Perspective

Created March 8, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Perspective is very helpful in dealing with the present historic moment…These are the times that test what we’ve got. Each of us…
It’s time to be that best version of yourself.
Let the highest part of you come out now. This is The Moment.

My friend arrived and put down his bag and took off his scarf and coat and sat on the banquette seat I’d saved for him. I asked him in a cheery voice how he was, expecting his usual enthusiastic answer, and he made ambiguous body language.

“How are you feeling?” I asked, still upbeat.

“Overwhelmed,” he admitted.

“By…”

“By the cold, all the news, and age!” he specified.

I contemplated his answer. “I’m with you on all of that.”

“I was just reading The New York Times, and every story is bad news. I used to be able to find one or two ‘good news’ stories in every issue.”

“I’ve been advising cutting down on the news and all other media that brings you down.” He nodded in violent agreement. We ordered lunch.

“How do you deal with those things?” he asked.

“You know, my take on the universe is that we are all one unkillable consciousness. That on Earth you and I are part of a free will experiment the conscious intelligent universe is doing. It is that Intelligence which looks out our eyes as us.” He nodded, chewing, having heard this from me before, in other language.

“I feel certain that the test we are undergoing will teach us wisdom of immense value. I write to help bring an end to suffering. I feel great sadness for those suffering, but I can’t let that affect my effectiveness on their behalf.”

He knew me from a long way back and knew that was what I say whenever there’s an opening. Never the exact same words, but always the same idea we are One Consciousness. He also knows that is my best guess as to what is really going on and that I live my life within this picture of reality.

If I’m wrong, then so is Einstein; neither of us believe that this complexity has all put itself together completely by accidental collisions, without the inescapable logical necessity of prior Intelligence.

We ourselves are a micro model of the Conscious Intelligent Universe – we are a consciousness so we know intimately what such a thing is.

And we know therefore that it is possible for there to be a consciousness.

Therefore it is totally illogical to state that a much larger version of the same thing “cannot possibly exist.”

My view of reality has an equal chance of being either true or false.

The same is true of any other view of reality now on the table.

Until your next death, when you gain important evidence, or simply cease to be able to experience knowing. Maybe then you’ll find out my “guess” or “prophecy” was right or not.

In any case, the real question is how to deal with the frightening omens and general sense of alarm. How to remain on a positive course, and learn from the challenges now appearing.

Stoic philosophers were the first to write down their ideas for dealing with horrific circumstances, and the Spartans largely demonstrated stoicism in action, except when they didn’t. At least they proved that it is humanly possible to zoom back far enough out of oneself to grok the universe is going to do stuff and we are supposed to rise to the occasion and to control our inner reaction to whatever befalls us externally.

Epictetus didn’t link his exhortations to any cosmological theory, he relied upon common sense. He implied that who knows what the universe really is, what we know is that we undergo severe trials here in reality and we need to understand the best way to deal with them. We can choose to take a different emotional reaction to our favorite cup being broken. It works with practice, will does develop.

Perspective is very helpful to me in dealing with the present historic moment.

This is as big as WWII. Even if we avert war but remain at battle stations for the rest of our lives.

Or, we come out of this into a reasonable facsimile of utopia.

These are the times that test what we’ve got. Each of us.

This is the cold water in the face wakeup call that God – the Conscious Intelligent Universe – is watching, and it’s time to be that best version of yourself. Let the highest part of you come out now. This is The Moment.

Love to all,
Bill

Mind Discipline

Created March 1, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Intellectual knowing is not the same as embodying
that knowledge in one’s actions.

Today there is fortunately an outpouring of articles and books on the subjects which a half century ago were rarely discussed outside of the kinds of books which were carried only by so-called metaphysical bookstores back then.

People with vast curiosity tend to study a wide spectrum of subjects. That describes me starting around age 4 when I fell in love with reading and writing. That also describes many people I know who have read many of the same esoteric books that I have, and some who have learned many things from the same writers. And many people whose reading has been far more inclusive than mine.

In conversations, I have noted that some of my great friends can quote wisdom but often are unaware that their actions do not conform to the bits of wisdom which they quote.

