Tag Archives: Consciousness

What Is the Meaning of Life? – Revisited

Originally posted September 1, 2015

When I was younger, I would ask this question whenever anyone, even a tour guide in a museum, asked me if I had any more questions.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn

Internally, it’s the question I asked myself multiple times a day all my life until I felt sure of the answer, which occurred sometime in my 30s.

The underlying question is “What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in this context?”

The intent of the question is to understand what life is, what its purpose is (if any), what the universe is, what its purpose is (if any), why we are here, who we are, how we are to behave, what our relation is to one another, is there a God, and why are we compelled to consider any of this as relevant or meaningful to the second-to-second management of our personal business of existence.

One alternative to asking and answering this question to one’s own satisfaction is to go about life happily without caring about the question (which could be a Zen-like answer in itself, essentially filing the question away into the “Overthinking” file). Another alternative is to consider life meaningless, which many existentialists did in the last century.

Other than an intuition I had at age 12 that “I am God and so is everyone else”, which I tucked away as an interesting but unexplained aberration, the meaninglessness of life was my own position for the first 30-odd years of life. Around age 20, as I studied philosophy, I put reasoning around this earlier intuition, deciding that one took positions like this based solely on aesthetic preference, since knowability of the answer to What Is the Meaning of Life? was apparently beyond our scope.

In my 30s I had some unusual experiences that also reminded me of similar experiences in my childhood, at which point I felt as I do now — a very strong conviction that I actually know the answer.

The way I see it, all that exists is a single consciousness of such great computing power as to know everything that goes on within itself instantaneously at all times (though God or the One Self is above time). Since we don’t share this omniscience, God gets to play our roles with more drama and excitement. So the meaning of life must be to realize and enjoy this game as our true Original Self does, and thereby re-merge into the Original Consciousness.

I talk about this theory more in my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

From a practical standpoint, life becomes most meaningful for us to the extent that we realize our own unique gifts; we love doing the things inspired by those talents; we develop a life plan around sharing these things with others, and then we go forward with that plan without being attached to the outcome.

We then have a Purpose, a Mission, which satisfies the thinking mind of our own meaningfulness. Just as I go into meetings with awareness of my preferred outcomes, I set them aside at the last minute so I can go with the meeting flow, taking the standpoint of simply trying to help out everyone else in the meeting as best I can. Pragmatically and empirically, this appears to work best in balancing out the complexities of life as well.

So “What is the meaning of Life?” Enjoying it, loving it, loving all, and helping others to do the same.

“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return.”
— “Nature Boy”, by Nat King Cole

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-09-01 11:34:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

THE FIRST SON – My Intention and Hope

October 11, 2018

Just as with my nonfiction books MIND MAGIC and YOU ARE THE UNIVERSE, my intent in THE FIRST SON is to free the consciousness of the reader from habitual thinking and feeling. Sharing with you here my hope for the effect that reading my new sci-fi alternate history novel will have on its readers.

The First Son by Bill Harvey

Click the book to read about my first novel.

First of all, I hope the reader will be drawn into the characters and their love for each other. THE FIRST SON is like a family drama in a way. I’ve spent years working to make each of the characters three-dimensional and alive.

Almost as important is the visceral realization of the heroes’ dilemma. If you don’t get the trouble the heroes are in, or don’t care which way it comes out, I haven’t succeeded in really immersing you in the story, in which the whole multiverse is threatened.

At some point in THE FIRST SON story’s unfolding, I hope the reader experiences a shift, recognizing the subtle differences between the traditional historical account and the alternate perspective of the story, and gets the feeling that either way of looking at these events could be true. I am also hoping that the underlying thrill of history itself becomes part of the reading experience. The mystery of history—the fact that we don’t know exactly what really happened, and have always been just trying to piece it together.

