Category Archives: Insights

Great insights from great thinkers – and the odd little thought from Marcus T Anthony

The Other Singularity is also Near

In this two-part post, I am going to outline why I think there is a dramatic shift in human consciousness coming, and how this will provide great opportunities for those courageous enough to invest time and commitment into this field knowledge. There is a phrase I would like to introduce for this: “The Other Singularity.” This is a term first put forward by Benjamin Butler at the Emerging Future Institute.

I also bill myself as a futurist. I have published and presented around forty papers and book chapters in Futures Studies journals and in several Futures-related books. I have also been a member of the World Futures Studies Federation, and have spoken regularly AT WFSF conferences. So I feel I’m perfectly entitled to call myself a futurist. The domain of Futures Studies in which I work is often called Critical Futures Studies. This branch of Futures is not so much concerned about prediction, but with analysing images of the future, looking to see who controls the power, and in particular asking “What is missing?” from ideas and visions of tomorrow. Futurist Richard Slaughter introduced the term “Postconventional Futures Studies”, to accommodate critical futurists like me who like to think well outside the box; in particular exploring other ways of knowing (OWOK) and the spiritual and mystical dimensions of human experience. Those OWOK include the intuitive and spiritual cognitive processes that conventional science and education has tended to ignore.

Despite the fact that these domains of Futures Studies are not focused on prediction, one of the first questions I typically get asked when I tell people I am a futurist is “So, what is going to happen in the future?” I normally just explain what critical futures studies is, and don’t give a solid answer. After all, predicting the future is considered to be a fool’s game by many.

But sometimes I do like to prognosticate.

You might be aware of the idea of the singularity, put forward by futurist ray Kurzweil. The singularity relates to the precise moment when computers will become smarter than people. After that point, human civlisation will never be the same. Computers will only continue to get smarter, while we flesh and blood humans will stay the same dumb “meat machines,” as Elon Musk describes us.

I’m skeptical of Kurzweil’s idea because I think that he and his followers fail to address vital aspects of consciousness and intelligence. To put this in simple terms, I believe that consciousness contains non-local properties. It is not purely localised in space and time, and very likely cannot be reduced to the functioning of micro-components – neurons. I outline this in more detail in my TEDx Hong Kong talk “Mind, Cosmos and our Brilliant Futures.” The key point here is that if I am right about this, then human beings may be far more “conscious” and far smarter than we generally think. I like to speak of a fully-actualised human mind as having integrated intelligence. This means that the individual has a highly developed intuitive capacity which transcends “rationality” as we typically define it. They are not delimited by the sensory organs, nor time and space as we typically understand them.

In short, merely replicating certain information processes via machines is unlikely to grant those machines anything close to human-like integrated intelligence, let alone consciousness (but in all fairness, Kurzweil does touch on the distinction between “human-like” and machine intelligence. But he does not take the idea of integrated intelligence seriously).

What I and futurists such as Benjamin Butler do believe is that there is another Singularity which is fast approaching. That Other Singularity refers to the precise moment when our science, education and social structures finally accept the reality of the non-local mind.

The Other Singularity, and two predications about consciousness and the future

I typically make five predictions about the futures of mind. I present two of them here on the very slides I used in my TEDx talk. The other three I will describe in my following blog post, one week from today.

This is not exactly a brave prediction, is it? If there is one thing that the history of science and philosophy shows us, it is that knowledge expands from one era to another in ways that can barely be imagined by those in the era preceding such shifts. Being knowledgeable is of little assistance here. In 1900, Lord Kelvin, who was one of the most knowledgeable and highly informed men of his day, famously stated that “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Just five years later Einstein published his seminal paper on relativity theory, and by the late 1920s the quantum field theory was initiated by Paul Dirac, throwing a huge spanner into the works of the mechanical universe. If a highly learned man like Lord Kelvin can be so wrong, it is logical to assume that you and I are also capable of such poor foresight.

By definition, we can’t know what we don’t know we don’t know (that’s not a typo – think about it!). We tend to see knowledge as expanding in a linear fashion. To borrow from Foucault, modernity always sees knowledge as progressing from a primitive past to the inevitable outcome that is the advanced and superior present. In 1900 the known universe was precisely one galaxy big. Now we know of an estimated 100 billion galaxies. And this is not even taking into consideration that dark energy and dark matter may comprise 95 per cent of the universe. Lord Kelvin could only go on what was known then.

What big shift is going to happen next? “Oh, the internet will expand to become incredibly powerful!” many would say. But no, that would not be a paradigm shift in my meaning of the term.  The idea of a super-internet is an extrapolation based on the most obvious recent historical game-breaker. It is an observable trend. On the other hand, paradigm shifts involve sudden changes in the very way we view knowledge itself. The publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and the theory of natural selection is a classic example. The idea of “evolution” is common-place today and used in multiple contexts, but before Darwin’s time the word – and the concept – was rarely used.

I believe that we are in the midst of another paradigm shift at this moment in history. And rather than a single thinker being behind it, the power of the internet is driving it.

This leads me onto my second prediction, which is really the one that is the real game-changer today, and the foundation of the Other Singularity.

Once the extended mind is acknowledged, it will radically shift the way humanity sees itself, including its place in the cosmos. The implications for science, philosophy and society will be enormous. The extended mind is the idea that consciousness extends beyond the confines of the brain and skull, and is in relationship with the environment – including other people, places, times and spiritual dimensions (Integrated intelligence), and describes the way that the conscious application of the extended mind can make us smarter and help solve problems. Most significantly, the expansion of Integrated Intelligence creates an inevitable shift in worldview, because one can no longer operate under the delusion that self and world are totally separate.

Why I believe the Other Singularity will occur

You might ask why I am so confident that the Other Singularity is coming?

The first reason is that the scientific evidence for the extended mind is strong, and it will only get stronger. The field that scientifically investigates concepts related to the extended mind is typically called parapsychology. As just one reference, Dean Radin is perhaps the foremost scientist doing such work. His meta-analysis of ganzfeld experiments – which test whether human beings can sense the contents of another’s mind at a distance – has produced the most impressive results. 0ver 122 experiments conducted in 20 labs and with 4674 sessions have yielded results of 300 trillion quadrillion to one (the latest results were published in Psychological Bulletin in 2010). Radin summarised these experimental procedures and the data gleaned from them in a talk he gave at the Electric Universe conference. The two videos are available on YouTube, and well worth watching for those who wish to familiarise themselves with the research done in this field.

It has to be admitted that the amount of money spent on this kind of research is miniscule, and the volume is insignificant compared to that spent on such fields as medicine and neuroscience. Further, there are various ways the research can be criticised (I will not detail those here, but parapsychologists have done a good job in countering those criticisms to date). Still, there is enough evidence here to make the claim that there is something very important worth investigating here. This is the only “rational” take on the research, in my opinion.

The second reason why I feel that an expanded conception of consciousness is inevitable is that there is just so much anecdotal evidence, with countless tens of thousands of reported cases. People throughout history and across all civilisations have reported experiences which can only be explained by the extended mind hypothesis. These experiences include crisis visions, near death experiences, premonitory visions and dreams, out of body experiences, ESP, remote viewing and so on.  While skeptics complain that “the plural of anecdote is not data”, only the most stubborn materialist could dismiss all these reports without at least some consideration of the possibility that many of these cases are genuine. Many defy any materialist explanation.

My third and final reason for optimism in the coming mind shift is by far the strongest for me. For over twenty years I have been exploring consciousness through meditative and visionary experience and have seen that the extended mind is a perfectly normal domain of human consciousness. After a period of committed scepticism in my early twenties I began meditating at the age of 26. I immediately discovered the world of psychic experience. I could not dismiss the many visions and experiences of connection with other minds and spirits that came to me. Five years later I began a systematic period of exploration of my emotional body, where I managed to dredge up unimaginable pain and hurt from within my psyche. This was not because I am masochist by nature, but because I sought healing of that pain. Although I barely read a book or watched any media, the knowledge that this six year period bought forth for me was profound, and helped me to understand in far greater depth the psychic experiences I’d had in the first phase of my spiritual development. But there then came a third phase of insight where I lessened my focus upon psychic and emotional experience, and began to allow longer periods of simple mindfulness. In bringing the mind into deep, silent presence, I came to understand at even greater depth the knowledge that I had received during the previous two phases of my spiritual development.

If I can summarise what I learned from all this exploration, it is that the human mind is embedded within a vast sea of consciousness, and that the way we experience “self” in modern society is but the surface level of the mind in its entirety. Twenty-first century life and education conditions us into a very constricted experience of consciousness, cutting us off from our essence. My inner journey helped me to see clearly that modern science and education have led us to a dead end. Scientific materialism has hit a wall that it cannot cross – at least not without a great shift in its core processes and in cooperation with those who have explored the human psyche in depth.

