The Man Watching



I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

[Rainer Maria Rilke]
The Man Watching
 
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Life Skills

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At the end of my first year of training, Dave Lewis again told me to fast for three days and then come see him on the fourth day of my fast. When I went to see him it was early morning and he took me up on a hill about a mile from his house. First thing I thought about were the ticks - you can get quite a severe illness from them. But I figured he knew what he was doing, so I went along with him.

Bear paw didn't live near me, but when I was in my early twenties he came to visit, and said, "I'm getting sickly now and way up in age. I don't have much time left to spend with you, but I do want to put you through this one test because it will carry you through many situations where you will need to exert self-control."

He took me out to a huge anthill near our house in the country - it was about three feet across - and he told me to lie on it. All I had on was a pair of trunks and those big red ants crawled all over me. I wanted to brush them off, but I was afraid I might kill one, so I just lay there and let them crawl. The sun was so hot I had to close my eyes, and they even walked across my eyelids, yet never did one bite me. That was one of my tests, teaching me how to exert self-control. Bear Paw told me, "The Bible says, if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. It means that you don't have to resort to force, you don't have to defend yourself when you have faith. If you didn't believe that, there would have been resistance on your part and the ants would have bitten you. This lesson in self-control is to condition you to have acceptance and faith in your own life."

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 44-5


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He had already picked out a tree and said, "Wrap your legs around this tree, put your arms around it. You sit there like that, and I'll be back." Then he left, no more instruction than that.

[...] I had no idea when he would be back. Maybe nighttime. Maybe the next day. I wondered if he'd even be able to find me again! Still, I had to sit there wrapped around that tree, and the very first thing that came to me was that people would ask, "Did the tree talk to you?" And I'd say, "No, it barked."

[...] I understood what Dave was trying to teach me without telling me. He was teaching me to work through my own pride, my own ego, my own self-importance. I began to see that, when it comes right down to it, we are nothing until that nothing becomes so dedicated that it is like a vessel through which good things start to move, an instrument for receiving knowledge and sharing it with others who might be in need.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 52-3


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I used to go to the zoo and stare at the tigers. A tiger would look at me and I'd look back at him. I don't know how long I'd stand there, but I was determined not to look away first. I kept looking until the tiger finally looked away. I guess the barrier between us gave me some kind of confidence, but at the same time I felt I was making eye-contact with a hostile animal - he represented that to me. From there I'd go to a lion and do the same thing.

Eventually I gave the tiger commands, not verbally, but in my mind. I would project the thought "Turn away. Turn away right now. Turn." He was very stubborn, but he would eventually turn. I kept doing it until the time it took him to turn away got shorter and shorter. I got training in using the power of my mind like that.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 58


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The environment was our starting point in learning as much as we could from what was around us - the seasons, the things that grow, the animals, the birds, and various other life forms. Then we would begin the long process of trying to learn about that which is within ourselves. We didn't have any textbooks, we didn't have any great psychiatrists who lived years ago and presented theories in this and that. We had to rely on something else, and that was our senses. Rather than through scientific investigation, we sensed those things within and around us.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 65-6


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To teach our young people how to get in touch with nature and their own intuition, out elders used to take them way out in the woods, blindfolded, and have them sit by a particular tree. "You stay here blindfolded until we come after you. Be with this tree, touch it, hug it, lean against it, stand by it. Learn something from it." After half a day or more, they would bring them back to camp, remove the blindfold, and say, "Go find your tree."

After touching a lot of trees, they could find the one they had spent time with. Sometimes they didn't have to touch a lot of trees - those with highly developed intuition could go right to their tree. They seemed to be drawn to it.

That's how we began to connect. It's amazing what you can feel from a tree. It can give us energy. When we take long hikes in wooded areas, we often put our fingertips on the ends of the cedar or the pine needles. Just standing there touching them, you're going to feel energy come to you. Trees are emitting energy all the time. Every needle of the tree, every leaf, is trying to make the atmosphere breathable for us. That's why my people have great respect for trees. The trees are our relatives - we call them 'tall standing brothers.'

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 69-70


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Expand Your Awareness

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Dave had me spend an entire day doing nothing but observing from early morning to evening. I had to sit in a field all day long without moving my body - he told me just to move my eyes very slowly from side to side.

What was I observing? What direction is the wind coming from? Does that cloud seem to contain any large amounts of moisture? Is it dark on the underside and light on the top? If so, perhaps its going to rain. If you see birds flying, are they circling or going in a straight line? Are they birds flying to where there might be some water? If you're looking for water, perhaps you should head in that direction.

If you don't think observation is all that hard, try to sit still for twenty minutes. If your nose itches, don't scratch it. If your leg cramps, don't stretch it.

These are some of the things you have to content with in observation. It's a far reaching training that enables you to take in a whole situation in seconds.

There didn't have to be any particular significance to all the things I observed - the point was to not let anything escape my awareness, to master the difference between looking and seeing.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 57, 59


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Three practices make up the nature awareness phase of the Earth path: stillness, focus, and study.

Stillness requires that you slow down to nature's pace. At least once a week, go to a place full of non-human living things, find a place to sit, and spend at least ten minutes sitting still and noticing everything around you. Relax your body, and turn your attention away from the chatter of thoughts and worries that usually fills your mind. Sit still, watch, listen, and feel.

