Author Archives: John Maerz

About John Maerz

I'm an author, professional speaker and coach with a specialization in psychological study. Having worked as a counselor and as a case manager with teen substance abuse and in social services in child protection I'm a seasoned personal coach, adviser and lecturer and have a diverse background in the human potentials field incorporating personality influences, shadow work, nutritional needs, creative expression and personal desires while uncovering innate abilities and hidden potentials for my clients. I'm dedicated toward raising awareness and share my own unique understandings and perspectives about life’s journey and meaning. I, also, recognize the need for balance and accountability on our mental, physical and emotional levels as well as fulfilling our spiritual potential through our individual experiences.

I want, I need I desire..They're such small words for such large and multi-leveled meanings. We all speak of what we want, need and desire, but so little attention is ever given to where the urges come from and how they originated in our perception in the first place. Why do we desire? Why do we want? Why do we need? I believe the answer is very simple but we get so mired down in the details of those feelings and what they’re attached to that we never see the larger picture. The larger picture is the key to our understanding but it will take a little perceptual shifting on our parts to fully comprehend the paradigm.

on the path-2Let’s begin first by saying that a desire is a direction finder for following our hearts and our inner paths. It is this directing engine that drives the experience that we’ve come here to have. To understand this in the proper context we have to put ourselves in the position of “where” we were in before we created and entered our current bodies. I believe at the very root of this understanding is that we were not put here by anyone for any reason foreign to us. However, there is a universal energy of which we are all a part of. Call it God, the Tao, the source, our essence, regardless whatever name you choose to represent the larger part of us that we are striving to become aware of our part in. Essentially, we are a small splinter of a much, much larger force.

In this state, which we might call spirit, soul or essence, we are aware that to become aware of the larger whole of what we’re part of we must have experiences that awaken qualities within us that will make us able to comprehend and understand our connection and belonging to that larger force. To that end we create an intention for which experiences we believe will expand our awareness and understanding to do so. This is partly what is meant when many of us say Bunker familyand believe that we choose the family to which we will be born into. The type of family and circumstances we enter will train us into a perspective that will create desires and needs within us that, if followed, will eventually lead us to personal choices that will produce the experiences that will enliven our pre-birth intentions. In a sense, we’re setting the stage for how we will perceive and approach the world to serve as an impetus toward the experience(s) we’ve chosen. Once we’ve been trained into family views and perceptions, our attention will find gaps in or qualities missing in our earthly self-assessments and life circumstances that we feel must be filled in order that we may feel “whole.” For example, if we’ve chosen to experience personal accomplishment and what the world calls success, we will be born to a family that lacks opportunity, prestige, resources, and recognition. Feeling this lack we will be impelled to overcome those limitations, and hopefully, establish an awareness of those qualities within ourselves. Older esoteric organizations describe this dynamic as being a thrust block akin to how a swimmer would use the resistance of the pool wall behind them to propel themselves forward through the water. More examples would be the psychologist who comes from a dysfunctional family seeks and gains inner balance or an abused person finds and builds the internal respect to become assertive, confident and self-respecting in their life choices of partners. It has been my experience to find people who have come from exceptionally difficult childhoods to eventually excel in those areas in their lives that had provided the most difficulty. Then, their worst deficits are turned into their best assets through seeking to overturn them. Yet, not every soul “accomplishes” the earthly experience they intended. Just around the cornerWhat we call “fate” sets the path but free will allows us to choose our earthly direction based on the forces we find here. Many of our choices are not aligned with what our heart intends for us. Yet, even in missing the intended goal we acquire experiences that lead to our greater awareness. Nothing is wasted. This is one of the factors included in the Law of Conservation. Hence, we pull back and reestablish our intention. This is one of the purposes for meditation and practices that return us to our center. If not done during our incarnation, we may reassess after returning to our source.

So, now let’s return to I want, I need, I desire. Where do these desires, needs and wants come from? They are activated by the circumstances we choose to insert ourselves into before birth. By our pre-birth choice, we choose and set the stage for our growth ourselves through the family we enter ingraining in our psyches differences in culture, religion, social standing, prosperity, physical attributes, mental and emotional capacity, etc. Our perceived lack in any or all of those areas serves as the engine that drives our urges and desires for our originally intended experience.

In this light we can see that if we faithfully follow our inner most urges and desires, we will enable and manifest the worldly experience we’ve have chosen to have before we were born. The process is simple as long as we are able to listen and follow what comes from our hearts. But the world neither understands nor approves of selfishly following our own desires and urges regardless of the reasoning behind it. The world sees being selfish and following our own Vatican Rulingurges as indicative of our exhibiting negative behavior, despicable self-centeredness and assumes lack of compassion for others. Our religions have done a stupendous job of making us choose to believe that we are responsible and accountable to the world rather than our own souls, spirits or essences even though it claims to have the truth about our existence. To serve ourselves before serving others is seen as a perversion of human values. Our materially driven world sees humanity as having to be accountable and responsible for the world existing outside of our hearts. Hence, we allow ourselves become dismally distracted into believing that others are the reason to which we’ve been put here by a deity outside of us while under its threat of excommunication, ostracization and rejection. In short, we’re blackmailed through being prohibited from receiving love and belonging unless we behave in ways that only serves the religion which proposed them. Perhaps this is what one of the perspectives that Jesus meant when he said to simply be in the world rather than of it.

When we say I want, I desire, I need... they're simply the tip of the inner iceberg indicating pied-piper-1where our attention should be. We must not only listen to and follow them but look beneath the surface of those desires to be assured that our choices are not the manufactured product of a worldly Pied Piper seducing our egos and tempting us away from the inner path we have truly intended for ourselves.

Guru-1The lure of someone who appears to have mastered what we’re struggling with seems to be an overwhelming attraction for us. Often, being unaware of the attraction but still feeling its pull adds to our urge to become something more than we are. To this end we find ourselves actively seeking people with those abilities to improve our abilities, our spirituality, our knowledge and our awareness. People who have or are the things we long for are also attracted to us simply through the dynamic of being different from what we are and what they are and seek. This difference creates a natural and irresistible draw for us toward each other. In this way we can know that our inner guidance system is working well and that our lack of what we think and believe we need or want is producing a magnetic pull toward someone whom we believe has what we need or want. This simply follows the Law of Attraction. Since the universe “abhors” a vacuum and is always “seeking” to fill the gap, this attraction enables us an opportunity to fulfill or neutralize what we seek.

Used car salesman-1This dynamic is all well in good in that it brings to us to what we need to grow, but it also has its pitfalls. Depending on our orientation toward how we believe the world works, it can make us extremely susceptible to being used by others. The question we have to ask ourselves is where do we draw our authority from? Who gives the final judgment on what we feel we are allowed to do or partake in; us or the external world? This difference in approach is explained by psychologists as our dominant locus of control.

To understand this, all we have to do is ask ourselves, “Does the world determine our fate or are we in control of our lives?” In other words, do we seek validation and permission to do and be what we want from the external world and what it values or do we have an internal authority that validates our own beliefs, experiences and choices rather than the world’s?

locus_of_controlAccording to the field of psychology, having an exterior locus of control says that the world determines what our life will be like. Our permissions and life direction comes from what is external to us. Having an interior locus of control says that we will determine how our life will go. Our permissions and life direction comes from an internal authority. At this point you might be asking your selves, “What does this have to do with our susceptibility to being used by others?” The answer is simple. The more externally directed we are, the more easily we can be led by those who are users and opportunists. This makes us eminently more manipulable by those who profess to have or be what we believe that we need. Conversely, if we are internally directed, we will be much less likely to be influenced or manipulated by others since our value system comes from within us. We also need to understand that we may be more externally directed in some issues and more internally directed in others. For example, if we’re involved in work or family ethics we may more defer toward what our family says is appropriate. However, if we’ve been trained in an area of science and have developed proficiencies, our family will have little say in what we believe is right or true because we’ve had our own extensive training independent of our family and now trust our own inner guidance. So we can easily say that some areas of our lives we will believe that others determine our fate and in other areas we do. This leaves us with the understanding that we are a mix of both internal and external authorities. So now we have to ask what is it that makes us more one than the other?

Because I said so-1So the next question we have to ask ourselves is has our childhood training allowed us to trust our own judgment and experience? Did our parents encourage us to make our own decisions or were we given a laundry list of rules, expectations and behaviors to live by based on what they thought were “right” and important? Did they tell us what we should be, want and feel or did they leave that determination to us? The more we were encouraged to make our own decisions, the less likely we are to be used by others. The less they encouraged our independence and the more they taught us to look to them for validation and permissions, the more susceptible we become to being used by others. Why? Because now, after we’ve grown up and left home, we will tend to seek an external substitute for our parents. They now become our new “authorities.”  Those surrogate parents can take the form of mates, mentors, bosses, gurus, shamans and masters. Herein lays the danger in blindly trusting gurus, shamans and masters.

