Category Archives: News/Media

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.

Your Life, Your Power and Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules”

Pursue what is meaningful, not merely what is immediately expedient. Stand up straight and face the world with courage and confidence. Get your own life in order before you go out and try to save the world. Treat yourself like a person whom you are responsible for. Tell the truth.

These incredibly obvious pieces of advice are some of the aphorisms found in one of the biggest selling books of the moment: Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. The success of the book and the “academic rock star” status it’s author has achieved recently suggest just how far we have gone off track in teaching the young about life, when such aphorisms come as revelations to many.

Still, 12 Rules for Life is a very good book, and one that many people could benefit from reading. Peterson, who has a vast network of followers on YouTube, is predominately attracting a younger male audience, and I suspect that the book will appeal mostly to them. I see his influence as being a positive development in the evolution of masculinity, as I argued in a recent blog post. Even I, as an older male, found much of value in the book. And women of any age could easily benefit from it as well.

One theme that runs through the book is that we need to teach responsibility to children by setting appropriate boundaries. We need to let them play and explore the world, to make their own mistakes.

Now, given that so many of we adults have matured with deficient parenting, we must teach ourselves such practical wisdom.

Contained within many of the author’s points are fascinating anecdotes and specific, practical applications. Peterson tells stories gleaned from his own life experience, as well as from his experience as a clinical psychologist. There is a lot of history to draw from. The tales keep the text alive, much as with his online videos.

Jordan Peterson’s background as a psychologist influences his teachings. He draws upon biology and evolutionary theory to help explicate many of his points. He famously compares human neurophysiology to that of the lobster, while making the point that we exist in hierarchies that are at least partly explicable as evolutionary patterns. His advice is then to “stand up straight”, following the example of the body language of dominant lobsters. But Peterson is no biological determinist, as his online videos show. He’s simply acknowledging that we humans are not merely ghosts in biological machines, whereby free will and culture determine all behaviour.

 

Biblical allusions
Jordan Peterson draws from many religious and spiritual traditions to clarify and expand his insights, but most frequently from Christianity. One aspect of the book which I found challenging to navigate is the frequent biblical narratives. Using a Jungian approach (Joseph Campbell, if you prefer), some chapters in the book ramble a little, and could be made shorter. The connectivity between some points also sometimes seems unclear. Yet that could have been because I read quickly.

Having said this, the biblical allusions Peterson uses have reopened my mind to the Christian tradition. In mainstream, non-ecclesiastical circles, Christianity is often looked upon negatively. On the political left, it is typically criticised and distained, often at levels which would be termed bigoted if such scorn was directed at any other religion. Perhaps a more balanced perspective is required, lest we jettison entirely a formative wisdom tradition which has helped define us.

Peterson is presumably a Christian, just not a fundamentalist one. He has made the valid point that much of the thinking and values which underpin western thought and legal structures are Christian. Many of the stories in The Bible, including the idea of God, are thus archetypal. They are deeply imbedded within our psyches, even if we do not identity as Christian. Still, it may take some degree of self-discipline for some to wade through the religious mythology.

Commandant Peterson?
Jordan Peterson has engendered hostile reactions which border on hysterical in some cases – and that is not an exaggeration. As just one recent example, a Wilfred Laurier University diversity commitee tried to sanction Lyndsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant, for showing part of a television news clip which featured Peterson. Showing the clip as part of a class debate violated the school’s policy on gendered and sexual violence, she was told. One member of that committee compared Peterson to Hitler, even as he scolded Shepherd.

Peterson’s criticism of bill C-61 was seen by some as an attack on LGBT people in general, but a more reasonable assessment is that it was a criticism of compelled speech and a warning about the encroachment of far-left ideology into the legal system of Canada. The publicity his resistance to the bill garnered, launched Peterson into the public limelight.

In my opinion, a fair assessment of 12 Rules to Life and Peterson’s teachings should negate any fear of an impending Nazi apocalypse. The book is not heavily political, making only brief diversions into politics and ideology. Online, Peterson is very clear in his criticisms of liberal progressivism, and its recent authoritarian predilections. Some see this as vindication of the alt-right, which again is an overreaction. I suspect his work is more likely to pull young men away from the alt-right than to take them there, given that he is openly critical of the far right and authoritarianism in all its forms. My sense is that such critics have typically invested much time, professional training or emotional energy into the various ideologies and philosophical expressions associated with progressivism, and are unwilling to bring critical reflection upon those ideas. This is understandable, because at the level of mind, we naturally feel fear (and respond angrily) when our view of reality is threatened. Peterson represents a threat to many on the far left, because he is willing to stand up and speak his mind. Peterson walks his talk.

