Sunday, February 17, 2013

Faith of Our Fathers...and Mothers...and Others

I want to offer this as a very brief follow-up to my previous blog.

It's kind of personal, but something tells me it may "strike home" with some of you, maybe even many of you.

I've been a bit of a gypsy in my life. Prone to shifting my circumstances pretty readily. I joined the carnival when I was 23, ended up in Montana for seven years, lived in Kauai for a while, England, Colorado, then joined the Navy for eight years finishing my tour of duty on the east coast with a follow-up of about four years working for the Federal Government in some capacity or another.

And then I decided to ride my bicycle across the country! Now I'm enjoying Santa Barbara, CA and getting ready to re-start my trip this spring.

During all of these years, my father has told he "loves me" but he "worries about me". At the same time, he's never been one to initiate much contact with me. I'm sorry to say he has not been inclined to "make the effort" to do that. It's always been me calling him.

My mother, well, ever since I started disagreeing with her point of view of my father and "everything else" she's thought (at various times) there was something "wrong with my mind", and she has been concerned that I stopped "following Jesus". In other words, she "worries" about me, too.

I mean no disrespect to either of my parents. They are who they are and I know they've been doing the best they can knowing what they know. And it is not like I came into this world knowing what I know now, or even what I have come to better understand in the last few weeks even.

Nevertheless, neither of my parents have ever taken much time to really get to know me as I am. When I've been at my father's house, along with my step-mother and step-relatives, and my two sisters I've usually spent most of my time listening to the stories of their lives. Nobody has ever really asked me much about mine. I kind of wonder if any of them are reading these blogs.

In contrast, there is a couple in Tennessee, my German professor from Tennessee Tech and his wife, who became like "adoptive" parents to me in my early 20's. Whenever I visit them, it is an almost endless barrage of questions! I have frequently visited them on my way to or from Kentucky where my father and step-mother live, and several years ago I really noticed the striking difference.

Now, it may be that due to the other dynamics of my family and our history together, that there are other reasons why my relatives don't really want to know what's going on in my life. They may feel any "problems" might have something to do with them, i.e. how they have or have not related to me over the years, but I've never really felt that way. It would have been nice to be able to share all of my "successes" in spite of the challenging history, but that has really not been much of an option, either. And, maybe their perception of what is "success" is different from mine.

What I have realized most recently though is what I have really wanted from my family was a little "rational faith" in me, a little "faith" in my ability to take care of myself, based on the evidence of my life. Again, though, maybe their view of "success" is too different from mine, so they don't see the evidence of my adaptability and my courage to take on new challenges, to freely uproot myself and try something new. They don't see those things as positive qualities in me.

As I have thought about this more, I have begun to think that when it comes to parents relating with their children, faith plays a pivotal role. As a parent, can you trust that your child is being guided by their own inner core and Life Purpose, or do you feel you have to make a lot of decisions about all of that for them?

By all means, young children need "care" - they need the effort of love that provides for their basic biological and psychological needs - food, clothing, shelter, protection. Parents need to know what to expect from their children at various stages of development, so they will also know their child's potentials and limits, and challenge the child accordingly in terms of reaching their highest potential at any given stage. This is where close and objective observation (free of parental "projections") is so important. The best parents will make the effort to pay attention to their child, to ask them questions, to help them come to a better understanding of themselves, their likes and dislikes, what is important to them. The parent must provide appropriate "boundaries" and recognize when the child can handle a greater level of responsibility for themselves at each stage of their development.

It is in this way, the parent develops a Rational Basis of Faith in their child, and their child's increasing ability to take care of themselves, to make more and more decisions for themselves, to take on more and more of the responsibilities of daily life.

If that faith is lacking, then it is much more likely that the child will struggle, even long into their adulthood, with having Faith in Themselves, and, therefore, the will to accept the ever increasing challenges, that require effort as part of being a human being in this world.

I have come to the conclusion that, where I have in the past considered the need of each of us as children for "unconditional love", I now think Rational Faith might be even more important, and that is what we also have to offer to one another, based on our actual knowledge of each other as that develops in the course of our relating.

