Filial Love

filial loveFilial Love ….

The word love has, of course, many meanings. However, we don’t have many words to express those many different meanings of ‘love.’ We use the same love in the statement “I love my mother” and “I love my new shoes.” But, clearly, the love is not the same.

Traditionally, there are four categories of love: in Greek the words are ‘eros,’ ‘philea,’ ‘storge,’ and ‘agape.’ In English, this would translate to eros: romantic love; philea: brotherly-sisterly love, storge: affectionate friendship love and agape: alstruistic love.

And then there is filial love. Filial love is the kind of love a child has for its parents. This is, perhaps, a kind of ‘root love.’ It’s a kind of inborn instinct, to love parents. Whether or not the parents are lovable is another story; but, that doesn’t matter, the child loves the parents. How a parent responds to a child then becomes part of the child’s understanding of what love is. If the parents are abusive or neglectful, love, in the child’s mind, becomes almost equated with abuse or neglect. It’s as if neglect = love or abuse = love. No child grows up in an exclusively abusive or neglectful environment; now and then, there are also periods of affection. That too becomes part of the meaning of love for the child, as if it is also true that affection = love. Yelling, screaming, crying, laughing, singing, dancing, talking…..all of these experiences, and more, can link in to meanings of love. Because of the many, and sometimes contradictory, meanings of love, love can be confusing.

Because a child is so dependent upon parents for sustenance, nourishment, safety and protection, dependency becomes one of the equations of love in the growing child’s mind, i.e., dependence = love. One of the predominant needs of a child is attention. Children need to be attended to and it is not uncommon for a child to seek negative attention over none at all. If misbehavior gets the attention, i.e., the love of their parents, then, in the mind of a child, misbehavior = love. Temper tantrums, crying and screaming, aggression, and even gestures of self harm, can all be interpreted as a request for love. Love, of course, also equates to touch, affectionate hugs and embraces, caring, fun, joy and celebration…. Love has many, many different meanings.

Because a growing child is so dependent upon parents for their needs, the association between filial love and dependence is significant. Dependence generates territoriality and possessiveness towards that which one is dependent upon. Filial love is often characterized by a consciousness of ‘mine.’ Children are not only possessive of their toys, but of their parents as well. How many families with several children hear any child say ‘our parents’ instead of ‘my parents?’ A consciousness of ‘mine’ is dominant not only in childhood filial love, but adolescent, and adult, romantic love as well. Romantic relationships are possessive, and territorial. The relationship is based on dependence. There may be little difference between the statement “I love you” and “I depend upon you” or “I need you.” Romantic relationships, in particular, are a form of securing and possessing a source of specific needs satisfaction.

There is an element of love, filial love, in that. Of course, romantic relationships are predominantly characterized by eros, the passionate, intimate and sexual love. But, that does not mean filial love is absent, for it is not, just as every adult still has within them all the experiences of their childhood, and adolescence. It is not uncommon for one partner in a romantic relationship to project their deficit filial love needs onto the other partner who may, or may not, satisfy them. A good love relationship will be aware of the many meanings and forms love can take from the filial to the friendly, to the affectionate, to the romantic, and even to the altruistic.

Altruistic love is the antithesis of ‘mine.’ Altruistic love is a consciousness of ‘ours.’ Ideally, romantic love leads towards altruistic love because a single “me” becomes partnered and a ‘we’ is formed; a small ‘we’…a kind of ‘us against the world’ consciousness. But, then children are born and the ‘we’ expands. The children grow up and have their own children, and the ‘we’ expands more; what started as a fairly selfish erotic love has evolved to a family love which becomes neighborhood love, community love, and can extend to include the planet and all it’s inhabitents….The expansion of consciousness from ‘me’ to ever larger spheres of ‘we’ is the movement towards altruistic love, enlightenment, bliss.

