If it’s all the same to you, let’s not split the difference.
Wow. Lots of interesting conversations, poetry, new arrivals to the blog; Ms Hand and Ms Foot. Thanks for the birthday wishes. Doing a lot of meditating.
There’s one thing I find constantly interesting in reading these blogs and seeing how you respond to my ramblings, and I’m most impressed by all of our abilities to selectively read, or in plain words, see only what we want to see, hear what we want to hear. When I am working on my book, I am amazed by what I don’t see when I read it. That is to say, unless I read it aloud and to someone, I know there are things I’ll miss time and again. Why is that? Part of it is because our pal the mind believes it’s already read it and there goes your focus and things gett passed over, etc.
Then, I ask; why can’t the all-talented brain, see something being said that is particularly uncomfortable for it, even threatening, and modify the offending idea so that it can be more comfortable. Editing, (‘read censoring’) on the fly by the subconscious.
Antidote? Reread aloud, preferably to someone else.
In this case, it is an interesting challenge to try to share something I have learned to experience that defies explanation. The mind can’t ‘grok’ it, plain and simple. And what’s also interesting is this ‘journey’ or meditation that I have learned that uses the power of the mind to do what it is best equipped to do, to focus on awareness, on that place of consciousness and from that place, experience the fear that lives in all our lives albeit damned and denied, and make the choice to be compassionate to ourselves in this amazing struggle called being human.
Here’s the trick: When we practice awareness of our existence in thoughts, feelings, sensations, try not to judge. Witness, but don’t judge. The minute you judge, your mind is having its way with you and you begin to identify with that judgement. Like that is ‘who’ you are. I hate this, love that, believe this, know that, own this, have power over that….all those become very vain efforts on behalf of your mind to quantify and qualify, define ‘who’ you are.
But are those things ‘who’ you are? No. They represent who parts of you are that have been conditioned by society, family, generational genetic disposition to react.
But they are no more ‘who’ you are than your screaming toe when you stub it on a doorsill.
The mind is equipped, using only a very small percentage of the brain to do two things: One is control, as in evaluating, knowing things, measuring, listing things to believe in…and the thing that’s so important to the mind is that it maintain this control, this power, because to be helpless is an anathema to the mind. It defines its very existance by what it can ‘do.’ To be helpless is death. (It is interesting to note here that even though I pointed out twice that our fear is not of death, but of our helplessness in the face of death, some bloggers continued to miss that distinction. A really important distinction, and missed I believe, because the mind wants no truck at all with even a discussion of ‘helplessness,’ unless it can reassert a belief or an action that proves that it is not, in fact…’in fact,’ helpless.
The only other thing the mind is capable of doing (again, with only a small percentage of the brain), is to focus on what is, the present, the here and now. How focus? Simply by practicing awareness. What is happening right now? No judgement, or when there is you can actually note;’Look at that….I’m judging.’ And the reason you’re judging is that the mind doesn’t want to just be and observe its existence. It wants, needs to DO. And that’s how we’re trained.
So, what’s the point of this ‘consciousness?’ This ‘aware place and all this witnessing without judgement. Does it feed or clothe me? Can I taste, own, collect, buy and sell it?
Well, here’s the thing. When you are perceiving your existance: thoughts, feelings, sensations inside and outside of your physical being, you are practicing your unique and god-like power of humanity, consciousness. And from that place, you can see all these experiences as happening to part(s) of you and when you do that, you realize that you have the power of choice, you aren’t helpless, and you can choose to honor, have compassion for, yes, love youself in your courageous journey through change and into death.
When we can acknowledge our mind’s fear of helplessness, we can choose to see it from our conscious place and remind us of our capacity for love.
On the other hand, if we don’t or are unable to acknowledge our mind’s fear of helplessness manifested in our daily lives any time we can’t control or know something, (knowing being another form of control), then we create patterns of behavior that defend against the fear of helplessness. So we have opinions, beliefs, biases, etc because our minds tell us that is how we are to know who we are…and in that knowledge there is power. How much power? Enough to find immortality?
I don’t spend the day asking what I’m afraid of, or looking under every nook and cranny for the old bugger. As my life has turned out, I’ve been introduced to a degree of helplessness that, in order to not self-destruct, I either was going to be a victim/bitter old man, or find my heart. When I learned about how to identify my fear of helplessness beneath my rage, sorrow, and pain, when I learned that I wasn’t those emotions or the thoughts that came with them, and that I could use their presence,( oftentimes so subtle as to be deniable) to find compassion for myself and by extension my fellow human, then I began to see all the ways in which the world around me was avoiding its fear and acting out its attempt to assert control. Most commonly through denial.
“I am so angry I could…”
“What are you afraid of?”
“I’M NOT AFRAID, I’M ANGRY!!” is an example of denial, because if you played ‘Twenty Questions’ with what’s making you angry, you’ll eventually arrive at ‘helpless.’
Another example of denial is seeing what we, (our minds) are comfortable with acknowledging. Reading what’s really there. All of it. (Assuming the person writing it is being clear enough – an ongoing challenge for me).I can do that maybe 20 % of the time.
As to the discussion of ‘same’ being more difficult to find than ‘different;’ What I”m trying to say here, is that while the mind finds its power, or illusion of power in its ability to quantify/qualify…judge…and maintains a fantasy, an ideal of sameness and always seeks it, (ergo our creation of the KEN and BARBY love fest), the mind holds that as a belief it can have control over only through judging. The irony is that only when the mind’s power is focused from that conscious place or awareness without judging, only then can we feel in our entire being the event of our sameness, that we’re all one. Not as an idea that the mind can romanticize about, write poetry, plays,songs, religions about, but rather as a known sensation that we feel when we are being love. (I have nothing against poetry, songs, etc…all story telling by the mind that glorifies in the best sense of the word our ability to love. The paradox is that while the mind can speak about it, paint it, sing of it, etc…it can’t, with its ‘power’ ever really know it…as in ‘define it,’ but can only experience it in the surrender to ‘being,’ and not the obsession of ‘doing.’)
In that our minds use such a small portion of our brain and ninety-nine percent of the time use it to create the illusion of power, it is therefore understandable that we would navigate our way though the crowd that is our fellow man and, while paying heed to the fantasy of sameness, seek difference as a way to establish sameness. As opposed to not going the ‘judgment’ route and experiencing sameness, one-ness, God, love….in the way in which we are all irrevocably similar, beneath all the differences.
By zephie, March 15, 2010 @ 1:41 am
Honestly, I can’t pretend to have been able to follow all that you have written and expressed; one thing, though, rings true: we as people do tend to see mainly what we wish to see, to read what we would like to have been written, and hear what we are already listening for. Only, I don’t see that tendency as a trick of the brain so much as a defending of your self-perception. We tell ourselves we are the things we wish to be. It is often easier to see ourselves as we would like to be, as if when we look into the mirror we face some secret ideal. The problem is, within our deepest selves, we know that we are not all that we yearn to be. You revisit the subjects of denial and self-delusion quite a bit, and in this case I believe those two factors to be the main reasons we do as you have suggested: see blindly, listen without hearing, and speak before we examine the words we chose. Similarities are the things we search for in others to validate ourselves, maybe? If I am to believe I am right, good, intelligent, enlightened, or whatever I need to believe of myself, must I not first prove the other person–if they in any way differ–aren’t? Shouldn’t I interpret everything I read or hear, categorize everyone I meet or see in direct juxtaposition to my own slef ideal? Either you are like me (as I perceive myself to be) or wrong not to be like me. Either you are saying what I want to hear…or what you’re saying is inconsequential. Good like me…or evil by contrast. It is a defense, and the reason why we pounce on one another’s deferences rather than greet each other from the standpoint of equals–fellow human creatures with the same basic needs and wants or objectives. It is a sobering thought. I’m not sure it in any way coincides with any of the points you were trying to make but I do think it is one of the main reasons why people do tend to interpret the words or thoughts or actions of other people in whatever way best validates or reinforces the picture of themselves they need to believe real in order to live comfortably (or without guilt, at least) within their (our) own skins.
By fee, March 15, 2010 @ 4:50 am
Very well put, Paul. It is so very easy to jump in and judge or pick out one phrase/word in a sentence and completely twist around the meaning of what the author was trying to say. We are all guilty of it from time to time no matter how hard we try not to. I know I am even though I try very hard not to judge.
Also a very good idea to re read thoroughly over one’s post before sending especially if it is an emotive post. I take ages checking and double checking what I have written to make sure I haven’t phrased it wrongly. (Mind you I have to with my rotten typing anyway!) I much prefer peace and harmony to dissension!
I will admit that a lot of what you are trying to share with us goes completely over my head but I am very willing to learn as I am finding the subject fascinating.
Helplessness due to our lack of ability to control our life I can understand. Frustration sets in because we can’t do so and then we get upset. I can now understand why I get upset when things don’t work out the way they are supposed to, or really the way I want them to.
Some aspects of our lives we can control but then there are lots we can’t and we just have to learn to “go with the flow” and accept we are helpless in that particular situation.
Life is a continual learning process isn’t it?
By Softly, March 15, 2010 @ 5:36 am
Dear Mr. Glaser,
It’s all the same to me and I will not split.
With kind regards Ms Hand
By Softly, March 15, 2010 @ 5:37 am
Dear Mr. Glaser,
It makes no different to me, but I can’t do the split.
With kind regards Ms Foot
By Rachelle, March 15, 2010 @ 10:13 am
I do thank you for sharing! It was very nicely written and very helpful!
Rereading the written word is so helpful in trying to better understand that which is being shared and I do agree reading to someone else is a good idea to help us not miss something or misinterpret.
When I read something I don’t necessarily think is the most pleasant I try to remind myself something my best friend taught me “feelings come and feelings go and feelings are deceiving.” That is such a true statement. I do try everyday to not judge others, myself or situations. It takes work and awareness. I try to look at the positive, I say “try” because life is a work in progress and it has its twists and turns along the way.
I’m glad that you choose to find your heart and to not let bitterness and anger control the spirit. It’s through this that you’ve been able to communicate, share and help others. I appreciate it and I’m always learning. You’re a bright light! Thank you!!
Happy Monday (ok that takes practice*g*) Rach
By hilly, March 15, 2010 @ 12:29 pm
(takes one foot in each hand and does the splits….)