A great deal of the action involves beings taking over each other’s minds, which is a metaphor for the way we continually hijack our own minds and feelings. The way psychic agents in the story protect themselves from takeover is the same advice I give in MIND MAGIC, morphed into fiction. I’ve found that one has more ability to discipline one’s own mind and feelings if a lens of defending oneself against an outside adversary is used. Readers will let us know the degree to which the novel has this effect of increasing self-mastery.

The most important cognitive/emotive shift THE FIRST SON hopefully creates is the opening of the reader’s mind to the possibility that science and religion are entirely compatible, and that what we call religion came out of visionaries who had psychic powers that are at the heart of all religious experience, what Freud called “the oceanic experience”. This can manifest as Flow state, being taken over by a benevolent and super-competent higher Self. It can manifest as speaking in tongues, channeling, shaking/quaking, dervishing, the Subud Latihan, oneness, mind reading, precognition, bliss, chills up and down the spine, hair standing on end, crying with happiness, laughing at a suddenly perceived cosmic joke, and other phenomena associated with all religions in one form or another.

In our culture today, these phenomena have been assigned to a sort of   by many people, and are not given much serious attention. By turning our backs on the most important questions in life and in history, we diminish ourselves. The wiser course of action is ours for the taking.

I have high hopes, as you can see.

Most of us would like to make at least a small contribution to making humankind less warlike, greedy, and unkind, and more loving and peaceful. Each day many of you readers are doing your best along these lines. We have to try new ways to achieve these important ends. THE FIRST SON is my current offering to this end. I hope you enjoy the journey.

One experience I know you will enjoy is listening to Paul Harvey’s brief and inspired A Letter From God.

In similar spirit to THE FIRST SON, except where Paul says we can never understand The One Self Inside Us All, and where he says that The One Self never speaks with us individually.

All my best,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.

A More Alert Reaction

Just one of the benefits of Observer and Flow States

Originally posted March 1, 2012

 “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Confucius may have said this. The same conditions causing Acceleritis™ also reward those of us who can spend some time in the two higher states of performance. In the sped-up culture that continues to accelerate, we are more successful if we can extract learning and act on it quickly without delay.

The techniques, which we call psychotechnology, to help us stay in the Observer and Flow states therefore become important to learn and put into practice.

The wise are able to learn from a single experience without repetition because they are counting the cards. In the same sense that Captain Picard would say “more power to the shields”, the wise person has wordlessly said to himself/herself, “more power to observation”. This is why we say the entry into Flow state is through the Observer state.

It’s easier to turn on the Observer state than it is to just decide to turn on the Flow state.

The Flow state is a delicate balance of many variables. Having prepared by practicing being in the moment, not being attached to how well you perform or to anything else, being in the Observer state, having your skills in some degree of close balance with the challenge slope of the moment — these all must click for Flow to engage.

For the Observer state to take you over, there are fewer requirements. You must be single-pointedly focused — intensely following the thread of what is going on in the now, including and especially in your own mind and body, but equally in the “external” world. You must be intellectually honest with yourself, objectively critiquing your own last thought and feeling. You can’t critique what you don’t notice and so you are paying such close attention inwardly and outwardly that you are catching every inner impulse. You are bringing into your conscious awareness some of what would normally pass by subconsciously.

Getting into these “altered” states of consciousness is a “yogic” process — it is exactly the same kind of process one goes through in order to gain control of normally-involuntary muscles in the body, except in this case they are normally-unused “muscles” of the mind.

Some of what the Human Effectiveness Institute has rediscovered can be found in ancient Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga texts. I found it there years later, having discovered Flow state on stage at age 4 in the Catskill mountain resorts (then in their heyday).

An early experience worth sharing is one in which my Flow was so in the moment that I was unable to hear or even later remember the words I had adlibbed that got such huge laughs. Here’s an excerpt from a memoir I wrote for my Dad, bandleader and MC Ned Harvey:

Fat Jack was considered to be the hippest comic in the world by the denizens of the Borscht Belt. Jack E. Leonard was an insult comedian who may have created the genre. Don Rickles was next in the insult comedy lineage.