[…] Try to broaden your awareness - notice sounds, scents, wind, light and shadow, changes in the sky and in the distance around you. Let the world fill your mind and guide it.

[let] your field of vision spread out as wide as possible, instead of focusing tightly on something in front of you. Let your eyes soften and take in everything within your field of vision - to left and right, but also above and below.

Focus [...] involves paying close attention to what you encounter. You can learn this by focusing your mind and senses on the details of specific natural things: a stone, the bark of a tree, a handful of dirt, a pool of water, the crumbling end of a fallen log.

[...] Choose something and spend at least five minutes as close to it as possible, with every sense focused on it. Push aside all other concerns; simply look, listen, smell, and feel.

Study is the third step in expanding your awareness of nature.

Almost any source of information about nature can be useful [...] Paying attention to nature takes on new dimensions when you recognize the birds around you, the cloud types above you, or the varieties of stone and soil beneath your feet.

[John Michael Greer]
The Druidry Handbook,  p. 146-8


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Stay Centred

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When we perceive any situation, whether it's an activity, a sport, a fight, or anything else, it's important to be able to observe without getting emotionally involved. When you see someone in great pain, your emotions may want to jump in so you can both have a good cry together - someone who cries with them might help a little, but very little.

You can be of greater help if you are strong enough to lift that person's spirits up and not allow your emotions to get in the way. It's called empathy - you put your mind in that person's situation, but only your mind, while you stand in a safe place and try to bring that person to the same point of safety you are at.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 55


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Sentencing Circles

In traditional court procedures, the accused is brought before a judge, possibly a jury, and legal counsel seeks to establish guilt or innocence and the appropriate remedy.

More recently, the victim or the victim's family has been allowed to offer "victim impact statements", describing the ways in which the crime has affected the individual and his or her relatives.

Traditional courts maintain distance and hierarchy. 

In a sentencing circle, the offender, his or her victims, the victim's family, peers, elders and other community members sit down together in a circle and work together to understand what has led to the crime and to negotiate appropriate redress.

Rather than being purely punitive, the circle promotes healing.

Instead of removing the offender from the community and isolating him or her, the circle affirms the essential goodness of the offender, attempting to restore and re-build the offender, the victim, and the community to which they all belong.

Circles: It's about Justice. It's about Healing.

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The sentencing circle is about “community building,” he says; it is about “healing” those affected by crime, and those who committed it. It is repairing relations; making victims and perpetrators “feel better” with the outcome of a criminal incident.

[...] “What social scientist in the last 100 years has said, ‘Gee, punishment changes behaviour’?” Mr. Stuart asks.

Much better, he says, is for criminals to feel their community’s “love.”

[...] “If the judge were to effectively ignore the circle that would be sending a message that we don’t want your opinion on justice matters or that somehow punishment is more important than building community,”

[...] “There’s a basic philosophical question that has to be engaged before you even get involved in sentencing circles and that is what are your primary goals or objectives in sentencing,” says David Paciocco, a law professor at the university of Ottawa.

“It all depends on your perspective on what we’re trying to accomplish when we sentence.”

Sentencing circles appeal to those wanting primarily to reintegrate criminals into their offended community, he says. “If on the other hand you believe that sentencing is a principled exercise designed to express societal revulsion at criminal conduct, or if you believe that proportionality is the underlying consideration in sentencing, then you’re probably going to feel uncomfortable with a regime that’s designed to see how we can move forward rather than respond to what’s happened in the past.”

[...] Supporters of the circles say their strength is that the process reflects a more time-honoured form of justice; it is, Mr. Stuart points out, a community choosing to “roll up its sleeves” in the grandest traditions of civil society, to solve its own problems.

“We’re living now in this la-la land where nobody really participates,” he says. “It’s all done by professionals . . . we’ve outsourced everything.”

'Sentencing circles for aboriginals: Good justice?'
 
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We believe that the penal code of the old covenant - an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth - has been abrogated by Jesus Christ, and that that under the new convenant the forgiveness instead of the punishment of enemies has been enjoined on all his disciples in all cases whatsoever.

To extort money from enemies, cast them into prison, exile or execute them, is obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.

[Leo Tolstoy]
The Kingdom of God is Within You, p. 4-5

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Life Support

If a person can't do what he or she's s'posed to do - well, they die. 

Everybody has to follow his purpose. David is a storyteller and if a storyteller stops telling stories, he stops having his life. Then he dies.

As long as people can keep on doin' what they're s'posed to be doin', they can keep on living.

People are s'posed to be supported so they can do their thing. Without the help of others, no people can carry out their identity - I don't care who they are or what they're s'posed to be doin'.

And if it doesn't need others, then it's not their true identity - not for this world - and they might as well not even be here. 

People keep each other alive with support. So if someone is a musician, we ought to listen. If they're a cook, why, you go ahead and eat and tell 'em how that hit the spot, how you needed that.

[...] How people can be so thoughtless, they don't even let a man carry on his life [...] How in the world people could have got so much into their own selves that they don't think they need each other - I sure can't understand it. If people stop listen' to David, now how can he be a storyteller? You tell me.

And if he can't be a storyteller, he'll die. That's the way it works.

[Rolling Thunder, quoted by Doug Boyd]
Mystics, Magicians and Medicine People: Tales of a Wanderer, p. 190-1

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The Four Laws

The four laws have been given:

1. Love your God
2. Love your neighbor
3. Give
4. Forgive

The problems are based on fear. People want this and that, to get so many things, more than they need.