It is said that Eskimos have several words for snow, depending on the quality and texture of it, and that the Zulu people in Africa, have several words for the color green, depending on the shade or hue of it. We have several words for precipitation as in rain, drizzle, downpour, sleet, hail and snow. But, for the most part, we seem to only have one word to represent the many complexities, shades, colors, hues, textures forms and meanings of ‘love.’ I love my mother, and I love my new shoes.

The Advaita Approach to Mental Health

 advaita approach to mental health

Mental health, or illness, is based primarily on a philosophy, a collection of beliefs, about who I am, what I am, where I am. Everybody has answers to these questions, even if the answer is ‘I don’t know.’ And, even if we don’t know, for sure, we can give some semblance of an answer to those questions. We often give answers to questions without knowing, for sure. How we think about not knowing, how it reflects on us, is part of our philosophy of life in this world. What does it mean for you to not know?

For those who do know, that philosophy of life, or world view, whether conscious or not, informs just about everything on a macro scale such as society, family, work, money, moods, actions, conditions. All of that informs our micro life, our personal life with our specific family and our particular work, our own individual ups and downs, circumstances, situations. We interpret all of this through the lens of our beliefs about our life in this world. What if a lot of these beliefs, our philosophy of life in this world, is petty, narrow, short-sighted? What if it is not aligned with reality? What if it is based on ignorance?

Advaita is a philosophy of life in this world based on long established knowledge. In most traditional mental health therapies today, there is a ‘psycho-educational’ component. A lot of this psych-education is about how to think rationally instead of emotionally, realistically instead of erroneously. Advaita not only questions and challenges current thinking, it introduces specific philosophical concepts very conducive to mental health. Applying these concepts as a filter through which to interpret experience can change one’s moods and behaviors, relationships and sense of self.

Advaita is an old language word that means ‘non-dual.’ Non-dual is non-duality. That translates into no battle, no attack, no conflict. So many mental health disorders and dysfunctions are based on internal battles, and attacks, and conflicts. The Advaita approach closely examines duality and weaves a way of understanding it as integrated and unified. The ‘self’ of which we are often so concerned with its many stresses and pressures, goals and duties, responsibilities and obligations, dreams and hopes, strivings and achievements, is entirely based on a dualistic philosophy of life in this world. That philosophy is to transportation as Advaita is to teleportation. Advaita is very advanced. It also extends far into the human past.

At the very least, Advaita offers a way of thinking about things which may be to most rather novel, big, comprehensive and wholistic, which does no harm, and may do good. At the most, it can be very helpful along the journey towards that supreme level of human consciousness we all seek. This supreme consciousness which incorporates, integrates and unifies duality, is beyond happiness and pain. It is more than the pair of opposites which make up our dualistic universe. It is a consciousness which like the sun shines equally on the land and on the sea. It is a consciousness which like the ocean receives all rivers from every continent. It is a consciousness of real love and bliss, the supreme state of mind for any human being.

Mental health is a lot more than coping well. A philosophy of life in this world which requires coping, may be a philosophy worth relinquishing. A world view in which war is for peace and violence is for safety may be worth relinquishing. A belief in oneself as independent may be getting in the way of that supreme state of mind. Our current philosophy of life in this world, our complicated, partial, conflicted and dualistic view of the way things are, can be relinquished, and replaced with a wholistic view of all life, which is Advaita.


 

Psychosomatic Symmetries

psychosomatic symmetriesWe know from our own experience about the mind-body connection. For example, if you were to imagine or visualize sucking on a lemon rind, you may very likely begin to salivate. Even though that sucking on the lemon rind is entirely of the mind, it can easily generate bodily responses.

It’s possible, with a little imagination, to lay out some interesting symmetries or parallels between our physiological body and our psychological mind. For example, we know we have a physiological circulatory system….but, could we also have a psychological circulatory system? We know we have a physiological respiratory system, but could we also have a psychological respiratory system? We know we have a physiological digestive system; could we also have a psychological digestive system?

