10. Circle of Self-Control
Spiritual Web Chat
Session 1: Sat 25 Apr 1998

Ben< ALL: Tonight I have an introductory experiment, or exercise, to help establish the frame of reference for this series of seminars. Some of you may be far beyond this point, but I think it is a useful place to start and also to review and remember.

Ben< ALL: This is the exercise: Sit up straight. Close your eyes. Touch the tip of your nose with one finger. Now ... where is that point of contact on the tip of your nose, relative to your center of awareness? Forward, yes, but is it also somewhat up or down? And then also notice, is it slightly to the left or right? YOUR TURN

the_Muse< Somewhat down. *s*

Lor< I find it to be centered, but just slightly lower (down by about a 15 degree angle).

Ben< Lor: In my case, from my center of awareness, the tip of my nose is about 35 degrees down, and neither left nor right.

Azriel< It becomes a focus of awareness, but there is still an inner 'movement' -- a broader sense of self.

Polgara< The point becomes my "awareness".

Ben< Polgara: Okay. Let's see what happens with the next phase of the experiment. (To be posted fairly shortly)

Jello< Depends on mind state. Centering Aikido style makes "self location" expand, even though mind itself is a point. (Without that particular activity, Ben's description is close to mine.) Very different feeling depending on where I put my mind and its focus. *S*

Cassandra< My point of contact feels a little down and slightly to the left.

Blueiris< Up and to the left.

Ben< ALL: Now touch the tops of both your ears, and notice where they are, relative to your center of awareness. (You can tap on them a little, if you wish, to help focus your attention.) They are probably to the right and left, of course, but are they also somewhat up or down? And then also notice, are they slightly toward the front or the back of your head? YOUR TURN.

Azriel< Again, with touch, a slightly more pronounced part of the whole.

FRAML< Directly opposite, same as with nose. I'm splitting the plane.

the_Muse< The top of my ears are in the field of my awareness, neither up nor down, right nor left. Rather an encompassing line.

Jello< the_Muse: That sounds sort of like me with the altered mind-set, I think. No real direction, but within "my awareness".

the_Muse< Jello: That is the feel of it, yes!

Redhawk< Ben: Feels 'inside' my center of awareness. Odd ...

Cassandra< My ears feel just a teeny bit below and more to the front.

Lor< I find my ears to be centered, but slightly above my center of awareness (which seems to be even with the center on my ears).

greyman< Interesting ... from the inside and just slightly beyond my head, all around.

LadyV< I am still struggling with the term "field of awareness" to me it means one thing, and might not mean that to another.

Yopo< Hmm ... Interesting. I am not directly on a plane with my primary senses.

In2light< In this context, ears would be slightly back and slightly down, nose down and center.

Ben< ALL: Okay. If you had a three-dimensional drawing of your head, and drew those three lines backward, one from the tip of your nose and one from the top of each ear, would the lines intersect somewhere in your head? YOUR TURN.

MonaHawke< Nope.

Jello< Only if I'm not in the altered mind-set are there real lines that really intersect in a meaningful way. But it's much more distracting, so it's harder to be that way. (er, it's distracting to touch both ears AND the nose at the same time, which is what I tried.)

Ben< In my case, those lines intersect at a point in the center of my head, slightly below and slightly forward of the tops of my ears. This is my usual center of awareness. It is not always in precisely the same place, but this is where I normally sit.

the_Muse< Ben: I think you are talking about a certain gland? *S*

Ben< the_Muse: Perhaps. However, it isn't the same for everyone, as we have seen.

In2light< Ben: Agreed.

Yopo< "I" seem to be somewhere slightly below the tips of my ears but a bit above my eyes.

Lor< Ben: Yes, I get the feeling that the lines would connect to the center point of my "awareness".

SLIDER< Ben: The lines crossed where my fingers hit -- wasn't exactly on the tips of my ears, though.

Yopo< I just closed my eyes and turned my head. My position seems to wobble a bit. Not at the center of my physical axis.

Polgara< I'm with Jello. I got confused and lost my balance. It was scary!

Jello< Yeah, at this point I lost my center and my normal non-centered focus, and I'm pretty confused.

greyman< Jello: Yeah, like you're aware of being aware! Sort of like looking between two parallel mirrors back at yourself.

MonaHawke< Ben: Sorry, you said draw a line directly back? If all three lines went directly backward how would they intersect? Lost me on the visual.

Ben< MonaHawke: I meant for you to draw the line from your nose to your center of awareness, instead of the other direction, that's all.

MonaHawke< The word 'duh' comes to mind. LOL

Redhawk< Ben: It's moving around some. *laugh* Doesn't want to be 'assigned' a 'place'.

Yopo< Redhawk: Best fasten your seat-belt! *s*

MonaHawke< Actually the answer is still no for me. Feels like mine is somewhat outside of my head, which some folks who know me would get a good chuckle out of.

greyman< MonaHawke: That is my mantra! LOL.

Ben< ALL: The point of this exercise is: Every circle and every sphere has a center. My center of awareness is the center of my circle or sphere of self-control.

Cassandra< Ben: Does this exercise usually make inside of your head tingle?

[Ben< Cassandra: No... but apparently it did yours. That's interesting.]

the_Muse< These differences in awareness focal point are very surprising to me.

Jello< the_Muse: Difference between people, or between perceptions during different "mind states"?

Ben< ALL: Okay, to explain. This exercise isn't as trivial as it may seem. It is an exercise in concentration, focus, self-awareness, self-realization, orientation. Something like it is found in many disciplines, including Kriya and Raja Yoga.

the_Muse< Move inward to a small point, then move outward to become one with the wind and the earth. The first gates.

Ben< the_Muse: Yes. *smile*

Yopo< Ben: What is this center point we just tried to locate?

Ben< Yopo: It is where *you* are (now) in 3-d space-time. It is also called "the seat of the soul" although that implies a more permanent location, and as we shall see (perhaps next session), we can not only expand and contract our awareness, we can move.

Ben< ALL: For those who found your awareness encompassing an area, instead of being more focused at a point, the next discipline would be concentration (reduction of the radius).

Jello< Although the "distributed feeling" is supposed to be a result of placing one's center at one's "centrum" or "one point", I find that reducing focus increases awareness. As you grow smaller, you grow bigger. If that makes sense.

the_Muse< Jello: It sure does. Moving inward to the cosmic spaces between the atoms of your being. Inner/outer space.

SLIDER< Jello: That came to me in a dream one night -- focus on one small point of being, and things just start to expand from there!

Ben< Jello: Moving point-of-awareness to the Aikido "one point" comes somewhat later in the program. First, it is best to be at home in your own head. That is also the best place to come back to, as long as we are incarnate.

Jello< Ben: I guess flexibility and practice are ideal. While I still don't know where's the best place to be, learning the various steps seems like the best way to find out.

Ben< Jello: Yes. Learning what we can do. I find it interesting and exciting. Then we can decide what we want to do with these capabilities.

Pogo< Interesting to find that my center of awareness was out in front, somewhere near my forehead. After reading the posts, I attempted to center my awareness further back in my head, and succeeded! Didn't know that could be done.

Redhawk< Ben: Why practice making it smaller, precise? Just to be able to exert conscious control? Expanding feels easier than reducing "center of awareness".

Ben< Redhawk: Expanding and concentrating awareness are both useful skills.

Redhawk< Ben: OK.

Blueiris< Concentration of awareness feels fuzzy. Reduction of radius feels uncomfortable. hmmmm

FRAML< Ben: That also sounds like establishing an anchor point if one would ever find themselves suddenly out of body.

Yopo< FRAML: An interesting point. I think I'll try Ben's experiment while dreaming.

Ben< FRAML: Yes, an anchor point, or home-base.

the_Muse< Ben: It really helps me to have a "spot" to do this exercise.

SLIDER< Ben: I find if I concentrate too much on my center knowing one place, I get stale -- then restless.

greyman< SLIDER: I fall asleep.

Ben< ALL: Now, then, a perennial question for each of us: "What can I do (and not do) from here?" As an often-repeated question, it can lead to a lifetime of exploration, development, and reality-testing of our own capabilities.

MonaHawke< Everything.

Azriel< Chakras!

Ben< We have already touched on the possibilities of concentration and expansion. (Barely touched them. Practice makes better, if not perfect). Pogo noticed that he or she could move within his or her head. Okay! Later, one may learn how to move to other places in the body (or elsewhere) and safely return to home base.

Jello< Though I think it may never be safe to do too much of that while incarnate in a neurochemically unstable body.

the_Muse< Ben: The most useful thing I have gotten from this exercise is the improvement in my ability to hear the still small voice of both my higher self and the spirit and even sometimes (rare occasions) the Creator.

Yopo< I suppose the first thing we do is what we do all the time: Look out through our eyes, listen through our ears, etc. It's interesting, though, to think of oneself as sort of riding around in the body as if it were a vehicle. Establishes a distinction of some sort.

FRAML< Yopo: Good analogy.

the_Muse< Another thing I have gotten from this exercise is the ability to control my inner vision as a form of astral travel.

Lor< Ben: I tried to move my center, but have not been able to do that. Should I be able to?

Ben< Lor: No, not necessarily. This is just exploration of possibilities, potential capabilities. "Should" isn't in these exercises.

SLIDER< Ben: I'm starting to follow your method of approach now; good way to start this session. *S*

the_Muse< On further reflection, the going inward (gate one) promotes hearing and the going outward (gate two) promotes vision. hmmm

Ben< ALL: Now, let's notice how we can focus our awareness (selectively pay attention) to various signals coming to us from our own mind and body. Have you ever paid so much attention to what you were reading that you didn't hear someone speak to you? Have you ever, like the legendary absent-minded professor, paid so much attention to what you were thinking that you tripped over a crack in the sidewalk? Do you have any other examples like this? YOUR TURN.

Lor< Yes, I have done both. My Number 3 Daughter does the former to extreme; it even becomes a chore sometimes to get her attention at all!

Jello< I'm disconcerted that I'll suddenly realize I've driven a mile and have no recollection of controlling the steering wheel.

Azriel< So focused on a thought while driving, you arrive at your destination with no absolute recall of the drive!

LadyV< Azriel: Interesting. I've heard that one before ... makes one wonder how automatic we are programmed.

Ben< Azriel: Yes, I used to commute between Washington, DC, and Philadelphia -- and often only "woke up" at the toll booths.

Yopo< Just back from drumming circle. I often notice that by focusing only on the auditory input, I become quite detached from my immediate surroundings.

MonaHawke< I 'tune out' all the time. Too focused on what I'm doing or thinking about.

FRAML< Last week at work I was focusing on a difficult document and one of our contractors came up behind me and said something, then laughed when I literally jumped about 3 inches out of my chair.

Polgara< So focused on a client's story that I didn't think about checking the time and ran 20 minutes over the 50 allotted for the session.

In2light< Painting, creating arts, even the TV. *s*

Yopo< In2light: Yeah! "Losing oneself" in a movie or book.

the_Muse< In2light: Ahhh, that is why I do not loose the awareness; my creative endeavors are horse training and dance where I get very internally focused while having to also be very externally focused. hmmmm

Jello< Jello's off in la-la land again.

LadyV< Jello: You seem to use the discipline that puts your center somewhere else. "Where" may I ask? I am following some of what you are saying. Not all.

windy< Azriel and Jello: I refer to such driving experiences as being on autopilot.

Jello< windy: Yes, I use the term "autopilot" too, but I worry when I'm not sure if someone else other than me has access to my autopilot.

Lor< I have "come to" when driving and thinking about something and found myself lost -- not even recognizing where I was or how I got there! A bit rather un-nerving !

Yopo< Lor: "Autopilot" seems to work well enough, so long as an alarm beeps when a decision must be made. I've missed my own turnoffs more than once. *s*

Lor< Yopo: I sense that I have trained my subconscious how to drive, and it just takes over when I am on autopilot until my conscious mind decides to interject a change.

windy< Lor: I think of driving without conscious thought as the body trained to do its thing, even when the mind is occupied elsewhere.

SLIDER< Ben: I do it a lot of the time. I usually concentrate on what I'm doing too much -- this is when my guardian angels save me from myself sometimes.

Redhawk< Ben: My hearing is affected most. I don't 'hear' things when focused. Something may come into my visual field, and it will register though I may not respond. Hearing just seems to go.

Polgara< I find myself like Redhawk when I'm alone. The hearing goes, but most everything else is on-line.

the_Muse< Ben: I have experienced time dilation, and contraction. Contraction being like Azriel's point, a drive seeming way brief. And been in deep meditation for what seemed hours leaving me refreshed and having visions and deep spirit discussion in fifteen minutes. But I tend to be aware on a lot of levels, so do not think I would be surprised by a person's voice.

Ben< ALL: This question is also not trivial. Though it may not be a good tactic to "zone out" while driving a car, a very tight focus on something else is how Yogis avoid awareness of physical pain. And they may spend a lot of time and practice learning how to focus as tightly as some of you have described -- to the exclusion of sensory inputs.

FRAML< Ben: Yes, it scares me when I do "tune out" while driving. But I haven't practiced enough to focus on pain. That would really help right now.

MonaHawke< FRAML: I learned to 'tune out' pain some time ago. It became necessary when healing from certain physical ailments I was learning from.

Lor< FRAML: I think Ben's point was to NOT focus on the pain, but on something else, so intensely that awareness of the pain disappears from your consciousness.

Ben< FRAML: It doesn't help to focus on the pain. It only helps to focus on something else.

FRAML< Ben: Ahhhhh, outside, like I do when they draw blood. OK.

Jello< Ben: But how do you focus when you are so tired that you can't focus? Or if you are on medication, or are suffering an injury? I guess the answer would be previous training, eh?

[Ben< Jello: Fatigue, medications, injuries, emotions, etc., can limit one's ability to exercise self-control. Previous training and practice do help in such situations.]

FRAML< Jello: I just count my blessings and go to sleep to get the rest.

SLIDER< Ben: I've never studied any yoga, but I have been through two or more years of Bio-Feedback training to control pain without medication -- and it does work!

windy< I find that "focusing" on the start of a migraine helps me to stop it before it becomes a problem.

Redhawk< Ben: Good point. I was a ballet dancer for years, was always surprised after performance/class to discover my toes bleeding inside my pointe shoes, or to suddenly notice a sprain. Such concentration required to execute physical moves with emotional intent that pain doesn't fit.

Azriel< I can 'split' from discomfort -- it's still there but no longer a part of my physical self.

Blueiris< I have done the focusing during childbirth to facilitate easier birthing.

Ben< ALL: Yes, the subconscious mind does function like an autopilot -- which is very handy -- and it will help us to remember it works like that.

Yopo< Autopilot doesn't pertain exclusively to physical activities. Seems to me a lot of our mental activities are done on autopilot. Some thinking processes, where we believe we are making conscious decisions, but instead, we're just running pre-existing thought-programs.

Jello< Yopo: Yes, good point. Certainly we are often culturally programmed to react automatically in some ways to certain things (like the word "Democracy" or training in how to approach a math problem, etc.).

Emerald< Yopo: I agree. Someone once said that we are at our mental best when we are "out of our mind", so to speak. I have had many of these experiences, and must say that my thought process was much clearer during them.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, indeed! And self-mastery involves conscious programming and reprogramming our own subconscious autopilot.

Yopo< Ben: OH NO! I hope we don't have to learn to write "code". *LOL*

Ben< Yopo: Yep. We need to learn how to "write code" that our subconscious mind accepts and then operates. But all subconscious minds don't assimilate COBOL.

Jello< Yopo: I think it's like web authoring these days: there are many easy-to-use WYSIWYG interfaces we can use instead of having to learn what to do from the circuits on up to HTML.

LadyV< Yopo: One of the signs of aging is when the autopilot misses a few steps. Then, as children, the attention or focus has to be practiced to rechannel the brain to go back on autopilot. Odd how we return as we do.

MonaHawke< Yopo: Those patterns can wreak havoc on our lives, eh?

Yopo< MonaHawke: Yep. It's scary to think, too, that other folks can insert their programs in our heads, if we don't pay attention.

Azriel< Yopo: When I'm in that state I think I'm less vulnerable. It's the unfocused times when others could creep in!

greyman< Yopo: Just like going to the movie theater in the 50's with subliminal messages to get more popcorn.

MonaHawke< Yopo: It's great when one can tune up their programming to spot those programs of other's and block them out, too. A worthwhile project, eh?

Yopo< MonaHawke: I'm workin' on it. *s*

In2light< the_Muse: I can feel this way with my car, with my house, etc.. You absolutely KNOW when something is different.

the_Muse< In2light: Yes! I think I learned it from horses. I have recommended to people to go into a really good barn -- good as in, lovingly handled, content horses as they eat their evening meal. Their chi is so powerful, if you can tune in, they can really teach inner quiet.

the_Muse< Ben: When I am at peak performance with a horse, I loose the sense of my body and my awareness moves out to include theirs: my hands their front legs, and my legs their rear legs. I call it being in the zone.

LadyV< the_Muse: Now that does intrigue me. You are one with the animal. Only an excellent rider feels the animal. Do you then have this feeling with people ... may I ask?

the_Muse< LadyV: I have at one time trained a horse to do single stride tiempes. That is when the horse appears to be skipping. I did it for twenty strides on one occasion. In the Olympics the horse is asked for eight. It was me skipping, us a pair. I have a good young horse that I have high hopes for now. It is a wonderful split between going inside and going to that outside place of no being. So hard to describe.

LadyV< the_Muse: Thank you. The animal feels you, and probably reads your mind as well. Animals do this. Good for you. That would be a performance to see. Simply put, you move your spirit outward; the animal joins you there. Makes sense to me. Has to be a union, though ... and the young one you mentioned is well bonded to you. Thank you for sharing that.

the_Muse< LadyV: It is real magic, I think, and I thank God that I have been blessed to know it. I think animals taught me all my psychic skills, really. They are so honest emotionally, they teach that the emotions are a language.

Lor< I tend to think of aging as operating more and more on autopilot, in the broader sense that Yopo indicated. I am consulting with a doctor about the difficulty I have begun having with conscious thought. I find such quite tiring -- mental fatigue, etc. However, I do not understand why such should have an effect on my ability to recollect items stored in my subconscious memory.

Jello< I think there is a difference between some points of "mindless autopilot" and "aware autopilot." I don't like the former when I am doing anything dangerous; the latter seems harder to achieve but very nifty.

SLIDER< Jello: There is a lot of danger driving down the freeway and forgetting how you got where you are ! *S*

Jello< SLIDER: Yup! That's what I'm calling "mindless autopilot"! When you're not there. the_Muse's sounds like a vastly "aware" situation; quite different.

Yopo< And yet, what Muse said about "mindlessness" and merging with the task is similar. Sometimes I perform better when I just let a thing happen, without conscious control. It seems a bit of a paradox.

Jello< Yopo: I think (may be wrong, of course) that there is an autopilot that merges the consciousness into the whole, but there is also a version in which the consciousness is off thinking about dinner instead.

the_Muse< Jello: It feels like a non-awareness. Self is just a point in a large pool.

Jello< the_Muse: ... and the rest of the self isn't off thinking about McDonald's or something.

Ben< ALL: Okay, 'tis the end of the hour. If you like, I have another question for discussion. If not, feel free to continue along present lines.

Blueiris< Ben: Please go on.

Yopo< Ben: Yes. Please continue!

Pogo< Ben: Please do ask the next question.

Ben< ALL: Okay, just for fun, lets share some personal examples of things we can (and cannot) get our own physical bodies to do. For example, I recall how pleased I was when I learned to ride a bicycle, and the first time I realized that I can stand flat-footed and touch an eight-foot-high ceiling. Conversely, I cannot carry a tune. I can "make a joyful noise" but people cover their ears and ask me please to stop. If you would, please share some examples of what you can and cannot get your physical body to do. YOUR TURN

Jello< Can't fly by flapping the ol' arms! Learned that one as a very small kid!

Ben< Jello: *LOL* I tried that, too. Required several Band-Aids, because I am persistent. (Okay, then, stubborn.)

greyman< Jello: I remember the first time I flew out of body (about 3 years old).

Willow< *!*

Jello< I suppose some can supposedly do impossible things like walk on water or even telekinesis or such, but flying by flapping still sounds like fiction to me.

grunblau< During the dead of winter, when I am outside, I can imagine the sun or a very warm place -- say the desert -- and feel warmer. And the opposite is true: when sweaty and hot in a summer day, I can think of the winter and be cooler.

Ben< grunblau: Good examples. The body automatically responds to the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind accepts auto-suggestion from the conscious mind.

Emerald< Ben: I cannot juggle. *S*

[Ben< Emerald: I almost can. My son has been trying to teach me to juggle. *S*]

Blueiris< Can roll my R's but can't do the splits. *g*

Ben< Blueiris: I could probably do the splits -- once! *LOL* Then major repairs would no doubt be necessary.

Azriel< I love to dance!

Emerald< Azriel: As do I! And sing, too!

Pogo< I can run slowly. But I cannot run fast.

SLIDER< I wish I could see through the hillsides with x-ray vision and find gold. No luck so far! LOL

Yopo< I cannot seem to "turn off" my body's allergic responses to certain common things: some perfumes, some pollen. The allergic responses serve no useful purpose.

LadyV< Yopo: Wanta bet? (laughing) The body is telling you to avoid the whatever.

the_Muse< Yopo: I had hay fever something awful 'till I got some local bee pollen and took a teaspoon a day for six months. It cured it. Several years later I realized I no longer had the problem. I gave it to a few family members and it did the same for them. A really amazing cure.

Yopo< the_Muse: Bee pollen. Hmm. I've never heard a bee sneeze, come to think of it. *s*

Azriel< Yopo: ROFL!!!!

the_Muse< Yopo: It really worked! And it tastes good.

Blueiris< So, for allergy to cedar pollen, should I chew some bark? *G* Too bad it's not a juniper allergy -- I could just drink some gin, eh? LOL

Jello< Yopo: I've heard about taking bee pollen, too. Local pollen, contained in beeswax or whatever; consume carefully.

KatZenBou< The allergies come from local pollen in the air; consumed internally, pollen has a homeopathic affect. The bees gather the local pollen, you take it and have a resistance from within.

the_Muse< KatZenBou: *smile*

Redhawk< I can do a double pirouette routinely but triples only on occasion. Why? Balance for two is the same as balance spot for three -- but my mind says "Three is too hard" and I fall off balance. *s*

the_Muse< I haven't touched my toes since grade school -- those shrunken ham strings. I can't abide a rude dog. Oh, Ben, this is a weird thing: when I meet people in person, I can't help but take on the behavior they expect of me. I am afraid of crowds. The energies of all the emotions are so hard to tune out.

windy< I am much better at video games when I distract my conscious mind and play intuitively.

FRAML< When I was in the Army, I once convinced six of my soldiers that it was safe to go off the 60 foot rappelling tower. The only person I didn't convince was myself, I went down about 10 feet and then CLIMBED back up the face of the tower. The safety NCO couldn't believe I did it -- the planks were too close together. I've never overcome a fear of falling, though heights don't bother me. Oh, yes, was scared s***less on a cable car ride at Garmish.

SLIDER< FRAML: That's a good point -- fear can be a good distracter from the physical senses!!

Yopo< Music is interesting. Learning seems to be a process below (or above) normal consciousness. Sometimes I just watch my fingers moving on the frets, and sometimes am surprised when they do something I've never thought about before. Then, I try to tell my fingers to do something I HAVE thought about, and they refuse. *LOL*

Lor< Yopo: I would be wary of watching my fingers doing something I did not command or never thought about before, for fear some unwelcome spirit had taken over part of me. I also would be wary of inviting spirits in to do such without being very careful about their motivations and ethics.

the_Muse< Lor: I have my doubts that most people honestly evaluate their own inner honesty and ethics, so I wonder how one might judge a discarnate being? It would not be verifiable that they walk their talk.

Yopo< Lor: I think it is probably a common experience to most musicians. My thought is that there is a part of the unconscious mind that comprehends music on a level that the conscious mind does not. And then there's the whole issue of creative inspiration. None knows who whispers in a poet's ear. I don't worry, as there is no "bargain" involved. No deals done at the crossroads. *smile*

Redhawk< Yopo: Yep, I believe you're right about musicians. It's kind of like you become part of the whole musical piece, and are moved to play these notes in this rhythm.

Azriel< I sometimes have a very visceral warning response on first contact with some people that has held true with time!

Emerald< Azriel: I have had "warnings" as well, and I heed them.

Blueiris< Sometimes in emergencies my conscious mind goes AWOL and my subconscious takes over and does an excellent job.

MonaHawke< Well, an interesting question would be: "How did consciousness materialize and become the body"? In Buddhist thought, matter arises from desire, and desire looks for and finds fulfillment through repeated experience. Repetition appears as a frequency or vibration pattern. So we create these patterns within ourselves and they become our reality ... IMHO ... including all the things that seem outside of our consciousness.

Yopo< MonaHawke: Interesting. It strikes me that there is some sort of two-way process involved. Things the body does can manifest into a spiritual "structure" and things the spirit does can manifest into the physical body. I'm not altogether sure if either has primacy.

MonaHawke< Yopo: Consciousness can become addicted to physical form or the desire to have something rather than nothing. In the overmind, nothing exists; in the undermind all matter exists. Interesting balancing act.

Pogo< Ben: Okay, so we can do some things, and not do others. The point is, what?

Ben< Pogo: Thank you for returning to the question I posted! // ALL: the point of this exercise is, a human body and brain is a wonderful vehicle and instrument for the spirit (soul). It isn't without limits (none of them are), but it is not to be despised.

Cassandra< I can't make my body do anything. So I feel rather left out. It manages by itself, though.

Yopo< Cassandra: *smile* Oftentimes spirit shines brightly through the physical limitations of the body.

Azriel< Yopo: Unfortunately, we too often focus on those limitations rather than the endless possibilities! *S*

greyman< Cassandra: You have a daughter, right?

Cassandra< greyman: Yes, I have a daughter.

greyman< Cassandra: Ahhh, good! My memory serves me. These days I need to verify. You guide and direct your child. When you do this, do you feel a caring bond between yourself and her?

Cassandra< greyman: Yes, of course. I love my children and want them to become decent men and women who will respect the rights of others and be true to the Spirit within.

greyman< Cassandra: Your statement alone is a testament of your spiritual purpose, and desire for their well being. What is more important: moving your "will" to some point in space, or using your "will" to raise beautiful souls? *G*

Cassandra< greyman: You got me! I never thought of it like that. Thank you and Bless you.

greyman< Cassandra: My pleasure to help!

LadyV< Ben: Thanks for an interesting evening. Your questions caused me to consider. As always, I had to put them through my frame of reference and ponder them ... and I will in the future ... while carefully trying not to put my foot in my mouth. What does intrigue me is how very different we perceive; that amazes me. Enjoyed it all. Thank you for the time spent in helping us along the road.

[Ben< LadyV: You're welcome. *smile* I have also enjoyed this evening.]

SLIDER< Ben: What about involuntary response to physical senses when one does not think of the consequences -- or whether one action may be more favorable than another? For example: I never thought I'd jump from a moving chopper at about twenty feet elevation -- until it started taking hits. Then I didn't think about the jump, I just did it -- I was more worried about going down in a burning chopper!

Ben< SLIDER: I plan to look at stimulus-response and conditioned-response later. (Conditioned-responses have saved the lives of many soldiers, as you know, and many other people as well.)

windy< SLIDER: Indeed, that is the whole point of training the body ... so it can react properly, accurately, and swiftly. I would think dancers and fighters would be most aware this, as well as athletes, musicians, etc. It is my belief that one's body can also utilize the talents of one's ancestors via the genes, but one has to be able to draw them out (unfortunately there are unscrupulous individuals and groups who do so through hypnotism and drugs).

SLIDER< Ben: Conditioned-response and stimulus-response should be a good topic then. Thanks.

Ben< SLIDER: windy just described the value of conditioned-response very nicely. I'll look at it in more detail.

SLIDER< Yes, Ben, and Thank you, windy. I will look forward to that session -- it will get into much more, I'm sure.

Azriel< Many thanks, Ben, a really interesting mental warm up -- can't wait for the aerobics!

Ben< ALL: Another point in this exercise is: one of the things I can do, here and now, is to practice a rigorous inner honesty concerning my capabilities -- not deceiving myself in either direction -- and still appreciate the beauty and utility of this body and mind without being or becoming a slave to it. See?

Blueiris< ahhh ~~ so it is good to remember the body and brain do have some limits. That will help to give respect to the physical for all it can do. *G*

LadyV< Ben: Read in a book recently that the body is the angel for the soul ... liked that myself. Some disciplines teach us to love the body and thank it daily for the house ... the point is well taken that you have said.

windy< I think the soul is like an angel to the body. In fact, I believe many "angels" are people living today whose souls are "evolved" enough to travel about, to extend themselves, so to speak ... adding a whole new dimension to the concept of "autopilot".

Blueiris< Much to ponder ~ much to practice.

the_Muse< Ben: Are you going to go into inner honesty tonight, or next week?

Ben< the_Muse: Inner honesty will be a theme throughout this series, though I don't know how often I'll mention it.

the_Muse< Ben: The way I keep an eye on myself is by listening for "But". You know: "I know this is mean, but ..." or "I know I should do that, but ..." or "I know I should go back and give the teller her pen, but ..."

SLIDER< the_Muse: That sounds like the same way I listen to myself -- I think sometimes someone else is doing the talking and I'm listening. *S*

Yopo< Ben: Thanks for a most interesting session! I like the direction your new topic is moving in. *smile*

Emerald< Goodnight to all, and thank you, Ben, for a wonderful discussion. I look forward to more!

Yopo< Hope the proposed system upgrade TheFire mentioned doesn't leave this place unstable for too long. Well, with luck, SWC will only hiccup and blink out for 12 hours. Hope TheFire is having better luck with his request for donations now. Keeping this place up and running must cost a bundle!

LadyV< Yopo: Who donates? I wondered about that. I wish him well also ... really do. He will find a way.

Yopo< LadyV: I guess TheFire put out a request to all SWC members, to help financially if they are able. Would you believe there are 20,000 members? Oddly, though, I received no such direct solicitation. Only found out about it because of a post Walter left here in Amazon some weeks back. I am wondering if the request somehow misfired, and no one got it.

LadyV< Yopo: I never heard that. Interesting. Don't see why not. hummm ... misplaced somewhere ... had to be. TheFire comes on-line and all of us welcome him. A little PR would go a long way.

Gracie< Ben: Do you think conditioned response is a "good" thing?

Ben< Gracie: Conditioned-response *can* be a good thing, but it is not always good or bad for us.

Gracie< Ben: Under what circumstances is it a "good" thing?

Ben< Gracie: As windy said earlier, training to the point of conditioned-response is essential for folks like firefighters and rescue crews, and the rest of us, too, when it is something like the proper reaction to a sudden situation in traffic.

Gracie< Ben: Does that presuppose that we would not react appropriately without conditioning?

Ben< Gracie: In emergency situations, conditioning is faster than a conscious decision, and that may make all the difference.

Yopo< Ben: *LOL* I am trying to unlearn the response of pumping the brakes in a skid. Anti-lock brakes have made an old conditioned response worse than useless.

[Ben< Yopo: Good point. Most of us have old conditioned responses that are now worse than useless. They are what we need to reprogram in our subconscious.]

SLIDER< Ben: How about an unconditioned response? Will you cover that in the same seminar? Something like a sixth sense response that's spontaneous?

Ben< SLIDER: Yes, there are responses that aren't traceable to any conditioning in this lifetime. That's another whole lobe of this subject area.

SLIDER< Ben: It should be an interesting seminar!

FRAML< Off-topic announcement: I won't be here next weekend. I'm going on a 3 day terrain walk at Gettysburg Battlefield.

KatZenBou< FRAML: Is there any way to get permission to sleep the night on the battlefield? That would perhaps be really something.

LadyV< KatZenBou: Now, that would be something. There is a ship in Corpus Christi that is spooked in the engine room. Not a pleasant place to be ... too sad. I bet that field would be full of spirits. FRAML would not disturb them; he is far too polite. Not a problem. Oh, the ship is the Lady Lex ... just remembered.

FRAML< KatZenBou: We will be sleeping in the local National Guard Armory in Gettysburg. I was invited to go by the Active Army folks at work who are doing the trip as "professional development" for the Officers and NCOs (all the platoon and master Sergeants).

LadyV< FRAML: You are going regular army?

FRAML< LadyV: The folks I'm going with are Regular Army people assigned to the Army Declassification Activity where I work as a civilian. I'll be the fat guy in blue jeans and an old tiger-striped boonie hat.

LadyV< FRAML: They won't notice. Seen the regulars lately? Just hold your breath when you got to. You will do fine.

FRAML< LadyV: No amount of holding my breath will shrink this beer belly, just diet and exercise (and the will power to do it).

LadyV< FRAML: Well, try mental picture ... don't be so tough on you ... fiddle!

KatZenBou< We have a Spanish Mission here called La Purisima that is supposed to have the spirit of a young man killed 250 years ago in a quarrel over a woman. His body was hidden in a woodpile, and on certain nights it is said to be seen walking around. It goes up the hill to where the large cross is, where he and his lover used to steal away in the night. His lover was told by the murdering rival that she had been abandoned by her lover, so she took to the arms of the assassin in tears. He took advantage of her and left her with child that night. He then left the area, and the body was found a couple days later.

LadyV< KatZenBou: That's interesting. Have you ever seen him?

KatZenBou< No. I used to run at the mission often -- that is where I got my first mouthful of cactus spines from the fruit. I also would go up the hill to the cross in the August nights for the meteor showers. But I never saw him, nor felt his presence. I have felt the presence of spirits before, but not him. Maybe it is only the certain night he was killed.

LadyV< KatZenBou: Tragic.

KatZenBou< On one night each year there is a candlelight procession from the wall of the woodpile to the top of the hill. I have never gone on it, though.

LadyV< KatZenBou: It is kind of others to do that.

KatZenBou< We also have a local spirit who died in the thirties when her car went over the cliff into the steep canyon a few hundred feet below. I have been to the car. It is all rotted away, but pieces are there. Her body was found, but her child was dragged away by coyotes. Her spirit is said to come out on certain nights. She is a beat-up looking woman who asks kids making out on the road to help her look for her child.

LadyV< KatZenBou: Now for that, I would call in a healer or whatever, to ease that woman. That is so sad ...

KatZenBou< And once some cowboys robbed the local bank. They escaped with a posse in pursuit. They winged one, but he got away. Several years later the skeleton of the robber was found in the brush. He was left behind by his comrades as they made their escape. He also is said to wander that canyon.

LadyV< KatZenBou: You lead an interesting life ... did you know that? I have missed your stories. Any replacement for Humprey?

KatZenBou< LadyV: No, the poor big guy. It is so sad not hearing him calling to me, and all the times he would get out and scratch himself on my truck. My wife feels it even more than me as she is here more. I am gone so much, and she takes care of the animals.

LadyV< KatZenBou: I miss the stories about that boar. I got a new pup that looks like a dinga. I carry her on my shoulder. She hops around like LePew in the cartoons. She is miniature terrier ... oddest looking dog. I got her from Mexico. She is gentle, but bonds and is protective.

KatZenBou< I had a girlfriend who said her house was haunted. She said it was a sad but friendly male. A psychic came by one day and said that the house is over what once was a creek, and that a shepherd from the 1700's had been camping and was killed by robbers. Coyotes scattered his body, but the skull was under the house in what had been the coyote burrow. He was Catholic and wanted a proper burial. I checked city records and indeed that area was once a creek that had been filled in the 30's.

LadyV< KatZenBou: Smart to check it out. Keeps the facts clear. God Bless his soul.

Ben< KatZenBou: If you haven't seen Dr. Bill Baldwin's techniques manual on Spirit Releasement Therapy, I think you would find it useful in cases such as you have described.

KatZenBou< Ben: It is so good for you to have this course. I am sad that I have missed so much the last month. I must find the archives.

Yopo< Ben: I was thinking of you last night at our local Gathering. A young couple showed up, asking help with a "haunting" situation. To my somewhat limited perception, it struck me that the young man was the haunted party, and knows more than he's telling. I suspect he is an "attracter" -- if that is the right term. The dynamics of the whole thing left me feeling very disturbed, though I can't put my finger on just why.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, some folks do attract dark ones. And some attract lost ones. Part of Spirit Releasement Therapy is in finding and mending the vulnerabilities, but sometimes the person has to change something, like a desire or a set of desires.

