operating levels: “when is anyone doing their best?”

I was recently involved in a conversation about someone and whether or not they were “doing their best,” that is, the person I was talking to was convinced the person in question was not doing their best and that this was somehow “bad.” Although “bad” was not terminology used in our discussion, the implication was obvious and I was inclined to share this post.

I believe it was Toni Robbins in his book “Awaken the Giant Within,” who said that “everyone does their best.” He further said that people are like calculators who only make mistakes when they have bad inputs, so if you push 2 + 2 =, you will always get 4, but if you hold down the 3 key while pushing 2 + 2 =, you will get something else.

In my forthcoming book, I have a discussion of what I call “operating levels.” Everyone has 2 operating levels:
1-their comfort operating level, (COL) and
2-their true operating level (TOL).
Their COL represents their current, practical ability at a given time, and their TOL is their potential ability, which can be looked at as God-given, but is also affected by their accumulated growth and karma from past lives. In any event, their TOL is determined at conception (their creative event, or when they were created) and their COL is a function of their TOL and their way of being (WOB).

WOB will be described in detail in an upcoming post on the “what and where-when context,” but essentially, it’s a construct in consciousness, a set of experiences and associated perceptions and attitudes, that affects how people relate to themselves and the world around them. If a person had (-) (negative, destructive) experiences, their WOB is (-). If they had (+) (positive, creative/nurturing) experiences, their WOB is (+). If their WOB is (+), they tend to project (+) energy into the world and at themselves, and if their WOB is (-), they tend to direct (-) energy out into the world and at themselves.

Someone with a (-) WOB has a COL far less than their TOL and a person with a (+) WOB has a COL closer to their TOL or only somewhat less than their TOL. Someone who is “actualized,” as Maslow described, has a COL = TOL. This is someone who is doing their potential best. A person with a COL < TOL is doing their practical best, but not their potential best, i.e. they are not living up to their potential. I have determined that knowledge and will, which are a function of ego, are not enough to determine behavior consistently over time. A person’s WOB (interpreted loosely as their experiences) is a far more reliable predictor of behavior over time. (See the post on the difference between knowledge and experience.) Of course, we are all unique at the selfish level (selfish means “of the self,” not “someone who doesn’t share”) and this uniqueness affects our behavior too.

The point is that most of us are doing our best (practical or COL) and not doing our best (potential or TOL). In order to engage our TOL and do our potential best, we must engage the growth process. This involves 1-being still inside and aware, (ego still and aware) 2-asking the right questions, and 3-living the questions until the answers present themselves, and we will 4-automatically behave accordingly. Behaving accordingly may involve slight application of ego (ego being active). Ego is part awareness and part will. (See full description in upcoming post on what, where, when context.) This slight application of ego involves ego 1-practicing awareness and stillness, and asking questions, and 2-focusing on habit and necessity. Practicing awareness and stillness is practicing watching what is going on inside and outside, while not judge-attaching to any realities. (There will be a more complete explanation in the what, where, when post.) This means being fully aware of one’s thoughts, feelings and impulses and what energies are affecting one, while not being attached to outcomes, or judging things as “good” or “bad.” Focusing on habit and necessity is realizing that these two things are major drivers of behavior and watching them and gently pushing to create (+) habits while gently pushing to resolve what’s necessary for you, but in a (+) fashion. Necessity is essentially our subjugation to pleasure and pain on a few levels and how this affects our behavior. We seek pleasure and seek to avoid pain. This is quite simple, but there are a few levels to our being and different types of pleasure and pain on these levels. There are other posts that explain this further, but necessity is primarily determined by selfish wants and needs, (described in another post) and physiological impulses like: 1-maintaining a constant body temperature within a specific range, 2-sexual release, 3-food, and 4-sleep.

