Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Getting the vax details wrong, but the big picture right

A copy of Steve Kirsch's essay on how the CDC is allegedly misleading us with covid-19 data:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15xRA5isx-4NvmqLc8KNWSa16uqkn2wARhwf1Czt3hBQ/edit?usp=sharing 


The following is a series of emails I've sent to an anti-vaxxer friend. I think the anti-vaxxers get the big picture right, but the details wrong. The big picture being that governments and corporations are controlling much of people's lives; there are not many good ways left for "right livelihood" in today's world (with the exception of science, engineering and computers, which are out of reach for most people, and also the ethics can be questioned even there, and also jobs that are about healing the sick, traumatized people that this culture produces); we are disconnected from each other and nature; much of what liberals say seems absurd on the face of it and imposes costs on working-class people; much of the built environment is ugly. Many working class jobs are being outsourced to third world slaves and machines. Here is a beautiful essay about getting the details wrong but the big picture right:https://www.ecosophia.net/an-empire-of-dreams/ . And another. And a third


Looking at the Jama article cited as the first step in the "proof" that the VAERS data is off by at least a factor of 50-150 (actually could be as high as 200 if we take the lower tail of the 95% confidence interval of the Jama study and the higher tail of the 95% confidence interval of the CDC VAERS), it is only one study. There are several others (see comments below) that show much lower 1.3-8x URFs, so why cherry pick this one?

Next, Steve Kirsch, Jessica Rose, Mathew Crawford cite a letter they wrote to the CDC "sidestepped this question". How is this proof of sidestepping without showing the CDC response? A few sentences later, they contradict themselves by saying the CDC "chose not to respond to the letter.". Perhaps this is an oversight, giving the wrong link, but it doesn't help establish their credibility. And also the people looking at this google doc, should have caught it, and the fact they didn't just affirms my growing suspicion (I have no data on this, admitted) that people are increasingly unable to read (youtube and tik tok have rotted people's brains) and use critical thinking.


Onward, though I should probably stop here given what we've seen already. The authors then pretend (dishonesty, they also bring in an earlier higher January estimate from CDC that is non sequitur, they don't use it, but it does obfuscate things) like they.have an independent estimate, but it's really the same data from the JAMA article, and a slightly updated estimate (lower) from VAERS, so instead of 50x they now get only a 41x difference.


Then they cite a japanese study, which besides the low statistical significance mentioned earlier (quote from paper:"Statistical analysis was not performed due to the small number of subjects with anaphylaxis.")

, also has a systemic problem that the participants are all Japanese and "The underlying reasons of such high incidence of anaphylaxis in Japan are unknown, but the presence of polyethylene glycol (PEG) additive,7 which is also used in many cosmetic and pharmaceutical products is considered to be one of the reasons for inducing anaphylaxis by the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. Of the 37 HCWs who developed anaphylaxis, 57% had some history of allergy, and four patients had a history of cosmetics allergy, suggesting the potential involvement of PEG." I am guessing that PEG is not used in the US vaccines, or else the Japanese are more allergic to it, or else there is no statistical significance to this study to differentiate their numbers from the CDC numbers.


Next we go to VAERS to see how many deaths after vaccination are actually being reported in 2021.  I did my own analysis here, but I will go back to look at what the authors of the paper actually do later. Most of the people who are reported dying after the vaccine are older people who could have died from the strain of going to the clinic or wherever they were vaccinated, if not at home. As a control of we can look at the number of people dying from causes that could have any possible connection with the vaccine, such as infections, respiratory ailments, circulatory ailments, etc.  in 2019, before the covid madness (It would be great if there was also data for 2020 and 2021, but it's not yet available on the wonder.cdc.gov site). The average of deaths in 2019 per 10 day period is about 39536 for people over 50. This is much bigger, more than a factor of 10 bigger than the number of deaths being reported for older people in connection with the vaccine, in the 10 day period between vaccination and death--3115-- so signal is swamped out by noise for the elderly population (there were very little deaths (<100 in ten day period after vaccination) reported into VAERS in 2020, and very little vaccines). If we look at the younger population, from ages 18-29,  we start seeing a signal. We have to correct for the fact that only about 1/3rd of this demographic is vaccinated (we didn't need this correction for the older population, which is mostly vaccinated), meaning that we should divide the total number of deaths in 2019 in a ten day period by 3 to compare. So this gives 185/3=61. Whereas the number of deaths in a 10 day period after vaccinations in 2021 is 75.  But this is only till December 1, so we can extrapolate to 75* 12/11=81 for the whole of 2021. So now we have an excess signal above background "noise" of  81-61=20 for a 10 day period after vaccination. Normalizing back to per year that means 730 deaths per year for the 18-29 year olds may be due to vaccine. By comparison, the deaths from covid for 18-29 year olds from the beginning of pandemic (March 2020 when data was collected) till Dec 1 2021=4618. We normalize by 12months/21months (since we want to compare to deaths that are possibly from vaccine only in 2021) getting 2639 18-29 people projected to be dying from covid in 2021 (most of them unvaccinated, no correction needed for that). So we still have about 3.6 times more 18-29 year olds dying from covid than vaccine.



This, combined with a friend's analysis:

"The basic idea is, there is a separate reporting system for ALL deaths.  If you compare deaths in 2020-2021 to recent previous years, you see big bumps in deaths that correspond pretty closely (like w/in 10-20% or better) to the official Covid count.  That disproves:

Claims that vaccines are killing many people.  If that were true, we would see a big uptick in death in spring 2021 when lots of people were vaccinated.  We didn’t.


 Oh and they want to argue that the CDC is just lying about the numbers?  But the CDC gets their numbers from the states.  If the numbers were fake, why aren’t any of these states run by Republican governors who have been resisting social distancing and vaccine mandates haven’t uncovered any fake numbers?"


closes my mind somewhat to more evidence from the anti vaxxers. Not completely closed though, but a mind has only so much space and time. 

I was going to see if I can make $1M from this guy's bet (S. Kirsch, whom you printed the doc on the kitchen table for). But he is sooooo dishonest. Here are the fine details terms of his bet:

"1. That the vaccines are so deadly that they should be stopped because they kill more than 1 person per million fully vaccinated



2. That nobody on the planet actually believes that the CDC is telling the truth" So (1) means that out of about 200 million people fully vaccinated, more than 200 have died. Yes, almost certainly more than 200 have died. That is very different than his claim of 150K! WTF! And there is no way to disprove (2) except by taking polls, and maybe it's true, but irrelevant to what is actually about the number of people dying. I'm sorry, but this guy is just showing ill will. I'm disappointed, because I thought I had a chance to win 1M dollars.


This guy has an interest in making money from promoting his own treatments:

In Mid-2020, Kirsch founded the Covid-19 Treatment Fund (CETF) to fund research into off-label treatments for Covid-19:





So I did look at the main concern with the PCR protocol from this link that you sent me, namely the Ct values. The authors are either ignorant or intentionally misleading. They cite a paper which I include here (pcr2) as their proof that one gets a 97% false positive rate with Ct=35. What that paper actually shows is that for people who have been infected with covid, detection of the virus at Ct=35 only means they are still infectious for less than 3% of them. But they still almost certainly (with less than 2% error) have pieces of dead virus in them that are being detected with the PCR test. They are either misunderstanding or intentionally misusing the meaning of "false positive". It means that someone who does not have any of the covid viral RNA in their nose is still tested as positive with the PCR test (The WHO has set the false positive limit as less than 2%, not 97% as these guys erroneously claim). It does not mean that the person is still infectious.


