Saturday, August 12, 2006

Social Anxiety, Shyness, and Highly Sensitive People

My partner Kira recently loaned me a book she has been reading (The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron) on highly sensitive people (you can take a self-test here to see if you might be a highly sensitive person -- turns out that I am). There is a chapter that deals with shyness and social anxiety, though she doesn't use the phrase social anxiety.
How to Think About Your "Social Discomfort"

Social discomfort (the term I prefer to "shy") is almost always due to overarousal, which makes you act, speak, or appear not very socially skilled. Or it is the dread that you will become overarousd. You dread doing something awkward, not being able to think of what to say. But the dread itself is usually enough now to create the overarousal, once in the situation.

Remember, discomfort is temporary, and it gives you choices. Suppose you are uncomfortably cold. You can tolerate it. You can find a more congenial environment. You can create some heat -- build a fire, turn up the thermostat -- or ask those in charge to do it. You can put on a coat. The one thing you should not do is blame yourself for being inherently more susceptible to a cold environment.

The same is true of a termporary social discomfort due to overarousal. You can put up with it, leave the situation, change the social atmosphere or ask others to, or do something else to make you more comfortable, like put on your "persona".
This last line caught my attention. I recently posted a guest article at Anxious Living on how I cope with social anxiety and an "out there" job as a personal trainer. I didn't know that others used this approach to dealing social discomfort, as Aron calls it.

Her basic premise in the chapter is that shyness is a state and not a trait, meaning that it is context specific. I think the same thing can be said about social anxiety to a certain extent. We do not feel anxious with those we know and trust. We do not feel anxious with family (or at least not in the same way we do with strangers -- some of us feel very anxious with family, but for a lot of other reasons). But we do feel anxious in new situations and with new people.

Aron's vision of "social discomfort" has the following characteristics, which seem to be somewhat integral in an all quadrant kind-of-way:
1. A physiological constitution that makes the individual more sentive than most to physical stimuli: sound, light, scents, space (crowding), and a host of others. The foundation principle of the highly sensitive person is an acutely sensitive nervous system. She estimates about 15-20 percent of the population is highly sensitive.

2. Many environments can push such a person into "overarousal," meaning sensory overload -- too much input for such a sensitive system. My own sense of this is that it is getting harder and harder to avoid such environments. Televisions are on everywhere all the time. Muzak is the auditory equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Everyone is wearing some kind of scent -- or hasn't showered in days. Car stereos can rival the noise level of a jet taking off -- and are usually playing something that is offensive even at low volume levels. And it goes on and on.

3. Overarousal seems to produce some form of "shut down" in the person experiencing it.
[T]oo much arousal of the nervous system and anyone will become distressed, clumsy, and confused. We cannot think; the body is not coordinated; we feel out of control.
While this has physical manifestations, as noted, there is also an interior element in that the person may become more emotionally volatile, moody, self-conscious, and suffer feelings of abnormality or being "broken" in some way. After all, some studies show that 75 percent of the population (in the US) is socially outgoing. Essentially, the person becomes anxious about feeling anxious -- a negative feedback loop.

4. Those who suffer social discomfort often experience the sense that others are watching them or judging them. This is not without foundation, as Aron talks about in the chapter.
[S]tudies have shown that most people on first meeting those I would call HSPs considered them shy and equated that with anxious, awkward, fearful, inhibited, and timid. Even mental health professionals have rated them, more often than not, this way and also as lower on intellectual competence, achievement, and mental health, which, in fact, bear no association with shyness.
Just because you're anxious doesn't mean they aren't judging you. People are quick to pick up on the person who "doesn't fit in" for whatever reason, and social discomfort is as good a reason as any for people to start judging others. When someone becomes the target of this, it can amplify the interior sense in #3 of being messed up or broken.
What Aron is trying to get her readers to accept is that there is nothing wrong with them. In fact HSPs have many gifts for sensing social subtlety that others lack. I think the same can be said for those who suffer from social anxiety.

Are all of us who experience SA also to be seen as HSP? I don't know.

Aron does suggest a new context though: We are not socially anxious people; we are people who feel anxious in some social situations -- a state not a trait. This is an important distinction.

I'd love to hear what others think about this. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Ann Coulter

Dreamflesh has a nice piece on Ann Coulter that I missed in the speedlinks this morning. It's funny, but be warned if you watch the Henry Rollins piece that its satire contains profanity -- but I'd expect nothing less from Rollins.

In the video with Paxman of the BBC, Coulter claims several times to believe everything she writes, and she does so in such a way that I can no longer entertain the idea advanced by some that she is a post-modern prankster. And her rejection of Darwinian evolution is silly.

Speedlinking 8/12/06

I slept in this morning, so this is a little later than usual.

My Zen page-a-day calendar offers this sage wisdom to start the weekend:
The entire universe is the single eye of a monk. Where will you go to defecate?
~ Hsueh-feng
And with that nugget of Zen brilliance, we shall begin.

~ The Zero Boss had a couple of nice posts yesterday: “What Else Should I Say?/Everyone is Gay” and The Five Things My Auntie Ayn Rand Taught Me. I don't groove with the Ayn Rand thing, but for those who do, you might like the post.

~ Matthew Dallman left a long and well-argued response to a comment I made in yesterday's speedlinks about liberals not getting how to deal with fascist terrorists (coming from a largely Spiral Dynamics angle). MD asked some good questions, which I plan to respond to today. In the meantime, you can read his comments and his response to CJ Smith at The Daily Goose.

