Author Archives: Andrew Wolfson

Editing Impulsive Neediness

Created August 5, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

As always in this column I’m writing about self-mastery. The objective is for most if not all of us to achieve and maintain the Observer and Flow states, the higher states of consciousness in which we are more effective. We need herd immunity to the lower states of consciousness dominating our culture up until now.

We need it now more than ever, as the acceleration of negative events is obvious to us all: the human race is running amok. Just to cite the most recent example, the leaders of China are tossing missiles around. Would that they had assimilated the ideas of Lao Tzu, Confucius, and the I Ching.

This macro behavior starts at the personal individual level. Each of us can only improve our own personal behavior. It could take a long time for this shift to roll over enough of the population to make a difference. But it is the only way to get to the desired end state. And for each of us, it will make whatever may happen to us more bearable if we are in these higher states during what may be trying times ahead.

Not that trying times are inevitable. We mustn’t underestimate the power of the media to effect shifts positive or negative. So far no one has organized the media to promote positive shifts. Such a scenario (as fictionalized in Pandemonium: Live To All Devices) could have significant positive impact on the outcome of the latest threat vectors.

I’ve written recently about the way the ego – the part of the mind that is driven to get us what we feel we need – as a result of various cultural pressures (information overload, complexity of life, expectations placed on us, restrictions on our creativity, too many unassimilated traumatic errors in our trial and error growing up phase) has become defensive. Without realizing it about ourselves, most of us tend to be continually attempting to compensate for having already been somewhat defeated.

Good and sensible things can have bad effects if taken to extremes. The ego function is not inherently a bad idea, but under present world conditions it becomes toxic. We overreact, and do so prematurely. We have been wrong too often, we see ourselves as having been victimized too often, we have been frustrated too often. In a less complex and more egalitarian society, with less continuous stress, less sense of continuous time pressure, more opportunity to be creative, the ego would function normally and not become toxified.

In our brains the amygdala is involved in this phenomenon. It goes into fight or flight reaction. A good thing to have when one is actually being physically threatened, but not such a good thing when it goes off all the time in what are, realistically, not situations that are all that threatening.

The wisest philosophers in history have painted a picture of what it is to be an ideal human being. It involves a degree of moderation and balance, not getting carried away to one extreme nor to the opposite extreme. In the Kabbalah, one’s work and love, mercy and severity, wisdom (knowing right action) and understanding (forgiving and curing wrong action) must be brought into balance in order to achieve inspiration (Flow state).  A nobility of spirit in taking responsibility and care for other people, a friend to the world, with a true and profound commitment to that degree of empathy. This is what it is to be a mensch.

In the origins of show business, the Greeks invented tragedy and comedy plays. Tragedy portrayed a noble spirit who fell off the wagon into hubris – the ego. Comedy portrayed people in lower states of consciousness and how funny their behaviors are when looked at from a higher perspective.

Hisandherstory looked at through this lens reveals that we as a race knew it all along. We knew about Observer and Flow states. We knew about ego. We just used other words to describe the same things.

A noble individual exudes calm and remains calm no matter what happens. This makes that individual more effective. Such an individual does not seem at all needy to others. He or she is not addicted to anything, so threats of having something taken away may be regarded objectively.

We today who have been so ravaged by life in an ego dominated culture and yet aspire to get out of that stuckness, can benefit from remembering and using these methods:

  • Don’t act on impulse. First study the impulse and why you are having it. Is it coming from some sort of neediness, for attention, or affection, or recognition, or from fear of loss? Remain calm, breathe deeply, edit the impulse rather than acting on it.
  • When you feel suddenly brought down by something, not as happy as you were a second ago, push that reaction away and study it without wearing it. Decide calmly what to do – because the higher function of those negative feelings is like an alarm to get you to focus on solving something. Take it as a creative challenge. There is probably no rush, it’s likely a problem that has been around for a long time.

We all know these secret tricks perhaps, but we don’t always use them. The future of the planet depends upon rising to the occasion and being our worthiest selves 24/7. Fortunately, it can be catching. When we see someone else acting rightly it brings us up. We just need that to go viral.

Love,

Bill

 

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Imagination is a Powerful Tool: Five Exercises

Created July 29, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

For every function of mind, it’s there because it can be used a certain way conducive to Flow state and happiness. It’s ours to discover what that way is, and isn’t.

Take the Ego for example. The best way to use it is sparingly, when the time requires it (e.g., if you don’t use it, you will be used by a low-minded other). That’s its survival relevancy and why it’s in us. The best motto of the Ego is Stand Up For Yourself.

However, in this our hisandherstory, we have devolved here into this channel, this instance of the metaverse in which all of the inappropriate uses of the Ego have gone rampant, and caused us to build a culture around misuses of the Ego. A culture built upon bad behavior.

The religionists got that one right. They speak truth on that score. Science with a conscience says the same thing. That is all the alarm clock doing its job. Now science with a conscience and the truly spiritual in each of us can look each other in the eye, shake hands, and tackle the challenge of restoring enlightened self-interest pragmatically.

The need to compete did not come in the DNA. The DNA gave us the power to compete when it was necessary. It did not hardwire us to want to continually provoke and aggravate competition. The trait of a tendency toward aggressive self-defense has been conditioned into us by the present culture of the past 6000 years. It’s been an age of power games and it’s not over.

We have to be able to look at such things. To see why we are the way we “instinctively” are. Why we have what appears to be a natural inclination to be repelled by certain things, and attracted to others. It’s not so much hardwired instinct, it’s also our life experiences, which tend to cause a defensive stance that the person is not aware of taking.

We have to be able to adjust our decisions based on knowing these things about ourselves. Adjust for our own biases. We have no survival interest in having any biases, our thriving depends on making decisions that cause things to work out the way we wanted, or better. Ethical Effectiveness must be the only thing we optimize our decisions and our lives around.

The rational mind is not in itself capable of changing behavior. Unless all parts of oneself are united in making a decision, you will be losing effectiveness.

The culture has tended to push us in the direction of the rational mind, with less attention being paid to perception, feelings, intuitions, and especially the imagination.

Using the imagination during daily alone spaces can be a way of progressing faster in self-mastery. This can be much more important to your future life than physical exercise, and the two can sometimes be combined, given patience and concentration.

There are two ways of using the imagination, and they both work. One is to choose what to focus on, and the other is to let the imagination do what it likes.

The misuse of the imagination is to picture or fear upcoming negative events for more than a moment in which the alarm function is thanked, and the mind focuses on solutions for the feared eventuality. Dwelling on the alarm ringing without turning it off does not make you effective in the real world. Switching from learning that the body has picked up a blip on the radar that looks unfriendly, to thanking that part of yourself and immediately fearlessly focusing on how to unwind the situation.

If fears do not distract you that day, one imagination exercise I call LOVE. In the exercise, you vividly imagine all the people and things you love, and revel in how much you love them, one at a time, taking your time with each one.

When all parts of oneself get into LOVE the rewards are salient. Afterwards you may be in bliss and act lovingly towards the people you love. Maybe even perfect strangers.

Another exercise, which works best if engaged in right after LOVE, I call FORGIVENESS. In your imagination you forgive each person you continue to bear malice towards. Starting with yourself. You want to imagine yourself at very young ages to recall things you hated yourself for, and to finally forgive yourself for them, one at a time, as they come up in memory. Then each other person or thing you specifically don’t love. Forgive them all. Don’t carry the past it’s too heavy. Don’t make the same mistakes again but don’t blame. Blame wastes internal decision making energy and time and doesn’t lead to greater effectiveness.

A third imagination exercise I call SANKALPA, which is Sanskrit for INTENTION or VOW. This is where you dream the movie of your life with a happy Hollywood ending, the way you want it to come out. This is the most important imagination exercise.

A fourth imagination exercise I call PREDREAM. This is best performed after one is comfortable in bed. One imagines the next day the way one wishes it to come out. This leads to some interesting screw-ups being imagined, and contingency plans or prevention plans are laid to take care of such exigencies. This is both preparation and rehearsal, and evokes creativity in deciding against saying one thing and instead saying another, in upcoming conversations being imagined. A further benefit is enjoyed if one falls asleep or nearly does, because this hypnagogic state creates opportunity for the subconscious mind to help write the script of your imaginings. This is a doorway for revelations so always have a pen, pad, and tiny flashlight close by.

The fifth imagination exercise I call WAKEUP. As you wake up you focus on not forgetting your dreams. Then you see if there is any relationship between your dreams and what happened yesterday or recently. Not so much in the events, but are they connected in some way by the way they feel? Take notes before getting out of bed. Anything you can now see a better way of doing, something you did yesterday perhaps, write down notes before getting out of bed.

Obviously, these are not one-and-done exercises. All of them can be used over and over again, picking the one to fit your mood or need.

