Observerness

Created December 11, 2020

Happy Chanukah, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the one that Jesus loved! Wishing you a glorious Festival of Lights!

This continues from the prior post. We are discussing how you can reach and stay longer in the higher states of consciousness, real states whose existence have been reported throughout history, and by distinguished scientists such as Abraham Maslow and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

In the chart above I immodestly put myself on the same page as two of the greatest psychologists of all time. Not to seek to elevate myself to their class, but simply to compare what developed in my own worldview from my own experiences during a period in my life when I had heard of neither of these wonderful people.

To me what is interesting is how similar the three worldviews are!

As an applied scientist in the field of marketing and media science, such consilience is a suggestor that some objective truth is out there underlying three such similar although independently developed models. There is a higher state of consciousness, and probably a ladder of them, although the ladder idea is implicit in Maslow, and not mentioned in Mihaly’s work (or I missed it).

Maslow had said that the highest state available to humankind is self-actualization. And then, later in life he amended that to state that there was a higher level of self-transcendence. Peak experiences he said are the moment to moment manifestations of being in those upper states. For the average human, in the average moment, life was not a peak experience but a relatively drab one, laboring at tasks not selected by one’s own passionate interest but which pay the bills, and rescue one from penury, disdain, rejection and a sense of failure and worthlessness. The needs the average person experiences in the average moment are driven by the desire to avoid unwelcome outcomes and are pervaded by a sense of needing to compensate for one’s own deficiencies.

What does this mean for you? It points to a simple way you can check on your own state, as often as it occurs to you. The more your heart yearns for peak experiences and a life of fulfilment, the more often you will naturally check in on your own state. These states can fluctuate very rapidly, as you may have experienced yourself.

Maslow took the long view whereas both Mihaly’s work and my own are phenomenologies rather than typologies in that we focus on moment to moment changes. For example, the moment when one realizes one is in Flow state, can be the moment that kicks one immediately out of Flow state, so it is important to not let that happen by avoiding the reflex of gloating.

Mihaly focuses on how Flow arises when there is an equilibrium between the challenge and one’s own skill set. Psychologists Yerkes and Dodson found that the degree of arousal (how much one cares about winning) when at a midpoint causes maximum performance. Mihaly and these other folks were on the same page. In my own self-taught methods I found that I performed best when I had “burnt out” attachment to winning and was just watching to see what would happen when I just played the game for its own sake.

Takeaways so far from this post:

  • Check in on your own state.
  • If you find yourself having a Flow state experience beware of patting yourself on the back and just keep focused on what you are doing.
  • If you are in a situation where you would like the highest performance from yourself, remember to focus on the doing and not on whether you will score high or low.
  • Prepare yourself for this neutral, detached state starting well before the event, if possible. Visualize how you will act nobly whether you win or lose, literally visualize each outcome separately, and how you will behave if that moment comes.

As you can see from the chart above, my model is a bit more complex than the other two. I suspect that what Maslow referred to as spiritual or self-transcendent experiences, I refer to as Spiritual Flow. Under that the next level down in my model is Flow, where one is performing at one’s best effortlessly and without attachment to how well or poorly one is performing. Next step down is the Observer state, the doorway to the states above it.

You know when you are in the Observer state, not when the kibitzing narrator mind turns off, but when you can observe its workings and its fears and angers, without getting sucked into them, as if they are outside oneself.

In the state of normal waking consciousness, one tends to play tapes, say the same things over a lifetime, like a mechanical robot, and to be subject to irremediable lifelong pain depending on how others react to us – Maslow’s reference to “deficiency”, what I have always thought of as defensiveness or self-protectiveness.

Added takeaway:

  • Note when you are in the Observer state. You may not be doing everything perfectly as in the Flow state, but you are keeping your detached witness identity and seeing what your lower mind is doing without be carried away by it. It’s highly conducive to Flow to happily remain in the Observer state for longer and longer periods of time.

You’ll also note that in the schema above I introduce the work of another philosopher of psychology by using the word “Ego” in the context of normal waking consciousness. Let’s start there in the next post.

My best to all,

Bill

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The Quest for Peak Experiences

Created December 4th, 2020

Abraham Maslow described peak experiences as “sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, with an awareness of ultimate truth and the unity of all things.”

Have you had such experiences? Even if it doesn’t exactly fit Maslow’s definition, can you select one experience that might have been the best moment of your life so far? If you can, relive it now as best you can. It might help to close your eyes and take your time to let the memory fully form.

