Monday, November 13, 2017

Here we go....again

Have been experiencing quite extreme mood and energy cycling / swings, not just from day to day but during a single day. So at 1pm may find myself unable to keep my eyes open, feeling too heavy too move, or terrribly oppressed, and then - sometimes after a short nap if that is available to me, or just lying down and listening to Mooji or Byron Katie or, today, for a change, Allan Watts - I find myself busy doing things again, my energy levels restored. This may last a while, then there is another crash, and sometimes before bed time there may be one more small burst of energy and animation.

I try to be mindful and not get fully identified with the feelings that arise, particulary the denser paralysing ones, which for some reason - probably an imagined future - I am more resistant too than the "ups".

I think it can be liberating if I can let go and trust that Life is beneficient, and allow what is changing to change, without clinging too tightly to notions of how my body should feel, or what my energy levels should be like, at any given time.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

What do the dead think of the Holocaust?

My question is this: Once suffering is behind us, what concerns us?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Legal vs The Psychological Domain; Differing Understandings of Causality

This post emerged out of a discussion with a client, so thank you client

In the legal domain the intention of the perpetrator matters little, and victim impact matters a lot. Nor does the victim's subjective meaning making matter much...the police will tend to arrest Jean Valjean even if the Bishop does not want to press charges, does not think of the silver candlesticks as ever being his - "to the Lord is the earth and the fullness thereof" - or that they were "stolen."

Perhaps this is because the law is concerned with regulating society, with reinforcing norms (right and wrong), with punishment and with - too rarely - restorative justice. It does not question the notions of agency, private property, free will, volition or responsibility, and nor does it explore - in the areas of libel, defamation, intimidation, boundary violations, bullying, harassment, traumatisation etc - how the 'victim' may co-create the injury along with the perpetrator, by the kind of conceptualising and languaging they use to describe to themself what has happened. (And which is subtly reinforced by the agendas and power struggles and discourses of those around them)

In the psychological domain, however, it is different. Perhaps because this domain is less concerned with "good" and "bad" than with balance, happiness, well-being and freedom. The intentions of the perpetrator are unknowable, even if the perpetrator says what they were....because the perpetrator may be an unreliable witness. But the meaning making of the survivor / victim / overcomer is accessible, and this meaning making is all important as to whether minutes or hours in the past will grow into a huge and heavy wound-burden in the present, (what Eckhart Tolle calls an identity maintained by identification with the pain body) or whether the person will turn from digging in the graveyard of the past to dwell in the house of the present and presence.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Both "good" and "bad" are impermanent states

How can we do permanent "good" in a dynamic environment? Yesterdays "good" turns into tomorrows "bad" - perhaps better to question the notion of do-ership and agency all together - not in a way that leaves us believing we are powerless, but rather in a way that we acknowledge that what Reality needs to happen will happen, through us or through another...its a very delicate dance and perhaps getting our small "i" out of the way will make for a more elegant and suffering-less performance....

Rav Kook, of blessed memory, wrote a lot about how the seeming individual will (ratzon prati) works within and merges with, the general will, the Divine will.

The Rambam (Maimonides) the great Medieval Jewish philosopher and physician described the fluidity and context dependence of "good" and "bad" a 1000 years ago, and advised it best to adopt a stoic "wait and see" attitude of reserving judgement.

פירוש הרמב"ם על המשנה בברכות, ט, ה

[ה.] חייב אדם לברך על הרעה כשם שמברך על הטובה כו' – מה שאמר: כשם שהוא מברך על הטובה – רוצה לומר, לקבל אותו בשמחה ולב טוב ולכבוש כעסו, וייטיב נפשו כשיברך "דיין האמת", כמו שיעשה בשעה שיברך "הטוב והמטיב". וכמו שהיו אומרים החכמים ברוב דבריהם: "כל מה דעביד מן שמיא – לטב". וזה דבר שכלי אצל בעלי השכל, ואפילו לא הורה הכתוב עליו, לפי שיש דברים רבים, נראים [שתחילתם רעה, ויהיה אחריתם טובה רבה, ויש דברים, נראין] בתחילתם טובים, ויהיה אחריתם רעה רבה. ועל כן אין ראוי למשכיל להשתומם כשתבוא עליו צרה גדולה, מפני שאינו יודע סופה; [וכמו כן אל יפתה לבבו וישמח שמחה שלימה כשתבואהו טובה לפי מחשבתו, מפני שאינו יודע סופה].