Our physiological circulatory system carries blood and oxygen to our muscles and organs. Perhaps our psychological circulatory system carries thoughts and emotions into different parts of our lives….our family, our work, our leisure. Our physiological respiratory system oxygenates and fuels our blood; perhaps our psychological respiratory system fuels and supports our thoughts and emotions through the meanings we ascribe to those thoughts and emotions.

Our physiological digestive system takes in, breaks down and assimilates nourishment in the form of food. It also eliminates what is waste. Perhaps our psychological digestive system takes in, breaks down and assimilates nourishment in the form of ideas, concepts, facts and knowledge. And, it too eliminates what is waste.

Psychological, or mental, health, like physical health, depends on these systems working properly. Though not generally recognized as much of a vital system as respiration or circulation, digestion is critically important, and perhaps the most important aspect of this system is elimination. Most people know how it feels to be bloated and constipated physically, but may be unaware that there can be a kind of psychological constipation as well. If we hold on to ideas, concepts, beliefs and information which is waste, which is outdated, which is not valid….which is not nourishing, it is waste. If that waste is not expelled, it becomes putrid and stale. And yet, it may continue to influence our thinking and emotions.

Mental health counseling is one good way to facilitate the elimination of psychological waste. By talking with a professional, old ideas and beliefs can be challenged, and discarded, making room for new, fresh understandings and perceptions. Also, because of the intimate relationship between the mind and the body, physical exercise (which is a lot like exorcise) can also be helpful in toning the psychological systems of circulation, respiration and digestion, especially elimination. Singing, dancing, laughing and crying, though physical in nature, and healthy, also has a psychological counterpart just as visualizing positive mental imagery has a physiological counterpart. There is a psychosomatic symmetry to our lives.


 

Mind Consciousness – Occult Evolutionary Theory

mind

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

–William Shakespeare

Hamlet (I, v, 166-167)

There is an esoteric theory of evolution based on the writings of Madame H.P. Blavatsky and her school of Theosophy. It is such a vast and comprehensive vision of human consciousness that it is nearly impossible to grasp its full scope and meaning. This essay is a very, very brief and simplistic explanation of this grand evolutionary scheme. It is short and concise. It is in relatively plain English although perhaps used somewhat creatively. Give it a go…You’ve really got nothing to lose and just as even a grain of salt in the soup changes the flavor, so after reading this essay your consciousness may have a slightly different fragrance.

Man is a term derived from the ancient Sanskrit Manas. Sanskrit is a now defunct east Indian language particularly effective in representing theosophical ideas. English on the other hand, is quite limited; but, we work with what we have. Manas best equates to what today we would call Mind. Mind is considered to be an evolutionary consciousness. This consciousness underlies all manifest forms from the sand on the seashore to the stars in the heavens. Every molecule, every cell, every atom, all subatomic particles, are energized and permeated by this consciousness, by Mind, Manas.

Human beings are considered, from the theosophical perspective, the planetary apex of Mind Consciousness. However, Mind Consciousness is in process and modern human beings are, so to speak, an unfinished product. The teleological path of Mind Consciousness is a highly structured schemata which encompasses an incredibly vast scope of time well beyond the comprehension of modern human beings. The evolutionary thrust of Mind Consciousness is from total and utter unconsciousness through conscious differentiation and individuation to full conscious awareness of itself, in all its varied and multi-complex forms, as universal, boundless and completely unrestricted consciousness. This vast path of evolution occurs in stages called Rounds or Periods in which are a series of Races or Forms. Currently, Theosophists consider modern Man to be in the 5th Race of the 4th Round. Man achieves total, complete awareness of itself as unbridled universal consciousness in the 7th Race of the 7th Round.

