulation of academic winners, thereby improving the universities chances of winning.

Infinite games have no boundaries, such as space and time, and although we all play games within space and time, infinite games are not determined by those boundaries. Religious and spiritual games may be played within space/time boundaries but may not necessarily be limited by those boundaries.

For instance there are many who play the "enlightenment game" and become regarded as enlightened gurus and saints within space/time. However, if their “enlightenment” transcends space/time boundaries and thus, they are not restricted by those rules, they can continue to play "enlightenment" infinitely, with no predetermined rules and no winners.

Enlightenment is as much a game as being a doctor. However, doctors must conform to the predetermined rules as a requirement of play. Gurus and saints play infinite games by setting their own rules, which must allow that rules can be changed as they go along. However, once rules are demanded, the game is finite and a winner is required. Many gurus and saints play finite games and if your particular spiritual teacher plays by specific rules of "enlightenment" you may wish to seek out another teacher. Or else, play the required finite game within an infinite game. But this may require much internal skill and fortitude, especially when taught to follow the rules.

Finite games can engender competing through a team or alone in which the body is stretched to its limits. Although many go beyond what was done before, we all agree that there are limits to what one can do. You may break records in running a 3 minute mile, but never in less than 2 minutes. We all have agreed on that being a rule. Until, of course, someone refuses to agree and runs a 2 minute mile and then the rules must change.
"Other than the principle of voluntarism, infinite games are the opposite of finite games in every way. Infinite games have no spatial, temporal, or numerical boundaries, and no winners or rankings. Finite games are externally defined; infinite games are internally defined."
We all choose to play. Denying that we choose is often a rule of finite games so that the game will be taken seriously and thus the rules strictly followed. On the other hand, infinite games lack seriousness simply because they are internally defined and cannot be won, but allow for voluntary, continued play.

Deepak Chopra is trained in the finite rules of playing a doctor and must have externally exhibited a seriousness for the rules in order to win that finite game and attain the prestige of being called "doctor." However, he has gone beyond those rules internally and thus changed the rules of play thereby developing new rules through which to play “doctor” by not remaining bound to the rules of that finite game. As long as he continues to change the rules, and is not bound by any rules, the game will remain infinite. Yet, at anytime the play is defined as demanding certain rules, the game is then defined as finite, meaning someone must win.

Visionaries and radicals often play infinite games. However, they can eventually become predisposed to a specific set of rules (often their own) requiring the game be finite and a winner determined.

Hitler went beyond finite rules, but demanded rigid conformance to his own finite rules of conquest. His game was terminated by others who refused to play by his rules, thereby desiring that an infinite game be played which included freedom and democracy. Unfortunately, the new players imposed their own external rules and so, infinite play could only be accessed internally while finite geopolitical games continue on, even today.

Infinite games are often hard to recognize in our postmodern advanced society, even by those who look to play infinitely and this is because of the internal nature of infinite games. Many modern spiritual games seem infinite on face value, but it soon becomes apparent that often one must do it this way or that way in order to play and potentially win.

Infinite games can have no winner, but only never-ending play. For most, this seems virtually impossible as all games are usually played with space/time boundaries. A winner is expected and losers are ranked according to how close they come to winning. Many live in complete disregard for the finite games we expect all participants of society to play and we often refer to non-players as "losers."

This finite social conditioning tends to make infinite games incredibly difficult to envision and require leaps of consciousness from which to break from finite rules. Yet, many do experience that freedom on a daily basis.
"The time of an infinite game is determined in the game itself. Finite games can be played within an infinite game, but no infinite game can be played within a finite game. The rules of a finite game are predetermined and fixed. The rules of an infinite game must change in the course of play, to avoid a finite outcome. The rules of an infinite game are changed to prevent anyone from winning and to bring as many persons as possible into the play."
Playing a finite game within an infinite game necessarily changes the finite rules thereby altering the game itself, but only internally. I can play at being a doctor and conform to fixed rules, while at the same time anticipating infinite play within that finite game. This can only be done internally and often must be veiled externally from those who demand finite rules so that winners and losers can be determined. Eventually, infinite players are identified and loved or hated.

Infinite games can adhere to time restrictions but only in order to continue playing and not to end the game by announcing a winner. Infinite players do not take winners very seriously simply because they continue to play internally and have no expectation of outcome other than continued play.