~ Bob at Dust rejects the notion that mental illness (depression in this case) is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. He recently read a Mother Jones article that supports his cynacism. Whether you agree with Bob or not, check out his argument. While I tend to agree in part (most depressed people would be better served by sitting meditation and regular exercise), I think we have to recognize that some organisms can become imbalanced in ways that have nothing to do with environmental context (clinical depression). Alas, Bob's argument is true but partial.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion has another post on the Middle East: The Gingrich Who Stole the Debate. It's long, but he makes some good points alongside some not so good points. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.

~ Dan at The Woodshed offers a review of A Scanner Darkly (not plot spoilers, so go read it).

~ m alan kazlev of Integral Transformation is a busy writer and thinker. His newest offering (still in beta form) is Suggested definition for a complete Integral metaparadigm (check it out -- he's looking for feedback).

~ Integrative Spirituality takes a look at integral theory in the classroom, an article by Intergal Institute honcho Sean Esbjorn-Hargens which is slated to appear in the ever-forthcoming AQAL Journal.

~ Ray Harris at Open Integral takes a critical look at Wilber's notion of agency and interiors. He at one point observes:

“The fact that our world is more constructed by us than existing as an objectively real static entity is an ever-new revelation. It’s the most challenging insight: that there is very little that is actually given and that the way we perceive everything is a creative and co-creative process.”

This is just plain sloppy. We do not construct the world - we construct an interpretation of the world. Our interpretation may affect our perception but it does not actually affect reality itself. This is just New Age nonsense. I invite Andrew and his followers to stand naked in Death Valley on a hot day or naked in the middle of Antartica and see if they can co-create a reality in which they do not die.

Now, that is a thought experiment I'd like to see -- the Death Valley Test. It could become a benchmark in consciousness studies.

~ How to Save the World has an interesting post -- a sort of integral approach to healing the body. Not sure I agree with all of it, but some of it is very good.

~ Katherine Turner at Dating God went to see the new Oliver Stone film, World Trade Center, hoping to reclaim lost pieces of her life from when the towers fell. She didn't find what she was looking for, but she has an excellent post about her life surrounding that event and its aftermath, about the ways she was changed.

~ Blogmandu is back with another cool roundup, and this one includes the welcome return of Kit of Paper Frog fame.

~ Ken Wilber and crew have announced the beginning of Phase II for the Integral Institute, which I believe would be world domination. Nah, not really. But Geoff Falk sure does hate him some Wilber. Makes me wonder if there was ever a woman involved.

~ Colmar reprints George Orwell's WWII argument that pacifism is pro-fascist. Nice thought from a brilliant man, but wrong century. War has changed and that argument no longer stands up in the current world, especially when one tries to buttress it with Cal Thomas advocating for old school warfare against an enemy (and yes, terrorism is the enemy) that doesn't play the same game. This is where the neo-cons fall flat on their faces -- and why we are losing in Iraq and why Israel lost in Lebanon. The liberals have nothing better (actually, nothing at all), so we're pretty much screwed politically.

~ Picture of the Day is from Mighty Optical Illusions (this is graffiti):

Have a great Saturday.

Sogyal Rinpoche: Meditation

[image source]

Another illuminating Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:

My master had a student called Apa Pant, a distinguished Indian diplomat and author, who served as Indian ambassador in a number of capital cities around the world. He was also a practitioner of meditation and yoga, and each time he saw my master, he would always ask him “how to meditate.” He was following an Eastern tradition where the student keeps asking the master one simple, basic question over and over again.

One day when our master Jamyang Khyentse was watching a Lama Dance in front of the Palace Temple in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, he was chuckling at the antics of the atsara, the clown who provides light relief between dances. Apa Pant kept pestering him, asking him again and again how to meditate, so this time when my master replied, it was in such a way as to let him know that he was telling him once and for all: “Look, it’s like this: When the past thought has ceased, and the future thought has not yet risen, isn’t there a gap?”

“Yes,” said Apa Pant.

“Well, prolong it: That is meditation.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Of course, this is only one way to meditate, and it is a hard path to follow without a teacher. I've tried working with this approach in the past with only moderate success.

For beginners, I'd still recommend becoming mindful of the breath.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An End to Hostilities?

Posted by Glenn Greenwald on his blog:

A bizarre end to a bizarre war in Lebanon

The unfolding events in the Middle East seem rather odd. Current reports suggest that the U.S. and France have agreed to a U.N. Resolution -- which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accepted -- and it will be imminently adopted (tonight) by the Security Council, probably unanimously.

The Resolution calls for an immediate "cessation of hostilities." Hezbollah would be required to withdraw from Southern Lebanon and an expanded U.N force (led by French soldiers) would be deployed along with Lebanese soldiers to ensure that Hezbollah does not operate there. But that force would not have the U.N. charter authority the Israelis wanted -- which provide for rules of engagement where that U.N. force would actually militarily engage Hezbollah if it operated in the forbidden region (though it would be a "robust" force, say the Resolution's advocates).

Hezbollah would not be disbanded nor disarmed, and its re-supply route from Syria would neither be destroyed nor impeded. Given the grand pronouncements with which this war began -- that Hezbollah would be destroyed, that it was the start of the epic war of civilizations -- any honest person (and even many who are not honest) would acknowledge that this is a defeat for Israel and for neoconservative dreams of a wider war. As a result, many in Israel are predicting, and vigorously calling for, the resignation of Israel's Prime Minister.

The disappointment and anger of neoconservatives over this ignominious end must be severe, and it is almost certain to be a source of very intense conflict between them and the Bush administration. Already, Paul at Powerline -- one of the most loyal Bush supporters on the planet -- said:

The JPost says there's a good chance that the wobbly Olmert government will accept this resolution. Over at NRO's corner, John Podhoretz contends that this would mean the end of the Olmert government. I'm tempted to suggest that our government, having seemingly lost its will to oppose (or even to let others oppose) our deadliest enemies, deserves the same fate. But let's wait until the facts are in.

