Sep 282014
 

PersonalYantraI frequently see recommendations given in response to a wide range of questions, that the inquirer should begin a meditative practice.  Generally the next question then is, ok, how do I begin?

In the SMOP group last year we  covered a series on meditation that began with an introduction to beginning meditation practice, and then went on to cover 8 specific kinds of meditation exercises. Whether you are new to meditation, or an experienced practitioner,  you might find the introduction portion of this series of benefit.

Every modern book that I have read on meditation seemed to start with an instruction that you should, in effect, “clear your mind”.  However, I have yet to see any practical method given on how to accomplish this, since thinking about not thinking is still thinking.

I was taught that the means to achieving a meditative state was not through attempting to clear the mind, but through the relaxing of will, allowing the entering of an altered state through a shift in consciousness.  To accomplish this shift, at least in the beginning of your meditative practice, it is recommended that you consider making use of the following preparatory steps.

1.      Use the same space/location each time you meditate.  Use an area where you can be reasonably sure that you will not be disturbed by man or beast.  An enclosed area or room dedicated solely to the practice of meditation is optimum, but generally not possible.  Scheduling may have to substitute for seclusion.

2.      Pick a time when you can do your meditation at the same time each day, one where you will not be disturbed by others who you share your space with.  Be considerate of them by picking a time when you will not be placing restrictions/limitations on their use of the space.  Most modern books/teachers on meditation recommend early morning to be the best time for meditation, the assumption being that after a night’s rest you won’t fall asleep as readily.  For me, early morning works just the opposite, I just go back to sleep.

I have found that what the time of day is, is not as important as picking a time where you can meditate each day at the same time.  It is important to establish a rhythm, at least in the beginning.  For me, the best time turned out to be very late in the evening. That has provided me with several benefits, not the least of which is that I am able to carry portions of what I am working on in the meditation over into my sleep time.

3.      Take steps to minimize distractions from the five senses, not by eliminating input, but by providing a single point of focus for each sense that can then be relegated to the background.

a.       Sense of Touch: Wear the same clothing each time you do your meditation exercises.  The clothing should be of natural fiber if at all possible.  Cotton is generally the preferred material of choice because of its availability and reasonable cost.  Other natural fibers such as silk or hemp are fine too.  Your clothing should be as comfortable as possible, loose enough to not bind, close fitting enough to not bunch up, warm enough that you won’t get chilled from being stationary for a period of time, but not so warm as to make you uncomfortable.  It may seem silly to wear the same articles of clothing each time you meditate but there is a reason for it which will be covered below.

b.      Sense of Smell:  Pick an essential oil or incense to use, and then use the same one each time. Whether you choose to use incense or oil, it must be natural in origin.  Synthetics may seem to “smell” the same, but create noise at an energy level that can be disruptive to the process.  A good Sandalwood incense or Sandalwood essential oil would be best for making contact with one’s Guides and Teachers, but due to its reduced availability from overharvesting; “pure” Sandalwood for a while became cost prohibitive, although it seems to have come down in price some at present.  If you are comfortable with the scent, Frankincense Oil works very well, and, it has been my experience that Frankincense and Myrrh resins burned together result in a significant stimulation of the brow chakra area.  Copal resin from Southern Mexico and Central America can be substituted for Frankincense and is milder (use by itself). To use an oil, place either a few drops in water in a heated diffuser, or just on a cotton ball in a small dish.  Resin incense is burned on charcoal and definitely provides the strongest background scent (be careful of setting off smoke alarms though).

c.       Sense of Taste:  I found that starting the meditation with a cup of tea worked very well.  The cup should not be too large, no more than 4 to 6 oz.  This allows for most of the cup to be consumed in a relatively short period of time, and is not enough that the bladder will start making itself known prior to the completion of the meditation.  I used Celestial Seasoning’ Sleepy Time Tea in the beginning, a mixture of Chamomile and Mints.  The Chamomile is relaxing but bland, the Mint good for digestion and leaves the single pleasant taste that we are trying for here.  Now I do my own blend of Chamomile and Peppermint.