Science brought humanity out of mediaeval ignorance, but as currently practiced it is a hindrance to the advancement of human knowledge in the domain of consciousness, and to understanding our place in the cosmos. Humanity has gone as far as it can go in the delusion of separation. As Huston Smith so elegantly put it, the twentieth century was the century of disconnection, the century where humanity lost touch with its spiritual essence. That previous century was the age of the talking head, where our elders and truth-tellers became detached from both the body and the human spirit. It was a century of spiritual trauma. It is time for the healing to begin.

And this is what I will explore in greater detail in part two of this topic. Join me in my next post as I suggest in greater detail what this means for us in our everyday lives, and how the coming mind shift can be a tremendous opportunity for those of us who are willing to pioneer the way forward.

Marcus T Anthony

 

Why You Need to Befriend You Own Shadow

“Love ‘n light.” That’s how a certain spiritual teacher I knew used to sign off on his newsletters, back in the day when people actually had newsletters. I’m pretty sure he was – and is – not the only spiritual dude/girl ending his communications with a flourish of Light. After all, the spiritual journey is all about love and light. Right?

Of course it is. In the end.

But it isn’t always about that. And this is something that many of we spiritually-inclined folks of this world need to understand.

Spirit may well be ultimately about love and light, but the planet you live on contains many a thing that is anything but cute and lovely. In fact, the polar opposite of the Light is also in interplay with us in this dimension.

The Darkness.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it. And that is why so many people simply choose to bury their head in the sand and pretend the darkness doesn’t exist.

So, what do I mean by “darkness”?

Here I am basically referring to two things which are separate but related. Both may be considered unpleasant. Both may be fearful to confront. Yet both ultimately lead us towards the Light.

 

Suffering in the world

We live in a world where suffering is common. Frustration, failure, conflict, sickness and death are inevitable. You will experience all of these things in your life – both in the sense of experiencing your own, and in witnessing them happening to others. If you take the naïve approach and refuse to acknowledge their existence, you are setting yourself up for even more suffering.

Not all people are good. And none of us is all good (or all bad). So you had better learn to get to understand people and how they function. Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

You will inevitably also encounter within yourself feelings, thoughts and behaviours which are difficult to accept or understand. What are you going to do when it is YOU who is the bad guy? Because sometimes you will be.

One of the great weaknesses in the entire idea of “safe spaces” in today’s universities is that it perpetuates the idea that harm and evil are only found outside the group that one identifies with. And they are, it is assumed, only to be found outside oneself. In the other. There is thus little or no shadow work in progressivism today. The inevitable result is a polarisation of self and society, where evil is projected onto a “demonic”, dehumanised other.

All genuine psychological and spiritual work has to begin with an examination of one’s shadow. Ideally, this is done without the baggage of the idea of “sin”, where confession before the Deity is supposed to cleanse one’s spirit of darkness.

Instead a simple and gentle recognition of one’s “darker” impulses is ideal. You can think of this as a relationship between you (the observing mind) and the wounded child. Your own darkness. For behind most darkness lies the hurt and traumas of our past.

 

Dark energy

I now move on to the most uncomfortable part of my post today. It is convenient to think of human evil as merely about bad behavior, about people and groups making mistakes because of their faulty desires, narratives or perhaps their human biology. These aspects of human badness are true enough. But the truth is that it goes to a more fundamental level that that. Right down to the consciousness of the Darkness.

Consciousness contains non-local properties. I came to see this clearly many years ago, when, at the age of 26, my third eye opened spontaneously. It was at this time that I began to perceive things that were not within my immediate spatial and temporal locale. These perceptions came through visionary and auditory perceptions, and also through an enhanced sense of feeling. It was both an exciting confusing time.

First, I had to work out if what I was seeing had any basis in reality, or whether it was merely all my imagination, or even mental illness. Then, once I saw that a great deal of it did correspond with real “events”, I then had to work out how I was going to integrate such information into my everyday life. After all, at that time I lived in 1990’s Australia, a modern western nation where the official philosophical doctrine was scientific materialism.

That was a journey of many years in itself, but even that was not the most difficult part.

By far the most challenging aspect of my Integrated Intelligence was seeing that my mind, and all human minds, are being constantly pushed and pulled by psychic forces which almost nobody has any awareness of. The non-local nature of mind means that many of our desires, fears and unconscious projections get played out in psychic space. In particular, anger and fear (which are intimately connected) produce dark fields of intention which can influence others negatively, or even hurt them greatly.

Later, I was interested to discover that NDE experiencers such as Anita Moorjani (author of Dying to Be Me) saw and experienced the reality of such dark projections while in the near-death state. I had the unpleasant and downright terrifying experience of having to deal with such perceptions on a moment-to-moment basis, in my normal waking and sleeping moments.

I do not have the space here to go into detail about how this tends to play out. And the truth is that even if I did, it would do you (the reader) little good to know about it. It is an incredibly complex and intricate web of consciousness, and even intimate knowledge of its functions does not guarantee one immunity from its effects.

But here’s what I learned in the end. In revealing this I am saving you many years of excruciatingly disciplined self-work (I wouldn’t normally give it away for free, but I need the good karma).

Dark energy moves within our consciousness field upon two waves: shame and ego.

 

The ego, the shame and the Darkness

Shame is the energy of self-diminution and worthlessness that becomes lodged within our pain body, as the result of prior trauma and projections from others. It typically contains messages such as “I am worthless”, I am unlovable,” and “I am dirty.” When an externally projected field of consciousness contains messages which resonate with our internal beliefs, they can become lodged there, for shorter or greater periods of time. In other words, our entire sense of self and well-being may be greatly diminished by the projections of others, until such time as that way passes (sometimes they never pass – in which instance it becomes a case of psychic possession).

The ego becomes involved when we have agendas for power and control over others and/or other situations. Projections from others which resonate with those agendas can become lodged within our psyches, thus elevating our egos and taking us further into power and control modes of behavior. If we are not careful, we can become trapped there. Notably, even though the ego may get what it wants, the “victory” cuts it off from the Light, as the initial ego agenda is always a convoluted attempt to avoid internal pain (or suffering in an imagined painful future).

 

Keep the child close at hand

Over the years I thus found that the best way to avoid both sources of dark consciousness projections is to keep the wounded child close. In other words, to work on my shadow and do my healing work. The desires of ego for power and control dissipate when “the wound” begins to heal; and externally projected shame bounces off us when the inner child no longer holds the corresponding beliefs about its worthlessness.

Therefore, to protect yourself against the darkness, you do not really need to be super-clairvoyant, nor to be able to see the murky world of psychic projections. Let me assure you that the latter is about as exciting as being a sewer diver. Better to work above ground, and get your shit together before it hits the fan. So to speak.

I use that crappy metaphor deliberately. The shame that permeates human psyches and which underpins the projection of dark energy fields is predominantly grounded in sexual shame, as well as in the shame associated with defecation and urination. They are associated with the sense of disgust. The physical site of these bodily processes is very close together at the lower abdominal region. It is also juxtaposed with the base chakra, which is associated with personal power. I don’t know why this is the case, but what it means practically is that the way human beings are (unconsciously) controlled psychically by each other is typically via the projection of shame projected at the base chakra.

In the end, integrating the shadow and the darkness (and embracing the Light) is mostly about being present to both, and having the courage to stay present rather than running. Yet to do that you have to allow a deeper awareness of both your own dark projections, and of the repressed pain that is almost always associated with them. And that is rarely simple or easy work.

Here I have not gone into any detail about how you might work with the inner child, nor with consciousness fields. But check out my book Discover Your Soul Template for some specific processes. You might also be interested in The Mind Reader, which is a fictionalised, dark-but-funny representation of my development as a practitioner of integrated intelligence. The book is based upon real-life experiences.

Finally, remember that whatever shadow work you do is not an end in itself. Being present in the body and finding peace and joy in the present moment should be your focus. Shadow work is only ever to get you to that point.

Marcus T Anthony

How You Can Choose the White Door to Engaged Presence

Imagine you are walking along a road and see a nondescript building with a bright street sign outside saying, “Important Conversations that Can Change Your Life.”

“Hmm,” you think to yourself. “That’s too important to pass by.” So, you walk through the brick archway and enter a short, dimly lit corridor. At the end of the passageway you find yourself facing two closed doors. You have a choice of two rooms to walk into, each containing two very different sets of circumstances.

On the black door to your right, the sign says “Binary Confrontation: Hostile environment where people attack and shame each other. Nothing to learn here.”

The white door on the left says, “Engaged Presence: Exciting exchange of ideas and good-natured dialogue with very interesting people. Everyone learns something.”