The truth is that there are now significant problems with progressivism and the far-left in general, and only long-standing, severe political correctness and its threats of personal and professional sanction for dissenters have thus far prevented these issues from being properly identified and corrected. The time is now right for dissent, and Peterson is an appropriate character to lead the way.

One reason why I feel he can be relied upon to responsibly mediate the current cultural divide is that Peterson is an advocate of introspection and shadow work – looking within the psyche to honestly acknowledge what lies within, no matter how dark. His book lays this ideal down clearly. We are all capable of descending into that darkness, and we must be vigilant to avoid the fate. Such honest introspection is precisely what is missing from progressivism today, largely because it has established an attitude of moral superiority over all opposing voices. This is one reason why it has betrayed many of its founding principles, and become intolerant and often authoritarian. It has divided society.

Guru Peterson
Western society has set far too many men adrift, chronically shaming males and defining masculinity via its pathological expression. 12 Rules for Life may help many men to find confidence and direction amidst this extreme turn to the left. And for that we should greatly thank him.

Of course, given the huge amount of publicity Peterson’s media appearances have generated, there are potential downsides to all this.

Peterson is now very much a father figure to many, as well as spiritual mentor. The shift is occurring in the context of a society which has severely shamed masculinity and devalued fatherhood. Acknowledging all this is a healthy development if expressed responsibly. Yet it seems to me that many of his followers are projecting far too much responsibility onto Peterson for their lives. I call this “giving away your power.” It is a common issue in spiritual circles. Indeed, I would say that it is almost a universal phase of personal and spiritual development. I am no exception, and gave my own power away to one or two spiritual and psychological guides as a younger man. Still, it is to be hoped that those who do this will quickly pass through the phase, and assume greater responsibility for their lives. After all, taking responsibility is a central theme in Peterson’s teachings.

The huge and almost fanatical following that Person has now gathered will naturally produce backlash from those jealous of his success, or who find his teaching incompatible with their own ideals. In turn, online clashes are emerging. I’m not sure what can be done about this, expect for individuals to simply refuse to engage unhealthy online projections. Hateful or violent expressions by some of his fans have already been used to create a case against Peterson. Yet it is hard to blame Peterson for this. Should we blame Obama or Noam Chomsky for the Antifa campus and street violence we have seen in recent times, simply because they cite these figures’ ideals?

Severe Peterson
Peterson is heavily influenced by Nietzsche, and at times his worldview expresses a rather pessimistic bent. Life is suffering, says Peterson, and we must acknowledge that suffering. Life will sooner or later introduce us to pain, suffering and death. Resilience is thus required. The philosophy does make for grim reading at times. Yet he is right, at least in a sense. We all die, and all things pass. We should not waste time in idle pursuits, nor victim consciousness.

Peterson’s is thus almost an anti-new age philosophy. The new age tends to deny death, while naively maintaining that that we can control the world via our thoughts and beliefs. Peterson, on the other hand, believes that death is central to life’s meaning. He implores us to focus our intent, to focus on meaningful work and self-work, and to help make the world a better place. For that is the best way that we can move forward and develop lives of power and purpose. He does not promise utopia. He merely suggests that personal responsibility, meaning and purpose should form a central part of the life journey, regardless of the outcome.

And who can argue with that?

12 Rules for Life is imperfect, but I highly recommend it. It contains much wisdom and thought-provoking philosophy. It is not a book you will forget soon.

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.

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

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Life coaching with Marcus T Anthony

How to REALLY Unite Europe

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Most of you who read this are committed to some kind of psychological or spiritual process which you believe enhances your life. You probably like to think the world is also a better place for your doing this self-reflective work. Given this, let’s take this fantastic opportunity to expand our minds, hearts and souls. You might not share my idea of fields of consciousness. If so, just think “cultural mindset” or meme. It doesn’t really matter.

You know that there is a great opportunity for expanded wisdom and consciousness whenever your buttons get pushed. And these past few days there have been buttons pushed so hard they are melting. My social media pages have been doused in outrage after the result of the Brexit referendum.

Most of my friends are liberals. I adhere neither to modern liberalism, nor to conservatism, but I am attracted to the spirit of liberalism (You will find out what I mean by that as you read on). Despite my attraction to liberalism, it is obvious to me that much of what passes for liberalism in the modern world is actually conservatism dressed up as the former. There is an inherent degree of intolerance and bigotry which is commonly being expressed. Many liberals are inflexible, and deeply attached to ideals that they will not allow themselves to examine critically. If we really want to embody the spirit of liberalism, we need to admit that this is happening, and avoid being pulled into the wake of this ship of foolish people.