Speed and cleverness were the two main criteria. Fat Jack could backhand a comeback over the net even before the incoming line had ceased to echo in the air, and his riposte was both unpredictable and used the raw material of the incoming line. This was the stuff of genius.

Later I would think in terms of the terabytes per nanosecond of computing speed that would allow Jack to search his files, put together alternative combinations, and select the optimal response.

We were in our room in the Frat House, under the canteen…

In the room besides Ned, my mother Sandy, me and Fat Jack were a few other musicians and Bernie Klein the stage director. Jack was holding court and the other adults in the room were convulsed in spasmodic laughter. I was silent and missing a lot of the humor. I was maybe 5 years old.

For some reason Jack singled me out with his gaze and threw me a line. Then something weird happened — something that had never happened before.

I said something back and after an instant’s shocked silence the group broke up in surprised laughter. I was not able to hear my own voice. I had no idea what I’d said.   

Jack smiled too but threw me back a clever counterpunch that I also couldn’t hear — I answered him in the same voice that everyone else but me could hear. Again my line got a big laugh, bigger than the first. This went on for a while.

When it was over and the conversation moved on, I began to be able to hear again. Jack gave me a sweet goodbye, not characteristic for him. I had no idea what had happened.

There are levels in Flow we have written about here before. The level at which one is so sewn into the universe that subject and object merge, and there is no inner rehearsal — this is the level where it’s possible to eject words so effortlessly one cannot later recall what they were. The first words are not checked in any way and are just allowed to flow through motor control without a second thought as to result or risk. This has only happened to me one time since, with the same audience appreciation. The great standups did it almost every night.

Incidentally, “don’t attempt this at home” as they say on TV gator domination and hotdog skateboarding crash shows. Don’t run off at the mouth trusting that it will be Flow. Actions should be in the opposite sequence: first sense that you are in Observer state and then when you are in Flow state. Only then can you loosen the valve on top of your mental stream of consciousness as a firehose without embarrassing consequences.

The standard state of human consciousness in all industrialized cultures has as one of its aspects the psychic spark gap between the thought of what to say next and the act of saying it. That distance is enough to take the average person at the average time out of Flow. However, using Fat Jack as our above-average model, he might have had an inkling of what his foil was going to say next, so Fat Jack might have had a split second to forethink an answer and another split second to do a gut check before he was delivering the line with perfect command of his voice.

Flow neurology will be very interesting to study. There is a significant speedup in the thought process and ability to see one’s own mind (thoughts, feelings, images) clearly.

Let there be no miscommunication: we are not recommending that you say the first thing that pops out of your mouth. Definitely wiser to not interrupt. Wait for the moment and then if you have something significant to say, say it, letting yourself have the added time to refine and challenge whatever it is you think is worth saying next.

You and the people in your team don’t need to get to such levels of Flow in order to vastly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your operation. (And obviously it would not be helpful to have no memory of what you’ve said.) Everyone else being in EOP most of the time, if you can move yourself and your people up to spending a quarter of work time in Observer state, you’ll be in the top percentile of high-performing teams, analogous to a winning sports team and elite paramilitary units.

What you want are sensible procedures for instilling this level of alertness.

Here are a few starter steps:

  1. Share the model of EOP, Observer, Flow. Present it as a model, a construct, a lens, a useful fiction, a stimulant. If it is later scientifically validated, that’s great, but for now the thing is to test and observe results. The only reason we founded the Human Effectiveness Institute is because in our experience the techniques we share are useful in increasing innovation and success.
  2. Create an atmosphere where there is nothing to fear. Support people when they make mistakes, while correcting them in good spirits and being on their side.
  3. Take side notes to keep the mind clear of distractions. Ultrabrief one- or two-word trigger phrases that will remind you of the thought or feeling. Stay observant and connected in the now, with the inner/outer attentional focus described earlier in this post. Share this technique with your team as well.
  4. Reset all beliefs and expectations back to zero, except for agreements and dutiful obligations. Reconsider all possibilities. Erase assumptions. Especially the hidden ones. Root out hidden assumptions and expose and neutralize them.

