Archive | June 2016

Labels

(Please see the diagram of the label & labeling process at the end of this blog; the darkened-in central box is the label box and could arbitrarily be labeled one thing or another; the other boxes surrounding the label-box contain questions that a person could ask about the label of “Radicalized Islamists” and several other kinds of questions; make up your own, and see if the label “Radicalized Islamists” is flawed or functioning well). This is a two-part blog.

I.

After last weekend’s massacre & horrible mass killing in Orlando, Florida, Donald Trump accused President Obama of acting weak, because Obama doesn’t think it’s a very good idea to use the term “Radical (ized) Islam (ist)” for terrorists. Republicans in the House & Senate want (as usual almost demanding in their self-righteousness) President Obama to use this label for Islamic terrorists, and, of course, led on by their presumptive nominee for the Presidency-The Donald Trump-I guess the Religious Rightists, Tea Baggers, and other Fundamentalists, feel this label will somehow put the ‘fear of God’ in ISIS or other, Islamic, spin-off cells and terrorist group, so that they’ll ‘cease & desist’ because this special, magical label or cliché is used. Do they think it’s some kind of new ammunition?

First, let me take a few brief moments to explain the concept of a label. The notion of labels or labeling is a word that’s been noted by communication professionals, writers, & social researchers. Also, labels can fit under the rubric of General Semantics (GS), and linguistics.

A label is a language symbol that capsulizes general components of certain categories—what we’re here concerned with is political labels. The benefits of labels are that it’s easier & more efficient to collect things in labels, rather than having to explain all the categories found in individuals within groups.

The obfuscation of labels is that there are personality behaviors codified into the labels whose attributes get fixed & rigid. We reify the label, and the person gets lost. The boundaries of the “boxes called labels” aren’t moveable unless that becomes a goal of a group, i.e., to review labels and seek to reframe them another way.

When anyone hears a label explained as consisting of some immoveable traits, for example, what might be expressed by Fundamentalism, let’s say on the subject of abortion & free choice-finding this incomprehensible, confusing, and very difficult to understand, these humans have entered the zone of Cognitive Dissonance. This dynamic occurs when people aren’t open to look at newer, alternative meanings of issues in life-they respond by “flight or fight” reactions. Flight usually comes in the form of denial, and the fight using comes in opposition, resistance & conflict. A more effective way to receive new or unfamiliar material is to view it as a process rather than a “knee jerk” reaction-event.

People that seem “to get it” are open to new information, open to the use of metaphorical or metaphysical language or images; they keep learning, and give a new method of understanding the space to grow, and finally giving oneself the flexibility to allow new information to settle in, match up with their beliefs, or challenge them, as well as allowing transformative & integrated learning can be the place to blend into the mix of their sum of experiences in life.

Remember our label is “Radicalized Islamist.” I apologize due to my technical grapic sklls that I can’t produce the diagram I designed; Following are some questions you may consider in digging deeper into the label itself.

How would the term “Islamist” be transliterated into English? Is the term Radicalized Islamist the same thing as “Muslim?” What does the term “radicalization” mean to you?

Social Conditioning Stimuli: media, social media websites, education, religion, peer relationships, inaccurate info & knowledge about the dynamics of racism & other “isms,” mentors, role models, so what would be the main conditioning factors in becoming a Radicalized Islamist?

If one is uses the term of Radicalized Islamist, does this automatically make a person more anti-Muslim than others? If you were to use the term “Radicalized Islamist” are you anti-Muslim—more than someone who doesn’t use the term?

What information do you think is missing? What else would you like to know and to ask about.

Tightening & Loosing of Pair-Team Systems

The phrase “tightening & loosing” is an interesting one. Jesus told his disciples that he would give them power to “bind or loose” things on earth, meaning to either nullify or enhance the principles he taught them.

There are many symbols that come in what I call “pair-teams.” A few ideas are light & dark, good & evil, feminine & masculine, Yin & Yang, etc. Though there are two parts, all these pairs operate as holistic units-in a sense you can’t have one without the other; ‘a horse & carriage go together like love & marriage,’ and the colloquialism ‘two sides of the same coin,’ all apply here.
Pairs are equivalent to a whole organism, to use biological language. Western culture is a very dualistic, “either-or” having construction for many objects, places, things or people. Eastern Spirituality implements a “both-and” metaphor for reality-it’s inclusive and depicts a binary amalgamation as one.