LadyV< Yopo: Mars on SWC ... the one that is about 95 percent correct ... says you have to create energy to attract. Guess that is what you mean.

Yopo< LadyV: There was something about this guy ... stressed out ... a hopeless look in the eyes ... and a strong sense that he is hiding or blocking something that the wife doesn't know. There is a 3-year-old daughter in the situation who has been talking about this "man" in the house, and about a "child" who is her friend. Something doesn't wash.

LadyV< Yopo: You are probably correct. Wonder which one has the energy. Maybe the wife. She was the stronger. hmm. Would make me a bit uncomfortable.

Yopo< My suspicions, which I dared not voice, had to do with the father's relationship to the child, and the possibility of the wife/mother's blindness. If you believe what they were saying, though, there is clearly some other force that has entered into the situation. Physical damage to possessions and the house itself, which seem hard to account for. I honestly don't know if it's a job for family protective services, ghost-busters, or both. I trust and respect the friend who went to their aid today. Sort of discussed it with him after the folks had left, in very circumscribed terms.

LadyV< Yopo: I feel that you did what was right. At least you did something. God save us from those that do nothing ... apathy hurts. Good for you, Yopo.

Yopo< LadyV: I didn't do much but fret. It occurred to me, though, that dark things can be dark indeed. And sometimes we don't care to look into that darkness. *sigh*

LadyV< Ben: Have you met Mars? This woman is remarkable ... blunt but remarkable.

Ben< LadyV: Yes, I met Mars in an SWC chat the other night. She asked me a couple of very good questions.

LadyV< Ben: She is real ... guess that is the best way to say it. Glad you met her. She has strong feelings about what is appropriate. She does not harm. She has been on similar missions as yourself. The difference is that she earns an income, and I don't think that you do. Regardless, she warns in here ... thus the bluntness ... and in my opinion, she is correct. Good that you know her. I am glad.

KatZenBou< Ben: Are Dr. Baldwin's manuals on SWC somewhere?

Ben< KatZenBou: I have a couple of articles by Dr. Baldwin on my site, under the "resources" button. One of them has his mailing address and email address, and the phone number of his publisher.

KatZenBou< Great! Thanks, Ben. I will go to the site and check it out. Love and Light to all of you.

Ben< ALL: Goodnight. And thanks to all who were here, for a most interesting evening.

Yopo< Ben: A good night to ya. And thanks again!

10. Circle of Self-Control
Session 2: Sat 02 May 1998

Ben< Tonight we will continue to look within, at some of the many more-or-less automatic systems in our physical bodies, to explore the hazy borderline between involuntary reactions and voluntary self-control.

Ben< The first category is stimulus-response (reflex). These reactions occur with no prior experience, and they normally occur every time a stimulus is presented. One example is the knee-jerk reflex. Another is the reaction that pulls your finger off a hot surface before you feel the pain. There are many others, but the reflex I'd like to consider tonight is dilation and contraction of the pupils of the eyes.

Ben< ALL: Can you control the pupils of your eyes at will? If so, how? YOUR TURN

greyman< Ben: No bella donna tonite?

Ben< greyman: Hush! You know me too well, and for too long. *smile*

Trudy< Ben: hhhmmm ... didn't know that was possible. I sure can't. How?

FRAML< Ben: I've never tried the pupils, but right now I'm working on the lids.

Ben< FRAML: One of my old professors recommended using toothpicks to hold the lids up, but I never tried it.

polgara< Yes, Ben, I can ... but it's a bit personal how.

SLIDER< Ben: Don't think I have any control of my pupils.

polgara< I've found that if you think of things that will raise certain responses in your system, you can expand and contract the pupils of your eyes. Shining light in them will do the same thing, but thinking is easier for me.

Ben< polgara: Okay, nothing personal is required here.

polgara< Good ... 'cause that's all the explanation I'll give! *S*

Ben< ALL: Yes, you can control the pupils of your eyes to some extent, but not always. They react to light (physical), and to certain substances (chemical), and to emotions (psychological). Let's look at the psychological reactions.

Ben< Your pupils automatically dilate when you see something that you believe is interesting or exciting. That's why professional card players wear dark glasses, to prevent the other players from seeing their pupils dilate when they look at a good hand of cards.

Ben< A small story: Long ago, men noticed (probably subconsciously, being men) that if a girl's pupils were large when she looked at him, she was interested, and therefore interesting. Girls noticed that girls with dilated pupils received more than their share of male attention, so they found a substance that dilates the pupils and put it their eyes to attain this desired condition. The substance was named for it's use, and is still called "beautiful lady" (Belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, the source of atropine).

Ben< I knew a Yogi who could dilate and expand the pupils of his eyes as commanded by another person who was watching him do it. I asked him how he did that. He laughed and said, "It has nothing to do with the eyes. To dilate them, I remember something I found interesting and exciting. To contract them, I remember a time when I made an absolute fool of myself."

Ben< Homework: You can look at yourself in a mirror, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and watch your pupils contract. Move the light away, and watch your pupils dilate. Or you can ingest certain chemicals and see what they do to your eyes (not recommended). Or you can select a specific memory, dwell on it, and notice how your pupils react to the emotions that memory invokes (recommended).

Ben< ALL: Now let's expand this discussion: Many bio-physical systems are automatically self-regulating. They are basically involuntary, but we can control them to some degree voluntarily. These systems include respiration, circulation, digestion, perspiration, etc..

Ben< ALL: Can you control the rate of your heart-beat at will? If so, how? YOUR TURN

polgara< Same way, Ben! Not with the flashlight, of course! LOL!

LadyV< Deep breathing and meditation helps. Exercise helps. Clean living helps ... I think.

Lor< I have no idea whether I can or not, but I have heard that it can be changed via biofeedback.

LadyV< Lor: Good one. That does work sometimes.

Ben< ALL: Sorry, I may have gotten a little ahead of myself by posting that last question before asking for any comments concerning the pupils of the eyes. Please feel free to address either of those subtopics.

Trudy< Ben: I can slow my heart-beat by meditating, slowing my breathing. I can increase my heart rate by thinking of ... er ... certain things.

Ben< Trudy: *chuckle* Very tactful "... er ..."

SLIDER< Ben: The physical means of dilating the pupils I have done, no chemical though, only at the eye doctors. As for the heart beat, I just tell my heart to slow down when I think it is beating to fast. I learned this in Biofeedback.

Ben< SLIDER: Yes, biofeedback can expand our control of many normally automatic functions.

LadyV< The pupils of the eyes reflect the condition of the soul, in my opinion. Fear reflects tight pupils, and rage is another, in the mentally ill. Seldom does one see open pupils ... in an emotional sense, that is. In a physical sense, in my view the explanation used is correct: one can change the pupils by drugs and the amount of light entering into the eye. For me the eyes are the soul. Closed pupils, I run. Simple as that.

Lor< Does the heart beat faster when a guy sees a girl with dilated eyes, maybe?

[Ben< Lor: Yep! Nice double comment.]

LadyV< Then on the other hand, without eyes, the touch is what says it. Off the subject here, but was considering.

Ben< ALL: It is always good to consider various possible causes of the same effect: in these cases, physical, chemical, and emotional causes.

Jess< Ben: Forgive my ignorance, but what is biofeedback?

SLIDER< Jess: Biofeedback is a term used when one is taught how to control pain or emotion using a type of electrical attachment while viewing a scope that shows how the Alfa and Beta waves work in a person's brain. By consciously watching the scope, one learns how to control the brain pattern that switches certain neurons in the brain to help control mostly pain. I hope this helps explain it a little.

Jess< SLIDER: Thank you for answering. Yes, helps. *S*

Ben< Jess: Another version of biofeedback is simply to listen to your own heart with a stethoscope and notice how its beat changes in response to what you are thinking about.

LadyV< Ben: No kidding! This is singular, not with others when we do this ... be darned if I am not going to try that one.

5foot2< Ben: I can help the eye in transition from dilated to contracted ... to adjust quicker. And the heartbeat, yes, thanks to a misspent (but a lot of fun) youth that often involved pretending to be asleep after climbing the tree to get back into my room. I simply concentrate on my breathing, and in my mind's eye I watch my belly slowly rise, the slower the belly rise the slower my heart rate.

LadyV< 5 foot 2: Interesting. Wonder if Ma bought that one. (laughing)

Ben< To change the heart-rate, one can use physical exercise, or chemicals like ammonia, or emotions like thinking of something interesting and exciting -- or frightening, if you want to try that.

Ben< ALL: The second category is conditioned-response. These reactions are developed over time, by subconscious association of stimuli with prior experience. Perhaps the most famous example is Pavlov's puppies, but we don't have to be a Pavlov or a puppy to experiment with conditioned-response.

Ben< ALL: An experiment: Think about pickles. Really think about pickles. Mentally go to the refrigerator and take out a jar of pickles. Open the jar. Smell the pickles. Take a pickle out of the jar. Pop the pickle into your mouth. Bite it. Hear and feel it crunch. Taste the flavor. Chew and swallow the pickle. Lick the pickle juice off your fingers. Now, while you were going through this little mental exercise, did you actually salivate? YOUR TURN

LadyV< Nope, just the biggest Pizza in town. (grinning)

polgara< Yup!

Lor< Yuk.

Ben< Lor: Yuk (?) Was it a *very sour* pickle? Sorry, I should have specified a sweet pickle. However, some folks automatically think of dill pickles.

Lor< I prefer dills, actually. It's just that I have a problem controlling my salivation. Too much is a nuisance, you know.

SLIDER< Ben: I love good pickles, and the mere thought makes my mouth water!

Ben< SLIDER: Yes. That was the point of this experiment: the very *thought* causes an actual biological reaction, with no pickles present.

Lor< What's happened to everyone? Did they all have to go for napkins?

polgara< I guess so, Lor! Either that or they ran for the real thing! LOL!

LadyV< I am lost with the pickle. Guess it depends on what makes your mouth water ... which I think Ben is saying we are capable of that.

Trudy< *grin* Okay, I'll confess. Pickles were one of my favorite things as a kid, and yes, I still salivate when I think of them.

Lor< How does one keep from salivating when its not desired? Can thoughts do that, too?

LadyV< Lor: If you figure a way to stop the natural process, we could make millions! I would wonder also ... think it is how we are.

Lor< As a singer, I sometimes wish I could stop salivating.

LadyV< Lor: I see your point ... doubt anyone notices.

Lor< LadyV: LOL!

Ben< ALL: Consider the implications of this little experiment. To the extent your thoughts produce real changes in your body (such as salivation), you do, to that degree, create your own reality. But this experiment did not effect external reality. Your thoughts did not create a refrigerator, or a jar of pickles. There is a lesson here concerning the limits within which we do and do not create our own reality.

Ben< ALL: Next question: Have you ever intentionally *created* a habit? If so, please describe what it was and how you did it. YOUR TURN

Ben< FRAML: If you're awake, I must hasten to say "nun of that!"

greyman< Ben: Are you trying to get rid of that "habit". *G*

Polgara< Ben: My morning meditations would be, I think.

JamesRD< I began to say the Lord's prayer every day, and now whenever I think of it, I say it. It has become a constant with me. In that, it is a habit.

Lor< I've developed a habit of writing down critical things I need to do so as not to forget them.

c_breeze< Simple habits like fastening your seat-belt, marking your mileage. Do it several times, and it is natural.

Ben< Yes, good examples. More?

FRAML< In the Army, I was an artillery forward observer, and I made a habit of always estimating ranges to objects I saw, either when standing on a piece of terrain and then comparing it with a map, or when driving and checking the distance against an odometer. I needed to be able to estimate the range from me to the target very rapidly and accurately to call in fire missions. But I have dropped it since I retired. Didn't use it at all at Gettysburg this weekend ... and don't think I could have accurately guessed the distances.

dancer< I've read that everything you make yourself do for 30 consecutive days becomes habit ... like making your bed as soon as you get up.

Bastion4LF< That's a good one, dancer. I'll have to try that.

dancer< Bastion4LF: It does work, as long as you are consistent in the beginning.

Ben< dancer: Yes, I've read that it takes 30 days to establish a habit, although some say 23 days.

stormfire< I have created the habit of blessing all road-kill in divine light and love, and releasing them to continue with their spiritual journey. *S*

JamesRD< I do that as well, stormfire. *S*

[Ben< stormfire, James RD: That's a good habit! And it can be done elsewhere, too -- at funerals, for example.]

SLIDER< In my work, which is running heavy equipment, I have to create habits on each type of equipment I run in order to become proficient -- and at the same time break habits of some equipment in order to run a different one. Sometimes I change a number of pieces during the day and then back.

Ben< SLIDER: Yes. Building and changing habits is something we can do, here and now. Habits are conditioned responses. So, yes, we can intentionally program and reprogram our own subconscious minds.

Ben< After locking myself out of my car three times in two months, I decided to do something about it. I intentionally built the habit of having the keys in my hand before closing any door with a lock on it. I did this by anticipating my feeling of stupidity if I shut that door and then found I locked myself out, under the general axiom, "I would rather pre-pent now than re-pent later."

Lor< Ah, Ben: LOL!

MonaHawke< Ben: I got into that habit, too. I won't close any door with a lock unless I'm looking at the keys in my hand.

SLIDER< Ben: Ha Ha on the keys! I guess I locked myself out enough that I started carrying two sets of keys. It's a habit now!

Lor< So habits can be creative problem-solvers!

dancer< Ben: Did you find that adding emotional reaction into it strengthened the habit? Would think that it would.

[Ben< dancer: Yes, adding an emotional component strengthens a habit.]

stormfire< Another one is blessing any fire trucks or ambulances in Divine love and light for all occupants and participants for their highest good. *S*

LadyV< stormfire: Surely you make the Almighty smile. What kind thoughts you have ...

Trudy< Ben: I'm trying to get into the habit of blessing people everywhere I go. But I don't remember yet to do it all the time.

5foot2< I have made it a habit to try to find a positive point in every situation, and a habit to keep my sense of humor, especially in situations that might frustrate or anger. It really has decreased the self-inflicted stress in my life.

LadyV< I personally have to work at it, and then some ... mostly bad habits. And dancer had a good point ... 30 days would change most things, I suppose.

dancer< LadyV: Bad habits are really hard to break ... once it's habit it becomes so unconscious that I really have to force myself to think about it to even begin to change it.

LadyV< dancer: That is true.

FRAML< I'm building the habit of doing spiritual clean-outs of my workplace, the local bar I frequent, battlegrounds.

LadyV< I read in the paper today that with no smoking allowed there are more fights in the bars. Considered something is not right here. Why bars, FRAML?

FRAML< LadyV: Re: smoking, just irritability I guess. For me visiting the bar, I just do it occasionally when the spirit moves me. I ask that teams of angels be sent to locate any discarnates that are attached to the customers or the premises, and to clean out any psychic debris in folks.

LadyV< FRAML: Are the visiting discarnates drunk or sober? I ask not to be flippant, but I want to know. I had not considered a bar to be a place for this. I will reconsider.

FRAML< LadyV: I don't know what the sobriety of the discarnates is, or even if they are there. I'm not open to perceiving them. I figure that most people come into bars to relax, to get away from stress and problems. Also that some are trying to drink away the problems. So, why not see if there is anything influencing them that they might not perceive? Think if it as going where the need is. (Besides, the barmaid has red hair and green eyes.)

LadyV< FRAML: OK, but in Texas if you go in and tell someone they got company standing beside them, they will put a boot to the seat of your pants. (laughing) OK, if you say so.

FRAML< LadyV: Well, I just do this quietly while sitting at the bar. I don't tell anyone I'm doing it, because of a partial expectation of the reaction you stated, and Jesus's caution about "praying in public only for notice." I prefer to do things quietly. I'm not in it for the glory.

LadyV< FRAML: You rascal, "glory road" is not your way! Glad you care enough to try ... and God Bless you for it.

Lor< LadyV: I suspect the discarnates are not drunk -- at least not anymore. I've heard that former drunks, now discarnate, like to be near incarnate drunks. Apparently they get some emotional kick and often influence their host to drink for that reason. Incarnate drunks who have had discarnate drunks removed from them have been known to stop drinking as long as they can keep them out.

LadyV< Lor: That is something I do not understand. A person that is drinking is ill ... chemically. And as for discarnate souls, I don't see them, so I do not know if they are there or not. Makes me sad to think anyone that does drink has double trouble.

dancer< FRAML: I can see discarnates. Bars are crawling with them. It's good that you do clearings when you go there.

Ben< LadyV: Earthbound human ghosts may be bound to a place or a person, or by their own desire to have or continue to have some kind of experience. Bars are full of the ghosts of drunks who are trying to possess someone else's body in order to experience liquor again. It is sad, but true.

LadyV< Ben: Interesting.

Lor< Speaking of spiritual clean-outs, I know people that do that when they go in churches! Apparently, it can have a positive effect on people's interactions when done over a period of time.

[Ben< Lor: Good point. That is an excellent habit.]

Ben< ALL: Okay, I have one more subtopic to post for discussion after the hour, but please feel free to discuss any of the previous subtopics.

Ben< ALL: The third category is: apparently unconditioned response. This type of response is like a conditioned response, but the source of the conditioning is unknown. Some examples are phobias, compulsions, obsessions, inhibitions, addictions. Do you have an example of such a response that you would like to discuss? YOUR TURN

LadyV< Ben: All that is in the brain chemicals. Take a Prozac ... ends it all ... that is the recent view anyway. Beats working at it. And did you know that fear of heights is due sometimes to vision?

Ben< LadyV: As I tried to illustrate with the examples of the pupils of the eyes and the heart-rate, symptoms can be altered chemically. And brain chemicals can be released by what one is thinking about. Unless the cause is actually chemical, taking chemicals is merely an expedient (like using Belladonna).

Trudy< Ben: Seems to me the more important question would be: How do we willfully change an unconditioned response, especially when we do not know the origin?

Ben< Trudy: Your question is right on target. One approach is regression therapy, including although not necessarily always, past-life regression therapy. It starts with the symptoms (response) and goes looking for the cause (i.e., when that response was conditioned).

LadyV< Ben: I did not know that regression would help. Who does this?

Ben< LadyV: Regression Therapy is now a recognized part of Transpersonal Psychology. Past-life regression therapy is done by some but not all transpersonal psychologists. The best I know of is Dr. Bill Baldwin.

LadyV< Ben: OK will check it out. Thank you.

