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Archive for the ‘microseries on violence’ Category

(Carl Jung, 1909 in Zurich-photo from the Library of Congress Prints and Photos division)

I’m presently reading a book called The Shadow Effect, written by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. It is a book all about the dark side of humanity, the dark little secrets about ourselves that we try to banish from our reality. Unfortunately, says The Shadow Effect, banishing “the shadow” only serves to make it stronger in the long run. An excerpt from Deepak Chopra:

The first step in defeating the shadow is to abandon all notions of defeating it. The dark side of human nature thrives on war, struggle, and conflict. As soon as you talk about “winning,” you have lost already. You have been dragged into the duality of good and evil. Once that happens, nothing can end the duality. Good has no power to defeat its opposite once and for all…There’s a shocking conclusion hidden in this: you can’t have a universe if you don’t have darkness contending with the light (The Shadow Effect, p. 14 and 22)

The Shadow is, according to Carl Jung, the part of us (all of us) that causes us to commit unconscious acts of violence or hate against others, ourselves, or the earth. The Shadow doesn’t want you to know it’s there, it wants you to think that it is you, so that it can remain intact. Once you know it’s there, the power of the Shadow immediately decreases. Once you begin to give yourself permission to have darkness in you the darkness looses its iron grip. Here’s another quote from Deepak Chopra:

The shadow, then, is a shared project. Anyone can have a hand in building it. All you need is the ability to remain unconscious. Countless fear-mongers believe they are doing good. Every defender of the homeland expects to be honored and praised. Tribes warring against other tribes deeply believe that they must struggle in order to survive. We resist our shadow and deny its existence because of past indoctrination and the hypothesis of social conditioning. Childhood experiences can cause unending later reminders that “this is good, this is bad; this is divine, this is diabolical.” Such indoctrination is the way all societies are structured. What we over look is that we are creating a shared self at the time. If children were taught to become aware of their shadow, sharing even dark feelings, forgiving themselves for not being “good” all the time, learning how to release shadow impulses through healthy outlets, then there would be much less damage to society and the ecosystem (p 26).

Of course, for children to be taught that the shadow exists and can be tended to in a healthy way, the adults of the world need to first tend their own shadow, which is very hard to do on your own. Chopra gives four steps: 1. Stop projecting 2. Detach and let go 3. Give up self judgement 4. Rebuild your emotional body. It all sounds so easy doesn’t it?

I suggest therapy. Everyone needs a therapist. It’s an interesting phenomenon that so few people use this amazing tool. Many people would rather pop pills (herbal or conventional) to try to feel better, happier, healthier. The only thing that can truly begin to allow you lasting eternal health, is to face your shadow, a shadow that was created in your childhood and has continued to leach your conscious moments more and more assiduously as you let it go unchecked. I love my therapist. Anyway. I end this blog post with a poem.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~Rumi

(Click here for the story of this amazing nebula)

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Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa)

Recap of a past posting in the form of a question: If potential violence is around me but I choose to not collapse the potential into reality (i.e. choose not to be conscious of it), would I be injured anyway? (This after the realization that if there isn’t pair of ears and ear innards, a sound is just a vibration…like everything else. Without a conscious observer (ears) to collapse a violent vibration, would it just wiggle on by?)

I’ve been thinking about this problem quite a lot lately, and I thought that a good way to view it would be through the eyes of folks who have apparently learned how to master violence on the physical plane–>Jesus and Buddha.

You’ve all seen the bracelets: WWJD? In a world full of crazy, Jesus is our rock. We’ve heard how he helped poor, crazy Mary-the-Fallen-Cat-Lady exorcise her seven demons (what’s that? Mary Magdelene was a business woman who financed Christ after her exorcism? and she wasn’t really a prostitute? Hm. I smell a whiff of patriarchy here…)

Anyway, if anybody could avoid violence in this world by thinking positively, it would be Jesus, right? Well, read the title of this post. Jesus was kidnapped by political criminals and murdered. He was resurrected, so it all worked out in the end, but still. I suppose there is the possibility that he did it all for humanity, and that he could have made a different choice…he “took one for the team,” so to speak.

So then there is Buddha. I twiddled around a little bit and discovered that the Buddha actually had a bodyguard after one of his followers got beaten on a mountain path. Ok, it was really a “personal assistant” but really the same sort of idea. Furthermore, I read this Buddha quote in the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker:

People should learn to see and so avoid all danger. Just as a wise man keeps away from mad dogs, so one should not make friends with evil men.

There it is. Buddha says that you should be aware of (conscious of) dangerous things in the world, so that you can avoid them.

Sigh. I’m not convinced. I still dunno what to think about it…

Guess I’ll have to find a Bodhi Tree of my own.