You linger for a moment, shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Then you choose the room on the right: confrontation. You twist the doorknob and enter to the sound of yelling and screaming…

Engaged Presence Versus Binary Confrontation
Perhaps you are thinking: “No! I could never be that stupid. I would choose the other door!”

But is that what you actually do in your everyday life, especially in online environments? The truth is that if you look at most online discussion forums, especially ones where there is limited moderation or where people tend to be anonymous, many or most people are choosing the Binary Confrontation door. It’s very likely that you choose the conflict and intolerance option at least some of the time, as do I.

In this article I am going to show you how to find and to choose the white door. But like Neo in The Matrix deciding upon taking the blue or the red pill, you are going to have to want it.

Binary confrontation is founded upon judgment and denunciation of the other. It tends to degenerate into tribalism, as people pick and choose sides. True presence, true empathy becomes impossible. So does logic and reason, because emotionality often usurps data.

The problem with binary confrontations extends beyond chat rooms to the blogosphere and media itself, where commentators and journalists push forward volatile and provocative ideas to stir people up, to get them to click on links and to get them to keep coming back for more.

And we are queuing up to join the fight.

In the real world of flesh and blood people, confrontational binaries appear to be ever-increasing, spilling over from our virtual worlds. We see them in politics, campus protests, public demonstrations, and workplace disputes.

Yet one of the great blessings of life is when we are engaging others in a relaxed state of mind, even if we disagree with them. There is something intrinsically consciousness-expanding about being in open dialogue with others. When we are truly present with others, our minds and hearts seem to become bigger.

Ideas and attitudes can expand consciousness. So can exchanges with others.

Or all these things can contract consciousness.

As a person with a spiritual perspective on life, I have a general rule: move towards that which expands consciousness; move away from that which contracts it. The awareness of the distinction between these two modes of experience requires no college degree or study under a spiritual master. All you have to do is relax and feel what is happening in your body. Is your consciousness expanding. Or is it contracting?

How to Nurture Engaged Presence
There’s a wonderful example of Engaged Presence I stumbled across recently on the internet. The occasion was when Russell Brand interviewed Jordan Peterson on Brand’s podcast.

Now, anybody who knows about even a little about both men would know that there is likely an awful lot that they disagree on. Brand is well entrenched on the left side of politics, and some might even call him a social justice warrior. Peterson on the one hand describes himself a classical liberal (libertarian), and has been openly critical of some ideas on the left, including identity politics and postmodern thought. And yet the dialogue between the two men is possibly the best example of Engaged Presence I have ever come across where the individuals involved have significant differences. I suggest you watch at least some of that podcast, because the conversation embodies precisely what I am going to outline below.

You might like to compare that chat with a conflict-ridden one Russel Brand conducted with Sam Harris just one week prior. Both interviews are long. You can get a good sense of Engaged Presence in the Brand/Peterson chat from minutes 40:00-45:00, and binary confrontation in the Brand/Harris talk at the same point: minutes 40:00-45:00.

What is it that both Brand and Peterson did that permitted Engaged Presence to flourish? The answer is that Brand and Peterson practiced almost all of the following strategies in their ninety minutes together.

 

Helpful Strategies to Promote Engaged Presence

See Your Agenda. The first thing to do when you engage someone is to acknowledge your agenda. Is there some part of your mind that is trying to force a perspective on the other person, or to discredit or slander them? Do you believe yourself to be morally or intellectually superior to the other? Perhaps you are smarter, wiser or more knowledgeable in some ways, but these attitudes may also be delusional. Regardless, they will likely derail open discussion.

We all have agendas. That’s how minds function. In particular, look to see if you have an aggressive agenda. Acknowledge it to yourself. No need to beat yourself up. Just notice it.

Don’t engage while angry: retreat! The most common way to fall into the trap of binary confrontation is to start talking or writing while angry. If you find yourself being angry, step away (if possible). Or practice some mindful breathing until such time as you are able to assume responsibility for your neurophysiological state. Ideally, step back into the space of dialogue only when you are centered and present.

Begin by agreeing. When you enter a space pf dialogue, find some point with which you agree with the other person, and state it. This will help the other person relax. You might say, “I agree that criticism of Person X is warranted…”

Listen first. You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak. This is an old maxim. The Dalai Lama said something along those lines. Make sure you take the time to listen to the person you are communicating with. You just might learn something.

Acknowledge and praise. We all like to be affirmed. Acknowledge or praise the other person. This is precisely the opposite to what many people do on the internet (I have done this more often than I’d like to confess). People often begin by angrily denouncing the other person, calling them stupid deluded or immoral. Needless to say, there is no chance of Engaged Presence thereafter. Trust is lost, and once gone, trust is very difficult to recover.

Acknowledging the other person means you show some interest in the other person. A big mistake is to simply see them as an abstract idea that has to be crushed or eliminated. Judgment, by its nature, seeks to annihilate that which it judges. We all know this intuitively, and it’s why we tend to experience fear and anger when we get judged. Judgment destroys presence, both in the judger and the judged. Remember that.

Avoid Declarative Language. Words and phrases that are less harsh and show a willingness to be flexible are more likely to set the other person at ease.

Avoid phrases like, “It is absolutely clear/certain that…”, “Nobody in their right mind can dispute…”, “This argument has been debunked by…”, “Such a point is silly, ridiculous, deluded, crazy etc.”

Instead use phrases like “There is an argument that…”, “Person X has conducted research that indicate that…”

Invite the other person to consider your point. Here you can use questions and phrases that allow the other person to save face, or perhaps even provide knowledge that they already have in favour of your point. “What do you think of the argument that…?”, “Do you think Person X’s ideas carry much weight…?”, “In what ways do you think Position X idea is better than Position Y.”

Admit what you don’t know. Even if you are really, really smart there is still a lot more you don’t know than you do know. Be honest! Are you certain that global warming is a hoax? Are you sure that it is the result of human activity? How do you know this? I choose climate change as an example, because it is a very complex phenomenon which very few human beings today are highly informed about. While I tend to side with the anthropocentric climate change argument, the truth is that I just don’t have the time or inclination to research the topic at the necessary depth to be anything but (reasonably) open minded. What I do know, however, is that the subject is incredibly important and our simply dismissing it could have dire consequences for all our futures.

Admit your uncertainties. Ask the other person to share their opinion and knowledge on the topic, on the areas that you are ignorant or uncertain of. If you are truly present with them, you will sense soon enough if they have a strong agenda at the level of mind top try to manipulate you.

Always leave a space for not knowing. Invite the other person to speak, even when their position differs from yours. After all. You might be wrong.

Avoid moralizing. This is a difficult one for many progressives and social justice warriors, because their discourses are often founded on the idea that they are morally above the other.

Justice and compassion are the foundations of the liberal/progressive mindset, as academic Jonathan Haidt has shown. These values and attitudes can be wonderful things. However, if they descend into an attitude of condescending moralization, they can lead to their own kind of bigotry. They may destroy presence, empathy and open engagement. Nobody listens to someone they are shaming or scolding. And I suspect folks who are being beaten probably aren’t going to listen to those giving them a good thrashing.

Consider this (and yes, I do concede that I am a rather pasty-faced white male). Many people on the political left have had bad experiences with religion. I have noted that many progressives particularly despise being told by religious folks that they are intrinsically evil – born with original sin. Yet they may be guilty of doing the same to others when engaged in political discussions. The entire idea of “white guilt”, as just one common example, has eerie similarities to the idea of original sin. If you are born with whiteness, you are a bad human. One must be cleansed, one must prove oneself to be pure and moral. The Catch-22 for those (white people) who refuse to admit this is that they must be guilty of the sins of racism and privilege. Otherwise, why would they deny it?

Judgments and moralizations, especially those founded on group identity, kill Engaged Presence dead.

Avoid labels and slandering. Slandering is a special form of labeling. Again, this is a big problem today for social justice warriors. You know the game. The other person is a: racist, sexist, transphobe, bigot, Nazi, fascist and so on. Those on the right side of politics have their own put-downs: libtard, commy, communist, Maoist, bleeding-heart liberal etc.

Again, today’s media plays a part in this cultural development, and often promulgates slander in order to get clicks. Slandering those who disagree with us has become embedded in the culture.

If you label someone you will never see them. You will merely see your label, your narrative. Unfortunately, many terms that were once at least reasonably neutral are now commonly used in the pejorative form. Consider the following: liberal/conservative, left-winger/right-winger, capitalist/socialist. Which of these are typically used as negative terms in the circles you tread? Your answer will reveal which tribe you tend to hang out with.

