Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rediscovering that Ancient Territory: Your Own Mind

Volume 2, Issue 33

All of us are naturally curious about our own selves. When someone who knew us when, someone older than ourselves, tells us a story about something we did when we were too young to remember it, we are raptly attentive.

If it were not for the culturally ubiquitous time pressure, we would have the same curiosity if offered a searchlight method to see more deeply into our own mind than ever before. This blog post offers just such a searchlight, followed by my own “field report” on using the method, and what I found.

Find 5 minutes when you can’t be interrupted and there is nothing dragging you away like a deadline. This means you probably won’t find time to try this until the weekend, so leave yourself a note somewhere you’ll see it Saturday or Sunday morning.

Sit with your eyes closed and back straight, with your head drawn up toward the ceiling. First, still the mind by experiencing your breath going in and out, without trying to control the breath in any way. After a half-dozen breath cycles or whenever you feel as if your mind is relatively still, begin the exercise.

The exercise is simply to watch for what happens at the very beginning of a thought or feeling. This is not as easy as it sounds because we tend to get so instantly caught up in the thought or feeling we forget that we are doing this exercise. That is, until through exercises very much like this, we find that we have gained true control of our minds. This tends to be a gradual process — we get better and better at it over time.

One trick is to pretend that you are a soldier and you are watching for the enemy that you know is going to come over the rise ahead. A thought or a feeling is going to arise. You are in a state of concentrated sharp attention and the game is to see that arising as quickly as possible, identify what it is, and be able to remember the experience of it as accurately as possible.

Before you sit down to do this experiment, consciously strip away everything you have ever thought about the nature of the mind, all preconceptions, theories, maps, structures, models, concepts, hidden and overt assumptions. This allows you to see what is really there without biasing it by slapping a label on it or gestalting it into a preconceived category.

In the addendum below — for our more scientifically minded readers who may be interested in the nascent science of consciousness that has been very slowly emerging over thousands of years — is my field report on my own experience as a result of doing this exercise. You might want to defer reading it until after you have done the exercise yourself, so that I do not bias your own findings.

Best to all for an enjoyable holiday season,


PS — Hope to see some of you Friday, November 30, 2012 at the ARF Industry Leader Forum, where I will be speaking on a panel at 1PM, “New Methods to Drive Insights into the Future”.

Field Report: Investigating Bill’s Brain from the Inside

In order to get into the two higher, most effective states of consciousness — the Observer state, where we can really see what is going on inside ourselves rather than being puppeteered by software in our heads, and the Flow state (Zone), where we are spontaneously doing everything just right — we need to become experts in the empirical study of our own minds and inner life. This week’s blog post is about classifying and understanding the basic building blocks of all inner experience — thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions. We see these not as four different things but rather a smaller number of things that metamorphose so as to seem to be four different things.

Why bother? The reason we are writing this is to ask you to consider — or to reconsider — all of the experiences you have had of your own mind, your own inner life. In effect, this posting is a brief exploration into the architecture of inner experience to offer you the opportunity to look for yourself, empirically, into your inner self. What are these things you call your thoughts, your feelings, your hunches, your perceptions?

Carl Jung defined the four functions of consciousness as perception, feelings, intellect and intuition — the latter referred to in day-to-day life as “hunches”. These are four kinds of events that can go on in consciousness. According to Jung, nothing else besides these four styles of experience can be experienced. Do you agree?

Modern psychology studies emotions, which are the objectified manifestations (heart rate, skin conductance, etc. — measurements taken by instruments) of what consciousness phenomenologically experiences as feelings.

Within consciousness, what we experience first is something inside that motivates us and moves us toward or away from something. Those are feelings. Instincts – hardwired genetic carryovers, part of the machine, inherited before birth – are partly responsible for some or all of our feelings. The rest arise from motivations we accumulated during our lives, stuff we learned or decided to want or not want as a result of our experiences since birth.

When I watch what goes on inside of me, it often starts with a feeling that is also somehow an image at the same time.

Then what happens inside is that another part of me takes that feeling/image and interprets it as a conscious thought — putting names, categorizations, and other specific recognizable details onto the original amorphous feeling/image.

