The Empathic Civilization

I started writing this Empathic Civilization Blog entry several years ago and for some reason did not complete it.  When it began, we were watching politicians, reporters, and experts talking about the shooting of Republican congressmen while practicing baseball and no one is addressing what someone mentions in passing as the systemic cause of American violence. “Systemic refers to something that is spread throughout, system-wide, affecting a group or system, such as a body, economy, market or society as a whole.” Wikipedia further defines systemic into three areas, medicine, biology, and other, which we will label as psychological. A psychological definition will help us construct a research framework to study American culture’s systemic risks. These eight definitions are inter-related and should be helpful in understanding not only the culture of violence but violence itself and needs to be processed into a research project framework. Some work lies ahead to implement this Systemic research strategy:

• Systemic (amateur extrasolar planet search project), a research project to locate extrasolar planets using distributed computing
• Systemic bias, the inherent tendency of a process to favor particular outcomes
• Systemic functional grammar, a model of grammar that considers language as a system
• Systemic functional linguistics, an approach to linguistics that considers language as a system
• Systemic psychology or systems psychology, a branch of applied psychology based on systems theory and thinking
• Systemic risk, the risk of collapse of an entire financial system or market, as opposed to risk associated with any one entity
• Systemic shock, a shock to any system strong enough to drive it out of equilibrium, can refer to a change in many fields
• Systemic therapy, a school of psychology dealing with the interactions of groups and their interactional patterns and dynamics

As we study these elements, look carefully for interrelationships keeping this definition of Complex Theory in mind:

Complexity theory is an interdisciplinary theory that grew out of systems theory in the 1960s.[1]:350 It draws from research in the natural sciences that examines uncertainty and non-linearity.[1] Complexity theory emphasizes interactions and the accompanying feedback loops that constantly change systems. While it proposes that systems are unpredictable, they are also constrained by order-generating rules.[2]:74
Complexity theory has been used in the fields of strategic management and organizational studies. Application areas include understanding how organizations or firms adapt to their environments and how they cope with conditions of uncertainty. The theory treats organizations and firms as collections of strategies and structures. The structure is complex; in that they are dynamic networks of interactions, and their relationships are not aggregations of the individual static entities. They are adaptive; in that the individual and collective behavior mutate and self-organize corresponding to a change-initiating micro-event or collection of events.[3][4]

After composing the above ideas in this essay, I took a break and watched the Morning Joe Show, where co-author Chris Fussell and foreword writer General Stan McChrystal were discussing how their new book tackles how to build a ‘Team of Teams. The  MJS staff wrote an excerpt from ‘One Mission’  stating this as the book’s mission:

“In 2014 I was invited to join my former commanding officer, Stan McChrystal, as a co-author in writing Team of Teams. Our goal in writing it was to offer our view on why the military models of the twentieth century were fundamentally misaligned with the realities of an information- age battlefield. The speed and interconnectivity of this new type of conflict forced the senior leadership within our branch of the special operations community to make a choice: lead us through a culture change or potentially lose the fight against Al Qaeda. They chose the former. Team of Teams explored a simple idea that sat at the epicenter of the challenge in making this culture change: How can large organizations move with the speed and agility of a small team? In that vein, our writing team laid out the reactive small-team dynamics that are so powerfully highlighted within special operations units, as well as in any number of other high-performing teams. We explained that a small team’s ability to quickly adapt comes from the combination of four key drivers.”

Gen. McChrystal and Navy SEAL Chris Fussell on leadership on CBS.

Joe in true fashion asked if this system could be applied to any organization and of course, the answer is yes. However, as smooth as this book might be, I have not read it yet, it does not seem to address the “systemic risk” of the U.S culture! As such, a smooth technique cannot fix a flawed system!

I am reminded of David Harvey’s work and this clip outlines the Crises of Capitalism. Here we see Queen Elizabeth’s reaction when she is told by her economists that the 2008 world economic crisis was due to the “systemic risk” inherent in capitalism. “What, systemic risk?”

What we saw the Republican shooter protesting was the sign he was holding, “Tax the wealthy as we used to do” – this is the big issue – the systemic risk in our economic, cultural system. It is the American capitalistic culture that is making us sick! So, how to go deep into fixing it is our challenge! I have not yet seen this being discussed in the news. Of course not, we were told to be aware of the “military-industrial-media complex”, and no way is Morning Joe going to shoot himself in the foot – committing class-treason is difficult.

Trump’s move away from globalization, toward nationalism, is absolutely wrong and dangerous!  Jeremy Rifkin’s work on “The Empathic Civilisation” is the framework moving to civilized globalization, we now wait to see if President-Elect Bidden will be able to lead this necessary change.

Finally, we have Ed Raymond’s HPR essay on Aggressive rats and monkeys, which is a look at what we are becoming. Ed writes this in his column on June 14th, 2017, which is an issue NIMH might re-visiting anew today January 14th, 2021. Covid19 should be reducing our “hyper-aggressive and violent behavior toward one another” thus moving us toward a more empathic civilization?

