Many things are being said about the mischief that our overly inflated Ego is doing to our world – and many are true. But we are usually being mislead: ego is an essential part of who we are, and we couldn’t exist (the way that we intend to, of course) without it. Imagine a world without education, healthcare, abundant food, science, technology, art, economy, luxury and so on – our whole civilization is being built by the ego.
It’s only harmful when it goes overboard. Big Ego stirs waves, from ripples to tsunamis, worldwide – the chaos we are currently living in. This is the kind of ego that we would want to gain awareness about, and which we should try to keep under control. But, like Donald Rumsfeld is acknowledging in the above quote, many would “do little to moderate their ego.”
Dr. Risha Joshi, mentor and coach, has a very interesting and competent point of view on this, and you can read it on his blogsite here: http://rishajoshi.com/2015/12/16/the-role-of-the-ego/
“I Can’t Afford To Hate Myself”, Says The Self-Defending Ego – Incest and Child Abuse From A Different Perspective
Only in the past two month I happened to find out about three of such situations, from people I know. It is hard to hear about it. But everyone knows that it is way harder to those directly involved. It is increasingly common to hear testimonies of parent-child ill-treatment and abuse, of past and ugly mistakes that leave unhealed wounds for years ahead, at times for a lifetime. The victim feels that it is to blame. We usually try and comfort the victim with the usual… “Well, it was long ago,” “It wasn’t your fault,” “It will pass,” etc. But the meaning and causes behind the “parent perpetrator / child victim” behavior have a life-long, time-bomb effect, and the damage is very profound, and the victims, defenseless little children no more, have yet a hard time in coming to terms with it.
Yet, in these chaotic times, the current process of evolution in consciousness we are undergoing wants the old society to be transformed, and, in order for this to happen, the ugly elements in the collective unconscious need to come out into the light of consciousness. So that they happen no more.
We may keep on asking, what makes someone (at times, the closest to you, the one that gave you life, that is supposed to protect you above all and everything) attack you physically and psychologically, you, a defenseless child? Would it be that the child is so undeserving that he, or she, deserves punishment and maltreatment? According to common sense, and to new science, a child is coming to this life totally innocent, helpless and unprepared, so it is up to us, parents, to provide to all its needs.
If, at any time along the child’s development there are reasons to believe that he/she didn’t progress well enough, or less well than expected, then it must be the parents’ fault, and not the child’s. A child may defend himself/herself ferociously against a stranger, for instance, but cannot defend against parental authority – even adults cannot defend themselves against authority (Milgram experiment)
But these are only rational speculations, while there is nothing rational in this type of behavior. Whatever the reason, it leaves indelible traces in the abused child – for life. Not for the physical damage, but for the psychological one. All our psychological wounds come from any kind of action that is being perceived as out of the norm, condemnable at the societal level. It is a long, well established religious dogma: no incestuous relations between close relatives – it may be that people were observant enough to realize that along time such relations would generate offspring less fit for survival and procreation, something that genetics discovered relatively recently. If animals, wild or domesticated, are avoiding interbreeding, there must be some evolved instinct in nature in order to discourage it.
However, humans have found their way, as usual, to go around religious and natural prohibitions: ancient Egyptians’ royalty encouraged the practice, so that it became a sort of “privilege of the gods” (pharaohs were “gods on earth”). Christianity also knows of glamorous examples (among who knows how many secret ones) like the illustrious family that gave the world three popes. “Borgia were an incestuous family”, says Giovanni Sforza about the family of his wife, Lucretia – their Vatican orgies were quite famous and in plain daylight.
There is no evidence that in these examples, people were in no way affected by the weight of their acts, on the contrary, they caused their singular ways to be seen as privileged and exclusive – who knows how many envious followers they left in their historic trace??