Here’s to more alert reactions, and to even more anticipatory and effective pro-actions!

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2012-03-01 12:08:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It’s Possible

How Little We Know About the Nature of Reality, and the Technique for Remembering This

Originally posted February 16, 2012 as a recap of the first year of blog posts here at Pebbles in the Pond.

On February 17, 2012, this blog was a year old, with this our 52nd post. In reviewing what we have attested to over the first 12 months, here’s a recap of some of the possibilities that we put forth — for the benefit of all who want to ply into whatever might be valuable for the greater good.

We have said It’s Possible that:

  • All religions may in a sense be right. Looked at a certain way, Religion and Quantum Mechanics and our own experience converge on what reality is. The common thread is that the Universe is a single conscious object. If that is the model then all is explainable — the prophets and saints who channeled today’s major religions; the behavior of subatomic wavicles; what John Wheeler’s information-is-substrate physics really means; the tendency for justice to be done in the long run; our own transcendent experiences — love, bliss; the benevolence of the universe, obvious when we are cleansed of the things that bring down our minds. All these phenomena make sense in a Conscious Universe. Nothing is left unexplained. Although the rest of time remains for physics to fill in the blanks, the overarching nature of reality can be intuited long before science knows about how the system is sustained (we might say, how the illusion is projected) at micro-to-macro levels.
  • All we have to do to tune in our own intuition as a guide to further exploring the nature of reality from the inside, is to stop making believe we know something. The Human Effectiveness Institute is not about issuing dogma. Our basic methodology is to admit that most of what we think we know as individuals is hand-me-down “knowledge” biased by traumatic experiences in our forebears and ourselves, catchphrases from movements that captured us into their statistical meme waves. In other words, very little of what we say to ourselves, and then habitually emotionally and bodily assent to as the truth on which to base decision making, is actually solid knowledge assimilated into wisdom of right action and/or understanding/forgiveness of self and others for missing the right action. How little could be proven in a court of law, or proven to a team of scientists. How many questions are actually being avoided. How many assumptions are made that rationalize subconsciously that we are being sensible to not ponder questions.
  • Acceleritis™ is the reason we do not ponder, and instead charge on, driven by rationalizing assumptions below the level of our own awareness. Fear of not performing in the accelerating stream of this culture and thus the awful consequences of poverty, unaffordable ill health, rejection/loneliness, an abject sense of zero self-worth, and guilt — all of which makes us keep up the rat race in a way deeper and more dangerous than at the obvious level. The very way we use our minds is different because of the racing culture.
  • Visible language is possibly what started the acceleration of information per day. Writing brought language into our vision, which is our dominant sense as primates. Until written language just 6000 years ago, for millions of generations our ancestors — just as dependent on our eyes as we are* — communicated by signals and noises, and in thousands of recent generations before writing, had turned these sounds into sophisticated language. But how it blew our minds when we were able to see this sophisticated language. To make an analogy, sex is very important to us. Just like seeing is. What if sex carried language i.e. telepathic words heard automatically from the sex partner during the act. That’s the kind of thing that happened to us 6000 years ago. The admixture of two potent sides of our being — language and seeing. It immediately made our minds race with questions and ideas. These continue to accelerate for each generation to this day, and will be even more accelerated for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
  • We need techniques to contend with Acceleritis better than we currently contend with it. Evidence for the “possibility” of our Acceleritis hypothesis abounds so I won’t belabor the point. Failure of governments to be effective, corporations whose left hands and right hands do not even know the existence of each other, individuals living generally way below the level of constant bliss, although it is an inch away all the time. We offer techniques in our book and DVD, and in excerpts in this blog. Steal this book. Share it. We want everybody to have these techniques.
  • There are measurable levels of being. Our experience can be ennobled by techniques that aid our ascent out of Acceleritis into the Observer State where our minds are clear and courageously self-honest to an absolute degree. And further, into the Flow State (aka the Zone) where everything seems to be doing itself perfectly (and observers agree), because we are no longer living our lives separated from the universe but are experiencing being in that universe and somehow the same with it. The identity issue has faded and it is as if you are the Universe acting naturally without feeling like you have to worry about how it is going to come out. The innocence of “not thinking you know something” is a conducive launching pad. Thinking you know everything and acting rapidly as if always under time pressure is not conducive to Flow.
  • Democracy was one theme last year in this blog. Working together (Gung Ho!) is obviously very aligned with joining into oneness with the universe. Democracy is a good idea because it reflects the nature of reality — we are all one so it is logical that the One would want to benefit from the collective wisdom of all of its parts — this too is a possibility.
  • Readers have thanked me for not writing about the media business. Last week someone said to me “What a relief — something I like to read that has nothing to do with the media business — I read enough about the media business!” Yet in the past year there were some thoughts about all business and how they use media. Looking across articles about custom content, clashboards, and building human relationships with customers, the main theme has been breaking out of the “TV commercial” genre into new forms that fit the inventory avails but have more short- and long-term positive effect on the relationship of a brand and its customers. Such as 30-second and other length units that give good advice (e.g. in such product categories as beauty, pet, baby, home, financial, etc.), report good corporate citizenship activities in interesting and personal ways i.e. stories of real people affected, and pure entertainment such as we see once in awhile on Youtube, brought to you by the brand in the same way that the brand would do this for full-length program true sponsorship. Thus having the same Gratitude Effect that lifts sales, trust and loyalty.