You call it greed, but it's based on fear. It grows steadily worse because others don't have their basic needs, and this makes your world unsafe. If people can be free of this fear, they can take care of each other.

So these four laws are related. Love your neighbor means do not violate your fellow human being in any way.

Love your God means see your God as your own self within you. Don't think that God is outside of you - up in the sky somewhere, frowning at you. If you think God is looking down from above, pointing a finger in judgement and anger, you cannot love your neighbor. You cannot be giving, and you will not believe in forgiving.

Forgiving means you don't violate in return one who has violated you. No God would do that. Never, never desire revenge.

So this is the people's business.

["Henry," quoted by Doug Boyd]
Mystics, Magicians and Medicine People: Tales of a Wanderer, p. 170

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Closing The Book

The innermost kernel of every genuine and actual piece of knowledge is a perception; every new truth is also the fruit of such a perception.

Even writing and speaking, whether didactic or poetical, have as their ultimate aim the guidance of the reader to that knowledge of perception from which the author started; if they do not have this aim, they are bad.

For this reason, the contemplation and observation of everything actual, as soon as it presents something new to the observer, is more instructive than all reading and hearing about it.

For indeed, if we go to the bottom of the matter, all truth and wisdom, in fact the ultimate secret of things, is contained in everything actual, yet certainly only in concreto and like gold hidden in ore. The question is how to extract it. From a book, on the other hand, we obtain the truth only second-hand at best, and often not at all.

[...] Therefore, as a rule, the man of the world cannot impart his accumulated truth and wisdom, but only practice it. He rightly comprehends everything that occurs, and decides what is conformable thereto. That books do not take the place of experience, and that learning is no substitute for genius, are two kindred phenomena; their common ground is that the abstract can never take the place of the perceptive.

Therefore books do not take the place of experience, because concepts always remain universal, and so do not reach down to the particular; yet it is precisely the particular that has to be dealt with in life.

Only the person who intuitively knows the true nature of men as they generally are, and comprehends the individuality of the particular person before him, will understand how to deal with him correctly and with certainty. Another person may know by heart all the three hundred maxims of wisdom by Gracián, but this will not protect him from stupid blunders and mistakes, if he lacks that intuitive knowledge.

[...] This explains why the scholar, whose merit lies in abundance of abstract knowledge, is so inferior to the man of the world, whose merit consists in perfect intuitive knowledge, which an original disposition has conceded to him, and a rich experience has developed.

According to what has been said, we find among all classes of persons of intellectual superiority, often without any learning at all. For natural understanding can take the place of almost every degree of intellectual culture, but no culture can take the place of natural understanding.

The scholar certainly has the advantage of such people in an abundance of cases and facts (historical knowledge), and of causal determinations (natural science), everything in well arranged, easily surveyed sequence; but yet, with all this, he does not have a more accurate and profound insight into what is really essential in all those cases, facts, and causalities.

The unlearned man of acuteness and penetration knows how to dispense with that abundance; we are sparing of much, we make do with little. One case from his own experience teaches him more than many a scholar is taught by a thousand cases which he knows, but does not really understand.

For the little knowledge of that unlearned man is alive, since every fact known to him is verified by accurate and well-apprehended perception. Thus this fact is for him the representative of a thousand similar facts. On the other hand, much of the ordinary scholar's knowledge is dead, since, even if it does not consist of mere words, as often is the case, it nevertheless consists of nothing but abstract knowledge.

--

The constant influx of other people's ideas must certainly stop and stifle our own, and indeed, in the long run, paralyse the power of thought, unless it has a high degree of elasticity able to withstand that unnatural flow.

Therefore incessant reading and study positively ruin the mind; this, moreover, is caused by the fact that the system of our own ideas and knowledge loses its completeness and uninterrupted continuity, when we arbitrarily upset this so often in order to gain room for an entirely foreign range of ideas.

To banish my thoughts in order to make room for those of a book would seem to me to be just what Shakespeare censures in the travellers of his time, that they sell their own land in order to see those of others.

It is even risky to read about a subject before we ourselves have reflected on it. For with the new material, another person's view and treatment of it creep into the mind, all the more since laziness and apathy urge us to save ourselves the trouble of thinking, to accept what has already been thought, and to allow this to become current.

The mind certainly requires nourishment, namely material from outside. All that we eat, however, is not incorporated into the organism at once, but only in so far as it has been digested, whereby only a small part of it is actually assimilated, the remainder passing from the system, so that to eat more than we can assimilate is useless, and even injurious.

It is precisely the same as regards what we read; only in so far as it gives material for thinking does it increase our insight and our knowledge proper.

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[...] the more they neglected practice, the more sharply did they bring theory to a fine point.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.72, 156

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A Circle of Gifts

When we get together to consume – food, drink, or entertainment – do we really draw on the gifts of anyone present? 

Anyone can consume. Intimacy comes from co-creation, not co-consumption, as anyone in a band can tell you, and it is different from liking or disliking someone.

But in a monetized society, our creativity happens in specialized domains, for money.

To forge community then, we must do more than simply get people together. While that is a start, soon we get tired of just talking, and we want to do something, to create something.

It is a very tepid community indeed, when the only need being met is the need to air opinions and feel that we are right, that we get it, and isn't it too bad that other people don't ... hey, I know! Let's collect each others' email addresses and start a listserv!