What is the spirit of liberalism? All ideals have an inherent consciousness field. In the case of the liberal ideal that mindset is typified by love, acceptance, compassion, equality, generosity and peace. It is no coincidence that these are also associated with the higher stages of consciousness evolution. Of awakening – or enlightenment, if you prefer.

Although conservatism is not intrinsically “bad,” it tends to be correlated with consciousness structures which resonate at a lower level. Moderate forms of conservatism can be quite “enlightened.” Yet far-right conservatism is associated with the very lowest expressions of consciousness: fear, intolerance, greed, projection of rage and shame.

No doubt your buttons are already being pushed – if not detonated – if you are a conservative, while liberals are nodding in agreement. Yet the truth is that liberalism has increasingly fallen to the far-left in recent times, and has also become infused with lower expressions of consciousness: fear, intolerance and irresponsible projection of shame and rage. It has become destructive.

The outrage that is being expressed after the Brexit vote is a wonderful opportunity for us to acknowledge this problem, and correct it if we so desire.

My Facebook page contains numerous examples I could put forward. One FB friend posted a map of Great Britain, highlighted in red and blue according to whether specific regions were “leave” or “stay” areas. He wrote: “Now at least we know where all the bigots, racists and fascists live. Let’s share this so that everyone will know.” Not surprisingly, some people who live in those places responded angrily to his update. So what motivated this post? What is the energy structure, the agenda that sits behind it? The answer is that it is the projection of shame; and shame is perhaps the lowest expression of consciousness.

The following poster has also been widely circulated on social media. Take a look at it.

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Again, the essential expression is the projection of shame. It also recreates many of the problems that liberalism is supposed to stand against. It stereotypes the other, asking us to rage against a monolithic evil other who have to be eliminated. The actual point being made is naively simplistic, since it is unclear how many British people are critical of immigrants. Given that nearly half the voters elected to “stay”, it seems likely that well over half the population does not hold the said view. Further, nobody living in Britain today did any colonising. Those people are long dead. Many Brits did not even have ancestors in Britain during the colonial age. Huge numbers are from families that immigrated to Britain in the past century or so, including from ex-colonies.

Most notably, neither of the cases above systematically addresses any of the issues associated with the Brexit debate. They are not analytical nor considered. They are irresponsible projections, dragging all concerned down towards base expressions of consciousness.

 

The debates

So there are important things to be considered in this referendum. I have said that the expression of consciousness is important. Is the system also important? Yes, of course. But the level of consciousness that people bring to it is more important. For example, it is difficult to imagine a peaceful and integrated society emerging in the society we saw in industrial revolution England. Workers, women, and children were disenfranchised and exploited. Many men were terribly exploited too. The elderly were often put into labour camps if they had nowhere to live, where they usually soon died from exhaustion and depression. This was not a society where higher states of consciousness can easily flourish.

So which would be better for mind-soul expansion in Britain: leave the EU, or stay? I will just mention a few considerations here.

The answer may not be as simple as some liberals think, because big government can be hegemonic, striping people and cultures of their individual expressions. There is an argument that big business and the multi-nationals are benefiting most from the EU project, while the lower classes are being left off the map. It is these lower classes who tended to vote against it. In England, their lives were being increasingly controlled by a far-distant entity in Brussels, whom they had little connection with, or understanding of. In fact, there is strong evidence that this is the way the entire world is being structured. Wealth is being channeled into the hands of fewer and fewer people.

The liberal ideal is what lies behind the idea of the EU. A united Europe can potentially move consciousness beyond the dangers of nationalism and racism, and away from the tribalism seen during the World Wars. In its ideal expression, there is long-lasting peace and prosperity, with people free to travel across borders and mingle with whomever they desire. Trade barriers can be a thing of the past.

Yet there is the concern that a monolithic, centralised European government is a contradiction to the plural society.

There is an important consideration in all of this. Technologies and the internet are rendering centralised government less important. City-states may eventually replace nations as the most important economic and political entities. National boundaries are more fluid, regardless of what government we sit under. Kevin Kelly points this out in his excellent new book, The Inevitable. In the rage against the Brexit vote, maybe we are missing the big picture. Decentralisation of big government does not necessarily lead to fascism, racism, war. In fact the exact opposite may occur.

