Mending the Fabric of One's Life
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Peace and Joy to you and yours!
The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Through which you mend
With the thread of your intention
The fabric of your life.
(A monk presented the following as a lecture to medically oriented professionals assembled to learn how they each might facilitate their own natural healing process and perhaps impact with similar information the general public coming to them for a cure of symptoms.)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me. We shall be learning how we each are but the eye of a needle.
When we mention the word "mind," imagine a mind – and in this process, become aware of an emotion or even the absence of an emotion. It is commonly understood that emotions are different chemical messages we produce by releasing various secretions inside our brains. We will be discussing the inter-relationship between emotion and intention, brain and mind.
The definition of "intention" in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary gives us these two senses:
In the definition of emotions, we found reference to the brain. We can picture the brain in seven levels, with seven different psychological functions. The first level is the Medulla Oblongata that we also know as the brain stem. In the Medulla Oblongata we experience the world of the senses, of action and re-action, in other words, we experience physical reality. Here, we find our vitality, sexuality, and spontaneity. Here we can also find ourselves to be unthinking, bullying, and reluctant to make long term plans – perhaps even commitments. We usually associate the color red with the Medulla Oblongata.
Above the Medulla Oblongata we can sense the Pons. This is our social center and from which we experience feelings of being outgoing, friendly, optimistic. In the Pons we experience feelings of social acceptance. We can also find ourselves experiencing feelings of pridefulness, power seeking, and social climbing. The color we usually associate with the Pons is orange.
Around the Ponswe find the Cerebellum. This is the seat of our intellection, logical, linear thinking. Here we experience feelings of efficiency and notice that we rationalize and compare. From within the Cerebellum we also sense excitement. Yet, we also find that we can be overly critical and sense separation. We experience ourselves as being cold and cut off, judgmental and detached from others. The color we usually associate with the Cerebellum is yellow.
Moving to the center of our skulls and our brain, we find the Limbic System. Here we get a sense of "me." Through the Limbic System we mediate the secretions of the thalamus and hypothalamus. Thereby, we feel love and healing energy, gain our sense of security and can be vibrant, nurturing, and open hearted. We can also sense envy, jealousy, and possessiveness. We shall return here later. The color we usually associate with the Limbic System is green.
The fifth level is the Interbrain or Third Ventricle that we also know as the Cave of Bramur. In this empty space we find spinal fluid and connections to the pituitary and pineal glands. In the Interbrain we can feel idealistic, peace-loving, content. Feelings of devotion as well as concepts and abstraction in memory we sense here in the Cave of Bramur. We can also find ourselves tied to the past, concentrated, and afraid of change. Interestingly enough, it is from here in the Interbrain that we assume that our assumptions are right and operate accordingly. The color we usually associate with the Interbrain is blue.
Moving further out now into the region of the Cerebral Cortex we find the Parietal, Occipital, and Temporal Lobes. In these lobes we experience our 6th sense or sense inspiration, ESP, and even experience the future through our intuition and instinct. We can also experience forgetfulness, inefficiency, and lack of stamina from within these lobes. The color we usually associate with these lobes is indigo.
The seventh level is the Frontal Lobe, the front portion of the Cerebral Cortex. Here we sense our self-image, "how I feel about myself." From the Frontal Lobe we sense our imagination, produce our dreams, poetry, and art. Here we also experience our higher reasoning processes as well as surrender, love, wisdom, and child-like wonder and awe. We can also experience ourselves as dreamy, unfocused, and evasive from within the Frontal Lobe. The colors we usually associate with the this lobe are gold or violet.
Having now a sense of our emotions, brains, and intention, let's shift our attention to an intentional predisposition we can maintain when discussing our sense of our feelings. We shall do so by discussing briefly five forces of psychological methodology. The first force is behaviorism; second, psychoanalytics or depth psychology; third, humanistic/existentialism; fourth, transpersonal psychologies; and fifth, metapersonal psychology.
From the school of behaviorism we intend to perceive behavior to be the simple result of positive or negative reinforcement based upon our individual response to the stimulus of our environment responding to our stimulus to it. We may find ourselves "controlled" by outer forces. From behaviorism we experience the "push-pull" of life, living things, and some fundamental truths of our physical universe — like water flows in one direction, down, following the path of least resistance.
From behaviorism we can move to appreciate the philosophical perspective of the psychoanalytic or depth psychology school. From the psychoanalytic school we intend to discover that the origin of our behavior might not be as simple or clear-cut as behaviorism would have us believe. We learn that our present behavior could very well be the product of unresolved emotional traumas or conflicts we had with our parents or significant others that we continue to hold onto in our unconscious states of mind. Thus, we may experience ourselves to be inner "controlled."
