Sympathetic?

“You have to understand women, Brian,” she said. “They are a little afraid of what you’re asking them to do.”

“And I’m not?”

For hasn’t it been, as I look back down the tunnel of time, that whenever I am destroyed in painful and humiliating circumstances, it’s because a woman has lost faith in the process?

The Self-Interment Option

As the Supreme Court appears poised to uphold Trump’s Muslim travel ban, my colleague at work mused (jokingly) that he was prepared to leave the country if they opened interment camps.

Given that the people I would really like to see interred are the racist ethno-nationalists, I tripped down the road to the realization that they are. They have bought weapons and fenced off compounds, claiming sovereignty on the grounds that their closely-held freedoms are violated by the modern welfare state.

The question is whether we can create some kind of financial incentive to speed the process of self-interment. Maybe relief from the Obama-care mandates? Or maybe we could dam some portion of the Mississippi river, flooding the basin for Richard Thiel’s “one-man, one-island”-state.

Not to distort Donne…

ROFLMAO – The Bible?!?

With pictures brought over from the original video.

Love Returns

Considering the challenges that God has in loving unconditionally, and interpreting the universe as a tool for that expression

So today, if you don’t mind, I’m going to talk about the Bible.

I know – the Bible has a bad reputation. It’s certainly not an easy read – even without pictures, it’s 1000 pages in tiny printing, and nearly 2000 pages in a print that I can read. I shouldn’t complain, though. It starts at the beginning of everything and runs through to the very end. Maybe 2000 pages isn’t enough.

If that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, nobody ever stepped in to make sure that the writing holds together. In part, that’s because the stories and ideas come from many ancient cultures – a creation story from Sumer, fire-god teaching from Persia, Hebrew oral history and Greek philosophy. Writing was just being invented, and dictionaries didn’t exist.

From those ancient languages…

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One Hand

My friend Steve is dying of cancer. He doesn’t think of it that way – he believes that he’s surviving. But he’s lost 50 pounds, is in constant pain, and is going in for major surgery that is going to permanently disfigure his face. The chances of recurrence in the next two years are above 80%.

I’ve bought a lot of art from him over the period. Some of the other artists on the Art Walk in Santa Barbara get testy about it. I explain that Steve has this magical ability to paint my love for the world.

We got into a long text dialog yesterday about Ezekiel. He had read that passage about Ezekiel’s vision of God, and offered that while there was “wisdom” in the Bible, if it was published to day it would be in the Science Fiction section. I tried to correct him, explaining that Ezekiel wasn’t describing a physical manifestation, but rather sharing his perception of a spiritual community.

This led into observations that he’s put his faith in a mechanical process of healing under the control of medical doctors, and surrendered his responsibility for the psychic aspect that I have been telling him is critical to his recovery. His last life ended in a mass hanging of an Native American tribe. He finally testified that he was unable to forgive himself and the perpetrators.

Himself. That was helpful, and I shared my perception that forgiveness is critical to the flow of love, because until vengeance and judgment are foregone, the power it offers to us will certainly be turned to creation of more victims. But as in every case when I’ve raised this, he ran away from it, saying that he needed “a guide” – to which I responded that his heart was the only guide worth following.

The day ended with a long series of texts in which he deflected the insights I had offered.

The famous Zen koan reads:

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

On the human scale, the answer is obviously “silence.” The teaching is that we have meaning only in relation. So how am I supposed to feel about the fact that I have no one to share my faith with? Christians reject me because I use science to understand the Bible, scientists reject me because I see proof of scripture in their theories.

I could go on, but the point is that I’m not alone. The sound made by my one hand is the wind in the air, the sunlight on the leaves, the rain on the waters.

People confuse themselves with their inflated self-importance. At root, we have only two choices: to testify as to the presence of love in the world, or the have our expressions swallowed up in the noise of the mob. Choose the latter and be inconsequential; choose the former, and become a leader of things that need our understanding to guide them into the embrace of God.

It Happened

When I dance, I project emotion. Often the expression is of joy or compassion. But over the last two years at Dance Tribe in Santa Barbara, I have been dancing around a woman to whom my heart is compelled to open, and I fall off the cliff into sorrow and grief.

She is graceful and very pretty, and used to being pursued by men on her terms. The benefits of her charms are obvious to her, and she is generous with them in turn. So this grief was alarming to her, and drove her into the arms of a man that she understood.

But we come into orbit when she is there – often she is not, for reasons that I don’t understand. The last time, I projected to her: “You are powerful enough that every motion you make should be a metaphor for healing.” Then two weeks ago I encountered her at a meditation on climate change, and when the masculine rejection came up again, advised her to cultivate serenity.

Yesterday she came in again, and I chose to respond to the negativity that our proximity generates by standing still, or walking out to stand in the sunshine. I projected the thought that I would try to be gentle so that she could find her way to me. She danced with others, but didn’t surrender herself to them. Eventually, we danced slowly around each other, arms and legs tangentially clearing the space, she backing closer and closer to me until she turned and pressed her arm against mine.

Her focus was incredible, a sense of awe in every movement. Twice I teetered again on that abyss, inhaling to hold my breath against the pain. Both times I found her there ahead of me, assuring me “It’s ok. You don’t have to enter through that door. Go this way instead.”

I lifted her up on my shoulders twice, that sweet slide of skin against skin as she descended toward the floor. When the dance was over, she posed in Namaste and looked up at me gently from under her eyelids. I stepped forward to shield her from doubt, and found myself saying:

I’ve missed you so very much.