SLIDER< I think an unconditioned response for me is when my intuition -- or sixth sense -- kicks in. Or a guardian angel is telling me the options and I have to listen real fast!

dancer< phobias ... totally irrational fear of heights and fire ... no known source.

Lor< My wife closes up whenever we drive over a high bridge. She really can hardly drive over them herself, so I usually get to do it!

LadyV< Lor: Get her vision checked. One can train the eye to find the horizon. Pilots have the same problem. She is probably very sick to her stomach. It's miserable.

stormfire< I find that any unconditioned responses I have were actually conditioned in early childhood, past experiences, or can be traced to past life memories.

FRAML< I haven't gotten over a fear of falling. Not heights, but just the sensation of falling, thus I don't like cable cars and rappelling. Also learned to be quite Stoic in emotional situations.

SLIDER< I think one has to learn to face their fear of some unconditioned responses, otherwise known as phobias, in order to understand the fear in the present time. If we go into past regression on all fears, we only experience a thought. By experiencing with the physical senses, we can determine if it is worthy of being feared.

Ben< SLIDER: Yes, many have overcome phobias by facing what they fear. Thus, they resolve the fear in the present without knowing (or caring) where it started.

stormfire< SLIDER: When I go into a past life regression, I experience all the emotions, physical sensations, and mental processes. It is as real as this is now.

SLIDER< stormfire: I know the feeling -- I'm just with the perspective that most unconditioned responses that have a negative effect on a person's daily living should be approached with now time physical senses -- and not explored with past regression, as this may complicate the problem.

Lor< SLIDER: I agree. Apparently we do not readily remember our past lives, and this can be a blessing as there are things there that may be best not remembered now in order to free us to learn better how to interact with our fellow beings now.

Ben< SLIDER: Good point. The theme for this series is "What can I do right here, right now?" Some use past-life exploration as an escape from present problems.

stormfire< SLIDER: I agree that these need to be focused on within this time reality. Past life regression would be as a last resort if no plausible explanation in this life could be found. *S*

FRAML< I've got a couple of private foibles that I'm trying to figure out if they are from past life sources, or just my own warped mind (no, puns is not one of them). I do know that when I have gotten depressed and vulnerable, I have been a beacon attracting discarnates who see me as a target of opportunity to try to control.

LadyV< FRAML: Nobody said any of us were perfect. Good thing I don't see what is behind me. I don't think I would worry so much about the beyond. Living in this time-frame is enough for most of us.

stormfire< FRAML: I think that when people are depressed and feeling vulnerable, they are always a magnet for discarnates.

greyman< stormfire: youbetcha!

LadyV< stormfire: Many religions teach that depression is the work of Satan. I have often heard this. I have considered that to praise or try to praise, in sorrow or whatever, being positive puts us more into the light. Not so easy to do when the heart hurts.

stormfire< LadyV: I've heard that, too. And I also believe that to refocus the mind on the positives will change the energy level and the attitude. Even forcing oneself to smile (and hold the smile) in the midst of depression or anger will react in a happy mood. A good experiment to try for anyone who wants to. It really works!

stormfire< Ben: Would intense emotions cause a chemical reaction that changes one's eye color drastically?

Ben< stormfire: I have not heard of intense emotions changing one's eye *color*. However, I have heard of other very significant biological changes -- even such things as diminished need for supplementary insulin.

stormfire: Ben: Now you have. My eyes are hazel but they change to brilliant blue with intense happiness, sadness or anger.

dancer< stormfire: The eye color thing, I don't really know, mine are very dark to begin with, but I have been told by lots of people that when I'm angry they are completely black.

LadyV< stormfire: I have seen hazel eyes turn emerald green. Many mystics do see this. It is again your soul talking. It is a matter of seeing. (smiling)

Ben< stormfire: Oh, I thought you meant a permanent change of eye color. My eyes are also hazel, and I am told they turn a terrible shade of green with a certain type of (cold) anger.

stormfire< Ben: In that case I hope I NEVER see your green eyes! *LOL*

SLIDER< Ben: I don't know if this is with the program tonight, but one facet of life that causes most humans to do conditioned or unconditioned responses, I think, is a fear of being a failure -- in anything -- and many will grasp at any chance to try and prove they're not a failure no matter what the consequence.

LadyV< SLIDER: That is a good point and it is true. It is survival.

stormfire< Survival or society's programming?

LadyV< stormfire: Good point. Society changes belief systems, and often. Survival is constant.

Ben< SLIDER: A generalized fear of failure can be a response conditioned by pushy parents. Or teachers. Or priests.

dancer< SLIDER: I think that is very true. My father, IQ in the 180's, decided to have children only so that the world could have more geniuses in it. He had three. We range from 168 my brother, 153 me, 149 my sis. He was so hard on us growing up that we have all become afraid of using the mind we have, least we disappoint someone by not being bright enough. Fear of failure is a really debilitating state ... very limiting.

LadyV< dancer: That is sad. Good thing you learned to laugh.

stormfire< dancer: Yes, that is sad. I hope you will go beyond your fear to realize your full potential ... as we all must. *S*

dancer< LadyV: It's taken a lot ...

LadyV< dancer: Yes, I would imagine it has. Your own little ones will be blessed because you tried to make it better. It has taken courage, I know.

dancer< LadyV: Thanks ...

FRAML< I can hear the bells of St. Sealy's pealing for me in the distance. Good night everyone and remember to count your blessings before you sleep.

LadyV< FRAML: What is St. Sealy?

FRAML< LadyV: I used to work summers during college for the Sealy mattress company. Thus I make the quip: "St. Sealy's is calling me" for meaning that it is bedtime.

LadyV< FRAML: And here I thought it was a new Saint I had not heard of. That is funny.

Ladylucero< FRAML: You got me with that one, too! LOL!

FRAML< Ladies V & Lucero: Of course I could be mistaken, as talking about the local Belles at an exotic bar ... since I was talking about bars earlier. *VBG*

LadyV< Ladylucero: Between him and Tigerlily we have a new vocabulary going. It's good!

Ladylucero< LadyV: Those two are among the most shining lights of this or any other room!

FRAML< My humble thanks.

LunarLyon< Hello everyone! Am I intruding?

stormfire< LunarLyon: Greetings! Namaste. *S*

Ben< LunarLyon: Hello. Welcome. The seminar is over, and we're just discussing the general topic of self-control.

LunarLyon< Ahhh ... And?

SLIDER< dancer: I used to try not to be a failure so hard that I made many mistakes. Then I needed someone to blame them on, which made me sour and made the ones around me sour. Then one day I realized that ultimately nothing matters if you are true at heart and lead a positive life -- so I said to hell with trying not to fail, I'll just progress a little farther when I learn more and I shall never stop learning.

LadyV< SLIDER: Hey, does that separate the men from the boys, and the women from the girls? I think so.

dancer< SLIDER: Same here. I am what I am. It's enough.

stormfire< SLIDER: Amen!

Buttonpusher< Greetings all. Sorry I am late. SLIDER: There is no such thing as failure. It is all life lessons and experiences. VBS

SLIDER< Buttonpusher: Greetings! Yes, that is the point I was trying to get across. *S* Failure is in the eyes of the beholder!

Ladylucero< SLIDER: Sounds good!

Ben< SLIDER: Someone said the game of life is a lot like the game of golf -- the harder you try, the worse you do. I think there's some merit in that idea.

stormfire< Ben: Excellent point! There is something to be said for trying too hard.

Ben< stormfire: Of course, there is also such a thing as not trying hard enough, or at all ... but I see fear of failure in more people than I do laziness or sloth.

SLIDER< Ben: I got humbled at golf real fast two years ago. Ha! The first time I ever played, I beat two guys that had been playing for years -- I guess because I wasn't trying that hard, just playing for fun. Haven't been able to beat them since. LOL

Ben< SLIDER: I gave up the game of golf in 1962 on the third hole at Torrejon AB, Madrid, Spain. The course went back and forth across a dry creek-bed in which *every* stone was the same size, shape, and color as a golf ball. I had lost 2 or 3 balls per hole up to that point. I looked up from the tee, saw the 19th hole, and said to myself, "That looks like a lot more fun."

SLIDER< Ben: Well, that means you had more quarters left in your pocket than golf balls. LOL

stormfire< Ben: Unfortunately, sometimes my fear of failure has an opposite effect, in that I may not try hard enough. It's some kind of warped reverse psychology, I convinced myself.

[Ben< stormfire: Sure. Many people have noticed that failure hurts worse if they tried hard to succeed -- and so some feel: "If I don't try hard, failure won't hurt."]

stormfire< Ben: Rather I should rephrase that and say fear of rejection causes me not to try hard enough at times. *S*

Ben< stormfire: Okay ... yes, fear of rejection can have a variety of effects, and so far as I know, none of them are particularly good for us.

Buttonpusher< stormfire: I have learned long ago that no matter what you do, someone isn't going to like how you do it. As long as you do, that is what is important. VBS

stormfire< Ben, Buttonpusher: Ahh, this is true. I now just be as I AM to the best of my ability and qualities of soul/spirit. Those who are meant to be near me will, and those that are not, will not. I am happy with myself and have joy in my heart. This is what matters. *S*

Ben< ALL: Peace and blessings. Goodnight.

10. Circle of Self-Control
Session 3: Sat 09 May 1998

Ben< ALL: Okay. I will post a statement and ask you to illustrate that statement from your own experience. There will be a total of four such statements, in two categories.

Ben< First, please draw a square on a piece of paper, and put a upright cross in it, so it looks like a window-frame with four windows in it (i.e., a 2x2 matrix). Across the top, label the two columns "I will" and "I won't". Down the left side, label the two rows "I don't want to" and "I want to".

Ben< Note: There is no question of "should" or "should not" in this exercise. It is merely an exploration (and hopefully, your illustrations) of some of our human decision-making capabilities. I'll give you a minute or two to draw the window-frame and label it before I post the first statement for you to illustrate.

Yopo< Durn, I thought my days of bein' caught in class without a pencil were over. *LOL*

Ben< ALL: (1) The statement for the upper left window is: "I don't want to, but I will." Or in the past tense, "I didn't want to, but I did." Please illustrate this type of decision from your own experience. YOUR TURN

[No response]

Ben< For example, I didn't want to get up when the alarm clock buzzed this morning, but I did. (Early but not bright ... bushy-eyed and gummy-toothed.)

Yopo< Ben: I dragged my tired self in to work early Friday morning. Probably won't want to on Monday, either, but most likely I will. Lots of "responsibilities" could be dropped in that square.

[Ben< Yopo: Yes. Responsibilities, duties, and any type of self-sacrificial service.]

FRAML< Ben: Hmmm. Does volunteering to do a job at church because someone needs to do it and I guess I'm the only person who is willing to be that someone count? (I'll try to make my next answer more confusing.)

Ben< FRAML: Sure, it counts as an illustration of this type of decision-making capability.

SLIDER< I didn't want to mow grass today, but I got out the lawn mower and did it because it needed it. Am I on the right track, Ben?

Ben< SLIDER: Yes! Right track. People tend to overlook things like getting up in the morning, and mowing the lawn, and changing the baby's diapers.

Khufu< hee hee, Ben ... my thoughts exactly. Every morning, I don't want to, but I do (have to get up with the baby, change her diaper, give her breakfast, clean up the mess she makes, etc.) ... every single morning, because no one else will.

lys< I really don't want to say this, but I will ... and that is, I really haven't done anything I really didn't want to, but some of the things I did, I can look back and wish I would of said, "I don't want to."

Lor< I really didn't want to go to a funeral for a neighbor's daughter that I did not know yesterday, but I did, in deference to my number 3 daughter who is a good friend and classmate of one of her sisters.

Ben< Okay. Any more illustrations of this one?

Khufu< Yep ... one more that I really didn't want to do, but did anyway ... fold the three piles of laundry hanging around on my bed! (Even though I was still suffering from yesterday's hay fever attack!)

FRAML< Ben: I had a job I grew to hate, but I didn't quit because it was the only employment I had. But I did keep looking for another one.

Ben< ALL: The point here is, we *can* do things we don't feel like doing. That is what is meant by will power.

SLIDER< Ben: Are these illustrations things that one has control over -- or things that cannot be changed because of other circumstances?

Ben< SLIDER: I'm not asking about "can" or "cannot" in this exercise, so yes, these illustrations apply to things within your control.

Ben< ALL: (2) The statement for the upper right window is: "I don't want to, and I won't." Or in the past tense, "I didn't want to, and I didn't." Please illustrate this type of decision from your own experience. YOUR TURN

FRAML< Ben: That one is easy: Jump out of a perfectly good airplane while it is in the air.

Khufu< heee heee ... today I did not do any major house cleaning that I usually do on Saturdays ... did not wash the darn floor, nor dust off the furniture, nor do the washroom, nor pass the vacuum ... and the worst part is that, for once, I didn't feel guilty about it!

lys< I don't want to do things I don't feel like doing, and I won't. I just don't have enough time in the days to do what I choose to do.

Yopo< I don't want my thoughts, ideas, etc., to be trapped in the box of unquestioning conventionality. And if they were, I wouldn't be HERE. *smile*

lys< Yopo: *smile*

Lor< I plan to redo a VHS tape edit that'll take about another two weeks' effort, because I am dissatisfied with the low tape quality caused by too many copies of copies of copies, etc. I feel too embarrassed to send copies to the many people that want to see what we did on our trip to Greece last May.

SLIDER< I won't willfully cause harm or distress to another living thing unless it is completely unavoidable.

Yopo< SLIDER: To the extent that I can control such things, I agree with you on that one!

lys< SLIDER: *smile*

greyman< One can effectively control "will power" until contact with an immovable obstacle.

Ben< I don't want to and I won't make promises that I know I can't fulfill.

Lor< I don't want to gamble away my life's savings on the lottery, and I really don't think I'll do that, so there. There are so many things that fit in this category!

Ben< ALL: Okay, the point here is, we can refuse, resist, within the limits of our capabilities. We do not have to always say "yes." This I call "won't power" (the flip side of will power). And in fact, won't power is stronger than will power.

lys< I would feel that *will* power were stronger. It just seems more positive of a vibe for me. I would hope that if I did say *no* people wouldn't view that as negative? Confusing.

Ben< lys: When we use will power, we usually need to move something or someone other than ourselves in order to accomplish our purpose. But won't power can be very nearly immovable, as illustrated by the stubbornness of donkeys and mules.

lys< Ben: I don't know ... more confusion. Why would I need to move something outside of myself ... living unconditionally in pure acceptance and in harmony? I do stuff from within, and without expectation or obligation ... freedom. It's probably the *words* that are confusing me ... but understand the wave. Sorry.

FRAML< lys: For example, convincing someone to help you complete a project, or that there is an easier/better way to accomplish the mission.

lys< FRAML: I don't know. Non-resistance to spirit is my philosophy. People I have learned are either open or closed to any easier/better way to accomplish the mission. I won't intrude on free will. And who am I to *know* really that it is easier or better?

FRAML< lys: If you're in a teamwork situation, all are needed to get the job done. If there is a way to get it done more efficiently, then, in my opinion, one is obliged to mention it. That is not infringing on free will. As an army officer, I had to motivate my men to do things they didn't think they could do, because the mission required it and because keeping them alive required me to make them do it.

lys< FRAML: I agree, but if you're working truly as a *team* and *one*, then it wouldn't much be a matter of convincing others to do something. Good team players tend to be on the same *wave* and there is no competition. The level you speak of I can't even image, and I have a lot of respect for you. So, apples and oranges, maybe.

FRAML< lys: Agreed. Let me pose this to see if we have a common view: If you saw someone doing an act that could cause them injury or death, would you warn them to try to prevent it? Or would you still choose not to intervene with their "free will"? I would intervene.

lys< FRAML: That is a major *tough* question to answer, and something I am trying to resolve. I look at each individual as a *soul* and each *soul* learns by experience. As *souls* we are all at different lessons. Those that murder today might have been the ones sitting in judgment yesterday. It's all experiences ... this my soul speaks ... but my *humanness* would try to prevent it ... if it was purely an accidental thing ... but if someone was *choosing* to do themselves harm, I think my *soul* would step in and say "Who are you to judge and stop an experience? Did you NOT touch the hot burner when you were a child because you were told NOT to?" It's confusing, FRAML. I realize things at soul level ... but the humanness ... I am in physical form ... tough to resolve.

Yopo< lys: Military life tends to render a lot of "I want to's" and "I don't want to's" irrelevant, of necessity.

lys< Yopo: I have a hard time imaging military life. I could not deal with it at all. Those that do and can really blow my mind ... much discipline.

Lor< Ben: I agree about "won't" power being rather powerful.

SLIDER< Ben: "Won't Power" is sure harder to blend into everyday life, sooo many choices!

greyman< One can effectively control "won't power" until contact with an immovable obstacle.

lys< greyman: *smile*

Ben< greyman: True, there are forces and resistances outside of our circle of self-control. Right now, I'm looking within that circle, at capabilities often overlooked.

Ben< ALL: (3) The statement for the lower left window is: "I want to, and I will." Or in the past tense, "I wanted to, and I did." Please illustrate this type of decision from your own experience. YOUR TURN

FRAML< Easy. I joined the army (well, I sort of felt I had to for personal reasons of self-proof) but applying for and accepting a commission.

Ben< I wanted to take my grandchildren to the petting zoo, and I did, and I'm *glad* I did!

Lor< Well, I wanted to get married to my wife, and I am still particularly glad that I did! *s*

lys< I wanted to do something really *fun* and *crazy* and I will be landing in Seattle on May 19th and driving cross country with a *friend* I met in SWC, and I can't stop laughing. This is going to be one heck of a trip!

SLIDER< I wanted to enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning, and I did.

Yopo< I wanted to learn to play the guitar. Wanted to find local like-minded folks. Wanted to listen to the Grateful Dead sitting on the grass under a full moon. *sigh* I want to see Stonehenge ... I'm gonna do that, too.

lys< Yopo: (*big sigh*) ... miss those days ... but we can still listen under the full moons ... liked-minded folks ... we are everywhere!

Yopo< lys: ***smile***

Lor< I want to stop putting off writing a report that I need to write before it becomes OBE (overtaken by events), so I hope I get it out of the way as soon as I get other promised things out of the way.

Ben< ALL: The point here is, we humans can *initiate* actions that would not occur without us, as an exercise of our own free will.

greyman< Capabilities are sometimes limited by imagination.

lys< greyman: That's one for the fridge!

