morality

Cultivate Attention and Discernment (6)

Illustration of Ibn al-’Arabi | Image source: www.en.qantara.de/

“He who knows himself knows his Lord;
… indeed, He is his very identity and reality.

— Shaykh Ibn al-’Arabi


Reading time: 25-30 mins

The Qur’an

Orthodox Islam has a bad rap these days, and not without good reason. However, just as Christianity has wisdom and truth underneath all the centuries of re-writes and distortions, so too the Qur’an which has buried the strains of Islamic mysticism which infuse its origins before corruption set in. The Sufi tradtion and Islamic mysticism it stands for, is very different to the Islamism and Jihadism of the kind we have witnessed in the modern age. Here too, the importance of discernment is clear.

Like the Bible that constantly warns of temptations and lies that could “deceive the very elect” the Qur’an is equally explicit in its warnings regarding dark forces of the demonic or Jinn overseen by the Shaytān or “Whisperer” both of whom seek to imperial travellers on the “straight path” with “insinuating thoughts” or waswasa. The strengthening of spiritual perception is necessary in order to discern the true from the false and shun the crooked path. Indeed, we have seen that intelligence as much as faith is crucial to seeing the unseen and the signs of higher states of consciousness which might lead us to embody the presence of a Universal Intelligence or God/Allah. As the Hermetic maxim reminds us – “as above, so below”. And like the Bible, one has to sift for the gold in the Qur’an in order to see the reflected light.

Dr. Kabir Helminski‘s translations from his 2005 book The Book of Revelations: A Sourcebook of Themes from the Holy Qur’an provide an excellent summary of the qualities needed to begin seeing the unseen and its relationship to self-development and spiritual practice. The teachings encourage us to reflect and perceive the conscious creative power of all that flows through Nature and the universe. By paying attention to: “…the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: these are messages indeed for people who use their intelligence.” [1]

So, rather than having our head in the clouds and seeking signs and portents of a superstitious nature, we are learning to observe life’s hidden symbols and patterns of meaning. We may then learn to recognise the patterns of creative and entropic influences which can be understood as extrapolations of truth as it applies in Nature and in man. Regarding these “signs” embedded in converging and radiating “arrows of time,” we have the following injunction to remain aware that intelligent design is at work, not only in the evolution of organic life but from the influence of other dimensions of existence that interpenetrate our own. We only have to take note of this design in order to see how carefully the Earth and cosmos is a school for learning:

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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 (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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Respect Yourself (2)

The archetype of the Hero slaying the dragon of inner and outer chaos
St George on Horseback, 1505, engraving, Albrecht Durer


Reading time: 15 mins

The four instinct / survival archetypes

       C.G. Jung’s mandala from The Red Book

The idea of archetypes is very useful as a metaphorical tool in relation to healing and clawing back some self-respect – indeed to understand all of the 31 suggestions we’ll eventually explore. This might be a long way round the block to arrive at self-respect, but bear with me, you’ll see how it all comes back to this quality by the end.

Firstly, what are archetypes?

The concept of archetypes goes back to Plato who called them “forms” which he believed were reflected in the material world. But the basic concept is probably as old as human evolution itself. This theory was further advanced to a considerable degree by the swiss psychologist Carl Jung who called the source of these accumulated blueprints archetypes which fuelled the little “I”s or “psychic complexes” within the human mind.

Archetypal images, iconography and literary themes are sourced from universal patterns or motifs which in turn, are accessed from what is known as the collective unconscious, and closely connected (if not the same) as the akashic records mentioned in theosophical and anthroposophical literature. Think of it like a psycho-spiritual reservoir of ancestral experience, containing both the darkness and light of collective wisdom spanning possibly hundreds of thousands of years of human interaction with social groups and the environment.

This accumulated energy has a direct connection to personal unconscious and has defined the content of mythologies, legends and fairy tales of global cultures. It is the soul’s software, if you will, and a source of great teaching. Archetypes are psychic blueprints of emotion and instinct that lie in the triune system of the brain (reptilian, limbic and neo-cortex) as a psychic and structural template to primordial nature. They have a positive and negative aspect, the latter known as “The Shadow” which has been discussed frequently throughout this blog. The idea is that through confronting and then integrating these dark elements which have been denied and locked away we can dissolve the negative impact which would otherwise surely have occurred.

