The Ascending Spiral

There exists a remarkable parallel between raising children and schooling horses. Both horses and people move through a period of intense physical development in their youth, followed by mental and emotional growth and maturation.

Handled rightly, this process oscillates back and forth between tension and relaxation. In the moment it might feel like you are going back and forth, but getting nowhere. Zoom back sufficiently, however, and you will see that the overall movement, despite the oscillations, is ever onward upward like an ascending spiral. Conversely, if it is mishandled, growth in any one or all three of the areas is stunted, at times temporarily and occasionally permanently. These stunted areas form “cysts” which typically come to the surface at the most inopportune times.

Classical horseman Egon von Neindorff astutely observed in his excellent book The Art of Classical Horsemanship that:

The horse’s obedience can only develop from trust and understanding but its continuance depends on the horse and the rider’s combined discipline. The rider’s mistaken leniency with the horse or himself will not be without side effects. Only the rider’s patience and knowledge combined with methodical and simultaneously individual increases in demands, accomplished without haste, will protect the horse from being overtaxed. This approach will prevent the many battles and facilitate solving unavoidable problems that may arrive.

You’ve no doubt heard a parent talk about the “terrible twos” or roll their eyes when talking about their unruly teenager, but the fact is that had the foundation been better laid in the “wonderful ones” in the first place and the pre-teen years in the second, it is very likely that the weeds would not have taken over the garden of the child’s expression. It is almost never the horse’s fault. He may have unwittingly become part of the problem, but trace it back and you will see an error in development. Look carefully and you will see that something was glossed over, improperly set or missed along the way.

When these flat spots in development are revealed, it is best to look first at yourself as a parent to find the causes of a child’s disobedience. A basic, foundational element of parenting was likely missed and must be addressed, healed or repaired if there is to be further sound and sustainable development of the child.

The same principles applies in riding. When you increase your demands and receive an evasion or a disruptive reaction of some type instead cooperation and progress, you must take the time to analyze and discover exactly where the fault lies in the foundation. The answer will likely be something more basic that you would like to admit to yourself, so be prepared to address it humbly, carefully, respectfully and completely before expecting much more from the horse…or the child!

One final point: never discipline a horse or a child in anger. To do so is an absolute violation of the sacred responsibility entrusted to both parents and riders. Discipline is of course necessary, but a parent or rider who poisons the tip of the arrow of correction with anger will invariably do more harm than good. Trust built up over years can be violated by one false move in this regard, so please, take note.

True Knowing

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

I appreciate Mr. Van Dyke’s quote as it demonstrates the natural progression from recognition to realization to actualization found in any successful process of growth and development.

You know what you express. Simply thinking you know is not enough.

To truly know you must move from discovery, where you recognize something outside or beyond you, to grokking, where you incorporate it internally, to actualization, where your expression gives evidence of true knowing.

The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” ~ John Locke

The Canon of the Way and the Power

The skilful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skilful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skilful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skilful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always skilful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skilful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.’

Therefore the man of skill is a master (to be looked up to) by him who has not the skill; and he who has not the skill is the helper of (the reputation of) him who has the skill. If the one did not honour his master, and the other did not rejoice in his helper, an (observer), though intelligent, might greatly err about them. This is called ‘The utmost degree of mystery.’” ~ Tao Te Ching, Verse 27, translated by James Legge 1891

The Tao Te Ching is a classical Chinese text rich with instruction on living a meaningful life. This particular verse sheds light on the importance of a correctly balanced student-teacher relationship in any process of learning. Whether in a formal educational setting, at home or in the workplace, the principle described describes the means by which the light of understanding is transmitted and received, a process commonly referred to as enlightenment.

Mutual respect is the best foundation for any enterprise. Respect bears great weight without strain, withstands scorching heat without being consumed and holds up to any amount of pressure. When respect is missing, the gravity and intensity of a circumstance invariably overcome those involved, in one way or another.

Four of my employees are undertaking an intense internship over the next few months, two on each side of the “skill/no skill” equation. Properly handled, this time will transform their lives, our company and those whom we have the privilege to work with, directly and indirectly. Needless to say, an important period of time for many. My hope is, and I have articulated this to all four, that they put respect for one another first and foremost, so that the knowledge has a form into which it can be safely poured.

The master properly recognizes the need to respect his or her material. Likewise, the wise student honors his teacher at every turn. This approach is especially useful when the teacher is new to the process of teaching and when the student is a fast learner. Respect and honor grease the wheels and prevent many unnecessary heartaches.

The next time you find yourself on one side of the equation or another, remember these words. Take them to heart and hold them dearly. Learning without respect only results in the shuffling of knowledge, whereas learning in an  atmosphere enriched by respect is the basis by which the seeds of wisdom are planted and take root.



The Currents of Inspiration

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” ~ Henry Ford

I am a firm believer in the power of lifelong learning. That said, I agree with Thoreau’s assertion that “It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.” This may seem contradictory, but allow me to explain why it isn’t.

