Do you guys remember when I shared “Astrologically Inspired Cocktails”? Well it turns out an astrology website in Australia did and reached out to me. They were like, hey, that’s a fun little infographic you shared. We’ve got one about astrology in different cultures, are you interested? Duh, of course I was and here we are.
An excerpt from Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception by Brian Boxer Wachler, MD
I’ve seen different definitions of Perceptual Intelligence (PI), but I like to think of it as how we interpret and occasionally manipulate our experiences to distinguish fantasy from reality. PI relies heavily on our senses and instincts, but it is frequently influenced and distorted by our emotions and memories. Just as with other forms of intelligence, some people have higher PI than others. However, PI is an acquired skill. It begins with awareness and requires practice before it becomes habitual. So you may find yourself initially overreacting to a situation or circumstance, but with proper knowledge and a different perspective, you may start to ask yourself: Am I interpreting the situation correctly and making the best possible choice?
In their excellent book The User’s Manual for the Brain, authors L. Michael Hall and Bob G. Bodenhamer write, “The problem is never the person, never the experience, never what we have been through. The problem is always the frame, always the mental movie, always the higher frames running the movie.” It’s how we interpret what happens to us. If a bird with good aim uses my head for target practice, I could either get ticked off or say, “It’s good luck!” (which I learned from my Brooklyn-born dad).
When we have a vague memory of a painful incident, what purpose does it serve? Why bother keeping that potentially incorrect perception of the event when you can make something good come of it? This is where the sniper ability of Perceptual Intelligence comes in. A well-developed PI can identify and take down a faulty idea that tries to sabotage you. Having high PI is recognizing that your mind is more plastic than you think and can be molded and reworked as needed. PI can be improved, just like any other skill, such as driving a car, playing a sport, or learning an instrument.
Many people have survived traumatic incidents and made life decisions based on these experiences. Their perspectives on these events shaped their lives in either a positive or negative direction. It was not the incidents themselves that determined the outcomes; it was the individuals’ perceptions of the incidents and how they reacted afterward that formed their future. The “heroic” survivors we see on TV or read about in books merely applied principles of PI, whereas the “victims” remained immobilized.
Sharpening Your Perceptual Intelligence
As I’ve said, since PI is a learned skill, it requires practice before it becomes a habit. Someday you may find yourself initially reacting unfavorably to a situation. Rather than jumping to a negative interpretation, you can catch yourself and ask: Is this the best choice? If not, you can tap into your PI, change your perspective, and achieve a more favorable outcome.
My main objective in writing this book is to help you find your aha! moment regarding how you perceive and react to the world from the inside out. It is my sincere hope that, as you follow me on this journey, you will discover a heightened and enlightened understanding of the mystery that is human perception and make better decisions based on what your senses and intuition are telling you. In the chapters that follow I will reveal to you how understanding and maximizing PI is the key to what lurks behind your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. You’ll learn about (not necessarily in this order):
• Why some people can’t resist “cat poop coffee” at $100 a cup
• How the brain helps us make sense of the world
• When the mind is healing us and when it’s doing more harm than good
• Why we hold on to our illusions
• Why we feel compelled to “return a favor”
• What is really happening when we see aliens in the middle of the night
• How low PI helps us enjoy art more
• Why some people see Jesus in their cornflakes
• How inflated PI can influence the PI of the masses
• Why some athletes and teams are winners and others chronic losers
• How reciprocity hijacks our perceptions
• How celebrity personas manipulate us
• How Mark Twain’s thoughts on masturbation reveal his high PI
• Why Kim Kardashian West has so much social impact
• How cults brainwash people with low PI
• Why our perceptions of time are so often distorted
• When to listen to your gut
A hundred years from now, we may not even recognize the science that is being practiced today. We will almost certainly have completely mapped the brain by then, yet we may still be no closer to understanding how we perceive the world. In the future, as with today, we will continue to perceive. Somehow, every day we will convert the inconceivable into the conceivable, as do all living things in their own inimitable way. As you’ll see in the next chapter, it all starts with the human brain.
Fasten your seatbelt and brace for impact.
About Brian Boxer Wachler, MD:
An expert on human perception and the author of Perceptual Intelligence, Brian Boxer Wachler, MD, has pioneered treatments in vision correction and Keratoconus, published eighty-four medical articles, and delivered 276 scientific presentations. He is the first choice of many doctors for their own eye treatments. He is the medical director of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Beverly Hills and a staff physician at Los Angeles’s famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Fid him online at www.boxerWachler.com and www.perceptualintelligence.com.
Excerpted from the book Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception. Copyright ©2017 by Brian Boxer Wachler. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.
By Bob Batchelor
All lean muscles and tautness, a new superhero bursts from the page. Swinging right into the reader’s lap, the hero is masked, only alien-like curved eyes reveal human features, no mouth or nose is visible. His power is alarming: casually holding a ghoulish-looking criminal in one hand, while simultaneously swinging from a hair-thin cord high above the city streets. In the background, tiny figures stand on rooftops, looking on and pointing in what can only be considered outright astonishment.
The superhero is off-center, frozen in a moment, as if a panicked photographer snapped a series of frames. The image captures the speed, almost like flight, with the wind at his back. The hero’s deltoid ripples and leg muscles flex. Some mysterious webbing extends from his elbow to waist. Is this a man or creature from another world?
The answer is actually neither. Looking at the bright yellow dialogue boxes running down the left side of the page, the reader learns the shocking truth. This isn’t a grown man, older and hardened, like Batman or Superman, one an existential nightmare and the other a do-gooder alien. No, this hero is just a self-professed “timid teenager” named Peter Parker. The world, he exclaims, mocks the teen under the mask, but will “marvel” at his newfound “awesome might.”
It is August 1962. Spider-Man is born.
Spider-Man’s debut in a dying comic book called Amazing Fantasy happened because Stan Lee took a calculated risk. He trusted his instincts. Rolling the dice on a new character meant potentially wasting precious hours writing, penciling, and inking a title that might not sell. The business side of the industry constantly clashed with the creative, forcing fast scripting and artwork to go hand-in-hand.
In more than two decades toiling as a writer and editor, Lee watched genres spring to life, and then almost as quickly, readers would turn to something else. War stories gave way to romance titles, which might then ride a wave until monster comics became popular. In an era when a small group of publishers controlled the industry, they kept close watch over each other’s products in hopes of mimicking sales of hot titles or genres.
Lee calls Marvel’s publisher Martin Goodman, “One of the great imitators of all time.” Goodman dictated what Lee wrote after ferreting out tips and leads from golf matches and long lunches with other publishers. If he heard that westerns were selling for a competitor, Goodman would visit Lee, bellowing, “Stan, come up with some Westerns.” This versatility had been Lee’s strength, swiftly writing and plotting many different titles. He often used gimmicks and wordplay, like recycling the gunslinger Rawhide Kid in 1960 and making him into an outlaw or using alliteration, as in Millie the Model.
A conservative executive, Goodman rarely wanted change, which irked Lee. The writer bristled at his boss’s belittling beliefs, explaining, “He felt comics were really only read by very, very young children or stupid adults,” which meant “he didn’t want me to use words of more than two syllables if I could help it…Don’t play up characterization, don’t have too much dialogue, just have a lot of action.” Given the precarious state of publishing companies, which frequently went belly-up, and his long history with Goodman, Lee admits, “It was a job; I had to do what he told me.”
Despite being distant relatives and longtime coworkers, the publisher and editor maintained a cool relationship. From Lee’s perspective, “Martin was good at what he did and made a lot of money, but he wasn’t ambitious. He wanted things to stay the way they were.”
Riding the wave of critical success and extraordinary sales of The Fantastic Four, Goodman gave Lee a simple directive: “Come up with some other superheroes.” The Fantastic Four, however, subtly shifted the relationship. Lee wielded greater authority. He used some of the profit to pay writers and editors more money, which then offloaded some of the pressure.
Launching Spider-Man, however, Lee did more than divert the energy of his staff. He actually defied Goodman.
For months, Lee grappled with the idea of a new superhero with realistic challenges that someone with superpowers would face living in the modern world. The new character would be “a teenager, with all the problems, hang-ups, and angst of any teenager.” Lee came up with the colorful “Spider-Man” name and envisioned a “hard-luck kid” both blessed and cursed by acquiring superhuman strength and the ability to cling to walls, just like a real-life spider.
Lee recalls pitching Goodman, embellishing the story of Spider-Man’s origin by claiming that he got the idea “watching a fly on the wall while I had been typing.” He laid the character out in full: teen, orphan, angst, poor, intelligent, and other traits. Lee thought Spider-Man was a no-brainer, but to his surprise, Goodman hated it and forbade him from offering it as a standalone book.
The publisher had three complaints: “people hate spiders, so you can’t call a hero ‘Spider-Man’”; no teenager could be a hero “but only be a sidekick”; and a hero had to be heroic, not a pimply, unpopular kid. Irritated, Goodman asked Lee, “Didn’t [he] realize that people hate spiders?” Given the litany of criticisms, Lee recalled, “Martin just wouldn’t let me do the book.”
Realizing that he could not completely circumvent his boss, Lee made the executive decision to put Spider-Man on the cover of a series that had previously bombed, called Amazing Fantasy. Readers didn’t like AF, which featured thriller/fantasy stories by Lee and surreal art by Steve Ditko, Marvel’s go-to artist for styling the macabre, surreal, or Dali-esque. It seemed as if there were already two strikes against the teen wonder.
Despite these odds and his boss’s directive, Lee says that he couldn’t let the nerdy superhero go: “I couldn’t get Spider-Man out of my mind.” He worked up a Spider-Man plot and handed it over to Marvel’s top artist, Jack Kirby. Lee figured that no one would care (or maybe even notice) a new character in the last issue of a series that would soon be discontinued.
With Spider-Man, however, Kirby missed the mark. His early sketches turned the teen bookworm into a mini-Superman with all-American good looks, like a budding astronaut or football star. Lee put Ditko on the title. His style was more suited for drawing an offbeat hero.
Ditko nailed Spider-Man, but not the cover art, forcing Lee to commission Kirby for the task, with Ditko inking. Lee could not have been happier with Ditko. He explained: “Steve did a totally brilliant job of bringing my new little arachnid hero to life.” They finished the two-part story and ran it as the lead in AS #15. Revealing both the busy, all-hands state of the company and their low expectations, Lee recalled, “Then, we more or less forgot about him.” As happy as Lee and Ditko were with the collaboration and outcome, there is no way they could have imagined that they were about to spin the comic book world onto a different axis.
The fateful day sales figures finally arrived. Goodman stormed into Lee’s office, as always awash in art boards, drawings, mockups, yellow legal pads, and memos littering the desk.
Goodman beamed, “Stan, remember that Spider-Man idea of yours that I liked so much? Why don’t we turn it into a series?”
If that wasn’t enough to knock Lee off-kilter, then came the real kicker: Spider-Man was not just a hit, the issue was in fact the fastest-selling comic book of the year, and maybe that decade. Lee recalls that AF skyrocketed to number one.
The new character would be the keystone of Marvel’s superhero-based lineup. More importantly, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man transformed Marvel from a company run by imitating trends into a hot commodity. In March 1963, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 burst onto newsstands.
Fans could not get enough of the teen hero, so Lee and Marvel pushed the limits. Spider-Man appeared in Strange Tales Annual #2 (September 1963), a 72-page crossover between him and the Human Torch. And in Tales to Astonish, which had moved from odd, macabre stories to superheroes, Spidey guest-starred in #57 (July 1964), which focused on Giant-Man and Wasp. When The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 appeared in 1964, with Lee dubbing himself and Ditko “the most talked about team in comics today,” it featured appearances by every Marvel hero, including Thor, Dr. Strange, Captain America, and the X-Men.
Spider-Man now stood at the center of a comic book empire. Stan Lee could not have written a better outcome, even if given the chance.
All this from a risky run in a dying comic book!
About Bob Batchelor:Batchelor, who teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is the author of more than 25 books, including “Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2017, adult trade, retail $22.95). Amazon: http://amzn.to/2q4lNYe
A lifelong comic book fan and noted media resource, he has been an editorial consultant for numerous outlets and been quoted in or on BBC Radio World Service, Today.com, Columbus Dispatch, msnbc.com, The Miami Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dallas Morning News, Taiwan News, Associated Press, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.
Batchelor is the author of “Mad Men: A Cultural History”, “John Updike: A Critical Biography”, and “Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel”, among others. He is a noted popular culture commentator and editor.
I’ve been given the opportunity to share the Introduction to Jennifer Noel Taylor’s upcoming book “Spiritual and Broke”. I know my curiosity is piqued for the book’s release.
By Jennifer Noel Taylor
Now I Wait…
Have you ever had a moment when you looked at your life and wondered, “How did I end up here?!”
I asked myself this very question numerous times, especially when it came to money.
How did I – an intelligent, level-headed, college-educated woman – end up incredibly broke? Or more specifically, how did I end up with no money, copious amounts of debt, and no savings?
Let me describe my previously pathetic state of financial affairs… First of all, my checking account was on life support; my balance was so pitiful that my bank levied a fee for having an account balance below their arbitrary “minimum daily balance.” In essence, the bank charged me money for not having enough money! Second, I had accumulated $35,000 of credit card debt. My interest alone rivaled the average monthly food bill for a family of four. On top of this, I had taken out a business loan for $100,000.
Now one might argue that a business loan is not necessarily a bad thing. But in my case, this loan wasn’t happily funding any sort of growth. Nope, not at all. This line of credit was the only lifeboat keeping my business afloat; without it, I would have closed the doors. And, I almost forgot, I had an auto loan and an “interest only” mortgage. (By the way, no lender in their right mind should have loaned me the money to buy a house; I managed to obtain this mortgage, back when banks loaned money based on “stated” income!) Finally, I had absolutely no savings. This means, I had no ability to handle unanticipated expenses such as car repairs, a sudden dip in business, or a visit to the dentist. Not to mention, I didn’t have money saved to pay for a vacation or even a trip to see my family.
Like many people, I was living pay check to pay check. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a fairly decent lifestyle. I paid an interest only mortgage on a house that I loved. I drove a car that I enjoyed. I invested in my health with organic food, a gym membership and even a personal trainer on occasion. And sometimes, I splurged on a sparkly pair of shoes. But my pleasant life came with an emotional price tag: I always felt extremely stressed about money. I had no savings and $135,000 of debt (not counting my mortgage and auto loan!) So this means, I actually needed to earn money to be broke. My negative net worth was frightening!
All of my financial troubles all began when I quit my “real job” to pursue my true love in life: energy medicine. In my former life, I was a software developer and although I didn’t love my job, I did have a reliable paycheck with benefits. And despite the fact that I was financially solvent, I was emotionally bankrupt. I always felt disillusioned at my job. I knew that I was put on earth to do something much more meaningful than write software in a lonely cubicle all day. So when the opportunity came about to work with energy medicine, I immediately took a leap of faith and quit my job. I became the CEO of a Quantum-Touch – an organization dedicated to teaching energy healing around the world. I loved my new role because I loved helping others and I was extremely passionate about the philosophy behind energy medicine. I wholeheartedly believed that love is the foundation of all healing. So I wanted to share this passion with the world and Quantum- Touch was my vehicle to do just that!
At the time, I was naively under the impression that if I followed my Heart, the money would come. So, I was dismayed to discover that this wasn’t true for me… at all. Following my heart did not create the financial abundance that I was so eagerly anticipating. Like I said, what did come was lots of debt and stress about money. I was working so hard to help others, yet I felt like a martyr for the cause. I talked about the power of love, but behind closed doors, I was angry at the Universe (or God/Goddess/All That Is.) I felt betrayed. I believed that the Universe should reward everyone who has the courage to share their love with the world. Unfortunately, in my case, I was sorely mistaken!
I was spiritual and broke.
Although I loved honoring my true calling in life, when it came to money, I really felt like a victim. When I contemplated how to repair my negative net worth, I felt like I only had bad choices – unhappy, heart-wrenching choices I really didn’t want to make. I felt trapped between a rock and a hard place, like a caged butterfly.
I considered going back to the “real world” and getting a normal job again. On one hand, I would yet again enjoy a nice steady paycheck. I could perhaps slowly dig myself out of my massive and almost unfathomable financial hole. As an added bonus, I would only be responsible for myself – not an entire community with employees, vendors, contractors, and other liabilities. This idea seemed extremely tempting at times, yet in my heart, I knew I couldn’t do it. I would be going back to feeling unfulfilled and miserable at my job. I knew I had a purpose on the planet, so I felt that getting a “real job” would be selling out. I would no longer be following my Heart.
I would be sacrificing my soul for money.
Cutting back expenses seemed like the more obvious choice, but this just didn’t work either! Every time I tried to lower my expenses, I felt like I was depriving myself of things that were essential to my well-being. Organic food is more expensive (strangely enough) than fast food, but I needed to take care of my health. Like many healers, I am extremely sensitive to the energy of my environment, so I spent a lot of money on a nurturing place to live. I bought a new car every five years because I didn’t want to risk breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Even if I could manage to reduce my expenses for few days, I would feel deprived, like I was suffering on an overzealous crash diet. My feeble attempts to save money would most often result in a rebound sending spree.
So, rather than make these sorts of tough decisions, I rationalized my debt. I believed that my debt really didn’t matter because someday, my ship would come in. Sooner or later, the Universe would reward me for all of my hard work – eventually, I would receive the abundance I so greatly deserved. I had fantasies of going to the bank one day, and proudly writing a substantial check to pay off all my debt. I dreamed of the day that my money worries would be a distant memory. Essentially, I was treating my debt as a way to buy time. I was waiting for the Universe to deliver on the debt it “owed me” for having the courage to follow my Heart. Yet, there was only one problem with this rationale: the money never came.
Year after year, nothing changed; I always remained spiritual and broke.
I was certainly not alone in my financial despair; I wasn’t the only spiritual entrepreneur who had money troubles. I met others in the exact same situation – spiritual and broke. I encountered many people who were following their Heart, yet frustrated and angry by their complete failure to make ends meet.
I’ve talked with multiple life coaches who were living out of their cars or “couch surfing” – unable to afford a place to live. I’ve encountered healing practitioners, who, like me, had no savings and hence no resources to handle unexpected expenses. I’ve crossed paths with sincere entrepreneurs who were living their passion, yet extremely stressed about taking care of their family, loved ones, or employees. I’ve loaned money to conscious entrepreneurs who had a beautiful vision but no funding. (Sadly, these loans usually turned into gifts.) I’ve met other business owners who maxed out their credit cards to fund their mission. And like me, they discovered that their mission never paid them back.
I remained spiritual and broke for many years … until I had an “Ah Ha” moment at one of the lowest points in her life. I realized the key mistake I was making with my mission and my money. Once I had this awareness, I began a journey that yet effectively turned my finances around.
In just three years, I paid off all of my debt; I no longer feel burdened by $135,000 of unsecured financial baggage. Also, I established a savings account with adequate funds for emergencies or even a vacation! I now consistently save money each month. My net worth went from insanely negative to comfortably positive. More importantly, I fixed my finances without any feelings of deprivation or sacrificing my well-being. During this time, I never felt like I was embarking on an unsustainable financial crash diet.
And above all, I no longer feel stressed about my money (or lack thereof!)
In this book, I describe exactly what I did to turn my finances around. Now, I want to clarify something… Although I have a positive net worth, I’m not a millionaire (not at the moment, at least!) So I’m not qualified to teach someone how to make lots of money in the stock market or buy that million dollar house of their dreams. Frankly, I don’t feel I can lead people to a place that I’ve never been myself.
Therefore, the focus of this book is not about creating massive amounts of wealth. Instead, this book is a practical (yet painless) guide to financial alignment: a harmonious co-existence between our Heart and our money.
In a state of financial alignment, any stress about money is just a distant memory. We can easily pay our monthly expenses with money left to spare. So we consistently (and comfortably) save money every month. We have a year or more of expenses saved. We have no unsecured debt.
In other words, we have the financial support necessary to pursue our true calling in life.
As I discovered, just following my Heart wasn’t enough; I needed to take additional steps, beyond the leap of faith, to create financial alignment. Like I said, I hate feeling deprived, so my financial turnaround was possible because I didn’t feel like I was suffering in the process.
We don’t need to sacrifice our soul to make money. Conversely, we don’t need to sacrifice our finances to follow our Heart! We can do both. We can create financial alignment doing what we love.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.
About Jennifer Noel Taylor:
Jennifer Noel Taylor is an energy healing practitioner, self-help motivator, and the CEO of Quantum-Touch, Inc. She has dedicated her life work to helping people discover the healing power of their love.
Jennifer graduated from Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo, CA) with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science and a Minor in Philosophy. After graduation, she started her first job as a Software Engineer at a big company in San Diego. Like so many people, she felt incredibly trapped and depressed at a job that paid the bills but didn’t align with her true passion in life. She innately knew that she had a purpose and felt keenly aware that she was not following her true calling in life.
To cope with the social isolation and depression she felt at work, she studied bodywork and alternative healing. She attended the International Professional School of Bodywork, Esalen Institute in Big Sur, and the Maui Academy of Healing Arts. While working on people, she started to feel the “energy fields” emanating from people. She became fascinated by energy healing and studied various energy healing modalities, including Reiki.
She met Richard Gordon, the founder of Quantum-Touch as his lecture on Maui. She fell in love with the vision of Quantum-Touch and received a very clear message from the Universe that energy healing was her true calling. Shortly after training in Quantum-Touch, she quit her job, took a leap of faith, and finally followed her Heart. She took over as CEO of Quantum-Touch in June 2002.
As CEO of Quantum-Touch, she continues to promote optimal wellness by helping people connect more deeply to their love. Not only is Love the basis of all healing but it also is the guiding force behind the business itself. Her business practices include spiritually rewarding jobs, loving service to the world, environmental responsibility, and financial abundance. Quantum-Touch has grown from a regional U.S company to a Multinational corporation.
You can learn more about the author and her upcoming book, “Spiritual and Broke” at her website http://jennifernoeltaylor.com/.
By Tobias Churton
Biographers of Gurdjieff are faced with a serious problem: the extreme scarcity of authentic independent documentation of Gurdjieff’s life both up to his appearance in Moscow in 1912-13 and between that time and the Russian Revolution in 1917. Gurdjieff was at least forty years old in 1917, his mind, self-appointed destiny, and fundamental attitudes already fully shaped by previous experience. As regards factual support for that experience, Gurdjieff’s name finds its way into barely a handful of official documents, themselves not wholly reliable. Seismic tumults from the collapse of the old Russian Empire, aggravated by the twentieth century’s immense conflicts and totalitarian vandalism, have sundered and fragmented the historic continuity that might otherwise have yielded collaborative resources from the Caucasus and Transcaucasia regions in which Gurdjieff grew up. Gurdjieff destroyed his own papers during a protracted personal crisis in 1930. We have no volume of Gurdjieff ’s letters or diaries, however slim, to consult. Personal reminiscences of followers, often highly subjective, are frequently at variance with one another and with verifiable facts.
Self-perceived as a man apart, a kind of spy in a confused, damned world, Gurdjieff persistently objectified the human beings around him; the first thing Gurdjieff ’s most influential follower P. D. (Pyotr Demianovich) Ouspensky noticed about his teacher in Moscow in 1915 was that Gurdjieff was always acting. Gurdjieff was many men and appeared in many disguises. Was he hiding something, or was he hiding from something?
In the Introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men, written after 1924 and published after his death, Gurdjieff explains that part of his purpose in writing the book is to save himself future trouble in having to answer questions from interlocutors concerning his life and, especially, his beliefs. He complains that such questions have been vexatious to concentration on other more pressing matters and regards these questions merely as ones put by “idle curiosity.” Those interested in his personal life are described as “shameless idlers.” To satisfy their curiosity he has nonetheless, “in revising the material destined for this series [he means this book]” decided to present it “in the form of separate independent tales, and to insert in them various ideas which can serve as answers to all the questions often put to me.” The questions put to him are, he says, to do with the “remarkable men” he has encountered; “marvels” seen in the East; questions of the immortality of the soul; whether or not man has free will; the cause of suffering; the credibility of “occult and spiritualistic sciences”; the nature of hypnotism, magnetism, and telepathy; how he first became concerned with such questions; and what then led him to the system practiced in the institute bearing his name.
Gurdjieff, conscious of writing a “new kind” of book, deliberately shaped and reshaped elements of his life and imagination as illustrations or parables of his system. He dramatized ideas. The ideas might be real but individual characters may not be, though their behavior may be truthful regarding human nature or Gurdjieff’s ideas of ideal or misguided action, observed from experience.
The cooked-up book is what the dramatist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) would call a lehrstücke, a “learning-play” or experimental teaching piece wherein actors adopt roles, postures, and attitudes that exceed conventional distinctions between stage and audience, between idea, image, event, and reality, fact and fiction. Brecht famously declared, “Realism does not consist in reproducing reality, but in showing how things really are.”
In the case of Gurdjieff’s book, Gurdjieff is principal actor as well as narrator, and elements of his experiences, fantasies, prior reading, and thoughts–and what he considers the fantasies and expectations of his readers–play the parts; Gurdjieff “sings their tune.” We can see why Gurdjieff has most appealed to actors, dancers, musicians, painters, impresarios, and storytellers, those especially conscious of the role of symbol and its encoding in artificial forms of address. Artists get or “cotton on” to congenial aspects of Gurdjieff, whereas more prosaic, sometimes troubled minds–perhaps his principal following–struggle with it all, often for years, perennially taking the “black devil” too literally, perhaps too respectfully.
Gurdjieff’s idea of science was that of the ancient Magi, not the modern classroom. He barely ever disguised his loathing for what today is called, without irony, higher education. I personally suspect he had a chip on his shoulder about never having graduated from university, so vehement were his repeated digs at “wiseacreing,” an ungainly word (in translation) that occurs with tiresome, arguably obsessive repetitiveness throughout all his writings and talks; followers have picked the word up and scatter it like buckshot from on high at critics. Gurdjieff was a “university of life” type of graduate, cynical about cynics. Perhaps to lend authority to conviction, he even invented from the store of reality and myth the archetypal sacred university of wisdom–the Sarmoung Brotherhood–a body of such exalted spiritual purity and genuine universality of insight that its denizens would never soil their elegant hands with the muck of modern education reliant on paper qualifications and bookish memory learning.
Unlike the professional talkers and establishment-acceptable pundits, the self-taught apparently polymathic, autodidact Gurdjieff could turn his hand to anything and persuade people to do things they never dreamed of doing. He was the man you’d think you’d want in a real crisis. He talked the talk because, as far as he was concerned, he had walked the walk. Unfortunately for historians and biographers he mostly fictionalized the walk. He didn’t want people to follow his footsteps, but to find their own.
Gurdjieff’s “Men” are remarkable insofar as they have recognized that the true value of life comes only when that life consciously acquires mythic dimensions, when one, with feet on the ground, has yet traversed the stars and touched the beyond. Remarkable men have seen something unremarkable men have not. Such men should engage our attention. Was Gurdjieff himself one of them?
To learn more click here.
About Tobias Churton:
Britain’s leading scholar of Western Esotericism, Tobias Churton is a world authority on Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism. An Honorary Fellow of Exeter University, where he is a faculty lecturer, he holds a master’s degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, and is the author of many books, including Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin and Occult Paris. He lives in the heart of England.
Deconstructing Gurdjieff by Tobias Churton © 2017 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
© By Leonard Perlmutter
You learned in grade school science class that energy can appear in either the potential or kinetic form. The electricity in the wiring of your home is available for any use you choose. When you turn a light switch to the “on” position, energy appears in the form of light. This is the kinetic state because the energy is being used or expended. However, when you turn the light switch to the “off” position, the energy remains in the potential state–ready to be used at the flick of a switch.
The inherent power of fear, anger and self-willed desire can also be stored potentially or expended kinetically, and it is your personal attention that determines in which state the energy resides. If the mind’s conscience, known as buddhi in Sanskrit, defines a particular thought as a form of energy that will enable you to fulfill the purpose of your life (a shreya), it is suggesting that you transform the state of that thought energy from the potential into the kinetic by taking some appropriate action. In other words, you are encouraged to think about the shreya, speak in service to the shreya, and take some physical action in service to the shreya.
Such emotions as fear, anger and greed are not inherently bad or negative, for if they’re handled skillfully, they can become helpful resources. If the conscience (buddhi) recognizes them as merely an ego or sense gratification that conflicts with your own Inner Wisdom, (known as preya), you are being asked to renounce your attachment to them so that their intrinsic power can be transformed and stored for your future use.
The laws of physical science state that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed. Viewing Yoga as a sister science, the ancients experimented with controlling, conserving and transforming the energy of thought. Through trial and error they realized that when they renounced a single preya desire-what could be seen as a momentary temptation or a negative thought — the energy of that desire manifested in a different form.
Recognizing this process, imagine what would happen if, instead of gasoline, twenty gallons of crude oil directly from the fields of Saudi Arabia were pumped into your car’s gas tank. It would wreck your engine. Crude oil is simply of no use in a combustion engine. To become an appropriate fuel for your automobile, the raw oil must first be refined.
Each of us has the capacity to employ a refining process that can transform the raw, inherent power of every thought, desire and emotion. When the mind’s conscience, the buddhi, intuitively advises that the unusable, destructive and constrictive power of a particular fear, anger or self-willed desire is appearing in your awareness in the form of preya, you, as a Yoga scientist, have access to a mechanism for capturing and transforming that power. This refinement process is accomplished by consciously and willingly renouncing your attachment to the preya.
Remember, in every moment, the buddhi is always present to advise you that it’s not in your best long-term interest to give the preya your continued attention. If you consciously or unconsciously choose to serve the preya in thought, word or deed, you will experience some form of physical, mental, emotional or spiritual dis-ease.
Every thought, word and deed is a means for spiritual unfoldment. Recognizing that desire is the fuel for human action, the ancient sages conceived a scientific formula that might well be called the spiritual equivalent of Albert Einstein’s E=MC2. The formula they discerned was D = E + W + C.
Every desire is composed of three basic components: energy, will power and creativity (consciousness). When you align every thought, word and action with the wise and good counsel of the buddhi by serving the shreya, you’ll be led for your highest and greatest good. When you willingly and consciously surrender your attachment to the merely pleasant, comfortable, familiar and attractive preya, you really give up nothing of value. The intrinsic power of the preya is not lost to you. Instead, your voluntary act of sacrifice automatically transforms the preya into internal reserves of energy and will power, and opens the doorway to the superconscious mind–your access to the Divine source of intuitive wisdom and creativity.
Conversely, when you go against the advice of the mind’s conscience (buddhi) by serving the ego or sense gratification that conflicts with Inner Wisdom in thought, word and deed, your internal strategic reserves of energy, will power and creativity are diminished.
The major crisis of our culture today is not one of IQ–intelligence quotient. Rather, the problem we face individually and collectively is one of WQ–will quotient. In twenty-first century America, countless people possess the intellectual capacity to make brilliant decisions, but because they are habituated to serving the limited perspective of the ego, senses and unconscious mind, their reserves of will power have become bankrupt. Without sufficient will power to exercise discrimination, their reserves of energy and creativity are similarly diminished. The more these reserves are depleted, the more frequent and severe the tension, stress, anxiety, burnout and pain.
As in banking, our personal balance sheet always reflects whether deposits or withdrawals have been made. The choice of solvency or bankruptcy is up to each individual.
In modern life, you need plentiful reserves of energy, will power and creativity to fulfill your many duties and responsibilities. You have obligations to yourself, your family, friends, business associates, society, the animal kingdom and the good earth Herself. Yoga Science teaches that everything you need for a happy, healthy and secure life is always available in the form of your thoughts, desires and emotions. A ready supply of power arises within you daily in the form of fear, anger and selfish desires. If you do not expend this power kinetically in the present moment, you can consciously conserve and transform it for use at another time. Yoga Science offers a systematic, practical method for conserving and transforming energy. It’s very simple, and all it takes is knowing how to direct your attention appropriately, based on the intuitive wisdom already within you.
About Leonard Perlmutter:
Leonard Perlmutter, founder of the American Meditation Institute (AMI), is the author of an acclaimed book “The Heart and Science of Yoga: The American Meditation Institute’s Empowering Self-Care Program for a Happy, Healthy, Joyful Life”, an encyclopedic guide to meditation and the Yoga Science that supports it. Praised by such international medical luminaries as Drs. Dean Ornish, Mehmet Oz, Bernie Siegel and Larry Dossey, this ultimate guidebook not only explains what to do, BUT WHY TO DO IT. It delves into Yoga Science, the eight-step method for managing the life force energy that propels us and connects us to the infinite power and creativity that is within and without us all. And the result of mastering it is the bliss and daily joy that comes from the realization of our connection. For more information, visit www.americanmeditation.org
Eight Steps to Squash Struggle Forever – Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible
By Jean Walters
Almost everyone struggles with something, whether it’s the kids going off to college, an unfulfilling job, divorce, looming retirement, or simply not having enough fun. All of these situations can lead to struggle, but what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
I believe that it is possible to face life head on, go through transitions, and actually become stronger and have more fun in the process. There are numerous action steps you can take right now that will help eliminate struggle and make your life easier and more fun!! Here are eight of them:
Step #1: Take full responsibility for your life. All of it. When you let external conditions control your destiny, you surrender your power and authority. By the same token, when you allow someone else to be in charge of your life, you keep yourself stuck. You are the victim and that is not a powerful position. The truth is you may not be able to control all your circumstances, but you have total control on how you respond to all them.
Action: First, get clear about what you want. Most people think about what they don’t want. “I don’t want to be poor,” or “I don’t want to be bored,” or “I don’t want to be alone.” Revise this list to say what you DO want. “I want to make more money. “I choose to have more fun.” “I am going to spend more time building and enjoying my relationships with others.” Now you have something to work with. Each of these items require NEW activities and new actions. It’s time to do something different.
Step #2: Don’t arbitrarily accept someone else’s beliefs and opinions. People project their own beliefs onto others. It is called transference. If someone thinks you are not making the best use of your talents, then more than likely, he is not making best use of his. Letting others tell you want is true reneges on your responsibility to draw your own conclusions and can definitely lead to struggle.
Action: Do your own homework. Whether it’s politics, news stories, or simply the best way to bake a cake, ask yourself what you believe about it before asking anyone else what they think. What makes sense to you? What do you think is the best way to balance the budget? Practice having an opinion and stating what that is without worrying what anyone else thinks. This is also a good time to weed out negative people, groups and thought systems. Give up the “Debbie Downers.” Don’t listen to the news 24/7. Do be selective as to what and who you listen to. Finally, find people who are happy and hang out with them.
Step #3: If you need to do it – do it. Take action and stand by it. That means leave a miserable job or relationship, relocate, take a class, start a new career – start over. Your life is your journey. If you are not growing, you are not going to be happy. Add to this the fact that the world is constantly changing and so must you. Don’t resist because that is what causes struggle. Embrace change.
Action: Make a list of things you want to do or change. Pick the first item and DO IT!! You can start with something small and work up to the bigger items. Maybe it’s as simple as always hanging up your clothes at the end of the day. Perhaps it is time to lose that extra 15 pounds you’ve been carrying around. Why not start a conversation with that good-looking guy you see in the coffee shop every other morning? If you want to develop a new skill, then find a mentor or take a class and learn something new. How about a class in computers, or take a foreign language course? Perhaps you’d like to learn about the travel industry, or how to start a bed and breakfast. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be an artist, so you could start with a beginner water color class. If you’re looking to reduce stress and anxiety, sign up for a meditation class, yoga, or Pilates.
Step #4: Acknowledge that you are valuable. Remind yourself of this daily. Talk to yourself out loud and affirm your value. Do not underestimate the power of what you say internally. In fact, how you talk to yourself is a make-it or break-it proposition when it comes to struggle. Many people say horrible things to themselves, “How could you have done that; you are stupid; you are unlovable; you will never amount to anything.” These are lies. They are generated from the ego that loves control. Paying attention to ego railings is like having a giant thumb pressing down on you. If you listen to the negativity, you will never step out of your box and investigate your incredible self. Again, decide who you want to be and find a way to be it.
Action: STOP your mind when it starts in on the negativity. Refuse to give it credence. It is your mind – you get to say what goes on there. Mental discipline is key to releasing struggle, so don’t let your mind run on automatic pilot. Be vigilant about it. Remind yourself daily – hourly, in fact — that “You are valuable.” To prevent becoming overwhelmed with negative self-talk, move. Get out into nature and take a walk while breathing deeply. Take action, such as cleaning out a closet or drawer. When you have calmed down, write in a journal to expunge fears, and then write about your desires, hopes and dreams. Clear your mind so that you remember that you are valuable — a unique piece to the universal puzzle that makes everything work.
Step #5: Dump any emotional baggage. This includes memories of being hurt, offended, or criticized. Let it go! So your mother didn’t love you enough and your father wasn’t there. That is on them and not you. Forgive them and move on. While you’re at it, forgive your brother, your sister, your mean-spirited boss, your soccer coach, your nosy neighbors, and the rude store clerk. Let them all go. How? First, remember that what others project out is what is inside of them.
Action: Observing your thoughts for ten minutes a day. Take notes. When you have a “blaming thought”, stop and correct yourself. “Wait. I am responsible for my life.” If you find yourself feeling resentment or thinking, “poor me,” make an adjustment and change your thoughts. Sometimes we are tempted to ruminate, but it is exactly at those moments when you must catch yourself and interrupt your pattern. Deliberately think about something else: Bring up a pleasant memory. Remember a time when you confidently handled some situation in your life and you did it well. Keep correcting yourself and eventually the victim thoughts lesson. By clearing out the mental space held by grievances, you feel lighter and the payoff is huge… squashing struggle forever.
Step 6: Find a way to express yourself. Everyone is creative and creativity must be expressed. Build something. Write something. Learn to draw or speak. Everyone needs an outlet to express energy, one that is uniquely one’s own. Experiment until you discover yours. It is your gift to the world.
Action: Start with things that come easy for you — decorating cakes, coaching a soccer team, organizing, making friends. Then expand on that. If you’re not sure how to do that, then take classes until you discover a way that feels good for you. You don’t have to be a Picasso to paint or a Hemingway to write. Teaching, volunteering, sales, accounting, and business – these are all creative endeavors. Don’t worry about monetizing your efforts. Just do it for fun. You never know where this will take you. One fellow I knew visited junkyards and found interesting pieces of metal, which he welded together to create sculptures. He loved it. In time, he started a side business selling metal art.
Step 7: Become a possibility-thinker. When you look at a person, relationship, or opportunity, ask yourself, “What are the possibilities here?” Most people don’t see possibilities because they never ask the question. You must ask the question and seek possibilities. What if joining a study group opens up opportunities to learn new skills, meet amazing people, or start a new career? What if taking a new route to work reveals a short cut, a new restaurant in town, or a beautiful view. Be curious and try new things.
Action: Start by making a list of all the possible ways to do something. Pick a subject and write it down at the top of the sheet of paper, or on a document in your computer. For instance: If you want to go back to school and you need tuition money, what are some ways you could pay for it? Here are some ideas: You can take the money out of savings, get a school loan or grant, procure a home equity line of credit, ask someone to help you, put it on your credit card, win the lottery, trade services with someone for paying your tuition, get a job that subsidizes schooling, join the military so you can go to college, win a contest, find a benefactor, and so forth. These are a few possibilities, but you can come up with more. If you are saying to yourself, that won’t work; that won’t work, etc. Ignore them. Those thoughts keep you in the struggle.
Step 8: Turn failure into triumph. It is important to pay attention to what you have previously called failure because this is where you can slip into struggle. The loss of a job doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world; it is an opportunity to find a better one or maybe start a whole new business. When a relationship ends, it may leave you feeling feel lost and disoriented. However, the completion of a relationship may indicate you have outgrown it, learned the lesson it was to teach you, or someone new is waiting for you. By facing the unknown and turning “failure” into triumph, you discover more about yourself. Sometimes the gift is learning that quiet time alone can be restorative. It can be the beginning of new friendships, adventure, and a fresh, new life.
Action: Do an assessment and write out your conclusions. First, look back at your life and notice what “failure” actually led to a better opportunity? When did that unexpected turn in the road guide you to something amazing and wonderful? You took a detour only to discover your soul mate. You didn’t get into a certain school, only to discover a different learning opportunity that led to your dream career. Pause to ponder this: Is there anything in your life now that you consider terrible? And let me ask you this: Have you ever been wrong? Is it possible that this terrible situation is a lead in to a thrilling new escapade? If it’s happened in the past, it very likely will happen again. Do a personal audit and you will be amazed how failures were really just direction changes.
Whatever it is that you struggle with — an empty nest, an unfulfilling job, divorce, retirement or whatever, get busy. Reboot your perspective. Squash the struggle and you’ll have a lot more energy to create the life you want.
About Jean Walters:
Jean Walters is an internationally-known teacher, transformational coach and Akashic Record reader (psychic) who designs and presents classes and workshops in empowerment, meditation, building communication skills, universal laws, dreams interpretation, strengthening intuition, and creating spiritual connection for many organizations including colleges, universities, spiritual groups, and businesses. She writes for numerous major newspapers and publications and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show called Positive Moments. She is a favorite featured guest on other radio and television programs. Her books include “Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible”, “Set Yourself Free: Live the life YOU were meant to Live”, and “Dreams and the Symbology of Life”. She has performed over 35,000 readings with the emphasis on providing insight regarding personal growth, life purpose, strengthening relationships, and moving through obstacles.
Learn more at http://www.spiritualtransformation.com.
Brad Warner is one of my favorite authors on the subject of Zen and I loved his latest book “Don’t Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dōgen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master”, which is his interpretation of Dōgen’s “Shōbōgenzō”. This is a book that has greatly influenced all of Warner’s writing and I assume his practice. I found “Don’t Be a Jerk” interesting and inspiring. I’m happy to get to share an excerpt from the book’s introduction with you.
An Introduction from Brad Warner
It used to be that nobody outside the worlds of stuffy academics and nerdy Zen studies knew who Dōgen was. And while this thirteenth-century Japanese Zen master and writer is still not one of the best-known philosophers on the planet, he’s well-known enough to have a character on the popular American TV series “Lost” named after him and to get referenced regularly in books and discussions of the world’s most important philosophical thinkers.
Unfortunately, in spite of all this, Dōgen still tends to be presented either as an inscrutable Oriental speaking in riddles and rhymes or as an insufferable intellectual making clever allusions to books you’re too dumb to have heard of. Nobody wants to read a guy like that.
You could argue that Dōgen really is these things. Sometimes. But he’s a lot more than that. When you work with him for a while, you start to see that he’s actually a pretty straightforward, no-nonsense guy. It’s hard to see that, though, because his world and ours are so very different.
A few months ago, my friend Whitney and I were at Atomic City Comics in Philadelphia. There I found “The War That Time Forgot”, a collection of DC comics from the fifties about American soldiers who battle living dinosaurs on a tropical island during World War II, and Whitney found a book called “God Is Disappointed in You”, by Mark Russell. The latter was far more influential in the formation of this book.
The publishers of that book, Top Shelf Publications, describe “God Is Disappointed in You” as being “for people who would like to read the Bible…if it would just cut to the chase.” In this book, Russell has summarized the entire Christian Bible in his own words, skipping over repetitive passages and generally making each book far more concise and straightforward than any existing translation. He livens up his prose with a funny, irreverent attitude that is nonetheless respectful to its source material. If you want to know what’s in the Bible but can’t deal with actually reading the whole darned thing, it’s a very good way to begin.
After she’d been reading “God Is Disappointed in You” for a while, Whitney showed it to me and suggested I try to do the same thing with “Shōbōgenzō: The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye”. This eight-hundred-year-old classic, written by the Japanese monk Eihei Dōgen, expounds on and explains the philosophical basis for one of the largest and most influential sects of Zen Buddhism. It’s one of the great classics of philosophical literature, revered by people all over the world. However, like many revered philosophical classics, it’s rarely read, even by those who claim to love it.
I immediately thought it was a cool idea to try to do this with “Shōbōgenzō”, but I didn’t know if it would work. I’ve studied “Shōbōgenzō” for around thirty years, much of that time under the tutelage of Gudo Wafu Nishijima. Nishijima Roshi was my ordaining teacher, and he, along with his student Chodo Mike Cross, produced a highly respected English translation that was for many years the only full English translation available. I had already written one book about “Shōbōgenzō”, called “Sit Down and Shut Up” (New World Library, 2007), and had referenced “Shōbōgenzō” extensively in all five of my other books about Zen practice.
My attitude toward “Shōbōgenzō” is somewhat like Mark Russell’s attitude toward the Bible. I deeply respect the book and its author, Dōgen. But I don’t look at it the way a religious person regards a holy book. Zen Buddhism is not a religion, however much it sometimes looks like one. There are no holy books in Zen, especially the kind of Zen that Dōgen taught. In Dōgen’s view everything is sacred, and to single out one specific thing, like a book or a city or a person, as being more sacred than anything else is a huge mistake. So the idea of rewriting Dōgen’s masterwork didn’t feel at all blasphemous or heretical to me.
But “Shōbōgenzō” presents a whole set of challenges Russell didn’t face with the Bible. The biggest one is that the Bible is mainly a collection of narrative stories. What Russell did, for the most part, was to summarize those stories while skipping over much of the philosophizing that occurs within them. “Shōbōgenzō”, on the other hand, has just a few narrative storytelling sections, and these are usually very short. It’s mostly philosophy. This meant that I’d have to deal extensively with the kind of material Russell generally skipped over.
Still, it was such an interesting idea that I figured I’d give it a try. My idea was to present the reader with everything important in “Shōbōgenzō”. I didn’t summarize every single line. But I have tried to give a sense of every paragraph of the book without leaving anything significant out. While I’d caution you not to quote this book and attribute it to Dōgen, I have tried to produce a book wherein you could conceivably do so without too much fear of being told by someone, “That’s not really what Dōgen said!” Obviously, if a line mentions Twinkies or zombies or beer, you’ll know I’ve done a bit of liberal paraphrasing. I have noted these instances, though, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
About Brad Warner:
Brad Warner is the author of Don’t Be a Jerk and numerous other titles including Sit Down & Shut Up, Hardcore Zen, and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. A Soto Zen priest, he is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.
Excerpted from Don’t Be a Jerk ©2016 by Brad Warner. Published with permission of New World Library. http://www.newworldlibrary.com
By JB Sanders
You know, Fall’s coming…
A Record Player, with Lasers
Stop making Dr. Evil gestures! It’s a real record player, vinyl disks of grooves, only instead of crude needle jolting through the channels, it uses lasers. No damage to the original at all. Plus if the record is already dinged up, it’ll compensate.
Lost Tunnels of Liverpool
So, there are these tunnels underneath the city of Liverpool — which is not exactly odd, except that no one knows who made them, or why. They’re over 200 years old, too, so it’s a mystery with some dust on it.
Archaeologists Reconstruct Doggerland
Remember that island off the east coast of England? No? It so totally used to be there, about 8000 years ago. Then the sea levels rose.
Recover Sound from Silent Video — and More!
This is some straight-up science fiction, here, only now it’s science fact.
Prosthetic Hand That Can Feel
DARPA researchers have created a prosthetic hand that can actually send a sense of touch to the wearer’s brain.
That’s Not Slow Motion, This is Slow Motion
Scientists have developed a camera that takes a trillion pictures a second. Yeah, you read that right. A trillion, with a “t”. It slows things down so much, they can observe light moving across an object.
Touch Screen That Grows Buttons
Those crafty folks at MIT are working on a screen that creates real buttons when you need them, right on the screen.
Blindsight and Human Consciousness
There’s more to human perception, and to human consciousness, then … er … meets the eye. It starts with a guy who is blind in one eye, but in repeated tests can still somehow perceive out of it. It gets stranger from there.
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
By Mitch Rosenzweig
I laughed out loud, although I really shouldn’t have. She was a cute as a button. Curly blonde hair and petite, maybe 3 years old at the most. She had on the cutest little dress with a Christmas print, white tights, and bright, shiny Mary Jane shoes to complete the perfect picture. Her Dad, at the other end of her hand, was clearly a work-a-day type. Gnarled and whiskered, there were paint spatters flecking his plaid shirt and blue jeans. As they walked into the black Friday store, Dad remarked, “Look at all the people!” And in a cute, tiny voice with a little-kid accent, the delicate princess exclaimed loudly, “No Shit!” My coffee almost exploded all over me as I guffawed. Red-faced and embarrassed the Dad bent close to his daughter and gave her a loving reminder: “Now Chelsea, we don’t say those bad words in public.” I wondered if it was okay in private. With wide eyes she nodded, obviously confused and overwhelmed by the bustle of the store.
In the 70s, George Carlin made famous the seven words you can’t say on TV. But really, if you ask anyone, there are way more than seven that we classify as expletives or bad words. When we are kids, we rejoice in their delicious sounds. From the “doo-doo head” and “poopy” of childhood, to the rude mother-degrading curses of teens, we continue to thrill at the obvious insults. It’s not just an American thing; I have seen comedic dictionaries about how to curse in every language. We classify them as “bad” words. Never to be spoken, especially not in public.
Of course no words are really “bad.” They are just sounds on our tongue or letters on a page. It is in the meaning and context that the moralistic value occurs. We can exclaim about abundant waste in a toilet but we better not tell someone they are full of it. It’s all about the context. I have to re-train my brain after my various military stints, where bad words are sprinkled throughout casual conversations. I once heard a Platoon Sergeant use more than 14 of them in a single sentence. The worst part is that I understood and agreed with what he said-and how he said it. I shook his confused hand in congratulations. Bad, bad, bad.
What I don’t understand is why other, non-curse words aren’t considered bad. They have negative connotations in all contexts: such as “hate,” “unemployed,” “addiction,” “kill,” and millions of others that produce a visceral response in any setting. We don’t use them in polite society either. I will avoid further examples but I am sure you can think of your own that are far worse than “doody-head.”
As parents and polite adults, we teach our children and train ourselves to avoid using bad words. Even though the best of us occasionally drop an “f-bomb,” most of us don’t cuss like drunken merchant marines. We realize that as reserved and thoughtful adults there are better ways to express our emotions. Only the vulgar cuss-until you stub your toe in the middle of the night. And then that raw instinct forces us to damn something to the nether regions. I’m not holier-than-thou; I am just as likely to slip one in now and then. Especially the milder ones, like sh*t, damn, and hell. Somehow, “doo-doo happens,” or “oh fudge” just doesn’t cut it in all situations.
I have a proposal. Can we create a list of the seven words that we must say? Wouldn’t it be just as important to teach our children those words? The positive rather than negative? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a dad stooping to teach his to child to say, “Holy love!”? My list of seven words we must say would be: love, faith, caring, peace, giving, forgiveness, and thanks. I’m willing to bet we have just as many reasons to say them in public. Maybe they are prohibited too, since I rarely hear them.
Today, I am going to offer my seven every chance I get. I will fully express myself and let people know how I truly feel. No holds barred. If I offend, so be it. I don’t need a filter. I will pepper my conversation with them and shock people. Even when I stub my toe, I will offer thanks for having a toe to stub. OK, well, maybe after I cuss and fuss a bit.
Express yourself-it’s healthy. Let it out already, Dagnabit!
About Mitch Rosenzweig:
In this new book “Reaching for Insights: Stories of Love, Faith, and the Kitchen Sink”, veteran clinical psychologist and social worker Mitch Rosenzweig attunes his therapeutic sensibilities to his daily landscape and uncovers life lessons for us all – treasures gained by observing the ordinary from an often amusing, and always positive, perspective. This rich collection of 200 brief essays penned from his personal and professional observations delights us and invites us to grow into better, more compassionate human beings. For more information, visit http://www.reachingforinsights.com/