Sunday, December 30, 2012

All the Lonely People

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father Mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

--John Lennon and Paul McCartney

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.

people so tired
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

--Charles Bukowski

Scratch just beneath the surface of most everyone you know and you will discover a suffocating loneliness. People starving for emotional connection-- “Please notice me. Please care about my life.” – yet unable to find their heart’s desire. Some people, of course, are black holes where no matter what you say or do it will never be enough. Most people, however, are either afraid to open up and ask for company and companionship or are emotionally crippled by their loneliness and have given in to what they perceive as their destiny.

Take notice of people, even strangers. Look them in the eye when you speak to them and pay attention to what they are saying.

Be present. People know when your mind wanders to other concerns or thoughts. I think this is one of the greatest gifts you can give to people: the respect of your full attention. 

Treat everyone with dignity. Remember they too were created in God’s image, no matter how marred that image has become.

Love because that is who you are, not because you want or expect something in return.

Don’t greet people with your needs; greet with them with your love.

Most people assume that others don’t care one wit about them. Surprise them. Then surprise them again.

Small kindnesses make all the difference in the world.  

Begin the practice of offering brief silent prayers for all those whom you encounter. “God be with him.” “May she encounter your love, Father.” “God grant that I may be an instrument of your love: here, now, with these people.”

And if you are one of the lonely people? Well for whom do you think all these suggested actions were meant? Loving others has amazing curative powers!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Take the Red Pill!

Morpheus: Do you want to know what IT is? The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. (Monte: Think, Zeitgeist… the spirit of the age.)

Neo: What truth?

Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.... Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.... Remember, all I'm offering is the truth, nothing more....

--The Matrix

Last week my friend Daniel Tocchini posted a question on Facebook: “What question is your life answering?” To which I immediately replied, “Take the Red Pill!” Which got me to thinking.
I guess you could say that I took the pill when I was 17 years old. From this time on, quests for reality, meaning, purpose, authenticity, creating personal legends and legacies has been my North Star. Of course this quest lead to other Big Questions regarding how to live my life (by what ethical standard?), the nature of Truth, Love, Goodness, Freedom, God, what happens after death, and etc. These questions, and others like them, have haunted me for 43 years. At times they even torment me. But mostly they thrill and inspire me. 
By the time I was 25, I began wondering why it was that not all people were consumed with meaning, purpose, and authenticity, or with consciously seeking answers to the questions that life demands of us. One of my professors told me that only around 10% of the population thought about such things. As I repeatedly came across this statistic, and I was continually meeting large groups of people who showed no outward evidence of thinking along these lines, I gradually came to believe it was true.
“Okay. As a speaker, writer, and coach, my target audience is that 10%.”
There was something inside me, however, that never quite accepted that statistic. In fact, as time went on, I increasingly found my understanding of human nature—of our being made in the image of God--warring against this idea.
I finally came to believe the vast majority of people have addressed these concepts and questions, even if it is only on an unconscious level. Moreover, I think these people live as they do, make the choices that they make, and experience what happiness and suffering that is in their lives, because of the definitions they have given these concepts and the answers they have given to these questions.
It is not a case where the high powered businessman and woman who works every waking moment at achieving more and more in their careers, to the point of ruining their health and families, haven’t considered the meaning of their lives or asked any of the Big Questions.
The barista with only a High School education who gave you your coffee this morning and, after she finishes her shift, will work another 8 hours at a department store, go home, read some chapters in Fifty Shades of Grey, watch TV, go to bed, and repeat the same routine month after month, year after year: she too has considered the concepts of reality, meaning, and purpose, and answered many of life’s major questions.
The issue is not that so many people don’t think about these concepts and questions, but that their answers are inadequate and often flat out wrong. Every day their angst, breakdowns, depression, disconnects, floating anger, neurosis, numbness, uneasiness, and lack of fulfillment at the very depths of their souls is screaming to them that this is so.
            Part of my Quest in life is to wake the hearts and minds of people to all this screaming and to inspire them to start paying attention to their souls. It is the answer to Dan’s question, it is the reason for my book, Legendary Leadership, why I write these blogs, and what colors most all of my conversations with businessmen and baristas. Take the Red Pill! Waaaaaaake Uuuuuuup! Paaaaay Attentioooooon!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Siege Perilous

In the Arthurian legends, Merlin built a chair to be placed at the Round Table and reserved for that Knight who would successfully fulfill the Quest for the Holy Grail. This seat was called The Siege Perilous.

