Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!

3. (63)  Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was {the} Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and then thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.
            Flavius Josephus, "The Antiquities of the Jews" 3.(63) (64)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Change? You Got It!

You have an awesome ability to change your thinking, attitudes, and perceptions about the people and circumstances in your life. Economist John Maynard Keynes summed it up—“When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?”

Indeed, what do you do? The ability to change your thinking is a wonderful skill. As with any skill, it can be learned, practiced, and even mastered.

Those who can’t manage a change in their thinking, or their perception of the world around them, can find themselves in a number of tricky situations:

·         Fighting needless battles—not against the world, but against themselves
·         Investing tremendous energy and time attempting to solve the wrong problem
·         Working very hard for success but not getting the expected emotional payoff
·         And yet the same unwanted event or situation seems to happen over and over

Change can be physically uncomfortable. Even when desired, it is still fraught with anxiety—and a real, tangible, physical sensation. You can prove this yourself.

A Little Exercise

Hold your hands apart and wiggle your fingers. Now, clasp your hands together, interlocking your fingers. Notice which thumb is on top and which little finger is on bottom. Now, separate your hands.

Clasp your hands again—BUT—shift one hand so you interlock your fingers such that the other thumb is on top and the other little finger is on the bottom.

Congratulations! If you managed to clasp your hands the “other” way, how did it feel? Odd? Awkward? Yes. Did it hurt? No. Did it feel right? Not exactly.

Let’s examine that odd sensation. Take a close look at your hands and fingers. Same hands, same fingers, same action—clasping your hands together interlocking your fingers. Yet why did you have a peculiar physical sensation the second time?

You changed the way you clasped your hands. Certainly a simple change—yet one with a distinct physical sensation. And an uncomfortable one at that.

That unique sensation was a result of consciously changing a simple action. If such a minor change can produce that level of sensation, imagine the discomfort you could sense from a larger change in your experience. And that, of course, is the point.

Hang on to this little exercise and use it often. If the mere act of shifting your fingers about one-half an inch produced such a distinct sensation, then the greater sensations of discomfort and unease can be put in perspective.

It is possible that much of the discomfort, unease, and restlessness that people experience are side effects of some change occurring in their lives. The less you are aware of the change, the more confusing, and perhaps scary, is the sensation.

It is said that change is the only constant in our world. It is the only aspect of life that you can bank on—nothing remains the same. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted that it was impossible to step into the same river twice. Even when something appears stable, it is in fact changing. Nothing escapes evolution, or movement, including your perception. The rate of change may be exceedingly slow or unimaginably fast. Change may occur in levels of experience beyond consciousness. But there is always change.

Our human experience is, for all practical purposes, a reaction to a given moment. That reaction is all we have to work with to manage the present.

            A moment passed and I looked back to pick it up

            and correct it.

            Such is the mischief of time

            that in the present I cannot.

Once an action, a feeling, or a thought has occurred, it slips away from you. This is good, actually. It permits you to replace one bit of energy with another, perhaps better suiting your immediate need. Of course if someone is clueless about the nature and process of change, then a world of mischief may surround him or her. The knack is managing the process of change.

But first, an observation and the first of several adages that we will encounter: People resist change. This is automatic. The first response anyone has to a change is to fight it. We do not like it. We develop an attitude. The resistance is fueled by the human reluctance to adjust our habits and ways of doing things. In a sense, we want to be lazy.

Would you just as soon have the world around you remain the same? It would be a familiar world, an experience with known fears, known dangers, and thus a comfortable place. It would also be stagnant and stifling. If the metaphorical river ceased to flow, it could turn dank and unpleasant.

Nothing about your life can remain the same. Regardless of how much physical, mental and emotional energy you throw at it, the process of change cannot be stopped. That doesn’t mean that you can’t influence change, quite the contrary – you literally create the reality you experience with your thinking. Yet how many lives are devoted, enslaved, in an attempt to fortify the status-quo of some mental or physical moment? “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts!”  The secret is changing your thinking and not other people or conditions.  You can no more change them than they can change you.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Riddles and Rhyme

Here I am
a question of time,
a man of riddles
in a life of rhyme.

Damn Gnome – agreed 100%.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Doing It Right!

It is rare to find a true HERO of the environment.  But, there is one.

Melissa Greene tells the amazing story of David Milarch in the April, 2014 issue of Reader’s Digest.  Thank you, Melissa, and RD for helping spread awareness of Milarch’s spot-on approach to genuine environment care.

