Tag Archives: Consciousness

What Is Your Summum Bonum?

Originally posted April 7, 2015

As a philosophy major I learned to say “The Highest Good” in Latin: Summum Bonum, but long before, even as a toddler, I had begun thinking about the same subject, vaguely noting that my inarticulate intuition could not accept anything I was told as an absolute, even from those two beloved gods Ned and Sandy (my parents). Without innate acceptance of authority as absolute, I was required to develop my own ideas.

Live in line with your higher good.

Before receiving my degree I had developed my own “philosophy”, ideas that had jumbled natively in my mind before formal study. When I contemplated Summum Bonum, I decided to choose aesthetics as my touchstone to determine what for me would be The Highest Good. “With or without God, what did I intuit/feel/decide to be the most beautiful way to handle each moment? And which would be a more beautiful universe — the one with or without God?”  That’s how I decided which hypotheses I would base my life upon.

This was my rational mind at work, yet my intuition was really leading my thought process. My definition of intuition is the ability to sense what is going on, to make connections and put things together, sometimes leaping wildly across intervening logical steps. Sometimes someone asks me why I did something and it takes a while to provide an adequate answer because I was driven by my intuition more than pure rational reasoning. In Jung’s four functions of consciousness (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition), I’m an intuitionist, among other “-ists”.

Being a pragmatist at heart, The Highest Good to me is the best conscious approach to any situation, which I see as love — omnidirectional, unconditional, and nonattached love*. Such love creates the greatest long-term happiness for the greatest number, which I find to be the most philosophically beautiful approach.

What is The Highest Good to you?

Best to all,

Bill

*Nonattached love means accepting the losability of the things one is fond of, and thus being free from addictive dependence upon the objects of our affection.

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Originally posted 2015-04-07 12:59:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Win/Win Principle

Originally posted March 3, 2015

So many writers have impressed me with at least one thing, if not everything, they have written. Aleister Crowley for example in Liber Aleph makes the point that there are no rules, just principles to balance in every given situation. Yet just a few principles come closest to being rules that they should probably be applied in virtually every circumstance. Pondering this, it occurs to me that Win/Win is such an important principle it comes near the top of the list if not at the very top.

Your View of Reality

The intention and actuality of only making agreements that will benefit all parties is the essence of the Win/Win principle. It ideally permeates to the minutest level of each almost invisible tacit agreement going on every second of our social interactions. In my cosmology we are all holograms of the One Consciousness or more precisely facets of the one Conscious Hologram, so it follows logically that we would do unto others as we would do unto a reflection of our very own self. This is truly enlightened self-interest. It is then the most palpable form of omnidirectional unconditional love. Even in a humanistic materialistic worldview such as some of my best friends have, the Win/Win principle follows logically from their chosen noble stance. My lifetime favorite writer F. Scott Fitzgerald notes in The Beautiful and Damned that such a stance is even more meaningful if it is taken with no moral imperative to do so.

Maintaining the Win/Win intention is not always easy. It’s hardest perhaps when we believe we have a score to settle with someone. We want them to lose so they learn a lesson and they stop behaving the way they are. Take for example two Win/Lose players I met years ago. Mr. Z humiliated Ms. Y in front of others. I had a feeling and said to another onlooker later, “She is going to find a way to get even someday.” Sometime later there followed an unrelated Lose/Lose lawsuit, set in motion by a quiet remark from Ms. Y to her boss, which ended with both Ms. Y and Mr. Z being negatively affected.

The Biblical directive, “Let vengeance be mine”, gives us permission to not carry the burden of corrective punishment, absolving us from that task and enabling us to continue to act for the ultimate Win/Win even with folks who have harmed us. More good is ultimately achieved by this strategy than by any other. We benefit more long-term and often short-term, even when dealing with the most recalcitrant adversary. It comes down, as so many things do, to searching for a more creative solution. We then make it possible to achieve a Win/Win outcome even when up against a Win/Lose “opponent”.

It is a glorious fact of existence that each of us is a far more powerful player on the stage of this world than we ever suspect based on appearances. Words or even facial expressions can escalate things disproportionately. Win/Win as a deep-seated attitude in all situations is not only the best way to “win” — achieving the most benefit for all and therefore doing the most good in the world — it is also the best protection against forgetting our own principles even in a careless or tired moment.

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-03-03 11:31:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Data Mining Your Own Intuition — Revisited

Originally posted February 17, 2015

Have you ever had an intuition?

You are the HEARER of your Thoughts

Intuition is when an idea pops into your head fully formed without being preceded by a step-by- step logical chain. These intuitions may come to you with “cognitive elements” usually in the form of a feeling. You understand the meaning of your thoughts and what it is you are saying to yourself, without having heard words spelling it out. Although often there may be no image that you can see in your mind, in heightened states of consciousness you may be able to see an image tied to this intuition.

These ideas flash into our mind and usually flash right out again unless we have a strong and abiding mental intention to pay attention to and remember their content. Without such conscious intention, we probably won’t even notice these fleeting intuitions. They are a subtle guidance system that does not speak loudly in our mind.

Dan Goleman points out that at least some of these feelings — the ones we call “gut feelings” — are called that because we sense they are somehow coming from our gut, which is accurate because the part of the brain from which these intuitions come (the basal ganglia) is also associated with the nerve connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These intuitions are really the net guidance stored from our experiences in the form of summary action implications that tell us the way we are going either worked or failed in the past.

By contrast, the ego voices that dominate most of our mind at most times are loud, strident and salient. These ego voices are the thoughts, inner dialog, and feelings that are linked to our base motivations. We are pulled around by our negative fears and anger reactions to events around us when we feel our livelihoods and social standing are at stake and sense at any moment something can be taken away from us. The ego is also stressed out due to Acceleritis™ (Information Overload), thus exacerbating its own predisposition to worry.

As a result of this inner competition for attention and the fact that most of our attention at nearly all times is cast outwards not inwards, we don’t even catch these intuitions in the first place.

If we do catch the intuition, it is generally not heeded because of the jumble of subsequent louder thoughts giving us impulses to verbally fight, complain, argue, dismiss, or otherwise rain on whatever it was that somebody just said that may have triggered the intuition.

How to Use Your Intuition More Effectively

This is a testable hypothesis — try this:

Start a program of paying attention to your own hunches and look for them to arise. When they do, put off the other business that seems so important to the ego and everyday mind, and focus on what your intuition just told you. Make sure you remember the content by either writing it down or forming a keyword, key phrase or key image that will serve as a retrieval mechanism to bring back the whole content of the idea.

Then at an appropriate time in whatever is happening, tentatively see if the application of that intuitive idea seems to contribute anything to the situation taking place around you. Do this instead of — or at least before — offering the people around you any of the subsequent jumble of thoughts that came after the intuition.

On the other hand, you might see what the intuition is and realize that although triggered by the current situation, it really applies to another situation. Then wait to tentatively apply the hunch until you are in the other situation. In this case also resist the tendency to edit that first flash — though using diplomatic language is always a good idea so long as you do not distort the original idea.

Sometimes the intuition gives us not the right strategy but rather a strategy that although wrong will lead to the right answer, one that might not be reached other than through considering this wrong answer. Socrates appeared to know this — he flowed with his intuitions yet by phrasing the ideas as questions he protected himself against error.

Most often our mental process is to speed past the intuitive event and come up with some other strategy for dealing with the present situation. If we even retain memory of the hunch, our tendency is to later edit and “improve” upon it, which often has the opposite effect. Based on my experience, stick with the way it appeared in the beginning — the odds favor this being the successful course of action.

Best to all,

Bill

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Rediscovering that Ancient Territory: Your Own Mind — Revisited

Originally posted February 10, 2015

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

Looking inward at oneself is the first step toward clarity.

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. Here we offer just such a searchlight.

This posting is a brief exploration into the architecture of inner experience and offers tools to look into your inner Self, through observation and experience. Why bother? Because 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.

What Is the Architecture of Our Inner Life?

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.

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 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.

So what are these things you call your thoughts, your feelings, your hunches, your perceptions? Consider, or reconsider, all of the experiences you have had of your own mind, your own inner life.

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. Another part of me then 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. Diverging from Jung, I posit that thoughts and feelings are the same thing, at different stages of development.

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

Possibly feelings are the most substantial and primary actor, coming out of our most intimate connection with 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.

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”. In my own experience, 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.

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.

The Searchlight to Our Inner Self

We need maps to study consciousness. We also need meditation to concentrate on seeing what really goes on inside by understanding the basic building blocks of all inner experience — thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions.

Try this. Find five minutes when you can’t be interrupted and there is nothing dragging you away like a deadline. You might not 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.

Now simply watch for what happens at the very beginning of a thought or feeling. 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.

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 like this, we find that we have gained true control of our minds in a gradual process that we get better and better at over time. 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,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-10 12:51:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rising Above Negativity

Original post November 17, 2015

Most of us assume there is nothing we can do about negative emotions — they come as they will, and we must just suffer through them. However, we all know someone we’ve seen rise above these feelings. With the world facing so many unprecedented challenges, it is vital that we increase our ability to rise to the occasion and surmount negative feelings.