So you can't say that because of Ct values above 30, the actual cases of covid are much less than reported with PCR tests. You can say that out of those tested positive, some will not be infectious anymore (especially those with Ct values>30), and less than 2% of them will actually be falsely positive and have no covid RNA in them. But so what? Lower Ct values may be appropriate if what you care about is infectiousness, but if you care about finding whether there is any covid RNA in a person, you need higher Ct values so as to minimize false negatives, not just false positives.


I have no further motivation to look at the other claims against PCR testing (bad primers, erroneous GC content and Tm, etc) that they harp about. This was the major one listed in the initial email that you sent me, and there is no reason to believe that the people doing this testing are morons, misusing a technology that is the most accurate one we have for RNA detection and that has been around for a while. I am including another paper  (PCR1)that talks about how and why false positives can happen, in case you are interested.


Thanks for the reply. I am responding now but this is my last.

I know I sent other material....We can agree on some and leave the rest..


I appreciate your efforts here but lets please move on to more productive non-covid issues, such as the community plan there.

Sure, but we must be able to figure out disagreements, not just "agree to disagree". That doesn't work for most things when people are in a community. It works for things like religion or artistic taste, but anytime we will share work or resources, we need to be able to come to agreement otherwise we will be getting in each other's way.


 


 

 1.The CDC is dropping the PCR test as of 12/31/2021 in favor of other tests. https://www.dailyveracity.com/2021/07/27/the-cdc-is-abandoning-the-pcr-test/


Most test sites are apparently still using it though.

Nope, that is absolutely not what the CDC is doing. See email from Larry. 

 

2. Test results without clinical observations of symptoms are meaningless.

Nope. PCR test is THE MOST SENSITIVE test we have of someone having contracted the virus. It does not mean they are still having live virus in them, but that NOT what the CDC ever claimed. IT is the most accurate number for estimating how many people got infected. Whether they are still infected with live virus at the time of the test is irrelevant for that estimate. 

This was always a "casedemic" of bullshit stats as put forth by MSM.

You have been duped by the Chinese, the Russians or some other disinformation spreader (or your friend the multibillionaire, what's his name, Kirsch). It is heartbreaking. I gave you specific reasons WHY the PCR claims were mistaken. Do you at least understand what I was saying about the double entendre of false positive?

No one is denying the PCR will detect virus, it is how that is interpreted. The detection of covid RNA "pieces of dead virus” alone may be technically accurate but is meaningless in terms of an actual sickness or infectiousness. Infectiousness is what has hyped this from day one;  it is the key issue.  A ‘case’ that is simply a positive test result of dead virus is not a case of anything.

Not at all. It was all about estimating the number of people who got the virus at some point, within a margin of 2% (the maximum number of false positives as defined by pieces of viral RNA not in patient, but test says they are). The only time people care about whether someone is still infected is if they want to see how long they need to be quarantined, which was what the paper the folks who wrote that paper cited. 


Even Fauci admitted the PCR test cycling issue  back in July 2020. 

“Fauci directly responded to a question about COVID-19 testing, specifically how patients with positive tests might determine whether or not they are actually infectious and need to quarantine.

“What is now sort of evolving into a bit of a standard,” Fauci said, is that “if you get a cycle threshold of 35 or more … the chances of it being replication-[competent] are minuscule.”

Yes, so what? We all agree on this. 

“It’s very frustrating for the patients as well as for the physicians,” he continued, when “somebody comes in, and they repeat their PCR, and it’s like [a] 37 cycle threshold, but you almost never can culture virus from a 37 threshold cycle.”

So, I think if somebody does come in with 37, 38, even 36, you got to say, you know, it’s just dead nucleotides, period.” 

https://archive.is/AhkDV#selection-1179.52-1191.121

But most likely it means the patient got covid at some point and got over it. There is no other way to get dead virus RNA pieces in you


3. You focused on only one issue of the 10 listed with PCR.

Yes, because I told you you only get one more strike. The universal donut cult can keep making up BS, and it does that mean I have to keep checking every one of their claims.There has to be a limit. But, if you want we can keep talking about the two issues I have looked into, till we come to agreement.

And sent a report that admits in conclusion there are issues.

"Have provided additional evidence that false positive SARS CoV-2 PCR test results do occur in the clinical setting and are especially a problem in a low prevalence screening situation where the prior probability of a positive test is low."

Yes, the whole paper is about whether someone is still infectious or not. It is not about whether someone has virus in them. Out of 100 people without virus, the test will find erroneously, that 2 have virus, whether because of  high Ct, cross contamination, human mislabeling of sample, etc. You and that paper make the claim that the CDC over-estimated the number of people who got covid, not how many are still infectious at time of testing. That is a false claim.




Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The trauma community and attachment theory

 

The American Psychiatric Association before 1973, thought that homosexuality was a pathology. Some thought that anything that is not close to normal behavior and sexual preference was a pathology. Some Freudians thought that it was an immature behavior that never matured. Freudian ideas are not very scientific, they are not tested by experiments and as a result have little predictive or generalizing power. And the idea that pathology is defined by how close one is to a norm is baseless, or rather it comes from primate group behavior, but has no place in science. So homosexuality is no longer considered a pathology, and perhaps due to this episode it has become politically incorrect to classify any behavior or way of being as pathological. Could we have gone too far though? Maybe it can be useful to classify some behaviors as pathological. It seems to me that the following 2 criteria are a good way to view pathology:

1. When a person is repeatedly hurting themselves with said behavior or internal process.

2. When a person is repeatedly hurting another person, not in self defense (though this might be tricky to define for avoidants, who see any intimacy as an attack).

and perhaps a third which we will discuss later.

Our goal in studying pathology should not be to shame, ostracize, judge or ridicule the pathological person, but rather to understand and help them heal. Understanding involves making distinctions (and also integration of distinct things sometimes). Not all pathologies are the same either in their etiologies or their manifestations. If we can understand, we can sometimes also find ways to heal. Scientific theories like attachment theory offer a finer tool for understanding than pure psychological theories. Attachment theory has been evolving through the interplay of theory and experiment for many decades and offers us a two axis model of infant and adult attachment. Evolutionary theory posits that mother-child, and lover-lover attachment use the same neuro-hormonal-behavioral systems, maybe with a slight modification. In a species where newborns take years to be able to survive on their own, it makes sense that a strong attachment system has evolved between mother and child. It also makes sense that this attachment system would be tweaked (instead of invented de novo) to recruit (potential) fathers to help mothers, hence romantic love. I'm not saying that romantic love can be reduced to hormones and neural states, only that these are part of a system that keeps lovers attached, when all goes well during childhood (there are other aspects like being inspired by one's partner that are absent in childhood--the Muse). If the system malfunctions, people can develop a so-called avoidant attachment along one axis, and a so-called anxious attachment along another perpendicular axis*. And of coarse most people will be a combination of both attachment styles, off both of these axes. People can heal from these malfunctions (not pathologies yet) by learning how to have a more secure attachment, but what or whom do we form a connection to?