At the risk of a nasty attack of Foot in Mouth disease….three cheers for the non-PC vocabulary “I don’t spend the day asking what I’m afraid of, or looking under every nook and cranny for the old bugger.” (my italics)
That wasn’t as flippant as some people might think.
Isn’t the current trend for a PC vocabulary (mostly full of ‘phantonyms’ used by the vocabulary-challenged who don’t know how to look beyond the first definition in the dictionary) an excellent example of avoidance?
Call a spade a spade and not a “hand-held excavational” device and you are on your way to accepting the names of your particular demons.
“Fear” “helplessness” “death” “anger”…they are all variations on the same theme when push come to shove. By avoiding the real problem others just appear where you least expect them.
And imaginary monsters creep out from under the stones and grow out of all proportion.
I am constantly in awe of your capacity to rise above all that has happened to you in the past few decades. Your capacity not to wallow in self-pity (well not in public anyway…what you do in private is your business!); not to go running for the nearest bottle (or pill or whatever) the way so many do. (I know, 30+ years ago I tried getting stoned to ease the misery – it didn’t work!)
I read a statistic once: despite the Hollywood happy-ever-after-romantic-novelist-pink cloud fantasy; the majority of marriages where a child dies break down within a year…and just to rub it in – it is usually the man who says ‘I can’t handle this’ and walks out.
Big cheer for a man who didn’t walk out; who learned to handle it…and who is helping so many of us to look at the dragon in the mirror and learn to say ‘boo!’
And who has the honesty and humility to say that he had to make that choice.
By rita, March 15, 2010 @ 1:01 pm
oh, dear! i’m afraid, i can only do this in single instalments because i just fail to grasp it all at once and write a thorough reply that’s not too warped. too many subjects for such a little comment box.
When we can acknowledge our mind’s fear of helplessness, we can choose to see it from our conscious place and remind us of our capacity for love.
just sticking with the first part for the moment. isn’t it so much the imminence of helplessness that makes us afraid? i totally agree with your argument that fear and helplessness are connected. however, i also see a division between those two. what iscary above anything else is not so much the state of helplessness as such – because, speaking now from personal experience, helplessness just makes me plain angry. no, it’s that promise, one day or another we won’t be able to help ourselves or others. and that *threat* of losing power/control over what’s going on is what creates the fear. – till then, yep, all there is to live is love. but we see that failing every day, too, alongside with our inability to communicate properly. (why am i such a pessimist in these comments?)
So we have opinions, beliefs, biases, etc because our minds tell us that is how we are to know who we are…and in that knowledge there is power. How much power? Enough to find immortality?
not to find immortality. just enough power and control in order not to go entirely bonkers in this crazy world. working backwards now from your train of thought. try as i might, i am an opinionated person. (hence, me rambling in this comment box.) so are you. otherwise you wouldn’t write this blog, eh? however, i would have to disagree that we derive power from knowing who we are, but how this whole shtick, society, works. and in reverse, we lose power as soon as we aren’t part of the society game and have become oblivious to its rules.
just because i know who i am and how i form my opinions still doesn’t help me win the power game. and no matter how often i want to get away from that one particular topic, i always end up with the same problem: in order to play the game right, i have to speak the right language. obviously not actual languages, but the languages of the different power systems: political and religious institutions, clubs, family, education. you know, the whole kid and caboodle. if you want to beat the system and win, you have to join it first. subversion from within.
since i seem to get quite offtrack right now, it’s probably best to stop. for today.
By Birgit, March 15, 2010 @ 1:53 pm
“Here’s the trick: When we practice awareness of our existence in thoughts, feelings, sensations, try not to judge. Witness, but don’t judge.”
Sorry, but here I beg to differ. Witnessing without judgement is not possible. This is what distinguished humans from animals. My dog might stare at the rabbits in the park and witness that they are there. I look at them, but by looking at them my brain judges, “Gosh, there are many of them today” or
That’s because things we witness cause emotions. Human beings have emotions about everything. Anger, fear (for example of helplessness), joy, sadness… and emotions are an integral human hallmark.
There are quite a few characteristics unique to the human race … but I am drifting away from my point here. What I wanted to say was that human nature makes it impossible for us to witness without judging.
Here is an example (again from the mountains of Nepal). When our group stayed at the tea houses in the evenings, it was quite cold. Only the common room was heated for a short time. Because there was no electricity, we were killing time until dinner the old fashioned way: playing cards, reading, talking. I meditated a lot. One night I meditated and after a while I felt a wonderful warmth going through my body. But even while meditating, I judged: I thought, “Great, finally someone has put the fire on. About time too.”
When I finished my session and opened my eyes, I immediately felt the cold. No one had put the fire on. It was all in my head. But my brain had still witnessed and (even if falsely) judged.
As to your other point, the seeking of sameness, is it actually desirable? What is desirable, in my view, is diversity with a huge portion of tolerance and respect for our fellow human beings.
Another example here, to demonstrate my point.
