Showing posts from January, 2015

The Jewel of Wonder - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 8
I hope this has been an interesting and insightful journey so far. You might be curious, though, as to what you’ll be able to take back home with you once we’ve made it to our destination. Sure, you might be thinking, childhood is a magical and wonder-filled time for many, but yours was not so idyllic. Besides, we’re not children anymore. We’re grown up, and we’re fallen – with bills to pay, problems to solve, and sufferings to bear. How can this recollection of that which we already know be of any benefit to us at this point in our lives? And anyway, children can be darned selfish brats at times! Isn’t the world already buckling under the weight of all of our adult selfishness without our regressing to some idealized childhood state?

Certainly these are valid questions and concerns, and this seems like the perfect time to address them. First of all, I’m well aware of the fact that my childhood was blessed in many regards. I had a safe and stable home life, and I had the Nur…

Full Functioning - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 7 (continued)
I’ve referred to the full functioning nature of childhood a couple of times already without giving it formal definition – relying instead on context in order to invest the term with adequate meaning. It’s actually got quite a rich history, though, and I would be remiss if I didn’t spend some time exploring it further. Full functioning was first defined by counseling psychologist, Carl Rogers, in order that he have some objective criteria for determining the psychological and behavioral health of the adult individual. Such criteria could then be used to determine the success of the counseling process, or the need for it in the first place, as the case may be.

A key difference between the way I use the term and the way Rogers used it is that, whereas Rogers considers full functioning to be something that the self-actualizing adult has attained, perhaps after having successfully engaged in the process of psychotherapy, I consider it to be our birthright that we unwi…

The Recollection of Wholeness - That Which We Already Know

Obviously, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on childhood in these seven chapters up until now, both the topic in general and my own in particular. But how often do you think about yours? And what is the nature of your reminiscing when you do? Does it mostly visit you by happenstance – like an impromptu pining for more carefree times in the midst of a stressful day, or a sudden wave of nostalgia washing over you and then quickly receding? Perhaps you actively engage your childhood years much as I’ve done here – plumbing their depths for clues that might point you toward some meaning, healing, wholeness, or closure, or simply a better understanding of who you are. On the other hand, you might well do your very best, consciously or otherwise, to keep such memories in their place – locked in their trunk along with all the other bundles of pain and fear, anger and abuse.
Regardless of how pleasant or difficult or intentional the recollection of our childhood stories may be, revisiting the…

Three Minds to Heal a Broken World

The world is broken. From the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, to police and citizens battling in the streets of Ferguson, the world is broken. From the inhumane and exploitative factory farming practices that put cheap food on our tables, to the murderous rampages of the drug cartels down in Mexico, the world is broken. From the actions of those with money and power who use them both to keep them both, to our dependence on cheap fossil fuels that is driving climate change and the likely extinction of numerous species, the world is broken. Nonetheless, I’m hopeful. I think this brokenness can be fixed, as long as we come to understand its nature.
The nature of the world’s brokenness is that we all too often think that the brokenness is somewhere else, or in someone else. We rarely grasp the fact that the brokenness is in each and every one of us. Ah, but don’t we all behave like little despots much of the time! It’s just that when we wield whatever power we…

In The Midst of a Fall - That Which We Already Know

Begin Part III Chapter 7
By the time I entered middle school life had begun to move much faster than I was used to. Where once we had but one classroom to report to, and the occasional art or music or gym class that we got marched off to, now we had seven or more places to be on any given day. Suddenly we had so many books and papers that we needed lockers in which to store them all. Of course those lockers had combinations to remember…, and care needed to be taken that they really locked after being closed.
Perhaps the most stressful thing about middle school, though, was the realization of the passage of time. I really was getting older, and getting older meant getting closer and closer to my day of reckoning with that jungle war overseas. It was something that I could almost put out of my mind as long as we stayed in the same school building year after year, merely progressing from room to room and teacher to teacher; but being in middle school meant that I was almost in high school…

The Cage of the Self - That Which We Already Know

Chapter 6 (conclusion) – The Cage of the Self
The nature of reality is unobscured as long as one refrains from making judgments. Begin to make distinctions, however, and heaven becomes cleaved from earth.
Seng-Ts'an, the Third Patriarch of Zen, was speaking of the practice of Zen. On the other hand, he may well have been referring to what took place in the proverbial Garden of Eden once our forebears had eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; i.e., they began to make distinctions, thereby precipitating their estrangement from both the creator and created. Then again, he may well have been speaking of the construction of the self as I’ve been speaking of in this chapter so far. For the construction of the self is nothing if not an endless series of judgments and distinctions that cleave “us” from everything else: I like this. I don’t like that. I want that. I don’t want this. I’m good at this. I’m not good at that. This is me. That’s not me.

Yes, the human ma…