A Convicted Felon, Finally: When the Language of Democracy is Used to Destroy Democracy, Or the Language of Legal Matters is Used to Destroy the Rule of Law

It’s been almost 2 weeks, and I’m still amazed to know DT was convicted, and so quickly and definitively by the jury. I heard the news just as I was worrying about the possible effects of a not guilty verdict. What a relief!

 

Yet, it was disturbing to hear GOP politicians continue to or even increase their desperate attempts to defend him from his conviction. Who knows what chaos and instability they might yet create? They echo DT’s baseless claim of a justice system “rigged” against him and the GOP, despite the blatant example of Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict being announced less than 2 weeks after DT was convicted. They do this despite the fact DT was given such special treatment, and treated so gingerly, and fairly, with breaks and delays that no one else would ever be given.

 

During the trial and afterwards, the GOP who tried to protect him did not spend much time presenting evidence of his innocence or pressuring him to testify in his own defense. Instead, they focused on attacking, seeking vengeance against anyone who tried to hold him responsible. Many GOP either lied about or attacked the justice system itself, the judge, his family, witnesses for the prosecution; and now they’re going after the jurors. One pro-DT forum accused Judge Merchan of treason and suggested that he should be hanged.

 

DT’s followers just revealed a blind obedience to their leader and a craving for power, calling for politically motivated investigations of Democrats. They cover their own weaponization of government (for example, using the power to investigate supposed wrongdoing by House committees) by accusing others of weaponization. For over a year they searched to find, or to create, something illegal to accuse President Biden of doing; and they found nothing. They recently went after Attorney General Merrick Garland, and for two years, they pursued Dr. Fauci, and they looked foolish in the face of witness testimony.

 

These GOP do this not only for retribution, but to undermine the rule of law itself. They want to hide the facts of this obviously fair jury trial behind clouds of distortions or lies. Maybe they hope to make this fair trial seem as suspect as their own investigations.

 

I should be inured by such acts by now, after 8 years of hearing DT and his followers spout ridiculous and malicious claims. On the street, they can get away with lying or saying almost anything that pops into their heads. In the courtroom, to say anything they must first meet a burden of proof.

 

Each of us who cares about having the vote⎼ or having the freedom and right to speak our minds⎼ the right to control our own healthcare, our own bodies⎼ the right to clean air and water and a livable planet⎼ the right to have free public education, not enforced religious indoctrination⎼ the right to have a jury of our peers and to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, instead of being presumed guilty unless we support a DT dictatorship⎼ each of us needs to do all we can to speak up and get out the vote in November if we want to stop the DT/GOP from taking all of this and more from us.

 

No matter how compassionate we are or try to be, it can be difficult to even look at him….

 

*To read the whole article, please use this link to The Good Men Project.

Aging Isn’t an Illness to Recover From: Lowering Our Resistance to Living with Kindness

As I get older, I realize the images and expectations I once held of “old” people were distorted. We are not those images. I can do so much more now at 65, 75 and older than I once expected I could do. And I sort of laugh gleefully. Aging is a more complex, engaging experience than I ever realized before.

 

The same applies to facing death. Our culture has a prohibition against speaking openly about the subject, which can be so damaging and isolating to us all.

 

I once imagined being older was a time of increasing feebleness or diminished capacities. That people spent more time looking backwards than forwards. And that except for maybe having more “free time,” there was nothing positive about it. A popular meme was “don’t trust anyone over thirty” ⎼ until my whole generation was way over thirty. I’ve found there’s plenty of looking back, but there’s even more of an appreciation of each moment now.

 

It’s true, however, that when I was younger, I might see a doctor once a year, at most. Lately, it’s almost every week. A frequent question that arises when I feel pain or physically “off” in some way, is whether the symptom is due to “normal aging,” or something else. In the past, when I was injured or developed some medical condition, I approached it as a problem to solve. Bodies could usually recover, injuries usually heal. But now, ankle or hand pain, for example, doesn’t heal as quickly as it once did, or at all.

 

Aging isn’t an illness to recover from. But our attitude or understanding of it is another story. We hopefully re-learn daily who we are. We re-learn what change means, what living means, that living is change. To even breathe we change, every second, taking in, letting go.

 

And as we get older, so many of those we know leave the world before us. I remember my father, who lived to be exactly 96.5, saying, “I’m the last of my friends, and the last of my relatives from my generation.” There’s an awful pain and loneliness in this. In each friend or loved one’s death we can feel friendship dying in us. We can feel loving is dying; loving is being vulnerable. To love is to make ourselves vulnerable to loss, yet we do it anyway. Dying is there in the loving itself; the two are almost indistinguishable.

