Social Engineering

Cultivate Attention and Discernment (5)

La Clairvoyance (1936) (“Perspicacity”) By René Magritte 1936.

“Sound judgement, with discernment is the best of seers.”

— Euripides


Reading time: 15-17 mins

So far, we’ve looked at healing the past so that we have a firm foundation upon which to build, such as choosing constructive, positive emotions. To be able to take the first steps, we must have enough self-respect and at least some measure of self-control to take responsibility for our own development. That means choosing this as a central aim parallel or including, a process of objectives, without self-deception or short-cuts. We must simplify our daily routines and scale back our ambitions so that undue complexity doesn’t enter in prematurely. Economising our energy permits progress to that end. If we never have enough mental, emotional and physical energy available then our aim will remain in the realm of fantasy – the very source of the drain itself. Non-identification, positive detachment and proper attention help us simplify and return to what is essential. To be aware of the mammalian brain and its addictive habits we can choose to cultivate attention. When we know what to look for, we can begin to recognise the emotional, intellectual and physical patterns which keep our creative potential trapped. We might then be able to discern the true nature of ourselves and our relationship to others.

So, what is “discernment” exactly? From the Latin words ‘dis’ (apart) and ‘cernere’ (to separate), it’s a skill that we develop in order to comprehend what is vague or obscure. This applies to a person, situation or an abstract idea. It is the art of seeing which includes the realm of the five senses and by extension, the possibility of accessing different modes of perception using the marriage of intuition and reason. And we do this by shunning self-orientated, subjective impressions and by striving to obtain an objective view of life as possible.

If we can comprehend something and reach clarity then we can exercise sound judgement and the further ability to discriminate between what is true or false. Discrimination – the noticing of any part, quality, impression, detail or difference in comparison to another object, person or situation – is the essential partner to discernment. Without constant discrimination between what is negative and positive, good or evil, gaining useful insights from a holistic view cannot be attained.

Careful discrimination weighs up and compares, discernment permits initial recognition of impressions received. We are then able to exercise judgement and reach a conclusion of the overall picture, coordinated by the will of attention. As Scottish theologian Sinclair B. Ferguson states: “True discernment means not only distinguishing [discriminating] the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.” And this means learning that the “devil” is often in the details because lies to ourselves and lies in the outer world are frequently sandwiched between the sweet and seemingly well-intentioned. Or, as British Baptist Preacher Charles Spurgeon once cautioned: “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” Which is why ancient philosophical traditions emphasize the subtleties inherent in developing such skills.

“Almost right” is still wrong. And that can be a big deal when your life depends on it.

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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (4)

“Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy”

— Vaclav Havel


Reading time: 25 mins

Creative Vs Entropic influences *

To get the engine of discernment running we need to be aware of how certain influences lead to cultural hypnosis and consensus trance, keeping us stressed, dependent and spiritually asleep. To bypass those toxic effects which we have taken on as normal, we must seek to build a sacred space within so that we are ready and receptive to attract the more subtle influences which positively stimulate the mind toward soul growth. Of course, they are less obvious and more difficult to isolate, which is why it is most challenging to attain spiritual development in our current round of society – everything is set up so that we remain numb and compliant or angry, fearful and volatile.

All of which is good for the system, not so good for the seeker.

Searching out Creative Influences (CI) in this context, is about cognitive and psycho-spiritual adaptation to society and culture without becoming subsumed in its pathology. When we can, we minimise an otherwise probable path to psychological entropy. [1] Gathering and applying these creative influences becomes an art and science since it is concerned with how to live in harmony according to the 31 principles.

The embodiment of psycho-spiritual creativity denotes character which endures. And character is formed by differentiating the qualities of thoughts, feelings and actions. Searching and getting to know these qualities is much like panning for gold in the mud – we recognise, understand and extract the properties which heal and integrate. These are processes which are made up of objectives, which, in turn, comprises our primary aim founded on energy dispersed or knowledge shared. The union or synthesis of “little ‘I’s or ego states begin to come under the influence of the soul which begins to grow from the various stimuli. It leads us to experience lessons which might eventually lead to an authentic level of Being.

Lies and self-deception cause a reversal or mirror image of these creative processes twisting back to the opposite path. The trajectory may appear to be the same in every way, the only difference being that the adaptive unconscious remains tied to the same narrative with no real changes occurring deep within whereby all changes are merely cosmetic. When we start to perceive the specific context and relationship in which creativity, entropy and the three forces interpenetrate we begin to differentiate which energy is operational and determine whether or not we are assimilating creative or entropic influences (EI) thus Being, or Non-Being, the latter resulting in a slow attrition of the soul.

With its inception in thermodynamics and information theory, “entropy” refers to the amount of uncertainty and disorder in a system. Everything in the universe tends towards entropy. All living creatures interact with there environment and self-organise and adapt to reduce the prospect of external entropy overloading our open feedback system and changing it to a closed system. Sentient life consists of a diverse range of open systems which extract energy/information from their environment to maintain a stable state, which, although far from equilibrium, continually keep the balance of entropy displacement into the outside world so that it never overwhelms the inner state – operational to abstract, disorder to order. This spring-cleaning and stabilising of energy is called “negentropy”, the process which prevents psychic entropy overload.

