Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sanity or Insanity.....Revisited.....

In my post titled “Sanity or Insanity?  Choose”, I suggested that we individually observe ourself and ask if we are contributing to sanity or insanity.  In the wake of the horrific event of mass murder and attempted murder of Rep. Gabby Giffords, I think it appropriate to ask another question.

What if a person is unable to examine and observe their thinking?  What if they are so lost in their insane thinking that they are incapable of examining their thinking and emotions?  In the worst cases we of course lock them up to protect ourselves from them.  But what of those that are not yet in a murderous state?  For those who spew vitriolic racial, political and abusive language toward others, how can we make a difference?  Or can we make a difference?  Is there a way we can be or actions we can take with those fellow human beings that will make an impact?  What about a family member, a friend or just an acquaintance that is speaking their prejudice, hatred or just heated emotion?  I say we can make an impact and I will illustrate by sharing an incident with my father.

I grew up in rural Georgia and my father was very racially prejudiced as were most people in my community when I was growing up.  He freely and openly expressed his prejudice and acted on it in many ways.  And he assumed that I agreed with him.  Apparently it did not occur to him that my mother and I might not agree with him or that we might even be frustrated or offended by his way of being.  And it certainly did not occur to him that those to whom his behavior was directed might be offended or feel demeaned.  

And now to my point.  Even though we both very much disagreed with him, neither of us ever expressed our disagreement, frustration or embarrassment.  Did we not have the courage, commitment or voice to speak up?  I’m not really sure.  I can’t speak for my mother since she passed on many years ago but I lived with the regret of not speaking up until 2008 when my Dad was 92 and I simply could not live with that regret any longer.  I had moved back to where I grew up to take care of my Dad and I was listening to his racist talk, usually several times a week.

President Obama was in the midst of the Presidential campaign and I was listening to him speak on TV one Sunday evening.  Dad came in from evening church service and started  speaking very hateful nasty comments about Mr. Obama.  I think his just having left church and ten minutes later speaking that way plus interrupting my listening to the speech was a trigger for me.

I turned off the TV and told my Dad we had to talk.  I asked him to sit down and I stood on my knees in front of him right against his knees.  I wanted to make sure he could not walk away from what I had to say.  I did not speak with anger but with the intention and intensity that came from releasing over 60 years of regret, guilt and frustration of not standing up to my father’s racist behavior.  With this writing I am experiencing tears and pain in my gut.  I realize this is highly personal and some might say I should not be sharing this about my Dad.  But I am doing so with the hope that someone else might summon the courage to stand up to such behavior from someone they know or maybe even from themselves.  What follows is a summary of what I said.

“Dad, you have always assumed I agreed with your racial views and behavior.  I do not and never have, even as a little kid.  You assumed you had the right to try to pass your views on to me.  You do not have that right.  I cannot change the way you think or your behavior.  But I demand that you never speak that way in my presence ever again.  It is offensive and I refuse to listen to such talk.  And if you do it again, I will make the same demand and I will walk away from you if you persist.  You do not have the right to make the judgments you make of black people or anyone else.  To do so is an offense to the religion you were practicing tonight at church.  And I will not ever again listen to your racial judgments without challenging you.”

There was more but I can’t remember all of it.  Of course he was very angry and would not talk and we never spoke about the incident again.  But here is what I consider the transformation that came out it.  First, I was forever altered as a man and as a son.  I found my voice with my father and that altered who I am as a human being.  Secondly, my father was altered.  Not only has he not spoken that way again about President Obama, he voted for him after saying he would not.  After the election during another Obama speech, Dad said, “He is a very smart man”.  And he spoke respect and admiration of President Obama several times before his physical condition deteriorated to where he can no longer speak.  I am very grateful for having heard my father speak and act respectfully with black people after over 90 years.

I took a stand with my Dad.  What if we all took that stand with someone we know?  What if I had taken my stand with Dad many years ago?  What if we took that stand with our politicians and demanded debate with civility.  What if someone had taken a stand with the young man who killed all those people in Arizona  and did so several years ago before he was in his insane murderous state?  

Even if someone is unable to examine their own thinking and emotions and my Dad certainly was not before I took a stand, taking a stand transformed both of us.  

Taking a stand, speaking that stand and acting consistent with the stand has the power to transform who are.

Jimmy Wilson

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Evolving Self.......

In my post on having an avatar, I wrote of the possibility of humanity waking up from our collective slumber and said I would write more later on that subject, so here goes.

It is very easy to look at the current state of the world and the “human condition” and get very discouraged and fearful about the future of our planet and all the creatures that inhabit our collective space ship.   To see evidence that there is reason for optimism, maybe we need to examine our way of seeing.  Camera lenses get their design from our physical eyes and our eyes are capable of zooming in and focusing on details but are also capable of wide angle viewing.  But the kind of vision I am referring to is way of seeing I will call awareness vision or you might say mental vision.  And just as with cameras or our physical eyes, we can expand our awareness vision to have a larger perspective or context on ourselves and our planet.  To gain this larger perspective we have to bring time into our awareness seeing and look at human history.  Continuing our camera analogy, we need to introduce time lapse photography vision.  And in looking at human history we need to ask, has there been progress in human development over the passage of hundreds and even thousands of year?  And yes, there has been ups and downs but my own personal conclusion is that, yes we have made much progress and that the progress is accelerating.  

Some might conclude I am referring to evolution but I am not referring to physical evolution of species and survival of the fittest.  Rather I am looking at consciousness evolution.  By consciousness I am including our mental abilities, our emotional and empathetic connectivity capacity and our spiritual capacity.  By spiritual I am making a distinction between institutionalized religion and spirituality as a quest centered on our existence, i.e., awareness of the whole of existence.  As consciousness, I believe humanity is evolving in a way that many are characterizing as awakening.

Some might ask, how can you say there has been progress and that humanity is waking from a very long state of unconsciousness when we are in a ten year long war, winding down another and terrorists are plotting to kill us?  So let’s look with our wide angle time lapse vision at some possible evidence for our progressive consciousness evolution.  I can’t cover every piece of evidence in a short blog post but I will cover some highlights. 

Possible evidence of humanity waking from our slumber:
  • Technology has progressed from writing on stones, invention of the printing press and books to the modern day computer with the internet.  All this technology progress has allowed us to advance literacy and learning to levels that could not be imagined a few hundred years ago.  An example of the effect of books on consciousness evolution is found in the historical printing of the Bible.  For hundreds of year the Bible was written only in Greek and Latin and the priesthood were the sole interpreters.  Then some 400 years ago an Englishman named William Tilden dared to translate the Bible into English which was the start of everyone having access to the Bible.  Unfortunately the Church priesthood had him burned at the stake but they were not able to stop the proliferation of the Bible.  See leading thought leader Peter Russell’s “Global Brain” and “Waking Up in Time” for an analysis of how technology and the internet is contributing to our awakening and connecting with each.   Go to:
  • The advance of science has brought us the study of physics which has given us the ability to literally look into the composition of existence and our place in it.  Of course it has also brought nuclear weapons and the ability to blow up the planet but more and more people are waking up to such insanity.  And science is what has lead to all the advances in Technology.
  • Human rights is another area where our progress is evident.  Not that long ago human rights did not exist.  Rights were only for rulers and priests.  The Magna Carter expanded rights to the nobility and then human rights for all white people was invented with the Declaration of Independence.  Unfortunately it took the civil war to end slavery; and along with WW2 it was proof that much of our progress has required cataclysmic events.  In my lifetime we have witnessed major progress with the enactment of civil rights legislation.  In returning to live in my home town after 50 years, I see major progress in race relations.  There is still much resistance to a black president but I see blacks and whites working together in ways that would not have been possible 50 years ago.  
  • And then there is what is loosely called the self-help movement or more precise, the personal development movement which includes books, seminars, weekend workshops, teleseminars, psychotherapy, meditation and organizations devoted entirely to “awakening”.  This movement has grown in the space of about 50 years when it was non-existent to billions per year being being spent in this field.  I remember looking for my first personal development book in about 1960(I think it was the classic self-help “Think and Grow Rich”) in Atlanta, GA and having a hard time finding it.  Now there are entire sections of book stores devoted to this field and thousands of ebooks can be purchased and each downloaded in under 30 seconds to an ipad and iphone simultaneously.  

What I am calling a movement seems to have a life of its own and I think a more appropriate name would be the Evolving Self.  Speaking personally, I have been involved with the Evolving Self for over 30 years.   I am passionately committed to participating in following the Liberation Path and have experienced immense personal benefits for having participated and have contributed to others having the same experiences.  When I look back at who I was when I started down the path and who I am now, I am very grateful and feel very fortunate for having chosen the path.  I remember my first seminar in May of 1979 and when the double doors closed behind some 250 of us, I remember thinking, my life will never be the same after this.  And I was right. 

And there are times when I stop on the path and ask, when do I arrive?  When I do, I remember a line from a poem by T. S. Elliot....

“We must not cease from our
exploration and the end of
all our exploring will be to 
arrive where we began and
to know the place for the 
first time”

Jimmy Wilson