One of the reasons why Maslow thought so much about “self-actualization” as he called it, is because of the link he intuited between being a self-actualized person, and having larger numbers of peak experiences.

It wasn’t just his intuition, he himself was aware of how over the course of his life he graduated from being driven by the things that drive the mass of humanity – such as insecurity, the need to belong, money, lack of self-esteem, the desire to be held in high esteem by others – to a state in which those things were no longer important (because he had them all), and he was doing the work he loved and adding to the science of psychology each day. He had become self-actualized – understanding his own individuality and his gifts, and was expressing them every day, having the time of his life, replete with frequent peak experiences. His work in those years was an effortless mission to share these things with other people, so that they too could experience what he was experiencing, but in each case centered around the individual’s own personal potentials.

Owing to my parents having me perform on stage starting when I was four, I had peak experiences very early in life, and they caused me to become fascinated with my own consciousness and its various states. This became the through-line of my life. I wanted to learn how to bring these peak experiences about, and once I found some ways that worked, I kept a “scientific” journal of the methods that worked. Later I would write MIND MAGIC to share some of these methods life had taught me, quite a few of which I had identified before I was twelve, although my understanding of them continued to grow day by day. (The book is free during the pandemic at the preceding link.)

I thought of those peak experiences rather differently than Maslow. To me, what was remarkable about the experiences was not that feeling of well-being and unity, but the fact that my stage performances were doing themselves at a level of expertise which I had never experienced before. Later, studying both philosophy and psychology at the college where Abe had been head of the psychology department (Brooklyn College), although loving Maslow’s work, the connection between his and my models of experience did not strike me. By contrast, many years later, when I discovered the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, head of the psychology department at Chicago University, and his term “Flow state”, I had a peak experience and a thrill of recognition that my lifelong project wasn’t something that only happened to me.

Recently, a social science colleague of mine, Judy Langer, invited me to give a Zoom class on Maslow at The Center for Learning & Living in Manhattan. It gave me an opportunity to ruminate for the class on how my own self-taught methods and ideas related to both Abe’s and Mihaly’s work (I never had the privilege of meeting Abe, but did have that honor in Mihaly’s case, and he agreed to be an advisor to my nonprofit The Human Effectiveness Institute).

Here is the slide that I used:

This slide tells you how I view the work of Maslow, Mihaly and myself, and how we are all describing the same things, but organizing our data differently.

In my way of looking at things, introspection with concentration – you can also call it meditation – is what gets us into the Observer state and then into the Flow state. I believe Maslow grouped the Observer and Flow state experiences into what he called peak experiences.

To all three of us, normal waking consciousness is a state in which our behavior and our sense of experience is highly dominated by outside forces, we are trying to fit in, be accepted, get along, move up, and do not feel disposed to much self-examination. When we do notice our inner experience it is largely one of anxiety to one degree or another, unable to break away from what negative events could befall us.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs postulated that we would be obsessed by a given need until it was satisfied, at which point we became obsessed with a slightly “higher” need. We move up from being dominated by insecurity to being driven by a need to feel that we belong, and once having achieved that, it was self-esteem and the esteem of others that caused our behavior and our experience of life.

This series of posts will continue and the aim ultimately is to provide a condensed set of recommendations aimed at freeing you, the reader, from the conditioned motivators in your subconscious, so that you can enjoy more peak experiences, become self-actualized (if you are not already), and then self-transcendent, in a steady state of Flow and peak experience where what happens to everyone around you is more motivating than what happens to you, because you are already complete and feeling the unity.

I think of this series of posts which start here as “On the Road to Flow”. In the next post I will unpack the slide above.

My best to all,

Bill

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Seeing the Miracles in Life

Updated November 25, 2020

Be grateful for all the miracles in your life.

Isn’t it wonderful that we set aside a national holiday just for giving thanks?

And we have SO much to be thankful for. The Center Held. America came to its senses. The election is finally over. Half of us are unhappy with its outcome, but we are on the road to recovery now on every front and we shall overcome. It’s a Miracle! The miracle we call “the American system”, once again showing that it is forever working, we just had to give it time.

Prayer works.

Interparty and sub-party differences will go on probably forever but not with the same degree of lethality.  As we cooperate together more and more now, those old habits of respect and civility will return, like getting back on a bicycle after all those years. Aisles will be crossed. The good deeds of rivals will be graciously acknowledged with gallant chivalry as the standards were set by the inspired Founders and by the wise Abe Lincoln.