In some cases, this can be analyzed as intellectual versus emotional learning. The rational mind can be aware of important principles of how to live the good life, and yet on an emotional level, they are leaning away from those principles even as they espouse them.

Take a simple example: “There is no use crying over spilt milk.” Like all aphorisms, we tend to underestimate the amount of wisdom this aphorism contains. This is because familiarity breeds contempt. I know at least one person who can teach this to others but always lets disappointing news disturb her.

I know a man who has studied vast amounts of wisdom literature and understands all of it fully, yet his attitudes override the levels of tolerance which all wisdom literature teaches.

I know another man who is a walking encyclopedia of the history of applied psychology who does not pick up on his audience’s reactions.

Clearly there is a gap in the mind between knowing something and believing it to be true and valuable, yet not being able to “carry it off” in reality.

This gap is where discipline needs to be applied.

The reason that self-discipline is needed is that our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life is practiced with a mix of automatic and “manually overridden” (conscious, on-purpose, granularly formed) responses to external events.

Because we are used to that mix and never think much about it, we tend to overlook automatic responses which slip through despite the fact that they disagree with principles we espouse. Besides, “who has the time?” The Acceleritis culture is driving us all at top speed by giving us too many stimuli at practically all times. In moments when all media are turned off, we are not really escaping because that’s when the backed-up cognitive load dumps into our consciousness with unanswered questions and unassimilated half-learning, stuff we noticed but didn’t have time to think about why we noticed it, what it was saying to us that stuck so much in our minds.

My old friend Daniel Goleman has written many books about emotional intelligence, a phrase he coined long ago to describe the quality of a consciousness to integrate intellectual learning with emotional signals from inside and outside, and to perfect one’s actions taken, illuminated by this higher order of inner integrity.

Today I wish to emphasize another aspect of gaining emotional intelligence: self-discipline. Mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline.

The logical way to approach this topic is to start with the desired end state. First one ought to discern the ultimate goal of one’s own life, what you are here to do. The way the game is set up—this is not easy—and many people give up and let their game piece be pushed around by external forces. This is the first important place to apply mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline. You have to make the time to select the dream vision you wish to make come true over the course of your life. What your gift to the world shall be, your body of work you will leave behind to benefit posterity.

A guess is better than not having a targeted end state.

Discipline then has to be applied that respects yourself, you have set a goal, now you have to make it come true, you have to believe in it, you can’t be wishy-washy about it, that is a denial of self-respect.

You can’t allow yourself to waste time. To waste time is to waste your life. Time is a precious limited quantity. You must make best use of each second. Otherwise, you are admitting to yourself that you are not really laser-focused on your mission, you are programming yourself for failure to achieve your mission, you obviously do not take yourself seriously.

That’s why you can’t allow yourself to cry over split milk. Because not only is it a waste of time, it negatively programs you and the others around you. You are causing negative effects, and harming yourself and your mission, by giving in to the automatic reaction of the amygdala. This takes enormous self-discipline which can be gained by practice, and by never taking your eye off your mission.

At the same time, you can’t rush past noticing the cascade effects inside yourself, you must pay the time and attention to see your own automatic reactions that slipped through and screwed something up, so you can figure out what clues to look for next time, so you stop that particular automatic reaction from slipping through again.

One exercise is clearing the mind of all emotions. Any psychologist will tell you that emotions are the physical body manifestations that are connected with the inner feelings you have – so as you discipline away all the emotional clutter you have just been experiencing, it will happen in your body as well as in your mind – it will change your breathing, your heart rate, skin moisture, pupil aperture, and many other things. But you start with an inner act of will to cancel all inner events and return to a state of complete neutrality and emptiness. Starting over. Rebooting. I find that for me this is most effective when I walk into our meditation room, get down on the floor, breathe deeply, empty whatever is in me, and start my life over with a blank slate.

I hope you will refocus on your own mission and try this rebooting exercise whenever needed, and let me know how it goes.

Love to all,
Bill

Respect Everything

Created February 23, 2024

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Open-mindedness is one of the most important principles of metacognition (continuously studying one’s own mind as if from the point of view of an outsider) according to Dr. Gerald Zaltman, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard, and metacognition at Harvard Business School. Without open-mindedness one tends to be locked into positions one has taken in the past, even though there might be new relevant evidence that could be considered.