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Cucerbite (squash)-Nature: cold and humid in the second degree. Optimum: those that are fresh and green. Usefulness: they quench the thirst. Dangers: they constitute a swift laxative. Neutralization of dangers: with salt water and mustard. Effects: a moderate and cold nourishment. Good for choleric temperaments. (circa 1390)

The Greek word chole means bile. Bile comes from the Latin word bilis, fluid secreted by the liver…aka one of the famous humors of the Middle Ages medical world. Bilious people are fiery, red, passionate, bull headed, magnanimous, constant, energetic, blah, blah…google choleric temperament and all sorts of things come up. Choleric people are the ones who get things done. They crack the whips, sign the checks, and make the rules.

Really though…and I’m talking real world here now…choleric people can be sort of…well, assholish. Of all the temperaments, choleric people are the ones most likely to be violent. And that’s no fun, is it?

In the book A new Earth, Eckhart Tolle says that every person has something he calls a “pain body.” He says that over time people collect pain–grievances, regrets, guilt, anger, sadness–that accumulates in our energy field. From the time we are little babies until this present moment, when we experience something painful but choose, for whatever reason, to not deal with it in the moment, we then collect it up and use it later on to make ourselves and other people miserable.

So. I was at my Brahma Kumaris meditation class last night and we were talking about karma. I was thinking about my microseries on violence and about how people who do mean/bad/violent things (i.e. living in their past experiences) continue to create more and more vikarma (negative karma) for themselves. Those naughty violent people, I thought. Then, one of the teachers said that we can create negative karma just by rolling our eyes.

Hey! said my affronted ego, That’s not fair! What are we supposed to be? Jesus? I voiced the question aloud: Does that mean we’re supposed to not feel irritated with other annoying people?

Answer: No, we can’t help feeling irritated with other people when they bother us. (I’ve been reading a great book called Why Good People Do Bad Things by James Hollis which talks about repression as being a very unhelpful thing…more on that later). What we can do (instead of repressing our feelings) is to practice non-attached observance of our irritation. “Wow! That person who crossed the street in front of my oncoming car really got me feeling upset! I wonder what lesson there is in this for me?” That type of thing. That way, you don’t have to react to their irritatingness. You can just feel it, let it go, and BURN UP SOME VIKARMA!

When you act calm and peaceful, people begin to think that you are calm and peaceful. That has a three-fold benefit: 1. They think you’re cool, and 2. They might see how calm and peaceful you are and try to learn the detached observation too, and 3. You might actually start to become calm and peaceful someday.

If that doesn’t work, just eat some cucumbers.

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If a tree falls in the woods, but there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound? When I was younger and I heard this riddle, I thought it was a pile of crap. Of course it makes a sound! You don’t have to be there to hear it!

Then I taught a fifth grade block on acoustics. I had never really thought about the fact that our ears and their innards are devices contrived to catch vibrations that wiggle through the air after some disturbance has occurred. These vibrations are translated by the other soggy tool that many humans have: the brain.

If a tree falls in the woods, it makes vibrations that wiggle through the air. But vibrations in and of themselves, are not sound. They are vibrations that have the potential to be sound.

What’s the point? Following my therablog posting on violence and the apparent disconnect between two highly touted ways of being in the world (thinking positively will bring joy to you v. being aware/conscious of dangerous situations will keep you safe as described in Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear), I attended a Rosicrucian conference in San Jose, CA. The speakers talked all about the connections between our thoughts and our material world (health, wealth, joie de vivre) and how we create our world anew every moment, through our thoughts about it.

About a month or so ago I bookstore-perused a book entitled Five Steps to a Quantum Life: How to Use the Astounding Secrets of Quantum Physics to Create the Life You Want. The author, Natalie Reid, spoke about a phenomenon that you may be familiar with: once you buy a red car, you see red cars everywhere. She raises the question–were you not seeing them before because you didn’t notice them, or were you not seeing them there before because they actually weren’t there until you became conscious of them?

That sounds stupid, until you think about the above tree fall riddle, and mix it up with the utterly astounding complexities that scientists from every part of the globe are presently testing: string theory (the theory that elementary particles are long strings of light vibrating at different modes like guitar strings), multiverses (parallel universes or alternate realities, in which another you might exist, which are created with every choice that you make) and brane theory (that alternate Universe in which you might live could actually exist upon the skin of one of those vibrating strings mentioned earlier). Who do you think you are? When you make a choice, if another you is whisked away into another Universe, having made a different choice, are you her too? Or is she somebody else now?

Your choices on how you perceive the world (what you are conscious of) create your reality by collapsing the waves of possibility provided by subatomic particles swooshing all around you. (Read more about this here.)

Further questioning, does evil (or violence) exist if you choose not to see it–i.e. choose to not believe in it? Can we choose what we want to perceive in the world? I certainly know that I have experience folks with high abilities to choose what they hear–selective hearing.

One commenter mentioned on my last posting that thinking positively doesn’t preclude the necessity to be aware of potential dangers. But, is it possible that just by acknowledging the fact that someone or something could be harmful to us, we bring violence into our reality when it wasn’t there before?

