Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Words and News

Can you
travel the path
without moving
or being alive
for that matter
Because I
am disintegrating
rotting
from inside
And I know myself
better
Now

Clash of Reality or Ego?

Today is difficult. I feel that experiences like the one I had yesterday, no matter how wonderful and amazing, set me up for depression. As soon as I come back to the reality of the everyday world, BOOM,  I am overrun by the sudden fear of losing my mind, life, and everything within and without. And yet, at the same time, I feel like I am protecting an image, something that is not me anymore, and that is the driving force behind my sense of hopelessness and depression.

I do -not- like Deepak Chopra's view of the inner world, for the most part, but this short article on LinkdIn that I received in my email today made sense to me:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140421230152-75054000-career-curveball-how-i-learned-to-tame-the-ego

Here are some excerpts:

In India the right way for a person to go is known as their Dharma, and "right" means that the whole universe is organizing your way forward. To many people this sounds like a mystical idea, and yet all of us can say, at one time or another, that things turned out in an unexpected way beyond our control. The biggest obstacle to finding your Dharma is ego.

The ego stumbles to stay connected to a person's Dharma. You have to learn that your biggest allies along the way are instinct, intuition, staying true to yourself, standing up for your truth, and self-awareness. Your adversaries are naked ambition, blind competitiveness, self-importance, a craving for status, and following second-hand opinions as if they are your truth.
Most people are divided between their allies and their adversaries – I certainly was, and must confess still am, when I find myself in moments of struggle. The ego is a permanent part of the self, and a valuable one. But when it decides to run the show, your inner world becomes distorted. You start to live according to an image you want to protect rather than searching for the connecting thread – the Dharma – that subtly unites every moment of our life. What I learned from my career train wreck was to trust my allies, and as the years passed, one of them – self-awareness – became the ally I could rely on the most, no matter whether I was going through hard times or times of great fulfillment.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Revelation: Cannot Earn Content!

I have had a series of revelations recently, many of them in the form of body awareness, a sense of completion, but the last one is more intellectual: Cannot earn content!

The deepest sense of happiness, being content and full, is not earned through hard work and focus and grit. It is more like a state of surrender and serendipity. All these years, I have carried this deep, unconscious association between happiness and hard work. To be fair, it has motivated me to work really hard and gain a lot of things in life, a lot of things except happiness! This is not really complicated or philosophical; it is as easy and mundane as this observations: Whenever the weather is nice and pleasant, I feel this compulsion to play tennis, not only because I enjoy playing tennis, but more importantly because, deep down, I believe that I need to earn ``enjoying pleasant weather'' by running and playing hard and sweating a game of tennis.

The weather is very nice today and I could be playing tennis this evening. Or I could go to the regular coffee shop to read and write. Either way, I would try to earn my way into being happy and content. Instead, I spent a little time in the back yard cleaning and now am sitting there, a bottle of beer besides me, and writing this post. I may be far, a long way, from letting happiness happen to me, without trying to earn it, but I have a feeling that I am on the right path.

PS. It's 9 and in the three hours since I wrote the above, a number of interesting events has happened and I came across some more realizations. I spare you all the details and go to them directly. First, I realized that our actions and decisions do not correspond to, and guarantee, our happiness and content. The overall effects of our decision is like a path that we take in life, and it may be a more direct path to self-realization, or an indirect, bending road to no destination! In any case, true happiness and deep content are serendipitous events that may realize when we surrender. That is an amazingly liberating observation,
I was sitting outside the coffee shop, annoyed, hurt, and feeling insecure. As I watched the clouds pass slowly, colored by the evening sun, suddenly something shifted inside me. I was watching something spectacular, and felt close to all people (specially native Americans, for some reason) who would have watched the same scene over hundreds of years. I then realized that what I observed was a unique present for me, something that no one could get from me and I felt more secure.
I will have very difficult moments in the future. The moments of understanding and ecstasy come and go, and they do not guarantee anything because, going back to where I started this post, true happiness and deep sense of content are gifts, they are not the results of our efforts and determination, but our acceptance and surrender!

