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Consider the person that you were when you were half your present age and compare that to the person you are today.

Now consider the fact that you will continue to live on as a spirit throughout eternity after this earth life is over.

Would you prefer to go through eternity as the person you were at half your age or the person you are now?

Most people would prefer to be the person they are now rather than what they were so long ago. But what made us the way we are now? Do we develop our good qualities from getting everything we want and having an easy life? No. That would make us selfish, spoiled, and shallow. It is the difficulties we overcome and the things we learn from those difficulties that make us what we are and provides us with qualities that we will value throughout our future eternity. The greatest souls develop by overcoming the greatest difficulties.

Does this make it easier when everything is going wrong? Not really, well, maybe just a little.  I'd rather face the difficulties in life knowing that there is some silver lining somewhere even if those benefits are not presently apparent because it gives some purpose to life and seems to make sense out of an existence which can seem so senseless at times.

>Second, full awareness of these [shadow] thoughts and feelings, and even a partial surrender to them in order that they be felt completely.

I couldn't agree with you more, Michael. One of the most important things I've learned is to allow myself to feel emotional pain rather than run from it. I've even got a little sound-proofed room I use when I need to cry deeply or scream out my rage. It helps!

I found your posting both insightful and prescient, Michael, reminding me as it does of an especially vivid (and unforgettable) dream I experienced back in 2002.

The scene was a high altitude cloudscape lit with the reds, yellows and oranges of a sunset. Before my "eyes", sentences began to drift from the sky above, lyrics of a song sung by a choir and spelt out in letters seemingly made of golden metal. My conscious mind felt the need to make the comment that the direction of the text was the opposite of the credits which scroll across the screen at the end of a film or TV show. A deep "voice", gently but patiently, admonished me that the observation was trivial and that I should pay close attention to the lyrics and their meaning.

The song was about suffering and the need for it, how it shapes our experiences and tempers our impulses and judgements, how, in short, it develops us in necessarily fundamental ways. Prior to this dream, I had always considered the allieviation of suffering to be one of the highest goals to which a person could apply themselves, but since then further consideration has brought me to the mindset so well exposited in your posting. Subsequently, I've been able to accept my difficulties with far greater equanimity. As cliche would have it, it is the province within which all struggling artists are supposed to have our mailing addresses, anyway. That's not a "bad" thing: it simply IS.

The more emotional experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Emotion is the energy of the soul. The soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul is imprinted holistically with what it's supposed to learn with little to no extra added effort on our part. The soul learns in much the same way that little children learn before they ever start going to school. Holistic learning means learning while doing something else; for instance learning math while baking a cake or building a dog house. Or learning history while watching television or reading a historical novel. God is so smart that He/She has designed a universe where the soul learns simply by being in it. Everyone experiences time and space, and duality and separation, and imprints memories of what it's like to live inside a physical body. We suffer separation in our lives so the soul can learn what it means and how it feels to be separate, something it can't learn in heaven due to those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness in Heaven. The purpose of learning about time and space and making memories of what it's like to be alive is because the soul will use those memories to create it's own reality after crossing back over into the spiritual universe. The alternative is to exist in eternal nothingness floating around doing and thinking nothing for eternity. We will all create our own heaven or hell after we cross back over into the Spiritual Universe; "As a man thinketh, so is He."

Physical pain imprints bits of information on the soul of the parameters of the physical body. Cutters, self flagellators, tattoos, self mutilators, crucifixion re-enactors, etc. are all being directed by the soul to experience pain so the soul can be imprinted with the parameters of the body. Sort of like a sculptor chiseling a body or a computer programmer writing a program of a body. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Everything we experience in this life, paper cuts, burning, itching, scratching, bruises, stubbing our toe, hitting our funny bone or shin, holistically imprints information on the soul; information to be used later after it crosses back over into the Spiritual Universe to create a body when it wants to experience the body. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. The soul uses the body to learn about what it's like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe. After the soul leaves the body it looks back on the empty shell with about as much emotion as we might reserve for a pair of worn out tennis shoes.

What a brilliant essay, Michael.

