Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Taste Of Freedom

No drives, no compulsions No needs, no attractions Then your affairs Are under control You are a free person.

Chuang Tzu, the Chinese writer and Philosopher, wrote those words over 2,300 years ago. The concept that less is more is now age thought at its finest. Just the idea that we could live freely without feeling the pressure of modern life is a goal worth achieving. Freedom is about unrestricted liberty and personal rights. But, society has tweaked our belief structure. Society, the mass group of individualized consciousness that physically lives to pursue happiness and abundance, has created a distorted image of freedom, and every member senses it in one way or another.

Our freedom is attached to an anchor filled with heavyweight restrictions. Freedom is a right as long as we conform to the rules that society enacts and enforces. Those rules express freedom in a way that enhances separation. In terms of moral behavior and political equality, freedom is a fragile commodity. The true freedom that Chuang Tzu describes has nothing to do with laws and regulations. It has everything to do with self-responsibility.

Chuang Tzu’s words are so foreign to our thinking that they’re hard to understand. He wrote about freedom this way:

Therefore, the truly great man, although he does not injure others, does not credit himself with charity and mercy. He seeks not gain, but does not despise his followers who do. He struggles not for wealth, but does not take credit for letting it alone. He asks help from no man, but takes no credit for his self-reliance; neither does he despise those who seek preferment through friends. He acts differently from the vulgar crowd, but takes no credit for his exceptionality. When others act with the majority he does not despise them as hypocrites. The ranks and emoluments of the world are to him no cause for joy; its punishments and shame no cause for disgrace. He knows that positive and negative cannot be distinguished.

We are educated to push and fight in order to get the freedom we want. Our beliefs tell us that if we let our affairs take care of themselves we would have nothing but chaos and wars. We would sink in the quicksand of bedlam, and the world as we know it would crumble from our complacency. Those beliefs create the freedom we experience.

We are victims of our beliefs. We live in a world of synthetic freedom, and it is fueled by conformity, control, righteousness, and power. Our personal worth and freedom are measured by our ability to believe in that social structure. That social structure is based on partials truths, and If we don’t believe those partial truths we are off balance outcasts that have a distorted and confused sense of reality.

Chuang Tzu put it this way:

Granting that you and I argue. If you beat me, and not I you, are you necessarily right and I wrong? Or if I beat you and not you me, am I necessarily right and you wrong? Or are we both partly right and partly wrong? Or are we both wholly right or wholly wrong? You and I cannot know this, and consequently the world will be in ignorance of the truth.

Who shall I employ as arbiter between us? If I employ some one who takes your view, he will side with you. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I employ some one who takes my view, he will side with me. How can such a one arbitrate between us? And if I employ some one who either differs from or agrees with both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us

Chuang Tzu was one of those outcasts. He didn’t believe in conforming control. He believed in individual freedom based on bliss and self-responsibility. The road to this sort of freedom starts with understanding how our belief structure creates our reality.

Joseph Campbell said:

Follow your bliss and you will discover freedom.

Bliss is a mental state where all positive desires are manifested. Bliss means tasting another quality of our free consciousness, which leaves nothing undone, and does everything freely. We can call those creations effortless effort― compliments of our spontaneous consciousness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sovereign Agent

There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those words at the beginning of his 1841 essay, History. The definition of mind is in the perceiver of mind. The experiences of life are captured on a film we call brain tissue. But the experiences also exist independently of the film because the tissue is unable to capture the fullness of each experience. The same thing happens with thoughts. Our brains give us a physical picture of our thoughts, but the thoughts never appear physically. The brain gives us a reference system so we can conduct corporal events in a sequence, but those same events could be experienced in other ways if we used other types of organizations that exist within mind.

The brain’s function is to translate and organize events. It does not initiate them. The events we experience have an electromagnetic reality, and it is projected on to the brain so that reality can be activated. The only activity of mind we recognize comes from these electromagnetic imprints. We only perceive the imprints not the complete mind. Dreams are also imprinted on the brain, and both halves of the brain are stimulated by them. Some dream imprints seem distorted in retrospect because they occur with a certain type of complexity within the mind that is hard to handle during our waking hours.

