| || |
As this page develops, it will highlight pockets of wisdom from whatever source I find it. The intent is to find effective modes of being that can guide us toward living lives that matter. I look at this as a precursor to an emerging sythesis page that will spell out more directly and in practical terms the role that bodywork plays -- a role perhaps indispensible -- in enhancing and stimulating a life that's complete and meaningful, capable of making a significant contribution to the world at large.
Revised: September 2017
Most recent additions:
From “The Perennial Philosophy” (1945) by Aldous Huxley
When you pull out all the extraneous material, this book is a killer. Huxley reviewed major religions over the course of world history with an eye to plucking out the most striking common elements.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:6) It is a fact, confirmed and reconfirmed during two or three thousand years of religious history, that the ultimate Reality is not clearly and immediately apprehended, except by those who have made themselves loving, pure in heart and poor in spirit. This being so, it is hardly surprising that a theology based upon the experience of nice, ordinary, unregenerate (obstinate/stubborn) people should carry so little conviction. According to Shankara (788-820 AD): The nature of the one Reality must be known by one's own clear spiritual perception; it cannot be known through a pandit (learned man). Shankara's teachings were simultaneously theoretical and practical, a characteristic of all true exponents of the perennial philosophy. "It is only when you hunt for it that you lose it."
-- Yung-chia Ta-shih (8th century AD) The politics of those whose goal is beyond time are always peaceful. It is the idolaters of past and future, of reactionary memory and utopian dream, who do the persecuting and make the wars. To doubt is to be double-minded. Saints, on the contrary, are neither double-minded nor half-hearted. Further, however great their intellectual gifts, they are profoundly simple. "I live, yet not I, but Christ in me." (Galatians 2:20) Perhaps we can rephrase this as: "I live, yet not I, for it is the Logos who lives me" -- lives me as an actor lives his part. From the Journal of George Fox (1694), a founder of the Quakers, describing a mystical experience: "Neither did I then know where to find it in the Scriptures, though afterwards, searching the Scriptures, I found it." "There is something nearer to us than Scriptures, to wit, the Word in the heart from which all Scriptures come."
-- William Penn (I was never aware that Penn was a man of such insight.) The child tends to grow out of his direct awareness of the one ground of all things, for the habit of analytical thought is fatal to the intuitions of integral thinking. "As the Scripture says, it is the One before whom words recoil."
-- Shankara Said Lao Tzu: Only he who rids himself forever of desires can see the Secret Essences. He that has never rid himself of desire can see only the outcomes. Union can be achieved only by the annihilation of the self-regarding ego, which is the barrier separating the 'thou' from the 'that'. St. Francis de Sales: God requires a faithful fulfillment of the merest trifle given us to do, rather than the most ardent aspiration to things to which we are not called. Jean-Pierre de Caussade (Jesuit priest, 1675-1751): There is no one in the world who cannot arrive without difficulty at the most eminent perfection by fulfilling with love obscure and common duties. St. Francis de Sales: The dignity and difficulty of a good action certainly affects what is technically called its accidental worth, but all its essential worth comes from love alone. Among the so-called cultivated and mentally active, hagiography (biographies of saints) is not a very popular form of literature. It is in virtue of his absorption in God and just because he has not identified his being with the inborn and acquired elements of his private personality, that the saint is able to exercise his entirely non-coercive and therefore entirely beneficent (kind and charitable) influence on individuals and even on whole societies. Or to be more accurate, it is because he has purged himself of selfness that divine Reality is able to use him as a channel of grace and power. The Greeks had the term metanoia to describe a total and radical "change of mind," away from "deeming and scheming", toward letting the universe do its work through you, ego in check. To maintain it, one must learn to combine the most intense alertness with a tranquil and self-denying passivity. We try not so much to think, but rather permit ourselves to be thought through. "Sanctity consists in willing what happens to us by God's order."
-- de Caussade (Huxley terms it a docility -- an open frame of mind -- to the leadings of the Holy Spirit.) The state of wu wei is a space of non-assertion and equilibrium. The Greeks believed that hubris was always followed by nemesis. From The Cloud of Unknowing (14th century): By love he may be gotten and holden, but by thought never. St. Gregory the Great (~540-604 AD): Love is the motive (prime mover) power of the mind (machina mentis, literally "mind machine"). Rumi: The astrolabe of the mysteries of God is love. (An astrolabe was an early version of the sextant, which measures dimensions in the sky.) William Law: Love is infallible. It has not errors, for all errors are the want of love. Our love needs to be sufficiently disinterested. (In personal gain.) By a kind of philological accident, the word 'charity' has come, in modern English, to be synonymous with 'almsgiving.' However, ambiguity in vocabulary leads to confusion of thought. Real charity is disinterested. It seeks no reward for itself, nor does it allow itself to be diminished for any evil that may come its way in return. Another distinguishing mark of charity is that, unlike the lower forms of love, it is not an emotion. Jean-Pierre Camus (1584-1652): You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working. In the same way, you learn to love God and man by loving. St. John of the Cross: The soul lives by that which it loves, rather than in the body which it animates. For it has not its life in the body, but rather gives it to the body and lives in that which it loves. (I believe we are called in each lifetime to stretch our souls to limits not attempted before.) The distinguishing marks of charity are disinterestedness, tranquility and humility. (Of which my personal supply is plenty.) There is neither greed for personal advantage nor fear for personal loss or punishment. Where there is true charity, there can be no coercion. If they so choose, individuals and most certainly organizations can be impenetrably armored against divine influence. "Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time -- this is an old rule."
-- Dhammapada St. Jerome: All that is necessary is to look into one's own heart, for what God asks of us is not found at a great distance. Self-denial should take the form not of showy acts of would-be humility but of control of the tongue and the moods -- in refraining from saying anything uncharitable or merely frivolous. This means, in practice, refraining from about half of ordinary conversation. The Sufi, the Buddhist, the Chinese philosopher, Krishna, and Christ prescribe doing our divinely ordained duties without personal craving for, or fear of, the fruits of our actions. From Fenelon (1651-1715), who Huxley describes as one of our greatest masters of psychological analysis: Real simplicity, far from being foolish, is almost sublime . . . . One feels that one would like less admirable people better, who were not so stiff. One of the most extraordinary -- because most gratuitous (knee-jerk and without reflection) -- pieces of 20th century vanity is the assumption that nobody knew anything about psychology before the days of Freud. But the real truth is that most modern psychologists understand human beings less well than did the ablest of their predecessors. Fenelon and La Rochefoucauld knew all about the surface rationalizations of deep, discreditable motives in the subconscious, and were fully aware that sexuality and the will to power were, all too often, the effective forces at work under the polite mask of the persona. According to Chinese sages such as Lao Tzu, personal sins and social maladjustments are all due to the fact that men have separated themselves from their divine source and live according to their own will and notions, not according to Tao. The simplicity and spontaneity of the perfect sage are the fruits of mortification -- mortification of the will and, by recollectedness and meditation, of the mind. Jean-Pierre Camus: I have often observed how St. Francis de Sales treated everyone, even the most insignificant person who approached him, as though he were the inferior, never repulsing anyone, never refusing to enter into conversation, to speak or to listen, never betraying the slightest sign of weariness, impatience and annoyance, however importunate or ill-timed the interruption. To those who asked him why he thus wasted his time his constant reply was, "It is God's will, it is what He requires of me, what more need I ask? While I am doing this, I am not required to do anything else. God's Holy Will is the center from which all we do must radiate. All else is mere weariness and excitement. Abbot John Chapman: Theology as we know it has been formed by the great mystics, especially St. Augustine and St. Thomas. Plenty of other great theologians would not have had such insight without mystic super-knowledge. We perceive beauty in the harmonious intervals between the parts of a whole. Rumi: Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition. The results of action undertaken by even the most brilliant cleverness, when it is unenlightened by the divine Nature of Things, unsubordinated to the Spirit, are generally evil. It is the inactivity of self-will and ego-centered cleverness that makes possible the activity within the emptied and purified soul of the eternal Suchness. The mature soul learns to "hate his father and mother" -- in other words to give up his selfish attachment to the pleasures of indiscriminately loving and being loved. Nazi education, which was specifically education for war, had two principle aims. One, to encourage the manifestation of somatotonia in those inclined in that direction; and two, to make the rest of the population feel ashamed of its relaxed amiability or its inward-looking sensitiveness and tendency towards self-restraint and tender-mindedness. All over the world, young people are being systematically educated to be "tough" and to value toughness beyond any other moral quality. With this system of somatotonic ethics is associated the idolatrous and polytheistic theology of nationalism (and its cousin, isolationism) -- a pseudo-religion far stronger at the present time for evil and division than is Christianity, or any other monotheistic religion, for unification and good. (Look to much of so-called "popular" music to see the aggressive tone that the powers-that-be wish to mold into our youth. The game was alive in Nazi Germany, and it's still alive in America today.) (Somatotonia is defined as a pattern of temperament that is marked by predominance of physical over social or intellectual factors, aggressiveness, love of physical activity, vigor, and alertness.) Fear cannot be got rid of by personal effort, but only by the ego's absorption in a cause greater than its own interests. Only the totally selfless are in a position to know experientialy that, in spite of everything, "all will be well" and, in some way, already is well. Meister Eckhart: God is bound to act, to pour Himself into thee as soon as He shall find thee ready. Meister Eckhart: People should think less about what they ought to do and more about what they ought to be. If only their being were good, their works would shine forth brightly. Do not imagine that you can ground your salvation upon actions; it must rest on what you are. Bhagavad Gita: Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. Rumi: The Sufi is the son of time present. The present moment is the only aperture through which the soul can pass out of time into eternity, through which grace can pass out of eternity into the soul, and through which charity can pass from one soul in time to another soul in time. Benjamin Whichcote (1609-83): Good men spiritualize their bodies, bad men incarnate their souls. If we look into the matter, we find that the number of our idle words during the course of a day far outnumber the words that are dictated by reason, charity, or necessity. The guard of the tongue -- which is essentially a guard of the mind -- is not only one of the most difficult and searching of all mortifications (disciplines), it is also the most fruitful. Chuang Tzu (4th century BC): A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker. The content of popular radio and television merely creates a craving for daily "emotional enemas." The third clause of the Lord's Prayer is repeated daily by millions, who have not the slightest intention of letting any will be done, except their own. Every species, except the human, chooses immediate, short-range success by means of specialization. But specialization always leads into blind alleys. It is only by remaining precariously generalized that an organism can advance toward a higher level of rational intelligence. By being entirely non-compulsive, saints are able to exercise their authority over their fellow beings. Fenelon: We spend our lives in the belief that we are wholly devoted to others and never self-seeking. Nothing so feeds self-conceit as this sort of internal testimony. All the Buddhist scriptures harp on tranquility of mind as a necessary condition of deliverance. St. John of the Cross: The soul that clings to spiritual sweetness ruins its freedom and hinders contemplation. The fly that touches honey cannot use its wings. Bhagavad Gita: Men of small understanding pray only for what is transient and perishable. The vast majority of human beings believe that their own selfness and the objects around them possess a reality in themselves, wholly independent of the Logos. The early Jesuits demonstrated what extraordinary transformations of character, what intensities of will and devotion, could be achieved by men systematically trained on the intellectual and imaginative exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The divine ground of all being -- Suchness -- reveals itself to those in whom there is no ego-centeredness -- not even any alter-ego-centeredness -- either of will, imagination, feeling or intellect. Benet of Canfield (English mystic, 1562-1611): The more a man operates the more he is and exists. And the more he is and exists, the less of God is and exists within him.
-- Rule of Perfection Pelagius (360-435): If we wish not to go backwards, we must run. St. Augustine: If you should say, "It is enough, I have achieved perfection," all is lost. For it is the function of perfection to make one know one's imperfection. Buddhists have a saying to the effect that, if an arhat (saint who has transcended the cycle of birth and death) thinks to himself that he is an arhat, that is proof he's not. Jean-Pierre Camus: How are we to be patient in bearing with our neighbor's faults if we are impatient in bearing with our own? He who is fretted by his own failings will not correct them; all profitable correction comes from a calm, peaceful mind. The first seven branches of the Eightfold Path are the active, ethical preparation for unitive (harmonizing and Godlike) knowledge of Suchness. The life in which ethical expenditure is balanced by spiritual income must be a life in which action alternates with repose, speech with alertly passive silence. As it was once said, "The love of Truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of love undertakes righteous action." (Probably St. Augustine) Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111) regarded mystics as the salt that preserves societies from decay. "God does not deprive the world of them, for they are its sustainers." It is they who, dying to themselves are the instruments through which divine grace is channeled to those whose nature is oblivious to the delicate touches of the Spirit. Philo (20 BC - 50 AD): Households, cities and nations have enjoyed great happiness when a single individual has taken heed of the Good and Beautiful. Such men not only liberate themselves, they fill those they meet with a free mind.
From "Do It!: Let's Get Off Our Buts" (1991) by John-Roger (Hinkins) & Peter McWilliams
Here's one of those self-improvement books that appear to be a spin-off of the Werner Erhard era, written by people who adopt his style yet fail to give him credit. The best part of this book is the striking quotations. Overall it's not particularly essential, in my esteemed opinion.
- In the same amount of time it takes for the mind to invent a good excuse, it could have created an alternate way of achieving the desired result.
- After a lifetime of choosing between comfort and risk, we're left with the life we currently have.
- For most people, uncomfortableness is a sufficient reason for not doing something.
- "To him who is in fear, everything rustles." -- Sophocles
- When we cough up the courage to journey into the center of our fear, we find . . . nothing.
- Most of us consider ourselves unworthy to achieve our goals. Physically, unworthiness resides in the area of the solar plexus, where chi resides. Unworthiness inhibits chi energy.
- Sometimes we secretly admire people who don't like us, as if they're wise enough to see the truth about ourselves that we try to cover up.
- To the degree we're not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.
- "You must do the thing you think you cannot."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt
- "Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless." -- B.F. Skinner
- "Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for."
-- former chief justice Earl Warren
- The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, "In that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon!"
-- John F. Kennedy
- Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of our time. When asked what he would do if he only had six months to live, he replied, "Type faster."
- "I am looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity to know what can't be done."
-- Henry Ford
- "The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose."
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
- "One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."
-- Andre Gide (1869-1951)
- "Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem -- in my opinion -- to characterize our age."
-- Albert Einstein
- "We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves to be like other people."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
- "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
-- George Bernard Shaw
- What is more important in life: Your goal, or other people's opinions of your goal?
- "When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."
-- Winston Churchill
- "People are always blaming their circumstances . . . . I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them."
-- George Bernard Shaw (1893)
- "There is no birth of consciousness without pain."
-- Carl Jung
- "We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming."
-- Wernher von Braun
- "True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders."
-- Robert Townsend, Up the Organization
- "The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
-- William James
- "One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."
-- Helen Keller
- "Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it."
-- Robert Heinlein
- "We can do no great things -- only small things with great love."
-- Mother Theresa
- "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
-- William James
- Asking for the highest good of all concerned allows our true dreams (and purpose) to surface.
- "The method of the enterprising is to plan with audacity and execute with vigor, to sketch out a map of possibilities and then to treat them as probabilities."
-- Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904)
- Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort. Being uncomfortable is part of the process. To grind wheat fine enough to produce flour requires grist -- gravel.
- "The best way to keep your word is not to give it."
-- Napoleon (There's a lot of integrity to not giving our word in the first place.)
- There is a type of crab that cannot be caught. It is agile and clever enough to escape from any crab trap, yet they're caught by the thousands every day. The trap is a wire cage with a hole at the top. As the crab munches the bait, another crab joins in, then another, until the bait is gone. As one crab starts to leave the cage, the others stop him, tearing off his claws if necessary, even killing him if need be. (Sounds a little human, doesn't it?)
- The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek en theos, "to be one with the energy of the divine."
- "Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket!"
-- Mark Twain
- "One person with belief is equal to a force of 99 who have only interests."
-- John Stewart Mill
- Sam Snead was one of the greatest golfers of the 20th century, and one of his admirers was an avid golfer named Dwight Eisenhower. When President Eisenhower asked Snead for a little advice on his swing, Snead replied, "Put your ass into the ball!"
- A young George Gershwin came to the already famous Irving Berlin, looking for a job playing piano. Berlin listened to an audition, and then refused to hire Gershwin, saying "What the hell do you want to work for somebody else for? Work for yourself!"
- "Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better."
-- John Updike
- As stress is released, it is usually re-experienced in the process. That's why massage produces what's called "the good hurt."
- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."
-- Fred Allen
- Physically manipulating the stomach, solar plexus and chest is an excellent way to break up the patterns of limitation residing there.
- "An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable."
-- George Bernard Shaw
- "The New England conscience doesn't keep you from doing what you shouldn't, it just keeps you from enjoying it."
-- Cleveland Amory
- "Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it."
-- Salvador Dali
- "The best way to do field work is not to come up for air until you're done."
-- Margaret Mead
- "The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort."
- "Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort."
-- Charles Dickens
- "It takes a thorn to remove a thorn."
-- Hindu saying
- "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."
-- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
- The person not taking risks feels the same amount of fear as one who does.
- "Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."
-- Winston Churchill
- "The sun will set without thy assistance."
-- The Talmud
- "To know oneself, one should assert oneself."
- "In the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves."
-- Bernard Baruch
- INTERVIEWER: "Your Holiness, how many people work at the Vatican?"
POPE JOHN XXIII: "About half."
- "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
-- Thomas Edison
- "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence, but by oft falling."
-- Lucretius (~96-55 BC)
- "Fall seven times, stand up eight."
-- Japanese proverb
- "Concerns for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."
-- Albert Einstein
- "He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh."
-- The Koran
From “Anger” (2001) by Thich Nhat Hanh
With a reputation like his, surely this Buddhist monk has other books that are more engaging.
If you just pretend to listen to someone, the other person will know it and they won't find relief from what's bothering them. Practice "mindful walking" -- investing 100% of yourself in each step. According to Buddha, as well as to the experience of Hanh's community, any situation embraced by the energy of mindfulness will undergo a transformation. Very naively, we tend to believe that if we can say or do something to punish someone who has crossed us, we will suffer less. To be kind does not mean to be passive. To be compassionate does not mean to allow others to walk all over you. While lying down, practice mindful breathing and generate the energy of mindfulness. Scan your body with the loving beam of mindfulness from the top of your head until you arrive at the soles of your feet. When we're upset, it's particularly important to bring our attention down to the level of our navel. We're grounding ourselves in our trunk, like a tree in a storm. Invest 100% of yourself into the practice of making yourself and the people around you happy. Work with your whole heart to transform yourself into an instrument of dharma. Cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to help relieve them of their suffering.
"By the work one knows the workman."
- Jean de la Fontaine
"It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper."
