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.