On the Fake Lines Dividing Our Society Against Itself

February 6, 2017

We The People of the USA are infamously “divided”–in our minds. This division (though beginning in the mind) is expressed in our social relationships. Importantly, this mental division is largely implanted into our minds through our consumption of the mass media.

This American media-driven mental-social division is expressed in the following ways, among others:

  1. rich vs. poor
  2. African-American vs. European-American
  3. liberal vs. conservative
  4. pro-life vs. pro-choice
  5. gay vs. straight
  6. traditional vs. progressive
  7. men vs. women
  8. gun rights vs. gun control
  9. religious vs. secular
  10. urban vs. rural

Amazingly, this division is so defined at present that if someone’s position on only one issue is known, then that person’s position on virtually all other issues can be correctly assumed! This is not natural, normal, or healthy–but neither is the division itself.

The division is a consequence of many factors, including these:

  1. Mass-media promotion of endless ways to divide our society against itself
  2. The inability of people to distinguish their own experiences from propaganda
  3. The (natural and healthy) existence of multiple viewpoints on any matter
  4. The incorrect judgment that there are always only TWO viewpoints on an issue
  5. The incorrect judgment that one’s own viewpoint MUST be right
  6. The incorrect judgment that the (only) other viewpoint MUST be wrong
  7. The unwillingness of individuals to consider their own viewpoint fully and rationally
  8. The unwillingness of individuals to consider other viewpoints fully and rationally
  9. The tendency of “the masses” to abandon reason and “think” emotionally instead
  10. The extreme avoidance of admitting one’s own error
  11. Constant consumption of mass-media programming by people in our society
  12. The (often incorrect) perception of social and peer pressure for a certain view
  13. The belief (and insistence) that others must or should share one’s own viewpoint
  14. The validation and acceptance of the division itself
  15. The media-creation of certain viewpoints that are not real

The solutions to these problems lie in the mind of each person, but history shows that the great majority of people are simply unable and/or unwilling to correct these errors within themselves. I can’t fix them, but I can help to dispel these myths in and among people close to me (if they care to).

This is my purpose here. With that, let’s address the problem directly, as I see it.

The mass (corporate news and entertainment) media include (basically in order of importance/influence) TV programming, newspapers, Hollywood movies, magazines, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and radio programming. Despite theories about public “demand,” producers of these “information sources” decide for themselves what you and I will consume, within certain parameters.

Many of our viewpoints are the viewpoints that mass-media producers want us to have, not the ones we would have without their influence.

The mass media instigate division by reporting on it (as news), or by portraying it in a fictional setting (as entertainment). Then they fan the flames of division by defining a “line” between two (and only two) opposing viewpoints. We The People, not suspecting this sort of control, simply 1) accept the division, 2) choose one of the two opposing camps, and 3) join in the media-created division.

Folks, have we not figured out yet that the mass media are not our friends? Why do we as a society recognize the media as a problem and then continue to believe what they say?

To quote Terence McKenna,

“This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking.”

In my observation, neither side of a fake mental-social division is completely right–and neither is completely wrong, either. Both sides of each issue are partly right and partly wrong. Both sides are wrong for the black-and-white (lack of) thinking that solidifies the division.

Most importantly, neither side of the media-created division has the answer(s) on which it claims to have the monopoly.

This situation has brought great harm to the social fabric of our country, and it threatens to cause further confusion, chaos, and destruction between and among us if we don’t figure out what’s happening and how to stop it in our own lives.

I offer a very simple solution:

If people would stop consuming (and believing) the divisive propaganda that the mass media endlessly promote, and if they would instead rely on their own study and experience to guide them, then they could learn for themselves what’s “right” with regard to any “issue”–and to get along with people who disagree with their own viewpoints.

That one bold-faced paragraph, if understood and put into action, could by itself solve the majority of social problems in the United States.

Of course, nothing guarantees that another person will also be willing to “get along.” We simply can’t control other people…but trying to control other people is a symptom of what’s wrong in the first place. We can only control ourselves.

Unfortunately, the Powers That Be (of which the media are only a part) have anticipated this solution, and have injected our society with a powerful antidote to it:

We believe that truth is relative, everything is up for debate, and no real answers can ever be found anyway, so we might as well just not judge (that is, not use our brains), follow the media hype, be nice to everybody, and treat every person and idea as “equal” like they tell us to.

What the media don’t tell us is that this is a road to destruction, but they don’t seem to care about that anyway. In fact, they seem to promote it at every turn.

Written on February 17, 2014, and freshly edited on February 5, 2017.

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Five Virtues and Feeling Fully

December 30, 2011

Our emotions indicate our alignment with our inner being.  When we feel good, we’re thinking or doing something right (we’re in alignment).  When we feel bad, we’re thinking or doing something wrong (we’re out of alignment).

Is this absolute?  Is happy always good, is angry always worse, and is sad always even worse? Is not our awareness of our emotional state, and our will to act in accordance with our understanding of it, more important than the simple pleasure-or-pain reaction of the flesh to inner alignment, which emotion is?

Sometimes negative emotion is appropriate to a situation, and anger or grief is the correct response, in the moment—but not forever. It’s appropriate, then, to feel emotion completely and express it to its completion, at which time the emotional state automatically returns to its “normal,” default positive state.

That is how to feel good, and how to be in alignment with one’s inner being:express the negative emotions as the experiences that conjure them are encountered.

We are a storehouse of past experience, and we continually encounter present experiences that “activate” parts of our being that carry the impression of those past experiences. Much of our “job” here—much of our purpose as currently-living human beings—is to discharge this burden of negative imprints so that we don’t pass them on to others through the process of harm.

Harm and its negative effects are like a cancer that has infected the human species, and which it is our purpose to find and eradicate within ourselves. This takes much strengthawarenesscourage, insight, and honesty to accomplish. The better we live these five “virtues,” the more we come into alignment with Who We Really Are, and the more we are (and do) “good” in the world:

Strength is the willingness and ability to endure unpleasantness.

Awareness is breadth and depth of knowledge, consciousness, and understanding.

Courage is the willingness and ability to endure fear.

Insight is inner awareness.

Honesty is the willingness to accept reality, rather than overlooking, ignoring, or lying about it.

It seems that the best way to feel better is to feel what you are feeling, fully; to accept that you feel that way; to understand that it’s okay to feel it in this moment; and to express (and thereby release) the negative emotions that present experience arouses from the inner impressions of past experience.

And what could feel better than feeling how you really feel, instead of covering it up?

(written in 2009)


Reflections on a Year of Suffering

December 29, 2011

A year ago my marriage crumbled very suddenly and I started a year (so far) of asking why.

It’s taken me a year to realize that the Universe has given me exactly what I was asking for. I already had a good marriage, a wife who loved me, a strong relationship with my kids, a business I enjoyed, and a fresh spirituality that connected me in an intimate way with the Mind of the Universe.

Having all these things, and being satisfied, I asked for understanding. I asked for wisdom. I asked for growth. Those things came through trials, suffering, and reaching inward to find the inner strength to overcome my outer circumstances.

The Universe, in Its infinite Love for me, had granted my wish. It’s like a comic tragedy:  we almost never seem to understand the price we must pay for the valuable things we seek. There is always a trade; there is always a balance—or so it seems to me.

I asked and the Universe gave. Just like the Master promised. If I had known the price of my wish, I would not have wanted it. But I am a function of the Universe myself, and that Guide always knows best. Always. How do you suppose the desire for wisdom appeared in me in the first place?

My heart is better now. It has ached, broken, healed, and expanded. Now it radiates more love than before, without trying to pick flowers instead of smell them, so to speak. Now it encompasses more, enabling me to see more love and goodness in the world, people, creatures, and circumstances around me. My new heart allows me to enjoy without taking, to preserve life and freedom instead of trying to keep it for myself.

Frankly, that lesson is worth a very great price, and I am thankful that the Universe has blessed me with the measure of strength that I needed so I could learn the lessons I wanted so much to be taught.