So ego (awareness and will) has a role, which is to push gently towards (+) habits and the resolution of necessity in a (+) way. This means “you” (ego) “have to try” in some form. You have to be engaged in life. On one hand, you don’t let go completely as if you were a ping-pong ball, bouncing around through life. On the other hand, you don’t (can’t) control everything as if you were playing a game of chess, where you know all the factors and are rationally directing the outcome. This is a fairly tricky concept to grasp. I can hint around at it. The best analogy I can derive is that of sailing. Ego’s role is akin to a sailor. A sailor learns to use the sails, how to rig them, how to use the rudder, and most importantly, how to use the wind, currents and weather. The sailor must be very skilled if he wants to come back from the sea safely. But he cannot control the wind, currents or weather. These he must learn about and follow. For the sake of this analogy, let’s assume God is the wind, and currents, and let’s also say the sailor must do his best to go where the wind takes him (where God guides him). So on the one hand, there is something “you” (ego) must do, and on the other hand, there are things you are unable to do. Further, if you try and do the wrong things, or relate in the wrong way, you will create immediate and/or future difficulty and pain for yourself. There is an aspect of faith involved here. In another post, (meaning of life) I outlined my ideas as to why we are “here” or what the meaning of life is. If you read that, you may see that God would never allow us to “prove” his/her/it’s existence scientifically, but would always require a choice to have faith in him/her/it. This faith is a requirement for anyone who intends to attain enlightenment, or outgrow ego. The faith aspect of this discussion applies here because to follow God, that is, to refrain from taking control rationally of your life as if you’re playing a chess game, requires faith, or a confidence in God’s guidance. (Faith will be more fully defined in an upcoming post. Faith differs from belief.) Faith also implies an openness, to where God directs you or what God implores you to do. God can be found beyond the edges of the universe (or multiverse?) and can be found in the deepest recesses of your heart. (Further discussion on this in the what, where-when context post) So being faithful or open to God’s guidance is very similar to listening to your heart and being open to whatever is in your heart or where your heart guides you.

Ego gently pushing or “trying” is largely only effective when someone already has perceptions and attitudes that support the “desired” behavior. For instance; if someone really wants to lose weight and believes they can, and accepts themselves as they are, and doesn’t have any perceptions/attitudes that support them being overweight, then they can use the application of ego to break certain habits that support overweight-ness and instill others that support leanness. However, their ego will be useless to overcome the perceptions/attitudes that support obesity. Often times, obese people have invested in the obesity and believe it’s who they are to some degree. They may feel and think they don’t deserve or aren’t capable of, success or friends or whatever meaning they assign to being lean. They may have a very low perception/attitude of their worth, and/or perceive that food and eating is a primary way of feeling good about themselves. There may be any number of experiences they had when they were in developmental years and supporting ones after that, which created this relationship with food and a self image that includes them being obese. This person will not benefit from “willfully trying to change habits,” in fact, this may make them feel worse as they fail once more. They need much more work. They must go much deeper. Knowledge and will can help engage specific behaviors, but only when other, more significant things are already present.

So, it may be beneficial to realize that when you see someone behaving in a way that is destructive to them, they may see mentally what they’re doing wrong, but they are incapable of changing their behavior solely with that knowledge and the application of their will. When any of us behave, our behavior does not occur by accident or in a vaccum. It occurs due to perceptions and attitudes we hold in conciousness (our heart-mind), which are there due to experiences we had during our developmental years (conception to adolescence).

This subject deserves a fuller treatment, but the main point is that 1-most people are not practically capable of living up to their potential, and that 2-a person’s behavior is not a function of knowledge and will, it is a function of a complex process that begins with life energy coming from God, which is then given a unique spin at the selfish level (selfish=of the self; self is what others refer to as spirit or soul), then travels through consciousness via a construct called a WOB, and then is accordingly reflected back by ego and projected out by ego. Self has wants and needs, (explained in another post, but a want is an impulse towards pleasure and a need is an impulse away from pain) and these wants/needs create necessities or “must have’s” or “must do’s” which influence the flow of the aforementioned energy. (Self is what experiences pleasure and pain.) To expect ego (awareness and will) to force a behavior consistently over time is unrealistic. Only the most superficial behaviors can be reliably produced this way. Truly, most of us don’t realize that we do what we do, largely because of experiences we’ve had, and due to the corresponding perceptions and attitudes we hold.

For example, I had a motorcycle that I used to love to zip around on. People told me it was dangerous and I “knew” that, but I was enjoying it too much to stop and my perception was that I was a decent driver and my attitude was that I felt safe. One day, I crested a hill on a country road and a row of cars went by and I felt the force of the air pressure as they went by. It occurred to me that if they crossed the line, I would be road pizza and this was enough for me. I never rode the bike again and sold it several weeks later. I realized it didn’t matter how good a driver I was; someone could kill me by doing something stupid. If you told me before, “it’s dangerous, you shouldn’t ride,” that would not have been enough for me to stop. But as soon as I had an experience, with the corresponding perceptions and attitudes, my behavior reflected this.

As a matter of growth, what to do with the information in this post is to: 1-realize your potential is not limitless, but you probably aren’t living up to it, 2-engage the growth process and you may find an untapped reservoir of energy and motivation, and find yourself behaving in new ways that are more satisfying and gratifying (Needs are satisfied; wants are gratified.) as you bring COL closer to TOL, and 3-also realize that other people’s behavior is not as simple as them “knowing what they should do” and “doing it.”