- Errol Flynn
From "Get With the Program" (2002) by Bob Greene
Here's one of the best-selling fitness books of the past couple years. Emotional overeating is an epidemic in the United States. Excess weight is usually a symptom of some other issue going on in our life. It's an emotional bandage. Procrastination is often fear masked by laziness. Holding on to extra weight may often serve as a person's unconscious anesthetic against stress, hurt, disappointment, pain, failure, and (sadly) even success, love, and romantic attention. It keeps many on the sidelines of life. Our health and well-being -- and our daily workout -- must be considered sacred. Most people are dehydrated to some degree. Alcohol slows down our metabolism. This effect can linger for days. If there's any secret to the mystery of permanent weight loss, it is the complete elimination of emotional eating. (I'm sure that tobacco and alcohol use falls into this category too.) Emotional eating occurs any time we eat because of something we're feeling rather than the actual experience of hunger. This feeling is generally tied in with stress or some other kind of upset. Emotional eating has similarities to alcoholism and other forms of addiction in which negative behaviors help to numb us from the stresses and strains of our lives. Late-night calories do the most damage because our metabolism is slow at this time. At the moment we have an urge to eat and it's outside of a regular mealtime, notice the feeling that's going on inside. We're meant to experience this feeling rather than anesthetize it with food (or cigarettes or alcohol). The emotional turmoil of depression is often the result of deep-seated sadness, fear, and anger. It is one of the most insidious of all the causes for emotional overeating, and it often has its roots in some form of childhood trauma. Sometimes we resist being healthy and happy. Food cannot replace emotional hunger. Try to tap into that critical moment right before you give into emotional eating (or drinking). Is there a sense of discomfort or pain? These feelings are meant to be felt. (They're preferable to being 20 pounds overweight, eh?) It's at that moment when we have an emotional craving for food that we're closest to discovering our true feelings. By choosing to eat, we're choosing to mask or deaden our true feelings. Noticing that we are emotionally driven to overindulge in food is half the battle of gaining control over our weight, health, and well-being.
"Inspiration is needed in geometry, just as much as in poetry."
"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war. Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."
-- Sun-Tzu, 4th century BC
"Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."
-- G.K. Chesterton
From “There Will Your Heart Be Also: Edgar Cayce’s Readings About Home & Marriage” (1975) by William & Gladys McGarey, MD
Edgar Cayce has been rightfully called “America’s sleeping prophet.” From 1901 to 1944 he prophesized thousands of times while in a sleep-trance state. While I’m not given over easily to claims of supposed “channeling,” I have it on good authority -- authority not of this earth -- that Cayce was the real thing. His statements may not be 100% accurate, but they’re as good as we get. Judge for yourself by how true his statements resonate in your gut.
- "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
- "Make your home a place where an angel would seek to be a guest.”
- "Without spirituality the earth is indeed a hell.” (And I don’t think Cayce was talking simplistically about going to church on Sundays.)
- "Service to others is the greatest service to the Creator.”
- Question: To what extent have childhood experiences incapacitated the entity for a normal, happy marriage? Answer: “Just as much as the individual entity lets it have.” (Perhaps we just got an authoritative answer to whether childhood abuse causes irreversible harm.)
- "If ye would be forgiven, ye must forgive.”
- Question: What is the purpose of my current lifetime? Answer: This becomes self-evident to those who apply themselves. (There’s that concept again I first heard from my sophomore geometry teacher: applying one’s self.)
- "What is your purpose in attracting the opposite sex? That you may aid them, or that they can contribute to your vanity?” (Did we just uncover the secret to a healthy relationship?)
- The message of the Garden of Eden is “take not, give not, except in accordance with His will, not yours.”
- Cayce does not look down upon sex outside of marriage, only sex outside of love and caring.
- Cayce refers to one’s proper partner as the “complement of self.”
- He that will be the greatest of men will be the servant of all.
- Cayce suggested several prayers for those who wished to find the proper mate. The authors have put together their own, based upon some of Cayce’s writings: “Guide me that I may find that one to whom I can be of the most service to as they seek to find their path back to You. And the one who can best help me to do the same.”
- Love requires that you lose yourself to the other. Only what you give away do you possess. Love does not possess.
- Marriage is not “going down the road together.” It is going up the road, toward the light.
- Choose a partner you can create peace and harmony with, not upward mobility or the trappings of life. Choose someone with whom your home will be a haven, a heaven, a place of rest.
- God will not let Himself be mocked. You reap what you sow.
- Cover up each other’s shortcomings with each other’s beauties and abilities. Aid each other in this regard!
- Everyone enters this current lifetime for a purpose. Our associations with others in the present are not by chance; that each may help others in attaining an understanding why they’ve met and what their purpose is in this lifetime. No one in the present lifetime has completed their purpose, and thus it’s to be met in each.
- From the beginning of puberty, sexual energy becomes the essence of the Creative Forces or Energies within the body of the individual. If such forces are used for selfish motives, they become destructive -- both for the individuals and their offspring.
- If you are attractive, God has not given it to you to be misused.
- The sexual needs of every individual must be gratified in some manner.
"100% of the shots you don't take don't go in."
-- Wayne Gretzky
"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant."
-- Horace (65-8 BC)
"Bad artists always admire each other's work."
-- Oscar Wilde
Some challenging quotes from the writer Antoine de St. Exupery, author of "The Little Prince":
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction. The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude toward them. No single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself.
"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."
"The higher the monkey climbs, the more you see of its ass."
-- St. Bonaventure (1217-1274)
"As for style of writing, if one has anything to say, it drops from him simply and directly, as a stone falls to the ground."
From "Core Performance" (2004) by Mark Verstegen
In his training programs, Verstegen has seen instances where athletes have gained up to an inch to their frame. That's because their training enabled them to release and open up their hips, elongate their muscles and restore their optimal alignment. They've been able to retract and depress their shoulder blades, which is to say they've pulled their scapulae back and down, extending the neck and head, thus stabilizing the body. All movement starts from a remarkable muscle called the transverse abdominis.
"You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want."
-- Zig Ziglar
"Some books seem to have been written not to teach us anything, but to let us know that the author has known something."
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
-- T.S. Eliot
The following excerpt is from Shibumi by Trevanian (1979):
Nicholai knew the word, but only as it applied to gardens or architecture, where it connoted an understated beauty.
"How are you using the term, sir?"
"Oh, vaguely. And incorrectly, I suspect. A blundering attempt to describe an ineffable quality. As you know, shibumi has to do with great refinement underlying commonplace appearances. It is a statement so correct that it does not have to be bold, so poignant it does not have to be pretty, so true it does not have to be real. Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. Eloquent silence. In demeanor, it is modesty without pudency (a sense of shamefulness). In art, where the spirit of shibumi takes the form of sabi, it is elegant simplicity, articulate brevity. In philosophy, where shibumi emerges as wabi, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is being without the angst of becoming. And in the personality of a man, it is . . . how does one say it? Authority without domination? Something like that."
"Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
-- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
"Doubt grows with knowledge."
"The formula '2+2=5' is not without its attractions."
From “The Power of Empathy” (2000) by Arthur Ciaramicoli
Ciaramicoli is a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School where he is instructor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry. Despite his credentials, he writes in human language.
- "I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of the multitude."
-- Kahlil Gibran
- Empathy is the light that shines through the darkness of our pain and fear to reveal what we have in common as human beings.
- Someone who seems like an enemy may only be afraid of you.
- "Empathic inference is everyday mind-reading. . . . It may be the second greatest achievement of which the mind is capable, consciousness itself being the first." -- William Ickes, Empathic Accuracy
- Empathy is the antidote to hopelessness.
- If we don't receive much empathy as a child, it's that much harder to pass it on as an adult.
- Being empathic is much more important than having empathy.
- Says psychologist William James, part of wisdom is to believe in what one desires. Belief is one of the indispensable conditions for the realization of an object that seems out of reach. Believe, and you shall be right. Doubt, and you will again be right, though you shall perish.
- Edgar Allen Poe once said that when he wished to find out how wise or stupid or good or wicked anyone was, or what his thoughts were at the moment, he would mimic the expressions of their face. Then he'd wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arose in his mind and heart.
- Psychologist William Pollack notes that when someone feels empathy for another, it is unlikely they can so dehumanize the other person as to commit acts of aggression against them.
- A journalist once told Mahatma Ghandi that his work with poor people was just "wonderful." Ghandi replied that he was doing it for himself. The journalist then asked, "What do you mean?" Ghandi replied, "How can I have empathy for others without having empathy for myself?"
- Empathic listening is always centered on the other person, and its goal is to make the other feel uniquely understood.
- Says Douglas Steere, a Quaker writer: "Holy listening, to listen another's soul into life, into a condition of disclosure and discovery, may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another."
- Sex, even "great" sex, cannot fill up the empty spaces in a person's heart and soul.
- Through empathy we learn how to love each other deeply and truly, and we discover why the search for the real person rather than the right person is central to our quest for happiness.
- Research conducted by psychologist Vicki Helgeson indicates that women who fit the classic profile of the "self-sacrificing female" were more likely to have dangerous heart conditions. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64/5: 1993)
- "To know the need of men and to bear the burden of their sorrow, that is the true love of men." -- Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sasov, Russia
- In All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs, Elie Weisel talks about the power of relationships within a concentration camp: The Germans tried to get the inmates to think only of themselves, to forget relatives and friends, to tend only to their own needs. But what happened was just the reverse. Those who retreated to a universe limited to their own bodies had less chance of getting out alive, while to live for a brother, a friend, an ideal, helped you hold out longer. (Still, I have lingering doubts about Weisel's overall "peace credentials," given his headlong rush of support for America's second Gulf War in 2002.)
- (According to Werner Erhard, a relationship whose purpose is confined to itself is doomed to failure. To withstand the turbulence, to have any real meaning at all for the matter, it must be dedicated to a purpose greater than itself.)
- Self-help books urge us to be optimistic. They rarely explain how to remain hopeful when we encounter defeat time and time again. (The way to do this is to include defeat as part of the package. If a baseball team has a praiseworthy season, they still lose 40% of their games.)
- "Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others."
-- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- In a 20-year study, psychologist Cathy Spatz Widom followed 908 children and found that those who had been abused had 50% more arrests for violent crimes than did a control group. (Boston Globe, October 16, 1995)
- "Honesty is stronger medicine than sympathy, which may console but often conceals." -- writer Gretel Ehrlich
- "Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you. They are all your teachers, each doing the right things to help you learn patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion." -- Buddha
- When Mother Theresa was asked how she could work with lepers, she answered "Because they give me so much back."
- In his classic book On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers writes that the acceptance of each fluctuating aspect of another person makes it, for him or her, a relationship of warmth and safety. The safety zone of being liked and prized as a person seems a highly important element in a meaningful relationship.
- Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and master storyteller, and he once offered his thoughts on the pop-psychology book called I'm OK, You're OK: The theory is deadly teaching. It imposes on you the obligation to feel OK, and unless you feel OK there is something wrong with you. I need not feel OK in order to be OK. I may not be OK, and that is perfectly OK with me. In fact, someday I plan to write a book called I'm an Ass, You're an Ass. (I simply hate when someone asks me, "How are you today?" It's a controlling type of question, often masking a concealed sense of superiority on the part of the asker. I always feel like replying, "What difference does it make?")
- Carl Rogers says, "When I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my clients as well as within my own experience -- that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed."
- "No one is as whole as he who has a broken heart." -- Rabbi Moshe Leib (Brilliant, and why is it that half the time I type rabbi, the word "rabbit" comes out? Anyway, EMBRACE your broken heart!)
- All real living is "meeting," says the Jewish scholar Martin Buber. And when we meet, we sometimes collide. (Collide? For me it's usually a nuclear explosion! Also, I remember how my Jesuit theology teachers in high school and college when ape-shit with praise over this guy. Maybe I should actually read him.)
- If you "let go of your hold" you will gain "inward relief" says William James. (A major point we can take to the bank. We'll be visiting this one again.)
- "If I am attached to another person because I cannot stand on my own feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love." -- Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (We'll be getting to this book on this site.)
- "The grace that enables us to accept ourselves simultaneously stirs up within us an urge to break down the walls that separate us from others." -- Wilkie Au, a Jesuit priest
- "One can only understand the power of the fear to be different, the fear to be only a few steps away from the herd, if one understands the depths of the need not to be separated." -- Erich Fromm (The author, Ciaramicoli, was surely on top of his game -- even inspired -- when he pulled together these last few items.)
- "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." (Matthew 7)
- We are all capable of evil. Each and every one of us.
- "As you go through life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think." -- Joseph Campbell, quoting an Indian initiation rite
- "If man did not believe that he must live for something, he would not live at all." -- Leo Tolstoy
- "Whenever you fall, pick something up." -- Oscar Wilde
- "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven." -- John Milton
- Smiles have the capacity to induce smiles in others directly and almost irresistibly, without any appreciable cognitive mediation.
- Most of us have heard the great phrase about why God has given us two ears but only one mouth. It's attributed to the Greek philosopher Zeno who said in the 5th century BC: "The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less."
- At its most root level in Greek, pathos means "that which happens to someone" or "experience." A second meaning is "emotion" or "passion." This is the sense in which Aristotle used the term. The "em" part of empathy denotes "within," so the word empathy can be taken to mean "getting inside another's passion."
"Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance."
-- Samuel Johnson
If you're looking for the key to the universe, you've got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is: there is no key to the universe. The good news is: it has been left unlocked.
From "The Prince" by Machiavelli
Written around 1513, this treatise has been maligned over the years as a clinic in devious politics and self-serving motivations. But let's look a little deeper and pick out some incisive thought. "With the utmost diligence I have pondered and scrutinized the actions of the great." Men commit injuries either through fear or through hate. Benefits should be granted little by little, so that they may be better enjoyed. It is impossible to satisfy the nobility by fair dealing and without inflicting injury upon others, whereas it is very easy to satisfy the masses of people this way. It is necessary for a prince to possess the friendship of the people, otherwise he has no resource in times of adversity. You cannot always rely upon mercenaries, for they will always aspire to their own greatness. The arms of others either fail, overburden, or else impede you. Without prudence (call it discipline, if you will), men initiate novelties and, finding the first taste good, fail to notice the poison within. A wise prince should never remain idle in peaceful times, but should industriously make good use of them. This way, when fortune changes he is prepared to resist and prevail. A prince must not mind incurring the charge of cruelty for the purpose of keeping his subjects united and faithful. With very few exceptions, this is more merciful than an excess of tenderness, which can allow disorders to arise. Friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is bought but not secured. One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. Do not deviate from what is good, if possible, but be able to do evil if necessary. One of the most potent remedies that a prince has against conspiracies is the goodwill of the masses. Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil. Princes often find more usefulness and faith in those men who they first regarded with suspicion than with those they first confided in. The best fortress is found in the goodwill of the people; if they're against you, no fortress will protect you. The first impression one gets of a ruler and his brains is from seeing the people he has about him. There is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting people understand they won't offend you by speaking the truth. It is a common fault of men not to reckon upon storms in fair weather. It is better to be impetuous than overly cautious, for fortune is a woman. She lets herself be overcome by the bold rather than by those who proceed coldly. She is always a friend to the young, because they are less cautious, fiercer, and master her with greater audacity.
"Everyone has talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50."
-- Edgar Degas
Sometimes I talk about my "mystical" experiences, but here's something else I've learned: There are two kinds of mystics in the world, the optimystics and the pessimystics. Although pessimystics seem to be more in touch with "reality," optimystics are happier and live longer.
An American Indian grandfather was talking to his young grandson. He tells the boy he has two wolves inside of him struggling with each other. The first is the wolf of peace, love and kindness. The other wolf is fear, greed and hatred. Asks the young boy, "Which wolf will win, grandfather?," who replies "Whichever one I feed."
"For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity or perception to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication."
From “The Art of Loving” (1956) by Erich Fromm
Written by one of the leading psychologists of the 20th century, this classic is cited over and over by other writers inquiring into the nature of human relationships.
- "Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes." -- Paracelsus (1493-1541)
- Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved rather than that of loving. (Once we see it this way, there's no more problem, eh?)
- If two people are infatuated with each other, this may prove little more than their preceding loneliness.
- True love is an art, a discipline, not something we "fall into."
- For a person to master an art, they have to make it a priority, perhaps the priority of their life. Yet most of us place love secondary to success, prestige, money and power. Love profits "only" the soul, but is without profit in the modern sense, so most of us don't spend much energy upon it.
- The experience of separateness is the source of all anxiety.
- If Adam truly loved Eve, why did he blame her rather than defend her? (Maybe that's the original sin.)
- Sexual orgasm can produce a state similar to the one produced by a trance, or to the effects of certain drugs.
- To escape this sense of separateness from others, some people indulge in alcohol or drugs. When the effects wear off, they feel all the more separate, and thus come back for more.
- Immanuel Kant said that no man must be the means for the ends of another man. Put another way, manipulation of another is immoral. As Kierkegaard might put it, we can only accept in another person what they freely choose, not what we necessarily want them to choose.
- Equality today means sameness, standardization and conformity, rather than oneness. (The kind of oneness expressed on American currency in the form of E Pluribus Unum -- "From Many, One")
- A clinical term for passive behavior is masochism. The masochist basically hands over the responsibilities of his life to another person. He lets that person make all the important decisions. He doesn't have to take risks. He's never alone. However, the masochist is not independent, though he may think he is. He has no integrity (wholeness). The person he hands his power over to becomes an object of worship. In a religious context this would be called an idol. (Is that what the Bible talks about when it instructs us not to have false idols?)
- Love is something we give, not get. But let's elaborate. The person whose character has not developed beyond the stage of the receptive, exploitative or hoarding orientation experiences the act of giving as "giving up" something. Giving is OK, if something is received in return.
- It is well known that the poor are more willing to give than the rich. (???)
- Fromm defines giving as offering our inner selves, our time, our interest, our ears, our heart. This helps bring something to life in the other person. (Notice how this compares with the Quaker concept of "listening another soul into life.") What's brought back to life reflects back onto the other person. True giving empowers the other person to give something back in return (without even trying!). In this type of giving, something is born. (So much for trying to alter our circumstances to make life better. That's an unproductive route I've been down far too many times.)
- Love is a power that produces love.
- Karl Marx so much as said that if your love does not produce loving actions in another person, it's not real. (But don't go around looking for feedback. As Werner Erhard said, "You won't get any!")
- Love is active. If we hear a person say they love flowers, yet they forget to water them, we rightfully doubt their "love."
- In the Old Testament, God explains to Jonah that the essence of love is to "labor" for something and "to make something grow" -- that love and labor are inseparable. One loves that for which one labors, and one labors for that which one loves.