Sometimes the miracles in our lives are more obvious than at other times. While the world is always miraculous, sometimes we see the miracle and sometimes we don’t.

Babies, kittens, flowers, stars, the moon, the ocean, mountains, trees, falling in love together, family, friendships — these are among the more obvious miracles.

We’re often unaware of the improbability of certain events that occur in our lives. Not being statisticians, we don’t realize how long the odds are of these events happening and we just go along, taking it all for granted, feeling that if it is happening it can’t be miraculous, it must all be mundane.

By tuning out our appreciation for experiencing all that is life, we may be radiating very little gratitude for all of the miracles in our lives. The Universe may respond by turning the dial on the lesson machine so that it bumps us a bit more roughly to get our attention, since we seem to be missing the polite subtle hints.

How can we feel gratitude at times that are trying us to the breaking point? By comparing the situation to one even worse. What if we had never existed at all? The Universe has created us, we are alive — is this not justification for gratitude?

All mystery schools and religions teach acquiescence, trust and gratitude as three sides to the same coin — the acceptance of what is. In Islam, it is called the Will of Allah. In Taoism it is called getting into the rhythm of the Tao, linking into the underlying force of the universe. The word religion itself comes from the Latin religare, meaning to link up. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit, meaning to yoke up, like yoking an ox to a cart.

Let’s all practice replacing negative emotion with positive emotion — which means remembering what we have to be grateful for and what we have to look forward to and be excited about. There may be challenging (even heartbreaking) trials ahead but we need to welcome them as opportunities to show what we’re really made of and how we can rise to the challenges individually and together.

If you don’t already do this every day, take some time to count your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you much personal experiencing of the miracle you
are 
in, and much personal experiencing of the miracle you are.


Grateful written by John Bucchino, performed
by Ann Hampton Callaway and John Bucchino.


Gratefully,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-11-24 12:16:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Break the Chain of Non-Forgiveness

Created November 20, 2020

On November 6, 2020, my blogpost was entitled Both Sides Are Protecting America in their Own Minds, and in it, I wrote:

“We all grew up with the same values. Other countries were corrupt, we were taught, but here we had the privilege of living in a democracy, where there is concern for every individual.”

A wise executive at a top advertiser company wrote me to say “I think that perspective misses the values piece. When some are raised with values of hate, bigotry and selfishness we don’t come from the same starting point.”

In other words, despite being taught the same American values, we are all also programmed by the other “values” our parents taught us by word and example, including such things as hate, bigotry and selfishness.

There is no denying the truth of the reader’s point.

Why is it that parents let themselves pass on any form of negativity to their beloved children?

It is because they don’t realize they are doing that. They may not pay attention to the process at most times, and when they do notice their own behavior and the effect it is having on their kids, they see it differently than an objective outsider would see it.

In other words, when a parent teaches hate and selfishness they are not able to see reality objectively. What they themselves have been taught has become so deeply ingrained they have perceptual biases, like a fish not being able to see water.

In this way, hate and selfishness are passed down from generation to generation like a great chain that can never be broken.

In my blogpost of November 2, 2020, entitled The Follower Type, I quoted from Wikipedia’s coverage of The Authoritarian Personality, a 1950 book which showed the link between authoritarian leaders and their followers. Both the leaders and the followers learned the same negative “values” from domineering parents. Children of domineering parents have an almost unbreakable tendency to become domineering parents and domineering people themselves. The neurosis brings along with it cultish blind followership, anti-intellectualism, superstition, and the projection of all of one’s own repressed perceived weaknesses (the shadow self) onto a scapegoat group.

All great psychologists and deep thinkers have spoken and written about the process of clearing out the mind and emotions of conditioned neuroses formed in childhood. Abraham Maslow  in particular described the emergent new person cleansed of imposed leftover deficiency feelings as being Self Actualized, freed from being motivated by deficiency compensation and free to pursue the manifestation of all the positive creative potentials within the individual self. No longer a robot of his or her self-limiting early conditioning, this person has then broken the great chain of non-forgiveness (of self, of parents, of the scapegoat group, of intellectuals, et al).

I call this mentally and emotionally cleansed state “the Observer state” and my book MIND MAGIC is a collection of stimuli designed to help bring about the Observer state. During the pandemic that book is now free to anyone in the world, at the link.