d.      Sense of Hearing: Certain types of instrumental background music or environmental sound works best.  You are trying for “white noise”, a single sound to mask any external sound that may intrude, such as cars going by, etc.  In the environmental sound cd’s, rain works very well, except for the occasional thunder that most studios seem to feel that it is necessary to include.  Trickling streams, soft waves, etc. also work well.  For music, do not use vocals in the beginning (selective vocals such as chants can be excellent for manipulating the type of meditative state later though).  No matter how soothing the sound, whenever a human voice is perceived a part of the mind is automatically programmed to be set aside to process what is being communicated, even though you are not consciously aware of it.

e.       Sense of Sight:  Dim the lights, but do not use total darkness.  In total darkness we tend to generate random images (sparks, flashes, etc.) that can be distracting.

4.     You form your own ritual by following however much of the above process you choose to use in preparing to meditate each time.  By the time you have settled into a comfortable position, and have finished sipping your tea, you will have in all likelihood made a transition from the mundane world to the one where you meditate.  With time, as soon as you begin to change clothes, prepare the tea, etc., you will start this mental shift and reaching an” altered state” comes almost without effort.

Apr 102011
 

The term “New Age”, in use in Metaphysical circles since the late 19th Century, came to be applied as a label for a major paradigm shift that occurred in our culture beginning in the 1970’s. About the only generalization that one can make about the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of different groups, practices and belief systems lumped together under the label “New Age”, is that they are all involved in what is typically referred to as a “new consciousness revolution”.

In the early years of this new facet of the culture, I saw a potential for those who were fully engaged to accrue the same benefits as those commonly attained by followers of the teachings of the early Oriental Occultism Schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, in the face of the many vicissitudes that life can throw at one, individuals who faithfully adhered to these early practices and exercises often displayed a level of serenity not typically displayed by the general population. It became apparent to me within just a few years though, that the potential was, for the most part, to remain unrealized.

While beneficial practices such as meditation became so widespread as part of the movement as to become mainstream, I was surprised to observe in many of the individuals who frequented our shoppe, an increase in intensity rather than serenity. Tolerance for alternative spiritual paths, other than the one chosen by that specific individual seemed to decrease, often to the point of expressed hostility (what I came to refer to as the “my guru can whip your guru” attitude). And, aggression justified as “activism” became the norm for many. It got to the point that all one had to do to disrupt “my sense of serenity” was to utter two words, “SAVE THE”. It didn’t matter what was to be saved, if you were not in complete agreement with the call to action (activism) then you must be at the very least unspiritual, and most likely, even evil.

How and why did a movement based on spiritual practices, many of which have been around for millennia, come to create such a shift in attitude, in such a large segment of our population, in so short a time?

In the study and practice of Metaphysics, or Oriental Occultism, as it was identified during the turn of the last century (19th to 20th), it was thought that the advancement of mankind as a whole, socially and spiritually, could be hastened through the efforts of individuals who worked first and foremost on their own personal advancement. Or, to put it another way, the overall culture would advance if there were enough individuals who became accomplished at the use of tools and skills acquired through personal study and meditative practices that changed for the better the way the individual lived their lives, the way they interfaced with their fellow-man, etc.

A major component of this path was the acceptance of personal responsibility. Even when outside forces resulted in a negative impact on the individual, they were held to be totally responsible, not for the event, but for how they responded to it. The emphasis was on a life lived by doing what was perceived as spiritually right, not on what was considered as either socially acceptable or desirable. It was believed that by providing a real world example to follow, the practitioner of Oriental Occultism would surely inspire others to engage in similar work, plus they would incrementally help raise the level of consciousness of the entire race.

There were shared spiritual objectives to aspire to, to be sure, but the act of reaching them was strictly a personal quest. There were advantages to working within groups that shared common goals, but the attainment of personal advancement was held to be only possible as the result of individual effort. The raising of consciousness of the human race was not expected to be a short-term process, but rather required a lifetime commitment, and any significant influence on the culture might require generations to take effect. The study of Metaphysics, or Oriental Occultism, took a tremendous amount of personal commitment and was viewed as anything but a part-time occupation.

