Life's Mysteries - A Series of Explorations
Awe, awesome, extreme delight, "Radical Amazement", Goose Bumps, Euphoria, The light of Enlightenment, Total Balance. Do we feel these gazing up at the stars, is it the magnificence of the cosmos, the birth of a life, our DNA at work, a cell that converts the Sun?fs energy to food for this worldly eco system? Is it Life?fs mysteries that inspire us to create and grow? Or is it survival?
Our reproduction passes on the Genes of our Species to another generation. Our survival up to and through the period of care taking for our young is our one and only species survival objective. Quality of life, breath taking creativity, the pursuit of knowledge provide us with purpose and meaning past our reproductive period but our core function is to reproduce and keep the next generation safe through their reproductive cycle. Our entire human community contributes to this biological imperative.
Is that all there is? Does DNA hold the tethers of our bondage to this unending cycle of birth and death? Or is survival a much more complex and creative process? One that makes unique demands on us individually and collectively such that our survival becomes part of a much bigger picture, a very much bigger picture!
Genes are a history of our biological development and survival. In a sense as DNA changes from one generation to another it is creating new information that the species can use for its quality of life and survival. If it works or causes no harm it is here forever, as long as the species survives. Like all powerful distributed systems all of the information is distributed all over. As long as there is one source the DNA history and blueprint lives.
Generation after generation we also, consciously, create a history of our development and growth. Distributed in data banks throughout the world, in books, in libraries, computers, and storage files deep in the Colorado Rockies. Like the DNA our knowledge is cumulative. Each generation rests on the minds and shoulders of those who have gone before. Without this vast store of knowledge and understanding we could only pass on what each generation remembers. We would live much simpler lives.
That we are still here is a good sign, that we remain here far into the future cannot however be taken for granted. There have been very close calls in the past, from the sky, from below the earth?fs mantle, from deep cold to scorching fire.
So we watch the solar system for errant comets and asteroids, we monitor earth quakes and volcanoes, we monitor the ozone layer and the earth?fs magnetic poles and yet the biggest threat lies not elsewhere, but here, within us. We are not all fools and destroyers but there are enough unconscious minds to pose a threat to the safety of all. And as our numbers increase the immediate threats to our individual survival and quality of life consume a greater part of our attention. Self interest often at the expense of others takes center stage. Conflicts abound. All, the 1% and the 99%, lose perspective and their personal agendas rise above the good of the whole.
What is the good of the whole? Is it as simple as survival of the fittest? And if so how does that belief system fit with the spiritual growth of the human species?
The short answer is, it does not. The long answer is, it is complicated.
The Story - it is what it is
Simple math sometimes shows us our issues and our alternatives. A small tribe of 300 men, women and children who live in harmony with the abundance of nature can experience a very satisfying quality of life. Good nutrition, adequate shelter, clean water, sanitary conditions, curiosity and inventiveness, and a healthy imagination are all that is needed to not only survive the present but survive far into the future.
This small community could grow and prosper both materially and spiritually. It can develop technology, grow food, collect and record knowledge, bury its trash and discover new mysteries. Only an outside force could threaten the stability and safety of such a community.
Multiply this community a thousand fold but distribute these people throughout the world. Not much would change. Their lives would continue as before. Maybe those who loved to travel would find the others and trade ideas, materials, new tools and knowledge.
Now multiply these groups by one thousand more and then by only twenty more. It is getting crowded. The number of people is now 300,000,000 X 20 or 6,000,000,000. Life just got a lot more complicated. Natural resources become scarcer, waste builds up, the quality of the food and water diminishes, conflicts increase. The environment begins to feel the impact of so many people, pollution becomes a real danger. The weather changes a little bit at a time. Rainfall shifts bring drought to some and floods to others. Wind storms devastate vast areas, and the shoreline populations begin to feel the impact of rising water.