I believe when your COL = TOL, this is supremely satisfying/gratifying; this is what Maslow called “self actualization.” You may find you’re not outstanding in certain areas (impossible to be so in all areas), but you will not be bothered by this.

Clearly, this post can be expanded upon, and maybe I will later. Some expansion will happen in the upcoming post on the “what, where-when context.” I hope this makes some sense, and apologize for the lack of any editing. I do these posts on my blackberry. Thanks for reading; I welcome comments.

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Need to influence others?

Influencing others is merely influencing their behavior. This may be as a parent, a manager, a salesman, a member of a team, a romantic partner, etc. To influence them, you need to get them to tell you what’s important to them and show them how you can help them to realize it.

Remember, so many interactions in life are actually negotiations, even if money isn’t involved. Read up on the difference between “positional bargaining” and “principled negotiating,” as outlined in the Harvard Negotiation Project and the book “Getting to Yes” by Fisher, Ury, and Patton. Essentially, this work defines positional bargaining as 1) seeking to get what you want without concern for what the other party wants, 2) taking a position and bargaining from that position. For example, you’re buying a car and you tell the salesman “I’ll give you $25,000.” The salesman in turn says “I need at least $27,000.” You both are taking positions. Maybe you want the car for $26k or $25k, but either way, you’ve taken a position. Principled negotiation is characterized by 1) seeking a resolution that benefits both parties, and 2) discussing the interests and concerns both parties have and crafting a solution accordingly. In the example above, you might say “I just want to make sure I don’t get ripped off and want a decent deal.” The salesman might say, “I just want to make some money on the car.” So you split the difference and go with $26,000. This is an overly simplistic example of principled negotiation.

Here’s a better one. Let’s say your and your wife are planning a vacation; she suggests the beach, and you want to go to the mountains. Instead of arguing back and forth, and trying to get each other to agree to your positions, you might say “My interest is in keeping the cost of the vacation reasonable and in not having a hectic time.” You then ask her, “What are you interested or concerned about regarding the vacation?” She might say, “I want to be somewhere I can keep my eye on the kids and want to be able to lay out and get some sun.” Considering both your interests and concerns, you both might realize that a cabin on a lake in the mountains will work. Assuming it’s cheaper than the beach, has a beach your wife can lay out on and get some sun, and she feels comfortable that the kids will be in front of her playing in the water. This is just a quick and dirty example, but it get’s to the gist of what is covered in the book. The main issue is to not jump to an immediate idea of what the solution should be (don’t take a position) and to take an interest in what the other person wants, share what you want, and be open to some compromise.

In any situation, if you don’t know what the other person wants and needs, you have nothing. Even if you have authority over them, you have no actual influence beyond the scope of your control. To alter their behavior when you aren’t looking or when you can’t measure their results, you must have an influence. To get the most out of people, you must have an influence. To help others do their best, you must have an influence. To have an influence, you must avoid taking a “position” and learn to create win-win outcomes where you actually care what the other person wants and needs. This involves finding out what they want and need and telling them what you want and need and crafting a solution that best resolves the wants and needs of both parties. This means you both need to be ready to compromise. Further, I’ve heard of others saying they would rather be feared than liked. This won’t work in everyday life, e.g. at work, at home, etc., in a sustainable way and is immoral anyway.

In any event, if you want to be more effective with others, and getting what you want, practice the three lessons below. Also practice them if you want to help others to be “happy.”

Practice these things in social and business conversations:

1) Make sure at the end of every conversation you have spoken less than the other person-

2) Find out three things that are important to the people you talk to- (not the obvious ones)

3) Ask questions even when a statement would do- (e.g. Change “I want to go to the beach,” to “Would the beach be fun?”)

These three practices will definitely increase the scope of your influence over others.

PRACTICE #1 Ever heard the expression, “when you keep your pie-hole shut, you instantly become more interesting?” More than this, after two people have spoken, the one who has spoken least has more power. This is because generally people love to talk about themselves. They are their favorite subject. This is not to say people are egotistical (egocentric), although they may be, it’s to say that we all enjoy sharing things about ourselves and feeling listened to and affirmed by others. Introverts and extraverts (as defined and described by Carl Jung) have a different style of talking about themselves, and this is the subject of another post, but everyone enjoys the feeling of sharing with people, feeling heard and understood/appreciated. What happens is, when someone shares with you this way, they like you. After the conversation, they will like you. It’s impossible for this not to happen. So listen more than you talk! Besides, you learn about others this way and can help them get what they want. If you can do this, they will truly like you and try and return the favor. Listening gives you influence. When you’ve finished a conversation with someone, make sure they’ve spoken more than you have.