I see no reason why any of these terms should be intrinsically threatening. But they often are used as insults. For example, “right-winger” is often a synonym for “Nazi” these days. In fact, there are many perfectly decent human beings who identify as right-wing or conservative. It’s really only extremists who are a big problem. It is the same with the term “liberal.” Liberals, by definition, are open and agreeable people. It’s only when you get to the far left that you get entrenched intolerance and the slamming of free speech. Not everybody who identifies as “liberal’” is roaming the streets in black masks setting fire to buildings and smashing up cars, trash cans and people with their baseball bats. No. That would be Antifa, who are an extremist leftist group.

Have fun, but not at another’s expense. In the book and movie The Name of the Rose (spoiler alert!), set in medieval times, the villain seeks to literally poison the texts of The Comedies of Aristotle because “laughter destroys fear.” Anyone who thumbs through the text dies because the pages are literally toxic. The villain believes that the fear of God must be driven into people, or the world will degenerate into Godlessness and sinfulness.

In some ways we see a similar phenomenon today. There are those who wish to quash laughter and light-heartedness. They are very, very, very serious. In their quest to build an idealistic future, to impose fairness and equality across all segments of society, they simply cannot tolerate anybody having a joke, especially about culture or social groups (especially “victim” groups).

I understand why they wish to avoid bigotry, but we have to be careful not to become too serious. Laughter does destroy fear! So, have a laugh. If you cannot laugh at the other (admittedly dangerous these days), laugh at yourself or your group. Self-derogatory humor, in moderation, can be a very healthy thing. It can also set the other person and group at ease.

But be warned, humor can offend. And you already know that offending people today can bring swift consequences.

Into the Shadow
There is one other process that can be permitted in order to facilitate engaged presence. Yet this is only for the hard core. It involves allowing vulnerability by exposing one’s shadow – the dark projections that we would prefer others not see. Maybe, we’d prefer not to see them either.

For example, in a New York Times article a few days ago, David Brooks suggested that liberals and conservatives could meet in “trust and respect” to nut out differences over gun culture. Specifically, he referred to a non-profit organisation called Better Angels. Members of that organization travel from town to town and try to bring liberals and conservatives together. Part of the process involves members of both camps acknowledging their own stereotypical prejudices towards the other camp. Apparently is helps people see the other side as being more real. More human.

Yet such vulnerability can backfire badly, because it grants an opportunity for those with a hostile agenda to attack you. And that is exactly what happened with the Brooks article. It drew fire from savage critics almost immediately, suggesting that Brooks wanted to open up a dialogue with violent thugs and bigots.

Therefore, I would encourage caution when unveiling the shadow in public spheres. A watered-down version is advised, such as merely admitting that you have sometimes irresponsibly criticized the other (group), or have previously done the thing you are now finding fault with in them.

Proceed with caution.

You are imperfect
Finally, none of us is perfect, and you’ll probably break at least some of these rules from time to time when you are engaging others. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about that. You might even like to apologize to the other person or group. That was one of Dale Carnegie’s great maxims. Always be the first to apologize.

Again, there is a caveat. When the other person has a destructive agenda, apologizing may be seen as a weakness and as an opportunity to attack you. You have to be careful, both with the media and in online environments.

What does one do, then, when one encounters an extremely aggressive individual or group who simply will not relax into open dialogue? Perhaps they are chronically confrontational, and perhaps annihilating your ideas and your integrity is part of their agenda.
The answer is this. Where possible, walk away. If there is no need to engage such people, don’t. There are literally hundreds or even thousands of other people you can meet and engage productively with over the next year or so. These are encounters that can expand your mind and theirs. Why waste time with haters?

No guarantees
Of course, there is no guarantee that Engaged Presence will produce a positive response. Just a few weeks before his interview with Russel Brand, Jordan Peterson was interviewed by Cathy Newman on Britain’s Channel 4. Peterson was very relaxed and engaged in that interview, while Newman was relentless in trying to derail him via repeated judgments and strawman paraphrasing. She tried to discredit him, to paint him as a sexist and bigot.

Under such circumstances there is not much one can do, but to stay present, and to not fall into the trap of becoming scared, angry and hostile. This is no mean feat, especially if there are millions of people looking on while the other person or group is trying to flush your name down the gurgler.

Sometimes, the other person will have such a powerful intention to confront you or even deceive you that Engaged Presence is not possible. Yet even one person being in presence can be a powerful catalyst learning for those looking on. Peterson won widespread support for his informed, calm and good-natured responses to Cathy Newman in that interview.

When you enter a debate or space where ideas are being contested, you may be the only person there who is consciously attempting to create a truly open dialogue. But the good news is that Engaged Presence tends to make people relax. When you are open and receptive to others it often facilitates the same attitudes and behaviors in the person you are talking to.

Remember the two Russell Brand interviews mentioned above, and the differing consciousness they engendered? Both videos have drawn hundreds of thousands of clicks to date. Jordan Peterson’s approach facilitated Engaged Presence, bringing out the best in Russell Brand. Both men appeared to learn a lot. You can see from the comments under the video that the audience appreciated that, with there being 35 times as many likes as dislikes. There is little or no communal bickering. Sam Harris’ approach, conversely, helped create a binary confrontation. Harris’ style brought out the worst in his adversary (who admittedly did the same). The two men squabbled. The comments section features many fans of Harris and Brand going for each other’s throats. It drew one-third dislikes to likes.

Remember, the expression of consciousness you exhibit (for better and worse) can influence others, even when they do not realize it.

The Price You Pay
There is, of course, a price to pay for choosing the white door. You will need to permit a greater degree of detachment from your thoughts and opinions, and from knowledge in general. You will need to tolerate a greater degree of ambiguity and uncertainty.

This takes practice. Detached thinking does not come naturally to we human beings. We like certainty and closure. We tend to become as attached to our ideas and thoughts as we do to physical things, friends and family. We also like belonging to a group with whom we share a common belief structure. We are tribal by nature.

The benefit of Engaged Presence is not just that it promotes a more peaceful and open dialogue. You will also grow and develop as a human being. You will learn so much more over the next few weeks, months and years than you ever could have if you’d been less open and welcoming of other people and ideas. Better still, you will likely be part of the healing of the cultural divide.

So why not give it a go? Open that white door.

Jordan Peterson and the New Masculinity

For some time I have considered writing about men’s issues in the modern world. I have not done so simply because I do not want to be drawn into the culture wars, and especially the gender wars. But something has now changed, and I believe that we can all begin to move forward in a positive way. A new wave of mature masculinity  beckons, and it is a very, very good thing.

My inspiration for entering the discourse is the arrival of Canadian professor and intellectual Jordan B Peterson into the public sphere. In this post I am going to explain why I think Peterson’s ideas and his success are so important. Secondly, I am going to outline what I believe to be a conscious and mature approach to men’s issues. Much of what I will say is equally applicable to women and feminism, as I shall point out.

I am going to use the word “empowerment” to describe this way of being. Jordan Peterson does not like the term, and I can understand why. It suggests having or wielding power over others. The truth is that any such “power” is transient, and I do not think it is wise to base our sense of self upon that which may rise and fall like night and day.

Thus, when I use the term “empowerment” it is more about an internal state, a wise and loving relationship we have with our minds and bodies. This can shift the way we move in the world and relate to others, including the opposite sex.

Years ago I worked with some very wonderful female spiritual teachers who were well aware that our dominant narrative on male-female power is simplistic. I have been deeply influenced by one of my greatest teachers, Jessica, a very powerful and wise woman with a mind so sharp and intuitive it could cut through you like a razor. A gifted intuitive, at times she could be terrifying, such was the accuracy of her perceptions. Jessica said that it was men, not women, who were being dominated and controlled within modern relationships, and also across certain aspects of society in general. I worked with Jessica and other dedicated healers who had a deep commitment to spiritual well-being. Healing personal issues with the opposite sex was a big part of what we did. As a result of what I saw there, I came to the conclusion that men have taken on so much guilt and shame that many are now simply unable to stand within their own power. They have become child-men. In the two decades since, I have not changed my mind.

This is remarkably similar to the conclusion that Jordan Peterson has come to today, in his role as a clinical psychologist, and now as something of a celebrity.

It is beyond dispute that women currently control much of the public discourse on gender relations, and men who offer dissent from the dominant narrative face severe repercussions, both personally and professionally. That Jordan Peterson has successfully managed to rebel against this power structure and come through the battle relatively unscathed shows that the climate has now shifted. We are at the point where open discussion of related issues is now at least possible. This is something that men (and women) should be grateful to Peterson for. A social fabric and public discourse which is founded upon the open shaming of masculinity is good for nobody – not for men, not for women, and not for LGTB people.

Jordan Peterson
In case you are not aware of who he is, Jordan Peterson has risen from the backrooms of Youtube to become a social media phenomenon, almost overnight. A recent interview of him on British TV, Channel 4, (conducted by Cathy Newman) for example, has generated over five million views within a few days. In the interview we see a relaxed and vibrantly intelligent man, but also one with a ready smile and compassion for his interviewer, despite the fact that she tries to detail him at every opportunity. I encourage you to watch this interview. I believe it represents a seminal moment in the evolution of the culture wars.

When Peterson first emerged on YouTube perhaps three years ago, he was a rather more severe-looking and nervous individual. Undoubtedly, the ad hominem attacks he received (and still regularly receives) as a result his criticisms of Bill C-16 were partly responsible for his awkwardness. That bill enshrined the “misuse” of gender pronouns into the Canadian legal system. Peterson could easily have become a casualty of the political correctness monster and had his academic career ruined.

But Peterson has survived, and indeed thrived. The attacks continue. He is regularly grossly misrepresented by mainstream media and the political left as “alt-right”, a white nationalist or simply a conservative. None of these is true. For example, after the previously mentioned Cathy Newman interview, the host station quickly released an article linking Peterson indirectly to alleged death threats that the interviewer had received. This appeared to be little more than an attempt to to deflect attention away from the fact that Peterson had come across as perfectly reasonable and indeed charming in the interview, and had intelligently addressed every point that the interviewer brought forward. Her inability to formulate adequate responses made her seem less than competent.

The Plight of Young Men
Approximately eighty percent of Peterson’s audience is male, and the Canadian psychologist is deeply concerned about the well-being of men, and especially young men. He regularly tells stories of lost younger males who write to him or approach him after his public talks, to thank him for helping them get their lives together. The passion that he has for them is clearly seen in this video, where he openly weeps when relating such interactions.

I agree with Peterson at we have to begin to address men’s issues. The problem is reaching crisis point.

Activism and the Shadow
Jordan Peterson does not let men off easily, however, and I believe that his ideas about masculinity can help herald a new era of a more responsible, empowered and ultimately loving masculinity. In this sense, there is a potential for the new wave of masculinity to be more genuinely empowered and enlightened than third-wave feminism. The latter, like virtually all social justice discourses, has become so focused on blame and projection at a perceived “evil other,” that it has all but abandoned introspection. There is a dark rage and highly destructive drive in modern feminism which should be being addressed by its leaders. Instead, the feminist movement tends to ostracise those female and male feminists and critics who display any dissent towards its often misandrist doctrines. It has lost its way. It is no longer about equality, but about power and control. It has joined the long list of hegemonic ideologies in human history, more concerned for the perpetuation of its own narratives than for truth or the greater good of society. This is admittedly a harsh judgment, but it is my honest perception of what it has descended into.

The new wave of masculinity must avoid such mistakes if it is to offer any genuine resolution to the current impasse between the sexes, and between the political divides. This is why Peterson offers hope. He is willing to be combative, is willing to stand his ground, but is also willing to assume responsibility for the shadow (the darker, suppressed impulses within the mind that we would prefer not see the light of day). He appears to be aware of how a failure to address the shadow can prevent integration of the trauma and self-limiting beliefs within a person’s psyche, and in doing so become downright destructive. When entire movements, groups and nations abandon introspection, they can quickly become delusional and destructive.

Cultivating a Love of Women
Shadow work is the missing link in today’s social justice movements, and I will include much of the men’s movemnt in this. It is for this reason that these movements inevitably descend into destructive delusion, adopting a victim consciousness, including addiction to blame and projection. The new wave of masculinity will have to include a greater degree of courage and commitment to truth than that displayed in the social justice movements we have witnessed in recent years. It will require a willingness to permit criticism and dissent. It must inculcate a high degree of emotional and social intelligence within men, such that the movement is able to offer dissent and criticism in ways that are respectful and mindful of those with differing perspectives.

It must not make the mistake of seeing women as the enemy. Instead it should have at its heart the goal of cultivating deep love for women; and for relationships between men and women. It must avoid the culture of blaming and shaming that delimited the greater good that feminism could have brought to the world. In making men the enemy, feminism has effectively stultified the healing of the collective male-female wound. It has developed a consciousness not of love, but of shaming and destruction.

Of course, all is not lost for feminism, nor for other social justice narratives. But there needs to be a greater degree of introspection and honesty if they are to move forward.

Peterson has a huge fan base. Judging by the comments sections under his YouTube videos, many of these people appear to be responsible and well-meaning. The trolls and haters are there, but they do not dominate the boards that I have surfed. Peterson himself seems to be bringing out the best in his audience, granting a voice to a segment of society that we have lost compassion for. That the online forums are relatively civilised is an encouraging sign, as the same cannot be said for all activists in the associated men’s rights groups.

For this reason, I hope that Jordan Peterson can begin to address the issue of healing relationships between the male and female collectives. To date, as far as I am aware, he has not said too much on how to develop genuine love for women, both in individual relationships, and in general. Hopefully in time he can begin to do so and cultivate this attitude in the mostly young men in his core audience.

A New Masculinity
As Peterson has stated, the new masculity will not entail the negative traits that today’s education systems and media typically attribute to men. Peterson’s healthy expression of masculinity is not about domination and control, colonisation, suppression and rape. These impulses, he states, must be acknowledged and incorporated within the psyche, such that the man develops the right relationship with them. Instead men can exhibit the noble qualities that truly healthy masculinity is capable of: high levels of personal responsibility, love and compassion, courage, doing soul-affirming work, sharing the wisdom of the father.

I am in complete agreement with this. I believe the new masculinity can be more restive, more embodied, more present. It will be deeply responsible. It will allow a healthy expression, not suppression, of sexuality. It will honour the fundamental impulses of men, but in a positive way. We must begin by encouraging men to believe in themselves, to create positive visions of their futures where they can embody the hero archetype, finding deep purpose and meaningful work. For meaningful work is a big part of what makes life worth living for men.

If this is done the right way, I believe we can create a generation of men who will exhibit a confidence and “charisma” that will be far more attractive, in every sense of the word, than the enfeebled, guilt-driven, virtue-signalling male that is often found today, an end result of generations of the shaming of men.

In order to do this, we need to begin to trust men again. And to trust them, we (especially women) have to allow a certain space for vulnerability. We will have to allow our psychological walls to come down, at least some of the time. All spiritually healthy relationships are founded on firm boundaries, but they must also allow those boundaries to soften, when friendship, love and intimacy beckon.

What this will look like in any given man will depend upon the characteristics of the individual. I see Jordan Peterson as a fine embodiment of such a creature. Like all of us, he is imperfect. But his exceptional courage, intelligence and wisdom mean that he has continued to grow as a man even into his fifties. Both men and women can now be the beneficiaries of this. Peterson is the right man at the right moment in history. His massive popularity is just reward for the courage and tenacity he has displayed in championing men in an age where it has become an effective taboo to say anything good about them.

Empowered, deeply embodied men and women are not a threat to each other. When Cassie Jay came to Australia in 2017 to promote her documentary The Red Pill (about men’s rights groups) she was savagely attacked by the media, feminists and even men. The savaging was merciless. This destructive mentality is what we all have to rise above to move forward. We need to start listening to each other, being present with each other. Learning how to love again.

Now is the right time to begin. Let there be (genuine) empowerment for men. And women.

Finding Gratitude & Abundance in a Disgruntled World

Recently I have been thinking about gratitude, and how important it is to experience abundance, prosperity and happiness in this life. I realise that most of you reading this will understand this already. And I realise that many of you will tend to forget that same understanding from time to time. Maybe even most of the time,

One of the reasons why it is so difficult to live this simple understanding is that we live in societies that focus upon lack, and which exacerbate the state of desire. Such is the nature of capitalism . Every day we are bombarded with reminders that we do not have enough. Are not enough. Every time you walk down the street, turn on the TV or computer or read a newspaper of magazine, we are told there is something we should have to make us feel more complete.

There is also an unfortunate side-effect to the dominant ideology of postmodern thought which saturates our media, universities and education systems. These philosophies instill in us the belief that we are deeply oppressed, that someone or some system is stealing our light. And if you are one who is fortunate enough to have been born into privilege via your skin colour, gender or other innate qualities, you should live in a state of guilt, hourly “checking your priviledge.” Conspiracy theories have a similar effect. Someone out there is cheating us, stealing our lives.

Though the postmodern perspective has a legitimate starting point, and it is sometimes true that governments and institutions can conspire against our greater good, these philosophies have now morphed into a pathological form which is greatly distorting our sense of life today.

The greatest problem is that they instil a narrative which places the mind in a state of perpetual discontent, finding the source of its misery in other people, or in innate qualities which cannot be changed.

I believe it is a mistake to begin with a narrative which teaches lack, fostering constant blame and shame for that lack. In doing this we have conditioned large segments of society into a state of angry discontent. This is despite the fact that most of us live lives which are far longer, more prosperous and safer than almost any in human history.

I believe it would be better to begin by teaching gratitude and compassion. One of the best ways to do this is to teach people how to be present to the truth of life in this moment. It is from this point that compassion and generosity arise spontaneously, and then that compassionate state can reinforce the societal and institutional legal structures which promote justice and equality.

Let me conclude by sharing a quote. The following is from Tony Robbin’s book Money: Master the Game. This is a book about abundance, in its fullest meaning. The following words are worth reflecting upon.

I interviewed Sir John Templeton for the first time when I was 33 years old. Remember, he was the multibillionaire who started with nothing and made all of his money when everyone else was afraid, during the worst times in history: WWII, Japan after the war, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s when massive inflation hit parts of South America. When others were fearful, he went out and invested. I asked him, “What’s the secret to wealth?” And he said, “Tony, you know it, and you know it well. You teach it to everyone. It’s gratitude.” When you’re grateful, there is no fear; when you’re grateful, there is no anger. Sir John was one of the happiest and most fulfilled human beings I have ever known. Even though he passed in 2008, all these years later his life continues to inspire others. If you want to be rich, start rich.

What can you be grateful for today? Who can you be grateful for today? Could you even be grateful for some of the problems and the pain that you’ve been through in your life? What if you took on the new belief that everything in life happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you? What if you believed in your heart of hearts that life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you? That every step along the way is helping strengthen you so that you can become more, enjoy more, and give more. If you’ll start from that place, money won’t be the source of your pleasure or your pain. Making money will just be a fun journey of mastery, and wealth a great vehicle to achieve what matters most in life.

 

 

The Two Paths You Can Go By

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.”
Led Zeplin, Stairway to Heaven.

We live in troubling times. Daily, we twenty-first century hominoids are bombarded with disturbing news about the increasing number of perils that await us as individuals, and as a species. This is a volatile world, and we just have to live with fear and rage, knowing how it may all come to a screeching end at any moment. You want a disaster? Take your pick. North Korea is about to explode, and the kid-empower will take the rest of us with him. There are not only colluding Russians out to desecrate our precious democracy, but there are also them damn Nazis hiding under the bed. Indeed, the brown shirts are around any and every corner.

But even if Adolf’s latter-day descendants don’t dare show themselves, there are storms of unprecedented magnitude bearing down on us, threatening to blow away our houses and our existence. Then, if the gods disappointingly steer the typhoons elsewhere, we can still pop into the cinema where Al Gore will reassure us that the climactic end is nigh. And you betta stash some of that popcorn and coke, because it’s probably too late to do anything. Be careful on the way home from the movie, too, because we live in a rape culture (say some feminists) where a quarter of female university students are sexually violated before their leacherous professors let them graduate.

Finally, if all that doesn’t finish you off, you can just turn on the news and see for ourselves that Donald Trump, the man leading the free world, is Hitler incarnate. Such is the level of pure evil emanating from his black veins. This horror, the horror! And this is the tangerine tyrant with his finger on the atomic button! Oh, and he’s really, really stupid!

In such a world why would anybody even bother to get out of bed?
Let me confide in you that I wouldn’t get out of bed either if I believed this story. But I just don’t. I reckon it’s often bullshit, the nonsense of click-bait journalists and bloggers desperate to get the hits necessary to generate a bit of attention or income.
And those foolish enough to click on such stuff mostly do so because the narrative is what they have come to believe. It’s what they want to hear. “Ain’t it awful! I told you so!”

Look, I know the doomsday story is really popular. It’s a ratings winner. And it gets all the awards at Golden Globes time, where some crusty celebrity (who has taken the precious time to leave her gated community to condemn leaders who build walls) will shed a tear for what has become of the world, and to rage against the monsters who lead it.

Meanwhile, what didn’t make the papers is the story about the old guy who walked down the street whistling, a skip in his step, smiling at babies and the pretty girls he knows fully well he shouldn’t be smiling at (because, as all decent human beings living in this rape culture know, only perverts do such things). No, that old bastard was enjoying himself far too much to make the news. Or perhaps he was just happy that he’s lived so long, given that less than two centuries ago the average lifespan globally was just 28 years of age, with one in three children dying before the age of five.

Consider these strange facts, mentioned by Stephen Pinker in his new book Enlightenment Now. Surveys show that people often think that their country’s economy will get worse in the next year, but they are relatively optimistic about their personal financial future. They tend to believe that crime rates are deteriorating across the nation, but not near their home. And they believe that the environment is going to hell – but you guessed it, not around here.
Why is that? Could it be that the world of experience (our real world) is nowhere near as bad as the narrative that we are sold in the media and in many of our education systems?

Intentional Optimism
So… there is that other story – or those other ten thousand stories. They are the tales that I prefer to listen to. They are stories driven by intentional optimism. And by life itself. Not by the spin of media and social media and their enraged audience.

Intentional optimism is the decision to be fully present in the real world of experience. And the decision to stay there.

The price to pay is a small one. Tune out of the electronic news media and social media and learn how to be present to life.

But make no mistake, this other narrative is not a story of delusion (relatively speaking, as compared to the doomsday narrative that we have all come to know and love). It doesn’t deny evidence or data regarding global warming, rape or political extremism (realizing that problems should be addressed, not obsessed). But neither does it get sucked into the collective projections of the masses, preferring grounded experience. Instead it makes a commitment to withdraw from the fear-driven narratives and their doomsday noosphere and to make lived presence and intentional optimism the basis of life, whereupon an entirely new world unfurls before us as if by cosmic grace. The painful pasts and fearful futures that obsess the minds of the many suddenly disappear, seen as the illusions that they typically are. Abstract narratives are replaced by the fullness of life.

And what is it exactly that becomes real? It is whatever arises in the moment. It is the mother and her baby that you stop to smile at as you walk home. It is the song you choose to sing, regardless of who cares to listen. It is the tang of the orange upon your taste buds as you bite the fruit.

And in such moments these things are often joyful. And enough.
We all know that life is not always “happy.” We all experience a full range of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shame and so on. Intentional optimism doesn’t reject those. It simply addresses their root cause and permits them their natural expression (perhaps crying if you are sad). If action is needed, such as acknowledging that loneliness is creating sadness, then one commits to such action (for example, developing more warm relationships). If addressed in such a way, all such feelings pass in time.

The best thing is that this other story that we can choose comes with a very different attitude, and typically a different experience of life. You don’t live in fear of expected doom. You don’t blame anyone or anything for what is missing. You are just thankful to be here, now. There is little need for affirmation, visualization, or imploring prayer to the deity. Instead there are words that form spontaneously: “Thank you. I love you.” Such words have more power to transform the world than any social justice narrative one can possibly imagine.

Thus, there is a generosity of spirit that seeks sharing of experience.
Will the world be here tomorrow? Will you and I be here tomorrow? To be honest, I just don’t know. But one day soon, and in but the blink of the cosmic eye, the sun will rise and both you and I will not be here. That is an absolute certainty.

”But Marcus!” I hear you say. “My world is going to hell and you just don’t care!” And you would be (mostly) right. Unless you are my wife, someone I’m directly involved with or some twerp knocking on my door trying to sell me some contraption I don’t need, your hell is none of my business. I can’t save you from your misery, and even if I could, I’m too busy having a good time of it to give it much thought.
So, am I against social activism? Against seriously tackling political and ideological extremism? No. Not at all. If we are to consider this from a spiritual perspective (and I realize most people won’t) an essential aspect of engaging such problems is the consciousness that underpins that activism. Social activism can be like the “liberalism” that often drives it. The latter is a nice idea, but not actually commonly practiced – not even by liberals. As far as I can tell, a great number of social activists in 2017 are too busy being morally superior and beating up enemies to truly demonstrate the justice and compassion that their souls (and all our souls) call them to actualize.

Human societies need people to develop good ideas and sound policies to create preferred futures. That includes having to deal with the darker side of human nature and of human propensity. World and local leaders do have to deal with psychopaths, extremists and despots (often in the mirror, it must be said), including those within our societies. My main point here is that working at the essential foundation of problems – their expression of consciousness – can help all of us make more intelligent and wise decisions. It can enhance insight, where upon we can pull out of the psychic dramas that we are so prone to engage in if we do not bring things to full awareness. If we fail to assume responsibility for our fear-based projections, we may fail to tackle perhaps the most essential aspect of the problems we experience. We may end up creating conflict and suffering – a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

What I am saying is that the most logical attitude to take in this mad world, under most circumstances, is this. Stop judging and condemning everyone as stupid and immoral. Instead, give thanks, dance and celebrate this moment of existence that the cosmos has very generously granted you.