 

So, every once and awhile now, I look up and see the reality of death getting closer. I can’t claim I’ve accepted it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t depress me, despite the moments when I experience intense fear. Or when I realize everything beyond what I can see in front of me right now, beyond what anyone can see, is an unknown we haven’t yet learned how to embrace or face. Maybe death is there as a sign, or a reminder, a message from reality.

 

And this reality touches and hopefully improves my relationship with everyone, with good friends and relatives, and especially my wife. My wife and I have been together for so many years, and the commitment to each other is as real, as clear as anything could be. As wonderful. As present. There is less judgment. Less impulse to distance. Just feeling.

 

Yet, different ways to trick myself into ignoring the reality of death still occasionally leap into mind….

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Healing Divisions, Both in Ourselves and With Others: The Brittle Weakness Exposed by Not Compromising

There’s the old, oft-repeated story, that if frogs are placed in a pot of water that is gradually heated, they will not realize the danger of eventually being boiled alive until it’s too late. However, says psychologist and science journalist Adam Grant, frogs will leap out as soon as they sense the heat. But we human beings are feeling the increasingly hotter world temperatures caused by climate change but are not leaping out and are not doing all we can to turn the heat off.

 

Maybe frogs are more intelligent than humans. Or maybe we are just too good at imagining reality as being other than it is?  At creating “alternate facts” and diversions? Or are too many of us just afraid of change? Or too traumatized?

 

How do we loosen the boundaries in ourselves? How do we let go of rigid ideas of who we are or must be or of what is real? And how do we help others do the same?

 

One of the biggest obstacles to changing anyone else’s mind, or our own, is realizing not only it can be done but it’s happening all the time. For example, before 2012, the country was opposed to gay marriage. In 2013, the majority supported it. In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same sex marriage.

 

Another science journalist, David McRaney, in his book How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion, argues we evolved to work to consensus, to helpful adaptation. But it can happen in punctuated spurts, times of great argument and division and no clear change, then a sudden burst of change. Hopefully, we’re near such an evolutionary adaptation now.

 

And lately, I’ve found in myself this same resistance to facing people with rigidly held opposing ideas. It seems impossible to reach or even talk with those who disagree with me about climate change, or the “Big Lie,” for example. With the global earth and ocean temperatures rapidly reaching such high levels, the increasing number of dangerous weather events, wildfires, droughts, and floods all make climate change seem so obvious. And I saw the 1/6 attempted coup and the big lie enacted live on national tv. It just feels like what seems so clear to me should not be so hard for others to see.

 

But part of that difficulty comes from the fact that for all of us, our beliefs and even rationally constructed understandings of the world are the ground our lives stand on⎼ or appear to stand on. To question those views can feel like we’re washing away the ground under our feet; it can feel like abandoning our sense of ourselves.

 

In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,  Grant points out we often prefer the “comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.” We resist rethinking, or talking with those with different views, not only because of the time and energy required, but because it would mean questioning ourselves. Such questioning might add more unpredictability to an already unpredictable, often threatening world. We need to recognize that what we believe is not who we are. We’re a universe infinitely larger than our worst opinions. It takes courage, not only to face those with diametrically opposing beliefs, but to unlearn what we believe, or think is true.

 

Especially now, it’s become difficult to change our minds. It can even be dangerous. Politically, acts mislabeled as flip-flopping are considered by many cowardice, or a sin….

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Are We All Just Trying to Figure It Out? Changing Hurtful Habits

In Mary Oliver’s spectacular poem, The Summer Day, she asks,

 

“…What is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life.”

 

Of course, for some, life is more frightening than precious. But her evocation of such a spectacular day is so visceral and truthful.

 

And maybe we’re all always trying to figure this out, in our own ways. It’s certainly a question as old as humanity, as old as self-reflecting awareness. What can or what must we do with our lives?  Who or what are we? How can we or must we respond to a situation, to just waking up or going to work or school⎼ or to the threats that loom over all of us? Like the threat from those who are trying to impose a white nationalist dictatorship on all of us? The threat of the climate emergency, from wars, and who knows what else? Every moment the question of Who are we arises. We create ourselves through our answers to this question. And for most of us, our answers change.