A priest or minister may externally demonstrate adherence to finite rules, while internally playing an infinite game, thereby taking his congregation beyond the predetermined dogma. Such a visionary individual may eventually be barred from continuing, but by then it may be too late and the congregation will take on a life of its own outside church walls. Such "churches" are open to all denominations and religions allowing no restrictions based on sex, gender, or anything else for that matter.

Clearly, a doctor who delights in saving lives, or a politician who revels in going against his party to end suffering, would be playing a finite game within an infinite game. This would be true as long as the rules never become rigidly determined. These individuals then become models for saving more lives, by encouraging more participants to play the game in ending more suffering in more creative ways. This abundance has no end (hence, the term infinite), but only within infinite games can this process occur since there are no winners to end the game and no rules to bar other ways of playing the 'more' game.

Abraham Lincoln’s campaign platform demanded the continuation of slavery. However, internally he did not adhere to those rules and merely waited for the correct time to externally declare an “emancipation proclamation.” This is an example of an infinite game in which time “is determined in the game itself.” Ending the institution of slavery was a finite game that has never ended and is therefore, infinite.

Currently, Barack Obama has refused to comply with the rules of campaign finance and has been severely criticized by the opposing party for breaking those rules. However, his refusing to abide by predetermined rules changes the rules forever. Yet, if he is elected and demands other rules regarding campaign finance, he would thereby alter an infinite game back into a finite game with strict rules.

Of course, visionaries will be condemned for ignoring finite boundaries and rules (loss of license or party affiliation, or even assassination) by those who play finite games. But they will be seen as visionary by those who play infinite games and will be remembered long after they are gone.

History teaches about those who refused to be bound by the rules of finite games. The fact that there are so few models, per capita, illustrates our pressing need to have defined boundaries and rigid rules so that we can evaluate who the winners and losers are and thus, possibly win ourselves.

A finite game must have a winner. What games do you play to win?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Game of Life ("Finite and Infinite Games," pt 1).

Everybody has considered at one time or another, the idea that “life is a game." Well, James Carse has written a book about such considerations called Finite and Infinite Games. This is one of those profound little books that I return to frequently (my paperback is old tattered and devoid of margins due to my consistent editing and markings) in trying to make sense of the absurdities of living.

This next series of blog posts will examine that book’s general thesis and main points. Of course, this is only my interpretation and I would hope that you read the book yourself in order to get the full value of the ideas.

“There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. There is no game, finite or infinite, unless the players freely agree to play it. No one can play who is forced to play. This is an invariable principle of all play. Whoever must play, cannot play. If a finite game is to be won by someone, it must come to a definitive end. It will come to an end when someone has won. Winning is determined by agreement of the players.” (italics the authors)

It's interesting how we believe there are so many things we must do in life. Like death and taxes, we feel we have no choice in the matter. Of course, this denies the nature of “play” and that we have chosen to play by the rules of a particular game.

I have freely chosen to participate in the game of paying taxes since I could just as easily refuse to play. Certainly, there would be consequences based on the rules of that game, but the fact is, many choose NOT to pay taxes and thus not to play by the collectively agreed upon rules. You may feel you must play the game of paying taxes, but clearly ‘choice’ is built into the game and, make no mistake, you have chosen to play by the rules. Complaints about the game of paying taxes, is part of the rules of that game.

Our games tend to be interwoven. In paying taxes we also play the game of "United States citizen," which is a much broader game and tends to include within it’s rules various other games, including taxes. For instance, "Patriot" is a game many play and therefore, not paying taxes would be unpatriotic and would be essentially not to play by the rules of the game of patriot. We choose to play by the rules of the game of patriotism, because we wish to win. To win at being a patriot means to acquire the titles that we all agree are indicative of winning the game of patriotism (we will review the concept of “titles” in another post).

Presidential candidate John McCain has won the game of patriotism and most agree that he has won, so he is free to use his title of patriot in the game of presidential candidate. His winning the game of patriotism makes the game finite since his winning is NOT to be questioned. To question his title to 'patriotism' and thus, his winning, would be to keep the game in play and thus alter the game from finite, or having a definitive end, to infinite with the continuation of play.