Over 50 years ago the National Institute of Mental Health used rats and mice to dramatically demonstrate how crowding affects behavior. Animals crammed into a small place with nowhere to go become hyper-aggressive and violent toward one another. As a farm boy I experienced horses, pigs, cows, and geese often fighting for a place at the feed trough.
The research proved that the greater the density the more deviant the behavior. If there is a common experience associated with large crowds, such as a popular rock band playing favorites before 50,000 waving and clapping hands, we love being in that atmosphere. But when you have 200 passengers boarding an aircraft, perhaps with a 100 different reasons for flying, the only common experience they have is the confines of the aircraft. (HPR).





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The Spirit of Grandiosity and The Dynamics of Evil

We watched the attack on the White House, then live US House and Senate sessions on the ‘Trump Tragedy’, then watched Nancy Pelosi’s news briefing, where we witnessed someone fearing the remaining days of Trump’s presidency. My bookcase reached out to me with Robert Moore’s book ‘Facing The Dragon’ saying re-read me. I am now re-reading this book, where Robert Moore explores the spirit of grandiosity. Psychoanalyst Moore explores the spirit of grandiosity—the feeling you possess some tremendous hidden power—and its corrupted forms if it is not acknowledged and brought into its proper place in our lives, whether tamed or untamed. This is in part an analytical description of Trump’s mental state but Moore’s list of assumptions on the nature and dynamics of evil frighteningly describes Trump as evil! This ends with Robert Bly’s lecture on the ‘gift of grandiosity’, which I suspect is understood by President Biden. sas

The Nature and Dynamics of Evil:

  1. Evil is a reality with an agency of its own.
  2. The presence of evil can be felt in the enchanting power of denial on the individual, familial, cultural levels, the seductive power of what the philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich called “dreaming innocence.”
  3. The chief tactic of evil is to present the human individual and community with a false, deceptive reorientation of reality. In short, it lies.
  4. Evil, therefore, has the capacity to clothe and disguise itself in forms that seem innocent, good, or at least justified, and have a seductive attractiveness.
  5. Being near this evil enchantment causes you to lose your powers of discernment and vigilance, and your spiritual and moral light grows dim. Its influence is contagious. Tribal peoples around the world recognized this danger and built an elaborate system of taboo and ritual “insulation” against it.
  6. An evil presence can get inside your community, family, home, and body, and even into your psyche before you realize the danger exists. It is already “in the house” by the time you realize you have a problem.
  7. Once inside, evil begins to erode the foundations of personal and social life by presenting itself as the true center of life. It functions as a “black hole,” a power vortex that, in effect, attacks Being itself. This is the human reality behind the biblical injunction against idolatry, “You shall have no other gods before me.” We can read it this way, “You shall not create bogus or pseudo centers for your life and society.”
  8. Evil multiplies itself on your energy, your lifeblood, your creativity. It co-opts your good and often magnificent energies and potentials, and makes them serve hatred, sadism, oppression, and the destruction of health and life. It recruits and diverts the energies of life and creativity into the service of death.
  9. Evil denies the reality of death and all human limitations. It makes an insatiable, limitless quest the substitute for legitimate expansion of the individual self. It puts polymorphous desires and pleasure in place of a social concern for the community and the consequences of one’s actions. It infects us with what Kierkegaard called “the sickness of infinitude.”
  10. The presence of evil can be seen in its effects on the persons and community around it. It is not simply an idea or an absence of some positive quality. It is an active, aggressive, antilife force that attacks the health and vitality of everyone around it. “You shall know them by their fruits.” (5-6)

Robert Bly Lecture on The Gift of Grandiosity

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Herbert Marcuse Matinee – January 6, 2021

I published these clips before and feel on this day January 6, 2021, when the Electoral College of the US formally confirms President-elect Biden’s win, a time to reconsider what Herbert Marcuse thinks.

Herbert Marcuse Interview about One Dimensional Man (1964)


Herbert Marcuse – Technology of Liberation (1967)

Herbert Marcuse – The Radical Movement: A Marxist Analysis (1971)

Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School (1977)

Herbert Marcuse interviewed by Helen Hawkins (1979)

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Health and Self-Actualization 1

On 7/27/2017 5:40 AM I began drafting this Blog entry to my physician Stephen C MD: Good afternoon Stephen, I enjoy visiting with you and always bring a book to read before you arrive for our appointment and as always we briefly discuss what the book is about. I had Ivan Illich’s book Toward a History of Needs, with me the other day, it has been in my library for decades and I began several times to read it but I guess we were not ready for its message. I am finally getting serious about gathering together my mother’s Silver Dollar AA Newsletter columns for a book and the first column I read, she mentions Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualization Need, which is central in my essay.

Now, what is this? It is Illich’s book, watching me from my bookcase suggesting it has something to contribute!” After reading a few pages, I realize this work is deep, complex, and very relevant to the need issues we need to address – in particular the need for health – the health care debate now raging, July 4, 2017, when this blog entry began and even more so now, January 1, 2021, as Covid-19 kills 1000 Americans a day. One issue before for us, “Is health care a right or a privilege?” Without ‘health’ there is no ‘self-actualization’ – there is no humanity, there is no civilization!