Rise Above Negative Feelings

It’s difficult if not impossible to overcome negative feelings while remaining in our everyday “waking” state of consciousness. We can say, “I am going to put those emotions aside and get down to the business at hand”, but many of us don’t seem to have the willpower to do it. The trick is to rise out of the “waking” state of consciousness and move into the Observer state, where we are able to more easily turn off unproductive feelings.

The first step is to turn down all distractions. Create an alone space where you can’t be interrupted, where you can’t hear voices in the next room, where there isn’t a TV or some other device playing, where you’re not under time pressure. Have writing tools handy, or a sound recorder. Begin to try to understand why you are in a negative state. Be patient and wait. Once your mind knows you are focused on just one thing, which is to diagnose why you feel the way you do, it will soon start to give up answers to the question. They may be obvious or not-so-obvious. You may find yourself writing down the not-so-obvious aspects or simple phrases that are now suddenly more revealing and meaningful than you expected, which cast new light or simply state things you already knew but in much sharper and more useful language than you had access to before.

What you are doing is called contemplation.  You are flying higher, getting above the weather, so whatever weather disturbance or turbulence you experience must be rejected. Put aside whatever feeling or thought is familiar, like you have been there before. Reject ordinary thinking and feeling. Say to yourself, “That’s not constructive, it’s not getting me anywhere, and it doesn’t lead to a solution. I need something NEW.”

Strip it away as it arises and see what is underneath.

Where is it coming from?

Where did the whole pattern start?

What did I want that led me to this negative mindset?

What is really happening?

What is IT trying to teach me?

How can this situation possibly be something that can make me better and stronger?

Get creative. Generate out-of-the-box ideas. Visualize what someone you look up to would do. Come up with ideas that will not engender resistance, where you go with the flow and not against it. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe.

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-11-17 10:06:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Three Books with the Same Name

In April, 2014 my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That was published, but I held back from marketing it, awaiting a feeling of the right time. The Universe obviously saw no reason to wait to have Its coming-out party, thus stimulating the re-recognition among its many self-parts of Its One-Selfness.You Are the Universe by Bill Harvey

So this year the dean of positive nonfiction writers Deepak Chopra and leading light in physics Menas Kafatos published their version: You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters.

I discovered that Masami Saionji also published You Are the Universe in print in 2004 and as an ebook in 2014. (For that matter, my You Are The Universe came out to friends as The Theory of the Conscious Universe in 1976.)

These are three great books about exactly the same point. The same point that is made by all the original source books (e.g. the Vedas, Torah, I Ching, et al) from which modern religious texts have drawn. Underlying the material appearances is one consciousness at play. When a being becomes established in this perspective he or she enjoys life to the fullest, and is a fount of constructive encouragement to others. Helping as many people as possible to get into this headspace is what motivates writers such as ourselves to write and disseminate books like these.

It’s of course personally fascinating to me, to compare what my esteemed colleagues (what an honor to feel like in some way I’m in this group!) and I did differently in approaching delivery of the same message.

My friend the genius Chuck Young, inspired by Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking: Fast and Slow, analyzes and measures advertising based on its ability to get into three different long-term memory systems: thinking, feeling, and procedural. Thinking and feeling are processed in the cortex while procedural is processed in the cerebellum. The body can go through its motions by second nature even without a cortex.

Chuck might see my version of You Are The Universe (especially with its companion volume Mind Magic) as more procedural than the other two. Both of my nonfiction books are aimed at getting people to try things themselves and observe what happens, in their actual lives.

In a workshop with top officers of the U.S. military, I guided a meditation aimed at erasing all assumptions and using the senses to focus on what the individual was actually experiencing, for many minutes of silence. Trying to come at that experience as if for the first time, with no prejudgments, and observing without interpretation or naming. This is the shift one must make from the subconsciously-assumed materialism that is baked into us, in order to begin to realize that all we know exists for certain is our own consciousness. Making that shift based only on spiritual advice, or scientific theory/experimental findings, is very difficult. That’s why my version of YATU has mind experiments (and the companion volume is all mind experiments).

Another thing is different about my version. It explains in the lens of science exactly how conscious experience relates to the world of matter, in a way that anyone can understand and picture without the need for understanding advanced mathematics.

I recommend reading all three books, each comes at it from a different pov, and that itself is interesting. Also these three books with the same name are talking about the most important thing in life: What does it all mean?

When mainstream science gets the point of what we are saying in these books, it will be a bigger scientific renaissance than the world has seen.

Best to all,

Bill

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