SLIDER< greyman: Capabilities can be limited by lack of imagination, also. *S*

Ben< greyman: Yes, In my opinion, capabilities are often limited by imagination ("Gee, I couldn't do that") -- and even more often, by lack of imagination ("Gee, I didn't know I could do that").

Yopo< Imagination strikes me as one of our most wonderful tools. EVERYTHING made by man first exists in the imagination.

greyman< Becoming an uncaused cause, sometimes does not require much imagination.

island< Ben: Sorry, I missed a great deal of this conversation, but what I see is great. Thanks.

Ben< ALL: (4) The statement for the lower right window is: "I want to, but I won't." Or in the past tense, "I wanted to, but I didn't." Please illustrate this type of decision from your own experience. YOUR TURN

FRAML< Yes, restraint in yelling at someone because they cut you off in traffic.

Khufu< I wanted to telephone my boarder on his cell phone when he left for work at 5.30 am this morning, to tell him that he forgot to turn off the stove light, the basement lights, the TV, the entrance doorway light and lock the front door ... but I didn't ... would of probably pissed him off so early in the morning.

Yopo< Hmm. There's some sorta relationship between the upper left box and the bottom right. Leastwise for me.

[Ben< Yopo: Yes. Very perceptive. I'll focus on that in my summary.]

SLIDER< I want to go out on the interstate and really smoke the tires and see how fast my truck will go -- but I won't -- damn highway patrol!

greyman< SLIDER: zacktly!

lys< As a kid I always said I wanted to, but I didn't. I couldn't come out with the truth that I didn't want to, so I didn't. But NOW ... hahahah ... no problems. If I want to do something, I will, and if I don't, I won't.

Lor< I have thought about trying out Viagra, but have resisted the "urge" so far.

lys< haahahahahha

SLIDER< Lor: Only in the nineties, recreational drugs by prescription. HA HA

Lor< SLIDER: That wouldn't be an obstacle in my case, as my Doctor has even suggested it! *LOL*

greyman< SLIDER: The new buzz phrase: "Don't forget Viagra when goin' to Niagara."

island< I have of late had the desire to be totally honest with a friend, but didn't, mainly because she said she wants distance and boundaries. So I guess I have to respect that even though what she says and does hurts.

Ben< ALL: Okay, the point here is, we are capable of self-restraint. We don't have to go along with every whim. We can recognize and reject temptations, according to our own concepts of right and wrong.

SLIDER< Ben: The only problem here is that we get into sociology and have to follow the laws that man has established -- those same laws have instilled fear of reprisal and taken some of our "free will" away and made us chose "free won't" or face the consequences!!

Ben< SLIDER: Yes, as soon as we look *outside* of our own circle of self-control, we encounter the rest of the universe, including nature and its laws, society and its laws, etc.

greyman< Ben: 286,282 MPH ... it's the law in a vacuum!

SLIDER< greyman: You lost me on the vacuum speed -- is that max speed, or all we can obtain at this time?

greyman< SLIDER: Speed of light in 3-space vacuum.

Ben< SUMMARY: We have barely scratched the surface of decision-making; but we have looked at two types of self-discipline (upper left and lower right), and two types of self-indulgence (upper right and lower left), without saying that either self-discipline or self-indulgence is always good or bad, right or wrong. We are capable of making these four types of decisions.

Yopo< Ben: Discipline and indulgence, devoid of moral polarity. So the rightness and wrongness is somewhere "outside" our box. Hmm ...

greyman< Yopo: Bingo!

FRAML< Yopo: To me those four are central to the decisions I make in deciding which square I place my answer in.

Ben< Yopo: Rightness and wrongness are outside *this* box (decision matrix), but they are (or can be) within our circle of self-control. We can inherit, or select, or invent concepts of right and wrong, and then use them in making decisions.

Lor< Ben: It seems to me that some of our toughest choices are in selecting one of two or more beneficial things when they are mutually incompatible, and conversely, one of two or more undesirable things when at least one must be selected.

Ben< Lor: Yes, some of our toughest choices are those *within* our control. The types of problems you described are largely due to conflicting ideals.

SLIDER< Ben: As Lor just commented, it comes down to decision-making at each and every waking moment. Then to come full circle, it's a matter of morals, and laws -- natural or man-made -- hopefully with divine guidance --- then to be comfortable with one's decisions.

Yopo< I find I tend to see self-discipline itself in a positive moral light, and to be a bit skeptical about self-indulgence. Must be the residual effects of my Puritanical ancestors.

FRAML< Yopo: I think self-discipline is not necessarily from "Puritanical ancestors", but from a need to control ourselves for our own survival -- literally life or death decisions, and also how we interact with others.

Yopo< FRAML: Point well-taken.

Ben< Yopo: Self-discipline is seldom popular, because most people want what they want when they want it. Self-indulgence is always popular, for the same reason, and it goes by many other names. But severe self-discipline (austerities, such as practiced by the monastics of all religions) can be foolishly self-destructive, in my opinion.

lys< Well, with self-indulgence and self-discipline there is a balance within. Geez, my resolution for '98 was to live a hedonistic lifestyle and experience 24/7. I went through the eastern purification for years and denial of senses. So, time for self-indulgence. Anything *good* we were told was bad. Think about it. Just basic things.

[Ben< lys: Yes, balance is needed. An extremely self-disciplined life can be harsh, joyless, no fun at all. But an extremely self-indulgent life can be robot-like slavery to one's inner feelings, emotions, whims. Rejecting both of these extremes means choosing some of each, so a balanced life consists of many, many choices between self-discipline and self-indulgence.]

Ben< ALL: My basic theme for tonight was: The most important control we have is self-control, and the truest mastery is self-mastery.

FRAML< Ben: Agreed. And for me that includes the discipline and morality that I have internalized as a part of me and thus is within and outside of the 4 rooms you began with.

Ben< /topic OPEN

lys< Lor: Could you give an example of what you said about tough choices ... the more undesirable things or side of it?

Lor< lys: I once did not force a brilliant friend and associate of mine to stop drinking even when he became an alcoholic, in deference to his free will and self-respect. In retrospect, I deeply regret not having done so, for I allowed him to cause himself such fantastic pain when his liver quit passing blood while his heart still kept pumping blood to the point that he bloated up like a pregnant woman and the pressure caused his brain to become deranged. I sense that had I used more maturity and literally forced him to quit, he'd still be alive today.

Yopo< Lor: Seems to me we can seldom "make" anybody do anything.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, we can seldom make anybody do or not do anything, but we can try to persuade, and we can sometimes use force if necessary. Conversely, others can seldom make us do or not do anything, but they can try to persuade us, and some of them can use force if they deem it necessary. This is the picture of "won't power" in the real world.

lys< Lor: Your friend needed the experience. Is anything inherently good or bad, when you look from a spiritual light? If we are all experiencing, your friend taught you many lessons as well as others and learning himself. I believe we create our own realities 24/7 ... and there is so much order and sense to this universe. With your friend's experience, now you KNOW you would step in, but don't beat yourself up because you needed the experience fully to learn. It served many purposes. The key is we keep RE--re-ACTing, REmembering ... what does RE mean? to get back ... so we're all getting there.

Khufu< lys: What do you mean by 24/7? Is this a date for something?

lys< Khufu: 24/7 means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ... our message of linear time in this *place*. hahaha

Khufu< OK (LOL)! I was wondering there. It's also my birthday (that's why I was curious).

Lor< The lesson I learned with my friend was: there are situations that demand that we at least attempt to prevent someone from harming themselves by even using force because we do care so much. I have some sense of relief in that I was at least able to help him go to the light some months after he died.

Lioness< Lor: You think the soul can be hurt?

Lor< Lioness: Have you never been hurt -- I mean other than by physical pain? I sense that our souls are yet another form, not yet understood, certainly not by scientists -- not electric or magnetic, but consisting of still another form of fundamental substance, not subject to the limitations we know apply to electromagnetic energy. For example, no time or space constraints, no speed of light constraints, etc.

FRAML< lys: Are you a parent?

lys< We're all parents, FRAML. We're all teachers and students ... whatever ... ya know. If I saw a child being hurt, I would step in. If I saw abuse I would speak up. That is my humanness, even though my soul will whisper, "There is no such thing as victims."

FRAML< lys: To me, you are evading the question with "we are all parents, etc." Being a parent instills certain "soul" controlled guidance in me on how I teach my daughters, protect them from harm. Also, in my view, the society today has tried to make everyone a victim, thus resulting in the attitude that "I'm not responsible for my own actions."

Yopo< FRAML: Well said! I think we are ultimately responsible for our every action.

FRAML< Yopo: Thank you. Here in DC, I hear folks on talk radio blaming everyone but themselves for their problems, and asking others to provide the solutions "Because that is the job of (fill in the blank)." Self-responsibility went down the tubes as we have shifted to the concept of "It's society's fault". And who is society but each of us?

[Ben< "Everything" and "nothing" are the two extremes of a duality. One extreme says we are responsible for everything that happens to us -- there are no victims. The other extreme says we are not responsible for anything that happens to us -- we are all victims. The middle way says we are responsible for some of the things that happen to us, and sometimes we actually are innocent victims.]

lys< FRAML: I agree. We are responsible for what we choose to do. We always have choice as to how we respond and react. I was just pointing out the conflict of being in physical body, but realizing FULLY your essence is LOVE ... no duality. And all essence is LOVE. Every single one of us is just having a human experience and learning. And someday, I see the masses awakened to the fact that they are LOVE. Then all this humanness that is so weird ... ahhh ... lost it.

Ben< lys: Good comment on humanness. I believe humanness is a condition not to be despised but eventually (gently and systematically) transcended.

Lioness< Ben: Yes, the darker side of humanness can be transcended, but what about the good side of it? To be human is to make mistakes, but only by trial and error can we evolve into better, for that is the only way Life teaches. In all things, evolution, from worse to better, from better to worse, from simpler to complex and visa versa, from one form to another, adaptation is the human condition ... that is what defines humanness ... adaptivity to our surroundings, not just responding as animals do or nature does, but acting from will ... thus we are balanced.

Yopo< Ben: Almost makes humanhood in general sound like a negative thing. (I know you don't really mean it that way.) Uh, surely some of our human qualities are gonna be of great value, even when we drop our monkey-bodies off in the costuming dept.

Ben< Yopo: In my opinion, humanness is not spiritually negative, but neutral. There are higher and lower forms of life than human (incarnate or discarnate).

Yopo< Ben: We're talking of humanness as our collection of biological urges, learned and instinctual responses, etc.? As parts of the "costume"?

Ben< Yopo: I was speaking of humanness as a combination of spiritual and material, a soul operating a physical body, and not merely the physical costume.

Yopo< Ben: So I thought. Just wanted to be sure. It's difficult for me, though, to imagine the state of my spirit divorced from the body. Even dreaming, there is a sort of body we are in, and though many physical limitations have fallen away, the issues are still issues relating to the physical. When ALL those issues are removed, I wonder what we are dealing with?

Lioness< Ben: Could humanness be defined as middle of the road? For to be successful is to be adaptive, is to be middle of the road and stay that way, but accumulating what we have learned and what we are learning ... adaptivity in constant acting evaluation.

Ben< Lioness: Yes, I find humans to be mid-astral beings. However, we not only adapt ourselves to our environment; we persistently attempt to alter our environment to suit ourselves.

Lioness< Ben: True, midway, but to be perfect in oneness (this is just a viewpoint) could be to exist in perfect balance with everything, for neither the body nor the soul was made to be without the other ... but because of the misalignment long ago, they have become out of sync with each other, and the physical body matures much faster than the soul because it is no longer eternal. It lost that eternal condition long ago when our beings became misaligned ... but we have adapted around that because when we die, our soul (physical, it is) is mature enough to exist in physical form in it's own physical state, but the body is simply a reflection, a housing, for the emergence, like the development of a butterfly. It doesn't die; it just changes form, but stays physical all the same.

lys< Lioness: Wonderful! Thank you for sharing that thought. I am living non-resistant to spirit, and I can say of the aging factor ... ha ... I feel as if I could live forever. I like how you put that ... and WOW ... I would LOVE to live a long, long time, and right now ... so far so good ... haven't aged a day in almost 15 years!

FRAML< Lioness, lys: I guess I don't apply a physical aspect to my soul, or the term as I define it. It is the spark of life within me. Yes, there may be an aura around me, but that, to me, is ethereal, not physical. Physical means my body, or a rock, or a hunk of steel.

Lioness< FRAML: I have always learned the way of the Eternal Balance, for one cannot exist without the other.

FRAML< Lioness: I guess I'm rather dense on this one. Eternal balance where? Is there a when?

Lioness< FRAML: Eternal Balance is more than a process, it's a condition, a state of being in which the soul is in the process of constant transformation and growing, but always in balance with the body surrounding it, for that is where the process begins. When the soul and body are in sync (which can be achieved easily in life) then the positive being emerges ... simply, the positive feeling-good person.

lys< FRAML: On a subconscious level ... beyond the words ... I think we're feeling the same thing. My spirit is a spark ... and it burns.

FRAML< lys: To me, the "spark" is the source that gives this body life. It does not burn as fire. It is "breathed" into us (meaning of spirit). When the body dies, the "breath of life" departs, both as physically ceasing to breathe and our soul also departs.

Lioness< FRAML: I have always known that death is but a phase of existence, like evolution in a way, but physical life exists after death because that is when the entire being is balanced and fully mature (example: a soul, spirit being physically able to lift objects).

FRAML< Lioness: "Physical life exists after death"? Death of the body or of the soul? I don't understand your concept.

Lioness< FRAML: Death of neither, but the accumulation of the two parts of existence into one eternal balance. Simply, the union of the two into one complete, balanced being. A soul is just as physical as the real body, it can be touched, felt.

Ben< Lioness: I consider souls to be spiritual, not material. They are not subject to the laws of physics or material space-time.

Lioness< Ben: I respect your view. I have learned there are different states of physical form, like solid, liquid, gas. Same goes for the soul, still spiritual and physical, but instead of being in a solid body, it's like gas ... if you follow me ... but still physical.

lys< Lioness: Keep communicating ... your words are flowing like majick right now and it's wonderful feeling them ... thanks x eternity :)

Lioness< lys: The physical body is a part of you, but also, it is just a reflection of your true being form ... like kids who die at birth or early in life ... they don't stop spiritually growing, learning and developing simply because they "died" ... they take a different route in being maturity, as many beings do, but in the end we all get there, no matter the path. Their soul/physical form is the true self and their physical body was just a reflection, but like a broken or distorted mirror, some of our bodies are distorted (deformed), in some cases reflections of our true soul form and some do not reflect the true soul form. That is why, when a child dies, their soul form continues to develop normally because they are not affected by diseases, scars, and can grow perfectly healthy.

FRAML< Lioness: Have you developed the concept you are explaining to us yourself, or through study? If so, what have you studied?

lys< Lioness: kewl. Basic Spirituality 101 along the path that I walk. Got anything above and beyond ... move the classroom from kindergarten up to 12th grade level, if you know what I mean. Thanks.

Lioness< lys: Thanx, friend. Creation in constant manifestation experiencing.

lys< Lioness: Yup ... and it is really fun to create and manifest and ride that wave. Life is excellent!

Ben< Lioness: You seem to be using the word "physical" the way I use the word "real." A spiritual body is real, but it isn't a physical body.

Lioness< Ben: In a sense yes, in a sense both. I use the spectrum of the definition in which I understand it to apply what it means ... like a glass half full or half empty ... it's both, but either/or depending on how you look at it. "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

FRAML< Ben: I agree with your definition.

lys< FRAML: Remember there is no right or wrong definition. You may resonate with someone else's thoughts ... and that is kewl. We all listen to a somewhat different drummer. My soul is burning like fire ... it is creation ... hard to explain my *reality* in mere mortal words without really losing the feeling and intensity.

[Ben< Hmm. If there were no right or wrong definitions, communication would be impossible. And even though we have consensus definitions in dictionaries, semantic confusion makes communication difficult.]

FRAML< lys: I do see definite "rights and wrongs" in this world, in morality, ethics (not situational), and definitions by which we use words to communicate our ideas.

Lioness< FRAML: Could the defined rights and wrongs be just descriptive points in which we choose which parameters apply?

lys< FRAML: Oh, my humanness definitely agrees with you from physical/human body, but when I look from soul eyes, I know this is just an illusion. My *soul* is eternal. It will not fade and *die* ... but my body ... am very grounded within it ... and KNOW what I can and can't do with it.

Lioness< lys: Why do you refer to yourself as "it" like your soul is a thing? It is you, not an it. Your soul has a name, your name, your soul is your being is what you are.

lys< Lioness: Okay, this time I'm lyssa, soooo, in this physical body you could call my soul lys.

[The following conversation actually began earlier, but sometimes it is impossible to organize several parallel conversations into a single linear transcript.]

lys< When you're talking spiritual ... the source there is not negative or positive, it just IS. Being here in physical, we can intellectualize all this spiritual to the best of our abilities, but we are really only going to KNOW when we experience it ... or know our own experience of it ... but spiritual just is ... no duality, at least that's what I sense about it ... and I will say I could be completely and utterly wrong, but right now it makes sense to me.

greyman< lys: Ripples never come back (Genesys 1976).

Lor< lys: Wasn't it the Buddha who indicated that the old ideas of duality were flawed, in that reality generally has a much wider spectrum that exists between two extremes -- like many shades of gray between black and white?

Lioness< Lor: That is what I mean, the two points of duality are black and white with the rest of the spectrum thrown in between.

lys< Lor: I studied that long ago and so can't really *remember* who said what! But sounds correct. My mind is no longer *great* with remember all the details ... more into *being* and *experiencing* now than *thinking* about it all!

Lor< lys: I am concerned that you seem unaware of the dangers of choosing to be open even to malevolent spirits that would cause you pains of many dimensions.

lys< Lor: I don't *believe* in malevolent spirits, so therefore they would not *manifest* in my *reality*. I am *open* and *open* to the Source which is Love. Soooo ... don't worry about me ... I am in full wisdom of what I am partaking.

Yopo< lys: Hmm... Stuff I don't believe in occasionally turns up. *smile*

lys< Yopo: hmmm... Sure you're not giving it *belief*? If you're talking spiritual beings ... in spirit you realize that the projections of *evil* or that *duality* is created from your own mind stuff ... for some, the *reality* of malevolent beings. I don't deny that for them ... just not my reality is all I'm saying.