I cannot fully address the issues now, only suggest, that if we have a Constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it has to be a healthy life, health holds the ‘center’ point in Maslow’s theory – unless we are healthy, all of the higher-level needs, love, esteem, and self-actualization, which make up liberty and happiness are inaccessible! We have to be healthy in order to self-actualize – creating liberty and happiness.

So, the issue before us is to examine the processes involved in self-actualization. If the medical profession is not addressing this human need with every patient, it is failing us! Stephen, can you say you are filling this requirement with every patient? Yes, we explore this dimension of life during our meetings, however, this is at my initiative and I suspect you and your colleagues do not go into this with any of your patients! Am I correct? Illich, however, addresses this issue for us and offers a protocol to apply this medical procedure.

As I mentioned, Illich addresses all ‘professions’ but in particular the ‘medical profession’ as the source of our current dysfunctional healthcare culture. Stephen, I listened carefully to your description of the conflict you experienced in working overtime to cover patients and the push-back you received from hospital administrators concerned about the cost of having to staff those additional hours. As you put it, “hospital administers are money motivated, the profit motive controls the health care industry”. Later in the day, after our meeting, I re-opened Illich’s book on a history of needs and re-read the last paragraph I had read, it was in my mind when you were describing your experience, and now as I re-read it I realized it was what you were describing. Illich writes:

“Only during the last 25 years has medicine turned from a liberal into a dominant profession by obtaining the power to indicate what constitutes a healthy need for some people in general. Health specialists as a corporation have acquired the authority to determine what Health Care must be provided to society at large. It is no longer the individual professional who imputes a “need” to the individual client, but a corporate agency that imputes they need two entire classes of people and then claims the mandate to test the complete population in order to identify all who belong to the group of potential patients. And what happens in health care is fairly consistent with what goes on in other domains. New pundits constantly jump on the bandwagon of the therapeutic – care provider: educators, social workers, the military, com planners, judges, policemen, and their ilk have obviously made it. They enjoy wide autonomy in creating the diagnostic tools by which they then catch their clients for treatment. Dozens of other need – creators try: International Bankers “diagnose” the ills of an African country and then induce it to swallow the prescribed treatment, even though the “patient” might die; security specialist evaluate the loyalty risks of a citizen and then extinguished their private sphere; dog catchers sell themselves to the public has pest controllers and claim a monopoly over the lives of stray dogs. The only way to prevent the escalation of needs is a fundamental, political exposure of those illusions that legitimate dominating professions” (Toward a history of needs, p.29).

Ivan Illich gives this lecture on 09.12.1974 to mark the launch of his book Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health in which he continues his critique of the medical profession and the ‘delusions’ of importance that exist in Western culture regarding the medical profession. Illich contrasts personal responsibility with individual impotence and questions the corporate indoctrination that reorganizes society within such excesses of professionalization. Here is Ivan Illich on the Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health.

Life is a Test: Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis and the ‘Age of the Show’ is presented by Babette Babich Fordham University. It is a detailed presentation which was published on Nov 22, 2016 at the International Philosophy of Nursing Society; Keynote address 20th Annual Meeting in Quebec City, Quebec. This is Chapter 1, the remaining chapters can be seen following this one.

Stephen, I am not yet at the deepest understanding of “systems” producing the illness of which we suffer, however, it is obvious we suffer more each day. Thank you for watching my health! I expect soon to read your “Prescription for a healthy mind, body, spirit, and civilization”. Sounds like a title? What else you got to do on the lake? sas

Supporting Posts:

An Answer Lies In Crisis – What Covid-19 Pandemic Is Telling Us

The re-valuing of everything

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The I Ching on the 2020 Presidential Election – Part 2 Hexagram 56

The I Ching’s response to the question “What of the US Presidential Election?” was Hexagram 13 and its changing lines give us Hexagram 56. T’ung Jen / Fellowship with Men. Changing lines are not part of the reading of Hexagram 56 so, the main entry is only to be read. However, I always read the changing line entries looking for more wisdom on Hexagram 13 and how its issue is moving into the future. We see here the mention of “penalties, lawsuits, and prisons” which is now being discussed surrounding persons involved in this Presidential Election.

56. T’ung Jen / Fellowship with Men

above LI           The Clinging, Fire

below Ken       Keeping Still, Mountain


The mountain, Ken, stands still; above it fire, Li, flames up and does not tarry. Therefore the two trigrams do not stay together. Strange lands and separation are the wander’s lot.

The WANDERER. Success through smallness.
Perseverance brings good fortune
To the wanderer.

When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances; therefore, he should not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins success.
A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore, he must take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his way unmolested.

Fire on the Mountain:
The image of THE WANDERER
Thus the superior man
Is clear-minded and cautious
In imposing penalties,
And protracts no lawsuits.

When grass on a mountain takes fire, there is bright light. However, the fire does not linger in one place, but travels on to new fuel. It is a phenomenon of short duration. This is what penalties and lawsuits should be like. They should be a quickly passing matter, and must not be dragged out indefinitely. Prisons ought to be places where people are lodged only temporarily, as guests are. They must not become dwelling places.

