Sep 232013
 

 From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Read or download this essay as a PDF file at:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4eNv8KtePyKZkxRVW9jSWpsZVk/edit?usp=sharing

Japan, America, and sacred nationalism

The Japanese islands have remained relatively isolated throughout their history. This has allowed for the development and concentration of distinctive religious and cultural characteristics. Although Japan has experienced Eastern influences (mostly Chinese and Buddhism), and Western influences (especially Anglo/American and Christian), these have seemed to only flavor, not disrupt, the Nipponese sense of identity. This bears a strong resemblance to contemporary American right-wing conservatism.

From the most ancient times, Japan, and its Shinto practices have been organized around community-clans and their respective clan gods. Even when communities gradually expanded, community worship continued to revolve around local guardian gods and the ancestors of extended families. Broader political power was rooted in the relationships of confederations of clans. This religio-cultural structure made it unlikely that religions of foreign origin could have much impact and still remain intact. This system retained a stable core of abiding traditions, supplemented by a somewhat more adaptive layer of minor local traditions.

As an example, Buddhism, when promoted by certain nobles, was assimilated in Japan by considering local practices as manifestations, rather than contradictions. It helps that Buddhism does not insist on a strict distinction between secular matters and that which is sacred. Seeking purity was already esteemed as a matter for all members of Japanese society. Extending that search for purity, by renouncing the world and taking up monastic service, was no great leap. Accepting the Buddha Nature in all things is parallel to accepting the spirit essence in all things. Buddhism advocates that one abandon grasping for self-interest as Shintoism promotes community welfare over selfish pursuits.

In Japan, community purity and religious control was part and parcel of political authority. The Shoguns, for instance, never hesitated to challenge religious influences that threatened their power. Each ruling clan elevated their own gods and divinized their own ancestors, producing “sacred kings.”

Eventually, Japanese society was able to more-completely organize itself into a coherent nation with supreme religious and secular authority vested in the Emperor. When war with China was initiated in the Emperor’s name, it became a sacred national war and reflected Japan’s over-riding pride in their national superiority and identity. All aspects of life became part of a holy war. At the end of World War II, American strategists seriously considered that every citizen would take up arms if the mainland of Japan was invaded.

Although the current Japanese culture retains a strong sense of honor and responsibility to community, the shock of Japan’s ultimate defeat in World War II devastated their sense of sacred nationalism. Japan is now often considered to be even more secular that the West. Japan has been rapidly industrialized and urbanized. Social mobility and personal isolation is endemic. The Japanese psyche has rocked from one pole to the other.

Presently, parts of American culture are in a state of radical transition as right-wing religious conservatives struggle for ever-greater governmental control. We are, on the one hand, “One nation under God,” and, on the other, a melting pot of diverse immigrants. This makes generalizations difficult and open to contradiction. Nonetheless, George Bush was able to start and sustain foreign conflicts in the name of “protecting our [capitalistic and mostly-Christian] way of life.” This could hint at an American parallel to the military adventurism that sprang from Japanese homogeny.

Conservative elements of the Republican Party seem distressed that they are losing their grip on a vision of Christian religion as intrinsic to what they see as American national identity and culture.

On the other hand, American liberalism seems to be persistently emerging into a proud model of diversity and tolerance. Old majorities are finding themselves not only endangered, but irrelevant. John F. Kennedy broke the Protestant barrier; George Bush appointed women and Hispanics. Now, the leadership of Barack Obama seems to be outdistancing conventional wisdom so fast that traditionalists can neither keep him in sight nor rein him in.

Isolated cultures, such as those of ancient and feudal Japan, are capable of sustaining religions and religion-infused cultures and identities. In Japan, the popular ethic of myopic superiority (including devotion to the traditions of kami, ancestors and Emperor) erupted and suffered mortal disruption following World War II.