Yes, it is also possible to come to a place of having Rational Faith in oneself without ever receiving it from others. But then again, sometimes, it can make all the difference. Imagine a young man in a classroom whose teacher told him, "You're a good writer" when he wasn't so sure about that himself. That man may go on to write books that could very well help change the world.

I am grateful to all of the people in my life who have expressed their confidence, their "faith" in me as well. It has helped me to be willing to persevere, even during the rough times, and now with this Clearer Understanding at least from my current point of view, I'm looking forward to "Spreading the Faith" to others!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Role of Faith in Life and Love

I'm feeling excited today, the day after Valentine's Day. I took the day "off" yesterday, resting my legs as I've been on my bicycle for most days over the last month, and I needed the rest...but my mind and heart were still "busy".

During the course of my consideration of "Love as Effort", I shared the basic ideas with my friend, Ben Ralston. With regards to being willing to make the effort involved with "self-love", to be willing to do the "work" of self-understanding, etc., he responded as follows:

"I think there's a conundrum/paradox there, too. In order to make the effort towards working through our 'stuff' (so that we can be love and experience the peace you mention) there must be a certain amount of self-love, right? So what comes first, chicken or egg?"

Yesterday, I think I got the best "answer" I've had so far, and, again it is going to challenge some widely held beliefs.

First of all, even I have been tuned-in to and aware of the idea that "Love is the opposite of fear." Ben's video a while back about "How to Be Love" really spoke to that in me, as that is how I have been oriented in my own life for a long time now. However, other personal experiences at the time were beginning to challenge this idea, and those challenges eventually brought me to the conclusion that "Love" actually feels like Effort (the subject of the blog linked above). Nevertheless, I had to take seriously his question, "Which comes first?"

As I have continued to feel into and think about this, I have come to the following intuition/feeling/theory: Faith is what is necessary before we are willing to expend the Effort of Love. Faith may be naive or it may be rational, with the latter being the more mature and conscious of the two. Rational Faith takes Evidence into consideration, objective data, which is not always easy to obtain, especially where "projections" (of shadow, anima, and/or animus) are concerned.

Recall from this blog for instance:

"The anima not only interferes with a man's emotional reactions, she can interfere with his thinking as well.  For instance, when a man is anima-possessed he may begin to give forth opinions instead of genuine thinking.  It is as though the anima begins to talk right through him, and she expresses herself as though she had an animus, which means she expresses opinions without regard to facts, relationship, or logic.  When a man is in this state of mind he begins to argue in a peevish way, and his masculine objectivity is quite lost in a sea of emotionally toned and irrational opinions that prove resistant to reasonable discussion...

In summary, Sanford offers: "...[T]he anima can poison a man's consciousness and rob him of himself should he fall for her insinuations...a man can prevent the negative anima from having this destructive influence on making her conscious." (Invisible Partners...Pp. 35-43).

However, once one becomes more "self-aware" by integrating shadow, anima and/or animus, one can also be more Objective in one's observations, and therefore more capable of Rational Faith - which can be an amazingly strong foundation for the Will to Love, the Desire to Expend energy on behalf of oneself, others, and the benefit of the World.

As Erich Fromm writes in The Art of Loving:

"The ability to love depends on one's capacity to emerge from narcissism, and from the incestuous fixation to mother and clan; it depends on our capacity to grow, to develop a productive orientation in our relationship toward the world and ourselves. This process of emergence, of birth, of waking up, requires one quality as a necessary condition: faith. The practice of the art of loving requires the practice of faith.

"What is faith? Is faith necessarily a matter of belief in God, or in religious doctrine? Is faith by necessity in contrast to, or divorced from, reason and rational thinking? Even to begin to understand the problem of faith one must differentiate between rational and irrational faith. By irrational faith I understand the belief (in a person or an idea) which is based on one's submission to irrational authority. In contrast, rational faith is conviction which is rooted in one's own experience of thought or feeling. Rational faith is not primarily belief in something, but the quality of certainty and firmness which our convictions have. Faith is a character trait pervading the whole personality, rather than a specific belief.