To bless "the bad"

The Mishnah (Blessings - Brachot- Chapter Nine Verse Five) says a person should bless on the "bad" in exactly the same way they bless on the "good". The thinkers who redacted the Mishna say the source text for this is the biblical verse "and you will love the aspect of mercy and the aspect of justice with all your heart and with all your singular life energy and with all your beyondness (Deuteronomy 6).

Why does the verse say to love G?d / That Which Is with these three different dimensions of being? Doesn't the verse saying you will love G?d with all your heart include the other two? Are they not redundant? The wise ones explain that loving G?d with your soul, or life energy, is to include "even when G?d takes that soul, or life energy away."

I'm not enough of a Hebrew scholar to be sure of this, but I find it strange the word "even" (afeeloo) is used..."even when your life is taken." Surely, given that everyone's life is "taken" (or given, or surrendered) sooner or later, the wording could better be "when....i.e "you will love G?d when your (personal) life is taken and name and form end." Would love to hear your comments.

A final thought, and again perhaps I am defying the laws of Hebrew grammar, but it seems to me the text can be read as predicative and descriptive rather than imperative. In other words, it is not a command to love G-d, but rather a prediction - all will come to Love.

Shabbat shalom

חיב אדם לברך על הרעה כשם שהוא מברך על הטובה, שנאמר (דברים ו) ואהבת את יי אלהיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך ובכל מאדך.
בכל לבבך, בשני יצריך, ביצר טוב וביצר רע י.
ובכל נפשך, אפלו הוא נוטל את נפשך.
ובכל מאדך, בכל ממונך.
דבר אחר בכל מאדך, בכל מדה ומדה שהוא מודד לך הוי מודה לו במאד מאד.

פירוש הרמבם

חייב אדם לברך על הרעה כשם שמברך על הטובה כו' – מה שאמר: כשם שהוא מברך על הטובה – רוצה לומר, לקבל אותו בשמחה ולב טוב ולכבוש כעסו, וייטיב נפשו כשיברך "דיין האמת", כמו שיעשה בשעה שיברך "הטוב והמטיב". וכמו שהיו אומרים החכמים ברוב דבריהם: "כל מה דעביד מן שמיא – לטב". וזה דבר שכלי אצל בעלי השכל, ואפילו לא הורה הכתוב עליו, לפי שיש דברים רבים, נראים [שתחילתם רעה, ויהיה אחריתם טובה רבה, ויש דברים, נראין] בתחילתם טובים, ויהיה אחריתם רעה רבה. ועל כן אין ראוי למשכיל להשתומם כשתבוא עליו צרה גדולה, מפני שאינו יודע סופה; [וכמו כן אל יפתה לבבו וישמח שמחה שלימה כשתבואהו טובה לפי מחשבתו, מפני שאינו יודע סופה].

Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so

"No one can humiliate you without your permission" (Eleanor Rooseveldt)

In CBT and similar approaches between external event and internal emotional response there is the interpretive, meaning making faculty of the mind. "He / they made me feel dirty..." "She hurt me" "You're making me angry.."...all of these statements demonstrate the principle of false causation. It is your - and my -unquestioned thoughts about the external event which leave us feeling sad, heavy, tense, hurt, angry, numb, resentful or the opposite - light, easy, relaxed, open, alive.

This is why two people can respond completely differently to the same external event, and experience opposite emotional reactions.