But wait, before we get to healing, why is having a high avoidance or anxiousness coordinate (as measured by surveys, but also by brain scans, not just for activity, but for avoidants, for mu opioid receptors) a pathology? Because both of these kinds of people (sometimes combined into one, aka chaotic or disorganized attachment) hurt both themselves and their romantic partners or close friends. They hurt themselves by not being able to have intimate romantic relationships or close friendships, and are unhappier in a romantic relationship than secure people. They also have a lower resilience to post-childhood stressors**. Same goes for their hurting their partner, even if the latter have secure attachment (when both coordinates are low valued). Not being able to have romantic relationships may not in itself be hurtful to oneself if one can compensate for this innate human need to connect. Perhaps they can connect to a higher power or children or pets, or an online tribe. Still it is suspicious that most of these people try (and sometimes succeed with the right therapy) to have romantic relationships, even as they ostensibly disavow their need to do so. 

There is no contradiction between having a pathology, and having that pathology originate in adaptive behavior during childhood or infancy. Of course the behavior was adaptive and protective when it arose. But now it can be harmful sometimes. 


But instead of using attachment theory to propose different treatments for people suffering from PTSD or other trauma-related ailments, the trauma community*** has adopted a one-size-fits-all treatment. What works for avoidance-meditation, somatic therapies and attachment to guru, or source, is different than what works for anxious or chaotic-attachment to partner with some agreements, though both can benefit from compassionate inquiry and attachment to a therapist.  Also, secure attachment folks can be traumatized from being in a relationship with an avoidant person, not just because of childhood trauma. And what works for them is an understanding that they are dealing with a wounded individual (who now feels legitimized  by the trauma community). 

I've noticed in the trauma community, that it is common to implicitly normalize avoidance (we should not need a partner, a me first, a bit of a narcissistic perspective), while pathologizing anxious attachment (which is co-dependence in the extreme anxious form).  They don't do this explicitly because they don't use attachment theory. They just do it implicitly, watch these videos for example and read my comments (Iuval Clejan):

needing a parter is a sin.

the cause of conflict for avoidants in relationship

Thes videos are coming from the non-dual community, which has much overlap with the trauma community. I've heard similar quips from the trauma gurus, "stay in your lane", "outsourcing taking care of your inner child is immature", or implying that it is crucial to have attachment when an infant or child, but somehow it is only necessary to love yourself and find a connection to source as an adult, not to have any attachments to other adults, that's considered immature. Millions of years of needing that attachment to others in the tribe in order to survive, have left a biological imprint, don't you think? But no, now it is considered cool to be "whole" before entering a relationship, to focus on "loving oneself", and to not need a romantic relationship. It's like breatharians who think eating is gross (or maybe pooping, the result of eating is gross, just like getting hurt by having incoming and outgoing boundary violations from childhood triggered in a romantic relationship is painful), and not needing food is cool. The cool factor is further enhanced by half-baked misunderstood views of eastern philosophies. Non-attachment to them meant something different, as they were collectivist cultures, where it was obvious that people needed each other. In our hyper-individualized western culture, it's not so obvious.

I made a response video

So the trauma community legitimizes these avoidants who are hurting their partners if they have the misfortune of partnering up with them, and now feel entitled to do it, while shaming anxious people (for being immature). Both anxiousness and avoidance are pathologies, coming from different kinds of childhood traumas (incoming vs outgoing boundary violations). Perhaps the double standard is there because most of the people in the trauma community are avoidants whose worse nightmare is having anxious, co-dependent partners who trigger their childhood traumas of needing the adults but the adults hurt them with incoming boundary violations (being immobilized, force-fed, molested, abused or gaslighted). Or perhaps the double standard is because there are also a fair number of anxious folks in this community who are paired up with avoidants (a common occurrence that these two attract each other) and think they should be less needy in order for the relationship to work, they don't want to think badly of their partner. Is having an anxious attachment or being paired up with an anxious attachment person, make one go to the other extreme, of thinking that we "don't need a partner", or should not need anything from a partner? The optimal solution is somewhere in the middle between being totally self-sufficient, and totally dependent on our partner.

The other thing you hear commonly in the trauma community is to focus on loving yourself. Loving yourself first is not a solution for avoidant or anxious attachment (more for anxious though) but a bandaid, as far as I can tell. We are social beings whose very individuality emerges from a family or tribe. Native people knew this. The existence or non existence of a God or Source or Presence is irrelevant to this, though it helps avoidants to connect with this Source (irrelevant whether it has an existence independent of their imagination) and it helps them to feel love from this source. Secure folks feel self love by default. They still need their partner to love them in a relationship, because this is a different need than self love, or love of or from a higher power, or love to and from a tribe. Or does it not matter where connection comes from as long as there is connection? Perhaps this IS a case where one "size" fits all?

Why are some people able to deal with adult traumas better than others? It seems like the answer is secure attachment during childhood to at least one adult human. This is also part of the field of resilience. But resilience is not talked about much in the trauma community. This is rather self serving because it creates a bigger market for trauma healing through revisiting childhood traumas, since now even secure attachment folks must do it, even though they may not need to. And instead of insecure attachment folks actually healing and being able to have good romantic relationships, they become dependent on the meditation and trauma and entheogen workshops (which also offer a sort of tribal connection). The anxious people never quite heal because they think that what they want (a secure attachment to a partner) is a pathology, whereas the avoidants never heal because they think they are already healthy, or that they need to have stronger boundaries (which were helpful in childhood, but will prevent them from having romantic relationships, which need also vulnerability, not just clear communication about what one needs, which is what "boundaries" usually means when the term is used by adults). I'm not saying any of this is intentional and comes from devious motives. All the people I've met in the trauma community really want to help people. But they are legitimizing psychopaths (I'm using that word to mean someone with a psychological pathology, in a loving way. I've had quite a few romantic partners who had avoidant attachment due to childhood trauma), and preventing them from healing.

Lastly, for avoidants, meditation and somatic therapies can also be a way to avoid re-evaluating (integrating the shadow in Jung's terms) the original traumas so it's not always helpful, as the trauma gurus suggest. My therapist calls it transcendental dis-identification, where those negative feelings are suppressed instead of experienced in a different, more helpful way. Some people have called this technique, spiritual bypass. "Breathe into the negativity, and dissolve it..." (works during the meditation, but not when dealing with a someone who triggers you)

Getting back to the idea that insecure attachment is a pathology: what if the whole world became avoidant (I'm thinking this is not just hypothetical, as capitalism promotes the kind of trauma that leads to avoidant attachment) and dealt with it the way the trauma gurus say, through self love, compassionate inquiry, meditation, entheogens and other somatic therapies (like tapping and EMDR)? Would it then still be a pathology if these folks just didn't have romantic relationships, or had shallow, not-so-intimate ones with parallel play (a stage of childhood development that avoidants can get stuck in)? I think yes, because the third criterion I propose for a pathology is that it is a conflict between deep programs that have evolved over eons and are hard to change, and new environments that temporarily call for new adaptations. For example, global capitalism calls for hyper-individuals, and that conflicts with our tribal and pair-bonding evolutionary heritage. And only in that kind of culture can people pretend that they don't need each other (they still do, but often the material needs are abstract. Instead of depending on your family member or neighbor, you depend on someone in a factory far away). Erich Fromm noticed this kind of pathology in modern day western societies first. And the solution is not personal healing of individuals, but a new way to live (which can begin with a new "story", but must not end there). Personal "healing" of individuals might actually do more harm than good, if this "healing" is but an adjustment of individuals to a sick society.