Those are the main possibilities we have been chatting about here. As to your technique, we are not suggesting you believe any of these things, just accept them as possibilities to be cautiously tested along with your cautious testing of all other possibilities. We especially suggest that you cautiously re-test all the possibilities you now take for granted that are welded into your life and your instant-by-instant interior life — the guidance system of feelings, images, thoughts, rationalizations, analyses, syntheses, hunches, and so on. which constitutes your inner senate and resolves its turbulent symphonies into your instant-to-instant outer actions.

Now is the time to step away from Business As Usual when you take counsel with yourself. That is our suggested technique for the week. When you realize and remember that you have more choice than you typically exercise, stop what you are doing and check in with why you are doing it. Watch as if from a third-party position the way your mind deals with this and other questions that will then arise. See if you can change the process to one completely different, if only to explore other possibilities. Don’t be stuck in your own usual way of doing things. Live in the moment and the moment is always new, everything starts again now, unencumbered by whatever has gone before, a fresh start, rebirth.

Best to all, and thank you,

Bill

*Information processing in the brain drops significantly when eyes are closed, shifting brainwaves down from high-speed beta to slower alpha.

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

 

Originally posted 2012-02-16 12:35:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Door to Enlightenment Is Always an Inch Away Part 1

Originally posted as part of February 9, 2012 blog post

A friend sent me Kant’s definition of “Enlightenment”:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. “Have courage to use your own understanding!” — that is the motto of enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the pull-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone.

Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts. Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature. He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it. Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, since he is unaccustomed to this kind of free movement. Consequently, only a few have succeeded, by cultivating their own minds, in freeing themselves from immaturity and pursuing a secure course.

The idea of a social conspiracy was so prevalent at the time Kant was writing ideas like these, he spoke of the “guardians” who consciously and with specific effort kept the human livestock in ignorance. This Age of Enlightenment was above all political, and only scientific as a side effect; Kings were the principal bad guys in the drama. Capitalists and usurers too. The idea of a social compact was created to replace the social conspiracy that had been ultimately exposed.

Today we need not posit a conspiracy to understand how self enslavement has occurred, and continues apace long after Kant wisely explained our true situation. It was not that those benefitting had to keep us down with active effort and malice aforethought — it was easy enough to just depend on the green monkey effect.