 

Mary Oliver talks about attention, deep attention, as she rolls in the grass. As she feels herself as the grass or the creatures around her. And maybe this is one thing for all of us to do. We might let ourselves simply be with as much of what’s around us as feels right⎼ grass, trees, streams, and other living beings. This is one way to help save it, or them. To get us to care deeply enough to take action to save it, or us.

 

Did you hear that sound? The air disturbed by a moving car? The cough-talking of a raven? That peeper? That sparrow? That raven is cough talking not only the beauty of the day, but the grief it feels over the depleted air. Do you hear that sparrow? It’s not only calling its mate. It’s calling out in grief over the diminishing food resources it can find to feed its children.

 

I notice that when I regret something I did or didn’t do, maybe I misunderstood something, or treated someone unfairly, and I might call myself names. Wonder how I could ever be so mistaken. And this hurts. I might even imagine that mistake is frozen in time⎼ that I’m frozen in time, merely a memorial to a mistake. And that I can’t change or free myself from it. We might even try to blame someone or something else for what we’ve done so we no longer feel the pain.

 

Why do we do this? It’s such a weird way of thinking about ourselves and our lives, isn’t it? So distorted and inaccurate. If instead we listen deeply to this self-talk and imagining and go beyond it, not get stuck in it, so much might be revealed. Recognizing a mistake is the first step in correcting it. It can be a growth of awareness if we just listen mindfully and take it and our response as a lesson.

 

We might do the same anytime we look at ourselves….

 

*To read the whole article, please click on this link to The Good Men Project.

Trust: What Does it Mean? How Can We Better Trust Ourselves?

Trust, such a common word. But such an important ingredient in a “good” life, a fulfilling life, a full life. But what is trust? What’s going on in ourselves and in our relationship with the world when we feel it?  How do we even know it is what we feel?

 

In the introduction to poet David Whyte’s wonderful book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, author and poet Maria Popova observes that words are not artefacts, not our possessions, not things, not static, but alive and always evolving. They feed on us as we feed on them; as we use them, we are used by them. In his book, she says, Whyte repatriates us in the land of language and thus repatriates us in ourselves.

 

For example, take the word courage. It tempts us to imagine bravely facing opposing forces in a military or physical or maybe even a political battle. And above all, to be seen as doing so. To reap the rewards.

 

But the roots of the word reach back to old Norman French, to coeur, heart. Courage is what we feel and show when we live life, relate to our community, to friends, with heart. To seat our feelings and actions deeply in our body and world. It is a type of love. Courage, Whyte says, is what love looks like when we’re tested by the everyday necessities of being alive and respond with caring, with surprise, with belonging. We realize an awareness of vulnerability is a necessity in taking a step forward. On the inside, it might seem like confusion. Only from the outside, or looking back, does it appear like courage.

 

And it seems to me, trust shares a related etiology. According to the Encarta: World English Dictionary, its roots are in the Old Norse traust, meaning confidence, and treysta or trust. And even further, to an Indo-European base, meaning to be solid, which is the ancestor of the English true, tryst, and tree. An interesting grouping. The word is normally used to mean confidence in and reliance on the good qualities, fairness, truthfulness, honor or ability of someone or something. It assumes responsibility, caring, even hope, or giving credit to somebody or something. It’s part of being daring. And maybe, it includes a bit of the love expressed in courage.

 

It’s such a wonderful thing to say, “I trust you”. At some times and places, trust was signified by a handshake. Pre-COVID (and hopefully, post-COVID), we might hug. We might say, someone is trusting, or worthy of trust. Just recently, I realized so much of my life depends on trusting myself. Even meditation requires trust, in the process, in ourselves.

 

When a thought arises in meditation or elsewhere, or a fear, or insight, we might respond by feeling jumpy or excited; our belly, hands, or leg muscles might clench. We feel life speeding up. And we think we can’t afford to miss this thought, can’t afford not to respond. We must shift our attention to it, shift our life to possess it. A sort of FOMO, or fear of missing out. For example, we might feel that if we don’t write it down or act on the thought right then, we’ll miss out on an opportunity, or we’ll forget and lose it. We won’t reap some reward or avoid some future disaster.

 

Just the moment by itself then becomes not enough for us. Life itself becomes not enough….

 

*To read the whole article, go to The Good Men Project.

The Silence that Speaks the Eloquence of the World: Two Liberating Questions

In every breath we can experience the whole of life, and death. We breathe out, and reach a point where there’s no breath left, almost no oxygen. We must let go, shift focus, and breathe in so we can live. And when inhaling, we reach a point where we’re too full. We must stop and let go. Life depends on these two ways of letting go⎼ to let us open more to life, or to stop what causes hurt and delusion. A sort of yes, no. Living and dying together.