- The word "respect" comes from the Latin respicere, "to look at," to see a person as they are and to respect their individuality without any exploitation on our part.
- Psychological knowledge is a substitute for full knowledge in the act of love, instead of being a step toward it.
- Says the great Muslim poet and mystic Rumi: Never does the lover seek without being sought by his beloved.
- Freud was mistaken when he saw love as the sublimation of the sexual instinct. (My intuition says that so many of Freud's beliefs have been later shot down because his thinking was distorted by his personal power trip.)
- Very often if the masculine character traits of a man are weakened because emotionally he has remained a child, he will try to compensate with an emphasis on sex. The female tends to overcompensate with exaggerated possessiveness.
- Egocentric, infantile, self-serving 'love' says "I love because I am loved." Mature love follows the principle "I am loved because I love."
- Unconditional love, motherly love, corresponds to our deepest longings. On the other hand, to be loved because of one's merit always leaves doubt and can create bitterness. Fatherly love is conditional love.
- Love is an attitude, an orientation of character. It determines the relatedness to the world as a whole, not toward merely one "object" of love. (It's gratifying to see even towering figures like Erich Fromm write run-on sentences. I had to chop up the previous thought into two of them. It's always good to keep in mind a basic style-guide of The New York Times: "One thought per sentence.")
- Some people limit their love to one "significant other." That would be like the artist who believes he needs to find the right subject matter before he can paint beautifully.
- Simone Weil (1909-1943; her thoughts and biography are worth reading) notes that words can be commonplace or ordinary depending on the depth of the region in our being from which they proceed. And "by marvelous agreement," they reach the same region in the person who hears them.
- In the Biblical story of creation, God observed what he created each day, then sat back and said, "It is good." Motherly affirmation of a child conveys the attitude, "It is good to be alive." It is not a burden. The French say joie de vivre, namely a keen or buoyant enjoyment of life. Effective motherly love, therefore, instills in the child an enthusiasm for life, not just a tolerance for living. Mother therefore must be more than "good;" for the sake of the child she must be happy, and this is not achieved by many. Among adults, we can tell who got only the basic "milk" from mother and who got the whole deal -- the milk and the honey. (For quite awhile I've been trying to come up with a working definition of well-being, and frankly I thought maybe I'd never find or develop one I liked. But it looks like Fromm just provided the first crack in a jar-lid that didn't want to budge. Also, I love how the words of Werner Erhard seem to come back to me at opportune moments. I can still hear him saying that the greatest gift we can give another person is the experience of well-being. Did you ever walk into a work situation where everyone seemed a bit down, a speck overwhelmed, and all it took was your attitude -- and perhaps a little rearranging -- to put everyone back into good, productive spirits where things started clicking again? Well there you go. You just passed on the gift of well-being.)
- Mother's love for life is as infectious as her anxiety is. She can choose which route she wants to go. If she's unconscious about this, we'll choose for her.
- One of the most primal of motivations is the need for transcendence -- that we are a little bit more than dice rolled out of a cup. Men can't satisfy this urge, of course, by bearing children, so they create ideas and things.
- In motherly love, two people who were one gradually become separate, and this is natural. In erotic love, two people who were separate become one.
- As the child gets older, we see whether the mother is truly loving or just possessive, as this is the time to encourage the child's growth and separation. (Did you ever hear someone say, "I don't like cats, but I love kittens."?)
- As much as it can be stimulated by love, sexual desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of aloneness, by the wish to conquer or be conquered, by vanity, by the wish to hurt or even destroy.
- To love somebody is not just a strong feeling. It is a decision, a judgment, a promise. (It is a stand we take.) If love were merely a feeling, there would be no basis for the desire to form commitments with others.
- If someone can love only others but not himself as well, he does not truly love. (Remember Virginia Woolf's comment about "killing off" the persona of the utterly unselfish woman -- before it killed her.)
- According to the decisive discoveries of Bachofen and Morgan in the middle of the 19th century, there can be little doubt that a matriarchal phase of religion preceded our current patriarchal one. (The findings of Bachofen and Morgan were rejected in most academic circles.) In the matriarchal phase, the highest being is the mother. She is the authority in family and society. Remember, mother's love is unconditional, not dependent on "good behavior" as is a father's. The father prefers the son who is most like him; he's the one who gets the possessions. (The development of patriarchal society coincides with the development of private property.)
- When Moses asks God, "What's your name?", God replies, "I am becoming that which I am becoming," or "I-am-becoming is my name." (I think Buckminster Fuller said "God is a verb.")
- In Taoist thinking, just as in Indian and Socratic thinking, the highest step to which thought can lead is to know that we do not know. Put another way, "Those who say, don't know. Those who know, don't say."
- In the dominant Western religious systems, the love of God is essentially the same as the belief in God -- in God's existence, God's justice, God's love. The love of God is essentially a thought experience. In the Eastern religions and in mysticism, the love of God is an intense feeling-experience of oneness, inseparably linked with the expression of this love in every act of living.
- No objective observer can doubt that love is a relatively rare phenomenon and that its place is taken by a number of forms of pseudo-love.
- Modern capitalism needs workers who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers, who want to consumer more and more, and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. (A great example of this is the popular music industry, where any musician worth their salt is virtually banned from airplay.) Our society needs men who think they are free yet are willing to be commanded. Man overcomes his conscious despair by the routine of amusement.
- Modern man is actually close to the picture Huxley describes in Brave New World: well fed, well clothed, satisfied sexually, yet without self, without any except the most superficial contact with his fellow man. As Huxley put it, "When the individual feels, the community reels."
- In the years after World War I, a leading train of thought held that if two people learn how to satisfy each other sexually, they will love each other.
- Fear of or hatred for the other sex are at the bottom of those difficulties that prevent a person from giving themselves completely, from acting spontaneously.
- In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud wrote that sexual love afforded people their greatest gratification, so much so that it became in fact a prototype of all happiness, to the point where we make genital eroticism the central focus of our lives. (I'm getting that Freud was a couple hundred years behind the loop.) As far as the experience of a mystical oneness (Freud calls it "oceanic feeling") with another, Freud calls this a pathological phenomenon, a regression to a state of an early "limitless narcissism." (Again, we're seeing the dangers of knowledge without empathy, the malady of our day. But on this one, Freud lacked both empathy and knowledge, demonstrating that he didn't have a clue about mysticism yet felt more than qualified to make pronouncements about it. Freud demonstrates the old saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.")
- In contrast to Freud, the psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan finds a strict division between sexuality and love. (Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry, 1953): "Intimacy is that type of situation involving two people which permits validation of all components of personal worth." (It would be interesting to learn if Sullivan was among the first to use the concept of validation in this sense.) Sullivan also asserted that love begins when someone begins to feel another person's needs to be as important as their own.
- While I see merit in Sullivan's framework, Fromm points out a "Brave New World" aspect: the view of two people standing together against a hostile and alienated world. (Two supposed victims versus all the "bad guys.") Sullivan also talks about love as one partner responding to the expressed needs of the other, but Fromm reminds us (and I'm sure Sullivan was aware of this) that a more profound love exists when we're able to respond to the unexpressed needs of the other person. (This may require more of a focus on our latent intuition and extra-sensory skills, which though real, are relatively dormant. Also note what Montagu -- in the "massage" section of this site -- says about the need to be held and cuddled. Some if not many women are too embarrassed to ask for it because they think it's too childish. For a guy to pick up on this, and then deliver what his partner needs, would be an example of responding to such an unexpressed need. This need to be cuddled is so strong that even hookers experience it, as Montagu mentions.)
- Love as mutual sexual satisfaction (Freud), and love as "teamwork" (capitalism) -- as a haven from loneliness -- are the two "normal" forms of the disintegration of love in modern society, the socially patterned pathology of love. (Whenever I read or hear the word "disintegration," I picture a bombed-out building or something. But notice that the word also contains integrity. A quick look at my trusty online dictionary says that disintegration also means "to destroy the unity or integrity of." Disintegration was also the title of one of the premiere albums of the 1980's, released by The Cure, a world-class group virtually banned from American airplay precisely because they had talent.)
- "All suffering has at its source a lack of integrity." -- Werner Erhard
- If you notice how adults behave, you'll realize that many of us are still five or six years old. Also, you'll see that their aim is to be loved, not to love. If their partner does not act as would a loving mother toward a charming child, it's taken as a lack of love.
- People can be very well-adjusted socially without ever reaching a high level of maturity. (I see this frequently in doctors, lawyers, politicians, professors, clergy, and hard-driven business types. They're children inside.)
- The conflicts that most people experience are relatively minor. They are actually attempts to avoid the real conflicts.
- For a picture of the concentration, discipline, patience and concern necessary for the learning of an art (including the "art" of loving) check out Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel (1953).
- Discipline has some nasty connotations in the West. However, the East has long recognized that what's good for a man -- for both body and soul -- must also be agreeable, even though at the beginning some resistances must be overcome. (Also, remember that elsewhere on this site that when Christ said, "Blessed are the meek," what he may have really meant was "Blessed are the disciplined.")
- Just as it's important to avoid trivial conversation, it's important to avoid trivial company who don't engage our minds and stir our souls.
- Any activity, including listening, if done in a concentrated fashion, does not tire us. On the contrary, it makes us more awake (although afterward natural and beneficial tiredness sets in).
- To some degree, all forms of psychosis stem from the inability to be objective. This phenomena is notorious as far as foreign nations are concerned. We make the other out to be depraved and fiendish, while we make ourselves out to be the very embodiment of what's good and noble. (Witness the Republican party's recent vilification of Iraq and France; this is a form of childish narcissism, which in political terms is expressed as isolationism.)
- The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility.
- Faith is a character trait pervading the whole personality, rather than a specific belief. Irrational faith is the acceptance of something as true only because an authority or the majority say so. Rational faith is rooted in an independent conviction based upon one's own productive observing and thinking, in spite of the majority's opinion.
- Faith in ourselves is a condition of our ability to make a promise, to make an agreement. Nietzsche said that people can be defined by their capacity to promise. In relation to love, faith means being in touch with our ability to produce love in others.
- While one is consciously afraid of not being loved, the real -- though usually unconscious fear -- is that of loving. To love means to commit oneself without guarantee.
- The paradoxical situation with a vast number of people today is that they are half asleep when awake, and half awake when asleep.
- "I give you as much as you give me," in material goods as well as in love, is the prevalent ethical maxim in capitalist society.
- Love is not necessarily fair. You'll often end up giving more than you get.
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
"The artist who is not also a craftsman is no good; but, alas, most of our artists are nothing else."
"Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois (common person), so that you may be violent and original in your work."
-- Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)
Blessed Are the 'Meek':
- 2,000 years ago the word meek was used to describe a chariot horse so well-trained that with the lightest touch of the rein it would instantly respond. At that time, the word meant well-disciplined. So when Jesus said "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," we can understand that he was saying, "Blessed are the well-disciplined, for they shall inherit the earth." (Taken from 5/5/2000, by Richard Noone, 1986)
- The word "meek" used in this context comes from the Greek word praus, referring to domesticated animals. Meekness was the attribute of a horse that was well-trained, obedient, disciplined. Its strength hadn't been reduced, but rather was enhanced, channeled in a useful direction as a result of discipline applied by its trainer. The word "meek" implies the idea of "strength under control."
- (The word "discipline" comes from the Latin discipulus, meaning "pupil," and from the verb discere, meaning "to learn." We can see the English word "discern" in here, which I'll define for the moment as "the ability to see the bullshit." Is it any wonder then the twelve apostles were called disciples?)
- "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret; it only causes harm."
(Psalms 37: 6-8)
- This passage seems to suggest that "meek" (disciplined) people exhibit a steady calm in time of upheaval. Further, it takes discipline (meekness) to merely let go and begin to trust. And it's apparent this passage means that people who get ahead by devious, sneaky, self-centered means have constructed a house of cards destined for eventually collapse. We can't get worked up when they seem to get ahead the easy way. They operate as if there are no consequences to their behavior and have no awareness of the social compact that binds mankind together.
- Here are some excerpts from a sermon delivered by Rev. Robert Wells Kingdon in 1955 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. They were transcribed and edited by his son, Henry Shannon Kingdon. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- I suppose the saying "Blessed are the meek" conjures up the thought of shy, frightened souls scurrying around the corners of life.
- There appear to be laws of the spirit quite as inexorable as those of the physical realm. If we keep sowing a bad indulgence, we reap a bad habit. And if we keep sowing a habit we reap a character. The only way to reap, or develop a good habit, is to sow good thoughts and deeds, repeatedly and with continuity
- A tiny child cannot be left alone in a room with an open fire lest he get burned. He can't be left alone beside a swimming pool lest he drown. He has to be taught by precept -- by restraint, by training -- the meekness and discipline that can make these things beneficial rather than harmful.
- Only as children and grown men and women submit to God’s school of experience for developing souls, and submit to His discipline, are we on the way to discovering what the Bible calls meekness
- Who are the meek? Not the indecisive or the incapable, but often those of very great ability whose power is disciplined under God. That is the kind of humility and meekness the Bible talks about.
- Meekness is not apathy, but is power blended with gentleness. Henry Ward Beecher described meekness as “The best side of a man under provocation maintaining itself in the best mood.” [The New Testament word in the Greek suggests the taming of wild animals.]
- A horse never broken to harness may have a lot of independent boldness. But when he has been disciplined to bridle he may be the one to win a race or remove a heavy load.
- Electricity shorting from a fallen wire through the body of a passer-by is disastrously destructive. But electricity channeled through a well-designed motor is the power that moves great loads. Uncontrolled, it flashes unpredictably through the skies as lightning, and is accompanied by great crashes of thunder. But channeled under control to the city it is the force that brings light and heat and motion to millions. And it is as quiet as the still small, but mighty, voice of conscience. Meekness is strength at its strongest and best disciplined.
- John Ruskin remarks that heroic strength is not conceivable without much delicacy.
- When we speak of the gentleness of Jesus we had best not mistake it for weakness. For it is the gentleness of power under superb control.
- The meek are those who have both their anger and their ambitions under such control that they are not made useless by frustrated desires or wounded vanity.
- Nor are the indecisive and helpless to be truly called meek. Nor the mighty like Hitler in Paris. [“Great city! I have conquered her by force; I will now conquer her by love.” Of course, he never did, nor could.] People held against their will do not prove profitable subjects or prospective friends.
- The complete sermon can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/hskingdon/1955/040355.html
"Sex is not sin but just the kindergarten of paradise."
"A work should contain its total meaning within itself and should impress it on the spectator before he even knows the subject."
-- Henri Matisse
"Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason."
-- Benjamin Franklin
From “Self Matters” (2001) by Phillip McGraw ("Dr. Phil")
Rating: Pretty good. I was predisposed to slam this guy, but he won me over to a certain extent. McGraw could never hold a candle to Werner Erhard, but to his credit, he manages to produce a rarity: a self-help book that actually helps, not confuses. I read this book because I got it for free and McGraw is currently at the forefront of the pop-psychology gang. Fortunately, he speaks well for his profession. The inclusion of "Self Matters" also reflects one of my major goals for this online book; for now, let's call this goal one of capturing in print what we may call the elusive "technology of going-for-it." While some of the source material appears to lie in the self-help category of books, a more vital source may lie within the field of business and, in particular, sales.
- If you don't wake up enthusiastic in the morning, that's a good sign you're out of touch with your life's purpose. Most of us are "too busy being busy" to ever get a glimpse of our purpose. Constant fatigue is another sign we're out of touch.
- You can't play the game of life with a strategy of "let's not lose" or "let's play it safe." You must live to win.
- By ignoring who we really are and need to be, we stress our systems to the point of shedding years from our lives. Prolonged stress can take away as many as 14 years from our lives. It takes tremendous energy to suppress our authentic selves.
- It's not merely our right to find our authentic selves, it's our responsibility. We owe it to our families, not to mention our communities.
- You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. (It just occurred to me why so many people fall for the so-called "security" of money. They feel it buys them time to solve their problems. Sure it does; they'll confront the problem four or five lifetimes from now.)
- A lie unchallenged becomes the truth.
- "Not choosing" is itself a choice.
- Whether we realize it or not, the world expects us to not upset the status quo. If we do, we can get labeled as someone who's "not convenient."
- The manner and style with which we engage other people determines their reaction to us. It communicates about nine times as much as our words do.
- As the Bible says: To whom much is given, much is expected.
- As another saying says: Whether you think you can or think you can't, either way you're right. (Henry Ford said something along these lines.)
- Every thought we have produces a physical reaction.
- "Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself."
-- Charles de Gaulle
- In a famous experiment, researchers filled a jar with fleas. After jumping and slamming themselves against the lid a few too many times, the fleas soon learned to stop their jump about a half-inch from the top. Amazingly, once the lid was removed, the fleas still stopped their jumps about a half-inch from the top of the jar. We all have patterns in our lives where we stop short, even though the jar lid has been removed. We spend too much energy worrying over and being controlled by what's already happened in our lives.
- "If there is no wind, row." -- Latin proverb
- The psychologist Alfred Adler observed that we form mental pictures of ourselves around a few key defining moments from our lives. These moments anchor our emotional reactions to the world.
- "I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one."
-- Mark Twain
- Some of our most critical choices in life result from the search for a love we feel is elusive.
- If we have self-doubts, the world will pick on them like open wounds. (Remember the saying, "Doubt is the devil.")
- A craving for worldly success can be as addictive as any drug. (Yet it's an addiction the world, including our educational system, applauds.)
- When we don't believe in ourselves, we try to find someone else to do it for us.
- In one of his seminars, McGraw met a 64-year-old woman who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. What the woman said is highly instructive: "Because of him (her abusive step-father), I learned to withdraw from my body." (How many of us are still withdrawn to a certain extent because of traumatic childhood experiences?)
- In a moment of high brilliance, in one single paragraph that more than justifies the price of the book, Dr. Phil describes how this woman returned to future seminars as a volunteer: She would love the "stoniest souls" in the room until they melted. Now matter how shut down, backed up or embittered they were, she would not let go. She knew from experience where they were and she went in after them. She absolutely was not going to leave anyone behind.
- We can affect other people, even from a distance, just by how we carry ourselves. (Don't think they fail to notice.)
- We need to look out and love people who aren't very loveable.
- We respond not to what happens to us externally, but rather to how we internalize the circumstance.
- "The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm."
-- Swedish proverb
- "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
- As humans, we're more likely to believe negatives than positives. To compound the matter, our negative internal dialogue gets loudest when we need it the least. (Personally, I feel very comfortable around people, but when I'm around that occasional woman I feel extremely attracted to, I turn into a basket case with a vocabulary of about 20 useful words.) At these moments in my life, some (including Dr. Phil) would say that an unconscious tape was taking over my psyche. Tapes are never positive. They are lightning-fast rehearsals based on negative past experiences. They say "Danger! Danger!" even when no danger exists.