What should we do if we wish to break the chain of passed-down divisive “values”? We ought to communicate with our children, whatever age they now are, confronting this subject courageously and non-self-protectively. Ask them if you taught them anything related to hating other people, if you encouraged them to think selfishly. Talk it out. Reach agreement if you can on a FRESH START. Age does not matter, a FRESH START is always a freeing new way of being. It puts away the past and does not dwell upon it, bringing almost all attention into the present with a little bit left for the future. The future you and your children want to have, and want America and the world to have.

With what is facing us all today, the “six tidal waves” as I call it in To the People of the World, if more of us can give ourselves and our children a FRESH START and focus on solutions in a collaboration with all people of good will, we will overcome all of these threatening situations we ourselves have caused due to our conditioned neuroses that have been our baggage for all of history.

And as individuals, what we can in our own private alone spaces, is to contemplate our own upbringing, and our own domineering, hatreds, and selfishness if any, and where it might have come from, what good or harm it has done us so far in our lives, and whether we want to carry that baggage any more, or if we would feel refreshed to have a FRESH START ourselves. If you would like more structured help in such contemplation it is available in the free book MIND MAGIC in Chapter 5, “What Do You Want? Stripping Away Imposed Limitations To Find Out What ‘The Me That Was Born’ Wants”.

May The Center Hold. Some have suggested I change this to “May The Center Re-Form”, suggesting that we have all moved further left or right, but I suspect this is an illusion; I agree that we are definitely more vocally on one party’s side or the other, but not that Democrats have become communists and that Republicans have become fascists. I still feel that most of us are closer to the center than depicted in our actual views of what actions need to be taken in the world, but have become angry at the opposing political party per se. This is not a distinction without a difference. It implies that if the parties disappeared overnight (as George Washington had strenuously advised) and we were all individuals again and we met to discuss what to do about health, education, foreign affairs, etc. we would find that we are not that far apart at all.

When this election is behind us, I hope that this is the reality that appears in front of us all as we pull together to solve the substantive action issues that are not inherently party power related.

Best to all,

Bill

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To the People of the World

Created November 13, 2020

I am an American. I also consider myself a citizen of Earth, and a member of the Human Race club.

From my point of view, we have been spending too much time competing for political power to get done any of the immense things that we HAVE TO get done.

And then when somebody wins power, the other major party blocks getting anything done.

And the voters then seem to forget who actually tried to get something done, and who spent all their time blocking it.

This might not be worth discussing if everything was going to take care of itself because we are already in utopia.

However, there are not one but six tidal wave problems coming at us from all directions which all of us have to solve together, one way or another, with or without cooperating with each other, or we won’t be around anymore. They are also getting worse the longer we fool around. And we make each one of them worse by refusing to cooperate with each other.

  1. Pandemic
  2. American Schism
  3. World Debt
  4. Environment (and future pandemics if deforestation continues)
  5. International Envy
  6. Half of us might not find work (robotics)

We’ve seen from the pandemic that it doesn’t work as well when each State comes up with its own way of doing things. The bigger the problem, the more important wide scale cooperation is.

I recommend that the next time you read about any politician making a statement about anything other than one of these six problems, you ignore it, and let them know where you want them to refocus their attention.

Please let me know if my list is too short.

For manageability I grouped related challenges together, for example racial/ethnic/gender/all-inclusive equality is really at the core of problem #2.

“International Envy” groups together the threats from other nations, terrorist organizations, and all of the vendettas lingering from the distant and/or recent past.

It is easy to predict that we will be more efficient and faster about turning the tide on these threats the more we can work together.

I recommend the next time you read about any politician making a negative statement about anybody, you ignore it, and let them know where you want them to put their energies instead of this endless backbiting.

I recommend that you stop sending and mentioning in social media or in any venue “the backbiting channel” which has become the top-rated audience draw of all time. The computers will notice that and stop depending on it for the maximum audience draw that it has recently become.

I predict you will also, then, sleep better.

There are ways we can use our wonderful media to share constructive innovative ideas with one another. What we really need is for officials to start to practice the modes of creativity and to use each other’s ideas without caring about who gets the credit so much. I depict such media being used in a crisis similar to ours in a science fiction novel PANDEMONIUM: Live To All Devices (hope you will read the free sample available through the link).

Some time ago, two U.S. presidents and two dozen other well-known top US officials responded supportively to my idea that INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION can channel people into the specializations that perfectly match their inner purpose and skills, with corporations and work study programs meshing with the process from the earliest grades. Recently a friend in Germany told me that those ideas had taken hold over there.

Adults also need individualized education now if they are out of regular school but also out of regular work – or want to be in a different field.

We seem to have a ready workforce of life coaches who could be organized to help those out of school for whom life is not working out as joyfully as it could be if they were doing work that they loved. They would then be more likely to get into Flow state, where they could make more money, but even without the money would at least be doing what they were born to be good at.

Once totally successful, welfare and other transfer payments would dwindle to virtually nothingness. Individualized Education is the kind of work we ought to be doing in the 21st Century.

That’s only one innovative approach worth exploring and work on from both sides of the aisle together. There will be a panoply of exciting new ideas unleashed from the combination of crowdsourcing and a nonpartisan lens.

Let’s make political parties invisible for a while, can we?

When Japan was in the process of taking over China, with one city falling after the next, even more than US aid the ability of the Chinese Civil War combatants to temporarily unite was what pushed Japan off the mainland.

Can you imagine what will happen if we don’t stop it now and return to the normal we were used to for 200 years? We could be fighting WWIII in the streets and on the hills of America, first with each other, and then when other countries come over to help one side, it will be like the early days of America when Brits, French, Germans, and others were here fighting, except it’s more likely to be other superpowers and rogue nations. That’s the current direction we are pushing ourselves in by dividing the house so that it cannot stand.

Proof or not, the unbelievable intensity and extremity of it makes it hard to believe that a lot of it is not being caused by foreign powers.

Each of us can’t expect other people to take this advice while each of us keep dishing the dirt. We have to change ourselves first. Friends will read our silences or hear our remarks and understand that we have dropped out of the cycle of hate. The more of us do that, the more of them will do it, until there is no more them.

There never was a Them, it’s always been just US.

May The Center Hold,

God Bless America and each of you,

Bill

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Both “Sides” Are Protecting America In Their Own Minds

Created November 6, 2020

If we can keep from becoming emotionally stampeded, we can reach compromises in a more pleasant way that are creative, innovative, bold, exciting, inspiring, and consensus based.

Isn’t that the whole point of Democracy?

How did we get so divided so fast? It seems hard to believe based on what had gone before.

We all grew up with the same values. Other countries were corrupt, we were taught, but here we had the privilege of living in a democracy, where there is concern for every individual.

Who could disagree that this is a core American value? No one. WE are united on this foundation. This is not red or blue it is America.

THIS is why we can get teary eyed hearing the national anthem or remembering the righteous things we have done. America is a noble cause and human beings are built to sense such things intuitively.

It helps, when we get out of perspective and exaggerate how far apart we are, to remember the common ground upon which we stand, with each other here at home, and with former allies around the world who had followed our guidance for two hundred years, and will be like the prodigal father when we return with them.

Relaxing, from the fight against the Left or Right, as we are doing together here, here’s two thoughts about how we got so split recently.

Factor 1: Please take into account that political advertising and more broadly speaking political propaganda, has recently so well learned its Internet lesson, that the Orwellian implications are becoming disturbingly clear.

While television has always been stabilized by common consent, it’s a ruder patois which rules digital. The mind frame into which one can be catapulted by a wrong keystroke, dwarfs the ability of television shows to give me nightmares as a subteen. The wildness of the Internet is its leitmotif, its taste. We are transfixed by its unpredictability. Whereas television has a product that relies upon dependability and therefore predictability.

It might help to picture the media as an actual alien being determined to take over our minds. In reality it has that equal power, although not alien.

Factor 2: When I was 8 years old I “knew” the Commies were my enemy.

The screen media hypnotic effect in my era was a firefly in relation to the digital sun today. But it was enough to inculcate me into believing in enemies and believing that Commies were my enemies.

Many propagandists on our side as well as folks like Joseph McCarthy pumped this “Pinko” thing up to humongous proportions from the 1919 Red Scare and it’s still with us today. That’s coming up on a century we have been conditioned to think of Commies as the enemy.

Then Donald Trump called Democrats Pinkos. Is it any wonder that Follower types would transfer all the hate, rage, and violence in their souls against Democrats, based simply on the anti-Communism perspective imbued into every American living today?

It’s an oversimplification to paint people who lean slightly left as if they are at the left pole. Just as it’s an oversimplification to do it to those who lean slightly right.

The middle is what really counts. Let’s come back to the middle together, voluntarily, individually, please dear reader, take the initiative yourself.

We all want the same things – with enough differences among us on the details to keep life interesting. Let’s not be driven into insane rage by media overdrive or people who will risk our minds and our peace to gain even more power over us.

Let’s stop before we hurt ourselves more. Our strength in in our unity, disunity only brings us weakness and ultimately defeat.

Best to all,

Bill

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