They are dualistic in nature and operate according to the nature of the unconscious which economises and conserves energy whilst also remaining highly adaptable. New personal narratives containing these archetypes appeal to the its adaptive processses and lay down new neural pathways from intense learning carried out in the present and overlaying the now defunct patterns of the past. The personal reservoir of the unconscious has a creative, tailor-made version of archetypes which are a unique product of your own stored life experiences. Along side this personal source is the collective or universal unconscious. Our intention is like an upload to that resources which responds in kind offering an automatic download which we access through our dreams. The images, motifs and mythical themes are identical for all.

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2. Respect Yourself (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“Above all things, one should maintain his self-respect, and there is
but one way to do that, and that is to live in accordance with
your highest ideal.”

— Robert G. Ingersoll


Reading time: 15 -18 mins

“He doesn’t respect himself much if he can carry on like that.”

Did you see her last night? She’s got no self-respect.”

Have some respect for yourself for God’s sake!

Such judgements and admonishments are unlikely to install the kind of respect those persons are looking for. The very notion of self-respect is highly subjective. One man’s accusation of poor hygiene, grungy dreadlocks and disrespect for authority is another man’s expression of a “free spirit”. What matters however, is whether you have the kind of respect for yourself that makes your life worthwhile and makes you a pleasure to be around.

It reminds me of my time as a bewildered twenty-something who gave an air of self-control and ease but was struggling to make sense of life. The recurring theme of that period was a battle between dissociation and reality, creativity and sexuality, perfectionism and surrender. When one has the feeling of persecution and guilt embedded in one’s very being it means that making a mistake is the end of the world whereby great horror, ridicule and even annihilation awaits should you err in the slightest way. Way over the top of course, and a form of compensatory narcissism that makes you retreat into a smaller and smaller bubble that you deem navigable, where everything is micro-managed to shield oneself from anymore pressure. Ironically, that only makes such a bubble more prone to bursting, since embracing objective reality becomes a threat to that congealed mass of ego-masks built to protect, yet a barrier to growth. Bloody conflict ensues between one’s fears and the promise of change. Thankfully, I did break that conflict, but not without cost, which is as it should be.

Self-respect never arrives when we shield ourselves from life and do everything we can to avoid failure. The latter is how we learn and there is no other way to build success – be it in business, relationships or the growth of self-awareness. You will err, you will fail and that’s okay. The information that led you to failure offers knowledge for next time. And provided you don’t give up, then such bad experiences become useful for the future you wish to create – they are needed grist for the mill.

Without self-respect it is hard to achieve what we desire. It is even harder to sustain any success should we manage to block out that doubting voice which is intimately linked to self-sabotage and victimhood. “Better to scuttle one’s ship now and face an even bigger disaster” says that voice, Better to protect myself from that kind of pain and suffering.” Yet, it is precisely this fixation with future “disaster” and the debilitating voice of unreason that is asking to be analysed and thereby integrated. (see no. 1 Heal Your Past).

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Why Young Lives Lives Are Losing Meaning and Purpose III: The Happiness-Unhappiness Seesaw

By M.K. Styllinski

Photo: Nathan Dumlao | unsplash.com

[“Happiness is ] the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

– Sonjia Lyubomirsky, positive psychology researcher


Reading time: (10-15 mins)

Are you happy?

The answer to this question will depend on your life experiences to date, your culture and your age. But there may be a universal set of principles which we might adopt in order to achieve some level of contentment with our lot.  It won’t surprise you that meaning, purpose and social support are integral to that state of being.  Although there is much to be happy and certainly unhappy about in our world, perhaps there is a way to transcend the weary swing from either pole?

Happiness generally exists as an emotional seesaw between the future and the past, with the present squeezed out of existence. We are constantly told that we will only be happy when we get the girl/guy, marriage, the car, the house, the income, the career. For the young, if ambition still exists, it is tied to relentless consumption and the economic uncertainty that comes with it. Happiness can only arrive it seems, when we are safe and secure or lost in the adrenalin of the moment. Many Millennials and Generation Z have been molded that way so that any kind of contentment is dependent on material gain, identity/image and peer group status. It’s normalised to the point that we don’t pay it too much attention anymore. Sure, it’s been that way for a long time, but the difference is that young people generally do not have the desire, will or capacity to wait longer than the click of a mouse to discover that true happiness might just be gained from something other than social media, porn, computer games and SMART society consumption in general. Why should they? What is there to be happy about when to make sense of reality you are offered a daily diet of lies and misinformation and a 24hr streaming of corporate CEOs, TV/movie stars and gold-toothed rappers as role models?