- There is no such thing as a positive tape. They tend to operate below the level of consciousness. They tell us, "I won't get to first base with this guy; I'll never get this job." When the tape is in control, guess who is the passenger! Once we're more aware of these tapes, we're more in touch with the script that's running our life. This script may have been written years earlier, often by someone else. Who needs an old script pre-determining a current event? Moreover, scripts anesthetize our fear of the unknown by limiting ourselves to familiar territory and outcomes, even when the experience is not very fulfilling.
- When we start to feel out of control, we resort to our self-limiting scripts. They are comforting -- just look at a panicky actor who forgets his lines.
- When we're at the mercy of a fixed belief, when we're living from a script, we'll resist any change to it.
- There's a direct, instant communication-link between our nerve cells and immune cells. That's why stressed-out people are more susceptible to illness. (That's why people who get regular massages can probably live longer, healthier lives.)
- Because we're a society of people who don't really know ourselves (we're not anchored), we're highly vulnerable to input from all kinds of external sources: parents, peers, authority figures, newspapers, magazines, advertising, movies, the Internet.
- Even when it's counterproductive, we don't maintain any behavior, dialogue, or thought pattern that doesn't provide us with some kind of reward or payoff.
- For most of us, it's less important to be happy and successful. It's more important to be right. Our payoffs, however illogical, are powerful.
- We script our lives to have certain incomes, certain relationships, and certain lifestyles. Although we say we want more, we're uncomfortable about taking the steps. Too many of us will settle for the familiar script rather than reach out for something that's actually fulfilling.
- Scripts govern what we say and do. They also impose expectancies or roles on other people.
- "In flying, I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks." -- Wilbur Wright
- Too often the days of our lives are built upon negative momentum.
- There's a raging controversy in psychology over the best way to help people change. Do we change feelings and emotions first, then let behavioral changes follow? Or do we change behaviors first? McGraw suggests doing both at once.
- "We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." -- Carlos Castaneda
- Without the capacity for forgiveness, we're destined to a life marred by anger, bitterness, and hatred. The lack of forgiveness chews away at our health, not to mention our soul.
- Consider the technique used by American Indian tribes to punish abusive behavior: The whole tribe simply disconnected from the offender, refusing to acknowledge his or her presence. He or she was made "invisible." This was the worst possible punishment. The tribe simply withdrew their investment of energy in the other person. Why waste precious energy with the simmering rage of unforgiveness? (Which reminds me of a great quote from Ayn Rand: "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.")
- When we're in touch with our authentic self, we have benchmarks that show up: confidence, optimism, a sense of purpose (and let me add, a sense of humor).
- "To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves." -- Will Durant
- Real friends will tell you the truth even when you don't want to hear it. They'll also help you get what you want, even though they think you're a little nuts.
- "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it." -- Jonathan Winters
- A racehorse has to run, a bird has to fly, an artist has to paint, a teacher has to teach. There is something in each of us we have to do.
"I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short."
-- Blaise Pascal
"Artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs."
-- G.K. Chesterton
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-- Jack London
From “Edgar Cayce on Soul Mates” (1999) by Kevin Todeschi
Born in 1877, Cayce (pronounced Casey) gave thousands of trance-state readings until he died in 1945, well before the topic of soul mates became fashionable. Some consider him America's greatest clairvoyant, channeling wisdom from some unknown, higher source (that's why I prefer channeling to psycho-babble, egocentric garbage like Dr. Laura Schlessinger). Another work that includes Cayce readings is referenced on the previous page ("There Will Your Heart Be Also: Edgar Cayce's Readings About Home and Marriage").
- Some people mistakenly believe that once they find a soul mate, the relationship will pose no more challenges or conflicts.
- The concept of soul mates has existed for thousands of years in many different cultures. Whether expressed in myth or legend, the concept involves a falling-away of mankind from oneness with God.
- It was only Beauty's love that could transform the Beast.
- There is something incomplete about the lone human condition. ("It is not good for man to be alone." -- Genesis 2:18)
- One of the underlying themes of Cayce's work is that we best come to know ourselves through our relationships and encounters with other people.
- Soul mates don't complete us. They offer us the motivation to complete ourselves.
- "Love does not insist on its own way." -- 1 Corinthians 13
- The Cayce readings suggest we each have multiple soul mates from past lives, several of whom would make appropriate partners in our current lifetime. We need to monitor our dreams for cues as to who would make a suitable partner.
- According to Cayce, the best criteria to look for in a partner is someone who will help you become a better person, express a spiritual ideal, and live a life of service to others. Physical attraction and desire are secondary.
- On some occasions, Cayce told people not to marry until they were more clear about their purposes in life.
- A soul mate is often an individual who often reflects or lets us encounter our own strengths and weaknesses.
- Couples can become divided in purpose if either becomes self-centered or gives in to selfish motives.
- Love transforms hardships into opportunities.
- "For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you." -- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
- The old adage says "When the student is ready, the teacher presents himself." So it is with soul mates, who seem to be drawn together at just the right time for a purposeful reason -- sometimes in spite of themselves.
- What allows other people (and ourselves) to grow and change is giving them the benefit of the doubt.
- Cayce's readings make it clear that we choose our parents, our towns, etc. We decided to reincarnate in this time and place to learn specified lessons. If we don't get the lessons straight this time around, we'll keep coming back lifetime upon lifetime until we do get them right.
- Sometimes, the purpose of meeting soul mates this time around is to clear up anger, animosity, and/or resentment from previous lifetimes. If too much anger clutters up our life, says Cayce, "We have not begun to think straight."
- Love transcends time.
- None of us has so many friends that we can afford to lose even one.
- Says one woman of her female soul mate: "The first time I heard her speak, my soul resonated with the sound of her voice and I felt something shift inside of me."
- If couples try to resolve problems responsibly, situations can be understood and the discomfort erased.
- Couples need to find a mutual purpose that is greater than their marriage (perhaps volunteering together on a long-term basis in a local soup kitchen).
- For couples who find it "hard to agree about anything," Cayce recommends they stop dwelling on the differences and start focusing on the common ground. Says Cayce, "Minimize the faults, magnify the virtues." (Buckminster Fuller loved to repeat the song line "Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive.") Cayce also encouraged couples to make their experience together worthwhile -- right here, right now.
- Soul mates are help mates. This point is driven home by another source of superb channeled information from an alien race known as The Zetas.
- Cayce was often consulted by lonely people looking for a loving partner. He'd often advise the person to first be more loving themselves and less self-absorbed.
- He also advised others at times that their longings were not based on love but on their desire to possess the other. (When I smell possession in the air, I tend to bail out like a rat from a sinking ship.)
- "Finding her allowed my life to begin." -- Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever
- In our relationships with others, our intent should be to bring out the best in them.
- Loneliness can be a time of healing, a period of reaching out to the less fortunate, a period of developing our unique talents. By doing so, we increase our chances of attracting an appropriate life-partner. Said Cayce in this regard, "Do something for someone else!" He also mentions that whatever we put out eventually comes back (a central theme of Wicca, by the way).
- Several Cayce readings seem to suggest that when a lonely person became involved in a more suitable occupation, the right companion would present themself.
- A successful marriage has little to do with filling the emotional void called loneliness. It has everything to do with you giving your partner what they need and want at a very deep level, without expecting much in return.
- In the Old Testament, Isaac and Rebecca became the parents of Esau and Jacob. Esau, the "manly" one, enjoyed physical and mental pursuits. Jacob, however, went one step further. His mother's favored son, Jacob developed his spiritual growth in addition to his physical and mental endeavors. As an adult, this quiet and gentle man became the spiritual leader of the nation of Israel. (I've said earlier on this site that the great malady of our times is education without empathy.)
- Sometimes Cayce would chide people who asked him what they should be doing with their lives. He'd tell them to apply what they know now, today. The next answer will come tomorrow. (Here we go again, back to my geometry teacher: "He's not applying himself.")
- If we want to learn what we need to work on spiritually, look at the people who drive us crazy. Their annoying behaviors are the same ones we have to clean up in ourselves. On the other hand, if we want to know what we have to work with, look at the positive traits in those people we admire.
- Things change for the better when we expect them to.
- Good advice for couples: Don't both get angry at the same time.
- The spirit with which you do things for others is the spirit you'll get back.
- One couple described their turbulent days by saying "We became involved in satisfying whatever desire crawled out of us." (No discipline or diet/regimen here, as the ancient Greeks might have put it. No framework for positive results.)
- Give light to those who sit in darkness, without forcing your beliefs upon them.
- We don't sow one day and reap 24 hours later.
- The soul only gets to keep what it gives away.
- Never let your partner down in terms of your personal behavior. If you're a man, be the husband your wife needs and wants you to be. Stand in her shoes and gain her perspective.
- We can't change people by force. We can only give them the respect we want them to give us in return.
- Our homes should be the proverbial place where "an angel would want to visit."
- It's not so much what careers we have but how we interact with the people around us.
- Other people are not the source of our problems. They merely present us with opportunities for the further growth of our soul. To back down from the challenge may mark a regression of our soul for this particular lifetime. (Do you know why peacocks are so beautiful? Because they eat thorns.)
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
"The man who can't dance thinks the band is no good."
-- Polish proverb
"He who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe."
From “Learning How to Learn” (1978) by Indries Shah
Utterly dispensable. The author is better known for The Way of the Sufi.
"For 2000 years the West has been under a most terrible tyranny, the Christian religion." (From the foreword by Doris Lessing -- talk about an academic pitbull in a china shoppe.) Not only do humorous anecdotes contain valuable structures for understanding, their use also helps to weed out people who lack a sense of humor. Sufis hold that people who have not developed or who have suppressed their capacity to enjoy humor are, in this deprived state, also without learning capacity. (It sounds like the author is describing Ms. Lessing.) In order to learn, humility is not so much a virtue as a necessity. Genuine mystical experience can be invoked in the devout by rhythmic methods.
From “Life Strategies” (1999) by Dr. Phil
I don't watch much television, and most celebrities I see there present themselves on the shallow side. However, McGraw is a notable standout. In fact, he's one of the most admirable aspects of American TV.
When Oprah Winfrey was first caught up in a major lawsuit in Texas, one that threatened the viability of her career, she was destined to lose because "she fought back with her head, not with her heart." (Winfrey eventually won the case.) "We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves."
-- Mark Twain Is what we have in life what we really want, or is it what we've settled for because it was easy, safe, or not as scary as what we really wanted? To be effective in the real world we need to focus on results, not intentions. As a psychologist, McGraw found he liked building strategies better than doing therapy. (Proactive, versus reactive.) Instead of wondering whether the way we are living is "right," ask instead whether it's either working or not working. There are times in life when we need to do nothing more than shut up. The number-one fear among all people is rejection. The number-one need among all people is acceptance. To manage people effectively, you must do it in a way that protects or enhances their self-esteem. People like, trust and believe those who like them. People seek out this person because they know they'll be treated well. The encounter leaves them feeling better about themselves for having had the interaction. "The sower may mistake and sow his peas crookedly; the peas make no mistake, but come up and show his line."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson What if it is not too late? What if change really is there for the taking? By not attempting change, our payoff is staying in the safe zone where nothing threatens us. Find the payoff that's running you, and you can consciously unplug from it. "We've got them."
-- Gen. George Custer, on being attacked at Little Bighorn, 1876 (You can't change what you don't acknowledge.) Half the solution to any problem lies in defining the situation. We must acknowledge that we're getting some kind of payoff for living with what we don't want. "Well done is better than well said."
-- Ben Franklin Life rewards action. It does not reward intention, insight, wisdom or understanding. "You can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."
-- Plato Men see taking out the trash as a chore. Their wives see it as an act of love because it makes their life easier. We all operate from fixed beliefs. We no longer test them nor challenge them. "It's just the way I am." This is a major spot where people remain stuck in the land of non-results. There is no person in the world without flaws, problems and challenges. "Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame."
-- Ben Franklin For every thought, for every feeling, there is a physiological reaction. A thought is a behavior. The number-one determinant for a successful life strategy is choosing precisely what you want to accomplish. If you have spent most of your life settling for what you don't want, or settling too cheaply, then enforcing a standard of excellence and non-compromise will feel like an unnatural act. (Brilliant.) The best parachute folders are those who jump themselves. Assign a timeline to your goal. Contrast this with a dream, which is vague in both definition and time. You will obtain your goal only if you are on a timeline and commit to a certain date. Rely on your strategy, planning, and programming, not on your willpower. Arrange your environment in such a way that it "pulls for" the result you desire. Study, dissect and analyze your successes with the same vigor and commitment with which you dwell on your mistakes. When you study your successes you focus on the positive. Things work in life when we choose the right attitude and behavior to generate the right results.
"The most beautiful world is always entered through imagination."
- Helen Keller
From "Werner Erhard" (1978) by William W. Bartley, III
This biography chronicles the life of Werner Erhard, founder of two dynamic seminar programs: est and The Forum. Bartley, before his untimely death, was professor of philosophy at California State University, Hayward. Included in this book is the type of information that not so much tells us what to do or how to act, but to discover ways of being that help us determine for ourselves an appropriate course of action in life. Because I find Erhard's work particularly enlightening and invaluable, the discussion posted here may seem particularly lengthy. Individual transformation cannot readily be sustained in an untransformed environment, amidst untransformed relationships and groups. "I feel myself growing from a particular person into a universal design."
-- Nigel Dennis, Cards of Identity The first thing one learns on the road to one's own true self is that one is not who one thinks one is. One cannot reason a person out of a position they haven't been reasoned into. Oftentimes with so-called "accidents," one punishes oneself so as -- with one and the same stroke -- to enact self-punishment and to obviate the need for it from someone else. When it comes to being spiritual, there is no such thing as "attainment." "One who understands can no longer put such an enormous load of significance, or responsibility and duty, the weight of all heaven and hell, upon the weak and erring human being in need of love, care, understanding and forgiveness, who was our mother."
-- Carl Jung Behavior is at the mercy of unconscious commands like "I have to be bad in order to be good," or "I have to get people to hate me in order to get people to love me," or "I have to be unhappy in order to be happy." Such internal commands are so illogical that we hardly get close to them, to confront them, when they begin to show. Since they do not fit into any system, and are therefore unthinkable, they are unavailable for examination. Yet, just such commands shape the selection of our environments and our behavior within them. Not only does the past influence the present, it does so in a contradictory, dichotomous way. At best this produces ambivalence; at worst, schizophrenia. One can manipulate, change, try to fix one's life, without dealing with such commands. But no mastery, no wholeness or satisfaction, is possible that way. To attain mastery, you must penetrate to the source of the trouble -- to the commands themselves. You must observe them, and transcend them. Resistance and the need to dominate and be right destroy your ability to allow things to be. When you have no ability to allow things to be, you have no ability to be responsible for them as they are. When you cannot be responsible for the way things are, you have no space. When you have no space, you have no ability to create. It is in creating that you establish true independence. Resistance, domination and righteousness impoverish your life and touch everything you do. "The religious leader extends the problem of his identity to the borders of existence in the known universe; other human beings bend all their efforts to adopt and fulfill the departmentalized identities which they find prepared in their communities. No wonder that he is something of an old man (a philosophus and a sad one) when his age-mates are young, or that he remains something of a child when they age with finality."
-- Erik Erikson Some people "know" powerfully and insightfully. They don't just have a pile of knowledge. What is "real" is usually not spoken about. "His nature was not remorseless, but to escape from a trap he has to act without pity."
-- Tennessee Williams It is a law of the Mind that you become what you resist. As a victim, you get to be righteous, and that is all you get. "I saw all mankind as being entangled in their own life stories. Every move that anyone made to get free from the story only added a new chapter." Being unacknowledged, this kind of horror never becomes part of our culture, and the individual who experiences it becomes more isolated. The methods used to enhance motivation in business are not all that different from those used to develop human potential generally. Both refer, for their success, to the true generality and universality of liberal education. Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich is more about thinking than growing rich. The first notion of his books is that all achievement has as its source an idea freely created. With ideas one can create out of nothing. Hard work and sacrifice are in vain unless accompanied by ideas. The unconscious is constantly bombarded by fear, doubt, and unbelief, which exert a hypnotic effect on it. All thought tends to transmute itself into reality. However, this is strikingly true of thought that has been emotionalized, given feeling, and mixed with faith. (Here's a case for the power of massage within a context described by Candace Pert and Deane Juhan.) Hill's approach was to see one's goals as already attained. Hill adds that a careful selection of friends and acquaintances also reinforces positive thoughts and emotions, and keeps out negative ones. To tap Infinite Intelligence, says Hill, one's mind must operate with the highest "vibrations." Then one is lifted to a higher point of view and sees beyond barriers. A high rate of vibration is achieved by blending ideas with emotions through the use of what Freud called sublimation and the Hindus call Kundalini: the transmutation of the sex drive. The mind must be switched from thoughts of physical expression to thoughts of some other nature, redirecting energy and imagination that usually go into sexual gratification to higher ends. Says Hill, a genius is one who, by the sublimation of sex, has increased his mental vibrations to the point where he can communicate with sources of knowledge not ordinarily available. According to Maxwell Maltz in his classic Psycho-Cybernetics, human beings are engineered as goal-seeking mechanisms, and must have a target at which to shoot. Maltz maintains that no one can expect to change his self-image until he recognizes his responsibility for it. Says Maltz, "No longer can you derive sickly comfort from blaming your parents, society, your early experiences, or the injustices of others for your present troubles. Unlike Freud, Maltz rejects the supposition that one must dig out past painful and traumatic experiences in order to effect personal change. He says that other barriers reinforcing negative self-image are resentment and righteousness. Resentment and the self-righteousness that attends it are doubly pernicious: they fixate one in the past, and render one the victim of some other party to whom one attributes causative power. Like a broken record, one keeps reliving -- replaying -- past injustices. Such an "engram" becomes more potent with each replaying. Resentment fixates one in the past. Whether you "ought" to or "should", forgiveness leads to greater happiness, health, and peace of mind. For Maltz, guilt is an attempt to make right in the present something one did or thought of as wrong in the past. Resentment, righteousness and guilt work together to create inhibition. Inhibition involves excessive monitoring, causing the servo-mechanism to overcorrect. When one is inhibited, one cannot express one's true creative self. When inhibited people receive feedback indicating that their manner of expression is somewhat off course, they often jump to the absurd conclusion that self-expression itself is wrong, or that success is wrong for them. Such a personality, as Maltz puts it, "stutters all over." Resentment, guilt and inhibition pull the individual out of the present. This Maltz sees as the most important underlying emotional problem, and the root of all dissatisfaction in life. Repair of these symptoms goes hand in hand with creating a new positive self-image. The main tools for these tasks are three: physical relaxation, imagination, and hypnosis. When relaxed, one no longer has to respond automatically to negative beliefs. The nervous system cannot distinguish between an actual experience and one vividly imagined. Belief in and toward a positive goal is a form of creative hypnotism. (Maltz) In the early 1840s, an English physician named James Braid reinterpreted hypnotism as a trance state induced by concentration of attention. Trance states are mentioned briefly by Plato in the Phaedrus as early as the fourth century BC, where the connection between prophecy and healing is noted. Anthropologists report that such states may also be found in shamanistic practices throughout the world. In the religions of the Orient -- in the meditative and yogic practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions -- they were brought to an exceptional height of refinement. Most of the phenomena attributed to hypnosis in the West are found in the meditative and religious disciplines of both East and West. In the East, trance states are cultivated as aids to overcome outside influences and to heighten the freedom of the individual. (We need to look at a superior massage as a means of inducing a positive, life-enhancing trance.) People are already, normally, in trance. A good example of this is the very rigid, fixated person. Erhard notes that Maltz and Hill work entirely at the level of Mind. The Eastern disciplines such as meditation and yoga, he says, recognize the existence of something beyond Mind: the Self. "The point is to be de-hypnotized. This is what an expanded state of consciousness actually involves. On the way to such an expanded sate of consciousness, one moves through both the trance of normal states and those states formally labeled as trance. Both normal and trance states are, in and of themselves, neutral states of being." Successful business is predicated upon how many good people you have working for you. Erhard says that as he worked through Maltz, Hill and others as a young man, he started dropping his inconsistent behavior and way of being. He stopped scheming. "Whoever has passed successfully through an education for truthfulness towards himself, will thereby be protected permanently against the danger of immorality, even if his standard of morality should somehow differ from social convention."