Our physical reality is dependent on synchronized sense data, which gives the body signals for physical action. In dreams those senses are not restricted. Past, present, and future events can be experienced in dreams because the body is not required to act on that sense data.

The larger portion of our greater reality is in the mind, and since it is not imprinted on the brain it is considered brain clutter, extrasensory activity, or unnecessary brain interference. The mind is the brain’s nonphysical counterpart, and it decides which data will be imprinted on the brain. The ancient portion of our brain is located in regions where no brain activity registers on modern medical machines. Those regions contain the mind’s memories. We have no conscious memory of that data unless that portion of the brain is stimulated and overrides what we term the normal portions of the brain.

Our beliefs restrict this process so our sovereign agent, as Emerson calls it, waits for us to trigger it. No consciousness is completely manifested in physical matter so we all have the tools to activate portions of the brain that unlock the mysteries of mind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Truth Is For Today

The true is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as the right is only expedient in the way of our behaving. For what meets expediently in all the experiences in sight won’t necessarily meet all farther equally satisfactorily.

William James expressed those words in his 1906 lecture to Lowell Institute in Boston. James reminds us that truth is flexible. What we believe today may not be true tomorrow. Our behavior may be right today, but that same behavior can be unacceptable in the future. We all incorporate our own truths and they expand as we expand. We believe those truths to be absolute within a certain context of time, and they are above question. We base our future beliefs on our past beliefs, and that foundation gives us a sense of comfort in the now. Truths are guidelines that influence our behavior, how we interact, and how we create.

James went on to say:

Ptolemaic astronomy, Euclidean space, Aristotelian logic, scholastic metaphysics were expedient for centuries, but human experience has boiled over those limits and we now call these things only relatively true or true within those borders of experience.

Relatively true are words we all can relate too. Truth is relative to the believer, but it may not be relative to someone who has other influences and associations built into their belief structure. All of our truths and beliefs are in a constant state of expansion. We have a difficult time recognizing the influences within those truths and beliefs as they expand.

One example of expanding truths and beliefs is our political system. The system is based on the will of the people. The will of the people is a discernible good that all can experience. The will of the people has been turned into a truth by us and the system. But as our system expanded, the will of the people turned into a manufactured will of privileged individuals.

Our will is not that will. We didn’t recognize the influences and associations attached to the plethora of expanded truths and beliefs that are incorporated in our current political system. We still vote using our perceptions of the old system, and that is where the separation takes place. Our belief about the will of the people has remained the same, but the system changed. The will of the people is now a manufactured will of the people due to the survival and economic influences and associations that constantly develop within the system.

Joseph Schumpeter in his 1942 book Capitalism Socialism and Democracy reminds us that:

If we are to argue that the will of the people is a political factor entitled to respect, it must first exist. That is to say, it must be something more than an indeterminate bundle of vague impulses loosely playing about given slogans and mistaken impressions.

Everyone would have to know definitely what he wants to stand for. This definite will would have to be implemented by the ability to observe and interpret correctly the facts that are directly accessible to everyone and to sift critically the information about the facts that are not.

Facts are perceivable truths verified by right actions. In our political system we have unverified facts that constantly float about like air molecules. They morph into the will of people by default due to our inability to observe and interpret these new facts in a way that fits into our controlled belief structure. A plethora of these facts gradually become truths that we don’t stand for.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Art Of Being Democratic

The woods would be silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.

John Audubon, the naturalist and painter, had a special relationship with birds. His collection, Birds of America consists of 435 life size prints. Audubon took the collection to Europe in 1826, and it became an instant hit. John understood the importance of diversity. He sensed his connection to bird consciousness, and spoke for them on the world’s stage. He promoted their worth, beauty, and freedom. He gave them humanistic personality and charm, and the world began to recognize the nature of their unique consciousness. Audubon was a political statesman for the bird world, and he never compromised that role.