Community is woven from gifts. Unlike today's market system, whose built-in scarcity compels competition in which more for me is less for you, in a gift economy the opposite holds. Because people in gift culture pass on their surplus rather than accumulating it, your good fortune is my good fortune: more for you is more for me. Wealth circulates, gravitating toward the greatest need. In a gift community, people know that their gifts will eventually come back to them, albeit often in a new form.

Such a community might be called a "circle of the gift."

Fortunately, the monetization of life has reached its peak in our time, and is beginning a long and permanent receding (of which economic "recession" is an aspect). Both out of desire and necessity, we are poised at a critical moment of opportunity to reclaim gift culture, and therefore to build true community.

The reclamation is part of a larger shift of human consciousness, a larger reunion with nature, earth, each other, and lost parts of ourselves. Our alienation from gift culture is an aberration and our independence an illusion. We are not actually independent or "financially secure" – we are just as dependent as before, only on strangers and impersonal institutions, and, as we are likely to soon discover, these institutions are quite fragile.

[Charles Eisenstein]
'A Circle of Gifts'

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Short-term savings, long-term costs

Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

Despite the poverty in East New York and Brownsville, many residents are against the stores setting up here."It would be a disaster," said Mark Tanis, owner of an East New York shopping market about three miles from a proposed sites. "It would have a detrimental impact on our area."

Tanis said he fears a product he sells for $20 could sell for as little as $12 at Wal-Mart and drive him out of business.

East New York resident Darryl Williams, 43, echoed the view of many, saying, "Cheap things would be nice but if it's true that we'll end up with even fewer jobs, that's not good." Courtney Laidlaw, 22, who lives near the two possible locations said, "We have become a society of bargain shoppers and having a Wal-Mart locally will definitely be beneficial.

"The small businesses that can adapt to the socioeconomic times that we live in will find a way to survive. Wal-Mart is just an alternative destination, not the only destination."

In Brooklyn, one of the loudest anti-Wal-Mart voices has been City Councilman Charles Barron from East New York, who has been leading demonstrations.

"We don't need Wal-Mart (which) has a history of destroying the local economy and hurting it, not helping it," he said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn", Yahoo News

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Closed                               -                      Open
Certainty                           -                      Uncertainty
Solid                                 -                       Liquid
Known                              -                       Unknown 
Actuality                           -                       Potentiality
Rest                                   -                      Motion
Attach                               -                       Detach
Being                                -                       Becoming
Control                              -                       Chaos

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Come!
Come from the safety of your castle,
there's somewhere else for you to be...

Come!
Come lose your self in the forest,
and drown it in the sea ...


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In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.

The concept was introduced in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell, who described the basic narrative pattern as follows:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man

'Hero's journey'


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< --------------------- 0 ---------------------- >




There is nothing, neutral point, ground zero. And then there is something, which is always a departure from zero, in one direction or another.

Things have a tendency to remain the same, to (appear to) be balanced. In order for a thing to change it must go through a period of unrest, a transformation. This may be a great disturbance.

The hardest thing is always transitioning from one balance to another. For example, when my leg was injured it was always most painful when I going from being still to moving. Once I'd grown accustomed to either state it was fine; only the transition was painful. Getting out of bed/getting into bed. It's fine once you're out, fine once you're in.

We see this pattern everywhere. In sports, for instance, in order to raise our level of fitness we must push ourselves beyond current boundaries, or "overload" as it is known by weight lifters. Overloading involves placing the body under stress, giving it something it is not used to in order to adjust its norms. After a period of transformation we reach a new balance, a new level of fitness.

It is the same with stretching: our muscles will have a default length, which is really the length that our day-to-day activities (our environment) require them to be. In order to lengthen them we must continually stretch them - i.e. engage in new activities that require them to be a longer length. If we keep up these new activities - if our stretching becomes part of our day-to-day routine - then our muscles will remain at this new length. As soon as we stop stretching, our muscles will adapt to the new circumstances: they will shorten.

Stretching is like Acting. If our default mode is primarily selfish, then in order to counteract this we must "stretch" regularly - in other words, we must make a conscious effort to be unselfish.

We must understand what our default is. Default seems to be defined by environment. We can see strength as our ability to stray from our default, in other words our ability to Act or change. Through Acting we come to know our weaknesses; these are like ceilings on our ambitions, or boundaries beyond which we cannot stray.

In order to reach a new destination, you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas.

Conscious stretching and Acting is only necessary outside the bounds of a structured community. It is the action of a responsible individual. Within a structured community, we stretch and act automatically without knowing that this is what we are doing. In other words, we are constantly stretched to the right length in order to function in harmony with our surroundings. The necessities of this kind of life demand as much. Currently the individual must Act because he is not contained within a harmonious community, and he must carry various ideals within himself.

There is currently little motivation to Act or to stretch. We live in such comfort that we may not see the necessity of staying in good shape, either physically or ethically. There are supports that will catch us when we fall and that will prevent us from having to feel the consequences of our ill-health. We have devices that keep the body comfortable and that prevent it from having to exert itself; and we have devices that prevent us from having to be ethically responsible and that remove us from the outcomes of our ethical indiscipline.