In this moment, I don’t believe that being “happy” at all costs is the most important thing in each moment. I believe that the pains of life are a necessary part of learning to create our own happiness, despite circumstances.

Acceptance of all circumstances seems to be a key to happiness.

Acceptance of circumstances means harmonizing with the Universe.

The key to harmony is to not see self as separate from the Universe.

The answer is self-awareness: attention to the inner world.

I love my life, and I love the circumstances and turns of events and relationships and personal connections and reflections and interactions that occur and show me that this web of fabric of life and existence is a unified, united, conscious Whole.

Why do I doubt? Why do I turn away from Truth, even after It proves Itself to me, repeatedly, in my experience? I have a powerful and old, deeply-ingrained wrong idea about the current situation that I haven’t yet located. I’m very close, though!

The solution seems to be to face my fears and discomforts by placing them directly in my Path and enduring them with focused attention. I feel so powerful!

The powerful “me” is steadily growing, strengthening, and becoming the dominant part of my being. I like that!

(written in 2009)


Phlegm and Negativity

December 24, 2011

Phlegm is not a part of who you are—but you have some, don’t you? We all do. A certain small amount might even be considered healthy. Sometimes we have more phlegm, sometimes less. We tend to have more when we’re sick, or if the air is filthy. But none of us mistake our phlegm for who we are.

Yes, I know, phlegm is gross. But it’s important to understand.

Often, conditions like “allergies,” which mimic crying in their symptoms (teary eyes, runny nose, phlegm, etc.) are not caused by our environment, but by unexpressed negative emotion within us, which can be triggered by an environmental condition. Whatever emotion we do not express at the time we feel it (from day one!) remains within us—until we release it. If we don’t, it releases itself—through conditions like “allergies,” sinus infections, bronchitis, and many others. The environment (including pathogens) can trigger these conditions, but the inner cause remains.

In general, emotional health = physical health.

Imagine meeting someone who is sick and deciding, “I don’t like that person. He has way too much phlegm!” Would this be fair? Not even “fair”—would this becorrect? Would we be right in doing so, or would we be making a mistake in judgment?

Negativity is like phlegm. It’s so much like phlegm that releasing negativity on an emotional level almost equals releasing phlegm (and other fluids, like tears, sweat, and saliva) on a physical level. Let me repeat that: (emotional) negativity corresponds to (physical) phlegm! Phlegm is literally a physical manifestation of an emotional problem. Have you ever gotten sick with a cold or “allergies” at a time when you were enduring a lot of “stress” (negative emotion)? I have.

I’m not saying that all phlegm is because of negative emotion. For example, if it’s cold outside, my nose tends to run. If I work around a lot of dust, I tend to cough. I’m saying that in the same way that we produce phlegm in response to cold or dust, we also produce it in response to emotional irritants and negativity.

We can cry out (emotional) negativity in the same way that we cough up dust to get out (physical) irritants! Have you ever cried so hard that you cough? That’s a very good sign of release. Some religious traditions say that demons come out through coughing or vomiting when they leave the body. Indeed, is there a difference? Negativity is negativity, in my view.

Negativity is emotional sickness, in the same way that phlegm is physical sickness. To judge someone based on his negativity is like judging a man with a cough or runny nose—because he has a cough or runny nose.

While considering this, though, it’s important to understand that a man who is in negativity is contagious in the same way that a man who has a cold is contagious. We can still suffer, ourselves, from the effects of his sickness while he is sick—the sickness can spread to us. When negativity is gone, though (like when a cold is over), he is well again. Negativity, when it leaves us, goes with a release of phlegm, taking the emotional sickness with it.

Negativity is no more a part of who we are than phlegm is. It only afflicts us when we are sick with it, and only until we get well again.

(written in 2009)


Surrender and Destiny: The Will of God and the Flow of Life

December 23, 2011

D. Vader: “Luke, come to the Dark Side. It is your destiny!”

L. Skywalker: “You don’t know shit, Dad!”

We are all headed inexorably toward our destiny, like water returning to the sea.