It ties in perfectly with what I’ve recently been reading:

William James: “Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge towards a kind of insight...the keynote of [which] is invariably a reconciliation. It is as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness and conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity. Not only do they, as contrasted species, belong to one and the same genus, but one of the species, the nobler and better one, is itself the genus, and so soaks up and absorbs its opposite into itself. This is a dark saying, I know, when thus expressed in terms of common logic, but I cannot wholly escape from its authority. I feel as if it must mean something…Those who have ears to hear, let them here.”

He is talking of Jung’s mysterium coniunctionis –the unexpected resolution of what had seemed to be irreconcileable principles or forces into a larger complex unity.

Sufi Sage Ibn Arabi says that God made Himself manifest because : “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known, and I created the Universe so that I be known.” The Universe, in other words, is God’s ‘other pole’.

So to put it simplistically, I suppose we could say that separation/suffering is the other pole of unity/bliss.

This earth life is a school and pain, suffering, and separation are the main lessons. It ain't supposed to be fun. Separation teaches the soul what it's like to be separate, pain imprints on the soul the parameters of the body. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memories. The soul has to learn enough in the short time it's here to last for eternity. It's that simple.

Have we fallen as souls?

The Christians believe we have fallen and by all appearances we are fallen souls but appearances can be so deceiving. Hence the words judge not by appearances.

The enlightened Hindus and many Buddhists believe that suffering is due to ignorance or unawareness. This appears to be a valid belief. Now the question we must ask ourselves: why the unawareness? The answer is so simple it is intellectually almost impossible to comprehend.

Animation, expression, manifestation, or creation whatever one wants to call all this drama in the universe (us) requires this unawareness. For oneness to be twoness or more requires unawareness. With this unawareness comes suffering.

The origin of our ignorance (unawareness) is innocence. I think it will be awhile before the Christians or any religion buys into this statement.

Infinite does not make mistakes and souls falling would be a mistake. A creator deemed perfect must take responsibility for its creation. I guess to sum this up we are the animated aspects of this infinite oneness created I suspect by gods that have not merged with this infinite oneness. Now these gods not being perfect could explain some aspects of our suffering.

The soundproof room for screaming sounds like a good idea to me. Since I live in az a mountain top miles from other souls is an option I have used several times.

“The soul has to learn enough in the short time it's here to last for eternity. It's that simple.”

I also used the word simple. Now that I think about it I need to rethink the word simple. Simple may not be so simple.

Art how do you rationalize a young child crossing over in a few short months? How much could that child learn that would last for eternity? From my point of view evidence aside reincarnation fills in several questions about soul evolution.

I hesitate to question you on this aspect of your beliefs because I know first hand the mental anguish involved in discovering that reincarnation may indeed be a reality.

The Christians and Muslims have their hell for eternity and the Hindus and Buddhists have reincarnation as fear factors to try to keep their followers on the straight and narrow path.


Art how do you rationalize a young child crossing over in a few short months? How much could that child learn that would last for eternity? - william
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We don't live for just ourselves. Everything is shared on the other side. It's what NDE'ers mean when they say they experienced "all knowledge." In a holographic universe each piece contains the whole.

"All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby." - excerpt from Randy Gehling's (age 10) NDE, http://near-death.com/experiences/animals04.html

"It were as though all knowledge was being poured into me." - Analisa D's NDE
http://www.nderf.org/Analisa%20D's%20NDE.htm

"There were no questions, all knowledge was instantly present in my thoughts" - Brian's NDE,
www.nderf.org/brian_s's_nde.htm

It's a holographic universe thing.

The possibility of pain and suffering allows for growth. Some hard knocks can help act as a push for improvement. This doesn't mean that suffering is always "necessary" however, especially if it involves something extreme like torture or the wars of the 20th century. Suffering of that magnitude tends to create a whirlpool of negative karma which corrodes peoples virtue and spirit, instigating cycles of revenge and dragging down entire nations.

One spiritual book I rather enjoyed was "The Magus of Strovolos". It mentions therein that high level adepts and spirits can take a portion of others karma onto themselves if the sufferer expresses a willingness to learn the lessons they need from their suffering.

"Second, full awareness of these thoughts and feelings, and even a partial surrender to them in order that they be felt completely."

This is true but it should be understood in a wider context.

Insignt or vipassana meditation can be very helpful in learning to be conscious of emotions. By observing the senations in the body one learns to notice the physical sensations that accompany emotions and this leads to increased awareness of emtotions.