It all depends upon the expression of consciousness which we bring to the system. Whether there is an EU or not is not the most important thing. Both scenarios can have positive or dystopian expressions.

What consciousness will you bring to the subject?

 

Shaming the other

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Shame can control people, but it can never heal. Shame is one of the most base levels of human consciousness, associated with worthlessness, guilt and self-loathing. It seeks to diminish or annihilate the other. The archetypal embodiment of shame is to be on one’s hands and knees, grovelling. This is the energy structure which you are attempting to pose on the other when you shame them.

There is another problem. Even if the shame is successful in controlling the other, that control will not last. The movement of consciousness evolution is towards gradually higher levels of expression. Thus if you shame someone and they assume the grovelling position, one day they will inevitably rise up through anger – and you had better watch your back.

Anger is of a higher energy than shame. Anger is actually empowering for those stuck in shame and guilt. Gandhi, MLK and Mandela employed anger responsibly (usually). But these men all embodied higher expressions of consciousness. Unfortunately, anger employed at a lower level of consciousness can be destructive. It wants to hit out, to beat, to kill, to destroy. If you shame most people, you don’t get Gandhian peaceful non-resistance (Satyagraha). You get a punch in the face. You get “F.ck you!” This is the inevitable response from many of the British who voted leave. And it is why shaming them is merely pouring petrol on to the fire. Shaming them is a stupid, destructive and infantile response.

Would any of the three great men above have responded to the Brexit vote in the way many outraged people have in the past few days? What would they have done?

 

The victim game

As I wrote above, the modern liberal tradition is founded upon noble sentiments. Compassion, inclusion, integration, equality. These are all noble ideals. They represent higher levels of consciousness. However, there can be problems with the way we seek to implement these ideals.

It is not possible to be truly compassionate at certain lower levels of awareness and consciousness. This is particularly so when we are coming from the victim state.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to human consciousness evolution and awakening at this time is the victim mindset. The mental position can take very clear forms, such as when people lament “”Poor me!” “The world is so cruel!” “Look what they did to me!”

And liberalism as it exists today is trapping many in the victim state.

The victim consciousness field is of a low vibration. It lacks the willingness to introspect or assume responsibility for its mental or life experiences. Blame represents its essential relationship with the world, and with the other. Self-pity and the projection of rage and hatred are its natural expressions. It is apathetic, unwilling to move.

There is a payoff for all this, of course. One gets to reside in a self-made story with “me” as the star. The star victim, that is. It’s an easy ride. One does not have to do much. In fact, doing something may be undesirable, as this could shift the narrative, bringing the individual into unknown territories. Fear, uncertainty and the possibility of failure then emerge. So many simply choose to remain in victim.

The victim game always comes with an agenda, and that agenda is usually to shame and establish moral superiority (status) over the other.

A related problem is that identity politics tends to impose victim and persecutor narratives upon entire groups. The intention is a good one – to get the society to take note of past and present oppressions, such that the dark story does not repeat itself. Ideally, the oppression ends and the victim and oppressor can then be equals.

The problem is that some groups identify very strongly with the victim identity they are assigned. They may develop a deep collective apathy, blaming others for their situation, refusing to take responsibility for their situation. Outsiders may see this, but identity politics prevents the truth from being spoken. In fact the truth is often punished. To point out that an oppressed group has developed a regressive consciousness structure is to invite immediate criticism, even ostracism. So the victim narrative often goes unchallenged. Meanwhile the “persecutor” group begins to feel aggrieved. They are blamed and shamed for the situation. They become angry, resentful. Aspects of victim consciousness may then break out in that second group. “”We are the real victims here!”

The agenda of the victim is to retain victim status while shaming the other so that all remain trapped in the narrative, at lower levels of consciousness expression. This is not smart.

What we are seeing in Europe is following this narrative (and also with the rise of Donald Trump). Many lower class white people have not prospered under the current system. They not only do not get the goodies, they are told they are bad people. Middle class whites may engage in virtue signalling, shaming their own people (in reality the disgruntled, silenced lower classes).

Morality is the preferred weapon of choice for modern liberalism. These people are good, those people are bad. What he is doing is right, what she is doing is wrong. Again, there is a noble motivation in this, but individuals given status within the system tend to take this position and assume moral superiority over others. The result? You guessed it? Shame and blame. “You are a racist, bigot, fascist!” So we are back to square one as the system stagnates at lower expressions of consciousness. Healing and resolution are impossible.

No doubt many of you reading this are already steaming at the ears. No matter which group you belong to, you probably either see yourself as being right, or being the victim. The real victim, that is.

 

A possible solution

What can be done about all this? Should we scrap the whole system and just say “”Everyman for himself?” “Everywoman for herself?”

The only genuine way to address what is happening while elevating our consciousness is for us to introspect, and to examine the shadow. The shadow is our unexpressed and often unacknowledged darkness: rage, shame, guilt and so on.

Once the shadow is seen, then what? The answer is that we gently and loving develop a relationship with it. If we judge the shadow (shame it) it will not heal, and it will tend to run amok. This is why shaming entire groups is counter-productive. It locks all into a base level of consciousness.

When we integrate the shadow our consciousness expands. The light we bring to the darkness is healing. That light attracts more light, more prosperity. It is its own reward.

Given that the existence of the shadow is not well understood in today’s world, and that the work required can be frightening and demanding, it is not likely that your school or organisation is going to be embracing these ideas anytime soon. We will have to do the work ourselves.

Now, you might protest. “What about me and my people! We are oppressed! We were raped, murdered, humiliated! F.ck you and your privilege!” Well, that is an acceptable choice on a universal level. God is not going to punish you. Your tormented consciousness field will be its own punishment.

I am not telling anybody what to do. That is not how it works at this level. People can be invited, but they must not be coerced to do this kind of work.

You can work in groups. Many (including me) have done this, and it can be very tough work: highly vulnerable, naked, frightening; yet uplifting stuff. When I worked with my group we had a very deeply introspective process. We learned to channel each other’s shadows: the hidden parts within. Can you imagine being totally vulnerable and transparent before other men and women, unable to hide anything from them? It was often terrifying.

In fact such nakedness is how we are before God, and also before higher spiritual entities. They can see right through us. There are no privacy laws with spirit!

Alternatively, you might simply prefer to work with a single teacher. This may be suitable for those who find the group exposure too much.

Ultimately you will be able to do it yourself, at will. The work is actually quite simple. Just allow all that is within you to express itself. Give it a voice. Let it rant and rave and bawl. Lovingly witness it all without judgment. Don’t believe a word of what the shadow says, just feel its pain. The emotionality is the only thing that is real here. Then return to presence.

 

We are all liberals, all conservatives

The truth is that in a certain sense all of us are both liberals and conservatives.

We are conservatives in that we want our mental narratives to remain unchallenged. Our biological hardware has evolved to detect threat and danger at a physical level. However, over the last few thousand years we human beings developed an extensive and abstract mental world. Now that same survival-inclined biological function is employed in the mental realm. We are on the alert for mental threats, those who might annihilate our opinions, beliefs and ideals. There is an innate tendency to strike out against them. So it makes no difference whether you support the EU or are against it. Your mental hardware will tend to defend against – and attack – those who disagree with your ideas.

Yet in the end we are all liberals, too. Love, compassion, forgiveness, and peace are natural expressions of our higher states of being. This is true even if you wear a tattoo of Putin, Trump or Tony Abbott. All people seek love and acceptance, and ultimately peace.

So it is true that the ideals of liberalism represent higher psycho-spiritual states than that of the cognitive functions that tend to underpin conservatism. But as I have shown, another truth is that modern liberalism can easily become self-deceptive, wrapping darkness up to look like it is the light. And what we might consider to be conservative ideals (at least some of them) can also be held by those with expanded consciousness. For example, being entrepreneurial and money-oriented is neither intrinsically good nor bad. The healthy expression of the conservative mindset is typified by willpower, individualism courage, determination, generosity and future-vision. Its negative expression is what gets the bad press: segregation, xenophobia, selfishness, materialism, disdain for and violence against the other.

You see, the mental world is somewhat limited. We like to see things in black and white. The EU is good. The EU is bad. Those who oppose it are bad conservatives. They are fascists and racists. Those who support it are naïve liberals. And so on.

Any ideal can be infused with the energy of “fascism”. And modern liberalism is not immune from this consciousness structure.

If we consider ourselves to be genuinely committed to higher expressions of consciousness, we have to begin to loosen attachments to ideals, and instead learn to read the energy of people and situations. Words can deceive. Therefore the acknowledgement of the consciousness expression contained within an individual, group or idea should be the first consideration. Only then should we determine whether the speaker’s ideas and actions are aligned with those ideals. If we do not do this, if we espouse liberal ideals while our minds are infused with rage and blame, we are spiritual frauds. Spiritual fraudulence is common. We all do it. This is because of the nature of mind.