Ghastly experiment that it was, someone once painted a monkey green and observed the effect on the monkey in context of its tribe — it was shunned, attacked, driven away. Nauseatingly, they replicated the experiment to make sure of the results. This is what keeps us from stepping outside of the sheep herd. We sense that we will be attacked and isolated defenselessly if we move too far away from the central tendency of our group. This is why Belongers are such a large segment of the population according to SRI VALS I&II, and why Belonging as a human value is prominent across all segments. All VALS segments describe the human condition prior to Enlightenment — the smallest of all segments today as always throughout history — standing above even Self-Actualization (see prior post).

It is fear of non-belonging that keeps us from risking loss of social position, riches and fame, from maturely seeing that there is something more to Life than those objectives. Fear of losing those things, an immature fear, keeps us immature.

And yet the potentiality is there to cross the great divide into Enlightenment in any instant.

This is uncommon. More common is getting there for a few instants but then slipping back. Both are good things and worth being open-minded to the possibilities.

You initially slip back because although you may have broken from the attachments to finite, immature things — fame, riches, many lovers, self-esteem — in your intellect, but this has not yet permeated all of your cells and processes. Before you know it, an habitual feeling within you has once again tripped a cascade of bodily and other responses that you can only realize later was the moment you slipped back into entrapment. Major parts of you have not yet given up what your intellect thought it gave up, your intellect apparently imagining that it actually controls all parts of you.

Even though you may slip back millions of times before you no longer slip back, every time you become infinite if only for a moment, you pile up neuronal probability of establishing yourself permanently being there sooner rather than later. Therefore it makes sense to consider activation of techniques for slipping across the wave front into infinity, even though they may initially yield merely momentary glimpses. More on such techniques later.

Digressing here to chord-resolve an incomplete thought train in last post. Commenting on the last outpost of finitude, the life of a world saver, I now see we left the impression that once Enlightened, a being would not spend a lifetime serving humanity, as the Buddha, Jesus, Saint Teresa and many other saints did. Huston Smith points out that in India the one who returns to help others, although already freed, is called a bodhisattva. Worldwide this being is also known as a saint. My reliable editor Yana Lambert of course tried to point that out to me, and in a moment of Acceleritis™ I missed the point the universe was making to me through her. Synchronistically a few days later Huston reminded me in The World’s Religions, as the Universe is kind in making needed points any way it can.

Noia is my word for the suspicion that the universe is secretly out to help you and is always sending you clues if you can but be sharp enough to notice and decode them. The opposite of paranoia.

In the context of my Theory of the Conscious Universe (TOTCU)*, we are like neurons carrying messages across the universe by the passing on of information (memes) to other places in the cosmic brain where, from the Universe’s point of view, that information should go — keeping the whole universe moving toward greater perfection of understanding at all levels, in a sense upgrading the health of the whole. Each neuron also benefits in the process by getting information it is grateful for (if it is awake enough to notice and/or helped by the technique of Noia). By visualizing the universe as a biomachine, the cost in language is a step away from accuracy since “what is” awesomely exceeds the reductionism to any sort of machine. Yet this is the price we pay to be able to convey the theory to the present age where logical positivism would otherwise dismiss TOTCU as meaningless.

Acceleritis is notorious for banana-peeling you out of Flow and way out of its highest manifestation, Enlightenment.

What I had meant to say was that the bodhisattva/saint is not attached to saving the world. He or she will still do it with the same degree of eager zeal knowing that he or she will never get credit for it. Not even doing it specifically to please God. Even that takes one out of infinity. More on that and techniques in next week’s post in part 2.

Best to all,

Bill

*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2012-02-09 08:21:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Upon Enlightenment, One Stays Infinite All of the Time

Originally posted February 2, 2012

Growing up in a Western culture, one hears and reads the phrases, “seeking Enlightenment” and “the path of Enlightenment”, sees movies like Lost Horizon and The Razor’s Edge, and eventually questions whether maybe there is something real going on.

What is this Enlightenment they speak of so often and so seriously in the East, and which comes up in Western discourse more humorously and as part of entertainment fiction? Is it something real that we in the West ought to wake up and discover?