Communities find it hard to take care of themselves and the once distributed authority among all of the tribes becomes centralized. For a while freedom and self fulfillment are supported. But the conflicts for resources, the conflicts between ideologies, the extreme disparity between the haves and have nots becomes no longer an opinion but a fact. Freedom begins to erode and the tribes and the people no longer have autonomy. Self interest which would normally be a healthy part of the community becomes self interest at the expense of others. Because the individual is fragile and carries little influence, groups form, large groups, to being their needs to those in authority. But these are not everyone?fs needs, they are just the loudest. Central Authority feels the pressure of so many different needs and wants and begins to change. Self Interest becomes a bargaining chip with great pressure. The elected representatives of the people are unable to make clear decisions. The problems are too complex and the solutions are always partial solutions. Within this climate of power, struggle and ineffective solutions the people?fs representatives begin to represent themselves.
Is this the end of the story? Of course not. But we are close to the precipice and this is a real story with real people and real events. Such a complicated environment is not easily managed for everyone in the mix believes they are right. And, the paradigm for continued existence is and has been - "those who have the power, make the rules, those who don?ft, follow, those who oppose, submit or fight". Conflict becomes the new norm and the rules get stricter, enforcement becomes sterner, until the bubble bursts and we start over.
How do we change the story, peacefully? From the bottom up! Not, the top down.
Awareness - Pulling Teeth, Pushing Evolution
If, and it is a very big if, we could right the ship, change course, and smooth out the wrinkles, what would we be, where would we start?
We still are: Inventive. Full of imagination, Immensely curious. Very creative. Great problem solvers. Unending searchers for new knowledge, truth and meaning. Thinkers. Philosophical and Spiritual. Practical. Doers.
We are also conflicted. The mysteries are wide, deep and too numerous to grapple with in one mind. We are spiritual children who replace our connection to our Creator with a connection to a belief system and an organization. Our personal Identities control us and our self interest consumes us. Our understanding of our micro world and our macro world is limited. Living within an ECO System is an abstraction not a living reality. We lie, cheat and steal to satisfy our own personal needs and wants. Our Ego (self image) rises from our unconscious creating mayhem and dysfunction in its wake.
We as a species do not yet fully understand the biology of our bodies, the existence of the Self, and our relationships between our conscious and unconscious minds. Some, however, really do understand. But, everyone wants to make a living, even the religions of the world. So the distribution of this wisdom is carefully doled out to those who can pay. However, the world wide web has changed things. Like DNA the information is being distributed everywhere and even I can access it and learn, almost for free, almost. So, we are learning, passing on what we learn and continuing the practice of what we have learned.
We can, if we choose to do so, develop new training programs that will bring our understanding of the self image and the boundary between the conscious and unconscious minds into focus for everyone. We can extend education to include these levels of awareness. We can replace combative sports with physical and mental training that emphasizes bodily awareness, energy flow and response behavior (Tai Chi, Akido, Gymnastics, Swimming, Track, Baseball) to name a few. We can include meditation and how to benefit from the powerful learning capabilities of the unconscious. We can explain the passages of a developing human and explore or at least reveal all of the mysteries that still elude our understanding. One of the greatest mysteries one of my Physics teachers exposed was the admission that no one knew what an electron was, only that we could apply what we did know. Ever since I have looked for the unsolved mysteries of the world. Revisiting what we teach and how we teach it is a basketful of fruit for all the children and adults to share. When a child learns a fact it may be interesting, when a child learns a mystery it explodes the imagination, and, the desire to learn more.
Our evolutionary biology, if ignored, can cause no end of issues and problems during the earliest periods of our developmental cycle. But we have no programs to train the young parents how to teach the young developing human and maximize their potential. That we are quite capable of creating that level of education I am sure.
That we have not yet done so is a mystery to me. Maybe it is because a threshold of awareness and agreement needs to be reached for us to revamp our entrenched educational systems. Maybe we parents have turned over to a central authority the responsibility for the education of our children. Maybe we just don?ft see the threat to our future if we continue along the path we are on. Maybe we are so wrapped up in our own little worlds that the bigger picture is invisible. Maybe, just maybe, we can begin to bring into everyone?fs consciousness a new awareness of the problem and possible solutions. We shall see.
Our biology dictates the creation of a "self", a self identity, an ego, a self image. Our interpretation of our world is initially biased/slanted towards the enhancement and protection of that "Self". We even distort and rewrite reality to put a positive flavor on our memories so that our recorded memories of "self" is consistent with our beliefs (about ourselves and our potential). Since our memories are a reconstruction of a former reality, we unconsciously pick and choose what pieces make up that memory reconstruction. Which is more important, what happened or how what happened maintains the integrity of our self image and our belief about ourselves. The latter, nothing is more important than our self image. An entire industry rose from the shadow world of our unconscious. It still thrives. And, we need it. But, more and more professionals need to expand their teaching on how to successfully deal with this shadow side of us. Again, changes in the educational systems are really needed. Input from the professionals would be a good thing.