Our default, as defined by our environment, is imbalanced, unhealthy. It is in poor shape, both physically and ethically. The individual who decides to depart from this default - who begins to stretch and Act in order to 'get fit' - will be fighting an tough battle, and may have to fight it alone. In departing from the general default - from the general requirements of his environment, his culture - he becomes an aberration; an obsessive; a misguided fool; a curious novelty. It is much easier to maintain a level of fitness if we are surrounded by others who are also striving to remain at this same level, or to reach higher.

Society sets the default. If the individual is displeased with this default then he must depart from the conventions of the society. He will be at odds with many "normal" things. If we live in an ethically excellent community - in other words, a community that is in balance with itself and with its environment - then we need no longer stretch and Act because our default will be sufficient. This is why the traditional community required little stretching or Acting. The traditional community hovered around the "0", the point of balance. The individual did not need to strive for excellency, this was a communal undertaking, a communal default.


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Hormesis is when a bit of a harmful substance, or stressor, in the right dose or with the right intensity, stimulates the organism and makes it better, stronger, healthier, and prepared for a stronger dose the next exposure. That's the reason we go to the gym, engage in intermittent fasting, or caloric deprivation, or overcompensate for challenges by getting tougher.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
'Hormesis Is Redundancy'


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This process of directing energy out of familiar into new and unfamiliar paths, as a means of changing the manner of reacting to stimuli, implies of necessity an ever-increasing ability on the part of both teacher and pupil to 'pass from the known to the unknown'; it is therefore a process which is true to the principle involved in all human growth and development.

[F. Matthias Alexander]
The Use of the Self, p.85


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[...] creative thought must always contain a random component.

The exploratory processes - the endless trial and error of mental progress - can achieve the new only by embarking upon pathways randomly presented, some of which when tried are somehow selected for something like survival.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 200


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[...] a major revision of one’s construct system can threaten with immediate change, or chaos, or anxiety.

Thus it often seems better to extort confirmation of one’s anticipations – and therefore of the system that produced them – rather than to risk the utter confusion of those moments of transition. 

[George Kelly]
'The threat of aggression', in Clinical Psychology and Personality: The Selected Papers of George Kelly, p.  283


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Peterson: That structure - verse, chorus, verse, chorus - out of what did that originate?

Andreyev: That’s an extremely old form. There are baroque forms, such as the Rondo or the Ritornello that have a similar form, where you alternate one fixed element that keeps returning the same way, and a secondary element that gives you a certain degree of relief [and] contrast with the preceding element.

Peterson: That’s a chaos/order interplay […] Why the three chord structure?

Andreyev: A three chord structure is the bare minimum you need in order to have any kind of harmonic tension. In tonal music you have a very simple and effective polarity between what’s called the tonic and dominant degrees, and that’s something that basically structured the entire classical period, and the baroque period as well to a degree.

[…] it’s a way of setting up an extremely rudimentary story. You start with a region that is established, that you have as your home base, and then you modulate to a different harmonic region; and through this process of modulating, you move from your home base to somewhere else. And that creates a tension, a nostalgia, and a need for resolution.

Peterson: One thing that made me think about, is the proclivity for small children to do that, with their mother in particular. The space around the mother is defined as home territory, partly because mother is familiar, but also partly because if something goes wrong and mother is there, mother can fix it. So there’s a zone around the child when the mother is there, where there is access to immediate resources that will fill in where the child’s skills are lacking.

And then what the child will do after obtaining sufficient comfort from being in the presence of mom, is to go out far enough into the world, driven by their curiosity […] to discover new information and extend their skills by pushing against the unknown. And when they either get tired, or when they go out far enough so that negative emotion as a consequence of threat predominates, they run back to their mother.

Its a microcosm of the hero’s journey, which is a journey from a safe and defined place out into the unknown, and then a return […] to stability.

[Jordan Peterson and Samuel Andreyev]
'Interview with Composer Samuel Andreyev'


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Kali Yuga

Kali Yuga : (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of (the male demon) Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures.

The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.

Hindus and Sikhs believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far removed as possible from God. 

Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as a bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.

A discourse by Markandeya in the Mahabharata identifies some of the attributes of Kali Yuga:

In relation to rulers

* Rulers will become unreasonable: they will levy taxes unfairly.

* Rulers will no longer see it as their duty to promote spirituality, or to protect their subjects: they will become a danger to the world.

* People will start migrating, seeking countries where wheat and barley form the staple food source.

In human relationships

* Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other.

* Ignorance of dharma will occur.

* People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.

* Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.

* Sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.

* People will take vows and break them soon after.

* People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.

* Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them. Their teachings will be insulted, and followers of Kama will wrest control of the mind from all human beings. Brahmins will not be learned or honoured, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings and Shudras will be allotted unreasonable 'caste-based' duties which they will avoid.

'Kali Yuga'
Wikipedia

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Our system has already passed its flowering.

Some time ago it reached that summit of blessedness which the mysterious game of world history sometimes allows to things beautiful and desirable in themselves.

We are on the downward slope.

Our course may possibly stretch out for a very long time, but in any case nothing finer, more beautiful, and more desirable than what we have already had can henceforth be expected.

The road leads downhill. Historically we are, I believe, ripe for dismantling. And there is no doubt that such will be our fate, not today or tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p. 356

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The Real Thing

What are you selling?

Well, I tried to tell them nice as I could, but I had to explain to them that you don't go out to the Indians with something to sell, not religion, not politics, not modern science or products or anything else, because that's not where it's at when you're dealing with Indians.