The human mind is a vast repository endless amounts of data and paradigms. As with so many things, it operates on the basis of “garbage in, garbage out” and you are wise to take great care to filter the content you plan to deposit in your memory bank.

Some engage in “thinking” on more of a mechanical, self-generated basis, while others have mastered the ability to relax their minds sufficiently so that the currents of inspiration can rise up through their minds, collecting the bits and pieces of information necessary to amass a solution to the problem or question at hand. Thinking needn’t be an arduous, tortuous process. It should be an easy, graceful process through which original solutions are wrought.

Learning is important as it provides building blocks for thought. The quality of the building materials are important as with any construction project. Build with shoddy materials and the resulting form will be a shoddy facsimile of what should have been a solid and meticulously crafted piece of art. I read somewhere that the Latin spoken in the Silver Age, which followed the Golden Age in Roman history was characterized by needless flourishes, likely because the populace had grown complacent, resting their laurels on the achievements of previous generations, linguistically speaking. They came to enjoy and accept the appearance of excellence, rather than taking the time to do the work necessary to produce the Real McCoy.

Wisdom is not the product of an accumulation of knowledge. It comes as a result of the cultivation of an uncommon sensitivity to what the right thought, word or deed might be in any given moment. Knowledge provides a base from which you operate, and don’t get me wrong, I think that knowledge is important, but it is a far cry from true wisdom. Having a base of knowledge is valuable in that it gives you points of connection to the world around you. That said, you can become encased and weighted down by your knowledge if you prize it as an end, rather than seeing it as a means to an end.

Knowledge in this sense opens the door to wisdom. Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient to the expression of wisdom. In my experience wisdom comes only as you are willing to let go of any attachment to the knowledge you’ve acquired (in ego, in rigid mindset, etc.) and let go to the ever-present currents of inspiration that move through quickly and abundantly, if you let them.

Beatific Vision

Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both in heaven and on earth; and he who would be blessed and happy should be from the first a partaker of truth, for then he can be trusted.” ~ Plato

I’ve frequently argued that man suffers greatly whenever his understanding is distorted by false and limiting assumptions. Fortunately for us, it does not matter how many people believe a falsehood to be true, for no amount of human opinion or belief can make a false thing true or conversely, a true thing false.

I came across Benjamin Jowett’s 1901 translation of Book VII of Plato’s Republic yesterday evening and after having had numerous conversations with friends and associates about the quality of our current political leadership I felt it important to share Plato’s illuminating parable with you:

A Dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon

SOCRATES: And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: –Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.


And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it’ the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he ‘s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?


Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.


He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,

Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

To be sure, he said.

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

No question, he said.

This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

Yes, very natural.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

Anything but surprising, he replied.

Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.

That, he said, is a very just distinction.

But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.

They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

Very true.

And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue –how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness.

Very true, he said.

But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below –if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

Very likely.

Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

Very true, he replied.

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all-they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

What do you mean?

I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.

But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?

You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

True, he said, I had forgotten.

Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.

Quite true, he replied.

And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light?

Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.

Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after the’ own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.

Most true, he replied.

And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

Indeed, I do not, he said. . .

To be free of the chains that limit our vision to shadows of reality we must be willing to “be from the first a partaker in truth.” What that means to you and to me is unique to each one of us, not because there are “many truths” or “your truth” and “my truth,” but because each of us has a distinctive perspective on truth. The truth is never in conflict with itself and wherever thought, word and deed are harmonized with the truth, true agreement is found.

To partake of the truth you must be willing to recognize errors in your perception or beliefs, correct them swiftly and move on, hopefully in the direction of a clearer understanding of the truth. You must also be willing to contemplate the world around you and not just swallow it as it is, hook, line and sinker. You have an inquiring mind; make good use of it! If it is dull, take steps to sharpen it. If it is jaded, forgive and look anew. If it is foggy, eschew with great diligence that which stupefies (judgment above all else).

Everyone deserves time in the island of the blest, but no man can give it to you. The virtue of wisdom is at hand for you, for me, but it comes only to those who can be trusted with its power.

Classical Education: A Primer

Last week I touched briefly on the matter of classical education in The Purpose of Mankind and the more I read about that ancient and only recently abandoned approach to developing the mind, the more I am convinced that we are short-changing our children and short-circuiting the future.

To appreciate the classical approach, you must first understand that central to the classical mind is the idea that all knowledge is interrelated. This organic and holistic view of knowledge itself stands in stark contrast to the more specialized, fragmented lens through which we view it today.

Medical education since the early 1900s, for instance, reflects this new standard. The typical medical school organizes its curricula into pre-clinical and clinical studies and specialization occurs quite early on in the process. The delivery systems for medical care are also organized along these specialized lines, and if you’ve had to deal with a medical issue lately, you have probably experienced how narrowly focused each doctor’s practice is and how hard it is to find anyone who can provide an overview by linking the specialists’ perspectives together.

The classical pattern of education, called Trivium, consisted, as its name suggests, of three primary phases: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Just as grammar is the foundation for language, the “grammar” phase focuses on learning facts. The rules of grammar, lists of vocabulary words, the facts of mathematics, descriptions of plants and animals, historical facts and so on are gathered for use in the next phase, logic, which dawns when the child reaches roughly fifth grade.