"Rational faith is rooted in productive intellectual and emotional activity. In rational thinking, in which faith is supposed to have no place, rational faith is an important component. How does the scientist, for instance, arrive at a new discovery? Does he start with making experiment after experiment, gathering fact after fact, without having a vision of what he expects to find?....

"....At every step from the conception of a rational vision to the formulation of a theory, faith is necessary: faith in the vision as a rationally valid aim to pursue, faith in the hypothesis as a likely and plausible proposition, and faith in the final theory, at least until a general consensus about its validity has been reached. This faith is rooted in one's own experience, in the confidence in one's power of thought, observation, and judgment. While irrational faith is the acceptance of something as true only because an authority [and don't forget parents in this category] or the majority say so, rational faith is rooted in an independent conviction based upon one's own productive observing and thinking, in spite of the majority's opinion.

"Thought and judgment are not the only realm of experience in which rational faith is manifested. In the sphere of human relations, faith is an indispensable quality of any significant friendship or love. 'Having faith' in another person means to be certain of the reliability and unchangeability of his fundamental attitudes, of the core of his personality, of his love. By this I do not mean that a person may not change his opinions, but that his basic motivations remain the same; that, for instance, his respect for life and human dignity is part of himself, not subject to change.

"In the same sense we have faith in ourselves. We are aware of the existence of a self, of a core in our personality which is unchangeable and which persists throughout our life in spite of varying circumstances, and regardless of certain changes in opinions and feelings. It is this core which is the reality behind the word 'I', and on which our conviction of our own identity is based. Unless we have faith in the persistence of our self, our feeling of identity is threatened and we become dependent on other people whose approval then becomes the basis for our feeling of identity. Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others, because only he can be sure that he will be the same at a future time as he is today, and therefore, that he will feel and act as he now expects to. Faith in oneself is a condition of our ability to promise, and since, as Nietzsche said, man can be defined by his capacity to promise, faith is one of the conditions of human existence. What matters in relation to love is the faith in one's own love; in its ability to produce love in others, and in its reliability." (Pp.112-114)

As, I have pointed out in the last blog, where "Love = Effort", one must have faith in one's capacity to exert effort in relationship to what one intends, what one "promises", and one must be pretty self-aware to know one's capacities and limitations, so as not to promise something one cannot give. At the same time, becoming self-aware often involves pushing oneself beyond one's limits in order to have a better sense of what those limits actually are. As an example, I know my plans for my bike trip have taken many twists and turns in the details, but I was able to stick to the "major objective" and reaching that objective (by completing my bike trip this summer) is still my "intention" and therefore, my "promise" to myself and others. I still have "faith" in myself and "faith" in the support of others as they have been supporting me from the beginning, and therefore, I am continuing to "make the effort" to reach that final goal.

I would also offer, however, that faith does play a major role in our willingness to persist in a relationship. Everyone comes into their relationships with a certain "vision" of how that relationship might evolve, what is potential in that relationship, and our expectations may be more or less appropriate. As I have pointed out in several previous blogs here, especially those concerning our expectations surrounding "romantic love" (here and here), so many of our expectations are in-appropriate, and un-reasonable. When our partners are unable to live up to those unreasonable expectations, when we become disappointed, then we "lose faith". We may "lose faith" in that particular partner, that particular relationship, and move on with "faith" in some future possibility, without ever re-evaluating our expectations. Or, we may, eventually "lose faith" altogether, and give up on ever finding satisfaction in an intimate relationship.

However, if we are wise, if we continue to have faith in ourselves and others, we may "make the effort" with each life experience to come to a better understanding of ourselves and of others. I am hoping with my writing here to help with that understanding because with better understanding Faith Can Be Renewed and with Renewed Faith we can be more motivated to Love - to continue to Make the Effort to learn and to grow in our relationships with ourselves and with others.

And that leads to another "equation" of sorts: Understanding --> (leads to) Rational Faith which --> The Will to Love (and Learn) which --> More Understanding which --> More Rational Faith which --> An Even Greater Will to Love, etc., etc.

