Politics and reality: Even the rats in a maze have a better grasp of reality than we do

 

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Many years ago as a graduate assistant and in charge of the rat lab at the university I noted that rats could learn pretty easily where the cheese was in a maze and would quickly go right to it regardless of how complex the maze. But when the cheese was removed the behavior was readily extinguished within 2-3 attempts with no success. The rats wouldn’t go down that tunnel anymore looking for the cheese.

However, human beings don’t behave in this manner because once the cheese is removed the human being will go back down the tunnel to where the cheese used to be again and again, nearly forever. Are human beings basically dumber than the rat I wondered?

That possibility may or may not have merit but I think human beings keep doing what they know doesn’t work again and again because ”It’s supposed to work!” or that they want it to work therefore it should if they hang in there long enough. It’s why we keep voting for the same dunderheads who promise us things, aka cheese, that we know they can’t deliver on, again and again. It’s why the political faithful keep voting against their best interests by saying yes to a totally discredited economic plan because the ‘cheese’ is “supposed” to be there. Be aware that their leadership knows this and manipulates this fact to their advantage.

This cognitive default keeps us from seeing the facts i.e. the cheese ain’t there no more– but with humans facts be damned, its supposed to be there, so that’s where they’ll go. The “dumber” animals don’t have this encumbrance because they operate within reality as it is, not as they wish it to be.

We self-create the way we think reality is supposed to be and it’s a very personal reality. This is usually very inaccurate mainly because we’ve buggered all the data with our want-it-to-be’s and our self-serving projections. Most of this was done when we were children when of course we had little experience and knowledge from which to draw any conclusions and from there on out we only picked the experiences, emotions and events that agreed with our flawed view of reality.

As children our decisions that we made were mostly based on fear– fear of doing the wrong thing or being the wrong way and thus losing approval, or knowing the wrong stuff or knowing only part of the issue but we didn’t know what was the best way anyway so we relied on the adults around us to tell us what to do. But of course they don’t know either, but had learned to pretend that they did.

And we keep thinking that if we keep choosing appropriately from our rather limited reality that eventually we’ll get the cheese. Sometimes it looks as though we do get the cheese, but it only lasts for a short while, doesn’t it? This is called intermittent reinforcement in the behavioral sciences and it’s the kind of learning that’s the hardest to break away from. It’s what often creates the ‘supposed’ in the “its supposed to be there” way of thinking. It’s what keeps people gambling their money away because at one time they “won” something.

So we keep shooting for what feels good and hoping that maybe this time, this person, this way of being, will be it.

This is the way it is when you’re attached to something outside yourself for your well-being. There’s a lot of suffering in that and any “happiness” is often just the absence of pain. You know, we’ve bought into a lot of rubbish about what happiness is. We’ve been led to believe that if we just have the right things e.g. a wife/husband, children or no children, breath freshener, toothpaste, smile, schooling, more schooling, better schooling, job, the right job, a better job, the right sex, better sex, a good vacation, a better vacation, or if we’re the right weight or have enough money (is there such a thing?), then we will be happy. But none of it lasts for very long does it? Then it’s off to the next thing, the next fashion, the next relationship, the next wise guru. But when we live in an illusion of reality, there’s always disillusionment.

How do you break such an insidious and all-consuming cycle? One can transcend the cycle and one can transform their relationship with reality. But first you have to acknowledge that you really don’t know what it is and that what you’ve made up is a mess basically a pack of lies and half-truths.

It’s a whole new retraining that requires that we let go of our dependence on something outside ourselves. Now I don’t mean that we all need to become emotional islands, we need each other. We need to be open to the support and the love of others, we just don’t need them to be responsible for our lives, to tell us how to be and what to think and feel and happiness doesn’t come from them, it comes from within. It’s the ‘cheese’ in you that you need to search for, not outside in someone else’s maze, it’s not there, it is gone! Get over it!

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Emotions in dreams: Anger

 

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A dream image of anger from one of my own dreams: Bull with lightning emanating from his eyes.

 

Emotions in dreams can be a way for the dreamer to act out the feelings that they normally would not express if they were awake. The dream provides a “safe” outlet for these emotions.

However, if the dreamer feels a mix of emotions in their dream, especially if the emotions are contradictory, then it may mean that the conscious and subconscious are in emotional conflict.

Emotions in dreams are integral to the way the brain works i.e. there seems to be a primitive network that links both dreams and emotions. This is why one must focus on the prevalent emotion(s) of a dream in order to derive broader meaning.

