Fear and Discipline Impact Perspective

Where I focus attention determines what I experience. When I focus my attention on fear, my perspective changes to give me an experience of threat as reality. Discipline changes that formula.

To the undisciplined mind, fear seeks to prove inadequacy as rightness. Rightness is a need that must be defended within the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble. Certainty about my fear solidifies its image in the mirror, making it real and threatening. My need to deal with threats pops up and takes over my awareness, focusing my attention on solving an illusory problem. Attention I divert from other, perhaps more useful, subjects – like gratitude, enlightenment, connection, and awakening.

About Disciplined Attention

Focusing on fear narrows awareness of options, resulting in suffering in the form of lack of confidence, perception of deprivation, and poverty consciousness. When I’m convinced I’m right, I narrow every perception, every judgment, every opportunity, to fit within the boundaries of that right path. “There’s only one way out!” says the hero. Well, yeah, maybe there is only one way out IF you know of no others or IF you’re so terrified that you can’t think properly. Yeah, then maybe there’s only one way.

To the disciplined mind, fear represents one among many options for attention. I can appreciate and respect the power of the fire without short-circuiting my brain with fear about it. The narrowing effect that fear has on my thinking abilities strongly influences my chances for survival in an emergency. This is the reasoning behind the rigorous training first-responders get. Much of it focused on managing their fear so they can retain that wondrous faculty for effective action we can bring about with a disciplined mind.

Mental discipline provides awareness of options, resulting in a sense of confidence, trust, gratitude, strength, and expanding consciousness. There are many effective methods for managing fears. Within the bubble, mental discipline requires practice – lots of practice. Perhaps a lifetime of practice.

What happens when I’m “late to the game” of mental discipline or don’t have time to devote to all that practice? What then? Am I just SOL?

Awareness and the Bubble

Imagine a soap bubble. Does it take a lot of work to open it? No, a simple pin will do the trick. What about illusory bubbles? What kind of effort, practice, study, physical strength, strategy, or instrumentation does it take to open one of those?

Perhaps awareness is the key to disciplining the mind over fear. Maybe bursting the fear bubble only requires awareness that the bubble is not real. When faced with a fear, sometimes I’ll shout to myself inside to, “stop!” Then I’ll take an inventory of here and now – ground myself in time and space. Sometimes counting items I see or feel helps. Then I’ll revisit the object of my fear – now that my mind has settled down a bit.

Yeah, my method is a sort of “trick” – that demonstrates how quickly, easily, and effortlessly a mind can be disciplined and brought into order. The mind gets sharper the more bubbles it pops.

Think about it.

The Transformation Option

I make lots of choices. Most concern defense of what I already believe and know.  Inside my First-Second Degree of Illumination safety bubble, my choices seem real: What will I have for breakfast? Will I drive or walk to the store? What will I wear to the party? These are choices of defense: Which defense feels like it satisfies my needs at this time? Yet, all these apparent choices freeze my conscious awareness well within the bubble. One day, I realize I want to explore what might exist outside my ever-shrinking bubble. I seek transformation. How might I do that?

A Transformation Catalyst

Inside the bubble, my attention is focused on defense in its many guises. When challenged, I’m ready! Defensiveness kept my ancestors alive when they lived on the plains of Africa and their neighbors considered them food. Today I lock my doors and pay for a police force to protect me and mine. Millions of years of no change.

Consider what that fear thought train does to me. It sets me up to live within an ever-shrinking bubble of fear and justified wariness. Since I’m keen to spot danger – and I assume my neighbors live with the same fearfulness – I protect myself and my family from everyone else to the degree that we’ve become dangerous to each other. Fear continues to breed fear, generating rings within rings of ever-solidifying defense. Safety first and always!

To break out of that limitation bubble, I must deal with my defenses. Formidable as they are, there must be some way to get past them. Perhaps a catalyst.

A chicken egg has a hard crust to protect what’s inside from outside influence. Great defense! And yet, as long as the shell remains intact, I get no omelet for breakfast. So, I apply a catalyst that conflicts with the shell. I strike the egg against the fry pan. The defense gives way and the contents become available for me to create a tasty omelet. Breached defense resulted in an omelet for breakfast.

At the point of impact, the egg was faced with a conflict. As long as the egg remained undisturbed, it would remain an egg, its contents forever locked up. In overcoming the egg’s defense, I offered the egg another option – to become something else. Transformation!