There is also the possibility that a pathology could become an advantage (like beneficial mutations in biology). For example, it might lead to great art, science or music. This was exemplified in the movie Clockwork Orange, where a psychopath is also able to appreciate Beethoven, but once his pathology is "cured" so is his appreciation of Beethoven. In the case of avoidant or chaotic, attachment  it may be that these people have an enhanced ability to experience mystical realms of consciousness. Aldous Huxley and Stanislaw Grof postulted that the brain is not just for information processing, but for information blocking; information coming from the mystical realm, that doesn't offer immediate survival benefits in certain environments. Perhaps mu-opioid receptors (which are scarce in avoidant brains) are part of this blocking mechanism. So a deeper question would be, what if the whole world became mystics, due to becoming avoidant, and the efforts of therapists to focus on individual healing alone, without social healing? This seems unrealistic to me. A more likely scenario is that those who have not healed their trauma will outcompete the mystics... And this is why we must also focus on creating social alternatives.


* This is a refinement to Ainsorth's original 3 category model. She saw secure, avoidant and "chaotic" (aka disorganized, a combination of anxious and avoidant) attachment, the latter at a much higher frequency (this makes sense statistically) than pure anxious, which she missed.

** See data in Love Sense by Sue Johnson

*** The disciples of Gabor Mate, Thomas Hubl, Dan Siegel, Stephen Porges, Peter Levine, the SAND organization and others. There is significant overlap with the non-dual community (disciples of Tolle, Adyashanti, Mooji, Spira, Almaas). Not sure yet about Van der Kolk, seems like his somatic therapies are especialy helpful for avoidants, but ultimately they still need to feel connected to other adult humans. To call this group a community does not mean they act in a coordinated fashion. What I mean is that most of the consumers of the services offered by the trauma and non-dual gurus have certain traits in common, like fear of intimacy with adults (and all kinds of defense mechanisms that prevent intimacy), being easily overwhelmed by the material world, hyper-defensiveness (feeling attacked when nobody means to attack them), constantly having to assert their boundaries, being controlling of partners, being attracted to people with anxious attachment in romantic relationships, ease in connecting with nature or a higher power (an advantage), and other traits shared by people with avoidant attachment. Sometimes also traits shared by people with anxious attachment, like codependence, and abandonment trauma. And then there are exceptions, like Esther Perel, Bruce Perry and Brene Brown who talk about vulnerability and the insanity of rugged individualism. And therapists like Sue Johnson and Stan Tatkin who recognize the primacy of intimate bonds in romantic partership.


Sunday, August 8, 2021

CSC codex

Community Supported Community (it's not just about Community Supported Agriculture anymore), or the modern Underground Railroad out of modern slavery. 

click here for rationale (the why) 

Click here for a more generic Vision and Mission

land and home ownership:

pods (aka families) own* their home and 2 acre land around their home. 

responsibilities of land ownership (at pod level, not individual level. Individual responsibilities are handled by each pod separately)

1. To produce goods and/or services (these are desacralized by consumer capitalism, but here they are used in a sacred way, as the gifts that bind us to each other and the land, and allow us to express our best) that are needed by at least 3 other pods/families. Training will be available for those who don't already have useful skills.

2. To prioritize providing the goods and services that are needed by villagers to the villagers, before trying to sell or provide them outside the village. Only excess of needed goods and services can be provided to the outside.

3. To prioritize sourcing goods and services (including those needed for one's work in providing goods and services to the village) from other villagers, before sourcing them from outside the village. If a good can't be sourced from inside the village, the next place to source it is from outside the village, but either from nature or another village, and only use the global economy as a last resort for sourcing.

4. To negotiate prices or exchange rates with other pods (could be gift based)

5. To keep looking for new villagers who can close loops and provide for village needs and markets

6. See also Community glue below:

costs:

initial costs to reimburse land owner who paid the global economy for it from their own energy. Scholarships available (from other members and matching donors?). Some worktrade, but have to be careful not to create a have/have-not caste system.


Benefits of land ownership:

1. Each pod has artistic creative freedom, without interference from rest of community (but individuals may be subject to interference or collaboration from within their own pod)

2. Each pod has its own domestic space, where more intimacy is possible. They can choose to invite people into their domestic space for well defined occasions, instead of having to be with other villagers when they just need to be in their nest.

Elder Care

Each pod is responsible for their elders when they are no longer able to contribute as much. Elders are encouraged to provide childcare if they are no longer able to do much else. They are also encouraged to monitor agreements and make consensus decisions in an elder council about what to do when agreements are broken.


Child Care

Each pod is responsible for their children, but pods can form childcare coops or a school together. A school can accept children from outside the community.


Outside Work

Allowed for income, but if there is a need for goods or services from this work in the village, it must be prioritized before outside work (even if the compensation is less monetarily). This can be limited to 8 hours inside-of-village work per week per person, (less if the need can be satisfied with less) with anything over that being optional. The goal is to reduce reliance on outside work, and outside markets and sources so we can be more interdependent with each other and the land. But we need a transition time.


Conflict Resolution

Pods are encouraged to resolve their own internal conflicts by whatever methods they choose. Conflict between individuals in different pods can be brought to the conflict resolution council (made up of 1 representative from each pod),  who will mediate the conflict using NVC and restorative circles. They will get paid for their time by the conflicting parties at an hourly wage that is negotiated at that time. They will thus have incentive to resolve the conflict among themselves before involving others. 


People who are accused of violating agreements have to come to a restorative justice circle, at the end of which the peacemaker council has to decide consequences for them (or none if the accusation was inaccurate). Perhaps the consequences are simply feeling the impact they had on others, but they could be as serious as expulsion.


Animals

Animals must be kept within pod land boundaries, unless otherwise negotiated between pods. Also dogs must be kept from barking outside from 9PM till 7AM (unless they are good livestock guard dogs?)


Communal, pod and individual work

If the community decides to have a community business, this can be an example of communal work, but it could still be subdivided for individual or pod specialties. It is expected that occasions where the whole community will have to work together on something will be rare.  Same goes for community meetings. Most work will be by individuals and pods, allowing for creative freedom, and progressive improvement towards mastery of one's work.


Community glue:It is also expected that people will participate in a minimum of 2 hours per week of community-wide cultural events (with at least 90% of people attending), and another 4 hours per week of cultural/spiritual events that involve at least 2 other people form other pods. Examples include dances, music making and listening, lectures, workshops, storytelling, plays, yoga, heart shares, meditation, chi gung, rituals.

Governance

Most decisions will be made by individuals and pods. If decisions affect other individuals, they have to be consulted. If a decision can't be negotiated between individuals, it is brought to the pod level (if it only affects people within the pod) or community level (if it affects people outside the pod). Each pod affected sends a peacemaker from their midst to the peacemaker meeting to discuss the case. Community meetings  can also be called by at least 2 individuals who find it necessary and then all pods must send peacemakers. Other people besides peacemakers may attend and contribute, but the final decisions are made by peacemakers, in a consensus minus one manner. It is expected that most decisions will be within the pod, not affecting people outside the pod. Each pod can have its own internal governance mechanism. Also, new pods' representative peacemakers have to be approved by the existing peacemakers.

