Edu-Tech’s Brave New World – How Education Software is Being Designed to Hijack Children’s Brains

“Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. But it’s even worse than we think. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does.

Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex. This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin…”

~Nicholas Kardaras, M.D., August 27, 2016

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The Edu-tech Revolution has begun. At this very moment new computer games and education software are being developed to teach children academics one-to-one via computers. Following on the success of the hi-tech gaming industry, the goal is to use technology to transform schooling. See: Inspirational Robots to Begin Replacing Teachers Within 10 Years.

By merging education and entertainment technologies, advocates and investors of these products stress the potential for educating children faster, more effectively and less expensively than schools currently do. Unfortunately, there are a number of potential problems.

First, many of these new programs are being designed to collect data from children so as to maintain individual personal profiles, that investors and corporations can utilize to design future products and monitor individuals as they move from education into the workforce. TIME magazine shared an article on this in 2013. See: The Adaptive Learning Revolution.

Moreover, some investors hope to use this data to construct what they expect will become a trillion dollar education market (such as we had with housing) to bundle and sell school and software investments on Wall Street.

The success of Facebook, Google and Microsoft shows the potential for huge profit there. Google is already leading the way, their chromebooks now make up half of the classroom devices sold. This has raised concerns among many parents and educators, as student personal data is being collected by large corporations, with no safeguards or laws in place protecting their privacy.

Also VERY concerning, is that many Silicon Valley engineers are attempting to make edu-tech software as “pleasurable” as possible, using addictive video “gaming” strategies to design their education products.

apprenticeshipChildren are naturally curious and learning is naturally pleasurable. For tens of thousands of years, young people have enjoyed mastering new skills on their own and side-by-side with adults, mentors and peers in their local tribe or community. See: How Children Naturally Learn

Small releases of dopamine in the brain encourages a child to persevere with the long-term difficult practice needed to build skills naturally over time, such as with sports, arts, and music. See: Understanding How Our Brains Learn

What Silicon Valley is banking on, is to bypass human social interactions and community education experiences by hijacking children’s brains directly with more potent and powerful interactive technologies, where larger doses of dopamine are released, such as happens with drugs, video games and gambling.

Their goal is to make the education software as addictive as possible, and they are quite up-front about that.

Here below, in “Neuroscience Insights from Video Game & Drug Addiction – How the video games MODEL can boost children’s motivated learning” (Psychology Today, Oct 29, 2011) a specialist in neuroscience and brain research breaks bad, describing how knowledge of the addictive “cocaine-like” power of dopamine release in the brain can be used to design educational software.

“The same brain processes and neurochemicals that compel children to skip meals and sleep to play video games can be activated by parents and teachers to increase their brains’ motivation to be attentive class participants, do homework with focus, and even reverse school negativity to reignite the joy of learning…

This is a deep satisfaction, such as quenching a long thirst. This increased release of dopamine is the brain’s reward response to achievement of a challenge – intrinsic reinforcement. After making a prediction, choice, or action, and receiving feedback that it was correct, the reward from the release of dopamine prompts the brain want to repeat that action and receive more dopamine-pleasure.

During the play of computer games with progressing levels of challenge, the progressive achievement feedback, such as getting to a higher level of play, is the feedback to the brain that it succeeded in the challenge and made the correct response.

These bursts of pleasure drive the brain to seek the next burst, so gamers upon reaching the next level want to continue on playing, even through increasing challenge and frequent failure. Actually if the new level of play doesn’t pose new challenge, the gamer loses interest as the dopamine-reward response will not take place if there is no new task or skill to master.”

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In order to keep children’s attention, their brains can be re-wired to seek rewards in ways that mimic the approaches of gambling and video games. The article mentions specifically the relationship between dopamine & gambling, as well as cocaine addiction.

“Compulsive computer game playing, gambling, and risk taking can result from excessive craving of the dopamine pleasure, especially when people are depressed or do not have other sources of pleasurable experiences in their lives.

The addiction of cocaine is the direct result of dopamine increase. Cocaine would have essentially no euphoric effect if it were not for dopamine. Cocaine use is associated with a “high” because it increases the brain’s levels of its own dopamine.