If McCain were to win the game of presidential election, we would agree that the game of “presidential election” has concluded by reaching a definitive end and all further need to play has ended. However, many may attempt to alter this finite game by questioning the designated winner and the rules that resulted in that game being won, seeking to create an infinite game serving to continue the play. In fact, many may choose not to play the game of paying taxes, since they refuse to recognize the game of presidential election as being won.


Many people feel that the game of 'life' is a finite game, since it does reach a definitive end which we agree to call “death.” Thus, life has finite rules which serve to allow play until death ends the game and we go to heaven or whatever 'place' we determine within the rules as we choose to play. Therefore, all the rules we play by in life include the belief that the game does end. Because of that definitive ending, life games take on an air of sophistication and seriousness, that tend to cause us to deny that we have freely chosen to play.

Often, due to the seriousness of life games, many choose not to take it serious and some, through suicide, choose not to play at all (unfortunately suicide is also a game that can be either finite or infinite). Many believe that if they can acquire a great deal of property, financial resources and game titles (like president, chairman, chief, CEO, retired, grandfather, etc) they have played the game of life well and have therefore won the game. But of course, winning stops play for that particular player within the boundaries of the finite nature of the game of life. This is because the life game includes all lesser games, such as work, career, marriage, citizenship, money, real estate, friendship, old age, religion, parenting, etc, etc, within its boundaries. There are infinite games that can be played in life, but most choose to play only specific finite games since they play life as though it were finite and had a definitive end to all play. Any game that can be won and thus ended, becomes a serious endeavor often with tragic costs. Yet, tragedy is also a game.

Many discard the rules of death and choose to continue play after death. This obviously changes the rules of the game of life because death is no longer considered an end to play and therefore, the game of life has no end and is open-ended. Life is then engaged as a game with no winners or losers, but as simply the ongoing continuation of play. In other words, many alter the rules of death to include continued play therefore essentially negating the game of death and infinitely extending the game of life.

Spiritual/religious paths are often such rule-benders by requiring that the spiritual game be played by choice just as the finite game of life is played by choice. I can freely choose to discard the seriousness of life by conceptually negating death as a finite conclusion to life. Now I am open to play by different rules, which may or may not include the acquisition of titles and property to signify my winning the game of life. This is because as an infinite game, life has no winners or rules other than that all players must continue play indefinitely. This is why many who live in abject poverty are often happier than millionaires.

We cannot deny the freedom inherent to infinite games in that the only rule is to continue play. Thus, lesser games within an infinite game of life no longer take on profound significance through the rules of winning, simply because there can be NO winners or losers and that rule is agreed upon by all who choose to play infinitely.

The next installment of this exposition of Infinite and Finite games will continue the current theme with additional quotes from the book and further discussion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ken Wilber Knows "The Secret"

I find it interesting how the spiritual 'map-maker' Ken Wilber (Integral Theory) and his loyal Integralites, seem to be campaigning for relevance by denouncing other spiritual ‘map-makers.’ This campaign is no different from the current U.S. political beliefs-bashing we’re witnessing today (even though the integralists attach disclaimers that they are not really being "mean-spirited")

The Integral theory is a smart, esoteric package of beliefs, or an intellectual “map of the territory,” that is relevant in many ways to many people. However, I wonder if this denigration of other ‘maps’ may result in a backlash against the Integral Theory. Last time I heard it was Deepak Chopra. Poor guy, I’ll bet he didn’t see it coming, but alas, he was victim to the infamous “pre/trans fallacy” attack. (I wonder if he felt the blow?).

The pre/trans fallacy has relevance, yet it seems easily applicable to any spiritual state of mind that does not fit Wilber's own spiritual "map." In fact, through this reductionistic method it seems likely that all transrational states (beyond normal everyday consciousness) can be interpreted as prerational childish babble. But that argument is old, so I'll spare you.

However, now it seems the Integralistas are going after “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrnes and company. I read “The Secret” (and watched the DVD) several years ago and, although I found many flaws in the presentation and missing links to the theory, I thought that on the whole it was quite an empowering message. Sure, there was a lot of glitz and glam about it (and bit too much object obsession) but if it helps to empower an engagement with Spirit, and if that engagement leads to an experience of greater abundance, then all the power to it.

What we really want is NOT an abundance of things, but an experience of abundance.