Whats right-1If we’ve been raised to believe that our parents knew (and still know) what is best for us without our being allowed to develop any independence, we are far more likely to accept at face value what any external authority, gurus & shamans & masters included, tell us is true and right for us. This makes us eminently susceptible to the lies and misdirection by any shyster, user, opportunist, salesman, politician, news reporter, priest, pastor, rabbi, doctor, lawyer, advertiser, and many more people and positions established as board certified, accredited, approved of, sanctioned, and so much more.

So, what is the solution? There is nothing wrong with taking into account our world’s circumstances. However, to have a solid basis for our own truth and values, we must begin with what we feel. We must consider first our own experience. We must develop our own standards for what we believe to be true. For each of us, the only reality there is, is what we perceive. Essentially, all reality is subjective. If we don’t perceive it, it really doesn’t exist for us. The difficulty in knowing this and the challenge for our confidence is that when we do and accept this, we are taking responsibility for our own awareness and choices. For most people, it is easier and harbors less responsibility to let someone else to tell them what they should do and Choose for yourselfhow they should be. Is your fate determined by others or do you make up your own mind? The choice is always yours. It takes courage to be ourselves. Being so is a primary measure for our emotional maturity and spiritual growth. We all must choose.

Outer Limits-1With all the talking that goes on about thinking outside the envelope, there have been very subtle, if not important, changes happening to the envelop itself. If we understand the concept of the envelope, we recognize that it represents the usual limits or boundaries to which people think or perceive within. When we speak of someone thinking or working outside of the envelope, we assume that their thoughts and actions occur outside that of the average person’s awareness and comfort zone. They are out of the ordinary. They tap into a little know current of thought and awareness.

shoes-too-small-1But, what if those outer boundaries change? What happens if the field of what is considered normal shrinks into a smaller range of potential; a smaller range of what is acceptable as being usual or common to our mental and spacial capacities? Minimizing the field of choice may make it simpler or easier to see and understand what is considered normal but it also makes anything seen as unusual or creative to be perceived as being more remote, father away from possibility and more outrageous as compared to what we’re used to and comfortable with. The further away the choice, the less likely we are to be aware of it let alone choose it for our action.

With life becoming more organized, automated and programmed, we find ourselves becoming much more dependent, complacent, lazy and more prone to allow ourselves to be led by those who establish “new” technological limits. We are gradually being “farmed” into a headspace where we will readily expect less and be complacent enough to accept only what is offered by those doing the programming. If we know and expect less, we are much more manipulatable in areas that we are unaware of. Let’s examine this premise from another perspective.

strict-teacher-1Our educational system is becoming much more regulated and stringent in terms of what is “necessary” to fulfill our idea of being educated enough to successfully live and work in our rapidly changing world. Fifty years ago children in elementary school only had to contend with a few aptitude tests, IQ test and general testing for academic proficiency upon leaving elementary school. The general consensus of thinking by teachers then was that they were “crystallizing” a child’s innate abilities lying dormant in each by teaching them reading and math in order that they might have a common language with the rest of the world to share their individual creativity. Since then, things have radically changed. State testing of our children now occurs beginning in the second grade. This seems innocuous enough but when we more closely examine what is being tested, it becomes acutely obvious that technological skills and their testing far outstrips the humanities and all but eliminates truthful knowledge about our history and the history of the rest of the world. This, in itself, is alarming enough, but when we then consider that most teachers, having only a limited amount of time to teach and too many students to service effectively, resort to only teaching Robots-1children what is necessary to pass the test rather than developing their innate talents, all of our internal alarms must now ring off the wall telling us that children are now selectively being channeled and programmed into becoming specified cogs in a technological wheel depending on their tested ability to regurgitate facts and knowledge. It becomes distressfully apparent that individuality and creativity are no longer valued by the educational administration unless they promise to enhance or improve the existing proficiency of wanted and expected performance and its ease in being tested. Despite the rising percentage of children being home schooled and enrolled in private schools due to fears of unwanted potential violence, undesirable social influences and a desire for their increased physical safety, creativity and humanitarian education are still being kept alive even in its wake. Based on our current financial structure and the powerful influences presented by consumer and manufacturing lobbies, its continued evolution towards its technological end shows no signs of retreating. In this light, maintaining humanitarian values in our children is a task that rests solely and squarely on our shoulders; their parents.

portrait of stressed teacher and blackboard backgroundIt should not be assumed that blame for the outcome of our children’s lack of humanitarian awareness rests within the responsibility of our teachers. There own survival as teachers is included in the coercive dynamic. We can see this in the fact that teachers themselves are “graded” on their children’s ability to perform well on the state testing and their tenure or continued services in the educational community depends on how high their quotient of effective performers compares to other teachers. Those who accelerate the effectiveness of children performing well on state testing are the ones who are retained by the schools, especially, since funding for public schools comes almost exclusively from the state.

TV-lockupThe shrinking envelope can also be evidenced by what appears on television now and what was programmed fifty years ago. Current programming which is banal, inert and corporately owned is geared to effectively enable and monitor a public mindset which does not questions, counter or threaten the validity and effectiveness of our currently existing political administration. In the same vein we can also see a stark absence of programs that support our curiosity and our TV-cooking showattention toward examining our feelings and circumstances with an eye toward improving the depth and richness of our own personal lives. What have taken their place are reality shows, cooking shows, a larger variety of “cops and robbers”, survival shows, forensic shows, crime investigations, “Judge Judy” shows, “lockup” shows, and many other shows espousing the prudence of focusing on and aligning with popularly known systems of living and conformity. The media has effectively directed our attention away from what we feel within ourselves and is refocused on the TV naked & Afraidcircumstances surrounding others who we’re encouraged to believe have it worse than we do. If that’s not enough to discourage us from “listening” to our hearts and our conscience, the onslaught of extreme and offensive advertising insists that we buy products or services validated by an underlying implication that we are somehow less desirable and less efficient to others than we have an assumed responsibility to be and that we need their assistance to regain the appropriate power and dignity. What is so ironic is that it is we who are not being listened to or considered by others when it comes to our needs, our opinions and our individuality. Our culture, religion and family beliefs systems are responsible for making us capitulate and become susceptible to accepting less for ourselves by TV NCISmaking us believe that others’ welfare should come before our own and that we are somehow responsible for fixing their needs and comforts before even considering our won. Our value system has been totally turned upside down. Why do we talk about self-improvement when the end result is only to be coerced into believing that it is our responsibility to give those same self-improvements over as advantage to others coupled with the enabling of a guilt generated feeling of neglected obligation when we don’t? When we allow this to occur, our “envelope” of what we consider normal and acceptable shrinks even further.

WebAs a culture, this change has been perceived by very few since its progression has happened over a long period of time. Similar to the old analogy of the frog and hot water, if the frog is immediately thrown into hot water it will immediately feel the sudden change of temperature sparking their awareness spurring them on to struggle feverishly to escape. But if the temperature starts to change at body temperature and  rises slowly, it will take much longer for them to become aware that it has become unbearably hot. In the slower change, the frog will even notice the change much later than when it occurs in the moment. Most people are notorious for not noticing or sometimes ignoring changes that occur right under their noses. Others will be afraid to mention what they feel out of fear of offending others or believing that “this is the way it’s supposed to be.” Those of us with a longer memory, like our elders, may notice simple things like actors no longer having the refinement they had “in the old days” or “We never had to do that in school when we grew up.” And because these observations of change come most often from those who are retired or aging, they’re observations are chalked up as their being “stuck in the old days” or “going senile and living in the past.”

Rose-Colored-GlassesAs technology and the media have evolved to growing and changing faster, and as we as consumers have had to chase “progress" simply in order to survive, the process has become an all encompassing  distraction from looking at our human values and considerations from the perspective of what our hearts need simply to feel peaceful and relaxed. But now with the Shrinking Envelope, and as we slowly lean back into that well deserved peace and tranquility, we can’t help noticing that our world has lost a bit of its color, its individuality and the things that spark our curiosity and interest in feeling the awe in recognizing how we and nature are and have been so superbly intertwined.

 

missing-the-trainWhat we hear, see, feel and intuit from our experience is not perceived in the same way for each of us. For some of us tangible experiences provide the most clarity. For others, what is heard is more important. We all perceive in what we might call different modes. There are four of them. Each of them has a “format” of qualities that allow us to relate to others more effectively either through our senses, feelings, thoughts or intuition. When we relate to another person in the same mode the connection between us is dynamic and catalyzing in terms of how we perceive and understand. When it’s not and as the other person is speaking, we’re left with guessing as to their meaning as if we’ve been left standing on the platform while the train just whizzes by. For many people recognition of this aspect in our interactions is most often well below our threshold of awareness. Yet, all we can say is that we somehow “connect” with them more easily and deeply than anyone else. For others where we don’t “connect” we find ourselves saying that we simply had no idea what they were trying to say.

radio-stationWorking with modes is like tuning into a radio station. There are sometimes when we’re locked on to the frequency and other times it seems that we’ve just drifted into static. It could be said that each mode is a type of “headspace” unto itself requiring us to tune into the other person’s wavelength if we are to effectively understand or “grok” them. (grok is a term used in the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein meaning to fully comprehend meaning on all levels and in all modes).