PRACTICE #2 Find out what drives other people. Find out what they dream about. What they want and need. If you can help them get these things, they will seriously like you. There’s a saying about getting success by helping others be successful. Also, there’s the old saying, “what goes around comes around.” It’s karma. Take an interest in people and ask them about themselves. Try and find out more than the obvious things. Everyone loves their kids. Asking about this is fine and demonstrates you care, but try and find out the more personal things. I don’t mean inappropriate questions, I just mean, making it a practice to find out about others. Take an interest in them. Then look for chances to help them out. This will give you influence. So when you’re talking with others, practice finding out three non-superficial things they are interested in or concerned about.

PRACTICE #3 I’ve already got a post on the power of questions. But questions are a better way to influence others than statements. Questions are disarming or less threatening and they  cause the other person to arrive at conclusions themselves. This is a powerful way of helping others see something a certain way. Questions are also a way of controlling a conversation and of finding information. I’m not advising you to try and control all the conversations you have, but when you’re trying to influence others, questions are more powerful than statements. If you tell someone who works for you, “I want you here by 8:00,” this will probably work in getting them to arrive at that time, given you have authority over them. But let’s say they have kids to get to school and really want to arrive at 8:30. They may be resentful of you for forcing them in earlier than they want. They may not perform well when you aren’t looking. They may not go the extra mile. In most jobs, there are plenty of opportunities to do the minimum or to excel when the boss isn’t looking. So instead of telling them what time to arrive, you might ask them, “Do you know how hard it is to manage this department if people arrive at all different times?” This might get them to empathize with you and want to help you out. They may arrive at 8:00 as before, but may do so more willingly and without resentment. OR, even better, you could take an interest in them and talk with them about what aspects of the job they would like flexibility on or what kinds of things they look for in a job. If it’s doable for you to let them arrive at 8:30, you’ve just bought yourself a more satisfied employee who may not go looking for another job and who will like you and likely work harder for you. Asking questions is a way to influence others. When you’re talking with others, practice asking questions instead of making statements.

I hope some of this is helpful. Clearly this subject of influencing others deserves a much deeper treatment. However, the above 3 practices will definitely be a big help. Remember, a leader is someone people chose to follow; a manager is someone people follow because they have to. Leaders always have more influence than managers.

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10 Don’ts

Below is a list of things I have been working with that make sense to me right now. It’s too early for me to make any claims on the veracity or effectiveness of this list, as I have never read or heard of this type of list before and have not had enough time to experiment with it. I can say that it is a fairly advanced list of practices to work with as they all go right to disarming ego and ultimately outgrowing/transcending ego and realizing enlightenment.

I like this list because its a list of things not to do, which can sometimes be easier than a list of things to do. In any event, I have been experimenting with this list long enough to share it here. I welcome any constructive comments. Remember, the taoist path involves a lot of reduction; “in the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added; in the pursuit of the way, every day something is taken away.” It also involves using ego to outgrow ego. This can be a painful and difficult process. Ego is necessary sometimes, until it isn’t, meaning, until you outgrow/transcend ego, you will have to rely on ego to do so, AND to manage your life in the interim. So, when we talk about ego, like so many things regarding spirituality, we must be a little nuanced about it.

-don’t assume you know anything
-don’t make a big deal out of anything
-don’t try and be or have anything
-don’t ignore or try to avoid anything
-don’t try and control or force anything
-don’t be afraid of anything
-don’t have opinions about yourself
-don’t accept less than 100% responsibility for yourself or your life
-don’t place EW above or before TFB
-don’t spend the majority of your non-working free time engaged in fantasy or intoxicants

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“what is the meaning of life?”

This question has been floating around since I can remember, and likely a lot longer. I have always found it a silly, kind-of vague question, but it seems to capture a popular sentiment regarding existential and metaphysical issues surrounding life. I have wondered why we live, which seems to me to be the same question. When I first posed the question, I asked myself “why am I here?” Now I realize I am not “here,” it merely seems to me that I am here. In fact, I merely manifest in this EW (external world= everything from the skin-out) context. The metaphysical or spiritual reality is the only one that’s True. I know, the EW is an illusion, a hologram possibly, but ultimately its merely information in my heart-mind. (The original “Matrix” movie offers an excellent overview of what the EW really is.)