For instance, I heard a broadcast of an interview with Alison Armstrong on Lisa Garr's "Aware Radio Show" the other day. I am still "processing", but I think I came away from that with just a little more understanding of men and women.

I am going to keep working on this consideration of the differences between men and women, as well as what is necessary to understand and to practice in order to have healthy, functional, satisfying interpersonal relationships. I guess you could say this has been a "core" focus of my life! Furthermore, because I have developed some Rational Faith in my ability to understand, and even to add, from my own "core", insights that have helped me and may also help others develop greater self- and other understanding, I am going to continue to make the effort to further my understanding, to put into practice what I learn, and to communicate to others.

And you can count on that!

Monday, February 11, 2013

So...What Does Love FEEL Like...For Real? - Update

In light of recent considerations, I would like to state that I no longer believe "oxytocin" is the "Love Hormone". Instead, I have come to identify it as the "Faith Hormone". We are willing to "commit" to relationships, either naively or rationally, based on our "faith" in those relationships. For instance, a mother and father will make the effort to care for their child, a very challenging and energy demanding endeavor, because they have faith that their efforts will be worthwhile, that their child will grow up to be healthy, happy, "successful", etc. (whatever the parents' ideas of "success" might be). The child will submit to be cared for, will respond positively (with smiles, etc.), in part based on the "faith" it develops in its parents as its basic needs are being met consistently. Erik Erikson suggests that the crisis of "Basic Trust vs. Basic Mistrust" is the very first crisis of human psychosocial development. It also happens to be that when a child is nursing, both the child and the mother experience elevated levels of oxytocin (see link below). (There is quite a bit of research out there on what happens when oxytocin does Not work properly. Here is one such study on its possible role in Autism and Asperger's.)

Am I just "mincing words" here? I don't think so. Towards the goal of becoming more fully "Self-Aware" as human beings, and given everything I have already written about here, especially with regards to the pitfalls of "Romantic Love" (see links below), and even as a burgeoning understanding and "awakening" in my own life, I know very directly how this is positively affecting me and my relationships, and I can only hope (or "have faith") that this "clarification" could have a positive effect on others as well, and that is why I am "making the effort" to write (and re-write) about it here.

For now though, I will leave the blog below intact. This forum is a "process" place for me and I have already realized how my perspectives and/or paradigms have shifted over the course of my posts here. But, I'm okay with others observing the process as well as the "conclusions" and "clarifications" along the way.

Now back to the original post...

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In previous blogs, especially Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love - Part II, and more recently, Reflections on Projections - Part 3, I have tried to present and support the idea that much of what we interpret as "feelings of love" are actually related more to spontaneously generated emotional/biochemical patterns. For instance, oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the "love hormone", as it plays a major part in "bonding" not only between mother and child, but later between adults who are looking to "mate". It so happens that dogs and other mammals also produce oxytocin, and that humans and animals bond with one another in part because of the mutual stimulation of oxytocin during their interactions. The bottom line is this: Oxytocin "feels good", and we tend to continue interacting with people who stimulate oxytocin production in us, making us "feel good" when we are around them. Of course, over time this "stimulating effect" may dissipate...significantly...and thus we "fall out of love" and move on to the next person who "stimulates" us.

Before I continue, I want to share from recent reading of A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher. In this book, Schumacher presents a consideration of "Four Great Levels of Being" as follows:

Level 1 = inanimate matter (i.e. elements) = no response ability, merely acted upon by external forces

Level 2 = plants = elements + life = limited response ability, interaction with sunlight and immediate environment

Level 3 = animals = elements + life + consciousness = greater response ability and some capacity for instinctually patterned manipulation of environment

Level 4 = humans = elements + life + consciousness + self-awareness (in varying degrees) = significantly expanded response ability and capacity for self-direction and manipulation of the environment*

What I would like to offer here is that when we are experiencing the "spontaneously generated emotional/biochemical patterns" that I refer to above, this is a biologically based experience; i.e. a "Level 3" experience. In most cases, it has nothing to do with Self-Aware Conscious Choice, i.e. Level 4 functioning. With regards to the production of oxytocin, we will bond with animals and they with us in much the same way we may bond with other human beings. In both cases, there is really no conscious effort involved.