Six at the beginning means:
If the wanderer busies himself with trivial things,
He draws down misfortune upon himself.

A wanderer should not demean himself or busy himself with inferior things he meets with along the way. The humbler and more defenseless his outward position, the more should he preserve his inner dignity. For a stranger is mistaken if he hopes to find a friendly reception through lending himself to jokes and buffoonery. The result will be only contempt and insulting treatment.

Six in the second place means:
The wanderer comes to an inn.
He has his property with him.
He wins the steadfastness of a young servant.

The wanderer here described is modest and reserved. He does not lose touch with his inner being, hence he finds a resting place. In the outside world he does not lose the liking of other people, hence all persons further him, so that he can acquire property. Moreover, he wins the allegiance of a faithful and trustworthy servant – a thing of inestimable value to a wonder.

Nine in the third place means:
The wanderer’s inn burns down.
He loses the steadfastness of his young servant.

A truculent stranger does not know how to behave properly. He meddles in affairs and controversies that do not concern him; thus he loses his resting place. He treats his servant with aloofness and arrogance; this he loses the man’s loyalty. When a stranger in a strange land has no one left on whom he can relay, the situation becomes very dangerous.

Nine in the fourth place means:
The wanderer’s rests in a shelter.
He obtains his property and an ax.
My heart is not glad.

This describes a wanderer who knows how to limit his desires outwardly, though he is inwardly strong and aspiring. Therefore he finds at least a place of shelter in which he can stay. He also succeeds in acquiring property, but even with this, he is not secure. He must be always on guard, ready to defend himself with arms. Hence his is not at ease. He is persistently conscious of being a stranger in a strange land.

Six in the fifth place means:
He shoots a pheasant.
It drops with the first arrow.
In the end, this brings both praise and office.

Traveling statesmen were in the habit of introducing themselves to local princes with the gift of a pheasant. Here the wanderer wants to enter the service of a prince. To this end he shoots a pheasant, killing it at the first shot. Thus he finds friends who praise and recommend him, and in the end, the prince accepts him and confers an office upon him.
Circumstances often cause a man to seek a home in foreign parts. If he knows how to meet the situation and how to introduce himself in the right way, he may find a circle of friends and a sphere of activity even in a strange country.

Nine at the top means:
The bird’s nest burns up.
The wanderer laughs at first,
Then must needs lament and weep.
Through carelessness he loses his cow.

The picture of a bird whose nest burns up indicates loss of one’s resting place. This misfortune may overtake the bird if it is heedless and imprudent when building its nest. It is the same with a wanderer. If he lets himself go, laughing and jesting, and forgets that he is a wanderer, he will later have cause to weep and lament. For if through carelessness a man loses his cow – i.e., his modesty and adaptability – evil will result.





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The I Ching on the 2020 Presidential Election – Part 1 Hexagram 13

11/2/2020 9:07 pm. I have been listening to the MSNBC news shows and decided to ask the I Ching in the morning this question:

What of the U.S. Presidential Election?     

In the night (12:30 am/11.03.20), I had a dream that I was with about 20 people crowded into a bus and required to arrange themselves to be able to survive together. I assumed a leadership role and slowly with everyone cooperating, we were able to work out where to sit and put our bags. I ended sitting in a key authority /power seat just behind the main door. I saw Fannie was in the long back seat, seems now sleeping. We were off to somewhere in space in time.

I was next up at 1:25 am preparing my book, The I Ching or Book of Changes Wilhelm/ Baynes, my Chinese coins, and notebook to record I’s answer. I then realized I wanted to wait until 2am so that at least the Mainland US was into 11.03.2020. I placed the coins on The Book of Changes, placed my hands over them, and lay my head down, imaging I was floating high enough to have a full view of the US. With a little shift in my view, I saw in the distances Alaska and Hawaii. I thought I was about over Kansas – no I did not see Dorothy or a Witch.

I received Hexagram 13 T’ung Jen / Fellowship with Men, with changing lines in the second line in the upper trigram and in the third line in the lower trigram. These changes produce Hexagram 56 Lu / The Wanderer. I read Hexagram 13 completely through and was concerned yet hopeful about the way November 3 would unfold. I went back to bed not reading read Hexagram 56. I rose at 5:30 am and read Hexagram 56. Here is the main entry for Hexagram 13. Although there were no changing lines involved in my result, I studied all changing lines and they give us more insight into what is unfolding today. I will add these later. 10:25 am 11.03.2020.

13. T’ung Jen / Fellowship with Men


above CH’IEN            The Creative, Heaven

below LI                      The Clinging, Flame


The image of the upper trigram Ch’ien is heaven, and that of the lower, Li is flame. It is the nature of fire to flame up to heaven. This gives the idea of fellowship. It is the second line that, by virtue of its central character, unites the five strong lines around it. This hexagram forms a complement to Shih, The Army (7). In the latter, danger is within and obedience is without – the character of a warlike army, which, in order to hold together, needs one strong man among the many who are weak. Here, clarity is within and strength without – the character of a peaceful union of men, which, in order to hold together, needs one yielding nature among many firm persons.

Fellowship with men in the open.
It furthers one to cross the great waters.
The perseverance of the superior man furthers.

True fellowship among men must be based on a concern that is universal. It is not the private interests of the individual that create lasting fellowship among men, but rather the goals of humanity. That is why it is said that fellowship with men in the open succeeds. If unity of this kind prevails, even difficult and dangerous tasks, such a crossing the great water can be accomplished. But in order to bring about this sort of fellowship, a persevering and enlightened leader is needed – a man of clear, convincing, and inspiring aims and the strength to carry them out. (The inner trigram means clarity and outer, strength.)

Heaven together with fire:
Thus the superior man organizes the clans
And makes distinctions between things.

Heaven has the same direction of movement as fire, yet it is different from fire. Just as the luminaries in the sky serve for the systematic division and arrangement of time, so human society and all things that really belong together must be organically arranged. Fellowship should not be a mere mingling of individuals – that would be chaos, not fellowship. If fellowship is to lead to order, there must be organization within diversity.

Nine at the beginning means:
Fellowship with men at the gate.
No blame.

The beginning of union among people should take place before the door. All are equally close to one another. No divergent aims have yet arisen, and one makes no mistakes. The basic principles of any kind of union must be equally accessible to all concerned. Secret agreements bring misfortune.

Six in the second place means:
Fellowship with men in the clan

There is danger here of formation of a separate faction on the basis of personal and egotistic interests. Such factions, which are exclusive and, instead of welcoming all men, must condemn one group in order to unite the others, originate from low motives and therefore lead in the course of time o humiliation.

Nine at the third place means:
He hides weapons in the thicket,
He climbs the high hill in front of it.
For three years he does not rise up.

Here fellowship has changed about to mistrust. Each man distrusts the other, plans a secret ambush, and seeks to spy on his fellow from afar. We are dealing with an obstinate opponent whom we cannot come at by this method. Obstacles standing in the way of fellowship with others are shown here. One has mental reservations for one’s own part and seeks to take his opponent by surprise. This very fact makes one mistrustful, suspecting the same wiles in this opponent and trying to ferret them out. The result is that one departs further and further from true fellowship. The longer this goes on, the more alienated one becomes.

Nine in the fourth place means:
He climbs up on his wall; he cannot attack
Good fortune.

Here the reconciliation that follows quarrel moves nearer. It is true that there are still dividing walls on which we stand confronting one another. But the difficulties are too great. We get into straits, and this brings us to our senses. We cannot fight, and therein lies our good fortune.

Nine in the fifth place means:
Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament,
But afterward they laugh.
After great struggles, they succeed in meeting

Two people are outwardly separated, but in their hearts they are united. They are kept apart by their positions in life. Many difficulties and obstructions arise between them and cause them grief. But, remaining true to each other, they allow nothing to separate them, and although it costs them a severe struggle to overcome the obstacles, they will succeed. When they come together their sadness will change to joy. Confucius says of this: Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings. Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again. Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words. There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts, They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.

Nine at the top means:
Fellowship with men at the meadow.
No remorse.

The warm attachment that springs from the heart is lacking here. We are by this time actually outside of fellowship with others. However, we ally ourselves with them. The fellowship does not include all, but only those who happen to dwell near one another. The meadow is the pasture at the entrance to the town. At this stage, the ultimate goal of the union of mankind has not yet been attained, but we need not reproach ourselves. We join the community without separate aims of our own.




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Dao de Ching Chapter 9

To hold things and to be proud of them is not as good as not to have them,
Because if one insists on an extreme, that extreme will not dwell long.
When a room is full of precious things, one will never be able to preserve them.
When one is wealthy, high ranking, and proud of himself, he invites misfortune.
When one’s task is completed and his mission is fulfilled, he removes himself from his position. This is indeed the way of Nature.


The dialectical approach is basic to Lao Tzu’s thought. The dialectical world is a world of endless movement between conflicting forces. When one extreme is reached, the dialectical process immediately reverses itself and extends to the opposite extreme. According to the Taoist teaching, when one reaches one extreme and yet is free from it, one enters the realm of the unity of opposites, in which both extremes are immediately and spontaneously identified. As Nishida Kitaro says:

That which exists in the actual world must be both subjective and objective, both universal and individual. Be including both these contradictory moments within itself, the world becomes a dialectical process (Nishida, Fundamental problems, 108).

One enters the realm of the unity of opposites when one transforms one’s limited ego-form self into one’s unlimited non-ego-form self. In Nishida’s words:

The activity of the self means the subjectification of objectivity and the objectification of the self. But at the same time, it means that the object subjectifies itself and the universal individualizes itself. Therein the self is lost, but the true self is found (Ibid., 77).

When one achieves the true self, one is no longer limited to one extreme or another; one is free from all extremes. This is the way of nature.

Kitaro Nishida

Tao Te Ching

Dialogue [SAScherling]

I have read and listened to Erich Fromm for years and his book and in this interview To Have or To Be, he addresses the challenge the World is facing: we can continue consuming things, keeping up with our neighbors, or we can choose to understand who we are, how to be in our world, learning to be part of it – respecting and caring for what is ourselves. This is a BBC interview shortly after the publication of Erich’s book To Have or to Be in 1976. We can also read the following texts by Erich Fromm: 1) “Man Is Not a Thing”:… 2) “Psychology and Ethics Are Inseparable”:… 3) “Freud, Jung, And Ethics”:…


Tao: a new way of thinking
, with a Commentary by Chang Chung-yuan.
Shepherd. Harvey L. (2013, October 27) A Review of “Dialectics and Analytical Psychology: The El Capitan Canyon Seminar” The Jung Page.

Dialectical Analytical Man Posts:
Ethics of Individuation & Individuation of Ethics Posted on April 29, 2013
A New Depth Ethic Posted on September 18, 2013

Shr Ling-yuan, SAScherling.

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Dao Te Ching Chapter 8

I have been away from blogging on the Dao de Ching but not from studying its chapters. It is time for me to resume sharing my processes of reading, reflecting, thinking, and writing about life as it unfolds.  The idea stated earlier is to be online-in-time – and sensing time is essential! So, I will restate the idea of this blog is to read and comment on Lao Tzu’s book the Dao de Jing which will flow into related themes of study around the issues of the day.  It seems only appropriate that the West understand Lao Tzu’s importance through the only book attributed to him as China reclaims its status as the World’s largest and most influential economy, a position it will soon reclaim after only 200 years of recorded history not holding it. Our text is Tao: a new way of thinking, with a Commentary by Chang, Chung-yuan, and with this blog adding a Dialogue² by Shr Ling-yuan, SAScherling.

Chapter 8
That which is best is similar to water.*
Water profits ten thousand things and does not oppose them.
It is always at rest in humble places that people dislike.
Thus, it is close to Tao.
Therefore, for staying, we prefer a humble place.
For minds, we prefer profundity.
For companions, we prefer the kindness.
For words, we prefer sincerity.
For government, we prefer good order.
For affairs, we prefer ability.
For actions, we prefer the right time.
Because we do not strive,
We are free from fault.

Lao Tzu’s teaching of engaging in daily activities in due degree seems quite close to the basic Confucian principle of propriety. However, there is a fundamental difference between the man of Tao and the Confucian man of propriety. The man of Tao is free form self, free from reputation, and free from claiming credit. It is not that he has no self; rather, his self is the self of no-self. It is not that he has no name; rather, his name is the name of no-name. It is not that he has no achievement; rather, his achievement is the achievement of no-achievement, for which he claims no credit. Thus, the man of Tao adjusts to his daily activities just as the flowers bloom when the spring comes, just as the moon shines upon the lake at night. His adjustment to daily affairs is free from individual ambitions and thoughts of fame.  The Confucian man of propriety, on the other hand, strives to be greater than the ordinary man. …

The teaching of this first section of this chapter is how to be a genuine man of Tao. One must be as humble as the water, staying in a place where nothing is labeled. Although Confucianism also teaches humility, it is humility which is merely a modification of one’s ambition or ego. Primarily, ambition and a strong ego persist in the center of one’s being.

This chapter is very important for dispelling the common belief that Taoism is nihilistic. It teaches men how to engage in ordinary daily activities in due degree. There is a difference between the ordinary man’s attitude toward work and the attitude of the man of Tao. The ordinary man competes with others and worries about achieving or falling behind. The Taoist attitude is that of the no-ego self which is like water. In Ch’an Buddism this attitude is called everyday-mindedness, which is expressed in the words: “when we are hungry, we eat; when tired, lie down.” Everyday-mindedness is also expressed in the words of the Western philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. As he says when a rose blooms under a window spontaneously. It does not bloom because it envies the beauty of other roses or because it wants to please the mistress of the house. Thus, this chapter follows the teaching of Chapter 7 on the achievment of the self through selflessness. Because of selflessness, whenever one acts, one’s actions are spontaneous, direct, and always right. Every response to one’s actions is naturally correct and is always there, without deliberation. Thus in this chapter we have:

For words, we prefer sincerity
For government, we prefer good order.
For affairs, we prefer ability.
For action, we prefer the right time.

In this case where is there need for argument? Then, naturally, there is no fault.

Chang ends the chapter’s commentary telling us that this chapter follows on the teaching of Chapter 7, posted on February 12, 2015,  which is “on the achievement of self through selflessness”, whose actions are spontaneous, direct, always right, naturally correct, and always without deliberation.” Chang completes his commentary reminding us that “words prefer sincerity, government good order, affairs ability, and action right time.” So, to begin Dialogue² we need to review blog post  Dao de Jing Chapter 7  to describe how Chapter 8 relates to “the achievement of self through selflessness” whose actions are characterized as spontaneous, direct, right, correct, and without deliberation. This is obviously much to address in one Dialogue, in fact, our Dialogue² is the process of reading and reflecting on how all chapters and our experiencing-reflecting-thinking-writing processes are unfolding, as Chapter 7 informs us that “The idea of the self-determining present will be further discussed in the commentary to Chapter 28.”