I just can’t understand why Ken Wilber would feel the need to criticize these formats. Does the immense popularity of these belief systems cause him jealousy or, like ‘government,’ does he feel the need to protect us from ourselves?

This dialogue was posted on Integral Naked so I thought I would talk about some of the points made.
As with any “you create your own reality” schema, The Secret fails what can be called “the Auschwitz test.” According to The Secret, everyone who was murdered at Auschwitz—or Rwanda, or Darfur—created that reality for themselves, and therefore they are to blame for their fate. For obvious reasons, this position is an unconscionable as it is untenable.
This commingling and convergence of the collective and individual mind-consciousness is one aspect “The Secret,” and much of the current “law of Attraction” literature, does not extensively address (certainly not to the extent Wilber expounds on his own spiritual theory, which is literally mind-boggling to put it mildly). However, if you read the works of Thomas Troward, an early 20th century intellectual and prolific advocate of this “law of attraction,” (LOA) you will understand that the Divine Mind or Universal Consciousness is a composite of both individual and collective thought-substance. Therefore, both modes of “attraction,” or reality-creation, are in operation-all the time.

If 10 million minds believe fear and anger justified, then the results of that collective thought patterning will be manifest and we can, and do, see that manifestation worldwide. However, the collective does not cancel out the individual as both are expressions of Spirit or, as Wilber would state, "Kosmos."

What “The Secret” proposes is that on some level (which implies “quantum”) we create our reality, individually and collectively. However, the convergence aspect of individual and collective consciousness is NOT ruled out, its just that the focus of The Secret is the individual component.

Auschwitz, Darfur, Rwanda and all present day and historical atrocities are an amalgamation of a collective consciousness addicted to fear and the manifestations of fear. This can be curtailed, and even completely alleviated, through the collective-mind when each individual consciousness seeks to experience an abundant life devoid of fear. Fear obstructs the Joy of Being in any consciousness, including the collective.
By teaching that the world quite literally revolves around you, The Secret encourages and entrenches narcissism. In developmental psychology, narcissism doesn’t mean an unhealthy obsession with thinking only about yourself, it means you can’t think about yourself. The capacity for self-reflexive awareness just isn’t there. The entire world and everyone in it is simply an extension of your-self, and you are literally unable to take the perspective of another human being. This is not mystical union; this is pre-rational fusion, and without the ability to take the perspectives of other sentient beings, the entire foundation for ethics evaporates.”
Good grief, how KW loves that concept of "narcissism"! My friends, when you hunker down into your lotus to meditate your way to enlightenment, make no mistake the goal of that moment is narcissistic, since YOU desire enlightenment for YOURSELF. However, it seems KW has cherry-picked his own version of narcissism that he ascribes to the field of developmental psychology. For KW narcissism is when you “can’t think about yourself” and the entire world becomes an extension of yourself, in other words the narcissism of an infant, undeveloped ego-self. I don’t know why he took a clear and concise psychological term like “narcissism” and twisted it into a distorted concept he calls “pre-rational fusion.”

Essentially, for Wilber, “The Secret” promotes sociopathic narcissism in which we selfishly ignore others in our quest to manifest material possessions, all others be damned. The very idea that one who adheres to the Law of Attraction, as promoted by “The Secret,” fails to take in the perspective of others or even realize others exist except as an extension of self, is a reductio ad absurdum.

Clearly, most of the reputable “law of Attraction” theorists emphasize that “attracting” from Divine Mind, “universal consciousness” or Spirit must be aligned with the collective good of said named “universe.” Obviously, if I want my mother-in-law dead this is not aligned with a loving and rational universe or Divine Mind and, in fact, may negate or nullify that universal quality or substance. I may terminate my mother-in-law, but most likely this will only bring up and reinforce the reality of my more dormant "shadow" elements from the depths of consciousness right up into my face and into my everyday experience. I will in fact, “attract” or manifest a reality most disturbing and not advantageous to me in any way. I would suggest that all you sociopaths out there NOT seek change your lived-experience through the "Law of Attraction."
Actually, you are creating the universe moment-to-moment, but it’s not the “you” that you think. According to the great contemplative traditions, every person has at least two “selves”: the finite, temporal, egoic self-sense, and the infinite, transcendental, unqualifiable Self, or I-AMness. Your Self, your I-AMness, is indeed giving rise to the entire radiant Kosmos in this and every moment, but The Secret teaches that your separate self has the power to personally manifest a new car, win the lottery, or cure cancer… and this simply isn’t how things work.
Hmmm…but both “selves” are in fact “you” as an expression of that universal wholeness, since nothing is excluded or left out of the Oneness Equation. There is no clear cut partition. Even Wilber contends that “the self is all over the place” (Eye of Spirit) so why shouldn’t those who achieve a greater organization of the self-psyche reap the rewards of that escalated or higher correspondence with the universe, "Universal Consciousness" or Spirit.

