Tag Archive: Evolution of Consciousness


Engaging in a regular transformative practice will bring up many opportunities to work with your inner authoritarian structures. If we don’t work with those structures, then we may end up reinforcing an old regime that is in serious need of a revolution. We all have inner authoritarians. We internalized them mainly from our parents, but also from the culture around us. When we were young children, some of us had wise, benevolent, loving kings and queens for parents. Some of us had cruel despots. Most of us had parents somewhere in between.

A person can go very far with a practice without ever working on that inner authority. I’m thinking of Andre Agassi. His father amounted to a narcissistic despot, and Andre thoroughly internalized that tyrant. Andre mastered tennis by pushing himself mercilessly. His intense daily practice of competitive tennis utterly transformed his life.

However, he reached a point in his life where he was miserable. He was one of the world’s best tennis players, but the rest of his life was in shambles. In an interview, he revealed that he had always hated tennis. He never enjoyed it. He decided that he was either going to find a way to love tennis and make it his own (not his father’s) or he was going to quit.

I remember seeing Andre play after he had transformed. At the time, I didn’t know his story. And I was very surprised. I watched him for 5 minutes without recognizing him, and I did a double take when I saw the caption under his image. I had never liked Andre 1.0. But, I immediately liked Andre 2.0. He was a new person. He had shaved off his hair. He played differently. He was much more humble. You could tell that he was playing with heart. There was a depth to him that had been lacking before.

Transformative practices will transform you. But, if they are founded on a kind of inner fascism, they will prove to be unsustainable. Ultimately they will not thrive, or cause you to thrive. If they are founded on an open heart; if they are practiced in a loving and kind way, well then, your practices and you will flourish.

A Bit of Biography, Part 2

When I was 29, I got divorced. It was becoming clear that I had some learning and growing to do if I wanted to be in healthy, satisfying personal relationships. Physical exercise and meditation had positive effects in this area. I was more centered, patient, and resilient, which definitely helped. Still, it wasn’t enough. A couple years later I entered graduate school to study counseling psychology. I got into therapy. I did quite a bit of work healing old emotional wounds. This kind of work, working with relationships, communication, emotions: this became another spoke of The Wheel. Thanks to this kind of work my relationships became deeper, more satisfying, and healthier. When, I was 35 I got married. This time I was in a far healthier and far more mature relationship. 10 years later we are going strong with two kids, 4 and 7.

In spite of all this goodness, there was one big area of my life I was neglecting: my vitality. When I was 43, I was completely exhausted. I’d been in a good, solid relationship for 9 years. We had two beautiful, happy kids. But, middle age had arrived with a vengeance. Over the past 5 years I’d racked up some serious sleep deprivation. A heckaton of my vital energy was being poured into the kids, and not really being replentished. I felt like they were healthy plants. I was the soil, and I was just about depleted.

I went to an acupuncturist. He said my physical body was in good shape (thanks to continuing physical exercise) but my Chi tank was just about empty. My “pulses” were weak. My adrenals were shot.

As a new parent, the centeredness and presence I had developed through mediation had served me very well. I still managed to work out a few times a week and was in okay shape. My work in therapy and Graduate School and with my wife definitely helped me to negotiate the interpersonal stresses of parenthood and marriage with some grace.  I was about to say that Meditation, exercise, and emotional relational work combined to make me a much better husband and father. But, the truth is: without all that work, I couldn’t have done it at all. I would not have had this wonderful family.

And yet, I was done. Out of gas. Something had to give. Working with my acupuncturist was a start. I began to be more sensitive to my life energy, my “Chi”, my vitality. I began to consciously cultivate it, and it slowly began to return.

To be continued . . .

 

When I was 9 years old, our class had to do the presidential fitness tests or whatever the eff they were. My scores were at the bottom of the class. I was a pretty chubby kid which was much rarer in those days. I had excellent coordination and eye hand coordination. But my fat weighed me down. For the next 6 years my weight was a big bummer. The message I received from my parents and many of my peers was that there was something wrong with me. I was fat and lazy: that was the message. It was some kind of moral failing. Either I was too weak to change or I chose to be fat for some twisted reason. So, I wondered: why  can’t I lose this weight? I surely would like not to be fat and not to be the object of so much derision. On the other hand, I really liked eating lots of candy and junk food. Of course my friends and siblings all did too, but they weren’t fat. No fair! Okay maybe I did enjoy such food excessively. But, anyway, I couldn’t lose the weight in spite of all kinds of diets and exercise.

When I was 14, I started playing High School basketball. I began to lose the weight. Basketball really introduced me to intense daily practice. The practice itself transformed my body. It also strengthened my will. With that new found willpower, I started exercising more, playing both tennis and basketball, and I ate less. Within a year I was quite skinny. This was my first experience of how powerful daily practice was. Regular physical exercise has been a part of my life ever since. I learned that physical practice is how you take care of your physical body. Here we see the first “spoke” of The Wheel.

When I was 22, the Summer after I graduated from college, my father committed suicide. This blew me into a major existential crisis. Your 20’s are already a kind of mild to extreme existential crisis: you’re trying to find out who you are and what kind of work you want to do in this world and what kind of relationships you want to be in. Physical exercise certainly helped ground me a bit and keep me relatively healthy and not clinically depressed, but it wasn’t enough. “What is the meaning of life? What really matters?” I took psychedelics several times with the attitude of the seeker. The states of consciousness I experienced confirmed my intuition that consciousness and reality is much bigger and wilder than conventional, ordinary, consensual “reality.” But, those states passed, leaving just a pale memory. I read a Zen book (“The Three Pillars of Zen”). Kapleau Roshi said you had to diligently practice meditation to really get Zen, to embody it. What this meant to me was that I had to meditate in order to really get the meaning of life. I started meditating. I had lost faith in materialism. Meditation seemed the best way to see for myself if there is anything that really matters once you get beneath all the superficial layers.

Meditation did not answer my questions in an intellectual or logical or conceptual way. But, it did have immediate practical benefits and cumulative benefits that kept me practicing. On a day that I meditated, I felt more centered, more grounded, more courageous, and somehow more authentic. Over the years, I became increasingly centered. At the same time I became more open and sensitive. 20 years later as I write this, I’ve come to understand that meditation is wonderful way to practice wholeness. It is a powerful way to be intentional about including all or our experience, all of the aspects of who we are, in our consciousness. In other words, it is a way to practice being more awake to our whole selves. This kind of Wholeness meditation is the meta practice of The Wheel. Here we practice including all the aspects we will work with: physicality, vitality, emotionality, and creativity.

To Be Continued.

Next, I get divorced!

Today Mass Effect 3 is released. If you are into video games, you know this is a big deal. My copy will arrive some time today and I will be playing it tonight. Mass Effect 3 is a role playing game in which you and your allies are fighting to save all life in the  Galaxy from utter annihilation. If you have not played ME1, spoiler alert. I am going to reveal the bad guys.

The bad guys are “The Reapers.” They are an advanced A.I. Civilization or Machine Civilization that lies dormant for aeons while Life evolves. When Life is “ripe” they “harvest” it. They basically assimilate all of Life, all that has been learned, all that has been created. (I don’t know why that means all life must be destroyed.) The Reapers then sow the seeds for new Life and start the process all over again. This is a clever take on one of the most common themes in Science Fiction: our machines evolving beyond us and either “terminating” or “assimilating” us. A few examples: The Borg in Star Trek, The Terminator films, The Matrix Trilogy, and Battlestar Gallactica.

I actually find this meme pretty tired. It makes a good narrative for a video game, but enough already. We are at the end of an era and our technology is primarily responsible. This is true, and this is why this narrative resonates with us. However, we are not separate from technology. We are technology. Okay, that might be overstating it. At our very core, our essence, prior to form, we are not technology. But, as soon as forms/creations show up: hello technology (Check out Kevin Kelly, The Technium.)

There was a time when humans did not have spoken language, in the earliest hunter gatherer times. A huge shift happened tens of thousands of years ago when early agriculture emerged. This was a radical new technology that changed everything. Co-emergent with that (we don’t know if one came first) came spoken language. Jeremy Rifkin theorizes that this new communication technology (spoken language) was necessary to manage the complicated social dynamics and organizational logistics of basic agriculture which necessitated a whole new kind of culture. (By the way, culture is a technology.)

The emergence of the technology of Spoken Language was one of the great game changers: a true Singularity. Human experience after this Singularity was radically different than what it had been previously. Pre-Verbal humans could in no way imagine what the Post-Verbal human would live and think like. By the way, all of us have experienced this transition in this lifetime. Some time around 1 years old we made this Big Shift. And of course, we get to witness our children and others children go through this Big Shift.

Anyway, the point is technology is not something out there, alien from us. Maybe new technologies seem that way before we assimilate them (or are assimilated by them.) Did e.mail seem weird and alien 15 years ago? The internet definitely did to a lot of people. Now that I think about it, I think the Internet continues to get exponentially weirder and more alien. But, compared to our Pre-Internet selves, so do we.

Anyway, wish me luck in the epic battle against the Reapers. The future of the Galaxy is at stake.

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