ListeningModes are important in that for some relationships the rapport is extremely strained and trying. For others it is fluid and easy. It’s easy to understand how the majority of our rapport in relationships is largely dependent on the degree to which each of us are able to allow ourselves to listen to each other separately from our own agendas and issues. But in recognizing our own expressions and those of our partners as coming through different modes, a higher or subtler form of listening is necessary. Its requirement is that personal agendas most be either worked through or set aside in order to navigate perceptively in differing modal interchanges. In the same way that being in a noisy room will drown out the words of a whispering companion, having an agenda will overpower our awareness through distraction to the point where we become unable to perceive gentler undercurrents. Lack of this capacity often can make or break our ability to communicate deeply and effectively beyond the simple words of what is being expressed. We might say that this is one of the methods of being able to “read between the lines” but is dimensionally different in that the process involves harmonizing with the perceptual undercurrent of our partner.

The modes I speak of were first publicized through the work of Carl Gustav Jung. For the sake of clarity and brevity I will paraphrase and simplify much of what I’ve learned. Not to do so would tie our brains in knots, especially, if we’re unfamiliar with his perspectives and work.

Jungian TypesOf the four modes through which we express and perceive, senses, feeling, thought and intuition, each has its own particular “flavor” of expressing and perceiving. So we’ll be on the same page when I say expression, I’m referring how we project energy and information. When I say perceive, I will simply mean how we receive, transmute and customize that energy and information so it resonates with what we have already learned, experienced and currently understand. Another way of saying this is our perception and projections are a function of the filters operating in our personal interchanges, namely, through our modes. As an example, we’ve been told that rose colored glasses can totally change how we perceive someone or something. We can comprehend more fully what I say simply by observing how we feel when we look through sunglasses of differing colors. We actually “feel” what we’re looking at differently. Let’s look at the modes and how they filter what we perceive and project.

Sense Receptive or Expressed - When our physical senses are the primary baseline through which we receive and assess our world, we tend to perceive and think of our experiences and circumstances in terms of what we believe to be tangible and, therefore, practical. We tend to be in the moment along with the feeling mode. One might say that, “If I can see it, feel it, taste it and touch it or smell it, it’s real enough for me.” We find our truth in the world through our senses. We are the scientists of the world, the statisticians, the engineers and any of those of us who require “proof” in the form of physical and tangible evidence to gain our belief and support in who we are and what we do. Since we operate based on sense verification, we tend to wait for the world to provide that to us before we will even consider investing ourselves. As a result of this we tend to be more cautious and premeditative than other modes in all that we do and say.

Feeling Receptive or Expressed - When our feelings are the receptive or driving force we might not even “go there” if what we feel doesn’t somehow mesh with what we feel or what might be assumed to be an uncomfortable or displeasing force. Feeling is an intangible, elusive, fluid and empathic and an involuntary movement within us. We are the artists, musicians, performers, activists, social workers, humanitarians and any career that takes our life direction and callings from an internal feeling. Thought may be involved if only to clarify but is often bypassed due to the intensity of the feeling or occurs after the wave has passed.

Like in the sensing mode, we perceive in the moment but often “percolate” our feelings until they surface in our awareness in a way that “feels right” for our comprehension or “grokking.” The dominating catalyst in our assessing rests in our recognition and alignment of and with the movement or current of what we’re feeling. Comparing with elicited memories gives us a language to use in order to convey to others what we feel in terms of prior events and circumstances. Our perceiving and recognizing a change of flow is our primary consideration in our process for discrimination and the memories simply provide reference points to convey a comprehended meaning. When we assess, the process becomes all absorbing to the exclusion of all else. Those of us who use other modes can gain a vague understanding of a feeling person’s process through descriptive words such as penetrating, instinctual, psychically sensitive, suspicious, permeable, textured and enveloping.

Thought Receptive or Expressed - When our thinking is the primary mover, all that is perceived is, first, converted to language, and then applied to a search for worldly intellectual and recognizable patterns with which we can align, validate and then direct our individual experiences and actions. We are the philosophers, writers, educators (systemic), theorists, mathematicians and intellectuals of the world. We are emotionally detached and feelings are considered irrational and are, essentially, ignored. Our primary operative space rests in abstraction gained through a process of distillation. Our actions are almost never a function of being in the moment and every action taken or anticipated is structured and planned before ever being acted on. Any choice becomes an arduous process involving weighing, measuring and assessing experience for its potential to align with the most advantageously known format or structure. Words that best describe us are: abstract, rational, mental, pre-emptive, theoretical, comparative, separative, conceptual, timed, planned, strategized and logical.

Intuition Receptive or Expressed - When intuition is the primary mover, we live more in the moment than any other mode. Thought is rarely part of the process. We may or may not actually hear you speaking. As you do we receive flashes of you or someone like you in complete scenarios much like multidimensional photographs but straddling the barriers between past, present and future. We receive everything as a complete multidimensional “picture” and then plunge into fleshing out what we’ve seen. Like a dream, linear explanations are often useless as they lose the depth of the experience as we attempt to squeeze our multidimensional flash into a linear timeline. When we act, we go from receiving the intuitive flash directly into activity attempting to create or manifest the complete “picture” of what we’ve seen in the flash. We are the composers, architects, psychoanalysts, inventors, quantum physicists, chefs and designers. Words that describe us are experiential, impulsive, active, immersive, self-trusting, conceptually inclusive, comprehensive and aligning rather than directive.

What dreams may come-2Essentially, sense and thought based rapports are tangible formats and feeling and intuitive are intangible. This accounts for which of them are in the moment and which are time based; which are timeless and which are time constrained. When we mix formats, not only are the modes out of sync but the time formats they filter through are also. For example, we’ve all heard the comic routines about the logical husband and the emotionally based wife. One is tangibly based, the other is intangibly based. Is it really any wonder why it is so difficult for them to understand each other? Rational and irrational are exchanged in comments to and about each other as if one or the other is inferior. But the truth is, both are viable but through different kinds of reception and projection. This causes massive problems in what is understood and what is assumed about each other’s intentions and perceptions. What one expects of the other, the other has no clue as to what is meant and vice versa.

BootiesUnfortunately, our culture has had a predilection toward assuming that the modal difference is present due to gender determination. Over the years, this expectation has been changing and the lines between have been blurring our ability to know what to expect from either sex, especially, with the growing influence of unisex “standards.” This change has been forcing us to look deeper than at our gender and surface appearances, slowly evolving us toward becoming a lot more sensitive to the subtleties of our differences and similarities. Of course there are still older “holdouts” left whose personal security lies based in their traditional assumptions about the sexes perpetuating the colloquial “battle of the sexes.” But as the older generations die off, the younger generations, who have not been as strongly indoctrinated in the older assumptions, will move quickly past the old prejudices and insecurities and focus more on the subtler similarities and differences in individual communicative rapports.

My-Way or highwayThe way to accelerate and facilitate our own ability to sensitize ourselves to and recognize these subtle similarities and differences is to first, uncover and work at moving past the agendas generated by our own personal insecurities. This will remove the loud voices in the room so we can hear the whispers. And then second, listen for the type of syntax used to describe how others experience us and their world. Sense and thought based personalities will describe their world in terms of reality, proof and what they can physically sense or conceptualize. Feeling and intuition based personalities will describe their worlds in terms that will seem fluid, irrational and intangible. Our key to perceiving the difference is hearing words such as, “I hear or understand what you’re saying” or “I feel the difference.” Listen carefully. The words chosen to describe their experience will tell you everything you need to know about your relationship rapport and how to tune into the individual modes of others. Good luck! It’s an interesting and challenging exercise in paying attention.

Ironman-1All of us at one time or another has lived vicariously through a hero or heroine on the television or in a captivating book. We’ve felt the power and the gratitude of saving someone in trouble and the adoration and recognition of whole societies for our heartfelt service to them.  Mythology is full of examples of people that we’d like to be like and emulate and people whose places we’d like to be in. There is nothing wrong with feeling this as our emotional participation in that it teaches us things about the experiences that we need to integrate and incorporate into our psyches and self-concept. But then, we're told, "don't plant your feet in someone else's soil." Make your own choices. Conduct your own life. Yet, when we live in the wake of someone else’s boat, we never have to put ourselves at risk for being shown that we feel inadequate in some way as a function of our feared failures. What are we to do?

In someone else's shadowIn the same way that we seek the shade of a tree to protect us from the intensity of the sun, many of us seek people with the skills and capabilities to protect us from others who might take advantage of us or harm us in a way that we believe we should have developed the skills and defenses to handle but have somehow fallen short due to some perceived inadequacy. Our propensity for seeking that sort of person usually comes from experiences that we’ve had that have overwhelmed us in our ability to stand up for our core values and personal integrity. These experiences can come from childhood beatings, sexual abuse, emotional blackmail or any other form of unwanted coercion coming from others, including parents, who have learned, even if unconsciously, that it is easier to find someone else to do their dirty work and take the fall for their own perceived inadequacies and improprieties. These accounts for what many psychologists have called being the scapegoat in a family or close group. Even with people who are accomplished and have personal integrity beyond reproach have been the objects of our sought protection. I believe that this type of seeking behavior on our part is simply an extension of our seeking protection from others as we would from our parents as small children. Until we learn to “defend ourselves” against abuse, erect personal boundaries without feelings of guilt or fear of penetration and have develop skills to make our own way in the world can we pull away from needing to live in and as someone else’s shadow. I use shadow in both the terms of what the tree provides and in terms of that unwanted part and qualities of ourselves that we struggle to repress or project on others so it won’t interfere with the preferred image we wish present to the world. We can do this consciously, like a parent for a child, or unconsciously, as in dependency oriented relationships. This type of role playing, if I can call it that, is one of us being the “protected” one and one of us being the “protector” has devastating consequences on our Self-Trust and confidence. The Parent-Child interplay explained by the theory of Transactional Analysis by Thomas Harris in "I'm Ok, You're OK" holds a key toward understanding the dynamic in play and what needs to be done in order to re-balance the relationship and restore adult status to both individuals. Let’s first look at the dynamic occurring in the “child,” the “protected” one, who is living in the shadow of another. Remember, this is one of two adults fulfilling a role to retain a real or imagined emotional security.

To begin with, remember walking into someone’s house and just feeling comfortable like putting on a pairs of slippers and a robe? Now imagine meeting a person with whom we feel the same way. This is probably the feeling that some of us describe as “finding our other half.” Being in someone else’s space can have dramatic effects on our ability to relax, be creative and feel “at home.” It’s not that they “make” us feel that way. It’s that we resonate with their space and the energy that they emit. There is a spectrum which we all fall into that will tell us if we’re seeking this out on the end which provides protection or on the end that provides an almost literal augmentation of our creativity and excitement in perceiving our effectiveness in the world. The kind of person we seek has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves and our participation in the world around us. If we feel that we are somehow lacking, inadequate or Parents are godsunable to make our way in the world, we will tend to seek someone who will provide a buffer, as our parents most likely did for us as a child, between us and what we perceive as the frightening aspects of dealing with an outside world that we feel no confidence in. In doing this we either remain or become the “child” as in Transactional Analysis. Choosing this role enables us to rely on another’s experience, guidance and accountability. Of course, there are many more dimensions available to us in choosing the role of “child” but for the child protection would be their main focus. I think the advantage of choosing a relationship with someone who could provide these things for us is obvious but for many our selection (choice) is unconscious. Because it is primarily an unconscious choice by those of us seeking protection, when our choice poses subsequent limitations on our freedom and confidence, we never realize that it is our same choice that has caused the construction of our own limitations that has made us dependent on the behavior of those we have selected. But it is only the disadvantages of that choice that we see and never realize the dynamics operating behind it while projecting the causes of our displeasure on our chosen partner. So a potential scenario might go like this. You are an older couple. One of you is afraid to drive so you sell your second car and let your spouse become the primary transporter. Now, as your life loses opportunities for enjoyment outside the house because your spouse may have the car, you now claim that your spouse is hampering your ability to enjoy life and get around. Now the protection you’ve selected seems like an isolation and manipulation. A compounding of that effect would be if we were the driver of the car and like having our spouse under our watchful eye by their being easily within our control. But when the obligation for us to transport them becomes more dominant than we prefer, we claim that our spouse, who doesn’t drive, is always there and cramping our style and taking up our time.

protect me-2The opportunity for our tendency to create co-dependence for personal advantage is always present. If we are self-accountable and take responsibility for our own circumstances, it almost never occurs. But if we aren’t or don’t, we almost always fall into the trap. When this occurs, we see the advantage of “putting our feet in someone else’s soil” but almost never see the disadvantages of the practice until it’s time to “pay” for the advantage that we’ve “bargained” for and then we see it as a limitation or interference. The other part of the codependency dance is played by we the “protector” or “parent” in Transactional Analysis seeking advantage and comfort for ourselves also through manipulation of those we’ve “pledged” to protect. Hence, we do it by putting other people into our service. In doing this we believe that we are eliciting an obligation from the “protectee” on the pretense that we are being noble by providing protection and advantage to those whom we are manipulating. We may also do this unconsciously and then, almost always, flatly deny being manipulative when accused.

In contrast to seeking advantages and encountering “hidden” consequences, this type of connection can be done with both parties consciously consenting to aid our partner with full knowledge and acceptance of not only the advantages gained but of any consequences that might follow. Rarely does the openly agreed sharing elicit difficulties unless it is done with an open agreement on the surface but with an additional hidden agenda underneath with one or both parties being unaware of it.

Puppet-4There is nothing wrong with “planting your feet in someone else’s soil” as long as we do it with accountability involving awareness and an understanding and acceptance of what we offer or even imply, consciously or not, in return. Much of the difficulty we have in assessing what kind of “agreement” we are dealing with has everything to do with what parts of the encounter we are consciously aware of and which parts we are not. And often times, what we are “not aware of” is often rationalized away by utilizing a double meaning where the acknowledged meaning works in our favor and augments our public image and the one that does not is either denied or stripped of applicability through its selective validation. We can see and understand this easily with any action where we can have both a noble and selfish motivation.

At the root of any of these difficulties is always our perception of our accountability. If we are unable to accept accountability for something that is deemed inappropriate, ungracious or selfish, we usually seek the double meaning route to disguise our internally acknowledged motivation through cloaking our shadow (parts of ourselves that we feel are undesirable and then project on others) with socially and self-deceptive reasoning. It only begins to compound as a real problem when we actually start believing our own deceptively contrived scenarios.

Self-Deception-3The need for perpetuating social and self-deception is a direct result of never having developed an adequate sense of Self-Trust. When we’ve been trained not to trust ourselves or our own experience, which our contemporary western culture has most certainly been evolving us toward through exaggerating the importance of science and the physical world over feelings and intuition, we come to see ourselves as being inadequate in the eyes of the world and fear that that same inadequacy will be exposed if we don’t somehow hide it through shifting our accountability toward someone else. In other words, when Self-Trust is lacking, the minimum amount of courage required for becoming voluntarily accountable is never reached. So we resort to subterfuge, conscious or not, to cover ourselves.

Plausible DenialThe art of constructing plausible denial has, undoubtedly, become a serious problem. It has augmented personal acquisition and opportunism through interpersonal and socially and self-deceptive “planning” infecting every part of our culture involving morals, values and etiquette. It is the survival part of our animal nature that has seeped through and undermined our attempts to create distance between our actively denied animal nature and our projected pretense of evolutionary and spiritual superiority. Co-dependence eminently fits the requirement for disguising our self-deception while permitting the allowance of answering our primordial urges without our professed accountability. If we’re going to “plant our feet in someone else’s soil,’ we had best have a clear sense and understanding of what we are doing with a predominant propensity toward being accountable. This means developing a strong sense of Self-Trust. Only then will our emotional psyches be “mature” enough to be able to maintain an honest and mutually beneficial relationship with our chosen partners without any “surprises.”

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Emerald Forest-1We’ve all seen movies with youths from Borneo, Africa, South America or other places we might regard as uncivilized go through horrendous feats of physical endurance just to be accepted as adults in their tribes. Our first comment or impression is almost always, “How barbaric?” especially, since we wouldn’t think of doing such a thing in our own “subdued” culture.  But when we actually think about it, is it really that barbaric? Is it really a travesty to put youths through such a tortuous ordeal just to belong? At first glance we might think so, but the ritual serves as a very important landmark in the youth’s psyche. So then, what is the significance of Adolescents & Rites of passage?

BreakthroughAsk yourself about the difficult physical challenges you’ve been through, anything from birth to a near death experience and ask yourself, did it make an impression on you? Did it bring that period in your life to the forefront of your perception? Was it life changing? Did it mark a new beginning or ending? Odds are, you’ve answered yes. During that time, we all tend to make decisions about ourselves and how we view our lives leading up to making important changes in our life perspective. When we pair a physically challenging situation with an intangible belief or concept, it tends to have a dramatic effect on our life and how we consequently perceive it.

Relative to the uncivilized cultures I’ve cited, and I’m sure that there are many others, those who are part of those cultures have no doubt as to their position and responsibilities within that culture and to their families, neighbors and themselves. Now ask yourself, what experiences do our “advanced civilization” western adolescents have to compare to that could possibly make an equally indelible impression on how they view themselves or to know what their position is in being part of our culture? I presently perceive none of any consequence barring a few exceptions that are, perhaps, vestigial rites which have long lost their teeth due to our over-civilizing influences and gentile preferences for how we now view ourselves as a culture.