It seems that Integral Theory does not seek to integrate the two selves (or transcend and include), but counter-productively denigrates and excludes the “self” that desires and wants. The Buddha proclaimed self is suffering, but only from a belief of incompleteness.

Does everyone have to be an 'enlightened master' in order to correspond with Spirit? (even in some small way). The contemplative traditions overemphasized detachment from egoic self for a reason. This is because the exterior world is a reflection of a seemingly all-encompasing, compulsive addiction to ego-self desires. In other words, if I re-program your passive personality to attain the extreme of aggression, you most likely will settle into an assertive center as your new baseline functioning, but you will not attain the extreme because your current personality baseline is against it. If taken to the extremes your natural predisposition will be to find the center.

Nevertheless, the more you attempt to break free of egoic mind the more strongly it clings to you. Maybe instead of breaking free we must first learn to harness or, more specifically, manage it (and this is a Wilber principle!).

There seems no reason to me why a mind corresponding with Spirit through a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for Being, should NOT generate an experience of abundance. Notice I emphasize the 'experience of abundance' and not necessarily a 'manifestation' of abundance, which would be relative to the individual mind accessing Spirit. Whether or not that abundance is objectified or results in physical manifestation is not the point. Yet, the EXPERIENCE is always the point.

From an experience of completion why should you not “attract” abundance, possibly even in terms of "objects" within consciousness or manifest physical abundance? When one is synchronized with the universe, coincidences do NOT happen and often ‘things’ have a way of just showing up because their supposed to.

But you must first seek synchronization and many claim that involves a consistent experience of love and acceptance. Possibly, the greater the synchronization with this "Universal Consciousness" the greater the manifest abundance and this seems congruent with the law of cause and effect in which a greater cause will generate a greater effect.
"The Law of Attraction” is true—as far as it goes. The problem is that The Secret takes this one relatively small piece of the puzzle and makes it the entire puzzle. A positive outlook will change your life and your intentions will co-create your reality, but so will brain chemistry, interior level of development, family relationships, natural disasters, cultural trends, language structure, environmental toxins, and, basically, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
I agree, “The Secret” only gives a “piece of the puzzle,” but I don’t feel it advocates this as the whole puzzle. Notice how Wilber equates “the Secret,” and the The Law of Attraction it promotes, with simply having “A positive outlook.” KW is so deeply entrenched in his "quadrants," he will allow only the most enlightened of minds to converge the left and right quadrants or, more specifically, allow the interior world of individual experience to alter the exterior experience of consciousness as manifest.

Wilber lumps aspects of our empirical, objective facticity with his concept “interior level of development.” Like that can be studied! No, but the interiors of awareness can be self-formulated, regulated and built upon to create incredible experiences through the interior unfolding externally. It's your experience, do what you will to enhance it
Developmentally, if one uses a scale ranging from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral to super-integral, The Secret teaches the magical thought structures that were humanity’s leading edge several hundred thousand years ago. As Ken explains, The Secret encourages childlike “primary process thinking,” which can be in the form of “the law of attraction” (e.g., if one black thing is bad, then all black things are bad) and “the law of contagion” (e.g., if this particular man was powerful, then a lock of his hair must be powerful too).
Yes and many claim this childlike “primary process thinking” is less stifled and obstructed by fear (conditioned) than the supposed evolved minds of the developed ego. What may be interpreted as “magical thought structures” of time long past, can now be re-interpreted as miraculous forms of thought-consciousness, which can create wonderful experiences for those who can “pray ceaselessly”(correspond with Spirit) and thereby reformulate the experiences of their life.
The importance of understanding how unconscious psychological shadow elements color and affect one’s experience, and how The Secret can agitate, alienate, repress, or—perhaps even more worrisome—act on these disowned elements of consciousness.
Yea, and for $250 you can purchase Ken’s enlightenment package (which is glamorously presented), which will, after many decades of hard work, identify your “shadows” and free you up to become an enlightened master. Obviously, Shadow elements will obstruct the crystal clarity of consciousness and the experience thereof. Nevertheless, The LOA advocates claim that the exterior experience will require a more mindful awareness and, hence adjustment of these interior shadow elements. Fear and anger will obstruct not only what you might manifest, but how you would experience that manifestation.