These exercises are all fun, because the imagination is fun to use, if you don’t misuse it to falling into a black hole which is 100% masochism. Dark moments are valuable clues to the unmade internal decisions that are still waiting to be confronted and decisively made. Write those down. Work on them patiently in terms of strategic development, and let the subconscious help you. Don’t ignore any signal in your mind, be especially open to any hunches or ideas that might come out of nowhere, and be cautious not to become infatuated with any which have negative overtones toward someone or toward anything.

If you’d like to think more about the imagination, here is some recommended reading out of Wikipedia from some of my teachers.

Love,

Bill

As developed by Carl Jung between 1913 and 1916, active imagination is a meditation technique wherein the contents of one’s unconscious are translated into images, narratives, or personified as separate entities. It can serve as a bridge between the conscious “ego” and the unconscious.

Active imagination – Wikipedia

For James, imagination is intentional in the sense that it points towards an object that it poses as real. It has therefore a cognitive content, however minimum.

The Role of Imagination in James’s and Dewey’s …

“The realm of imagination was seen to be a “reservation” made during the painful transition from the pleasure principle to the reality principle in order to provide a substitute for instinctual satisfactions which had to be given up in real life.

Freud on The realm of imagination – freud quotes

 

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Losing Mental Obesity and Having Future Fun

Created July 22, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

In my previous post, we wrote about that function of mind which unintentionally acts as a traitor, inflicting wounds on its owner. We speak of the bloated ego within us as that traitor.

We postulated that a less obese ego would be a good thing to have, and that the elephantiasis of the ego pandemic is fallout from the accelerating creativity unlocked within us by written language. As daily world events indicate, our creativity and inventiveness has had effects ranging from the spectacular to the disastrous. One of the most negative impacts of the runaway complexity is the ballooning of the ego function through agencies to be unpacked below.

Even the way we all tend to look at the present state of the world is distorted by the ego. We are all obsessed, because of the ego, with the downside possibilities of the near future, much more than we are excited by the upside possibilities straight ahead. Why does the self-protective, selfish function of consciousness, Mister Looking Out For Number One, exaggerate and dwell upon the worst outcomes?

One might explain it away by drawing a nexus between selfishness and survival: surely our urge to survive, central to all life forms, was thinking of the need for a suspicious security officer like Worf when it extruded the code necessary for the existence of the ego function?

Perhaps, but a bit of self-reflection reveals another cause, related to Acceleritis and its resulting information overload: I call this principle “Compensation”. The ego in our present culture is compensating for a general feeling of inadequacy, caused by a never-ending string of missing the mark in almost everything we do, because the complexity of daily life has overwhelmed our capacity to always operate in the natural Flow state. After the first few years of life this wound of mortifying incompetency cries out for succor, and the ego where this notation lives, is the agency by which redress and proving oneself shall be achieved – or so the ego thinks. The methods employed by the ego in trying to salve this feeling of being unworthy, include (a) to brag in some concealed or exposed form, (b) to subtly or obviously try to bring others down to a level in which the ego can feel superior, and many other methods which in Putin’s case, includes trying to take over an even bigger chunk of the world. That would vindicate the ego and win the game, in Putin’s subconscious mind, all would be set to right, or so his subconscious thinks.

Acceleritis might not have done the damage it has done so far if not for another enabling factor in the world of the past few centuries. And that is, the loss of direction in the search for meaning in life.

It’s easy to explain what the ego-ridden average person is doing with their life as a form of a game. The game is essentially to maximize the pleasure for one’s sphere of loved ones, and to minimize their pain. Totally reasonable and pragmatic, but it ignores the human need (possibly shared by other life forms) to feel that one’s life means something more than just continuous defense of one’s pleasure bubble. Humans have an innate desire to know what is really going on here, who am I, why am I here, and to creatively express their unique gifts. We as a race have always had an intuition of Someone Else With Us, a vast consciousness to which we have given the codename “God”.

Until the last few centuries, during which observance of rituals has masked over an inner unspoken atheism which prints out in behaviors that belie the claimed belief in a specific religion. The average person has let science go off using its advanced mathematical cryptography, and stayed in touch only at the broadest level in which it is widely assumed that science has proven that there is no God, and intellectuals go one step further and believe that Logical Positivism has proven that even the concept of God is meaningless.