I define transformation as a thorough or dramatic change that remains after the action of a catalyst. The change affects all levels of consciousness though usually appears in the physical and psychological levels.

The Transformation Option

Sometimes in my life, things seem to be going my way. Important people agree with me, my food agrees with me, I agree with me – I feel like I’m on track. No challenges. All quiet on the western front, so to speak. Egg shell intact, safe. I don’t realize it yet, that while I’m busy attending to my sense of well-being, a transformation is forming. Why?

When we were a younger couple, we cared for our little children. They tended to make noise, which helped us know where they were and to some degree what they were up to. When things got quiet, we’d ask each other, “Where are the children?” Meaning – “What are they up to?” Quiet was usually an indicator that we should go check on them!

Peace – meaning the absence of conflict – may be an indicator that I’m solidly within my safety zone, the bubble, primed and ready for a challenge to my defenses. Perfect time to “check on the children” – to seek out and find the transformation option. Scary? Yes, when viewed from behind “the wall” of my fears. No, when viewed beyond fear, as one would in the realm of awakened consciousness in which one realizes the illusion of fear.

Getting past my fear barrier may mean cracking my protective egg shell. That may mean facing such fears as embarrassment, ridicule, wrongness, and defeat. Or, it may simply mean getting over my need to be right all the time. I have many relationships that offer a plethora of opportunities for conflict. Each conflict offers me options, one of which is the transformation option. Will I recognize it when I see it? Will I choose it when I recognize it? I wonder…

  • What’s on the other side of my shell?
  • How will I get past my fear that keeps me inside my shell?
  • Why do I fear transformation?
  • Who will enjoy that delicious omelet on the other side of my fears?

How Might Socrates Provide Access to Fourth Degree Accountability?

The Greek philosopher, Socrates, recorded a timeless method for discovery that is useful to this day – the Socratic method. His system of inquiry may provide a gateway to enlightenment and Fourth Degree of Illumination accountability. Inquiry is essential to awareness – you must ask to receive enlightenment.

Socrates’ questioning helped him understand himself, others, and the world. He used them to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. I find these questions relevant today as I explore myself in a First-Second Degree bubble. Seeking to expand my perspective beyond the bubble, I pass through Third Degree choice into Fourth Degree Accountability expressed as gratitude, the Aha Zone.

Socratic Questions

Let’s take a look at Socrates’ questions to get an idea of why I find them so useful. I’ve used these questions to increase my reading speed and improve my reading comprehension. I might also use these questions in a meditation where I investigate some belief I wish to challenge. They may help me understand and sort out my own inner dialogs. I like their underlying usefulness to “question everything!” I might apply the following in a conversation with myself and or somewhat else.

  1. Questions of Clarification
    • Examples:
      • “What do you mean when you say that?”
      • “How does that work?”
      • “Specifically…?”
  2. Questions that Probe Assumptions
    • Examples:
      • “What does the word, ‘that’ refer to when you say, ‘I understand that.’?”
      • “Are you referring to a specific person in a group when you say you understand them?”
  3. Questions that Probe Reasons and Evidence
    • Examples:
      • “How would you verify or disprove your contention that those people are dangerous?”
      • “What are your reasons for believing that?”
      • “What evidence do you have to support that idea?”
  4. Questions about Viewpoints or Perspectives
    • Examples:
      • “Suppose you could view this from another perspective. What would you think then?”
      • “How would you view this from another perspective?””
  5. Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences
    • Examples:
      • “What would happen to the world were I/you to believe this?”
      • “What are you implying when you say that?”
  6. Questions about the Question
    • Examples:
      • “Why am I asking this question?”
      • “How else might I ask this question?”
      • “Does this question address what I want to understand?”
      • “What questions does this question induce?”

When I apply the above type questions to my own inner dialog, I find clarity and sometimes inspiration. Inspiration is the essential characteristic of Third Degree of Illumination choice – the “flash of inspiration” one gets when the mind is clear of bubble cruft.

Simplified Socrates?

We propose a simplified method of questioning that includes those that start with,

  • “What… is that, is my judgement, and etc.?”
  • “How… do I feel, did that work, will I respond, and etc.?”
  • “Why… is that so, do I believe that, and etc.?”
  • “Who… am I to believe that, am I as a result, and etc.?”

After asking the above questions, I might explore:

  • “What else…?”
  • “How else…?”
  • “Why else…?”
  • “Who else…?”

Resources:

Blame As Counterfeit for Accountability

Does blame act as a First-Second Degree of Illumination counterfeit for Fourth Degree of Illumination accountability?

I have this idea that I can determine cause from perception of effect. I perceive something and, based on this evidence, soon believe I understand what, how, and why I perceived it as I did. For the most part, this line of reasoning works for me. Where this gets “dicey” is when I apply that reasoning to others – blame.

Considering my propensity for belief and trust in my ability to discern cause from effect within the bubble, blame works as an adequate substitute. Once blame is affixed, I feel satisfied that “justice has been done” and “books balanced” – done! No more inquiry necessary! And isn’t that the goal of my First-Second Degree bubble – to remain securely inside the bubble?

Inside the bubble, accountability and blame are basically synonymous. Dykstra sees accountability as, “answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving.” An apt description of the bubble-bound counterfeit, blame.

Beyond the bubble, however, the concept takes on an entirely different flavor. Fourth Degree of Illumination accountability is more like “acceptance of the joy of being you in balance.”

Accounting for Values

A first step in Fourth Degree awareness may be a release of the bubble mentality of blame. The concept of “balancing the books” seems more appropriate when discussing Fourth Degree accountability. To balance the books, it makes some sense to me to consider investigating values.

I place value on everything when competition is the name of the game. This is better than that – because this is worth more than that in terms of value to me. I’ve become adept at measuring subjectives like emotions in terms of value – levels. For example, I can answer the question, “On a scale of 0-10, how angry do you feel?” This acknowledges a placement of an objective value on a subjective experience.

In the realm of blame, I’m keenly aware of a positive vs negative ledger. I view these positives and negatives in terms of values. My belief is that I must resolve all values to the positive side in order to win. “He who dies with the most points, wins!” Of course, this acknowledges the outcome of bubble thinking – win/lose – death!

Gratitude as Accountability

What might happen were I to balance my ledger? In bubble thinking, I would zero-sum out = loss. In Fourth Degree thinking, I would simply balance out of the competition game. Where there is no comparison, there is no competition, and thus no game. There is no win-lose, lose-lose, or even win-win. Because the competition game is over.

How do I end the competition game when it is all I know?

That game may be all I THINK I KNOW – yet it is far from all I know. I have no idea how much I actually know – because I’ve accepted counterfeits as real. In an instant of clarity where the competition over values disappears into oneness, only gratitude remains. It’s a different kind of gratitude than one experiences from within the bubble of competition. This kind of gratitude is exquisite, sublime, pure, and as some have described it, bliss.

Inside the bubble, I value the feeling of gratitude and so I utter to myself, “Oh, I hope I experience that level of joy someday!”

What if outside the bubble time were irrelevant? “I choose to experience gratitude right now!”

Resources:

  •  Dykstra, Clarence A. (February 1939). “The Quest for Responsibility”. American Political Science Review. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 33, No. 1. 33 (1): 1–25. doi:10.2307/1949761. JSTOR 1949761.

 

Illusion of Separation to Accountability and Gratitude

In my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, do I perceive separation where there is none? In my bubble, division underlies competition – the concept that one separate thing is different than another and so comparable. That difference is a conflict I intend to investigate and perhaps resolve.

Inside the bubble, I interpret wholeness as “complete rightness” – “I’m all right.”

A shift out of “the bubble,” requires resolving the disharmony within, which could include considering how I am contributing to the tension and imagining how I would rather think and feel.

What might happen when I intend to think and feel in a certain way before I begin my day or before I engage in a specific experience? First consider, then imagine, then intend, and then act. ex: “Today I’m choosing to be open-minded and feel positive in whatever situation I’m in.”

Resolving Many into One

What if I assume wholeness rather than separation? Rising in awareness from my defensive bubble to Fourth Degree of Illumination gratitude, what if I take on accountability as the creator of my perceptions? Such awareness would balance the books of separation into oneness. Equations equalized. What would happen to my conflicts as I accept awareness of wholeness, oneness?

When I cease to perceive from a basis of difference and instead perceive from a basis of wholeness, might I cease to perceive competition, discord? How would I experience my life then?

Inclusion

Prior to 4th Degree I attended to this OR that – “but” – focusing attention on one thing at a time. This encourages competition for my attention – First Degree Illumination. What might happen to my attention when I attend to this AND that as one – inclusion?

I wonder – would acceptance of Fourth Degree Illumination accountability mark the end of conflict?

Might I dispel the illusion with a shift in perspective from inside the bubble to gratitude for it?