“I’ve been thinking about the people I meet. / The car wash on the corner and the holes in the street. The way my ankles hurt with shoes on my feet / I’m wondering if I’m gonna see tomorrow.”
Refrain: “Father forgive us for what we must do. / you forgive us and we’ll forgive you. We’ll forgive each other ‘till we both turn blue. / And we’ll whistle and go fishin’ in the heavens”
I woke up this morning with John Prine’s lyrics going round in my head. Somewhere between checking the backs of my eyelids for pinholes and poking for the snooze button, it dawned on me that America’s bumper crop of finger-pointing presidential contenders could all use some instruction in forgiveness.
Then, as luck would have it, the first thing on TV is someone a third my age listing the 2020 season’s Presidential wannabes’ moral and ethical equivalencies. Her breathless worldview contained no insights – not yet recognized as a curable mental condition – into why certain people are so hungry for ultimate institutional power.
What sane person would want to change places with such driven people? Isn’t it clear by now that nobody’s finger should be near a nuclear trigger? If it turns out that getting saner leaders depends upon us becoming a better people, then I foresee more mornings when chewing my way out of the leather straps is just not worth it.
So now, while you’re left to ponder these helpful character insights, I’d like to extend appreciation to all my friends whose ideas and feedback helps inform this column. I borrow from the works of many brilliant researchers and literally stand next to the shoulders of giants. As the Herald’s readership numbers continue to grow, I occasionally recap the main themes along the way. For those just tuning in, this column began in March 2018. There’s an on-line way to catch up.
A lot of ground’s been covered since then. Along the way, I’ve introduced various mind games that, done with earnest and repeated application, may help to restore enquiring minds to a condition of free attention. This is a state of total presence and mental availability, a return to a timeless “no trance” state. In childhood is the sense of both tremendous comfort and immediacy. Life’s outside of the flow of time. A no-trance state like this can be regained by a controlled release of the energies that sustain our various desires and aversions as perceived “reality.”
Put another way, the exercises emphasize how to discharge (or rebalance) the energized polarities that sustain the contents of our personal history. The goal therefore, is not therapeutic in any sense of “figuring out” or analyzing the various hurts we hold, but to know how to reliably dis-charge them by ourselves.
The memories of life’s traumas remain, no doubt, but are energetically neutered. They no longer adversely skew or limit our decisions in present time.
It’s like a refrigerator magnet that’s lost its magnetism. It won’t stick no matter what. Its colorful message or picture is irrelevant when the magnetic support has been lost. In the same way, our return to happiness involves a letting go of the past, a neutralizing of hurts that intrude upon the on-going functions of life. When we’ve let go of enough “stuff” to maintain our mental equanimity through all of life’s challenges, the mind is then fit to explore more universal applications.
There are similarities to a technology of the mind (in the form of a self-healing program), and to mobilizing a community’s full potential (as a sustainable and independent entity). In both cases there is a process for dropping lower and less fulfilling levels of relationship for higher and happier ones.
Along the way, I’ve suggested the likelihood that we are a telepathic species that remains all but unaware of its own higher gifts. The exercises I introduce for your consideration, merely a sampling, can build to the synchronization of heart-beats in groups of aligned adults. One could imagine this as a preparation for awakening the higher powers of mind at a communal level.
Historical analogies might include Pentecost, a kind of a communal experience of unity, or field consciousness. This said, it is one thing to briefly experience this extraordinary unity state, but quite another to live in it. The larger purpose of using these transpersonal tools and lifestyle is to create a transpersonal society. An aim that is possible only with an ethos of depolarization.
My rudimentary descriptions of the mind-shifting exercises themselves can only go so far. If reading anything through the abstraction of print could bootstrap us into a permanently elevated state, the entire world would have been enlightened a long time ago. Even so, just to achieve our personal goals and hopes, we must first learn to recognize and then de-potentiate our self-limiting creations.
The results we seek must be empowering, replicable, deliberate, and always re-main under our personal control. Thus noted, today’s exploration continues with a further look at the trans-shift mechanics. Kaisa Puhakka, co-editor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, eloquently identifies the steps involved in breaking down Cartesian objectivity:
“The coming together of the subject and object, or the knower and the known, in the act of knowing obliterates their distinction in the moment of contact. To be sure, the coming together may or may not be complete but rather a matter of degree, depending on the depth of contact or the permeability of the participants in the contact.”
The subjective identity, as the bounded interpreter of its own experience, occupies the waking and dreaming state territories familiar to us all. “Permeability” is an interesting word – we might think of it as having a “closed’ or “open” mind. An “impermeable” personality, as a closed identity, is the result of a chronically skeptical or separative viewpoint. It’s like wearing polarized glasses which, once put on through a process of education, never come off again.
From then on, we cannot see the real world in any other way. Even if we’re not interested in studying non-subjective modalities of “reality,” we should at least know how deeply our identity is being framed. Kaisa then continues: “To the degree that the contact occurs, it involves an ontological shift – it is not a matter of the subject “viewing” the object, but rather the subject is now “being” the object. But note: the subject is not being the object “In” his or her subjective experience or viewpoint.”
By ‘onlogical shift’ she means it’s not just a viewer’s shift from one viewpoint to another, but a shift in the constitution of the viewer him/herself. In other words, a transformation of the subject takes place. As contact and permeability deepens (a direct function of free attention), the isolated subject is transformed into a connected “intersubject.”
“Knowing,” she says, “is not merely a subjective experience of assimilating the object. In interpersonal contexts, the mutuality of the contact in empathetic knowing . . . transcends the boundaries of subjectivity and is genuinely intersubjective . . . it is not something that happens between distinct “subjects.” (but) refers to the mutual interconnectedness of all things, human and nonhuman, living and nonliving . . . For every act of knowing, however fleeting and mundane, dissolves the self in the moment of contact.
The mind can learn to turn inward, can gain conscious control of the mechanism by which the “self” dissolves, and subsequently hold it open at will. This is a skill, not a doctrine. There are ways to discharge the ignorance of sources, dependencies and relationships of the polarized mind. The same thing applies on a cultural scale. We must see these new ways in a holistic context and resolve to get involved. Nothing less will stop the strip mining of the soil and rejoin a healthy involvement in all living systems and cycles. Then we’ll whistle and go fishin’ in the heavens.”