In both the behavioristic and psychoanalytic perspectives we can accept the invitation to feel victimized, a victim, tied down — more than less unable to move except as the predetermined reinforcement schedule set according to how we were raised and how we responded to our environment. We could say,looking back, that we might have felt that we were victims of circumstance — the terms and conditions of our life — our past included. As such some of us may have become embittered as time went on.
Then we can intend our understanding to evolve into the philosophical perspective of humanistic/existential schools of psychology. The pendulum of understanding now swings in the opposite direction.
The first swing was from external causation of behaviorism to internal causation of depth psychology and attending feelings of being victimized and frustrated. The second swing is from victimhood to despair as we now intend to experience ourself condemned to be free, that we are unconditionally responsible for the content of life, that our life and its content is the product of our free and absolute, unconditioned choice. We sense responsibility for our life and the consequent existential despair that we are and our life is what it is. We did it. We personally sense that I am here and now, I am responsible for my feelings and thoughts, the content of my life. From this intentional perspective we may sense, I am victimized by my choices, including my choice to feel victimized. Our life did not happened to us. Instead, we are our life. Here we sense chosen control.
The fourth rung on this five step ladder is the expanding perspective of transpersonal psychology. Here we intend to appreciate that energy and mass are one in the same. We intend to perceive our individual lives as essential elements in a unified field of multiplicity. We experience the one in the whole and the whole in the one. We know that we are one.
We discover that all along we had been trying, without too much success, to resolve basic ego needs we had established because of identities we had made. We now realize that our basic ego need is to experience directly our absolute and unconditioned unity with the rest of creation, to experience directly our integrity.
We had been very intimately involved with what we know as ego, our experience and our identity sense of who we think we are within an environment that we thought to be as it appeared to be. Our experiences in transpersonal psychology bring us in touch with contemporary understandings in the field of physics, phenomenology, mysticism (both East and West). We, our lives, life in general and the universe in its unified field of multiplicity makes sense. The non-sense of life now makes sense. The whole experience is one experience, that everything is inherently one in the same without difference or distinction.
Thus we appreciate the meaning of "transpersonal." Transpersonal psychology is the bridge across (L. trans) ego (concept of me-myself-I) to the sensed experience of belonging, of being one-in-whole. We are one. Thus, we now sense control as the process of surrendering ego identity by accepting totally the fluidity — the constant changeableness — of ego identity and life itself.
Once we sense this understanding, our perspective, attitudes, and perception of ourself, life, environment, and the universe in its many varied forms and shapes emerges into a unified field of perception. We sense our own self-identity in a new light. We find expression of this evolving sense in the practice and literature of, for example, Zen in terms of one's self-identity as being absolute contradiction or experiencing reality as a circle without a circumference or being pure space containing all things and yet unaffected by them. This is the intentional perspective of metapersonal psychology, having arrived at the other side of the bridge of transpersonal psychology. Whereas transpersonal is getting across (trans) the ego (concept of me-myself-I), its image in ego, metapersonal is beyond (meta), the other side, of the ego, its image in ego. Ego remains, all things remain the same, and yet all things change.
One practical application of metapersonal psychology we find in the field of psychobiology. Quoting directly from Ernest Lawrence Rossi's The Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing, we find:
Mind and body are both aspects of one information system. Life is an information system. Biology is a process of information transduction. Mind and body are two facets or two ways of conceptualizing this single information system.The dictionary defines "to transduce" as "to convert (as energy or a message) into another form (essentially sense organs transduce physical energy into a nervous signal)." This definition leaves us with the question how mind and body are connected and how they communicate. Quoting further from Rossi we read:
The state-dependent theory of mind-body communication and healing can be expressed as four integrated hypotheses:Continuing:
The major thrust of these hypotheses is that 1) mind-body information transduction and 2) state-dependent memory, learning, and behavior mediated by the limbic-hypothalamic system are the two fundamental processes of mind-body communication and healing. Medical science has specialized in all the anatomical, physiological, and pharmacological methods of accessing and facilitating healing; that is, it has focused almost exclusively on the "body side" of the mind-body equation.
State-dependent memory, learning and behavior refers to those experiences we learned in one state of mind and recall in another state of mind. Accordingly, state-dependent learning refers to what we learn and remember depends upon our psychophysiological state at the time of the original experience. Thus, we can say that the fundamental nature of all phenomenological experience (is) 'state-bound.' What we learn in one state of mind we transfer to another. Thus, are we able to effect modification in our physical systems through such processes as hypnosis in a hypnotherapeutic context or internally derived decisions to heal and be well.
I recommend Rossi's book for anyone interested in a technical, learned exposition of the healing process we are about to discuss.