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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (3)

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

“There is no consistent, integrated conception of the world which serves as the foundation on which our edifice of belief rests. And therefore… we are more naive than those of the Middle Ages, and more frightened, for we can be made to believe almost anything.”

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985)


Reading time: 20-25 mins

Fear, Superstimuli, Indoctrination

Fear is a wake-up call to pay attention and see truth. But this instinct can be easily subverted to an irrational and automatic body-mind reaction for survival and self-protection against a perceived threat. The father of propaganda Edward Bernays, the Rockefeller dynasty and their social science directives; Freud and psychoanalysis; Alfred Kinsey and his sexual revolution and the ever-present mainstreaming of occult directives have flowed through the mass mind and shaped Western societies toward a highly narrow conception of reality.

Education, mainstream media, entertainment, art, fashion, advertising, marketing, public relations – even our family unit, peer groups and working life – all reflect the above directors of an Official Culture. All are defined by consumption, commodity, image, sensation and artifice. The original source of these traditions and pursuits have lost their psycho-spiritual meaning and now float in a sea of narcissistic irrelevancy.

Instead of bringing out the true meaning of human existence – to love, learn, bond, create and commune –  our current reality is a constellation of subverted constructs which are pathological due to a predominance of psychopathic and sub-deviant human beings who have taken control of societies. They have continually re-interpreted and subverted the best of human ingenuity and innovation toward their own conscienceless, machine-like perception. This continuing psycho-materialist paradigm has been translated and mediated into so-called normative social, political and cultural structures. They continue to exist purely due to a consensus trance reinforced by cultural hypnosis, of which most people are entirely unaware.


“Never have so many been manipulated so much by so few.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (1958), Chapter 3, p. 19


The overriding and long-term objective behind this inculcation is toward complete control of the mass mind. The Three Establishment Model via their corporate oligarchs and power-brokers are the aforementioned 4C’s alongside economic, political and sociocultural warfare using three main prongs of attack:

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Cultivate Attention and Discernment (2)

“Dark ages are times of forgetting, when the advancements of the past are underutilized. If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding. The possibility of an attention-deficient future society is very sobering.”

Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age


Reading time: 10-15 mins

Cultural Hypnosis / Consensus Trance

What are we paying attention to?

21st Century culture is a pseudo or secondary reality in which we are all deeply immersed.

Although it might seem illogical, our present social and cultural constructs are birthed from a world of inductive economic and political ideas amounting to a form of hypnosis. The behavioural dynamics of this reality exist in the mass and individual mind with no proof or experience to validate it. In order to make sure that our attention never gets out of the nose-bag of fear, sex, hunger and i-phones, it is imperative that our generational rulers keep cultural hypnosis firmly in place.

According to master hypnotist Mark Anthony, this is a:  “… catch-all term that covers the mass of influence from a wide range of people, institutions and situations that each human being is affected by from the moment of conception till death within a given, definable and limited culture matrix. Less euphemistically, cultural hypnosis is aka PROGRAMMING.” [1]  Similarly, the consensus trance that eventuates, is defined as “normal” consciousness wholly adapted to current sociocultural constructs. Or as psychologist Charles T. Tart describes it: “… when you automatically think, behave, and feel “normally,” when the internal workings of your mind automatically echo most of the values and beliefs of your culture”. [2]

Cultural hypnosis leads to the induction of a consensus trance and its perceived “normality” which leads to a consensus reality. When we interface with reality through trance-like states we are not thinking for ourselves, we are not questioning that consensus – our minds are not working consciously.

We will take a generalised look at how the social dominators use various methods of cultural induction, inculcation and conditioning to induce mass hypnosis and the resulting trance in Western civillisation and in varying degrees, global populations.

Dissociation

Everyone daydreams to the point of distraction at some point during the day. Many of us experience mild dissociative episodes for much of lives and can function within the social norms of society without too many problems. Lesiure pursuits from golf to cinema allow us respite from the rigours of work and other demands on our energy so that relaxation and imagination can take over. Watching TV or sitting in front of a movie screen are good examples of temporarily suspending our relationship to consensus reality. When we relax and enter into these movie states, our conscious awareness is literally absent – we are fully running, laughing, feeling and fearing all that happens in front of us, whether we intellectualise it or not. We are hypnotised by light and sound and dissociate one part of consciousness from another. It would be a form of psychosis if certain triggers were not present. But the TV is switched off, the credits roll and the lights come up. We stretch and yawn and make our way home.

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9. Cultivate Attention and Discernment (1)

“Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the “past.” People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the ‘Future.'”

The Cassiopaea Experiment Transcripts, by Laura Knight-Jadczyk


Reading time: 18-20 mins

“Pay attention.”

A very familiar phrase. I don’t know about you, but this reminds of my school days when I certainly wasn’t paying attention for a lot of the time. I was either messing around at the back of the class or looking out of the window daydreaming.

