Overcoming your opponent

March 28, 2017

When Hatim al-Asamm of Afghanistan went to Baghdad, people surrounding him saying, ‘You are a non-Arab of halting speech, yet you silence everyone.” He answered, ‘Three things allow me to overcome my opponent. I am happy when he is right, and I am sad when he is wrong, and I try not to behave foolishly towards him.’

from Learning How to Learn

Idries Shah

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What things will save humanity from the world?

March 26, 2017

There are 4 things. Accept the ignorance of others and spare them yours; spare for them from your substance, and do not expect any of theirs.

Hatim al-Asamm

from Learning How to Learn

Idries Shah

 

 

Reality owes us nothing because it has already given us everything

May 6, 2016

If I could become the best in the world at anything, it would be learning. Imagine what would be possible if you could learn to be a better learner.

So what is the basis of learning?

In The Dermis Probe, Idries Shah quotes Khamlat Posh who is responding to someone asking about discipleship.

Desire to learn is not the basis for learning, but sincerity is. The basis of sincerity is straightforwardness and a liking for balance.

I have always thought of sincerity as being intimately connected to desire. Asking myself what I want and why I want it has seemed to me to be the pathway to sincerity.

Example:

“Do I really want to talk to this person, or am I telling myself I do because what I really want is not to hurt their feelings?”

“Do  I really want to learn or do I really just want to find a way to be rich?”

So being straightforward with yourself about your desires begins to reveal the limit of desire. Desire is always selfish when it comes down to it.

Being straightforward actually works against a lot of desires. It can shatter social standing. It can cost you money. No one ‘wants’ to be straightforward. One hopes one can be straightforward, and that doing so won’t be so distabilizing as to shake one out of balance.

The Truth or Reality exist regardless of our desire to know it. It does not require us to add anything to it, like our desire for It. It is there to be experienced by people who are balanced enough to do so.  But we can’t force It.

Reality owes us nothing because It has already given us everything.

We owe It everything, yet It refuses payment.

We can only choose to resonate as best we can with It’s Gift.

Learn gratitude.  Learn straightforwardness. Learn to know and like balance. Learn sincerity.

Let them teach you.

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Two ‘refusal rules’ to follow when you are stuck or procrastinating

May 4, 2016

If part of the problem is that you are just being lazy, own it, then try following these 2 rules if that is not enough to get unstuck.

 

I. Refuse to be a alone with the problem

Start conversations with people who are impacted by the same problem  or who are simply people who like to be helpful to you.

Try to reach agreements on how you can address the problem in a more coordinated way. Respect their decision to help you or not. Make sure they really want to help or can, and that they are comfortable saying no to involvement in your plan. If they say no, go to rule 2.

Sometimes just an agreement by them to be emotionally supportive can go a very long way.

 

2. Refuse to tolerate interference from people who decide not to coordinate efforts with you.

Sometimes people don’t agree with how you are going to address a problem and they want to do it their way. This can create more problems than the original problem! You can’t force them not to keep trying do it their way, but you can ask them to pause while you try it your way. You can also agree to try it their way for a time and if it fails,  ask them to try it your way.

Sometimes these conversations reopen the negotiations that ended when you were initially following rule 1.

 

Who in your life acknowledges that you matter ?

May 3, 2016

Oscar Wilde said that there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. We tend to think our motive is win in our arguments or business interactions, yet often you might really be motivated by trying to satisfy your need for attention. Attention may be ‘hostile’ or ‘friendly’ but still fill the appetite for attention. In the act of fighting, each is acknowledging that the other matters.

Our failure to understand our need for attention routinely lands us in trouble because it leaves us at the mercy of anyone, however unpleasant, who’s willing to bestow some. When people feel ignored, a political leader who makes them feel acknowledged will acquire their support, even if he’s an egomaniacal tyrant with no plans to improve their lives. A controlling or abusive partner will doubtless pay you plenty of attention, even as he or she destroys you. Worse, you’ll be predisposed to believe it when you’re told the abuse or message or whataver comes along with the attention is “for your own good.”  You are vulnerable to the message that too often accompanies the exercise of attention towards them. ”

We think of “attention-seeking” as a character flaw, but maybe the deliberate skillful seeking of attention is what is missing for many of us. We are made wiser and stronger as soon as we start to see it as a universal need – met in healthy or unhealthy ways.

 

( I did not write this – just summed up an article by an author whose name I left out when I photocopied it. The author is building on the work of Idries Shah as it intersects with current sociological and psychological research)

Some notes from a mindfulness training

May 3, 2016

Most of us have heard the saying, “What fires together, wires together.” A lot of it is not helpful. Without flexibility of attention, our old wiring will be our destiny.

So how so we work with it? We want to have an experience of something helpful. The intenton to be helpful to oneself or others is compassion. It is developed by paying attention without judgement or striving to whatever is happening.

Just sit and allow whatever comes up to come up.

You will feel some things you do not like.

Instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, let the suffering be an opprtunity to practice compassion.

See what it is like to slow things down, allow whatever is happening to happen. Stop trying or doing. This is not about getting something right.

Notice what happens. Then notice what happens next.  What is possible now? Allow playfulness. Allow compassion. Allow confidence.

Nothing changes unless you feel safe, safe to make mistakes, to bring attention to them, to live with them. The process gives greater equanimity and balance. Give yourself permission to not know.

 

You can live well with things you don’t like. You don’t have to be a victim. You are not a child.

 

“Letting it all be” doesn’t mean you stop efforts to improve your situation or your mindset.

 

The strain in pain lies mainly in the brain.

 

 

 

Commonsense thinking, artificial intelligence, and the future of the human mind

January 26, 2016

Marvin Minsky died this week. This is a blog post from 2011 that discuss his ideas.

Wim Chase

I am reading a book by Marvin Minsky called The Emotion Machine.

I feel it applies to my work as a therapist and recommend it to anyone interested in the mind and its workings.

Machine is a bit of a misnomer as it tends to imply power and efficiency rather than flexibility and flow. I like this quote from the introduction:

If you “understand” something in only one way, then you scarcely understand it at all- because when you get stuck, you’ll have nowhere to go. But if you represent something in several ways, then when you get frustrated enough, you can switch among different points of view, until you find one that works for you!

He goes on about human dignity:

I see our dignity as stemming from what we have made of ourselves: a colossal collection of different ways to deal with different situations and predicaments. It is that diversity…

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Giving credit to your ‘self’ weakens the mind

January 26, 2016

Marvin Minsky just passed away. This is one post where I mention him.

Wim Chase

What is this ‘self’ that you give credit to?   It is not really a question that you can answer in any useful kind of way. Our ‘selves’ vary according to our purposes. Our purposes vary according to context. If you attribute some success you have had to your ‘self’ without sufficient specifity, that success may be hard to sustain or repeat.

So how do you strengthen the mind?  Marvin Minsky suggests we gain more from each experience by forgetting much of it, namely , details that were not relevant to our goals. What we learn can be more profound if we assign credit not only to the final act that led us to our success or failure – or even to the strategy that has led to it – but to whatever earlier choices we made that slected our winning strategy. Our abilities to make good credit assignments could be among…

View original post 78 more words

People are eager to participate when pain is recognized.

January 18, 2016

….a lot of people will run from you when you are in pain, or dismiss it. This causes people to be susceptible to manipulation by people who have an agenda and feign interest in your pain. So that’s a painful thought, but good people recognize pain too, in fact, it is a requirement for compassion which is generally expected from people we consider good.

 

The quote in the title comes from material by the late Jim Camp, a very successful negotation coach.

Humility acknowledges the potential for wrongness

January 18, 2016

…. but that doesn’t mean it excludes the potential for rightness. It allows you to pay proper attention to the context – time, place, people.


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