Think of an Olympic race track with 7 lanes. Within each lane are 7 sub-lanes. Imagine a person running one lap in the first sub-lane of the first main lane, and then another lap in the second sub-lane, and then a lap in the third sub-lane. After the 7th sub-lane of the first main lane, they go to the second main lane of the Olympic race track, and go round sub-lane one, then two, then three….up through seven. And then they go into lane 3 and through those races and then lane 4 and through those races and then lane 5 (5th Round) and through those Races (sub-lanes). 6th Round, 7 races. 7th Round, 7 races.

Each race encompasses thousands and thousands of years gradually giving rise to the next. These years are measured in terms of Ages and Eons and Epochs. The term “race” is used in a very general sense of biological “stock.” One of the great problems of conveying esoteric theosophical information is the language and the definition of terms.

Each Round exists for several hundred thousand years, gradually giving rise to the next through series of geologically slow destructions and creations, alterations and mutations. Each new Round (lane) begins when the Race completes its 7th Race (sub-lane). So, in several million years, Mind Consciousness, i.e., Man, will have completed its sojourn through the 7th Race (sub-lane) of this 4th Round (Lane) and begin the 1st Race of the 5th Round; or, to use the race track analogy, Man will then begin with sub-lane one of the fifth lane. We’re currently in the 5th sub-lane of the 4th lane.

The culmination of this grand evolutionary journey is the 7th Race of the 7th Round at which time Mind Consciousness has manifested a material form, ie, bodies, capable of perceiving itself as universal awareness at which time any semblance of individual selfhood is completely dissolved. Modern Man, i.e., human beings, are currently enmeshed in an awareness of division and duality, which makes possible the sense of a distinct conscious self. The awareness of individual selfhood is possible only by contrast to that which is perceived to be “not self.” which comes about through a consciousness of division and duality, i.e., individuality. This is the very nature of this grand 4th Round. The major theme of the 4th Race too is Individuality (i.e., in division and duality). The major theme of the 7th Race is systemic and wholistic (vs. division and duality of the 4th). However, even the 7th Race of the 4th Round is still heavily colored by Individual Mind Consciousness as the entire 4th Round is boxed into the necessary and required phase of Individuation with its associated themes of separation, alienation and conflict. It is not until the 7th Race of the 7th Round that Unified Consciousness has truly and completely flowered, as a feature of humanity, several millions of years hence through innumberable permutations. The personal life we live today, is rooted in Mind Conscousness.

Modern human beings are the manifested form of Man/Manas/Mind in its current expression – 4th Round, 5th Race. According to theosophical thought, simian stock, such as the great apes, are considered “cast off” forms of earlier Mind Consciousness. They are the remnant manifestations from the previous 4th Race of this 4th Round. They are, so to speak, yesterday’s manifestations. That is, modern human beings do not come from apes; rather, apes come from Manas, Mind, as do we, and all sentient beings. According to theosophical thought, and contrary to popular belief, apes actually come from Man. According to theosophists, all material and sentient forms of life are manifestations of Mind, or Manas, or Man. In the1st Race of this 4th Round, mineral form was the apex of this manifestation; in the 2nd Race of this 4th Round, it was plant life and in the 3rd Race, animal life. Mind Consciousness is evolving, adapting and changing its forms of expression as it develops towards what is traditionally referred to as ‘Bliss.’

Modern human beings represent the apex of this Mind Consciousness in the 4th Round, 5th Race. “Human beings,” millions of years hence as Mind Consciousness manifests itself in its 4th Round, 6th Race expression, would look upon modern humans today as we look upon apes.

According to theosophists, Mind Consciousness is only recently entered into the 5th Race of this 4th Round. There continues to be 4th race momentum in the beginning of the 5th race period. The general theme of the 5th Race is a greater emphasis on social and cultural interaction over purely individualistic endeavors. Our dawning recognition of our “global village” is but a superficial precursor to this growing theme. The 6th Race emphasizes service and stewardship while the 7th emphasizes conscious ecological interactions amongst a myriad of interrelated systems. The general themes of each of these Races, and Rounds, can be perceived in operation even today because, ultimately, Mind is a whole system. It is only our current 5th Race 4th Round brain that perceives the world in division and duality, compartments and fragments. But, in truth, consciousness is a wholistic, systemic, ecological, unified field encompassing all the qualities of all the Races and Rounds in much the same way white light contains all colors and a drop of sea water contains the whole ocean.