And yet, to fulfill the possibility of our human nature, especially our capacity for Self-Awareness, and Self-Direction, we have to be capable of more than just a biologically-based, stimulus-response relationship to our environment and to each other. And that, my friends, takes Effort.

From my current point of view, that is actually what "Love" Feels Like; i.e. it feels like Effort. Furthermore, Life and Love "work" in much the same way.

Consider the following Basic Theory: Life = Love = Conscious Effort = Labor = Work = The "Counter Effort" to "Resistance" and/or "tendency" and/or "inertia" (biological and psychic patterns that tend to persist or play out in certain ways without conscious choice).

There are tendencies in the elements to be "flying apart" and yet there are forces that also counter those tendencies to help "hold them together". It takes a lot of "holding together" to make a molecule, even more, to make a cell, even more "holding together" to make a colony, etc., etc. This is the Integrative Quality of Life and I would also offer that it is the integrative quality of Real Love as well.

When Life manifests in a plant, it moves the plant to push up against the dirt that covers it as well as to sink its roots down into the ground. Life gives the animal the will to live, the will to seek out food and shelter, to expend its energy, to work, to survive, for as long as it can.

It is only in humans that the "Will of Life" (and Love) can be frustrated. It is only in humans that we encounter internal resistance to work, effort, and emotional/psychological growth. And even though biological growth will operate in many ways on its own, through poor diet, lifestyle, or environmental conditions we can thwart that as well.

As I have already suggested, part of the problem is that we have the capacity for "memory", self-reflective memory, that (apparently) is significantly different from that of other animals. We "remember" the experiences of "no effort" (in the womb), and "omnipotence"" (just outside of the womb). It is our brain's capacity for such "memory" and self-awareness that is part of our "problem". Other animals do not retain such "memories" as best we know. They do not imagine "going back to" those former states of "having all of their needs met with no effort of their own" or, in lieu of that, "being totally in control". They do not perceive "past" and they do not project into the "future". They live more moment to moment. Their consciousness, or conscious awareness is localized to the present moment.

With human birth comes biological shock and disequilibrium. As we grow and become more identified with (apparently) "separate self" we also come to the realization that we are Not Omnipotent (and neither are our parents); we are not "in control" as we "perceived" ourselves to be initially (and neither are they). As a consequence, we lose our sense of security. We feel completely vulnerable and helpless and we "react" to that.

I am beginning to suspect, that it is this "sense of" a profound loss of control that is one of the hardest "facts of incarnate life" that we have to face as human beings. Although there is probably a certain amount of "contraction" in response to the "vital shock" of birth, it will be compounded by our "reaction" to Not Being In Control of what we perceive to be "outside" of us and what we seem to remember having control over in the past (although it was only an Illusion). In my observation, much of life after this becomes, not necessarily a "struggle for power", as Thucydides describes it, but a "struggle for control", as it may (supposedly) give us a sense of security, which is not exactly the same. Power may be expressed in both positive and negative ways, but, so often, it is expressed in efforts to control others. (Of course, being no different from ourselves, others will also be trying to control us.)

It is also important to understand that part of our patterning almost invariably involves repressing aspects of ourselves and especially the full play of our emotions. For instance, if the only way I can control my mother's or father's attention (because as a child I sense that my life depends on it) is to "put on a happy face", to be "pleasing" to them, then I might repress my feelings of anger, fear, and frustration. Or, on the other hand, maybe my parents only pay attention to me when I am upset, so I repress my joy, and instead control them with my anger and temper tantrums. (Keep in mind though, children up to the age of seven or eight are not really "conscious" in the same sense as adults, as they are in varying degrees of what is referred to as a "hypnogogic state"; i.e. they are functioning as if they were under hypnosis, so they are merely patterning from a more biological place of "stimulus and response", even more so than adults. These "hypnogogic states" of infancy and early childhood are described more clearly in Bruce Lipton's book, The Biology of Belief.)

If our parents are overly permissive, we may become more domineering ourselves, and repress our own capacity for submission, even though, deep down inside, as children, we actually feel more secure when we have boundaries, when we are not left to "fend for ourselves" and/or to figure everything out for ourselves. Nevertheless, in our outward bravado, we are at the same time repressing our feelings of insecurity. On the other hand, our parents may be overly domineering and authoritative, and so we become submissive and, again, with no opportunities to practice being assertive, we are left to feel insecure about our abilities. In the most functional of circumstances, we grow up with appropriate boundaries, that still give us room to develop our own will and self-direction.

These examples are very general, but across the board, to the degree we have to respond to parental and social expectations, high or low, and most often, exaggerated and inappropriate, some parts of our true selves are going to get repressed. That "activity" starts early on, during the "hypnogogic" stages of early infancy and childhood. Consequently, it takes a great deal of self-awakening and self-awareness and conscious effort to first recognize and then overcome those patterns.

Finally, as Jung suggests, when we identify with ourselves as either "male" or "female" we start to repress the qualities of the opposite sex. This identification also starts to take place in early childhood (3-1/2 to 4-1/2 years of age), which is still during the "hypnogogic" period. So, again, lots of reactive/repressive activity going on there that gets quickly shunted into the subconscious, which means it is later available for (anima/animus) "projection", which is, again, an unconscious tendency.

However, if we are able to reach a certain point in our maturing process, we may come to realize that having control over others is not nearly as important (or ultimately satisfying) as having control over ourselves. In The Art of Loving Erich Fromm refers to this shift from "seeking love" to "giving love" or becoming a "producer of love". When we are able to recognize the deep psychic and biological state or activity of "self-contraction" in response to (apparent) separateness and (apparent) loss of control, then we can also learn to Feel Beyond that "pattern-patterning" and instead of directing our effort towards controlling others, and repressing ourselves, we can direct our effort more deliberately towards loving and accepting ourselves (i.e. becoming more Self-Aware) and loving and accepting others (i.e. becoming more Other-Aware).

Love of self includes the effort of self-understanding. This includes becoming aware of and more accepting of all those elements of oneself that are "tending" to be repressed or exaggerated; i.e. letting all of the balls come to the surface of the water. It means the effort of recognizing "projections" (shadow, anima, and animus) and re-integrating them into one's self-aware consciousness. Again, the work of "integration" is the work of Love (and Life). It also means recognizing one's needs and what one finds most meaningful in life, so that proper attention can be given to all of these aspects of "self".

The love of self includes the necessary effort of seeing to the normal and very real needs of one's physical body. In this regard, and for the most part, in this culture, love of self means working in order to earn money that is then used to buy food, clothing, and shelter. So that work is an effort of self-love. Resistance to such work is reciprocally, a resistance to loving oneself. If one is responsible for children, then working to earn money to pay for food, clothing, and shelter for them is also an expression of that love. Instead of buying food from the store, one could also work to grow a garden to provide food for oneself and/or others, but again, this "effort" would be an expression of one's love for oneself (and/or others). Included in the love of self and taking care of one's body is the effort of getting regular exercise, and since we have successfully managed to reduce physical effort in so many other areas of our lives, it takes even more Deliberate Effort in this culture to meet the body's natural need for physical activity and effort.

Possibly most important of all is the effort of understanding others. It is within the closest of our interpersonal spheres that so much of what is repressed "comes up" and out and is "projected" and/or exaggerated. It can provoke our "reactivity" on the deepest levels, and yet -- Every effort made to move beyond such "reactivity" and "projection" and "tendency" is an Effort of Love.

To "fall in love" does not take effort, whether it is "falling in love" with a potential mate, or "falling in love" with one's children. In both cases, the real effort is in coming to a full understanding of the other person as they are, and supporting them in more fully realizing whatever human potential lies within them for their own sake, and not just as a means of controlling that potential as it might serve our needs.

This plays out in the interpersonal sphere, and it plays out in the greater culture as well. I think the main thing I want to make a connection to is the idea that work and effort are rooted in love, they are love expressing itself. And as Fromm also suggests, being able to "concentrate" one's effort produces the highest quality product.

If you look at what has happened with "mass production" culture it has effectively diminished one's opportunity for intensive work. Trust me, I know, it does not take that much effort to sit at a sewing machine and produce the same action over and over again. It does, however, take much more effort to sew a single garment that fits properly. The difference in Quality is very, very clear.

We have tried in so many ways to "make life easier" - but, that means we don't have to work as hard and therefore (if my theory holds), we don't have to Love as Deeply, and - surprise, surprise - we are stalled in our development, and many feel the "meaninglessness" of it all. We are frustrated in life and in love. Many people keep expecting either some "Apocalyptic End" or (spontaneous) "Metaphysical Shift". In either case, there's not supposed to be a lot of Real Effort involved in Solving the Problems of Human Existence.

At the beginning of Chapter 2 of The Art of Loving Fromm suggests, "Love [is] the Answer to the Problem of Human Existence". Substitute "Effort" for "Love" and I'd say the sentence makes just as much, if not more sense. It really is going to take A Lot of Human Effort to solve the problems currently facing all of us. For instance, how many (more) people are willing to forego the convenience of their automobiles and Make the Effort to, say, Ride a Bicycle instead? How many potential parents are willing to forego endless nights of passively watching television and Actually Read A Book on Child Development (or Several Books), before making the Conscious Decision to conceive and raise a child? How many individuals are willing to spend time and effort coming to a better understanding of themselves, of becoming more Fully Self-Aware as an ordinary human being? How many people are willing to make the effort to feel beyond their "reactivity", to recognize and re-integrate their "projections", to recognize when they have become anima or animus possessed, and to learn to have more functional relationships with their "significant others"?

When are we going to appreciate that the Efforts of Love and Life are Actually Present All Around Us? From the seedling reaching for the sun, to the rodent gathering seeds to eat. From the mother who cares for and nurtures her child, while also overcoming her tendencies to hold-on or control. From the worker who gives their full attention to the task at hand, who takes pride in doing the very best job he or she can, to the lover who gives their full attention to knowing and understanding their partner, not as a means to manipulate and control, but because they understand their partner's need to be seen and understood for who they are as an ordinary human being.

I will offer, that the potential of this "Fourth Level of Being" has not yet been fully realized, in fact, we've barely begun to scratch the surface. And yet, there is great contentment in the Feeling of Being - Fully Self-Aware, even if it does take A Lot of Effort to get there!

To You, my readers, I say: Thank you for all of your Efforts...and Thank You for taking the time, and Making the Effort, to read this blog. I hope my Efforts in writing it will help keep us all moving in the direction of fully reaching our potential as Human Beings having a Human Experience!

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*Schumacher also suggests there may be a Fifth Level of Being, that of being "perfectly self-aware", and "perfectly self-directed", etc. I will acknowledge, that such a One may actually already exist, that it is the Divine Self in which and from which all and All arises. However, I am no longer inclined to think that we should be striving to Be That One, to attain Perfect Self-Awareness ourselves, necessarily. I think to become a fully Self-Aware Ordinary Human Being is Good Enough. Furthermore, this is the "Level of Being" that has yet to be fully stabilized in the course of evolution on this planet. There are many conscious human beings here, but the degree of Self-Awareness and Self-Direction varies considerably from one person to another. In other words, there is plenty of room for improvement, without making "perfection" or "union with the Divine" our goal. In fact, to make "union" our goal denies the reality of Always Already Present Prior Unity. Consequently, I have begun to hold such "efforts" suspect in part because they could also be a "grasping" for the experience of our earlier pre-natal and post-natal emotional/biochemical states, rather than a functional acceptance and "working within" the actual limitations and actual possibilities of human "Level 4" existence. If there is "Oneness" to be "obtained", then let it be the "Oneness" of fully integrated consciousness within Each of Us as Individual Human Beings, because that is what we are really experiencing ourselves to be. So, why not intensify our efforts to figure out what That is all about?