Hardly surprising. School tends to encourage stress and dissociation plus all the frustrations and inattention that follows. Not that there aren’t some fine teachers about. But the concept of learning has gone so far from the joy and wonder it is meant to instil, that all who partake in this factory of disconnection can only end up blind.  When it extends into adulthood it acts as a fly-paper for a host of other problems – dissociation being one high on the list.

Children have a powerful ability to pay attention to their surroundings. Their “distraction” is a crucial part of developing sensory awareness and something we lose as we reach adulthood. Children actually notice and remember more through this total immersion which is developed through play, interaction and natural presence. [1]  By the time they reach formal schooling (i.e. indoctrination) children are force-fed what to think rather than how to think. Attention is directed to specific blocks of information created and formed by a consensus which is really just a form of hypnosis and entrainment and a product of distorted history and consequent perception management.

Filtration, fabrication and distortion form the education of our day, so it’s no wonder that young adult are feeling adrift after they graduate from such institutionalised propaganda. Thanks to this type of education, social media, a backdrop of content consumption and production there is, according to a recent study, a “…more rapid exhaustion of limited attention resources.” As a result, humanity’s collective attention span is getting shorter. [2]

Then we have the increasing automation of technology which is cutting jobs and laying waste to our ability to hold on to and develop new cognitive and practical skills to take us boldly into the future. There is an attention deficit but it is not restricted to the psychiatric label designed to market more drugs. We have a crisis of attention thus perception which has been going on for a long time.

At the most basic level, without attention, we would all be crashing our cars even more than we do already: burning our food to a crisp; sleeping in everyday; leaving the shower on all day or adding our number to the legion of people that die in accidents at home while attempting to “fix” things. A lack of attention and an overestimation of our knowledge can be a fatal combination.

Without paying attention we cannot simplify our life, give our lover pleasure, find our blind spots, control our emotions, or learn a new skill. Without paying attention we cannot define or uphold what we value. When values are absent knowing the difference between fact and fantasy is a tenuous proposition.

Attention not only matters it can determine whether we live or die, accept a truth or a clever lie. And these two pairings usually go together.

In other words, cultivating attention is a BIG deal.

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Cultivate Detachment and Non-Identification (2)

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

“Inner silence is for our race a difficult achievement. There is a chattering part of the mind which continues, until it is corrected, to chatter on even in the holiest places.”

— C.S. Lewis


Reading time: 15-20 mins

Inner Considering

You’re on an internal cell phone to your “Self” that never stops ringing. You pick up and you say the same thing over and over. You hang up. And then it rings again and you start over, completely forgetting your last feverish conversation. Our wires become so crisscrossed and entangled with endless contradictions and conflations that we end up trapped in our mind.

A life of endless chatter, deliberation, vascillation, questioning, doubts, ten thousand possible ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’ fuelled by our fantasies of the future and the past. These thoughts get our brain and nervous system so habitually overheated, criss-crossing over each other with complexity, that we cannot discern or discriminate objective from subjective.

That’s an unfortunate part of being human. We all do it to different degrees – mostly as our default position. It certainly takes me back to all kinds of poor decisions which were based solely on that inner noise of fear and anxiety and not much else. We can even make ourselves believe that it’s all logical and rational rather than an internal babbling of self-protection.

All this has a name: “inner considering”, a phrase drawn from the 4th Way teachings of George I. Gurdjieff and its relationship to indentification and self-remembering.

When we fully identify with the object of our attention we immediately begin a cascade of thought loops about what might or might not be, fuelled by anticipation and inner dissatisfaction. People, in particular, form our most potent forms of identification. This is the social battlefield of unresolved childhood insecurities and misdirected sexual energies. Plagued by endless loops of inner considering we are not motivated by truth but by self-protection and inner comfort. It’s like we carry around a no-entry sign for any authentic interaction. Only those exchanges which bypass “sensitive” lanes into our heart are allowed access. And since most people are asleep to themselves, therefore inauthentic, much of what we see as social interactions are merely the exchange of inner considerations.

Fear is still pumped into society on a daily basis and has produced immense distrust and cynicism. Our infotainment mediocrity elevates artifice and images devoid of meaning which means most of us search desperately for anchors of purpose. Albeit entirely understandable, this is a fool’s game because it is driven by subjective, frustrated assumptions and all manner of negative projections – all of it largely unconscious.

The net result means no change, or change for its own sake. The loops are still there based on a refusal to take responsibility for one’s own development. A contractile denial of one’s own deformations remains in place.

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8. Cultivate Detachment and Non-Identification (1)

© Infrakshun

“We live in a society where detachment is almost essential.”

— Philip K. Dick


Reading time: 15 – 18 mins

The quote above highlights a growing shift in the consciousness of Western populations – if not the globe – namely, the detachment and separation from our political system to offer any kind of resolution to domestic and international problems. The defeat of the remain camp in the Brexit exit poll to the election of Donald Trump are both symptoms of disillusionment with establishment politics. They represent a negative detachment of progressive politics not from rejecting the conservative “other,” but from an attachment to a dream of what ought to be, thus in direct oppostion to objective reality.