We elect fellow humans to speak for us on the national political stage, but invariably our voice is swallowed by the chirps of lobbying hawks and doves. We are taught to elect a select group of featherless orators because we believe they are trained in the art of communication. But the paint in that art has been spoiled by a conforming drudgery that drips through our dualistic system. These suited orators’ debate, and then act like they sing the songs of the people. They color themselves in varying shades of partisanship. Our songs quickly turn into babbling rhetoric when these representatives nest with birds of the same feather in Washington.

As we listen to them speak from that nest, we find ourselves scratching our heads, and wondering why we thought their skillfully crafted interpretation of our song would clearly and truthfully include our intentions. Somewhere in the two-party process, our voice gets lost in a vulturine type political atmosphere.

This type of yes I will, but now I can’t, power system has been operating for centuries in societies around the world. Most of ask how can our voice be heard when it is in the smothered in the bird-do of lobbying voices?

Lao-Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, gave us a hint over 2,000 years ago:

The sage manages his affairs without ado, and spreads his teaching without talking. He denies nothing to the teeming things. He rears them, but lays no claim to them. He does his work, but sets no store by it. He accomplishes his task, but does not dwell upon it. And yet it is just because he does not dwell on it nobody can ever take it away from him.

We are expanding our awareness of the self that replaces a combatant mentality with a connected mentality. We are realizing that the term the good of the people is an objective oxymoron. We are beginning to understand that the will of the people is really the will of the powerful covered in a candy coated economic wrapper.

Our elected eagles act like bald and babbling combatants. They appear like saviors that protect the integrity of the system. But, the only thing they end of protecting is their own disconnected thought process. Audubon’s eagles put connection first. His birds use only what they need. They feed the hungry, and respect the nature of all consciousness.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Brain’s Genius

The desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate normal drive analogous to hunger or the sex drive.

Dr. Andrew Weil wrote those words. We all innately agree with him, but some of us reject those thoughts because of our belief structure. Weil is a respected American physician and author. He is best known for establishing the field of integrative medicine. He is Program Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and also founded Weil Lifestyles LLC.

Dr. Weil instigates some interesting thoughts about our desire to medicate our focused consciousness. Our inner consciousness is constantly altering itself by manifesting physical experiences. Our brains are event-forming psycho-mechanisms. The brain’s genius originates in the mind so it can be called a biophysical counterpart of the brain. The brain is never satisfied with one version of an experience so it uses imagination to shape other versions of the same events. The brain forms these other events with help from our inner senses.

As children, we use all our senses in play-dreams. Children’s dreams are much more intense than adult dreams because the brain is practicing event-forming activities. These events are plastic to a child. They are not restricted by linear time. Focusing our senses in time and space is an acquired art.

When we dream as adults, our imagination is still free to play and form events. Imagination helps juggle certain probabilities within different niches of probabilities. We constantly alter our consciousness in dreams in order to take on a variety of physical roles. Our unconscious or subjective environment is our playground as well as our school. It gives us the ability to act out our imagined events objectively once we subjectively fine-tune them in some way. Our imagination allows us to create tools and invent physical things that enhance our experiences. So our imagination is our planning tool for the future, and a play tool in the present. It helps alter consciousness naturally.

Imagination operates outside of our physical senses so it is not tied to practicalities. If it were tied to pragmatic principles there would be no new inventions. Imagination translates information that is available in other areas of the mind.

The desire to expand and alter consciousness is a mind function. Our physical consciousness is constantly changing so experimentation becomes another method of altering our consciousness. These experiments are seeded in our imagination, and some of them can help answer questions about our multiplicity when they are used properly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Unbearable Dissonance

Many Americans today, just as they did 200 years ago, feel burdened, stifled, and sometimes even oppressed by government that has grown too large, too bureaucratic, too wasteful, too unresponsive, too uncaring about people and their problems. I believe we can embark on a new age of reform in this country and an era of national renewal, an era that will reorder the relationship between citizen and government, that will make government again responsive to people, that will revitalize the values of family, work, and neighborhood and that will restore our private and independent social institutions.