Yopo< lys: I suppose there is some "level" where one may rise above duality, good and evil, etc., but down here where I live there seems to be plenty of dark energy about. If you've found a way to exclude it from your reality, more power to ya!

lys< Yopo: In the *now* I am really putting out the love 24/7 and the peace. I don't deny what is *reality* manifesting here in the physical that I can see with my human eyes at all, but I am thinking love all the time and it is being mirrored back to me. Seems what I put out is what I get back ... so I think positive and good thoughts.

Lor< lys: Apparently you just have not yet encountered people that have suffered from actions of malevolent spirits even though they did not believe such spirits existed in anyone's reality.

lys< Lor: I don't deny other people's experiences of malevolent beings, but I would disagree ... and that's just my opinion ... that they didn't NOT have belief in them at all. I myself have no *fear* when I am out there. If the like vibes are attracting the like vibes of LOVE ... maybe I'm just getting lucky ... but then again, I don't believe in luck at that level. To each his own ...

SLIDER< Ben: I've spoken to you before about a spark of light while in the OB state -- can you define in your words how that spark relates to the soul? I feel it is concentrated energy that makes up the spirit/soul -- intelligent energy -- can you comment?

Ben< SLIDER: I find that a soul can take many forms or shapes, but its most basic form is a spark of spirit-light.

stormfire< Ben: I often see it as a brilliant electric blue light.

Lioness< Ben: AMEN, brother Ben, to that one! I firmly believe that a mature soul can choose a form!

Yopo< Ben: Interesting. I haven't had many conscious encounters with discarnate beings, but one certainly involved something along those lines. I was drifting off toward sleep, and managed to balance in between for a time. I was suddenly surrounded by a "swarm" of small glowing spheres. Recognized them as being "alive" and was VERY startled. I demanded "Who are you?" (with a certain note of fear, I must confess), and they took off like a flock of sparrows.

[Ben< Yopo: Maybe they *were* a flock of sparrows. *smile*]

SLIDER< Ben: Yes, my thoughts are the same as you and Yopo on the shape or form. I was interested if you had any insight as to the natural or traveling shape of a soul/spirit ?

Ben< SLIDER: The most natural shape seems to be the point or spark of light. Next most natural, a sphere, like a fat star if radiant, or a black ball if absorbing energy. Then thought-form shapes and projections of all sorts, including human or humanoid.

SLIDER< Ben: Then I would expect that an astral traveling soul/spirit would have full mastery of the power of photons -- being able to absorb or expel light??

Ben< SLIDER: Spiritual light and physical light are not the same. For example, the Source of the Spirit-Light isn't our neighborhood star, Sol.

SLIDER< Ben: Yes, I understand the difference. I guess I'm confused as to when in physical or OB one can see the same sparks. Would that be the manifestation control of the spark in question? or are there laws of physics in third dimension that would dictate this?

Ben< SLIDER: We see spirit-sparks by clairvoyance either in our bodies or out of our bodies. (If you are in your body and see them with your eyes closed, you are seeing them clairvoyantly and they aren't radiating physical light.)

SLIDER< Ben: I see them with my eyes open and closed -- just trying to find a correlation to understand why. *S*

Ben< SLIDER: From our earlier conversations, I have gathered that you are unusually clairvoyant. When you see something with eyes open and closed, notice what does and does not vanish when you close your eyes.

SLIDER< Ben: I'll keep better track of such experiences, as I'm usually a bit surprised myself when something that has happened to me, unexplainable at the time, becomes explainable with understanding and talking to others with similar experiences.

lys< People wonder why the great experiment failed? If all those people were living that great experiment 24/7 then it would be a reality 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I live that 24/7. If something *negative* were to occur, I would *choose* to see it in a different light and realize that the duality is irrelevant and the experience that is important to me ... just my opinion ...

greyman< lys: Has it failed?

lys< greyman: I just has a lot of love in my heart and try to pour that into the brain and everything else about my physical. Others tell me to take off the rose-colored glasses before I'm hurt ... but hey, I'm happy and smiling and laughing and just having a good time, so my reality others might find unrealistic, but it keeps me balanced. :)

Yopo< lys: I do believe our beliefs create our reality. I just think my reality is a shared place, so the beliefs of others shape my reality as well.

lys< Yopo: The only thing is, I have moved to a space that I won't let *others* beliefs shape my reality as I choose to *re-act* to situations. I refuse to give others power over me to get me to *react* negatively. I understand what you're saying, but we can separate our own *inner* realities and then manifest them outwardly, and not just *act* and *re-act* like others' realities that may not be right for us. I'm tired ... sorry if I'm making no sense.

Yopo< lys: You're coming through loud and clear. And I know there's truth in what you're sayin'. *s*

lys< Yopo :)

[Ben< Hmm. Yes. We can separate our inner realities from external reality. And it can be a sort of self-control: the artificial elevation of one's own mood by selective affirmation and denial, regardless of external reality and regardless of what anyone else believes. This type of thinking releases feels-good brain chemicals just as thinking about pickles releases saliva. One can be addicted to those chemicals.]

Ben< Yopo: Good point about shared reality. There are some sentient beings (like the grizzly bear, for example) whose beliefs create a reality in which we are their lunch.

[Ben< While editing this transcript, I remembered an encounter I once had with a tiger in a zoo. He was standing close to the bars of his cage, looking out, and he seemed to be bored. When our eyes met, he thought-at-me, "I could eat you." I was startled to hear his thought in my mind, involuntarily took half a step backward, but then stopped, maintained eye contact, and thought-at-him, "Yes... And then many of my kind would come, and hunt you down, and bind you, and kill you." The tiger blinked his eyes very rapidly, took two steps backward, lowered his head, and then turned his head and eyes away from me. I turned my head and eyes away from him, but watched him with my peripheral vision. He glanced at me, then turned away, walked to the back of his cage, and lay down. When our eyes met, he blinked both eyes, slowly, once -- so I also blinked both eyes, slowly, once. He looked away from me, stretched, and began licking the back of one front paw. A negotiated peace. But, except for the fact that he was in a cage, this encounter might have had a different ending.]

lys< Yopo: Today I was pondering RE. We are re-doing, re-incarnating, re-acting, re-membering. What does RE mean? going back to a former state or condition? Well ... hmmm ... I rather choose to just BE. I'm just tired ... soul wise, physical wise ... too tired to keep thinking about all this. I have been moving into the space of just experiencing and enjoying whatever unfolds and TRUSTING in spirit to take me to where I need to be, and knowing I will ALWAYS have EVERYTHING I NEED ... No more, No LESS ... in every moment. This is *me* at this *moment* of time.

[Ben< Hmm. RE means "back" or "again". In this case, perhaps, a turning back from laborious self-discipline to hedonistic self-indulgence. Now this soul is tired. Perhaps what sounds like affirmations of bliss is actually a spiritual cul-de-sac.]

Yopo< lys: I think about this stuff as a form of re-creation. When I get a headache, I stop for a while. *s*

lys< Yopo: The energies I lend my thoughts to these day are Love and all variations thereof. When it comes to burning the brain, I've just moved into the space of putting it all down and wanting to LIVE instead of spinning the endless questions. I've been spinning them for years ... hehehe ... just need a vacation for a few. hahah

Yopo< lys: Like Ram Dass says: just "Be Here Now." It is a wonderful way to live, I'm sure. A wonderful purity about it. But I'm forever pulling the past into the present, and trying to pull the future here, too. My Now is composed of that stuff as much as the contents of the moment. And HEY! If the present is where the past and future meet, it's nothing but a non-existent boundary anyhow. How can I possibly cram all of my stuff into such a narrow spot?

lys< Yopo: "Be here now" has been spoken since the beginning of time ... same *thought* different words to express. That's what I love about all this. And on another note I love: poets know ... scientists are just learning.

Yopo< Ben: I conceive of the entire Universe as existing as a dream in the mind of Creator. Does that metaphor make sense to you? That ALL is but a dream, but the dream is as real as it gets? Then it sort of follows that we co-create in our own minds. Our own dreams are instrumental.

Ben< Yopo: I have heard it said that all reality is merely a dream -- the Creator's or our own -- but I do not know that to be true. On the other hand, I do know the difference between my own dreams, my own waking state, and my own (several) altered states of consciousness.

greyman< Yopo: Golly, what happens when the Creator wakes up!

Yopo< I hope Creator doesn't get lonely. Must be lonely at the top.

lys< Yopo: More fun ... alone, lonely ... alONE and lONEly ... hehehhe ... no such thing as being *alone* or *lonely* when we are ALLONE!

stormfire< lys: Thanks. I'd never viewed the word "alone" in that way before. Funny how the simplest things can hide from us. *S*

greyman< Yopo: Makes ya wonder why we are in existence.

Yopo< greyman: It's just the only game in town.

Lor< Yopo: Perhaps our universe is not a dream as such but the result of highly intense directed thoughts from God. No one that I know of conjectures that God needs to sleep as we mortals do, so why must we try to characterize God based on our limited selves?

Yopo< Lor: Wasn't meaning to imply God has fallen asleep on the job! *s* I meant "dream" more in the sense that consciousness is the ultimate ground of being. Specifically, Creator's consciousness. We are like cast-off rays of light, or sparks rising from the Fire.

Lor< Yopo: Regarding it being lonely at the top, I've heard it expressed that is the reason that God created us in his image, as it has been said, and grants us so much loving care, always protecting our rights to a free will, so that after we eventually learn to get along well enough with one another to be entrusted to live together amicably as spirits together in heaven, each with a wonderfully different background of experiences and personalities, we would form a fascinating community of spirits interacting with each other and with him and enjoying all the exciting possibilities that creative power might conceive.

SLIDER< Lor: That was a great way of putting things -- at least for those of us that follow that line of thought. *S*

Yopo< Lor: An interesting idea! I hope Creator will be patient with us. *smile*

10. Circle of Self-Control
Session 4: Sat 16 May 1998

Ben< ALL: Tonight I would like to look at the perimeter of our individual circles of self-control. This perimeter functions very much like the semi-permeable membrane that forms the cell wall of a single-celled organism, but unlike the lower forms of life, we can fairly well control what we do and do not receive (intake), and what we do and do not transmit (output).

Ben< ALL: To explore this semi-permeable interface between our inner world and the world around us, I will post a question for you to answer from your experience. After you have responded, I may add a comment or observation before posting the next question. And although this is a huge subject area, I will limit myself to four questions (two in each of two categories).

Ben< ALL: (1) Have you been lied to (where the other person knew that what he or she said was not true)? If so, did you accept (believe) the lie? And if you believed it, how did you discover that it was not true? YOUR TURN

Lotus< Yes. It was not congruent with what had been spoken.

Azriel< Yes, and I've believed and also doubted. "The truth will out" has usually given light to the deception!

Ben< Azriel: Good point. Believing, doubting, and disbelieving are among the options within our circle of self-control. All three are things we can choose to do.

FRAML< Yes, my ex-wife ... when she moved out and in with the guy she had been sleeping with while I was on field duty in the Army.

Ben< FRAML: I take it that her actions spoke more truly than her words?

FRAML< Ben: I didn't know it was going on until I came home from Duty NCO and found a note on the refrigerator door and all her stuff gone.

Yopo< Hmm ... I honestly can't recall an instance when I was consciously lied to. Times where what I was told turned out not to be my own truth, certainly, but not when I was actually lied to. Maybe that's selective memory on my own part.

the_Muse< I have been lied to by people that use lies to manipulate my emotions. I think we all have.

SLIDER< In my younger years I was lied to quite often -- I think because I was raised in the country and trusted most everyone I came in contact with. After getting burned a number of times financially and emotionally, I started trusting my own intuitions and listening to my inner self. I still try to look for the good in most people, and have been able to look through most lies in my maturity, and those that try to lie to me seem to know that.

Azriel< Although I am not naive, I'm vulnerable to being deceived because I still want to believe the best of everyone.

Blueiris< Yes, the lie made me not trust my own perceptions ... when the person confessed the lie I was very angry for the breach of trust.

Caelum< Ouch, Ben, your question fills my whole being with the same sadness that I felt when I discovered a huge lie that effected me very deeply. The pain never quite went away.

Azriel< Caelum: The act of being lied to can be much more painful than the reality that was concealed. (((HUGS)))

Blueiris< Azriel: So true!

Caelum< Azriel: Well said. *S*

Ben< Anyone here ever buy a car that turned out to be a lemon? If so, the salesman probably lied to you.

FRAML< Ben: Not a car, but I know a lot of folks who bought a president.

SLIDER< Ben: Do you know a good honest lawyer? HaHa

Ben< By the way, do you know the difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman? A used car salesman knows when he is lying to you. *grin*

the_Muse< I realized that the mechanism of flying all over the world in a sleigh was beyond current science, and noticed I never saw any flying deer.

Ben< the_Muse: When I was in the first grade, Santa visited the school. I went running outside and looked on the roof.

the_Muse< Ben: And found a mess, I bet.

[Ben< the_Muse: Well, I guess it was a bit of a mess for Santa. There wasn't anything on the roof except snow -- but there was a car in the driveway with steam coming out of its radiator. I heard later that Santa forgot to check the antifreeze.]

Lotus< Hahaha ~ Ben & Muse ~ Hahahah**

greyman< If (1) having knowledge of a lie, (2) the next logical step is to determine what is the purpose of the lie. If it does not damage anyone, one must determine if confronting the prevaricator will result in any good. If the lie is designed to harm, opposition may be required post haste.

the_Muse< So many lies ... I pray for a day when lies become impossible. When people's hearts and motivations are as plain as the nose on their face.

Ben< COMMENT: By experience, you know the difference between truth and falsehood.

Ben< ALL: (2) Have you been told something in error (where the other person sincerely believed it was true, but it was not true)? If so, did you accept (believe) it? And if you believed it, how did you discover that it was not true? YOUR TURN

Lotus< Yes ~ sometimes ~ later information or reality did not support it.

Ben< Lotus: Yes, reality reveals the difference between truth and falsehood, and also the difference between truth and error.

the_Muse< Ben: In the second case, it seems like I usually know it is a lie before the other person. As they are usually lying to themselves.

Ben< the_Muse: In the second question, I'm looking for the difference between a lie and a sincere error.

Azriel< I've told people things I thought were true, and then discovered I was wrong. I felt foolish but not deceitful -- no intent to deceive!

Blueiris< Yes, Azriel, same here: think I'm right only to discover mistaken later.

Ben< Azriel: I see that you have nicely inverted the question and looked at your own errors. No intent to deceive is precisely the difference between question #1 and question #2. *smile*

the_Muse< Ben: Intent to deceive would be the big reason. Then, if the intent to deceive is clear, I know the heart behind it if the deception is meant to hide hurtful things done or if it is meant to harm. Sometimes a deception is simple cowardice or even an attempt to save a person hurt. But a person that lies to harm or to conceal the harm they have done is harming themselves so much.

Caelum< My Mother told me that my then boyfriend was worthless, and she really believed that! We have been married a very long time. She really believed it.

FRAML< Ben: Having 20 years in the Army, I've lost count of that one. It was usually when something happened that wasn't suppose to ... does "pay screw-up" sound familiar?

[Ben< FRAML: All too familiar!]

Blueiris< Nothing comes to mind except the "Trickle Down Theory" of Mr. Reagan's.

greyman< Blueiris: Not to mention Bill Clinton. *G*.

the_Muse< Blueiris: That was what was going through my mind also! Politicians lie as a job description these days. But we encourage that by making them win popularity contests based on their ability to manipulate us through lying. So we keep getting more like the ones past.

Yopo< "The Army life is good, kid!" and "You're going to Viet Nam to stop the spread of Communist tyranny." *bitter laugh*

Blueiris< Ah, Yopo, I had forgotten about those lies.

SLIDER< My perception of anything these days is: Don't believe anything you hear or read and only half of what you see. I've become skeptical over the years because of the quality deceivers out there preying on the public.

FRAML< Ben: How do you split the difference between a lie and the gross incompetence of a personnel office where NO ONE seems to know the right answer? Also, we can use the example of the IRS, in which 50 agents were called with the same question and all gave a different answer, but "thought" they were correct?

SLIDER< FRAML: Seems it starts at the top of the chain of command. Ever heard it said, "I didn't INHALE"? *S*

Ben< COMMENT: Truth is not a synonym for belief, because we can believe lies or errors. Thus, the expressions "my truth" and "your truth" mean "my belief" and "your belief" -- and even the most sincerely held beliefs are not necessarily or equally true (valid).

Blueiris< Good point, Ben.

greyman< Even our sincere beliefs in physical constants are not necessarily or equally true. Is the speed of light 186,282 mph in this region of space? If we were near a strong gravitational field, that constant would be less because of curved space. Everything must be tested to some level of confidence.

Redhawk< Ben: I think when I was told something in error by accident, my own experience of my 'reality' showed me the error.

Azriel< Truth is valid to the belief, but not necessarily a universal reality.

the_Muse< Ben: The distinction you have pointed out between a falsehood and an error is key, I think.

Yopo< I'm still thinking about my response to question #1. Of course I've been lied to. In the course of my work I interview many folks who lie to me as a matter of routine. It is a given. It is so much a part of the routine that I don't even think about it. I guess I was thinking mainly of my personal life when I answered.

Redhawk< Ben: I'm having a problem with the definition of truth vs belief. What I believe IS my truth, no? How else? Maybe if I didn't believe in gravity, and had no cultural influence to the contrary, I would float ... ????

Ben< Redhawk: If you sincerely did not believe in the force of gravity, and therefore jumped off a roof, reality would reveal the error of that belief. *ouch*

Redhawk< Ben: Yeah, so I'd be flat-headed. BUT what if the entire population of this planet had no sincere belief in the force of gravity -- then what would happen?

Blueiris< Redhawk: Then we'd have a lot of flat-headed people! LOL

[Ben< Apparently some people now think the earth was flat when people believed it was flat, and that it became round because people believe it is round. Amazing!]

Ben< Starting the second category with the next question ...

Ben< ALL: (3) Have you tried to please someone -- but the person was not pleased? If so, how did you respond to that? And why? YOUR TURN

Azriel< I quit trying to 'please' others when I realized I was losing myself to those efforts!