The white man's always got to be selling something - peddle, peddle, peddle, proselytize and propagandize.
Maybe that's why you people here can learn a thing or two, because you don't have anything to sell.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.83

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Daily training in the Art of Peace allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally.

Keep your mind set on the Art of Peace, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. The Art of Peace never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.

[Morihei Ueshiba]
The Art of Peace, p.50


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The Role of Charities

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It makes little sense giving to charity on the one hand, whilst on the other taking part in a culture that is necessitating the need for that charity.

One reason we are able to take part in this seemingly schizophrenic exchange is because we are unable to see the connection between the two things.

It is akin to doing one thing with your left hand whilst doing another, contradictory, thing with your right. The left gives, whilst the right takes away. Only your right hand happens to be stronger.

Sometimes the most effective course of action is not to tackle the wound head-on. For instance, the best way to beat cancer may not be to irradiate the tumour, rather to change your lifestyle choices. The former is an immediate course of action, and suits our cultures need for immediacy and directness. The latter is the path of wisdom, and arises from a long-term mindset. 

If you truly support the ideals of these charities - if we truly want to make a lasting difference - then we must find ways to opt out of the current popular culture.

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Many charities appear to be about finding solutions to dysfunctional situations, about ending things.

Oxfam: "Mission possible: ending poverty"
NSPCC: "we aim to end cruelty to children in the UK"
RSPCA: "It's our vision to work for a world in which all humans respect and live in harmony with all other members of the animal kingdom."
Unicef: "To protect the rights of every child, and invest in her or his well-being, is the surest way to end poverty and to build peace and security in the world."
Breadline Africa: "Ending Poverty Through Charity Donation"

Whilst many who are involved in charity work may want to contribute towards finding solutions and ending things, we must ask if these solutions are really to be found through the current tactics of certain charitable organizations.

Picture this scenario.

A person is trapped within a cell. Conditions within the cell are not good, and our prisoner suffers from a number of physical and mental wounds caused by his imprisonment. He is visited regularly by a medic, who tends to his physical grievances, and a psychologist, who tends to his mental grievances. Between them they manage to keep the prisoner at an apparent equilibrium. He neither gets too ill, nor too well.

We can see charities as being akin to these health professionals, tending to the wounds of those in need. Our professionals stick firmly to their remit. They are trained in tending wounds, and this is their role. They are not there to ask why the prisoner is held captive, because questions like these may well be beyond their jurisdiction, and could land them in trouble with their superiors. After all, their duties provide them with a steady income, and they have families to support. In the last, our professionals have no real concern with seeing an end to this scenario. They may not like it, but they do not see how they can end it. It does not seem to be something that can be changed. The best they can do is to make conditions for our prisoner as bearable as possible.

Our professionals think in the small-scale. They know the borders of their roles, and they do not travel beyond them. They are specialists, and their forte lies in tending wounds. This is the role that they play, and the shape that they assume in order to fit a larger pattern. A charity can likewise think in the small-scale. In doing so it concerns itself with its mission, tending to whatever wound it happens to specialize in. Like our small-scale medics, it would not be concerned with looking beyond the borders of its remit; with asking why the prisoner is held captive, or with questioning the effectiveness, the purpose, or the ideology of the prison.

A charity that thinks large-scale, on the other hand, would be interested in such questions. It may be concerned with his wounds, and may tend to them; but it would also see that if the larger context - the cell - is not dealt with, is not changed, then the wounds will continue to be inflicted; and eventually our prisoner will simply not be able to take anymore, regardless of the help he receives.

A charity that thinks in the large-scale must always have one eye on the larger picture - the prison - and must always be asking questions of it, regardless of where they may lead. Whilst it may be difficult to trace back the causality of any given situation, this is no excuse for not engaging in an investigation. It cannot simply stick to its remit as medic, otherwise it becomes complicit in the drama, another player on the stage.

Such a charity must be interested in systems. It must be interested in how one thing leads to another. Its natural role is a dual one; both medic (zoomed-in, seeing and tending to details) and systems-analyst (zoomed-out, seeing patterns and connections). It must always be seeking to see the larger picture, to push back the boundaries of causality until it can go no further. Only once it has a wide perspective - once it has climbed the mountain of causality, traced the thread all the way back through the labyrinth - can it truly act effectively to eliminate dysfunction.

To zoom-in and look at things in isolation is characteristic of the way that we currently approach the world in most "advanced" Western societies. Traditional societies tend to adopt different approaches. When it comes to health, Native Americans, for example, see things holistically. If a person is unwell, then their illness will be seen as part of a larger picture, and the whole person will be treated rather than the illness in isolation. The essential connectedness of things is acknowledged, instead of one part being split off and seen as separate.

"For the Native American, healing, spiritual development and quality of life cannot be separated from other life aspects to include politics and economics. Harmony with the Earth is essential for health."

In attempting to heal the various wounds of our current way of life, charities could learn a lot from this holistic approach.

However, perhaps most charities only seek to alleviate dysfunction, as opposed to remedy it. In this sense they are a bandage, as opposed to a cure. They become part of a balancing act: through mopping up the mess that is made by the larger system (capitalism) they make it presentable - acceptable - thus allowing it to continue. Without them it would slip into a massive imbalance. The wound would worsen beyond repair, and we would be faced with the full consequences of our actions. As it is, the system appears to be held in perpetual motion - nothing gets better, nothing gets worse, and things go on as normal. The wound is left to bleed, and a new bandage is constantly applied. But this can only go on for so long. Despite the combined efforts of all of the worlds charities, they cannot balance out the ongoing destructive impact of the system, and our state of "equilibrium" is really nothing more than an illusion. Eventually the wound will cause problems that no bandage can deal with.