As Gilad Atzmon notes in his recent book Being in Time: A Post Political Manifesto (2016):

The Post-Political condition is an era defined by a complete failure of politics (Left, Right and Centre) and ‘Grand Ideological Narratives.’ Liberal Democracy, Marxism, communism, capitalism, and free markets are all empty, hollow signifiers as far as contemporary reality is concerned.

Total detachment describes the current relationship between ‘the political’ and ‘the human.’ We Westerners are becoming keenly aware that we have been reduced to consumers. The present role of ‘the political’ is to facilitate consumption. Our elected politicians are subservient to oligarchs, major market forces, big monopolies, corporations, conglomerates, banks and some sinister lobbies.

Liberal Democracy, that unique moment of mutual exchange between humans and the political, has failed to sustain itself. [1]

In the context of politics and culture, non-identification is essential if we are to separate from belief and move toward constructive solutions. Not to play the game of identity politics is to reject the idea that just because there is disagreement with a certain ideology does not mean prejudice against a race, sexuality, gender or religion. Identitarians would have us all categorised into rigid groups of tribal affiliations according to opinions, feelings and surface image rather than the logic and plausibility of the idea itself. Since identity is enmeshed in ideology and persona, to oppose an ideologue is to launch a personal attack. A specific defence mechanism is thus created to maintain this triad.

Examples of this would be:

  • Being white and male you are privileged and inherently racist
  • If you vote for Trump you are sexist, misogynist and a white supremacist Nazi.
  • Everyone knows there is a rape culture and if you deny it you support it.
  • If you disagree with pre-school education on transgender sexuality means you are transphobic
  • Criticising Islamic extremism means you are “Islamophobic”.
  • Criticising Israel’s human rights record against Palestinians means you are anti-Semitic
  • If you stand against police brutality you support radical anarchists like antifa
  • Institutionalised racism exists and police target black people as a result.
  • All those who criticise the science of human-global warming are “climate deniers”.
  • Being pro-Brexit and skeptical of the EU means you are xenophobic and right wing

Such identitarianism is spellbound by image and feeling rather than reason an logic. There is no room for nuance or complexity. With identify politics, radical feminism and social justice groupings, group identity and its beliefs take precedence over individual belief and autonomy. Any attack against the group is an attack against personal identity, the latter of which the individual give ups to further group cohesion. The ability to discriminate and critique based on reality rather than personal sensibility is lost. As such, it is a collective defence mechanism called “splitting” which we will look at later on.

To identify with someone’s pain or difficulties is to engage empathy. But when we identify with the ideology and belief – regardless of good intentions –  we limit our ability to see outside that ideology. It is then that empathy becomes politicised and distorted toward power and projection fuelled by the momentum of the group itself.

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Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (3)

“I have long held an opinion, almost amounting to conviction, in common I believe with many other lovers of natural knowledge, that the various forms under which the forces of matter are made manifest have one common origin; or, in other words, are so directly related and mutually dependent, that they are convertible, as it were, one into another, and possess equivalents of power in their action.”

— Michael Faraday, English Physicist and Chemist


Reading time: 20 mins

Energy

What is energy?

Energy is a property of matter, space, objects and fields. It can be transferred and converted, but it can’t be destroyed – or created. Energy can be chemical, thermal electrical and kinetic, all of which exists in and around the mind-body system.

For our focus it is potential energy which can be stored and qualitatively accumulated which is of interest.

Energy can be refined in order to get more vitality for your voltage, so to speak.

Since sufficient energy is the fuel for all manner of action, (and The Work) it stands to reason that the more energy you have within your mind-body system the more enhanced the capacity for change.  With enough stored, (and the “space” ready to store it) we have a greater chance of changing our physical, mental and emotional states.

With a greater store of energy on tap, this might even provide the “nourishment” and power needed to fuel overall meta-physical transformation.

At this point in history the demands on our time and energy are relentless. Many of us have become mentally ill or physically debilitated due to environmental and psycho-social factors. In this technological age there are reasons to fill every waking hour with activities and distractions which feed our restlessness but give little in terms of true nourishment. If we cut out the clutter and re-organise our daily lives so that things become simpler we make better use of our time. Time management goes hand in hand with simplicity. Economising conserving and simplifying are mutually inclusive.

What is crucial to your life and what is just repetitive, useless busy-ness? Is that moving centre sending into you spirals of pointless activity in order to displace energy that could be useful to personal transformation? Ask yourself honestly: Is your attention habitually fixed on getting things to feel better? Has this focus overshadowed what’s truly important in my life?

If that’s true and like so many of us, you have been caught up in finding too much satisfaction in possessions (or possessing people) then it’s a cue to simplify and to realise that attachment to beliefs and their possessions are often the greatest obstacle to living a more harmonious life. Or, as German poet and playwright Johann von Goethe expressed it: “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

To achieve simplicity we have to conserve our energy in thought and action. One thing is for sure, you’ll need every ounce of it if you are to transform your inner life. By gettting rid of that which ultimately drains you, it opens up the space for an ongoing process of spring-cleaning, much like you do with your flat or house. And it’s amazing how much more can be achieved by decreasing one’s complexity.