In writing this blog, in the discussion of “pair-teams,” I’m using metaphysical language-metaphors-these allow for individual perceptions & our reactions to the symbols. As time moves forward, these may become a popular, social medium that people engineer & design as social norms, memes, social conventions, or even a way to evaluate class status, i.e., “They must be rich-look at their clothes, but why is he driving that old “beater,” the Lincoln, may it rest in peace.”

There’s another pair-team that has been helpful to me on my spiritual journey. I first learned about this concept through Pema Chodren’s writings, the well-known Buddhist nun. She has observed & experienced that when something “bad” happens to us, or we have a high expectation for something to occur, and then it comes crashing down all around us.

Our human reaction to this kind of stimulus usually is motivated by fear, anger, defensiveness, and a “tightening” up of our resistance, so we can think of alternatives as solutions. If our minds are fixated on the problem itself and we see it as an invading enemy, we’re able to track the patterns we see (racing, obsessional thoughts, etc.), we find ourselves in a “vicious circularity”, our body-minds are tight and stretched beyond our capacities.
It’s like the story about the man who is holding a squawking & noisy bird in his hand. The gets angry at the bird because he can’t hear himself think.
There two basic things this man could do: 1. Squeeze the life out of the bird; 2. Open up his hands and let the bird fly away; he can also choose from other alternatives to solve this “bird problem.”

Generally, when we encounter something really distasteful to us we tighten, we hold our ground, and also allow ourselves to become hardened and non-malleable.

Pema goes on to write that there are spaces within each wave of the process; she advises readers to meditate on or experience the sky. This gives us a chance to redirect our minds; we observe our own minds, “the way things are” not how we want them to be. Having any tension or an ego-driven “fight” reaction squeezes the sense of “moving through” in the situation and constricts growth as a consequence.

One can shift across the threshold to a mind that is relaxed & softening. This offers our consciousness a chance to experience, to bloom, as it were, to see our hearts are all big enough to take in the episodic times of suffering, apply genuine compassion for those people who are agents in the suffering.

It should also be noted that any form or method of meditation should encourage relaxation & respite from a feeling that we have to wear a mask to hide our False Selves.

Through the repetition of breath or the saying of a mantra (a word or phrase you repeat in you head, a way to come back after your mind has wandered); as we do this, the mind frees itself. We’re able to see more of the Infinite Reality and recognizing that everything else will come & go, so don’t judge yourself in any way; just let these distractions slip away. Always remember to be compassionate with yourself.

The “pair-team” of “tightening & loosing” is a team for a reason-the universal & eternal love is its beacon. Growth in consciousness is its consequential mind-body change, to more & more of the Infinite, yet still being mindful about the empirical, finite world which we encounter.

©Christopher Bear-Beam June 1, 2016

The Art of Forgiveness

Have you ever noticed-that when someone seeks forgiveness, at times “the other person” doesn’t feel or react to the urgent need (stimulus) for forgiveness (reaction).

Sometimes the person asking for forgiveness sees a very different, immediate need for reconciliation, i.e., to be forgiven by the other right away.

What’s important to be mindful of is that forgiveness is a process, not a one-time or even many-times event. Both parties should be aware that process is very individualized, thereby giving some slack to each other, in the process.

For the person seeking forgiveness-her sense of urgency & need-is the primary way to erase this specific debt of one’s guilt (and shame). It be the ego’s weight on your crinkly, cardboard shoulders. Acceptance, compassion, & respect are key attributes in progress towards a reconciliation.

Guilt implies the necessity of re-channeling behavior that often emerges with conflict. Shame, the feeling of personally bottoming out of one’s self-respect. For example, when a relationship gets interrupted by stress, conflict or trauma, often the outcome is shame and it reacts, thinking that it’s culpable, and “I’m just a mistake, a piece of shit-damn, look what I did again. I’m freakin’ hopeless!”

For a pause, imagine in your mind that you’re taking a cruise on one of those ultra-huge cruise liners. The Captain announces to all that the ship is entering a storm zone; he gives an order to all the seafaring staff to get rid of the ballast, any extra weight on board. Anything “extra” has to go!

Initially, your anxiety level shoots out the roof; after a while you realize this truth: if the vessel is lighter, it may have a better chance of weathering the storm!

There’s a metaphor here for what forgiveness is like-all of the heaped up crap you feel on your shoulders & in your gut-dump it, let go of the load! Seek your forgiveness from the people you may have wronged, intentionally or not, or hurt, because all humans have this capacity to wrong or hurt.

Unconditional Love has paid off your debt; grace is a, wrapped turban around your head, better to search out forgiveness if you need it, better to do this than end up in the morgue dead.©CBB May 24, 2016