Once he read the resolution, Paul said that "there is no excuse for bringing this matter to an end until the IDF has made much more progress than it has to date" and that the U.N. force would be a "joke." Rich Lowry (who, whatever else one might want to say about him, has excellent sources in the Bush administration and the Israeli government) quotes an Israeli source as saying that this is the "worst defeat for Israel since 1948," and adds:

when it comes to U.N. resolutions in the Middle East is that they either simply reflect the facts on the ground, or make the victor give away a little bit of his victory; they never let someone pull victory out of a hat from defeat. So Israel will utlimately (sic) get from this resoltuon (sic)what they won on the ground, which is to say not much.

In another post, Lowry passes on the Bush administration's best propaganda as to why this is a good Resolution for Israel and the U.S., but I think Powerline Paul's reaction will be quite typical - neoconservatives are not going to be remotely convinced.

In fact, John Podhoertz is flopping around over in the Corner in a way that reflects the distress and trauma neoconservatives will suffer from this result. Podhoretz first declared that the U.N. Resolution will mean that "Israel and the United States will be handing Hezbollah a victory. And Israel will have lost a war for the first time. And probably not the last." He then tried to keep his chin up and rationalized that "it's not a disaster," but then immediately thereafter posted again to say:

Olmert is still toast. My nephew, who is a veteran of the Israeli army but has not been called up because he's here in the States for a few months, writes:

"I can't believe he's doing this. I cannot believe we are once again running from Lebanon with our tails between our legs. Olmert's picture will now appear in the dictionary next to the word 'coward.'"

This will be a very common opinion across the political spectrum.

When this all started, neoconservatives were in full bloodthirsty glory, salivating over the complete obliteration of Hezbollah and much of Southern Lebanon, as the start of the "great opportunity" -- "our war" -- in which we would do the same to Syria and Iran. Instead, they got a joint U.S.-French U.N. resolution engineering a cease-fire dependent upon French troops protecting Israel from the Hezbollah militia, and even Israeli hawks lamenting the humiliation suffered at the hands of Hezbollah (assuming Hezbollah, which clearly has the strongest hand here, agrees to all of this).

Watching Fox News right now discussing this is like being at a wake. Paul at Powerline is calling for the downfall of the Bush administration. The neoconservative dream for broader war, at least for the moment, has collapsed on its shattered foundations. Nobody should consider a Hezbollah victory to be anything remotely a cause for celebration; that should go without saying. But the plan the neoconservatives harbor - and thought they were finally able to execute - is as dangerous a threat as anything else in the world, and anything which puts a stop to it, and which drives a wedge between them and their enablers in the Bush administration, is something which, independent of all else, is a constructive development.
Is anyone buying that this thing is ending? I was watching Israeli troops invade southern Lebanon earlier today on the news.

Sogyal Rinpoche on Change

[Ashes and Snow]

To work with changes now, in life: That is the real way to prepare for death. Life may be full of pain, suffering, and difficulty, but all of these are opportunities handed to us to help us move toward an emotional acceptance of death. It is only when we believe things to be permanent that we shut off the possibility of learning from change.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

Spiritualizing the Planet

[image source]

This was yesterday's Daily Om:

Spiritualizing The Planet

We are one with the cosmos whether we realize it or not. Realizing it, though, quickens our spiritual energy and allows us access to higher realms. In those higher realms lies the awareness that we are more than just finite physical beings living one life in one place at one point in time. Connecting with this awareness is to awaken to the truth and take a step forward, and upward, on our soul's journey. This upward movement is known as ascension because the more we remember who we are and embody that truth, the higher our energy vibrates; we ascend up the scale from the gross physical plane to the subtle spiritual plane. As we ascend, we gain consciousness of the more subtle aspects of our being, with the ultimate outcome being a complete identification with the light body, an experience of unification with the cosmos.

As you look around you, you will see that many people are not even interested in these ideas. Others are open and paying attention. Still others have devoted their lives to deepening their understanding of the truth. All these people are on the path of ascension, but they will ascend at different rates. Each soul chooses its own path. The more devoted a person is to remembering and being guided by spirit, the more quickly the soul will ascend. These people are at the forefront of an important process of raising the energetic vibration of the whole planet. The earth, made of the same energy we are, is undergoing this shift along with us. This evolutionary process, while seemingly chaotic at times, is as natural as the process that unfolds a flower from a seed and we are all part of it.

It shouldn't be forgotten that the earth too is on her own ascension path as she is sentient. The best way to support this process in yourself and in the world is simply to relax and be open to its unfolding. Listen to your inner guidance, and let it guide you to the path that brings your heart the most joy.

Speedlinking 8/11/06

Happy Friday! At 3:51am, Tucson time, it is a balmy, sticky 80 degrees. Alas, we still have slightly more than two months of hellish heat to go before the temps cool down a bit.

Okay, enough with the whining.

~ A lesson in impermanence from Will of thinkBuddha -- I think I might have reacted less well than to get a pastry and coffee.

~ Cool pictures from Dave at Via Negativa of Micrathena gracilis, a rather freaky looking spider.

~ A very good post from Nagarjuna over at Naked Reflections. He advocates for universal healthcare, but he makes the argument personal -- and therefore more crucial to us all.

~ CJ Smith of Indistinctunion responds to a post by Matthew Dallman with a Spiral-based look at the "war on terror."

~ ebuddha of Integral Practice likes the way Washington Monthly looked at colleges for their ranking system. He suggests it may be apporaching an integral model.