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Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy (2)

© Infrakshun | M.K. Styllinski

“The expression of truth is simplicity.”

— Seneca


Reading time: 20-25 mins

Natural and Common Law

If you’re like me you might ascribe to a universal law that operates outside of human constructs yet gives rise to a specific set of perceptions and values. Natural law is a system of moral justice and balance derived from the cycles and symbols of nature rather than the rules of society. There are inherent rights which exist outside of legislative bodies and the State which are deemed a timeless product of nature and the Divine. Natural Law is a culmination of thousands of years of philosophical inquiry from Taoism to the Stoics and celtic Christian theology. Drawn from generations of common sense experience, the common theme is that morality, ethics and jurisprudence should determine the outcome of disputes and community conflict.

Natural law flows through the dynamics of social groups, how we cooperate and include, when we live and die, who we love and who our friends our; it is our home and our community; the values, virtues and moral autonomy that gives life to art and altruism. It comes about by the process of reason and conscience which determines what is beneficial or destructive to the individual as part of the proper functioning of a community. It is a law that requires us to learn the sometimes subtle difference between that which gives life and creativity or that which sends us down the road to entropy and evil.

Under Natural Law infections of evil are allowed to wither and die by withdrawing energy for their existence. Such entities are not bailed out and propped up – they dismantled, re-envisoned or ignored. This universal standard is as old as human conscience – the wisdom formed through experience. It is a law that transcends time, culture, and government. It is a law that helps to create organic order that is porus and fliexible as well as socially binding. Natural promotes self-responsibility, self-sufficiency and preventative measures when it comes to crime and dysfunction.  It is the judge who discovers the law in common practices which have been deeply ingrained in society.

At its best, it is simplicity in action.

The American legal school of thought called Declarationism believes that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. constitution are based on Natural Law. However, that initial ideal has now been obscured – if not dissolved – under the heavy weight of amendments by successive administrations under the pay of corporations and antithical ideologies. Equally, one only has to cast an eye over the disease of legalise – American and European – to wonder how it is that anyone understands anything when it comes to civil liberties, family courts and civil actions.

The English legal system of Common Law is similarly rooted in this natural philosophy with its roots in the English Kings’ courts. This older, traditional form of common law is still in operation although, like the U.S. consituition, it has been covered up and camouflaged by modern legislative power which seldom takes into account the old local knowledge and simplicity of the system –  a natural outgrowth of community cohesion.

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Choose Constructive Emotions (and don’t forget your greatest asset) (8)

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be
taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.”

– George Eliot

“I’m not asking anything” she said. “I’m merely passing on the advice of a succession of shrewd old birds…Start by becoming aware of what you think you are. It’ll help you to become aware of what you are in fact.”

— Aldous Huxley, Island, 1962


Reading time: 20-25 mins

We’ve looked at the importance of positive emotions (and its dark side); fantasy over creativity; as well as an overview of male and female brain differences in processing emotions. We’ve also explored how constructive emotions are overall, an essential part of moral, psycho-spiritual identity.

In this final post on constructive emotions we’ll have a closer look at how they operate within a specific metaphysical/esoteric tradition with particular attention to the theory of chakras or centres. These ideas are present in much of the occult traditions but also in “esoteric science”, or the old, custodian forms of Eastern and Western traditions behind many of our religions.

This might appear to be a bit abstract, so those averse to too much theory on that score, hang in there, even it’s just theory at this point, it’ll give you a working knowledge as to how your “subtle energy” might be working in your system. Similarly, if this is just an interesting curiosity, the mere awareness of new possibilities is useful since it gives you further information to process within your personal open feedback system. Information can always be turned into practical knowledge if you test it against the whetstone of reality.

That said, a word to the wise: the following theories of esoteric work isn’t something to flirt with – a point I’ve made at various junctures on this blog. Better to just have that awareness than fully engage with what esotericists call “The Tradition” or “The Work” than only half engage. That’s as dangerous as entering a dense jungle in flip-flops, with  a plastic water bottle as your only means of survival. A paucity of sincerity and mere intellectual curiosity is not a good combination. ( know well of what I speak!) Beyond a certain point, to turn back from that Work will create a chaos you can barely imagine. As the Buddha mentioned:  “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way and not starting.”

Cautionary warning dispensed with – onwards!

Fourth Way /The Centres/Chakras

There are three major influences that determine the personality and its trajectory:

  • Genetics
  • sociocultural programming
  • spiritual/religious beliefs

Our spiritual beliefs – occult or esoteric/metaphysical – have been directly or indirectly influenced by the ancient idea of chakras or subtle energy centres.

The chakra systems as we know them today have been put through the new age and occult grinder so it’s no surprise that the theory behind their functioning bares little resemblance to their original sources, be it from the yoga-tantra traditions or from esoteric Christianity filtered into the West.