I think that’s what a thought is. An interpreted feeling/image. I posit that Jung was not quite correct — thoughts and feelings are the same thing, at different stages of development.

Thoughts add details to feeling/images, turning them into specifications, bringing out additional information that had somehow been packed into the feeling/vision.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) classifies feelings as “kinesthetic”, making them bodily feelings albeit in some cases infinitely subtle. I’m not entirely convinced that all feeling/images can be felt in one’s body, but the term works intuitively.

Possibly feelings are the most substantial and primary actor, coming out of our most intimate connection with the vehicle we identify as the material sovereignty of our self, and arising to be transmuted into intuitions and/or thoughts and/or emotions and/or images/visions.

Perceptions coming in from the “outside” accompanied by an equal stream of feelings from “inside” – suggests that feelings are another sense, like seeing and hearing. In which case, we simply perceive, and the rest of the functions are what evolves from our perceptions. In other words, feelings are inner perceptions, and what we call sense perceptions are outer perceptions. Inner and outer perceptions are the raw stuff of experience, and as we turn them over in our minds, those perceptions turn into thoughts and/or intuitions.

So instead of Jung’s four-way classification of inner experience, I suggest that perceptions evolve into what Jung classified as thoughts (intellect) and/or hunches (intuition). Outer perceptions — the five physical senses — are what Jung called “perceptions” — and the inner perceptions are what Jung called “feelings”. Close inspection of these feelings, in my own empirical experience journeying within myself suggests to me that these feelings have both a body-type kinesthetic aspect and an imagistic aspect. The raw stuff of my inner life is comprised of feeling/image arisings that I then articulate internally as thoughts, with either words or not, or observe as hunches, without inner words.

Those feeling-image packets hit “the worder”, which often perfectly articulates the intent of the feeling-image packet. Just as often, “the worder” seems unable to get it right and comes out saying something other than what you intended — the right words don’t seem to come.

“The worder” physically sits above your left ear – Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area – decoding incoming words and encoding outgoing words, respectively. I observe that my own outgoing words are preceded by feeling-image packets (often invisible unless I am concentrating on seeing the details of inner head action), sometimes with more image, often with more feeling.

If it can be proven that both thoughts and feelings have a common root in the feeling-image packet (FIP), then Jung’s 4-way design would be reduced to 3-way. But what if it can be reduced further?

Intellect and intuition have always been seen as similar functions. Intellect reaches new conclusions step by effortful step. Intuition gets there in one leap, involuntarily, all by itself.

Sometimes when the intuition or hunch is particularly credible and important and came out of nowhere, we call it inspiration, suggesting help from some outside invisible source.

If these two sides of cognition may be thought of as a continuum, then the formula for consciousness would not be a series of 4 items in no particular order, it would be:


Where “S” is stimuli, “P” is perceptions, and these impinge upon the consciousness (symbolized by the square brackets) in which what goes on are feeling-image packets that turn into cognitions that turn into actions we take as a result of the process. Many of these gratefully are non-actions.

We need maps to study consciousness. We also need meditation to concentrate on seeing what really goes on inside for oneself.

This was my somewhat unusual sharing of my inner experience. You might find it worthwhile to look inside of yourself to see what arises moment-to-moment — and see how it might compare (or not) with what I’ve described in this “field report”.

By looking inside, we can begin to cut through dogma and other people’s beliefs, and see for ourselves who we are in our inner worlds.

Best to all,


Extending Stay in Flow State

Volume 2, Issue 32

Flow state aka the Zone is when you are functioning perfectly without effort. Everything is flowing along as if doing itself and the reaction at large to your performance is ideal.

When you are there, what often happens is that you let out the clutch a little bit too far on the edit rate for your impulses — and out pops an action that fails in the real world and suddenly you are not in the Zone any more.

Anger at self then impulsively arises, ensuring that re-entry to Flow will be impeded.