* ownership in the sense of stewardship, like a cell or an organism owns its interior--by owning land that we have to make a living from, and being in a CSC, we enter into a mutualistic relationship with that land and the beings on it. We might consider the whole community a common pool resource for its members, but with Ostrom Principles. Legally, pods would lease land from a non-profit, who would legally own the land.


Monday, May 17, 2021

the magical spell of gaslighting promoting memetic isolation

Xenophobia, the seemingly hard-wired human tendency to see people from other tribes/cultures as a threat, can manifest in intimate relationships, in families, and even among the different parts of one's own psyche. Granted, this behavior must have evolutionary fitness value because sometimes the other person or tribe really does want to harm us. But sometimes they may not and even if they do, it may be diffused with the right attitude and tools, to the greater benefit of all (not just the potential winner). I started thinking about this from watching this video by Dr. Ramani.  She mentions several characteristics of gaslighting which I will address in this essay. 


The original use of the term came from a 1944 movie about a man obsessed with obtaining certain jewels from the dead aunt of a woman he seduces and tries to drive mad in order to get her into a mental institution so he can have free reign of the attic where the jewels are hidden. The man is evilly evil in a way that Hollywood and pulp fiction are good at rendering, with not much nuance to his character and motivations, and the woman he victimizes is good, helpless and innocent, but subtlety in character development was not then (is it now?) a way to sell art to the masses.



In his analysis of some cross-cultural trends, the historian, writer and druid JMG tries to understand the process of making sense out of raw experience. The first aspect of gaslighting behavior discussed by Dr. Ramani involves denying someone's feelings and experience. This is a form of emotional abuse, and also makes no sense. Experience can't be denied in any reasonable way, and if someone is trying to do that they are being either irrational, malevolent or both. But interpretation of experience, part of thinking, can be (and should be, as I discuss below, and as NVC has made clear) discussed, negotiated and sometimes disagreed with (never outright denied). It's not always simple to distinguish between experience and its interpretations. The simplest interpretation happens when we assemble raw sensory data into a story, like "this is a chair", or the "sun is appearing in the east".  JMG called this "figuration". It's hard to disagree with figuration, but sometimes it can be done, especially with optical illusions or Rohrschach tests. In an optical illusion or Rohrschach test, we might see several things at once and disagree with each other about what they are or even disagree with ourselves. The next level of thinking dissected by JMG is easier to disagree about: abstraction, and the next level, reflection is the easiest to disagree about.

But without disagreement and passionate yet civil discussion of our interpretation of our experiences, we have no basis for anything but isolated individuals--no relationships, no families, no tribes or cultures. The truth of interpretation and thinking here is an inter-subjective process, unlike the truth of personal experience, where it makes sense to speak of my truth vs your truth. We will never find someone who, without any discussion, agrees with us about our interpretations completely. Much agreement is already there because of common cultural negotiations, upbringing, and sometimes previous childhood brainwashing. Truth is a personal experience only when it comes to experience. But when it comes to interpretation, truth is interpersonal. It requires cognitive flexibility, epistemic humility, and ability to understand other people's perspectives and history. Even if one can reach agreement within a culture, the next level of truth seeking, is to try to achieve it with other cultures, and resist xenophobia. Even in the movie, the deadlock between the gaslighter and his victim is broken by a third party from outside.

Even within individuals, there are parts to the psyche (according to Internal Family Systems Therapy and other psychological theories) that can disagree about interpretations. We want to come to harmony and agreement, but it's a process. It's not an easy process, and it's easier to just label the other people or parts of ourselves as enemies, pathologize, shut them out and hate them. This leads to fragmentation of one's psyche, relationship, family and ultimately culture. If someone is disagreeing with your interpretation of reality, perhaps instead of labeling them as a gaslighter, try to talk to them about it and be open to their point of view (and see if they have the same openness towards yours). Ask yourself it they are denying your experience and feelings, or your interpretation of these? Ask yourself about their motives: do they want you to go mad? Do they want you to question your own experience so they can have power over you, or so they can win an argument and feel superior and in control? Or do they have a different interpretation of a shared experience? Are they denying your interpretation, or merely questioning it and being open to being wrong? But no, none of this for Dr. Ramani. She suggests not engaging with the gaslighter because their intent is obviously nefarious, about control and power over you. This is ironic because the next gaslighter behavior she highlights is withholding, allowing only certain things to be able to be expressed and talked about, or else the relationship or the love will be withheld. But shutting out the alleged gaslighter is the extreme of withholding. Whereas the alleged gaslighter only disallows certain conversations (e.g. about uncomfortable feelings like fear or anger or sadness), Dr. Ramani suggests disallowing ALL conversations with the alleged gaslighter, and seeing them as a power hungry monster is withholding love, with no possibility for an intimate relationship. I suppose if the alleged gaslighter is a real gaslighter, this might be an effective protective strategy. 


The next behavior she talks about is contradicting shared memories. Some people have better memory capability (and it also varies according to whether the memory is short, long, or pre-cognitive) than others and we have much self serving bias in our memories. Again this is where it helps to have written documents, photos, videos, and other people who were there besides a couple, to figure out the truth about the past, part of what motivates formal courtroom law. Again it helps to be humble about one's memory, and also to realize when the other person might be just well intentioned but deficient in their memory capacity, or having different interpretations of what happened. I do agree with Dr. Ramani that an intimate relationship is not just about winning or finding out the interpersonal truth (whether about the past or the present), but about achieving love and intimacy. The gaslighter whom she describes apparently is not interested in intimacy but in power and winning, just like lawyers. However, I would not stop there and condemn this person, but try to figure out where this fear of intimacy comes from. Could it come from their early experiences with caretakers who did not provide for their needs as infants? Did not value and affirm their intrinsic worth? Were lawyers themselves who behaved like lawyers in the home, not just the courtroom (meaning cared about winning and being right instead of connecting and relating and finding out mutual truth)? Did not protect them from harm from others? Did not affirm their feelings when harm happened but tried to divert the topic to something or someone else, or to shame or guilt the child (diversion is, according to Dr Ramani, another gaslighter technique, but maybe it's also trigger for her and others from parents' behavior during childhood)? Could it be that they have protective parts that see intimacy as a threat because they were not accepted and valued for who they were by those who were closest to them? These are some of the early childhood experiences that lead to an insecure avoidant attachment style. I don't mean to pathologize any attachment style, but to understand it and help figure out how to have harmony in a relationship with whatever attachment style one has. IFS has a variety of techniques for dealing with (unburdening) protective parts and exiled inner children for avoidant attachment style folks.