~ Matthew Dallman writes on THE PROBLEMS WITH LIBERALISM, AND THE WORLD TODAY. He writes:
an enormous issue for Americans is this: to what extent should our humanitarian concerns be secondary to our national interests? This is a moral question; perhaps the preeminent geopolitical one of our time.
MD essentially points to the problems we face in generating first tier responses to second tier problems (see the Spiral Dynamics links on the sidebar for an explanation). The post-modern, relativistic "sensitive self" (liberalism) is incapable of dealing with egoic, authoritarian values systems (Islamofascists). On the other hand, our own version of authoritarian rationalism (conservatism) seldom rises above the level of bombing them into oblivion, a tactic that no longer works against a non-nation enemy (witness Viet Nam and now Iraq and Lebanon). We need new solutions to new problems, an exploration I started last night and will continue in the coming days and weeks.

~ My friend Alex at Zaadz posted a nice parable from Tolstoy -- check it out.

~ Jay (aka The Zero Boss) posted his Sugar Rush, which is worth mentioning for the nearly nekkid picture of Heidi Klum.

~ Colmar took issue with my comment that the liberal Dems voted against Lieberman less than they voted for Lamont. He paints Lamont as old money, even throwing out some red herring about his uncle or something. Lamont is the Steve Forbes of the Dems, and few conservatives were castigating Forbes for spending his own money. That said, I think the Democratic party is in its death throes. This race simply shows that it has a little nostalgic 1970s-era kick left in it before it dies.

~ Umguy at ideological putty responds to the book tag meme. Nice list.

And now for other stuff:

~ Bush wants to create retroactive protection for his administration from prosecution for war crimes. So why do you think they might need this protection if they haven't done anything wrong, as they claim?

~ Tim Grieve thinks the conservatives wasted no time in politicizing the terrorist plot. (Click through the ad.)

~ New Scientist Space has the top ten weirdest cosmology theories -- these are actually serious theories with important people behind them.

And the Picture of the Day comes from Shakespeare's Sister, via Dependable Renegade:

And that's a wrap.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Clare Graves and the Question Facing Us, Part I

Before we look at the question we must begin to ask and answer, here is a brief introduction to Gravesian theory from the man himself.
Human nature prepares for a momentous leap
By Dr. Clare Graves
~ from The Futurist, 1974, pp 72-87.

Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to hewer, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change. These systems alternate between focus upon the external world, and attempts to change it, and focus upon the inner world, and attempts to come to peace with it, with the means to each end changing in each alternatively prognostic system. Thus, man tends, normally, to change his psychology as the conditions of his existence change. Each successive state, or level of existence, is a state through which people pass on the way to other states of equilibrium. When a person is centralized in one state of existence, he has a total psychology which is particular to that state. His feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning systems, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, preferences for and conceptions of management, education, economic and political theory and practice, etc., are all appropriate to that state.

In some cases, a person may not be genetically or constitutionally equipped to change in the normal upward direction when the conditions of his existence change. Instead, he may stabilize and live out his life at any one or a combination of levels in the hierarchy. Again, he may show the behavior of a level in a predominantly positive or negative manner, or he may, under certain circumstances, regress to a behavior system lower in the hierarchy. Thus, and adult lives in a potentially open system of needs, values and aspirations, but he often settles into what appears to be a closed system.

Human existence can be likened to a symphony with six themes. In a symphony, the composer normally begins by stating his themes in the simplest possible manner. In human existence, our species begins by stating in the simplest way those themes which will preoccupy us through thousands of variations. At this point in history, the societal effective leading edge of man in the technologically advanced nations is currently finishing the initial statement of the sixth theme of existence and is beginning again with the first theme in an entirely new and more sophisticated variation. That is, man has reached the point of finishing the first and most primitive ladder of existence: the one concerned with the emergence of the individual of the species Homo sapiens and his subsistence on this planet. The first six levels of existence, A-N through F-S, have accordingly been called “Subsistence Levels.” (‘A’ stands for the neurological system in the brain upon which the psychological system is based; ‘N’ for the set of existential problems that the ‘A’ neurological system is able to cope with. Thus, in the ‘A-N’ state, one calls on the ‘A’ system to solve the ‘N’ problems of existence.) These six subsistence levels comprise the initial statement of man's themes in its very simplest form.

What seems to often get forgotten when discussing Gravesian theory or Spiral Dynamics -- its child -- is that each of the core developmental stages has an entering and an exiting stage, and that each stage is the result of ways in which the human organism solves the problems of its existing life conditions.

The A-N through F-S (the only two identified "second tier" are G-T and H-U) designations are important, but often left out. The first letter depends on the second letter for its existence.

Here is how Graves described, briefly, the first six levels (which most estimates suggest account for 98% or more of humans currently living).

Some Characteristics of Various Levels

Automatic Existence (First Subsistence Level)

Man at the first subsistence level (A-N), the automatic state of physiological existence, seeks only the immediate satisfaction of his basic physiological needs. He has only an imperative need-based concept of time and space and no concept of cause or effect. His awareness excludes self and is limited to the presence of physiologically determined tension when it is present, and the relief of such tension when it takes place. He lives a purely physiological existence. Man the species, or man the individual, does not have to rise above this level to continue the survival of the species. He can continue the survival of the species. He can continue the survival of the species through the purely physiological aspect of the process of procreation. He can live what is for him, at the A-N level, a productive lifetime, productive in the sense that his built-in response mechanisms are able to reduce the tensions of the imperative physiological needs and a reproductive lifetime. But this level of existence seldom is seen in the modern world except in pathological cases.