The way to re-optimize this edit-slackening program is for you to realize that you are going strong so you have naturally started to assume that every arising in your mind is certain to be brilliant and so you should do it right away. Staying stoically unattached to your great performance without letting it go to your head or bring you into a state of overconfidence is a delicate balancing act that should go on as automatic background menschness. This can be aided by a sense of humor and loving distance from your own ego.

All of this head action is optimally executed sans words in the head. To the extent that you hear inner vocalization you might be in Observer state but not Flow. Observer state is the valuable entry state for Flow, characterized by vivid inner attention so you see your ego for what it is and can reprogram your own actions rather than acting robotically — to some extent.

When that lens is operating one can easily slip into the Zone doing something in which one is well practiced, so long as there is no attachment to outcome, and so long as you are doing the thing because you like to do that thing, it’s your thing.

Attachment to other people’s opinions of you can keep you out of both these states, especially Flow. Yet even people with high detachment — fatalists resolved to take whatever comes stoically — give up this attachment last. We are social beings. Death is not as poignant as shame.

The lens of utter detachment can be put on and worn. It doesn’t just sit lightly on your nose, it sinks into your being, you feel it bodily, your breathing is easier, you’re comfortable in your skin, secure, liking your self, the character you play on the stage of life.

This is effortful today. Acceleritis did not exist in Jesus’ day or he might not have gotten to such a high level (leaving aside divinity for the sake of argument).

Every time a challenge to your sense of self arises you need to write it down and come back to it in contemplation until it is solved. You take action items and implement them. Doing this systematically leads to a sense of being secure with who you are. It is essentially the methodological root of stoicism. One cannot muster the strength to embody stoicism (not just being stoic in one’s mind) unless one has worked out the antagonistic voices in one’s head that pull you down. This unglamorously cannot be done without lists. And time alone for contemplation. Blank pads laying around come in handy for drawing automatic situational schematics and jotting trigger words.

Negative outcomes one is desperately trying to avoid can lose their force if one vividly imagines those outcomes actually happening and how one would ideally deal with them. This contemplation of the corpse* burns out fear of dreaded outcomes. In knowing oneself and relative fearlessness, one can act in freedom, whereupon the Flow state is just the natural next stage in the process.

Best to all,


*Contemplation of “horrible” things is an ancient technique for “burning out” their apparently (but not truly) inherent “horribleness”.

P.S. Have you heard about “Giving Tuesday”? It follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is much more uplifting.  On Tuesday, November 27, charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

“Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity” at

What is it that is tearing us apart? MONEY!?

Volume 2, Issue 31

At least it isn’t anything important like hatred — there’s still hope for us then. Obviously money is what has brought the two major political parties into greater animus than I can ever remember existing before.

The Republican Party insists it will not back legislation that adds any tax burden to the rich, but instead wants to close loopholes. Why not do both? Unacceptable, is the hard line taken up front. As if there is something in principle wrong about asking for help from the most able at a time of crisis?

Undoubtedly the hard line rests instead on the idea that swollen government is the main problem so it must be starved.* Or maybe there’s another explanation that would make sense if explained to me.

A long dispute means that both parties are wrong.

— Voltaire

 In our last post we wrote about creative compromise. The kind of creative compromise that we need to make in the tax domain is exactly where we draw the line between “the people with enough money to do more” and “people who make a decent living but whose retirement is by no means certain”.

One nicety that has already come to public awareness is that of small corporations — where the proprietors are filing taxes combining the business with the personal — which makes these individuals appear to be wealthy. There should be a way to word the legislation so that mistake does not happen. Jobs will not be stimulated by heavier taxes on such folks.

Not sure that $250K/year is any kind of magic number that signifies ability to pay more taxes. That’s the top 4.2 percent of taxpayers. However, in our October 25 post I shared the IRS stat that the top 0.1% received 7.8% of all U.S. income in 2009. Maybe we don’t need to come all the way down to include 4.2% of taxpayers to accomplish our goals of deficit reduction and investment in America’s future? Perhaps it can be just 1%, and perhaps we can offer psychological inducements, by encouraging investments as we’ve discussed here many times.

If the government budget contains too much money for people who need that money for survival, we cannot take it away from them — we need to use that money to retrain them, another idea you’ve heard here and elsewhere.