The particular system I’ll focus on I believe retains the original template of the “subtle energy centres” which is the system of teaching called The Fourth Way delivered to the West by George Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky and later Boris Mouravieff among others lesser known.

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Choose Constructive Emotions (and don’t forget your greatest asset) (4)

 © Photodynamx | Dreamstime.com

“The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is.”

  —Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919)


Reading time: 15 minutes

Fantasy vs Creative Imagination

There is no question that we can choose positive emotions to improve our life. Yet, there are many things we must consider before pursuing that aim, not least of which is making sure we don’t foolishly believe that’s all we need to grow, in spite of a natural want to improve our lot. They are two separate things, however. The latter tends to accompany the former and not after some considerable hardship. This is the nature of awakening: it sends out a signal to a world opposed to such a path and its response is usually to send a few obstacles to put us back to sleep. Usually, they are seductive and go straight for our weakest spot, our Achilles heel.

We need to cultivate deep self-knowledge to check we are embracing the positive thinking train for the right reasons; healing trapped emotions so that we’re sure we’re not seeking escape; a balm for pain; searching for short-cuts or using such methods to attain power and dominance. More importantly, we are not feeding our tendency to fantasize about the future.

Fantasy fuels our needy emotions. Fantasizing may be a welcome break from drudgery, but you may unwittingly invite chaos into the present. The very act of supplying energy to fantasy means that effort in the real world commensurate with a proper evaluation of our abilities is being continually siphoned away from pragmatic action. Therefore, your future will make you feel worse, not better, ironically stemming from your over-identification to think positively, the anticipation of that new state and subsequent diluted effort that could have ignited the state of creative flow.

Effort demands deliberate, conscious practice and an open spirit of expectation that allows creative imagination to complement critical thinking. Fantasy is like a self-created whirlpool which keeps us trapped in the warm waters of our own self-conceit thus making sure we never actually manifest even the humblest of those possibilities.

What makes it worse is people routinely confuse fantasy with creative imagination. When people mention the positive aspect of fantasy they are talking about the creative imagination which is fantasy set to work. Intention defines whether or not fantasy becomes creative or just colourful noise. Psychotherapist Carl Jung highlighted the importance of “playing with fantasy” without which “no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.”

A bit of day-dreaming here and there is no bad thing. And the playing Jung talks about is really accessing imagination toward a general or specific quest. Children naturally access the creative imagination as means to derive meaning and emotional nourishment. Sensory input from play and day-dreaming are essential to future emotional stability. This is why so many kids have difficulties at school because our concepts of education are an assault on such creativity as it imposes dry, dead, tests and re-parents children along state-sanctioned directives. As we know, these are not based on a remotely coherent map of reality. Enforced learning along regimented lines divorced from emotional intelligence has the result of corralling kids into a body-mind matrix of unhealthy fantasy and an eternal longing for meaning by the time they are young adults. When the critical faculties and independence appear they are a pale reflection of what they should have been, sheared of the correct neural maps from the absence of joyful learning and proper emotional content. They are still locked into the unfulfilled and impoverished state that comes from an education that indoctrinates and programs children into a consensus trance.

When fantasy and wishful-thinking is sold as a “lifestyle design” then it becomes yet another way to keep us docile, disappointed and resentful. When combined with happiness as the primary goal and where spiritual aims are no different to material acquisition, then we are on a path to entropy, not creativity. When we are encouraged to make unrealistic and ill-thought out escapism into an overall aim, it just becomes self-indulgence.

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5. Avoid Short-Cuts

By M.K. Styllinski


Wile E. Coyote | © Warner Brothers

“… shortcuts are dangerous; we cannot delude ourselves that our knowledge is further along than it actually is.”

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
.

Reading time: 10-15 mins

Once we have a sure-fire aim and its family of objectives then comes the panoply of short-cuts to tempt you. This feeds into our anticipation that’s ready to snap at the slightest whiff of a free lunch to carry us in guilded style to our destination. As anyone who isn’t a snake-oil salesman will tell you: this is an illusion – often a very tempting one, but an illusion nonetheless.

There are no short-cuts to self-development in any shape or form whatsoever. None. Zilch. Nada. A free pass has to be earned and no amount of clever marketing can alter that fact. And believe me, having probably tried most of the tantalising diamond-studded detours and persuasive paths of instant fixes over the past few decades, I learned the hard way, which is usually the best way, though not a bundle of fun.

                        Wile E. Coyote | © Warner Brothers

In other words, I discovered that trying to ram that square peg into a round hole for the umpteenth time doesn’t work whichever angle you come at it. Doesn’t matter if its shaking the sweaty hand of the loan shark or trying on a fake persona to get you the girl, short-cuts are the mythical sirens on the rocks wiggling their ample bottoms and tossing their lustrous hair as you try to half-heartedly steer your tug-boat away. Short-cuts make you want to wave back a little too vigorously; toot your whistle, let out your sails and steer a course to voluptuous success. But as sure as the sun rises in the morning, you’ll sooner or later end up on those rocks with the ship of your lofty aspirations  sinking below the surface. Feeling foolish and crestfallen can be beneficial, but it might take several passes before you get rid of that mindset.