PPS. It's 11:30, and I have mixed feelings about what I wrote here, what if I wake up tomorrow and feel totally stupid for writing them? Anyway, I just had an image that I am walking in a desert and everyone that I have known, friends, family and loved ones, are all scattered behind me in the distance. I want to talk to someone, but no one is near. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Three Facets of Self-Awareness

In my attempt to understand and articulate my intuition in the previous post [Tribal Spirit], I am reading the last chapter of Joseph Newirth's ``Between Emotion and Cognition: The Generative Unconscious.'' Here is an extremely important and insightful paragraph:

Continental philosophers rejected the Cartesian paradigm of the isolated thinker, … They conceptualized subjectivity, or self-consciousness, as a function of interaction with other human beings, and awareness of one's subjectivity as a social experience. The continental philosophers held several alternative views of the structure of subjectivity, intersubjectivity, and the development of self-consciousness: a phenomenological perspective in which individual self-consciousness precedes the encounter with the other and is inherent in infantile states of prereflective  awareness; a dialectical perspective in which subjectivity is a result of a struggle with the other for recognition; and an existential or generative perspective that conceptualizes subjectivity as an emergent quality of the rootedness of human beings in a cultural matrix. These three philosophical positions can be thought of as parallel to contemporary psychoanalytic positions of subjectivity and intersubjectivity: the phenomenological subject, subjectivity as a dialectical struggle for recognition, and subjectivity as generative of symbolic meaning. From a broad perspective, subjectivity and intersubjectivity include all three perspective; … ---p. 211, Between Cognition and Emotion
To be honest, it is this expression, ``subjectivity as an emergent quality of the rootedness of human being in a cultural matrix,'' that makes me VERY nervous, and in combination with ``subjectivity as generative of symbolic'' and the idea of ``a tribal spirit that constitute identity'' from my previous post [Tribal Spirit], that excites me in an extraordinary way! LOL

Tribal Spirit

A few passages from the Barry Holstun Lopez's, ``Of Wolves and Men.'' They inspire an important intuition in me that I cannot articulate well, not yet.
The spirit that kept a people together through time, even as individuals passed away, was one of the most deeply felt emotions in the native American soul. Every year in small and large ways the spirit of life, of tribal identity and solidarity, of the individual's place in tribe, was renewed. And the wolf played a role here too. …

Tribal initiation in the wold ceremony was central to one's sense of identity with the tribe, and participation was necessary before one could take part in any other ceremony. It also renewed a sense of tribal identity for former initiates who participated.

The mystic basis for the initiation ceremony … was the stealing of a young man by a pack of wolves. The wolves tried to kill him but could not and so they became his friends. They taught him about themselves, then sent him back to his village to teach his tribe the rites of the wolf ceremony. The young man told his people that it was necessary for the strength of the tribe, for their success in war, and everything else they did, that they should be like wolves. They must be a fierce, as brave, and as determined as the one who is the greatest hunter in the woods. In this ceremony people are ``stolen'' by wolves, go through a terrifying confrontation, and emerge wolflike. ---pp. 128-129, Of Wolves and Men

The social fabric of the Naskapi tribe is the result of an acknowledgement of dependence on each other for food. The young, the old, the sick, they cannot hunt. The social system of the Naskapi bestows prestige on the successful hunter; that us what is exchanged for meat. Each man hunts as he chooses, calling on personal skills, but with a single, overriding goal: to secure food. The individual ego is therefore both nurtured and submerged. A man's skills are praised, his food is eaten, his pride is reinforced. ---p. 89, Of Wolves and Men

