Books of Note
Others Echoes of Living a Right Path
The State and Morality
State Building, Governance and World Order in the 21st Century by Francis Fukuyama, Cornell University Press, 2004.
A New Green History of the World, The environment and the Collapse of Great Civilisations by Clive Pointing, Vintage Originals, 2007.
Causing Death and Saving Life by Jonathan Glover, The Moral Problems of Abortion, Infanticide, Suicide, Euthanasia, Capital Punishment, War and Other Life or Death Choices, 1990.
Despite warnings of it's imminent death the Nation state lives on. The accident suffered at the party diving into the wrong end of the pool en masse at the party only gave permanent, chronic injuries to different degrees. The US , China and Russia The US and China are still very much alive and kicking with some permanent nerve pain and walking on sticks – Big oak ones of the type that could be called a club. Some of the luckier ones like the Australia and Great Britain have done the rehab and are now adjusting to life as a paraplegic but still going on. Of the ones at the bottom who fared worse some are now in rehab to adjust to life as a paraplegic to quadriplegic and getting there. Others, the ones everyone landed on are still on life support and doctors are trying to figure out their prognosis. But the early media reports that all the nation states died in the accident called globalism has shown to be false.
The question is now, what responsibilities do the surviving weakened nation states have by degrees of their power. The ones that got of light on big clubs for walking sticks, the strong nations will obviously have more responsibility than most. They still have the resources and the relative health to do this. The others that have managed to get out of rehab and are adjusting to life in their new environments also have more responsibility than those struggling with this idea, and the ones on proverbial life support like Iraq, Syria and many developing nations struggling with debt, the impacts of colonialism and neo-colonialism bear the least. Infact, we need to help them, or at least the people in them to find a new future in a better entity.
Which brings us to our books, all dealing with different areas. State building is all about how states work as a basic unit. A New Green History of the world looks at the environmental impacts we make and how we need to change it if we're all going to survive. Causing deaths and saving lives looks at moral issues such as the death penalty and war that affect nations. Perhaps the two greatest challenges our nations states have now is our current nation states face is the degradation of our environment and the internecine wars and human rights abuses in other nation states. All nation states accept the absolute weakest bear some responsibility to all of them, the more powerful they are the more they bear.
In terms of carbon emissions and climate change any nation of the developed 'West' has a big responsibility to bear. It is a time and a place that we have created and therefore have most moral responsibility to help correct. This means nations through governments making the deepest cuts as nations to greenhouse gasses, rolling back our current unsustainable way of life to a happy medium, bringing all the public with them on the need. This means us cutting down to a comfortable but sustainable lifestyle in example, being led by the leaders of our nations, sending the surplus overseas to support weaker nation and those struggling within nation that are now non-entities. Same as we need to all take stock, the nations that are strong enough to do so and start steering the summits and move towards collective action. This is our moral responsibility to help our neighbourhood that is our earth . Our moral responsibility to help those nations that cannot, or their replacements get on their feet and serve their people in this way.
Now we get to war. What we have at the moment is a quagmire in the Middle East and Africa that people are dying in. This is not on on, not acceptable at all and capable nations duties to help. Both Francis Fukyuyama and Jonathan Glover weigh in on this debate in detail. There have been many wars in our current time period that were certainly not legitimate – Iraq for instance, led by the powerful nations. This has made people weary of any kind of war. But as Both Jonathan Glover and Francis Fukuyama look at there is a ground that this is moral – Defence of self or others. Because we have seen people killed in wars for illegitimate commercial reasons we forget that sometimes war or armed intervention is necessary. They UN has suffered from this, making it a toothless tiger nobody respects. We are seeing the effect of this in the middle east today. Nobody is bringing both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict to heel (and both sides are guilty of treaty violations and war crimes) because the US doesn’t allow it. Nobody’s brining Syria to a an end or taking any real action against the second side of that war Assad, because Russia is playing the same game and not allowing it. This game of our dictator, one that has been played out by the US and Russia time and time again is costing lives and no pressure can be bought to heel because there is no moral or legal authority left in the UN to bring either side to heel on this. This, like the commercial wars (e.g. Iraq ) is what delegitimises even valid military action like what is needed now in Iraq and Syria to bring enough breathing room for negotiations to begin and the problem to be solved diplomatically.
Like a person a state has the moral obligation to help others. This is not changed by wars that are commercial or politically strategic, they just mean that it is harder to prosecute a war on this front. Bringing back the balance would mean that people would be able oppose the unjust wars and be able to sell the valid ones. This is a moral obligation, as it is for nation state leaders to not engage in invalid wars as well as bring people with them on valid ones, one on which they're failing at the moment.
At the end of the day the nation state in effect has the same moral and ethical duties as a person, just on a larger scale. On this scale they face the same decisions and are bound by the same morals to help neighbours and vulnerable people, only use force when necessary and build up a nice world neighbourhood. Populations have a duty to hold them to this and leaders have a duty to guide the people in a reciprocal arrangement. And we need to do this soon before more of the world suffers from the lack of morals of the major nation states that can still do something to steer this global neighbourhood because enough have suffered already.
The Entity of the State and the Morals and Ethics of Violence
State Building, Governance and World Order in the 21st Century, Francis Fukuyama, 2004, Profile books.
Why do People Hate America? By Ziauddin Sardar & Meryl Wyn Davies, 2002 Allen and Unwin.
Paretos Sociology (pp. 10-23) by A.J Baker & The Ethics of Violence (pp.22-35) by Brian C. Birchall, Dialetic vol.7 1972, Self published by the Newcastle University Philosophy Club.
This is not about the current plauge of internal state violence that hits even the US at the moment, but about how states deal with external violence and conflict, when and where why states use force. Francis Fukuyama establishes what a state is, Why do people Hate America? Is a good case study as to how and why a state can use violence or more than one form and the two essays mentioned here look at some of the underlying sociological theory (Paretos Socioligy) and the underlying ethics of using violence as concept (The Ethics of Violence). Together these paint a picture we can look at to see this issue as a total concept.
First off, what is a state? A state is a nation state, a duly enacted state that has a constitution, a governanace structure, holds territory and controls a population. Some are legitimate, some are rouge states. At the moment we are looking at legitimate states so Daesh is out of the discussion, though one can say it is a rouge state as an aside. The nation state as a sovereign entity is increasingly being eroded but not dead. This means that they still have a role to play. While Francis Fukuyama goes into the detail of nations states which is irrelevant here what we are looking at is his base model and his analysis of the interactions between them. In this he points out that as an entity the nation state is still there with its sovereignty eroded by financial markets, globalisation and international law. This is something that means that nation states play in an increasingly complex field of ethics and finance concerns, otherwise known as sovereign risk in market circles. Leaving sovereign risk out we now get to the morals and ethics and how they mix in with Statisim, the ethics of violence and the organisation of the different societies.
In Why do People hate America? We have a case study of a nation state that has become what the French dubbed a 'Hyper power' – A power militarily, economically and culturally. It likes to throw its weight around which has annoyed a few people over the years, and it has created many enemies small and large. But this is not reported domestically nor do the citizenry understand it. So when this manifested in 9/11, the question was asked, why do people hate America? Unsurprisingly due to this lack of insight they came to the wrong conclusions and instead of seeing their misuse of this power creating it they saw it as attack on their light on the hill. However, America as a power and a nation has misused violence of all forms they have at their disposal, be that military, economic or cultural to remake the world to fuel their lifestyle. Some call this Pax Americana, after the Pax Romania of the Roman Empire. This is a good analogy and if you are an American essential reading as far as I am concerned. If you look at the essay The Ethics of Violence you see grounds that violence can be good, namely defence of self and others. Extending this out to the nation state that is defence of you nation state and the defence of other vulnerable people or states asking for help. I did not see defence of our right to turn third world countries into cheap plantations, defence of our right to cheap oil or defence of our right to sell bad food across the world and destroy cultures here. I also did not see supporting dictators abroad who support the views of our democracy either. Yet this power is used again and again in this compactity and body bag syndrome as it is called (How American public support goes for a war at the first sight of a body bag) means that we don't see the legitimate uses for violence e.g. Preventing genocidal violence, doing anything real about the treats to Ukraine Sovereignty. Or going in and dealing with certain rouge states properly once your previous wars created them. This adds up to a hypocritical stance that means America is well, hated.
So, now we have the bad case study what is one we actually want. Well – the defence of self and others. This is the big one. This is not going it alone, this is working with others to help the vulnerable. What Kosovo should have been, what we should have done in Syria before Daesh as it is now came to be from the mess there. Iraq was not a good war in any way, it was about oil, pure and simple. It was aggression disguised in bad intelligence. It is also about being attacked and defending yourself proportionally. And I repeat proportionally here, not lets nuke them because they flew a plane into a building. I mean using like force, army for army, ship for ship. And doing this in the cases we need to. We have lost the meaning of this due to a combination of bad wars and our society seemingly losing the notion of Violence is sometimes needed. It was not bad when it was needed to stop Hitler, it is not bad when it is needed to stop Putin. It is not bad when it stops the melting pot that created Daesh or the mess that is Libya. We need to understand this and work with it or we are doomed to see a world where evil flourishes because good governments do nothing.
Akh'Hon Kyshera Du'Skhall Kre'Mashen Akh'Hense
Balance and Sustainability in Growth – Are we at a Major Tipping point?
The Chaos Point, The World at a Crossroads by Ervin Laszlo, Piatkus, 2006.
The Revenge of Gaia, Why the Earth is Fighting Back and how we can Save Humanity, by James Lovelock, Allen Lane, 2006.
A New Green History of the World, The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilisations by Clive Ponting, Vintage originals, 2007.
The three books above all look at the green issues and what we need to do about them in the twenty first century. James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia Hypothesis is a keen commentator on how the earth is one big ecosystem, hence the Gaia hypothesis named after the Earth goddess. This looks at how everything is connected and how it is telling us to change our ways in increasingly less gentle ways. The Chaos point is about how we are not so slowly tipping our world beyond points we don't understand so we can't predict the outcome, which is very bad for our continued survival as a species. A new green history of the world shows how previous civilisations have stuffed up and how we are heading for a bigger fall than we ever did. All are sobering reading and something that our decision makers should read before heading off to Paris, Especially climate change deniers.
All take a different angle to this problem, what we've done, what we're doing, and why it's wrong. Clive Ponting Spells out our past history in misusing resources, how we've accelerated the use of resources as well as the damage during the ecosphere in the process since the industrial revolution. James Lovelock looks at the ecosphere as one unit of being, charting the damage we're doing to it. The chaos point also looks at this from the points of causes and effects and the different damages we're doing to the planet as we continue to misuse it, looking at what point do we tip the process to unknown results. These were printed up to seven years ago now and they still hold a message – we need to act. We need to change our lifestyle and our lives. I won't go into the messages, they are pretty detailed and you should read them for yourself. Especially if you are decision maker. There are many, many warnings in here.
We are beyond the time for heeding these messages. We need to act now, we needed to act twenty years ago really. We're not thinking, we're not doing what we need to. Our current lifestyles are unsustainable in so many ways we need to start to correct. We've already damaged the environment and changed the climate – the question now how do we limit the damage to what we have already done? This is the question the books pose. Their message is past time to be heeded and we really need to start acting. Read them, make your own opinion and start acting, both for yourself and the planet. Western luxuries are not worth killing our grandchildren for.
The Manyfold Paths
Philosophy & Modern Life
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton, Penguin, 2000.
Causing Death and Saving Lives, The Moral Problems of Abortion, Infanticide, Suicide, Euthanasia Capital Punishment and other Life or Death Choices, by Jonathan Glover, Penguin, 1990.
Right &Wrong, How to Decide for Yourself by Hugh Mackay, Hodder, 2004.
This week we are going from looking at spiritual paths to looking at Humanist paths and how they can relate to the modern world. In these three books we look at modern interpretations on philosophy and how it flows in to modern life. These books look at these issues from different standpoints. Alain De Botton looks at the pastoral angle of humanism, how it comforts us in our day to day lives and struggles. Jonathan Glover looks at the great moral problems around death and society and in Right and Wrong Hugh Mackay looks at the smaller struggles as well as the personal applications of the big ones. The three of them comprehensively put together a day to day total Humanist Path that we can look at as an example of how this can work.
The first part of this path is how we think of ourselves and this is what Alain De Botton covers in a way in the way we can use philosophy to ease the dissapoinments of our daily lives. This gives us through the lens of the pastoral applications ways we can live and change ourselves as we go through life absorbing lessons. He takes the ideas of the big thinkers and puts them together in the areas of life we all inevitably end up dealing with such as our daily frustrations, money, our love lives etc... This through the lens of how to look at ups and downs in life shows us how we can lead better lives through the whole notion of taking philosophy into ourselves and understand our lives better. This is the inner, or internal idea of how philosophy can work in the modern day translated out so that even the novice reader can understand it.
The next two books overlap in that they take this out to the broader world. Jonathan Glover as stated above looks at the issues of life and death that face us today (listed above in the books entry). These may seem remote but people do face them in their lives. Euthanasia as a issue is alive around the terminally ill, the debate over capital punishment is raging and we are still arguing about whether to allow abortion, when to cut off. Infanticide may seem remote to many but to those that have had to face a baby with a birth defect so severe that the child is not expected to live more than a very short time have had to make decisions here too in how to deal with the issue. So this book is still very relevant on the big ticket issues we hope we never face but those who do remember it for the rest of their lives and need guidance. There are many examples in this book of how to face this and come out the other side thinking you've made the right decision, or at least the best possible decision under the circumstances. Right and Wrong by Hugh Mackay looks at the issues we face day to day in a matter of fact format, allowing even novice Humanists into the ideas of Ethics, Morals and Philosophy in issues that affect our day to day lives. How we conduct business, or sexual and intimate relationships, the minutiae of our daily lives is covered in a way to make the reader think about it, which is the main aim of the book. Not to give the answers but to make the reader think.
Overall, this is the aim of all three books and what most defines a humanist path. These paths are about exploring the sentience of the human incarnation cycle, thinking about what makes it tick, and putting insights into action. This is what these three books do individually, give you the information and basics so you can think for yourself on these issues and make your own mind up. Together they put together a total framework of a basic humanist path that can make you think for yourself. With tools such as observation and journalling this can work to underpin a humanist path that you can not only evolve yourself with but give insights on sentience, otherwise known as the human condition to other and help them as well.
Buddhist Belief and Philosophy
The Buddhist Wheel of Existence, The Psychology of confusion and the path to Liberation (Guide and Overview) by Jakob Leshley and Stefan Manger, Archaria Land Project.
What Buddhists Believe, Ven. K Sri Dhammandanda, The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, 1993.
Working With Karma, Understanding and Transforming your Karma by Gill Farrer-Halls, Godsfield, 2007.
The Science of Happiness, 10 Principles for Manifesting your Divine Nature by Ryuho Okawa, Destiny Books, 2009.
These publications all look at Buddhism, the basic beliefs and the philosophy from a different viewpoint. The Buddhist Wheel of Existence is a simple four fold, eight page guide to the basic tenets of Buddhism. What Buddhists Believe is an educational resource put out by the Buddha Educational foundation to teach the general public in a more detailed sense what Buddhism is about. Working with Karma is a book that looks at Karma, one of the aspects of Buddhism it also shares with the Hindu and Jaian religions, but takes a heavy focus on the Buddhist idea in practise. The Science of Hapiness details Happy Science, another tradition, but a tradition heavily influenced by Buddhism nonetheless. All look at Buddhism, it is just that they are looking at it from a different angle.
The first two share an angle that works on the basic ideas. What the Buddhist Wheel of Existence puts in a very basic point form and pictorial guide What Buddhists believe fleshes out including the history, the way that the religion was taught and the whole ethos. This book is part of a whole series of books handed out for free to educate the public on what Buddhism is. Both are good guides to the religion, outlining the basic facts and philosophy that underpins it. While the first one is easier to read and gives all the facts at a glance, it does miss some nuance that the second book shows, which is valuable. Both go well together to provide a basic primer on what Buddhism is.
Working with Karma is a more practical modern guide to how the concept of Karma works in the modern day to day complex. Easy to read it looks at this simple concept of birth, death and rebirth as an educational experience. Divided into all the concerns of the modern day be that career, home life, buying goods or wealth it looks at all the areas and comes up with modern applications on how to work with this concept. As stated above this is not just in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism also share this concept. The Book does have at least half of it's advice coming from Buddhism however, so it is an interesting modern take.
Then we get to Happy Science, which borrows from Buddhism as much as Shinto, Christianity and many other paths including New Age Spirituality through the founder Master Ryuho Okawa. A seemingly distinctively Japanese blend this singular idea is something that can be easily understood by many people worldwide, looking at enlightenment in a way that borrows very heavily from Zen Buddhism. This is a very modern, more intellectual take on the subject, but one very worth looking at as it distils some very good ideas into a simple format that many western educated people will find easy to understand.
What do all of these show? Well, that the ideas founded by the Buddha, a prince turned Spiritual Master and teacher many years ago are very powerful and enduring. They have not only spawned many schools of belief and followers under it's umbrella but has inspired people the world over to think for themselves and use some of the very good concepts it bought into the world to enlighten and educate others. While it did not last in India where it was founded it was very influential all over Asia and is now being bought into the west where it is enriching and enlightening our experiences here. As a religion it will continue to do so, being adapted and modified around the basic beliefs and philosophies that have served it so well to influence and help people find a path to evolution and growth the world over.
A Deeper Meaning on the Faiths of the Book
Dessert Wisdom, A Nomads Guide to Life's Big Questions from the Heart of the Native Middle East, Neil Douglas-Klotz, 2nd Edition, 2011, ARC Books.
A Book of Self Re-Education, Raden Ayou Jodjana, 1981, C.N Fowler & Co.
These two books, which I've just recently read, look at different areas of how the faiths of the book have influenced thought and been influenced in turn. Dessert Wisdom looks at the common Semitic (Middle Eastern) roots of all three faiths of the book, while A Book of Self Education looks at their influence on enlightened thought. Both do so in a more meditative, poetic manner than in informative prose, easy to read and work with.
Dessert Wisdom brings together the common threads of the faiths of the book into one volume covering their common mystic trains of thought and their origins. I have been a self educated student of religion, especially comparative religion like this for some time, and I got new things out of it even if I recognised the principle as something I had already reckoned existed. It does this in a series of experts from the writings of the three religions on questions we ask in life, bringing them together and providing a series of guided meditations. This makes the common threads of thought clear, the influence on all three and the characteristic monotheism a thread older than any of the books. Also mentioned alongside the faiths of the book are older Egyptian, Babylonian and Sumerian material tracing the evolution of some of these threads even earlier than the development of monotheism. One of the oldest monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism, is included in this interweaving and you can see how it would have influenced the birth of what we now call the faiths of the book. The format, which encourages you to flip thorough rather than read cover to cover (And has companion audio meditations) encourages you to experience the wisdom as you go along in life, not just read the book as a static item. Having said this I read it as a book cover to cover and got a lot out of it as a synthesis of Middle Eastern wisdom, so both are possible.
A Book of Self Re-Education is a set of poetry mediations by Raden Ayou Jodjana, a lady who lead an extrodionary life during the most turbulent years of last century influenced by western music, Javan Hindu music and traditions and Sufi thought. This has coalesced into a way of seeing the body that when taken in changes the way you see yourself and the world. Many people think of Java, now part of Indonesia as mostly Muslim in thought, especially recently, but it's not as one note as you would think, which is explored here. It has a rich heritage that has fed this book and it is worth looking into for the refined wisdom of both Hindu and pre-Hindu thought here. This brings in both thread as well as the thought of Sufis she met and served in London, teaching her their wisdom to combine with this thread. As such this is a fascinating and worthwhile exploration of the body and our place in the world.
While I read both books through they are very much designed to be used section by section as a part of daily life. This allows you to bring in all these threads of thought, the unique common elements of Semitic, or Middle Eastern thought, and how it changes and interprets the world as it travels. This allows the reader to open up their mind and look at what is there deeper, not just what is on the surface as part of daily life. This is a good thing, especially as now we're getting a 'Clash of Cultures' that is polarizing to black and white, us as them, both within the Middle East and in the wider world. Working with the deeper meanings and the common elements of thought is what will bring us together, something both books encourage. Overall, this is the best way of moving on from our current conflicts, and for this reason I recommend both as a way of educating yourself on the deeper notions of these paths, shared or otherwise. We owe it to future generations to do this or we will be caught in this negative cycle of collecting differences forever.
Do we See Islam in an Informed Light?
The Koran, Translation J.M. Rodwell, Foreward and Introduction by Alan Jones, Phoenix, 1994.
The Book of Sufi Healing, Shaykh Hakim Mouddin Chisiti, Revised and Updated Edition, Inner Traditions International, 1991.
These two books together provide an insight into a rather demonised religion we need today. The first is an early 20th century translation of the holy book of Islam reorderd and renoted to be more accurate by Alan Jones, the writer of the Introduction. The second is an insight into the mystical side of Islam, Sufisim. Both look at a religion that has been demonised that has been demonised by the actions of it's extremists.
This is a valuable service that both books provide to those that would read them. For this reason they made books of note after and alongside last weeks books, which look at the commonalities of Semitic thought. This feeds into this by showing how much of Islam, far from the extemist creed, is a mixed religion. Certainly it has elements that can support a war. But place this in the historical context. It was a religion founded in the Arabian peninsula at a time of constant tribal warfare, fighting for survival. While the parts of the religion that reflect this can be mis-used, it is not something that a majority hold to. There is a lot in it that was not only progressive for the time, but espoused peace where it could be found. While the Sharia law split may not sound fair and equitable to us today, it actually gave women legal rights to inheritance and maintenance for perhaps the first time.
Same as bearing witness, this would have been revolutionary at a time and place where women had no rights at all. Passages even put something together akin to child support and alimony for a divorced mother and wife, which is explicitly stated as new and revolutionary. Then you add the second book, which looks at Sufisim, or the mystic form of Islam. This form of moderate Islam, which may have older roots in Coptic and Gnostic thought, further interprets the struggle as one with yourself to become a better human being. This struggle is interpreted in the light of self improvement, giving alms and surrendering to god to find the peace to do so. This is something that is not often seen or discussed in the west. Leaving aside how many practices seem to be forms of mediation and self healing, up to and including the Muslim prayer schedule, this is not the face we see. But it is truer for more people that profess the faith than the extremist face that we are bombarded with more and more as time goes on. Which is why this face, this interpretation is needed. This is something that people need to see, which truly makes them books of note. At the end of the day we can ban the Burqa (Which nobody wears in Australia), the Niqab (Which only a tiny proportion of the Muslim female population wear), but we are just defeating ourselves by ignorance. What will make us safe in the long run is not banning something we don't understand, but letting ourselves learn about and understand it. Reading these books will help shed some light on the other side of Islam, or at least start the journey.
Energy Healing Across Culture
The Heart of Huna, Laura Keahola Yardley with a Foreward by Tad James, 1982, Advanced Neuro Dynamics, Hawiaii.
The Book of Sufi Healing, Shaykh Hakim Mouinuddin Chisti, 1991, Inner Traditions International, America.
Reiki Level I Manual, A Complete Guide to the First Degree Usui Method of Natural Healing, 2011, Certified Usui Reiki Practitioner.
Usui Methods of Spiritual Being; Body/Mind Harmony, Reiki First Degree Manual, Gil Dekel & Natalie Dekel 2004, Poetic Mind.
These books show two things in their scope, that there are forms of energy healing in even the most unexpected of places. There are universal elements to them as there are differences. They all were created and work in a different cultural context to do the same thing for those that use them – Heal the mind, body and soul. To look at the differences and smilarities we first need to look at how each energy system works.
In The Heart of Huna the basics of the system of Huna healing as explained by Laura Kealoha Yardley. A complex traditional system of healing from Hawaii it has been much changed and diminished by the introduction of Christianity as well as it's oral transmission. There has been a revival in the past fifty years or so in the art, this book being a part of it. Passed down from the authors grandmother to the author this art was a part of the culture for a long time before being slowly eroded by Christianity. Despite the erosion in the Christian era it is still quite comparable, and has been handed down over the years down the line to survive to today. Some of the complexity may have been lost due to a sad lack of understanding of the importance to go to the effort to pass it on, but there has been enough retained to start reviving the art both in it's homeland and abroad. Based around a holistic idea of mind and body, conciousness and spirit and breath, this complex art is a good one to explore as an alternative healing modality for those that connect with it, or to know for others as a good supplement.
The Book of Sufi Healing looks at the Sufi traditions of healing. They are vastly different in that the are based around a belief in a monotheistic god but they operate on the same basics. This may seem strange to those that don't understand it, but if you don't read this book, or any other book on Sufism. While there is some other influences in Sufi thought from Earlier esoteric Pagan and Christian mystic (Coptic) thought, it is very much influenced by the Islamic World view. Working through food, through lifestyle and through different medicines that channel what is really just universal energy this really is not that much different in reasons and results to other forms of energy healing. Reading this will also give you another idea of Islam rather than the current towel heads under beds that we see so much on the news and current affairs every night, which also makes this valuable. Indeed, this is the reason why this is the second time I have used this book. While it in no way makes you ready and able to work with these techniques (If you are interested I recommend that you find qualified practitioners) it does two things. The first is it gives you an Insight into how a much currently maligned religion works. The second is it shows that the recognised parts of the new age movement do not have a monopoly on Energy Healing, but it is a universal endeavor.
The Two Reiki Manuals above look at a far better known and more popular form of healing than the other two mentioned. Founded by Dr Mikao Usui in the later half of the nineteenth century it developed and grew to become recognised in the early 20th century. A pure form of energy work that focusses on attuning and adjusting energy flow in the body it works on the energetic body and the chakra system. Said to have roots in an earlier form of Japanese energy healing it was bought to west with a changed history after WWII by Mrs Hawayo Takata to make it more acceptable in the Sinophonbic climate. From there is has spread across the world. Taught in the modern day in three degrees (Of which the named books are the first degree manuals) it has gained increasing popularity as a healing modality worldwide. The Usui method is the largest, but there are many forms of Reiki around if you look. You become a practitioner by training with a master in the first degree, second degree allows remote sending and the third is the master degree. It is not recommended to take up Reiki without proper training by a reputable master, however, despite the amount of information out there.
Now we have an idea of what all the healing modalities are we can see the differences and similarities. The most obvious difference is what the divine energy is names. The second one is the cultural focus of the therapy. This is there as a perfectly natural part of the interpretation according to people and cultures, making it acceptable to the culture in question. For Huna this is based on pre-Christian Polynesian Culture, for Sufisim Islamic Civilisation, for Reiki a Japanese philosophy and world view. As the cultures are interpreted differently so are the ways to use the same energy. Which brings us to the similarities. They all work on energy and work on Energy healing to make a person better in the physical. Wether we call the source of divine energy God, Chi or Prana, it is still the same thing, the divine breath of the universe. Cultural translation allows the people involved to work with the same energy
In this way the differences and similarities of the techniques discussed above dovetail nicely for a reason. This reason is simply that it enables all people, no matter what belief of culture, to access this energy. It allows all beings to benefit from this divine flow. For this reason used correctly any and all of these energy healing methods used properly are just as valid as the other to help people and ease human suffering.
The Individual Soul in all it's Facets
Psychology, Parapsychology and Spirituality
The Search for Wholeness, a Gestalt Approach to the Unitary Understanding of the Human Process by Howard Adams, Gestalt Institutes of Australia by the University of Western Sydney Press, 1998.
Connecting to Power of Nature, by Joe H. Slate Ph. D, Llewellyn Press, 2009.
Freud, Jung & Spiritual Psychology by Rudolf Steiner with Introduction by Robert Sardello, Anthroposophic Press 2001.
These three books explore the same important subject from the a different place. That subject is how does psychology and the spiritual combine? This is a good question and all three have different answers that will appeal to different people. Howard Adams looks at Gestalt Therapy, an established psychological therapy used worldwide in a series of printed lectures. Joe H. Slate looks at it from the point of view of how a person interacts with the world in terms of the non-physical realms. Steiner looks at going beyond Jung to introduce the whole notion of the spiritual realms into psychology and his work created a whole alternative school movement (Steiner schooling). Together these three give an insight on how the mind works with the realms outside physical limits.
The first, and most accepted is Gestalt Psychology. This is a field of Psychology that blends the whole notion of the growth and evolution of the soul into the concept of the Gestalt. Each Gestalt is a lesson, and as you've learnt that you move onto another lesson. This is a process that continues as you work to grown and learn, work to become more and more progressively better is the whole essence of spiritual growth. This is something I have seen studded in counselling courses and offered as therapy in part or in whole. This therapy, about completing learning cycles and going on to learn new, larger lessons is a good one for those who want a whole understanding of the human growth process. Then you get Parapsychology, a self funded discipline that looks at ESP, spiritual phenomenon and how the physical and non-physical interact in a basically scientific manner. Joe H. Slate is a part of this discipline and is writing on how the trees, stars crystals and other things have affected him and his students. This is a fascinating field with a lot of information in it, mixing the metaphysical with science in a bid to prove and measure the metaphysical. And Slate has some interesting results as well as how to use what he's found. While there is a lot of empirical evidence in his book there is also a lot of good information that many, if not all can use. And the last one is Steiner’s five lectures about Spiritual Psychology between 1912 and 1921 that introduce the Idea of Spiritual Psychology, mixing the nature of the spirit realm with the field of Psychology. This is an interesting insight into how the two can act together and interact to create how we think. His Idea of the Supraconciounsess, his green colour instead of yellow for awareness and how he phrases this all adds to the fact that he is using 4th Level Intergrational Awareness, making what he is talking about a forerunner Theory for his time. This means that this is a good one to pay attention to now we are here at this level.
What they say comes together, that is why they are here. Gestalt Therapy brings in the essence of spiritual growth into psychotherapy, Steiner goes one step further and introduces the levels of dimensional energies in with Slates ideas rounding it off by introducing interaction with the greater spiritual realities through techniques he has researched with his students and through personal experience. The three of these things bought together brings in the three pillars of a basic understanding of how the two worlds interact. In writing my own ideas out in the Conciousness Matrix I had some influence from the ideas of Gestalt Therapy, thought not used in a pure form, and it still influences my ideas today. Steniers writings as a person I just discovered when I bought the above book but he adds the extra dimension to it that was missing. While Howard Adams is very much attached to Animus and Anima as traditional Masculinity and Femininity this not need be how you think as you have that balance to work on within yourself. The supraconcousness adding to this as written about by Steiner with Slates methods of connecting to the world of energy above and around us is a good rounding off of the start of the journey. From there I recommend that you keep going of course with your own research, your own reading and combinations but this will give you a very good idea of where to start.
Working with this is something that will never end. You will be constantly finding new books, learning, recording (Especially if you journal) and coming to your own ideas. This is what you should be doing to help yourself understand your own path and life. If you are of a religious paths or humanist path you can also add the ideas you are most attached to from your paths ideas and theology, creating new ways of seeing yourself, learning and growing. Other areas that you could look at for inspiration (Though not covered here) are positive psychology which is a growing field based on traditional wisdom and six basic signature strengths. It aims to grow a person through these strengths rather than fix flaws. Enneagrams, as covered in Pagan Mind a few months ago (and republished under this article) is another system you might want to cross-reference. Look around, see what you like, what you think resonates and use this to fuel your journey. This is what life is all about – learning lessons and growing.
Enneagrams, The Nine Personality Types
Republished from the pagan mind to supplement psychology, Parapsychology & Spirituality.
This is an idea that I first came into contact with when I saw a basic book on the topic at a Coffee Shop/Alternative Treatment Centre in a small country town. I read this book, took notes and continued reading on the subject, finding it fascinating. Enneagrams are a study of personality that heavily uses the sacred number of three to study the human condition and how it operates. It is not a unitary model but looks at how the different elements of the psyche work together through the power of the magic number of three. This suggests Greek mathematical influence for this ancient idea as well as other sacred number systems in how this is forged. This is an ancient, interesting an complex system that can be applied in so many cases and circumstances.
The idea of Enneagrams first look at the way we think, then how and works into the smaller minutiae of how our personality changes as we interact with life. It does this by first working in the three power/energy centres and the nine personality types;
- The Body Type (8,9&1) – People who think and react in an instinctual manner.
- The Head Types (5,6&7) - People that metaphorically use their 'Head' more than their instincts than their heart.
- The Heart Type (2,3&4) – People who use the heart more than their head and react with the 'Heart'.
These types are then split into the nine personality types you see above in the paragraphs I have read many sources and they all have slightly different names but the personality types have a tendency to mean the same thing for each of the numbers. The types are then split into subtypes that differentiate by which area of life a person has more focus in. The areas that this is split into is the;
- Self Preservation Arena – Focussing on the preservation of the self, property and possessions.
- Sexual Arena – Focussing on sexuality, creativity, aspiration, intimacy and intensity.
- Social Arena – Focussing on social, political and public life.
As stated above the types are called different names in different sources so for convenience I will be using one source for all the names in the list below. These types detail how peoples core personality is determined by focus and type, defining people into the specific subtypes below;
- 1 – The Perfecter – Subtypes Retailer (Self Preservation), Crusader (Sexual) and Lawmaker (Social).
- 2 – The People Person – Subtypes (Self Preservation), Romantic (Sexual) and Diplomat (Social).
- 3 – The Self Tester – Subtypes Pragmatist (Self Preservation), Superstar (Sexual) and Politician (Social).
- 4 – The Deep Sea Diver – Subtypes Artisan (Self Preservation), Dramatist (Sexual) and Social Critic (Social).
- 5 – The Problem Solver – Subtypes Archivist (Self Preservation), Wizard (Sexual) and Professor (Social).
- 6 – The Steward – Subtypes Family Preserver (Self Preservation), Scrapper (Sexual), Guardian (Social).
- 7 – The Improviser – Subtypes Bon Vivant (Self Preservation), Trickster (Sexual) and Visionary (Social).
- 8 – The Master – Subtypes Weight Lifter (Self Preservation), Knight (Sexual) and Leader (Social).
- 9 – The Storyteller – Subtypes Comfort Seeker (Self Preservation), Mystic (Sexual) and Participant (Social).
However, the base personality is not the end of the story. We are all social creatures and interact. This means that we have times of stress and times of happiness. We can also change at other times, which brings in wings and stress and points of contentment. The types above detail who we are as people, this helps us show us how we are changed by interactions with people. Wings show how influences of other types bleed into our type and how this affects us and points of stress and contentment show how we change as our circumstances do. Each show a different facet of how we change with interactions. There are eighteen wing types in all corresponding to the nine major Personality types and how they interact with their neighbours.
- 1 – Perfecter – Definer (1w9) and Reformer (1w2).
- 2 – People Person – Social Worker (2w1) and Socialiser (2w3).
- 3 - Self Tester – Manager (3w4) and Professional (3w4).
- 4 - Deep Sea Diver – Specialist (4w3) and Artiste (4w5).
- 5 – Problem Solver – Iconoclast (5w4) and Thinker (5w6). 6 – Steward – Server (6w5) and Wit (6w7).
- 7 – Improviser – Adventurer (7w6) and Comedian (7w8)
- 8 – Master - Power Broker (8w7) and Power House (8w9)
- 9 – Storyteller – Mountain (9w8) and Anticipatior (9w1)
- These wing show how the types influence each other. Most people will have one wing dominant, making them one of the above wing types. The wings are also added to in studying interaction by the changes that people undergo when in stress and contentment. These are changes to type represented in Enneagram diagrams by arrows to and arrows from the personality type. These can also be called stress and comfort points, represented by arrows to the type (Stress point with the arrows, Security point against them in representative diagrams). To list the changes in summary these are;
- 1 – Perfecter – Stress point four (Deep Sea Diver), security point seven (Improviser).
- 2 – People Person – Stress point Eight (Improviser), security point four (Deep Sea Diver).
- 3 – Self Tester – Stress point nine (Storyteller), security point six (Steward).
- 4 – Deep Sea Diver – Stress point two (People Person), security point one (Perfecter).
- 5 – Problem Solver – Stress point seven (Improviser), security point eight (Master).
- 6 – Steward – Stress point three (Self Tester), security point nine (Storyteller).
- 7 – Improviser – Stress point one (Perfecter), security point five (Problem Solver).
- 8 – Master – Stress point five (Problem Solver), security point two (People Person).
- 9 – Storyteller – Stress point six (Steward), security point three (Self Tester).
This of course does not cover all of what this is about, and there will be a Reference/Further Reading list at the bottom of this article. There are many resources out there, more than I found both in information and tests on which type you are. This articles aim was to introduce the idea of Enneagrams to the readers so they will hopefully look this up and learn more. There can be different names for the types among different sources, same as some of the terms but they will all be describing much the same thing so this is navigable, especially if you use the numbers of the types as your guide as you first look at this idea. So look, learn and it might just help you understand yourself more.
- The Enneagram – Nine Personality Types (The comprehensive system of personality and growth) by Heather Carlise MA, LPC.
- The Enneagrams Nine Personality Styles by The Changeworks.
- The Positive Enneagram Chapter One, Author Unlisted.
- The Couples Enneagram Handbook by Chris Wright
- An Introduction to the Enneagram by Mark McGuiness
- Applications of the Enneagram to Psychological Assessment by Marlene Cresci Cohen, Ennegaram.com.
- The Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram, Chapter One by Author Unlisted.
- Quest: Quick Enneagram Sorting Test by the Enneagram Institute 2003.
- The Hudson Rice Enneagram indicator test v2.5 by the Enneagram Institute
Male and Female Perspectives on Society - Reflecting on Anima and Animus
Bewitched & Bedevilled, Women Write about the Gillard Years, Editor Samantha Trenoweth, Hardie Grant Books, 2013.
What Men Don't Talk About by Maggie Hamilton, Penguin/Viking 2006.
This is a very live issue at the moment, what being male and female means. We have much talk of how gender needs to be changed, man and woman is. Bewitched and Bedevilled is female writers and public figures writing about the Gillard years, sexism and that speech, which is in included in the book. What Men Don't Talk About looks at the disenfranchisement men feel as society changes changes around them in ways they don't understand. Both sides are losing in this argument, lost in the crowd of gender wars, gender cards and How can I be the oppressor if I'm also oppressed? This is because both show the consequences of a job half done. Fact is, Gender is artificial. Look on the partner site The Spiritual weal and you will see in all of the commentary how and why.
The redefinition of Masculinity and Femininity in Astrology Corner shows how simple this can be, different people learning different lessons, as strong and equal, as tough as each other as they are diverse as each other. This is what our existence as males and females is about, period. Gender then comes into this, messing things up with defined roles, artificial expectations and changing ideas, creating turmoil that hurts everyone. The writers in Bewitched and Bedevilled give searing accounts to this in some places showing how gender inequality can bite very hard. Stories such as Emily Maguire so painfully and honestly opening up about Sexual assault and how it has affected her, exactly how 'Random' searches are at the airport and high school. Eva Cox looking at how little things have changed in her time. And these are a few examples she gives. But the other side written about in What Men Don't Talk About is equally scarring for them. Mens suicide rate for instance, is higher, the bigger risk of violence, the way that gender does not allow them to cry for help metaphorically when they need it all come in here.
Both of these counterpoints happen for a reason – we are living in a construct and this construct hurts so many people in so many places, but we won't talk about it honestly. Won't talk about because it means changing Our ideas and expectations. Won't talk about because it is easier to tinker at the edges and not deal with the real problem – the whole notion of gender in the first place. How it locks us in, how it makes a boy or a girl not themselves as a unique individual but a product of society from an early age. How we can't... Get past this to see people either side. This tragic failure means that women are almost certainly many times groomed to accept a second best role with tragic consequences such as higher rates of family violence as well as more mundane ones such as the gender pay gap and slower promotion rates. For the male side this means they feel the need to conform to a certain standard and not be themselves if it means being seen as 'Girly' or 'Womanish'. Both need to be changed and reading these books will give you your own idea as to how and why.
Overall, this is a very personal area. This is a time and a place where you have to make up your mind to change it like the feminists of all ages or those males helping them. Or be a part of the problem. If you want to be part of the solution read, starting with the books of note and this weeks articles here, going on to more. Find who you are, find your voice and bring the balance back to a simple idea – we are born here along male and female lines to learn lessons that while sharing a collective link are very individual and can go across what is thought of as gender today. Realise this, realise what yours is and work with others who want this to change it and liberate all others, male and female from the gender trap that has our society in such a spin today with tragic results.
Mainstream Psychology and the Spirit – Can they be Connected?
Care of the Soul, A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, Thomas Moore, 1992, Harper Collins.
The 12 Stages of Healing, A Network approach to Wholeness, Donald M. Epstein & Nathaniel Altman, 1994, New World Library.
Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, Joan D. Chittister, 2003, Eerdmans.
As you would have noted by both the title of this article and the title of the books we are looking at the human condition and how to bring the soul back into healing. Is discussing the soul, religion and spirituality in the context of psychology. As I also moonlight as a Counselling coaching student as well as write this site and use energy work this is an area I am particularly interested in. Often, I have been struck by how narrow the evidence based scientific method makes the interpretation of the human condition in what I guess you could call mainstream psychology. It is a major frustration to me at times, perhaps. While I understand the reasons for evidence basing and how it has benefits, I often see drawbacks as well in how it discounts areas that have either not been recorded or are virtually impossible to record properly in an evidence based environment. Anything based on the spirit, the soul or spiritual and religious practise is a prime area that suffers from this badly. There will be more articles on this as I go on, matching other books together, but for now we are looking directly at how this relates to what brings many to seeking help, suffering, problems and how they relate to psychotherapy and spirituality.
First off, we have to look at the individual take of the books we are combining. Care of the Soul, written by Thomas Moore, relates directly to combining the Spiritual and psychotherapy from a strongly Christian viewpoint, with some ideas from Astrology thrown in, notably the ideas of the interpretation of Saturn. This is a very interesting read for those encountering darkness or obstacles in it's own right. The Twelve Stages of Healing explains a twelve step explanation of how people heal, not just are cured, from injuries, major traumas and negative life events in a Holistic manner. The authors, both Chiropractors, come from the view of the body-spirit interface, giving a different view to that of Thomas Moore. In Scarred by Struggle Joan Chittister looks at the same ideas as Thomas Moore, but from a different viewpoint. Combining personal accounts of struggle (autobiographical or otherwise) and a new interpretation of the story of Jacob Wresting with god this looks at what is lost and gained through psychological struggle. As they are all looking at the same territory we can compare their approaches to see what can be used where. Of course, they are all being compared to the evidence based approach, which is the gold standard in the mainstream.
In starting to compare these approaches I am first struck by what is common in them. This is the search for human understanding. Even the evidence based approach has this at it's heart, even if it uses scientific method. It is very different to any of the others in this aspect, and a very dry one. Both Thomas Moore and Joan Chittister look at this from a Christian Mystical view. This is something that, with it's roots in theology, looks back at a time when Theology and Philosophy were interchangeable. This, while being the initial foundation before the scientific base came to being, comes from a very different view point to how it is seen today. This means that what they are bringing in is a greater understanding of the spirit and what this means to beings going through trial and negative events. This is more an experience based than evidence based view of life, bringing in the subjective experience of living life as a spiritual being. As both authors have a Christian base this is subjective to the Christian ideal, however, there are many universal aspects of spirituality that this brings in. In terms of the views of the authors the Twelve steps take a lot more esoteric, holistic approach to the mind and spirit connection. As Chiropractors rather than Christian mystics or psychotherapists they are looking at the energetic body and how it is affected by body and mind. This very different view of life can be seen as complimentary in bringing in the body/mind/spirit divide together. As experience based and anecdotal as the theological viewpoint it nonetheless brings in an integrated viewpoint of body and soul that compliments the theological viewpoint as well as the evidence based view of modern Psychology. Now we have looked at what each one means how does this combine in helping understand the richness of human life and understanding?
They add to understanding in that they all combine to give a bigger picture of what it means to be incarnated as human. We are not just body, but a spirit with a mind mediating the interface of the body. This allows to work with all of us, not just that which is measurable by scientific method. It is in the very measurability that in a way defeats truly understanding human nature, as we are not truly measurable, average beings. There is a lot missed in this race to get a scientific average. This is something that for the lack of repeatability and reliability the subjective theological approach brings through by allowing the study of experience for what it is, human experience. Likewise, the idea of holistically healing mind and body also brings in an idea of how to handle the person as they are, a dual being of body and spirit. A dual being with their own journey and path, a dual being with their own unique circumstances. For me this means that while evidence base has a place as a tool, it is not the only one. The earlier ideas, coloured by philosophy and theology, allows a lot more room for not only the spirit but each persons subjective experience of their experiences. Epsteins and Altmans twelve healing status also allow each person to go through a total healing experience, allowing them to experience it as they have, rather than to a theory.
Overall, while evidence based techniques should not be ignored, the nature of dealing with humans means that you cannot deal with humans in practise like you would a scientific law. This means that mixing scientifically proven method with thoughts and theories that allow a subjective ideas bringing in what is important to people, allowing them to heal, is best. Sometimes this does not appear good, such as the discharge stages in The Network Approach (stage seven being the best example), this may appear to be illness. But, for some, this may be necessary, helping get rid of what is no longer needed. Having all these approaches at our disposal, no matter what type of healer or helper you might be, is very, very necessary. Otherwise the straight jacket of evidence base is going to blind us to the truth of the experiences that we work with.
Kyshera Du'Shkall Kre'Mashen Arkhense
Conciousness, Spirituality and the Brain
Other Worlds, Space, Super space and the Quantum Universe, Paul Davies, 1990, Penguin Books.
From Brains to Conciousness, Essays on the new science of the mind, Editor Stephen Rose, 1999, Penguin Books.
Zen Brain Reflections, James H. Austin M.D, 2006, MIT Press.
These three books all look at the same problem, what is human conciousness? This is an age old question that we have yet to answer, and looked at from many prisms. The prisms of rational thought, the prisms of religion, the prisms of the science of the human body, the prisms of the science of how the world worlds. From the prism of how the tiny underpinnings of how our world works, even. They all give different answers as they are looking at the problem from different levels and different areas. Meaning they get a different view based on the prism that they view it through.
This means they differ greatly on how they look at the same problem. Paul Davies looks at it from the point of Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics, a field of science that looks at places in evidence that does not follow the classic laws of physics to help understand human conciousness. Zen Brain Reflections combines neuroscience with experiences of Zen Meditation. In from brains to conciousness Stephen Rose's contributors use the lenses of science, perception, psychology and brain science to explain the way conciousness works.
This is possible because defining conciousness is dependant on how you view it. If you view conciousness through the lens of spirituality then you will see something very different from the ideas of accepted psychology. Even in the way that James Austin approaches marrying both you see a tension between the two, with half the evidence being from the study of abnormal brain functions such as migraines and mental illnesses. It is encouraging to see that half of the evidence is not, however, which shows that we are starting to look for evidence in the positive as well as the negative direction. This is, of course still reductionistic in regards to neuroscience, but it is starting to become more and more connected in terms of how it is used. Indeed, James Austin does this quite well in linking states around Zen meditation to this evidence and breaking down the reductionist thinking into something which looks at the true experience as a whole, even if it is by bringing together sections of reductionistic thinking to understand a whole piece by piece. Even this improves the result by a large amount in how the mind and spiritual, in this case Zen Buddhism is seen as a whole of human experience rather than a set of phenomenon. This is perhaps because the author knows both, giving him a broader world view. Or perhaps because this is part of science opening up to a greater world around it. Either way, it is a refreshing change.
Likewise, the collection of essays in From Brains to Conciousness also covers a broad range of, mostly but not all, scientific perspectives and looks at how they shift and change as you research different areas. Other Worlds looks at well... How all this fits with Quantum Mechanics, a strange world where the classics of physics do not exist. As here, even in the scientific areas we are looking at small things in the brain, how neurons fire this means there is a big intersection. As does the fact that the senses mesh with the world of quantum physics and mechanics. This perhaps is the one that, to me, brings the arguments all together. Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics, they seem to be the missing link. Remarkably close in the way they explain things to many of the more modern New age theories and practices, and in my own experience very close to how I see the way the Ethereal, astral and material intersect. Whichever view you take of it, this is an intersection.
Try as it might, many sciences cannot solve what is conciousness because it is something beyond our ken if we just focus on the physical world. They can map the brain, they can see what chemicals do what, what brain waves do what.... But this is a physical presentation of this. The prism of many sciences is not broad enough. What is is Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Physics, which is sciences take on how the small world of energy works. Looking at this you can see where the world of the rational has the potential to interlink with what it does not yet think is valid, but has not yet. When this process is complete then we will get many breakthroughs in how we understand and deal with the human condition.