This is especially true when it comes to bettering yourself or following a metaphysical path, so called. Anyone that tells you otherwise is just selling something. If you take the short-cut then you miss the whole point of process. And let’s face it, unless you’re a psychopath whose default position is to consume and destroy, it isn’t going to work for you, not if you seek authenticity over artifice.

Some folks seem to sail through life taking advantage of every short-cut available, whisking them to the top of whatever pyramidal pile of goodies matches their desire. What you also might remember is that such a position is rarely stable and even less sustainable in the long-term. The fallout from taking these short-cuts usually involves a shit-storm of unintended consequences which eventually finds their way back to the instigator. The Hindu/Buddhist concept of karma comes to mind.

Why Young Lives Lives Are Losing Meaning and Purpose V: Faking it to Fit in

By M.K. Styllinski

The Wallflower or Attention Seeker?

“The fraudulence paradox was that the more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you felt inside — you were a fraud. And the more of a fraud you felt like, the harder you tried to convey an impressive or likable image of yourself so that other people wouldn’t find out what a hollow, fraudulent person you really were.”

— David Foster Wallace


Reading time: 10-12 mins

Another aspect to consider in this overview of happiness is the introvert/extrovert poles and the mix of both, classed as ambivert. This is a useful starting point from which to guage how imbalance can manifest and impressions start to depart from who we really are, to become camouflage rather an expression of our essential nature. The trick is to become internal auditors of our self-awareness – an introspective quest of self-observation. With the help of others, we begin to employ an objective analysis as best we can, which is where Eurich’s “imaginary therapist” comes in.  Equally important is an extrospective quest or external auditors to increase our self-awareness with other people and to discover how they really see us. Once we have both introspective and extrospective quests covered then we are in a good position to start the climb toward greater awareness and a bigger vista from which to make further progress.

Of course, you can excel at one and not the other. That means introverts may be better at seeing what many of us miss, but suffer when it comes to externalising and applying those discoveries. For instance, they might have a harder time establishing that supportive circle of true friendships that can house the creativity for community, although they harbour a greater understanding of the covert psychological strategies at play, mostly due to their bid to remain under the radar and away from the spotlight. Generally, extroverts will have more difficulty with sufficient introspection since they are often more comfortable with an external focus. Such people usually have no problem creating social circles but they will a) likely have friendships that enjoy their charisma and entertainment value but seldom have friends that get close enough to access their real nature outside of that “larger than life” persona, b) the large amount of friends they may have is due to the possibility that these contacts can only stand them in small doses c) imbalanced extroverts tend to suck the energy out of a group or gathering in their bid to be the centre of attention which ultimately leads to friendship fatigue and/or accumulated tension, jealousy and conflict. (Unless of course, their behaviour is due to the Dark Triad which is a whole different ball-game).

For the imbalanced introverts who are immersed in a culture that unfairly values extroversion, such people often feel lonely, anxious and depressed. The imbalanced introvert will likely believe she does not have the courage or the likeability to engage sufficiently with others and will think that people would probably misunderstand her anyway, especially if her social skills have atrophied. Acute shyness seldom recedes if these fears aren’t addressed. Many introverts who are concerned about their personality type (whether such an expesssion is natural or artificial) place too much importance on what others might think of them and are locked into erroneous fears about the impressions they might engender should they have the courage to properly exchange. Social exchange is harder for those naturally preferring solitude, peace and one-to-one relationships but the sensitivity and perspicacity that often goes with introversion is much needed in our culture. Imbalanced introversion can lead to the kind of self-pity which produces the Damsel-in-Distress or Little Boy Lost Syndromes which seeks to ellict attention in manipulative way. Neither ploys evoke long lasting relationships.

The imbalanced extrovert doesn’t place enough importance on the art of exchange and may place great stock in his own perceived value – or at least, his need to operate in such a way that delivers what he needs i.e. required energy through attention – which may or not be in synch with others’ needs. His or her self-concept can be limitless and they can thrive in situations of pressure, risk and responsibility. They can be the life and soul of the party or a heavy jack-boot on true exchange, hogging the conversation and dominating all those in his presence whether at a board meeting or the pub. God help us if he isn’t entertaining and charismatic. Behind all that bravado however, they can be as insecure as the timid introvert, preferring to use a different mechanism to fill up the emotional tank of the ego. Obnoxious behaviour with minimal social skills will gradually deliver the extrovert to the same place as the introvert who is busy wallowing in her own shadow. The only difference is that the imbalanced extrovert will refuse to believe it and attempt to “entertain” amid uncomfortable smiles and polite excuses to catch the last taxi home.