Other than reflecting a current way of being emotions can also signal the need for new ways of being. For example, anger can be about the need to stand up for yourself, fear can be about being more assertive, happiness can be about being more serious, or anxiety could suggest the need to be more cautious.

Probably one of the most prevalent emotions in dreams is some form of anger.

Anger in a dream can represent that you are repressing your anger about something or that your unacknowledged anger is causing health problems.

Sometimes in your waking life, you may have the belief that it is not appropriate or safe to express anger. In dreams, you can allow its expression. This can help make it possible for you to be more assertive in your waking life. Perhaps the anger in the dream is suggesting that one stand their ground and become more confident. It can also provide relief for pent-up feelings.

Anger can also show up in a dream when people are shooting at each other or when people or animals are fighting. Another image might include an angry face or many angry faces as in a mob.

C.G. Jung looked at people as though they had two distinctly different spirits: Spirit of the Times (that which you live in culturally and sub-culturally) and the Spirit of the Depths (the soul, or essence of who you are).

Both the sleeping dream and the waking dream present emotional data that speaks to an imbalance in one’s life. For example, it is often said that anger that has not been transcended and dealt with appropriately in one’s waking life can become turned inward and create a feeling of depression. And sometimes this feeling of depression is a call from the Spirit of the Depths that one is becoming too dependent on the Spirit of the Times.

 

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha

One may need to trust more in the quietness of their soul than the sound and fury of the outer world.

 

“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” –Buddha

The first step when you find that anger has reared its ugly head is to not respond to the provocation i.e. do not respond to anger with anger. Try delaying your response for several seconds (this is like the old “count to ten” method). This will train self-control and give some time to engage the brain. Note that your anger may be an appropriate response to some stimulus but having it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to express it by dumping it on the object of your anger.

Another important step in reducing anger is to treat others with kindness and compassion. This includes those who are not like you or don’t believe what you believe. This also includes those from a different ‘tribe’ i.e. family, neighborhood, village, gang, school, team, city, state, or country.

We are all humans who are trying to survive, feel safe, love and be happy. With few exceptions, mostly by those who have psychological, spiritual, brain, or psycho-social damage, we all make mistakes, want to make a difference and want to feel and be seen as being a good person.

We also share another common trait i.e. we don’t always know the right way to go about it. This is probably due to the fact that none of us came with an instruction manual although many have written down a number of rules and laws designed to give us guidance in this area often with limited success. The why of that limited success is also interesting e.g. the Ten Commandments seem to be a rational behavioral system to follow but how often do people actually follow them and what is it that gets in the way of doing so? That I believe is a discussion for another time.

 

Hint:

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An unabashed promotion: But still worth your while

 

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“He who Khronos does enthrall,

I bid thee answer your bretheren’s call.”

 

“An apparition of indeterminate gender floated high above us, then drifted gently down into the circle of light, barely touching the floor as it landed. It was a ghostly apparition in a form that never seemed really present in the here and now. It was as though I was seeing it in the past, present, and future simultaneously, but not quite solidly in any of those frames… A cold breeze worked its way up my back, and I consciously forced it back to wherever it had crawled out from…”

“I see discontinuity (it said). I see a place where both aspects of being and spirit are not sharing. I see a rift forming where this Being lost the vision given by the Is. I see this Being made up for its loss by creating its own reality in the name of the Is, but not of the Is. I see “ a vision of oneness, the light and the dark in harmony, aspects seemingly in conflict operating as a whole. The vision of the Is includes everything with nothing left out. The yin struggles in your world to be heard, the yang having actively suppressed it out of fear, greed, and ignorance and then codified it as though it were the word of the Is. But the Is becomes aware through the Being. It needs the Being to manifest all of itself, and when the Being becomes unbalanced through the expression of only half of itself, the expression of the Is also becomes unbalanced.”

This was part of an otherworldly conversation between myself and an apparition met one summer evening some thirty-three years ago on the other side of reality. It was an experience of painful awareness that threatened the very fabric of my life as I knew it. But this was not exclusively a story about me but of all of us and the rabbit hole we’re all falling down.

The conversation was an excerpt from the story of a journey I took one dark and rainy night that dragged me beyond the reality I knew and into a world of chaos that was vaguely familiar. This was a story of a desperate need for healing for myself and for the very fabric into which we all are woven. It’s a story that continues into this day and has now pulled all of us into its torn and fragmented web.

Take a peek beyond the veil and into a world beyond this world and come with me on my journey to visit the Dream Healer on the Archipelago of Dreams.