In our days, conventions in our society dictate that incestuous relations be prohibited and blamable – probably partly on the religious bases, partly as a natural instinct that even animals follow. How does a child, victim of such abuse, know that this is an outrageous thing, outrageous enough as to cause deep psychological trauma for a life time? Maybe the child knows it deeply, innately, the same way animals “know”. Why does the abusive parent do it? Because there must be something gone terribly wrong with him or her, something to have rendered him/her psychologically and emotionally impaired – maybe, most probably, something similar had happened to himself (or herself, as mothers and grandmothers are known to do it too).
When a person is acting this way against his/her own progeny, he, or she is doing it because he/she is deeply hurt, hateful towards self, even desperate and disgusted with oneself – and it doesn’t have to be consciously known. In fact, their biggest problem is that they are not conscious that they are so profoundly hurt, and why. They can only act blindly, repeat and mirror the reprovable behavior that caused them such painful emotions on a similarly vulnerable victim, the way they were themselves. Which makes them feel even worse: this is why they blame the victim, the child, for their own ugliness and helplessness – from here the bad words, the beating, the worsening of the abuse. This is a typical example for “projection”: a psychological term that explains how unacceptable, negative behavior is being projected, reflected on others. A liar would see that everybody is lying, a thief would claim that everybody is a thief, a stingy, avaricious man would poke fun at others for their stinginess.
I am amazed at how many brave men and women, even children, decide to speak up, let the world become aware that all these reprovable things like incest and pedophilia are happening. It is by bringing dark things to the light that dark, uncontrollable instincts lose their power and become harmless, as awareness and reason gain over emotion and instinct.
We are humans in the process of bringing light into millenia of unconsciousness and darkness – we are collectively paining in the process of transformation of the animal instinct into evolved awareness. Hard as may be, we are the transforming heroes, so that these things never happen again in the next generations.
- Polly Y. Eisendrath, James James Albert Hall, “Jung’s Self Psychology – A Constructivist Perspective” p 6
Show Me My Shadow
James J. O’Donnell, author and classic scholar, tells us that “People kill because it’s the right thing to do.” And he is terribly right. Only this last Christmas, a woman in Arizona shot in the eye another woman because that one didn’t believe in God – at Christmas!
He goes on: “elected statesmen—American no less than from countries we aren’t so fond of—are no less prone to pull the trigger on killing with exact justifications based in the soundest moral arguments. We glance away nervously and mutter about exceptions. What if the exceptions are the rule?” And then he leaves us with a warning: The good guys are the bad guys. Teaching your children to do the right thing can get people killed.”
More than half-a-century ago, Jung identified our own Shadow to be the source for the problem: we never pay attention to our own flaws, to the spiderwebs in our own closets – this is a wink to those who are into psychology.
To those into religion, the Bible says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” But maybe we pick in our religions the stuff that suits us and dispose of the rest?? Cause “there is nothing wrong about it, God would never see it anyway, if we hide it well”… or so we’d like to believe. But God, whoever, whatever this is, is not much into any spying system – it is our own soul that cannot bear hypocrisy, lying, finger-pointing, wrong-doing… because human soul has this property, it always wants to be neat and clean. Rather than being saintly, the soul would want things to be honest and straight.
So, who and what am I, the good, or the bad one?? I am the two – and seeing this is my utmost, foremost “soul assignment” in this life: seeing the log in my own eye. It is just that – but it’s so hard.
I have been watching the fear, the hatred, the suspicions, the accusations and incrimination at the coming of the Syrian and Afghan refugees in Europe and in the States. Not all of them are good people. Not all of them are genuine refugees. But the biggest majority are.
But meanwhile, for who knows, maybe 0,0001 % of the infiltrated bad ones, Europe is radicalizing its policies, all like the US: we may be testimonies to the process of electing an American president not because he may be the best man for the job, but because he is the one most skilled at scaring the frightened child inside us.
There has been another president before who declared a new “Crusade War” to the Middle East. And he didn’t hesitate, he went for it: what we are living now is just the aftermath. If a new president will follow in his footsteps, we are going to live a new edition, the “Crusade War Two”.
And, the aftermath to that…?? The aftermath to that wold be total Chaos, if this one we are living now was not enough.
Finally, rather than deliberating whether “They are good” or “They are bad”, a change of pronoun may help enormously: “I am good” or “I am bad”.
The Bible didn’t say: “see the log in your eye” and mend it. Just seeing, becoming aware of it would be equal to fixing it and accepting that”I am good” and “I am bad”. Maybe if I see my own dark corners I won’t be that ready to throw stones at another fellow human being?
The featured image is a visualization of the routing paths through a portion of the Internet. As the Internet is now the means, the tool, the depository of data and the projection wall for our collective knowledge, we can easily see it as a collective brain. The connections and pathways can be easily imagined as the pathways of neurons and synapses in this global brain. But this is not the only parallel; the neuron connections can also parallel the structures shown by our cities viewed from aboard the space station, or the images of the deep space in the visible universe – it seems that, the larger the diversity of scales, the more similarity we find. Science names this repetition of patterns from the micro to the macro scale fractality, which is a fundamental property of our universe. A fractal is “an object whose parts, at infinitely many levels of magnification, appear geometrically similar to the whole.“
Fractality is only one example of universality of patterns and systems; as the common trait of many fractals is self-similarity, there is a whole world of scale-free complex networks that suggest common self-organization dynamics. The complex networks are self-repeating patterns on all length scales. At human scale we can observe real-life systems like the world-wide web, biological and social networks – we are part of all three. As we are also part of the universe. As the universe is part of us.
One of the most common patterns of self-similarity is the spiral. We see spirals everywhere; besides being a beautiful shape, a spiral is a truly efficient form. The marvelous curves are not only nature’s way to organize space efficiently, but they also convey energy and motion.
When we analyse the geometry of a spiral we realize that it is possibly the most simple mathematic pattern that occurs in nature at all levels, from the tracks made by atomic particles (this is how far “small” we can see) to chemical reactions (Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction) to bacteria-growth patterns, to crystals (bismuth), to clouds, to turbulence in water and air, to weather patterns on distant planets, to galaxies and nebula; we see curves in a wave, in the shells and snails, in animals’ tails and horns, in flowers, and plants. We can hear because of such a spiral – cochlea.
Mathematics is our way to translate the universe into numbers.Numbers are only what we use to organize quantitative information. If we analyse the spiral, it is always the repetition of the same ratio, the so called “Golden Number”, 1.61803399, represented as the Greek letter Phi. Along time it has been called a number of names, all of them containing “golden” or “divine” as adjective: Golden Ratio, Golden Proportion, Golden Mean, Golden Section, suggestive of how people can be fascinated and awed by the “divine” intelligence of the universe: it is also known as the “Divine Proportion” and the “Divine Section”.
The Golden Ratio is generated by a specific, easy to calculate sequence of numbers: starting from zero, then one and two, each number is to be additioned to the one before it:
zero, one + one = two, two +one =three, three + two = five, and so on, to infinity.
The potentially infinite series, called Fibonnaci after the nickname of the Italian matematician who first published a book on the series, is now well known in the mainstream of pop culture. A Fibonacci Spiral is a logarithmic spiral with a growth factor of phi, or a rectangle with sides in the ratio of 1 : φ – the Golden Rectangle, or the Golden Spiral, widely used in arts and architecture. Throughout history, but particularly in the Renaissance art with Leonardo da Vinci and his peers, many artists and architects proportioned their works according to the Golden Ratio – which explains why, innately, we find their works aesthetically pleasing (what about this inclination we commonly share, that of liking and loving, of disliking or hating the same things – as much as we would like to deny it, there are more similarities among us to unite, than are differences to separate us).
As we are all webbed within our human society, we are already one example of a complex system, and there is a whole hierarchy of systems inside us – fractality. Human society is itself being webbed in the larger system of life on the planet, as the planet is also part of its solar system, itself part of … .
It is undeniable, and today more obvious than ever, that we are intricate, irreplaceable parts embedded in ever larger complex systems; we cannot hold ourselves apart from the laws of a universe ruled by self-organizing processes. This is our place in the order of Being. This is our Identity. This is our Right. This is our Responsibility.
Man has instinctively complied to the laws dictated by nature, first by imitating nature, and now through understanding nature, realizing that he is nature itself, that nature’s intelligence is man’s intelligence. Everything that our mind perceives and is aware of is the universe looking at itself. Since the numbers are everywhere, everything is part of a pattern. The same patterns that are outside us, in the infinite universe, are also inside us. We reflect on them, as they reflect on us: we, as individuals, are holograms within the holographic universe: images within images. Life itself is a Fractal. The initial question: “What is our place inside the universe?” is gradually finding its answer; in as much as it is hard to believe it, this is, however, the true answer.
Can You Trust Mainstream Definition of The Self?
If you are one of those who still thinks that there is nothing wrong with our world, don’t read this. But if you, too, think that our world is going through chaos, maybe you would want to read on.
My musings here have been originated by the mainstream worldview usually expressed in terms similar to this:
“… if you really want to change how you view humanity, I guess you start viewing humanity as nothing but another species that developed on a planet with optimal circumstances for the evolution of that species.
This can be hard to do if you are religious or exceptionally spiritual [*my highlighting].
You could just think “I am just one in 7 billion living homo sapiens. My existence is no more meaningful than that of anybody or anything else. I am not here for any reason worth thinking about. I just am. Like other (advanced) species I desire shelter and food and my ultimate evolutionary goal is to procreate and ensure the continuation of my genes.” That’s it.
It’s not fun, but it’s not wrong, per say [sic].
I guess it helps if you look up pictures of space so you see how minuscule humanity is and that our existence (whether we become a utopian race or literally blow up the planet) is not in any way important or exceptional relative to the universe.”
Is that so?? Is it not important, really? If tomorrow our grandchildren will ask us “Why did you let that happen to the planet, to the animals and plants, and to the world?”, would it look like sound judgment to them if we told them: “See, you, and the world are not important in any way”? Or, perhaps, they would ask us: “Are you in your right mind?”
With all the chaos happening around us, I have recently had a good number of reasons to see that human life (and life in general) has become quite a negligible concept in a sea of more important things, like government, security, the military, the economy, the stock market, bonds, shares, the investment market, so on, and so forth.
Actually in what regards the crucial issue of identity, there is more polarity than ever before in the whole of our mass consciousness.
At one extreme, religious dogma has been telling us for two thousand years that we are sinners and unworthy, guilty of some “original” sin. At the other, science is telling us that we are just accidentally here, and the technocrats consider that we humans (are themselves included?) have become less apt than the increasingly smart artificial intelligence – AI, even at such uncomplicated tasks as driving, for instance. That’s why there are serious propositions to replace human driving with self-driving cars.
What I find mostly disturbing in this general frame of mind is not that humans are being unfavorably compared to AI – we do have less computation power or less memory – it is the belief that the ultimate solution to our current problems would be the machines. It is expected that they should teach us empathy and ethics: “the machines teach empathy, prospection, and correct agency attribution”, according to a Computer Science professor at the University of Vermont (here).
But I don’t think that I should entrust my children, my children’s children and the planet to the empathy of machines. Why don’t we “teach” them by showing empathy ourselves? Is it that hard?
Would it be easier to risk it all just because we are being too lazy to make an effort? Or too irresponsible? Too careless? Too “inhuman”?
Which Part of You Is Irreplaceable?
Today science and technology have enabled us to live with different donors’ organs, with artificial organs or limbs, more recently 3D printed, or with newly grown parts from stem cells. We have the ability to change body parts like we do for our cars, yet we are still capable of identifying ourselves as being the same person as before. What is this thing that makes us form and keep an identity, a basic feeling of who we are?
It’s ok to change a limb, or an organ – even as crucial as the heart. But what if we were to change, for instance, our brain, in a head transplant? Would we still keep your identity after that?? For my part, what makes me be who I am is not my hair, or liver, or legs, but my mind (ok, maybe my soul: my brain and my heart), because it’s behind the way I feel, think, remember, act and react. So, I guess, identity is mostly provided by our mind.
Which brings me to this crucial question: If a doctor were to transplant a head on a different body, who would the new person be – what would be his identity? If we had a John’s head on a Bill’s body, would that be Bill, still, but with a different head? Or would that be John, “wearing” Bill’s body??
As absurd that this may sound – and it did seem so out of this world to me when I first heard about it, this is a real scientific project, already performed on dogs, rats and monkeys. But between a monkey and a human there is not much of a difference, right?
Why would scientists do that? I think that people, when they do crazy things, they do it firstly because they can; many things are happening in the world today because of the high disproportion between wisdom and intelligence, and power doesn’t seem to care about wisdom – not even when it comes to science. Is it in quest of fame? Even though this fame may well turn into notoriety a few years ahead, when the results may turn out to be disastrous?
Dr Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group proposed to use surgery to extend the lives of people with degenerated muscles and nerves or cancer-permeated organs: “I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible” – he is preparing to do it himself in two years from the date of the announcement (June, 2015, according to New Scientist). The head will belong to a 30 y.o. Russian patient who is trying to offer himself a chance this way. He is suffering of a rare degenerative genetic disorder, a muscle wasting disease, which would be the main reason behind operating head transplants. Now, if the volunteering patient feels and knows for sure that there is no other way for him than do it or die, it’s easy to understand: the guy is kind of playing the “Russian Roulette”, but in reverse: of all the deadly bullets, there may be a single one to shoot life back into his body, give him a probable chance to life.
I have no doubts that, if this experiment will fail in 2017, chances are that it may become routine in 2020. That is why I would like to take you off the course of current way of thinking: “Let’s take the next step ahead, even though, who knows, the stepping stone my foot is currently on may go tumbling down into the abyss as soon as I move it, leaving me stranded above a gaping void.” What sort of a life would that be? How, and who could one feel with a new head, or a new body?
Identity – What Makes Me Be “Me”?
I know who I am not only because I read, studied, listened, exchanged information with the world outside of me. But I am who I am because this body of mine that I’ve been gifted with years ago has been the source of endless experiences, pleasurable or not, but mostly through my senses – my body has provided them to my brain, and my brain has been labeling them in categories and memories from least to most joyful or painful. I am a full package of all this, a whole circuit of an entire chemistry between my brain and my body – a package of memories of sensations and emotions provided by my brain-body system. To these I add my dreams (wishes and literal dreams), my ambitions (which mostly are not for recognition, but for realizing, I hope, happiness), my relationships – I can’t see my life without them (would they relate the same way to me when I’m no more the one they knew??). This is what makes me and defines me, gives me the feeling of who and what I am, and I wouldn’t exchange them with anybody or anything. This is how I relate to my inner self and to the world around me.
When I feel tired, or sad, if there is a breeze of wind, a fresh scent of freshly cut grass, some scented oil on my skin after a relaxing bath, a beautiful plateau with mountain flowers and grazing sheep with bells by a gurgling spring nearby, or the taste of freshly picked, ripe raspberries, any of these would immediately project me into a different dimension, and would effect a sudden change to this complex “I am”: any of these can instantly change me from a grumpy person into a five-year-old jumping bundle of joy. I am not so sure that my head alone could provide me with any of these – I can read about a love scene, but it would always leave inside me a craving for the real experience – to me, quality of life is not tradable in exchange for longer life, not even for the long-held humanity’s dream, immortality.
What brought me to these musings is all this talk about the increasing role that information technologies (IT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are going to play in our lives sooner than later. Maybe I am old-fashion, but I am not such a big fun of virtual reality, and in the next post I am going to explain why.