The need to take from the rich and give to the poor is a good idea from the standpoint of making the whole country an even greater success, but only if it is a temporary idea not a way of life.** Hence the importance of training people or even investing in their family business rather than just keeping them on subsistence existence of no value to themselves or others.

Robert A. Heinlein wrote a utopian novel called For Us, The Living  in which he projects a future where the government prints and gives us all the money we need. The idea came from economist C. H. Douglas in the 20’s — he called it Social Credit. When the Depression came it was actually put into being, in 1935, as the economy of Alberta, Canada, with Douglas as the economic advisor. It never had a chance to succeed or fail because it was shut down by the courts — i.e. for ideological reasons, without letting the experiment play out.

Farfetched ideas like this need to be given careful consideration by economists. I invite any economists reading this to post their comments in answer to the following question:

If the U.S. started doing Social Credit and people within the U.S. were fine with giving and taking these dollars from each other so hyperinflation did not occur domestically (though foreign trade would be hard hit), could the country do just fine using only its own resources or what further refinements in such an idea would make it workable and desirable to all?

Sure, I know it sounds like Communism. Heinlein admitted the same but emphasized that it does not stifle individuality the way Communism does. People in his story are independent, do what they want to do with their lives, and tend to wind up not being takers but instead giving greater value to others.

What if we did a test? Only do it as an investment, and only to those people who show a plan of what they intend to do for that money, with a diverse nonpartisan board or Internet voting to decide which plans were worthy of backing. We could budget for a million households as a test of the idea. If people knew they had so high as about a 1 in 100 chance of being selected, a lot of people would be motivated to write plans of what they would do with their time for their own enjoyment and the good of others — if only they had enough money to pay their modest bills. It would focus us all on positive solutions. Since it would be an investment, the money would be repaid in the normal way that investors recoup. If the idea worked, it could be rolled out.

Another crazy idea scenario for economists to play with and form into something workable: forgiving all debt every 50 years starting now. Leviticus in the Bible advises that every 50 years mortgage debt is to be forgiven, which was called a Jubilee Year. Economists could run computer simulations or whatever would provide a trial-and-error feedback mechanism to tinker this advice into potentially workable models.

Again, whatever we do has to be done domestically first (and test-piloted) because the idea of getting the whole world to do something radical with money seems a bit over the top. If the hunch that the U.S. needs to experiment monetarily on its own is right then it has to be built into whatever strategy we creatively and unifyingly come up with in the days ahead. Now is the time for creativity and consensus building, not for naysaying. We are hard up against it.

But we shall prevail.

Best to all,


*”Starve the beast” was an idea first promulgated by Republicans in the late 70s and 80s. “The beast” refers to welfare, Social Security, and Medicare, and does not usually refer to spending on the military, law enforcement or prisons (per Wikipedia). You might find this Forbes commentary of interest:

**Although CEO compensation has skyrocketed off the chart while average wages are flat, and this in itself appears to be a prima facie social ill.

Now Is the Time to Heal the Rift in America through Creativity in Compromise

Volume 2, Issue 30

The election is over and Obama has a second term. Both parties’ base constituencies came out to vote, signifying high motivation that their side must win, which means a lot of people feel they have lost. Some of these people are not going to agree to bring the country back together, yet that is exactly what would be best for everyone as we move forward. It is all about how we handle the situation now.

Romney won among white males and in many States. Obama won the popular vote by about three million votes. In CNN exit polls more people want to repeal Obama’s healthcare program than to keep it, possibly largely based on hearsay, some of it purposeful disinformation. The consensus pattern suggests that Obama’s actions to date should not be predictive of what he aims to do from this point forward. His best move would be to acknowledge the arguments of the other side and seek new creative ways to postulate compromise concepts and action programs that can bring both sides together — enabling processes of refinement of initial concepts, where everyone gets to add creative elements to the final solutions so that everyone can feel parentage.

Romney’s speech in accepting defeat for his bid emphasized the right notions of how America can succeed, calling upon job creators to step forward and invest in growth. That would be the right guideline for the Republican Party in the next four years, and starting instantly, a quick winding down of negativity and a pulling together toward creativity and compromise.

