New Feature Podcast Series Compassion

This year I aim to release a podcast every month on the series of compassion. The project is close to my heart as a therapist. I see it as a quality many need for themselves and to help others. The series will be informative and with helpful tools to cultivate this lovely quality in life.

Episode 1 explores the etymology of compassion and how it is different from sympathy. Deepen your own perspective of this concept that will enrich your life and others. Endeavour to keep it simple and practical to enhance your life because we are always with ourself come what may.

Enjoy the episodes and I welcome any feedback and as always pass on any useful info to someone who needs it. The podcast will be on home page under Podcast tab.

Consciousness

What is Consciousness

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” 

Lao Tzu

“Ego is the immediate dictate of human consciousness.”

 Max Planck

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.“

Albert Einstein

“Consciousness is the observation of energy in all living things” Steve Hyne

The question of our existence has been the role of religions ideology through the ages. The spiritualty of humans is centred around the idea of life coming from somewhere then going somewhere in many wonderful descriptions. This article is not to convince or disprove a person own personal belief but to explore the concept of what  Consciousness is.

Coming from a very religious family the idea of Consciousness was never questioned. You had to accept the sacred text from the religious doctrine and that was that. In the Christian teachings there are thousands of different sects that teach various formats of how life was introduced and how life is different when you die. The catholic church was a major influence in Europe with the core model of beliefs. The doctrine of  sin and redemption in the Genesis account of mankind fall was formulated by St. Augustine’s Idea of Original Sin. He lived from 13 November 354 A.D – 28 August 430 A.D with a very colourful history. Examining his life  helps me appreciate that his early heritage and experiences in his life to formulate his concept of original sin. He had inner and outer conflicts with the popular philosophy and church dogma that gave him a quest to resolve existence or consciousness.  

In eastern culture the fabric of spirituality is woven into the concept of consciousness is a very different story from western civilisation. Western societies concepts on consciousness so different because of the underpinnings of Christianity and evolution. The concept of consciousness in Hinduism is complicated. I will admit my knowledge is limited to explain clearly and define their beliefs and perception on a far deeper level of a spiritual perception I can facilitate  at this moment in time. A quote from interesting reference says” When practicing the eightfold path described in the Yoga sutras, one may acquire extraordinary forms of cognition, such as knowledge of the past and future, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychokinesis, and telepathy (among others). According to the Yoga sutras (verse 1 of book 4), such powers can be acquired by birth (as the result of accumulated karma), or from herbs, but they also come in a systematic way from yoga practice. To the best of our knowledge, the scriptures do not differentiate between the effects of specific items of the eight-fold path, but one might argue, consistently with Buddhist assumptions, where one mainly expects the effects of extraordinary cognition to arise with concentrative techniques (Shamata meditation—see Buddhas, 2010) that the concentrative parts of yoga are especially suited to produce such extraordinary abilities (siddhis).” Another resource put consciousness more simply” Human consciousness is amorphous, indefinable, changeable, intangible, and subject to state. According to the Upanishads, the four main states of human consciousness are the wakeful state, the dream state, the deep sleep state and the transcendental state. There can be further states within each of them.”

Buddhist concept of consciousness is called Alaya-vijnana “storehouse consciousness”. I found it hard to conceptualise the Buddhist idea of consciousness but found this easy to grasp interpretation . The ref says” the alaya-vijnana is the foundation or basis of all consciousness, and it contains impressions of all of our past actions. These impressions, sankhara, form bija, or “seeds,” and from these seeds, our thoughts, opinions, desires, and attachments grow. The alaya-vijnana forms the basis of our personalities.” The tradition explores the 8 Consciousnesses which include 5 senses. Have an overview of Buddhist beliefs the 3 noble truths are 1. Nothing is lost in the universe 2. Everything Changes 3. The Law of Cause and Effect. In my perspective the idea of consciousness from my information is that everything is an illusion from a person mind and that is consciousness. 

