Nationalism and Levels of Identification

February 26th, 2006

Consciousness expands from being an infant through different identifications with social groups. The highest level on average is the national level. We identify with our family, our neighborhood, our state, our nation. Why not our world and beyond?

When survival of the team or family depends on loyalty, it is important that we are able to identify with that level. Our survival at this point is becoming more and more dependant on a world view. There are views beyond the world view, but the world view would be the next meaningful level of identification.

At the base of this identification is the ego clinging to an idea about itself. The problem starts when we let that identification get so deep that we make choices that are against our values. Nations that go to war would be potentially the greatest example of this. How does taking human life become so easily justified during war? It does because it falls under the umbrella of protecting a nation. Protecting the idea of “us”. But there is only “us” in a world view. There is no “them”.

Nations often fight because they are lost in value systems that are out of sync. If we were able to widen our level of identification to a world view, we would grow past many, if not all, of our conflicts.

Do we gain anything, or lose anything by identifying with different levels of social structure? Is it better to identify with a neighborhood by being in a gang, or a city by being proud to be from that place, or a nation, or the world? There are less people to fight, less outsiders as we widen our identification.

The next view beyond world view would be a universal view, or a unified view. I only mention this to say that we are not done once we’re at the world view.

We use these levels of identification to grow. We expand as we move from one view of our group to the next wider view. That said, what would change if we, as individuals, started to identify with a world view, instead of a national view?

Show Music: At Home And Unaffected by Decomposure

Referenced: Bill Hicks, Ken Wilber

The Beauty of an Itch

February 19th, 2006

In this talk we widened the definition of an itch to include not only physical itches, but also emotional and mental bothers as well.

How can an itch be beautiful? We described actually enjoying an itch. Diving into the feeling without judgment allows us to experience itches in a different way. Energy then actually becomes literally beautiful.

Another way to see the beauty in an itch is to realize that they are the largest anchor there is. We use bothers, and itches as reminders to bring our attention back to the moment, back to our breath.

We don’t want to be itch free, we want to be itch proof. The itches don’t stop coming, so being itch free is unrealistic. But we can learn to be itch proof. We can be strong, and fearless. We can learn to sit through bothers.

Itches actually become the beauty of life. To start, we need to become aware of what we sit through now and what we run from. We need to become honest with ourselves about what moves us around.

Itch/scratch is the iconic representation of pleasure and pain. The immediate urge to “scratch,” or the rushed push to fix a “problem” is one of our most limiting qualities. The itch is a bother and we want it gone. That very behavior, in its many facets, is our core problem.

We need to learn to become awake when things bother or itch us. Introduction to anchors was one easy way of staying connected, but the biggest anchor is the itch itself. We should learn to deal with itches, bothers, and problems rather than run from them.

We can and should scratch an itch when our attention should be elsewhere, like a conversation. Just try to be mindful when we do. But while we should be kind with ourselves, we can also be honest and realize that as we are bothered to scratch we are at times asleep. We can learn, “Oh, maybe I should have watched that itch for a bit. Maybe I could have learned from that.” We will see as we become more honest with ourselves that we are at different times more asleep than we thought.

Show music: Consolidated Mojo by Billy Boy Arnold

Using Anchors

February 12th, 2006

What are anchors? The dictionary defines an anchor as something that is the source of security or stability. I’m discussing using things that occur in the world as reminders to bring your attention back to the moment, or back to awareness.

Examples of anchors are things like:
    Going through doorways.
    When we walk somewhere.
    When we listen to people.

Why use anchors? It is a way to bring stillness into the everyday experience. Many people learn to meditate on a seat, but have difficulty bringing that peace into the world they live in. Using anchors is the beginning of that practice.

Stillness is available anytime. Use anchors to learn that truth.

To Think or Not to Think

February 5th, 2006

When is it okay to think?

When something makes you angry, there are two healthy ways to deal with it. You can become still, or you can investigate the situation using your mind. So at what point should you use your mind or thoughts to work with a situation? You should use your mind when you are aware you are using your mind.

What I am trying to convey is that thought is okay, it just needs to be conscious thought. So what is conscious thought? Thought that sweeps us away into a busy mind is an example of unconscious thought. Working out a problem, finding patterns, working with logic, setting appropriate boundaries on certain levels, using judgment to discern things are all good uses of the mind, as long as we are aware we are doing it.

Challenges will not stop. Neither will “good” and “bad” emotions, feelings, situations, etc. When we change, the world still comes, but we can deal with the world differently. By being detached from the ego, we can free ourselves of being upset that we are sad. So sadness doesn’t stop. Instead, we become okay with sadness.

Depending on how deeply in the world I’m going to live, the more things tend to define me. And hence, the more I need to protect. Be aware of what you are protecting. Be aware of what you are attached to.

Two sides of being alive can be described as thinking/experiencing, or thinking/being, or mind/body. Philosophers have discussed mind and body for ages. The goal is to have mind and body in the same place (here) at the same time (now). We could call the act of accomplishing that a higher state of being.

We don’t want to avoid things through meditation. The act of dropping thought is used to learn about thinking, and to show that thinking isn’t all there is. It is not used to abandon thought entirely. Krishnamurti’s book “Think On These Things” was mentioned to point that out. It was also mentioned that Krishnamurti often suggests “looking at things deeply” which implies using thought.

To sum up, it is okay to think when you are aware you are thinking. Thinking is a tool, and we need to learn to use it as such.

Referenced: Krishnamurti