Creativity is in fact the one thing that has still been missing. All we have heard are variations in ancient themes. No inspiring new ideas. Exactly the opposite of what is needed. Look at the world around us — it is full of amazing surprises in technology, lifestyles, new ideas in every field except politics. The American people want creativity in public policy too. Both sides need to retrain themselves to think, stripping back to start from fresh sheets of paper, reinventing themselves anew. Think the unthinkable. Pour out ideas without regard for taking credit, without attachment to seeming smarter than the other guy. We are one team, we have real challenges, and we must together devise the real new solutions that lie just beyond a fictitious barrier of our own making.

The real leaders on both sides are the ones that will propose new, positive and healing compromises in the days ahead.

The President hinted at the value of our dynamic differences in his victory speech, saying that people around the world are fighting and dying in order to gain the right to freely discourse their differences in self-governance. True. However, our political discourse has all too often fallen to name calling, and must be re-elevated to a Socratic dialectic that progresses to a commonly supported synthesis. Respect for those whose views differ from yours is the mother from which invention of new creative re-bonding ideas spring. Lack of such respect is infertile ground for creativity. Do not be put off by the extremists on the side you consider to be the other side, listen to the moderates on the perceived other side for inspiration of your own creative ideas that might succeed in bringing us together. Let the American people share in the creative process and bubble up grassroots ideas for leaders to build upon.

In this spirit of America, we will in the very near future add THE DEMOCRACY CHANNEL to this blog, as an adjacent page on which we seek your ideas for solutions to the challenges faced by the country and the world. We will reach out to academics, think tanks, students, writers, and the general population, and we’ll publish the ideas we feel are truly creative and can potentially heal the rifts we have formed out of our genuinely differing perspectives, ideas that can solve the challenges the human race has created for itself.

Please embrace healing in your own life so that it may radiate out — as from pebbles in a vast pond.

Best to all,


PS – Next week the Smart TV Summit is being held in San Francisco with over 150 major names registered so far. I’m speaking on a panel about the future of television and also presenting research relevant to the future. Hope some of you can make it, let’s have a drink too. Cheers, Bill

A Certain Dislocation in Time

Volume 2, Issue 29

Flow state is within our reach at any moment. Think for a second how small your average challenge is at any given moment in time. Mostly you are not overmatched — if anything there is too little challenge at any given moment to evoke Flow. As Czikszentmihalyi taught us all, Flow can happen when skills and challenges are well matched in the moment. But that single criterion is not enough. Attachment to outcome also has to disappear.

The way almost all of us live our lives in the present culture rarely escapes attachment to outcome. This is the big Flow blocker.

It is the difference between Being and the peculiar form of existence that characterizes the present civilization. Being is when there is no dislocation in time between stimuli and the flow of our actions. We simply do it. We don’t think about how it will impress other people, or even about how it will impress the internalized judge.

The way we grow up and are taught, we inherit an internalized judge that we check with subconsciously before every action we take. This creates a gap, a dislocation, between simply and trustingly flowing with our being vs. the way we normally behave, which first last and always is constantly checking with the internalized judge, scoring ourselves on everything we do.

In situations big and small, unimportant and important, if we can flip off those safeties and simply trust who we are to do the right thing and enjoy ourselves in a non-self-protective and compassionate way, Flow happens.

If there is negativity present within you, this is unsafe to do — “do not try this at home” — first you must process out the negativity before it makes sense to flip off the safeties. Negativity is a great distorter of actions, so you must then edit impulses discriminatingly. Negativity includes any fear, hurts, and even that faint form of negativity we call attachment to outcome.

When on the edge of Flow, slipping in and out of it, and/or in environments in which the situation is changing rapidly so that from moment-to-moment the challenge slope is unpredictably modulating, there is a subtle inner tweaking of the edit dial that can correct for letting too many impulses into action vs. too few — so that the ego-driven impulses get weeded out and the compassionate and un-self-protective ones get through the filter into the consensus reality for sharing.

Wishing you ever more Flow state in your life.

Best to all,