Collective Wisdom

This is a subject that both fascinates and puzzles me: collective wisdom.

collect consciousnessIn some ways it refers to the Emile Durkheim concept of the Collective Consciousness—that each of us in our own tiny spheres of awareness is actually connected into a far greater ocean of awareness by those frequencies within the “human range” that are available for our reception.

“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.—Emile Durkheim[6]

But collective consciousness and collective wisdom are not quite the same.

Collective consciousness may contain the collective ignorance, attitudes, and judgmental biases of the masses, whereas collective wisdom contains the mature-thinking, accumulation of smaAsimovrt choices for human evolvement amassed only after determining the difference between those and the immature, not-so-smart ones that can get you killed.

One could call collective wisdom the inherent survival kit of a species.

Collective wisdom tends to be ancestral-based as it is often the tribe’s or a culture’s acquired wisdom handed down to a younger generation by the elders of the previous one.

So collective wisdom is commonly considered the learning-from-your-mistakes and not-doing-that-atiger easting grassgain tales that are retold generation after generation, such as: despite their lean and mean appearance, tigers aren’t really vegetarians so don’t try to offer one a handful of grass. It would probably be the last time you tried it.

It’s the sort of thing that your grandparents and parents tried to instill in your psyche before you ventured out the door of the house for the very first time: “Be careful of strangers—look both ways when crossing the street—walk to school, don’t run—and don’t pet the dog next door because HE BITES.”

The puzzling thing to me about collective wisdom is that it isn’t held in as high esteem as it should be because despite what our surviving elders tell us, we just keep doing those same things we know that we shouldn’t do:

  • We try to convince the hungry tiger that nutritious kale is far better for his colon than is our leg or arm. (Please let go!)
  • We try to be nice to strangers because we know that even perverts need friends. (And who doesn’t want to help a lonely pervert?)
  • We are simply too busy looking at our iphones and ipads while driving because no one walks anywhere anymore, so who needs to look both ways no matter where you go? (Besides, I’m sure they’ll see me and stop.)
  • And we know that the neighbor’s dog is just the sweetest, little, misunderstood poochie you ever laid eyes on, despite his frothing, snarly face and warning growls. (Oh he surely won’t bite ME.)

Yes, those previous examples were more so the logic of the “moronic” collective consciousness, NOT the collective wisdom.not so google glass

But still you counter: “Hey….I mean, if collective wisdom was so important to us, why didn’t they put a ‘collective wisdom’ button on my Google Glass?” (Like “duh!”)

Well ….maybe next upgrade.

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Lemons, Limes, and Grapefruits

“When life hands you a bunch of lemons….”   make a citrus daiquiri—that’s what Cuba did.raising the flag

I’m not an alcohol imbiber but I believe that daiquiris are made with rum, reminiscent of the Caribbean, where we are now re-hoisting the American flag today at our newly re-opened embassy in Cuba.

Therefore in essence, when life hands you a 53-year economic and social embargo from the United States, you basically ignore it and keep plugging away in the manner that you’ve always known—subsistence living. Then one day 53 years later, both countries’ leaders look at each other and ask, “Now tell me again, why is it that we are doing this?”

havanaThis is not an easy topic of discussion for any side, especially during election-season mania because there were some genuinely serious issues involved: long-standing violations of human rights, political incarcerations, attempts at assassination (Bay of Pigs)….. oh, and Cuba did some bad things also—pretty much the same things except there were no safe guards in place for the Cuban people such as due process of law, demands for social justice, and freedom of expression guaranteed by the US Constitution.

So when Cuban political dissidents were sent to jail, they stayed and often died there. Cuba was a very bad place in which to be unhappy about your personal situation. That’s why so many Cubans left the restricted island by any means possible—by air or sea. And that’s also why there are so many Cuban-American people who have such mixed feelings on the normalization of relationship with the country that has the same Communist/Socialist rulers still in power.

After all, Cuba is still a Communist country under rule of a dictator (he calls it Prime Minister), who is the brother of the former ruthless dictator (Prime Minister), who took over Cuba in the late 1950’s during a military coup that Fidel Castro referred to as “The Revolution” or “The Liberation” of the Cuban people.

And at 89, despite his predicted demise in every decade since 1960, Fidel Castro is still alive and still making a fuss castro and Napolianthat America now owes the Cuban people millions of dollars for creating decades of economic hardship for them. What chutzpah!

Castro has outlived American Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford; and has thumbed his nose at Presidents Carter, two Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. That’s longevity at its finest or worst, depending on your perspective.

mapSo upon this auspicious occasion of the American flag once again flying 106 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, may we give pause for silence and contemplation of what was really accomplished during those five decades of pretending that Cuba and its governing forces were dead to us.

One could wax philosophical on the folly of allowing extreme ideologies to dominate clear thinking and prevent practical solutions to serious disagreements; but on the other hand, the world was in such a different place 50-years ago, and we know that today’s clarity lasts only as long as the sun continues to shine upon it.

So may the clouds continue to part for all of us in our unified endeavors, and let that sun shine in.

The Pleasant Strangeness of Our Times

In my opinion we are living in pleasantly strange times right now. In many respects it’s hard to pinpoint what makes it seem so strange, but it may be that there is an awakening of consciousness across the globe that is no longer possible to ignore.

70's issuesI may not have noticed this consciousness change had I been born in the mid-‘80’s or later, but I’ve been around longer than that; and there is a large difference in the general awareness level of the mass populace now as opposed to the mass populace of the ‘70’s through the ‘90’s. As a collective awareness, we’ve matured considerably from those earlier attempts at relating to others who might seem “different” from us.

I’m sure the electronics age combined with the Internet connecting us all world-wide has helped many to realize that living thousands of miles apart no longer separates and defines us the way it once did.earth

Many younger people now may even consider themselves as belonging more to the Global Community than to their own regions, especially if those regions are inclined to stagnate and maintain their centuries-old manner of operation. The ability to accept and to relish positive change is a key determiner of a society’s health and advancement.

Even the mind-set of the political party in power affects the expansion of conscious awareness. Those parties who favor inclusiveness and sharing open their consciousness to new ideas and progressive agendas. Mass consciousness truly inflates during these years of advancing social agendas over the previous war-focus.

So many factors are at play in the strangeness of these present times that it is hard to point at one or two of them and say, “It’s because this happened then that was triggered, that everything changed for the better for everyone.” And the betterment of EVERYONE is the key determiner of a society’s advancement.

white peacockPersonally I think that the energies of this TIME are quite different in quality and strength than they have been throughout my earlier lifetime. I believe that those higher-frequency energies pouring in now are playing a major role in lifting human consciousness out of the combative muck and mire where they have been stuck for centuries, and hopefully into a lighter, more spiritual focus on sharing and caring about the welfare of others, with less focus on “but what’s in it for ME” in every major administrative decision.

That perceived newer focus is based on inclusion and compassion, sharing and connecting with others in new and better ways of building community and fellowship.collective consciousness

The collective consciousness change is happening—it is underway. Hopefully it can continue to expand and rise even though we are entering the American political season where inflammatory BS usually trumps truth.

But we can prevent truth erosion by keeping our own consciousness high and above that self-serving rhetoric. Be more aware of your OWN truth and maintain that luminous connection to YOUR higher knowledge. That’s where Higher Consciousness really resides.

CSV or What Makes Real Character?

I ran across this list on Facebook and because these individual character traits are all subjects that I love to explore in my blog, I thought I’d just put the entire list on here with reference to where you can find additional information about this movement toward creating a better life for everyone and how to “grow” a better person to live that life. There are two key points I want to make on this posting before I simply provide the info that I found below:

1) This is a major change in any standard psychologist’s perspective: from what is wrong with you to what is right with you. It is called Positive Psychology. And…

2) by focusing on how to develop and “grow” those positive human traits defined below, it can actually help people live happier and more fulfilling lives.

csv handbook“CSV is based on the book Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman (2004), and is an attempt to present a measure of humanist ideals of virtue in an empirical, rigorously scientific manner.

In the same way that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used to assess and facilitate research on mental disorders, CSV is intended to provide a theoretical framework to assist in developing practical applications for positive psychology.[1] [quote taken from Wikipedia.]

“VIA Description of 24 Character Strengths for living a happy and fulfilling Life: VIA website     (VIA means “Value In Action”.)

http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths#nav )

Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and skillful use of knowledge.
1. Creativity & Imagination [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.
2. Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; exploring and discovering.
3. Open-mindedness [holistic judgment, critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly.
4. Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.
5. Holistic perspective [wisdom]: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people.

Strengths of Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal.good character traits
6. Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
7. Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
8. Integrity [authenticity, honesty]: Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feeling and actions.
9. Vitality [zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]: Approaching life with optimism and energy; feeling alive and motivated.

Strengths of Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve supporting and befriending others.
flute playing boy with waterbuffalo10. Love & Compassion: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. Empathic connections with all beings.
11. Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”]: Doing favors and good deeds for others.
12. Social intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]: Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.

Strengths of Justice:  strengths that underlie healthy and harmonious community life.
13. Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group.
14. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others.
15. Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.

Strengths of Temperance: strengths that protect against unhealthy excess and egotism.
16. Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.CSV book
17. Humility / Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
18. Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
19. Self-regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions (equanimity).

Strengths of Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning in life.
20. Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]: Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life.
21. Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
22Being Happy. Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.
23. Humor [playfulness]: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side.
24. Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.”

What are your thoughts on the focus of Positive Psychology and these categories and definitions established at VIA?

The Beauty of Dharma

I thought I understood the term “dharma” until I researched a bit and discovered that my assumed meaning was only one of many—depending on the religion that espoused it.

duty dharmaAfter hearing someone’s online spiritual discussion of dharma and how that person interpreted it, I took his meaning as “dharma refers to living your sense of life-purpose and fulfilling your personal duty to your own soul’s evolvement as well as to the evolvement of the collective consciousness.”

In a sense, that’s still fairly true, but depending on whether the interpreter is Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh, the word bears greater variance and meaning, and for those variances I’ll include a few quotes from Wikipedia which is hardly the last word in total accuracy, but for this posting it is close enough.

Hindu dharma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma

  • “In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible,[10][note 1] and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’.[7]
  • In Buddhism dharma means “cosmic law and order”,[10] but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha.[10] In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for “phenomena“.[11][note 2]
  • In Jainism dharma refers to the teachings of the Jinas[10] and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings.
  • For Sikhs, the word dharm means the “path of righteousness”.

In comdharma wheelmon parlance, dharma means ‘right way of living’ and ‘path of righteousness’.[23]

Dharma, according to Van Buitenen,[42] is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world.

In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow.[42]

In terms of humanity, dharma is the need for, the effect of and essence of service and interconnectedness of all life.[23][34]

So in essence, as I now understand the term, when I contemplate MY dharma, I am considering my sense of purpose for personal existence as well as my service to the whole of humanity, …which makes me then ponder this:

  • What do we really owe each other?def dharma
  • How responsible are each of us to the greater good and to the betterment of our human condition?
  • What roles do we play in the drama unfolding all around us? Are we active participants or passive observers?
  • Do we make change happen for the betterment of all, or do we sit back and let others determine our fates for us?
  • What is our collective dharma at this pivotal moment in humanity’s evolvement?
  • Are we all here in this life together to help each other, or are we only here individually to advance ourselves by whatever means that we can?

As usual, I have more questions than answers.

So what do YOU think?  …What is YOUR dharma?

Honoring the Senses

This morning I saw the clouds approaching from the western horizon, but at that distance I couldn’t cloud bankdetect their speed. It really didn’t matter to me because I knew there were tasks to be completed today and endeavors to attempt. My mind had set its own agenda for this small window of “work opportunity” and was not going to be deterred by distant possibilities lying outside its “being productive” intention.

As I donned the clothes appropriate to the industrious labor awaiting me, I looked once more out the open window at the fast-advancing cloud front, and then caught the whiff of something distinct and easily recognizable—the scent of rain in the air. Now my wavering mind said, Hmmm, …maybe these work clothes won’t be needed after all.

It wasn’t long past that thought that the first “tinks” and plops” sounded as large rain drops hit the window glass and the AC unit housing beneath it—audio verification to what the visuals and olfactory senses had first alerted me: Yes, rain was on the way and some was now here.

rain puddleJust to be certain, stepping out the backdoor, I raised my palm to the sky and received yet another wet affirmation that the distant possibility preventing outside laboring had just become an actuality. My kinesthetic sense had made the final verdict loud and clear—yes, it was raining. (Yeah!)

My mind then released me from its industrious intentions—there would be no sense of guilt or shame at my outside inactivity when legitimate reasons (like it’s raining) had magically developed for me to now sit in front of my computer and write. One could even call it Divine Intervention if one wanted to stretch it a bit. And I did—I stretched it a lot. That’s why I’m sitting here now.

This morning’s rain event might seem a little mundane to even mention as a blog post, except I suddenly realized that the only human sensing device that I didn’t use this morning to determine my future actions was to stand outside with an open mouth to the sky and await a rain drop landing on my tongue—to taste it. That’s when it occurred to me what all was at play during this simple morning reassignment.

Our brain, the most amazing central processing unit (CPU) ever created, uses our individual sensing units to layers of braindecipher our surroundings, create mental intentions for our appropriate reactions to them, and then it sends electrical impulses out to our muscles for our physical responses.

Our minds have created extensive databases of information mainly based on our previous cause/effect actions that create desirable or undesirable consequences for us. The mind uses that behavioral pain/pleasure gauge continuously throughout each day and night to guide us in moment by moment responses.

Our memories, tinged with past emotional attachments to the situations that we have already faced, are the basis for that present-moment perspective filter we use to view the desirability or undesirability of each situation now before us.

brain 1The five senses and the emotions (which are both the energetic and the body chemistry reactions to whatever we encounter or perceive) alert the brain—and more accurately, alert the layers of the brain with their own individual functions and purposes to the overall CPU’s operation: from specific brain stem functions, to limbic functions, to cortex functions, and so on. There’s a lot going on up there that we take for granted until something doesn’t function as well as we hope that it would.

So when I first underplayed the importance of something as simple as a slight change in morning intentions or plans, I stopped myself in my tracks, and said, “Whoa, …look what really happened—look what my engirl in raintire body’s sensing devices told my mind for it to “let me off the hook” from doing that hard labor this morning. Maybe I should take just a moment to honor those sensing devices I’m so blessed to have and be glad that I’m not out there getting soaked to the skin—which I process as undesirable.”

There you have it—all this to say, “I wrote because it rained.”

Social Animals

Dalai-LamaFacebook post today (5.25.15) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive. Friends are made on the basis of trust, which only grows if you are kind to people. Exploiting, cheating and bullying others will win you no friends. Kindness and compassion gives rise to self confidence, which in turn empowers you to be honest, truthful and transparent. This self-confidence brings peace of mind, which also favors good health.”

Synchronicity is one of those things that we once referred to as “coincidences” until deciding that there really were no coincidences—that everything in our lives is intentional rather than accidental.

Personally, I viewed seeing this Facebook posting from the Dalai Lama right after I had just written a follow-up to Jean-Jacque’s comment about my previous posting, as a synchronous affirmation that indeed, what I should focus on in writing was perhaps more along the lines of helping to define what “community” means, and how to help others to become caring and compassionate community members who support each other along life’s journey.

HTH III covPerhaps this also applies to re-introducing the third book in my HONORING THE HERMIT series, called: HONORING THE HERMIT III: Building a NEW World (2005), where I actually DID once define it and elaborated on what options might help to create a better living environment for everyone.

I once had the ebook available free on my website at www.lightfoundations.com, but when the original site died last August, I never replaced the pages where it was shown in PDF form. Maybe I can just post sections from it occasionally to make my point on how you actually do go about building that NEW (and better) WORLD.

OR….. maybe I simply start another blog just about that subject: BUILDING A NEW WORLD which defines successful social and cultural customs and practices, and others can participate in defining it and discussing working examples of supportive practices. That might be better for posting because Lord knows I’d have a hard time making that subject (or anything else) my sole focus on this blog. 🙂

So I think that’s what I’ll do. When I have it up and running I’ll mention it again here and direct readers there for that blog.  (Okay, here’s the new site address:  https://hth3buildinganewworld.wordpress.com/ )

Basically what Jean-Jacques and I were discussing earlier was how so many small communities everywhere have lost that societal glue that once held them closely knit—providing all community members the safety and security of knowing that your neighbors “had your back” no matter what disastrous thing occurred, and likewise, you had theirs.Building-Community

We both feel it is essential to reestablish that cohesive framework of solid community-building where members are encouraged to create caring and compassionate societies, because as the Dalai Lama so aptly describes above: “We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive….”

So, let’s build one on-line first and see how that goes.