Anyway, I have wondered why I manifest in the EW and thought it might be worthwhile to share my conclusion on this blog. It seems TFB (TFB= God, or what I call truth/force/being, as the creator/sustainor is a truth you can learn about mentally, a being you can relate to emotionally, and force, you cannot avoid) would not create and sustain this universe or multiverse or EW and all the myriad realities therein, including life-realities like homo-sapiens, without having a reason. TFB wouldn’t do something without a reason. This is my assumption as it would be illogical for TFB to act irrationally or randomly.

So what could that reason be? Specifically, why me? Why humans at all? I believe it’s due to TFB wanting to enjoy being understood and appreciated. This seems to be all a homo-sapien could do for TFB; reflect TFB’s image back to TFB. This is done when we channel (+) (positive energy; as opposed to (-) or, negative energy. (+) is creative/nurturing and (-) is destructive.This takes the place of good and bad, which don’t exist, but that is the subject of another post.) When we channel (+), which is all we can do as egos; choose to channel (+) or (-) energy, we are like a little mirror that reflects TFB’s energy back. Lot’s of these little mirrors acting in unison presents to TFB an image of itself that I believe TFB finds pleasant and enjoyable. I can’t imagine anything else we could do for TFB or any other reason TFB would create and sustain us.

To make the question more personal to us, or to consider the question from our perspective, we are here to learn to channel (+); to realize the divine within ‘ourselves’ (I wouldn’t say “ourselves,” I would say “ourbeings” as this is more accurate. Self is a specific quality and being contains self. This is the subject of another post.); to learn and to enjoy. Manifesting in space-time is an opportunity for tremendous growth. It’s powerful alchemy. Space-time, the universe, or EW is a stage that allows us to behave; to feel pleasure and pain. These are the basics which allow for us to grow. This is a tremendous opportunity. This is why we are “here.”

Each of us at the selfish level (self= spirit, what others would call soul, but I say self as it implies a uniqueness, which I believe is true.) is a slice of TFB, the part of us that was “created in God’s image.” Selfishly, (selfish= of-the-self; it doesn’t mean someone who doesn’t share) we are perfect, its the ego that is capable of (-). However, being part ego gives us the chance to turn away from TFB and channel (-), or turn towards TFB and channel (+). If we had no choice or lacked the ability to chose, there would be no meaning or significance to our lives. Why would TFB create a bunch of automotans or robots? It makes no sense. TFB gave us free will or choice and this, which is a function of ego, is what makes growth possible and even necessary. So, we have egos, or ARE egos, and this allows us to relate to ourselves and to the world around us in a very poignant way. We can channel (+) or (-) energy; we can ‘love or hate.’ (Love and hate are not opposites unless you’re considering romantic love versus hate; agape love is not a passionate emotion like hate; this is the subject of another post.) Whatever we do at the ego level, it all falls into 2 categories and comes down to 1 of 2 actions; channeling (+) or (-). When we channel, (+), we express it out into the EW and in into the IW (IW= internal world, or loosely, everything inside the skin). Therefore we feel it inside as well as make it felt, outside. Ultimately, our path leads to outgrowing the EW completely and all the realities therein and to outgrowing our ego and being enlightened. Then, we may become immortal (in the Taoist sense) or I believe Christ spoke of this as “everlasting life.” The vast majority of us, and anyone reading this, is intending for enlightenment, or isn’t awakened yet, or somewhere in between.

So the meaning of life, or the reason why we “are here” is to embody in the EW, the divine within us and ultimately, without us. We “are here” to be a mirror for God (TFB) to look at “himself.” This pleases God. On an individual level, we “are here” to learn and grow, to enjoy life and learn from it. To realize the Truth; to awaken and enlighten and immortalize ourselves as the divine beings we ultimately are.

I hope some of this makes sense. I realize there are many ideas and terms introduced here that need to be defined more. At some point I need to stop doing these posts on my blackberry and take the editing seriously. Thanks for reading.

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lessons learned from a jagular

I’ve lived with a jagular (felis domesticus- aka small domestic cat) for 15 years. As someone with spiritual intentions, I tend to see life and things in life in part as opportunities for growth. Thus, besides thoroughly enjoying her company, I have been open and watchful for learning from her.

I have learned and continue to learn, 4 primary lessons, that she nor I have made up, but are certainly significant and common among spiritual disciplines. They are: 1-be here and now, 2-be centered, 3-keep love in your heart and 4-enjoy the simple things.

1-be here and now. When I get home from work, she is anxious to see me and hang out. Likewise when I get up in the morning. Thus her needs of my attention are daily and she constantly reminds me to not be preoccupied. She can actually tell the difference between me sitting with her and watching tv or thinking about something, and me actually being with her and giving her my undivided attention. And she let’s me know by whining and giving me a hard time when I don’t give her my undivided attention. The lesson is that in life, when you’re engaged in doing something, you fully engage it. Meditatively, you die with each moment. There is nothing else but here and now. If you are doing, then do. If you are planning, then plan. Be here, now. Having your attention on something other than what’s happening or what you’re doing is scattering your energy.

2-be centered. This is similar to the first lesson. She reminds me to not get too emotional because when I get mad at her I always feel bad afterward and its almost invariably my fault. How could it be hers? Sometimes, and its rare, but sometimes she legitimately deserves a little chastising. But mostly, she points out my faults, or rather, I see my faults as I watch myself interact with her. Anyway, being centered has to do with moderating your emotions, even the more accepted ones. When I give her too much attention or rather, when I make too big a deal of our morning and nightly meetings, she gets a little bratty and expects this all the time. When I get angry too easily and yell at her, I feel real bad afterwards. When I am too cold and aloof, I feel bad about that too. Moderating emotion is a cornerstone to spiritual achievement. She teaches me because my emotional energy affects her and then is reflected back to me in some way. When I have balanced, moderate emotions, this is what she exhibits. This makes our time together more enjoyable. It is also enormously satisfying to see her laying around, relaxed and content, as I feel I have in part, created that for her.

3-keep love in your heart.
Even thinking about her, warms my heart. It is impossible not to love her. I tend to brood sometimes, to be very serious, rational and analytical. I’ve heard just petting a pet lowers your blood pressure. I believe this. Hanging out with her, reminds me how important love is. It is the primary joy of life. It gives life color. She reminds me to avoid negative emotions and she helps me feel love. All emotions have a physiological component. They have an energy that affects you physiologically. When I’m with her, she brings out the love in my heart. Its such an important, powerful lesson. Don’t be so cold or aloof. Don’t try to be an island. Accept your wants and needs for others. Don’t be afraid of love. This is all part of her teaching.

4-enjoy the simple things
For her, just hanging out with me and a shoelace or some chart paper or a paper bag or ping pong ball, is the best. She doesn’t need anything elaborate. It is so important to remember that money can’t buy “happiness,” it can only enhance a little, the happiness you have already. Lasting “happiness” does not require complicated or elaborate trappings. I’ve heard before “if you can’t look forward to lunch and really enjoy it, you’re not living right.” This is true. She teaches me to keep my eye on the ball. An awesome car isn’t important to her. Nor a job with a lot of prestige, nor a big house or tv. A shaft of light, a nice meal and full stomach, a shoelace, clean litter box, warm and dry place to live; these are the things that have importance. Everything else is unnecessary.

One last thing I’ve noticed, which has applications with children as well. I see her as my little beta. At the risk of misleading anyone, as I am not formally schooled in this, beta is a statistical measure of the strength of the relationship between 2 variables. A beta of 1 means the dependent variable tracks the independent variable “in lock step,” pretty much the same as having a perfect correlation of 1. If beta is greater than 1, it means the dependent variable moves further than the movements of the independent variable; so for a beta of 1.5, the dependent variable moves 150% of the movements of the independent variable. My jagular reflects my energy. She absorbs and reflects back at me, the energy I manifest. Thus, I can see what energy I am channeling by watching her and watching what energy she is manifesting. This is a powerful phenomenon to watch, and works the same with children (particularly pre-adolescents, or those who’s ego has not awakened yet) or other pets. With children and pets, adults are very dominant. They absorb the energy we channel and the energy we carry around in consciousness. So, for instance, if you have a fear, your kids will have it, even if you try and hide it from them. They will also have the same perceptions and attitudes you have about realities. Watch for a future post on the “time-space or what context,” for more on perceptions, attitudes and consciousness. Anyway- when I am relaxed and buoyant, my jagular is too. If I am anxious, she shows it as well. So I get an immediate feedback on how I am doing by watching my jagular. If I am tired, she lazes around. If I feel energized, she wants to play. Its fairly immediate. As I have grown, I see improvements in my jagular.

Anyway- like all things, a taoist seeks growth out of all life’s situations. My felis-domesticus has taught me a lot, in part because I have been open to learning. I think relationships are powerful alchemy and this includes pets.

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don’t let this be you

Jackson Browne “Doctor My Eyes”

Dr my eyes have seen the years, and the slow parade of fears without crying, now I want to understand-
I have done all that I could, to see the evil and the good, without hiding, you must help me if you can-
Dr in my eyes-
Tell me what is wrong-
Was I unwise-
To leave them open for so long-

I have wondered through this world, and as each moment has unfurled, I’ve been waiting, to awaken from these dreams-
People go just where they will, I never noticed them until I got this feeling, that its later than it seems-
Dr in my eyes-
Tell me what you see-
I hear the cries-
Just say if its too late for me-

Dr in my eyes-
I cannot see the sky-
Is this the price-
For having learned how not to cry-

Don’t let this be you. Reach out to others. No man is an island. If this doesn’t resonate, then you’re out of touch with yourself OR, you already reach out to others and the song doesn’t apply.