When I was 17 years old, I self-consciously embarked on my quest to become the person God created me to be, and to discover my arena of achievement where I would do what I was called to in this world. At that time I had no idea how arduous the quest would be, as all quests are. I thought I had taken off on a 100-yard dash. It took me years to realize that it was a marathon up a steep mountain path lined with Mordreds who wished to poison my soul, dragons that wanted to devour my world, and Black Knights who wanted to either dissuade or destroy me. More dangerous than all these enemies was my own heart, however, where I had to battle faithlessness, fear, and idealism.
At 17 years old, I was clueless regarding just how absolutely necessary steadfastness and endurance were going to be in my quest. I was not even faintly aware that I had embarked upon The Siege Perilous, where there was no yellow brick road lined with blue Smurfs cheering me on as I blissfully sauntered my way toward the Holy Grail. I had no idea as to the nature of the ordeals I would have to pass through, if I were to successfully achieve my quest at the end of my days. 
In my 20’s I would write in my journals about the adventures ahead, the glory of the battles, and the victories that would be achieved. It never occurred to me that one day I would be writing in my journal about how grateful I am just to be surviving. Some days, some years, “victory” is when you are still standing, still breathing, still hanging on.
In my 20’s I could not imagine being the man who, just days before turning 60, would write in his journal: I am a frayed and frail survivor in a splintered wreck of a world where I have done my fair share of splintering and wrecking. Every day I live is a gift of mercy where I am permitted to crawl and claw my way through the hours seeking to be true to my quest. I am more shocked over the fact that the Great and Good God is still giving us time to seek for Love, Truth, and Goodness, than I am by evil. I pray daily against hardness of heart, hopelessness, and the terror of love and the vulnerability it requires. In other words, I pray for Faith, Hope, and Love. My heart breaks for the broken, is thrilled by seekers of Truth, and is filled with joy whenever I encounter those bloodied and scarred survivors who heroically refuse to give up on their quests. With God’s grace, I intend upon being such a survivor.
            The ordeals we face test our resolve and commitment to the quest and are used to shape us into the individuals we were meant to become. The battles we fight can serve to strengthen our faith, hone our skills as warriors, and impart greater wisdom. The longer we stay with The Siege Perilous, the more humble we become: the slower we are to judge others, the quicker we are to offer words of encouragement, and the deeper our awareness of just how utterly dependent we are on God’s grace.            
            In Stephen R. Lawhead’s, Grail, just before Arthur and his Knights were about to engage in the battle for the Holy Grail, Merlin stands and declares: “Hear, Men of Britain, Valiant Ones … the Head of Wisdom speaks. Heed and take warning … the battle is joined, and every man who would achieve the quest must face many ordeals. Be not dismayed, neither be afraid, but face the trials to follow with all forbearance, for the Swift Sure Hand upholds you, and the Holy Grail awaits those who endure to the end.”
            Face the trials and do not run from them. Own the defeats and learn from them. Take time to celebrate even the smallest of victories, and then get back onto the path of your quest. The battle has been joined. The Sure Swift Hand will uphold you as you endure to the end, where the Grail of your quest will be waiting for you.

Copyright, Monte E. Wilson 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Give Yourself Permission

I think, therefore I am. René Descartes

I don’t think: does that mean I don’t exist?
I am who I hope I am.
I am who my parents think I am.
I am who he/she/they/it “makes” me feel that I am.
I am my history.
I hope this is not who I am.
I am my secret.
I am not him. I am not her.
I am whatever I am feeling at the moment.