With the preceding preliminary information as a general background, we are ready to get into the meat of our discussion. We began by mentioning that our emotions are a product of brain secretions and are associated by our intentions. We then discussed five various ways we can intend to experience our feelings/thoughts. Finally, we mentioned briefly how mind and body interrelate.
Now we shift gears and begin using a bit of our frontal lobes. Please get comfortable, take a couple of deep breaths, perhaps rearrange yourself in your chair, and sense your feet on the floor and feel your body in your chair. And now, sense the sound of this room and (these graphic symbols as they appear before you).
First, let us get a good image in mind of what a needle looks like. Imagine a needle. Any needle will do. Got it? And now focus your sight to the needle's eye. Being the eye of a needle is a fascinating experience. Being the eye of a needle is being pure space. Being pure space you sense yourself as being able to contain all things and yet be unaffected by their presence. Continue to be the eye of the needle even when this space holds thread. For the time being, let's keep the picture of the pure space in the needle's eye, realizing that it is the pure space that is containing the needle. Fine.
In this needle's eye, in the space of the eye, we put thread, the thread of your intention. What is your intention? What do you know your intention to be? What do you sound like when you know? What do you look like and how do you feel when you know — when you know that you know anything, including knowing what your intention is? What is you sense of just knowing?
For a moment, let us inquire into knowing.
In the dictionary, we find two general, generic meanings of to know. The first meaning, and the one we are most familiar with, is to know in the sense of gaining knowledge. It is intransitive and is governed by our powers of perception. We gain knowledge through our senses — and for the most part, through our visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses. Just as right now, as you are sitting in your chairs, listening perhaps to the words you are reading resonating in your auditory memory, looking for meaning in my words and generating or sense of what all this is about — you are in the process of gaining information, knowledge, enhancing your ability to know.
Cutting through a lot of information, let us say that this information passes into our cognitive apparatus through the central nervous system, our brain and its seven transducing levels or information processing functions. Enter the mind.
The word "mind" has many connotations and meanings as does "god," "love," "sex,"or "politics." So please accept, for the sake of our discussion here, the possibility that mind is just simply the operating principle of the brain. This is a system's theory definition of mind.
In this light, our brain would be like the central processing unit of a computer and the mind as the electricity running through the CPU giving it life, the ability to process information it is encoding. Please know also that we really do not know what electricity is in itself (except as the flow of electrons) — we just know how it works, its function. So to with the mind.
The idea of gaining knowledge is based upon another idea, that of ignorance, that we do not know. Thus, we open the door to the possibility for faith, hope, trust, or belief — what we use to fill-in the gaps of our ignorance and to give us some sense of security, when we think we need it.
We are speaking now, obviously, of functions of mind which we formulate according to the laws of identity and contradiction. Now, imagine if you will.a mind in space, a mind that observes "extramental" reality. Here we see cognitive thought. We feel and hear the mental habits that we have formed to configure what and how we perceive extramental reality. Here we find our subconscious socio-personal history that, over time, we have ingrained or "naturalized" into the fabric of our life.
Picture now, if you will, pure, open space. Wide open space and take several deep breaths as you are (observing these words on your screen) and feeling your presence in this room. This breathing is literally letting some of this information settle into your conscious mind.
Continuing. The second meaning of to know is transitive. Rather than using our perceptive faculties of our senses, we use our apperceptive faculty. In other words, we know by direct experience without mediation of our mind and central nervous system — without the mediation of thought. We know. Pure and simple.
A few moments ago you imagined a mind in space, a mind observing extramental reality. When we know transitively, we know with an open mind, like open space that contains all things yet is not affected by them. Rather than mind observing extramental reality, mind observes mind.
Perhaps now you are sensing another aspect of your being, while (reading these words), envisioning yourself in a new light, experiencing yourself more now as the eye of the needle undisturbed by the thread that may be in it. Knowing apperceptively, we feel, sense, and hear ourself as the self-identity of absolute contradiction, as one before one and two, as cause before cause and effect, as stimulus before stimulus and response.
There is no picture, no sense, no feeling as such when we know appercepetively, we are space containing all things and yet not affected by them. We can even see, sense, and listen to ourself as mind in space, observing extramental reality — or so we label it to be.
The clearest example of knowing transitively I can think of occurs in our use of will power. Usually when we hear the words "will power," we may imagine or sense the use of force, making something happen, cause something to be what we want it to be. This active sense of mind correlates with knowing transitively. How many of us have ever tried to get to sleep — you know — there is this big, important event tomorrow and the need is great for a good night's sleep. So we begin the process of going to sleep. What happens? Sure enough, we toss and turn, laying wide-eyed on our pillow, becoming more stressed out as we know that clock is ticking away...