Alpha animals do not always lead the hunt, break trail in snow, or eat before the others do. An alpha animal may be alpha only at certain times for a specific reason, and, it should be noted, is alpha at the deference of the other wolves in the pack.
The wolf is a social animal; it depends for its survival on cooperation, not strife. Human beings, particularly in recent years, have grown accustomed to speaking of ``dominance hierarchies'' in business corporations and elsewhere, and the tendency has been to want wolf packs (or troops of chimpanzees) to conform to similar molds. The social structure of a wold pack is dynamic---subject to change, especially during the breeding season---and may be completely reversed during periods of play. It is important during breeding, feeding, travel, and territorial maintenance, and seems to serve a purpose when wolves gather to reassure each other of the positive aspects of their life-style as reflected in this social order, one that enhances survival by collective hunting and natural population control. ---p. 33, Of Wolves and Men

Friday, April 04, 2014

Holding Opposites

My explorations won't end until they end.

In an unusually difficult Monday I discovered the extension of ``Mahan Method'' to decision-making set-ups with a long-term/commitment dimension, but that will be the topic of another post, or maybe not. In the ensuing discussions with my sister, my focus shifted to the issue of listening to diverse inner conversations (see, http://www.intervoiceonline.org), and then to the idea of holding opposite thoughts (see the last paragraph here: http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/08/the-science-of-willpower-kelly-mcgonigal-on-why-its-so-dang-hard-to-stick-to-a-resolution/). Then, I first acquainted myself with the ``cognitive dissonance'' (Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance) and then Jung's idea on the tension of holding opposites (for example, http://jungiancenter.org/essay/jungs-challenge-us-holding-tension-opposites). Finally I got to the Kathleen A. Brehony's book, ``Awakening at Midlife,'' and the following paragraphs caught my attention, specially the idea of surrender. And the way I can make sense of surrender, to something inside, is using my own ``Mahan method'' of decision-making. Full circle, lol
Riptides occur when two opposing currents meet; it is a natural collision of opposites. These currents create a swirling action that forms channels. When a wave recedes, water rushes through that outgoing channel with great power and speed. …  riptides are to be respected because they can drag even the strongest swimmer out past the breakers in a heartbeat The natural Impulse is to swim as hard as you can back toward the shore. But when you are caught in a riptide this is the worst thing you can do. You cannot overpower this natural force. Even very competent swimmers drown by trying to fight the force of moving water that is taking them out to sea.

Instead. a riptide demands surrender. If you simply float, taking care only to keep your head above water, the riptide will take you out about fifteen hundred feet or so and only then can you begin to swim parallel to the shore and find your way back. We are used to being in control of our lives, but a riptide teaches that sometimes it is necessary to “go with the flow." Not knowing where you will end up and feeling helpless in the face of the power of forces that are much stronger than you are terrifying experiences. Surviving a riptide demands trust in your own ability to keep your head above the water and trust in the natural force of the event to take you only so far away from shore.

In the midlife passage it is necessary to trust in the integrity of your own inner process, the wisdom of the Self. and your own strength. As with a riptide, it is necessary to believe that the emerging intrapsychic forces will take you only so far from shore.

Jung called his own midlife transition an “encounter with the unconscious.” He wrote: “I frequently imagined a steep descent. I even made several attempts to get to the very bottom. The first time I reached, as it were, a depth of about a thousand feet; the next time I found myself at the edge of a cosmic abyss. It was like a voyage to the moon. or a descent into an empty space. First came the image of a crater, and I had the feeling that I was in the land of the dead. The atmosphere was that of the other world."
My understanding of holding opposites is different. In most significant situations in life, all options are possibilities (with possibly different probabilities, of being true). Everything is right, correct, possible under certain conditions. There is a possibility that I have lost my mind. It's possible that I am depressed. But it is also possible that I am finding myself and re-creating my identity. It's possible that I am reaching new and interesting conclusions. I cannot be sure. I may have a deep, hidden passion in life. Passion may also be a big lie. Everything is possible and it should not really bother us.

I cannot explain this any better. Maybe later I can, maybe not, lol

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the t...