 

When we inhale, there’s a pause, or can be⎼ if we put our attention on it⎼ when everything naturally gets quiet. We might hold our breath to hold the silence, the peacefulness. When we exhale, there’s also a point where we easily pause. We can become very awake and focused on everything that’s right there with us. We breathe ourselves awake.

 

Zen teacher and author Susan Murphy talks about the deeply mortal fear sitting at the back of every breath, unless we take time to notice and examine it. The fear of death, of breathing out for the last time, or feeling we lack something we need or want. It sits there, unseen, in the breath, waiting⎼ a fear that we can’t face life moving on, that nothing is forever⎼ that we can’t face reality and must separate ourselves emotionally from “it.” Or we cling to the delusion that we will always be here, that we can step out of time.

 

But there are several practices that help me feel the strength to examine and even transform that fear. Here are five: creation, exertion, being in nature, compassion, and love.

 

It’s not just any sort of creative act that does this, but one we do with total honesty. When we get very quiet inside, and nothing is in mind but the moment of noticing, then insights emerge seemingly on their own. They speak, not me. Even a brief visit beforehand to this silence, to take a breath with full attention, to meditate opens a natural door to creating.

 

Walking in nature can do something similar. I’m walking in a forest, next to a stream; or I’m on the rural road near my home and hear water running. And I want to get lost in the beauty of the sound. I look at the gulley beside the road, to see where the sound originates, or to better hold onto it, but can’t. It disappears on me when I try to grasp it. Maybe trying to grasp or cling to anything does this. We can grasp a hammer, a shirt, maybe even a Presidency, for a while. But a musical note, a moment, love, peace, even life⎼ no.

 

We spend so much of our time now enraptured or entrapped by the ways corporate and social media distract and manipulate our attention, and break everything into tiny bits of information or enticements. We focus so much on not missing out, on doing more and more, and the internal pace of our lives speeds up. We can habitually feel we’re falling behind. We feel what philosopher and Zen teacher David Loy calls a sense of lack, of inadequacy, in ourselves, in our lives. That if we don’t own the latest I-phone, hear the latest record, believe the latest theory, join a certain group there’s something wrong with us.

 

All this fragments our attention and speeds us to the edge of feeling threatened and anxious. But it might also open us to what was the central question in the life of Buddha, to maybe a central question of modern psychology and human society: what is, what causes, what ends what Buddha labeled Dukkha, or unsatisfactoriness, suffering⎼ or mislocating the sense of lack, suffering as being out there, separate from us, so we never get free of it….

 

*To read the whole article, please click on this link to The Good Men Project.

The Immensity of the Moment: Reaching the Other Side of Fear

All events can create unpredictable responses and results. The bigger the event, maybe the more unpredictable is what follows it⎼ the responses, the takeaways, the lessons learned.

 

This week’s eclipse had predictable effects. If we could see it, along with so many others, the moment was startlingly immense. Unavoidably present. But for others, we couldn’t see it at all.

 

My wife and I drove about 25 miles to a park on a lake near the path of totality. Earlier in the day, clouds shared the sky with the sun. But, as the moment drew closer, the cloud cover deepened. The air grew very cold. Several robins started singing loudly and then grew completely silent. And to the north, a darkness rose through the clouds. Although we knew it was coming it still defied expectations. It was black, darker than a heavy storm cloud, but only for a portion of the sky. And in 2 minutes, it was gone. Even such big events can last but a moment.

 

It reminded me, maybe most of us who made the effort to experience it, that the universe is not under human control. It’s impossibly bigger and beyond us. We felt small, maybe some of us felt humbled by it, frightened as well as awed. I imagined the terror our human ancestors must have felt at moments like this, in times before the development of science and maybe before primal people’s had their own ways of anticipating cosmic events.

 

One thing I didn’t predict was an insight into the hyperobjective nature of climate change that I wrote about in my last blog; the fact that the dangers posed by the climate emergency are beyond our comprehension, beyond what evolution has prepared us to deal with.

 

During the daytime, as we look up to the sky at the infinite blue emptiness, or we witness this eclipse ⎼ or on a clear night, when we see the unfathomable array of stars ⎼ we can feel so small, so powerless to affect the universe on this cosmic scale. And maybe one reason we can’t digest the threat posed by the climate crisis is because it entails truly believing, feeling we humans do affect the universe, or this world at least. We do have some control. We are the universe.