In a world of faux environmentalists, Milarch is the real thing - a burly man who has lived with trees all his life.  The planet wants more trees.  Not just any tree, but the majestic redwoods that shaded the dinosaurs and filled the atmosphere with oxygen (while absorbing gargantuan amounts of carbon dioxide.)  His mission is to clone (graft) as many of the ancient trees as possible to preserve and propagate the species.  More than a plan, it’s a mission.

A recurring theme for many who report a Near Death Experience, is a fresh sense of purpose – a new perspective.  Thus began Milarch’s mission.   A couple of years ago he described his NDE in Guideposts:

By David Milarch
April, 2012

Suddenly I felt a hard pulse in my chest, like a thud. I floated from the bed toward the ceiling. I looked down. My body lay in the bed lifeless. I looked awful, bloated, my skin yellow and gray. Like I’d washed up on a beach. Is this it? I thought. My time on earth over?

I felt a touch, gentle, yet firm, on my right arm. I turned to see a beautiful female in a radiant white gown. There was a fragrance, sweeter than any flower. I breathed it deep into my lungs.     

“We know you’re scared,” she said. “But we’re here to help.”

“Who are you?” I said.

“We’re here to help you,” she repeated. To my left there was another female, nearly identical to the first, holding my other arm. Angels? I wondered to myself. What could they want from me?
We left the confines of the house and entered a tunnel of light. The walls were a brilliant white, except for the glow of a thin pink and blue helix running through it. Then we shot off, like we were on the tip of a missile. It scared the starch out of me. But it was only for a few seconds.

I stepped out onto a vista. Below me a white, sandy beach leading to a vast body of water. In the distance a gleaming metropolis, lit by a prism of light, like a sunrise. I felt a comfort I’d never dreamed possible.

Love. Unconditional love. It seemed to flow all around me, like waves caressing me. My sadness, my sense of failure left me. I wanted to stay here forever.

Dozens of light beings, radiant, glowing personages walked toward me on top of the water. They didn’t have wings. They wore white gowns but the light, shimmering around each of them, was golden.

In the midst of them was another angel, a towering presence. He looked to be at least ten feet tall. He was clearly leading the others. Under a dark blue cape he wore a translucent gown of lighter blue.

I heard a booming sound, like thunder. It was the lead angel. “You can’t stay. You must go back.”

“But...” I started.

“You have work to do,” he said. Work? What kind of work? I didn’t want to leave. But before I could get another word out I was back hurtling through the white tunnel with the first two angels to my bedroom. I lowered back into my body, and then they were gone.

But what was the work I was supposed to do? “Wait! Wait!” I shouted, suddenly sitting upright.

Milarch’s work became obvious – nurse existing giants and propagate them by cloning.  And so he did.  Now the prospect of cloning from the giant stumps of long harvested trees seems dim.  But, driven by his angelic moment, the Champion Tree Project took root, so to speak.  Milarch champions all old-growth species – he’s cloned George Washington’s ash, hemlock and mulberry.  In the late 1960’s Greece presented the United States with a sapling removed from a tree thought to be one that Hippocrates taught under.  Alas, the sapling died.  But Milarch and associates managed to clone the ancient sycamore.  Appropriately, reports Greene, one of the Hippocratic sycamores will be planted at the NIH in Bethesda on Arbor Day.

David Milarch – Hero of the Environment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Lady and the Glass

Imagine the scene, an upstairs study around the turn of the twentieth century. It was a great time of discovery - the new frontiers of flight and physics were budding in the visions of a remarkable collection of men and women. The inner mountains of the human experience were in the vanguard of the new novels, the operas, and the curious lens of pictures in motion.

But none of these were in the thoughts of the four educated, courteous, and thoughtful men gathered in the room. A cloud of tobacco smoke hovered near the high ceiling and a round of brandy was sniffed by the four who then made the wager.

“I shall prove,” said the Professor Doctor, “that she is at heart morose, seeking always the worst, the limited, the lesser in any event.” A younger man, acquainted with the lady in question, shook his head.

“She is not morose, Professor. I have found her to look upon any event and see contained therein opportunities hidden from the sight of others. Five pounds says that she will dazzle you with her positive vision.” Professor Doctor carefully laid five pounds on a small table near the window.

“We shall see. Who will wager with me,” said the Professor Doctor, “and teach this student a lesson in human nature?” The older gentleman, more interested in his brandy, produced five pounds.

“My money depends on the form of your proof. How can you prove what you claim of her?”