I am in a group of friends who all found each other because we are fans of the TV series M*A*S*H. (whhoooo, sameness-alert!) But everyone comes from the most diverse walks of life. There are health professionals and army personnel (you somehow expect these with a field hospital series), office clerks, IT professionals, teachers, academics, home makers… we are very different. Then there are two of my best friends. They are my closest friends in that group because whe share an interest in the lead actor, Alan Alda. (sameness-alert!)
So because of this similarity, I tried an experiment. I introduced them to “Starsky & Hutch”. The experiment seemed successful. (Yippee, we are soooo similar!) But as it turns out, we all like “Starsky & Hutch” for different reasons. One likes Starsky, one Hutch and one goes for the car… Again, no sameness.
And here comes the bit about tolerance: I tolerate the fact that they don’t have eyes for the car…
And to be honest, life is much more fun this way!
By valerie, March 15, 2010 @ 2:06 pm
Thanks for your new messages.
There are many interesants theme in this one.
My reflection concerns to the beginning of your message (I shall return for the continuation) (lol)
I agree when you say “try not judge”. We know that we cannot to be in agreement with all.
It is sometimes easier for the human being to understand or to hear what he wants, rather than to understand the real thought of the person. The nature of the man is so made….
I thank you for this blog. An extraordinary exchange of thoughts while coming from all the nationalities and which sometimes share the same sense.
Your messages are interesting. It is not always easy for me to write in another language, thus sorry if I does not make it more often. However, I read and often I meditate your various blog…
have a very nice week
see you soon
Rach, I liked a lot the last part of your message which I share..
By Birgit, March 15, 2010 @ 2:10 pm
I missed an tag there. Comes from discussing *fear of helplessness* with fellow bloggers off-screen while writing this.
By Birgit, March 15, 2010 @ 2:17 pm
… and I feel a great deal of helplessness, not being able to edit my posts.
By HILDA LIPRACE, March 15, 2010 @ 9:09 pm
Mr Glaser :
Aceptarnos a nosotros mismos nos posicionara como personas habilidosas. Y esta misma aceptacion la que nos capacitara para ser personas eficaces dispuestas a mejorar continuamente- Aceptarse a uno mismo es felicitarse,cuidarse y respetarse.Todo lo que se necesita para triunfar esta dentro nuestro.Las emociones nos pertenecen ,dependera de nosotros ser generadores de cada logro que alcancemos. hay que tomar la determinacion de lo que quieres ser.Somos los dueños de nuestra mente de nuestro cuerpo de las emociones ,no el inquilino. HAY QUE RENOVAR LA MIRADA INTERIOR Y PROYECTAR A LO QUE QUEREMOS SER. John Milton expreso “La mente tiene su propio lugar ,y en si misma puede convertir al infierno en cielo, o al cielo en infierno ” Es tiempo de que comencmos a darle valor a la vida .a la estima a nuestras pasiones .a las metas ,a los sueños ,Los cambios los realizan las personas efectivas audaces y con mente exitosa.hay que comenzar cada mañana por renunciar a la mediocridad por darnos importancia Valorarnos implica darse un lugar y colocar nuestras metas en el sitio de prioridad .Es tiempo de nacer.de creer y de triunfar Tenemos el potencial y la vida que necesitamos para lograrlo no se lo regalems a nadie Y recordemos la carera es de los valientes ,no de los mediocres La vida la arrebatan los que se animan y le dan pelea.
Tratemos de no juzgarnos a nosotros mismos ,ya que nos condenamos y si nos juzgamos ,juzgaremos a los otros ,es un circulo donde no hay salida .Miedo impotencia a lo desconocido -SI- es verdad ,todos tenemos nuestros temores ,odios iras ,lo importante es como vamos a reaccionar ,es ahi donde esta lo desconocido de nosotros mismos ,y uno se pregunta luego ¿porque reaccione asi ,porque dije eso ? la mente es rapida pero mas rapida es la lengua ,tiramos las palabras sin pensar o escribimos ,donde creemos que esta bien y no vemos la falla ,voy a decir lo mismo que usted Mr Glaser mis delirios,son formas de pensar y sentir (¿van de la mano ,”no ” ) gracias Mr Glaser por permitir dejar y compartir mis pensamientos y gracias por cmpartir los suyos (¡¡ hay que seguirlo y comprenderlo Mr Glaser ,no es facil) .pero no imposible ,que tenga un buen dia ,y me gusta mucho lo que escribe usted da la idea general ,su pensamiento y luego nosotros divagamos un poco ,para que quede bonito filosofamos …. muchos cariños ya quedan 9 dias para su cumpleaños ,siempre esta en mis oraciones y ese dia brindare por su cumpleaños .gracias Mr Glaser – Hilda Liporace de Argentina
By Nadine, March 15, 2010 @ 11:34 pm
Je ma sens frustree , j’ai beaucoup de mal à comprendre et lire vos ” pensees ” Paul , je ne parle pas Anglais le traducteur est assez incomplet , je ne peux pas me permettre de demander à Hilly de me les traduire a chaque fois ! je suis desoléé de ne pouvoir vous suivre ! Je vais essayer mais ce n’est pas evident ! Amitie !
By heidi, March 16, 2010 @ 1:51 am
You certainly are a deep thinker interested in life and philosophy!
Powers of the brain and mysteries of the universe are still unknown to us and the scientists. It is good to have mystery in life.