First killIn losing our connection to nature we have lost something vital that links us to the natural flow of life tantamount to our residing in these bodies. Even animals in the wild have a first kill as their ascension into becoming an adult and fending for themselves. How can we compare?We are born into these bodies yet, excluding the simple pursuit of personal pleasures, they no longer have significance in how we conduct our lives except in terms of our supporting them to be able to carry us around to every new intangible cultural expectation that we have organized for ourselves to convince ourselves that we are superior to our animal natures; the kingdom to which we still most tangibly belong. And even in that we do a tremendously poor job poisoning ourselves with synthetic foods and pesticides, let alone, never giving ourselves time and space to renew our connections to our true nature. What do our youths have to emulate in us that shows them how to become adults? What, now, does adulthood even mean to them? With our having no holistic view of ourselves, what is it that we expect them to become? We are a lost civilization teaching our young to remain lost with us. How did this happen?

animal masteryThe first factor to contribute to this path was to come to believe that we are superior to the animal kingdom. This exhibits a primarily egotistical need to elevate ourselves above all else. Why? Because we’ve been trained to behave that way.By whom? Predominantly, by western religion.Even the bible tells us that we are to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” So for us, according to the bible, the mark of having value in life is our ability to dominate our environment and those within it. This has also encouraged us to accept and believe that humility, especially in nature and the stewardship of it, are marks of what it is to be inferior.This translates into denying our animal nature as a psychological compensation for our obvious inadequacy within it with a wholehearted encouragement from religion to accept it as being so. Yet, in Sermon on the Mount and other biblical passages, it tells us that humility is a mark of being pure of heart and acceptable to the deity responsible for “writing” the bible. Already, we see a stark contradiction in expected behavior and beliefs.

TREASURE ChestThe second factor is our physical survival coming more to the fore enabling our continued evolution toward becoming more materialistic. This is a function of and comes on the heels of an ever widening gap between the “haves and the have nots” in our culture; the top .1% if you will. You would think that with the advent of our western world and its cultures becoming more physically oriented that the environment would provide more fertile ground to renew the practice of Rite of Passage. But being still so firmly entrenched in our separation from nature as a compensating factor contributing to our perceived personal value and the our total distraction with physical pleasure, our attempted release and distraction from pain and stress and our culture’s promise that following its requirements will free us, its potential, let alone its re-implementation, has eluded us. Even if it were reinstated, it would still be viewed as barbaric. Yet, the media produces super heroes who go through that very process as we vicariously live through them wishing it could part of our lives too in movies such as Hunger games, Star Wars, Dune and the Emerald Forest. Classic and modern mythology is full of example showing personal trials and tribulations contributing to the life changing evolution of value and beliefs. As a result of assigning our own personal authority, trust and accountability to others we have lost, or more appropriately been encouraged to give up, controlling our own fates and destinies. Rites of Passage would have put that power squarely back into our own hands. However, our culture has taught us, through the promise and bribery of support and the comfort and security of group inclusion gained through our acquiescence, to give that up.

Bar_MitzvahThe few remnants of Rite of Passage that exist come in the form of impotent vestigial processes such as Bar mitzvahs, Bas mitzvahs, military service (which is no longer conscripted), Christian Confirmation and probably many more which go unrecognized as having once been effective. The few of us who still seek out the process instinctively recognize the need to find or create an experience which will mark our passage into adulthood doing things that are physically challenging and death defying like survival games and sky diving, desperately searching for a trigger that will confirm our passage into what we perceive as the adult world.

The third factor is the “advent” of adolescence. Adolescence is quoted as being a transitional period between childhood and adulthood or, more precisely, from puberty to acculturation. It is a social position that, in my opinion, has evolved in the wake of our attempts at civilizing cultures or groups of people. Etymonline.com defines civilize as “to bring out of barbarism.”

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Barbarism is defined as “rudeness, foreign, strange or ignorant.” The use of the word civilizing became “mainstream”around 1868 enabling the submersion of barbarism through the implementation of using social rules for an enforcement of courtesy. The concept of ignorance obviously pertained to those members of the culture, mostly adolescents, who had not yet acquired the tact and finesse necessary to maneuver within and respect the social expectations designed to prevent the exposure of those who were civilized from the rawness of their own innate animal nature. At the onset of puberty in the civilized world it was assumed that these skills had yet to be developed. In other words, civilization was, essentially, awaiting the youth’s being trained into not socially acknowledging the animalistic urges that arose with the onset of puberty except within the strictest guidelines guaranteeing their denial and enabling the society’s compensated superiority to reign over the animal kingdom. I believe a compounding of that practice came on its heels as a desire of those in power to harness the power of youth in a way that would be socially controlled and dominated thereby insuring an extended security for their position of social dominance.

Native americans-2In what we call uncivilized or more primitive cultures, youths who enter puberty are given the opportunity to learn social responsibility and to become part of the tribe’s power structure through Rites of Passage. A primary example of this can be seen in the Native American tribes of the US. Although the youths were not old enough to have the experience necessary to advise and guide the rest of the tribe they were not only taken into apprenticeship learning expected social participation from seasoned members, but they were permitted to act and perceive themselves as adult members of the tribe. This permission and perception was marked by their passing through Rites of Passage. Currently, their relegation to the position of a modern adolescent by civilized society has not only taken away a youth’s potential for perceiving themselves as having become an adult but has also disarmed their capacity for self-determination and for developing Self-Trust by extending their position in perceived uselessness until they “came of age.” Essentially, they are now perceived by our culture as a liability to the rest of the civilized tribe.

Gang-1I find it curious that our contemporary anthropologists and sociologists find it so puzzling as to why the adolescents of our culture appear to be so angry and rebellious. They attribute it almost exclusively to the chaos created by hormones while never fully realizing or analyzing the social implications of the non-person status that the civilized world now holds them to. We only have to imagine ourselves in a position of feeling ineffective and lacking permission for self-determination to comprehend the underlying causes for teenage our perception confusion. This is something that the women’s movement has been battling with for decades. In this light, and as one of the worst examples in our culture, many women are glibly and chauvinistically referred to as  “trophy wives” by egotistically insecure males. Women’s social position in the Middle-Eastern-WomenMiddle East is, essentially, seen as the same as that of adolescents here…ineffectual and essentially regarded as a possession but sadly in those cultures, even a male adolescent has more power and independence than any adult woman.

So where do we go from here? I think that I can safely say that the issue is not so much about restoring Rites of Passage as it is our actual perception of becoming or acknowledging ourselves, and adolescents, as effective and accountable adults. How can we put self-determination and the ability to develop Self-Trust back under the domain of not only adolescents, but back into the hands of adults who have been taught and now believe that their lives are inconsequential except as a vehicle for the benefit of the wealthy and the powerful (whom they have now unwittingly come to view as their parental surrogates)? I have no solution other than to say that we must become more aware of how our actions, based on our own insecurities and our own resulting compulsion to manipulate and control in order to compensate, interfere with the well-being and potential for others, adults included, to grow into a place where it is even feasible for them to develop Self-Trust through being allowed to perceive their lives from the perspective of their own heart’s direction, let alone to receive the opportunities to pursue the emerging of that perception through their own personal bored studentsexperiencing. We can only learn so much from a book and, as it is becoming much more obvious in schools, most poignantly as children grow into adolescents, that words still don’t teach. The old adage actions speak louder than words is even more alive and verifiable than ever. If we treat our adolescents from the place of our own insecurity, preventing them from assuming the positions in life that we fear losing due to our own perceived and trained sense of inadequacy and ineffectiveness, they will most certainly grow up to repeat our pattern through emulating what they’ve seen in us. Children learn by example. In fact, everyone does. We must first, ourselves, come to a place of Self-Trust before we can even hope to understand how to raise self-directing adults who feel effective, useful, needed and accepted as part of our culture. Then their mayhem will cease and our confusion about their social position will diminish. But until that time they will remain as an enigma to us and viewed as a liability by most of society.

shot down-3Have you been asked, "Who said you could do that?" Ask yourself how many times this has happened to you. You’ve just decided that you’re going to take some kind of action. It probably won’t fall within agreement with some of the other people involved. You announce what you’re going to do and someone asks you why you’re going to do it. You convey your reason and the other person proceeds to shred your reasoning convincing you that it’s not a valid premise for your choice. Not only do you begin to doubt yourself but now you feel obligated to concede to your interrogator’s preferences and refrain from acting on your own decision.

With our western culture having grown into being so technical, scientific and materialistic we have slowly fallen into the need of having a reason or justification for everything that we do. We find ourselves making excuses and apologizing for acting in our own interest while others accuse us of stepping on their toes or not doing things in a “reasonable” way; reasonable translating to their benefit. Why have we allowed ourselves to become so self-effacing and deferent? We now consider it politically correct to defer to others before we service ourselves. Board Certified-1And even there, we must now be board certified, licensed, validated, approved, screwed, glued and tattooed.  Why is it now so important to gain approval from others? Where did this mandatory deference come from? The answer is, you guessed it, our childhood programming. Think I’m wrong? Remember all the way back to grammar school where we heard, “If you didn’t bring enough to share with everyone else in the class, you’re not allowed to have any yourself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since our culture is devoid of any tangible Rights of Passage, we remain stuck in our childhood personas still needing permission from our parents (transferred to those we give over our authority to in adulthood) to do anything. We have not “put away childish things.” They linger like an infectious undercurrent sabotaging any heartfelt urgings that contradict the needs of our families and surrounding peer groups.

valid-2This kind of head space we find ourselves in, that is in conceding to external “validation”, comes back at us through many different expressions, all challenging the personal authority and Self-Trust of our own adequacy that we’ve earned through our own personal experience giving us license to decide things for ourselves. The following expressions are just a few of the things we hear thrown at us creating a self-staining tailspin while bringing us under the judgment of those who feel just as little personal authority and Self-Trust as we are allowed to. Literally, we are the blind led by the blind.

  1. “What’s your reasoning behind your decision?” – Aside from plain curiosity, this usually is indicative of someone wanting to have some say over what we do. This could either come from their need to confirm their own beliefs or to maneuver us and our decision into a perspective that’s beneficial mostly to them.
  2. “What’s the meaning of this?” – This statement is a bit more aggressive and attempts to assert a measure of authority over us. Its most commonly heard in career and work environments which are more forgiving to an attempted dominance assertion due to it being a work environment and under the leadership and authority we accept as being appropriate there.
  3. “What were you thinking?” – Asserts the same type of authority as number two but from a more personal and familiar perspective. We most often hear this coming from family members who are either honestly concerned about our choices or who are attempting to undermine or coerce us over to their way of thinking in order to put themselves in a superior family position. In this position they are more able to expect obedience of other family members…including us. This could also be applied to siblings attempting to usurp parental influence.
  4. “How could you…(do that to me)?” – This statement is even more familiar and aggressive than number two or three. It usually involves a more intimate connection with us thereby implying some sort of agreement or obligation that we are assumed to have betrayed. The accuser can then expect us to become subservient or penitent after our acceptance of responsibility for our “transgression.”
  5. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” – This statement aligns with “How could you” but from a more general perspective. It not only implies an obligation that must be atoned for but also partially removes our accuser’s accountability for its application. If they are confronted, they simply reply citing generally accepted values and moral set in place by other than our accusers that they believe that we will also adhere to.
  6. “Who said you could?” – This statement is also very aggressive and aligns our accuser with the prevailing authority. If we accept their alignment, it is assumed by them that we will concede to their desires, expectations and opinions. This is, again, another “power play.”
  7. “How could you be so stupid?” or “What were you thinking?” – This is also very aggressive but most often comes from either a parent or someone we have allowed to have authority over us (or someone we have selected as a parental surrogate after leaving our family). Remember, it’s human nature to seek to replace our family and environments with something or someone we’re used to or accustomed to. Even if they are hurtful to us in the long run, we most often seek the familiar; feeling we will know how to handle it.

judges-2All of these statements, and I’m sure there are many more variations, imply our submitting to a level of acceptance judged by others coupled with an abdication of our innate right to think, feel and act pursuant to our own heart and desires. Accepting their premise submits to an almost completely tacit agreement that we owe a “validatable” explanation or excuse to someone else for doing things that benefit us but might run contrary to their preferences, or in other words, receive their permission.

We have fallen into a trap of pursuing personal excellence based on the values and preferences of others. We have an urgent need to begin listening to our own heart and to give ourselves permission to make our own decisions based on our own personal experience. Yet, our childhood habit of waiting or seeking external approval trumps all the efforts we can put into personal motivations that benefit only ourselves. By accepting external dominance we have, essentially, given away our power. But that is only the obvious tip of the iceberg. There is a reason that goes much deeper than that. When we allow external values to dictate what we will Blaming-1permit ourselves to do, we unconsciously abdicate our accountability for the decisions that we make. This exonerates us from any blame. Our deepest contemporary fear is being found at fault and having our personally believed inadequacy become exposed for the entire world to see. Our deepest need is to cast aside blame and avoid deeper scrutiny thereby avoiding exposure. This is why our fascination with super heroes is such a dominant theme in our envy of them.

External authority and blame are paradoxical bed partners. They feed off each other for their survival. Without one, the other dies. If we don’t accept external authority, blame has no place or meaning in our lives. If we don’t accept blame, external authority has no power over us. The best way to obliterate both is to accept and become our own authority through becoming self-accountable for our own lives and decisions according to our own hearts. We’re no longer shown or taught how to do that at home or in school. We are in desperate need of a revitalization of the inner wisdom which we all have. Our current western cultural perspective about accountability is that it has become all about placing blame. We can never achieve peace of any kind until this dynamic is disarmed and discarded.

…and why did we choose to have them?

Kid spiritsLet me start off by saying that they are not ours. We have only created a space for them to visit. They were attracted to us because the environment we can and most likely will provide offers them the building blocks that will prepare and enable them to have the experience that they have chosen to come here for.

There are two things happening here. First, and for the most obvious reason, is that we have chosen to respond to our most basic and animalistic the urge toward having sex. We’re human and excitement, sensuality and natural urges come with the territory. However, the second motivation, and for the most varied of reasons, is that we’ve chosen to believe that bringing a child into the world would somehow answer or complete the picture of how our world should be and what and who it should consist of. This can be done consciously or unconsciously. Many of us might not recognize the driving forces within us that would choose or allow this to occur. But in this light, and conscious or not, the belief systems we and our partners hold are the key to the formation of the world that will give our child the impetus and encouragement toward living their chosen experience, whether Dinner guestsconceived in the most loving of encounters or through the most brutal rape. We are like hosts inviting someone to dinner. On some level our guests know what we are capable of providing for them and subjecting them to. But it is still their choice to accept with no guarantees…only potential to fulfill their intentions as having the child is for ours. You might even view it like a landlord-tenant agreement with the potential to be honored or broken. In this light we can see that nothing is fated. Nothing is meant to be. In this world all is chosen or rejected, accepted or refused. We buy our ticket and take our chances. We believe that some tickets offer better odds than others, however, we humans have the capacity to rationalize anything. But still, as I said, our chosen beliefs hold the key.

For those of us who, at the least, have arrived at the precipice of acknowledging and recognizing the perspective that we are much more than what we can see, feel, hear taste or touch, this perspective will hold little surprise or threat to our perceived self-value. However, for those of us who have not moved past that perceptual barrier, my perspective may seem fantastic and arbitrary.

When I say a threat to self-value, this may seem puzzling at first but I think after you read some of the reasons claimed for having a child you’ll understand how this could seem so.

Family-ChimpsThe first reason is the most simple and, perhaps, what most people claim is the reason for bringing a child into this world. For two people who are truly in love and are able to share themselves with each other and the world, it’s natural to want to have a family in which to share that love directly. This can usually only occur if both parents are mature enough to be accountable to themselves and to each other. When I say accountable, I don’t mean so much as being obligated toward answering another’s needs as much as being comfortable in our own skin in accepting and dealing with the choices we make without needing to cast blame on others for any unwanted circumstances. However, I believe this circumstantial perspective is in the minority among those parents currently bringing children into the western world today. For most there is an equating of love with possessiveness and security needs in supporting our self-image through the arrival and behaviors of our children. In other words, our children are a reflection of how we view ourselves and if they don’t live up to our ideal we somehow feel betrayed resulting in our seeing ourselves as less than who we believe we must be. Even simpler still, we believe our self-image is dependent on our ability to mold them into our ideal of what we wish we could be. This belief creates all sorts of pressures that run counter to our child’s need to express themselves according to their own heart. In this light you can see how having children could pose a threat to our own perceived self-value.

So now we can see that there are two driving forces that lead us toward having children; one to share the love we feel and the other to fill some vacancy in our perceived self-value within our moral and cultural codes. The fact that we must have a reason for having children in itself is strange enough to comprehend. Yet, with this in mind, let’s move on to reasons that amount to our rationale for having them.

Envy-1Reason one for having children may be to have them so we as parent(s) “can feel loved and needed by someone.” For those of us who never received the nurturance needed to feel loved and wanted, the unconscious urge to find it somewhere else can be overwhelming. It can lead to our doing things that compromise our values simply to garner the love and attention that we never received in our childhood. Having children may actually run contrary to what our own hearts may desire, yet, in having them we have been trained to believe something lacking will be fulfilled.