Mind, Manas, Man is an indestructible consciousness imbibed with universal energy and cosmic intelligence giving rise to myriad forms through eons of time. These forms rise and fall, adapt, change and mutate. Destruction of one form is merely the precursor for the creation of new forms guided by a teleological force striving towards ever increasing whole consciousness, sometimes described as ‘a circle without center.’

At this point, if you got this far, you may be scratching your head and perhaps asking, so what? There is little if any practical benefit from this information. However, it can give support to Plato’s statement, from The Republic (Book X), “No human thing is of serious importance” which perhaps can help you more easily let go of serious yet superficial burdens you may be carrying which in turn can help lighten your load…and that could be a good thing.


 

What Am I Doing Here?

what am I doing here

One of our great psychological needs is meaning in life. Consequently, we often ask ourselves “what am I doing here?” or “why am I here?” However, that’s not a very good question because it leads to philosophical answers that don’t really provide concrete information upon which to act. A better question is “How did I get here?” Now, that question is extremely interesting because if you follow it, you get into biology, anthropology, chemistry, astronomy and physics, to name only a few. It’s not at all an easy question to answer and yet worthy of investigation. A similar question is “Where did I come from?” which to answer also draws upon many fields of knowledge. “Where am I going?” is a complete mystery so there is no use in even asking that question.

The best question, however, is “How shall I act?” The fact is you are here. You may or may not like it here. That really doesn’t matter. The only real question of any merit is “now that I am here, how shall I act?” To answer this question you do not require any knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, etc., etc. You don’t even need to get philosophical. It only requires some degree of self knowledge. The question “how shall I act?” is much more profound and much more readily answerable than is the question “Who am I?” That question, like the “Why am I here?” question only gives rise to speculations and philosophical bantering.

Of course, one may have a lengthy list of how to act; religions are replete with doctrines and codes of behavior. Our society has many rules of conduct. Yet, how many people actually behave in those ways!? How many people “walk the talk?” It’s better to decide to act like a slob and then actually act like a slob than it is to decide to be kind and then be cruel. That aside, the question still remains -one which every single person faces consciously or otherwise: “how shall I act?” To compound the situation, the answer may be very different in different sets of circumstances. Even if we do not consciously ask that question of ourselves, we have made decisions based on that question innumerable times and the behaviors we have enacted have made our life what it is today. If you are unhappy in your life, find your life without meaning or purpose, you can act differently and that itself can change perceptions about yourself and your place in this world.

And for those parents, teachers, coaches and managers who when confronted with a “stupid” behavior in another, ask “why did you do that” – stop asking that question! All you get is rationalizations. Ask instead “How did you decide to act that way” and you’ll get some very interesting responses. And, don’t settle for “I don’t know.” Ask them to take a wild guess. Whatever answer you get is arising out of their mind and is a valid answer.

Despite this information, there still may be a tendency to ask “what am I doing here!?” So, to satisfy that want, here is an answer. A reasonable answer to that question, one which will remain valid all throughout your life is, simply, “learning.” You are here to learn. There is no end to it; everyone does it to some degree or another. It can take place at any location, at any time and under any circumstances. It can take place alone or with others. It can be joyful or painful. It can be at play or at work. It can be serious or fun. You can even say that survival depends upon it; economic survival, political survival, social survival, racial survival….Without learning there is no growth, no progress, no maturing and unless that is taking place, there is stagnation, decay and death.

You’re here to learn; to grow, to progress, to mature. Survival depends upon it. So, the really, really important question is “how do I learn?”