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“#Me Too”, AI and Singularity – a Woman’s Musings

Every woman who has ever been presented with a career/sex quid pro quo in the entertainment industry should come forward and simply say, “Me, too.” Alissa Milano

“#Me Too”, the 2006 dormant  hashtag explodes in October 15th, 2017, to 4.6 million tweets and uses, Facebook posts and shares – in just one day . In just one month it spreas to 86 countries. Is this the first time ever that we hear about widespread sexual misconduct? 

Fr – balanceTon Pork  Can-MoiAussi Ar -أنا_كمان  Chin– #我也是   Sp- YoTambién   Viet-TôiCũngVậy      It -QuellaVoltaChe

 

It’s been barely one month since The New York Times’ article containing allegations of sexual misconduct by film producer Harvey Weinstein, and women – men, too – reacted like never before to a social issue. A tsunami of denunciations of all sorts of blamable acts performed by men against women (with some exceptions) brought to our awareness all levels of unhealthy and demeaning attitudes. The open truth hit us all with the force of a tidal wave, and high-placed, important heads have been pulled out from their previous place of power like bad teeth.

    But why this reaction, and why now? We used to be quite familiar with the way things were, we were OK with bosses pinching women’s derriere inside the meeting room. Nobody was as naive as to imagine that in the case of Clinton and his internship Monica Lewinsky it was she who begged him on her knees, as nobody was naive to believe that those accusations made against Trump before the elections were unfounded. There has been also the  2011 DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) scandal. For having sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York, the man payed it heavily, he’d lost his position of manager director of the IMF and an almost certain nomination at the French presidency, lost in favor of Francois Hollande in the coming year.

However, none of these pushed, like now, millions of women to stop hiding and come forward with their suffered experiences. What caused it this time? It could be that women are feeling more liberated now in 2017 than they have ever been in their lifetime – in any case, less exposed to shaming and to criticism than they used to.

As a woman, I acknowledge that I have been confronted to all sorts of “manly” attentions, from the mild level and up to the hard one, when I had to ask my husband to intervene. Was I provoking it – their attention, I mean? No, not in the least – I have never thought of myself as someone fatally attractive and irresistible to men. At best, when I didn’t feel insulted by the pressure after saying my stern “no”, I felt mildly satisfied: “Oh, I am turning heads, too.” We are all men and women after all, and there are ways of manifest admiration while still remaining in that respectful zone. I find it natural that a man looks at a woman with certain admiration or gallantry. Women do it too, these days, or am I wrong??

By saying this I’m not justifying men’s abuse of position, power and influence to illicit needs or pleasures – by all means, women should feel free to invite or reject the man or the behavior that they consider unsolicited.

At the same time I would also caution women against using this sudden window, or platform, against incriminating for the sake of incriminating – we wouldn’t want to be transforming our legitimate ailments into wizard hunts, and neither should we abuse this opportunity to settle old accounts with someone who’d hurt us, or caused us some damage in ways unrelated to sexual misconduct – let’s keep things in their separate boxes.

Women have their own part of responsibility for the way things are; in as much as it is true that women ARE being forced to suffer unsolicited attentions, there are also women who  are using their charms in plays of power, in all awareness, to easily climb a hierarchy, to get specific favors, to satisfy specific interests. And this is why I’m not sure that this “me too” meme is all about men abusers and women victims; what about the women in power, also found on the lists of abusers?

An other issue would be that society has always been overly permissive to certain attitudes, deemed totally appropriate and fit for an overt patriarchal context. After all, we have inherited millennia-old patterns of culturally accepted behavior with inflamed gods chasing and impregnating unwilling goddesses . And who dares to go back and watch those old, once endeared movies in any culture, American, French or Italian cinema, with favorite male actors engaged in actions and attitudes that sparked our grandmothers’ admiration, but which would make a girl these days go straight to the police section? How much right do we have now to judge and hit back at actions that were socially appropriate only thirty, or even ten years ago (except, of course, rape and violence that were not, for sure)? Therefore, I find it the more amazing that this something that we even didn’t dare dream to achieve, this sudden awareness to misconduct, we are achieving it, right now.

I believe all this is mostly a social awakening. We need to clarify what can and what cannot be appropriate, to draw the red line between what is acceptable and what isn’t. We need to get rid of this concept of short-cuts to pleasure, in men’s case, or of short-cuts to ascension, in women’s case, we need to start building a culture of fair-play. We should all climb the stairs of prominence and find social empowerment not through “stealing” others’ dignity, not through selling or buying pleasures at the office and inside institutions with destinations other than the designated facilities for that.

But I can see even a bit further. Misogyny and men’s misconduct against women may seem pale issues in confronts to other burning ones like pedophilia, forced prostitution, slavery and warfare, malnutrition and endemic poverty, irresponsible use of science in the detriment of Nature and natural. I see these issues as shameful enough not to be compatible with the ambitions of a society ready for the upcoming, “robotic” era, now that the take over of the artificial intelligence is imminent – oh, yes, this is the kind of intelligent beings that we are: we keep on focusing on one burning issue while disregarding all other burning issues, incapable of beholding the larger scale of things. Fact is that while we are still sorting out our dirty laundry, AI is forcing its way into our society at an exponential speed, on the pretext that we have become so blind, so dumb and vile, compared to its Superiority, that only Its Highness, a higher than human intelligence could put an end to all our ailments. And some guys who know their stuff, guys like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates keep warning us against it, together with being “inevitable.” Wouldn’t this be way scarier than any man/woman/child/nature/religious/human-right abuse?