Each of us is a once in eternity being. Rather than discovering and developing our unique identities, however, most people go through life allowing others to define them, often trying on other identities as if they were shopping at a Department store looking at various suites of clothing. “This looks promising. I think I will wear this identity for a while. Does it come in blue?”
People look at us but they can’t see our true selves. Our voices belong to mom and dad; our feelings are manufactured so as to better fit in with our tribe; our brains are filled with ideas we mindlessly adopted from others as teenagers; our souls have been rented out to television.
We hide so much of our truth: the truth of what we think, feel, and believe. I hid my emotions. Still find myself doing so. I rarely have any middling emotions. Most every thing I feel is with incredible intensity. On top of this I am quite sensitive. When I was very young, for some damnable reason, I choose to hide this and become a card carrying Stoic. Why? Why choose to steel myself against my true experiences of the world around me? Why expend all this wasted energy on pretending to be other than I am? And what happens when these emotions spill over my steel wall of resolve? People wonder where the real Monte went. “Sorry, folks: that was him. Give me a few minutes and I’ll get him down to the basement back in his chains.”
 I have coached and counseled so many people who are waiting for their parents, siblings, friends or churches to give them permission to be their true selves. “But what if they don’t approve of this self?” Why relate to the world out of such weakness? Why are guilt, fears and anxieties holding you back from the freedom that comes with being who you truly are? Give. Yourself. Permission. As Rabbi Zusya said, “In the world to come I will not be asked, ‘Why were you not Moses.’ I shall be asked, ‘Why were you not Zusya.’”
It is rare to meet a free soul, an authentic (self-generated) individual who does not take his cues from the world for his way of being or for his thoughts, ideals, beliefs, and behaviors. You know when you are around such people. You feel good around them: very good. Or I do, anyway.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No One Sees Reality

We would rather be ruined than changed.
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the present
And let our illusions die.
--WH Auden, The Age of Anxiety

Me: Dad, I am so disillusioned.

Dad: It means you have been disabused of an illusion. ‘Good riddance’ is usually the best response. 

Parents told you that you were stupid, smart, beautiful, ugly duckling, adopted, a surprise, unwanted, special, didn’t talk to you, always this, never that, in trouble, forgiven, condemned, full of potential, will never amount to anything, Dad was there, not there, encouraging, mean, a Republican, Mom was drunk, nurturing, distant, wise, uninterested, a Democrat, They were happy, sad, fulfilled, strangers, fought a lot, laughed a lot, this is Right, that is Wrong, House was filled with laughter, screaming, silence, music, sound of TV, We were poor, rich, middle class, First Romance, he was kind, told me I was dumb, was funny, abusive, she was affectionate, smart, abandoned me, cheated on me, better than me, Movies, magazines, literature, music, School is challenging, exciting, boring, terrifying, mean Teachers, stellar teachers, teachers who told you to go to college, forget college, maybe the military will take you, friends killed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, President assassinated, his brother, as well, MLK struck down, Watergate, it’s Summer in America, sex in the White House, 9/11, Sex is evil, sex is same as shaking hands, sex is sacred, Marriage is a blessing, a suicide pact, too risky, Sacred texts are authoritative, foolishness, restrictive, liberating, way to God, God loves us, doesn’t care, is Santa Clause, there is no God, Friends were loyal, betrayed you, had secret agendas, you had no friends, the American Dream, nightmare, you Get Ahead by hard work and intelligence, cheating, being a victim, Wealth is a blessing that comes through industriousness, spending far less than you make, savings, made by ripping off people, my Internal Conversations were positive, full of self-hatred, confusing, sexual, mindless, fearful, hopeful, about how wonderful, stupid, boring, exciting, people are. And then you’re 18 years old and leaving home with some spiffy eyeglasses through which you see, evaluate, and interpret both the internal and external world in which you live.