Our world still finds remnants of rabid religious and ideological nationalism. Stalin, Mao, the Khmer Rouge, Pakistan, North Korea, and conservative American evangelicals are a few remaining flashpoints of isolationist nationalism. The balance of the world is growing toward proliferation of international relationships, dependencies, and cooperations. Radical identities including race, language, religion, cuisine, and nationality are being subsumed by multinational businesses, non-governmental organizations, and international treaties. Our distinctive cultures are dissipating. Even deep in the Appalachian mountains, I only have to drive a few miles to find several restaurants serving fresh Japanese sushi.

Sep 232013
 

Eastern influences on contemporary Western culture and spirituality

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Many people in Western cultures have become aware of, and adopted elements of, traditional Eastern religions to a variety of degrees. Although usually ignorant of, or rejecting the full scope of the associated original foundational historical practice and philosophy, they are creating a new flavor of Western spirituality and a related social consciousness.

Both Eastern practitioners and Western philosophers have helped raise our general consciousness of Eastern spiritual traditions over the last century. Some of the more prominent are briefly described in the following:

William James, a leading psychologist and philosopher published The Varieties of Religious Experience in 1902. This helped introduce Eastern religious thought to the West.

Aldous Huxley’s 1945 The Perennial Philosophy identifies a recurring insight of divine reality that is common to most primitive peoples and all higher religions. This insight is related to “thou art that,” the Atman, the Brahman, and “the Absolute Principle.”

Huston Smith wrote The Religions of Man (revised as The World’s Religions), which is still a popular treatise on comparative religion. Smith has been intimately involved with Eastern religions and produced award-winning films and several public television series on the subject.

Alan Watts, a British philosopher, did research on comparative religion. He wrote many books and articles including The Way of Zen. Along with his long-running weekly broadcast in the San Francisco area, copies of his lectures were widely distributed and introduced many people to Eastern philosophy.

Shunryu Suzuki [Roshi] came to manage a temple in San Francisco in 1959, where Zen was already a leading-edge interest. Suzuki was astonished by the watered-down Buddhism practiced by Americanized Japanese immigrants. He began teaching classes on Buddhism to Westerners. His books such as Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind became popular.

[Thich] Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, “has played an important role in the transmission of an Asian spiritual tradition to the modern, largely secular West” (TIMEasia). A BBC report described Nhat Hahn as “… a world renowned Zen master, writer, poet, scholar, and peacemaker. With the exception of the Dalai Lama, he is today’s best known Buddhist teacher. He is the author of more than one hundred books including bestsellers Peace Is Every Step and The Miracle of Mindfulness, … ” (BBC)

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, has lived in exile since 1959. The plight of Tibetan Buddhists under Chinese government, and the Dalai Lama’s unshakable peaceableness, have galvanized world attention to his person and his teachings. He has traveled widely, written extensively, taught, and participated in efforts to cultivate world peace.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, escaped Tibet in 1959. In 1967, after further education at Oxford, he established his first meditation center. After a disabling automobile accident, he became a lay teacher. He traveled almost constantly throughout North America and wrote prolifically during the 1970s. Attracting considerable attention, he established three additional meditation centers and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. He also developed “Shambhala Training” to introduce meditation in secular terms. His work resulted in the establishment of meditation and art centers in over 100 cities throughout the world (Shambhala).

Popular cultural leaders have also been instrumental in introducing Westerners to Eastern thought.  The Beatles, after meeting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, studied Transcendental Meditation in India. The songs they created there in 1968 are considered by some to be their most creative work. The Beatles certainly influenced many of their fans to explore Eastern thought. Oprah Winfrey introduced a number of Buddhist teachers, including Pema Chödrön and Sharon Salzberg, to the American public (Oprah, 2008).

Eastern themes and situations have been eagerly accepted in our entertainment media. Examples range from Kung Fu Panda and Mulan to “Wire Fu” action adventures to Amy Tan’s stories of growing up Chinese. We loved to see Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet, yearned for Shangri-La in Lost Horizon, wanted to walk to the sea with Gandhi, and wondered if “the Force” in Star Wars was anything like what a Japanese Samurai or Hindu Fakir does. Could we ever figure out how to do that ourselves? I have a deal with my youngest son that the first one to levitate has to buy supper.