I'd like to be able to question certain ideas of the New Age movement such as the idea that we must be whole within ourselves before we can enter into relationships, because I think this is a two way process, where relationships with others help make us whole and also the higher level couple, family or tribe can have a wholeness and complementarity that is missing in its individual parts and that this is not necessarily a problem, but a feature of all emergent systems. I'd like to question the idea of IFS that constraints in a system are necessarily bad and should be eliminated, because there is much work (see Simon Deacon's Incomplete Nature) on the idea that some constraints are necessary for emergence of higher order systems in the first place, and that though they restrict certain freedoms, they also make possible certain things that were not possible or likely at the lower levels. The individual tree roots are constrained by the mycelial networks underneath from going wherever they want or being selfish about nutrient allocation, and the mycelia are constrained by the tree roots and trunks from doing whatever they want and getting nutrients selfishly and competing with each other as they please. But these constraints enable emergent forest behavior and collaboration that was not possible without the constraints. If I question these ideas, am I questioning people's dogmas, or their realities? Can I be then dismissed as a gaslighter, as a strategy to not have to question one's interpretations of reality? I wonder what can be done with someone who is dismissing others with a label. Perhaps asking them questions about what they feel and why instead of dismissing them back. Maybe NVC can be a tool for figuring out the underlying feelings. Maybe "I feel gaslighted by you" might morph into "I feel devalued when you don't agree with my way of looking at things or when you don't fully believe something that I am sure about".


Some years ago, in an article in TVOL, and in much of the early post in this blog, I argued that if we are going to create a new culture, we need to detach from the mainstream one and obtain some memetic isolation from it. Here I see the opposite problem, where the unity of couples, families, tribes and cultures can be destroyed by memetic isolation, in this case by pathologizing and excluding other individuals (or groups of individuals) in each of these higher order entities. This may be a good thing if there is disharmony due to these individuals or groups, but what if the disharmony is at a different level? What if for example we mistakenly think that our disharmony comes from another individual, whereas in reality it comes from our own internal system of psychological parts and their childhood traumas? Ot what if we can have harmony by ourselves or in shallow relationships with others, but the disharmony with deep relationships is not due to the other person (e.g. gaslighter, narcissist, love bomber, etc) but to our own system? I'm imagining that Dr. Ramani would see this as just a gaslighting strategy of questioning her own reality, and perhaps sometimes this is the case, but not always? Could it be that if she and enough others repeat the spell that gaslighters are evil, power hungry people who want to drive us mad, that people would believe it, just like the germans believed all kinds of things about Jews?




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

God is alive, but romantic love is dying

When I was a child, the neighbors once left go on vacation and left their dog with us. The dog was very depressed and did not even eat for a day, until my mother figured out that if she said the name of his owner, his ears went up and he would cheer up a bit. Eventually, with enough repetition, he started eating. I suspect dogs brains are similar to people's brains who have insecure anxious attachment style*. Cats on the other hand are less needing of attachment. They are repulsed when someone needs connection from them. They are more going with the flow and seem to have a connection to an inner source. Their brains might be more similar to people with insecure avoidant attachment**. I’m more like the dog and I suffer similarly when I get abandoned emotionally in a romantic relationship (though I tested as secure. I don't worry about the relationship unless my partner is avoidant and unable to share emotions or other information about our needs, then I act like an anxiously attached person. Sometimes I pick avoidant attachment partners, for various reasons). My grandpa died two weeks after my grandma at a ripe old age, from what I think was similarly a broken heart of a secure or anxious attachment person.

Outside of attachment theory, the word attachment has negative connotations. Taken to an extreme, it connotes lack of freedom, an infantile mother projection, and an inability to function without the person one is attached to. We can think of attachment in less extreme forms. Though attachment does originate during infancy and childhood, we later as adults tend to pattern our relationship to our lovers after those early imprints. Forming secure attachments is the golden standard of mental health, and it just means enjoying our partners, caring about their well being, supporting, loving and being inspired (to function in and love the rest of the world) by them, feeling secure in the relationship.  People with secure attachment had caretakers who were there for them and provided good trustworthy care. The other attachment styles can lead to trouble, but they are workable if people understand each other, commit to the relationship, and follow certain protocols outlined in (for example, not limited to) Wired for Love, by Stan Tatkin. The problem with modern romantic relationship is not avoidant or anxious attachment styles, but ideology. Let me explain.

Rumi was a Persian Sufi mystic around the middle ages. He fell in love with another mystic by the name of Shams. At some point Shams left unexpectedly and could not be found again, and Rumi was devastated. The way he found to cope with this loss was to convince himself that what he loved about Shams can be found in himself, and what was in himself was the pure Essence of God.  I suspect Rumi had either a secure attachment style or an insecure anxious one*, because people with insecure avoidant attachment do not get devastated so much by abandonment (at least later in life. The original childhood abandonment is devastating and formative for them). 

On the other hand, insecurely avoidants learned to deal with their initial incoming boundary violations by their caretakers by developing a tough exterior and not trusting people for romantic relationships. They are able to substitute other kinds of relationships, such as with pets or children (much less potential for abandonment by pets of children, at least until the children are grown up), or constantly find something to amuse, distract or consume so that they don’t have to face that primal human fear of being alone, and that primal human need of transcending one’s ego, which according to Erich Fromm, only mature love can fulfill. They might get into BDSM, they might transcend their ego with transcendental meditation, entheogens, or they might find anonymity in a crowd (none of which, in my opinion is a substitute for intimacy with a romantic partner, though they can help as coping strategy for dealing with abandonment trauma). Because they were not loved well as infants and children (their caretakers attentions were even painful), they might think that self love (especially if the self is really the Self, the pure Essence/Presence of inner God/Source/Spirit) can substitute for having an intimate relationship with a lover (it might be a pre-requisite though). They might even have a short erotic fling, but as soon as intimacy is asked of them, they run and pre-emptively abandon. The grief and abandonment trauma was just unbearable and the ideology that Rumi found and passed to future generations is a way forward for coping with abandonment.  Supposedly even people with secure attachment can experience abandonment trauma as adults, because of the sting of betrayal and sudden loss of security, so the strategy of believing that we can get all our security, love and belonging needs from an internal source helps everyone avoid having to deal with abandonment trauma, since the internal source will never abandon us, unlike real people, who can be flighty, unreliable and definitely mortal. Also, the strategy of surrender to the internal source might alleviate the burden of having to make hard choices, or choices that conflict with others' since Source or Spirit will do it for us. In addition, the ideology Rumi and other mystics developed sees it as unholy/blasphemous to not be whole within oneself, since God is whole and God is within, so not being whole in that view just means being disconnected from the inner God. And so looking to others to complete us and fill our holes is frowned upon. But wait, we’re not talking about character defects that need completing. We’re talking about complementarity and specialization so we emerge as a whole couple, family,  tribe or team that is more than the sum of the parts. Is that so terrible and worthy of scorn to the (ironically) non-dual, but oh-so-judgmental yogini?


One of the greatest fears of humans is being alone (though avoidants also fear connection for reasons above). Given that humans (and other primates) evolved in tribes where interdependence meant survival and that humans (and other apes) are born needing adults to take care of them and form attachments to these adults in order to survive, that much of the neural circuitry of sexual bonding uses the same circuitry of infant mother bonding, and that evolution wants us to find mates in order to survive as a species, this fear of being alone makes sense. Given also that confidence is sexy and terror is not, it also makes sense then, that the strategy of finding peace (and abating the primal terror of being alone by showing the believer that he is not actually alone and Source is right there with them, and so are all other souls through Source) and joy through a belief and an experience of an inner Source will spread far and wide. Also, such a belief would make the believer more apt to make wise choices in a mate, coming from a place of calm instead of terror. And also it makes sense from an attachment theory perspective that once one has a child, the fear of being alone can abate, if one can form a secure attachment with the child.