 

Maybe our personal effect on the universe is incalculably small, but collectively, here on earth, it’s noticeable. We can dry up or burn down the surface of the earth; we can darken the cloud cover with pollution or shake the heavens with aircraft. This isn’t quite the moon eclipsing the sun. But we can eclipse the sun in other ways, for example by burning fossil fuels we change climate patterns. And these effects last far longer than the eclipse did.

 

And I wondered why we don’t feel this immensity of sky and universe more often. How can we change this, and change our as yet inadequate response to climate change? A total eclipse doesn’t happen every day. But an incomprehensible sky is with us every day. A desire to fully embrace our lives is here every moment. The climate crisis is here every moment.

 

Sometimes, we feel regret, maybe for not getting to see the eclipse or for something we’ve said or done. But the most fortunate regret, one we might experience most often, is the regret over a half-lived or ignored moment. Or maybe any regret is a mirror of this regret. Regret over a lost past is really a realization of a lost now. A lost future. Regret over a future we might never get to see or a dread over what that future might be like for ourselves or our children. Or maybe what I’m describing is regret transmuting into grief or fear. …

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

4 Scientific Rules Helpful for Approaching Complex Situations: A Lens Through Which to Get Clarity on Many Problems We Face

Sometimes, we read or listen to something, a book, article, podcast and immediately realize, “Yes, this explains so much.” This happened recently when I started reading Notes on Complexity: A Scientific Theory of Connection, Consciousness, and Being, by Neil Thiese. The title first drew my interest; and after reading (so far) the first 3 chapters, my impression has been confirmed.

 

Complexity theory looks at the class of patterns of interactions that are open-ended, evolving, unpredictable, yet adaptive and self-evolving, in other words, life itself. It can predict that new properties or behaviors will emerge in a group or an individual, but not the precise nature of what will emerge. Biology, ecology, climatology, anthropology, the economy, all demonstrate complexity.

 

The theory bridges the gaps between viewing the universe at its most infinitesimal, described by Quantum Mechanics, and at its most vast, described by Relativity. It is a step beyond Chaos Theory, which basically reveals that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but predictably so. It describes the behavior of cumulous clouds, whirlpools, waves, ice, repetitive patterns in nature, and such.

 

This might all seem very intellectual or abstract at first, but with more reading the relevance to daily life became abundantly clear. The theory can be a metaphor or lens through which to get clarity on many problems we face.

 

We might assume that if we understand all the parts in an organization or system, we can predict the behavior of the whole; we likewise treat the universe as a massive, predictable machine, often without realizing we do so. Complexity reveals a different perspective. It shows, for example, we can predict how the water in a glass might act overall, but not the location of any single molecule. We can use the computational agility of computers to model how aspects of a human body will act but can’t do the same with a human being as a whole. We might research and study a question all we can, but still need to be humble and not assume we are in possession of the only right answer.

 

Complexity postulates 4 basic rules to explore the universe, and it is these rules that I found truly applicable to our lives.

 

  1. Numbers matter: A complex system only arises when there are sufficient numbers to do so. For example, if we have just a handful of ants, no self-organizing properties occur, like cooperative tunnel building, or cooperative finding and sharing food. If you get 25 or more individuals, you do. A thousand, and even more cooperation can emerge.

 

  1. Interactions are local, not global: Numbers matter, and so do individuals. We might think interactions happen mostly top-down. For example, we might imagine there’s one boss ant, or that our brain oversees every bodily interaction. We might expect that we can control all that happens in our lives. But it’s more complicated than that. There’s no one part that sees and controls the whole. The mind influences the gut; the gut influences the mind. In nature as well as in our human body, organization arises locally, from one part, cell, or individual meeting others.

 

Authoritarians imagine they are in control, or crave to be, and they do whatever they can to assert this. Clearly, some individuals have more influence than others, or control more higher-order details than others. But no one person stands outside the web of human connection, the web of life. No living being, no earthly one anyway, is ever outside the universe looking in. They, we influence others and are in turn influenced….

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.*

The Power of a New Word: What Deepens and Clarifies Our Readiness to Feel, Hold, and Cherish Our World Can Save Us

Learning a new word can galvanize our thinking and reveal feelings and realities once deeply buried. Of course, the ability to think, speak, and write in an organized language itself does this in extraordinarily complex and diverse ways. Language becomes such an integral part of us it can filter and augment all we experience. Once conceived and developed, human languages revolutionized all of history. Maybe, in a small way, learning certain new words can also be revolutionary.