Many popular books have addressed (or borrowed) Eastern spiritual themes. Robert M. Pirsig’s 1974 book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was a popular, if idiosyncratic, introduction to Eastern philosophy for a displaced generation. It is now considered a classic. Many authors, riding the wave of interest in Eastern philosophy, produced books with titles including: Zen and the Art of Writing (Ray Bradbury, 1994),Zen in the Art of Archery (Eugen Herrigel and Daisetz T. Suzuki, 1999), Zen and the Art of Making a Living (Laurence G. Boldt, 1999), Zen and the Art of Poker (Larry Phillips, 1999), The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff, 1982), The Tao of Physics (Fritjof Capra, 2000), The Tao of Sobriety (David Gregson, 2002), The Tao of Network Security Monitoring (Richard Bejtlich, 2004), and even The Tao of Warren Buffet (Mary Buffett and David Clark, 2006).

The teachings and life of Jesus Christ have been compared, and correlated, to Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist scripture in books such as: Jesus and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings(Martin Aronson ed., 2002), Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings, Marcus Borg, ed., 2004), Christ the Eternal Tao, 4th edition (Hieromonk Damascene, 2004), The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels (Paramahansa Yogananda, 2007), Jesus, Krishna, Buddha and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings (Richard Hooper, 2007). Many people are open to the theory that Jesus was exposed to Eastern influences during the “quiet period” in the gospels before presenting himself to John the Baptist at the beginning of his explosive ministry.

The West has gradually opened up to a variety of translocated Eastern concepts and practices. For one, karma has become a household word in the West. It is generally associated with the ideas that “what goes around comes around” or “you reap what you sow.” Thus, its application is, typically, more secular and leaves behind any concept of karma associated with past lives or reincarnation.

Westerners have begun exploring Eastern systems of medicine including Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Practitioners generally receive a strong grounding in the underlying concepts. Medical doctors occasionally add techniques such as acupuncture to their practice. Meaningful accreditation is available to schools that teach most Eastern systems of medicine.

Patients, however, are often simply open to, or desperate for, a more-effective therapy than they may currently be receiving, without having any substantial appreciation for the concepts driving their diagnosis or treatment.

Deepak Chopra has become very influential while promoting his mission of “bridging the technological miracles of the West with the wisdom of the East” (Chopra). He began his career as a Western-trained endocrinologist but he felt moved to expand his practice to include Ayurvedic therapies and mind-body counseling at his own clinic. He has written prolifically, and lectured and consulted widely, teaching about balance in both health and spiritual matters.

Acupuncture is a technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that inserts and manipulates very fine needles along meridians of Chi (vital energy) to regulate its flow and distribution. Acupuncture, with other techniques of oriental medicine, are now taught in about fifty schools in the United States. Most specialize in oriental medicine except for three that prepare Naturopathic Doctors for general practice.

Related practices that profess to affect Chi in the body include acupressure, foot reflexology, Chi gong, and Tai Chi exercises. Chiropractors often include attention to Chi flow in their patient care. Chi concepts are widely accepted in the American public. After I had an emotional breakdown in a class this spring, a counselor in Student Support Services advised me on how to activate a series of acupressure points.

Many youngsters are introduced to Chi and other elements of oriental culture as part of martial arts training. Popular Asian martial arts, including Karate, Aikido, and Judo, spring from religious traditions. But, these are often studied in the United States for exercise, development of coordination, self-defense, competition, and combat — largely without deep philosophical training.

Similarly, precisely-prescribed and highly-differentiated forms of meditation were formerly part of the different mystical traditions of each Eastern religion, and even different branches of the same religion. In America, meditation is becoming popular but is poorly or indifferently differentiated. It is usually undertaken for pragmatic purposes like relaxation, stress relief, improved concentration, or as a homogenized element of new-age spirituality. Progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and autogenic training may be considered Western adaptations of Eastern meditation.