As soon as man, in his food-gathering wanderings, accrues a set of Pavlovian conditioned reflexes, which provide for the satisfaction of his imperative needs, and thus enters his 'Garden of Eden,' he slides almost imperceptibly out of this first stage into the second existential state, and established form of human existence, the tribalistic way of life.

Tribalistic Existence (Second Subsistence Level)

At the second subsistence level, the B-O autistic state of thinking, man's need is for stability. He seeks to continue a way of life that he does not understand but strongly defends. This level of man has just struggled forth from striving to exist and now has his first established way of life. This way of life is essentially without awareness, thought, or purpose, for it is based on Pavlovian classical conditioning principles. Therefore, B-O man beliefs his tribalistic way is inherent in the nature of things. As a result he holds tenaciously to it, and strives desperately to propitiate the world for its continuance.

At this level a seasonal, or naturally based concept of time prevails and space is perceived in an atomistic fashion. Causality is not yet perceived because man perceives that forces at work to be inherent. Here a form of existence based on myth and tradition arises, and being is a mystical phenomenon full of spirits, magic and superstition. Here the task of existence is simply to continue what it seems has enabled ‘my tribe to be.’

But here, more by chance than by design, some men achieve relative control of their spirit world through their non-explainable, elder-administered, tradition-based way of life a way of life which continues relatively unchanged until disturbed from within or without. When the established tribal way of life assures the continuance of the tribe with minimal energy expenditure by solving problems N by neurological means A, it creates the first of the general conditions necessary for movement to a new and different steady state of being. It produces excess energy in the system which puts the system in a state of readiness for change. But unless another factor, such as dissonance or challenge, comes into the field, the change does not move in the direction of some other state of being. Instead, it moves toward maximum entropy and its own demise, since it becomes overloaded with its accretion of more and more tradition, more and more ritual. If, however, when the state of readiness is achieved, dissonance enters, then this steady state of being is precipitated toward a different kind of change. This dissonance arises usually in youth, or in certain minds which are not troubled by memories of the past and are capable of newer and more lasting insights into the nature of man's being. Or it can come to the same capable minds when outsiders disturb the tribe's way of life.

When, at the B-O level, readiness for change occurs, it triggers man's insight into his existence as an individual being separate and distinct from other beings, and from his tribal compatriots as well. As he struggles, he perceives that others - other men, other animals, and even the spirits in his physical world - fight him back. So his need for survival comes to the fore.

With this change in consciousness, man becomes aware that he is aligned against predatory animals, a threatening physical universe, and other men who fight back for their established way of existence, or against him for the new way of existence he is striving to develop. Now he is not one-with-all, for he is alone in his struggle for his survival against the draconic forces of the universe. So he sets out in heroic fashion to build a way of being which will foster his individual survival.

Egocentric Existence (Third Subsistence Level)

At the egocentric level (C-P), raw, rugged, self-assertive individualism comes to the fore. This level might be termed 'Machiavellian,' for within it is all the author of The Prince considered the essence of being human. History suggests to us that the few who were able to gain their freedom from survival problems surged almost uncontrollably forward into a new way of being, and also dragged after them the tribal members unable to free themselves of the burden of stagnating tribalistic existence. History also suggests that the few became the authoritarians while the many became those who submitted. The many accepted the ‘might-is-right’ of the few because such acceptance assured their survival. This was son in the past and it is still so today.

This Promethean (C-P) point of view is based on the prerogatives of the ‘haves’ and the duties of the ‘have-nots.’ Ultimately, when this way of life, based historically on the agricultural revolution, is established, life is seen as a continuous process with survival dependent on a controlled relationship. Fealty and loyalty, service and noblesse oblige become cornerstones of this way of life. Assured of their survival, through fief and vassalage, the ‘haves’ base life of the ‘right’ way to behave as their might dictates. A system develops in which each individual acts out in detail, in the interest of hi sown survival, how life is to be lived, but online a small number ever achieve any modicum of power and the remainder are left to submit.

Both the authoritarian and the submissive develop standards which they feel will insure them against threat, but these are very raw standards. The submissive person chooses to get away with what he can within the life style which is possible for him. The authoritarian chooses to do as he pleases. He spawns, as his raison d'ĂȘtre, the rights of assertive individualism. These rights become, in time, the absolute rights of kings, the unassailable prerogatives of management, the inalienable rights of those who have achieved positions of power, and even the rights of the lowly hustler to all he can hustle. This is a world of the aggressive expression of man's lusts openly and unabashedly by the 'haves,' and more covertly and deviously by the 'have nots.'

Now man moves to the lasting security level of need and learns by avoidant learning. As he moves to the D-Q level he develops a way of life based on the conviction that there must be a reason for it all, a reason why the ‘have’ shall possess so much in life yet be faced with death, and a reason why the ‘have not’ is forced to endure a miserable existence. This search leads to the belief that the ‘have’ and ‘have not’ condition is a part of a directed design, a design of the forces guiding man and his destiny. Thus, the saintly way of life, based on one of the world's great religions or great philosophies, comes to be. Here man creates what he believes is a way for lasting peace in this life or everlasting life, a way which, it seems to him, will remove the pain of both the ‘have’ and the ‘have not.’ Here he seeks salvation.