SLIDER< That question should have sub-titles -- some people you can't please; you call them a dirty s-o-b, and others you kinda feel out with kid gloves to find the way to get through.

the_Muse< I tried to please a person who was very respected and successful. I turned from my own ideas of what would bring happiness and tried to achieve the sort of success they believed would mean happiness. I watched a kitten die on a cold windy day because they did not want it brought in. I realized that trying to please another person by living to standards of conduct below my own would only bring me grief. I couldn't achieve that kind of success, and if I did, I would be a colder, less honest person for having done so. But I wasted valuable years. That kitten was the end of letting others define right when it was obviously wrong.

Redhawk< the_Muse: I can only imagine I would have had the exact same response to the kitten situation. *hug* I'm sorry you had such a painful experience.

Blueiris< It has happened to me. My feelings were hurt ... then anger. How dare they not appreciate what I did for them? *G* My expectations were selfish as well as from the heart.

Ben< Blueiris: Bingo! What does and does not please a person depends on what that person does and does not want.

the_Muse< Yes to Blueiris's point, also. The person that you try to please other than yourself will never be pleased. Or they would already be pleased with who you are.

Lotus< Yes, I feel disappointed, but usually let it go, and do not do anything about it because it often seems useless to attempt to change their view of the situation.

Caelum< I have quit buying my kids stuff on a whim because 99% of the time they couldn't have cared less and their reactions broke my heart.

Azriel< You can carefully save someone all the blue M&M's, and hand them over with pride, only to discover they like the green ones!

SLIDER< I've also found that if you please yourself first (not in all situations), it's easier to please others with yourself having a good frame of mind.

Yopo< There have been many I would have pleased, but couldn't. Just as there are those who I would believe were truthful with me, but weren't. I guess I don't tend to hang onto the specifics of such situations. Instead I make an evaluation considering their character, or come to a conclusion about our relationship, then limit my dealings with them, as much as possible, to the range where I feel comfortable.

greyman< I built a 10 bit digital computer when I was 13. My father gave me no encouragement except to tell me that my harness cables were not bundled neatly. I gave it little thought and continued on my merry way until my mother told me many years later that my father took pictures of my work to share with his friends. I never asked my father why he did not express his appreciation to me. Maybe my mistake.

LadyV< greyman: Now I can relate to that. I've had patients who could not say a word of being pleased, and discovered they were all sharing my little world at the coffee hour. My point is, they could not say it to me, but could say it to each other. Perhaps custom, culture or embarrassment prevents this sometimes. Glad your Mom told you about the great joy and pride you gave your Dad.

Ben< COMMENT: What we give is not always what the other person receives. And yet, we can try to be graciously thoughtful in giving.

LadyV< Meaning that life without expectations of others is more peaceful, that wants are individual? I would feel that to meet the needs of self and allow for others is peace. Hummm. Depends I suppose on the point in one's life, as children do require expectations ... but this is not the issue here. If we want to know what a person wants, would it not be better to just ask?

Blueiris< Yes, LadyV, getting so bogged down in doing/being what we think another needs/expects can really screw things up.

[Ben< LadyV: Yes, it is wise to ask what the other person would like, and it is kind to let the other person know what you would like. A month before Christmas, our anniversary, and her birthday, Wyn (my wife) usually leaves a catalogue on the kitchen table, with one or two items circled -- and I am so grateful to her for that!]

[Ben< About 15 years ago, our family was Christmas shopping in a book store. Our son Bruce picked up a book and said to Laura (his wife), "I've been looking for this." Whereupon I reached around from behind him, took the book out of his hand, smiled, and said "Be surprised." Shortly thereafter, I found the complete works of Josephus in one book, and said to Wyn, "I didn't know this was in print." Bruce reached over my shoulder, took the book down from the shelf, smiled, and said "Be surprised." Thus began what is now a family tradition.]

Ben< ALL: (4) Has someone tried to please you -- but you were not pleased? If so, how did you respond to that? And why? YOUR TURN

Lotus< This last one doesn't happen much, but if I perceived their intentions were good, I would fake being pleased.

Azriel< If someone does something to 'please' me in the hopes of gaining something, no, I'm not pleased. I will tell them, gently or in stronger words, depending on their intentions.

Ben< Azriel: Yes, that's a good point -- the difference between the other person's intent to please you and his or her intent to manipulate you. A very different purpose, on his or her part.

SLIDER< My son cleaned and re-arranged my shop one week while I was working away -- his motives were honorable -- needless to say, I was not pleased, because some of the stuff he re-arranged I never did find.

Caelum< So, when someone tries real hard to please you and it doesn't please you, do you pretend it does to spare hurt feelings, or do you be honest and embrace reality? Anybody? Ben?

Ben< Caelum: Yes, when someone tries real hard to please me, I do pretend to be pleased, because I value the person, and his or her intent, more than the fact that I wouldn't wear that awful blue-and-orange-polka-dot necktie to a dog fight.

Blueiris< Yes, Ben, I would do whatever I could to fake happiness if necessary when someone tries to please me out of love.

Azriel< Ben: But then they will continue to give you those kind of things, or do the things that irritate you, thinking they're pleasing you!

Yopo< *LOL* My house is full of gifts one person or another thought I would be delighted with. Generally I feigned happiness when they were given, because they were given out of love.

FRAML< Ben: YOU forgot that was the tie I gave you for Christmas last year. *VBG*

Azriel< Ben ... and you could take FRAML shopping. LOL

Caelum< Pretending to be pleased is a lie, yes?

Ben< Caelum: Yes, pretending to be pleased is a lie. Nevertheless, kindness sometimes demands it -- like when my grandchildren present me with their loving artwork, and I express my pleasure in *them* regardless of the aesthetics.

LadyV< Caelum: You know, if a kid gave me a candy stick, I would take it regardless ... come to think of it. Like it or not, I don't think I would want to hurt the giver. It is just as important to learn to receive as to give, I feel. If I were given a creepy crawly thing by a kid, I might suggest that I had strong feelings concerning the creature, but I would not hurt the child. I would suggest that it be put in something other than my hand.

FRAML< LadyV: Yes, that is what I see as "graciousness in receiving."

Azriel< The gift of a child or any innocent is always wonderful because it truly comes from the heart.

Blueiris< Ben: Sometimes hedging the truth seems to be kinder.

Caelum< I do understand kindness ... but something is either a lie or not. The reason why it falls into either category is not for me or anyone else to judge.

greyman< Caelum: Shindler knew. Many were saved from the gas camps because of his lies.

SLIDER< greyman: That's a good point. I wonder if lying to the liars makes a difference? Ben, can you comment on that?

[Ben< SLIDER: I believe it would depend on one's purpose in lying to the liars.]

windy< SLIDER: Those who wish me harm count on me telling the truth.

SLIDER< windy: As sad as it is, that seems to be the motive of so many, and not only today but from eons ago!

Ben< Caelum: Concerning the priority of kindness over truthfulness, I am reminded of one of the Jewish rabbis' teachings: "It is lawful to tell a bride she is beautiful, even if she is not."

Lotus< Hehe ~ Ben ... (or the groom)

Caelum< Oh, Ben ... every bride is beautiful! I believe that!

the_Muse< Ben: I pray regularly to not be the recipient of a sincere and loving gift I cannot appreciate. Once, when I was still training horses, I was going to put up an arena. I had a corner with gravel that needed to be cleared first. Some loving neighbors came as a surprise and roto-tilled those rocks into the soil. So much work they did, to increase my own labors enormously. I felt so bad trying to properly appreciate their effort. And there was that dress my sister gave me!

windy< A well-meaning neighbor of mine once weeded out my entire planting of summer savory.

Blueiris< Seeing what they are giving/doing as a symbol of their feelings for you helps. Then you can transcend the physicality of the attempt to please and go right to what lies behind it.

LadyV< Blueiris: I agree with you. As with Muse's neighbors, that was love in action, and it spoke more loudly than all the words that could be said.

the_Muse< LadyV: Oh, yes, it was. And I loved them for it, even when I was out there with my manure fork and wheelbarrow picking the rocks out one by one. I have just taken to praying that I can be just as grateful for the action as I am for the thought. *s*

[The following post was apparently in response to a private message.]

the_Muse< ((another gossip based hate attack!)) Carnage, what is your bloody problem? First Mayar, then me, and the final blow, Tori! I will not tolerate this disrespect of my friends. Get a life, you egotistical witch! Stop slandering these good people's names!

the_Muse< I have been the target of just such lies as you are discussing, Ben. What can I do about this?

[I did not see the preceding posts until after I posted the following.]

Ben< COMMENT: What others give us is not always what we receive. And yet, we can consider the person, and respond graciously, whether or not we like the gift.

Carnage< Ben: It is simple human nature. It is also what is expected by our culture.

the_Muse< Carnage: You have no interest in this except to stir trouble with your instigations. And your listening to the gossip has only reflected on you. You are upsetting me while I am trying to enjoy Ben's seminar. If you are truly so curious about this business, tell Tori I will post all the events that relate to her gossip in a room soon. Now do not pm me again or I will complain to TheFire.

windy< I have grown appreciative of a great many things I might not otherwise have ever enjoyed, through getting things that were "not exactly" what I was hoping for.

Azriel< I've learned that a gift or favor that doesn't 'suit' can be a wonderful opportunity to gently 'teach'. The neighbor can learn about your garden and it's plants.

Yopo< This is all a confusing area at times. Truth and half-truth. Lies and half-lies. What is truly believed differing from what is actually the case. Then the need to compartmentalize life into areas where different "rules" apply to function at all in the modern world.

LadyV< Yopo: I feel you have something there ... we are taught at a young age to compartmentalize ... good word! Perhaps that is part of the social world we live in. It is up to us to determine what is best for ourselves in the end of it all ... and discuss it with our Maker as we choose to see Him/Her.

Yopo< LadyV: It would be easy to become cynical about our contemporary culture, where lies and half-truths are so much a part of its very fabric. Advertising. The news. Oh, and let us not forget the legal system! In many respects, the whole area of my life I think of as my spirituality seems to be a floating compartment within all that. A little bubble I try to live in. My chief consolation is seeing all these other little bubbles floating in the grayness around me. *smile*

LadyV< Yopo: Marshmallow heart ... I like you ... of course, you have a floating compartment of your spiritual self and it reflects daily when you least expect it. Hold on tightly to that. We know nothing is black and white. And too, many "possible" lawyers make my blood pressure go up ... dangerously high. I know they do a little side-step ... they have to ... and if one is defending me, I hope they do. (laughing).

Ben< Yopo: It needn't be all that confusing. The two versions of the Golden Rule will suffice as criteria for our interface with others.

Azriel< Ben: "Do No Harm ..."

Blueiris< Two versions?

Yopo< Ben: Could you state the two versions for us?

Ben< Blueiris, Yopo: The negative version of the Golden Rule -- "Do not do to another anything you would not want someone to do to you" -- provides criteria for self-restraint. The positive version of the Golden Rule -- "Do for another what you would want someone to do for you" -- provides criteria for personal initiative. The two versions work together very nicely.

Blueiris< Thanks, Ben, for explaining the 2 versions. *S*

Ben< SUMMARY: the two categories I was looking at tonight, as criteria for self-control of our interface with the rest of the universe, are truth and graciousness. If we choose to do so, we can seek truth and try to reject falsehoods and errors; and we can discipline ourselves to speak what we believe is true, frankly and sincerely, but humbly, knowing that we may be mistaken. We can choose to be gracious, which is kindness and thoughtfulness in giving, and also gratitude and thankfulness in receiving. In practice, using these two criteria for self-control can benefit both our inner world and those we encounter in the world around us.

Caelum< When speaking about (whatever), what matters is that your words are grounded in Love. Love is what matters.

Lotus< Live only from Love for oneself and others in each moment.

the_Muse< Ben: That is what I have always felt. But in so behaving, I have garnered the sort of hatred from others that you see here. I have never done the things gossiped, and this sets me up for people to take my every post or question wrong. It is really, finally, getting to me. I had faith that the truth would come out, but it seems truth is decided in committee. All the villagers felt very Truthful burning those witches.

Yopo< I guess the bottom line is that one must value truth highly, but temper its telling with love. And remember that self-serving lies seem always to damage the teller.

Azriel< Yopo: Well said. I recognize that while my belief may not fit another's values, I don't deceive or manipulate, and I recognize that truth (without intent to lie) can be very individual.

Ben< /topic Discussion of criteria for self-control

the_Muse< Ben: May I use the following example of deliberate lies used to manipulate? And ask everyone for good solutions for both the gossip that starts this and the sort of behavior that can result? (pm from Carnage: Come on ya know I'm right! You a bad bad person. Just apologize to Tori. She's a special lady to me and a great friend. I know you're cruel and petty, and I don't care if you change or not, just apologize to Tori. Come on haven't you the will to simply reply to me or are you too spineless, or is it just that superiority complex of yours?) (another pm from Carnage: You seem to be interrupting the seminar. I posted one line here and it was topic related, and I'm just telling you that I am very upset and you owe my friend an apology. You go right ahead and try to cover up your wrongs by "complaining" to TheFire.) Ben, why am I the target of so much of this malicious and hateful gossip? Sorry guys, for bringing this in here, but of all the people in this chat, I feel Ben is the best source for my help.

FRAML< the_Muse: Because you look so lovely when you get angry. *G*

the_Muse< {{{{{FRAML}}}}}} You big teddy bear, you. :o)

Carnage< I do not lie. Tori came to me very hurt. She was not well as a cause of your hateful ways (((MUSE)). I know you use cruel manipulations to get your way here just as you have done now with Ben. I know this myself because you have acted this way towards me, too. I want it to end. I shan't speak to you again. Just apologize to Tori.

[Ben< Hmm. In this post, Carnage gave the_Muse power to do or not do what he wants her to do (apologize), but insulting her just makes her resist more strongly. Persuasion might work, if presented in terms of her own standards, but coercion is futile -- self-defeating -- in this case.]

Ben< the_Muse: Perhaps you are picked as a target because you react to the goads and hooks. That is what gives attackers their kicks.

the_Muse< Ben: This may be true. So when I am in a good discussion and (you guys know who they are) come in and start disrupting the discussion, what can I do? It disrupts it for all. The other problem that makes it hard to ignore is, due to the malicious lies and gossip, my posts are always read in the worst light. So my behavior does not change the perceptions of the reader. They just hear what they believe about me due to the evil gossip. Ben, do you feel that I create their reality? Or that their reality is not a concern to me as it thus affects me? What about that midwife burning at the stake, what should she have done to create a different reality?

Yopo< the_Muse: What Ben just said, I have thought myself. It seems one becomes a target more often when one responds too obviously to attacks. That is, after all, the only thing an attacker can hope for here: a response. I know not responding when one's feelings are stepped on can be very difficult at times.

Carnage< Ben: I did do nothing for kicks. I just wanted this to end. Many of my friends have been needlessly attacked by Muse for no real cause. And she seems to enjoy slandering them. All I want is an apology, not for me but for Tori. That is all I want. Come on Muse, just write and mean it! Can your heart be that black?

the_Muse< Carnage: Whatever, you are just a symptom.

Caelum< Doesn't the word carnage mean slaughter? I don't understand the spiritual implications of a nickname like that. Please explain, Carnage, honestly.

Carnage< Caelum: Aye, it does, but it stands for my inner turmoil and struggle. What a war does rage inside me. It's the carnage heart, the draw to battle, that I do fight to suppress. But with honesty I am a peaceful being by nature 90% of the time.

Guardian< hmm, not knowing the full of these circumstances, I am a little ... tentative ... in offering my perspective, but I suspect that many of the problems involved in the situation are caused by the misinterpretation of words on both sides. May I remind all involved that ASCII text is lacking the fullness of body language and emotional effect on pitch and vocal quality? (A little scientific there, but I think you all understand.)

Blueiris< Guardian: Excellent observation, IMHO

windy< I often used to wonder what the world would be like if lying would have been considered the "original sin." instead of whatever. But, over the past decade I have learned that telling the truth can get one in deep trouble as well. I guess the dilemma that this presents can lead to silence.

Ben< Carnage, the_Muse: Your quarrel is not my quarrel. I do not have to take sides in it, or try to adjudicate it. I can ask you to practice courtesy in my seminar, which is what I expect of everyone here and try to practice myself.

Carnage< Ben: I am sorry. What is this? the second time I interrupted one of your great sessions. Tis a wonder you haven't got me booted. Sorry.

[Ben< Carnage: You know the guidelines for these chat rooms.]

TAMI< Guidelines: 1) Just respect each other, even when you have not the same view. 2) Public places are public, don't set topic "private please", use the private-places. 3) People who are found to switch to unregistered nicknames in order to read other people 'private messages' will be banned. 4) There are a very few people who can't resist to do cybersex, don't use the public-places as there are kids also, but go instead to private-places. 5) Continuously ignoring of the guidelines causes being banned from the chat completely (this rarely happens).

the_Muse< Ben: Thank you. I would like to go with the plan of the seminar. Carnage, your inserting yourself in this way into things which do not concern you is only done to harm, no matter how you might try to manipulate our emotions to believe otherwise. It is none of your business and your opinion of me is none of my business. Sorry Ben, will you continue? Or has this disruption had the same affect on the good conversation you are conducting in the SAME way it affects mine?

windy< To thine own self be true. Perhaps there is such a thing as an honest liar.

Blueiris< Ben: Did you set this up for the topic tonight? *G*

[Ben< Blueiris: No ... but it does illustrate some things about self-control.]

Redhawk< Ben: I hope we can stay on your topic here, as I find it sad that your seminar would be rearranged for others' purposes. Namaste.

Ben< Redhawk: Well, actually, one half of every quarrel is within our circle of self-control. We can control what we take in, and what we put out. We can refuse to react to insults and accusations, and we can refuse to attack or retaliate.

Blueiris< Ben: So true. We do not have to take insult when another tries to hand it to us.

dancer< the_Muse: Thought this was going to be an interesting seminar, but instead you've managed to turn it into another of your manipulative pity parties. I've watched you attack others so many times and then turn everything they say around and try to make others feel sorry for you. Won't find any pity from me. You make your own trouble.

[Ben< Hmm. dancer came into the room, slapped the_Muse, and left the room, thus providing evidence that supports the_Muse's claim she is being attacked.]

the_Muse< Yopo: There is mob mentality. But am I hearing you and Ben right? That the victim attracts the assault? What about people who are assaulted like Gandhi and Christ? Or Tesla? For bringing things out that make others want them stopped. Hasn't it always been the tool of the mob to insult, ridicule, and finally kill those they cannot silence? Come on guys, have you ever seen me behave anything like these posts, which are just a minor sample of what I am getting daily? I do not respond, but it is finally getting to me. I am human. I do have feelings.