You have never been totally objective in your life. All of us have filters, biases, and blind spots. Our entire personal history has been used to warp and skew our perspective. Those who pretend otherwise are whistling past the cemetery or have an acute case of arrested development.
You have never been totally objective in your life. You walked out into the world wearing a pair of glasses that you didn’t even know existed. “This is the way the world works, that is how people are, this is what “love” means, “success” is defined thusly.” And due to the magical nature of these glasses, everything you see confirms what you have always thought!
You have never been totally objective in your life. When making your decisions you never had all the facts, and the facts you did have were morphed into whatever you needed them to be so as to get what you wanted or escape what you feared. The surest way to go wrong in our decision-making is to presume we are not wearing glasses or to sanctimoniously act as if ours are perfectly clear.
No one sees reality: at best all we have is a view that approximates reality. The more we check our filters and biases via feedback from experiences (such as our souls screaming at us), research, other people (especially those wearing glasses different from ours), and adjust them as needed, the closer we can come to dealing with reality, and to making the wisest decisions possible for our spiritual and psychological health, and our future welfare.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wisdom Through the Ages or Dumb and Dumber

Somewhere around 30 years old, we start evaluating who we are becoming and where we are headed. The First Quarter of life (education, preparation) is completed and we are now in the Second Quarter building careers and growing families. Being that we have been away from home for around 10 years, we have the separation needed to look back at the development of our selves and lives. By 30 there is also enough content to our lives to actually have something to evaluate! “Am I becoming whom I want to be? Am I headed in the direction I want to go? Is my way of being actually mine?”
By the time we are 40, we begin to realize that we have far less objectivity than we ever imagined: that our past experiences, environments, and cultures colors everything we think. Whereas, when we were younger, our decisions and choices were seen as logical conclusions drawn from objective evaluation of the facts, we now realize that most of our decisions were actually shaped and fueled by forces, experiences, and belief systems of which we were not even conscious. Sometimes the decisions accidently or fortunately worked out well, sometimes not so well. Forty is the age when we begin draping humility across every, “I know,” “I believe,” and “I think the best thing to do is…”
At 50, we are entering the Third Quarter of life and we are humming. It is also a time where many people, once again, began asking, “What do I want to do with my life? Is this really who I was meant to become? Have I been following the map handed me by someone else?” Empty nesters, having more time for each other, often discover that their relationship is shallow and brittle. Whatever issues we chose to ignore over the last 20 years, are now catching up to us. At 50 you are hoping to God for sufficient grace and time to “get it right.”
When I was 55 one of the things that shook my soul like an earthquake was the awareness that I could have avoided so many pitfalls had I surrounded myself with wise men and women who were at least 15 years older than I, opened my life to them, and heeded their counsel.
We don’t know what we don’t know. Wiser older people know where that highway will take you, as well as the one-of-three inevitable and horrid consequences of that particular choice we are thinking is so wise. Coaches, Mentors, and Counselors point out the unreasonableness of the decision which we are feeling “compelled” to make, and, usually, help us to see the drama that we are playing out is actually based on a novel written by mom and dad, some other writer and director, or by a force made up of past unresolved issues.

News-flash: When your decision has a compulsive component, when it is being propelled by an instinctual drive telling you that you must do x, that this is what is best and there is no other choice to make, stop: do not pass “go” without counseling and coaching from older and wiser people. (I learned this from the “older” Carl Jung, but can’t find the quote.)

A life-style choice of going it alone is dumb. Thinking that wisdom only comes from my own experience, rather than learning from the experience and wisdom of others is even dumber.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time and Tide Wait for No Man

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been. –John Greenleaf Whittier

However beautiful the strategy you should occasionally look at the results.
Winston Churchill

When you are young, there is a wealth of time: time to spare, time to waste, time to figure it all out, time to love and be loved, time to grow in maturity and wisdom, time to make a difference in your world for goodness sake, for love’s sake, for God’s sake. “Tiiiiiime is on my side … yes it is!” (Sing it Jagger.) And it does feel that way, as with good fortune you have another 60+ years of living before you. The experience of the majority of older people, however, is that one night they went to sleep and when they woke it was 30 years later. Now, the heart is filled with should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.
It is a challenge to explain to young people that, no, opportunities for giving and receiving love, for growth, for making a difference, and for profit are not like doors that will always be opened when you want to walk through them. In fact, most doors have an open-by date stamped on them.
As I have been facing turning 60 years old this month, a sentence keeps rolling around in my soul: Time and Tide Wait for No Man. My guess is that this is a succinct summary of the words of Brutus, in Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

Life only presents us with so many outgoing tides of opportunity: in some contexts, only one. The key is to pay attention to the tides and currents presented to you and then jump in before it heads out. Or you can be bound in shallows and miseries for years to come. It’s your choice.