During the Twentieth Century both the stated goals and the means of reaching those goals evolved, producing a significantly different approach. The overall emphasis of the current Twenty First Century form of the New Age Movement focuses on pretty much the same goals of cultural, social, and spiritual advancement, and share the same concerns for the welfare of our fellow-man as did the earlier Oriental Occultism Movements, but the goals are now most often presented in the context of humanity as a whole. The individual’s personal growth and development of Occult abilities, (as they were defined in the late 1800’s) receives less emphasis than the goal of bringing about global change for the “greater good” through group effort and group thought.

People are still expected to work on themselves, but the methods employed are frequently not intended to develop people as individuals, but seem designed instead to bring about a diminishing of their individuality in such as way as to bring them into alignment with the overall philosophy of the movement. In other words, to de-emphasize the individual aspects of the personality, molding the person in such a way that they become a synergistic component of a “Consciousness of Oneness” [1].

A recurring theme, the Consciousness of Oneness is usually portrayed in terms indicating that we are all interrelated, that what affects one affects all. Personal responsibility no longer refers to responsibility for one’s own actions and choices, but to a responsibility for the events and conditions that affect the welfare of others, producing a shared responsibility for all that happens in the world at large and placing upon the individual an obligation to help those who are perceived to be in need of economic and social assistance.

The justification for advancing the development of a Consciousness of Oneness is that if enough individuals hold the same view (think the same way) with respect to “spirituality”, and now “social systems”, a critical mass will eventually be reached and suddenly, the whole world will experience a significant positive shift in consciousness that will solve many of the world’s problems. There are several assumptions that go with using this approach that, in my opinion, are not based in reality and can result in negative consequences for the race as a whole.

A big one is the assumption that all humans are the same. That human consciousness differs only because of the influence of the cultural environment the person grew up in. There is both a certain arrogance and a level of naivety involved in believing that everyone else’s view of what constitutes spirituality would be the same as that embraced by the Consciousness of Oneness Movement, if only they could be brought to understand just how much they are really loved. This hypothesis assumes that the only stumbling block to the development of a worldwide Consciousness of Oneness is that less spiritual beings and organizations in the world are resisting it for their own greedy purposes.

The reality is that there are people in the world today that, no matter how much you express your love for them, still will want to terminate your existence just because you don’t fit the mold for what they consider to be the correct form of spirituality, or the correct social system to live within. It is their understanding of reality and their chosen path, and they believe it just as strongly as those who seek to bring about a Consciousness of Oneness. Not a criticism or an endorsement, just an observed fact.

Within the parameters of the Science of Metaphysical and Occult Philosophy, what is happening here and what are the possible effects and projected ultimate outcome of a movement towards a Consciousness of Oneness? In some branches of Oriental Occultism there is a tradition of a sharing of consciousness between members of a species, a Group Soul as it is sometimes called. That does not mean for example, that all dogs of the same species share one consciousness or soul, rather that there is a continuous connection between these consciousness’s (souls), that allows the sharing of experiences. That is how a fawn, just minutes out of the womb, knows to freeze and remain hidden if the mother indicates danger is near.

Group consciousness is what I believe Rupert Sheldrake, the English biochemist and plant physiologist is describing in his theory of morphogenesis as the morphogenic field. This sharing of experiences and information is similar in many respects to a modern computer network in which all data acquired by any one computer on the net is instantaneously and continuously available to all of the computers on the network in real-time.

The human body too is that of an animal, and displays many of the traits associated with having a group soul, or to use Sheldrake’s terminology, possessing access to the human morphogenic field. For instance, research has found that a newborn baby knows to hold its breath and attempt to swim to the surface when they find themselves in water, a reflex reaction that is equivalent to the pre-programmed at birth response of the newborn fawn in the example above.

But with humans, there is a difference. In addition to the group soul, there is what I call the Discrete Human Consciousness, discrete because it is separate from other Human consciousness; there is no sharing of information other than through direct communication utilizing both physical and non-physical means (e.g. esp). In Eastern traditions it is the Discrete Consciousness that reincarnates, that carries the memories of its past lives, but not of the lives of other Discrete Consciousness’s, past or present, as occurs in the Group Soul. In Western traditions, it is referred to simply as the Soul. How we came to be different is the subject of much ancient mythology and is too extensive a topic to go into here.