And this is why any victory against our shadow nature, any rise in consciousness at the level of our society is a giant victory. But are we awakening at the necessary speed, before things get totally out of control?

To Be Read by Parents Over Fifty, Under Adult Children’s Strict Supervision

I’ve never cried while out or driving; not even with my eldest daughter’s divorce two years ago, when she dropped the bombshell on us, four years into a marriage based on a love story. Not even when my daughter is being invited over to her son’s school, to meet a whole team of teachers, psychologist and councilor because her five-year-old son is misbehaving again. And I know why: he feels deeply hurt because his loving dad isn’t living with him and his mom, but in a different country. He keeps on talking about “crushing” or destroying stuff, from a toy to planes or even the world.

But today I couldn’t hold it and I kept crying… behind a pair of sunglasses, true, but this didn’t stop people who’d cross my way from eyeing me strangely. It’s my second daughter who made me cry. Because she herself has been crying for the past two days. Because her father and I demanded that she stops seeing the guy she’s been in love with for the past two years.

No,we aren’t that kind of mean parents – we aren’t any Capulets. But we did it because we are afraid for her, and we are trying to protect her – or, maybe, ourselves? Or, maybe, because of our first daughter’s failed marriage?

Fact is, we always had a vulnerable spot regarding our second daughter, now 26, more fragile, in our eyes, than her eldest. And we wanted to avoid her what was, in our eyes, a relationship destined to sure failure.

We had no preconceived, bad intentions before meeting the guy. I even bought myself a dress and tried on accessories that would go fine with it for the engagement. I even made efforts and lost weight. Not that the guy is a terrible one; he seems nice, polite and polished. But what we saw in him was below our standards for her, in terms of personal merits, self assurance, confidence; he gave us all (including the rest of the family) the impression of lacking grounding and centeredness. She said that he’s full of promises, but we didn’t judge him with the same indulgence. At 31, a young man should have already some base, other than the job he recently got after many changes. And now, maybe she hates us. And maybe she’s right.

“It’s her business whether she wants or not to be with him, if she likes him,” some people would argue, or would strongly advise: “Don’t interfere into the lives of your adult children!” I know, I always did that to others, but it’s always easier to shower advice on others.

We aren’t the kind of parents to interfere in their children’s major life decisions. We didn’t interfere with our first daughter’s marriage. We didn’t interfere with all our children’s choices of career; we didn’t either with their choice to go study, work and leave abroad. But this time we felt we had to; our accumulated life experience, our understanding of people’s personalities pushed us to assume this kind of responsibility.

And now I feel lost… I always put my personal interests aside to live vicariously, in accordance to the victories and failures, the comings and goings of my children. I always wanted to be there for them, because my own parents were not always there for me when I badly needed.

I wrote a book on family relationships which I deem important for everyone and relevant in as much as a culmination of a lifetime of focus and from my years of experience;  one cannot but build one’s own my philosophy of life, and I deem mine comprehensive, rich and consistent. I believe that living a fruitful life, giving out the product of your accumulated wisdom is the utmost meaning of this brief existence.          However, I didn’t do anything to bring this book, this other child of mine into the world, because every time when I would push for it, my children would need me. But this wouldn’t stop me from feeling frustrated and failing myself.

And now, for the first time in her life, my daughter is not that willing to talk to us as she used to. She wants to be left alone. I don’t think she trusts our judgment… she’d rather listen to the voice of her heart. And I wonder… is this voice ALWAYS right??

This is the moment when you realize that you should have left them alone, make their own choices. Even at the price of you living with hurts and sleepless nights caring, worrying for them… or driving and crying.

This is the moment when you realize that no, you needn’t see yourself smarter than your parents. By now you stop seeing how they’ve  done a terrible job at shaping and upbringing you and begin to understand their reasons. By making those mistakes they may have given you the right model… or the wrong one?? Here I am, the result of my parents’ upbringing, they, in turn, the result of theirs… and so on. Who knows which way is right? To care, or not to care? To interfere, or not to interfere? To suffer, or not to suffer?… as if we had any choice.

 

Writers, Beware of The Need for Safety!

I never had the courage to pitch the book I have been writing for the past three years – I am a Cancer, and am afraid of hurts. Eventually, as reality would have it, by shaking and hitting me against the walls of my isolation, I got it: there is no way out of it for me, but write, distill, bring to its quintessence my best possible query letter; I did it, but still, I didn’t have the guts to send it. I just feel the need to be safe – Cancer fears: what if they rejected me?? My world, then, would shatter, collapse, crash, crumble to dust, be annihilated, then I would be worse than dead.