Yes. Let us give thanks. Let us forgive those damn Trump supporters and those stupid libtards. But most of all, let’s love everyone and anyone who is so generous as to cross our paths and smile, who cares to talk to us or just be present with us for a moment in time. For this moment in time is all any of us have.

Who knows, maybe in a day or two I’ll be singing a song, dancing in the park with some old Chinese ladies here in Zhuhai (South China) or helping myself to a nice big piece of chocolate cake… and I will look up to the sky and see a large missile with a beaming image of our Dear Leaders Kim Jong Un or The Donald on the tail. There will be just enough to think “What the hell was that all about?” before every molecule in my body is incinerated. Maybe the Nazis really will ride into town upon their murderous tanks. Or perhaps the damn Commies will ride in upon black horses, with a bare-chested Vladimir Putin leading the way.

And that will be it.

But at least I’ll know that I stood by what was of the greatest importance for this spiritual journey as an individual, and for this human species. I will know that I refused to live in fear, anger and blame. Not even for a good cause. I will know I took the time to share a little joy and laughter with just a few other souls. All without charging a cent.

And it will be enough.

Healing the Human Species

What is be done about this existential traumatic rage which sits at the heart of our human collective psyche at this time in our consciousness evolution? The solution is both extremely simple and extraordinarily difficult. What is required is for each of us to relax within the field of this consciousness, and allow a healthy expression of what exists within us. This can be as simple as taking up a discipline of meditative presence, and allowing all emotional contents of the psyche to rise, and to express them without judgment. Just let any judgment, blame, fear, rage, sadness, shame, guilt and belief to surface. The key is to observe it without believing in it. For if we beleive in the story that the trauma projects, both will persist.

There are several reasons why this simple process is also extremely problematic. The first is that the human mind tends to  resist the expression of pain. In a sense, the function of mind is to protect us from pain and suffering, so that we may live here in the world. Over time we tend to build walls to shut out the pain, and to make sure that it does not enter conscious awareness. This is perfectly understandable. All of us sit on at least some repressed pain and suffering. Many, many hundreds of millions of possess deep trauma.

For the latter folk, it may be no simple matter to allow that trauma to find expression. The process requires a great degree of understanding and skill. Most people walking the planet at this time do not possess those capacities. For those who wish to engage in such depth work, it is most likely that they will have to seek out a teacher to assist them.

It takes deep intention and courage. A lot. I have required teachers on my own journey. I could not have done it alone. Our teachers must be wise, committed and skillful. For much can go wrong doing this kind of soul work.

Many simply have little genuine intention to heal. It is much easier to project anger and shame out onto the world than to assume responsibility for it. The psychological immaturity seen in the often hysterical reaction to the rise of Donald Trump is a good case in point. Would any of those ranting and raving about Trump, including feasting on daily fixes of media and social media drama, willingly give that up and instead assume responsibility for that emotional “energy”? In most cases, the answer is no. The addiction to projection through the tribe is simply too great. And it is a great way to avoid acknowledging one’s own pain.

There is a second practical matter which is holding back the human race from healing. It is the simple fact that most of our cultures and ideologies do not understand the problem. Most cultures operate within control dramas, social and cultural procedures which are designed to maintain balance, and maintain power amongst certain groups and institutions. Again, part of the motivation behind our cultural structures is the fear of feeling this deep collective trauma. The fear and mistrust of others, of life itself, tends to create societies and institutions that seek to mandate against the expression of traumatic inner worlds, or at least the unpredictable and volatile behaviours that are associated with them.

Almost all cultures do this at some level. Religions do it. You won’t see too many Christians, Muslims or Hindus allowing deep vulnerability. Buddhists may try to meditate it away. New agers may insist upon “love ‘n light” at the expense of shadow work. Just manifest it away.

The greatest mistake in modern scientific culture is its fundamental misunderstanding of consciousness. Consciousness is not a mere expression of neuronal activity, confined within skulls. It is a pervasive, non-local “field” which transcends the physical boundaries of time and space as we commonly understand them. Our science is making almost no headway on this problem because of “scientific” culture, and the hegemonies within our institutions of learning, work, politics and finance. We have developed a conscousness-denying civilisation which spans increasing portions of the globe. It is no longer confined to the west. I have spent much of my adult life in Asia. Most East Asian countries are now heavily invested in scientific materialism. There are, of course, shadow cultures which defy scientific materialism, and they can be found in every country.

A science which misunderstands consciousness to the degree that ours does is ultimately a science perpetuating a delusion. It is making great progress cutting through the jungle… not realising it is in wrong forest (to use a Stephen Covey analogy). We have lost sight of the big picture. We have alienated ourselves from the cosmos which has spawned us. At a practical level, our scientific and education systems fail to create space for the inner work of connecting with the psyche, because they reject the very existence of that realm of mind.

Thus most of us live within societies and work and learn within institutions which deny the essential nature of consciousness. Therefore it is up to us as individuals to find the ways to work upon ourselves, including the God rage. Still, we don’t have to do it alone. We can find others to travel with. Yet in the end most of us will live and die in cultures that deny our fundamental nature. That is something we must come to understand, without giving our power away to such systems. We must learn to live with this fact. We must also learn to live and love in a world that rejects us. For if we in turn reject the world… we are back into the rage. The rage against humanity, the universe and God.  And the trauma will persist.

Then beyond all this inner work there are better institutions to build, better scientific and spiritual cultures to construct, and a better world to create. But all these must be founded in a deeper awareness of the consciousness structures which will underpin them.

Marcus

Discover Your Soul Template

Master of the Mind, Champion of the Soul

Life coaching with Marcus T Anthony

 

Death to God!

In my last post I wrote about the disparity between the abundant lives most of us live in developed economies in the twenty-first century, and the anger and blame that sits within many of us. That attitude of rage is seen most often on social media. We may find ourselves surprised at how angry we become when reading or watching things online. Where does that anger come from? I argued that modern cultures, including liberal ideals and the human potential movement, have unconsciously created cultures of pessimism and judgmental condemnation. And I argued that this anger is, for the most part, unnecessary.

At the end of that article I promised to follow up with a post about anger at an even deeper level: the rage at God, the universe and all existence.

The essence of this deep rage is the rejection of the world and its people, the universe and all of existence. It is nihilistic. It seeks extinction of sentience. In other words, it is suicidal. Freud’s death wish holds true for many of us as individuals, and for the human collective.

At its deepest level this rage seeks to destroy God itself. We look around and see darkness painted thick upon the fabric of the cosmos: war, rape, suicide, and suffering in its multiple forms. No matter how much we are granted by kind fate, no matter how great we come to be, it is all taken away… by the hand of God.

Even as we struggle to live and thrive in the world, we may carry within us the polarity of the desire for self-preservation, and self-destruction.

You might say I don’t believe in God, so this doesn’t apply to me and the increasing masses of people in the world who no longer believe in God (or, at least, not in religious versions of God). But you would be wrong. As Carl Jung pointed out a long time ago, God is not just a belief. It is an archetype which sits at the heart of the human psyche. It is a motif which it central to the way we process reality, albeit often at a subtle level. This is why even atheists will curse God when something goes wrong, or thank God when an unexpected joy comes into their lives.

Nietzsche was wrong. The atheists are wrong. God is not dead. We just want that to be so, and we want the bastard to go out with a bang.

 

How science gets it wrong

Current mainstream dominant psychology and neuroscience is reductionist. It has all but rejected the concepts of the mind and consciousness, and along with them most ideas which are psychological and “psychic” in nature. The ideas of depth psychologists like Jung and Freud are rarely discussed. They have been thrown into the dust bin of history.

In modern cognitive science the mind is nothing but the expression of neuro-physiology. Within such a mechanical model, mental constructs can either be ignored or discussed merely as peripheral phenomena.

But as I have pointed out numerous times in my writings, the reductionist model of mind is faulted. I base this understanding on experience gleaned from several decades exploring consciousness at a first-person level. Conversely, many of today’s experts in the fields of psychology and even consciousness theory have spent little or no time opening these inner door-ways. This lack of experience  and understanding has greatly contributed to the misunderstandings that underpin mainstream mechanistic models of mind today.

Eventually the idea of consciousness will have to return to the fore in our models of mind, and with that we will have to reintroduce the mental world. Some of the ideas of traditional psychology will return, albeit with a more nuanced and scientifically literate integration with neuro-science. We will, for example, realise that although Freud’s essentially pneumatic model of mind was deeply faulted, it nonetheless contains many accurate understandings of the human psyche. Much of Jung’s work will have to be acknowledged, also. Archetypes do reside within the human psyche. They do form collective artefacts which influence human consciousness and behavior.

