Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Yellow Meme Perspective

Lately I've sort of been feeling like things aren't quite right with my world view. The nice neat little explanations and passions I had for topics just start to seem wrong somehow. As I gain more perspective on things, they just seem too narrow, like something is missing. My world view was really based on my background: a person who grew up with no monetary wealth and a loving family and made it through his halfway decent childhood to get a huge education and an increase in socioeconomic status from where he started.... through his own hard work, seemingly. Coupled with a vaguely strange religious upbringing and an early 20's period of fairly loose morals, I found myself emulating a Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal mindset. So what did I do? I spoke out for those topics: gays should be able to marry, the government should not run our lives, people need to make their own livings without help (like I did), hard work and sacrifice will get you anywhere, abortion is a choice (but not one I would make, but who am I to tell you?), religion must absolutely be separate from the State and ideally it should really be invisible to society, guns don't kill people, etc. On the whole, the grand theme of that mish-mosh of positions is individualism. Even now I still have staunch individualistic tendencies. I had a problem with "one for the good of all" concepts. That Green stuff never resonated with me, and never will. But that's when the eerie disconcerting doubts set in. I had some experiences that showed me clearly that although we are in fact individuals, we are DEPENDENT on others. All of us are. When I got back from a trip to India not too long ago, my family was unable to pick me up from the airport, so in my annoyance I said, "Oh well, I will just get home myself." I gathered up my luggage like a pack mule and took the 4-hour train ride home. (Normally the drive is an hour and a half.) During that trip I had a major epiphany: I WASN'T doing it myself. There were literally armies of people that needed to do their jobs that day in order for me to get home: the train engineer, the conductor, the people switching the tracks, the people who trained those people, etc. For a simple train ride home, there were probably thousands of people and things that had to come together for something so simple. I realized honestly that there' really no way in hell I could ever do anything myself. Anything I do requires work from others who came before. Unless I decide to become a hunter-gatherer, this is the truth. That led me firmly to understand that everyone is connected to everyone else. We are all in this Life together and no one gets out alive! This wasn't just lip service that day. It was right in front of my face, clear as day. I knew it and understood it. Some people might take an experience like this and move directly into the Green Meme, i.e. Post-Modernism, but I didn't. I'm speaking of naming designations by a psychologist named Dr. Clare Graves and his colleagues, as well as the modern day philosopher, Ken Wilber. The memes basically go like this: 1st Tier Beige (Archaic) - You only care about bodily functions and food, warmth, sex, comfort, safety. Basically, an animal. Purple (Magic)- You exist in a tribal organization where your world revolves around the band you are with and its leader. Everything is for the good of your small group. Red (Mature Magic)- You exist for power. You better get them before they get you first. It's a dog-eat-dog world. Blue (Mythic)- You adhere to a creed, belief system, religion or other form of TRUTH, because it is the only One way there is, and all other ways are false. Orange (Rational)- You are put here to succeed. He who dies with the most toys wins. Go get 'em, Tiger! The world is full of opportunity, and you can make it if you work hard. Everything is ruled by logic. Green (Post-Modern)- Greed and success are the failings of society. We are here to love each other, enrich our relationships, and care for the environment above all. 2nd Tier Yellow (Pre-Integral)- The world contains people of all colors/Memes, and they are here for a reason: all Memes are the product of life conditions, and they comprise a system. The idea is to run the system, not eliminate parts of it so that all people benefit, at no one's expense. All Memes are parts of the Whole. Turquoise (Inegral)- Not only is it a system, but we are all part of a single super-being/ecology/family/tribe. This is the equivalent of Purple, but this time there are Mega-Tribes, Mega-Groups, Mega-Bands that include the whole world. Countries, groups, systems, are really part of a larger thing. More eloquent explanations than the ones I give here can be found all over the web. Notice that the colors alternate between individualistic and pluralistic. Beige, Red, Orange, and Yellow are individualistic in scope, while Purple, Blue, Green, and Turquoise are pluralistic. I admit I have always had a problem with ALL of the pluralistic colors. What this experience and others like it did for me was make me really resonate with the Yellow. All this stuff about Conservative vs. Liberal, East vs. West, This vs. That, is starting to seem really silly. No one is going to win. You cannot eliminate one side or the other. It's not possible in a global society. You have to live with the fact that there are others who believe differently, but that's not a bad thing! You can use that! Instead, think of it with an analogy: In your body, you have a circulatory system, a skeletal system, a nervous system, a renin-angiotensin system, and lots of other systems. What would happen if one of them decided it was going to dominate by killing off all of the others. That would sort of be like a cancer, wouldn't it? Ultimately it would kill the person. Beliefs and ideologies are just like that. They are parts of the whole. They are systems within a larger host, i.e the world. Like it or not, they are all dependent on each other no matter how annoying one of them may be at a given moment. Example: Green Meme is great for humane thinking. In today's Orange/blue dominated society, if there was no green, poor people would be rotting in the streets with no one to give a damn. It is the Green folks that prevent that from happening by pushing the Orange/blue folks to do the right thing. By contrast, if Green were allowed to take over completely, we'd be in a lot of trouble also. We'd go broke, for one thing, because Green Meme tends to be horrible with money compared to Orange, which is all about it. Plus, we'd also likely get pushed around (maybe physically) by other Blue countries (think extremists of any religion) who mean us harm, because Green is also not so good about realizing that people can in fact be hostile. It is our Orange/blue and Blue/orange contingent that helps prevent that. All of these "culture wars" are happening for a reason. They are leading somewhere, and where they lead will depend on outside conditions as well as inside ones. We may regress to earlier Memes, or we may move forward. Who knows? Every Meme contains all the other previous Memes within it. They are not levels on a ladder. They are concentric circles. A true open-minded Green would understand Orange and Blue because they were once there, just like Yellow understands Green. I wish all this stuff gave me an idea of what the hell to do to make this place better, but I still don't know.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Evangelicals and missions