However letting out emotions needs to be balanced with letting go.

By spending too much time focusing on emotions it is possible to train yourself to be unhappy. You may develop the habit of looking for negative emotions within yourself and by thinking of them you instantiate them in your mind.

Concentration in meditation is a good way to practice letting go. In concentration meditation you focus your mind on something like breathing naturally while counting exhalations up to ten and then starting over with one. When you notice you are distracted just refocus your attention on counting. This practice of concentration helps you to distance yourself from your emotions.

Each person needs to find the right balance between letting out and letting go.

Another important factor in emotions is diet. If you do not get the right nutrients in your diet your brain will not function correctly and this can cause anxiety or depression or other emotional consequences. A good place to find out more about this is to do a web search on: diet and anxiety, or: diet and depression. A good web site on this topic is:
http://www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/articles/what_is_hypo.html

All these topics are discussed in greater detail here:
http://www.geocities.com/chs4o8pt/meditation.html

Well how can anyone appreciate joy without suffering? If you don't have one the other is meaningless. So it seems suffering is a necessary part of the world and of experience if life is to have value.

If the sky were as white as the stars, would you be able to see the stars? If the Earth were as white as them both, would you see the Earth? And if all the people, animals, plants, and other things on the Earth were equally as white as those, would you have knowledge even of yourself?

Knowledge is knowledge of distinct things and no thing is distinct unless it contrasts with something different. And if you are to know joy, love, peace, there must be states of mind that contrast with those as well.

No one escapes that. Not even the Buddhist.

To bear in mind the turning wheel and the ceaseless fluctuations of life and fortune that it represents is to know a certain kind of calming and healing wisdom. And from this perspective it is possible (though not always easy) to master our baser feelings and accept them, tamed, as part of ourselves.

I think this is one of your better posts, MP. In the end, I think everything is about perspective. The higher the perspective one experiences, the more profound the sense of a “calming and healing wisdom”. And while finding that perspective can be very difficult at times, it is always possible, always available. It appears to me that all of the problems people have in this world can be traced back to a failure to understand that there is always another perspective available.

I’ve been grappling with the suffering question myself lately, having recently met a couple who’ve experienced the loss of a child. They are struggling terribly with their loss, which is entirely understandable. Still, I can’t help but be cognizant that much of their pain at this point is self-inflicted. Their daughter died in an auto accident almost five years ago, and their focus remains almost exclusively on their loss, and variations thereof: what might have been, how they miss her, the unfairness of it all. There appears to be very little engagement in different thoughts: the love they shared, the funny and sometimes aggravating moments involved in raising their daughter, a sense of gratitude for the time they did have. I’m not suggesting that the thoughts and feelings of loss should be ignored, pushed aside, or minimized in any way, only that even in these horrible circumstances, there are two sides to the coin, two different thought processes one can engage in: a different perspective is always available.

I’ve never been in their position, and I’m not judging their approach to grief. It does seem though, that there’s a high road and a low road to tragedy and suffering. The fortunate eventually discover the calming and healing wisdom of which you write, while many others do not. I can only hope that my friends will someday find themselves in the former group.

Michael H,
Aren't you the person from last year who found the Compassionate Friends candlelighting ceremony announcement helpful because of these friends whom you said had lost a child? Are these the same people you're talking about now? It will be again this year on Dec 14th at 7:00 p.m. worldwide - in other words, anyone who has lost a child can either light a candle in their own private home , cemetery, or join with others at a church or local Compassionate Friends group, etc. I find it somewhat painful but also comforting, a way of symbolically including my child in the holiday season.

Sorry, I forgot to post my name, that was me who wrote the message above.

Sorry I haven't posted any replies to the wonderful posts of Michael Prescott. Me and my family have been going through some very difficult times. My father a couple of nights ago and my mom and brother went out to grab some coffee at tim hortons. My mom told me that my father wanted a bottle of wine she said no they went to time hortons. My father open the car door and tried to jump out. Luckily my brothers grabbed him. Today, my other brother, sister and her husband, mother took my father to the hospital, they admitted him. I feel so depressed right now I wish things will turn around. Right now we got to try to get his mental condition back to normal. It looks he may not be able to go to Halifax on the first week of december for tests done on his heart. The doctors where I live in New Glasgow have said that he has a blood clot in his heart, they don't know how big it is.