All major religions  are different paths within each domain and a person’s personal beliefs of what they feel is it true for them. In summary with a very brief overview of the emergence consciousness has its roots in spiritual and religious culture worldwide. 

The concept of consciousness is abundant in every sacred text that implies it is at the heart of humanity core. Regardless of what a human believes is true , the essence of being alive every moment is often forgotten until that consciousness is interrupted in our existence. Every morning when I wake up I am so grateful for my own awareness of consciousness as a human being.

The next article I will explore the modern concepts and the scientific viewpoint of consciousness.

References:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/harvard-theological-review/article/abs/genesis-of-st-augustines-idea-of-original-sin/DBB01CD5A888F4A8ECEBB05E000C435D

https://www.biographyonline.net/st-augustine-hippo-biography.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/originalsin_1.shtml

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Augustine/Life-retold

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791389/

https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/essays/nature-of-consciousness.asp

https://www.britannica.com/topic/alaya-vijnana

https://www.learnreligions.com/alaya-vijnana-the-storehouse-consciousness-449659

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/5/2/422/htm

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Diversity

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.” Salvador Dali

“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.” Desmond Tutu

“We are all different, but we all one with the breath of life. Steve Hyne 

The beauty of life in the natural world is the magnitude of diversity within a group. In a species the potential of variations is amazing from the size, colour ,behaviour and smell becomes part of a tapestry of life. One example of diversity is the garden lawn or the green grass , what I call earths natural carpet. It is a common sight for most people who live in the U.K. to see this super multipurpose commodity. Each blade of grass is part of the grass plant and may have multiple blades. There are 100 different species in the UK but even more diversity  worldwide because there 11,400 different known grasses.(Lawn UK com) This simple snapshot displays a natural wonder of diversity around all of us.

The diversity in humans is even more superfluous from wide array of external characteristics. Within a race there is more diversity of internal beliefs and concepts peculiar to each individual.  Even in my own family, my four children are very different in personality , temperament and choices. I am grateful for this diversity as it enriches my life as a father, I can imagine how weird it would be with clones in appearance and behaviours.

Definition of Empathy : The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of vicarious : Experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of diversity  : The condition of having or being composed of differing elements : Variety : Especially the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or  organization. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of cognitive : Relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering) : based on or capable of being reduced to empirical factual knowledge. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of robot : A person who resembles a machine in seeming to function automatically or in lacking normal feelings or emotions. (Merriam-webster com)

Emphatic understanding is important to make a connection with the other person. The problem with a lack of vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another would be mechanical like an automated robot. To be present with another person to allow an emotional connection is to be aware of their own visceral and bodily sensations first. For example, ignoring bodily cues shows an imbalance to what’s happening internally to a person ability to navigate their feelings.  Experiencing your own emotional sensations is the first step towards cognitive empathy as reference for the brain recall stimuli for future events. Cognitive empathy is sometimes called perspective taking or commonly phrased  putting yourselves in someone else’s shoes. This will call up the memory of your personal experience of emotional library so to put meaning to it. It is never the same as another person experience because we all think and feel differently. From my perspective cognitive empathy has its limitations of a connection that could go deeper. Our experience from personal bias and our emotional reality with different responses will always have gap especially if the person is not self-aware.

I know from personal experience of others cognitive empathy when my wife died of cancer and I was left to raise four children. I have not met another man personally who has had four children to raise and who had a wife that died at a young age locally. I have a friend whose wife died and was also young with just two children. It was a similar experience but not the same. Firstly, his feelings and his children feelings are similar reactions but exactly not the same. At this juncture I will say, I did appreciate all the cognitive empathy and the help during my wife illness and subsequent death. 

Difference and diversity from personal experiences has been a truly meaningful blessing in my life. I have travelled extensively and love culture and people especially those individuals that are different who give colour , insight, vibrancy and new experiences to social engagements. 