Perhaps many monks also have trouble making attachments to lovers and instead find it easier to latch onto buddhist  philosophy, where attachment to anything (except buddhist philosophy) is frowned upon. Well, except maybe most eastern buddhists only think that attachment to stuff is a problem, because most people in eastern collectivist cultures do make attachments to people, especially friends and family. So is Buddhism with its non-attachment to the world and striving towards the non-dual consciousness just a coping strategy, or is there some truth to it? And if there is some truth, how much and how far does one take non-attachment to the world, and communing with Source? Of course the truth of the experience of unity is undeniable, just as the truth of the experience of duality. I'm just wondering if there is more to unity than an experience.


I don’t know the answer. I would love it if there were a benevolent ground of being that allowed us to transcend our egos, but it doesn’t seem like a way to live except for monks and nuns. The best solution we have found to alleviating our fear of being alone and our need to transcend our egos is love, whether romantic (and particular), or more general love for friends, for the earth/nature, for children and for animals; or through certain kinds of work that make our love manifest, as Khalil Gibran and Erich Fromm have suggested.

In my youth I would sit for hours in beautiful natural places where I was alone, except with the plants and animals and the spirit of the place. I would play my recorder flute and feel a sense of oneness with that spirit and the frogs and wolves would sometimes join in.  So I was not really alone, I was communing with Nature. When I was about 5, I had a recurring dream that I was a disembodied spirit, flying over rows and rows of bald men in robes, seated cross legged facing the direction I was flying. Everyone including me knew that beyond the first row lay waiting the Big Bad Wolf (a child's conception of Evil and Fear), to do battle with me. I never made it to the Wolf, because I would get so scared that I would stop breathing and wake up with my heart pounding. How could a child growing up in Israel, where there was only one TV channel that I almost never watched, know of Buddhist monks? Later in the US I had an experience of non-duality when we played one of Beethoven's symphonies, and all the instruments came in at just the perfect moment. Sometimes I have experienced oneness with a lover, during orgasm. So I am sympathetic to the mystics' vision.

The vision of both the eastern and western mystics is beautiful. To renounce all the superficiality, pretense, and violence of the world and find within a presence peaceful, vibrant, nourishing and deep. And from that inner place of peace and joy to reach outward again and love and inspire people. In this vision, we are like waves upon the loving ocean of consciousness, all connected underneath. Or like windows letting in the light of the sun (consciousness). The ocean/sun alone is permanent, the waves/windows are transient. It makes no sense in that view to form attachments to one's wave/window or other people's waves/windows because this causes suffering when that attachment is inevitably severed with time. Instead, one focuses on the ocean and presumably this creates experiences of peace and joy, although the ultimate sustainable bliss of samadhi is something most can only strive for, or only get glimpses of.

Another metaphor expressing this vision is that we are like parts of one body, and hurting any one part hurts us in return. This is thus not only a personal vision, but a vision for a peaceful and harmonious society.

But how far does one take this? If we can be whole within ourselves by connecting with the Source, why should we join with others in couples, families, tribes, companies? Why bother if they are the same as us, whole within themselves, when we can connect directly to the source through meditation, yoga, and entheogens and skip the "middleman"? Why would ants and bees specialize and form colonies and hives? Why do we form symbiotic relationships with other species? Why would trees form symbiotic relationships with fungi and each other?  Why would our cells specialize to form our bodies? The mystics can answer only the first question, and only transactionally: the lover is only useful as a mirror or tester in the spiritual journey,  and the only love worth anything is the love of God. Perhaps some mystics might concede that this love of God can be experienced THROUGH the lover, by resonating with one's inner God. Here again, extremism is not our friend. The word “hole” sounds terrible as applied to a person, connoting a disgusting deficiency. We might instead view holes as needs that can best be expressed with the help of a lover, a child, good work, a parent, or a friend, even though we might sometimes find weak substitutes to express these needs. And we might soften the extremist view that a person has to be completely whole and happy before connecting to another person as a lover or friend. Being in a relationship or a community helps us become more whole in ourselves, and also more whole as a couple, family, tribe or community.


Try telling a woman whose clock is ticking in her fourties that she should be content to love her inner child or Source, rather than attempt to bear and love a child that she has created in her womb? But it’s OK to tell a heterosexual man that his evolved drive to want to express his power by loving a woman, by giving of himself fully to her, sometimes to the point of sacrificing his needs or even his life, is a pathlogy ("caretaking" or co-dependence), and instead he should love his inner child or get in touch with his inner God/Essence/Presence/Source? No wonder so many men turn to war and other forms of violence. Or a few pretend like they are beyond all desire and need for a woman, like good boys, so they can fit into the ideological herd and be acceptable as a mate to the new ideologues of love. Poor Rumi had no idea what he was creating.

Why hasn’t this ideology taken off and become popular till now? I think it’s because it’s a perfect bedfellow for global capitalism, which selects for individuals who need it more than each other, thus ultimately destroying tribes, villages, and even families and romantic relationships. Profit is maximized if nobody shares and if everyone is utterly dependent on the global corporations. Talk about co-dependence***...

So there are psychological and social advantages to this philosophy, but there are also some ethical issues/contradictions and perhaps also some psychological disadvantages. Let's start with the ethical issues: Could the monks and nuns who can devote much of their time to meditation and inner work still do it if  they weren't being supported by people who produce much of what they need to live, and who do not seem to latch onto this philosophy? In modern times could the people who use money to pay for servants to provide for their basic needs while they meditate, do yoga and have mystical visions doing entheogens, still do these things without the servants or without the money? So in a twist of Animal Farm, we are all One, but some of us are more able to experience our Oneness (the ones with more money and power)

Hypocrisy is also an ethical disadvantage. Those with insecure avoidant attachment style are obsessed with setting boundaries, meaning having to constantly explain to other people what they need for them to do and not do in order for their needs to be satisfied (perhaps because their boundaries were violated at an early age and their parents allowed it to happen), but are usually not willing to even in principle meet a lover's expressed needs because that would be "co-dependent"***, and the lover better learn how to go with the flow (i.e. THEIR flow, not the lover's), and be one with the moment (but when the lover does something they don’t like, they are not willing to be in the flow and accept “what is”, they get triggered). Also, take away their kids or pets and see how enlightened and in the moment and one with the universe they remain.  I don't totally understand the psychology of fear of intimacy with a romantic partner (except what I said above about avoidats' early childhood traumas). Perhaps it is only fear of intimacy with someone one does not trust (reminding of early caretakers), but the bar for trust in avoidants is really high, and our modern world seems to want it higher and higher.

