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 If we hold on to ideas, concepts, beliefs and information which is waste, which is outdated, which is not valid….which is not nourishing, it is waste.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?”


 

Advice for Parents: The Ping Pong Strategy

ping pong strategy

Communication between parents and children can often be a power and control dynamic. Parents especially get caught in this kind of situation where the child or adolescent is saying things to which any response by the parent is not effective. For example, the parent might tell the child to clean up her room and she might respond with “no, I don’t have to, you can’t make me.” Any response, even a firm threat of punishment, would only escalate the conflict; the child might respond “go ahead, I don’t care.” And even if the parent does enforce the punishment, it has been a no win situation. The room was not cleaned up, the child forced the hand of the parent into the punishment and nothing was really accomplished.

There is another approach to these verbal sparring matches which can yield a more positive result. I call it the Ping Pong Analogy or the Ping Pong Strategy. It works like this: first you need to understand how the game of ping pong is played, which you probably do. I hit a ball to you, you hit the ball back to me, I then hit it back to you, then you back to me and we try to keep this back and forth volley going.

In the analogy, the ping pong ball represents the spoken word – and the spoken word is the power. So, when a parent says to a child or a teenager “clean your room” or even it it’s stated nicely like “please clean your room” – that is the ping pong ball being served. It represents the parent’s power. When the child responds “no, I don’t have to, you can’t make me” – that is the ping pong ball being hit back and it represents the child’s power. The child fully expects the parent to hit the ping pong ball back to them with a statement like “if you don’t you’ll be punished” or “you’d better or else” or “did you hear what I said!” It doesn’t really matter what is being said as long as something is being said because by saying something the ping pong ball, which represents power, has been sent back to the child who is now in a position to say something else, to hit the ball back again, which feels good because it is using power.

So, what would happen if the parent rather than hitting the ping pong ball back yet again held it? For example, after the child or adolescent says “no, I don’t have to, you can’t make me” the parent says nothing, does nothing. This is not as easy as it sounds because there is tremendous momentum and pressure to respond. But, if the parent does remain silent and shows no visual signs of response, that is, no smiling, frowning, smirking, but just looks at the child without saying anything, the game is all of a sudden changed. The parent is now holding a ping-pong ball that should be sent back. Remember, the ping-pong ball represents words which represent power. So, the parent is now holding the power. And the child wants it back!

As the parent remains silent simply looking at the child, the child will likely say something. The child (or adolescent – or anybody in this position) will send another ping-pong ball over to the parent by saying something like “well!?” or “WHAT!” or “What’s wrong with you” or “Cat got your tongue?” It doesn’t really matter what is said but, again, the parent again says nothing, does not send a ping-pong ball back. Now the parent is holding two ping pong balls! More power. And the child is even more frustrated because they are not getting the response they want, which is for the parent to send back some words, some power, so they can then exert their power by sending another few words back to the parent.

As the parent remains silent and simply observing, the child may say more, sending more words and more of their power over to the parent who again simply remains silent. Soon the child realizes that nothing is going to happen and there is an extended silence. During that period the entire exchange hangs in the air like a mist and it is not uncommon for the child to acquiesce to the original request and say something like “ok! I’ll go clean the room!” and storm off.

Even if the child does not acquiesce, the parent has not only avoided a power struggle but has maintained the upper hand by doing nothing. Following is a transcript segment for a real life scenario:

Parent: John, It’s time to turn off the TV and go finish your homework.

John: I’ll do it later

Parent: No, John, you’ll do it now. Turn off the TV.

John: Ah, come on…

Parent: No

John: You’re such an SOB!

Parent: (silence)

John: (after a moment turns away from the TV and looks at the parent)

Parent: (remains silent but watchful of John)

John: what?

Parent: (remains silent and looking at John)

John: I’ll do it later, I will

Parent: (remains silent and looking at John)

John: (an extended moment of silence – John looks back to the TV and watches for a few moments. He then turns the TV off and goes to his room)

Parent: (remains silent and observing until John is in his room and then returns to the kitchen to finish cleaning up from dinner.)

The issue of name calling is secondary in this scenario. If the parent addressed that issue, the conflict would have escalated and the homework would have been forgotten. Sometimes parents need to choose their battles.

This approach may appear simple but it is often quite difficult for the parent to simply remain silent and watchful without responding to what is being said to them. However, it is a very powerful method of holding the power and certainly worth some practice. Good luck.


Told What To Do

sonoran desert image for told what to do post

Children growing up in a family are often told what to do. You, as a child, and an adolescent, were told what to do, perhaps way more often than necessary. The alternative to be told what to do is being presented with choices. Instead of ‘go clean your room’ it becomes ‘you can choose to clean your room before you play video games for 1 hour, or after. If you choose before, you get 1/2 hour extra.

Being told what to do is very familiar, comfortable. Choices can be troubling, difficult. So, it makes a lot of sense that people, in general, have a tendency towards wanting to be told what to do. It’s what we grew up with. It’s normal. If nobody is around to tell us what to do, we’ll find somebody. Who’s the boss? Who’s the authority? Who’s the parent, the teacher, the bully, the friend, the spouse, the lover, who tells us what to do? Moreover, we internalize others telling us what to do so even if there is nobody around, we let others tell us what to do within our own mind.

A part of us, you know, is animal. We have an animal brain residing underneath our human brain. We have a body, that is animated, ie, animal. We are very socially animated; our sense of self is integrally woven with social interaction from birth to immediate family, to neighborhood, to community, to nation, to planet. The animal part of us does one thing really really well, much better than the human part of us, and that thing is ‘idle.’ Like being in a car, resting, gazing out at the scenery in front, while the engine is idle.

Being idle, animal idle, is often exactly what we have been told not to do. Instead, we are told to do something, anything, other than be animal idle. The upper most part of the human brain is referred to as the frontal neocortex. The activities that go on in this region of the brain are referred to as ‘executive functions.’ Underneath this frontal neocortex are a lot of systems around emotions and existence. Our animal brain is very aligned with existence, much more so than our executive functions.

Existence is not in a rush, and it has no goals; in a sense, it has nowhere to go, and nothing to do. It is existence; always has been present; always will be present. Animal idle is resting in that existence. Human idle is considered lazy; and, as humans, we typically look upon animals resting in the shade, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, as dumb. Of course, we know, intellectually, they are not dumb, they are just animals. Humans are animals, and the animal brain on which rests the executive functions, which are uniquely human, is operative, though atrophied. We’ve been told by the executive functions to do almost anything to avoid being animal idle; these executive functions in the frontal neocortex do have goals, agendas, something to do and somewhere to go. We’ve been told to do so much, so often, that the prospect of animal idle as a very comfortable and healthy state of mind and body would appear preposterous. And yet, perhaps it is that state of mind and body, this state of animal idle, that all humans yearn to reclaim. To be still, quiet, at ease and in comfort with existence.

Read the companion blog post The Bully in the Brain