Ronald Reagan the accomplished actor and 40th President of the United States expressed those thoughts in one of his speeches. Reagan used his acting talents to the fullest while he was in office. His wit, vitality, and sense of fairness are well-documented, and most political leaders say he made a difference in the way the political game is played today. But, the one thing Reagan didn’t do was put the country on a course of reform that revitalized the values of family, work, and neighborhood. His political era is considered one of the greediest in our history.

There was certainly major economic success in the Reagan years, but the true political social reform that Reagan mentions is nowhere to be found. Our private and social institutions did experience change in those years, but the pace of that change is still not in sync with the ever-changing human psyche. There was more economic separation between the haves and have-nots during the years following the Reagan’s years, and much more separation in our perception in terms of identifying the motives behind our two political parties.

Social reform, as prison administer Mary B. Harris said, is a journey not a destination. Our political and economic systems are not fixed in a certain place or time. They expand as we expand. Our beliefs create that expansion, and our dreams fuel the consciousness units that make social and political changes a reality.

Susan B. Anthony said:

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations... can never effect a reform.

And, Marian B. Edelman, the founder and President of the Children Defense Fund, described our current reality like this:

We are living in a time of unbearable dissonance between promise and performance; between good politics and good policy; between professed and practiced family values; between racial creed and racial deed; between calls for community and rampant individualism and greed; and between our capacity to prevent and alleviate human deprivation and disease and our political and spiritual will to do so.

Our dualistic mentality is obvious in our political beliefs and actions, and our two party lawmakers are a shining example of the ineptness that exists in our dualistic system. Political separation creates social and political catastrophes. A social reformer is a political adjuster that has the ability to blend thoughts and instigate actions that turn democratic debacles into social expansion.

Edelman explains the process this way:

If we think we have ours and don't owe any time or money or effort to help those left behind, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution to the fraying social fabric that threatens all Americans.

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

The challenge is to incorporate a sense of community in our diversity, and be flexible enough to bend in that wind of contrast. Stiffness is not a sign of strength― it is a sign of ignorance.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Infinite Reach of Consciousness

Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s own being and it points the way from bondage to freedom. By making us drink right from the fountain of life, it liberates us from all the yokes under which we finite beings are usually suffering in the world. We can say that Zen liberates all the energies properly and naturally stored in each of us, which are in ordinary circumstances cramped and distorted so that they find no adequate channel for activity.

D.T. Suzuki in his introduction to Essays in Zen Buddhism is explaining something through his belief structure that is inherent in all beliefs structures. If we substitute the word consciousness for Zen, we find that Suzuki is describing our multiplicity using Zen or consciousness as the catalyst. Zen is action without action and consciousness is action within that action. Both are one and both are more than one.

Every action creates another action in each moment, so we are constantly creating a path of choices in order to become aware of our own inner actions. That awareness changes the path and structure of our belief system. What does all of that mean? It means that everything is true to the believer and that those beliefs will continue to mutate as the consciousness of each believer continues to express and experience the essence of being physical. Within that process, beliefs continue to be flexible and expedient to the believer.

Basic beliefs like religion, science, sex, relationships, perception, the senses, duplicity, physical creation, emotion, and truth, create our reality. Beliefs are like a birdcage that holds birds or influences. Those influences can be called sub-beliefs. The birds or influences within the birdcage are expressed as beliefs about marriage, ethics, drug use, politics, laws, taxes etc. When we focus on specific influences, we discover there are other birds hiding behind those birds. Those beliefs also play a part in creating what we experience.

Our human experience is based on a complicated individual belief structure, and Zen is always flying in and out of our perceived cage of beliefs. It is another aspect of the self that accepts all the birds for what they are. It is also a truth that intermingles with the birds. When we sense it, the feathers on our birds change colors, and we touch our essence as well as taste the infinite reach of consciousness.