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happiness (and thriving [addendum]):

This post compliments and furthers the previous post on happiness. In order to be “happy”, we must first realize what “happiness” truly is (define it), and in order to do that, we need to explore the underlying context we use to subjectively determine if we are “happy.” This involves in part, looking at wants and needs.

A want is an impulse towards pleasure and a need is an impulse away from pain. They are very similar but subtly different. Wants are gratified and needs are satisfied. Needs are more primal and we will almost always satisfy them before we look to gratify wants. Wants and needs are universal in that we all share them. They are very basic. (See below for list of shared human wants and needs)

It seems “peace and joy” might be a close approximation of what could be considered a sustainable state of “happiness.” Peace is deep acceptance of “circumstances.” Joy is the side-effect of the positive (+) energy one gets from TFB (truth force being) or what many refer to as God. This connection to TFB is completely separate from and different than one’s involvement with any realities in the EW (external world). So long as one maintains this connection, one experiences peace and joy. This can last forever as a maintainable state, similar to learning to balance on a beach ball in the water. It requires constant intention and one must learn how to do it, but it can be achieved.

Happiness is best defined as “what happens.” I read that somewhere but cannot locate it in my library. It was probably Allen Watts or Anthony de Mello who illustrated this to me. This is a very high or advanced definition, but it is the truth. In any case, let’s explore what happiness is and I will mention thriving as an idea which might better describe what most of us mean when we say “happiness,” while avoiding some of the “happiness” pitfalls. Thriving is a state that is achievable and maintainable and pleasurable, but not “desirable” (something ego would chose). On the surface, it is similar to happiness, but it includes the idea of inherent “selfish” (of the self) wants and needs. It is different from “happiness” in that it is not desirable like happiness is. Thriving is nothing “to write home about.” It’s NOT a high. The difference between happiness and thriving is like the difference between having a “good time” and having fun. A “good time” is something you really look forward to and write about on facebook later or, if its really good, you might not write about it, you are more discreet and you just tell a few people. When you have fun, you enjoy it, but its not a high. This difference is subtle but significant. A high is followed by a low. A high is unsustainable. Thriving is sustainable. Thriving is doing the things you naturally do, responding to your selfish (of the self) wants and needs, and gratifying and satisfying them. Its like, when you’re hungry, you eat. That’s it. That’s thriving. Happiness is like seeing an advertisement for a restaurant and getting all dressed up and going out and spending a lot of money on a fancy dinner. You really don’t need the fancy dinner. It’s ok to have a fancy dinner, but you have to remember it’s not a sustainable pleasure- if you start going out to fancy dinners all the time, you will eventually raise the bar on what “fancy” is and the other places will no longer be as fancy and you won’t be as high on them anymore. Thriving is not something you’re inclined to tell people about. Happiness is something you tend to talk about. Unfortunately it’s fleeting. Happiness is driven by ego and ego’s ideas about having something GOOD and DESIRABLE. (Please see an upcoming post on good and bad vs positive and negative) (please see the post at the top of this page and scroll down to the discussion of Christmas)

Here are the basic human needs/wants we all share from highest to most basic:
-meaning/purpose
-people/love
-sovereignty/freedom
-conditions of life: vocation/home/health
-survival: food/clothing/shelter

Regarding conditions of life vs survival, the basic survival conditions are needs, while the conditions of life are wants. A want and a need is interrelated. For example, the shelter and clothing needs are survival needs and point ultimately at the need to regulate body temperature. The need is shelter, but the want is “home.” Its a legitimite want to have a home. A need is an impulse away from pain, and a want is an impulse towards pleasure. The need for shelter is an impulse to avoid being cold and getting sick. The want for a home is the impulse to have somewhere you are safe and can sleep and eat meals, etc.

In our western, industrialized culture, it is wise to remember what we really require in order to thrive. I submit it is as simple as the following:

1-a strong connection to TFB, God or your higher power (everything after this is secondary or far less important)
2-subsistence needs met (food, clothing, shelter)
3-some people you love who love you back
4-meaning (often from a job or hobby- for many women, this job might be homemaker- I mention this only to show I believe that is a legitimate job.)