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Why Young Lives Are Losing Meaning And Purpose IV: Impression Management

By M.K. Styllinski

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters


Reading time: (10 mins)

Studies published on life satisfaction in 2016 by economist Hannes Schwandt were based not on future situations, but on how young people felt about where they would be in five years. The gap between the optimism of the early years and the disappointment at the end of those five years was extremely clear in the graphical data. As a result, by their thirties realism had kicked in and expectations had levelled off and conformed to the well-documented U-shape trajectory of happiness for their fifties. So, there is reason to be hopeful. Meantime, the curve downwards in twenties and thirties appears to be getting steeper and the parameters and focus by which happiness is defined appears very narrow. i.e. equated with material possessions and employment. As discussed before, while the latter is important, they are not reliable indicators of happiness, the very concept of which is highly ephemeral and quite different to core, creative joy. Jonathan Rauch wrote in The Happiness Curve (2015) about the nature of a natural, U-shaped curve, a mid-life transition rather than a dead-end crisis: “This transition has a direction: something you could even call a purpose…The upslope of the happiness curve has an emotional direction, which is toward positivity. But it also has a relational direction, which is toward community….This is a social story, although we rarely experience it that way.” [1]  Why is that? Perhaps because we are programmed to fabricate our own personal islands on a sea of perceived separation from our fellow humans. After all, it’s a dark world out there and society is designed to actively limit pragmatic and constructive cooperation outside the State.

In truth, the myth of the middle age crisis is just part of an overall crisis of meaning that reaches pressure points throughout our lives. Such crises appear to exist outside time and space. It may well be an archetypal/mythical narrative that demands to be heard and acted out so that creative energy can be released. If we don’t consciously address what is lacking then the adaptive unconscious will do it for us to survive. We might see this recognition as a form of recapitulation as described by Carlos Castaneda, whereby we go over our lives with a fine tooth-comb, remembering all we have met, places we have visited and situations we have experienced in order to glean insights and realisations. This focus may create a form of resonance and feedback from the past to aid us in the future. Personal responsibility in this regard and to social interaction in general, could determine how we handle the happiness-unhappiness seesaw and if we can transcend it; whether we become masters of our ship and gain satisfaction from the simplicity of life as much as the dramatic flourishes of success, as defined by our culture. This would explain the common period of discontent at various stages in later life from the late thirties and forties. Rather than a mid-life crisis of lost opportunities perhaps it is a realisation that all that creative energy is not being used as it should?

The emotional and relational drive toward meaning and purpose is intimately tied up with our natural social intelligence that can guide us to connect for the good of the whole and the health of the individual. The desperate ambition and self-oriented focus of youth, a natural egocentricity which has been inflated by our cultures can, through the crises that happen, become a redemptive process when tied to community initiatives. Abstractions and conceptualisations have the potential to become concrete and specific, grounded in real-world solutions and tailored toward our own local needs. Trying to save oneself is transposed to “saving” others. Trying to save the world is transposed to “saving” the community. These efforts outwards, reflect the work taken place inwards, and paradoxically away from self-absorption. This can foster greater authenticity and the slow shedding of the narcissistic traits that we have allowed culture to create for us.

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Why Young Lives are Losing Meaning and Purpose II: The Big Three and 11 Factors

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny | unsplash.com


“Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives…Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.”

~ Robert D. Putnam

Reading time: 20-25 mins

In the last post I looked at the decrease in meaning and purpose parallel to the increase in loneliness and isolation for today’s millennial and Z generations.  Sociologists, economists and psychologists generally all agree that the key to developing and holding on to meaning, purpose and well-being is sufficient social interaction with a core group of friends and family that define one’s support. This is not the same as an extended family that usually arises from enforced socio-economic factors, but one that naturally evolves based around shared vision of support and nourishment because it is both practical and sustainable, offering real world benefits.

John F. Helliwell, a prominent expert in the economics of happiness believes the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives at the deepest levels. And the quality of those relationships is reflected in how well we have activated our response-ability and activities that offer a form of service to the community – whatever form that might be. This is what creates and deepens ties with others: constructive actions alongside key initiatory ideas. Helliwell draws his work from very large data sets called the World Values Survey which has accrued answers from people in over 150 countries about life satisfaction along with other socio-economic information. When Helliwell crunched the data he and other researchers found that there were six reliable and consistent factors which accounted for well-being:

  1. Social support
  2. generosity
  3. trust
  4. freedom
  5. income per capita
  6. healthy life expectancy [1]

Four from the list are connected with social interaction within a community. The other factors are relational and occur as a response to, or as a natural property of social support.  So a stratum of support covering all aspects of human aspiration is a really big deal, the lack of which will play a large part in the development of our social ills.

The Big Three

It seems to me, the development of meaning and purpose is rooted in three foundational products of social interaction which, if healthy, underpin a successful society, the constituents of which all operate symbiotically and grow parallel to each other. Thus, the creation of an individual emerges and is informed by:

  1. Parents
  2. Family
  3. Community

Obvious perhaps, but in crisis nonetheless. These three make up the strata in the soil of society/culture which is dependent on the level of access to community (should it even exist) a solid connection to nature and the quality of the environment upon which all three rest. [2]  Similarly, the healthy functioning of the three will have within them poor psycho-spiritual “nutrients”, or a rich, fertile ground that is self-sustaining and therefore community-sustaining. The presence of Helliwell’s six factors will be informed by the quality of the Big Three.

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