 

Just recently, I have found this to be so. Susan Murphy, in her new book A Fire Runs Through All Things: Zen Koans For Facing The Climate Crisis, gifts us with important insights and powerful new words. One such word is hyperobject, coined by philosopher Timothy Morton. The term refers to unfolding processes that are beyond the scale to which our human comprehension has evolved. The processes are almost impossible to pin down and block our normal methods for sensing and responding to danger. But are all such processes dangerous? Aren’t many healing and creative?

 

The danger posed by climate change is one such hyperobject. In our new situation today, human life in large scale societies, maybe all life, is endangered by the climate shifts and instability that we’re already experiencing; and it’s getting worse.

 

But I’d argue that the danger posed by DJT, with his cronies and devotees, is a close second. The two are arguably inter-related, as the second increases the depth of the first. And in neither case can we, nor have we as a people comprehended the danger.

 

I don’t think many of us in the U.S., maybe more so for those of us privileged by this culture, have really comprehended what life under DJT would be like. Maybe many people of color, women, LGBTQ+ and others have unfortunately an easier time imagining the oppressive possibility. They might better imagine what life would be like with such a violent person in charge who’s trying to be a dictator, who expounds hate as a political tactic and puts his own cravings and image as more important than anyone else’s life or sanity.

 

Can we imagine a government that considers truth and science as unimportant or a threat? That rips away the rights and constitutionally protected political voice of the people? That destroys the rule of law and robs all of us who are not active supporters of DJT of the legal assumption of innocence unless proved guilty?

 

But at the same time, there’s enough of the “old” world left to provide the entertainments, consumerism, distractions that helped foster the crisis we face. There’s an entire virtual world available to encourage us to hide from reality. We can see, smell, and read about damaging fires, floods, hurricanes, wars, etc., notice the shifting and diminishing animal populations and extinctions. Notice the horrors of DJT threatening judges and their children and displaying manufactured images of President Biden in chains dumped in the back of a pickup truck.

 

And then we watch tv, a movie, or sporting event or get involved in social media and everything feels “normal” again….

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

How Do We Find Peace in the Noise? How Can We Understand the World and Our Lives More Deeply?

I went to see an orthopedic surgeon about hand pain, which comes to me in a great variety of forms and places; just to keep me interested, I guess. Before I left home, the pain was mild. But once I arrived at the office, it was very notable, showing it’s face in 3 or more places, dressed in different clothes. Often, when I see a doctor, whatever is bothering me seems to run and hide. Not this time. Why?

 

Some might say the body has its own wisdom, and that’s certainly true. But it doesn’t help me very much. Even worse, the high level of pain continued, on and off, for a day or two afterwards. Did this occur because I was trying to understand the doctor’s recommendations for treatment? And with the pain so clear, it was easier for me to analyze what might be the best way to proceed?

 

Understanding the more subtle messages our body-mind constantly gives us can be tricky.

We are often more concerned with comfort or security than truth, or with preserving an old viewpoint than checking its accuracy. Recognizing contradictions in our beliefs and beloved stories is not always at the forefront of our minds. But all views are fragile. They’re intellectual constructs, and once created, we might be tempted to treat them as prized possessions, or personal works of art. We must be careful not to cover the walls and windows of our intellectual home with them so they’re all we see.

 

One book I love is The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah. The character of Nasrudin, with his humor and deep insight reminds me of stories from the Zen, Taoist, Desert Fathers, and other traditions. One famous story might be relevant here. Nasrudin illustrates how we often search for answers in the wrong places.

 

A man saw Nasrudin searching on the ground and asked, “What have you lost, Mulla?”

“My key.”

The man went down on his knees and they both got involved searching for it.

After several minutes, the other man asked: “Where exactly did you lose it?”

“In my own house.”

“Then why’re you looking here?”

“There is more light here.”

 

Muscles, senses don’t speak in words; but they’re an inherent part of the thinking process. In making decisions or thinking critically, questioning assumptions, researching with multiple reliable sources, and thinking logically are all important. And so is self-reflection, mindfully reading ourselves and pausing before final judgment, maybe by taking a walk, sleeping on it, or taking a breath or two.

 

An awareness of our internal and external, moment by moment sensations helps us better discern when we and our thinking feels “off.” When we feel a clenching in our stomach, a rush to judgment in our breath, or a grimace in our face we might be lying to ourselves.

 

We might become aware of how our perceptions and emotions are constructed in stages….

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.