Enlightenment is a stage in a process. Sages in antiquity observed human beings going through a progression during their lives. Enlightenment is the stage most rarely reached, and self-evidently to those reaching that stage, the final stage in the process.

In other words, the idea of Enlightenment is derived from observation, just like the observation of modern science.

All of the earlier stages in the progression end in dissatisfaction, and are characterized by chasing after a different something in each stage. In this final stage of human personal evolution, Enlightenment, there is no longer any chasing and no longer any dissatisfaction.

Modern Western science in fact has rediscovered the progression. Maslow was the first to crystallize thinking in the West about this built-in human pattern, which he expressed as “The Hierarchy of Needs”. One born in extreme poverty for example seeks satisfaction of his/her physiological needs all of the time, until somehow working oneself out of that extreme poverty. When this happens the physiological needs start to get taken care of easily and the individual begins striving for the next needed thing which is safety and security according to Maslow’s model. Stage three is belonging/social/love needs, then self-esteem, and finally self-actualization. As each need becomes more automatically satisfied in a person’s life, the person expands the sphere of wants to include these new areas, in these various stages.

Maslow was aware of the ancient sources, and his five-stage model was his own intuitive and observation-based attempt at a more scientific reintegration of the seven-stage chakra system of ancient India. Yet it is possible the latter original system could be the more precise. We shall come to it in a moment.

More recently than Maslow, SRI International (originally founded by Stanford University as Stanford Research Institute) used a survey and statistical clustering techniques to discern 23 underlying factors driving human behavior, i.e. values. (The study of human values is called axiology.) From further reclustering they developed a scale similar to Maslow’s but with more levels and two ways to get to self-actualization — a Westernized reduction of Enlightenment — at the top.

One recent interpretation of Maslow’s description of self-actualization lists these words: Vitality, Creativity, Self-Sufficiency, Authenticity, Playfulness, Meaningfulness. These are some of the characteristics that in the East would be attached to Enlightenment, but they are not the essence of it.

The essence of Enlightenment is that one no longer strives for anything. It is no longer necessary. One no longer sees any lack, therefore no need for desire. Love is strongly present, and the intuition is working at such a level as to cause ESP/Psi researchers to note statistically significant above-average accuracy rates. The Enlightened being brings a sense of peace wherever he or she goes, affecting others as iron filings around a magnet. Such a being appears to be continuously in great joy, and this is also infectious to those around. These observations have been replicated time and again by scientific/journalistic/scholarly Westerners who have traveled to the East and have seen and met such Enlightened human beings, some of whom are now in America. Some of us have experienced those states but the condition has not become permanent. That is not yet Enlightenment.

The first known system for reaching Enlightenment, embedded in Hinduism — one of the earliest institutionalized schools of thought — has four stages through which an individual passes as he/she evolves personally. Huston Smith in his classic The World’s Religions  describes these four stages as Pleasure, Success, Duty, and the pursuit of Enlightenment. The latter stages may not be reached in a lifetime, and Hinduism allows for the self to come back again and again to complete this course. Huston significantly describes the fourth stage as the attempt to make oneself “superhuman”. Indeed the Enlightenment stage that is sought appears to be a stage above the human both when one is experiencing it — even if for impermanent flashes — and when one is observing it in someone else.

Flow State as we have described here before has its own sub-stages within it, the highest of which corresponds to Enlightenment. All stages of Flow State appear to be super-human when one is experiencing them. In martial arts, one appears to have become invulnerable. In performing arts as well as martial and athletic arts, everything seems to be happening perfectly without any effort on one’s own part. During Flow State, the Universe appears to be favoring you. More than luck, it feels like the fix is in. This has a supernatural, numinous feel to it.