Father teaching young son how to hold a footballReason two for having children is in believing that they will fulfill the projected image of ourselves that we believe we have been unable to accomplish ourselves. We can see this in those of us as parents who, deep down, believe or have been trained to believe, that we are somehow inadequate or a failure in some way unless we’ve accomplished something worthy of the approval of others. This need for fulfillment is then transferred to our expectations of and hopes for our children to fill the void. This reasoning can be rationalized by stating to ourselves that we want them to have the things we never had or that they should have the opportunity not to make the same mistakes that we have. They, again, will usually feel the pressure to be or do things that may run contrary to what and where their heart tells them they need to follow.

BabiesReason three for having children, and this is probably the most common one, is that we believe that we are “supposed” to have them and that we are somehow deficient or defective if we don’t. This comes as a result of our own childhood training telling us that important decisions about our lives are determined by others and that we’ve never received the encouragement or allowance for making and being confident in our own decisions providing the potential for benefiting ourselves. We were told who we should be, what we should want, what we should believe and what is best for us. On the heels of that, if we do follow our own path, people become fearful in dealing with us since they somehow “know” that they should be making their own decisions. By not following “tradition” and the “majority” we are somehow odd and are not included in the groups who “follow all the rules.” This belief is followed through in the media with tales about courage being a characteristic and an elevation for vigilantes who don’t follow the rules and “do it their own way” flaunting the rules that we who do need to feel secure and unexposed for lacking that same courage ourselves.

Father & Son SignReason four is our belief about leaving a legacy. We want someone to carry on the family traditions, names and patterns. This will somehow insure infamy, but more importantly, our personal recognition through our remembrance by others after we’re gone. This is a feeble attempt at mortality. This is quite evident in hearing about parents who expect their children to carry on the family business even if, again, carrying on that business runs contrary to their own heart’s desires and wishes.

sex-1Reason five seems to be the most nebulous. Our pregnancy was and “accident.” It’s stated almost as if it wasn’t our “fault” that it occurred. Are we really that disconnected from our comprehension of cause and effect or is it just our way of giving ourselves permission to do what our culture expects us to not only plan ahead but “be prepared” for its inducement?

Reason six is those of us who feel pressured to have and raise children conceived through “illicit” behavior, as penance for an unsavory life style, through moral obligation, religious values, rape, or any host of other reasons entangled in values that somehow coerce and contradict our own inner urgings and heartfelt yearnings.

Producing children is certainly in keeping with our knowledge about the tendency for our species to perpetuate itself. But it seems a bit twisted to always consider ourselves in a position of having to explain ourselves for doing so in the context of our cultural conditioning. It’s a natural process. It seems that our cultural conditioning has somehow made our alignment with the process of our physical urges and natural patterns as somehow demeaning socially but that the cultural “obligations” for having children necessary for acceptance within our culture. The proverbial wink and a nod acknowledges the disconnect but quietly condones its results. Why the disconnect? What is it that is so openly expected from us yet so subliminally objected to Censorship-1when we do follow those urges? Is distancing ourselves from the fact that we still are animals after all rational even though our culture and religious tenets profess us to be “special” or above the animal qualities and characteristics that qualify us as part of nature’s magnificence and beauty? Why is not just expressing love for each other and producing children acceptable enough in its own right and seen as a natural alignment with our own heart simply because supporting nature and love is essentially the same thing? Why must it be something else?

Candle-3There are many of us speaking about being or about following a trend or discipline that claims to be spiritual. But, really, what is being spiritual? Is it real? Is it tangible? Is it something we can teach? Learn? Pass on to others? With so many people claiming or professing it, and in coming from so many different walks of life and disciplines, how can we really have a clear understanding of what it truly is? Or is it something that is strictly personal, innate and pertains to only that which comes from within? There seems to be no clear cut definition. Spirituality seems to be our assumed road to what we perceive as a method toward the resolution of a deeply unconscious urge for fulfillment of something that feels absent and is almost indescribable. Let’s look at some of the more commonly assumed versions and characteristics of it so you can have clarity in determining what it is for yourself.

First, I would suggest that most of us would essentially agree that spirituality is mostly an intangible idea, although, many of its applications, if we can call them as such, are tangible in nature. Their effects are assumed to encourage adjustments to our behavior for specific results in the way that we live our lives in the tangible world. But that sense of intangibility comes from a source deeper and mostly undefined within us, especially, since most of our attention goes toward more clearly defined surface issues like our survival and what we exchange with others. But once those surface issues have been sufficiently handled, there surfaces a gnawing feeling within us that says it just isn’t enough. Something still remains unanswered and unfulfilled. It’s then that we start looking toward the less tangible currents that feed our feeling, that is, if we’re mature enough to accept what we’re feeling. Those of us who are not end up pursuing a more intense versions of the same physical stimulus just to break the perceived barrier between us and our idea of ecstasy, thereby, keeping its access within our perceived control.

Director-2There are those of us who interpret spirituality as relating to an imagined deity who is assumed to have initiated and administers the physical world we find ourselves living in. In that belief there is an underlying and unconscious assumption that our existence and movements are all observed and controlled by this deity making them eminently more accountable than we for our existence and actions. Believing in this deity, essentially, eliminates our need for looking any further for understandings and insights about the reason for our “being here” let alone being responsible for our existence. The emptiness or unanswered urges are just accepted by us as being unknown to us and only known to that deity and under the charge and wisdom we’ve assigned to them.

I believe that for the rest of us this unanswered and unfulfilled part of us acts as the driving force to find that something that we feel is missing.  The different methods that we use to pursue fulfillment to that end we often make and then call a spiritual tradition. It can appear in the form of religion, extreme sensory oriented stimulation or an intangible and practicable discipline either devoid of or with a creator and administrator at the peak of our intended accomplishments within the discipline.

The urge to connect with a creator or deity through religious disciplines is not the only version of our seeking the fulfillment from outside of ourselves by virtue on another entity. I believe that the subconscious urge we feel can also come from a source we can call a belief in ancient aliens seeding our planet. A general version of the story goes like this. Millions of years ago aliens came to this planet in search of the commodities that supported their way of life including the mining of minerals. We as an ignorant and more immature species were transported with them as workers to perform the physical labor. When the acquisition of what they needed was completed, their cargo would be substituted for us leaving us to dwell here on Alien DNAthe planet after they left. It is said that we also were used for DNA experiments leading to producing different variations of our life form. Those who believe this have even gone so far as to state that Noah’s ark was actually a DNA bank constructed so they may collect their successful experiments and wipe the face of the earth of their completed or no longer viable experiment (us) with a flood so they might start over. A few of us still survived implanted with a deep racial memory of wishing to return to our home. It is believed that our unconscious urge for the unanswered fulfillment within us is that wish and that the tendency to believe in an external deity is an extension of worshipping those who brought us here. Since there was more than one alien, this may also account for cultures who support a belief in multiple gods. The urge to go home can also be viewed as our wish to return to what we now interpret as the Garden of Eden.

Our culture has gotten so over involved in our mental functioning and so far away from acknowledging and following our inner feelings that our quest for fulfilling this almost indescribable urge has been becoming harder and harder to express, recognize and “put our finger on” let alone find terms that can bring us a clear explanation of what it is that we’re actually dealing with. The urge is simple. But we’ve made working it into an understandable goal damn near impossible through relating to it almost exclusively in a mental format.

Many of these examples of addressing this inner urge have produce a vehemence, an intensity and almost a feeling of desperation in our beliefs and dedication in light of the fact that very few of us can actually conceive of any other means of answering the “void” of what we feel let Sysiphus-1alone comprehend the simplicity of what we seek. What is so ironic is that the more we focus on what it is that we don’t have (fulfillment), the more of the same the universe gives us through the Law of Attraction by virtue of what we’re focusing on. It’s like the harder and further we chase it, the faster and further it moves away. When we relax and don’t focusing on our striving, the more we emulate the earth in producing gravity that attracts toward us whatever it is that needs to be “filled in.”

All the above reasons for feeling and even understanding how to handle the void seem clear and easy enough to comprehend its dynamics. But then our psychological makeup throws us a curve ball. Now relationships enter the picture and the growing expectation that all of our voids, “missing halves” and parts will be filled and answered by the presence and actions of the other person. At this point we stop looking for answers and assume the relationship will be the answer to our prayers. The amount and degree of underlying expectations and assumptions we then make are staggering. We allow ourselves to be swept away by the belief that we will be fulfilled on all levels by the other person.

I believe that this decision is made as a result of and in the wake of our early training and fostered expectation that the world will not only dictate where our efforts should be applied for our happiness but that our desired results will also come from outside ourselves. This leaves us wide open to ignoring the fact that our own happiness is of our own doing and our own responsibility. The simple fact is that the universe answers us based on where we put our attention and our energy. So, now with our putting our energy and attention into another person, we again ignore our inner urgings in favor of our childhood trained need to belong and Blaming-1be fulfilled by the world…a promise issued by the world and our parents but impossible to be fulfilled. As we progress with our expectations, our partner is not able to fulfill our imagined and desired expectations for their behavior, let alone, have knowledge of them. In our childish state of being unaccountable, we blame our partner for our lack of happiness and fulfillment and once again slowly become aware of the pain of the rising void within us. If we are on the threshold of emotional maturity, we begin to make the connection between our accountability and our own happiness. If not, we fixate on another partner expecting the same impossible fulfillment.