 

The Circle in Dreams

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Witches Circle

 

 

He drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle that took him in.”“Outwitted” by.– Edwin Markham

 

 

 

 

The Circle it’s arguably the most powerful of all the geometric symbols in both the waking and dreaming worlds. There’s “a circle that drew him in”, an inner circle, crop circles, expand the circle, circle of life, concentric circles, magical circles, circular thinking, a containment, circular file, geomancy, Ouroboros, circle the wagons, coming full circle, secret circles, pie charts, Arctic Circle, going in circles, square the circle, circle of friends,, circling the drain and on and on and on…

Circles in dreams, mandalas, magical incantations, and intuitive awareness’s are used to exclude and include, highlight or delete, expand or restrict awareness. Without the circle virtually nothing would move or exist for that matter e.g. there are gears, wheels, cells, atoms, planets, planetary orbits and galaxies that all come in circle-like forms.

Interpreting dreams can be like peeling an onion that symbolizes the concentric layers of the dream’s symbolism that can lead one to the inner self or God Him/Herself.

This process of digging down into the self is often represented by a circle that is in itself a representation of the self called a mandala. There are also bisected circles to represent the need for balance (yin/yang) or a circle with a cross to represent the Earth our birth mother or with a central dot to represent the life giving mate of the Earth, the Sun.

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Astronomical symbol for the Sun

Buddhists draw the circle to represent completeness and wholeness while Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews use it to symbolize the divine.

Carl Jung the famous Analytical Psychologist and dream guru suggested that anything circular in a dream from a bicycle wheel to a ball symbolized a mandala that in itself represented a divine map to the soul.

 

 

“Draw the circle,

draw the circle wide.

Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.

No one stands alone,

we’ll stand side by side.

Draw the circle,

draw the circle wide.”

“Draw the circle wide” By – Gordon Light

 

 

Love can’t exist in an environment of fearful self-protection.

 

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I’ve been working with a man who for most of my dealings with him seemed calm and well centered even during the long illness and death of his wife. On a recent occasion he asked me to work with a dream he had experienced about a year after his wife had died and I gladly took on the task fully expecting to add helpful material to what I imagined was his quest for healing. Though in retrospect I was being rather naïve.

I spent many hours on his dream that had turned out to have a great many images about his wife and other characters in his life.

His response to my analysis was violent calling it bullshit and then attacking my credentials as though they too proved the efficacy of his negative pronouncement. Gone was the mask of the calm nice guy replaced by a barely controlled anger that seemed as though it had been long suppressed. Instead of taking responsibility for his own anger he proceeded to dump it onto me. Trying to turn his perspective somewhat I suggested that what he called bullshit was only how I would have viewed his dream had it been my own to which he pronounced, “More bullshit!” Clearly there was no room for another point-of-view.

He then picked up his things and whistled as he walked down the street.

I of course was taken aback though having seen people’s masks slip many times before I wasn’t too worried. I also didn’t immediately fall into the personal trap that after some self-reflection I would go into self-attack. This time after some reflection I could see that I had loosened his mask that then fell and revealed another aspect of this man as someone who spent a lot of energy repressing his negative feelings. In retrospect his calm and well-controlled emotional character made a different sense to me.

Unwittingly, and blinded by some arrogance in thinking I had something positive to offer, I had pushed one of his hidden buttons that unleashed a cascade of emotions that he was not prepared to deal with and by his terminating our relationship I no longer had any permission to explore with him what that was all about. His actions had in effect sealed the breach of his cover-up and he went blissfully on.

This encounter reminded me of what I’ve been witnessing on a societal level. Some groups of people seem particularly wedded to a singularly rigid point-of-view. Of course there’s nothing new there but to the mix has been added a very deep and large scale paranoia that will not yield to rationality regardless of how many irrefutable facts are brought to bear.

Many of this group see evil everywhere except from within themselves. They have created an almost idolatrous ideology in their blind and unyielding beliefs and because of this there is no room for a difference of opinion. To them their rigid “faith” in what they believe to be true has the aspect of soul being attached, though soul has as one of its defined aspects the qualities of change and includes failure and occasional regressions, this is not so for these people. They use an idea of faith that they are righteously right as armor against the world that they fear even though most of that world only exists within their own hearts.

There also doesn’t seem to be any self-trust so they adhere to an ideology that seems to promise security from their fears. Unfortunately when self-trust goes out the window so does love. The heart becomes armored as well and love can’t get in anymore. But once love is gone security is gone for love cannot exist in an environment of paranoia and self-protection.

So what’s the answer? There’s a clear answer to dealing with fear and it’s a mirror image of the title of this post,

 “fear can’t exist in an environment of love.”

 

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