-- Sigmund Freud "Being successful in business was the dues I had to pay to do what I really wanted to do. What I wanted to do, and by now was doing, was working with people. I saw, under the influence of Maslow, Rogers, and others in this field, that people who are healthy and developing as human beings are naturally successful in their jobs. Then you don't have to motivate them. They motivated themselves." Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) charted as his lifework the study of unusually healthy and creative people. He found that such individuals had a more accurate perception of reality, a heightened acceptance of themselves, of others, and of nature; that they were spontaneous, detached, desired privacy; that they were automonous, reisistant to enculturation, but not rebels against authority; that they were capable of fresh experience and of rich emotional reactions; that they did not need groups and institutions and political parties for personal identification, but tended to identify with the human species as a whole; that their interpersonal relations were of an unusually developed quality; that they tended not to discriminate on the basis of social status, age, sex, race: they were more democratic; they were creative. And they had a high incidence of peak -- or "mystical" -- experiences in the course of their lives. (Let me add that such a healthy person would rarely be a member of the Republican Party!) "I think of the self-actualizing man," Maslow writes, "not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away." Neuroses are "deficiency diseases" stemming from the failure to satisfy some basic need. (I remember in one seminar there was an agitated participant, and from the stage Erhard belted out: "Someone give that person what they need.") As a therapist, Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was not satisfied to deal with individuals out of context. He turned to the ecological aspects of therapy and growth, to search after and define "facilitative conditions" that would have to be present in various environments -- in one-to-one therapy, in families, or in groups -- to further personal growth and self-actualization. According to Rogers, the experience of growth, of learning to be free, best takes place in a situation that approximately satisfies one's basic needs. It must be a "safe space," a "close warm, understanding relationship in which there is freedom from such things as threat, and freedom to choose and be." After reducing their defensive rigidity, individuals begin to hear one another; communication takes place. Change comes to seem possible, even desirable, rather than threatening. Many families and friendships also provide eco-niches that hinder personal development. They are mutual protection rackets that work to defend facades rather than to satisfy basic needs. As Erhard said once in a seminar I attended, the basis of most friendships is "I won't call you on your shit if you don't call me on mine." The "humanistic psychology" movement of the mid-20th century found that people became more open and capable in certain kinds of groups than they had ever been even with their own families. (I love the connection here between openness and capability.) Says Carl Rogers, when one approaches a state "where all is known and all accepted, further growth becomes possible." Like William James before him, Rogers battled to open up the practice of therapy to professional psychologists and even to laymen. From the 1930s through the mid 1950s, Rogers was almost alone in his battle to keep the medical establishment -- and only those it had certified -- from gaining a stranglehold on the "helping professions." Because of these battles, Rogers almost lost a position in Rochester, New York. As you get in touch with your natural integrity, you break up reactive patterns even more. When you start to tell the truth, you begin to look at your offhand remarks, and to examine every single one of them. You begin to realize that you almost never tell the truth exactly. And you realize that anything less than the truth is a lie: you cannot "pretty much" tell the truth. To "pretty much" tell the truth is to lie. One of the few things about which philosophers agree is that a mystical experience is ineffable: beyond language and unable to be described -- and that it is intolerable that it should be so. According to Erhard, most of what we think of as experience in our lives is highly schematic and conceptual, and so rigidly organized that true experience can rarely break through it. That is, most of what we call "experience" is in fact not experiential. In a major peak/mystical experience that occurred in 1963, Erhard said he became more detached and objective, able to sense people more intensely. In this experience, he says he experienced the Self -- not his self, which is conceptual, not experiential. He was carried out of his ordinary state, not merely to another state, he says, but to "the context for all states, the context of all contexts." Erhard believes that his discipline of telling the truth unflinchingly eventually wore out his concepts that act to lock in the experience, making it unattainable in the course of ordinary affairs. The word "conversion" is often limited to a religious context, where in fact it has much wider applications. Chiefly, it is the death of one's old values and a rebirth with new ones. Eventually Erhard realized he turned into an "unflinching truth-teller" in order to be right. "But you don't tell the truth in order to be right. You tell the truth in order to tell the truth. I hadn't yet got that." Erhard says that of all the disciplines he studied, practiced and learned, Zen was the essential one. The distinctive element of Zen is instantaneousness leading to transformation, rather than process leading to change. A Zen adept does not impose his own will on the other, and he also does not permit himself to be influenced by the will of the other. He lets be what is. Zen is about the "suchness" of sitting, for example, not the technique of sitting in order to gain something. Mere explanation is a defense against the truth. An important aim of Zen exercises is a kind of concentration or Mind control, known as joriki, which promotes experiential knowing. This is not ordinary "concentration." It permits us to act instantly yet entirely appropriately, even in the most abrupt and unexpected situations. "It never occurs to most people to try to control their minds, and unfortunately this basic training is left out of contemporary education. Yet without it what we learn is difficult to retain because we learn improperly, wasting much energy in the process. Indeed, we are virtually crippled unless we know how to restrain our thoughts and concentrate our minds. Furthermore, by practicing this very excellent mode of mind training (bompu Zen), you will find yourself increasingly able to resist temptation to which you had previously succumbed, and to sever attachments which had long held you in bondage. (The Lord's Prayer: "Lead us not into temptation.")
-- Philip Kapleau, Three Pillars of Zen "Paradoxically, Eastern religious thought turns out to be more congenial to Western thought than does Western religious thought itself."
-- Erich Fromm "In business I had to meet a criterion: anything I used had to produce results." (Erhard) The mind wants to sell, to convince, to manipulate. You sell when you are in trouble. Yet it is much easier to "sell" than to work with integrity, intention and communication. Unconscious patterns make puppets out of us. A chief lesson that Erhard learned from the martial arts, particularly from judo, concerned the dangers of positionality. He would show his associates a film on judo from the Japanese consulate. Part of it was in slow motion, and it was evident that the master would never move in to attack until the instant when his opponent stopped to think. The instant your opponent takes a position -- that is to say, stops -- he is vulnerable. Through his encounters with Scientology, Erhard saw that Mind is at the root of all the trouble, and that the trouble lies in its positionality. "Previously I had still thought of Mind as a useful tool." Yogic practices amount to a systematic reduction of mechanicalness in one's life. At some point, after reducing our mechanicalness -- and going beyond Mind -- we regain abilities that are transcendent to form and position, abilities that we had been prevented from using by our very own mechanical nature. "As yogis well know, there is knowing, and there is the demonstration of knowing. The world keeps grinding you into the demonstration of knowing, and into proving it. This reduces knowingness." According to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, the reactive mind operates according to a logic that "everything is like everything else": any new experience turns out to re-stimulate the reactive mind, and thus the person is continually jerked unconscious. He no longer has the space to create; he "goes solid." Much of the contemporary consciousness movement agrees with Hubbard, on the technical level, about the importance of rehabilitating the imagination in the attempt to bring people to fulfill their potential. (This is also an unintended nod to the positive role of sexual fantasy.) The truth, when believed, is a lie. You must experience the truth, not believe it. Of all the disciplines Erhard studied, he says Zen was the essential one. The state of hypnotic trance has traditionally been associated with healing, clairvoyance, and extrasensory perception. "If one does not expect the unexpected one will not find it, for it is not reached by search or trial."
-- Heraclitus "Once you reach your true nature, all evil bent of mind arising from karma extending over innumerable years past is instantly annihilated, like snow put into a roaring furnace."
-- Bassui Tokusho Roshi (1327-1387) In March 1971, Erhard was driving on a freeway north of San Francisco when he experienced the most enlightening moments of awareness in his life so far. He saw that everything he knew and learned was skewed to an end -- to success and survival of the mind. He saw that there were no hidden meanings. Knowledge obscures the simplicity, the truth, the "suchness" of it all. He saw that everything was going to be alright (this was a powerful, overriding theme of my first mystical experience in the summer of 2003). He didn't just think anymore that things were alright, he knew it was alright, always was, and always would be. ("Glory be to the father, and to the son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.") It was as if the Self were the projector and everything else the movie. Before this moment, "I could only recognize myself by seeing the movie. Now I saw that I am prior to or transcendent to all that." After this event, Erhard's wife said he no longer dominated with his intelligence. Operating from a space beyond Mind, the Self is able to act appropriately without benefit of patterns and programs. "Culture places before each of us only one task: to promote the creation of the philosopher, of the artist, and of the saint within and without us and thus to contribute to the perfection of nature."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche The key to Erhard's thought is the recognition of Self. "Our culture does not encourage people to be philosophers, and this is perhaps the most devastating denial of freedom in our lives." Most people exist not in a state of Self but in a "fallen" or untransformed state: a state of Mind. Most everyone is in a state of upset all the time. Most of us set a high value in life upon being comfortable. But to move into more meaningful spaces, we'll need to experience being off-center at times. The point is to choose to be uncomfortable in order to allow being uncomfortable to be. Our points of view are positional, and to get off it, to leave the point of view behind, is always uncomfortable and frequently terrifying. The Mind acts to make itself right and others wrong, dominate and avoid being dominated, justify itself and invalidate others. Once the individual identifies with his Mind, he becomes -- to the extent of the identification -- no more than a machine for fending off threats. Survival or perpetuation of positionality comes at the expense of wholeness, completion, and experiencing one's experience. The normal Mind state of consciousness is of an exceedingly low level. In this space, one is coming from survival, domination, perpetuation of positionality. He will use belief, knowledge, attitudes and points of view on behalf of such aims. One will not live to know, but will know to live. In this state, even one's way of being and sense of morality are skewed toward positionality and domination. A person in the Mind state will tend to operate in a righteous, regretful and resentful style. In the act of observing mind, the individual moves beyond it and becomes more open to experience and life. The key fault of much of psychotherapy, and also of most disciplines in the self-help movement, has been its preoccupation with Mind structures. They offer explanation, but explanation alone gives no power to transcend our attachments and circumstances. By its very nature, a concept is a symbol for experience, rather than the experience itself. A transformed environment is one where the truth can be told. "To be unable to take one's own enemies, accidents and misdeeds seriously for long -- that is the sign of strong and rich natures."
-- Nietzsche Appropriateness is a readiness for a situation as it really is, not as one might wish it to be. It is always a creative space. It is creative even when it creates nothing, for sometimes it's appropriate to just create nothing. To refrain from creating precisely when one is in a position to create is itself creative. This is true control. Appropriateness, the Tao, the way, is revealed as unconsciousness is removed. As one begins to experience life, one's behavior effortlessly becomes more and more appropriate just in the process of living itself. "What is meant by wu wei (non-action) is that no personal prejudice (or self-will) interferes with the universal Tao, and that no desires and obsessions lead the true course of techniques astray."
-- from the Huai Nan Tzu, written around 125 BC To appropriate each moment as one's own is to be at cause. (Owning the space.) Erhard defines "evil" as selling or trading aliveness for survival. The world is not friendly to the experience that your life works, that you are capable of having relationships that are meaningful and nurturing. There is, one the other hand, plenty of room to be slick and clever and successful. The world is truly friendly to that. Thus to express transformation into an untransformed relationship or institution is automatically to generate survival behavior from the affected relationship or institution. Among the mechanisms that foster positionality in families and institutions are lack of full communication, pretense (which is a socially sanctioned form of lying), unacknowledged mistakes, and uncorrectability. Some institutions seem actually set up merely to go through the motions -- and to frustrate attempts to do otherwise. No wonder that everyone in such a stifling environment seems tired all the time. If you are going to do anything, do it exactly and completely. Confucius "would not sit on his mat unless it was straight."
-- Analects, X-9 "The intellectual content of Buddha's teaching is only half his work. A training, a spiritual self-training of the highest order, was accomplished -- a training about which unthinking people who talk about 'quietism' and 'Hindu dreaminess' and the like have no conception. Instead Buddha accomplished a training of himself and his pupils, exercised a discipline, set up a goal, and produced results before which even the genuine heroes of European action can only feel awe."
-- Hermann Hesse Everyone has a purpose in life to have people's lives work. We each have that agreement with God. In the "good old days," nobody worried about rigidity of character. It was supposed to be rigid. We didn't trust people who were flexible. There are only two games in life. One is to expand -- to participate, to play wholeheartedly. The other is to contract. There is no such thing as holding still. The secret as to whether we'll expand or contract -- in our relationships and in life -- has to do with our relationships with our parents. Until we complete our relationships with them, we have little ability to expand. Indeed, we can do little more than act out or dramatize the limitations in our relationships with them. The reason this is not more keenly perceived has to do with change. People mistake change for expansion. In fact, change is usually a manifestation of contraction. It's simply a variation on a theme, and the theme is some unconscious pattern in our relationship with our parents. Thus change is the re-enactment of, a variation on, some limited pattern. Such change produces no satisfaction in life, not even when it is undertaken precisely to obtain greater satisfaction. People make the same mess over and over again because they carry with them, wherever they go, whatever they do, the patterns and dramatizations stemming from the lack of completion in their relationships with their parents. To be satisfied, to expand, you must first be where you are, and do what you're doing -- no matter where you are and no matter what you're doing. You have not been assigned the job of evaluating your parents, and you will have to give up making them wrong. You will have to give up resisting their domination and be prepared to have it appear that they win and you lose. The only cause for not admiring and respecting someone is something within yourself -- something that you are unwilling to accept and create. "My approach," says Erhard, "is one of wanting to get the universal from the Eastern tradition, rather than wanting to get the Eastern from the Eastern tradition. I would like to make space for a true transformation of society that is not limited by any one of those disciplines and traditions and that includes them all." It's deplorable how people use concepts to cut themselves off from experience.
"In times of great danger, you're permitted to walk with the devil until you've crossed the bridge."
-- Bulgarian proverb
"If you mean to be of consequence, dare to do things worthy of imprisonment."
-- Juvenal (~55-130 AD)
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin
From literature distributed by the est organization in the 1970s and '80s:
The rules for successful living must include the principle of "you and me" rather than "you or me." We need be less concerned with what to do rather than how to be so that the proper actions will reveal themselves. In our world, we quickly learn that our innermost selves don't count. That's when we start to buy into the agreed upon values of life: money, power, and status. Humanity is probably headed for an outcome that's worse than the end of the world: It's more likely we'll continue on the way we always have been, creeping at our petty pace. The highest function of our intellect is the ability to create context. The source of context is the Self. It comes into being when an individual creates it within herself or himself. It comes alive when each of us says "so be it." That we can create a world that works for everyone is outside the scope and limits in which we've lived until now. We have to dare to do more than merely dream. We need to dare to be responsible for, to be the creator of, our own world. What's most missing in our lives is a sense of nobility -- not merely a sense of purpose, but as George Bernard Shaw described it, "a purpose recognized by ourselves as a mighty one." To live nobly, to determine for ourselves that our lives have purpose and meaning, can only be accomplished with the quality of humility. It takes real humility, for example, to be bold without being arrogant. If you are truly compassionate, you are willing to ask people to stretch to be even more. The key to living successfully in a "you and me" world is discovering and then delivering what's wanted and needed. The biggest difference we can make is to enable other people to discover that they make a difference. Adventure is something that keeps you a little uncomfortable and off-balance. Don't try to get rid of the discomfort. We are infants at creating context. "If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed." (Chinese proverb) Commitment is the triumph of creation over mere change. The heart and soul of real leadership is a vision and an unreasonableness that finds expression in bringing forth as possibility that which does not yet exist. Leaders are people who leave their mark by having the courage to initiate a conversation for action -- and, in speaking and action, to inspire and free the best in those around them. When you make someone do something against their will, that is not power. That is force, a negation of power. Power is, almost exclusively, the ability to empower. Everyone, given the opportunity to actually make some difference in life, will put nothing before that. The test of whether we are dealing with fundamental laws and principles, or with mere reasons and explanations, is whether there is a shift from controversy, frustration and gesturing, to mastery, motion, and completion. When an idea's time comes, the forces in the world are transformed so that instead of what you do being unworkable, what you do works. And you do what works. When an idea exists as a position -- when it is a content -- then it's an idea whose time has not come. Whatever you do to materialize or realize the idea does not work. The most important position in a newly created context is the position that appears to oppose the context. This is the first and most important content to be realigned. It actually contributes to the end result. Prior to the creation of context, it would have sunk the deal. When an idea is transformed so that the apparently opposing idea actually validates and gives expression to the idea, then it is an idea whose time has come. "Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness." (George Bernard Shaw) Underneath our facades, right underneath our surfaces, is the experience of an innate and natural responsibility for the world in which we live. Part of our inadequacy comes from our having been committed for so long to the notion of "you or me" that we don't have patterns of thought, or behavior, or even the possibility of "you and me". And it goes even deeper than that. The question is not, "What is the answer?" The question is "How are people going to find answers within themselves?" "To believe what has not occurred in history will not occur at all, is to argue disbelief in the dignity of man." (Mahatma Gandhi) If all you have is a personal, individual sense of responsibility and integrity, you're not going to make a difference in the world. You will almost certainly be admired and respected. And you will probably stay out of situations in which your reputation can be called into question. People sometimes give up their jobs, family or health in order to get "enlightened." The one thing they often refuse to give up is the notion that they're not enlightened. "Ideas are themselves substantive entities with the power to influence and even transform life. In effect, ideas are not unlike food, vitamins, or vaccines. They invoke inherent potential for growth and development and can affect the course of evolution." (Jonas Salk) When you have authority over people, they can't hear you. They can't tell whether what you're saying is nonsense nor if it's useful. "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." (Goethe) The difference between involvement and commitment is demonstrated on the Egg McMuffin: The hen that layed the egg is involved, but the pig is committed. If the overall context is one of success, then failure is not an invalidation. In fact, it helps move the process forward. If you don't take it out into the world, you didn't get it in the first place. "All we are given is possibilities -- to make of ourselves one thing or another." (Jose Ortega y Gasset) Everyone's been told that there's nothing you can do about the past. Not so. The truth of the matter is that transformation reaches back into the past and transforms it. The mind deals only with parts. It can understand "getting complete" or "becoming complete", but it can't get wholes, such as "is complete" or "being complete." This is the realm of the Self. "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." (Martin Luther King, Jr.) When you find out what communication really is, the first thing you discover is that you don't have any. "Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." (T.E. Lawrence) When organizations become "successful" they are able to hide the evil that's inherent in them. The context of the Self enlightened at the level of individuality is relationship. The expression of self in relationship allows completion of the enlightenment of the self as individuality. Off the coast of Japan are a number of tiny islands where resident populations of macaques have been under continuous observation for more than 20 years. The scientists provide supplementary food, but the monkeys also feed themselves by digging up sweet potatoes and eating them, dirt and all. This uncomfortable practice continued unchanged for many years until one day a young male monkey broke with tradition and carried his potato down to the sea where he washed it before eating it. He taught the trick to his mother, who showed it to her current mate and so the practice spread through the colony until most of them, let us say 99 monkeys, were doing it. Then one Tuesday morning at eleven, the hundredth individual acquired the habit, and within an hour, it appeared on two other islands in two physically unconnected populations of monkeys who until that moment had shown no inclination to wash their food. I believe that ideas in human societies spread in the same kind of way and that when enough of us hold something to be true, then it becomes true for everyone.