Chinese herbal medicine has been introduced in accredited TCM schools and as full courses for Naturopathic Doctors. Units of elective classes in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are offered for conventional doctors, and in private herbal schools such as Michael and Lesley Tierra’s East West School of Planetary Medicine.

More-limited aspects of Chinese herbal medicine may be borrowed in “bite-size” pieces. As an example, Nature’s Sunshine Products, Inc. released a set of ten Chinese herbal formulas—two for each of the five elements in TCM. For instance, AL-C (Xuan Fei – Metal Reducing) was for lung stress such as Allergies while LH-C (Fu Lei – Metal Supporting) was for “Lung Health” issues such as chronic respiratory weakness. While these formulations gave token reference to the five elements, and used Chinese names and herbs, most herbalists applied them using Western sensibilities. A third-party reference work explained:

[These] Chinese herb combinations are based on the five element model and the principles of harmony and balance, Yin and Yang. The element model states that an individual’s constitution is typed – wood, water, metal, earth or fire – according to the five basic elements found in nature. Each has weaknesses and strengths, which must be kept in balance in order to maintain good health (Satterlee 2000).

Meditative states can be monitored or even facilitated with assistive technology. Products such as Proteus®, Holosync®, and Hemi-sync®, use audio tones to stimulate brainwaves at desired frequencies. For instance, simultaneous tones at 440 and 452 cps produce a difference beat at 12 cps that is within the normal range for brain waves; the brain will tend to synchronize with it. Goggles with simultaneously flashing lights may also be supplied to enhance the effect. The intended result is to produce enhanced alertness, relaxation, sleep, or meditation associated with the selected stimulation. One user commented that:

“Hemi-sync sounds facilitate the synchronization of the cerebral hemispheres. They contain frequencies corresponding to different states of consciousness. (This is the electronic era’s version of the shaman’s drum, the mantra, the singing of psalms, the Gregorian and Sufi chant.)” (Ferrari 78)

It may be tempting to characterize the changes occurring in Western spirituality as a “cafeteria culture” or the indiscriminate co-mingling of spiritual traditions. In fact, history shows that cultures typically undergo cross-pollination when they interact with others. As an example, the culture and modes of worship in India often include contributions from Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist traditions. Similarly, the culture and modes of worship in China often include contributions from Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist traditions.

This is not to everyone’s liking. Just as the denominations of Protestant Christendom sometimes branch into bitterly antagonistic groups, Eastern lineages may see themselves as distinct and exclusive. The Tibetan lama, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche protests:

Vajrayana [Buddhism] is very different from the New Age approach. The difference is that the Vajrayana teachings are controlled by the lineage. I know we don’t like the word control, but the Vajrayana teachings are actually held by the authority of the lineage. …When we have this pure lineage, this genuine lineage, there is no space for our egocentric interpretation of dharma. We cannot interpret dharma like the New Age gurus. We cannot invent a new lineage because a lineage must be received. It must be received by transmission. It is not something we can just create here. That would beNew Age, probably from California (Ponlop).

American philosophy and culture is borrowing from more than only Eastern thought. Some of us have learned to cherish the words of the Muslim poet Rumi or have friends that like to discuss the mysteries of the Jewish Kabala. Our Christian Men’s groups rediscover their masculinity in group shamanic drumming. We hang Native American dream catchers from our mirrors and study rune lore. Some like Wiccan spells, Druid runes, fairies, and dragons in their fantasy fiction and adventure games. We listen to Celtic music and adore the African spiritual influences in our “uniquely American” jazz and gospel.

As with all newly-discovered ideas and practices, leading-edge thinkers explore and analyze them. Academics tear them to shreds and feed them to their students. Early-adopters begin to incorporate them into underground or alternate lifestyles. Perhaps, we experience the real thing as we interact with our expatriate neighbors and their communities. Initial curiosities become common knowledge; the exceptional becomes mundane; and the forbidden becomes tolerated. Eventually, the most useful or meaningful elements of formerly-distinctive ways become so intermingled that only the very thoughtful care about the past origins of what is now very commonplace.

Our modern world, with its increasing speed, range, and capacity for information transfer and social networking, makes it actually difficult to avoid being exposed to other religions and philosophies. America perceives itself as a nation of immigrants; prejudice is actively suppressed and diversity is promoted as a virtue. Americans like to think of themselves as independent and pragmatic thinkers; if something works, use it.

At the same time, we are becoming disenchanted with personal isolation from family and community, with over-active and over-stimulated lives that seem to lack meaning. The values of Eastern thought often seem to offer more-satisfying and more-meaningful life options. It should not be surprising that useful elements of Eastern society are snatched-up and integrated into our evolving societies.

Theodore Ludwig put it this way: “It is not that Chinese people are missionaries to other peoples of the world. Rather, many people throughout the world are discovering a vision of life and a practice of harmony that fascinate and compel them…”

References Cited

BBC. Religion & Ethics – Buddhism – Thich Nhat Hanh, 4/4/2006,

Chopra, Depak. About Us < http://www.chopra.com/aboutdeepak> July 7, 2009
Ferrari, Guido. A Journalist’s encounters with the Akashic experience. Quoted in The Akashic Experience: Science and the Cosmic Memory Field. Ervin Laszlo, Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont, 2009
Oprah, O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah Talks to Pema Chödrön, 2008 July 7, 2009
Ponlop Rinpoche, Dzogchen Quoted in Policy for the West. Khandro Net, July 10, 2009
Satterlee, David. HerbalDave’s Notebook: Exploring Natural Health. CD-ROM. Health Education Library Publications. League City, Texas. 2000
Shambhala. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. 2007 July 7, 2009
TIMEasia, 60 Years of Asian Heroes – Thich Nhat Hanh. 2006. http://www.time.com/time/asia/2006/heroes/in_hanh.html July 7, 2009
Dec 112010
 

Adapted from: " Spiral Dynamics and the Palestinian-Israel Conflict" and interview between Jeff Salzman and Don Beck. 1 of 4 in integral Profiles: Don Beck. Ref: http://integrallife.com/node/47929

Second tier (yellow) interventions, while still having access to green sensitivity and inclusive values, are more "holistic," but tend to be less into sensitivity and more into results and design. While green believes that the highest level of caring is in saying, "I like you, I love you, let’s join hands and hearth. " Yellow interventions seek to assist people to find their natural habitat.

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Oct 042010
 

A Flippant Rant on the Use of Violence

by David Satterlee

Although good fences may be said to “make good neighbors,” hatred, blood-feuds, violent lust for revenge, and terrorism do not make good neighbors. Terrorism is often considered to be the use of violence by disenfranchised (not yet victorious) organizations or individuals against non-combatants to coerce political, social, or economic change. Similar violence by established authorities is often considered “counter-terrorism” and “collateral damage.” Similar violence by successful “freedom fighters” is often considered heroic. In any event, targeting civilians is generally considered bad sportsmanship and should be frowned upon and credited as unworthy of true gentlemen.

Likewise, Westerners may prefer to discuss the “ignominious French-Algerian War,” while North Africans refer to the glorious “Algerian War of Independence.” In any event, this war ran from 1954-1962, after over 120 years of French “international support” (or “imperialist colonial occupation and subjugation.”) History records similar atrocities committed by, and against, both sides during this war, regardless of issues of just or unjust causes.

Because history tends to repeat itself, thoughtful men have carefully examined this paroxysm of French-Algerian violence to learn lessons so as to avoid confrontation (or to prevail) in the case of similar circumstances arising again. One hopes that the motive in examining past terrorism is not isolated to refining more-effective tactics of violence. Happily, many historians have begun to conclude that such violence is inherently counter-productive if you ever again want to sleep soundly while living in the same neighborhood.

From ancient history, the most reliable way to fully pacify an area (and plunder its resources) is to sustain the determination to murder every man, woman, and child, and be willing to do the same to their alarmed neighbors. This is just bad mojo, and out of the question in our modern world. So, the basic lesson of French-Algerian terrorism, with only a cursory glance, is “don’t even start.” As an alternative, try everything else, and keep on trying. End of story.

Prefer diplomacy. Even the poor widow of parable eventually received justice by her persistence. If you want something and do not have it, make your case while maintaining the moral high ground. If you are weak and stand to risk losing the little you have, do not imagine that poking the beast will make it consider your cause with empathy.

If you have superior force, forget about defending honor and saving face. You have the big stick and everybody knows it. You do not have to pick fights, just end any fight as quickly and surgically as possible. Do not occupy foreign territory; if an area’s population does not currently prefer to salute your flag, it is foreign territory. if you build a foundation for your tent, you have been there too long. Cultivate friends; if you make friends, you will have spies everywhere.

Do not get into the middle of someone else’s blood feud. If they still have such primitive values, you are not going to improve matters by taking sides. Your side will flaunt their new influence and the other side will feel unfairly disadvantaged. Only a fool will grab the ears of a mad dog. Many a friend has intervened in a family dispute, only to have both parties turn on him. Back off.

You are a sovereign nation. They, even if you perceive them as truly pathetic, are a sovereign nation. If you believe that diplomatic persuasion is ineffective and forcible intervention is required, do not organize a mob of peers. Get the neighborhood together and elect an honest-to-god sheriff, vested with the authority to enforce law uniformly, fairly, and without bias. And, especially if you commit to responsibility as a deputy, you had better be willing to fully submit your own house to that sheriff’s authority. Just because the big rancher has enough resources to throw his weight around does not mean that he is entitled to unilateral intimidation of any of his neighbors.

Do not be covetous or greedy. Your friends will not trust you and your enemies will despise you. Do not succumb to quaking fear in the face of terror; that is terror’s purpose. Decisions made on the basis of greed or fear are all suspect; they are very often terribly poor and destructive to yourself and others. Admire the clarity and purity of purpose that cohabit with virtuous motives, self-respect, and peace of mind.

Do not complain. Complaining is the last resort of the weak and impotent. Listen to the complaints of the weak and impotent. Discern the source of their distress and act with compassion to ease their suffering. Terrorism is the most desperate last resort of the weak and impotent.

There is pure evil. Actively resist evil. Shine the light of truth mercilessly upon evil. Do not waver or tire out. Show it for the outrage that it is. Squeeze it out of your heart and purge it from your lips. Do not tolerantly listen to it from your neighbor. Vote it out of your legislature. Hound it back to its deep holes and dark corners and reflect goodness back upon it until it cannot continue to abide itself. Do not be evil.

I do not believe that I am a blind pacifist. Individual, cultural, and national aggression demands a response. But, a good first response is to look down and see if you have been standing on someone’s toes. My kittens have scratched me when I stepped on them. I understood, immediately lifted my foot, forgave them, and opened a can of their favorite liver snack. Conversely, I have never caged and starved my dogs until they got mean.

I suppose that I could make a defense of organized violence as a logical response to interminable oppression and war as a necessary response to armed national hostilities. The thing is, damn it, can we not find a way to avoid getting into these escalating scrapes in the first place? And, to press the issue, how the hell did we get to the point of concluding that there were no better options then firebombing the population centers of cities like Dresden, and Hiroshima? What moral high ground and international honor did THAT achieve? Oh, and by the way… When I see scenes of plazas full of angry men shouting “Death to America,” I am reminded of the most primitive precedents of ancient history and it gives me a bad case of the creeping heebie-jeebies.

Copyright 2009, 2010 David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 302010
 

Solving the Afghanistan Puzzle | Hoover Institution

“A new research program is using the Hoover Archives to study the original Russian-language records of the Soviet Union’s long involvement in Afghanistan, including the ten years of intense military conflict there. Dubbed Mining Afghan Lessons from Soviet Era (MALSE), the program explores ways in which the United States and coalition forces serving in Afghanistan might benefit from the Soviet experience, as reflected in primary sources.”

Feb 142010
 
Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 5

Gratitude Survey

(Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons)

1 = Strongly disagree – 7 = Strongly agree

  1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
  2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
  3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
  4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
  5. As I get older, I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
  6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

(Reverse scores on 3, 6)
6-35 Lower Quarter, 36-38 bottom half, 39-41 top four, 42 top eighth

Gratitude journal

Suggestion to keep a record for 14 days, noting the things for which you are grateful. Racket the exercise with the Life Satisfaction and General Happiness scales to compare scores. But

Feelings about the past depend on memory interpretation and assigned meaning. Gratitude amplifies good feelings about the past. The opposite is also true.

As a South African leader, Nelson Mandela redirected past bitterness toward reonciliation.

Some believe that righteous anger honors the victim and promotes justice.

How to forgive – REACH

  • Recall the hurt objectively
  • Empathize with others
  • Altruistically give the gift of forgiveness
  • Commit to forgive publicly
  • Hold onto forgiveness that

Weighing up your life

Find a time annually to evaluate your life satisfaction and compare it with previous years.

Summary

3 ways to feel happier about the past

  • Intellectual-determined that the past does not dictate your future
  • Become more grateful for the good things in your past
  • Learn how to forgive past wrongs
Feb 102010
 

Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter and you lose track of time?

Yes, frequently.

Throughout life, I have been prone to be introspective, voraciously curious, and a creative problem solver. I enjoy “disappearing into the problem.” I am more of a craftsman then an artist. Nonetheless, my explorations and projects easily consume my full attention. By the early 1990s I had discovered and read Csikszentmihalyi’s book on “Flow” and quickly recognized the altered state of mind that I cherished. Armed with a theoretical foundation, I have been able to more deliberately produce flow experiences.

I read and study more slowly than most. I often experience flow while working to understand, organize, and incorporate new knowledge into my belief system. This can be more difficult because I have a historically poor retention for details and I take the time to acknowledge and consider levels of ambiguity. I usually experience the deep-involvement of flow during this type of independent self-study; classroom instruction generally requires the opposite: waiting, diffusion, and disassociation.

Technical work has frequently produced flow experiences. These include designing electronic circuits, programming, analyzing systems, troubleshooting, computer programming, database design, and many others. In one programming project, I arranged with my supervisor to work for three weeks in an unmarked locked room outside of my departmental area, with no telephone or meetings. I brought a bag lunch and was usually able to stay in focus while walking to the restroom head-down and refusing to interact with anyone. I consider the result to be some of my best work. I tend to advance into a new technology or field of interest every two years or so. Early on, in an attempt to stay focused, I specifically excluded brain surgery from my potential career path.

I often find myself tackling new projects that challenge my existing knowledge and skills. At work, I have advanced and receive promotions, including directing the work of and teaching technical classes to engineers, by mastering new technologies almost exclusively through self-study. In one case, I was given full responsibility for designing and installing a new generation of plant-wide process data acquisition system at Amoco’s largest refinery. I frequently lobbied for and successfully introduced innovations.

I have replacing a diesel engine in my Oldsmobile station wagon with a computer-controlled later-model gasoline engine. I have undertaken home additions, outbuildings, and complex remodeling projects. At one point, I set and achieved the goal of becoming “a nationally recognized natural health educator.”

These are just a few examples. Essentially, I thrive on, and continually seek-out flow experiences. My current quest is to move beyond mastering technologies to building a better intellectual framework for understanding complex systems, especially the many strands and stages of human development. I find flow more and more often while writing to explain and interpret specialist-level material for interested laymen.

Addendum: I was recently delighted to discover a fictional model for my own life experience while impulsively reading a 1950s middle-school novel set in the period of the American Revolution.

Jan 112010
 

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths,” Martin Bolt, Preface

The weakness of psychology, during its short history as a science, has been its primary focus on human weaknesses rather than on human strengths. That began to change dramatically when Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman leveraged his research on learned helplessness and hopelessness into a new focus on learned optimism and happiness.

A primary focus of positive psychology is on human strengths, a core set of virtues. The intent is to study, measure, and understand these strengths so that they can be purposefully developed, increasing both subjective and objective psychological well-being.

Responsibility – Both researchers and individuals have a responsibility to understand the factors that influence thinking and behavior, and to use this knowledge to increase the healthful development of individuals and societies. Responsibility is vital for the development of other strengths.

Love – Hereditary nature and environmental nurture both contribute to human development. Attachment styles, developed in early life, have a powerful impact on adult relationships.

Empathy – The ability to recognize and consider the feelings of others is a vital step in psychological development. Empathy is necessary for forgiveness and altruism.

Self-control – the ability to accept delayed gratification, instead of only immediate rewards, is also vital to psychological maturity. Purposeful achievement requires a persistent cycle of goal setting, reflection, and self regulation.

Wisdom – intelligence involves a great deal more than the ability to acquire rote knowledge. Wisdom is associated with reasoning ability and the productive application of knowledge in a complex social environment.

Commitment – our goals must have meaning and reflect a satisfying purpose if we are to pursue them with persistence. But there are important differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

Happiness – positive emotions such as happiness were required for salutogenesis. It is irresponsible for psychology to focus on pathology.

Self-respect – while self-esteem serves to artificially heighten a sense of entitlement, self-respect involves a realistic valuation of one’s potential within society.

Hope – learned optimism can be an effective therapy for the hopelessness of depression. Hopefulness helps us to sustain effort through difficult times. Community support is vital for individual and collective well-being.

Friendship – individual support is also effective in promoting personal and collective well-being. Shared responsibility also helps to sustain persistent effort to achieve goals.

Dec 202009
 

By: Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

Source: Amazon.com

From the author of the long-running # 1 bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0 comes a landmark study of great leaders, teams, and the reasons why people follow.

Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a landmark 30-year research project that ignited a global conversation on the topic of strengths. More than 3 million people have since taken Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several books on this topic, including the #1 international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0.

In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership. They studied more than 1 million work teams, conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, and even interviewed more than 10,000 followers around the world to ask exactly why they followed the most important leader in their life.

In Strengths Based Leadership, #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath and renowned leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of this research. Based on their discoveries, the book identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others’ strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

 

Shop at Amazon for:
Strengths-Based Leadership
by: Tom Rath

As you read Strengths Based Leadership, you’ll hear firsthand accounts from some of the most successful organizational leaders in recent history, from the founder of Teach For America to the president of The Ritz-Carlton, as they discuss how their unique strengths have driven their success. Filled with novel research and actionable ideas, Strengths Based Leadership will give you a new road map for leading people toward a better future.

Shop at Amazon for:
StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths
by: Tom Rath

All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.
To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more (see below for details). While you can read this book in one sitting, you’ll use it as a reference for decades.
Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this new book and accompanying website will change the way you look at yourself — and the world around you — forever.

Nov 282009
 

Source: Integral Institute – Scholars

Thom Gehring, PhD, contributes to Integral Correctional Education Studies at Integral Institute and is a Co-Director of a Correctional Education Association Special Interest Group. He has been a correctional educator since 1972, in New Jersey, Virginia, New York, California, and worked in other systems as a consultant.

Source: CSUSB.edu Faculty & Staffimage 

Director of the Center, Thom Gehring’s scholarly emphasis is on the history of correctional education and prison reform. He has been a correctional educator since 1972. Thom did his Ph.D. dissertation on the correctional school district pattern of organization. He serves as the historian for the Correctional Education Association. Thom is a professor of education who directs the EDCA correctional and alternative masters degree program.

 

 
  • Hardcover: 107 pages
  • Publisher: California State University San Bernardino (January 2007)
  •  
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: California State University San Bernardino (January 2007)
  •  
  • Hardcover: 281 pages
  • Publisher: California State University San Bernardino (December 2008)
  •  
  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: California State University San Bernardino; 1st edition (January 2006)
  •  
  • Unknown Binding: 200 pages
  • Publisher: The Authority (1979)
  • Out of Print–Limited Availability.
  • See also: Correctional Education Publication Series