How do you think music affects us and our lives? Melody and harmony are good for the soul.
Best Wishes to you all from England.
By Christine, March 16, 2010 @ 12:06 pm
Witness without judging?. This is actually harder to do than one might think. I try not to judge, I say try as there have and will be times that I will do it. Maybe not intentionally maybe the judging thing has caught me unawares at times but its there, patiently waiting to jump in given half a chance!
Or it really goes to town in an argument. When normally you wouldn’t judge someone and then you both end up saying things you wish you hadn’t. Oh how you wish you could press rewind and erase those words.
I always say to my daughter, please think before you speak. The neighbour down the street who always looks so sad could have the weight of the world on his/her shoulders. You just can never tell what is going on in someone else’s life. On the other hand; the seemingly happy go lucky always smiling person may be hiding behind a front! You know the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover,(wish I could remember who said it) but they have to be some of the truest words spoken.
Its been lovely reading your thoughts again Paul. Just wish I had the amazing inner strength that you have. With love as always, Christine. xx
By valerie, March 16, 2010 @ 12:21 pm
Je partage ton sentiment, c’est vrai, c’est frustrant de ne pouvoir comprendre tout ce qu’écrit Paul et de ne pouvoir s’exprimer sur les sujets qu’il aborde!….
Des cours d’anglais s’imposent….(lol)
By hilly, March 16, 2010 @ 12:41 pm
woo hooo….witnessing without judging/judging without witnessing. Chicken omelet time I think.
It is very difficult to reach a point of detachment from which we can really witness without making some kind of judgment (even a subconscious one).
the idea of how we see the puppies (or a certain 70s cop show) is apt. We see the ‘facts’ but our minds make their immediate judgments ‘cute dog’ ‘attractive man/men” “daft/amazing/car” etc. And maybe those inner judgments are a contribution to what we witness…what we see with our mind’s eye.
There are so many ‘ways of seeing’.
My personal example. I am willing to accept that many people think that Wagner’s music is the ultimate in opera. I love opera and so I made a definite effort to listen to the Ring Cycle and try to understand this idea. but all I heard was a succession of women screaming like badly-tuned foghorns: tunes that soared up to near the climax only to come sliding down and try again (even when one of the aforementioned foghorns was supposed to be dying!) and crashing wind instruments.
So I don’t like it. I tried and I don’t…in fact I’d say I hate it.
But hang on a minute? What else contributes to this attitude of mine? I have a wide musical taste – from jazz to 15th century madrigals via the west coast rock of the 1970s…so it can’t just be the music.
Wagner was a famous anti-Semite….Hitler loved his music….oops is my brain making connections that shouldn’t be there – or does that knowledge contribute to my dislike of him (and I can’t come to terms with Barenboim conducting Wagner in Israel either)
Is it a visual thing…all those hefty women in silly blond wigs galumphing around the stage while doing the foghorn thing? Hmmm I can think of a few great sopranos (in all senses of the word!)who looked ridiculous playing Mimi dying of consumption – so it can’t be that.
What is my mind’s eye (or ear) tripping over that I can’t detach enough from to understand?
By Nadine, March 16, 2010 @ 2:34 pm
Merci Valérie ! j’y pense sérieusement de reprendre des cours d’ Anglais , à bientôt !
By rita, March 16, 2010 @ 3:20 pm
your blog just doesn’t leave me cold.
on the off-chance of sounding utterly riddiculous now and overly redundant (and it’s more than just a chance, but a high probabilty), a thought just occured to me on my way home. my appoligies. it’s rather late in the evening here and my brain is getting lazy. i blame it on someone/something else but me ) and, obviously, i haven’t thought this through yet, but…
you reflected at great length on ‘the fear of helplessness’ — now, if you turned the concept on its head: what about the ‘helplessness of fear’? isn’t this even more terrifying?
By Raffy, March 16, 2010 @ 3:28 pm
By Hilly… “We see the ‘facts’ but our minds make their immediate judgments ‘cute dog’ ‘attractive man/men’ ‘daft/amazing/car’”…
Good point… I think we should not detach from what is happening to us, meaning that we should “see” it, witness it, see our emotions, our feelings, also how we judge them ….it is all part of our human experience…but rather we should detach from the judgment that our mind makes about what we witness or about us judging it. That’s the “trap”, the judgment itself build our loved-hated ego and becomes food for our mind in order to “control” our discomforting sense of impermanence in many different ways. It doesn’t allow us to experience our “being” and our true similarity as human beings in the depths of our heart. Very difficult process, at least for me, but I think we should try and try and try to use our mind differently, day by day, in order to stop ourselves while sliding into this negative habit and need of our mind and discover its true power helping us walk the path to our heart.
By xtexan86, March 16, 2010 @ 3:42 pm
Okay, I have tried to understand the main points of this post…however, this quote eludes me–
“The minute you judge, your mind is having its way with you and you begin to identify with that judgement. Like that is ‘who’ you are. I hate this, love that, believe this, know that, own this, have power over that….all those become very vain efforts on behalf of your mind to quantify and qualify, define ‘who’ you are.
But are those things ‘who’ you are? No.”