If one is truly open-minded, then that person can also see the possible truth in positions 180 degrees away from their own. An atheist can see that it is possible that an intelligence created the universe. A progressive can see that there might be useful truth in some things that a conservative says.

How little we know, as Hoagy Carmichael’s and Johnny Mercer’s song tells us (from the 1944 Hemingway-based movie To Have and Have Not). Arthur C. Clarke put it another way, he said that of all the things that we can someday know, what we know now is an infinitesimally small percentage.

We have changed our scientific perspectives many times along the way, and we continue to change them. The wisest among us have this perspective and their epistemology naturally embraces open-mindedness. Although in most of his work a physicalist, the great Stephen Hawking in his final book quoted John Wheeler’s Participatory Principle which states that our consciousness helps create reality. This opens the door to overthrowing physicalism and establishing consciousness as the principal underlying reality.

These are great thoughts from great people. Open-minded to the very end, despite their decades of study and theorizing.

Compare that to the average person. The average person takes very strong stands based on, really, very little. They fall into a very deep rut as to what they believe and the beliefs they hate. Most of their assumptions are not something they themselves learned from their own life experiences, but heard about from others influential in their lives. This reflects an unconscious epistemology of Authority rather than Empiricism. The very selfsame unconscious epistemology that leads to Authoritarianism. Blind followership, in other words.

Without open-mindedness, a person drifts as if by animal instinct to be attracted to types of people, e.g. tough guys, or pretenders of that ilk. This is a survival instinct in many species (e.g. pecking order) and when human beings behave animalistically they are not rising to the occasion of having exclusive cognitive capabilities proprietary to our species.

The lack of open-mindedness impels us to be negatively motivated. We know what we are fighting against. We are less sure of what we are fighting for. This is most apparent in the current political climate. It would be most noble and most fun for governments to spend 100% of their time focusing on creative solutions. Instead, they appear to spend most of their time knocking down the ideas of others. Yet we must respect all of them if we are to be open-minded. Respect does not imply agreement or support. It simply reflects the recognition that we all deserve respect. Even those who do not respect us. Noblesse oblige.

Open-mindedness and respect go together. If one is open-minded, one tends to listen respectfully to the thoughts and feelings of others. If one is respectful, one tends to listen to others with an open mind, and to use metacognitive strength to hold at bay the screaming voices in one’s own mind reflexively denouncing what the other person is saying.

If all of reality is a single consciousness, the larger parent of that part of the consciousness we take to be our own, then respecting everything makes complete sense. We have been conditioned by centuries of majorities of thinkers we respected who could not see how ancient conceptions of God could be squared with the findings of science.

What came out of nowhere in the last half Century were new conceptions of God that fit neatly in with quantum physics and relativity. Just replace the word “God” with “the original consciousness field” and everything makes sense, the Participatory Principle, relativity, quantum entanglement, the Heisenberg effect, Bits Before Its, the jigsaw puzzle falls into place.

What Wheeler called the quantum foam could simply be the original consciousness field. The way Wheeler described the quantum foam, which pre-existed The Big Bang in his theory, was that virtual particles spontaneously arose from it and fell back into it. Sounds a lot like consciousness, with ideas and feelings arising from it and often disappearing back into it before we could grasp them.

Since we cannot prove that point right now, it comes down to being open-minded about it. For some of us who have noticed that our hunches, at least the dispassionate ones, often have great validity, we can decide to run our lives betting on cosmopsychism, as scientists are now calling it. When that struck me as more of a revelation than a hunch circa 1969 I called it The Theory of the Conscious Universe. I had a feeling that everything was conscious, it was an experience, more like a perception than an idea. I also dimly recalled that I had always had that perception as a child but it went away a long time before, slipping away quietly.

If we retain the realization that the world might be a very different sort of place than it appears, and take that possibility seriously, we naturally become more open-minded and respectful toward others, who may actually be ourselves at a different place in the game.

Whatever the truth might be, we can perhaps know it with certainty the next time we die.

In the meantime, if we can all agree that the world needs a bit of a makeover right now, which I think is a pretty pervasive take on things, we can exercise our will to take a stronger hand in the game by rising to a state of open-mindedness and respect for all things, as all things may be a part of our One Self.