Because cocaine elevates dopamine to very high levels, the euphoria can be intense, but when the dopamine plunges to below normal as the effects of the drug wear off, the response of an addict is to seek relief from that low by using more cocaine.

However, the dopamine takes time to be restored to the storage areas, so repeated use of the cocaine brings less and less of the desired response and to regain that initial high an addict will use the drug at more frequent intervals and/or greater amounts…”

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Aware of the addictive power of dopamine the author ignores the dangers, instead describing how to use this knowledge to design educational software…

“In addition to the challenge required for the dopamine reward pleasure response, the brain must be aware that it correctly solved a problem, such as figuring out a correct response in the video game, correctly answering a challenging question, or achieving the sequence of movements needed to play a song on the piano or swing a baseball bat to hit a home run.

This is why children are especially motivated to keep playing video games because they give frequent feedback about the accuracy of their choices – hitting targets, choosing the correct move in a maze, such as accumulating points and progression to higher game levels.

In a sequential, multilevel video game, feedback of progress is ongoing, such as accumulating points, visual tokens, or celebratory sound effects.

The dopamine-pleasure reward is in response to the player achieving a challenge, solution, sequence, etc. that allows him to progress to the next and more challenging game task.

When the brain receives the feedback that this progress has been made, it reinforces the memory networks that were used to predict the success. Through a feedback system, that neuronal circuit becomes stronger and more durable. In other words, memory of the mental or physical response used to achieve the dopamine reward is reinforced.

It may seem counter-intuitive to think that children would consider harder work a reward for a predicting a correct response on a homework problem, test, or physical maneuver. Yet, that is just what the video game playing brain seeks after experiencing the pleasure of reaching a higher level in the game.

A computer game doesn’t hand out cash, toys, or even hugs. The motivation to persevere and pursue greater challenge at the next level is the brain seeking another surge of dopamine — the fuel of intrinsic reinforcement…”

So, what to make of this, is “the brain seeking another surge of dopamine” really a natural form of intrinsic reinforcement?

No, in my view this is an attempt by programmers to re-wire children’s brains at an early age so they will seek pleasure from artificial technologies and virtual reality situations. It’s dangerous for children to play video games frequently and it is VERY dangerous now to introduce this kind of technology in schools, in my opinion.

Our human brains have evolved over millions of years, we are naturally wired to experience pleasure when we master new skills, learn things and have positive social experiences. But that pleasure is calming, the dopamine when naturally released comes in small doses.

Education technologies that are potentially addictive are dangerous. Like junk food that packs in extra sugar, fat and salt these products are being created with a profit motive in mind, purposefully designed by corporations and their investors to hijack children’s minds and bodies.

Parents and educators need to say no to this, we need to provide our children with healthy learning experiences. We are not the Borg from Star Trek, and resistance is not futile. It’s the only wise choice we have.

~Christopher​ Chase~

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How Mindfulness Quiets the Mind

“Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free. You’ll transform everything. And you’ll be at peace wherever you are.” ~Bodhidharma

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“In making yourself quiet, you have to be quiet on all fronts — quiet in your deeds, quiet in your words, quiet in your mind. Only then will you be able to contemplate what’s going on inside yourself.
 
If you aren’t quiet, you’ll become involved in external affairs and end up having too much to do and too much to say. This will keep your awareness or mindfulness from holding steady and firm.
 
You have to stop doing, saying, or thinking anything that isn’t necessary. That way your mindfulness will be able to develop continuously. Don’t let yourself get involved in too many outside things.
 
In training your mindfulness to be continuous so that it will enable you to contemplate yourself, you have to be observant: When there’s sensory contact, can the mind stay continuously undisturbed and at normalcy? Or does it still run out into liking and disliking?
 
Being observant in this way will enable you to read yourself, to know yourself. If mindfulness is firmly established, the mind won’t waver. If it’s not yet firm, the mind will waver in the form of liking and disliking.
 
You have to be wary of even the slightest wavering. Don’t let yourself think that the slight waverings are unimportant, or else they’ll become habitual.
 
Being uncomplacent means that you have to watch out for the details, the little things, the tiny flaws that arise in the mind.
 
If you can do this, you’ll be able to keep your mind protected — better than giving all your attention to the worthless affairs of the outside world.
 
So really try to be careful. Don’t get entangled in sensory contact. This is something you have to work at mastering.
 
If you focus yourself exclusively in the area of the mind like this, you’ll be able to contemplate feelings in all their details. You’ll be able to see them clearly, to let them go.
 
So focus your practice right at feelings of pleasure, pain, and neither-pleasure-nor-pain. Contemplate how to leave them alone, simply as feelings, without relishing them — for if you relish feelings, that’s craving.
 
Desires for this and that will seep in and influence the mind so that it gets carried away with inner and outer feelings. This is why you have to be quiet — quiet in a way that doesn’t let the mind become attached to the flavors of feelings, quiet in a way that uproots their influence.
 
The desire for pleasure is like a virus deep in our character. What we’re doing here is to make the mind stop taking pleasant feelings into itself and stop pushing painful feelings away.
 
Our addiction to taking in pleasant feelings is what makes us dislike painful feelings and push them away, so don’t let the mind love pleasure and resist pain. Let it be undisturbed by both. Give it a try.
 
If the mind can let go of feelings so that it’s above pleasure, pain, and neither-pleasure-nor-pain, that means it’s not stuck on feeling.
 
And then try to observe: How can it stay unaffected by feelings? This is something you have to work at mastering in order to release your grasp on feelings once and for all, so that you won’t latch onto physical pain or mental distress as being you or yours.
 
If you don’t release your grasp on feeling, you’ll stay attached to it, both in its physical and in its mental forms. If there’s the pleasure of physical ease, you’ll be attracted to it.
 
As for the purely mental feeling of pleasure, that’s something you’ll really want, you’ll really love. And then you’ll be attracted to the mental perceptions and labels that accompany the pleasure, the thought-formations and even the consciousness that accompany the pleasure. You’ll latch onto all of these things as you or yours.
 
So analyze physical and mental pleasure. Take them apart to contemplate how to let them go. Don’t fool yourself into relishing them.
 
As for pain, don’t push it away. Let pain simply be pain, let pleasure simply be pleasure. Let them simply fall into the category of feelings.
 
Don’t go thinking that you feel pleasure, that you feel pain. If you can let go of feeling in this way, you’ll be able to gain release from suffering and stress because you’ll be above and beyond feeling.
 
This way, when aging, illness, and death come, you won’t latch onto them thinking that you are aging, that you are ill, that you are dying. You’ll be able to release these things from your grasp.
 
If you can contemplate purely in these terms — that the five aggregates are inconstant, stressful, and not-self — you won’t enter into them and latch onto them as “me” or “mine.”
 
If you don’t analyze them in this way, you’ll be trapped in dying. Even your bones, skin, flesh, and so forth will become “mine.”
 
This is why we’re taught to contemplate death — so that we can make ourselves aware that death doesn’t mean that we die. You have to contemplate until you really know this. Otherwise, you’ll stay trapped right there.
 
You must make yourself sensitive in a way that sees clearly how your bones, flesh, and skin are empty of any self. That way you won’t latch onto them.
 
The fact that you still latch onto them shows that you haven’t really seen into their inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness.”
 
excerpt ‘From Reading the Mind’
 
“Upasika Kee Nanayon (1901 – 1979) was arguably the foremost woman Dhamma teacher in twentieth-century Thailand.” ~Thanissaro Bhikkhu

 
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Omotenashi – The Japanese Spirit of Giving

“Translated simply, Omotenashi means the Japanese way of treating a guest. It blends a welcoming spirit with warmth, understanding, and above all respect. From the perspective of a host, this is the rendering of service without expectation of favor or reward.”

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“Of all the memories they take home with them, visitors to Japan cherish and appreciate the ‘Japanese way of hospitality and customer service’ — Omotenashi (おもてなし) in Japanese.
 
Translated simply, Omotenashi means the Japanese way of treating a guest. It blends a welcoming spirit with warmth, understanding, and above all respect. The concept is all encompassing.
 
Etymologically, Omotenashi is a hybrid of “omote” (surface) and “nashi” (less), concepts that translate together into “single-hearted.” From the perspective of a host, this is the rendering of service without expectation of favor or reward.
 