If we keep in mind that each cell in the human body communicates in some form with every other cell. We can begin to understand that controlling such a vast network from the conscious part of us is impossible. That is roughly 200 to 500 trillion connections. That is 100,000 transactions per cell per second. Now these numbers are not 100% accurate but they clearly indicates that the number is vast and provides complexity beyond my personal ability to comprehend. Do we then give up? No. There is more than one way to manage such complexity. We let it manage itself, and therefore limit any efforts at interference to the idea that "getting out of our own way" is the best thing we can do.
What happens when you become still, or quiet in the conscious mind? You are no longer creating an artificial environment that stimulates many areas of the mind to become active. This activity or artificial environment is often of an unsettling nature and causes chain reactions through the unconscious mind to all parts of the body. Sometimes nice, often not so nice.
"Getting out of our own way" is not just a euphemism for doing nothing. It is a way of living, a way of meditation, it is a state of mind. It can be a walking around state of mind. You are alert but relaxed, you are ready for anything but anxious about nothing, you see more, hear more, you are aware of more. And this is with no serious effort on your part, consciously.
I forgot where I read this but it went something like this. Feel what you feel, any emotion, for 90 seconds. And then let it go. It takes approximately 90 seconds for the emotion to surface, to enlist other parts of the brain to associate with the emotion, to create a memory or begin a story that will re-enforce it and begin the mind loop that continues and increases the intensity of the feeling. By observing this behavior of the mind (mostly unconscious), giving it time to play out but not enough time to recycle, you can then let it go without repression, without damage.
There is another technique of a different nature. While it still requires the observer (once learned the observer is present always, well almost always). It is also a small adjustment in relationships. When negative or violent energy is directed at you, your best course is to allow the energy to pass through you without resistance. Our initial impulse is defensive. To be a brick wall, to vigorously defend ourselves against real or imagined injury, or to attack. Our best response is to flow with it and to not engage with the same state of mind that the attacker has. Once you match anger with anger, fear with fear, violence with violence you are at the mercy of your attacker. It may be imperative to disarm or disable your attacker but you do so with a calm state of mind. "You cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness, or unconsciousness, that created it". In other words if your spouse, child or stranger is flying off the handle, do not engage, do not resist. Allow the energy to flow around you, give their energy time to dissipate. Believe me your survival instincts will be fully intact. How you respond dictates the degree of damage that real or imagined threats create. Its always a choice
Our evolution says attack or flee, our freedom lies in choosing the response that is appropriate to the situation. Of course if a pack of wild dogs appears out of nowhere your options may be limited. However if we permit evolution to have its say then we are bound tightly to our genes and our biological imperatives. But, evolution has given us a new pathway in living out our lives. We can disengage from the evolutionary brawl and engage the new tools of our creator. Become a part of everything and separate from nothing. Engage the unconscious to learn, solve problems and create. Maintain a quiet mind and the constant observer. Do not resist or deny what materializes from the unconscious, just observe, accept and let it go. Focus on the moment for what it is, not as you want it or do not want it to be. If you get caught in the mind looping thing, give it 90 seconds, quiet your mind and let it go. Remember that judging the value of an experience has little to do with the experience. It merely reflects what we are not what the experience is. If we are up a tree (the dogs) it is best to focus on the present, not the past or the future.
Choosing is our only option. Labeling and judging is an opinion. Freedom lies in training our observer to be available at all times. Stillness is not a conscious event, it is a state of mind. Using thought to control thought is like using water to catch water. Acceptance and resistance are two poles apart, you cannot have both in the same space at the same time. Observing our boundaries reveals the limits we place on ourselves. If you are feeling hate you cannot love, if you are feeling love you cannot hate.
Evolution has given us a new feature in our biology. We have been given the option to choose what our new reality looks and feels like and how we respond to it. This need not take a lifetime to learn. It is only that those who have learned it must inspire and train those who have not. It would be wise to begin with everyone, even the children.