THAT’S IT. You DON’T need an Audi S8 or a 55″ flat panel TV or a huge McMansion or indoor pool or brand new Nike’s with Jordan’s name on them or a Rolex or anything else !!! If you think you require these to be happy, you’re laboring under a huge illusion. You will never be happy this way. Here is what I have learned about material goods and how they impact “happiness.”

It was an issue of Time magazine that put this into specific relief for me. Although I am not a consumer of Time Magazine, several years ago they had an issue with a big portion devoted to happiness that caught my attention while in the checkout line at a supermarket. What I took away was the following:
-money cannot bring happiness
-people impact happiness
-meaning impacts happiness

Money can have a small impact, and that is in the following way; if you are surrounded with people that have noticeably more money than you, your happiness can be increased to the extent that you bring yourself up to their financial level. So if you live on a block where everyone has a $75,000 lifestyle and you have a $55,000 lifestyle, increasing yours by $20,000 will impact your happiness. BUT, any increases beyond that will have no impact. Crazy, but I believe, true. So if you earn an extra $500,000 per year above the original $75,000, you don’t get any extra happiness!
Let’s explore this a little. What happens when you see something desirable? Let’s say it’s a new Shelby Mustang. You see one driving down the road and you really want it! You’re filled with desire. You think how cool it will be to own one and drive around in it. You think how awesome it will be to impress some little hottie with your driving skills at high speed on Sunday mornings when the traffic is real light and there aren’t as many police about. You think of taking it to the track in Virginia or the Poconoh mountains and screaming around really fast and even getting some driving lessons. What is happening? You want to feel good. This is at the core of all this drama. Tony Robbins pointed this out to me in his book “Awaken the Giant Within,” when he said everything we do is ultimately motivated by a desire to feel good. (Back to wants and needs; an impulse away from pain and an impulse towards pleasure.) So let’s say you get the car. You’re gonna feel really good! For a while; but then, you’ll get used to the car. Pretty soon the buzz will wear off. It won’t be quite as awesome as the novelty fades. Then you’ll see another car… maybe a new model, maybe a Vette, but something else will take over. You see; the “bar” get’s reset. Your mustang will just be “normal” or “regular” cause you’ll be used to it. What used to bring you so much pleasure loses it’s luster once you get used to it. This is impossible to avoid.

It’s like the Federal Express story. When Fed-Ex first offered overnight delivery, it was awesome! It was revolutionary. Being able to get contracts across the country overnight. Doing business deals so quickly, the feeling was this was awesome and would significantly impact productivity. Yet, shortly thereafter, everything was readily delivered overnight and people began expecting this. The bar was raised and overnight delivery was no big deal anymore; it was “normal” or “average” or “everyday.” Unfortunately, this phenomenon happens in relationships too. You see a little hottie and you’re all over her, and then 6 months later, she’s just a normal girl. There’s something else in operation here with regard to relationships, and it has to do with projection and is best described in the work “He” and “We” by Robert Johnson, I believe.

So this addendum to my original post on happiness is an attempt to comment on what happiness isn’t. Clearly, this merits further analysis, but the bottom line is that the “western” concept of “happiness” as celebrated in US popular culture is an illusion that is impossible to achieve or maintain. In fact, its like being on a treadmill chasing a desirable imagine on a movie screen in front of you. In a previous post, “the tao of skate,” I mentioned there are no “states” humans can achieve and maintain. Anything our ego-minds can identify as desirable, must have opposites that are undesirable. For us to experience the desirable state, we must also experience the undesirable state. This is inescapable. To the extent we want to be “happy,” we must also be “miserable.” To say “I want to be happy,” is to say “I want to be miserable.” Don’t worry about this, it has been true your entire life. Just work at seeing this and think about what “thriving” might be. Thriving is merely living naturally; doing what YOU do; BEHAVING the way you BE; its not desireable to thrive, as desire is a function of ego and thriving is not of EGO; thriving is of SELF. I’ll post definitions of self, ego, consciousness and other concepts in an upcoming post probably titled “the internal and external world context” or something like that. In any event, thriving is when you are engaged with your life, doing your thing, and you wouldn’t be waxing poetically about how happy you are, but you wouldn’t be complaining about being unhappy either. You’d just be doing what you do. If someone asks you “how are you?” You wouldn’t be able to answer the question literally, cause you wouldn’t have a context with which to answer. Thriving is something plants can do. A tree can thrive if its given the proper sunlight and water and soil, etc. Thriving can be considered just “becoming what you were intended to be.” Its not a high or an up like happiness. It just is. Its nothing to write home about. But it is satisfying. It means you’re satisfying and gratifying your needs and wants.

I hope some of this helps. This requires more commentary.

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