 

The turning away

A crucial aspect of our God rage is that many human beings, probably about a third of us, don’t want to be here (exact quantification is unnecessary). They reject the life that they have been given, the world and the cosmos. And they reject humanity. If my figure is right, we have over two billion people sharing psychic space who want to blow the place up. It is a highly volatile collective mental space.

Discovering the God rage within my own psyche was frightening. I unearthed it during inner child work, where I would relax deeply and allow myself to feel whatever emerged within my own mind. What I found was that what underpinned many of the “dramas” I had with other people and the world a was very, very, very deep anger. And fear. There was a terrifying sense of helpless despair within me. I just wanted everything to end, including myself. This came as some surprise, because I was not consciously aware of any suicidal tendencies within myself.

But there it was. And there it may still be. Despite doing much healing work, I have learned not to impose self-concepts on such things. It is better to relax and allow such energies to express themselves, if that is what the moment calls for. Having gone into such dark spaces, and having given that wound loving attention without judgment or desire to eliminate it, I now do not need to be afraid of it. That inner work has granted me courage to face whatever arises from the psyche.

 

The source of the God rage

The God rage is a mental remnant of both our personal biographies and of collective human history – and the history of all life on this planet. The God rage is primordial. Our psychic evolution through past eons and also through the relatively recent history of human civilization has been bloody and violent. It has been traumatic.

Trauma typically does not dissipate once the physical expression has passed. A child that has been abused by its parents typically retains that pain and suffering at some level, even if the kid grows up, matures, and hopefully manages to build a successful life and relationships. Further, if the individual does not process that trauma it will tend to be deposited onto the consciousness fields of their children, perhaps even before the offspring are born. When the traumatised person dies, his or her consciousness field typically does not dissipate either. It lingers. And along with that the psychic field remains.

A similar principle operates with human collective consciousness fields. Our history books may often substitute undesirable histories for the delusion of flattering narratives, but the consciousness constructs will tend to remain. Every war, genocide, invasion and colonisation remains extant at some level. Those narratives then tend to be reactivated in later generations.

We can tell big lies, but we cannot hide from big truths forever. We can employ misnomers like “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” “The Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” or “the settlement of Australia,” but you can’t lie to the universe. It knows.

We know, deep within ourselves.

Thus it is that at a mental level we hold the consciousness structures of the ancestors, and ultimately of the entire human race.

How this expresses itself varies from individual to individual. Our minds are like hierarchies of concepts and stories, each nestled into greater pools of consciousness which extend beyond the body and into space and timelessness.

This is why the destructive rage at God, the world and its people affects the way we live our lives even into the scientific era. Because our collective pain and anger is so great, we have to invest psychological energy into suppressing it. We have to generate strategies to deny our trauma, our anger. Most typically this generates depression. When anger, sadness sand fear are suppressed they become heavy weights which drag us down. We carry baggage – a lot more baggage that we would like to admit.

The God rage is one of the primary motifs which we humans must negotiate in our psycho-spiritual evolution. Until the problem is fully owned and integrated by us both as individuals and as a species, the God rage will continue to create chaos and suffering. And destruction.

After all this is stated, the question then becomes: what is to be done about the God rage? How can we heal this pain? That will be the subject of my next post.

Marcus

Discover Your Soul Template

Master of the Mind, Champion of the Soul

A More Attractive Law of Attraction

Life coaching with Marcus T Anthony

Why Are You So Angry?

Social media is a good barometer of what lies within the collective human psyche. On the comments sections of blogs, news sites and web sites of all descriptions, the human population freely deposits the contents of their minds. Because many of these comments are anonymous, or delivered to people they don’t know and will never meet, people are more likely to be open about the thoughts that are actually running through their minds.

What then, is the most common mental state exhibited in the cyber world of today? The answer is straightforward. It is anger and blame.

People are angry at the government. They are angry at organisations. They are angry at those who disagree with them. And they are just plain pissed at the world.

This intrigues me, because the truth is that most of these angry people have never had it so good. For the most part, their lives are comfortable and free of physical threats. They are prosperous.

A century ago our ancestors had to walk to the local shop to get milk or ride a bicycle. The poor souls. Many unfortunate men died face down in the muck at the Battle of the Somme, screaming for their mothers as they sucked their last breath. And a century before that we had no penicillin and no antibiotics. Many people never made it much past forty. Most of the world’s population were peasants.

So what is it that people are so enraged about on social media today? Well, just looking through a few posts on my Facebook wall today, someone is angry people merely “tolerate” her kind. She wants real respect! Another is angry at Facebook because they apparently track people’s data. Then we have the usual rage at the stupid white man, Donald Trump. I don’t even remember the reason.

And then there is the person who is enraged because other people are enraged about a politically incorrect statement made by a left-leaning late-night talk show host who is normally enraged only at politically correct targets. But he slipped up this time. So the social justice warriors are now out to lynch him. Nobody is safe, it seems, from the anger of the masses.

Oh, the indignity of it all!

Step back for a moment and look at this clown show. Most of the teeth gnashing and projection of rage and shame is completely out of proportion with the issues that are being projected against.

More crucially, all this rage has made us forget how incredibly prosperous most of us actually are. We have lost the capacity for gratitude. In large part this is because media has become focused upon the darkness, and education has become focused on oppresssion and injustice. In the former case the intention is quite deliberate (to get you to click), while in the latter case the well-meaning leftist ideologies on human liberation have morphed into a hyper-critical obsession with oppression and injustice.

What you focus upon expands. It is a law of perception.

There is another reason why we should be grateful. We live in an age where we have masses of spare time, and where the amount of information and wisdom regarding psychological and spiritual well-being is at staggering levels. There is a veritable smorgasboard of professional and self-help wisdom available for anyone cognizant enough to turn on a smart phone or a computer. This humble blog is just one example.

Ultimately it comes down to this. There is one reason above all others why people are so angry today. They want more. They live in a society where gratitude has been forgotten, and where they are constantly reminded that they do not have enough. Are not enough.

The belief that you are not enough is psychological and spiritual suicde. The foundation of peace and presence is knowing that you are already enough. Already a magnificent being. And that you don’t have to become anything more. You don’t have to achieve anything. Your don’t even have to heal. Even as a wounded being, you are still an expression of universal perfection.

No, I am not saying you should not seek healing for your pain, nor that you should net seek to achieve, to create things that bring you or others joy and happiness. I am just saying that you are already enough. And nobody can actually take that perfection away from you. Not the government, not the conservatives, not the liberals. Not even Donald Trump.

You don’t need to be angry anymore. Not about these things. Sure, there are things and people that are justified causes of anger. But this post is not about those people and things.

Ironically, the human potential movement has inadvertently exacerbated the general sense of lack, the pervasive misery that defines much of life for so many of the people of today. Even as that same movement has granted people an expanded sense of possibility, it has instilled a sense of entitlement in many. Many people begin with a subtle belief that the world owes them a living, that just by being here they are entitled to things. But that is not how the world works.

We see this most notably in the university students protesting that professors are not granting them safe spaces, while believing that any given obstacle they encounter, any given failure, is the result of the actions of an oppressive other (usually another race, gender, sexual orientation, social construct or ideology). This may lead to a delusional mindset which lacks reflection and personal accountability. It is fundamentally infantile.

You better figure that one out, and quickly.

The actions required to shift towards gratitude and away from a scarcity mentality are simple. Give thanks for what you have on a daily basis. Remove your focus from the locales which support a culture of blame, shame and lack. Be present to the world and to others. Gratitude and love are spontaneous states of consciousness which emerge from presence. You don’t even have to try.

Of course, many of us will choose to keep being angry at things that are fleeting and illusory. And that, too, is our right. But what is the price that we will pay? The cost is our connection to this perfect moment in time. To our peace. To the love and gratitude that is our essential nature.

At an even deeper level, many of us have a deep-seated rage at God and the world, a destructive anger which leads us to reject the world, its people and our very lives. This is true even for many who do not consciously believe in God. That will be the subject of my next post.

Marcus

Discover Your Soul Template

Master of the Mind, Champion of the Soul

A More Attractive Law of Attraction

The Price of Being Right

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My belief is that there is often something more important than taking sides in a debate or argument.

How is my attitude towards the subject affecting my consciousness? Does my position cause an expansion of consciousness, or a contraction? This is not an intellectual question. It requires an intuitively-felt answer, and you will know that answer immediately. My suggestion is that if your relationship to the subject causes a contraction, just let it go.

Whether you are right or wrong makes no difference at all to what I am talking about. You can be right, morally justified and vindicated – and in diminishment.

Most situations resolve themselves without us needing to impose our opinions on them, and upon others. Yes, even the big things. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, nor in believing it to be right. But if your attachment to that position comes at the expense of your own spirit, is it really worth the price?

Marcus