Saintly Existence (Fourth Subsistence Level)

At the saintly level (D-Q), man develops a way of life based on 'Thou salt suffer the pangs of existence in this life to prove thyself worthy of later life.' This saintly form of existence comes from seeing that living in this world is not made for ultimate pleasure, a perception based on the previous endless struggle with unbridled lusts and a threatening universe. Here man perceives that certain rules are prescribed for each class of men and that these rules describe the proper way each class is to behave. The rules are the price man must pay for his more lasting life, for the peace which he seeks, the price of no ultimate pleasure while living. The measure of this worthiness is how much he has lived by the established rules. But, after security is achieved through the se absolutistic rules, the time comes when some men question the price. When this happens, the saintly way of life is doomed to decay, since some men are bound to ask why they cannot have some pleasure in this life. Man then struggles on through another period of transition to another level, now slipping, now falling in the quest for his goal. When man casts aside the inhuman aspect of his saintly existence, he is again charged with excess energy because his security problems are solved; but this very solution has created the problems ‘R,’ how to build a life that will offer pleasure here and now, which eventually he meets through the neurological means of system ‘E.’

Materialistic Existence (Fifth Subsistence Level)

At the materialistic level (E-R_, man strives to conquer the world by learning its secrets, rather than through raw, naked force as he did at the C-P level. He tarries long enough here to develop and utilize the objectivistic, positivistic, operationalistic, scientific method so as to provide the material ends for a satisfactory human existence in the here and now. But once assured of his own material satisfaction he finds he has created problems S, a new spiritual void in his being. He finds himself master of the objective physical world but a prime neophyte in the subjectivistic, humanistic world. He has achieved the satisfaction of a good life through his relative mastery of the physical universe, but it has been achieved at a price, the price of not being liked by other men for his callous use of knowledge for himself. He has become envied and even respected, but he is not liked. He has achieved his personal status and material existence at the expense of being rejected even by his use of neurological sub-system ‘F,’ and begins man's move to his sixth form of existence.

Personalistic Existenence (Sixth Subsistence Level)

At the personalistic level (F-S), man becomes centrally concerned with peace with his inner self and in the relation of his self to the inner self of others. He becomes concerned with belonging, with being accepted, with knowing the inner side of self and other selves so harmony can come to be, so people as individuals can be at peace with themselves and thus with the world. And when he achieves this, he finds he must become concerned with more than self or other selves, because while he was focusing on the inner self to the exclusion of the external world, his outer world has gone to pot. Son how he turns outward to life and to the whole, the total universe. As he does so he begins to see the problems of restoring the balance of life which has been torn asunder by his individualistically oriented, self-seeking climb up the first ladder of existence.

As man moves from the sixth or personalistic level, the level of being with self and other men, the seventh level, the cognitive level of existence, a chasm of unbelievable depth of meaning is crossed. The gap between the sixth level (the F-S level) and the seventh (the G-T level) is the gap between getting and giving, taking and contributing, destroying and constructing. It is the gap between deficiency or deficit motivation and growth or abundance motivation. It is the gap between similarity to animals and dissimilarity to animals, because only man is possessed of a future orientation.

Long after this article was published, Chris Cowan assigned each stage a color to make the stages easier to identify in slides. This became the basis for the Spiral Dynamics colors that both Cowan and Don Beck use, and that Ken Wilber has co-opted in his new Integral Spirituality.

The problem with the colors is that people leave out the transitional stages (entering and leaving) for each stage and lose sight of the impact that life conditions have on each stage.

In the Preface to The Never Ending Quest, Graves says,
I say . . . from the data of my studies, that one's conception of psychological maturity is a function of one's conditions for existence; and, I say that so long as humans continue to solve their problems of existence, they will create new problems forever and on, and thus proliferate into new and higher-order forms of psychological being. And, I say that what our definition of psychological maturity is will change with each and every newly emergent form of psychological existence.
We are now at one of those times in human history when the dominant systems (human behavior as a result of life conditions) are being stretched to the breaking point. The question facing us is this: will we activate emergent systems to deal with the new challenges, or will we regress to earlier stages in a fear response, trying approaches the worked in previous times but that are no longer appropriate to the current challenges?

How we answer this question will determine whether or not we can respond to asymetrical threats such as those posed by Al Qaeda of Hizbullah. The problem is that no one is asking this question.

We need to understand our adversary in terms of its biopsychosocial response to its current life conditions. Only then can we begin to formulate an approach to solve its problems in a way that does not involve blowing up airplanes, buses, or themselves in the middle of markets or coffee shops.

More on this to come.

The Brain Thinks . . .

Check out this site called Like Better.

You get to look at a series of photos, two at a time. Simply click the one that you "like better." After a few pairs, you can click the brain icon to get an analysis of your choices.

It thinks I am a morning person, which any of you who have read my 3:45 am posts will realize is true.

[Props to J-Walk Blog for the link.]

UK Panel Asks: Why Do They Hate Airplanes?

My buddy Colmar sent this to me. By the way, it's satire.

UK Panel Asks: Why Do They Hate Airplanes?

(2006-08-10) — The British Parliament, in a rapid response to a terror plot foiled by Scotland Yard yesterday, announced formation of a study panel today to determine why some Muslims hate airplanes.

Early reports indicate 21 men have been taken into custody in connection with a plan to take down an unknown number of U.S.-bound passenger jets originating in Great Britain.

The expert panel will examine various theories about why airplanes engender such hatred among devoted followers of a peaceful religion.

“Is it the horrendous noise? The speed? The condensation trails?” said one unnamed source close to the panel, listing some of the areas of inquiry the experts plan to pursue. “Because if it’s any of those things, we can get to work on engineering changes to make airplanes more tolerable to our Muslim brothers.”

I think it's the really freaking uncomfortable seats and the fact that the air smells like bodily emissions.

IOC and Microsoft Explorer Don't Like Each Other

If you can read this post, you don't use Explorer to browse the web. Anyone trying to open IOC in explorer will get a run-time error:
Runtime Error!

Program: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe

-pure virtual function call
If any of you smart folk out there know what that means, please drop me a note.