See, I would say ‘yes.’ A serial killer looks at a victim and thinks about the ectasy he will experience in taking their life. I look at that same person and think, ‘that’s an ugly shirt they’re wearing.’ Both of our thoughts are defining who we are, as individuals, and it’s far from the same person.
Somehow, I get the impression, PMG, that you are suggesting if our minds could step out of our bodies and experience ‘awareness’ that it would see everyone is the same. Perhaps, as human beings, but certainly not as individuals.
I believe we were given the power of choice, of free will…to believe in God or not. That alone seems to imply that we are intuitively wired to ‘judge’ and exist as separate people with different beliefs and thoughts. If everyone could look at the other, without judgement, then we’d all have to be the same. I possess the power to love, but what I find worthy of love (say, a good husband), to another that could be something more material (say, the accumilation of riches).
Now, the ‘helplessness’ thing, that I agree with. Our fears inevitably boil down to the realization that we are helpless to determine our fates in many circumstances. When we experience an event so heartbreaking that every form of support is ripped from our grasp, our soul is left naked and broken. And like you say, we can either turn bitter or find the courage to love ourselves enough to pick up the pieces and go on. But, even that sounds like ‘free will’ doesn’t it?
Ok, I’m done…and still waiting for that lunch date.
By zephie, March 16, 2010 @ 5:29 pm
With respects I never have been able to understand the concept of helplessness as the root of or one of the main reactions masked by fear. It’s easy to recognize helplessness as a result of or a reaction to fear. Yet I’ve always believed fear to be the warning sign built within us for danger. Sometimes the danger is unseen. Something you sense before you actually identify it. Or, in some cases, a thing your eyes glimpses, your ears heard but your conscious did not register as quickly as your subconscious did. It can be physical danger, emotional danger, mental danger or even pychological danger, it might be actual or imagined… but your mind and senses evoke fear as almost an electric shock to not only make you instantly receptive to it–the danger–and fill you with an urgent need to act. After that the choices are yours. Do you fight? Do you flee? Do you take a second to identify the danger? Do you even have a second? Can you handle it? And what happens if you can’t come up with the right response in time? I fully understand the grip of helplessness when it seems like none of the choices available will work. Or when you are so terrified that the danger strikes you as inescapable. Or omnipotent. Still that seems so much different than helplessness as the root of fear, or even anger which strikes me as a similar instinctive reaction. Not being able to conceptualize that one correlation makes it really hard for me to make sense of many aspects of the rest, I’m afraid.
Also, it’s hard for me to understand just what is meant by “listening without judgment.” Judgment in and of itself is not the danger. It’s basing your judgments or decisions on inner biases and prejudices without admitting to yourself that this is what you’re doing. In our lives we think of snap judgments, good judgment, bad judgment and so on, but isn’t “judgment” just another word for “decision”? I would think that the motivatio(s) behind your judgment would be the questionable factor. That aspect of “witnessing” that would lead to eventually passing some overall judgment or generalizing inappropriately? Witnessing or observing while reserving judgment, that I can understand. And agree with. But is it possible to listen or see or think or feel without making any decisions or identifications whatsoever?
Maybe what it all boils down to is not being able to disassociate myself from the belief that mind, body, and spirit are so interconnected as to be symbiotic. Take out any one and the other two are ineffectual. So when I try to view the mind as deceptive when it comes to observing myself or others or as an instrument voracious seeking to control myself or others, my immediate thought is that this does happen but only as a response to the motives of the spirit (who an individual is deep inside) and the body (how that individual copes with her own senses or physical awareness). The thoughts are the extensions of all three. Of not just the mind but the spirit fueling the mind and the body housing the brain and the “soul.” The reason why a sentence heard or read when your world is crumbling, imploding in on itself sounds so different on a day when everything is going your way. Or why your stomach might hurt when you’re frightened or your head when you’re stressed. It seems to me that it is not so much that the brain deceives or misleads but that when any one of the three sections of your being (?) Is compromised or vulnerable for any reason, the other two tend to be faulty as well. Explaining certain reactions to fear or rushes to judgment, overwhelming onslaughts of helplessness. Loneliness. Negative reactions to yourself or somebody else.
By stellapurdy, March 16, 2010 @ 6:50 pm
Good evening Mr. Glaser
I’m new to your site, I find your writings intense and thoughtful which make me ponder your conclusions.
Our minds have a life of their own, I’ve found that one of the most difficult things to do is to be aware of our own frailties and embracing them instead of fearing them.
I wish you a wonderful 2010 and hope that all of your birthday dreams come true.
What are you planning for the big Six Seven anyway?
By xtexan86, March 16, 2010 @ 7:05 pm
I don’t know if this would clear up anything, but at least for me, the fear I refer to is not the ‘fight or flight response’ but the feeling that your conscience, your soul, is about to take a flying leap into an abyss. Everything else around you disappears and you’re left completely and utterly alone. You’re scared because you can’t think, can’t reason and utterly helpless.
By zephie, March 16, 2010 @ 7:51 pm
That does clarify things somewhat. Even so, I think automatically lumped all those different degrees of fear together. Which might be part of the problem. When I wrote about my personal definition of fear, I included in it that kind of pressing, heart-sinking fear that comes from feeling like everything is lost and there isn’t any way out or any place to go. Or so it seems at the time. And even then fear to me is the danger warning that tells me the thing or situation that is happening to (or around) me or might happen to me is a potential threat.