Professor Doctor smiled. “I shall ask her one question. A question which requires a simple answer, one that anyone is capable. I assure you, that her response will reveal what I predict.”

“A question? One question in search of a simple answer?” asked the older man.

“Only one,” was the reply. The older man placed his bet on top of the Professor Doctor’s. The fourth gentleman, a merchant, held his money and gazed at it
“On a good day I profit this in an hour. My profits come from what I know will be purchased. It is my business to know the goods and services of trade. You are selling her answer. You presume to know her answer. It is a safe bet.” He then placed his bet with that of the younger man. “Fortunes are not made in safety. Two of us will leave tonight richer than we arrived.”

“Then we are agreed,” said the Professor Doctor as he rang a bell. After a moment the door was opened by a housekeeper. Behind her stood a fashionably dressed lady, agreeing to divert her evening with a brief visit to the study. The housekeeper left, closing the door. The Professor Doctor eased back the upholstered chair at the circular table in the middle of the room.

“Thank you for waiting. Please, be seated.”

“Thank you,” she said as she sat, neither smiling nor scowling. The Professor Doctor then poured brandy into a glass, then placed the vessel in the middle of the table.

“I will ask you a simple question and you will be so kind as to answer it,” he said. The lady nodded. Without crowding her, the men circled the table.

I don't like the glass
“Is the glass half full? Or, is the glass half empty?” The lady leaned forward to make her observation. The room was absolutely silent. She held the glass and examined it closely. The room was bristling in the quiet anticipation of her response.

“I don’t like the glass.”

That was not the expected answer.

The stunned silence was finally broken with laughter from the four men. The lady was not sure what to make of their response and quickly rose. “I gave you my answer, why am I mocked?”

The older gentleman stepped towards her. “You answered honestly, as you were asked. Your remark is appreciated and respected.”

The Professor Doctor gathered the twenty pounds and looked at his colleagues. “Gentlemen, honesty has few rewards in this world. But in this house, honesty is a virtue.” The other men smiled as the Professor Doctor handed the sum to the lady. “Thank you for your time. Enjoy the remainder of your evening.” He rang the bell again and the housekeeper opened the door.

The flustered lady gasped at the small fortune in her hands. “What did I do? What will people say? Alone with four men and I leave with money?” The room was again silent. The younger man escorted the lady to the open door.

“Then don’t tell them.” The lady left the room as the housekeeper closed the door to the study of optimism and pessimism. The Professor Doctor poured another round of brandy for the men.

“Nothing is ever as simple as it appears,” he said. “I have tested my question repeatedly, and made note of all responses. They were always one or the other—but nothing like this!”

“Perhaps she did not understand the question,” said the older gentleman.

“Nonsense,” added the merchant. “A child would understand.” “So what went wrong?” asked the older man.

“She didn’t like the glass,” answered the younger man. “It is as she said. Perhaps, Professor Doctor, you asked the wrong question.”

The Professor Doctor sipped on his brandy, then smiled the broad smile, characteristic of him. “Yes, yes, that is it. Gentlemen, the student has taught the old professor a lesson in the science of human nature. Always, we ask the wrong questions. The trick, the formula, is to know what to ask!”

“And to whom the question is posed,” added the merchant.

The older gentleman then picked up the offending glass from the table and held it to the dim light. He swirled the golden liquid. “But to us, gentlemen, this glass is always half empty.” Laughter again signaled agreement. The evening’s work was done.

Not everyone perceives a situation in the same way. In this situation, the question could be repeated a hundred times without the expected answer. The amount of liquid didn’t matter—the lady didn’t like the glass. For her, it was a stupid question. Now, if asked about the nature of the offending vessel, then much might have been learned.

Perhaps the glass was similar to one she threw at her fiancĂ© upon learning of his infidelity. Or, perhaps the glass was similar to the one in which her mother force-fed her foul tasting medicine as a child. Who knows?  Certainly not the Professor Doctor. At least for that moment, her perception was affected by something else besides the amount of liquid.

In matters large and small, people make decisions and act according to their perception of any given moment or circumstance. Measuring the amount of liquid in the glass might be a science, but predicting a person’s response is an art.

It has been said that a person’s perception creates their reality. If that’s the case, and it seems to be, then it is important to be aware of how you perceive the people, situations and circumstances that make up those fleeting moments that you cannot reach back and correct, or hold forever, in a river of time. Perception is how anyone interprets what he or she senses—the five physical sensations as well as the intuitive.