-- Lyall Watson, foreword to Rhythms of Vision by Lawrence Blair
"You could write the entire history of science in the last 50 years in terms of papers rejected by Science or Nature."
-- Paul C. Lauterbur, winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine, whose seminal paper on magnetic resonance imaging was originally rejected by Nature.
"The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel."
-- George Bernard Shaw
"There is no more fatal blunder than he who consumes the greater part of his life earning his living."
From the work of the great Buckminster Fuller, as taken from his newsletter "Trimtab":
Newton was wrong in assuming a universally simultaneous time. All genius is synergetic. The fact that air transport replaced sea travel by 1961 was entirely unanticipated by mankind. Never show half-finished work. By inventing the electric light, allowing people to work at night, Edison did more than anyone could ever do with politics. 99.9 percent of everything that's going to affect our future is conducted in the realm that's not directly contactable by the human sense. If the newspaper can't take a picture of it, they won't talk about it. The educational system and the moneymaking people -- the power system -- are afraid of the bright people so they turn them into specialists. Some people say it takes less effort to burn fossil fuels than develop alternative resources. Well, it also takes less effort to rob a bank than to do the work which the deposited money represents. A comprehensivist may periodically need to plunge very deeply into a narrow subject or specialized project. However, such activity is always part of a larger plan. Local problem solvers function with a global perspective. Our emphasis must shift from "earning a living" to accomplishing vital tasks if humanity is to survive. If we concentrate on what needs to be done, the living will take care of itself. Each one of us has an obligation to work on behalf of all humanity. A war-oriented mentality inadvertently produces life-supporting technology, but it takes a quarter of a century longer. Fuller avoided promotion and advertising of any kind. Communication is ultimately independent of culture, race, or class. There is no such thing as infinity. You learn only in reality by starting off with experienceable somethings. No scientist has even been to "infinity" to give demonstrable evidence it exists. Everything we do -- even the littlest things -- affects the rest of the Universe. The brain remembers events. The mind (used in the sense of Erhard's "Self") goes further, able to discover relationships between these events, something the brain cannot do. Synergy means behavior of whole systems, unpredicted by the behavior of any of the system's components when considered only separately. The mind discovers generalized principles, none of which has ever been found to contradict any of the others. Not only are they eternal, they accommodate each other. Human beings must have an important role in the Universe, or we wouldn't be given such a capability. If you're good at problem solving, you don't come to a problemless Utopia. You qualify for bigger and bigger problems. With our minds, we have the opportunity to reduce principles to practice and to do more with less. A political revolution vengefully pulls the top down. A design revolution would elevate the bottom, and all the others, to sustainable standards of living higher than the top have ever experienced. Einstein caught all the other scientists off guard because he inter-considered all the circumstances surrounding a scientific discovery. He did not isolate the discovery in a lab, but paid attention to all the circumstances of its occurrence in reality. You can't cross a huge chasm such as the Grand Canyon. But if someone were to build a bridge, people would cross it spontaneously. You wouldn't have to persuade them. When we're properly educated, we'll know where the bridges are and we'll know the fortunate consequences of crossing them. Universities ought to be a bridge like this.
"What was silent in the father speaks to the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father."
"I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with great caution."
-- Wernher von Braun
"The deeper the sorrow the less tongue it hath."
-- The Talmud
From "Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds" (2002) by Harold Bloom
The infamous professor of literature from Yale, Bloom sets out to pinpoint the genius of 100 literary giants. Disappointingly, when Bloom succeeds it's despite himself and his pompous, overbearing, 812 pages of puffery. "It is God in you that responds to God without."
-- Emerson (1831) The ancient critic Longinus (who lived in the 3rd century AD) called literary genius the Sublime, and saw its operation as a transfer of power from author to reader. (From another source): Longinus insists that greatness does not come from rules but from the search for ecstasy (which I will define in this context as pure clarity and mental empowerment), and it is an ecstasy that must affect the reader and hearer. Bloom speaks of the "terrorist triumph" in destroying the World Trade Center. He inadvertently gives away the fact he's too naïve to realize that terrorists probably had nothing to do with it. Bloom also likes to play the "BCE/CE" game, showing us more agenda than insight. Because of Shakespeare, we can see what we'd otherwise not. His is the largest consciousness and most incisive intellect in all literature. "Only an inventor knows how to borrow."
-- Emerson A "talent" classically was a weight or sum of money, and as such, was necessarily limited. But even in its linguistic origins, "genius" has no limits. Genius stems from fierce originality, audacity, and self-reliance. "The ages are all equal, but genius is above its age."
-- William Blake The supreme genius is Shakespeare. The "mind" of America is Ralph Waldo Emerson; its poet is Walt Whitman; its novelist Henry James; its dramatist is yet to come. By definition, gnosticism is "knowing" as opposed to believing. One test of genius is to ask yourself, "However I've been entertained, has my awareness been intensified, my consciousness widened and clarified?" If not, what is best and oldest within myself has not been activated. Sadly, the author does not include the supreme Russian poet Pushkin in his list of 100 all-time literary geniuses. Nearly four centuries later, Don Quixote remains the most advanced work of prose fiction we have, however difficult it may be. So much of it is beyond our literary parameters. Montaigne (1533-1592) teaches us to humanize our idealism. "Play the man well and duly." He observed that Socrates did not speak for his own sake alone, but for all who could benefit. It would not be a hyperbole to remark that Milton's genius essentially is erotic. (I think the realm of the erotic contains a great deal of "forbidden" truth.) The sensibilities of poets are more important than their ideologies. (Ditto for musicians.) Any lifelong reader of the best books one can read is a disciple of St. Augustine. To place Dante's role in the history of literary genius, only Shakespeare is richer. Shakespeare was uncannily detached from what he wrote. However, the "strongest writer" next to Shakespeare is Chaucer. There must be an intersection of a gifted consciousness and the kairos, the opportune time, for original works to come into being. We haven't much learned yet how such an intersection works. (Shall we redefine the Greek concept of kairos as "an idea whose time has come"?) (Repeatedly, in the most subtle yet acidic of ways, Bloom demonstrates a highly developed, covert animosity toward Christianity. This agenda eats away at his relevance and credibility like rock-salt on a sidewalk.) Regarding Socrates, Montaigne writes: "It is he who brought human wisdom back down from heaven, where she was wasting her time, and restored her to man, with whom lies her most proper and laborious and useful business." "This world is a bridge. Do not build your house on it. Be a traveler passing through."
-- St. Paul "Man is rebellious, for he thinks he is sufficient in himself."
-- Muhammad (Could this be the true lesson of the Garden of Eden?) "All is vanity."
-- King Solomon, supposedly The mind can only repose on the stability of truth. (I don't see Bloom's mind reposing in his current lifetime, given his disregard of Harry Potter books and Stephen King, not to mention his tortured habit of looking for anti-Semitism under every unturned stone.) Proper literary criticism is the appreciation of originality and the rejection of the merely fashionable. "A strong egoism is a protection against disease, but in the last resort we must begin to love in order that we may not fall ill, and must fall ill if, in consequence of frustration, we cannot love."
-- Sigmund Freud With Socrates and Hamlet, Nietzsche shares a profound mistrust of language: "Whatever we have words for, that we have already got beyond. In all talk there is a grain of contempt." Kierkegaard noted that losers actually enjoy the feeling of bitterness that accompanies failure. He adds, "Geniuses are like a thunderstorm: they go against the wind, terrify people, clear the air." "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect."
-- Emerson Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) demonstrates an awareness of Kundalini energy and the repressed role of female spirituality. He speaks of ancient "Aeolists" and oracles who delivered an "influence on the people" that was "managed and directed" by female "officers," to use his word. The female was "understood to be better disposed for the admission of 'oracular gusts' as entering and passing up through a receptacle of greater capacity (awareness of chakras here?). With "due management," this practice has been refined from a carnal into a spiritual ecstasy. This custom of female priests is kept up still in certain "refined colleges" of our modern aeolists, who are agreed to receive their inspiration, derived in similar fashion as their ancestors, the Sibyls (oracles of the Near East).
-- A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit Hester Prynne, the heroine of Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter," repented nothing. In all of American literature, she is the one most persuasive representation of a woman. "How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall?"
-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick The ancient Gnostics had a word, kenoma, that described a "sensible emptiness." As Samuel Johnson taught us, literary genius is manifested by an inventiveness that also reinvents the author himself. Strong poets cannot choose their profession; it chooses them -- subject to their vitality in fighting back. "It is the undisciplined will that is whipped with bad thoughts and bad fortunes. When we break the laws (of the universe, of God), we lose our hold on the central reality."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life Emerson: "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." Also from Emerson: "Inasmuch as the soul is present, there will be power, not confident but agent (effective)." Also: "He who has more obedience than I masters me, though he should not raise his finger. . . . Virtue is height." The academic world rewards cheerleading and loathes genius. (Several of the writers discussed in "Genius" convey bits of awareness gained from what apparently were mystical experiences. Bloom, despite a lifetime of reading, seems unequipped to grasp the subtleties involved.) "The old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide."
-- William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Resolution and Independence
(It's obvious to me that Wordsworth has given the name, and appropriately so, "Old Man" to his mystical experiences. At times I've called them "My Friend." Apparently critics and scholars have consumed endless amounts of ink deliberating the identity of the Old Man, but now you know who it probably was.) Bloom writes that Keats was a pugnacious personality, while "I am nothing of the sort." (Hogwash. Bloom is viciously pugnacious in the sharpest passive-aggressive-covert-victim sense.) Fame is the last infirmity of the noble mind. (John Milton, Lycidas) In our era, being excluded from the universities is quite likely to be a blazon of excellence. (How many colleges teach the work of Buckminster Fuller? You can probably count them with your fingers.) (Genius appears to have no correlation to character.) "The value of men's work is not in the works themselves but in their later development by others, in other circumstances."
-- Paul Valery (1871-1945) The genius who defines a nation will usually receive his awards posthumously. The most complete character in literature since the times of Shakespeare and Cervantes is James Joyce's Poldy. "Man's greatness consists in the very fact of wanting to be better than he is. In laying duties upon himself."
-- Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn . . . it's the best book we've had."
-- Ernest Hemingway One definition of literary genius has to be that its central works do not become period pieces. With no sense of responsibility, Bloom describes our current age as one of "Islamic fundamentalist terror." When you add this to his belief that Christianity has terrorized literature, he seems to hate just about everyone. Here's a statement that suggests Emerson had a particular awareness about the nature of mystical experiences: "This energy does not descend into individual life on any other condition than entire possession. It comes to the lowly and simple." (The Over-Soul) "When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools."
-- King Lear Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) speaks of the Andalusian Spanish notion of duende -- an obscure power (and a struggle). It is not an idea, and you either have it or you don't, and you may not have it when you wish to, even if it once seemed on call. To quote an old guitarist, "The duende is not in the throat; it comes up from inside, up from the very soles of the feet." Lorca notes that the great artists of southern Spain, whether singing or dancing or playing on instruments, know that no emotion is possible without the mediation of the Duende. They may hoodwink the people; they may give the illusion of duende without really having it. Edith Wharton is a profoundly sexual writer; her works delicately communicate an erotic realism that is stronger for being implicit. "Erect and sublime, for one moment of time.
In the next, that wild figure they saw
(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm . . ."
-- Lewis Carroll, from The Hunting of the Snark
(Erect? Spasm? Chasm?) The secret of Emanuel Swedenborg, according to Henry James Sr. (father of the author), was that redemption came through turning away from the self to others. (Some people frantically search for the meaning of life. Here, I believe, lies the meaning they’re looking for.) Throughout the world, the most universal author, second only to Shakespeare, is Charles Dickens. Genius is the only justification for stunning difficulty. Time reduces what is not genius to rubbish.
"Nothing is a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents."
-- C.G. Jung
"What a woman says to her ardent lover should be written in wind and running water."
-- Galisu Valerius Catullus (~87-54 BC)
"Monkeys are superior to men in this: When a monkey looks into mirror, he sees a monkey."
-- Malcolm de Chazal (1902-1981)
From "The Rhythm of Life" (1999/2004) by Matthew Kelly
A simplistic approach, devoid of much intellectual stimulation, toward finding a meaning in life. Like Bloom above, most of the interesting material comes from the quotes of others. Don't go out of your way for this one; it just dropped into my lap for free, and I can't see referring to it again. One of the great lessons of history is that the whole world gets out of the way for someone who knows what they want and where they're going. The reason people do stupid things is because they mistakenly believe those stupid things will make them happy. Take a few moments each day to step into the "classroom" of silence. (I like the framing of silence in this context.) Life is the fruit of discipline, or lack thereof. Take your emphasis off of achieving aims, as good as they are, and put more emphasis on "being the best version of yourself." (Or in other words, it's time to get out of our heads and into our entire beingness, for that's where effective living emanates.) "What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"
-- Rev. Robert Schuller "The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we miss it." "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."
-- Thoreau Our lives are in danger of becoming utter wastes. "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."
-- Goethe Life is short, and you are dead an awfully long time. (Thank you, we know this.) We learn more from people than we ever will from books. We live in an age of communication. (Thanks for sharing that startling revelation.) "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
-- Mark Twain "Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb."
-- Pythagoras (580-500 BC) "All of man's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone."
-- Blaise Pascal "You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait. You need not even wait, just learn to become quiet, and still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
-- Kafka The only way to say 'no' to something is to have a deeper 'yes'. (Here's another take on the nature of overcoming addictions.) How will you know when you discover your genius? There are two signs: joy, and a feeling of timelessness. (I'm not so sure about the joy, but the timelessness I will buy.) It is possible that you turned your back on your genius years ago. (Good point, though nothing new.) The more specific our visualizations, the faster and more effectively you will be transformed into that better version of yourself. Life is choices . . . choose happiness. (Thank you for sharing that candy-ass platitude.) Minimalism is one of the great character diseases of our time. A breeding ground for mediocrity, its attitude is "How little can I do and still get away with it." It is the enemy of excellence. Our culture, however, encourages minimalism. (Good point.) We don't educate people -- we formulate specialists. Our educational systems crush the very spirit they claim to instill. Whenever you find people doing things they are not passionate about, you will find minimalism. The minimalist forgets that it takes just as much energy to avoid excellence as to achieve it. He goes through the motions. Can you imagine an Olympic athlete asking, "What's the least I can do and still win the gold medal?" On the day of competition, every shortcut taken in training comes back to haunt the athlete. There is no liberty when there is no self-discipline. "Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly."
-- Julie Andrews The foundation of character is discipline. (Not a widely discussed thought.) A valuable exercise to make a regular part of our prayer, reflection, and self-analysis is to seek out and identify areas of addiction and slavery (attachments) in our lives. (Kelly has been accused of being shallow, and this is true, but the section on discipline bears out some value.) Your calling is looking for you, even more so than you are looking for it. In their earliest years, the Beatles had been turned down by every major recording label in Britain. Follow your star. (Gag me.) Upper-limit achievement is the fruit of disciplined, selective, concentrated focus. Beethoven and Mozart closed themselves off from the world and inhabited silent rooms for days at a time. "The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it. The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose."
-- Vincent Van Gogh "I visualized where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there."
-- Michael Jordan Britain's Royal Navy has a practice known as the "all still." When something goes wrong on a ship, particularly a submarine, the captain announces an all-still. For three minutes, no one is allowed to move or speak. "The soul is healed by being with children."
-- Dostoyevsky "I loaf and invite my soul."
-- Walt Whitman "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment. Go some distance away, because the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen."
-- Leonardo da Vinci "The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation."
-- Mark Twain "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson "You must do things you cannot do. It strengthens character, builds courage and strength, confidence and belief."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt (The majority of people I know are driven by the desire to make money and enjoy the things of this world, whether their life makes any difference or not. So, if your intention is to make a difference, you don't have much competition.) "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
-- Einstein Says the author: Read this book again. Read five pages a day perpetually. Make it a lifetime companion. (Is this guy full of himself, or what?)
"You never know 'til you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door."
-- Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
"It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss. Volatile spirits prefer unhappiness."
-- George Santayana
"It is because of men that women dislike one another."
Jean de La Bruyere (1645-1695)
From “The Everything Meditation Book” (2003) by Rosemary Clark
The 'Everything' series is one of the weakest on the market, and this installment lives up to that billing.
276 pages of text, and nothing of value to pass on here. Mind boggling.