[Ben< the_Muse: Sometimes *but not always* the victim either consciously or unconsciously attracts the assault. I'm not sure about Tesla, but Christ and Gandhi knew what they were doing and where it would lead. They chose their paths and took the consequences. You also have choices: Which of your beliefs are that important to you? How forcefully will you defend your beliefs against those who disagree with you? Some things are worth fighting over, and some are not.]

Lotus< I wonder if the problem with "self-control" is the degree of one's belief in an individual self.

Azriel< Lotus: Perhaps, but I have a much better track record for avoiding causing harm to others than I do in spending too much money on a new outfit!

Lotus< Azriel: hahaha! Know that one! Been (and being) there! ~ theory still might work, though. *S*

Blueiris< Ben: It is interesting to see how our truths change as our beliefs change.

Redhawk< Ben: Namaste' and thank you for your seminar. I cannot stay due to the turn of events. I pray that all will show more self-control next seminar. Until then, LOVE-LIGHT-LAUGHTER AND JOY TO ALL.

the_Muse< Ben: So, about truth and lies...

Blueiris< Ben: I have trouble with being hurtfully "truthful" according to my beliefs. Will work this week on tempering it with love and graciousness. Thank you for the class this evening.

Yopo< Ben: It is my observation that strongly held beliefs tend to be synonymous with "personal truths". Is there some mechanism you suggest to constantly test the validity of personal truths, without keeping oneself in a perpetual state of uncertainty?

Azriel< Yopo: My experience ... Time (personal beliefs endure), Action (you act fairly consistently in line with that belief), and Gut (it 'feels' right).

Yopo< Azriel: Hmm ... That all seems more a test for identifying personal belief rather than determining its validity. Maybe I'm missing the point.

Azriel< Yopo: But if all of those persist (endure) then it establishes a degree of personal validity.

Caelum< Knowledge is a possession of the Mind while Truth is an experience of the Soul. I believe this.

Starseer< If everyone lies, is it the truth?

the_Muse< Starseer: That has always been the way of the world. Truth doesn't get accepted till the ones that believed the lies die; then the next generation judges the past. But we are so much better now.

Caelum< Is the concept of universal truth a lie?

Ben< ALL: Okay, I'm fairly well caught up on the PM's. I'll review a bit to see what I missed.

Guardian< I wanted to apologize for my disturbance as I entered. I saw so many names I recognized, I didn't pause to realize there was a class in progress. I do wonder about the troops arrayed about the battlefield though ... its been some time since I've been around, but I didn't exactly expect this.

Caelum< I'm sorry, Ben. Interesting seminar!

[Ben< Guardian, Caelum: No offense taken. *smile*]

the_Muse< Ben: I am eager to see you continue this seminar. And to see how you handle the energies, as that has been one of the major hurdles I have in handling the disruptions. Please do try to get this back on track. Carnage, mind your own business.

Ben< ALL: In my opinion, every quarrel is like a laboratory in which to practice self-control. That does not mean I am a pacifist. I am quite capable of devastating attack, and I do tend to react automatically, but I try to control my reactions, and I try not to fire cannons at mosquitoes.

Blueiris< Yes, Ben! I have just recently realized (again) that each challenge is a test for me ... do I or don't I ... knee-jerk reaction or thinking response ... very difficult to get beyond the knee-jerk.

the_Muse< Actually, though, Ben, I feel my points are right to the point of this seminar. That was in my mind when I brought them in. As you were talking about what we do when someone lies to us and they know it. What about when a person lies to you and you both know it, and they are doing it for the benefit of the audience? This is on the subject is it not?

Ben< the_Muse: Sure, the whole area of quarrels -- including lies, accusations, slander, even violence -- is germane to the subject of self-control. We do have choices. However, a mutual vendetta (ass-kicking contest) is apt to damage all concerned. Who will break out of the cycle of attack and counter-attack?

Guardian< the_Muse: Have you ever considered the principle of "turning the other cheek" outside of its literal sense and outside of its biblical references? No attack can harm you if you turn its energy aside. Countering attacks is a great cost in energy and often considered an attack itself. Ground yourself and let it go. Can you imagine the futility of attacking a mountain? I don't know the details, but I can see you are letting it affect you. And in doing so, you are losing ... even if they aren't winning. *shrug*

zaloof< It's your choice to "play" or not.

Yopo< Ben: What I'm meaning to ask is, At what point should a personal belief become a personal Truth, and no longer be subjected to questioning? IS there such a point?

the_Muse< Even the theory of relativity is still a theory.

SLIDER< Yopo: Belief or truth I feel can only be a perception of accepted norms, and until another norm is accepted a standing truth usually stands. After all, you can teach a child that green is red or visa versa until the child learns the accepted norm (red is red, and green is green). A life-long learning process to accept ones own truths!

Yopo< SLIDER: Think we're talking about different issues here. Not many of us here seem to judge the truth of our beliefs by comparing them to cultural norms.

SLIDER< Yopo: We all start learning by association until we start to cognitively reason that which we know, or think we know. My example was of the primary learning that we all must go through before we can reason for ourselves. *S*

Ben< Yopo: I do not subscribe to the idea or the terminology of "personal truth". Personal opinion, yes. Personal belief, yes. But I define truth as opinion that conforms to reality -- and reality as that which is so whether anyone knows it or not and whether anyone likes it or not. A belief which is not questioned, or is no longer questioned, is one definition of "faith." Concerning your earlier question, reality testing is the methodology I use for sorting out facts and fictions.

Yopo< Ben: That was straight to the heart of the matter. *smile* Thanks ...

Blueiris< The question of truths had been on my mind recently, as I did not subscribe to the same "truth" as that of another, and had not made the distinction between truth and belief that you have pointed out ... thanks, Ben, for helping me with the semantics.

Polgara< When I first came to this site, what I loved was the idea that everyone had a right to an opinion and that we were all to act "lovingly" toward one and other. Many times I've witnessed "chicanery" on this site, but most of the time I've seen it handled kindly, or with humor, or with prayer ... and it's been an inspiration to me. Once I was accused of saying something that someone thought was "putting down" what someone else had said ... what I learned was that there is a different language to this place, and that I am still learning. I hope that anyone visiting this site tonight does not get the wrong impression. Blessings to all here. Love and Light lift you ALL.

Ladylucero< Deepak offers, under the "Law of Least Effort" this: "Relinquish the need to defend your point of view." Opinions?

Lotus< Ladylucero: That sounds wise in many situations.

the_Muse< Ladylucero: That is a very fine point! At what point does the need to defend an opinion like it is your own child become lying? The person defending false beliefs lies to themselves, and it becomes a rock too large to move. But the opinion is not a thing or even a measure of the person that holds it.

Yopo< Ladylucero: That's sometimes a hard thing to give up. But maybe the "defend" part is the key. One can express one's opinion clearly and forcefully and often, without falling into the "defend" mode. Of course, "defend" has its place in honest open debate. I suppose it is a good thing so long as one doesn't take valid logical counter-thrusts as personal attack.

Ladylucero< Yopo: That ties in seamlessly with the next admonition, to accept yourself and others as they are.

Yopo< Ladylucero: Good ol' Deepak! How I love listening to him and watching him! He says some very insightful things. If only I weren't just a tad distrustful of the spell he weaves when he speaks. *LOL*

Guardian< "Therefore the Master concerns himself with the depths and not the surface, with the fruit and not the flower. He has no will of his own. He dwells in reality, and lets all illusions go."

zaloof< Reality used to be a friend.

Lotus< zaloof: hahahahaha ~ may it be again!

Guardian< *chuckles a little with zaloof* ... You do that on purpose?

SLIDER< Guardian: The only question with that quote for me is to define reality?

Guardian< heh ... afraid I can't answer that one. Will you accept, it just is?

SLIDER< Guardian: "Just is" won't do, for everyone has a different concept of reality, and many think it's just an illusion anyway -- a philosophical question, I guess; Ha

Guardian< SLIDER: Ah well, had to try.

the_Muse< Guardian: A Hindu psychiatrist that got his degree and was a roommate of Deepak's saved me from the delusional state that comes of accepting the illusions of others as being real.

zaloof< Did he save you from the delusional state of accepting your own illusions as real, as well?

the_Muse< zaloof: I never was so foolish. Having to reexamine all that one believes to be real has an incredible affect on one's perception of it.

zaloof< I think the illusion is to think your perceptions of things are ultimate reality or present an accurate picture of "reality".

the_Muse< zaloof: Have I ever told you my Schrödinger's cat story as it relates to prophecy theory of alternate realities?

Guardian< *perks up at prophesy theory of alternate realities* Hmm... that sounds familiar.

Yopo< I like the tale from the cat's point of view: "He's neither there or not till he opens the box and peeks inside ... Purrrr ... "

the_Muse< *smile*

Ben< Yopo: Yeah, I like Schrödinger's dilemma from the cat's point of view! [But regardless of which point of view we assume, this artificial dilemma vanishes if we simply (truthfully) admit, "We don't know until we look." I'm often amazed at the laborious mental gymnastics people go through to avoid saying, "We don't know." Such mental gymnastics illustrate the need for a philosophical equivalent to the number zero, as I mentioned in "Toolkit" on my site.]

the_Muse< Ben: In my reality, the cat survived its time in the box. I have one of its kittens sleeping under my couch. I am thinking I might take a flashlight and go see if it is still sleeping. If it is awake and sees me coming with the flashlight, it will run and not be there. The curiosity is killing me. Am I in the reality where the kitten of the cat that lived is sleeping, or awake? And will I get my flashlight, or resist the urge?

Ben< the_Muse: Hah! I guess Schrödinger didn't have a flashlight ... or it might have messed up his thought-experiment. If the flashlight is on, the cat isn't there.

the_Muse< Ben: I am sure the cat would have preferred a flashlight. And that also sorta goes with the one about the response of photons to wave interference and light. But I believe that the cat is asleep and I will be able to check with my flashlight, and boy, you better agree with me or you will have insulted me deeply. Hmmm ... when does a theory become a fact? And does one ever have to defend a fact? Theory of Relativity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, the Pythagorean Theorem, are all still considered theories, but would we go out and attack hatefully those who point out an error in them?

Guardian< Actually, Muse, in the scientific community, you better believe it. People don't like being told that what they have always believed isn't as correct as they thought. It's so much easier to still think the same old way. Why do you think the English measurement system is still the primary one in America, even though we've been trying to switch to metric for years?

the_Muse< Guardian: So true. The scientific community stops its own progress today as surely as the Pope did before. But occasionally you have something like that fine debate between Einstein and Neils Bohr about quantum mechanics. Debate has always been the way of philosophers and scientists to test their theories. To be unable to debate them would stop a career. I wonder at people who say they remember past lives that do not enjoy fair minded debate. They could never have been a scholar.

Guardian< hehe, interesting point. Yes, so few scientists acknowledge that most discoveries begin with a "hunch" or intuitive insight and are only proved logically. If discoveries were so much a factor of logic, we could just program computers to do them ... and as far as my studies in that field have shown me, it isn't happening. *grin*

[The following conversation actually began earlier.]

Guardian< Hmm, not sure who Deepak is, but it sounds like a good thing. *smile* I'm more worried about being trapped in delusions caused by my own illusions. I'll worry about the outside when I've dealt with inside.

Yopo< This whole "inside/outside" thing is interesting. I wonder sometimes if that may not be one of our most durable illusions.

Guardian< *nod* an excellent point, Yopo ... that there is any division at all ... or that it is possible to deal with one over the other. I should probably slap myself silly for considering the latter after quoting the Tao Te Ching. *smile*

SLIDER< Yopo: I wonder if it comes down to what we accept that doesn't seem to drive us over the edge. Is an illusion what is happening and the reality of it is what we are wanting or willing to accept?

Yopo< What I mean is, perhaps we are really part of the seamless whole that is Reality. Consciousness has simply become stuck on identifying with a little region in space/time we have come to think of as ourselves. When you think about it, though, the boundaries are not so well-defined as we like to think.

Lotus< Yopo: Yeah, the boundaries may be the problem.

SLIDER< Yopo: I've thought long and hard about simultaneous alternate realities -- and wondered if all is happening at the same time -- and TIME is only a reference we use to differentiate which reality we are in.

Guardian< Hmm, at what concentration of energy do we define our boundary, and does that concentration vary from "individual" to "individual" based on perceptual ability?

Lotus< Guardian: Perhaps the concentration of energy creates the boundaries.

Guardian< hmm ... was referring to concentration in the sense that matter is dense energy, non "physical" energy, slightly less dense, etc.. There truly is no place where "energy" in some form does not exist, no matter how small a concentration, but the "level" we perceive affecting the way we view consciousness kinda bounces around a little.

Yopo< Lotus: I was thinking of the boundaries a lot, following the recent death of a close friend. Of how some of ME was actually within that other person's sphere of being, and how I am diminished by her leaving. And an odd little flash I had a few weeks back, while looking at a big oak tree. I momentarily felt some sort of interface, where my being and the tree's being were some common thing out between us. Hard to explain the feeling, but it had to do with the focus of consciousness shifting into the point of relationship.

Lotus< Yopo: So sorry about the death of your friend. Do you think you merged in some way with her or that the diminishment is that of loss of a person who was dear to you -- maybe both? The oak tree experience sounds very good, though.

Guardian< *nod* Yopo: In a way, because of the kinetic processes of "our" molecules, those we are around frequently really do have some of us in them. Kind of an odd thought that some of what we normally consider to be a completely emotional or spiritual connection may have its physical component as well.

Yopo< Guardian: I read somewhere in a little article about probability, entropy, etc., that it is a mathematical certainty that with each breath a living person takes, he breathes in molecules of oxygen that were also breathed by Jesus, by Buddha, by anyone that ever lived. And some the molecules composing our bodies previously had the same former owners. We share a lot! *smile*

Lotus< Yopo: Hmmm, that means we breathe in a lot of less desirable molecules too, though ... oh oh ... collective karma.

Yopo< Lotus: Yep. With each breath you take in a bit of Hitler and Genghis Khan. Sorta hard to sort the molecules. *LOL*

Lotus< Yopo: heh ~ we better get bigger air filters! Put 'em everywhere! strap them on our backs! *hahaha*

Ben< SLIDER: I would expect that your profession (like the business of flying aircraft) includes many examples of my observation that reality is terribly unforgiving of self-deception and wishful thinking.

SLIDER< Ben: Yes that pertains to us in physical bodies, but as beings of spiritual nature it seems to have a different outcome? Abyss found this saying the other day, so I'll pass it along: "Never take life too seriously; Nobody gets out alive anyway." LOL

Ben< SLIDER: I find spiritual reality no more forgiving of self-deception or wishful thinking, and no less law-abiding, than material reality -- only that we don't yet understand spiritual laws as well as we do the laws of physics.

Guardian< We understand the laws of physics? When did that happen? *grin*

Yopo< Guardian: I've been meaning to post them on SWC, though I would certainly have to preface them with a disclaimer, or be the target of well-aimed tomatoes. *LOL*

Ben< Guardian: I don't believe we understand *all* the laws of physics, or any of them perfectly, but we sure know more about them than we do about anything in the social sciences or spirituality.

Guardian< *smile* understood, Ben ... just being a little silly.

Ben< Yopo: Spiritual connections (as you did with that tree) are another whole subject area -- but one well worth exploring.

Guardian< I'd support you on that one. There's a lot more "spiritual" studies in science these days than scientists like to admit ... all under the restraints of "logical" scientific process, of course. *smile*

Yopo< I wonder if there's not some place where the laws of physics and spirit merge. Sorta suspect spirit is the context within which the laws of physics are grounded. But just a hunch.

Ben< Yopo: I believe the laws of the material universe and the laws of the spiritual universe intersect in each biological life-form for as long as it is alive.

SLIDER< Ben: Seems we have so much to digest and contemplate -- I wonder if there is a time schedule? And it seems we have to follow the beliefs of others after all, from the other side, and hope our choices are right. How many planes of existence follow to get to the ultimate desired end? It does come down to personal desire. Then, when we reach the ultimate goal, do we start over in another direction -- or stagnate -- or just rehash what our experiences were to that point?

Ben< SLIDER: I envision my life, here and hereafter, as a process of endless learning ... especially an endless process of learning more about how to be kind.

Ben< ALL: Okay, 'tis time for me to get some rest. Long day tomorrow. Peace and blessings to each of you. Namaste.

Yopo< Has anyone run into a book edited by Charles T. Tart entitled "Body Mind Spirit"? In the introduction, he outlines the basic tenets of Scientism as though a creed, with the purpose of revealing the underlying but often unstated premises of Western materialism. It is interesting to see it all spelled out that way ... untested premises that our culture unthinkingly accepts as fact. Sort of the faith of materialism.

Guardian< *shakes his head* No, but I'll look for it ... someone in the philosophy dept here might have it.

the_Muse< Yopo: I did see that! It affected me greatly. Theory of relativity. Did the scientists forget what theory means? Did the spiritual philosophers?

SLIDER< Ben: Learning to be kind is for sure a worthy pursuit. What do you feel is the driving force behind any aspirations, be they in every-day life, or furthering the spiritual path while here, or in anticipation of being with the right frame of mind when we join the other side? When I start thinking like this, I feel we are a part of another being (the creator), as just a spark going out on it's own to experience the universe and bring home the experiences to the creator as a form of collective knowledge. This is how we are all connected -- right from the top down -- but there are some rebel sparks out there that want to be head honcho and claim what is not rightfully theirs. Just some of my thoughts!

Yopo< SLIDER: I think Ben has left. I'd surely have liked to read his response to that.

[Ben< SLIDER: As I see it, the driving force behind any aspiration is non-physical (spiritual) energy, manifest in living entities as desires, yearnings, and especially ambitions to be or become. Aspirations produce goal-seeking behavior that is basically self-propelled, rather than propelled by external forces. In both direction and magnitude, an aspiration may be unconscious conditioning, or consciously chosen by the individual. In terms of its substance, I agree that every living thing is a spark of spiritual light (or it wouldn't be alive), but I do not believe that every living thing is necessarily or permanently connected to every other living thing, or to the Source from which they came. Some entities aspire to return to the Source, and some do not.]

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