This is because of his mental condition. My mom is rightly worried that he may try to jump out of the vehicle before they get to halifax. Well I am typing this my mother is still over the hospital with my father.

I visited my father this afternoon at the hospital. He's getting pretty bad has a mind of a 4 year old. Thinks his mother and father are still alive. He is like in the past. A couple of days ago he thought bugs were in his hair even thought their wasn't any bugs there. We left afterwards the doctor is supposed to be their like a couple of hours... Read More ago. My mom won't know if the psychiatrist came or not until he goes back up tonight to see him. The psychiatrist is the one that will give the go ahead to the nurses to give him the strong anti psychotic pills that hopefully will help some. I just got the news a while ago that the psychiatrist won't be in until tommorrow. I don't know I think the psyhiatrist is waiting to see how bad he gets first before he can make an assessment on his mental condition.

“Well how can anyone appreciate joy without suffering? If you don't have one the other is meaningless. So it seems suffering is a necessary part of the world and of experience if life is to have value.”

At this stage of our evolutionary process this statement makes sense but: I think as we evolve into higher levels of awareness this will not always be a valid statement. From a human perspective this appears to be a valid point but from the perspective of an entity with much higher levels of awareness this may not be valid.

Now what I suspect is valid is that all Beings must go through these experiences of dualism and variation as learning experiences that offer growth opportunities into greater awareness of our divine reality.

Mystics tell us that the journey was well worth the struggles. Would we ever learn if there were not a system of karma that gives us consequences for our choices we make as individuals and nations? The design may be perfect but it is not often comfortable.

When I look at my life it appears that fate played a bigger hand in my life than choices I had made. Maybe at this stage of our lives fate plays a bigger role in our lives than our choices we make or desires we have but unable to fulfill them.

I have doubts that at this stage our evolutionary process we (human ego?) are allowed to create our own absolute reality. Choices play a role but also fate and societal conditioning play a role in our lives. To what degree I suspect few know or understand to what degree.

Another excellent work on Shakespeare with many human and Soul insights is Harold C. Goddard's THE MEANING OF SHAKESPEARE.

Shakespeare criticism at its best.

Harold C. Goddard's THE MEANING OF SHAKESPEARE

I greatly admire that two-volume work, even though I disagree with Goddard's analysis in many particular cases. His writing is crystal clear and his passion for Shakespeare burns through every page.

Yes, floridasuzie, it's the same couple. They were touched by having the candlelight vigil brought to their attention last year, but I'm not sure if they actually followed through with a private ceremony themselves. For one reason or another, they haven't involved themselves in any sort of counseling or sharing with others who are dealing with similar losses.

I guess people deal with their struggles in different ways.

Art -

We always find your comments so humorous - because they always endeavor to state things as truths that are simple guesses at best.

With all due respect to Michael Talbot and the Holographic Universe ( plus the one exceptional NDE experience referenced on nderf.com - which in combination - I do believe you have mentioned in just about every other comment you've made on here for well over a year) don't you ever think it's a bit boring to have all of the answers so completely figured out?

I mean - what would happen to your worldview if Michael Talbot was just simply wrong? Is there a backup plan, or no?

“Art -
We always find your comments so humorous - because they always endeavor to state things as truths that are simple guesses at best.”

I don’t believe they are simple guesses as many NDE’s claim this feeling of oneness. And I am sure art has put much thought into his comments.

For a short period of time I bought into past life and between life hypnosis and it was mentality painful to give up those beliefs as they painted such a pretty picture of the other side for all souls. But from my point of view these NDE’s are snapshots rather than the reality that may exist in these other dimensions that exist when we cross over.

I prefer to put more stock in those that have been there for a period of time and come through mediums especially in cross correspondence. As far as holographic universe I suspect there is no such thing as space and there is structure and vitality in all of what we perceive as space.

In other words everything is connected but our limited awareness sees only a small fraction of this oneness and the rest we perceive as space.