From "50 Self-Help Classics" (2003) by Tom Butler-Bowdon
Rating: Not Bad. Butler takes a look at 50 of the eminent works in the field of self-help, a genre that can more accurately be termed self-improvement. As Butler puts it, most self-help classics deal less with "fixing what's wrong" and more with defining and achieving our possibilities. "Active, successful natures act, not according to the dictum 'know thyself,' but as if there hovered before them the commandment: Will a self and thou shalt become a self."
-- Neitzsche "We do not attract what we want, but what we are."
-- James Allen (1864-1912) Also from Allen: Circumstances do not make a person; they reveal him. The best path to success is calmness of mind. This state is the fruit of self-control. Success avoids the unstable person. The effort to see life through another person's eyes is nothing less than the expansion of one's world -- and a unifying of it.
-- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) "Many of my clients can't figure out what they want to do with their careers until they restore themselves to physical health by resting deeply for weeks, sometimes even months."
-- Martha Beck From the Bhagavad Gita: Unless you are doing the work you love, you are darkening your soul. Meditation brings detachment from emotions like fear and greed. The Bhagavad Gita is a manual on how to achieve steadiness. From John Bly, author of Iron John: The most destructive people tend to be those with the least developed powers of self-examination. (Is Bly talking about Republicans ?!?.) From Beothius (6th Century AD): Those who are closer to God can depend more upon Providence. Those who believe they are on their own are wholly tied to their fate and are -- paradoxically -- in lesser control of their destiny. (This theme will keep turning up until the end of time: tapping in with the divine, along with deep levels of relaxation and quieting of the mind.) Zen saying: "After enlightenment, the laundry." Some people in the field claim there is no empirical evidence for the success of psychoanalysis in treating depressed people. Dale Carnegie: See the world as the other person sees it. The appreciation they feel means that whatever you have to say will be truly heard. John D. Rockefeller: The ability to handle people well is a skill more valuable than all others put together. Carlos Castaneda: If we weren't so focused on our own self-importance, we could start to see the grandeur of the universe. Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist: Dreams have a price, but so does not living them. The biggest lie is that we can't control our destiny. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Happiness and a sense of meaning can be increased simply by doing more of what we love doing. Goal-seeking is a major part of Western culture, but we also need to recognize the power of present-centeredness. (The times in my life when I feel the most powerful are the ones when I'm most present to the moment at hand.) Nietzsche: Maturity is "the rediscovery of the seriousness we had as a child -- at play." In Buddhism, discipline is all-important. (Remember "Blessed are the meek" = "Blessed are the disciplined"?) Also, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism includes precise effort. Teilhard de Chardin: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." Several of the self-help giants concur on this: The personality we now have is not set in stone. ”All man's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone."
-- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) "All men plume* themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
*"to indulge oneself in pride with an obvious or vain display of self-satisfaction" Emerson: The only proper defense against numbing conformity is to find and walk the trail of uniqueness. "We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents." Meditative thought, because it puts us in tune with universal forces and laws, leads us to ways of being and doing that are inherently right and successful. "He who was a why to live can bear with almost any how."
-- Nietzsche "I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that same plan his sole study and business."
-- Ben Franklin With creative visualization, the key is to quiet our mind so that our brainwaves are at the alpha level. (Achieved during a proper massage.) Affirmations during this state must be in the present tense, such as "I am responsible" as opposed to "someday I will be responsible." "Anyone can become angry -- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right
way -- this is not easy."
-- Aristotle "If you want to understand your parents more, get them to talk about their own childhoods. If you listen with compassion, you will learn where their fears and rigid patterns come from."
-- Louise Hay Hay believes that the inability to forgive is the root cause of all illness. "I don't develop, I am."
-- Picasso Ships were not designed to stay in harbor. Studies show that 90% of what we worry about never happens. "Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way."
-- William James (This I can buy into wholeheartedly -- the ability to perceive to a greater degree, which is physical, as opposed to feeling the need to plan and to change, which is conceptual.) As we get in harmony with the Tao, our actions cease to seem like "action." "The wise stand out, because they see themselves as part of the Whole."
-- Lao Tzu (570-490 BC) The brain thinks in images. Whatever we visualize as a goal must be tattooed upon our brain. While at Columbia University, Abraham Maslow's research into the sex lives of college women attracted controversy. (Maslow! You dog, you!) "Dr. Phil" McGraw: If you don't have a plan for your life, you aren't even in the game. Wishes and hopes aren't enough. McGraw: The world can't care less about thoughts without actions. Also: "The difference between winners and losers is that winners do things losers don't want to do." Norman Vincent Peale: Life seems difficult if we only believe in ourselves. However, the source of energy for untold numbers of great people is this: attunement with the infinite. Working only by oneself and for oneself leads to burnout. The highest morality is the fulfillment of potential. M. Scott Peck: Very few people in the world actually choose the spiritual path. Ayn Rand: Society amounts to a protection racket for all sorts of mediocrities, with people agreeing not to point out others' lack of effort if theirs wasn't exposed either. Most people don't really want to live, they just want to "get away with living." "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful. But it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
-- Thoreau Marianne Williamson: If we offer our working life to God, He will reveal to us precisely the way we can help the world the most. What we create by our own will might be good, but genius only happens when we become cleaner instruments for divine expression. We are not so much afraid of failure, but of the brilliance that might shine through us if we allow it to. Goal-setting is all very well, but it is the prime example of the ego trying to shape the world according to its pleasing. It is sad that we so willingly give up our power.
"I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom."
-- Anatole France (1844-1924)
"Man's desires are limited by his perceptions; none can desire what he has not perceived."
-- William Blake (1757-1827)
"Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."
-- George Washington Carver
From "50 Success Classics" (2004) by Tom Butler-Bowdon
Rating: Thoroughly enjoyable and engaging. The value here, especially when combined with the book above, lies in picking out recurring threads of thought regarding the essential ingredients of successful living. For instance, it becomes apparent that success requires a concentration of effort. Most people disperse their energies over too wide an area. In addition, this book helps articulate a language by which we can spell out some of the philosophical underpinnings of an effective, on-purpose massage. The clearest of those aspects will be highlighted in red, though you can say the entire book helps elucidate such a foundation. Horatio Alger (1832-1899): Personal honesty fosters greater knowledge of the self. Warren Bennis, a contemporary figure in the academic study of leadership, says our lives don't begin until we decide "what we want to make out of what we're made of" (sounds like a Catch 22). Further, we must pull this off despite an unwitting conspiracy of people and events against us. Structured education can also become an impediment to true leadership. Frank Bettger (1888-1981): Organization and discipline are more important to success than are great amounts of energy. (Recurring point.) Also, the best salespeople don't "sell" -- they find out what the other person wants and then help them find the best way to get it. Successful people are ruthless -- with their use of time, that is. William James, the Harvard philosopher, noted that you can feel excited about something just by acting excited about it long enough. Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson, authors of The One Minute Manager (1981): Clarity about goals saves a huge amount of energy. They say the number-one motivator for people is feedback upon results. Edward Bok (1863-1930): Work for your own success, but be sure your achievements lift up the entire community. Claude Bristol (1891-1951): Vague desires produce vague outcomes. Know and visualize an outcome in your gut, and your subconscious will guide you the rest of the way. Bristol noted that several of the great electrical scientists -- Edison, Marconi, Tesla and Steinmetz -- took an interest in mental telepathy. Like a strong radio wave that gets picked up loud and clear, well-focused thoughts carried a similar capacity. Bristol believed we don't achieve our goals by action alone, rather that we're guided to achievement by the intensity and clarity of our intention, which has the power to overcome reason and penetrate our subconscious. (I'm getting more of what Werner Erhard meant when he exhorted us to become "unreasonable" in achieving our aims.) Maxwell Maltz (1899-1975), author of Psycho-Cybernetics: "The law of mind is the law of belief itself." Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors ever, encourages his children to do what they love rather than chase money. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) had two rules for speaking: 1) Talk to people, not at them. 2) Be yourself. Don't try to be an orator. Oration suggests stating the world as you would like it to be (as do the people who write books about relationships). Speaking comes from the heart, which is always true. Chin-Ning Chu, author of Thick Face, Black Heart: Self-doubt creates a perception of incompetence. Also, contrary to common understanding, a good man's actions are not always gentle. If you like to present yourself as sugar-coated, you'll lose out on opportunities that may require a firmer hand. Also, if someone considers themselves virtuous, they've laid the ground for a witch-hunt of those they consider lacking in virtue. Also, once you commit yourself to your duty, the universe has a way of protecting you and freeing you from other worries. (The great Buckminster Fuller will have more to say about this, thank you.) Finally, whatever best expresses your brilliance will inevitably lead you to wealth. Robert Collier (1885-1950), author of The Secret of the Ages: A highly magnetized piece of metal can lift another piece 10 times its size -- so can a person magnetized with purpose. Success must be visualized into life. He says few people know what they want. We drift until we hone our desires into a sharp point. Says the Chinese proverb, "Great souls have wills, feeble ones only have wishes." When we sharpen our point, it's easy to cast aside the nonessentials. In addition, things flow to the person who already appears to have. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (2001): Greatness does not occur overnight, but is the result of building momentum until a point of breakthrough is achieved. (Sounds strikingly similar to a quality massage.) Most great companies experience years of obscurity before a certain transition point pushes them ahead of the pack. Mediocre companies bring in expensive new CEOs to turn things around. Great companies have cultures that are rigorous but not ruthless. Russell Conwell, author of Acres of Diamonds (1921): Your purpose may only occur to you when your mind has been quieted. Otherwise you won't see the forest for the trees. Leave time for meditation and contemplation. The greatest minds think in simple terms, and the greatest people are always straightforward. Find out what people really want. This requires a high degree of observation. (Conwell founded Temple University in Philadelphia.) Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989): Who we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Until we can understand the way other people see things -- by really listening to them -- we can't be truly successful. Personal growth is often not the result of doing something new, but of seeing the same old things in a new light. We all have mental maps of the world that we mistake for the actual territory. Einstein: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer: "If you've got an idea that's really powerful, you've just got to ignore the people who tell you it won't work." Thinking differently, and then having the courage of our convictions, is an essential ingredient of success. Henry Ford: Imagine something the world really needs. Make it as cheaply as possible and sell it at the lowest price. Early in his career, Ford found that investors were more interested in quick profits than in engineering a better machine. He abhorred the idea of trying to get the highest price for his cars. He also avoided hiring "experts," because they dwelled on what could not be done. W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis (1974): "The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills. . . . He learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard. He aims at the kind of spontaneous performance that occurs only when the mind is calm and seems at one with the body." Paradoxically, success comes when you temporarily withhold judgments of success or failure but notice what is. Gallwey's book was not received well by many professional tennis coaches. Said the Zen master D.T. Suzuki: "Man is a thinking reed but his great works are done when he is not calculating and thinking." A still mind makes for the best performance; an unquiet mind starts to judge. Les Giblin, author of How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing With People (1956): Though we're often told to appeal to someone's reason to convince them of something, in truth reason is not a great persuader. If you want someone to do something for you, think of a personal reason why they'd be willing to do it, something that will affirm their identity. Giblin quotes the British author John Ruskin who said he only wrote well when he wasn't trying to do so. "I have found that the best way to get another to acquire a virtue is to impute (attribute) it to him."
-- Winston Churchill Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658): You can judge the height of a person's talent by what he aspires to. Only a great thing can satisfy a great talent. Wise hesitation ripens success. The most precious of metals take the longest to refine, and they weigh the most. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich (1937): The only thing that stands between us and our desires is a lack of definite purpose. Hill tells the story of Edwin Barnes, business partner of Thomas Edison. Barnes stated that the secret of success was the willingness to burn bridges, ensuring that there's no retreat to a former, mediocre lifestyle. He notes that Marconi's friends took him to a mental hospital for believing he could "send messages through the air." Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. No more effort is required to aim high than to aim low. Hill mentioned that Thomas Edison would occasionally retreat to his basement where, in the absence of sound and light, he would simply "receive" his ideas. Thoughts we hold about ourselves are beamed out to the world through the subconscious, and they boomerang back as "circumstances." Hill's book also contains the classic chapter called "The Mystery of Sex Transmutation," which argues that the energy behind all great achievement is sexual. His central idea is that the source of wealth is non-material. Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone, authors of Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1960): Henry Ford once asked his engineers to develop an eight-cylinder engine. They replied that it couldn't be done. He responded, "Produce it anyway." Thomas Edison conducted some 10,000 separate experiments before he invented the incandescent light bulb. Tom Hopkins, noted sales trainer: Winners almost always do what they think is the most productive thing possible at every given moment, and losers don't. The difference is really that small, and it keeps adding up until it reaches a critical mass. Prepare for the "trauma" of success. Jonas Salk's great aim wasn't to become the head of a lab so he could qualify for a pension. He set his sights on conquering polio. Muriel James & Dorothy Longwood, authors of Born to Win: Transactional Analysis for Gestalt Experiments (1971): We already have everything in us that we need to succeed. Healthy people are willing to express more aspects of themselves at the appropriate time. Healthy people are more trusting of their intuition and more willing to renew themselves mentally and physically. "Circumstances -- what are circumstances? I make circumstances."
-- Napoleon Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? (1998): "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" David Landes, author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998): All prosperous nations exhibit a process of "buildup" -- the accumulation of knowledge and know-how over time. This leads to "breakthrough," the reaching of thresholds after which the process gathers its own momentum. (This is the third time in the book we've seen this point made.) The once-powerful Spanish empire declined once it stopped investing in itself, choosing instead to spend on luxury and war. Portugal was stymied by Christian fundamentalism. Close-mindedness leads to economic failure. (It's intellectually perilous to assign causality to a nation's decline, but I'm willing to accept Landes' reasons to an extent.) Successful nations display a culture of progress that combines curiosity, innovation, and application. (I see these factors lacking in America, especially when expressed in our popular music.) Some characteristics of prosperous countries are a belief in progress; openness to outside influences; a desire to produce rather than consume; a high value put on learning (America places a priority on pre-professional training rather than upon actual learning); emphasis on establishing the facts; and government by the people, for the people. In contrast, fundamentalist quests for "purity" (and so-called "moral values") are diseases that quickly kill off economic health. Abraham Lincoln rarely lost his temper. Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement (2003): Without time for recovery, our lives become a blur of doing unbalanced by much opportunity for being. You can't "manage" time. Instead, adopt better ways to use your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. (I notice that when I'm totally in the here & now, I feel like a walking, talking time-management seminar, minus the tuition.) There appears to be little that separates great tennis players at the Wimbledon level -- except for how they act between points. In the tiny slots of 16 to 20 seconds between points, the very greatest of tennis players appear able to relax their mind and refocus. In the process, their heart rate lowers. Those at the pinnacle of the game display focus, purpose, and resilience. To remain constantly at work causes us to lose the power of judgment. Unlike most addictions, workaholism is often admired, encouraged, and well-rewarded materially. The Japanese have the word karoshi, meaning "death from overwork." The authors mention a study that chronicled where people were when they got their best ideas. Most said the garden, a gym, watching a movie, etc., but they were not working. (I'm not about to suggest that great insights cannot occur at work.) "Intermittently disengaging is what allows us to passionately re-engage." Without rest and recovery, the body has no chance to rid itself of toxins -- physical or mental. To a degree they did not expect, the authors found that body and mind are one in this regard. In his autobiography, tennis star John McEnroe said his outbursts of anger on the court were a handicap that wasted his energy and contributed to some landmark losses. Like all of our other muscles, self-awareness withers from disuse. It deepens when we push past our resistance to more of the truth. Otherwise we fall asleep to aspects of ourselves each and every day. Like Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci was keen on "strategic napping." While painting The Last Supper -- and to the dismay of his clients -- he often appeared to spend hours just daydreaming. He wrote: "The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less." Nelson Mandela: As a student, Mandela says he saw many young men with great natural ability who lacked the self-discipline and patience to build on their endowment. Cyrus Field (1819-1892) spent a decade of heartbreaking setbacks before the transatlantic cable was laid. Nearly everyone lost faith in the idea except him, but he believed that instantaneous communication across the ocean was a necessity, not an option. When Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was asked how he conquered the world, he reportedly replied, "By not wavering." "The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order."