This includes respect for our own current self. The popular term “self-esteem” is not quite as healthy as self-respect, because “esteem” implies a vain ego, and “respect” does not.

If we respect others, we shall find that it has increased our level of self-respect. It is a magnanimous position to take. We have taken unconditional responsibility to behave properly.

If we can apply respect in our daily lives, it will automatically tune down the hate. We have not found any other way to effectively turn off the hate so why not try respect?

Love to all,
Bill

Be Indomitable

Created February 16, 2024

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The day my mother died, Jewish customs would have been for the whole family to do nothing else but “sit shivvah” for several days. They were shocked therefore when my father, MC and orchestra leader in a big NYC nightclub, went to work that night. His eyes briefly met mine and without his having to say it out loud, his eyes told me what they had both always taught me about moments like these. The show must go on.

In moment-to-moment living, we each have our ups and downs. It occurs to some of us that we are being dominated by the inputs we receive from moment to moment, without having the ability to resist the invisible strings on our puppet selves being pulled by outside forces, and this stiffens our resolve to not be jerked around by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We then go inside to find or to build the control systems that will make us each master of our own self, impervious to outside control by anyone and anything.

This discovery of one’s inner abilities to overcome one’s own negative emotions and not to be excessively carried away by one’s own positive emotions goes back long before spoken or written language, long before humans were able to clarify the processes involved enough to pass along how-to instructions. One of the earliest schools of philosophy on record is stoicism. This philosophy was all about understanding and inculcating these control abilities in human beings. Epictetus, in my estimation the greatest stoic philosopher of them all, was born as a slave. Enslavement gave him a fertile ground of unhappiness to deal with, and instead of caving into a life of misery, he faced squarely up to his situation and found out how he could modify his reactions to that situation. His book The Enchiridion, when I first discovered it as a teenager, blew my mind because stuff I had been working on within myself had actually existed before.

The need to become more fatalistic and resilient may not be greater than ever before in human hisandherstory but it is certainly much greater now than ever before in my lifetime. I need not list the litany of threat vectors currently present on our dance card. Possibly the one that is most disheartening is the attitude of young people who feel they have been gypped, and those who feel that way do so, not without good reason. The world needs a lot of fixing and we are just the species that can do that fixing in the highest and most heroic manner. Soon there will be a realization of a need to shift into that mindset, rising to the challenge. As we did, as a species, in WWII. That same right stuff still resides within us. It’s time to call upon it, to draw it out, to become the indomitable selves that we are and have always been. It’s what we are here to learn how to do, and to demonstrate that we have learned it. Then perhaps we can graduate to the next classroom.

I find it very interesting to learn from latest neuroscience the underlying computational functions of the brain. My special interest comes from a lifetime of introspection with concentration in which I have always attempted to understand how I make decisions and to improve upon the methods I observe myself using. Now in the light of current neuroscience I can link up my experiential evidence with the revelations of fMRI and EEG. For example, Richy Davidson, one of my many neuroscientist mentors, back in the 1980s when we had a company together, discovered that emotional valence could be measured based upon asymmetrical energy use in the left and right lobes of the frontal cortex, a method that is still prominent today. In the brain, this valence is understood to be based on the concept of approach versus avoidance. Positive emotion comes along with approach, whereas negative emotion is part of avoidance.

Being indomitable is consciously favoring the approach mode.
Stepping forward to engage with the challenges.
Fixing rather than worrying.

One cannot simply decide to do this, and then it is done. The effort involved is primarily one of self-discipline. This is hardest in the beginning and then becomes easier and easier with practice.

Whatever we choose to focus on internally becomes a stronger force in our lives.

When one is thrown into the pool as a babe, one swims, and instinctively swims with the current if there is one. Given little time to think the modern child is rushed into play with other children, sports and then studies, with daily doses of media, creating masses of questions and thoughts from all these impressions. Processing time to contemplate all of this is not built into the daily regime of our culture yet. In a subtle and generally unnoticed way, the child proceeding into adulthood adopts a somewhat defensive coping lens as the main way of thinking. What could go wrong, fear, plans to deal with feared situations, doing this planning in snatches between externally assigned priorities which must be coped with moment to moment.