I just now returned to re-read for the 100th time Chapter 7, who’s commentary begins “This chapter teaches that the self becomes a self only by negating itself and identifying with the non-self.” Re-reading the commentary based on Kitaro Nishida’s work and trying to put it into practice requires that “Time must be seen as the self-determining present, meaning that the present, which includes past, present, and future, is a self-determining present”. Now, this is a challenge to understand let alone to practice! However, let’s not let this go unchallenged.

I am 76 years old and recently noticed a difference in my experience of time. Often this difference is experienced when I am driving so, maybe a space-time issue needs to be unpacked. It might be I am on autopilot while driving and my present is temporarily off-line. My experience is that I am spending more time with past experiences of my life than in planning future ones or just experiencing the present drive. Intuitively this seems as it should be, there is more life behind me than in front of me. In trying to think about the future there seem to be no concrete objects to reach. Death does not seem all that inviting. Maybe that is the issue. Raised in Christianity there is pure white heaven or a red hot hell. What is not revealed is that hell is full of ‘rock’n roll’ music and dancing – humm, not so bad. My wife is Buddhist and so that is now my choice, I will be re-born and live through another life experience and give Mr Barney in his history class a run for the money. I will leave this here for us to work on before moving forward. Sleep on this and expect our dreams to help us understand.

Dream 8.3.2020:  I was at FCHS listening to an address being given by Bill Barney, which was very inspiring! Afterward, we met on the school’s stairs and I said “I am very inspired by what you said in class.” Bill responded, “I am glad it was helpful to you.” I then went to shake hands and give him a hug but I felt he was a little hesitant to fully embrace. We continued it seems I walking up and he down the stairs.
Association: Bill was an inspirational teacher for me. It was in his history class that I read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and the History of the German General Staff – writing two book reports. I went out for wrestling to get in shape for hockey, which Mr Barney did not appreciate.
Amplification: At one of the Class ‘62 Reunions, I think the 40th, Bill came Friday night and there were 20+ classmates gathered around him talking, I stood right to his left side. He said then or at some other time that the Class of 1962 had been a special class for him. I have written before and discussed this with others, not sure what he might have meant by ‘special’. I have suggested that one way to test this is by the accomplishments achieved by each class. It would be a difficult measurement to construct with success in all the ways that class members have lived their lives. I wonder if this measurement has already been constructed? However, the point is not to see which class is more ‘special’ but to assemble the stories of classmates’ lives and discover the common threads in their stories – now here is a project to dream about.

Chang, Chung-yuan (1975). Tao: a new way of thinking. New York: Harper & Row; Translation and Commentary.

Dunne, J.W. (1934). An experiment with Time. London: Macmillian Publishers

Giegerich, Wofgang. (2005). The neurosis of psychology, Vol. 1. Chapter Two: On the neurosis of psychology the third of two, pp 41-67. New Orleans: Spring.

Mahoney, Maris F. (1966). The meaning in dreams and dreaming – The Jungian viewpoint. New Jersy: The Citadel Press.

Nishida Kitaro. (1932). Fundamental Problems of Philosophy (World of Act) and (1933) Fundamental Problems of Philosophy Continued (World as Dialectic).

Siegel, Bruce. (1917). Dreaming the future: How our dreams prove psychic ability is real, and why it matters.  Amazon Books on Kindle.

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How to Fail at Almost Everything

I recently had an experience with someone suggesting my life has been a failure. This automatically triggered reflective thinking accessing Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualization. I paused inside Abraham’s theory, examining my life to see if it could be characterized as a failure.  I graduated with B+ average and captain of the High School hockey team, however, my first marriage failed on the way to BS, MBA, and DBA degrees in psychology and management. I failed to receive tenure at UND but had already decided to accept a teaching position at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of International Business. After four years teaching and several successful research projects and award-winning publications, I took a leave to teach at National Taiwan University giving up another opportunity for tenure to stay at NTU where I met Fannie Tai, whom I married having children Aaron and Annah, now graduates of NDSU pursuing their careers. My teaching career moved through UIBE in Beijing, NDSU in Fargo, back to CUHK, then to the University of Mary Fargo, and Concordia Moorehead. At every school research projects were conducted resulting in publications. We own two modest houses, one VW wagon, two bikes, one push-lawn mower, and have one small dog. How is this failure?

It is a failure when failure is seen as not having kept up with the neighbors, with their new Lexus SUV and Buick sedan in the garage. One issue to consider is how “keeping up with the Jones” affects one’s daily thoughts? What does envy do to us? But more to the point, I am still healthy, reading, reflecting, thinking, and writing – it is these activities that impact one’s quest and achievement of self-actualization? No amount of money, material possessions can help one achieve this highest Maslow need. I am not Breaking Bad – Really Bad yet!

The Hoover Institution recorded on July 12, 2017, How to Fail at Almost Everything with Scott Adams the Dilbert comic strip author/artist – political philosopher.  Adams sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. He discusses his theory of “talent stacking,” the idea that rather than being an expert in one particular skill (Tiger Woods at golf), one can become successful by stacking a variety of complementary non-expert skills. Adams demonstrates how talent stacking has been beneficial in his life because he has stacked comic artist skills with his MBA and experience in corporate environments to create successful comic strip that resulted in spin-off books, a television series, a video game, and merchandise. His business skills gave him the tools to create a business satire comic strip and the skill set to manage the business that evolved from the Dilbert strip.