What is usually the case about going to sleep? Sure, we go to bed and go to sleep. We surrender. We let go. We let ourself go into sleep peacefully and naturally. This is analogous to intransitive knowing, of being one before one and two, of being either asleep or awake before being asleep or awake. One becomes the other and other becomes the one — while being one within the same process all along.
In the Book of Genesis we read, And God said,'let there be light.' and light was made. Let it be done (according to my word) — and it is done. Let me sleep, and I sleep — all without thought, without construction, without mediation of mind.
Now, please refer to the picture on the overhead (A diagram of the limbic system).
How we let our world be is how we let our body be. As you can see the limbic system directly affects the hypothalamus. From the hypothalamus we affect our automatic nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
How we let ourself program our limbic system and hypothalamus produces the experience we have of our body, inside and out. The two points of this talk then is to remind us that 1) we each individually are but the eye of the needle and 2) that we each intentionally weave a cloak of fine fabric that we can honestly call our life, be it personal, social, or professional — it's our life. How do we let ourself just be - whole, healthy, healed?
Where does all this lead us? How we let our body be is through the process of our intention. We program ourself by the intentional predisposition we make toward life. We can either intend to protect ourself against pains and fears by becoming defensive and a closed system or we can intend to learn by being open and accepting.
When we are closed,we avoid personal responsibility for our feelings, behaviors, and their consequences. Avoidance takes the form of compliance, control, and indifference. These lead directly to a cycle of behaviors between control-compliance-indifference. The consequence of such an intention are power struggles, pain, distance, lack of fun and joy, fighting, boredom, deadness, lack of sex, feelings of being unloved and unloving — and disease — being ill-at-ease. We can lump all these states under the general word stress.
When we are open and non-defensive, we tend to assume personal responsibility for our feelings, behavior and their consequences. We intend to learn about our own self and others. In order to accomplish this, we make a concerted effort to see through our subconscious socio-personal history that, over time, we have ingrained or "naturalized" into the fabric of our views of reality.
To summarize, each of us form a quilt of human experience. As we already know, a homemade quilt is made of many patches sown together. Imagine, if you will, some patches being bright and multicolored, some dark and somber. Some are of high quality material and others of more humble spun origin. Each patch came from its own bolt of cloth and became, in some cases, but a remnant to again be reincorporated into one new fabric taking on a new existence, sown together with calm, patient tenderness.
Each patch has its worn spots, as each of us here can readily recognize when we stop for a moment and see what we are doing or listening to what is going through our mind or feeling how we are now sensing our environment. In some moments we sense we are more worn down and in other moments, worn out, and yet in others, even occasionally worn through.
It is in the moment of our recognition of the fabric of our existence that we are the eye of the needle. We see clearly when we need to do some darning — some careful mending so that we again become as sturdy and strong as we originally intended ourself to be. It is here in this insightful moment that we make our intention known. We give it meaning and the thought becomes the flesh of our existence, the fabric of our experience.
So now let's become again the eye of the needle. With eyes open or shut, it really doesn't matter, focus your attention upon your breathing — in and out, listen to yourself breathing and feel your body move in sync with your breathing. Notice if you are forcing your breathing or if your breath is breathing you. However, it is fine, it really doesn't matter. Now that you feel yourself relaxing, you may see that your breathing is becoming more steady and calm and you can hear the quiet inhalation and exhalation of your breath.
And now you may begin to slowly shift the focus of your intention to your mind. Imagine its reflection in a shapeless form or formless shape, which ever is most appropriate for you here in this moment. You may become aware of a color and now you may sense a particular sound or melody coming from your mind. Or you may hear, see, or feel nothing at all. And this is fine.
You now shift your gaze to the fabric of your existence and you see it hanging on a clothes line attached to two redwood trees in a beautiful meadow, perhaps near a mountain top waving in clear, clean, warm, fresh air. You can hear the fabric rustle as the wind gently moves it as it hangs on the line and you feel fine, calm and secure knowing that you cannot only see what parts need mending, but also know how to mend it as well by selecting the proper thread and cloth.
You approach the fabric and you look carefully at it and for a few moments, all the time you really need to see the worn parts. You then take the fabric in your hands and move it through them, sensing the spots that are more worn than others. And then you realize that you can almost hear the fabric of your life speaking to you as if it had a voice of its own. And you listen to it as it tells you about its worn spots.
Suddenly, you know — not in a conscious way, but in a direct spontaneous way, what thread of intention you need to get out of the thread basket to mend the fabric of your life. You take the fabric from the clothes line and in your own way you begin mending it. As you continue mending, you again become aware of your breathing in and out and realize that you will complete this mending job later on tonight in one of your dreams or this week, whichever is appropriate for you now. You know that you will have completed this task and all is fine. You hear the sounds of this room and this voice and you inhale and exhale and are fully returned to this room.
May all beings be happy and at their ease.