The message to our youth today is to strive for the gold at the end of the rainbow even if most conventional wisdom keeps telling us it’s a pot-holed road to nowhere. Yet, the technosphere is powerful. Superficial stimulants to engage for the short-term fix are endemic for the young and keep them tied to a variety of cultural addictions, which includes being driven into the opoid arms of Big Pharma and its disgusting exploitation of generations of spiritually disppossessed. Yet, the very state of happiness must be conditional and transitory since it is rooted in the ebb and flow of the personality subject to the above; that is either growing, thus in a state of flux, or undergoing stasis and prone to disintegration. So, we seek that unassailable “happy” state as a means to stave off discomfort (and opportunities to grow thereby) rather than to surrender and embrace the unknown and reconfigure what happiness really means.

Unfortunately, young and old alike are more miserable than ever before. Why is it for instance, there’s been hardly any change at all in the levels of happiness experienced by Americans since 1972? [1] Indeed, loneliness and isolation play a huge part as a product of our woefully value-less economic nightmare we call “progress”. In the U.S., nearly half of all meals are eaten alone; the average American has fewer friends than twenty years ago and by 2008, less than one third of people had socialised with their neighbours compared nearly half that number about twenty-five years previously.  It’s no better in the UK, with folks less likely to know their neighbours or have strong friendships than any other country in Europe. [2]

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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss Of Free Speech II: Microaggressions and Trigger Warnings (2)

“Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile, and coax them [to] interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger.”

— ‘Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows’


The New Lexicon of “Offence” and Para-Morality

In the West, we are already suffering from information overload and a loss of quality communication. It seems people are more afraid of exchanging pleasantries with a stranger than ever before thanks to an overemphasis on negative news in the media as well as the addiction to our smart phones. If you simply want to say “hi” to an attractive man or woman; to chat with someone you don’t know over the deli counter, the gas station or in the street while waiting for a bus… there will increasingly be this niggling thought of saying the wrong thing and offending someone through a cultural programming that is changing our language as well as restricting it. We have a very real collective fear of saying the wrong thing that is causing a conformity to a flawed consensus that doesn’t exist, except in the minds of those who get paid to push this agenda. The Orwellian Offence Police are active in entertainment, universities, the work place and in government, with numerous examples of the most insane persecution imaginable.

The following phrases are in most left-liberal academic and social justice warrior’s lexicon wrapped up in the desire to virtue signal – that now overused phrase from the right –  used to dismiss the logic of free speech advocates and ordinary people in their daily lives.

Trigger Warnings According to the Oxford English Dictionary a trigger warning is: “A statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content)”. This is a very convenient way for the Establishment to make sure that its population self-censors. Trigger warnings were originally developed by psychologists for war veterans, victims of sexual abuse or common trauma as a means to flag content which might stimulate a re-run of painful memories. Unfortunately, this has now been extended to the university campuses and the arts & entertainment industry (which is perhaps less of an issue given the state of graphic sex and violence on TV) and is now used to provide protection from words and opinions this precious generation doesn’t like; any discomfort at all in fact, a far cry from the preventative measures designed for genuine victims of war, violence and/or sexual abuse.

This postmodern paranoia has infiltrated minorities and student life with a vengeance. Sex, race and politics are all foci for trigger warnings causing protests, demonstrations, self-important letters with lists of demands for faculty members and even their removal due to perceived bias, sexism, racism or the violation of their hallowed safe spaces. [1]

Trigger warnings have been imposed in many university curricula due to students’ demands. The control of university policy – whether it is ethnic minority students feeling victimised or screaming young feminists demanding attention – any kind of encroachment of reality and therefore distress has led to warnings on such books as Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, and The Merchant of Venice. Yes, now Shakespeare is deemed threatening, a  trend that is also taking place in Britain, with Cambridge University picking up the PC gaunlet. [2]

To pander to this inner health and safety zone one student offered his university faculty tips on how to proceed: “For instance, one trigger warning for “The Great Gatsby” might be: (TW: “suicide,” “domestic abuse” and “graphic violence.”) […] Thanks to the vague tags within the warning, readers and unaffected students alike can approach a narrative without the plot being spoiled. Yet, at the same time, students who are unfamiliar with these works can immediately learn whether courses will discuss traumatic content. […] Professors can also dissect a narrative’s passage, warning their students which sections or volumes of a book possess triggering material and which are safer to read. This allows students to tackle passages that are not triggering but return to triggering passages when they are fully comfortable.” [3]

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