Change and My Need for Permanence

I like to think that if something is true it never changes – it’s permanent. I try to make my beliefs permanent by defending them against change, thereby making them true.

I intend for my truths to be so well defended that they are beyond question, even from me. Questioning my beliefs would be equivalent to attacking what’s right and good, permanent and therefore true.

Certainty of my truths defends the intention to put them beyond question. That certainty is like a dam that I build for my rightness against the flow of change. Thus, certainty makes my intention appear permanent – just like truth!

What About Resistance?

I define the non-disturbed state of no movement as permanence. And the disturbed state of movement as change. Each state serves the other through the contrast inherent in their complementary differences. I experience existence in the relationship between the two states.

Perhaps the resistance in those interactions serve as proof of permanence and change. Thus, change serves permanence and visa versa resulting in a reckoning of time. The tic-toc of permanence and change, cause and effect, disturbed and non-disturbed states evidences this relationship.

What about Psychological Permanence and Change?

Who am I in relation to my psychological environment?

That which I resist tends to exist. Change involves breaking down resistance, which my need for permanence rejects. I attend to what I resist in order to conform it to fit my beliefs. Once I do, I let go of my attention to it. That frees my attention to move on to other problems I need to solve.

Here then is choice – to embrace change and permanence through their defense. When I choose one, I also choose its complement – thus, the “and” bit. I defend one option with active attention, I defend its complement with passive attention in denial.

I give equal value to their defense as benefit or threat. Arguments for and against compete for my attention. Thus, choice validates the conceptual separation between permanence and change. Of course, what I believe is choice may instead be a defense of value. Value defends my belief in competition in the context of my own survival competence.

In limited awareness, I’m never in possession of all the facts. Every choice, therefore, includes some element of assumption not based in fact. For example I choose this because it appears to be more permanent than that. I must see competitors as competitors in order to make a choice. I compete for and against truth as I perceive it competes with me. We’re both competitors!

Perhaps truth is relative to the value I assign to my concept of self: How valuable am I?

Permanence and My Need for Security

From ancient monuments to the golden record on the Voyager probe, mankind has sought to create a permanent record of itself. In my limited awareness bubble, I feel a need for permanence for those things I like (me, my immediate family, my dear friends, etc.). I’m maybe not as hot about permanence for things I don’t like.

Perpetual motion machines, age regression creams, life extension products, immortality – all attempts at providing evidence of a magical elixir called permanence. And yet, we know permanence is impossible. Nothing can remain unchanged indefinitely.

Change vs Permanence

I feel I can’t change that which I believe is unchangeable. That sense of endless invariability can make me feel as insecure as that which changes in an inconsistent way. Maybe I need some change and some permanence.

Perhaps my sense of rightness arises from my need to feel secure. When I make a prediction, I may feel right about my understanding when a result occurs that I feel defends the prediction. This builds a sense of dependence upon my understandings. What I depend on, I defend as truth. Thus, and in many other ways, I seek to make my truth the truth – a permanent feature of the universe. As a result, I feel more secure.

For example, I depend upon the sun. I feel secure knowing the sun will rise in the morning. It’s also proof that I survived the night. That sense of rightness about the sun’s cycle may give me a sense of permanence to something I depend on. Since I feel a need to survive, my predictions about the cycles of the sun can give me a sense of security.

Thus, I derive a sense of:
Predictability <=> Rightness <=> Security <=> Permanence

Defense of my sense of rightness may be based on my need for security. In search of something I can count on, rightness seems to fill the bill. At some level of rightness, certainty satisfies my need for security. Certainty can feel like without being permanence, which may explain why I tend to prefer it over doubt. And yet, doubt may be the doorway to real understanding.

A New Perspective on Mystical Thinking

Mystical thinking combines the rational with the irrational to create a convincing story about life. To explore this phenomenon, let’s consider these two aspects of mind – rational and irrational.

  • The rational mind thinks in terms of certainty, probability, and knowledge.
  • The irrational mind thinks in terms of uncertainty, possibilities, and assumption.

Each mind competes and defends itself in its relationship with the other. This adversarial relationship results in an experience I perceive as my life. A life in which I compete and defend.

A New Thought Process

My life experience could be considered mystical because it is simultaneously and wholly rational and irrational. Explainable and inexplicable. Separate and whole.

Within this mystical life experience lay a vast territory available to me by virtue of my capacity to imagine and make choices.

Mystical thinking is the result of these two aspects of mind coming together to defend a single reality. For example, one might apply an imagined irrational attribute like “scary” to a rational physical thing, like a tree – to create a “scary tree.”

Mystical thinking includes that which has a “meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence.” (Merriam-Webster)

How does one defend the indefensible?

Practical Interactions with Mystical Thinking

What happened when the first human came across the giant fossilized bones of a dinosaur? They probably wondered what kind of animal has stone bones and of such a huge size. Perhaps they made up a story to justify and fit their giant find into the cultural understandings. That is, they sought to fit the evidence of giant creatures into their social storyline where there were no giants. They created mystic stories of impossible creatures and places where these stone-boned creatures must exist. For example, the ancient Greek myth in which all who laid eyes on the Medusa were turned to stone.

What do I do when faced with an unexplained aspect of my life story? How do I justify living in a dimension of rational and irrational experience? Perhaps the first thing I might do is adjust the evidence to conform to my perspective of reality. Then I’ll defend that belief. With mystical thinking, I can adjust the story to fit the evidence and/or adjust the evidence to fit the story. It’s a much more flexible way to think.

It’s a way to fit the unexplained into the context of a previously explained story. Thus, saving energy and making the story more interesting in the process! I can use a sense of mysticism to make sense of a world I may be incapable of understanding – now.