To minimise the power of mental projections over us, we can apply the following means.

  1. Acknowledge that your feelings are the primary evidence of your consciousness state. Your thoughts and words are secondary, so learn not to identify with them. If you are speaking words of love and tolerance while all you want to do is strangle the other person, the truth is that in that moment you are out of alignment and frauding. Take a little time to centre yourself, or better still, just pull out of the situation if you can.
  1. Do not engage other people’s projections, or at least minimise your exposure to them. If you repeatedly stare into the mental projections of others, you will become lost there. Never forget this. At a practical level, stay away from emotional projectors on social media, or in the real world. Whether they are conservative or liberal, or agree or disagree with you is irrelevant.
  1. Make presence your default state of being. Learn to connect with your body and breath so that you can return to presence at will. Then you will be able to pull out of dramas and projection exchanges immediately, when you choose. This is where your true power lies.

 

How to be a conscious liberal

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The reason I have become increasingly critical of modern liberalism is because it is often about projection of the shadow. It often creates hierarchies which permit shame and blame to be projected at some groups, while forbidding the same to be done to others. In other words, it is now recreating many of the problems it has sought to alleviate.

The principles of liberal tradition are noble, and represent higher stages of consciousness. But they cannot be forced upon people. They emerge naturally when one embraces the shadow and assumes responsibility for one’s emotional life. This is the key to the true unification of Europe, and of the human species. Not the policing of borders and the outlawing of thoughts and opinions, but in the natural flowering of connection that deep presence permits. The border might be open and the foreigners may be pouring through, but if we cannot be present with them and see beyond our mental frameworks and narratives, we can never truly receive them.

How does this work in practice? Presence is the key. When you are present and in a state of deep connection with the body and the place where you find yourself in the moment, you are automatically free of the narrative of your mind and your past. This includes the past of your people. But are you willing to let that go? There may be deep attachments to such identities – as well as the narratives you personally adhere to and impose upon others. If it is a victim narrative, you might ask, “Why should the other people just get away with it without paying?” (You have just identified a revenge drama). If you identify as part of a persecutor group you might say, “It’s our fault. We can’t just walk away from this!” (Self-flagellation founded on guilt).

Now that I have said all this, the reality is that it is important for our societies to acknowledge the unresolved energy structures within them. There is something somewhat similar to the idea of collective karma which seeks resolution. There are bio-fields embedded within societal dramas; deep pools of emotional energy that remain locked into the collective shadow of peoples, cultures and countries.

What is to be done about this? The answer is that it is the same as what needs to be done with the healing of your personal emotional body. You feel and witness the shadow without judgment, loving it, allowing it to be what it is. When we release judgment, blame and guilt, we transcend the karma. Given that these emotions and attitudes tend to arise within the mind periodically, there may be a need to observe them more than once. They may not simply go away. You just have to be responsible, much in the same way a parent has to look after a troublesome child.

Then there will be socially responsible actions that need to be taken by governments and citizens to ensure the wrongs of the past are acknowledged and addressed.

Unfortunately, unless you are a black, transgender, sexually abused dwarf with a disability, there are times when you will be identified as part of a persecutor group. Worse still, some people will abuse the situation to attack you and your group. Yet if you approach this mindfully, you will acknowledge the truth behind narrative, even as you refuse to buy into any “drama” that is associated with it. Compassion (rather than anger) will tend to follow.

Once we assume responsibility for the shadow, many of the same liberal policies and ideals which may have been applied unconsciously or imperfectly will automatically be applied more responsibly, and at a higher level of consciousness expression. Healing will follow naturally.

 

So…

Do we really need a centralised government in Europe? In the world? Truthfully, it might help in many ways. It may help economically, in terms of facilitating free movement around the globe, in the exchange of cultures and ideas… Yet all these things can still remain even if governments are less centralised. And as humanity awakens more, there will be less requirement for control and power organisations like the EU.

If all parties simply assume responsibility for their projections, regardless of race, sex, nationality or station in life, Europe and Great Britain (and the world) will eventually unite as a New Earth, as Eckhart Tolle might call it. Whether your government sits in Brussels or closer to home will not be that important. No government can remove the power of an individual or group that is committed to awakening.

So it is that you don’t have to wait for any government to give you permission to release your story and embrace presence. You can also release your idealism. You won’t be needing that. All you have to do is have a high enough intention, and also have the understanding of the process required. Then follow through and do the work.

Are you ready, willing and able?