The most dangerous aspect of this condition is that if a person spends most of their time focused on what could go wrong, they are actually mentally rehearsing for those things to go wrong. To repeat, whatever we choose to focus on internally becomes a stronger force in our lives. If we are focusing on the downside scenarios we are increasing the probabilities of those scenarios occurring.

How does this happen? There is a continuum of explanations, schools of thought. Physicalists (believers in materialistic accidentalism) may admit that this occurs but insist that it is because the individual is giving off micromomentary signals which telegraph their fears in a way that provokes others to manipulate them, all on an unconscious level. Two of our greatest physicists of all time, Wheeler and Hawking, posit what Wheeler named the Participatory Anthropic Principle, by which our consciousness helps cause reality. This theory rests on Wheeler’s theory that underlying what we dub as physical (“its”) are “bits” of information, and that both consciousness and matter/energy are therefore reducible to information, out of which everything is made. This is a short step away from my theory that a single self-aware consciousness is where all this information resides.

In both versions of reality, physicalism and cosmopsychism, there is adequate support for the true existence of the programming of reality by the thoughts and feelings of the individual. However one explains it, it is there, and ignoring it and giving in to wallowing in pessimism, what we might call brain avoidance rather than brain approach, is self-sabotaging.

So here we all are as a species wallowing in pessimism. Remaining this way cannot have a happy ending. The stoic response to this situation is to unlock concern about the probable bad landing ahead, to fatalistically accept it could easily happen, but to make oneself focus courageously on bringing about the happy landing anyway. Once understanding the way the feedback loop works, this is the only sane response, taking active conscious control of where the mind is allowed to go.

Realism requires that a small allocation of time is spent on making contingency plans for how to avoid the undesired outcome, and how to deal with it should it occur, so long as first and last the mind is mentally rehearsing and pre-experiencing the desired future of the individual. Meaning that contingency planning should be done seriously and carefully but not dwelt upon, instead gotten over with, so as to resume consciously telling the universe the way the movie happy ending is to be for oneself.

Chemicals and electrical trickery is used within the brain and body which makes it hard to get out of bad moods such as fear, anxiety, grief, resentment, and so on. It helps me to realize that the sodium pentothal and other psychometric drugs used to interrogate and brainwash are the same sorts of chemical agents my own brain whips up to give me these overwhelming feelings that dissolve my ability to focus on fixing. Knowing this enables me to see my brain as trying to force me into feeling certain ways I know to be against my best interests, and gives me the gumption to force back those feelings.

“Yes, that could happen, but why do I care so much?”

“Yes, that could happen, and I’ve prepared myself to deal with it if it does happen, including not showing it’s gotten to me, but meanwhile, I might as well enjoy every second to the max, and it may never happen and I may get away with it to the very end.”

“Or if it eventually does happen, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I had fun without fear for such a long time, I got away with all of that, and so if it all ends badly at least I will know that I did what was right, what was good, and I can authentically admire myself for it.”

Self-admiration is a much healthier thing to experience than pride. Pride is not self-admiration because it goes too far and mixes it with vanity. This is caused by the needy defensive stance of the ego which is the sense of not having caught up with integrating all the clashing parts of myself (integrity).

There are other practical ways one can increase the ability to remain in the approach mode. Time alone especially in nature, paying attention internally, seeing the good, counting the blessings, seeing the beauty all around, remembering all the good in people, being grateful, opening the mind to all possibilities, recapturing the awe and wonder of existing as a consciousness in a vast universe, realizing the wellsprings of creativity inside which can be tapped to solve anything, remembering all of the love one has for this person and that thing, and understanding the scientific possibility that we are all one benevolent loving self, manifesting as many for the fun and learning. All of these are powerful inhibitors of the avoidance reaction.

You may still decide to avoid certain things that you conclude just bring you down, but you will do so indomitably rather than fearfully. You will find a smile on your face when you look in the mirror rather than a grim visage. Your sunny disposition will draw and uplift other people making it faster for this wave of indomitability to ripple out across the pond until herd immunity to fear and pessimism has been achieved.

Each of us shall then be a mensch.

Love to all,
Bill