The exterior world is a reflection of an interior state, collectively and individually. Therefore, if the exterior is not an experience to your liking, seek to change the interior. Even cognitive psychology tells us this much, “it’s not reality that disturbs you, but your interpretation of reality that disturbs you” (Aaron T. Beck, MD, paraphrased).

The genesis of the pre/trans or pre/post fallacy, and how The Secret is a perfect example of elevating pre-rational childish impulses to trans-rational spiritual glory. Simply because both categories of experience are non-rational, they can easily be confused, and often are.
The impulse to attain an experience of joy and abundance in your life is most likely not childish and can even be considered a return to a consciousness less ego-formed (preconscious?), and thus less stifled, through the experiences of an external world. Yet, Ken would chastise you for being prerationally childish and immature in this joyous "state" since you have NOT evolved to a "stage" where it could be correctly interpreted as useful.

The Reality Creation Hypothesis, which includes the LOA, has been around for centuries in every culture and on every continent. From the Gnostic interpretations, to Plotinus and Parmenides. It can be observed within the Buddhist and Advaita Vedanta traditions. In the western 20th century we can find it in everything from Shirley Maclaine, the Seth books, Abraham-Hicks, Conversations with God, A Course in Miracles, etc, etc. Even theoretical physics, or quantum mechanics, often seems to inadvertently imply a veiled correspondence between thought and physical manifestation (although scientists are loathe to admit as much and if they do they are resigned to the lunatic fringe).

Obviously, we have no objective, empirically studied accounts of any consistent reordering of the quantum level of time and space. Nevertheless, the evidence seems to be mounting in favor of our ability to redirect and possibly even control the objects of consciousness or, more succinctly, our experience of an exterior manifest world. “The Secret” merely opens a door for many to actually consider that potential.

As opposed to Wilber’s critique, I don’t necessarily believe “The Secret” attempted to give the whole picture (unfortunately, not even Wilber can do that, although he may think he does) but maps out a direction that is understandable to many (as opposed to Wilber's ideas). Like the teachings of the “ancient masters,” it only serves to remind us of Spirit too long ignored and the benefits of an enhanced awareness.

The Law of Attraction has helped many to, at the very least, alter their experience from one of deprivation to one of abundance. It may not get you a Porsche or a mansion on the Riviera but, if by focusing on your experience of Being-in-the-world (Heidegger hyphenated to denote unity), you experience an increase of love peace and joy, isn’t this the internal essence of an engaged life that we all seek to experience (and who knows, maybe even a Porsche). Besides, if you shoot for the stars, but merely land on the moon, isn’t that in itself an amazing feat?

I don’t want to be an enlightened master. Rather, I just want to embrace a greater conscious experience of joy in my life. And I aim to do just that employing every scrap of information that I find useful (including Integral Theory, The law of Attraction and, yes, even “The Secret”).

I would suggest that those who have experienced a feeling of empowerment through the ideas as touched on by "The Secret" read the original theorists (Troward, Holmes, Haanel, Behrend, etc, etc) who first postulated these ideas and presented them to the world. There is a secret that "The Secret" failed to unveil. I wonder if Ken Wilber knows, but isn't telling?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surrender or Accept?

Most of the personal development blogs I often read seem to emphasize that surrender means the letting go of, or release of, pain and suffering. I contend that surrender confirms loss, while acceptance asserts that you have nothing to lose.
The need to surrender confirms loss or failure. Therefore, you have not released yourself, but further bound yourself to a belief in your own inadequacy and littleness. Choose carefully the words you use to define yourself since what you think you ARE, is what you will maintain yourself AS.
Acceptance identifies and asserts that what was once fought against is no longer deemed worthy of battle. You do not surrender and thus admit defeat, but rather you accept and admit freedom from conflict. You cannot win nor lose, conquer nor surrender, since neither is applicable to a life of acceptance.