IOC works great in Firefox or Flock.

Video: Kona Coral Reef

The video is from a 1999 dive at the Kona Coral Reef in Hawaii. The music is Sting.

Speedlinking 8/10/06

The Sonoran Desert has been getting some more rain of late, well above the average. As great as that is, we have only moved from severe drought to moderate drought. Ah, yes, but the dragonflies are out!
Dragonfly on a rock -- absorbed in a daydream.
~ Santoka Taneda
With that, let's see what the blogosphere has to offer this morning.

~ Bill at Oaksong's Nemeton was another of the people I tagged with the book meme. It seems Bill interprets "one" to mean "all." How very Buddhist of him.

~ You have to read Chapter 5, "I'm Melting," over at The Zero Boss. Very well-written, funny, and insightful. Jay also has a little hernia -- ouch. And don't forget to enjoy the Sugar Rush.

~ Ed Berge over at Open Integral is exploring Postmodern/Postmetaphysical Spirituality. This is a splinter from a previous discussion.

~ CJ Smith at Indistinctunion takes a look at the Israeli-Arab war, but not in terms of who is right or wrong, but what lessons may grow out of this conflict. It felt like a good start -- but I'd like to see more.

One idea that he touches on but does not fully explore is the idea of Fourth Generation Warfare. This is a topic worth exploration as the US "war on terror" falls into this category, which is why it appears that there can never be an overt "win," at least not with the current approach taken by the US.

~ P2P Foundation has a nice post on Living Machines. One of the cool ideas is growing a house instead of building a house.

~ Kira (my partner) has sprouted a healthy boundaries pod over at Zaadz. If you belong to Zaadz, check it out. It you have boundaries issues in your own life, check it out. Most of us are messed up in this area in some way or another.

~ Goethea alerts us to a new paper on Jean Gebser over at the Jean Gebser Society's website.

~ Catallaxis has posted a very cool video parady by students at the Columbia Business School (CBS) on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke -- seems Glenn Hubbard, Dean of the Columbia Business School, is keeping an eye on every breathe Bernanke takes.

~ Steve Pavlina gave up TV for 30 days and liked it, so he's at 60 now -- here are 8 changes he has noticed since giving up the box.

~ MD at The Woodshed announces Polysemy digital -- download the first issue now for only $3.

~ Colmar thinks that Lieberman lost because people hate Bush, and because he aligned himself with Bush on several crucial issue (the war, illegal spying, social security, Samuel Alito), to which one can only say, "exactly." Bush has been a divider, not a uniter, and any Dem who aligns him or herself with the biggest Bush wedge issue (namely, that dumbass war) is going to lose this fall (except Hillary, she'll cruise).

~ How to Save the World reviews Endgame, by Derrick Jensen.
Endgame . . . is a raucous, polemical, rambling, articulate, angry, relentless, radical, poetic, fearless and brilliantly-argued tirade against civilization, its excesses and its unsustainability. The first volume reiterates arguments from Jensen's earlier work (notably A Language Older Than Words) why civilization cannot be reformed and must end, while the second volume presents a sort of blueprint for bringing it down.
~ Aaron at Anxious Living discusses an interview he listened to featuring Elizabeth Lesser (author of Broken Open, one of the books I mentioned in the book meme post). Aaron asks:
What are your thoughts on transparency? Do you think that social anxiety could be seen as a type of crisis? Could the feelings brought on by social anxiety be used to help trigger personal growth?
~ Picture of the day comes from the J-Walk Blog:

~ Drinking soda makes people fat. And in other news, the Earth is not flat.

~ Who should decide how and when terminally ill people die, them or the government? Sen. Brownback thinks it should be the government. Reason magazine looks at the issue.

~ The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

And that, my friends, is more than enough for one morning.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hope for a Positive Result in Iran?

A collection of fairly smart people with substantial foreign relations and national security experience recently gathered to discuss the Iran problem. Steve Clemons, whose article appeared in The Washington Note, helped organize the meeting. The session on Iran was jointly sponsored by the New America Foundation, Aspen Strategy Group, and Aspen Institute.

Here is a partial list of those who attended:
Harvard University's and former Clinton administration Pentagon official ASHTON CARTER, General WESLEY CLARK, CSIS Senior Vice President and Aspen Strategy Group Director KURT CAMPBELL, Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School Dean ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, Newsweek International editor FAREED ZAKARIA,

Booz Allen Executive and former Bush administration Pentagon official DOV ZAKHEIM, Open Society Institute founder GEORGE SOROS, former Harvard University Kennedy School Dean and former Clinton Administration Chairman of the National Intelligence Council JOSEPH NYE, New York Times White House correspondent DAVID SANGER, College of William & Mary Associate Provost and former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department MITCHELL REISS,

National Journal columnist BRUCE STOKES, Armitage International executive and former Bush administration State Department official RANDALL SCHRIVER, Scowcroft Group Principal and former Pentagon official ARNOLD KANTER, U.S. News & World Report proprietor and Boston Properties CEO MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, New America Foundation Senior Fellow Geopolitics of Energy Initiative Director and former Bush administration National Security Council official FLYNT LEVERETT, New York Times columnist NICHOLAS KRISTOF, Institute for Near East Policy director and former Presidential envoy on Middle East affairs DENNIS ROSS,

Barbour Griffiths & Rogers President and former Bush administration National Security Council official ROBERT BLACKWILL, Aspen Institute President WALTER ISAACSON, New America Foundation foreign policy programs Director and Senior Fellow STEVEN CLEMONS, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff Director ANTONY BLINKEN, former Clinton Administration State Department Spokesman JAMES RUBIN, and some others.