Recently, I got a call for a boot camp, where a well-seasoned literary agent from an important agency is offering to give a fair feedback on the first ten pages. I said to myself, well, if I have to pay for it, maybe they’d be nice enough as to wrap their deadly fists, deadly to the writers’ egos, in lots of bubble wrap, so, in I jumped. I sent my first ten pages. Upon reception, the boot camp agents are supposed to give you a first opinion, following which you have two days to re-send the revised pages.

Here’s her first revision (I haven’t got the second, yet):

 

“There’s a lot of great material here. You have a powerful father/daughter story everyone will be able to relate to, and you a great voice with which to tell it. The challenge for you is to shape this material into a compelling dramatic narrative. The following are suggestions to help you do just that:

 1) As now written, it’s all telling and no showing. You need to fully dramatize your material, that is, write it in fully realized scenes. Right now it’s mostly exposition; it’s you talking and telling. 

2) Because you are not writing in scenes, your story lacks narrative thrust. It’s like one very long opening shot. Narrative thrust is the taut building of story, beat by beat, scene by scene, chapter by chapter, propelling the narrative forward in a dramatic arc that peaks at the climax of the story. You must write each scene so that it leads logically to the next, as if you were connecting a model train, car by car, and presenting story questions as you proceed down the track, pushing the action forward to its inevitable if unpredictable ending. You need to make sure that each scene has a point; that in every scene it’s clear what your heroine wants/needs, and whether or not she gets it. 

3) Stories like this often benefit from an organizing principle, which can help you differentiate your story from the others of its ilk. For example, in The Secret Life of Bees, each chapter begins with a snippet from various texts on beekeeping. Even the title, The Secret Life of Bees, speaks to this organizing principle—the metaphor of her novel. Other examples include:

  • Eat Pray Love (three acts)
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary (diary entries)
  • The Know It All (the encyclopedia)
  • Julie and Julia (blogs and recipes)
  • Wild (the journey)
  • My Horizontal Life (life as a series of one-night stands)

I don’t know what you might best use, because I don’t know your story, but think about it. You might consider doing it day by day for 30 days, since you say the story covers the last month of your father’s life.

4) You need to get to your father’s bedside sooner. That’s when your story really begins and you will find it easier to dramatize the interaction between the two of you and between you and the rest of your family. Try starting there.

Again, you have great material here. Now you just have to bring all that material to life by dramatizing your story.”

“Aha”, I said to myself: “great material”,””great voice”…hmm, it sounded good to my writer-to-be ego. But bad for my story. I have this devil in me that, although is terribly afraid of hurts – like every devil – doesn’t hesitate to use its horns and gore when it can (it’s my Aries rising sign). I felt that my agent here didn’t understand this thing (how can anyone get it, from reading the standardized “ten pages”??). My writing here isn’t about a daughter-father story, how I used to sit by my father’s bed and consume tissues by the dozen, not at all. It is about Existential Patterns, about archetypes that get and grab us within their absolute power … about the Journey we take, about Life and Death, and Meaning.

 

We live in chaotic times where there is no place for “standard”, for “safe”; however, what essentially agents want and look for, is a “safe story”, one that has proven itself, time and again saleable, entertaining. But what is “entertaining”?? It’s not only “delightful” and “amusing,” but it’s also “intriguing” and “compelling”, in the sense of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, or The Power of Now. Agents don’t stop and think that “safe”, by force of repetition, can be a recipe for trite, for already consumed, for fast food, mass-consumption. The newest “invention” in “entertaining writing” is computer writing. Programmers identify the ingredients, the structure, the plot that make story telling compelling, then design algorithms for what makes successful stories – we can purchase now the genre on Amazon.

That agents feel the need to stay safe, is understandable. Flooded by hundreds, even thousands of queries a day, they don’t want any headache by taking risks – and I’m not far from this need for “safe” when I don’t dare to send that query letter.  However, there is a chance in taking risks, one that is not possible when staying “safe”. Books like Eat Pray Love, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Know It All, Julie and Julia (these have been mentioned by an agent), all like Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc, have all been seen as “un-safe”, rejected countless times by agents. However, these books are what they are because they didn’t follow the required publishing standards in their given time.

 

Well, this is it. And now, I’m waiting for her answer. I’m sure that it’s gonna hurt, ouch!!! But I’ll have to gather all my courage and send that query letter.

While you, other people keep on blogging, exchanging recipes and pictures, thoughts and musings, I just sank down to the bottom of my ocean, like the crab (read: Cancer) that I am. Why?? Because I had a final month with my father, with whom I used to have a stormy relationship.  His passing away hit me in ways I would have never thought possible. After the shaking, deep to my roots, I had to write the story, in its reality, as well as in its “non-reality”. I did it to bring some order into my thoughts, my emotions, my new world without my father –  but, ultimately, it can reveal unsuspected mechanisms at work in any family, anywhere around the world.  I also wrote it because it is testifying on the greatness of existence.