Many might contend that this is exactly what “surrender” means. However, if you surrender to your depression, you essentially concede that it has controlled your life, thus might it not have that power to do so again? Does your surrender give it that power? Are you now subordinate to your depression, since you have surrendered to it, and does this requires that you no longer resist being defined by it as opposed to your defining yourself in anyway you choose?
Acceptance means that you can now define IT.
I believe "surrender" is a western perception and you will rarely encounter this concept in eastern philosophy or spirituality. This relates to the western ideology of control through conquest. It reinforces the idea that conflict, battle and the waging of war are the chief components of overcoming your "defects." Surrendering to the conflict asserts that the conflict has won and you have lost.
Acceptance demonstrates that there never was a battle nor is there anything to win.
The American Heritage dictionary defines surrender as “to relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion” and “to give up in favor of another.
When you surrender to your depression, you allow IT control. However, if you accept your depression, you allow it an equal presence in your life along with all other parts of your whole. As such it loses power to control.
"Does this mean I should not seek to alleviate my depression?"
No. What you fight against and surrender to, reinforces the need to conquer it and the worthiness of the battle. Yet, what you accept needs no resistance and need not be conquered. What you resist must persist, what you accept merely becomes a part of the experience we call Life.
This is difficult to comprehend through the western paradigm of overcoming or conquering, rather then joining with or unifying. We demand war and rarely admit defeat. We demand the world conform to our expectations and, rather then closely examining the validity of what we expect, we continue to blindly demand it acquiesce.
You hold yourself hostage to these same standards.
"But if I “accept” my addiction do I not give it power to define me?"
If you accept your addiction, it will recede from view. It only HAD power because you resisted it. If you surrender to it, you assert it once had power over you, thereby making it that much harder to accept and alter.
"But isn’t detaching a form of surrender?"
As the dictionary defines, to surrender is to "relinquish control to another because of a demand." Therefore, what is surrendered TO must then assume control. These are the spoils of war.
Make no mistake, the mind is conditioned to differentiate between power and powerless. Acceptance immediately equalizes the playing field. Surrender emphasizes loss of power and imbalance. In your surrender, you may experience a brief feeling of relief because you are no longer waging war. But make no mistake the judgment of loss is upon you and will dog your steps from here on out.
To accept is to join with and make One. Your addiction is you and in accepting, you MUST see it differently and in that way IT must recede in importance and control. If its no longer important and no longer compels your behavior, how can it be considered an addiction?
To surrender to adversity means you were once pitted against it. Now the opponent has grown in size and power. Therefore, In surrendering will you really forget that you were once at war and that you have lost?
Hardly, in fact, does not surrender simply reinforce your littleness and set the stage for future battles requiring additional surrender? Although you deny this, the fact is that essentially you define yourself by the struggles that have been won or lost. Your life is a series of overcoming or being overcome, winning or losing, “the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.”
"Nothing clings to the mind like the past" and therefore, nothing is as powerful in defining the future. If all is accepted, what power does it have to define? Surrender defines loss, acceptance defines that there has never been anything to lose. The future is easily and effortlessly accepted simply as it unfolds.
God does not require your surrender, only your acceptance.
Many would argue that I merely engage in hair-splitting, semantics. Yet, I respond that we live by the concepts and beliefs of our mind. Words have power simply because words, even more then images, define who and what we are. Surrender is a concept that defines you as defeated by your suffering, while acceptance defines you as embracing all, even the suffering. There is nothing to surrender TO as all is accepted.
You can only surrender to that which controls. Acceptance nullifies control and asserts equality. The more you accept suffering, the less you suffer (strange how that works!). You can accept everything and in so doing, you make it part of you. Never surrender, always accept.
"This is the ever-present Tao, never resisting or surrendering, but accepting, flowing with and Being."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Christian Non-Duality

If Jesus was crucified and died, but proved that you cannot die by resurrecting, then he proved that there is no sacrifice and no sacrifice will ever need be made.

If you do not die as Christ did NOT die, and death is the ultimate sacrifice we believe can be made, then we may have missed or distorted the message of the resurrection and become fixated on the sacrificial message of the crucifixion and death as ultimate sacrifice.

This may mean that 2000 years of Judeo-Christian preaching has taught the opposite of what the message was really meant to teach: You cannot die (although your belief in a body ends), there is no sacrifice to be made because you are eternal/infinite.

Therefore, we have nothing to fear and can finally live in peace, joy and love to the fullest since we need no longer be concerned with any belief in an ultimate sacrifice. Yeah!!!

Not only did he know he was like God (or is God?), I believe the message was that we are no different than him. There is a sense of non-duality in parts of the biblical message if you choose to interpret it there (which I have done sporadically). The message touches on the paradox of the one and the many. This includes God, the son and the Holy Spirit as One. Christ is the "holy spirit" through the message of Christ Mind which is "within." Jesus gave the message (as did many other eastern and western messengers) and because we worship the messenger we may miss the message 'within.' This seems opposite to the Buddha in which the message takes predominance.

Judeo-Christian ideology seems to focus on the messenger as being beyond our ability to emulate or model, thus the messenger is worshiped as God, which tends to press us more deeply into our own sense of inadequacy and impotence and the belief that we could never attain Christhood. Even though, as I state, his message was that we are God and not, 'I' am God.

"he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do."

The Judeo-Christian dogma has held sway as a controlling factor for many centuries and western life was morally ordered through these beliefs. I saw a poll that indicated that a growing segment of the American populace was indicating a stronger inclination toward 'spirituality' as opposed to 'religion,' and I think someone wrote a book about this and was interviewed on Jon Stewart - I'll have to find it (and I suppose this is related to a certain extent to the Tolle-Oprah factor and of course, Ken Wilber and his minions). It will be interesting to observe the new morality which emerges from this wave or movement, since morality is the foundation of all legal and economic systems (as well as other institutions).

There seems to be some distaste or disdain with eastern dogma over western by many Christians. I feel the two have many similarities and the recognition of those perspectives is the perennial philosophy since the similarities are there for all to see throughout the centuries.

These are shared insights and Integral Theory has aided in extracting these truths.
The problem with the integral map for me is that much of the Judeo-Christian traditions are neglected or ignored as archaic/mythical and not predisposed to our "evolving path" as a collective. Integral seems to focus exclusively on the eastern truths and this may be a part of the backlash many Christians experience to this "idealistic" worldview. (however, the Judeo-Christian worldview is as "idealistic" as the eastern)

However, although I seek out the similarities and look to a merging of eastern/western, I do not simply focus on "advaita" (one can look to the ideas of Buddhist/Hindu/Taoism and Judeo/Christian/Islamic) as that would be too limited in scope. The perennial insights/truths are there in all ideologies and dogma. You must simply separate the wheat from the chaff and this may need to be done individually as the 'church' may continue to be mesmerized by the chaff.

In fact, I do not necessarily agree that the church truly represents the communal aspect above the individual. If you look closely the 'church' is founded on exclusion and any communion of individuals requires 'membership' in a whole that may exemplify separation. The church tends to emphasize communion, but of members or 'believers.' Focusing on the whole and acting from that deeper truth will not require inclusion within any exclusive ideological enclave.

There may be evolving a global church of mind that relies on perennial truths and requires no such membership or inclusion. In fact, various forums on the internet may be a model for such a worldwide inclusive communal dialectic.

I'm no religious historian, but clearly any study of world religions seem to be replete with the strands of Jesus within all the created dogma. Even Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, etc, etc, exposes mythological renditions of Christ that compare equally with the more modern Christian representation of personal salvation (and then, of course, there is Gilgamesh and the whole "ark" thing).

The parallels are staggering and may point to the fact that Jesus NEVER existed except in our own disillusioned collective mind. Somebody needed to transcend the hell that is reality and all religions require that transcendent "being," since any transcendent being must be personified in order to teach unified transcendence.

In our mythological archetypes we teach ourselves how to transcend, since essentially within the universal collective consciousness we have always known the truth, yet fear obstructs our seeking and delays learning. So we cloak the truth in myth in order to hide it from ourselves. Transcendence/salvation can only be known as a past phenomena that allows us to anticipate salvation as a future event. Never NOW, always past and future. Religion encapsulates this fear of the NOW by demanding we study the past as the way to a better future.

Could it be that Jesus is an anthropomorphic myth of the collective conscious which imagines an archetype to teach us the parameters of salvation demanding that such knowledge can only be revealed through sacrifice?