I don’t believe they are simple guesses as many NDE’s claim this feeling of oneness. And I am sure art has put much thought into his comments. - william
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There is an interesting online site about Emmanuel Swedenborg where it talks about "holographic thought balls."
http://www.soultravel.se/2004/040907-swedenborg/index.shtml
"Swedenborg also refers to the holographic thought balls the angels use to communicate and says that they are no different from the portrayals he could see in the "wave-substance" that surrounded a person he describes these telepathic borsts of knowledge as a picture language so dense with information that each image contains a thousand ideas."
This is what happened to me. I was walking from the kitchen into our living room and all of a sudden it was like downloaded into my brain. All of a sudden all the pieces fell together and everything made sense. It was all so simple. I understood why we are here, why we experience pain and suffering, and why there is so much duality and separation in our lives. It's sort of like that game show "Concentration" where you guess letters up on a board and eventually there are enough letters on the board to where eventually the saying just jumps out at you. When you finally see it you're like "Wow! Why didn't I see that earlier?"
excerpt from Kelly's NDE: "The next thing I recall was being shown the universe. I remember thinking, "So, THAT'S how it is! I was in awe. It was like a huge net, or chain link fence, everything in the universe is connected."
http://nderf.org/kelly_k's_nde.htm

what would happen to your worldview if Michael Talbot was just simply wrong? Is there a backup plan, or no? - irh
__________________________________________

He wasn't. I reiterate, the parallels, corroboration, and support between NDE's and what Michael Talbot wrote about in The Holographic Universe is nothing short of mind boggling. Dr. Kenneth Ring has a whole chapter in his book Life At Death about it and Dr. Melvin Morse devotes several pages to it in his book Where God Lives, and Dr. Oswald Harding, in his book Near Death Experiences: A Holographic Explanation, says that the Life Review is a holographic experience extraordinaire.

@William -

I agree that most put " alot of thought" into the things they say - and believe. That includes Art..:-)

It doesn't of course, make it true.

There are many smart people out there - with lots of smart theories about lots of things. The fact that other smart folks occassionally completely concur with parts (or the whole)of those theories makes them no less empirically true, in my view. It just makes them more interesting.

Language like you have in the above comment in explaining YOUR thoughts on the matter - "I prefer to believe" - " I think", etc - is far more conducive to intelligent conversation than stating with definitive, chest out certainty that X happens when you die. To me - it's the surefire sign of a groping, grasping and entirely insecure mind to think you "know" anything for certain about something so abstract as these clearly ineffable truths.

I mean - "I believe there are going to be 7 virgins waiting for me when I die" seems pretty silly, right?

But there are many bright, learned and well respected thinkers, books, speeches, and otherwise who have substantiated that this is in fact, what happens when you die after living a certain type of life. There are "afterlife" descriptions of this paradise as well, that positively reinforce this message to those who may be on the fence as well.

It doesn't make it true of course, and I for one, and guessing it's not.

What was it that Einstein said about there not being ONE single solitary thing he was sure of - that he had put forth during his lifetime of science, examination and intellect?

Why is that such a difficult hurdle to leap for the rest of us?

I am frequently certain on issues about which I am completely mistaken.

“Why is that such a difficult hurdle to leap for the rest of us?”

There I suspect are many variables involved here. One being the ego that wants to know and be known for knowing for a variety of reasons. I think fear is a big causal variable. The mind often seeks comfort and believing we know appears to give it comfort. When we look at some Christian beliefs many are willing to believe that 2/3 of the world’s population are going to hell for eternity if they do not believe as they do.

I find the human mind a fascinating topic of discussion because I think we know so little about it. Also the fear of death can cause one to want to believe their beliefs are valid in spite of the evidence. I use a cross validation approach with many teachings and my own and others experiences but even that approach cannot be absolute proof.

Like any science we must deal with probabilities and seek evidence that supports or lowers the probabilities of our beliefs being valid. Even that approach can be in error as we can filter evidence that does not support our research theories.

We tend to see what our paradigm allows us to see and not usually what the data is telling us. Political and religious beliefs are prime examples of this phenomenon.

@dmd - me too..:-)

And William - I agree.

MP wrote:

"One of my favorite quotes is Edith Hamilton's translation of some lines from Agamemnon, the first play in Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy: "

The Aeschylus quote was also in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxXNOfsN5zE>Bobby Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis following the death of Martin Luther King. Powerful stuff - and a great post Michael.