It is this Human Triad, consisting of an Organic Body, a Group Soul, and a Discrete Human Consciousness (Soul) that creates many of the personal challenges we face in life.

The Group Soul is the computer program for what we generally refer to as our “animal nature”, and has a great deal, but not all, of its processing capacity taken up by the maintenance and operation of the organic body. It’s how a person can be in a coma with no hint of the personality present, yet the body can continue to function, so long as it has liquids and nourishment artificially supplied. But it does much more that just provide operational control for the organic body. Keep in mind that in all other animals the Group Souls not only share information and experiences, but is the source for each animal in the species’ cognitive abilities as well. The Human Group Soul retains, and will continue to attempt to exercise its cognitive function, if not restrained or regulated by the Discreet Human Consciousness.

It is the Human Group Soul that Jung called the “Collective Unconscious”, that part of the unconscious that possesses the shared experiences of the entire human race. He also put forward that there was a “Personal Unconscious”, which possessed only those experiences that had been accumulated by the individual. In the language of the Human Triad Model the Personal Unconscious would be called the Discrete Human Consciousness.

The challenge we face is in ensuring that the dominant force in our lives is the Discrete Human Consciousness, not the Group Soul. The Human Group Soul, in addition to acting as the equivalent of a computer’s operating system, enhances our survival prospects by being able to make use of the accumulated experience of the race, but by its very nature its decisions are going to be shaped by its perception of what’s best for the survival of the organic body and of the species as a whole. At least some of its commonly shared data comes not from direct experience, but from beliefs that a significant portion of the Group Soul has come to accept with respect to social systems. The basis for some of these beliefs may not necessarily be founded on anything other than “everyone else is doing it”.

The Discrete Human Consciousness on the other hand, is the part of us that is intended to be the one engaged in intellectual pursuits; social, scientific and spiritual. It is an independent process riding on top of the Group Soul process. It is in the Discrete Consciousness where we theoretically make those decisions that help us rise above our animal nature, that allows us to engage in cooperative efforts that would appear to not be of an immediate direct benefit to ourselves, such as providing disaster relief to a country and a population thousands of miles from us, rather than restricting all of our efforts to just that which would enhance the survival of those in our immediate circle. It is here too that we should be intellectually analyzing the issues that we encounter on a daily basis relating to the social, political and spiritual aspects of our lives.

But what happens if we allow the Group Soul to dominate our Discrete Consciousness? In my research I have found that many people who hold passionate positions, especially with respect to social issues, when pressed for the justification for their position, can only repeat the buzzwords and the popularly expressed statements consistent with the commonly held beliefs of the movement they are passionate about. They are unable to come up with a personal justification, or examples of cause and effect, that could account for the strong emotions they experience. I want to make clear that these are people who, in all other respects, are kind, caring, intelligent individuals, sincerely working on following a spiritual path, which makes a statement delivered on their part with great passion, such as “I hate _____” really stand out as seeming to be out of character.

After a time, I came to realize that many people hold opinions based on one of two very different sources, The Human Group Soul aspect of their being, or their Discrete Human Consciousness. For the individuals referenced above, what became apparent was that some of their strongest opinions were based on a “well known truth” in the overall Group Soul Consciousness of a specific social, spiritual, or political movement, not from their own Discrete Human Consciousness.

What I often recommend to people when (1) they find themselves possessing a really strong opinion about an area of which they have very little personal experience, or (2) are not sure as to why it is that they hold a particular opinion, is that they stop and ask themselves the question:

Do I think what I think,
Because I think it?
Or, do I think what I think,
Just because I think,
That I think it?

A rather silly little limerick I know, but a good reminder that we should always be prepared to question, not the beliefs of others, but the beliefs and truths that we ourselves hold to be self-evident. Some things that we know or hold to be true may not be based on personal experience or knowledge, but are simply articles of faith. Nothing wrong with that, so long as we recognize the things we know by personal experience, and the things that we know on faith, and remember that there is a difference. If, on the other hand, you cannot find in your own mind a basis for an opinion, or a truth, not even as an article of faith, it may well be that it is an opinion, or a truth, that is not your own.