If we wish to, we can view our entrainment by the world and our parents into expecting the world to answer our desires and urges as a disservice. But they are only following the natural flow of the physical world, that is, they are not only in the world but also of it. They’re doing what they we trained to do and believe also. However, if it is true that we are only in this world by virtue of our own desire to experience what it has to offer, wouldn’t it make sense to expose us to circumstances that would challenge the ease of where we resided before we came here? Wouldn’t that challenge give us something to contrast so we would know the direction to follow in order to fulfill that desired goal of having the experience? If we actually chose to come here, would religion and spirituality be aligned with that intention by fostering a need to escape back to where we came from? Is escaping back to the “Garden of Eden” in alignment with that Master Po & Kwai Changintention? I think not. I believe that our choice to come here for the experience is our original intention. I also believe that the void is also within us simply to give us a reminder of who we are and a place to return to in order to revitalize our intention. Our recurring awareness of the void within our spirituality is simply our way of reminding ourselves about what it is that we came here to do.

Intuitive light-2When we speak of intuition there appears to be many different interpretations about what the word actually means. Some of us equate it with instinct. Some of us with gut feeling. Some haven’t a clue and others refer to it as something that is intangible asserting that only some people have it let alone use it. The one common thread between all the interpretations is that it is intangible. With this I tend to agree. But let’s look more closely so we can make a distinction between them so we have a clean common idea of what we’re delineating.

The most common intangible is referred to as our gut feeling. It is even accepted as being present by the scientific community but with a wink and a tremendous amount of reservation since it is not “provable.” Probably the most important distinction we can make to refine our understanding of how to use the intangibles is the difference between our gut feeling and our Fight or flightintuition. Even though instinct is something that is much more connected to our physical history and genetics it only gives us the ability to act for the benefit of our safety and comfort without our recognition of its presence making mediation by the mind unnecessary. The fear response to danger is a good example showing how our instinctual or automatic reaction to the presence of danger leads us to fight or flight before the involvement of our rationalizing mind telling us what is needed.

The biggest difference between gut feeling and intuition is that the gut feeling only supplies the urge toward some sort of action or inaction while intuition may contain the same urge but presents as a “full picture” of its potential, if not actual, completion in the future.

Our gut feeling is a nebulous and generally undefined area where as the intuition can supply us with a crystal clear flash of where our actions might lead us. With intuition, we essentially, receive a “photograph” of the finished product but also with feeling.

SHbox2print23The dynamics of intuition operate much like a dream in that it is free of the constructs of time and therefore often difficult to define in linear terms. We can see the effects of the linear mind’s attempts to delineate a dream by its inability to create a linear thread out of events perceived in a multidimensional format. It’s much like trying to describe a globe on flat paper. The paper does not provide a dimension of depth for its fullest description.

To more fully describe the nature and dynamics of intuition it would be helpful to describe the process of dreaming which essentially yields the same results but without the conscious mind to interfere…at least until we wake up and attempt to apply it.

When we fall asleep the body is no longer subject to the sequencing applied by the mind. The mental tension that holds and sorts with it is now absent and the body may regenerate itself through returning to a state of bodily and “mindless” balance. The body has a natural ability to reestablish stasis when it is free of external factors. The mind is, essentially, an external factor by virtue of its ability to use separation of characteristics in the physical world as its organizational tool for comparison leading to forming judgments through comparison and their ultimate commitment to memory creating a byproduct of triggerable emotion. Feeling and emotion are interrelated but there is an important difference between them which is much too long to cover here.

Intuitive dreamscape-2In sleep, the intuitive landscape is re-established (it was within us before we were born as was feeling). The influence of the mind has been “terminated” through the collapse of time. We are aware of the separation of things which allows us to define them but we are now in a sea of feeling where everything happens at once and everything is interconnected. This is the domain of intuition. Here, everything “occurs” in a flash, instantaneously, at once, with no beginning or end. It simply exists or it doesn’t. There is no before or after. For intuition, there is only now. What we perceive flashes in and out; exists then it doesn’t…or never did. There is no past (memory). There is no future (intention). There is only “I am” or “I am not.” When we change environments in our dream the refocusing of our awareness makes it occur “instantaneously” to our perception. Suddenly, we are just “there.” Are you finally starting to comprehend the fleeting quality and evasiveness of feeling this way? There is no separation of the feeler and the experience. In intuition, they are one. When the mind is included, they are not.

Sheet musicNow, with everything happening in the same instant, how do you describe what you perceive? Beethoven wrote that he received his symphonies in a flash and then spent years trying to put them to paper. When an idea comes to us how does it arrive? In a long process sojourning through rationalizations or in a flash? In intuition we receive the potential realities for our lives in “living snapshots” of potential experience, like his symphonies, in full color and dimension and we then struggle to guide our lives to the suggested intuitive “destination.”

Forest path-1When we begin questioning ourselves about our life path, the mind is always involved by virtue of asking the question. The hard part comes in our desiring and expectation of receiving a tangible answer. Because the mind is so structured and time constricted, we expect to receive the answer in real time or in a way that’s easily rationalized through the mind’s ability to separate out the components of the idea. In constructing that expectation we create a barrier to our ability to receive the answer in an intuitive format. That is, we lose the ability to free ourselves from the mind and open to the fullness in receiving our answer in more than one temporal dimension. In other words, we get in our own way through using the mind. Intuition has no relevance or connection to expectation…expectation is a primary characteristic of the mind. This is why, when we meditate, it’s easier to receive intangible information because the effects of the body have been intentionally “switched off.” When this occurs, the senses and the expectations of the mind are also “switched off.” The “disconnected” mind now becomes easily viewed as a stream of thoughts passing at a distance tempting us to re-involve ourselves with their daily endeavors. If we succumb, the mind regains control of our awareness. If we maintain the disconnection, deeper avenues of awareness become available to us through intuition. Hence, the door is open to having an intuitive or spiritual experience.

The next step, invariably, involves our ability to make the decision that best aligns with our intuition. This is where many people get lost. It’s easy to have a flash of intuition, a little bit harder to recognize it but even harder to implement it. How would we know if it is the right decision to align us with the possible future we’ve seen in the flash? The process is simple but requires an attentive observation of our feelings. This can be best explained through an example.

New car keys-2In keeping it simple, let’s use our intuitive flash of our buying a new automobile. Of course when this occurs, the mind will immediately jump in and begin rationalizing all the pros and cons related to its possibilities. This is where most people get stuck. We’ve all been trained since childhood to give the mind dominance over any and all important decisions that we are faced with. The key for making a decision in alignment with our heart’s best interest lies with our feelings not our mind. The mind is only a tool and available to work out the details of our decisions. Our heart must be the driving force if we are to align ourselves with our inner path and the heart only speaks through feelings. So, what to do? The process is easy.

who-am-i-2First, make the decision to purchase the new automobile. Also, begin aligning your finances with making whatever payments may be involved. Start the process with your insurance company to cover it. Get the paper work necessary to exchange the registration. In short, start setting up all the steps in alignment with making your choice manifest itself. Having done all this, now stop. Ask yourself how you feel. Are you excited? Panicked? At ease? Looking beyond the task? Does it worry you? Does it lead you toward thinking of all the possibilities your life might now offer? The feeling it evokes now involves your gut feeling. Remember that nebulous undifferentiated feeling of fight or flight? Now, with your feelings having been observed change your decision. Decide not to buy the automobile. Begin shutting down all the things you put into motion to make that happen. NOW how do you feel? Relief? Disappointment? Sadness? Happiness? Now ask yourself which set of feelings felt better? The one set that feels better is the set that’s aligned with your heart. The more you do this with your important decisions, the easier and faster this process will progress and the more Self-Trust and confidence you will develop in your ability to know what it is that you need to do, or not do, to follow and remain on your life’s path.

The fact that our culture relies so heavily on its mental capacity for its important decisions is testimony to the fact that we have strayed far from having the use of our feelings as an indicator and validation for knowing what is right for us. Our paths are not always aligned with what our society wants and needs for its security and consistency. Since our feelings arise bull chasing matadorwithin us involuntarily, they are uncontrollable and often discouraged and denied. Their participation in our lives terrifies our minds which, in deferring to the heart for our decisions, reduces our mind’s ability to remain in charge of our fate. There must develop a balance between our hearts and minds if we are to immerse ourselves most fully in the experiences we have chosen to feel and learn in this lifetime. The heart tells us what to do. The mind tells us how to do it. Is it really any wonder that when we use our minds to tell us what to do that we don’t understand why we don’t feel good about how we’re doing it?