Consciousness Hacking With Mikey Siegel

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On this episode of The Consciousness Files you will find out how artificial intelligence will be superseded by artificial wisdom intelligence; how Facebook can connect not only our thoughts and words, but our consciousness; and how the hearts and brain-waves of people within corporations can be synchronised to create compassionate business futures.

Today I am chatting with Mikey Siegel who is one of a growing number of consciousness hackers, a movement which he has helped found. He has also co-founded the transformative technology conference and the consciousness tech design studio. He has worked with robots at places like MIT, NASA and Audi. Situated on the west coast of the United States, he works to create tools that facilitate people’s paths toward higher consciousness, self-realization and awakening. This involves the creation of technologies which can help us to be more mindful, present, and accepting. Mikey draws upon the great wisdom and spiritual traditions, but seeks to adapt that understanding to modern contexts so that it is accessible to modern human beings.

Mikey’s web site is http://mikeysiegel.com/

Mikey’s TEDx talk is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG_chQK9iGc

 

 

PODCAST OUTLINE

1:50 Mikey describes moving into a single house with nine others: the intentional consciousness hacking community.

5:40 The consciousness hacking community as it is developing in California and across the world.

7:50 The goal is transformation of world consciousness, to solve world problems.

9:40 Inner peace and compassion lie at the heart of the movement.

10:50 How can we use technology to address significant psycho-spiritual problems in the modern context?

12:00 The heart-sync technology synchronises the heart beats of groups.

14:30 This technology is being extended to include brain waves.

16:10 Maybe we could make a Facebook-style platform, but one which connects us more deeply than current social media

18:10 These technologies are now making waves in corporations. They are in demand.

20:00 “How have you found the experience of transferring from engineering to a more fringe field like consciousness hacking?”

22:10 “Will these technologies free us?” Kevin Kelly’s argument.

23:00 There is an evolutionary drive to what is happening.

24:20. We can create not only an artificial intelligence, but artificial wisdom.

25:40. Creating from wisdom, not fear.

27:20. “What technologies are going to transform us in the next twenty years?”

28:50 We could develop a wisdom technology which could bring together all old and new healing technologies to assist us.

31:10. The dystopian dangers of new technologies.

33:30 The technological wild cards which will surprise us. Technologies which transform conscious experience, and why they will be in demand.

37:20. “Is a dark age necessary before we see the light?”

40:00 “Is there one thing we can call enlightenment?” There is an evolutionary arc.

41:20 “What is consciousness?”

43:30 Why consciousness has non-local properties.

45:00 Technologies will be able to assist us to tap into the extended mind.

46:00 Mikey’s experience with mind-reading.

48:50. We can learn to develop expanded cognitive abilities like ESP.

Futurist Tom Lombardo and Future Consciousness

Podcast link: http://mindfutures.libsyn.com/rss

On Episode 2 of The Consciousness Files I speak with futurist Tom Lombardo, Ph.D.

In this episode you will find out the best science fiction novel of all time, why cyborgs are an inevitable part of the future, why Ray Kurzweil’s idea of consciousness being uploaded onto computers is limited, and why the Benjamin Libet free will experiments are wrong in suggesting we do not have free will.

Tom Lombardo is the Executive Director of the Center for Future Consciousness, the Director of The Wisdom Page, the Managing Editor of Wisdom and the Future, and Professor Emeritus and retired Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy, and the Future at Rio Salado College. He is a national and internationally recognized researcher, writer, and speaker, and he has published six books and over fifty articles on topics including: the history of scientific and philosophical thought; the future of education; future consciousness and contemporary futurist thought; and science fiction as the mythology of the future.

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Tom is also an award-winning teacher and educator with over thirty-five years of professional experience in college teaching.

Tom’s web site is: www.centerforfutureconsciousness.com

PODCAST TIMELINE

4:40 Tom outlines his brand of futures – futures of consciousness, including wisdom.

6:30. How Tom first got into futures studies, seeing an Alvin Toffler book in a department store.

8:50. How Tom became interested in the subject of consciousness – with the mind-body problem.

12:00 Tom’s solution to “the mind-body problem.”

13:00 What is consciousness?

14:00 How Tom’s theory of consciousness can assist mainstream science.

16:00 The physical environment is not separate from our interpretation of it.

18:30 Tom’s book Mind Flight discussed.

20:20 What experiences have influenced Tom’s understanding of consciousness. How weight lifting played a part.

22:50. Meteorite synchronicities.

23:50 Olaf Stapledon’s novel “Starmaker,” and why it is the best science fiction novel ever.