I'm writing in regards to this article:

Click Here -

Briefly, an ex-missionary shares his experience and realization about trying to convert people to Christianity. He realizes that people view evangelists in one of two distinct ways: heroes of the faith who lead exemplary lives, or destroyers of culture and bringers of division and grief. There really isn't much in between. He goes on to realize that maybe these red mythological types (to paraphrase some Integral Theory jargon) would be a whole lot more successful if they stopped trying to get people to convert but rather instead focused on trying to get people to be more conscious and aware, period. (He couches it in Christian terminology, i.e. "to become more like Jesus", which is fine and still accurate. Jesus is an example of a conscious and aware individual that we would not be amiss in seeking to emulate.)

I think this is a great example of a rational person who is beginning to break into the post-modern way of thinking. He seems to be realizing that it's not the wrapper on the candy but the sweetness of what's inside that counts. Religions, doctrines, dogma, creeds are all wrappers. The mythology of each one is different, but the truths in most religions are universal if you dig deep enough.

To take this a step further, a large number of people on the planet take the mythology to be "true". For example, people will believe that the whole mthology of heaven, hell, the bible, and the events that occur within them actually happened, and they will do this sometimes (unfortunately) to the exclusion of what's inside the wrapper: that we should all seek to develop on a personal, familial, national, racial, and world-wide level. Sometimes they forget that things like dogma and the bible are actually TOOLS for developing yourself. Instead they focus on proving historical validity.

I do not want to come across as condescending to those who do believe in the mythology. The people who do believe it are doing it because that's where they are at. I respect them. They are not "wrong" or "bad". It just is what it is, and it is a necessary, needed, and integral part of the whole of Creation to have people who are at that point right now. The gift that these people bring to the world is that they realize that people DO need to follow a set of rules in order to make this planet a more bearable place to live. (They just disagree on what the rules are.) Nevertheless, the need for rules is real. Society is real. Life is real. That is the gift of Stage 3, and it remains useful in further stages.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feelings vs. Thoughts: Aftermath of Osama

I think aside from all the obvious political ramifications of Osama Bin Laden's death (finally), there are some interesting lessons I'm seeing here. There are plenty of opportunities to learn right now. So pay attention.

As I watch my Facebook stream flow and echo with the thoughts of my friends list, there is a clear contrast between those who are unabashedly happy about today's events versus those who are glad but guilty or downright angry about the celebratory comments from some.

"What does Christianity or (insert religion here) teach about the death of an enemy?" --- from my more religious brothers and sisters....

"Boooyah!!!!" -- from my more honest and less guilty friends

"Why are you celebrating the death of a human being, you animals??" -- from my compassionate, and also honest, but perhaps in some cases 'holier than thou' companions

I am sure there are also those, like me, who are feeling all three things. Perhaps we all are. I admit to it, at least.

Here's the lesson: All of those positions are valid. All of those people feel justified in what they are saying and feeling. All of those positions have aspects that both create unity among us and divide us.

In my personal view, the Conscious thing to do here is accept that all of these points exist and are valid, and not try to eliminate any one of them by shouting or creating MORE division, but rather to understand that everyone who takes one or more of these positions has got reasons for doing so. Then look at the person and try to understand what reasons they have. A new picture might emerge, enabling true compassion for what that person is saying or feeling, and at that point their actual position may not matter anymore, because you have now increased your view of the terrain, so to speak.