Some Benefits

Perhaps one benefit of mystical thinking is to bridge the limits of my logic to include the illogical. Like use of symbolism, art appreciation, and application of various beliefs without the necessity of empirical evidence. In this type of thinking, explanations need only make sense to the observer to be logical to the observer.

In this way, I can settle for a sense of wholeness when I perceive I don’t have it. Mystical thinking is my way of rationally compensating for the irrational thought that I am not already whole.

The Domestication of My Ego – Part 2

In my bubble of limited awareness, I see survival as a set of unquestionable needs that must be filled. Rigid adherence to this program of need-fulfillment is what I call self-domestication.

Let’s investigate three aspects of domestication and apply them to ego.

  1. A sense of survival (needs)
  2. A sense of relationship
  3. An understanding of self in relationship

Sense of Survival

Defense is a survival program that domesticates my thoughts and behaviors. When I domesticate, I trade one understanding of how to survive for another. Thus, I adapt to a new intention.

In the case of dependence, the survival program is master over me. I domesticate to that understanding by defending it. In that understanding and defense, I am not in charge of my life – that domesticator is. That domesticator is not a person, place, or thing. It is my dependence on it! Even when the domesticator proves to be me!

Because survival has a very narrow understanding, I must seek resources to help me live and escape predation. My survival program knows nothing of options or choices because it’s strictly controlled. My mind adds versatility to consider options.

Sense of Relationship

Perhaps domestication is adaptation to the power structure in a relationship matrix of which I and others are served. In the case of a pet, for example, this power structure is represented in the difference between master and pet. This structure appears in families in the power difference between generations, and, to some degree between domestic partners. To the degree one adapts to power structures, one exhibits domestication.

In the process of domesticating animals, man and animal live by the same process of give and take to create a mutually beneficial relationship. I can do the same with my mind by accepting a different relationship with my ego. Thus, a new way emerges.

Understanding of Self in Relationship

When the ego is in charge, we both feel afraid. When the conscious mind is in charge, everyone feels more secure. Out of that relationship emerges selfless service.

Understanding the power structure of mind in relationship with ego is the beginning of realization and exercise of compassion.

The more I learn about my world, the more I am able to “know myself” as the ancient Greeks admonished us. The more I know myself, the more I am able to exercise compassion. It’s a positive feedback loop that acknowledges ego in the process of knowing self. This can free the mind from its shackles – bringing all aspects of creation into the light of compassion.

What if compassion is the goal of the game of life?

When I distrust my ego – “it’s something I have to overcome” – what am I saying to an aspect of me? What would a new relationship look like with my ego? How might I connect to my ego with gratitude, affection, and respect?

What if I were to consider my ego in a loving relationship with me – like I would a loved pet or companion?

  • What do my ego and I want/need/intend?
  • How can I relate to my ego in a way that honors it?
  • Why do I want a relationship with my ego?
  • Who am I with my ego?

“I train humans, and rehabilitate dogs.” (Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer)

What if I were to adapt Cesar’s quote to:

“As I awaken my conscious mind, I rehabilitate my ego.”

The Domestication of My Ego – Part 1

Understanding Ego as a Bubble of Limited Awareness

According to Freud, ego is that aspect of mind that “mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” (Oxford Dictionary – Ego) Although somewhat vague and esoteric, that definition appears to give my ego a position of power we might challenge.

Just to refresh, that level of awareness Freud called ego is “characterized by comparisons, competition, judgments, defense, blame, and perception of limited resources external to self. Survival-consciousness based on instinct.” (Aha Zone Glossary – Bubble Awareness)

The source of all that “bad juju” – judgments, blame, etc. – can’t be anything but bad, right? A demon! In ME!!!

From the Aha Zone perspective, “ego” appears as a limited conscious experience of life. From that perspective, it’s the originator of a person’s sense of self-esteem,self-importance, and self-worth. There’s some value in that which is useful to that part of me that needs to earn wholeness through value. Maybe it is the good guy!

In the Aha Zone, we define ego as that aspect of mind that views itself as separate from the whole. Through parlor tricks of smoke and mirrors, it seeks to convince the whole of mind that its sensual, emotional, and mental illusions are real. Thus, it supports and defends perception of separation as real and requiring attention.

The paradox is that the ego is, itself, unreal – an artifact of limited awareness. So, why the deception?

Defense is Everything and Nothing

Although I have a tendency to demonize ego – for example, “that’s just ego talking” – that’s just ego talking. The aspect of mind that seeks to convince my entire mind that its perception is the right/only perception, is neither demon nor angel. Instead, one might consider that aspect of mind as simply “busy” at its job. That job is to convince me that I am separate from that which I perceive. It’s an aspect of mind that gets a LOT of practice in my bubble of limited awareness!

Through a process of defense, wholeness experiences limitation while remaining whole. A sense of “separate me” defends itself against perceived threats to its separation. It confirms this sense by defending itself against everything outside itself. Thus, “I” interact with an illusory outside reality that appears to confirm my belief in its separate status. I am separate from my environment because it is separate from me. A self-referential logic error that results in an experience of limited awareness in an infinite sea of awareness.

The Power of Ego

Where does that illusory imagery come from? Evolutionary instinct? Learned behaviors? Chemical interactions in body-mind? Or could it simply be the result of intention? That intention of the whole to experience limitation.

In wholeness is ALL. And, to paraphrase Syndrome, the villain in the first The Incredibles movie, “When everyone’s whole, no one is.” What’s the fun in that?!

Maybe an infinite “I” wants to experience what it’s like to “be” limited. What if the intention of an infinitely powerful me is to experience something finite. To do that without actually being finite would require a device of some sort. That device would have to be “make believe”. Hmm, sounds a lot like ego to me.