The most important point to emerge is that Bush will eventually be given a binary option: attack Iran's nuclear production capacity or let them develop a bomb. Those in attendence al;l agreed that neither of those options is desirable. They agree that other options must be explored and presented to the president.

Either/Or thinking in the Middle East has gotten us to this point -- there needs to be better ways to approach these issues. Hopefully, when this group releases its formal paper, it will be taken seriously by those in power.

Poem: Naomi Shihab Nye

[image source]


You can't be, says a Palestinian Christian
on the first feast day after Ramadan.
So, half-and-half and half-and-half.
He sells glass. He knows about broken bits,
chips. If you love Jesus you can't love
anyone else. Says he.

At his stall of blue pitchers on the Via Dolorosa,
he's sweeping. The rubbed stones
feel holy. Dusting of powdered sugar
across faces of date-stuffed mamool.

This morning we lit the slim white candles
which bend over at the waist by noon.
For once the priests weren't fighting
in the church for the best spots to stand.
As a boy, my father listened to them fight.
This is partly why he prays in no language
but his own. Why I press my lips
to every exception.

A woman opens a window—here and here and here—
placing a vase of blue flowers
on an orange cloth. I follow her.
She is making a soup from what she had left
in the bowl, the shriveled garlic and bent bean.
She is leaving nothing out.

Satire: Athlete Tests Negative For Steroids

This is from the Borowitz Report:

Athlete Tests Negative For Steroids

Congress Demands Full Investigation

The world of sports was rocked today by the news that a professional athlete had tested negative for steroids in a random drug test administered by his team.

Brant Clarkdale, a utility infielder for the Kansas City Royals who has never hit a home run at the major league level, set off a firestorm of controversy with his negative test results.

"Frankly, I have never heard of such a thing," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del). "We need to have a full investigation to determine if this is an isolated incident, or whether steroid non-usage is rampant in Major League Baseball."

At a hastily called press conference in Kansas City, Mr. Clarkdale attempted to explain how it came to pass that he had not taken steroids as part of his training regimen.

"I was working with a personal trainer who was using two different creams, one clear and one white, which I thought were steroids," Mr. Clarkdale said. "I was wrong -- they were just creams."

"I'm so ashamed," he said.

At Kaufman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals, fans registered emotions ranging from shock to disbelief at the news that one of their team's players had failed to take steroids.

"At these ticket prices, you bet your ass I expect the players to come to the ballpark juiced," said Randy Simmis, 34. "Doesn't he know we're in last place?"

Elsewhere, a study shows that teenagers who listen to music with raunchy, sexual lyrics are more likely to have sex than those who do not, while teenagers who watch "CSI" are more likely to solve crimes.

Speedlinking 8/9/06

Say it ain't so, Joe! Lieberman has found out the hard way that the liberal base of the Democratic party is back in a big way. When and Daily Kos started talking about getting rid of Lieberman in the early part of the year, not too many people thought it would really happen. But it did, and it was all about grassroots and netroots. Seems that Joe will run as an independent.

Meanwhile, back in the real world . . .

~ Tuff Ghost showed up briefly to announce he will be back to blogging soon. His voice has been missed.

~ Dave at Via Negativa has updated the Festival of the Trees site.

~ Tiel Aisha Ansari of Knocking from Inside has a post on current happenings in the online poetry world, including a link to my call for submissions.

There's a bit of a book theme in the next few, so hang in there.

~ The Zero Boss was tagged (by me) with the book meme, and he has posted his responses. Jay also has an interesting discussion about who is to blame for rape -- women who dress suggestively or men who don't understand what NO means. It's not a discussion really -- Jay takes a strong stand. And don't miss Jay's Sugar Rush.

~ I also tagged Mike at Unknowing Mind with the book meme, and he stepped up last night with his response. Bonus points are awarded for the cool picture.

~ Brad at Hardcore Zen has given in and provided a list of books that he has read, but he reminds readers -- again -- that you can't learn Zen from a book.

~ Tusar N Mohapatra at SELF Forum has provided an extensive list of Aurobindo books with Amazon links.

Whew -- survived the book rush. Now back to your regularly scheduled speedlinks.

~ Colmar posts another article from Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson concludes his argument with a demonstration of his keen grasp of the obvious:
Instead, there will be no peace in the general Middle East until Iranians and Arabs have true constitutional government, free institutions, open markets and the rule of law. Without these reforms, they will continue to fail, seeking easy refuge in the shreds of mythical ancestral honor — and this pathetic neurosis of blaming nearby Israel for the loss of it.
Yep. The real question that will haunt the West for decades to come is how to create the life conditions for this to happen. The neocons seems to favor military intervention, as if we can change their interiors with external force. The liberals seem to favor the carrot and stick approach. Both offer partial truths -- we need to set boundaries, but we also need to find ways to create an opportunity for these cultures to grow up. How do we do that is the question.

~ Will at thinkBuddha responds to Gareth's recent post at Green Clouds. The topic is ethics in relation to the two ideas of similarity and difference. Take a look.

~ Pandas, pandas everywhere. New panda cubs in China are the talk of the web.

~ James S. Robbins of The National Review thinks global warming is a good thing. Not quite sure whether this is satire or real. You tell me . . . please.

~ Elephants demonstrate a capacity for compassion. Damn, it sure takes scientists a long time to figure out the obvious.

~ Steven Goodman, a professor of Asian studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, is interviewed at Inquiring Mind on the topic of "crazy wisdom." It's from the spring of 2005, but it's new to me. Thanks to Clarity for the link.

And that's all I have for this morning. Have a happy Wednesday -- and remember at least once today to be grateful for all that you have.