Also let's remember that we can't really control what emotions we feel, but we CAN control our actions in regard to those emotions. I feel pretty darn happy right now, but I think it might sit the wrong way in my own conscience if I go out to crack open a few bottles of champaign. I don't begrudge anyone who does, because.... I'm sure they have reasons.... but for me, that's not what I feel is right.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doing the best you can with what you've got

In a recent conversation with my father, I got some information that grabbed my attention. It's one of those things that we have probably talked about a hundred times, in one form or another, but I never heard it until now. Amazing how people can be told and shown things but never actually hear or acknowledge them until they are ready.

For a while I have generally held that religions should be allowed to flourish, but separately. After all, for many individuals, religions serve a real purpose. They provide a form of organization and rules for living life. They provide a code of ethics and morals to those who are unsure of things. They even provide a kind of emotional sustenance and fulfillment. These things are real. People really feel and believe. Good for them!

Of course, no two religions agree on everything, or else they would be the same religion. (No two people within each religion agree on everything, but I digress!) These disagreements can range from minor to outright terrorist attacks. For that reason, I have held that they need to be separated. "You go over there and do your religion, and I'll go over here and do mine." I also believe (and still might believe) that religions should be private.... like underwear. We know you got it. We just don't want to see it in public. (I even made bumper stickers with this saying on them once.) Expressing religion in public invites discord.

However, something else is arising in my thinking right now based on the conversation with my father. Everyone is given a set of tools in life. Each person is given his or her own unique capacity for Consciousness. Why fault anyone for only doing what they know or only what they have the capacity to do? Instead, shouldn't we nurture and have compassion? Shouldn't we give people space to use their tools and grow? Shouldn't we go so far as even to aid each other in our practices even though they may be wildly different? If everyone is using what they know in order to grow, why not do that?

Of course this should all be tempered with another tool: Reason. I don't advocate helping someone to blow up a building because their religion says so. Things that divide and things that increase hatred in the world work counter to what I am talking about here: lifting the illusion of separation. When it comes to that, I don't think things are relative.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arising from "nothing"

You may have heard the expression that life is a theater and all the world is a stage. The analogy often goes on to express that people are actors on that stage, like characters in a movie.

In many ways, this analogy is an expression of what ails us. Any particular actor on that stage swears that he or she is the only one, and that all the other actors are just characters that set the scene and offer interaction. When the interaction goes badly the actor forgets about being an actor and really thinks that something awful is happening, and that the results will mean something horrible... like death. So what does the actor do? He acts. He tries to beg and plead his way out of the plot, even though the script is already written. It's all quite unfortunate.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Step 2

I've done a lot of "Step 1". People always talk about it. They always say that Step 1 is becoming aware of a problem. "Once you are aware of it, you can begin to work on it!", they say. If there was ever a "spiritual cliche", that would be one. Alright, it IS a cliche, but cliches are the way they are because they can often be handy.

So what is Step 2?

Ah, the little-known and elusive Step 2! A place we rarely see. Most people who figure out Step 1 either think they are done, or they wander off as if they have some kind of mystical ADD.

Becoming aware of a problem must be followed by observation. I tend to believe that wrestling with a problem and forcing yourself to "tackle" it and "solve" it, as if some kind of bright idea can end it, is not the way it goes most times. Think about it: most of the time your mind is wrestling with things anyway. It believes that by churning around and around it can solve things and find peace. So it churns some more, but it never quite gets anywhere. It is the same thing with "solving" a problem that you have just become aware of. Forcing yourself to think about it or forcing yourself to change your behavior drastically overnight takes a lot of will power, and will power eventually runs out for all of us. It's like going on a diet. Eventually, even though it might take years, you will come off the diet and be back again.

Observation is Step 2. Once you have found the problem in Step 1, you have to face it in Step 2. That involves figuratively going nose to nose with it and looking it in the eye, and doing nothing else. It's harder than you might think. Our brains are wired to solve problems or complain about them. Holding in your mind something you don't like about yourself and just allowing it to exist without judgment or action is not easy, but it is Step 2.

Why is that helpful? Observing something, giving it space, and allowing it to be separates you from it. Before Step 2, you are one with the problem, but you do not know it. It is an unconscious and harmful oneness. Before you re-identify with the problem in an enlightened fashion (in Step 3), you need to have a healthy dis-identification with it first.

IF changing something is the right thing to do about that particular problem, the changes you need to make will become evident as you face it. Not only that, they will also become easier to enact and they will have a higher chance of sticking. Alternatively, you may then find yourself able to accept the issue and move on, without having it impede you any longer.