Interestingly, the Japanese language makes no distinction between ‘guest’ and ‘customer.’ In English, the concept of ‘service’ suggests a hierarchy between the ‘server’ and the ‘customer.’
 
The Japanese Omotenashi, however, is based on a non-dominant relationship between equals – between the person offering the service (the host) and the person receiving it (the guest or customer).
 
To practice Omotenashi, the host pays close attention to detail and is committed to anticipating the needs of the guest, smiling sincerely and setting a happy, relaxed mood. When authentic, Japanese hospitality and service exceed the expectations of the guests.

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At its most exquisite, Omotenashi offers a guest a once-in-a-life-time experience. The idea resonates with Ichigo-ichie (一期一会 “one time, one meeting”), the tea master’s belief that every encounter is single and unique.
 
In form, Omotenashi may be governed by precise written rules describing how the host should compose herself or himself in front of the customer. Yet true Omotenashi can never be attained with a manual alone.
 
It is a one-to-one relationship that changes from customer to customer, from moment to moment. Gratitude towards the customer is a key part of Omotenashi, the part that warms the encounter and makes the host smile.”
 
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The Houseboat Summit, 1967 – Alan Watts, Tim Leary, Allen Ginsberg & Gary Snyder

An extended conversation between Tim Leary, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg & Gary Snyder on the problem of whether to “drop out or take over” conducted on Alan Watts’ houseboat, the S.S. Vallejo, 50 years ago, in 1967…

 
Alan Watts: This is Alan Watts speaking, and I’m this evening, on my ferry boat, the host to a fascinating party sponsored by the San Francisco Oracle, which is our new underground paper, far-outer than any far-out that has yet been seen. And we have here, Alan Cohen, representing the Oracle.
 
We have Allen Ginsberg, poet, and rabbinic saddhu. We have Timothy Leary (laughs) about whom nothing needs to be said. And Gary Snyder, also poet, Zen monk, and old friend of many years.
 
Ginsberg: Everybody in Berkeley is all bugged because they think, one: drop-out thing really doesn’t mean anything, that what you’re gonna cultivate is a lot of freak-out hippies goofing around and throwing bottles through windows when they flip out on LSD. That’s their stereotype vision. Obviously stereotype.
 
Leary: Sounds like bullshitting…
 
Ginsberg: No, like it’s no different from the newspaper vision, anyway. I mean, they’ve got the newspaper vision.
 
Then, secondly, they’re afraid that there’ll be some sort of fascist putsch. Like, it’s rumored lately that everyone’ gonna be arrested. So that the lack of communicating community among hippies will lead to some concentration camp situation, or lead… as it has been in Los Angeles recently… to a dispersal of what the beginning of the community began.
 
Leary: These are the old, menopausal minds. There was a psychiatrist named Adler in San Francisco whose interpretation of the group Be-In was that this is the basis for a new fascism…when a leader comes along. And I sense in the activist movement the cry for a leader… the cry for organization…
 
Ginsberg: But they’re just as intelligent as you are on this fact. They know about what happened in Russia. That’s the reason they haven’t got a big, active organization.
 
It’s because they, too, are stumped by: How do you have a community, and a community movement, and cooperation within the community to make life more pleasing for everybody–including the end of the Vietnam War? How do you have such a situation organized, or disorganized, just so long as it’s effective–without a fascist leadership? Because they don’t want to be that either.
 
See, they are conscious of the fact that they don;t want to be messiahs– political messiahs. At least, Savio in particular. Yesterday, he was weeping. Saying he wanted to go out and live in nature.
 
Leary: Beautiful.
 
Ginsberg: So, I mean he’s like basically where we are: stoned.
 
Watts: Well, I think that thus far, the genius of this kind of underground that we’re talking about is that it has no leadershipThe Western world has labored for many, many centuries under a monarchical conception of the universe where God is the boss, and political systems and all kinds of law have been based on this model of the universe… that nature is run by a boss.
 
Whereas, if you take the Chinese view of the world, which is organic..They would say, for example, that the human body is an organization in which there is no boss. It is a situation of order resulting from mutual interrelationship of all the parts.
 
And what we need to realize is that there can be, shall we say, a movement… a stirring among people… which can be ORGANICALLY designed instead of POLITICALLY designed. It has no boss. Yet all parts recognize each other in the same way as the cells of the body all cooperate together.
 
Snyder: Yes, it’s a new social structure. It’s a new social structure which follows certain kinds of historically known tribal models.
 
Leary: Exactly, yeah! My historical reading of the situation is that these great, monolithic empires that developed in history: Rome, Turkey and so forth… always break down when enough people, and it’s always the young, the creative, and the minority groups drop out and go back to a tribal form.
 
I agree with what I’ve heard you say in the past, Gary, that the basic unit is tribal. What I envision is thousands of small groups throughout the United States and Western Europe, and eventually the world, as dropping out. What happened when Rome fell, Jerusalem fell? Little groups went off together…

 
Ginsberg: Precisely what do you mean by drop out, then? You haven’t dropped out, Tim. You dropped out of your job as a psychology teacher in Harvard. Now, what you’ve dropped into is, one: a highly complicated series of arrangements for lecturing and for putting on the festival…
 
Leary: Well, I’m dropped out of that.
 
Ginsberg: But you’re not dropped out of the very highly complicated legal constitutional appeal, which you feel a sentimental regard for, as I do. You haven’t dropped out of being the financial provider for Milbrook, and you haven’t dropped out of planning and conducting community organization and participating in it.
 
And that community organization is related to the national community, too. Either through the Supreme Court, or through the very existence of the dollar that is exchanged for you to pay your lawyers, or to take money to pay your lawyers in the theatre. So you can’t drop out, like DROP OUT, ’cause you haven’t.
 
Leary: Well, let me explain…
 
Ginsberg: So they think you mean like, drop out, like go live on Haight-Ashbury Street and do nothing at all. Even if you can do something like build furniture and sell it, or give it away in barter with somebody else.
 
Leary: You have to drop out in a group. You drop out in a small tribal group.
 
Snyder: Well, you drop out one by one, but… You know, you can join the sub-culture.
 
Ginsberg: Maybe it’s: “Drop out of what?”
 
Watts: Gary, I think you have something to say here. Because you, to me, are one of the most fantastically capable drop-out people I have ever met. I think, at this point, you should say a word or two about your own experience of how live on nothing. How to get by in life economically.
 
This is the nitty-gritty. This is where it really comes down to in many people’s minds. Where’s the bread going to come from if everybody drops out? Now, you know expertly where it’s gonna come from– living a life of integrity and not being involved in a commute-necktie-strangle-noose scene.
 
Snyder: Well, this isn’t news to anybody, but ten or fifteen years ago when we dropped out, there wasn’t a community. There wasn’t anybody who was going to take care of you at all. You were completely on your own.
 
What it meant was, cutting down on your desires and cutting down on your needs to an absolute minimum; and it also meant, don’t be a bit fussy about how you work or what you do for a living.
 
That meant doing any kind of work. Strawberry picking, carpenter, laborer, longshore… Well, longshore is hard to get into. It paid very well. Shipping out… that also pays very well…
 
Conversation transcript continues here.

 
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From Fear to Love, War to Peace

“Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace. Peace is an attribute in you. The mind that wants peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained. The only way to have peace is to teach peace.”
 
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The following are excerpts from A Course in Miracles. 
 
Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. Every thought you have brings either peace or war; love or fear.

From insane wishes comes an insane world. From judgment comes a world condemned. And from forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth.

Truth does not struggle against ignorance, and love does not attack fear. Love can have no enemy. Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love.
 
Would you not go through fear to love? For such the journey seems to be. It is a journey without distance, to a goal that has never changed.
 
You dwell not here, but in eternity. You travel in dreams, while safe at home. There is no journey, but only an awakening. 
 
Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly and give you peace. Yet it can only unite with what is already at peace in you.
 
The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment.
 
Love does not seek for power but for relationships. When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him (or her) you will see yourself. When you see your brothers as yourself you will be released.
 
Fail not in your function of loving in a loveless place made out of darkness and deceit, for thus are darkness and deceit undone. Love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and thankful mind.
 
When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you. Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also.
 
You believe in what you value. If you are afraid, you are valuing wrongly.
 
Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.
 
All healing is essentially the release from fear.
 
It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction begins at the thought level. Spirit is already perfect and therefore does not require correction.
 
Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The body does not exist except as a learning device for the mind.
 
You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think.
 
The truth is that you are responsible for what you think because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.
 
Few appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if you hope to spare yourself from fear there are some things you must realize, and realize fully.
 
The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating.
 
Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. Readiness is only the beginning of confidence.
 
Nothing and everything cannot coexist. To believe in one is to deny the other. Fear is really nothing and love is everything.
 
Whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished.
 
Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence become a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom.
 
Healing only strengthens. Magic always tries to weaken. Healing perceives nothing in the healer that everyone else does not share with him.
 
Magic always sees something “special” in the healer which he believes he can offer as a gift to someone who does not have it.
 
If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother (or sister) when you attack him (or her). Attack is always made upon a stranger.
 
You are making them a stranger by misperceiving them, and so you cannot know them. It is because you have made them stranger that you are afraid of him. There are no strangers in God’s creation.”
 
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Happiness Cannot Be Pursued

“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda

Here for This

For over 200 years “the pursuit of happiness” has been thought of as a self-evident truth and human right. But what if happiness cannot be pursued? What if happiness is actually much easier to find once we stop chasing after it?

Buddhist psychology teaches that peace, love and happiness are mind states, that appear spontaneously when fears and desires dissolve, when we open our hearts (and minds) to the present moment- right here and now. 

As the Dalai Lama put it, “happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” All the healthiest mind states and emotions arise naturally when we live in harmony with life, when we let go of wanting things to be different and instead appreciate the Universe just as it is.

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What Buddha realized, over 2,500 years ago, is that our psychological states are a result of our interpretations of reality. Believing we need to acquire possessions, achieve something or change things (the world, ourselves, others) in order to “attain” happiness is a false belief that actually creates anxiety, fear, worry, distress and suffering.

Unhappiness means our hearts and minds are not at ease. We are off balance, don’t feel safe, complete, worthy or whole. People with PTSD experience this to an extreme, but for millions (perhaps billions) of human beings modern life generates anxiety and fear as a norm. It’s what feeds the consumer culture of our present age, as well as wars, drug addiction, crime and most of the conditions of human suffering.

The truth which Buddha discovered (and modern psychology now provides support for) is that happiness, love and inner peace will arise naturally when we are generous, mindful, compassionate and appreciate the present moment.

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Being grateful for (and mindful of) what we are doing and already have (rather than anticipating getting what we want in the future) is the doorway to peace, joy and satisfaction.

When we believe there is nowhere else to be (but here), nothing in the Universe that we need to change (right now), our minds stop racing and calmness begins to rise naturally, by itself.

As we stop spinning thoughts and cravings its like removing heavy curtains that had blocked our senses, our soul’s windows to the world. By letting go of desires, fears and expectations our hearts and senses are able to shift attention to the beauty of the present moment, the magic of this Universe we belong to.

Many people meditate to cultivate serenity and calmness, but healthy mind states can also arise naturally during creative and physical activities such as dancing, playing music, cooking, reading, drawing, gardening, yoga, sports and playing with children. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes these moments as flow, where mindful concentration and creative engagement help us feel connected to the world and happy to be alive.

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When anchored in the present moment, we can more easily hear the sounds of birds, stop to smell the flowers, see leaves of trees waving with the wind, feel the life in the cells of our bodies, notice the smiles on children’s faces. As our senses open colors seem deeper, music sounds more clear and beautiful.

No longer pursuing some ideal future our hearts relax and we become aware of the sacred beauty of this moment, this place, this precious life we are living right NOW.

Experiencing the beauty and preciousness of life doesn’t mean we have to give up trying to change the world. War, poverty, racism, sexism, materialism all need to be dismantled, challenged and undone by the human family.

But if we don’t simultaneously understand how to be happy, peaceful and loving right now, we end up creating more suffering, fighting ignorance instead of transforming and healing the world with our wisdom, creativity, mindfulness and love.

The darkness won’t dissipate until we bring light to it. Realizing that happiness cannot be pursued provides the key to finding peace in our lives and sharing it. Understanding that life is about giving (not getting) we are better able to help others, setting a butterfly effect in motion, that can ripple out into the world.

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This understanding, of the beauty of the Universe we live in, is what the Buddha tried to communicate, what Zen and Taoism are all about. It’s what Einstein realized, what Walt Whitman shared in his poetry, what Mozart celebrated with his music, what Van Gogh attempted to capture with his paintings.

The great thing about positive mind states is they’re contagious, growing in size and power when we offer them freely. Unfortunately, the same is true with negative mind states! Which is why it’s so important for us to choose our thoughts wisely. The more peace, love and happiness you are able to cultivate in your life the more you will have to share with others.

By being the change we wish to see in the world, as Gandhi put it, the world is changed, beginning with each of us, as we awaken to the simple everyday beauty of our lives.

~Christopher Chase~

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“See simplicity in the complicated, Seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy.” ~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that.” ~Alan Watts

“People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle

“Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.” –Lao Tsu

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Related:

Glimpses of a Creative Universe  * Paradigms are Made for Shifting * Yūgen (幽玄) – Deep Awareness of the Universe *  Poetry Surrounds Us – Vincent Van Gogh * Children of the Cosmic Dance  * Awakening from a Case of Mistaken Identity *    * How Einstein Saw the World  *  * How We Participate in the Creative Life of the Universe  * How Wisdom Grows – Educating Hearts & Minds  * Surrendering to the Paradigm of Love *  The Creative Matrix: Awakening to Find Ourselves Home *

Posted in Creative Systems Thinking, Life's Purpose, zen | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Transcending the Illusion of Separateness

“The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside. Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things.” ~Jean Klein.

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The following is a short excerpt from Who Am I? The Sacred Quest by the spiritual teacher Jean Klein (1912-1998). The wisdom here is deep, so best to read slowly. Also, to go from conceptual understanding to experiential knowing (as Klein describes) it helps to have a spiritual practice (such as yoga, meditation or tai chi), that enables your awareness to expand beyond the illusory sense of “I” that society feeds and the mind projects. 

“To be human is to be related. As a human being we live in relation with the elements, the sun, moon, the stones in the earth and all living beings.

Generally, when we use the word “related” we mean a link of some kind between individual entities, object to object, or subject to object. The word relationship here presupposes separateness, the joining together of fractions. This fractional view of relatedness is purely conceptual. It is a figment of the mind and has nothing to do with pure perception, reality, with what actually is.

When we live free from all ideas and projections, we come into real contact with our surroundings. Practically speaking, therefore, before we can be related to our environment we must first know how to be related to that most near to us, body, senses and mind.

The only hindrance to the clear perception of our natural state is the forceful idea of being a separate individual, living in a world with other separate beings.

We have an image of ourselves. This image can be maintained only in relation to things and thus it makes objects of our surroundings, friends, children, spouse, intelligence, bank account, etc., and enters into what it calls a personal relationship with these projections.

The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside.

Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things. We feel the surroundings as occurrences in unrestricted wholeness.

When our lover or children leave home or our bank account drops, it is an event in us. Awareness remains constant. All phenomena, all existence is an expression within globality and the varieties of expression only have meaning and relationship in light of the whole.

To be related is to be related within the whole. Since there is no meeting of fractions, in the whole there is no other. Strictly speaking, therefore, in perfect relation there is no relationship, no duality; there is only globality.

All perception points directly to our primal being, to stillness, the natural non-state which is common to all existence. Thus, in the human expression, to be related is to be in communion with the whole. In this communion the so-called other’s presence is felt as a spontaneous giving and our own presence is a spontaneous receiving.

There is no longer a feeling of lack and consequently a need to demand, because simply receiving brings us to our openness. When we live in openness the first impulse is offering. Being in openness and the spontaneous movement of offering is love. Love is meditation. It is a new dimension in living.

You live in contraction, thinking of yourself as an individual. Where do the terms ‘me’ and ‘mine’ find meaning? All humanity is in you. You are what you absorb. You eat vegetables, fish, meat, and these are dependent on light, the sun, warmth.

The light is related to the moon and the stars are all related. There is nothing personal in us. The body is in organic relationship with the universe. It is made of the same elements as everything else.

You must understand and co-operate with the body. It is ignorance of the mechanism that creates conflict. Inquiry can only be carried out in daily life. Your mind and body are reflected in your behaviour from morning until night. Your attention must be bipolar, observing the inner and outer fields.

Relationships are the mirror in which your inner being gets reflected. Be aware that you are a link in the chain of being. When you really feel this, the emphasis is no longer on being individual, and spontaneously you come out of your restriction. You do not live in isolation, in autonomy. In relatedness is the fore-feeling of presence.

The person is really only persona, mask, but it has come to be synonymous with the idea of an individual, separate and continuous entity. The personality is not the constant we imagine it to be. In reality it is only a temporary re-orchestration of all our senses, imagination and intelligence, according to each situation.

There is no repetition in life and each re-orchestration is unique and original like the design in a kaleidoscope. The mistake is to identify with the personality, to conceptualise it in memory and then take ourselves for this collection of crystallised images rather than letting all emotions, perceptions and thoughts arise and die in us.

We are in the theatre watching our own play on stage. The actor is always ‘behind’ his persona. He seems to be completely lost in suffering, in being a hero, a lover, a rascal, but all these appearings take place in global presence.

This presence is not a detached attitude, a witnessing position. It is not a feeling of separateness, of being ‘outside’. It is the presence of wholeness, love, out of which all comes. When no situation calls for activity we remain in emptiness of activity, in this presence.

Generally, we are fixed in patterns of communication but when we live in openness a great sensitivity arises, a sensitivity we never dreamed of. When we approach our surroundings from wholeness our whole structure comes alive. We do not hear music with the ears only.

When the ears cease to grasp sound for themselves we feel music with our whole body, the colour, the form, the vibration. It no longer belongs to a specific organ. It belongs to our whole being.

This creates a deep humility, an innocence. Only in humility is true communication possible. Then one lives in a completely new dimension. To live as a personality is to live in restriction. Don’t live in restriction!

Let the personality live in you. In living in the environment without separation there is great, great beauty…

Don’t try to influence [others]. The moment you breathe, the whole world is affected by your inhalation and exhalation. So when you live in peace you radiate it. If someone asks for help, help of course. But don’t become a professional do-gooder.

If you have any idea of being somebody, a friend, helper, political person, teacher, mother, father, and so on, you will only see the situation coloured by this image.

It is a fractional view and because it is partial it breeds conflict and reaction. Since the action did not appear and disappear in wholeness there will be residue.

Before acting, one must understand the situation. To fully comprehend it, you must face the facts free from ideas. It must belong to your wholeness; otherwise you are stuck to the wheel of reaction where there is only relationship from concept to concept.

When you become a professional doer you are no longer spontaneous. You can never create harmony. It is beautiful to be really nothing, without qualification. All that appears, appears in you.. Then all action is balanced.

First you have to know how to face the facts properly, that is, free from the limited individual point of view. Our surroundings appear to us according to the stance we take.

From the point of view of the body and senses, the world appears as sense perception. From the mental view the world appears as mind. From consciousness the world is only consciousness.

Don’t try to change anything. Only be aware that your ideas and actions stem from the mind. The moment you look at your surroundings from consciousness you will see things differently and seeing things differently your understanding and actions will be different.

The question often arises: how can I change society, I disagree with so many things? You can never change the world from the personal standpoint. You can only change society from the impersonal, from consciousness.

Realise that there can be no transformation unless action comes from a completely different view than before. In the personal realm you remain an accomplice with society. Creative action can only come when you see your surroundings from the point of view of consciousness. Then you are really related to society, the situation, the world.

Otherwise, you remain related only to yourself, your reactions and resistances. See that society begins with you. You are your own nearest environment, so begin with yourself.

When you learn how to look at your closest environment you will automatically know how to look at the broader environment. In this way of looking there’s understanding, and understanding brings right acting.

The moment you come to the living understanding, you won’t need to ask anyone else what to do. Where there’s an ego there is purpose. And when there is no sense of ‘I’, there is no purpose. Life is purposeless. There’s only beauty in living in the eternal.

If you believe you are the individual ‘I’ you are isolated from your surroundings, and this isolation brings feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. Then you look for goals. You worry and anticipate.

Life doesn’t need a reason to be. That is its beauty.”

 

Posted in Creative Systems Thinking, mystic view, nondual awareness | Tagged | 4 Comments