-- Alfred North Whitehead A strong sense of purpose in life gives us more flexibility. We can see more options toward achieving our goal, and we're more certain of what to leave out. Catherine Ponder, author of The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity (1962): The identification of piety with poverty arose in the Middle Ages, when the feudal system sought to keep people in their place. Prosperity is first and foremost a state of mind, though many people wonder if it's "moral" to seek it. Send positive thoughts to those with whom you are in conflict, and watch them soften their stance. The secret of turning desires into reality is to write them down. You must be specific not only in what you want, but exactly when you'd like to achieve it. In life, we must "give full measure for the good you wish to receive." Ponder notes that some of the magnates of the 20th century -- the Rockefellers, Heinz's, Colgates and Krafts -- attributed their high degree of success to tithing: setting aside 10% of their income toward charitable purposes. Einstein demonstrated that the physical and nonphysical worlds are convertible and interchangeable. Cheryl Richardson, author of Take Time for Your Life (1998): Have the courage to seek your highest purpose instead of simply looking for another job. While therapy will focus on your problems, a good "life coach" will guide you toward your possibilities. Anthony Robbins, who I describe as an "infomercialist" (with zero legitimacy): Be precise in your everyday language, but particularly when it comes to goals. Use what Robbins calls the "power of precision," because language shapes thought and thought shapes action. (Why do I get the nagging impression this dude is merely the front-man for a corporate goliath? I once saw a video of Robbins where he was wearing a baseball cap with the word "Invictus" -- the Latin word for "unconquerable" -- emblazoned on the front. This corporate mouthpiece would be better served by the word "Patheticus".) Eleanor Roosevelt: One of the duties of a leader is to lift up those who are not able to advance themselves. Roosevelt displayed the ability to empathize instead of merely offer patrician sympathy. David Schwartz, author of The Magic of Thinking Big (1959): Big ideas and big plans are often easier -- certainly no more difficult -- than small ideas and small plans. Much of the difference between success and failure lies in what you believe you are entitled to, so you may as well think big. Decisions arrived at in managed solitude have a habit of being correct. Action drives out thought, whereas leaders set aside time for solitude to tap their supreme thinking power. If you truly believe you are among the best, you will act and perform accordingly. Persistence in itself is no guarantee of success -- combine it with experimentation. Goals, once planted in the subconscious, provide an invisible guide toward correct action. Florene Scovell Shinn, author of The Secret Door to Success (1940): You have to let go long enough for the great law of attraction to operate. You never saw a worried and anxious magnet, and it knows needles can't help jumping to it. The things we rightly desire come to pass when we take the clutch off. The best mindset for achieving success is a "relaxed state of expectancy." We allow desires to become reality if we can adopt the attitude of "set and forget," or as the saying goes, "Ships come in over a sea that doesn't care." (Shinn calls this the occult law of indifference.) It's hard for the driven person to accept the Biblical suggestion "Have no thought for the morrow." (It will handle itself, if we're here now.) Constant striving without letting go implies an overconfidence in our own willpower and a lack of confidence in a higher power that's willing to guide us. The achievement we desire is pulling us toward it. Success has its own timeframe and often comes quietly when we least expect it, though it must be prepared for. Shinn describes prayer as "telephoning God." On the flip side of the coin, she describes intuition as "God telephoning us." Asking for guidance always saves time and energy and often a lifetime of misery. "Unless intuition builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Those who speak only of what they lack will end up with little. Too many people give up just before something great is about to happen to them. We may be so accustomed to our daily routine and habits that we wear ourselves into a rut. We cease to be aware of the opportunities that arise through being fully present in the moment. The city of Jericho seemed like an impenetrable fortress to the Israelites, a walled city that separated them from the Promised Land. Joshua was told by God that if they blow their trumpets a certain way and give a great shout in unison, the city will be theirs. (I take 'blowing the trumpets' in a metaphoric sense, and Werner Erhard called this process "storming the citadel.") From Shackleton's Way (2001), by Margot Morrell & Stephanie Capparell: In 1914, Sir Shackleton and his 27 men became stranded in their attempt to transverse the Antarctic by foot. Their story of defying the odds and returning to civilization has become the stuff of legend. Shackleton attributed several factors to their success, among them a chain of command that was as egalitarian as possible. Also, he insisted upon periods of exercise and relaxation. He believed a man was successful only if he could win "honorably and splendidly." The book also notes that top leaders are set apart by a calm wisdom, and that the lessons imparted by great leaders can be learned by others. From The Millionaire Mind (2000) by Thomas Stanley: The more you love your work, the more likely you'll excel at it (because it's you, an expression of your very purpose in life). A good proportion of self-made millionaires worked hard in school but were not the top students. What they learned most in school was how to judge people well and get along with them, and that hard work could bring a surprising level of success. Millionaires are frugal, but they're not about to paint their own houses because they know their time is better spent elsewhere. The great self-discipline of the average millionaire means that they can't help piling up wealth long after their modest needs have been satisfied. From Maximum Achievement (1993) by Brian Tracy: The primary cause of success in life is the ability to set and achieve goals. That's why the people who don't have goals are doomed to work for those who do. Human beings are teleological (we have a design or purpose in this world): we are shaped by our ambitions, adapting ourselves to meet the image of a visualized end-state. Fewer than three percent of people have written goals, and less than one percent regularly review them. By not setting goals, we unwittingly reveal a lack of responsibility within ourselves: If we don't set any, we're not obliged to reach them. As a result, we end up mixing with people who have no clear ideas where they're headed as well, becoming someone who follows the followers. Our subconscious mind needs details to outline its course of action. Without them, we leave our lives up to chance. Tracy quotes a sales trainer who told him "There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines." In addition, very few people have definite goals to improve the quality of their love lives. From The Art of War (circa 500 BC) by Sun Tzu: The goal is not to destroy the enemy, but to take things whole. The ultimate warrior is one who wins by forcing the enemy to surrender without fighting any battles. The angry general loses. By giving respectful acknowledgement to your adversaries, they become less antagonistic and a better outcome is achieved for all. The smaller view of reality is always the false one, the vulnerable one -- take in the complete picture (factor in all the variables). A winner decides on victory rather than wishing for it. From The Science of Getting Rich (1910) by Wallace Wattles: Whereas the traditional Christian church linked spirituality with poverty, the author emphasizes the naturalness of abundance. A person cannot fulfill their potential if they have to struggle financially. Among prosperity writers, it's agreed that the origin of wealth is thought. (Werner Erhard noted that we "come from" a position of scarcity, a belief that shapes our thought without us even knowing it.) Said Thomas Edison: "Ideas come from space. This may seem astonishing and impossible to believe, but it is true. Ideas come from out of space." The premise of Wattles' theory is that if you purposely place a clear thought into a formless substance (your subconscious), it cannot help but find material expression. Through visualization of what you desire on a repetitive basis, the thing will come into being through the organization of existing modes of production. This is the secret shortcut to gaining what you need. However, what you seek must be in harmony with the universe. It should be to further your (and others') fullest expression, not merely for excitement and entertainment. You must endeavor to provide something that buyers feel is greater in value than the price they've paid for it -- you must over-deliver. Many will attest that the best way to draw something to you is to give thanks that you already have it. If you want to become rich, you must not make a study of poverty. The poor need inspiration more than charity. From the autobiography of Jack Welch (2001), former CEO of General Electric: Welch undermined the conventional wisdom that promoting people for performance -- rather than longevity -- and doing the opposite for bad performers, is bad for morale. Welch's mother taught him that wearing ambition on one's sleeve is bad news. (Tell that to Anthony "Invictus" Robbins.) From Coaching for Performance (1992) by John Whitmore: Coaching is based on the ancient Socratic principle that you can never really teach a person something -- they must learn it for themselves. Coaching is about helping others become aware of how they do things. Most people only fulfill their potential at work about 40 percent of the time. You foster self-belief in people by raising your expectations of them. Stress is a symptom of a lack of meaning and purpose. From The Luck Factor (2003) by Richard Wiseman: Sound waves can intensify emotions. "Lucky" people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives. They have a more relaxed attitude toward life, so they're more likely to see opportunities when the wound-up person can't. They see what's really there, as opposed to wishful thinking. They're more in tune with their unconscious mind, trusting their intuition. From See You At the Top (1975) by Zig Ziglar: Appreciate the multimillion dollar value of your healthy body. If you aren't planning to get anywhere in particular, that's where you'll arrive. The price of success is much lower than the price of failure. One of my own ingredients for success in the workplace comes from a book I read ages ago, and I can't remember what it was: 90% of the time, act like other people's work is more important than your own. You'll get along just splendidly.
"We should rather examine who is better learned than who is more learned."
"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect."
-- G.K. Chesterton
"How we hate this solemn (pretentious) Ego that accompanies the learned, like a double, wherever he goes."
From the video "Zen: The Best of Alan Watts" (1994 / Hartley Film Foundation)
Watts (1915-1973) was a British theologian and Anglican priest who gained a reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of Eastern philosophies for the West. He believed that the primary problem of modern society was our feeling of separation from the world -- as if each of us are self-contained egos with little understanding of those around us. To escape, we try to either conquer the world or renounce it. We see the world as a "strange other" that must be subjected, controlled, and laid down in circumscribed patterns in order to be managed and understood. Through centuries of conditioning, we see God as a faraway other. The person who thinks all the time loses touch with reality. The chattering within the skull cuts us off from deeper levels of awareness. Buddhist landscaping places a premium on emptiness and space. We are mistaken when we try to arrest the flow of life, for life is like a stream. When you're more in touch with your inner self, you begin to live with an attitude of going with this stream. The energy of water stems from following the path of gravity -- of least resistance. Some people mistakenly call this course devious, lazy, or spineless. It takes energy to resist this flow. We confuse what comes in through our senses with the words that describe them. If I 'think' all the time, I won't have anything to think about except thoughts. Hence the importance of meditation. Relax the tongue. Every thought produces tension here. Almost invariably, nature wiggles. It avoids proceeding in a straight line. At the shoreline of the oceans, for instance, it's the wave that moves up and down, not so much the water toward the shore. When you listen to music, you don't try to anticipate the coming notes or dwell on the melody already played. You experience the process as it unfolds. If music were about finishing, the best orchestras would be the ones who performed a piece the fastest. The chatter of the mind prevents us from seeing the whole. When a person is crazy or acting unwisely we tell them "Come to your senses." Most of us are always full of breath. We never really empty our lungs completely. Constant repetition (word, phrase, activity) helps to disengage the rational mind.
"Amusement is the happiness of those who cannot think."
-- Alexander Pope
"The more scholastically educated a man is generally, the more he's an emotional boor."
-- D.H. Lawrence
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
-- Samuel Johnson (1709-1845)
From the classic "Think & Grow Rich" (1937 / revised 2004) by Napoleon Hill
Hill spent 20 years of his life studying the traits of superior performers in the business world. This book lays down one of the first systematic programs for personal achievement, and it's useful even if one's purpose is not to become wealthy for its own sake. The publisher claims this book is still selling a million copies a year. Neglecting to broaden their view has kept some people doing one thing all their lives. Do we come from a consciousness of failure, or one of success? Many of our thought-habits have been steeped in poverty, misery, failure, and defeat. Hill equates desire with a definiteness of purpose. (This elevates desire from the realm of wishful thinking.) Your purpose will become your life, permeate your mind, both conscious and subconscious. You become more alert to opportunities and reach decisions more quickly. See yourself as you will be when you have already achieved your objective. READ YOUR GOALS ALOUD. Include emotion and feeling with the words. The subconscious mind recognizes and acts only upon thoughts that have been well mixed with emotion and feeling. Almost everyone who succeeds in life gets off to a bad start. The turning point usually comes at the moment of some crisis through which they are introduced to their "better selves." Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. (Hill is providing motivational talk grounded in reality. This is no blind-eyed pep talk.) (If we chart a difficult course, nature will help us build the bridges -- in unforeseen ways -- as long as the course is a noble one.) The way to "fool" the subconscious mind (an incredibly stupid machine) is to conduct ourselves as if we're already in possession of the thing we want. Charles Schwab, president of the powerful Carnegie Steel Corporation, in a classic speech to the financial elite of New York on December 12, 1900: By cheapening the cost of steel, an ever-expanding market would be created, as opposed to a restricted market in an era when everything cried for expansion. (If you suggest to some bodywork practitioners that massages are priced too steeply for the Average Joe, they go ballistic and start thinking you're the Devil in Disguise.) Faith removes limitations. Nature has built human beings so that, through our five senses, we can have control over the material that reaches our subconscious mind. However, this does not mean we always exercise this ability. In the great majority of instances we do not, which explains why so many people go through life in poverty. (Faith = knowing the goal is already in hand?) In his entire life, Thomas Edison had only three months of formal schooling. It is said that the breakthrough that led Einstein to the theory of relativity came not from specialized knowledge of physics or math, but from his ability to imagine what would happen if he were riding on a beam of starlight through space. Specialized knowledge is more abundant and more easily acquired than genuine ideas. The imagination is literally the workshop where all plans are created. "Infinite intelligence" is the faculty through which hunches and inspirations (and intuitions) are received. It is through this faculty that all basic, or new, ideas are handed over to mankind. "A manager is someone who does things right. A leader is someone who does the right thing."
-- Warren Bennis, professor of management & organization (Werner Erhard said a business leader is one who brings into being that which isn't -- that which others can't see.) It is not the lawyer who knows the most law who wins the case, it's the one who's better prepared. Indecision and procrastination are twins. There is one reason people lose their jobs -- and their opportunities in life -- more than all other reasons combined: They don't get along with others. The law of economics does not long tolerate the process of getting without giving in return. (At this point, Hill takes a naïve rah-rah approach to the virtues of capitalism, but fortunately the sermon is short.) "If this be treason, then make the most of it."
-- Patrick Henry There exists a "hidden guide" that lets no one enjoy great achievement without first passing the "persistence test." No two minds ever come together without creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind. ("Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” -- Matthew 18:15-20) Hill describes one teacher who has trained more than 30,000 salespeople. The teacher came to the conclusion that individuals who are the most confident sexually are the most efficient salespeople. The explanation is that the factor of personality known as "personal magnetism" is a manifestation of sexual energy. (I'm coming to terms with my own explanation, and it will emerge in due time.) Wherever there was evidence available in connection with the lives of certain men of achievement, it indicated most convincingly that each possessed a highly developed sexual nature. Men on this list included George Washington, Napoleon, Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Burns, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and Enrico Caruso. However, this sexual energy does not entirely remain an end in itself; these leaders learned to channel the energy toward higher ends. Hill states that a definition of a genius might be this: "Someone who has discovered how to increase the intensity of thought to the point where that person can freely communicate with sources of knowledge not available through the ordinary trains of thought." Dr. Elmer Gates was one of the truly great, though less publicized, scientists of the world. In his lab he had what he called his "personal communication room." It was practically soundproof, and all light could be shut out. In this room he could dwell upon all known factors regarding an invention in process. He was known to stay in the room until ideas began to flash into his mind. On one occasion, ideas came so fast that Gates was forced to write for almost three hours. As he later examined his notes, he found they contained a minute description of principles that had no parallel in the known data of the scientific world. Moreover, the answer to his current problem was right there in those notes. (Thomas Edison had a similar type room.) Scientists ranging from Archimedes to Isaac Newton to Einstein to Watson & Crick (DNA) all conceded that intuition was instrumental in their discoveries. Add to this list Mozart, Shelley, Coleridge, Huxley, Descartes, Robert Louis Stevenson, and William Blake. From his analysis of over 25,000 people, Hill found that those who succeed in an outstanding way often don't hit their stride until they're beyond the age of 40 or 50. He calls this fact "astounding." Success requires no explanations. (Hill does not explain how he arrives at his theories of the subconscious mind, nor the history of such thought, nor does he include real references to any great degree. This is not to say his statements are incorrect.) In some way that is not completely understood, the subconscious seems able to draw upon the forces of infinite intelligence for the power to transmute our desires into their physical equivalent, and it does so in the most straightforward and practical way. Man's stock of knowledge on this topic is pitifully limited. When you firmly plant your goal in the subconscious, then even other people will start assisting you. As has been mentioned, the subconscious mind is more susceptible to influence by thought mixed with feeling and emotion than by thoughts originating solely in the reasoning portion of the mind. (Here's a solid argument here for a greater mind-body synthesis.) In clinical hypnotherapy there is an axiom referred to as the Law of Reversed Effect: Whenever there's a conflict between willpower and imagination, the imagination always wins. Affirmations should be specific about the desired goal, but not about how to accomplish it. Our subconscious knows better than us what it can do and how it can do it. To Hill, it is "inconceivable" that such an intricate, awe-inspiring network known as the human brain should be in existence for the sole purpose of carrying on the physical functions connected with the growth and maintenance of the physical body. Is it not likely, he asks, that the same system which gives billions of brain cells the media for communication, one with another, also provides the means of communication with other intangible forces? Contrary to widespread opinion, telepathy and clairvoyance do not improve when the percipient is asleep or half-asleep, but on the contrary, when he is most wide awake and alert. The person who actually knows just what he wants in life has already gone a long way toward attaining it.
Some thoughts from Elmer Gates (1856-1923), who was mentioned above by Napoleon Hill. (Gates was affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.):
- Cells have minds and are alive because of it.
- Genius is not so much a superior mental capacity as a superior method of looking at things. It spends much time in completely understanding fundamentals and dwells on them for days and days, while mere talent learns by heart the statement of some authority in a few hours.
- Consciousness is an ever-present witness, knowingly watching us.
- An aim, like an idea, is never clearly before the mind until it has been several times stated as completely and perspicuously (clear and precise) as possible.
- Something larger than the individuality of the artist guides the chisel, directs the brush, and inspires the pen. If a real teacher of the new order were to come and try to establish the new standards and customs at once, he would be imprisoned or killed.
From "Psycho-Cybernetics" (1960) by Maxwell Maltz, MD
A plastic surgeon in New York, Maltz continually met clients who wanted a physical makeover. What they needed, concluded Maltz, was something that went much deeper -- a makeover of their self-image. This resulting book went on to become a pillar of the self-improvement field. When our self image is an object of shame, we attempt to hide it rather than express it. The so-called subconscious mind is not a mind at all, but a mechanism -- a goal striving, servo-mechanism consisting of the brain and nervous system, which is used by and directed by the mind. (We tend to think by lazy habit, but this can be changed, much as we can change the way we tie our shoes.) "Imagination rules the world."
-- Napoleon The word "cybernetics" comes from the Greek for "steersman." Torpedoes accomplish their goal by moving forward, making errors, and then correcting them. When Ralph Waldo Emerson was once complimented for a creative idea, he backed off from taking credit, saying "ideas are in the air." He added that if he hadn't discovered it, someone else would have. The Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) apparently once told a friend that his creative process involved "remembering a melody" that no one had ever thought of before. When we set out to solve a problem, don't many of us assume that the answer already exists -- somewhere? Said Dr. Norbert Weiner, "Once a scientist attacks a problem which he knows to have an answer, his entire attitude is changed. He is already some fifty percent of his way toward that answer." (Paul McCartney once woke up from a dream with a "song in his head." [I've done the same, I may add . . . truly astounding melodies that I've never captured.] The song in McCartney's head turned into the most recorded song in history -- "Yesterday".) We cannot merely imagine a new self-image, but we can create a new one if it's based on the truth -- seeing the "real you" for a change. ("The truth shall set you free.") Think in terms of the end-result, and the means will often take care of themselves. This type of thinking is sometimes called "teleological." Mistakes are part of the game, so don't let them invalidate your progress. You must learn to trust your creative subconscious to do its work. Don't "jam it" by becoming too concerned or anxious as to whether or not it will work, or by attempting to force it by too much conscious effort. You must "let it" work rather than "make it" work. Its nature is to operate spontaneously, according to present need. It comes into operation as you act. You must not wait to act until you have proof. You must act as if it's already there, and it will come through. Said Emerson, "Do the thing and you will have the power." A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. This is a basic and fundamental law of mind. We act, and feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image our mind holds of what they are like. If we picture ourselves performing in a certain manner, it's nearly the same as the actual performance. Many professional golfers have serious flaws in their "form," although form is what most instructors dwell on. Top pros create a clear mental impression of where they want the ball to go, and form becomes secondary. In many cases it seems to take care of itself. (I believe it was Babe Ruth who had the "improper" batting grip.) When we see a goal clearly in our mind, our creative "success mechanism" takes over and does the job much better than we could do it by conscious effort or sheer "willpower." We need to relax the strain and effort. To create this mental picture forcefully, it works to relax the body totally. Dr. Albert Edward Wiggam (1871-1957) called our mental picture of ourself "the strongest force within you." (Said Wiggam, "Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.") Our aim is not to create a fictitious self-image that's arrogant, vain, all-important. Such images are inappropriate and as unrealistic as an inferior image. Our aim is to find our "real self." Maltz cites the work of psychologist Prescott Lecky (1892-1941) who for years studied schoolchildren making poor grades. He found that in almost every case, grades coincided with a student's "self-conception" or "self-definition." With such limiting (and unconscious) concepts, the students had to make poor grades in order to justify themselves. Moreover, good grades became a "moral issue" for some, as if it would be "wrong" to get good grades, because it violated the self-image already in place. We are all hypnotized to some extent, either from ideas accepted uncritically from others, or from ones we repeat to ourselves and accept as true. Physical relaxation plays a key role in the dehypnotization process.