If a person or an organization is serious about bringing an end to a dysfunctional state of affairs - to find a remedy, to bring about change - then it is not enough for them to simply tend to the wound. They must be prepared to think holistically, balancing small-scale thinking with large-scale thinking. As the Native Americans remind us, it is a mistake to think that the only way to help a sick man is to take away the illness. And inasmuch as a particular illness is found to be related to a larger state of affairs, then any such charity that is not radically opposed to the status-quo cannot be rightly described as being serious about its aims.

If we decide that our society is sick then in order to heal it we may need to do more than simply attend to its various wounds.

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Connection


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Separate                         -                      Connected
Newtonian                     -                      Quantum
Particle                           -                      Wave
State                                -                      Process

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In our culture the church steeples have ceased to be sacred poles. The cosmos that once surrounded them has vanished and chaos again is come.

The center will not hold. In the absence of a collective myth, some of us are being forced for survival to try to establish our own sacred space in the midst of chaos, but in the hurly-burly of modern life we can't find our own myth. 

[Marion Woodman]
Addiction to Perfection, p. 118



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I looked back on the past and recalled my people's old ways, but they were not living that way any more. They were traveling the black road, everybody for himself and with little rules of his own [...]

[Black Elk]
Black Elk Speaks, p.215


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Whether on a personal or collective level, we are discovering that the stories of separation are untrue. 

What we do unto the other, inescapably visits ourselves as well in some form. As that becomes increasingly obvious, a new story of self and story of the people becomes accessible to us.

[...] The new story of self is the connected self, the self of interbeingness. The new story of the people is one of cocreative partnership with Lover Earth. They ring true in our hearts, we see them on the horizon, but we do not yet live yet in these new stories. It is hard to, when the institutions and habits of the old world still surround us.

[...] "It is impossible to abide in Nirvana alone. If any sentient being is left out of it, then part of me is left out of it." Only someone under the delusion that he is a discrete, separate soul would imagine otherwise.

Enlightening as these teachings might be, mere information is not enough. As many spiritual traditions recognize, a living teacher, a guru, is necessary to bring the teachings to life in their unique application to each individual. We need something from beyond our old selves, someone to illuminate our blind spots, to humble our conceit, to show us the love we didn't know we had within us. This presents a problem today, because the age of the guru is manifestly over.

Spiritual self-sufficiency ignores the fundamental truth of our interbeingness. Without each other, we cannot make those peak experiences, those glimpses we have all had of a more vivid way of being, into anything more than glimpses. How can we make them into a new baseline for life? How can we enter into the world that they show us, how can we redeem their promise? How can we bring into living reality the knowledge that we have been shown something true and real?

Each time, the old world drags us back.

The inertia of our habits and beliefs, the expectations of the people surrounding us, the way we are seen, the media, the pressures of the money system all conspire to hold us where we were. Coming off a peak experience, we may try to insulate ourselves from all these things, to live in a bubble of positivity, but eventually we realize that is impossible. The negative influences find a way to creep back in.

[...] Each one of us is pioneering a different aspect of the connected self in the age of reunion, and each one of us as well carries vestigial habits of the age of separation that are invisible to us or that, if visible, we are helpless to overcome on our own.

Quite practically, to inhabit a more enlightened state we must be held there by a community of new habits, new ways of seeing each other, and new beliefs in action that redefine normal.

In other words, in the age of the connected self our guru can be none other than a collective, a community - as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, "The next Buddha will be a sangha." By a community, I don't mean an amorphous "we are all one" mass devoid of structure, but rather a matrix of human beings united in a common story of the people and story of the self. Aligned with these defining stories, this community can hold us in the vision of what we are becoming.

[...] This realization often manifests as a desire to find one's true purpose in life, one's service to the world. Such a purpose is never just about the separate egoic self. It is always about service; it is about one's gifts and how to give them.

Purpose is about gift and relationship. 

The emerging state of vitality, joy, and love that humanity is entering is not a place where we can abide for long on our own. We need each other.

[...] To be dependent is to be alive - it is to be enmeshed in the give and take of the world.

[...] We can do for each other what a guru does for a disciple: hold each other in the knowing of who we really are, and teach each other how to live there. Each of us, as we experience our own piece of the age of reunion, becomes a guide to a small part of that vast new territory.

[Charles Eisenstein]
'Why the Age of the Guru is Over
 

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Maturity


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Immature                            -                           Mature
Irresponsible                       -                           Responsible


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Development [...] can be defined as a successive decrease in egocentrism.

Carol Gilligan found, for example, that female moral development tends to go through three general stages, which she calls selfish, care, and universal care. In each of these stages, the circle of care and compassion expands and egocentrism declines.

[Ken Wilber]
A Theory of Everything, p. 17-18

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Elders speak about everyone, but they do not ask to spoken about. They see everyone, but do not ask to be seen. The self is sacrificed, put to one side.

As we mature our gaze gradually turns away from the self and out towards others. We see more and become responsible for more. The less we look at the self, the more we see of our surroundings.