This blog’s name is Patterns of Soul Development – beyond what our narrow reality there is a wider, deeper one that is full of meaning. Caught up in our everyday life turbulence we have the vision of the ant within a cup of water, unaware of the surrounding room, building, city, state, continent, planet, galaxy, Local Group (our galaxy cluster) part of the Virgo Supercluster, part of the Laniakea Supercluster, etc, part of a Universe within a Multiverse.  We all get to follow, insignificant ants as we are, these same universal patterns incumbent on all kinds of systems within our universe – it’s not I who says it, it’s cosmology, System Sciences, Chaos Theory, etc.

It is this kind of pattern that this story is about: it reveals our personal and collective unconscious psyche, the patterns that we fall into. The chaos and the turbulence in our lives force us to develop and grow, according to archetypal patterns in the evolution in consciousness.  I’ll have to pitch the story, send that query letter…

PS: The answer did come, in just ten words: “Ultimately it’s your story to tell. Tell it your way!” Hmm… thanx, but no thanx. I felt is sharp and snappy – or is it just my sensitivity?? After I got over the pain, however, I sat down and crafted a better, more-in-the-line-with-her-recommendations hind of beginning. And I’m really happy with it. Thanx, and thanx again.

I’ve had an idea!

Addiction Support Blog

Making it write

lauraagain12

It’s 2.30am, and I should be in bed. I should leave this post for a time when I can express myself clearly, but I have to get it out there now. People are suffering and dying as a result of addiction, andI think I’ve found a unique way to help addicts.

It’s all thanks to my wonderful, compassionate WP friends. I hope you all know who you are. Ever since I started blogging I’ve been looking for a way to help addicts and their families. I’ve been convinced that there’s something I can do which hasn’t been done before. Maybe this has, but I’ve never seen it.

I’ll explain how you fantastic friends gave me the idea, and then I’ll tell you the plan.

From the very first time I began writing about my children’s addictions – and particularly Laura’s (that’s her in the picture), you have sent messages…

View original post 580 more words

Happy 2017!

Hello to All My Fellow Bloggers!

I haven’t been present this year, but I made attempts to keep in touch with your posts and life musings. I haven’t been idle, though: I tried to work as hard as I could at the Memoir I am currently editing, hoping to put it out there into the collective cloud of good, inspiring stuff to read. I am hopeful that, the way that it haunted me (in a positive way, of course) and I couldn’t tear myself away from writing it, it will similarly be touching, soul-stirring my readers. It is my dearest hope that all the raw experience and knowledge that I have been pouring into those pages will inspire and help at least a fellow being or two.

I wish you all the best possibilities to manifest and be the best you can be, I pray for Peace in the World and for Love!

Happy New 2017!

 

quote-organizations-for-writers-palliate-the-writer-s-loneliness-but-i-doubt-if-they-improve-ernest-hemingway-44-61-81

“I Am” – What Makes The I-ness? Individual And Collective Mind – The Shadow

 

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.

shadow Jung

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?

 

 

Patterns and Lace

I am He as You are She as She is Me and We are All Together – after John Lenon

It happens extremely often to talk to someone and find out in surprise that his/her life trajectory is very similar to mine; I refer to life-changing moments, defining experiences, crisis situations, etc.

The name of this blog wants to imply that there are patterns of existence that we are all subject to, and that we are an organic part of an ensouled world in a continuous process of evolution.

I had my first realization about life patterns while going through some very specific situations; with some, I realized in amazement that my dreams have been dreamed by others before (I mean, to a high degree of similarity) – it was as if my own life situations having been lived by others before. I was my first encounter with the Archetype, with archetypal images and the “archetype of transformation”.

Later I found out that Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung has largely developed on archetypes. He sees them as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the “collective unconscious” – that’s how he explains the fact that they are manifest in all humans, throughout history and across all geography. Archetypal images and motifs flesh out our myths and stories, our literature masterpieces; we encounter them in all forms of art, as artists seem to be more sensitive than the rest of us.

We are moved by art because we unconsciously recognize the archetype represented and resonate with it -. this is why people have the religious figures so deeply “embedded”.  In fact, all the great themes of humanity are inherited by us as archetypes: the Mother archetype, the Father, the Child, the Christ, the Devil, the Trickster, and so on.

Jung sees archetypes as the psychic counterpart to instincts. If our biological survival and evolution has been ensured by instincts, mentally and emotionally we are evolving through archetypal models; that’s why I like to call them programs, more than just phenomena.

Seen from an evolutionary – historic perspective, we are ourselves processes in evolution, far from being just ephemeral points popping in and out of existence,

Our ancient philosophies and our religions mention that we are spirit and soul, and astern religions tell us in addition that our soul keeps on evolving  together with the world around us. If we can view things this way, we can see how the human spirit – which is mind, human consciousness (to distinguish it from Consciousness, the intelligence of the universe) is on an evolutionary trajectory. Our society as a whole is far smarter than any previous generation in known history .

We are far more informed and more communicative in ways that are really significant and that regard us individually, not necessarily for professional reasons, and we can only anticipate  how things are going to look five, ten years on, now that the phenomenon is growing exponentially.