In a race that needs meaning, the past few centuries have dissuaded us from the search for that stuff. So all we are left with is a choice of which game to play to while away the time as pleasantly as possible. This factor plus Acceleritis have caused the self-promoter function to expand to fill the conscious self, as a continuous band-aid over the cumulating wounds of disappointment in oneself and life. Hence the ubiquitous need to compensate. Thus has the valid ego function become toxic.

It’s not just widespread mental “laziness” (actually mental triage in the face of inforush) that has caused the popular perception of a schism between science and spirituality. Many scientists (excepting the most senior ones) have publicly expressed a bias (unproven assumption) in favor of Accidental Materialism, the explanation that the universe came about accidentally, and all that matters is matter, with energy simply a released form of matter. Some of this breed of scientists have dismissed consciousness as an epiphenomenon, meaning we can hear the noise in our heads but it really doesn’t have any impact on the way we behave, we just think it does.

We humans and other animals are very affected by a show of confidence, if it appears unshakeable and is connected with intelligence. Even before a word is said. Then, when words pour out of such a being articulately, suavely, and with great surety, our tendency as humans is to give those words some credence. Even if it disagrees with one or more of our own long-held assumptions. The actual truth or falsity of the content has nothing to do with how much it persuades us based on the foregoing presentation variables.

The good news, however, is that scientists of the highest order throughout history and even today, are not biased toward Accidental Materialism, have open minds about God and about all subjects where empirical evidence has not been conclusive yet.

In his Amazon review of my latest scifi novel Pandemonium: Live To All Devices, Chuck Young, founder of Ameritest recently acquired by Dynata, lists some of the greatest scientific minds of the past hundred years who have had reason to consider consciousness to be at least equally important to matter:

Consciousness is the central theme of this book. In one of Harvey’s insightful observations, a character notes “The most important human quality is the ability to control one’s own mind.”
Consciousness is the deepest of all philosophical problems, which the ancient Greeks described as the Mind-Body problem, and which the greatest of our modern scientific minds have not shied away from also thinking about. In the words of Max Planck, winner of the 1918 Nobel Prize in physics, “In the last analysis, we ourselves are part of the mystery we are trying to solve.” Or Erwin Schrodinger, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize, “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is fundamental.” Or Werner Heisenberg, winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize, “Contemporary science, today more than at any previous time, has been forced by Nature herself to pose again the question of the possibility of comprehending reality by mental processes.” 0r Eugene Wigner, winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize, “The very study of the external world leads to the conclusion that the content of consciousness is an ultimate reality.”
The only person to ever win two Nobel Prizes in physics, John Wheeler, pointed out that in the debate of Mind versus Matter it is an axiom of the current secular worldview that matter arises first, in the Big Bang, and that somehow the conscious mind has emerged through some combination of improbable physical processes. But that is only an axiom for creating our belief system about the nature of the Universe. It cannot be proven. But what if, according to Wheeler, we invert that axiom and assume consciousness comes first? Like the shift from Euclidean to Non-Euclidean geometry in mathematics, changing that one starting axiom leads to a radically different worldview.

To me, I find it easier to imagine consciousness coming before matter, because consciousness is unitary and matter is diverse. Also, taking empiricism to its ultimate extreme, the only thing any of us can say with total certainty based on empirical observation is that our consciousness exists. Everything we call matter and energy is something we experience through our consciousness.

Once the mind accepts that being closed to possibilities based on the vagaries of cultural conditioning is counter-productive, the awe, wonder, and numinosity of life come rushing back in like a friendly tsunami. Possibilities are again seen to be endless, and the ability to imagine upsides, free of mental fat, is welcomed in.

In a recent WDST radio interview about Pandemonium: Live To All Devices with my host Doug Grunther, founder of Right Brain Network, Doug asked me if there was anything in the story that would give us all any reason to feel more optimistic about the future. I responded that there are three unspoken takeaways from this scifi spy novel set in the near future:

  • Keep an open mind about your own powers of mind
  • Keep an open mind about the whole multiverse being one consciousness, each of us an avatar
  • The future has a sporting chance of being fun

Love,

Bill

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The Prevalence of Self-Inflicted Wounds

Created July 15, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

We’re not happy about Putin for very good reason. Yet he is one of us and we can learn from his mistakes. Might be a tad easier than learning from our own mistakes, until we get the hang of the latter, which is a good thing to do.

Here he was trying to contain NATO and instead his actions taken in that regard had a boomerang effect. Making him more unstable and dangerous no doubt.

Let us consider my argument that there is a common cause, or mechanism, within all of us that is responsible for his having done that.

And that same phenomenon in you connects to the things you have done in your life which were akin to shooting yourself in the foot or other necessary appendage.

What is that thing that is dragging us all down, then?

It is a miscalibration of one function of the mind.

This function has been miscalibrated by the history (we ought to say hisandherstory) through which we have passed as if through a gauntlet.

The long and short of it: thugs took over and still rule in most places. Here in the few democracies the thugs are actually a mixture of all kinds of people, which is an improvement. We average citizens like that someone else is watching the unbelievably complex store. When we are born, we are immersed in a degree of complexity that is baffling to our capacity, and then it gets ever more intense. It was not always that way. My theory is that the Acceleritis started with written language. Nowadays Acceleritis has reached fever pitch, with the average person multitasking during virtually every second of the day.

That was how this particular mental function came to become miscalibrated.

Well, what is that darn function, then?

Freud gave it a name which I’ll cite in a moment. But first let’s talk about why the function was validly necessary.

In a world in which many agents have free will and one is only a single member of this cloud, it is inevitable that there will be conflicts of interest.

This function is specifically designed to be useful in preventing and overcoming these conflicts of interest.

Freud, in Civilization and its Discontents, one of his greatest books, said that this function starts up when the baby has its first experience of needing something and not having that something delivered instantly.

At that point, he wrote, a new function of mind arises, to deal with such situations.

He called it the ego.

He characterized it as a managerial function, to get the self what it wants or needs through the use of specific tactics that were not inherent in the original self.

What existed of the self/mind before that point he called the id. I call the id the Me That Was Born. Same thing whatever you call it.

I also call the ego by another name. I call it the robot. Because I see it as a set of coded instructions that creates further coded instructions, mediated by electrochemical reactions in the nervous system, which arise subsequent to birth and therefore are not the original self.

I see the original self as an extremely valuable thing, of cosmic significance, and worth distinguishing from the programs that the original self subconsciously creates.

So the ego is sort of the patient’s caregiver, the client’s press agent, the client’s advocate, the function that tries to make sure that the self gets credit where it is due.

Miscalibration of the Ego

In a supposed “normal” world, in which the input stream does not overwhelm the central processor immediately, causing inforush paralysis and then Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), the ego would be as pragmatically useful as the thumb.

However, when the ego is confronted by excessive information, it becomes a danger. One moves quickly into a hasty acceptance of supplied defaults. This is how mental self-enslavement occurs. The ego over-reacts and exaggerates threats, causing hormonal changes we sense as our own fear or anger whenever something – even trivial – appears potentially capable of challenging our security. It’s the survival-driven fight or flight reaction in situations which do not rationally justify such a reaction, when reacting that way is childish and vain.

In an ideal and yet pragmatically possible future, individuals will pull themselves up by their bootstraps to deal with information overload, without giving in to the impulses sent from the ego.

What can you do?

Be on guard. Getting stressed out is a sign that you slipped gears and are internally dominated for the moment by the ego in you. Take that sense of dilemma as a signal to stop, breathe, press the reset button hard, reject recent emotional reactions, go to neutral. Look at the situation objectively and scientifically.

Let’s take an example. Say that you’re having a conversation with your significant other. Assume that they say something that bugs you. While noting your hormonal release effects and keeping them separate from your true self, notice the fact that “feeling like making sharp retorts to unworthy statements” shrinks you back into the contracted ego you.

Understanding Your Ego

In its inflamed state due to the inforush, your ego makes bad decisions trying to serve your interests. It’s only a biological AI, so it’s imperfect, not built for the volume of complexity rushing at you each second. In order to be master of your own castle you have to be aware of these things and to take control of them.

You can’t allow yourself to be pulled under by the force of your amygdala and the rest of your limbic alarm system. You must maintain control of the ship despite these powerful waves washing you in hormonal takeover.

The secret is that your vulnerability lies in your attachment to certain outcomes. You have become obsessively hypnotized and enslaved by terror of certain outcomes (e.g., death, mortification, loss of loved ones, terrible illness, etc.) and desire of others (money, fame, etc.). Only by confronting these feelings on the stage of your consciousness can you gradually readjust the control to favor your true self.

My book Mind Magic was written to provide more detailed instructions. With or without my further advice, it was always you that it comes down to, you must do this for yourself in any case, no matter what tools you select to help you, this is the challenge that the Universe presents to you at this moment of truth in a world at climax.

Love,

Bill

 

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