We begin to speak less in terms of "I" and "me" and more in terms of "we" and "us." We recognize our connectedness and become communalized.

For an elder to ask to be seen or spoken about is a perversity, and goes against the natural order. Just as water flows downhill, our gaze should also flow downwards, so that we see and speak about all those beneath us - less mature than us - and are in turn seen and spoken about by those above us. And as we wouldn't expect water to flow uphill - and would be engaging in a fruitless activity if we were attempt to make it - we shouldn't expect to be seen or spoken about by those beneath us. As we become older the self should become less important, and should not need to be stroked as much as when we were younger.


o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o < ------- o

This is one of the reasons why it is so disturbing when we meet an older person who is still consumed by selfishness and vanity, and who demands that we see and hear them, rather than the other way around. They may be older than us, but through such behaviour we see that they are no more mature. Often in cases like this, we must become the adult, sacrificing our self so that theirs is satisfied. An old person like this has ducked their duties and cannot rightly be seen as an elder. They are frozen in time, perpetually immature.

How can we hope for a mature and wise society if our grown-ups refuse to grow up?

"I will speak about others, but I will not expect or demand to be spoken about."


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In many indigenous cultures, elders are accorded great respect.

To be an elder is more than being old; it means being a person who has learned some wisdom from their life experiences, including their mistakes. An elder may be someone who has lived a blameless life of complete integrity, or a recovering alcoholic who knows from personal experience how hard it is to struggle with an addiction, and so can guide others.

Not everyone old is wise. For some people, aging can simply rigidify longstanding patterns of dysfunction. 

And some "elders" may be young, blessed with good judgment, compassion and sound sense from an early age.

Groups need elders: people who put the needs of the group first and help keep its balance. 

We may become elders and gain social power in many constructive ways:


- By Taking on Responsibility and Fulfilling It

- By Helping the Group Function Smoothly

- By Good Judgment

- By Making Mistakes and Acknowledging Them so They Become Part of Group Learning

- By Showing Compassion and Forgiveness

- By Integrity and Upholding Values

- By Bringing Experience, Skills and Training to the Service of the Group

- By Mentoring and Being Mentored

- By Commitment and Time

- By Modeling Good Self-Care



[Starhawk]
http://www.realitysandwich.com/developing_elders


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In maturity environment is something to which the individual contributes and for which the individual man or woman takes responsibility.

In a community in which there is a sufficiently high proportion of mature individuals there is a state of affairs which provides the basis for what is called democracy.

Of a true democracy (as the term is used today) one can say: In this society at this time there is sufficient maturity in the emotional development of a sufficient proportion of the individuals that comprise it for there to exist an innate tendency towards the creation and re-creation and maintenance of the democratic machinery.

By 'innate' I intend to convey the following: the natural tendencies in human nature (hereditary) bud and flower into the democratic way of life (social maturity), but this only happens through the healthy emotional development of individuals.

In bodily development the growth factor is more clear; in the development of the psyche, by contrast, there is a possibility of failure at every point, and indeed there can be no such thing as growth without distortion due to some degree of failure of environmental adaptation

[...] only a proportion of individuals in a social group will have had the luck to develop to maturity, and therefore it is only through them that the innate (inherited) tendency of the group towards social maturity can be implemented.

If the proportion of mature individuals is below a certain number, democracy is not something which can become a political fact since affairs will be swayed by the immature, that is to say, by those who by identification with the community lose their own individuality or by those who never achieve more than the attitude of the individual dependent upon society.

Maturity means, among other things, a capacity for tolerating ideas, [a capacity] which at its best is part of social maturity. A mature social system (while making certain demands in regard to action) allows freedom of ideas and the free expression of them.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From ('The Meaning of the Word 'Democracy''), p.242-3
Human Nature, p.29, 59-60, 152


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The psychologically mature person as I have described him has, I believe, the qualities which would cause him to value those experiences which would make for the enhancement and survival of the human race.

He would be a worthy participant and guide in the process of human evolution.

[Carl Rogers]
Person to person, the problem of being human, p. 27


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Our explanation of the sublime can indeed be extended to cover the ethical, namely what is described as the sublime character.

Such a character springs from the fact that the will is not excited here by objects certainly well calculated to excite it, but that knowledge retains the upper hand.

Such a character will accordingly consider men in a purely objective way, and not according to the relations they might have to his will.

For example, he will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without being thereby stirred to hatred on his own part. He will contemplate their happiness without feeling envy, recognize their good qualities without desiring closer association with them, perceive the beauty of women without hankering after them. His personal happiness or unhappiness will not violently affect him [...]

For, in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer.

This contemplation is only maintained by a constant turning away from the will and exaltation above its interests; and this constitutes the sublimity of the disposition.

On the other hand, the charming or attractive draws the beholder down from pure contemplation, demanded by every apprehension of the beautiful, since it necessarily stirs his will by objects that directly appeal to it.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.206-7


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The Master of Hermetics polarizes himself at the point at which he desires to rest, and then neutralizes the Rhythmic swing of the pendulum which would tend to carry him to the other pole.

All individuals who have attained any degree of Self-Mastery do this to a certain degree, more or less unconsciously, but the Master does this consciously, and by the use of his Will and attains a degree of Poise and Mental Firmness almost impossible of belief on the part of the masses who are swung backward and forward like a pendulum.

The Kybalion, Chapter II: "The Seven Hermetic Principles"


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