At the highest stage of Flow State, i.e. Enlightenment, one is no longer seeking Enlightenment, service/duty, success, pleasure, or anything else. All of those are finite and would require stepping down from the infinite, from the sense of letting go, having let go, long past trying to control, stopping oneself from the endless flowing with the Universe in a love relationship, that is Enlightenment. And in fact there is no going back, because by definition Enlightenment is when the world can no longer suck you back down into dissatisfaction with some element of it and re-attach you egoistically to striving to save the world, reduce suffering, one of the last of the finite attachments from which one reaches through to the permanent state of Enlightenment.

Back in the day, I had my own interpretation of the natural stages of personal evolution, which I had based on the seven major chakras. This Sanskrit word meaning “wheel” and “turning” refers to seven intuitively perceived organs of a subtle nonphysical body within each of us. Perhaps the Enlightened sages/saints of ancient India, Tibet, China and the rest of the Far East were actually able to see something that really exists, a body of consciousness within our body of matter, and perceive its organs — and perhaps not. In any case, inspired by this model, I conjectured a progression of personal evolution in, naturally, seven stages.

Those seven steps along the way being: Security (physical safety as well as money), Pleasure (including sex), Power (including consensual validation), Love, Creativity, Self-Knowledge, and Service. When I conceived this model I was not thinking clearly about Enlightenment actually being the eighth stage, and I confabulated it with the seventh or Service stage. But as I’ve since found, trying to be of service to the world is not yet Enlightenment. One still gets caught in EOP while in the seventh stage. The ego still brings you down out of Flow State while you are caught up in the drama of trying to make a positive difference in the world.

There are other esoteric traditions in which I perceive ideas similar to those of Hinduism, Maslow, and SRI, i.e. the idea of there being a characteristic sequential pattern of development for human motivations. Although I’ve not read any other student of Kabbalah as making this same interpretation, in studying the Tree Of Life I see a progression as follows:

  1. Until one gets one’s love and work in balance, one does not rise from the mask/persona/personality/projected image to others (“Yesod”) into one’s essence/truth with oneself (“Tif’eret”).
  2. Until one balances severity and mercy, one is not enabled to have flashes of insight/intuition/inspiration coming as if from above or from some hidden wellspring of wisdom (“Da’at”).
  3. Until one balances wisdom (knowing what’s right) with understanding (forgiveness), one’s consciousness will not be able to rise to transparency with the One Consciousness (“Keter”) — aka Enlightenment.

Recall that these ideas going back thousands of years — and still being reinterpreted and reinvented by new minds today — have also been validated by SRI’s field research: surveys reveal the same underlying axiological structures as predicted by Hinduism and Maslow, and possibly by the Jews in Kabbalah. There are people just motivated to survive physically from one day to the next (“Survivors”), and there are Belongers, Achievers, and Self-Actualizers. This is no longer just theory. In the last century science has rediscovered some ancient principles and validated them. Or perhaps re-validated them, since wise people long ago were convinced by the ability to make good verifiable predictions (“science”) regarding the innate progressive nature of human motivation.

As Huston Smith says, for all the harm religions have done, there is also all the good. And he refers to the wisdom wealth of the world that is stored up in religions. In fact, one does not have to be religious to reach Enlightenment, but it may help, if only by gaining contact with good ideas that are more practical and psychological/philosophical than theological.

We may look back and say that Hinduism for example was not a religion after all, but an observation-based science focused on the life of the self. Hinduism also postulates that the Infinite is within each of us, a statement Logical Positivism declared meaningless gibberish but which The Theory of The Conscious Universe re-words in terms of information theory so as to thwart dismissal by Logical Positivism. We may look back and say that Abraham was in an Enlightened flash of Flow State when he heard the One Self and made a covenant with It. In other words, it may all be true. What all religions believe may actually be real, in a way that denies none of the essentials of any religion, but which reflects the simple fact that there is only One Consciousness, and the rest is detail.

When the One Consciousness fully realizes Itself as The One Consciousness, within the life of one of us, that is what Enlightenment is. It is real, and yes, we ought to wake up and discover it.

Wishing you Stay Infinite,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2012-02-02 08:41:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter