The Future of Education: To Focus on AI or MI ?

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

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Right now two starkly different visions of “personalized learning” are being put forward by education reformers around the world. One model has the development of Artificial Intelligence at the center, creating A.I. programs to teach children one-to-one via computers.

Schools and teachers that take the M.I. approach are aligned with how children naturally learn, focusing on developing children’s creative skills and interacting with one’s local community. The goal is to help each child actualize their unique human potential and Multiple Intelligences (a mix of social, emotional, linguistic, mathematical, musical, physical, ecological and visual arts capabilities).

This requires that children sing, dance, paint, communicate, read for pleasure, play freely, collaborate on projects, solve real-world problems, build strong relationships and connect meaningfully with the natural world.

On the other hand (as this BBC video below shows), the A.I. approach being designed by Silicon Valley pioneers provides a way to have students learn primarily from increased screen time with computers. Professional teachers don’t need to be physically present with the children. There is much less social interaction, less art focus, reduced communication and very little group learning.

The A.I. teaching system is expensive to produce but very effective for raising test scores. Students will be observed by cameras. Private data is collected for each learner, to be stored off site and analyzed.

The goal of this model is for tech companies to collect “big data” from children, developing algorithms to construct A.I. that can one day teach millions of students at their own pace, simultaneously. It’s called personalized learning, but actually its not very personal. The students’ main teacher will be a computer program.

The second model of “learner-centered” M.I. education has been in development for hundreds if not thousands of years, rooted in apprenticeship learning approaches. It is more community focused, with more communication and mastery learning alongside adults and peers.

The focus is simultaneously on group learning and each child’s growth and development, helping each learner’s multiple intelligences to grow and thrive while building strong relationships with others.

The M.I. approach is related to the model Maria Montessori pioneered over a century ago, which has shown great success in Finland. Not much technology is needed, as human relationships, self-directed learning and real world interactions are central. Not much data is collected. But children learn to work together creatively, collaborate, grow their skills and experience a sense of community. This video from the Mission Hill project shows how such an approach works.

These two models could be available to all children in the very near future. While very different in approach, both support a transition away from high-stakes testing, along with teacher and text book centered education.

With direct A.I. “hyper-personalized” instruction via computers, testing and data collection will now happen constantly, every day. Children are no longer compared with each other, thereby reducing test taking anxiety. They will probably do well on standardized tests with all that daily practice.

With an M.I. and local community focus tests are not even considered very important. Developing each child’s creativity and unique potential is the focus. Test scores will rise naturally, but many of the skills young people develop can not be easily measured.

Another example of the M.I. approach (video above), Boston Arts Academy provides a mix of academic and arts classes. The high school’s graduates do well on tests, and are valued both by colleges and employers. I worked on a similar project in the early 1990s, at Stanford University.

Unfortunately, for the last two decades most nations have put more emphasis on computers and test scores than creativity, community learning and whole child development. If we want our children to develop their full potential we need to think deeply about the kinds of learning tasks, environments and opportunities we provide for them.

~Christopher Chase

Related:

Symphonic Intelligence: The Next Revolution in Learning?  * The Circle of Courage – Native American Model of Education * Real Learning is a Creative Process *  Let a Child’s Spirit Be Free to Unfold – M. Montessori * How Schools Kill Creativity – Ken Robinson * Self-Direction is the Key to Mastery  * Understanding How Our Brains Learn  * Toward a More Creative & Holistic Model of Education * Educational Malpractice – The Child Manufacturing Process * Real Learning is a Creative Process  *

Multiple Intelligences

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システム革命、システム学習 – Systems Revolution in Learning

The systems view of science focuses on relationships, describing a universe where everything moves and flows like a river…

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All of the Japanese text here is from this article at the Change Agent website:「学習する学校」レポートより:「学習する組織」のアプローチ.  It is followed by a translation in English.

過去100年ほどにわたって、科学観は「システム革命」ともいえる大きな転換を迎えている。工学でのフィードバック理論に端を発し、物理学の量子力学や生物学の分野で発展して、現在では認知行動科学や社会科学にも浸透している。この科学観は、静的な「機械システム論」ではなく、動的な「生きているシステム」論に基づいている。

ニュートン派の見方では、世界はもので構成されるが。「ニューサイエンス」とも言われる新しい科学観において、現実を知るときに、「もの」に注目するのではなく「関係性」に注目をする。

Over the past 100 years, the view of science has undergone a major shift that can be called the “Systems Revolution”. It originated in feedback theory in engineering, developed in the fields of quantum mechanics and biology of physics, and now permeates cognitive behavioral science and social science. This scientific view is based on the dynamic “living system” theory, not the static “mechanical system theory”.

In the Newtonian view, the world is made up of things. In [the unified] scientific view called “New Science” [or Systems Science], when you know the reality of systems, you pay attention to “relationships” rather than “things”.

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人の手を構成する物質は、数ヶ月で完全に入れ替わり、人体も数年のうちに入れ替わる。人はものではなく、常に再生を続けるプロセスないしその能力であるといってよい、人体は、いわば川のようなもので、常に流れているもののスナップショットを見て、私たちは「もの」だと考えている。

397825_304721952992080_1098340286_nしかし、物質とは、基本的に関係性の結果生ずるのである。このことから、生物学者は、「生きているシステム」を自己生成的であるという。「生きているシステム」は、みな自己を創り出す能力を持っていて、そのために自己組織化し、環境を認知する―その意味を見出すことができるのである。プロセスである。

「生きているシステム」の世界観は、ニュートン的な見方を否定するものではなく、包含するものである。問題は、全てのことをニュートン的な「もの」や「マシーン」によって理解しようとする私たちの暗黙の習慣にあるといえるだろう。

Substances that make up human hands are completely replaced in a few months, and the human body is also replaced in a few years. It can be said that people are not things, but always a process or ability to continue to regenerate, the human body is like a river, and we are “things” by looking at snapshots of structures that are always flowing.

However, a substance basically results from relationships. For this reason, biologists say that “living systems” are self-generating. “Living systems” all have the ability to create themselves, so that they can self-organize and perceive the environment—where life can find its meaning. It is a process. 

The view of the world of “living systems” does not deny the Newtonian view but includes it. The problem lies in our implicit habit of trying to understand everything through the Newtonian ideas of “things” and “machines”. 

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「生きているシステム」として学校教育を捉え直すと、学習プロセスが「生き生き」とする。

・教師中心ではなく、学習者中心の学習が起こる

・画一性ではなく、多様性が奨励される―多様な知能(multiple intelligence)や学習スタイル

・「事実の羅列と正しい答え」を丸暗記するのではなく、相互依存と変化として世界を理解する

・教育プロセスに関与するすべての人の「使用理論」(現実に活用する論理)が何か探求する

・友達、家族、地域コミュニティを紡ぐ社会的関係のネットワークの中で教育を再統合する

学校を「生きているシステム」として捉えるならば、常に進化していることがわかる。その進化を助けるのは、そこに参加する学習者の問いである。また、教師の仕事も同様であり、子供たちが自然にもっている学習プロセスを支援することが重要な仕事となる。

When we re-examine school education as a “living system”, the learning process comes “alive”.

  • Learner-centered learning occurs, not teacher-centered.
  • Diversity is encouraged, not uniformity—multiple intelligence and learning style.
  • Understand the world as interdependence and change, instead of memorizing “lists of facts and correct answers.”
  • Search for “use theory” (practical logic to be used in reality) of all people involved in the education process.
  • Reintegrate education within a social network of friends, family, and local communities

If you think of school as a “living system”, you can see that it is constantly evolving. It is the question of the learner who participates in helping the evolution.  Also, teachers’ jobs are the same, and it is important to support the learning process that children have naturally.

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「学習する学校」は、少なくとも3つのシステムのレベルで考えることができる。

       ・学習するコミュニティ

・ 住民と学校の双方が、学校-地域の相互依存の関係を認識する必要がある。

・ 学校はまた、あらゆる年齢層の学習促進をする格好の場所であり、地域の「生涯学習者」にとっての生涯学習促進の環境を作る役割がある。

「学習する学校」のプログラムを進める上で、その骨格をなすのがビジネスの世界ですでに実績を出している「学習する組織」という考え方である。

「学習する組織」は、MITスローンビジネススクールの上級講師であるピーター・センゲによって統合された、組織・人財開発のアプローチで、フォード、GE、シェル、BPなどを始め、世界の多くの企業の役員研修に導入されている。

「学習する組織」とは、「チームが目的を効果的に達成するための能力と気づきの状態を高め続ける組織」のことを指す。学習する組織で掲げられる「5つのディシプリン(学習し修得すべき知恵と技の総体)」は、以下のとおりである。

1)メンタルモデル

「メンタルモデル」とは、マインドセットやパラダイムを含め、それぞれの人がもつ「世の中の人やものごとに関する前提」である。自らのメンタルモデルとその影響に注意を払い、うまくいかないときには外にその原因を求めるのではなく、自らのメンタルモデルの欠陥を探求する。

2)チーム学習/ダイアログ

「チーム学習」とは、チーム・組織内外の人たちとの対話を通じて、自分たちのメンタルモデルや問題の全体像を探求し、関係者らの意図あわせを行うプロセスである。中でも、「本音で腹を割って話す」ことに主眼を置き、集団で気づきの状態を高めて真の問題原因・目的を探求する一連の手法を「ダイアログ」という。

3)システム思考

「システム思考」とは、ものごとを一連の要素のつながりとして捉え、そのつながりの質や相互作用に着目するものの見方である。しばしば、全体最適化や複雑な問題解決への手法としても応用される。「生きているシステム」論の根幹をなす考えでもある。

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4)自己マスタリー

「自己マスタリー」とは、自分が「どのようにありたいのか」「何を創り出したいのか」について明確なビジョンを持ちながら、ビジョンと現実との間の緊張関係を創造的な力に変えて、内発的な動機づけを行うプロセスである。

5)共有ビジョン

「共有ビジョン」とは、経営者や構成員のそれぞれのビジョンを重ね合わせて、組織として共有・浸透するビジョンを創り出すプロセスである。ひとたび、ビジョンが共有されれば、それが組織の行動、成果、学習の指針をコンパスのように示す。

この5つのディシプリンのうち、1)と2)が「共創的な対話を行う能力」、3)が「複雑性を理解する能力」、そして4)と5)が「志を育む能力」として整理され、学習する組織においては、この3つの能力をバランスよく伸ばすことが重要とされている。

学習する組織は、上記の5つのディシプリンを中核とおくものの、その他の学習コンセプトも取り入れている。例えば、「多様な知性(multiple intelligence)」、「思考の習慣(habits of mind)」などがその例である。

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A “learning school” can be considered at the level of at least three systems. 

・Community to learn

・Both residents and schools need to be aware of the interdependence between schools and communities.

・The school is also a good place to promote learning for all ages, and has the role of creating an environment for promoting lifelong learning for local “lifelong learners”.

The concept of “learning organization”, which has already achieved results in the business world, is the backbone of the “learning school” program.

“Learning Organization” is an organizational and human resource development approach integrated by Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan Business School. Ford, GE, Shell, BP, and many other companies around the world Introduced in executive training.

“Learning organization” refers to “an organization that continues to improve the ability and awareness of teams to effectively achieve their goals”. The “5 disciplines” (the total of wisdom and skills to learn and acquire) listed in the learning organization are as follows.

971854_575795465785620_1014001935_n1) Mental model – “Mental model” is the “premise of people and things in the world” that each person has, including mindsets and paradigms. Pay attention to your mental model and its consequences, and if it doesn’t work, look for the defects in your mental model, rather than seeking the cause outside.

2) Team learning / communication – “Team learning” is a process of exploring their mental model and the whole picture of problems through dialogue with people inside and outside the team and organization, and matching the intentions of the parties concerned. Above all, the “dialog” is a series of methods that focus on “speaking with real intentions” and searching the true cause and purpose of the problem by raising the state of awareness in the group.

3) Systems thinking – “Systems thinking” is a way of looking at things as a series of connected elements and focusing on the quality and interaction of the connections. It is often applied as a method for global optimization and complex problem solving. It is also the idea that forms the basis of the “living system” theory.

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4) Self-mastery – “Self-mastery” means having a clear vision of “how you want to be” and “what you want to create”, changing the tension between vision and reality into creative power, This is an intrinsic motivation process.

5) Shared vision – “Shared vision” is the process of creating a vision that can be shared and permeated as an organization by superimposing the visions of management and members. Once a vision is shared, it shows the organization’s behavior, results, and learning guidelines as a compass.

Of these five disciplines, 1) and 2) are “capabilities of co-creative dialogue”, 3) are “capabilities of understanding complexity”, and 4) and 5) are “capabilities of nurturing will” In an organized learning organization, it is important to develop these three abilities in a balanced manner.

The learning organization has the above five disciplines at its core, but incorporates other learning concepts. For example, “multiple intelligence”, “habits of mind”, and the like.

Solutionaries

 

 

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The Prison Of Your Mind: Sean Stephenson

“The true prison is not surrounded by barbed wire, or electrical fences, the real prisons do not have guards. The real prison is up here. And we all got it.. True freedom is dropping down out of that mind. And what my wife has taught me is to drop into your hearts..” ~Sean Stephenson

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The following is a transcript of Sean Stephenson‘s Ted Talk The Prison of Your Mind recorded at Ironwood State Prison, in 2014.

I’m trying to compose my blog post for tonight, and I’m thinking it sounds really believable that I went to prison and hugged a bunch of really nice prisoners, while I DJed busy, threw on some records, and Richard Branson told me where I can score some free heroin. True story.

Lesson number 1: Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you. When I was born, the doctors told my parents that I would be dead within the first 24 hours of my life.

35 years later, all those doctors are dead and I am the only doctor that remains.

Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you. How many predictions have been thrown at you your whole life? If you believe predictions that do not empower you, you will wither away and die, either physically die or your spirit will die as you just walk around the world like a carcass that is just following the masses.

You will be given a lot of titles in your life. You will be told so many different things. You must only listen to that which empowers you. I have a belief that has served me in my life, and that is that everyone is rooting for me to win, even those that do not know it.

And I’m not here today to tell you that I’ve had adversity in my life and so therefore, I know what you are going through. I don’t have a clue what any of you are going through in your lives. I did not grow up in your neighborhoods more than likely. I did not have your set of parents, nor do I live in your body. I’ve not had the events that you’ve had happened to you.

I can tell you I am only an expert on one thing, and that’s how to be me, and I do it well. But it’s not come easily.

I’ve gone through things that I don’t wish upon anyone in this room. I’ve had metal rods pulled out of bone marrow while I was awake. I’ve had jaw infections where teeth had to be extracted and I can no longer chew my own food. I have to get up every day and be showered and cared for physically by another human being. Fortunately, she is a gorgeous woman that I married.

I get stared at everywhere I go, and the moment people meet me, if they don’t know a thing about my résumé, they automatically, just by the human nature, think to themselves: “Oh, it must be so difficult to be that man!”

If somebody pities me, they’re wasting their time, because I have chosen a life of strength, and I am here to help you choose a life of strength, but I’m going to tell you, we’ve talked about drugs here. You know what the worst drug that ever hit the human race is? Pity.

The moment you feel sorry for another person, or the moment you feel sorry for yourself, you’re hosed. You’re totally, completely frozen in potential.

We cannot pity ourselves, we cannot pity you. Yes, I get to go home today. Yes, I get to have what many would call freedom, but I’m going to talk to you about freedom, about what I really choose to see freedom as. Because like I said, you cannot believe predictions that do not empower you.

The second lesson today is: you are not your condition. 

You’re not. I’m not disabled. Sure, I’ll take the handicapped parking privileges but that does not define me as a man. Not able? I’ve been looked at and treated my whole life as if I am not able. I have had to rise above and show people that the only disability is one’s refusal to adapt. You have to adapt to whatever environment you’re in, even if it’s prison.

And what does adaption look like? I think it looks like celebration. Because when you meet people that are celebrating their life, you want to be around them, you want to learn from them, you want to do business with them, you want to hire them.

Look! If you do not want to be seen as a prisoner or a convict when you get out of this, or even while you’re in this, that is an attitude — it is a belief in yourself that you bring value to the human race, no matter what your current condition, title, or stature is.

Because if I believe that I am disabled, I would wither up, I would be shy, I would be insecure, I would be afraid, I would act like I need your help. And the rest of humanity would be OK with that.

But I choose something else. I choose to be strong, I choose to be a leader, I choose to have words to move this planet. I’ll tell you why I was born. And I hope it inspires you to find out why you were born.

I was born to rid this world of insecurity. Because when a human being is insecure, they do stupid stuff. When we feel like we’re not enough, we chase external validation, and external objects to try to tell us we’re enough. Thank you.

You are enough. I’ll tell you I’ve made a pledge as a therapist to love all human beings, no matter what they’ve done. Because deep down inside, I’ve found that every human being just wants to be loved, even if they’re tough, even if they’re scary, even if they’re viscous. You get them in the right position, at the right time, they’ll tell you the truth. They just want to be loved.

Do you know who they want the love from the most? Not their moms, not their dads, not their wardens. None of these people. They want to be able to look in the mirror and love themselves. And if you can figure that out, then you’re going somewhere.

But you cannot feel sorry for yourself. When you feel sorry for yourself, you will wither. But there’s a contradiction to feeling sorry for yourself, it’s the opposite of extreme, it’s what I call ‘bullying yourself, beating yourself up, being your own enemy and telling yourself that all those predictions, those negative opinions, they’re true, they’re right, you’re washed up, failure. You’re not going to amount to anything.

Bullying yourself is the most dangerous thing that you could do. You cannot afford to pity yourself, you cannot afford to bully yourself, you have to love yourself.

Because the last lesson that I’m going to share with you today, that is I’m going to teach you what the real prison is. It’s not surrounded by barbed wire, or electrical fences, the real prisons do not have guards. The real prison is up here. And we all got it. We all have a mind that chatters, so often won’t stop chattering.

Do you know where your salvation is? It’s not outside these walls. I’ve met so many people (that are so extremely successful and famous) that are in prison, because they’re stuck in their minds, bullying themselves, pitying themselves.

True freedom is dropping down out of that mind. And what my wife has taught me is to drop into your hearts, into mastering this beating thing that is more than just sending blood to the extremities.

What is it doing? It’s sending emotional possibilities, infinite possibilities of choice in our behavior, in our life, in our attitude. When you love yourself, whether you’re sleeping on a prison cot, or in a mansion, whether you have food in your belly, or you don’t know when your next meal is coming, when you love yourself, when you learn to master your emotions, then and only then are you free.

I love you, each and every one of you, and I wish you freedom within these walls.

God bless!

 

Posted in Creative Systems Thinking, cultural creatives, Life's Purpose, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

How We Learn to Compartmentalize

“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

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“I think the difficulty is this fragmentation. All thought is broken up into bits. Like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession and so on… And they can’t meet. Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.” ~David Bohm

Modern educational institutions were designed to train children to see and experience the world divided up into parts, thereby disconnecting them from the unified whole (of nature, community, universe) that in truth we all belong to.

Science, art, history, literature, math, music are presented to children as being completely separate from one another. They don’t learn how these are in truth interdependently connected. Children are tested, measured (and compared with each other) for how well they can remember what they were taught. This creates a further sense of alienation and disconnection.

Over time, our consciousness compartmentalises, so that by adulthood we come to see ourselves as individuals separate from the universe. We learn to experience life and see the world divided up into parts, as fed by the media and taught when we were institutionalized (as children).

Think about that. Let it sink in. Most of us were institutionalized as children.

And so civilization’s people have been trained to disconnect from the wisdom of our bodies, our spirit, our creative intuitions and Nature. Alienated from our deeper selves (and the world around us) many feel dissatisfied, fearful and lonely.

This is how we were programmed to think, act and be. To imitate, regurgitate, fear and obey. Then to fill the void within us by fitting into social molds, doing meaningless work for those with more power (and money) and consuming, endlessly consuming…

Wars, violence, nationalism, ecological destruction, consumerism, racism, suicide, school shootings, religious extremism, widespread addictions to cell phones, pornography, food, drugs, work, guns, superficial sex, career status, alcohol and shopping are all attempts to fill the emptiness in our hearts.

Being out of touch with the interrelated structure of reality creates a spiritual void and perceptual blindness, as Martin Luther King, Jr. has described. It’s a delusion we must awaken from, because, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

Much of the chaos and destruction we see reported in the media is rooted in how billions of compartmentalized human minds are responding to the alienation, standardization, ignorance and division that has become normalized with our high-tech civilization.

People are reacting fearfully to the experience of not being fully whole, not fully connected to our communities, to this incredible Universe and the wider Community of Nature that supports us (and in truth brought each of us into being).

“We live in an age where the delusions and ignorance of modern civilizations have become the global norm.  Most of the problems in our world stem from how “civilized” humans have compartmentalized life in such a way as to hide reality from ourselves and other people. A fantasy view of reality, what Buddhists call samsara, has been packaged, marketed and sold to the masses by those in positions of influence and power.

This has been done on purpose, has been the “operating code” of  hierarchical human civilizations for thousands of years. Our leaders don’t want us to know what is really going on, with anything. This was as true of pharaohs and kings in the past as it is of large corporations, governments, billionaires, military leaders and media elites now.

The compartmentalization of knowledge and intentional hiding of facts is how those in power maintain control. They hide how food is produced, how wars create future terrorists (and civilian casualties), how education is being intentionally dumbed down, how the earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed, how politicians are corrupt, how democracy has been rigged, how debt enslaves people and wealth is accumulated unfairly.” Source: Awakening from the Cult of Ignorance

How then to awaken from this compartmentalization of our consciousness? How to more deeply experience the beauty of our existence, understanding how we are embedded in a miraculous ever evolving and living cosmos?

How to become wiser as a species? How to creatively transform our institutions and cultures, so as to solve our problems and teach our children the deeper truth of their wholeness?

THIS is the challenge of our times.

~Christopher Chase~

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 “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.” ~Albert Einstein

“A basic principle of the indigenous world view is that all things in the universe are connected.  We believe that we are a part of everything and that everything in the natural world is alive—conscious—even the stones, the Earth, the stars. Westerners seem to isolate themselves and think they are separate from their environment. They believe that portions of creation can be isolated from other parts; that one set of people is separate from another set; or that people are different from the animals. In the Western view, it doesn’t matter what happens to animals because we’re apart from them; superior, actually. In the indigenous world view—or what I would call “reality”—we are all a part of creation. The universe is unified.  It’s inaccurate to think you can separate pieces out. Human beings are the only species who have forgotten that.  When we remember, we live in balance and strive for harmony with all things. That is the most fundamental difference between the Western and indigenous world view. ~Spencer Martin (Se Olum)

Nature Family

 

Posted in Creative Systems Thinking, education reform, Learner-centered education, nondual awareness, zen | 10 Comments

War is a Racket – Major General Butler, 1935

war racket
 
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
 
I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.
 
I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
 
Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” [1]
 
“WAR is a racket. It always has been.
 
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
 
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
 
In the World War I a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
 
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
 
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
 
And what is this bill?
 
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
 
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out..” [2]
 
War is a Racket, 1935 
 
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.
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What Chelsea Clinton Saw in Haiti 8 Years Ago

“The incompetence is mind numbing,” Chelsea Clinton told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.. There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.”

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Looking back now, the US-led response to Haiti’s earthquake on January 12, 2010 was a disaster from which Haitians have never recovered. But at the time the U.S. media presented it as a great success.
 
That perception was not by accident. In 2015, secret e-mails released by the Obama State Department revealed that top officials had mounted a successful media campaign to counter negative stories, while a brutally honest review by Secretary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea was kept quiet…
 
Excerpt from 2015 Politico article:
 
“We waged a very successful campaign against the negative stories concerning our involvement in Haiti,” Judith McHale, the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, wrote on February 26, 2010…
 
But one person even closer to [Secretary of State Clinton] was singing a different tune—very, very quietly. On February 22, after a four-day visit to the quake zone, Chelsea Clinton authored a seven-page memo which she addressed to “Dad, Mom,” and copied their chief aides…
 
Chelsea Clinton was blunt in her report, confident the recipients would respect her request in the memo’s introduction to remain an “invisible soldier.”
 
She had first come to the quake zone six days after the disaster with her father and then-fiancé, Mark Mezvinsky. Now she was returning with the medical aid group Partners in Health, whose co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, was her father’s deputy in his Office of the UN Special Envoy for Haiti. What she saw profoundly disturbed her.
 
Five weeks after the earthquake, international responders were still in relief mode: U.S. soldiers roamed Port-au-Prince streets on alert for signs of social breakdown, while aid groups held daily coordination meetings inside a heavily guarded UN compound ordinary Haitian couldn’t enter.
 
But Haitians had long since moved on into their own recovery mode, many in displacement camps they had set up themselves, as responders who rarely even spoke the language, Kreyòl, worked around them, oblivious to their efforts.
 
“The incompetence is mind numbing,” she told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.” “There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.”
 
The weak Haitian government, which had lost buildings and staff in the disaster, had something of a plan, she noted. Yet because it had failed to articulate its wishes quickly enough, foreigners rushed forward with a “proliferation of ad hoc efforts by the UN and INGOs [international nongovernmental organizations] to ‘help,’ some of which have helped … some of which have hurt … and some which have not happened at all.”
 
The former first daughter recognized something that scores of other foreigners had missed: that Haitians were not just sitting around waiting for others to do the work.
 
“Haitians in the settlements are very much organizing themselves … Fairly nuanced settlement governance structures have already developed,” she wrote, giving the example of camp home to 40,000 displaced quake survivors who had established a governing committee and a series of sub-committees overseeing security, sanitation, women’s needs and other issues.
 
“They wanted to help themselves, and they wanted reliability and accountability from their partners,” Chelsea Clinton wrote. But that help was not coming. The aid groups had ignored requests for T-shirts, flashlights and pay for the security committee, and the U.S. military had apparently passed on the committee’s back-up plan that they provide security themselves.
 
“The settlements’ governing bodies—as they shared with me—are beginning to experience UN/INGO fatigue given how often they articulate their needs, willingness to work—and how little is coming their way.”
 
That analysis went beyond what some observers have taken years to understand, and many others still haven’t: that disaster survivors are best positioned to take charge of their own recovery, yet often get pushed aside by outside authorities who think, wrongly, that they know better…

 
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Moving Beyond Meditation

“Meditation is a lie. When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.” ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
 
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Tibetan Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche (shown in photo above) shares a profound teaching that he learned while visiting his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
 
“For the next few months I continued to visit my father every day, and he taught me more about the Great Perfection. Often times we wouldn’t talk at all as we sat together. My father (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) would simply sit in front of the large window and gaze off into the sky as I sat quietly by his side and tried to meditate.
 
I desperately wanted his approval, so I always did my best imitation of what I thought a good meditator should do. I sat bolt upright and tried to make it look like I was absorbed in some deep experience, while in actuality I was just repeating a mantra in my mind and trying not to get lost in thought.
 
Occasionally, I would open my eyes and peek up at my father, hoping that he had noticed my good meditation posture and ability to sit still for so long.
 
One day, as we sat together in silence, I glanced up at him in the middle of my meditation and was surprised to find him gazing down at me. “Are you meditating, son?” he asked.
 
“Yes, sir,” I said proudly, filled with joy that he had finally noticed. My answer seemed to amuse him greatly. He paused for a few moments and then said gently, “Don’t meditate.”
 
My pride vanished. For months, I’d been doing my best to copy all the other meditators who came to be with my father. I learned some short prayers, sat in the right posture, and tried hard to still my turbulent mind. “I thought I was supposed to meditate,” I said with a shaky voice.
 
“Meditation is a lie,” he said. “When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.”
 
Pointing out through the window, he continued, “Look out into the blue sky. Pure awareness is like space, boundless and open. It’s always here. You don’t have to make it up. All you have to do is rest in that.”

TUR Maya Andreas (1)
 
For a moment, all of my hopes and expectations about meditation dropped away and I experienced a glimpse of timeless awareness.
 
A few minutes later he continued, “Once you’ve recognised awareness, there’s nothing to do. You don’t have to meditate or try to change your mind in any way.”
 
“If there’s nothing to do,” I asked, “Does that mean that we don’t have to practice?”
 
“Although there’s nothing to do, you do need to familiarise yourself with this recognition. You also need to cultivate bodhichitta and devotion, and always seal your practice by dedicating the merit so that all beings may recognise their own true nature too.
 
The reason we still need to practice is that at first we only have an understanding of the mind’s true nature. By familiarising ourselves with this understanding again and again, however, it eventually transforms into direct experience.
 
Yet even then we still need to practice. Experience is unstable, so if we don’t continue to familiarise ourselves with pure awareness we can lose sight of it and get caught up in our thoughts and emotions again.
 
On the other hand, if we are diligent in practice, this experience will transform into a realisation that can never be lost. This is the path of the Great Perfection.”
 
With these words, he stopped talking and we both continued to rest in pure awareness, gazing off into the deep blue sky above the Kathmandu Valley.”

 
CNR TUR Nagi (1)
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Spiritual Bypassing & the Psychology of Awakening

“Spiritual seekers who suffer from a deflated sense of self, take spiritual teachings about selflessness to mean that they should keep a lid on themselves and not let themselves shine.. As typically happens in many spiritual communities, [they] use spiritual practice as a way of trying to deny certain basic human needs..

Since individuation involves clarifying the psychological dynamics that obscure our capacity to shine through, it is not opposed to spiritual realization. Instead, it involves becoming a more transparent vessel—an authentic person who can bring through what is beyond the person in a uniquely personal way.” ~John Welwood, Ph.D.

Psych of Awakening

The following is an excerpt from The Psychology of Awakening by John Welwood, author of Toward a Psychology of Awakening. Welwood is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and longterm student of Tibetan Buddhism. 

“When people use spiritual practice to try to compensate for feelings of alienation and low self-esteem, they corrupt the true nature of spiritual practice. Instead of loosening the manipulative ego that tries to control its experience, they strengthen it, and their spiritual practice remains unintegrated with the rest of their life.
 
Using spirituality to make up for failures of individuation—psychologically separating from parents, cultivating self-respect, or trusting one’s own intelligence as a source of guidance—also leads to many of the so-called “perils of the path”: spiritual materialism (using spirituality to prop up a shaky ego), self-inflation, “us vs. them” mentality, groupthink, blind faith in charismatic teachers, and loss of discrimination.
 
Spiritual communities can become a kind of surrogate family, where the teacher is regarded as the good parent while the students are striving to be good boys or good girls—trying to please the teacher-as-parent or driving themselves to climb the ladder of spiritual success. In this way, spiritual practice becomes co-opted by unconscious identities and used to reinforce unconscious defenses.
 
For example, people resorting to isolation and withdrawal because the interpersonal realm feels threatening often use teachings about detachment and renunciation to rationalize their aloofness, impersonality, and disengagement when what they really need is to become more fully embodied, more engaged with themselves, with others, and with life.
 
People with a dependent personality structure, who try to gain approval and security by pleasing others, often perform unstinting service for the teacher or community in order to feel worthwhile. They confuse a co-dependent kind of self-negation with true selflessness.
 
And spiritual involvement is particularly tricky for people who hide behind a narcissistic defense, because they use spirituality to make themselves feel special or important while imagining they are working on liberation from self.
 
Spiritual bypassing often adopts a rationale using absolute truth to deny or disparage relative truth. Absolute truth is what is eternally true, now and forever, beyond any particular viewpoint or time frame.
 
When we tap into absolute truth, we can recognize the divine beauty or larger perfection operating in the whole of reality. From this larger perspective, the murders on tonight’s news, for instance, do not diminish this divine perfection, for the absolute encompasses the whole panorama of life and death, in which suns, galaxies, and planets are continually being born and dying.
 
However, from a relative point of view—if you are the wife of a man murdered tonight—you will probably not be moved by the truth of ultimate perfection. Instead you will be feeling human grief.
 
There are two ways of confusing absolute and relative truth. If you use the murder or your grief to deny or insult the higher law of the universe, you would be committing the relativist error. You would be trying to apply what is true on the horizontal plane of becoming to the vertical dimension of pure being.
 
The spiritual bypasser makes the reverse category error, the absolutist error: He draws on absolute truth to disparage relative truth. His logic might lead to a conclusion like this: Since everything is ultimately perfect in the larger cosmic play, grieving the loss of someone you love is a sign of spiritual weakness.
 
Since it is the nature of human beings to live on both the absolute and relative levels, we can never reduce reality to a single dimension.
 
We are not just this relative body-mind organism; we are also absolute being/awareness/presence, which is much larger than our bodily form or personal history. But we are also not just this larger, formless absolute; we are also incarnate as particular individuals.
 
If we identify only with form, our life will remain confined to known, familiar structures. But if we try to live only as pure emptiness, or absolute being, we may not engage with our humanity. In absolute terms, the personal self is not ultimately real; at the relative level, it must be respected.
 
A client of mine who was desperate about her marriage had gone to a spiritual teacher for advice. He advised her not to be so angry with her husband but to be a compassionate friend instead.
 
This was certainly sound spiritual advice. Compassion is a higher truth than anger; when we rest in the absolute nature of mind, pure open awareness, we discover compassion as the very core of our nature. From that perspective, feeling angry about being hurt only separates us from our true nature.
 
Yet the teacher who gave this woman this advice did not consider her relative situation—that she was someone who had swallowed her anger all her life.
 
Her father had been abusive and would slap her and send her to her room whenever she showed any anger about the way he treated her. She learned to suppress her rage and always tried to please others by being “a good girl” instead.
 
So when the teacher advised her to feel compassion rather than anger, she felt relieved because this fit right in with her defenses. Since anger was threatening to her, she used the teaching on compassion for spiritual bypassing—for refusing to deal with her anger or the message it contained.
 
As her therapist, I had to take account of her relative situation and help her relate to her anger more fully. As a spiritual practitioner, I was also mindful that anger is ultimately empty, a wave arising in the ocean of consciousness, without any solidity or inherent meaning.
 
Yet while that understanding may be true in the absolute sense, and generally valuable for helping dissolve attachment to anger, it was not useful for this woman at this time.
 
Instead, she needed to learn to pay more attention to her anger in order to move beyond a habitual pattern of self-suppression, to connect with her inner strength and power, and to relate to her husband in a more active, assertive way.
 
How then do we arrive at genuine compassion? Spiritual bypassing involves imposing on oneself higher truths that lie far beyond one’s immediate existential condition. My client’s attempts at compassion were not entirely genuine because they were based on denying her own anger.
 
Spiritual teachers often exhort us to be loving and compassionate, or to give up selfishness and aggression, but how can we do this if our habitual tendencies arise out of a whole system of psychological dynamics that we have never clearly seen or faced, much less worked with?
 
People often have to acknowledge and come to terms with their anger before they can arrive at genuine forgiveness or compassion. That is relative truth.
 
Psychological inquiry starts here, with relative truth, with whatever we are experiencing right now. It involves opening to that experience and exploring its meaning, letting it unfold without judgment.
 
As a therapist, I find that allowing whatever arises to be there as it is and gently inquiring into it leads naturally in the direction of deeper truth. This is what I call psychological work in the service of spiritual development.
 
Many people who seek out my services have done spiritual practice for many years. I have often been struck by the huge gap between the sophistication of their spiritual practice and the level of their personal development.
 
Some of them have spent years doing what were once considered the most advanced, esoteric practices, reserved only for the select few in traditional Asia, without developing the most rudimentary forms of self-love or interpersonal sensitivity.
 
One woman who had undergone the rigors of a Tibetan-style three-year retreat had little ability to love herself. The rigorous training she had been through only seemed to reinforce an inner discontent that drove her to pursue high spiritual ideals without showing any kindness toward herself or her own limitations.
 
In addition to spiritual bypassing, another major problem for Western seekers is their susceptibility to the “spiritual superego,” a harsh inner voice that acts as relentless critic and judge telling them that nothing they do is ever quite good enough: “You should meditate more and practice harder. You’re too self-centered. You don’t have enough devotion.”
 
This critical voice keeps track of every failure to practice or live up to the teachings, so that practice becomes more oriented toward propitiating a judgmental part of themselves than opening to life unconditionally.
 
They may subtly regard the saints and enlightened ones as father figures who are keeping a critical eye on all the ways they are failing to live up to their commitments.
 
So they strive to be “Dharmically correct,” attempting to be more detached, compassionate, or devoted than they really are, while secretly hating themselves for failing to do so, thus rendering their spirituality cold and solemn.
 
Their self-hatred was not created by the spiritual teaching; it already existed. But by pursuing spirituality in a way that widens the gap between how they are and how they think they should be, they wind up turning exquisite spiritual teachings on compassion and awakening into fuel for self-hatred and inner bondage.
 
This raises the question of how much we can benefit from a spiritual teaching as a set of ideals, no matter how noble those ideals are. Often the striving after a spiritual ideal only serves to reinforce the critical superego—that inner voice that tells us we are never good enough, never honest enough, never loving enough.
 
In a culture permeated by guilt and ambition, where people are desperately trying to rise above their shaky earthly foundation, the spiritual superego exerts a pervasive unconscious influence that calls for special attention and work. This requires an understanding of psychological dynamics that traditional spiritual teachings and teachers often lack…
 
Many spiritual seekers who suffer.. from a deflated sense of self, take spiritual teachings about selflessness to mean that they should keep a lid on themselves and not let themselves shine.. As typically happens in many spiritual communities, [they] use spiritual practice as a way of trying to deny certain basic human needs..
 
[One’s] psychological conflicts [can] cut off access to deeper capacities such as strength, confidence, and the ability to connect with others in a genuinely open way. These intrinsic human capacities—traditionally described as “the qualities of a Buddha”—can be seen as differentiated expressions of true nature.
 
If realizing pure, undifferentiated being is the path of liberation, then embodying a full spectrum of these differentiated qualities of being is the path of individuation in its deepest sense: the unfolding of our deepest human resources and imperatives, which exist as seed potentials within us, but which are often blocked by psychological conflicts.
 
This understanding of individuation goes far beyond the secular, humanistic ideal of developing one’s uniqueness, being an innovator, or living out one’s dreams.
 
Instead, it involves forging a vessel—our capacity for personal presence, nourished by its rootedness in deeper human qualities—through which we can bring absolute true nature into form—the “form” of our person.
 
By person I do not mean some fixed structure or entity, but the way in which true nature can manifest and express itself in a uniquely personal way, as the ineffable suchness or “youness” of you.
 
Since individuation involves clarifying the psychological dynamics that obscure our capacity to shine through, it is not opposed to spiritual realization. Instead, it involves becoming a more transparent vessel—an authentic person who can bring through what is beyond the person in a uniquely personal way.
 
Working in this way to clear up old emotional conflicts can help us develop a richer quality of personal presence and begin to embody our true nature in an individuated way. Our individuated nature can then become a window opening onto all that is beyond and greater than ourselves.
 
While spiritual traditions generally explain the cause of suffering in general terms as the result of ignorance, faulty perception, or disconnection from our true nature, Western psychology provides a more specific developmental understanding.
 
It shows how suffering stems from childhood conditioning; in particular, from static and distorted images of self and other that we carry with us in the baggage of our past. And it reveals these painful, distorting identities as relational—formed in and through our relationships with others.
 
Spiritual traditions that do not recognize the way in which ego identity forms out of interpersonal relationships are unable to address these interpersonal structures directly.
 
Instead, they offer practices—prayer, meditation, mantra, service, devotion to God or guru—that shift the attention to the universal ground of being in which the individual psyche moves, like a wave on the ocean.
 
Thus it becomes possible to enter luminous states of trans-personal awakening, beyond personal conflicts and limitations, without having to address or work through specific psychological issues and conflicts.
 
This kind of realization can certainly provide access to greater wisdom and compassion, but it often does not touch or alter impaired ego structures which, because they influence our everyday functioning, prevent us from fully integrating this realization into the fabric of our lives.
 
Thus, as Sri Aurobindo put it, “Realization by itself does not necessarily transform the being as a whole. One may have some light of realization at the spiritual summit of consciousness but the parts below remain what they were.”
 
We in the West have been exposed to the most profound nondual teachings and practices of the East for only a few short decades.
 
Now a deeper level of dialogue between East and West is called for in order to develop greater understanding about the relationship between the impersonal absolute and the human, personal dimension.
 
Indeed, expressing absolute true nature in a thoroughly personal, human form may be one of the most important evolutionary potentials of the cross-fertilization of Eastern contemplative traditions and Western psychological understanding.
 
Bringing these two approaches into deeper dialogue may help us discover how to transform our personality in a more complete way—developing it into an instrument of higher purposes—thus redeeming the whole personal realm, instead of just seeking liberation from it…”

By John Welwood, Ph.D.

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About the Author:  John Welwood Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in San Francisco who has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for over thirty years. The excerpt above is from a longer article (here) that was condensed and adapted for Tricycle magazine from his book, Toward A Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation, published by Shambhala Publications.
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The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley

“Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this Particular planet.” ~Aldous Huxley
 
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The following are excerpts from Aldous Huxley’s classic The Doors of Perception, where he describes his thoughts and observations during a mescalin experience. Expecting to perhaps have visions or hallucinations Huxley was surprised to find that the most profound aspect of his experience was a deepening of meaning. Everything which had seemed ordinary before suddenly seemed extraordinary, mystical and deeply meaningful. All that had seemed to be separate now appeared to be connected, as unique and magical expressions of the Universe.
 
“By a series of, for me, extremely fortunate circumstances.. it came about that, one bright May morning [in the spring of 1953], I swallowed four-tenths of a gram of mescalin dissolved in half a glass of water and sat down to wait for the results.
 
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain.
 
By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies – all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable.
 
We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to permit inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.”
 
Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent.
 
The mind is its own place, and the places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling.
 
Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.
 
To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.
 
But what if these others belong to a different species and inhabit a radically alien universe? For example, how can the sane get to know what it actually feels like to be mad?
 
Or, short of being born again as a visionary, a medium, or a musical genius, how can we ever visit the worlds which, to Blake, to Swedenborg, to Johann Sebastian Bach, were home?
 
Thus, it seems virtually certain that I shall never know what it feels like to be Sir John Falstaff or Joe Louis. On the other hand, it had always seemed to me possible that (through hypnosis, for example, or by means of systematic meditation, or else by taking the appropriate drug) I might so change my ordinary mode of consciousness as to be able to know, from the inside, what the visionary, the medium, even the mystic were talking about.
 
From what I had read of the mescalin experience I was convinced in advance that the drug would admit me, at least for a few hours, into the kind of inner world described by Blake and AE. But what I had expected did not happen…
 
The change which actually took place in that world was in no sense revolutionary. Half an hour after swallowing the drug I became aware of a slow dance of golden lights. A little later there were sumptuous red surfaces swelling and expanding from bright nodes of energy that vibrated with a continuously changing, patterned life.
 
At another time the closing of my eyes revealed a complex of gray structures, within which pale bluish spheres kept emerging into intense solidity and, having emerged, would slide noiselessly upwards, out of sight.
 
But at no time were there faces or forms of men or animals. I saw no landscapes, no enormous spaces, no magical growth and metamorphosis of buildings, nothing remotely like a drama or a parable.
 
The other world to which mescalin admitted me was not the world of visions; it existed out there, in what I could see with my eyes open. The great change was in the realm of objective fact. What had happened to my subjective universe was relatively unimportant.
 
I took my pill at eleven. An hour and a half later, I was sitting in my study, looking intently at a small glass vase. The vase contained only three flowers-a full-blown Belie of Portugal rose; a large magenta and cream-colored carnation; and, pale purple at the end of its broken stalk, the bold heraldic blossom of an iris.
 
Fortuitous and provisional, the little nosegay broke all the rules of traditional good taste. At breakfast that morning I had been struck by the lively dissonance of its colors. But that was no longer the point.
 
I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation-the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.
 
“Is it agreeable?” somebody asked. (During this Part of the experiment, all conversations were recorded on a dictating machine, and it has been possible for me to refresh my memory of what was said.)
 
“Neither agreeable nor disagreeable,” I answered. “it just is.”
 
Istigkeit – wasn’t that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? “Is-ness.” The Being of Platonic philosophy – except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea.
 
He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – a transience that was yet eternal life..
 
A perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.
 
I continued to look at the flowers, and in their living light I seemed to detect the qualitative equivalent of breathing -but of a breathing without returns to a starting point, with no recurrent ebbs but only a repeated flow from beauty to heightened beauty, from deeper to ever deeper meaning.
 
Words like “grace” and “transfiguration” came to my mind, and this, of course, was what, among other things, they stood for. My eyes traveled from the rose to the carnation, and from that feathery incandescence to the smooth scrolls of sentient amethyst which were the iris.
 
The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being- Awareness-Bliss-for the first time I understood, not on the verbal level, not by inchoate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely what those prodigious syllables referred to.
 
And then I remembered a passage I had read in one of Suzuki’s essays. “What is the Dharma-Body of the Buddha?” (‘”the Dharma-Body of the Buddha” is another way of saying Mind, Suchness, the Void, the Godhead.)
 
The question is asked in a Zen monastery by an earnest and bewildered novice. And with the prompt irrelevance of one of the Marx Brothers, the Master answers, “The hedge at the bottom of the garden.”
 
“And the man who realizes this truth,” the novice dubiously inquires, ‘”what, may I ask, is he?” Groucho gives him a whack over the shoulders with his staff and answers, “A golden-haired lion.”
 
It had been, when I read it, only a vaguely pregnant piece of nonsense. Now it was all as clear as day, as evident as Euclid. Of course the Dharma-Body of the Buddha was the hedge at the bottom of the garden.
 
At the same time, and no less obviously, it was these flowers, it was anything that I – or rather the blessed Not-I, released for a moment from my throttling embrace – cared to look at.
 
The books, for example, with which my study walls were lined. Like the flowers, they glowed, when I looked at them, with brighter colors, a profounder significance.
 
Red books, like rubies; emerald books; books bound in white jade; books of agate; of aquamarine, of yellow topaz; lapis lazuli books whose color was so intense, so intrinsically meaningful, that they seemed to be on the point of leaving the shelves to thrust themselves more insistently on my attention.
 
In the mescalin experience the implied questions to which the eye responds are of another order. Place and distance cease to be of much interest.
 
The mind does its Perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern. I saw the books, but was not at all concerned with their positions in space.
 
What I noticed, what impressed itself upon my mind was the fact that all of them glowed with living light and that in some the glory was more manifest than in others…
 
When I got up and walked about, I could do so quite normally, without misjudging the whereabouts of objects. Space was still there; but it had lost its predominance. The mind was primarily concerned, not with measures and locations, but with being and meaning.
 
And along with indifference to space there went an even more complete indifference to time. “There seems to be plenty of it,” was all I would answer, when the investigator asked me to say what I felt about time.
 
Plenty of it, but exactly how much was entirely irrelevant. I could, of course, have looked at my watch; but my watch, I knew, was in another universe. My actual experience had been, was still, of an indefinite duration or alternatively of a perpetual present made up of one continually changing apocalypse…
 
From the books the investigator directed my attention to the furniture. A small typing table stood in the center of the room; beyond it, from my point of view, was a wicker chair and beyond that a desk.
 
The three pieces formed an intricate pattern of horizontals, uprights and diagonals – a pattern all the more interesting for not being interpreted in terms of spatial relationships.
 
Table, chair and desk came together in a composition that was like something by Braque or Juan Gris, a still life recognizably related to the objective world, but rendered without depth, without any attempt at photographic realism.
 
I was looking at my furniture, not as the utilitarian who has to sit on chairs, to write at desks and tables, and not as the cameraman or scientific recorder, but as the pure aesthete whose concern is only with forms and their relationships within the field of vision or the picture space.
 
But as I looked, this purely aesthetic, Cubist’s-eye view gave place to what I can only describe as the sacramental vision of reality. I was back where I had been when I was looking at the flowers-back in a world where everything shone with the Inner Light, and was infinite in its significance…
 
Reflecting on my experience, I find myself agreeing with the eminent Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad:
 
“That we should do well to consider much more seriously than we have hitherto been inclined to do the type of theory which Bergson put forward in connection with memory and sense perception. The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive.
 
Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.”
 
According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system.
 
What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this Particular planet.
 
To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages.
 
Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born – the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things.
 
That which, in the language of religion, is called “this world” is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language.
 
The various “other worlds,” with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large.
 
Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language.
 
Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate “spiritual exercises,” or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs.
 
Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception “of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe” (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.
 
Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood, when the sensum was not immediately and automatically subordinated to the concept. Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero.
 
Though the intellect remains unimpaired and though perception is enormously improved, the will suffers a profound change for the worse. The mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in particular and finds most of the causes for which, at ordinary times, he was prepared to act and suffer, profoundly uninteresting. He can’t be bothered with them, for the good reason that he has better things to think about…
 
As Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen. In some cases there may be extra-sensory perceptions.
 
Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence, of the given, unconceptualized event.
 
In the final stage of egolessness there is an “obscure knowledge” that All is in all – that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to “perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”
 
~Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception~
 
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Posted in Creative Systems Thinking, mystic view, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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~

Posted in age of ignorance, Creative Systems Thinking, education reform, Learner-centered education, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments