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The key point about ourselves

Free from the compulsion to explain ourselves within a certain worldview, we are now ready to take a fresh and unbiased look at ourselves in our metaphorical mirror, and ask - what do we really know? And what new insights might help us embark upon a new course?

Curiously, as it happened during the Renaissance, we discover that we have been prisoners of a worldview, and that we have once again ignored the basic facts about the nature of our own happiness, and about our latent possibilities, showing us completely new cultural possibilities, which were all around us waiting to be discovered. Here we mention a few.

The nature of effort and effortlessness

The Club of Rome is a think tank of about 100 selected international experts, whose purpose has been to investigate the future prospects of the humankind. In the early 1980s, based on a decade of research, Aurelio Peccei, the Club's co-founder and first president, wrote: "The future will either be the inspired product of a great cultural revival, or there will be no future."

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Culture as symbolic environment

The question here is how our current direction of 'progress' influences our health and happiness, or in a word our wellbeing. What is really known about this most interesting theme?

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Ignored capabilities

Civilization is only a brief moment in the lifetime of our species, during which not much could have changed genetically. The question is how is our body affected in the long run, when we use it daily in ways it was not made for?

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Here is an interesting observation by Don Hanlon Johnson in 'Body':

Ordinary German citizens, from those close to the centers of power to simple shopkeepers, succeeded in blinding themselves to the extermination of millions of other decent germans.

I don't think that 'succeeded' is the right word here. This just happens automatically. There is no conscious deliberation, typically. That, in fact, is the root of the problem. Awareness just gets blocked. We conform and comply automatically. We yield to the superego. We submit our outspokenness to our fear of being different. We submit ourselves to all our existential fears. When we do that, the thought that we are submitting our power to some not-so-good power never even crosses our mind.

There is a price we pay, however, for not being aware. It is the price in awareness. It's in the energy that we use to block our awareness. It's in our ability to feel love and happiness which also gets blocked.

And of course, it is in ability to live our lives freely and follow our life purpose.

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Civilization is only a brief moment in the lifetime of our species, during which not much could have changed genetically. The question is how does our body react when we force it to do all those things it was not really made for?

According to F.M. Alexander, we respond to the exigences of civilization by permanent tension:

Evidence of misdirection of use in human activity is to be found on all sides (…). Misdirection of use is to be found in the person who takes up a pen to write and proceeds at once to stiffen the fingers unduly, to make movements of the arm which should be made by the fingers, and even to make facial contortions; in the physical culturist whose performance of certain movements of the arms or legs, or of both, is associated with harmful and unnecessary depression of the larynx and with undue tension of the musculature of the thorax; in the person who in reading or singing or talking “sucks” a breath in through the mount at the beginning of each sentence, though in the ordinary way, in walking or standing, he would breathe through the nostrils; in the athlete, amateur of professional who, whenever he makes a special effort, employs excessive tension in the muscles of the neck and pulls the head back unduly. In all cases, which might be elaborated indefinitely, it will be found that the use of the mechanisms concerned with the movement required is often far removed from that which would best serve the purpose.

As Edward Maisel summarized:

The process of civilization, according to Alexander, has contaminated man’s biological and sensory equipment, with a resultant crippling in the responses of the whole organism. Tension and conflict are more and more substituted for coordination.”

Here is an interesting possibility: What if this muscular tension is in fact the main cause of difficulty which we experience in work and activity? What if in spite of all those technical things which are believed to make our life easier, or better said because of them, our lives have in fact become more difficult?

Be it as it may, Moshe Feldenkrais found out that effortlessness is possible and that it can be learned:

All action of a living being is accomplished through muscular contraction or release. (…) Learning to inhibit unwanted contractions of muscles that function without, or in spite of, our will, is the main task in coordinating action. (…) Correct coordinated action seems, and feels, effortless no matter how great the actual amount of work involved may be. (…) the presence of effort is the indication of imperfect action. (Feldenkrais: The Potent Self. Ch. 10, Action, Inhibition and Fatigue.)

Experience has shown that effortlessness depends largely on our state of mind. Alexander advised his students to focus on the means (how they do the movement) and not on what they want to achieve. He considered what he called the 'end-gaining attitude' to be the root cause of tension.

Under the title "Basic Principle Underlying the Practice of Every Art" Aldous Huxley explained:

Malfunctioning and strain tend to appear whenever the conscious “I” interferes with instinctively acquired habits of proper use, either by trying too hard to do well, or by feeling unduly anxious about possible mistakes. In the building up of any psycho-physical skill the conscious “I” must give orders, but not too many orders - must supervise the forming of habits of proper functioning, but without fuss and in a modest, self-denying way. The great truth discovered on the spiritual level by the masters of prayer, that “the more there is of the ‘I,’, the less there is of God,” has been discovered again and again on the physiological level by the masters of the various arts and skills. The more there is of the “I,” the less there is of Nature – of the right and mormal functioning of the organism.

(Aldous Huxley: The Art of Seeing)

We may now understand even Karma Yoga as just another recipe for effortless living:

O Arjuna, just as the ignorant act attached to the fruit of their action; even so the wise, being unattached, should act desiring to benefit the welfare of the world.

(Bhagavad Gita)

You will now easily notice, however, that we have not made much progress along this line of development either.


This was while I was still in America and still following the news. The year was 1991. I was driving my car while the radio was telling how Gorbachov just visited my former country, former Yugoslavia, and tried to mediate between the conflicting parties. The speaker offered an explanation: Since Gorbachov was not doing so well at home, he was trying to gain some popularity points by solving a problem abroad. I thought: "Could Gorbachov not simply be concerned about the prospect of bloodshed and destruction and genuinely trying to help?"

Like every other culture, our modern culture also needs heros, to give us a chance to experience admiration and respect, to testify that a human being can still be great, to inspire us to serve the community and to be strong. A single radio program obviously cannot destroy an archetype. But a way of thinking can.

I am quoting this example to point at a certain idea of humanity which, as the case may be, seems to be prevailing for no better reason than because it best suits our mechanistic/reductionistis way of thinking. Since it sounds so true to this way of thinking, it is accepted as true.

To think in a new way and to understand ourselves in a new way, we need to do no more than pay attention to empirical evidence. That will be our task here.

Psyche, Body and Qi Religion


This category has the following 4 subcategories, out of 4 total.





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