Adams also discusses how he uses his Dilbert Blog to discuss his political philosophies and observations about Trump and his administration. He wrote blog posts about the 2016 election and predicted that Donald Trump would win based on Trump’s talent stack as a media mogul and businessman who had spent significant time in the public eye and so was immune to scandals and thick-skinned enough to handle what the media and other politicians would throw at him. Adams argues that Trump is one of the best branders, influencers, and persuaders he has ever seen, in that he uses persuasive techniques in debates and on social media as a way to get people to do what he wants. Adams contends that Trump’s persuasive techniques will help solve the problem of North Korea because he has already set up China to get involved by intimating that it tried and failed. Adams suggests this will cause China to get involved in order to save face, an important Chinese need.

Adams explains his idea of the story arc of life, which has one starting life intentionally selfish so that by the end of life one will have given away all of his wealth, knowledge, and wisdom, a process he says he has already begun at mid-life. This strategy starts easy and becomes increasingly more difficult. Wealth can be left in the bank, but giving away knowledge requires one to write, and giving away wisdom requires one to write well and be widely read.  Adams also discuss his new book, Win Bigly, about the persuasive strategies of Donald Trump, which we need to understand as November approaches. Adams thinks Trump has the potential to leave a very significant impact on American political life but he does not outline it. I also sense this. This impact ought to be understood because it appears that our democracy is in trouble no matter which political party wins. We cannot fail in our project to understand both Trump and Bidden by November! Ready for some Dilbert advice on why this project may fail?

By SAScherling

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General James Mattis Defending The United States

James Mattis Denounces President Trump Describes Him as a threat to the Constitution was written by Jeffrey Goldberg, appeared in The Atlantic on June 3, 2020, and is the former defense secretary backing protesters and says that The President is trying to turn Americans against one another”. After getting my cup of coffee this morning I saw in my YouTube feed some items on James Mattis and having read and heard his comments about Trump I decided to look closer at who this General is – expecting he is going to be in the news going forward. Here are some interesting interviews of General James Mattis conducted by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute followed by a CNN’s Anderson Cooper Program.

Defending the Nation With Secretary of Defense James Mattis • May 14, 2018

Recorded on Friday, May 11, 2018 in Washington DC. In his first televised interview in almost a year, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss a wide range of issues facing the United States Armed Forces at home and across the globe. Earlier this year, Secretary Mattis published the National Defense Strategy, the first such document in a decade. Secretary Mattis describes why the document is an important blueprint for the Armed Forces and what he hopes to accomplish by publishing it. After a moving story about a captured Iraqi suicide bomber, Secretary Mattis describes the complicated nature of our relationship with China and the possible flashpoints in the South China Sea. A discussion follows about Europe and how political controversies with Russia affect our military relationship and why Secretary Mattis believes NATO is not a threat to them. Moving on to the Middle East, Secretary Mattis defines our mission in Syria, comments on the use of chemical weapons, and explains why that theater is the most complex security conundrum he’s seen in his forty-year career. He says that the refugees coming out of Syria are more traumatized than refugees he’s seen anywhere else in the world. He discusses the need to work with the international community on the refugee crisis as, “It is a tragedy much worse than anything BBC or CNN can show.” In the Far East, Mattis describes how a coordinated effort across different departments of the US federal government and allied countries have achieved a dialogue that may lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. Secretary Mattis also makes the case that the Iranian regime and the Iranian people are different constituencies with different priorities and agendas. He relates how he is reforming the Pentagon’s provisioning and spending policies and why it’s important for the military (the seventeenth-largest economy in the world) to be a responsible steward of the nation’s tax dollars.

Jim Mattis on Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead • Premiered Sep 3, 2019

Recorded on August 21, 2019 Peter Robinson opens the show by asking General Jim Mattis, former secretary of defense, to explain the word “chaos” from the title of his new book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. (“Chaos” is an abbreviation for “Colonel Has Another Outstanding Suggestion.”) Mattis notes that chaos has been a part and parcel of his life growing up, in the marines, and traveling the world. Mattis further talks about how chaos has been introduced by organizations to disrupt order and keep opponents at the top of their game. But on the battlefield, it is better to introduce chaos early, in order to disrupt enemies’ plans and thus create problems for them and, ultimately, dominate them. Robinson asks about what led Mattis to join the marines and why he decided to serve so long. Mattis explains his love for the country and the great people he met in the service. The fellow soldiers kept him going and inspired him to jot down lessons he had learned that could help future generations learn to serve and lead in better ways. Mattis notes that it is the very high quality of the people whom he met in the armed services that kept him in the military for his career. Mattis talks about how soldiers are brave, rambunctious, and selfless, and how he would rather have crummy jobs at times and work with great people than have a great job and not work with the outstanding people Mattis encountered in the military.

Anderson Cooper: Mattis gave a stunning rebuke of Trump • Jun 3, 2020

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