And this is the concern that I have for the development of a Consciousness of Oneness, if it is accomplished through the conditioning of its adherents to accept the group consensus without having done any critical analysis of issues at hand. If individuals begin to surrender the use of their intellect (Discreet Consciousness) to the rule of the Consciousness of Oneness as propagated through the Human Group Soul, one would expect to see just what I have observed in much of both the New Age Movement, and in the social/political arena today. The dominant driving force appears to be emotion, rather than intellect.

[1] A Consciousness of Oneness was described as the projected ultimate outcome of human evolution in the article; “Toward a Consciousness of Oneness” by Robert Atkinson, PhD in the Institute of Noetic Sciences’ April Issue of their “Noetic Now” Ezine at: http://www.smopblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Noetic-Now-Issue-9-Toward-a-Consciousness-of-Oneness.pdf, an excellent article that presents a somewhat different view of this topic.

Dec 182010
 

In some Eastern Systems of Personal Development there are only three questions that are considered of importance for the student to answer: Who am I? What am I? Where am I?  The answer to each of these questions seem simple enough for the Westerner to answer, but only because the meanings of Who, What and Where are viewed differently in the West.  In the East however, these questions often form a life’s work for the student of Yoga. Many never get past the first question for it is a type of question that defies answer from the intellect alone. 

Who am I? cannot be answered through the mind, it can only be experienced.  To come to an awareness of Who I Am through personal experience, the student must become proficient in the use of a number of tools, each designed to open a level of awareness of the world that exists beyond that of the physical.  The different forms these tools come in make up the body of the Eastern Yogic disciplines.

The Eastern Yogic traditions are not to be confused with the form currently popular in the West which focuses primarily on only one school of Yoga, Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga, as it is practiced in America, has become little more than a form of physical fitness with little emphasis on the development of the spiritual self.

One tool used in the Eastern traditions to facilitate experiencing the answer to Who Am I? is through the expansion of one’s knowledge of self during meditation (another one of those answers that until you have experienced it yourself, seem to be leading you in a circle).  The student is taught that to expand one’s knowledge of self it is important to clear away all things that are “not you” during the meditation.  A key aspect of this practice is the development of Detachment.  There are numerous reasons why Detachment is a key to much more than just a meditation practice, but for the sake of this discussion we will only address the process, not the justification for its importance.

Detachment can be reached in two ways:
           (1) Detachment through Denial (will)
           (2) Detachment through Perspective (experience)

Detachment through Denial is generally the first form of Detachment that a student can find some success in mastering.  I should make it clear at this point that Detachment through Denial is in no way related to the psychological coping mechanism of being “in denial”.  Detachment through Denial simply means that once the student has recognized the existence of a personal desire or craving for an object or a situation, they consciously decide to exercise their will to “deny” the desire or craving any power over them. Obviously a lot easier to say than to accomplish, but change can come about through conscious effort with time.

The value of developing a state of Detachment in one’s personal development is described by Patanjali in his Kriya Yoga Sutras:

“Detachment allows one to remain in the presence of our true Self.  It is characterized by the feeling of calmness, despite the presence of many objects of attention or potential distractions.  This calmness is the emblem of detachment and includes not only an outward passivity, but an inner equilibrium.”
                                       
Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas [1]

In the Sutras, the distractions referred to are “cravings” for objects and/or situations.  Detachment reached through Denial through exercising the Will over cravings for objects – things – emotions, as described by Patanjali, will not eliminate the cravings, but through Denial they will be under a reasonable level of control.  The goal of the continuous exercise of Denial of a specific craving is to get to the point where the mind “forgets” the form of the craving, and the amount of energy that must be expended in exerting control over that specific craving will become minimal, and thus less of a distraction.

The intent of developing this sense of Detachment during meditation is that as it becomes a permanent part of your “inner self” it will spill over into the remainder of your life resulting in your eventual development of a complete sense of Detachment from the daily affairs of the manifest, mundane world. Development of a complete sense of detachment means you experience the experience, but you have no reaction to it.  Someone gives you a raise for a job well done, you have no emotional reaction; someone fires you for a job not well done, you have no emotional reaction to it either.  But here is where a problem can arise from our efforts to become a more spiritually developed individual.

If one is living in a Monastery with walls to protect you from the outside world, and a rigid social structure to function within that provides protection from the individuals that you interface with, this level of detachment can be safely practiced. 

For the rest of us, Detachment through Denial, when used in balance and in its proper place can be beneficial, but the use of this method in the mundane world, as opposed to the artificial environment of a monastery, can result in unintended consequences.

The fact that we must be aware of is that the overwhelming majority of our fellow inhabitants of this planet neither understand, nor are much interested in understanding, our interest in developing a sense of detachment.  As a result, they can misinterpret one of the aspects that manifests in an individual as they develop a sense of Detachment through Denial.

“This calmness is the emblem of detachment and includes not only an outward passivity, but an inner equilibrium.” (Emphasis mine.)

The appearance of “outward passivity” has become a prominent goal in many of the Westernized Yogic and New Age Philosophies.  It has been promoted as a character trait to be prized and developed on its own, rather than recognized as an outer manifestation of an inner development. 

The snag is that Passivity developed as a personality trait alone, can actually draw conflict.

Ok, that is a pretty strong statement and one that seems to be counter to most of the Spiritual Development movements popular today.  To be able to put this statement into context and to understand the social process involved, Passivity must be viewed in terms of one of the many personality related energy signals that we unconsciously radiate.

As a Human Consciousness (Soul) made up of a complex compilation of pure energy patterns, we constantly radiate information in the form of signal patterns (waveforms) that our fellow beings are aware of on a “sub-conscious” level.  Someone instinctively knows when we a feeling down, or ill, or angry.  They get this knowledge from the signals that we transmit just as a part of being an active consciousness, and then they interpret the pattern received in terms that they are familiar with as a result of their own energy patterns.  In other words, they recognize the signal pattern of the emotion of say, happiness, in themselves, so when they receive a similar signal pattern from another individual, they interpret the signal to mean that the other individual is “happy”.  In a Parapsychology Laboratory this process is studied under the classification of ESP, but it is a process that goes far beyond the limits that mainstream science has placed on the laboratory definition of ESP.

One segment of these patterns, the Active Personality, is associated with the type of person or personality type that we exhibit under normal social conditions.  This personality type can be portrayed as a signal pattern located within a frequency spectrum where one end of the spectrum is labeled as Totally Passive, and the other end of the spectrum is labeled as Totally Aggressive.  It is doubtful that anyone remains long at either end of the spectrum, except possibly for a brief moment in time, or that anyone is at any given position in between the two extremes for all situations in their life.

[Totally Passive    –    Assertive    –    Totally Aggressive ]
(lower frequency)  –  Active Personality Spectrum  –  (higher frequency)

The flow of energy between individuals whose personality types are normally located at different positions on the spectrum between Passive and Aggressive is similar to that experienced in Thermodynamics, the science of heat.  In Thermo, the direction of flow of heat is always from the material of greater temperature to that of lesser temperature.  Since heat is simply an expression of the rate of vibration of the material, the direction of flow is from the material that is vibrating at a higher rate, or frequency, to that which is vibrating at a lower rate, or frequency.

If you equate Aggression with the higher frequency of the warmer material, and Passivity with the lower frequency of the cooler material, you find that Aggression automatically flows towards Passivity.  This flow occurs as a natural process without thought in most individuals and its sudden appearance can frequently be a surprise to them.  It is an unconscious reaction, although some people do find that allowing their aggressive side to come out results in their getting their way, and then come to consciously use it.

The goal in our personal development is to strike a balance between the two extremes of being either totally passive or totally aggressive.  This balance point can be described as Assertive.

Assertiveness does not refer to a specific point or frequency on the spectrum.  Rather it refers to the process of conscious decision making involved in the individual’s attempt to maintain a balance in their interactions with other Human Consciousness’s.  Balance refers to being able to maintain whatever position we have chosen to occupy between the two extremes in the Active Personality energy spectrum.  

For example, if we are interacting with an individual who is further toward the Passive end of the spectrum than we occupy, we can consciously decide to control (consciously reduce) our own level of aggression, thus preventing the flow of our more aggressive energy to that individual.  In this way we prevent the imposition of our Will over theirs. 

Likewise, if we find ourselves in a situation where someone else is attempting to exercise their Will in an aggressive manner with the intention of exerting control over us, we can respond by increasing our own level of aggression by a sufficient amount to first block, and then push back their aggression. 

To maintain balance, to be Assertive, one must be capable of both reduction and amplification of their personal position on the passive – aggressive spectrum.  The point at which an Assertive person resides between the two extremes of Passive and Aggressive is not some magical mid-point on the scale.  The Assertive person adjusts their position to reflect the situation that they find themselves in.  Focusing on remaining as close as possible to the Passive end of the scale actually stimulates aggression in others.  It is the same principle as the flow of heat in thermodynamics discussed earlier.

Our culture has promoted a passive approach to both personal and international interactions for the last 50 to 60 years.  One of the unfortunate outcomes of this shift in the approved method of response to aggression towards the passive end of the scale can be seen in the rise in the number of cases of “bullying” of children and young adults in this culture. 

In the world of international affairs, our passive response to attacks on our embassies, the USS Cole, the Marine Barracks in Lebanon, and other passive actions such as our withdrawal from Somalia after the Battle of Mogadishu, directly led to influencing the level of aggression openly exhibited by individuals like Osama bin Laden. 

Our lack of “appropriate” response to these events influenced the decision making process that resulted in the attack on the World Trade Center.  We know this from bin Laden’s own words. After our withdrawal from Somalia bin Laden described the US as a paper tiger who no longer had the will (had become passive) to stand up to those who were prepared to attack it, and as such it was now possible that the United States could be defeated in matters of armed conflict.

These types of situations can, unintentionally, arise when Detachment through Denial and its accompanying outward passivity is practiced without taking into account the outer world we function in.  If we are successful in becoming completely detached from the outcome of events in our lives, we not only give the appearance of being Passive, but in fact we do become Passive, accepting of any form of Aggression, without limits, that we may be subjected to.

The second way of reaching Detachment, Detachment through Perspective, comes to the individual almost as a side effect, as they develop an understanding of Who Am I?  As the individual, through practice, experiences the expansion of one’s knowledge of self, the location of items on their lists of things that are “important in their lives”, and of things that are “nice to have but that are not all that important”, and of things that are “no longer important” in their lives at all, began to shift, with more and more items moving to the “no longer important” list. 

It is at this point in the individual’s development that a different kind of detachment process begins to occur.  At this point the person becomes detached from cravings and desires, not as a result of a conscious decision, but as the result of the process of putting things into perspective. 

Because the individual who is practicing Detachment through Perspective will typically appear to be calmer, more centered, outwardly they will present much the same appearance of passivity as occurs in the person who is practicing Detachment through Denial.  But there is a significant difference.  Because the outer appearance is as a result of an inner change, it is not fixed in one place on the Active Personality Spectrum as it is when the outer appearance is as the result of a decision to not allow events to trigger any emotional response, regardless of the provocations involved.

Detachment as a result of perspective allows the individual to evaluate each situation and apply the appropriate response (be assertive) without that response being based on emotion. Remember, this was the original goal of developing a sense of detachment, the ability to control ourselves through conscious choice, with the choices being grounded in our personal values, in place of being driven to act (being distracted) by our emotional response to stimuli.

So, since it can take a lifetime to develop Detachment through Perspective, and working on our program of personal spiritual development utilizing the process of Detachment through Denial can result in inviting aggression by projecting passivity, what are we to do? 

I would suggest that the individual who is working on a program of personal development, in addition to the kinds of meditative processes used to acquire a sense of detachment that are outlined in works such as Patanjali’s Kriya Yoga Sutras, spend some time meditating on just what constitutes a reasonable response to the various kinds of situations that an individual is likely to encounter in their daily life.   By using the concept of Assertiveness detached from emotional response as a guide in determining what constitutes a reasonable response during their meditations, if or when one of the situations meditated on arises, the individual will be better prepared to react to the situation appropriately.

 [1] Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas, Translation, Commentary and Practice by Marshall Govindan