By Softly, March 17, 2010 @ 1:23 am
Dear Mr. Glaser,
I’ve wrote a story once; it started out as a fictional diary in my own language, but quickly turned into a story in an unfamiliar format and in a foreign language, for that’s how the muse would have it. I read the story out loud and had the story read back to me by a machine. Reading it out loud was indeed very helpful, it helped me find rhythm and texture. But letting the machine read it back to me was even better. How strange it was to have my words spoken back to me with the absence of emotions, human interpretation or the simultaneous sound track of my internal dialog. Even stranger was the process of translating it, and to see foreign words look back at me in my mother’s tong.
Strange and funny too, I had people fly on plains and walk up stares. Good for a giggle.
The emotionless machine was good, but I needed a real person to point out the flaws, the hiccups, the nonsensical twists and lack off texture in certain places. I found a ruthless one and I am very grateful to him, he boxed my ears, poked holes in places I muffled over and he had me look at it again and again.
And there it is again; only in the (honest) dialog do you get to learn the uncomfortable truth and the offensive criticism. It’s up to you to look in the mirror and see your blind spots.
Scary? You bet. Your carefully constructed paper wall of words gets ripped to shreds, and you come to realize; it is not just paper, it is not just words; this is me.
The same happens went you start to meditate, visit a Guru, talk to a shrink or a slightly tipsy good friend. If you could just open up to that offending view on you, become aware of what they see (…)
But no, rational mind struggles to stay within the norm; the form mind is comfortable in, grew up with and clings on to. We think we venture out, and bravely sit on a safu watching zebra’s and artichokes but when the lions come out and are about to devour our ego, our rational mind, we jump up and scream in protest, judge the method, the safu, the teacher, deny the experience and run away from the endless possibilities of awareness, close our eyes to the vastness of our consciousness and close our ears to the fact that that too is you.
We’d rather be the toe we stub on the doorsill. Painful but controllable and user-friendly or so we think. But did you control the doorsill, can you control the pain, the scream bursting out of your mouth when toe meets sill? No. So you judge; “Stupid toe and who put this doorsill in the way any way, and you, don’t look at me like that when you are startled by my scream”. We’ll do anything to get back to the norm, to not feel helpless and out of control.
I choose a path in martial art, it all started with fear all gift wrapped in a quest for bravery and my soul. I choose this art because it has no competition and no judges. I choose this path because it is an art and not a fight. I choose this martial way as a way to feel safe in the world, have some technique, something I could DO when the need arises. After 20 odd years I find that the path I choose is actually the path of NOT DOING. This training in not doing, of giving up control, facing the enemy without fear or anger, used to collide with my years of training in doing, but I gave up that fight, bowed respectfully and moved on.
The art of not doing has helped me find my feet when I think of stories and put them on paper and has come in very handy when I sculpt, sit on my safu or behind my PC to find form, shape and color for someone else’s thoughts and ideas.
This is not to say that the need to DO something, seek out control or have it my way, does not rear its funny little head every now and again. I let myself be seduced into a discussion with doing every so often, I collide with the worlds doing on a regular basis. But stepping away from that and observing without keeping score, becomes easier and easier.
When I read these words back it sounds all too wonderful and I must say, while writing these words, now, I do feel incredibly happy and free. Do I have my live in order? No, not even close. Does everything float my way? No, I wish. Do I have everything under control? Well now, you must be kidding. But still, I feel incredibly happy, for no apparent reason. But then again does there have to be a reason?
I know all too well what helplessness feels like, there were times that I became so scared that I could not move. I had to choose more times than once to stay were I was or move in spite of my fear. Feeling that helpless is like dying, giving into it is death.
One of the collisions with immobilizing fear became a story. My way of looking without judging was to play 20 questions and to turn it into words on paper. I wrote it and rewrote it, read it and had a machine read it to me, translated it back and forth and picked my words with care. The hardest part was to give it an ending that took me years, but I finally did and the story said: “Now I’m told”.
I know it’s not perfect and it never will be, it’s like a Zen tea bowl, there is always a flaw, and I’m no master, but it is full of Gods breath, love and Ri. I send it off into the world, for it was not mine to keep or claim. Besides I had a promise to keep I made to the universe. Where it will land I do not know, I have no control over that. Scary? I would say so. Is that fear a reason not to send it out into the world. No. Is fear ever a reason to not let go?
Every step I take on the tight rope is a step in which I learn, every step I do not take is a step closer to death.
To find my balance on lives tight rope and to go with the tides is to experience the one-ness and the love. It gives me the split second chance to find the energy to face fear with a smile. Being aware that balance is not a static thing makes me relaxes in the art of not doing and helps me surrender to ever expanding consciousness. It gives me some clarity, makes me smile and write this story.
I’ll remain forever learning with a grin,
By hilly, March 18, 2010 @ 1:32 pm
you reflected at great length on ‘the fear of helplessness’ — now, if you turned the concept on its head: what about the ‘helplessness of fear’? isn’t this even more terrifying?
Do we feel fear in the face of helplessness; or helpless in the face of fear?
Or both at the same time?
Our fear of being helpless makes us angry…and we lose our sense of judgment. This then makes us feel helpless. And because we feel helpless we get frightened.
Our sense of being helpless scares us.
The trick is to break the vicious circle.
Each of us has a strategy…a system to try to break the circle. Some fight; some fly. Some retreat into prayer or meditation or whatever label you wish to give to a period of focused thought. Some hide behind anger and aggression…and just go full circle in the process.
It seems to me that the first thing we need to do is define which strategy (not the last I hope) suits us best.
Butterfly-brain here can get distracted by the new ideas that come tripping along when she’s meditating …but I’m still trying to find my strategy and I’m beginning to believe I will.
that is the important bit. I am beginning to believe that I can do it. If I believe I can, then I can overcome the fear and empower myself. Pull myself together – re-member how it was before the latest monster crawled out of the woodwork – and push fear back to where it belongs…the trash-can (preferably not the one in the back of my mind).
One very tired brain is now going to give in to the anti-histamine and sleep; so I hope that rambling makes sense to someone.
By Janise Anthony, April 8, 2010 @ 10:28 pm
Hello everyone, I am new to this board. Nice to find like minded individuals to share ideas with…
In response to this blog…
Fear is a primitive response mechanism… going back to the original Flight or Fight response before we consciously evolved. Fear is primarily a signal to prepare. A saber tooth tiger is running your way…fear triggers a response to Hide, Run! etc. As we have evolved in consciousness the Fear we feel now is more intuition about something being out of alignment. We feel hesitation about something or someone or some event. If we listen to the still soft voice within when this so called
fear emerges we will be guided to the right place at the right time to do the right things. Fear is not a bad thing, it is just a call to get aligned on some level. I like to call it my gut instinct. Its never wrong.
Feeling helpless is just surrendering to the thinking of there is no way or things cannot be changed, but in truth there is always a way it just takes time to find it… a new strategy or renewed perception or belief. Nothing is beyond help. If we ask ourselves more empowering questions we will find more empowering answers, a solution, a way, or how to surrender to that which cannot be changed and then peace finds us once again.
Also, there is no fear when one understands who they really are. We are not the body, not even our name, not our experiences, associations and surely not our wealth or lack of it. For all that is impermanent is not the true self. When we drop all that is false, illusion, ego and attachment what is left is the invisible…the invisible self, the perfect self, the Spirit Self, the one with God self, ageless, timeless, never born and never dies. When we truly know this and live as a spiritual being in the human experience then there is nothing to fear, nothing which could hurt, harm or endanger us. It is truly liberating to live with this awareness in the Divine play, the Divine Dream.
By Janise Anthony, April 8, 2010 @ 10:47 pm
Forgot to introduce myself to you Paul.
Nice to find you! I never knew much about you off screen and was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon your website to read your work and see what a gentle enlightened soul you truly are. I am most stimulated by your thoughts here and look forward to some mind wrestling or mind dancing with you. I see your astrology sign is an Aries…so I do not wish to butt heads with you here but to mind meld instead! It is quite refreshing to find a blog that challenges me.
Peace to you,
Your new friend
By Kay_T., May 23, 2010 @ 9:10 am
This blog gave me a lot to think about. I find myself in a constant struggle these days to focus on what is important, what path to follow…there is fear and confusion. I have never been in this place before……..full of fear. No one knows my fear, because I can’t bring myself to acknowledge it to others. I have never felt this helpless. I keep telling myself that I have to let go and stop trying to fix and control things that are not in my hands to fix or control. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and take the other path. Is love worth the pain if you choose wrong?
By MoriaDole, May 30, 2010 @ 11:01 pm
Hmmm. You mention paying heed to the fantasy of sameness, all the while seeking differences as a way to establish sameness; and I can’t but wonder if when faced with the very real opportunity to encounter that “sameness” in another, wouldn’t the first instinct be to run for cover? None of us, if we’re being honest with ourselves, is really, fully comfortable seeing ourselves as we actually are. Therefore, when faced with that reflection of our “secret” selves in others, we get scared. Run. Even subconsciously seek to hurt that other person in a desperate, panicked need to destroy that part of ourselves we are not ready or willing to accept.
I personally believe there are far more differences in others than similarities. Our population has grown so that the variables of interests, options, beliefs, personality, values, etc. Possible in each person are rapidly increasing. In short: since we are more aware of options available, we make more complicated choices and become more complicated in our thinking and our actions. Finding sameness is also harder because there are so many more people out there, thus so many more mismatches possible.
Why then do we waste so much time humoring those who are not healthy for us, even after it’s obvious that the personalities just can’t or won’t mesh? Why are we so unwilling to admit that we just don’t agree with them? So careful not to clash with them (as in the people who aren’t compatible for whatever reason and vice versa) instead of accepting that the situation is unhealthy or undesireable…then simply moving on? And, by contrast, why are we so quick to run from those that do actually mesh?
Why does humoring those we don’t “like” so often seem so much safer than connecting with those we do?
Who are we really afraid of? Ourselves…or the ones who are able to see past our b.s. to the individual beneath the social facade?