Destiny does not mean living up to our potential. We all have untapped potential that we never uncover and use to its fullest possibility; if our destiny depended on doing so, none of us would fulfill it.

Destiny means living out the lives that, from our limited perspective, Life seems to have “planned” for us.

Here are a few possible destinies:

  • raising a future President of the United States
  • leading a revolution
  • dying of alcoholism at a young age
  • writing a series of books about young wizards
  • running over your wife’s cat with a lawnmower
  • making national news because you died in a funny way
  • watching 273 NASCAR races on TV and dying of diabetes
  • winning the Heisman trophy
  • accidentally blinding your child in a fishing accident
  • getting married (and divorced) eight times

In other words, your destiny is whatever will happen in your lifetime. You just don’t know what it is yet!

Whatever we do, whatever we think, however we plan and execute our lives, all of us fulfill our destinies every day, in every moment. At the same time, to a large extent, we choose our own destinies. This is yet another beautiful paradox of Life.

We can kick and fight and scream against the flow of events and experiences in our lives—and if that’s what happens, it is our destiny. On the other hand, we can learn to harmonize ourselves—meaning, primarily, our thoughts—with the flow of Life, accepting and learning from events and experiences instead of fighting them.

If this is the path we choose to take, you guessed it! This, too, is our destiny.

The path of acceptance and learning is the path that leads to peace, enjoyment, and what we call “happiness.” It is the path of surrendering our limited ego-desires to the will of what many people call “God.” The will of “God” is the flow of Life. To this flow we must surrender ourselves. When we do, the Universe starts to harmonize Itself with us. Weird.

Remember, though: we’re all part of the Universe!

Paradoxically (of course!), this path of surrender does not mean that we should resign ourselves to whatever comes our way. If a lion is about to devour you, you do not have to become his next meal! Surrender means learning to understand the way the world works, and what our place is with regard to every thing-else that exists, so that we think, feel, and act rightly—without regret.

Surrender is a process, not an event. It means becoming wise and rising above the things that happen to us, one at a time. This wisdom comes as we realize the nature of Nature, Life, and the Universe.  It comes when we see that we truly are here for a reason, that there is purpose to our individual existence, and that our eventual happiness (perhaps not until beyond this present lifetime) is certain.

This understanding brings us happiness NOW.

It also allows us to let go of our attachments to people, experiences, ideas, and so on (in other words, the dead past or the imagined future), so that we can move on and begin to live better, happier lives.

We are animated by Spirit Itself, to which we are continually nudged from within and drawn from without, by way of the very Universe that so often seems so cruel and unfair. With this understanding, we can relax and let our destiny unfold. As a wild pig once said, Hakuna matata!

(written in 2009)


Relief Through Changed Circumstances

December 21, 2011

At the time of this writing, in January 2009, I had been living in the home my now-ex-wife and I shared.  She had moved out—to live an hour away—two months before.  Just before writing this, I had decided to find my own living space.  —Ven

Recently, I’ve been able to get out of my previous mindset of focusing on things I could not control. I got introspective for a couple of days. I moved a lot of my stuff out of my house (where my wife still has her stuff, and where she is able to drop by whenever she pleases) and into my camper at my place of business on the river. I’ve been staying here most nights, in my own space.

This has been a great relief to me.

That change of physical circumstances was part of the mental process of change that hit full steam last weekend. Changing my living situation was essential because I recognized the importance of my surroundings and their effect on my mental and emotional state. I also saw that being at the house was affecting me negatively, and I wanted to separate myself from it.

Since I’ve been at the camper, I’ve been able to drop my fear of moving on from the situation and I’ve moved into a new and fresher way of being. I’ve mostly occupied myself with resting, re-centering, recharging, and examining my previous experiences to see the common thread in my life, in order to determine the general direction/flow of my interests, desires, and activities.

It feels like being in a cocoon.