The capacity for logic is facilitated by the capacity for abstract thinking, which begins to develop in most children around the age of ten. Demanding too much in the way of logic prior to that is unreasonable and given the reality of childhood development, illogical. During this phase, the facts are arranged into a logical framework. An understanding of the function of the organs of the body, for instance, is expanded upon so that the student begins to comprehend the interrelationship of the body’s systems.

You may remember learning to write book reports, for instance, where grammar and logic are put together in relation to a thesis. The cultivation of critical thinking skills is vital to this stage as is the refinement of the ability to analyze arguments in relation to any subject matter.

The third phase of classical education, the “rhetoric” stage, builds on the first two, grammar and logic. In this phase, students learn to articulate – in spoken and written form – their original thinking on the topics at hand.

The entire process is heavily language-focused and was traditionally centered around the languages of Latin and Greek. I recall that in my education most of the grammar I learned came from the study of foreign languages, not my native tongue. This would have likely horrified educators in the classical pattern.

Knowledge and information become a bottomless pit if we fail to develop the capacity in our children to navigate and make sense of it. In my estimation the linkages between the fields of study are as important (if not more) than the individual facts and figures, as it is extremely easy to lose the forest for the trees when the trees are so abundant and accessible with tools like the internet at our disposal.

I look forward to exploring this topic further with you in future posts. In the meantime, I appreciate your thoughts and experiences in relation to this topic!

The Highest Common Denominator

We are incredibly complex creatures. From macro to micro, our design is beautiful, intricate and marvelous to behold. I remember watching a short video in physics class in high school similar to the one below which showed the wave dynamics of a crowd of people:

People, when moving in an aggregated mass, tend to “go with the flow” in a way that modifies their approach to fulfilling their self-determined desires. Given that human beings are generally gregarious creatures, it follows that the longing to belong tend to bring them together into masses that move in concert with one another.

These masses are unified in purpose, interest or some other common denominator, and the individual actors tend to trade personal identity for group identity. The homogenized group may be as small as two, and if you’ve ever watched a young couple lose themselves in one another, you know what I mean. Scaled out significantly, you begin to see larger groupings such as races, religions, nationalities and so on, which are masses of people who recognize a common identity.

The rise of individualism is apparently a recent phenomenon, fueled by the great thinkers of the Renaissance. I imagine that this was only the rebirth of the idea and that individualism was generally accepted as a cosmology in earlier civilizations, but it is hard to imagine a grouping of people more tied to the notion of individualism, self-determination and self-realization than modern Western society.

We – especially in America – see ourselves as individuals capable of independent function. For many the independence is based on a freedom from the deterministic oversight of a Creator, for others it is based on the freedom from the unifying and directive control of a Church, while for some it is based on the relative sense of independence stemming from the freedoms promised by the Constitution that governs our Republic.

The roots of self-reliance, self-love, self-education are found in the soil of the notion of individualism. The rise of knowledge and the structural members of individualism – free will and choice – create the impression of self-determination, yet the physics of the matter tell a different tale. Aggregated individuals become groups and the groups take on a life of their own that in many both obvious and subtle ways undermines and dilutes the potent and catalytic influence of free will and choice.

The net result is that in many groups there are individuals who would fight to the death to defend their right to individual expression, yet they more often than not do so on the basis of the dictates of a larger group, rather than at their own behest. The perception of individualism, in my observation, is more important for the large majority of people than the reality of its manifestation.

A question I would love to realize the answer to is this: is there a unifying impulse or compulsion inherent in life itself that better heard and heeded would create a more harmonious and productive whole? Individual actors, acting primarily on the basis of unadulterated self-interest, produce in large measure the world we have today. Everything else in the observable world seems to function according to a more natural, deeper, invisible impulse.

Even our own complex, highly organized physical and energetic bodies seem to be guided by something that we haven’t sufficiently understood or explained to date. We have compiled a mountain of knowledge over the last six centuries, but what really have we learned about how to live better, more productive, happier, more harmonious lives? Precious little in my estimation.

In a world where everyone simply does what is right in his or her own eyes, without respect to a deeper unifying influence, the lowest common denominators – fear and greed – reign supreme. These base influences not only seem inescapable, they seem normal and are determined by social and physical science alike to be natural. But are they?

I don’t think that we can conclude, without reasonable doubt, that we do not have an ability to perceive and to move in concert with a higher common denominator. As human beings we tend to focus on that which we can see and we consequently explain away and dismiss, often with prejudice, that which we cannot see or adequately explain through the lens of our present consciousness. Call it group bias, fanaticism, prejudice or whatever you’d like, limited thinking leads to limited function and limited function constricts vision and understanding.

My own thinking on the matter at present is that individualism and determinism are not opposites, but instead complements. Free will and choice are vital to right function, but I do not feel that it is safe to conclude that they operate without respect to some other coordinating influence.

What about you? Another cup of coffee or tea might be in order at this point before you answer… Have a great day!