Not the dancing, though that was wonderful. No, it was a reference to that woman of authority over my heart, the woman I lost so many lives ago, and whose strength and serenity she has inherited as a mantle.

The Watcher Watchers

Bill Gates is teaming up with two corporations to build a system that will produce real-time images of the earth on demand. This might allow citizens to monitor the activities of nation states as they unfold. The only point of doubt: the compute power on each satellite is slated to be 10x the combined processing power of all existing satellites in orbit. Either they’re going to use extremely low-power technology, or have dauntingly large solar panel arrays…

Or existing satellites are really, really dumb.

Caution: Psychology May be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

In his lecture on dream therapy on Monday, HMI director George Kappas opined that we should teach children about sleep when they are in junior high. The need seems obvious, when one stops to consider that we spend far less of our lives procreating than we do sleeping.

The problem, of course, is the same problem we have with religion: if you start kids talking about their dreams, you are going to have kids talking about abuse in the family, and somebody is going to have to confront the damage.

In professional terms, the front line in that trauma ward shouldn’t be teachers, it should be psychologists. But the psychologists confront the same problem that religious leaders do: they don’t have the strength to deal with the scope of the problem. There simply aren’t enough resources in society to treat all those in need.

In part, that’s because the psychologists have used licensing to restrict supply: becoming a practicing family therapist requires six years of schooling and 8000 hours of supervised practice – a total of ten years. But it’s also because psychotic behavior is both contagious and difficult to cure.

War, for example, creates deep and lasting scars on the mind as well as the body. Those scars are passed from warrior to child and take generations to heal. Even in non-combatants: female survivors of the Holocaust feared to bond with their children. Early maternal intimacy is essential to establishing the assumption of trust in human relations. In withholding it, mothers unwittingly raise sociopaths. This was a pattern observed by Judith Hermann in her treatment of Holocaust survivors and their children, but also in survivors of torture.

In the workplace, the metaphor of war creates the psychic damage without leaving physical scars. Lacking the exterior evidence, we tend to ignore the wounds.

The industrial scale of the problem has led psychology to seek industrial solutions – pharmacology. The belief is that healing can begin only when the patient’s behavior is stabilized. But the psychiatrists have created a culture of zombies based upon an erroneous model of the mind. It is obvious to those of us that understand spiritual experience that they are ceding the battlefield to the enemy.

Psychologists believe in a material model of the mind: they look at synapses firing and see logic networks like those in computers. When confronted with exceptional behavior (musical or mathematical savants), they look for explanations in structural differences in the brain: the density of synapses in certain regions, or increased blood flow. The difficulty is that none of their correlations hold up.

I am confident that this is because the seat of cognition is not the brain. The brain is, in fact, simply an interface to a complex intentional field shared with all living creatures (much like a modem is an interface to a network of computers). Our bodies are metaphors through which the elements of that field negotiate new relationships – relationships that often entail conflict.

That negotiation will take place in one context or another. So in medicating us, psychiatrists are simply displacing the problem – they are forcing the spiritual elements to seek another context in which their conflict can be resolved. Which creates another patient on medication, causing another displacement, and another patient, and another displacement…

At one point, psychologists (perhaps foremost among them Jung) sought to characterize and negotiate spiritual conflict. They quickly discovered that the forces at play are too vast for any single individual or subculture to manage. To succeed in disciplining the forces of conflict, we must distribute throughout society the competence to recognize and manage the symptoms of spiritual conflict.

Of course, this is religion. Religion is explicitly spiritual, and the religions that endure hold that there is a higher power that sustains us in the struggle for mental health – which is to say to exhibit behaviors that create mutually satisfying relationships. Those behaviors are known colloquially as “love.”

Psychology buys into the Golden Rule, but for some reason chooses to treat religion as a problem rather than an asset. The dominant rationale is materialism: in a material world, the soul doesn’t exist, and so all religion is a hoax. But the hidden rationale is economic: when you have a hammer for hire, every problem is a nail, and someone with a screwdriver is competition to be eliminated.

The dominant tool in this age is protection of the “public welfare.” This is the justification for onerous training requirements. The mind is a tangled web of influences, and treatment occurs in a constricted and artificial environment. The energies built in the psyche of a patient accumulate for decades (or millennia) before entering therapy. Here potent psychotic alchemies can evolve: bad ideas in the minds of the practitioner (such as the behavioral psychologists who promised the Catholic Church that their pedophiles could be cured) combine with bad ideas in the mind of the patient, and the outcome is uncertain and sometimes counter to the goal of creating mental health.

But the regulation doesn’t stop there. Psychiatrists would like priests and ministers to stop counseling parishioners and have fought strenuously to restrict the activities of lay hypnotherapists.

But psychology fails because it operates on an invalid model of the mind; because it relies upon rigorous categorizations of behavior that are stimulated by the treatment system; because it uses arcane language that disintermediates the individual from management of their own mind and the minds of those they love. The public is left only with the role of creating problems, not solving them.

In watching videos of John Kappas speak of the relationship between psychology and hypnotherapy, I have often been struck by the implied hostility of a licensed professional to his own discipline. Kappas believed in individual potential and was motivated by the joy evidenced by those that received healing. He understood that love was the most potent element in the spiritual realm, and so trusted that providing people with tools for healing would be beneficial, even if some mistakes were made that caused individual pain.

Kappas spent his life fighting for the right for people to care for one another.

Can psychology claim the same?