27:30. Why Stapledon influenced Tom’s understanding of mind and the future.

29:30. Australian sci-fi writer Greg Egan, and his novel “Diaspora.”

33:00 Sexuality in Stapledon.

34:00 Tom’s critique Ray Kurzweil and the transhumanists. They focus on technology, but fail to consider mental and spiritual evolution.

38:10. Evolution moves towards greater complexity.

40:10 Cyborgs, mobile technology and the human future. Tom relates his enthusiasm for detachable body parts.

45:50. “The Last American”. Sci fi Novel written in 1880. Persians sail to New York City in the 23rd century, only to find it has been destroyed.

47:40. The evolution of consciousness and the current American political crisis.

50:20. America lacks cultural icons of higher consciousness expression.

53:10 How can we create a more positive attitude towards the future? Collapse may be required.

55:20 Who are the positive role models we can look up to?

59:20. Does the universe have any purpose? We have begun guiding evolution.

1:02:10 We are participating with the universe in its evolution.

1:08:10 The brain operates within a cosmic ecology.

10:10.40 Thomas Nagel’s argument about consciousness as being intrinsic within the nature of the universe.

1:12:10 Spinoza and the possibility of free will.

1:15.00 Critiquing Benjamin Libet’s free will experiments. Why Libet is wrong.

1:19:40 Tom’s recommended reading and contact details.

Theme music by bensound.com

How Not To Simulate a Brain While Wasting A Billion Dollars

Take a look at this fascinating TED talk by Henry Markram. The talk is about six years old, and he outlines how we can build a mathematical simulation of the human brain by mapping all the neurons and their interconnections. Once we can do this we will be able to simulate consciousness, he says. It may also help us find answers to mental disease and mental degeneration.

Markram was involved in developing a simulation of part of a rat’s brain. Now he’s on to people. Not long after this talk Markram was given 1.3 billion dollars by the European Union to turn this dream to reality over a period of one decade, via the Human Brain Project.

The thing is, as you watch the talk with any critical capacity, it is easy to see that there are numerous guesses and unquestioned presuppositions posited about the way the brain functions, and about the nature of consciousness. The computer metaphor appears again and again and again, as if it is unquestionably true that the brain operates like a computer. If you get the founding principle wrong, there’s not much chance anything else is going to go right.

That mathematical description will yield the secrets of consciousness is about as valid as believing that positing a simple equation to describe two oranges tells us the nature of oranges. OR 1 + OR 2 = 2OR. All you really have is an abstract representation of a couple of pieces of fruit.

And little did go right in the Human Brain Project. In 2015 Markram was fired as the project head, after the entire project became a “brain wreck” a mere two years after it began. The whole story is testimony to how far into delusion both neuroscience and popular perceptions about the brain have descended. Fancy computer graphics reify the delusion.

It is a giant ego fall. We just don’t know very much about the brain, and very, very little about consciousness.

Maybe it’s time to start asking some new questions.

Robert Epstein on Why Your Brain is not a Computer

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This essay posted at aeon.co will be of interest to a few of my futurist friends and those in consciousness studies.

Robert Epstein holds nothing back as he hamburgerises the sacred cow of cognitive science: the presupposition that the brain is like a computer. It’s a little short on definitive evidence for the claim, but is in my opionion on the right track. Though it does slay one sacred cow, it fails to recognise another is just nervously entering the philosophical slaughterhouse: the materialist reductionism upon which the dominant model of consciousness is implicitly founded. But that would be a sacred cow too far for any respectable academic. If we bring the discussion on the field properties of consciousness to this discussion, then we might really get somewhere. But it’s a nice start, nonetheless.

On a side note, Ray Kurzweil’s mad idea to load brains onto computers does not necessarily dissipate (as Epstein argues) if consciousness does hold field properties. But then one might ask the question, what would be the point? 🙂

A couple of quotes from the article:

“Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer.”

“We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key.”

https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

The Biology of Story…

Rick Tarnas shared this site today called the Biology of Story, and it looks good. Some great sound bites, and neat, potted summaries of key ideas, which is very useful in the modern age. I found the videos wouldn’t load on the site itself on my iPad – I had to go through to YouTube to watch them. Some very informative short videos featuring people like Rupert Sheldrake and Fritfof Capra. To be honest, I don’t know some of the names listed there, but I will check some out in the coming days.

There is an interesting three-minute video where Capra outlines why new paradigms take time to take hold. He points to professional, institutional and cognitive resistance.