Kind regards,
Greg

I am not sure I agree at all with the "one has to appreciate suffering to appreciate pleasure" thesis - although it is commonly used. Speaking for myself I don't believe I ever needed ugliness or suffering to appreciate a beautiful dawn or to taste bitterness to appreciate sweetness etc. In my own admittedly limited experience it doesn't make sense at all.

I do think that we can learn from suffering though if we are able to adopt the right perspective, having said that I think there are often easier ways to learn the same lessons if we can.

It seems to me that a large component of suffering is simply cause and effect. Sometimes the cause may have happened a long time ago, even before we were born in some cases.

Another factor is perhaps fear. Fear of suffering can limit our experiences. I know people who will not commit to relationships for example for fear of suffering emotionally if it doesn't work out or the relationship ends as inevitably all must. They deny themselves the experience of a loving relationship because of the fear of suffering loss or rejection.

I do not think there is any nobility in suffering but there can be in the way we accept it or in the reason we bring it upon ourselves as we often do.

"They deny themselves the experience of a loving relationship because of the fear of suffering loss or rejection"

Ironically they suffer regardless, only alone. Suffering is unavoidable. The saying "better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all" speaks a truth, to love is to grow and evolve, to not is to wither and stay small.

Hey Leo, sounds like your family is having difficult trials right now with your father, only love will get you all through it. I hope and pray that the psych gets him the right pills soon, hang in there.

“I do think that we can learn from suffering though if we are able to adopt the right perspective, having said that I think there are often easier ways to learn the same lessons if we can.”

I remember reading somewhere that there are two ways to learn. One is through suffering and the other is through wisdom and it appears that most learn through suffering. As the Buddha realized most of our suffering is caused by our ignorance. Now overcoming that ignorance appears to be the journey of the soul.

Both nations and individuals suffer due to their ignorance. But hey if we had perfect awareness we would not exist as perceived separate individuals. The current economic crisis in America is due to some levels of ignorance but then what is a crisis but a learning opportunity.

Will we learn our lessons? Maybe but if we don’t we suffer more economic decline. If there were not consequences for our ignorance would we ever evolve? Another word for ignorance is unawareness.

Hi Hope (sorry no pun intended). I agree that in the example you cite ie relationships they simply exchange one potential form of suffering for a more immediate one although I am sure you agree that one may learn from both.

William:Regarding different ways to learn, a friend of mine has a great saying "Those who cannot hear, must feel".

Paul, when times get tough, tougher, and then really tough in your life, the release from all that, when it comes, has a sweetness that you could not experience if you were ever and always only comfortable. I see in my own life, not as some abstract principle, that when I have plenty and I am comfortable, that the abundance and comfort lead to a complacence that I have to be very mindful to avoid because it's so easy and natural to fall into it, and I think it is only because I have sharp memories of much harsher times that enables me to do that.

I can accept that is your view dmduncan. We all experience difficulties in life of varying degrees and we react to them differently. I do not accept personally that it is necessary to experience bad to appreciate good. I also accept that you have a different view.

“We all experience difficulties in life of varying degrees and we react to them differently. I do not accept personally that it is necessary to experience bad to appreciate good.”

Without that variation (varying degrees) there is no experience just Isness or pure awareness. Understanding that variation and the meaning of that variation for life, as we know it to exist is an interesting question.

The underlying reality of that variation is unawareness. Bad and good tend to be judgment calls. What is good and bad but varying degrees of expression?

Sorry William I am probably being a bit thick. I can't understand the point you are making.

“Sorry William I am probably being a bit thick. I can't understand the point you are making.”

Don’t feel alone on this one. In my seminars I taught the necessity of understanding variation to have effective leadership within an organization. After years of teaching this I began to see that much of what I was teaching had spiritual implications.

After studying and teaching the teachings of a quality guru known as W Edwards Deming for five years one Tuesday morning in 1990 as I was teaching this section on understanding variation a knowing came to me in an instant about variation and its implications in a relative phenomenal world and I then realized that Deming’s teachings were indeed profound.

Before that “revelation” I thought Deming was just another statistical quality guru.

I wrote him that night and told him I now saw what he saw. He spent much of his life teaching his wisdom with little success. Toyota may be the exception.

We live in a relative phenomenal world hence variation. Understanding that variation helps us to be systemic in our thinking. The underlying reality of that variation is unawareness

Thanks for replying William. I am definitely being slow here - could you explain what you mean William please. I understand what you have written but it doesn't make sense to me in its current form. Perhaps a couple of examples might clarify it. Many thanks.

It sounds to me like William is saying the same thing I was saying: The world is made of different things, and without the differences it is impossible to be aware of things themselves. If all things bled into all other things without distinction, there would be no awareness of anything at all and no "world" to speak of or know in common. William uses the term variation, I use the term contrast. But I think it's the same idea.

William uses the term variation, I use the term contrast. But I think it's the same idea. - dmduncan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And Art uses the word "duality", different words, same idea. - Art

I don't understand the point then. We were not discussing mere differences but rather antithetical ideas - pain -v- pleasure.

The strength of an attachment is proportional to the pain you feel when it breaks. Things you are not attached to you also do not grieve at their loss. Now you don't only perceive black against white, for one color contrasts against all other colors. But black stands out against white more sharply than it does against charcoal gray.

Now when you have this oblivious joy that ends abruptly and you suffer the pain of the detachment, that pain is directly because you remember the joy now absent and which may never return. It's the contrast between the past and the present that makes you suffer. The difference between what was and what is. And indeed, the previous joy you felt itself stood out in contrast to moments before those joyful moments which were not quite so joyful.

Every change you experience stands out in contrast to some previous moment that was different. Whether it is in the realm of your emotions or the realm of your perceptions.

Imagine joy (or any other emotion) like a steady line with absolutely no change ever no matter what happened outside of you so that were all you ever knew. Do you think you would understand joy when people spoke to you about it? Or pain? Or would, as I think, you not have an understanding of either word at all? Joy would just be normal to you and you would have no understanding at all of people's expressions of pain. Indeed, throwing the human capacity for empathy in the mix, there would be the question that if you are unable to experience anything but what others called joy, how could you empathize with suffering, and therefore, would you be recognizably conscious at all to other people?

Whilst it is true that I can't fully empathise with a person unless I have suffered similar experiences is it not also true that I won't experience suffering in the same way even if the situation was identical? In otherwords it's unlikely we would ever be able to experience suffering in the same way as another person - or any other experience for that matter. That doesn't stop us using our insight, common sense, sensitivity and experience to help them (I don't think you're suggesting it does).

I have never been starving or particularly hungry even but that doesn't stop me from being moved to help others who are. Nor does it stop me from savouring my food and appreciating how it got to me.

I have never been cruelly treated but that doesn't stop me from being moved to protect others or support those who have whether animal or human. I don't need to suffer cruelty to understand the impact enough to know it is wrong. I am unconvinced that if I suffer cruelty I will appreciate peace and love more or would be less likely to hurt others.

Speaking from my own experience I do not believe that I need to experience sadness to appreciate joy or to amplify it. I think we must agree to differ on this one but appreciate your taking the time to clarify your view dm. :)

dm & PW: Maybe you're both right, ie, suffering is necessary, but not necessarily in this lifetime. A compassionate person may have learned compassion by suffering in a previous lifetime, and so it wouldn't be necessary to learn that lesson by suffering in this lifetime. The lesson has
already been learned. Just a thought.

Paul: Understood, and you are welcome.

“Maybe you're both right, ie, suffering is necessary, but not necessarily in this lifetime. A compassionate person may have learned compassion by suffering in a previous lifetime, and so it wouldn't be necessary to learn that lesson by suffering in this lifetime. The lesson has
already been learned. Just a thought.”

Maybe more than just a thought as some of my research suggests this may be a valid statement. My experience has taught me there may be a huge difference between compassion, empathy, and sympathy and we humans often confuse the three as being synonyms.

PD: There's an interesting book called "The Self In Transformation," by Herbert Fingarette. Probably out of print, but I found a hardback copy on Amazon, in which the author interprets Buddhist thought on Karma, birth, and rebirth, as a process that is happening from moment to moment in our lives, not from lifetime to lifetime. Since many people may not buy into Buddhist or Hindu metaphysics, this is a view that can be appreciated without committing oneself to other aspects of those religions.

Oh, and William, you should say more about the differences among compassion, empathy, and sympathy.

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