The result of giving up on my analysis of the situation and my clinging to it was a mental freedom that has been very peaceful for me. In the meantime, as part of evaluating my past experience and identifying the general trends of my interests, I’ve picked up a new direction in which to focus my attention. I’m exploring that new way of seeing things, which is really only a synthesis of everything I’ve already figured out about life on my own.

This is all new to me, and at the same time it’s very comfortable and exciting because I feel like I’m aligning with the purpose of my inner being. It was my “next step” a long time ago, and I’ve only been sidetracked from it by life experiences that I didn’t know how to handle at the time.

I’ve been describing how I got “here.” So, what is “here”?

I’m harmonizing with the Divine Will (which is also my own will, from my innermost self) by understanding better what life is all about. I’m letting go of past experience and future expectation and enjoying the ride. I’m learning methods of understanding my own intentions and putting them into practice. In short, I’ve realized that my “happiness” means aligning myself with the flow of the Universe. I’m learning to do that, instead of trying to carve my own flow out of it. There doesn’t have to be a difference!

And I see incredible new possibilities and experiences coming into being because of this change.

(written in 2009)


Happiness?

December 20, 2011

A wise person asked me recently why I think we are here, as humans—alive, in this physical world. I was surprised that I had to think about my response. I was already so shaken by the conversation up to that point that I had to sift through mental “rubble” to find a response.

“To be happy” was the agreed-upon answer to that question. But life has me examining every particle and detail about my view of myself, relationships, and the world. “Happiness” and “why we’re here” are in a part of my self-concept that I have temporarily dismantled for cleaning and repair.

This is because, in my own experience, I’ve found it impossible to be happy all the time! If something is impossible, how can it be our reason for existence? But I’m willing to question anything. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what “happiness” is.

I’m certainly not “there” yet, wherever that is. (Intuition tells me it’s “here”!)

We all have our own perspectives, and none of us (or very, very few of us) see our inner and outer worlds with true clarity. It seems to me that when we can see with perfect clarity, then—and only then—can we say that we are truly happy.

Happiness is on a scale, though, like a ruler or a thermometer or anything else. All emotion is, as it were, on this scale, with happiness at or near the top.

I’m going to go out on a limb and define “happiness” as enjoyment of the present moment. In other words, in a happy moment we don’t drag our past into the present and we don’t preoccupy ourselves with an imagined future.

But, as I said, I don’t think it’s possible to be happy, by this definition, all the time.

Why?

We have all been harmed in life. Harm tends to cause negative emotion—particularly when we didn’t fully express the natural, normal, and healthy negative response to the harm when it happened. (Like when our parents made us stop crying when we were little.)

If we don’t express negative emotion, it remains within our being, where it lurks among the unconscious part of our mind that corresponds to the 95% of our brains that we don’t consciously use. This negative emotion then takes over the conscious 5% when activated—by either an inner or an outer stimulus that the mind/brain recognizes as similar to the conditions that produced the negative emotion the first time we felt it.

(The late spiritual giant OSHO invented “dynamic meditation” as a way for modern people to express this negative emotion because he recognized that traditional spiritual techniques won’t work if unexpressed negative emotion is in the way.)

We cannot be happy and feel negative emotion at the same time, according to the previous definition. Negative emotion is not “enjoyable,” in my experience. Releasing it sure is, though!

We also cannot entertain wrong thoughts and feel happy at the same time, except temporarily. An example of this temporary “happiness” would be the “happy” feeling some people get when their favorite football team makes a touchdown. These people do not feel “happy” when the other team makes a touchdown, according to my definition. In both cases, though, the person is in the present moment!

Maybe I don’t know what happiness is. Maybe happiness is just being in the present moment, whether it’s enjoyable or not—not trying to escape it to the remembered past or the imagined future, but just being fully present, here, now, no matter what! Maybe this is the “letting go” that frees us from our mental prison, like the one from which I’m writing right now.

“Man, what a great game!” I’ve heard this expression many times after someone has watched a football or baseball game with high drama, where there was much emotion, excitement, and even disappointment in the game. It can be a “great game” even if the favorite team loses.

Maybe I’m learning something here.


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