Making the Most of Every Moment
Your future is being created by what you are doing or not doing, today. Futures don’t fall out of the sky but are determined by your present actions and inactions.            
Business and career conflicts, health problems, financial crisis, and relational breakdowns didn’t just happen : they were set in motion by what you were doing months or even years ago. Sure, there was a very sincere desire to go in a different direction, and goals were even written and beautiful strategies designed. But while you were looking toward one future, your behaviors were taking you toward another.
            What does your desired future look like 5 and 10 years from now? Okay. Ask yourself what choices and behaviors today will take me in that direction? And remember that taking the tack that you have plenty of time to get to this or that important goal or issue will generate specific behaviors today that are creating a future that may make it difficult-to-impossible to successfully address what you put off until you can get around to it. 

Procrastination is Your Enemy
            The tide is going out. Jump in. Now. “I want to but I’m just not certain.” That’s the mindset that produces procrastination that, in turn, results in diminishing possibilities for your future. Of course, we turn around and blame God or fate. “I wasn’t certain about that opportunity-tide. (That’s why it is called “faith.”) While I was waiting for wisdom all these tides went out so that I was only left with one choice. It was obviously God’s will (or fate) that I not take the current.” Right. You choose to not take the tide when it was going out to sea and it is God’s will you’re still standing on the shore not making a difference in your world … or alone … or broke … or unhealthy. Cue God rolling His eyes.
            Whatever the future that you want is, you must start behaving your way toward it. Look at what you are doing this week in light of 30 years from now. What you are doing and not doing is taking you somewhere. Now, without saying to yourself that, “I will start doing such-and-such next week or next year,” where are this week’s behaviors going to have you in 30 years? No cheating. Using this week’s actions alone, play the movie all the way out in every context of your life. This is the future you are creating.

How’s it looking?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Shaming of the True

            It is the Hour of the Wolf and I am chasing a thousand rats around my head. A 900lb gorilla is gnawing at my heart and my adrenal glands are yelling at me to either fight or take flight. How do I fight a thousand rats and a gorilla? And where can I run to escape? No matter where I go or how fast I run, the rats always find me, and the gorilla is not far behind.
Alcohol won’t drown those damned rats and the white noise of TV is drowned out by the screaming of the gorilla. Worse. He has invited a legion of demons to his dining table. Hey, David:  so much for the promised Still Waters and Green Pastures, eh? My soul is engulfed in a tsunami of fear and panic.
Is this my life? Is this how it is going to be? I dreamed of so much more, knew there was so much more … and then the dream was replaced by this nightmare of existence.
If one more minister or motivational speaker starts spouting off Hallmarkain blather I swear I will throttle him. Yep. No “Amen!” from me. More like a “Shut the hell up, you mindless excuse for a human.” That smile was induced by Zoloft, wasn’t it? I read your books and followed each step of your spiffy How To’s. You missed the step called Reality.
The Rats still reign and the Gorilla still feasts.
            Am I going insane? “Please, God. Not that. Save me or kill me.” And then … shame.

Suffering is a nightmare, especially when it is the psyche or soul that is suffering. Everywhere I turn, I encounter such suffering people: depressed people, anxious people, sad people, tormented people, fearful people, numbed out people, people with “an eternal funeral marching round their hearts.” (Arthur Miller) These people hate their lives, or their jobs, or their spouses, or their bosses, or their priests, or their bodies, or their selves, or all of this.  
Some of these people tell themselves to Grow Up and seek to will their way through the pain. Some go for a personality makeover by attending a self-help seminar. Some try to assuage the pain by using it as leverage to control others. Some run faster and do more, so as to distract their minds from the pain. Some drown their pain by abusing alcohol. Some seek solace by having an affair or by becoming superficially religious, which are two sides of the same coin. Some people party hardy. Some go to psychiatrists for medications to dull their pain. All of these are soul-shattering ways to deal with your suffering and none of it works in the long run: all of it is a diversion from the wound your soul is screaming for you to pay attention to.
“Pay attention to my soul? You gotta be kidding me, Wilson. I want to pay attention to the clown that’s causing my pain!” (I’ll get to the “clown,” in a moment.) No, I am not kidding. But you can hold on to that suffering, if you prefer. The problem is the problems will keep being problems that keep producing even more severe problems until the problems wreck your life. I would think you might want to face your suffering and where it is coming from before that point in your journey.
Many people do prefer holding on to their problems. They choose to wait until they are in a hospital, or served with divorce papers, or are fired from their jobs, or their children tell them to get lost, or they have a nervous breakdown. They keep feeding the Rats and the Gorilla, resigning their selves to depression and despair or numbness as a way of life—“Screw it. This is just how life is. Hoping for joy, peace or healing is my enemy. Hope in anything or anyone is my enemy. I just have to be more realistic about life. You’re born, you suffer, and you die.”

You and Not You
What if your symptoms—the upsets, the breakdowns, the addictions, and the numbness—are actually your soul’s way of saying, “You aren’t being ‘you’”? What if the actual source of your deepest suffering is not your job, your spouse, your boss, your body or any other external thing? What if the source is your soul screaming at you, telling you that this “you” is not who you were meant to be?
What if your suffering is due to the persona you developed haphazardly and unconsciously, or the “you” that was required by your parents or your tribe or out of reactions to your parents or tribe? Might the weight of a false self, over time, produce barely bearable or unbearable suffering?
What if you are suffering by your own devices? Think about it: What if you created a self and a life that does not fit your soul, does not reflect your soul, and, consequently, is always at war with your true self: the self you were created to become.
There is a meaning for your existence, for your being here on this earth. I am not here referring to your missions in life, although those will also reflect your soul. I am referring to you as a unique human being, with a unique way of being in this world.
For decades, I hid much of myself, and frequently held back from “speaking the truest sentence that I knew.” I was quite conscious that I was doing this, too. I did it out of fear of rejection, out of not wanting to hurt others, and because I didn’t know how to integrate these hidden aspects of my self with my public persona. It took a lot of pain and suffering before I embraced the fact that I could not integrate a false self with my true self.
For me, there was the Idealized Monte, and then there was the True Monte. As I never pulled off the Idealization in my day-to-day life all that well, my self-hatred became nuclear powered, as did my suffering. The fact was, however, that I didn’t hate my self: I hated the Idealized Monte.
I was one of those people to whom I referred as preferring to wait until the problems wrecked your life. I lived according to a script I did not write. Much of my life—not all of it—was an act for which I just knew God would award me with an academy. Both God and my soul would have none of it, so the play was called, due to the fact that I went insane, went off script, and blew up the theater. This last sentence may sound funny: believe me, it wasn’t.
Soul-work is not something many people are familiar with. It takes time, reflection, counseling really helps, and digging deep into the answers to such questions as, “How did I get to where I am today?” “Is this person that I have become really me or the “pretend” me, a character I adopted along the way?” “Am I hiding aspects of who I am, and, if so, what am I hiding and why (toward what end) and ‘for’ whom?” “ “Is there a spiritual component to both my suffering and my healing? In other words, is there a God I have ignored to Whom I can now turn: a Transcendent Being Who breathed life into my soul on the day I was conceived, and Who, if asked, would begin breathing life into my soul, yet again?”
No, discovering and developing an authentic self will not do away with all your pain and suffering. There will be some major healing, peace, and joy, for sure. Some losses, some wounds, however, remain with us for life. But your True Self and a growing sense of meaningfulness and integrity will help you bear it and to even use it for the good of your True Self.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tower of Babel v A Community of Language

Ideas wear out quickly. Words rot more quickly still. And when thought itself is tainted, it proportionally corrupts all the words to which recourse is had in the hope of putting it right again. –Henri de Lubac

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. –JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Today, there is no longer a “community of language” (Voegelin) in our nation. It is almost as if we are living in the shadow of the Tower of Babel where each individual is speaking a language unknown to anyone else. When by Justice he means “vengeance,” and her use of the word Liberty has nothing to do with our God-gifted “unalienable Rights,” how do we carry on meaningful conversations?
Listening to the national conversation during this last election, all I could keep thinking was “So much wasted oxygen.” People were constantly making the mistake of thinking that because they all were speaking English, they understood what was being said and heard. One of the more frustrating experiences for me here was how people were using the word Capitalism. Monte screaming at Television: “For crying out loud, at least consult a dictionary before you start swapping ignorance!”
As I asserted in my last post, what is needed is a Rectification of Names. However, what can we as individuals do on a national scale when the Keeper of the Dictionaries (Government Schools) so often insists upon redefining words in a manner that supports the Establishment, as well as its own institutional and ideological agendas, rather than keeping words from deterioration and corruption?  Because this is the case, in the present, I believe there is not much we can do, nationally. We can, however, begin extending the community of language, incrementally -- from individual to individual, from family to family, and community to community.
And how do individuals do this? It begins, of course, with my speaking the truest sentence that I know, where the individual words of my sentence reflect, as accurately as possible, the truth of my mind and experience. Integrity in communication must be my mantra. My truest sentence will contain no word games, no smuggling of ideas within words that I know will be misunderstood but will allow me wiggle room in future communications. People should not need the skills of Sherlock Holmes to discover exactly what you are saying. We must go farther than this, however, and regain contact with what the words we are using meant before being corrupted. (Eric Voegelin, “Why Philosophize? To Recapture Reality!”)
Many of you on all sides of the political spectrum have been expressing your concern for the future of this nation. My question for you is this: will you begin disciplining yourself in your communication, speaking as truly and accurately as possible? This begins with making the effort to dig into heart and head for the truth of you, and then using words with uncorrupted meaning packed inside.
You say that your concern for the future of your family, community and nation is real. Okay, how willing are you to watch less Television, cut back on the time you spend playing games on your Smartphone and get to work on the process of the Rectification of Names? In other words, how willing are you to begin reading and courageously and respectfully sharing your knowledge with others?
How important is your spiritual and psychological health to you? After all, if the words we are using are corrupt, what sort of corruption is gradually taking place in our minds and hearts?

            I want to be careful here and not oversimplify the task before us. The Rectification of Names is not some panacea or magical formula that will dispel all confusion and conflict from either the nation or your family! It is, however, the first major step in the process, for without first agreeing on the meaning of words and the experiences to which they refer, we’re stuck in the shadows of the Tower of Babel. 
            I know. We feel small and insignificant. We are all Hobbits against the Dark Lords. What can we do toward the Rectification of Names, toward stopping the tides of corruption that have led to such national confusion and conflict? We cando what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set.” A community of language starts with our families, our friends, and with us – with you. Don’t think in terms of “the tides of the world,” but, rather, in terms of personal integrity.  

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Rectification of Names

It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.

It was not the man’s brain that was speaking it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words but it was not speech in true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness like the quacking of a duck.

--George Orwell, 1984

If the names we call things are incorrect, if the words we use are not tied to reality, what sort of communication can we expect? Furthermore, if there is no mutuality of understanding each other’s words, how can we ever expect anything other than ongoing confusion and conflict? If this is the case—if each is using words arbitrarily – then family, community, society, culture, and business suffers.
Deep, eh? Well, I ripped it off from Confucius who made this point when describing The Rectification of Names:

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

In seeking “to speak the truest sentence that you know,” attention must be given to the words you are using in expressing your thoughts and feelings: to the Rectification of Words. Words mean something, not just anything. Think of a word as a language-symbol that places boundaries around an experience or idea: “I mean this, not that.”
Think of the breakdowns and breakups caused by the quacking of the word “Love,” romantic or otherwise! Now, consider some other Great Ideas (Mortimer Adler) -- Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, Liberty, Equality, and Justice. All we need do is look around and see the confusion and conflict that are created when people unpack the meaning of these words so as to smuggle some other foreign idea into the conversation.
The Confusion of Names is at the root of many of our individual, familial, relational, and societal conflicts. Or so I believe. For example: What is Truth and is there any such thing as objective Truth? What does it mean to be a Good man or woman? When Jefferson and Co. penned the Declaration of Independence, what were they meaning when they said one of our “unalienable Rights” was Liberty? When they wrote that, “all men are created equal,” what did they understand the word Equal to mean?
These words were originally coined to describe specific experiences, so their meanings are rooted in history. Yes, the meaning of words can evolve, but it can also devolve and be corrupted. What we are after is the uncorrupted meaning of the words we are using.
The Rectification of Names is the only avenue to begin dispelling confusion and conflict, whether in a family or a society, a spiritual community or a business. Arbitrary meanings only add to the confusion and exacerbate the conflict. The destruction of words is only “beautiful” to pseudo-intellectuals, conmen, and tyrants.  

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Next, The Rectification of Names: The Tower of Babel v A Community of Language 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Demanding the Truth

My last post concluded with, “And before we start pointing out the speck of lies in the other guy’s eye, let’s do some personal work on the log that is in our own eyes.” While thinking about this personal work, I ran across a passage in Hemingway’s The Moveable Feast. He was writing about how he always found it difficult to begin a new story and how he would continually tell himself, “You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Thinking about this, it occurred to me that this is where we want to begin.

Speak the truest sentence that you know.

Whether it is in conversation with yourself, your family, a friend, or a co-worker, let your next sentence be true. In other words, demand the truth of yourself. This presupposes, of course, that you know the truth of yourself.
What am I truly feeling or thinking? What do I actually believe, and why? Not what am I supposed to be feeling, thinking or believing but what is the truth of me, what is the truth to me? Yes, yes, when we speak our truth we want to be appropriate and wise.  However, how often do we use these sentiments to actually bleed the substance of our truth from our sentences and, consequently, from our souls?
How can we insist upon “the truest sentence” from others, if we ourselves prefer comforting lies that shelter us from disturbing facts, unsetting realities, and soul-rattling truths? “This is what I believe (not), how I feel (nope), what is true for me (hope they bought that),” is a sentence that gives others permission to lie to you and robs you of the authority of integrity while questioning their sentences.

Thinking With Your Own Mind
It seems to me that many people choose to allow others to think through their brains and speak through their mouths. They are talking heads with talking points and muted souls, not individuals with their own thoughts and feelings. When asked a question the default position is to repeat the beliefs of the tribes to which they belong: political tribes, religious tribes, social tribes, ideological tribes, etc.
Before you speak, ask yourself: do my words have any correlation to the truth of things as I view them? Have I dug deeply enough into my mind and heart to know what is actually there? When it comes to my beliefs, am I merely parroting others, repeating the thoughts of those I respect or fear, or am I expressing the results of my own studies and deliberations?

I would rather discover I was wrong about the “truth” of my beliefs and ideas than mindlessly echoing what turned out to be true. I would rather be an honest heretic than mindlessly orthodox. (And religions are not the only institutions with orthodoxies!) I would rather say, “I don’t know,” before trafficking in stolen goods—pretending my words and thoughts were actually mine, while knowing I had pilfered them from someone else.
We need to stop being robots, giving the controls over our brains, hearts, and mouths to others. Stand up to the “intellectual terrorism of institutions” (Voegelin) and tribes that demand we fall in line and repeat the company line, “or else.” 

Demand the truth of yourself.

Come to your own conclusions.  

Have your own voice.

Now. Speak the truest sentence that you know.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012