Definition of prejudice : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights. Preconceived judgment or opinion ,an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge. An irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of fear : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. To be afraid of expect with alarm. (Merriam-webster com)

The Prejudices are learned behaviours often from childhood sources that are imprinted on to the child brain. Fears are associated memories either real or imagined stored in the brain for a survival mechanism. An example my children are afraid of spiders and bees because of seeing their mother being frantic when she came in contact with them. The social brain wants to fit in with the tribe, so it becomes aligned with different groups to fit in. This is often compounded when a child grows up in an environment where the parents are racist , at school their friends could be racist. Finally to seal the concept a bad experience impeached the individual as imprint on brain that such a group is dangerous.

Definition of culture : The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group : The characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time : The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviours that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. (Merriam-webster com)

Definition of access : Permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or to approach or communicate with a person or thing : Freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something : a way or means of entering or approaching : To be able to use, enter, or get near (something). (Merriam-webster com)

“There are some 4,300 religions of the world. This is according to Adherents, an independent, non-religiously affiliated organisation that monitors the number and size of the world’s religions.” (The register com) Within these religious groups are individuals that have their own concepts inline with what they perceive. The faith and culture can be the core identity of a person. 

The person belief’s or perception could a personal healing. I have heard on several occasions “I don’t want to unlock all my demons; I would rather keep them locked up till I die” I agree that is one way of dealing with challenges, but a person perception stops them from even investigating possibilities because of fear or shame.

The BCAP had interesting article on How culture impacts on empathy. It mentions “Sikhs, like many other South Asian cultures, do not normally see talking therapies as a way of resolving issues and problems in their lives. There is still some stigma attached to mental illness, and counselling would be seen as a last resort, when all else fails.”(BCAP)

Further exploration of Sikhs beliefs helped me understand some of the issues that could impact integration in some cultures from a religious perspective. The 5 vices teachings within the body are very different from many western civilisation’s concepts of morality and relationships.(sikhnet) One central belief is “Previous and current bad deeds (karma or kirat) as well as desire and attachment cause suffering”. (Wahegurunet) Understanding how life is for them as an individual from their perspective help society relate to them. The intrinsic beliefs and cultural diversity are a rich subject for anyone to explore especially for individuals explore their own concepts.

The difficulty of access to be accepted is what a person has heard , experienced and believe that could prevent them to facilitate an integration process in the community. The many barriers could be genuine misunderstandings or a personal block internally. For them to start the process may be very difficult from external prejudices of family and culture influencing them about local society. Having emphatic understanding of a person resistance will bridge the gap between the two individuals . Ultimately in a professional and humane dealing with culture and diversity blocks rest on the person autonomy. 

“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men (human)” Confucius

Having these qualities will help humanity embrace integration with emphatic understanding. Diversity and difference permeate through the universe as beautiful mosaic of life.  We are all different, but we all one with the breath of life.

New Feature Books You must Own and Review

I read extensively for many reasons , I enjoy reading because its great company and stimulates my hungry brain. The other main reason, I have a insatiable appetite for improving my life and humanity. I believe every student of life must read “Think and Grow rich by Napoleon Hill” for many good reasons. The book has many excellent chapters about how to improve working life and philosophical notions. There is very interesting chapter on sex and love for all those in relationships. The book was written in 1937 just after the great depression and I feel it is very timely for the world facing similar challenges now economically. In essence its is a book for every Law and Attraction fan. I read the book about couple of years ago before I investigated Law and Attraction Theory . If you are into that subject another great book similar to the concept of Law and attraction is called “The science of getting Rich by Wallace Wattles” this book was published in 1910.

I have just listened to the book “Think and Grow rich” on audible again and the insights are very motivating for the entrepreneurs , business owners , secular employee and any one who wants change their career. I decided to read or listen to it every January because it will remind me of the miracles in life that happen by applying the principles contained in the book. I would say it is the bible for every person who wants to be successful in a economic perspective. Buying the book will save you investing in a life coach and its good reference if you become stuck in your work life.

We all need money to enjoy life