When Shakespeare said nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so he meant it, and with no exceptions. Violence, disease, death, the end of relationships, accidents, amputations - all of these have hidden blessings and their meaning in our lives shifts depending upon which set of thoughts we have about them.
Gam zoo letovah - "also this is for the good", it says in the Talmud, i.e something that at first seems like a terrible tragedy may slowly or quickly reveal itself as a gift, if we are open enough to receive it. Perhps this is also a reason the Talmud says a person

That this is so is experientially verifiable. It puts people firmly back in the driving seat, able to generate an internal contentment irrespective of what happens and how it initially differed from our expectations ( really demands) of how Life and people "should be".

But people give this power away to others - treat me right and I'll be happy, treat me (what I consider) bad and I'll be sad. These are the mind forged manacles Blake writes about, and these are the mind forged manacles Victor Frankl threw aside in the concentration camps.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Even murderers need a pretext. First invent the crime, then perpetrate the violence...

For some people - perhaps most in particular times and places - it is more important psychologically to belong than to tell the truth. This is one of the reasons people create and happily disseminate conspiracy theories that do not have a shred of verifiable evidence to support them. They get to belong to an insiders club who have "secret " knowledge that must be shared with the ignorant and hoodwinked. Most of these paranoid stories are a mixture of pure fiction mixed with a few cherry picked half truths for artistry's sake, to please the outright liars and provide feathering for the gullible and predisposed.

The basic stance is to attribute near omnipotent powers to a fictional "they" - Jews, Rothschilds, Bankers, 'Burgerbuilders', Zionists, George Soros - and to attribute - indeed to find -  sinister motives of control, power or profit to these actors, thus 'reexplaining' events which have either commonly accepted and prosaic explanations, or which like many things in life, have a complex array of causes, or are seemingly random and arbitrary, or whose causes - if any - are simply unknown. 
(Often the truth is we just don't know - we don't know why something happened, or didn't happen, or why things are the way they seem to be...but its not easy to sit with "I don't know.")

Attack is the best defence; how conspiracy theorists avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of their everyday actions and inactions, habits and addictions.

You can be a wife beater, a drunkard, a pedophile, a fraudster, unreliable and hence unemployable, an animal abuser, a liar and thief, numbed out, shut down, disconnected, lacking in initiative, overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, but hitch yourself  to a conspiracy theory and suddenly no introspection is required, no ownership of the mess you have created or the pain you have buried is necessary: it's all someone else's fault. In Jungian terms your own shadow has been projected onto a fictitious other you have summoned into existence. "If the Jew did not exist" wrote Satre 60 years ago, "the anti-semite would create him." 

When you meet someone who is determined to make you wrong, no matter what, because of a psychological need of theirs, who is determined to find in the most innocent or prosaic of behaviours dark and devious purposes, no amount of goodwill, explaining, proving, open hearted sharing and transparency will shift this impulse to hold you as "wrong' and "bad"

These accusatory tales - whether backed by a state or political movement or faith group or simply created by individuals for financial gain, as in the case of Icke - always locate their originators and disseminators in a place beyond reproof: The inquisitors, the judge and jurists in Salem, the lynch mobs in the deep South, the settlers in Tasmania who hunted Aboriginals, Churches' and nazis blood libel agains Jews, The Tsarist secret police's protocols of the elders of Zion, the Stalinist - Maoist purges, the Hutus hate propoganda that preceded the slaying of 800 000 Tutsis, some elements in the Islamic world's fanciful attribution of 9/11, ISIS, Sunni - Shia secterian bloodletting to 'the Mossad' - those who point the finger and kill by word, and often later by deed - grant themselves and anyone who colludes with them moral immunity and an implied, and completely unearned "righteousness".

This dynamic is often at work in every kind of exclusionary and persecutory prejudice. Its a particularly pernicious form of stealing self esteem and the ego's self justification.