If you reject negative particles bouncing toward you as non-existent, like the red cars that you don’t see…would they then simply move on and bother someone else who does believe in them, someone who will collapse that experience out of the sea of possibilities?

Rejecting the possibility of danger is a tall order, I know…and one that to test you’d kind of have to be willing to be murdered. I’m not sure what I think about it.

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(photo by Toni Frissell at Weeki Wachee spring, Florida, 1947)

In my quest to begin this microseries on violence I went to the library (I love summer vacation). I entered in the keyword violence. Many, many hundreds of titles came up, two of which caught my eye right away. The first book was called The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Methods that Protect us from Violence by Gavin De Becker. The second was called Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado.

Whoa! There’s a paradox for you…fear can save your life and make you miserable at the same time.

I grew up going to Unity Church, which is of the mind that we create our existence–good or bad–through our thoughts. Negative thoughts (which may be unconscious) may bring about negative experiences. An example of this viewpoint (which is certainly NOT singular to Unity Church) can be found in the book Good-Bye to Guilt: Releasing Fear Through Forgiveness, by Jerald Jampolsky.

In this book a woman writes to the author describing a knife attack in the laundry room of her apartment building. She was badly injured and the attacker ran away (apparently uncaught). After this event she and her husband decided to move which started a snowball effect of miracles: they finally bought the house they had been putting off, the realtor invited the woman to join her meditation group, the woman stumbled onto Jampolsky’s work, she was able to heal from her initial trauma as well as uncover other emotional issues that she had been repressing.

Since then I look upon my attack as a crisis of fear, an attack, if you will, of myself on my old way of “not-being.” Toward the man involved, from the moment if happened, I felt a curious distance, a sense of impersonality (behind the fear) as though he were an actor playing a role. In came the crashing realization that if I had caused my attack, it was all in my power. I could choose not to have it happen again. (Judi from Good-Bye to Guilt)

Gavin De Becker has a different, much less philosophical take on violence. He focuses more on the perpetrator than on the victim. He feels that people who commit violent acts are highly predictable, and that it is up to us (as potential victims) to understand and recognize the signs of someone capable of violence and to not put ourselves into/get ourselves out of dangerous situations. He shows that prior to most violent encounters there are subtle and obvious warnings. We must learn to trust our intuitions and challenge the social norms that allow us to make choices against our better judgement. “Which is more ridiculous?” he asks, “waiting a moment for the next elevator, or climbing into a soundproofed steel box with a man you are frightened of?”

So. Why does violence happen? Is it random, or do we somehow play a part in attracting it to ourselves? Both of the above sources seem to be saying that we do, indeed, often make choices that bring atrocities to us, one through negative thinking and one through ignoring bodily and other warning signs in an effort to not rock the boat. But these books also highlight a disconcerting contradiction: should we be looking for violent people so that we can avoid them? Or should we be focusing our thoughts on good, in order to attract it to us?

I don’t know the answer. It doesn’t appear that the ole’ “little bit of both” solution will work either. How can you be sizing someone up gauging their potential for violence, as you are looking at the good in all situations? I’m stymied…for now.

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I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night. (Be warned, this blog is a major spoiler for the movie. If you haven’t watched it yet and you want to, stop reading now and come back tomorrow.) I thought the movie was pretty good. Having not seen any trailer for it or read the book, however, I was a bit shocked at the horrible and raw violence that transpired at multiple points during the movie. There is a rape scene that was particularly traumatic.

While the plot was not save-the-world good, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the cold, icy setting, the main actress and, surprisingly, those scenes of violence definitely made a strong impression on me. So strong that I’ve spent a good part of today thinking about them.

Spoilage beginning now: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who has been broken by a traumatic past, and the hero News Reporter stumble onto the solution of a forty-year old unsolved murder case (there’s way more to it than that, but I’m trying to stay under 400 words). The killer is a pathological serial rapist/killer, whose father taught him how to strangle a woman when the killer was 16 years old. (ick). There’s a chase scene (after TGwtDT finds out the truth and saves the hero from being murdered) which ends with the killer begging TG to help him escape his overturned vehicle which is on fire and is (as usual in a movie) about to explode. TG walks away and the killer dies.

All that is well and good, but my favorite part (not really) is where the Hero with the Heart of Gold discovers what she did. He tells her that  the killer’s father was awful too, in an attempt, I suppose, to get her to feel sympathy. But she says that the killer had all the same chances and choices that everybody has. He made his bed and she doesn’t feel bad (that’s not verbatim).

Heart of Gold says that HE would have never let the man die, but he can understand why she did.

The thoughts that were provoked by TGwtDT were as follows: Why are some people so violent? What’s inside some people that permits them to act in such a way? Why does revenge feel so justifiable? How can there be such bad people in the world? What is the best way to deal with the reality that people do awful things? Learn more about it? Turn away from it in hope that I can create my own non-violent reality? Would Jesus be mad at the girl for walking away from the vehicle, knowing that God put her in a body and a life that would teach her to be hardened?

So cometh a therablog microseries on violence.

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