Intelligence, as an effect of the internet and technology, is seen to take such accelerated, ascending trajectory that it has made many “luminaries” today fear that in maximum twenty-five years human mind is very likely to have attended its limitations, and then … we will step into the “transhuman era” and will implant nanocomputers in our blood stream to access the internet (sic) and download the cloud into ourselves or upload ourselves to the cloud – as you wish you will be served). But this is another story.

 

Talking about blogging here, I still see it is amazing how we have all met across continents and distances  because of the internet – thing unimaginable only twenty years ago.

Watch how close things look in this visualization of the internet, in the neuronal network in our brain, and in a map of the outer space: could it be just a difference in scale??

Visualization of the internet
Visualization of the internet

neuron network

mapping-space
mapping space

Hello Blogosphere!

It is now being said that thoughts and inspiration belong to a cloud that is beyond the individual brain. If you can be more creative when you have a partner with whom you  can bounce your thoughts and ideas off, how much more creative we all can be…

Think of that: all that we know today (so much more, and in many instances so  different than only ten years ago), has been happening very much like a feedback loop that happens between bloggers themselves and audiences at large.

I am now on my second month of taking Blogging 101 – the first time was in January this year (although I was first set on blogging a while ago, in 2011), when I had to stop mid-way.

The reason I chose to be blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal is that I kept for years that personal journal – it did help me uncover myself to myself, but it helped me mostly in tracing a map for the events in my life. This lead me to discover that there IS meaning in fact, and maybe more than any of us dare to think of – there is something important about our human condition.  It is this fact that pushed me, rather than stay in my own shell and follow my nature, made me go public – so I decided to embrace and enjoy the benefits of blogging, for myself and for others. Blogging helps you express yourself in ways that you never thought yourself capable of, but mostly, reach out to people and share, exchange. It helps you open up to others in ways deeper than direct contact would allow, and I find that in many ways blogging has been helping to build an amazing human capital around the globe. All that we know today – so much more, and so differently than only ten years ago, has been happening because of the feedback loop that happens between bloggers and audiences at large.

When you uncover yourself, you discover others and will eventually bring together common experiences and learn and grow together.

We are currently going through unprecedented, challenging times; we can allow ourselves to lower our safety guards and loose a bit our protective shells. It takes risk and courage to start the journey in search of ourselves, but like never before we all feel a compelling drive to self-discovery, or to unravel our real identity and discover a truer reality. We are all in need of that deeper meaning that, once found, sheds light on everything else.

Personal development can be taken to the next level through sharing with others one’s personal experience. It eventually becomes an exchange which will help other people in turn – blogging is a give-and-take experience. Once one is set on his way on both the path of blogging and on the path of personal development, the rest is coming in surprising ways.

Can You Read Existentialism Upside Down?

In response to the daily prompt “Which question do you hate to being asked?”, I would answer: there is no question – absolutely no question to which I wouldn’t be disposed to answer. On only one condition: that the question springs from a desire for knowledge and meaning, therefore elicited by a somehow intelligent being.

Sometimes adults tend to ask thoughtlessly, like little children when they just love to practice their newly acquired sense of manipulating words:

“Why do I need to go to sleep?” “Because you need to rest and grow”, you would say.”Why do I need to rest and grow?”, they’d ask. “Because you feel great and happy when you are rested; because you just said you wanted to be a ‘big boy’, like your brother Sam”, you say. ”Why is Sam a big boy?”, he would answer.

As much as you can find it cute (with some effort, I know, not that easy after having spent the last drop of energy on the never-ending tasks that you have to take home and finish at the end of a ten-hour-long working day, after a long commuting time, bad traffic, bad day, etc,etc), it is not that easy to make the same effort for an adult. Because some of them, by force of being lazy at using their God-given neurons, become obnoxious.

I once had a neighbor. She was all-knowledgeable, of course, like all neighbors are – no matter how qualified, how many degrees you happen to have, it so occurs that you always fall quite short of some knowledge relative to your neighbors (or some relatives, why not?).

I was enjoying the early spring sun, with my little baby-daughter in her trolley. Life was good, the sun was warm,the baby was peaceful, I was enjoying reading some Sartre. But the baby didn’t want to be peaceful for more than she had set her mind to, so she made me put down my book and tend to her needs. Then, heaven happened once more ….  I grabbed my book again to continue my reading, but the atmosphere was such, that reading existentialism felt more like a loss than a gain – so I just re-placed the book on my knees and got lost in thought.

My afore-mentioned neighbor happened to pass by; we exchanged greetings, she complimented me on the baby, then, with an expression of horror, she looked at my book: “Oh, my God, that’s how you read?” And, as she must have seen in my eyes that I didn’t make any sense of her aghast expression, she explained it to me: “It’s not this way that you hold it: your book is upside down!” And, very dutifully, she even helped me to correct my mistake: she set it back on my knees, the way any literate being should keep his/her book if he/she wanted to read any.

I agree, this was not a question in full-right – it’d better be called an exclamatory question: more of an exclamation than questioning, looking for an answer. But it’s all the same:  I chose it because it makes a good example of how insulting and thoughtless, without any consideration, or rightly stupid some people can be; she  asked me only a couple of weeks ago if I could tutor her kids with their French.

I chose this example to illustrate how people can be unmindful and insensitive at times, addressing others with thoughtless, hurtful questions – just for the sake of making noise. “Do you have watches in your country?” someone asked my husband when he was a training doctor (“that” country was supposed to be Lebanon, where Europe was abducted by Zeus disguised as a bull, where the oldest attested city in the word, Byblos – Jbail, is still alive and going, where the first Law university in the world was founded, where the origins of the alphabet we are currently using are – the Phoenician alphabet, etc, etc). Has it ever happened to you too??

The Myth of Eternal Return – 3 – Why The Chaos?

I would rather throw a look around me and try to make an objective, logical analysis of what I can see. When I’m in the middle of the turbulence zone, I tend to believe that adversity surprises mostly me, like persecuted by a blind destiny.

But this is only my subjective view; when I step back, take a deep breath detach myself a little, I see that the phenomenon of turbulent zones regards way more people than my own precious person – sometimes even in more disruptive ways. Disasters, plane crashes, natural calamities, bloody wars and terrorism, and the list could not be ended in one single page if I wanted to, make, sadly, almost daily headlines.

But humanity has seen undoing and met with debacle and chaos many a time before. It happened all along history (incidentally, debacle comes from French debacle, meaning to unbar, to clear ), and, guess what, after every major calamity and war, humanity, as if it purged of its negativity, reached deep into the reconstructive forces of creation and  cooperation and helped advance culture and civilization more than it was never imaginable before.

Behind us is a trail full of bloody wars and revolutions, of chaos and then of reconstruction, and the cycle repeats itself, invariably, every time: from chaos and disasters, we seem to have built all this culture and civilization of ours in an ascending curve of waves and troughs.  As if the humanity in us could never reach and access those strings and gears that make us good and beautiful, creative and generous unless after it saw the beast coming out and showing its teeth in a mighty roar; only then we would fight tooth and claws for ideals like love, growth, order and peace.  Chaos represents the confusion or disorder brought to us by events and changes that surprise us and over which we have no power of prediction or control.

The Devil Has Two Horns…

The Devil has two horns, two hooves and a tail. He is hairy and his tail ends up in a trident. How do I know that? Well, everybody knows it, like everybody knows that God is good.  Did I ever see him? You mean, the Devil? Well, I haven’t quite seen him, but I did suffer the sharp blows of its horns – or maybe it was a kick from his hooves, or a whip of his tail, or a punch with his pitchfork – or all together. The Devil is a very energetic, well armed entity, as I could see for myself. I never really considered the stereotyped fellow with red cloak and pitchfork until I got his mighty blows once in my left elbow, once in my chin (I still wear the scar), and another one in the arcade of my right eye – and I consider myself lucky, because it could have been much worse. What’s more, it rendered me infinitely grateful.  For all my skirmishes with him along the years, I can swear, even though many of our human fellows may not believe me, that he is an intelligent, sensible fellow. Far from being the “darkness incarnated” of  the urban legends that made people see an alleged diabolic image taking shape in the smoke of the burning twin towers, and which many have blamed for being behind the mind of the reckless authors of the crime, the Devil means no harm.

All this is true: my skirmishes and final pact with my own demons is just an allegory for the process of transformation that was sort of being forced upon my psyche, helping me to finally grasp and come to terms with crippling, life-long issues of anger and pride – among many other ones, of course. By virtue of some natural mechanism, I slipped gradually into a crippling depression, only to discover years later that it was to become my greatest blessing. I was forced to confront myself with my deepest fears, struggle against my fiercest demons, shed light into my darkest corners, only to uncover my grace. This helped me see the beauty of the realm inside, of which I had no idea it existed, in first place. Our inner demons, condemned by our religions as sins, potentially render us blind and insensitive to the meaning of existence

In fact, we should be honest with ourselves and  brave enough to confess, not only in the secrecy of the confessional, but admit it openly in our social media profiles our (so far secret) indulgence for the once seen as “deadly sins”, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, envy, anger and pride. 

The fact that  Fifty Shades of Grey has been making tsunami waves lately is speaking stories. One hundred million copies in a three-year lapse of time is an unprecedented figure in sales. But here’s the facts and figures: “Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, including those of the United Kingdom and the United States. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time”.

Maybe this is our society’s new way to purge itself?? When it is about passions, the solution nowadays seems to be: “go with it, burn it into cinders! before it burns you! It’s either you, or IT (read it: ID).

Oneness – Not A Christian, Neither A Muslim, Nor A Jew, Neither A Hindu….

In these confrontational days of intolerance against religion in itself, against others’ religion, and against Islam in particular, I find it opportune to bring up here this fragment of a poem – meditation by Sufi Master Jalal ad-Din Rumi. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam – a concept that scholars define as the inner dimension of this religion. Sufi Masters have always sustained that Sufism is purely based on the teachings of Islam, the way that Prophet Mohamad and his cousin, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib has meant it to be understood.  It is not a negligible fact that religion, be it Christian or Islam, has had a long history of being used for ideological, political and military purposes.                               

“Why think O, pious men that I have returned to sobriety. I am neither a Moslem, nor a Hindu; I’m not a Christian, a Zoroastrian, nor a Jew. I am neither from the East, nor from the West; neither from land, nor from the sea. I come neither out of nature’s workshops, nor of the revolving heavens. I am neither from the earth, the water, nor from the air or the fire. I am neither from the divine city, nor from the (material) dust, neither from the being, nor from the essence […] I’m not of this world, but of the other one neither, not of the paradise, neither of the hell. I am neither of Adam nor of Eve, nor of the Eden or Eden’s angels. My place is the no-place, my trail is of that which leaves no trail; it’s neither the body, nor the soul, since I belong to The Beloved’s soul. I have abdicated from duality; I have seen that the two worlds are one. It’s One that I seek, One that I contemplate, One that I call in. It is the first, it is the last, the most exterior and the most interior. I know nothing outside “Oh, You”, or “Oh, You that Are” I am drunk from drinking the cup of love, the worlds have disappeared from my eyes. I have no other business than the banquet of the spirit and the wild drunkenness. If only one instant of my life have I spent without you, from this hour and this moment I want to be sorry for my life. If I can gain in this life just an instant with you, I will trample under my feet the two worlds, dancing in triumph for the eternity.”  

                       Rumi, Diwan – my translation after Jack Brosse’s original translation – Le Livre des Sagesses, p 1584

Out of Depression – Time to Start Swimming

I have been through a number of blogs that are dear to me, here and in other places – and I cannot remain unsympathetic to those who share stories that are so similar to mine. I’ve been through years of depression more than I can count my years without it, but it’s long buried now and (almost?) forgotten.

From what I have seen in my own life-story and in people far and near me, to overcome depression and neurosis, a “bilateral approach” is needed: self-effort firstly, and only secondarily specialist’s assistance (which I didn’t get in my own situation – or, shall I say, my only specialist was my Indian Sadhguru?). It is extremely hard though, to face it or undertake it alone, while it is also true that nobody else can do the work for you – not any one person, not any one medicine, etc. What I mean is that you will need years of sustained self-effort in order to realize that the strength that you crave for, the balance and serenity that you crave for, the self-worth that you crave for, the validation from others that you crave for – and, above all, access power and realize FREEDOM,  are already there within you as a given: you are born with all that (it took me years of practicing a specific aspect of yoga). If you cannot see that yet, is because the veil of dust over your eyes has been accumulating thick along your life, and cemented already (with me, it was). This is why you’ll have to accept to die, allow your ego to shatter into a myriad pieces, in order that your Self may get space and be born. Without this key requirement – accepting your ego’s death – you risk, at best, to remain for the rest of your life dependent on your psychoanalyst, medication, etc. Additionally, you may think that you need support, love, comprehension from others, just to make it easier on you – but, trust me, sugar-coating a bitter pill is not absolutely necessary. The journey is not so easy – but it’s the journey of your life, the only one worth taking. For the while. Cause it’ll take you to another, more worth-wile than the one before.

I’m 55 now. I used to believe that my life purpose is to be a good daughter; then a good student; then a good wife; then a good mother, in parallel with being a good employee. All these cards have fallen one by one like blown away by a gust of wind, to let me see that my only life purpose is be ME. If I don’t accept that, if I keep running after the common things of life, there is a higher authority UP THERE (I guess, my being a non-believer has considerably hindered my journey) that keeps calling me to order; and it’s hard… and it gets harder every time.

Only after all these years – I’ve been a slow learner – I finally think that I know why. What is increasingly evident to me is that I am a cowardly person, not daring to accept and show myself for who I really am in the deepest of my heart. I’m nothing of the things behind which I’m used to be hiding: I’m  not the daughter, I’m not the wife, I’m not the mother, I’m not the teacher. I’m Mirella. And I know that time has come for me to throw myself into the river of life (of a different level than my ordinary) an start swimming. Live behind the excuses, like: “I donno how to swim”; “I can’t swim! “I’m afraid of swimming”; I’m going to swim, yea, sure, but not now, later”; I’d rather not swim alone, I need co-swimmers”. Meanwhile, wave after wave keeps washing away the sand under my feet, while I keep grabbing a board, a twig, a pebble, a mole of sand, a leaf, a dried shell, just to keep clinging to the sand and not let myself being dragged into the water… eventually, I’ll have no other trick up my naked skin, than start swimming. Finish that memoir – in all honesty and artistry, say it out loud, say it all.

Is 2+2 Always Four??

Having a vague suspicion that I may find one more confirmation to my theory: that things are never that axiomatic, I googled:  “mathematics [blank] is 2+2 always 4?”

After one or two clicks I understood that 2+2=5 is also right:

“As any self-respecting engineer would agree, 2+2 can sometimes yield 5, for large values of 2. 🙂 –  Lucian Jun 25 ’14 at 17:38

Going into it a little bit more, to my amazement I find out that also 2+2 sometimes equals 1:

“In Z3 it is still true that 2+2=4, it just happens that 4=1 as well. –  Asaf Karagila Jun 25 ’14 at 17:41

Now, I cannot pretend that I understood a thing as for why are these values: I’ll just tip my hat with British elegance and give credit to specialists. I remember though learning, a number of years ago, to add up 2 apples with two other apples, and my teacher insisted that I could not add up 2 oranges and 2 apples (unless I changed their name to “fruit”).

This, among many others, was part of my life baggage of axioms – we have an existential need for absolute truths and things that are immutable. Well, reality, it so turns out, is not that axiomatic, precise and immutable, and 21st century science begins to openly acknowledge it; but this applies to our personal experience as well as it applies to sciences. It has never before been so obvious that society and individual lives are in upheaval, with old norms, institutions and taboos overturned – and it seems that this is just the beginning.

Life experience puts us in contact with things, people and experiences only to bring us to see, sometimes with pain, sometimes with relief, that clinging too hard to fixed concepts is unrealistic, and we risk to break our necks in free fall through the void of our misconceptions if we don’t give up on heavy, rigid beliefs.

With the insights of quantum physics we find out that reality doesn’t really exist, that it is just a matter of our perception, as particles shift between wave and particle under the eye of the observer. I can see that light can be only wave and vibration, but it’s hard to conceive that physical matter can, too?? The commoner like me can only wonder: how come that light and matter can be at the same time both wave and particle?

Science nowadays is discovering things that were thought impossible or unacceptable only a short while ago. We were convinced that our skies show a fundamental “emptiness”, pointed here and there by stars and galaxies. Only a couple of years ago, in 2011 became public the most recent view that all what we see, distant and near planets, stars, galaxies and all, make up just 4.9 of our universe; the rest of it, and of which scientists had no idea that existed, is dark energy and dark matter (dark, meaning non-reactant to light, invisible) that constitute 95.1% of it all. Pretty  much unknown for scientific pride, who praises itself that it can send space missions outside the solar system.

So, what is mind, after all? The picture changes here, too, so that the firm belief that human mind is just a mechanism comparable to a computer is slowly shifting, as neurologists come ever closer to the understanding of the mind as more than just brain: they start seeing soul also.

To bring just an example, Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is as close to expressing his belief in an ensouled world as anyone could hope for: he thinks that consciousness is not dependent on brain only, but that it arises in any sufficiently complex, connected information-processing system – from cells, to worms, to animals and up to humans; this can be a scientifically refined version of ancient panpsychism – a philosophical doctrine asserting that all there is, it is part of the God-Mind, or Spirit. Of course mainstream science is not yet ready to acknowledge the existence of a Universal Field of Consciousness, but I can see that it is slowly getting there.

For this, and many other reasons too, I began doubting that the world is just the one described by the science that I have studied at school, as I learned to doubt that 2+2=4; at least I know that it doesn’t always hold.

You and I Are More Alike Than You Think – “In our quest for security, it turns out we all think alike. “

Security Blanket – the image above shows a quilt digitally printed with most frequently used passwords.This word cloud represents a thousand of the most common passwords for a social application and gaming website called RockYou.

( The illustration is by LORRIE FAITH CRANOR, from CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY – “In our quest for security, it turns out we all think alike. “, says Lorrie) 

“Oh, no! Another password!” Does this happen to you when for the millionth time you are being asked to change or register somewhere with a new password?? Well, it does happen invariably to me – because I have to think one more time of a smart sequence of letters (and numbers) that I’ll have to remember when asked again, maybe in a few years’ time. But chances are that I’m giving myself all the trouble for nothing: whether I think a lot or just a little, my password is very likely to look similar or be identical to the one you thought about.

 

The story of this image  began with the hackers who stole information and passwords from the site in 2009 and published a subset on the Internet. In 2013, researcher Lorrie Faith Cranor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, decided to randomly analyze one thousand of the 32 million users’ passwords hacked from the site, to see which ones were the most common.
The results are digitally printed on this quilt – the more prominent, the most frequently used, like “123456”. I must admit, though, that these too simple ideas of passwords may have been common during the more “primitive” years of networking, while they are way less these days. However, this is just a simple example of how, in matters of things of everyday life, we share common patterns of thought in our choices, likes and dislikes – and industries like advertising and marketing know how to put it to good use.

It is known by “magicians”, especially by mentalists – a great number of their guesses (you know, when they ask you to think of a number between 1 – 100.., etc, etc,) are based on this particularity – or, rather, “generality” that we share.

Have You Ever Wondered? This Writing Here, Has Originated Here: Neuron Lacework

 

What I am writing right now originates in some “sparks” between my neurons that are happening right under my skull.

 

 

Here the connections are denser (not in my brain, I should say )

neurons1

 

 

And this is what we do right now, networking across the planet – is there any similarity?

Whether you are blogging – writing about food, or art, about picking flowers, or about the twenty ways to cut your nails, or  you are tweeting, or facebooking, or contacting a client, or a lover, or posting a scientific article, or sending a CV, with each action you create lines that criss-cross the planet. Maybe that Mind has been continuously creating connections and evolved the individual brain to arrive today at this collective brain – what makes today a Global Mind.