Another disadvantage happens when avoidant and ambivalent or anxious people get together as lovers and the avoidant people decide to abandon the relationship even if they committed to it. The avoidant lovers do not understand that for those with insecure ambivalent attachment there is nothing that can truly substitute for the lover, that the lover is not about providing everything, all the meaning and love and inspiration. That would truly be too much to expect from any human. No, the lover is providing some inspiration, some security and most of all an altar for one's love to be expressed in the flesh and in action. The lover (and work and nature and other friends) can be a gateway to the divine for the ambivalently or securely attached person, an all too human gateway, loved for being human and not perfect. The avoidant people do not realize the devastation they leave in their wake when they abandon the ambivalent or secure person because they have adopted an ideology where the only thing that matters is a connection to the divine and the middleman is superfluous and too much trouble. I wonder if the avoidant people had dealt with their childhood abandonment trauma (and other possible traumas) if they would have acted differently and not needed to establish their boundaries by betraying the agreements to their lovers. It is hard to imagine for me that a benevolent Source would leave a trail of devastation for some people who are trying to express love, due to their lovers needing to connect with Source, unless this source was vindictive and jealous.



Ironically the mystics were all about dissolving the boundaries between all beings and connecting through the underlying ocean, but we need boundaries to form individuals, couples, families, tribes, teams. The boundaries are at the highest levels not just the individuals. The couple needs a boundary to function well as a couple, the family needs a boundary to function well as a family and so on. This how life happens. Connections between parts that form wholes happen because they allow parts to accomplish things that were previously impossible. New boundaries form around the new wholes, and the old boundaries of the parts become looser, while still keeping the integrity of the lower level parts. There is less internal competition (between parts) and new competition between the wholes.


Also ironically the avoidantly attached people who must constantly assert their boundaries do not know the deepest human bliss of connecting to another human being in a vulnerable and open way. They have thrown out the baby of deep human connection and attachment with the bathwater of deep human pain when getting attached to a lover whom one must ultimately lose (and disagree with, which apparently can be devastating for some). This is a fundamental difference also between east and west. The eastern mystics have thrown out all attachment, whereas the western mystics recognize that though there is suffering when attachment ends, there is also resurrection and bliss when attachments can form again. As Khalil Gibran said in The Prophet: But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.


How did we go from connecting to everyone with love, to not needing a romantic partner? Or believing that romantic love is but a pale shadow of the love of God? Is it a form of extremism? Between the two claims of "Romantic Love is a shadow of love of God", and "Love of God is a strategy for coping with loss of romantic love or fear of intimacy with an adult human" maybe the truth lies. I'm as perturbed by the state of romantic love in our culture as Nietzche was about the supposed death of God.


* Insecure anxious attachment supposedly happens when there was abandonment (like stopping to nurse a baby prematurely, or more minor "outward boundary violations" like not being fed when one is hungry or not being held when one needs to be held)

** Insecure avoidant attachment is something that happens to infants and sets the stage for adult patterns of relating to others. Their care providers as infants either were not available enough to take care of them, or did it in a way that was painful or unsafe (gaslighting, restraint, or outright abuse or molestation). Here is a good video about these styles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjrzQHesCFQ. When avoidant and anxious attachment are combined, one gets ambivalent attachent

*** Co-dependence was initially about people who are not able to attend to their own needs and understand their own motivations and instead immerse themselves in a lover's needs. Especially when the lover seems to need rescuing because they are addicted to something. Expressing one's needs clearly to a lover and recognizing that those needs can only be met by the lover is a mark of self knowledge, the opposite of co-dependence. There is also a difference between expecting a lover to meet all of one's needs (for meaning, safety, pleasure, collaboration, etc) vs just the need for connection. The term codependency has become overused, referring to any needs that one person needs from the other in a relationship. Knowing oneself, including one's need to be of service, help and love another, is not codependency.





Saturday, March 27, 2021

the socially distancing spirituality and its alternatives

Have you ever been in a beautiful natural place and experienced an ecstatic sense of belonging and power beyond your self?  Have you ever adored another person, not just qualities about them, but something essential about them? Or interacted with an animal or child in a way that felt vital? In those instances we are experiencing something other than our selves. It is possible to imagine the immensity of the ocean, its waves and spray,  or the majestic mountains with the clouds below us, but those are just pale copies in our imagination of the real thing and of communing with the real thing. It is possible to imagine the lover or friend, or dream about them, but the imaginings and dreams can not do justice to the person and the delight we find in witnessing their beauty or intimately conversing with them. These things are possible because we interact with something or someone other than ourselves.

And yet it has become fashionable in some spiritual New Age circles to pretend like we have everything we need within us, in our subconscious (Carl Jung, whom I mostly love, but disagree with here*), in our body as trauma we need to release from childhood (Gabor Mate), or as a lost part of ourselves (Esence or Presence or Source) that has some ontological existence that we can regain by revisiting past events (Almaas) or through mindfulness meditation (Eckart Tolle). Now it is fashionable to pretend that communing with a lover is a pale imitation of accessing some forgotten divine part of ourselves instead of the other way around.

New agey men and women (or masculine and feminine identified people) pretend like they don't need each other, like they are complete in themselves rather than complementary. It has become fashionable to try to fill one's own holes through solipsistic inner work, rather than find other people, or nature, to fill these holes. It's a variation on Pascal's "God-sized hole" theory, except now the claim is that God/Essence/Presence is internal or that there is a confusion of the mother or father with the lover, or there is a confusion of losing the mother's love with losing this essential part of ourselves and only Essence can fill the hole. The partial truth that these theories might be shadows of is that because the limbic part of our brains gets imprinted with our primary caretakers' qualities, and sexual attraction is happening in the limbic part of the brain, we are attracted to people who remind us of our parents in some ways. I emphatically disagree with the claim that a lover can't at least partially "fill our holes", based on many social science experiments showing that married people are healthier and happier on the average, and my own experience, which is that my life is better and I have more motivation for life in a loving, stable relationship. Also a tribe or community can fill some of our holes/needs, just like good work or nature can fill other needs/holes. Children and pets still fill holes for many women, though the new agey ones won't admit it. And women as lovers and wives fill these holes for men. It makes sense that when one is needy rather than joyful or confident one is usually less attractive as a romantic partner. And it also makes sense that one can avoid dealing with one's issues and understanding one's deep motivations by focusing instead on a partner (aka codependence). But it's a leap from here to being complete onto oneself, or being admonished for wanting to fill holes by falling in love with someone. Why can't it be that we love the other because they complement us, because there is something we lack that they have and we want or even need to experience that produces extreme pleasure and joy that we can't produce on our own? Why can't it be that we also love them for unselfish reasons, even if it hurts us to love them (as in the case of unrequited love)? In the New Age view, romantic love is only a tool towards Essence or Presence or spiritual growth. Contrast this with Khalil Gibran's vision of love and pleasure from The Prophet:

Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is 

the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,

But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.

For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,

And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,

And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

Imagine if the bees or flowers heard of Almaas or Eckart Tolle and the flowers started withholding their nectar, and the bees started staying in their hives to do inner work.

and

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. 18To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

This would be cast as co-dependence or caretaking by our New Age relationship Gurus

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

This would be seen as having loose boundaries. Look, I'm not saying the mystics are wrong and there isn't some Godlike Ground of Being. But what if the way to experience that entity is through lovers and friends, nature and work? I think what makes the mystical view so appealing is that it frees people from having to make choices, except whether to align with God (Presence/Essence/Source) or with the devil (Ego or Personality). Being human is hard because one has to make choices instead of letting instincts make them. But now Source will make choices for us and relieve us of this burden.

The trend towards more individualism is also true in art, where it is no longer important to portray something about the world, but instead the prime directive is to express the self: https://www.ecosophia.net/this-flight-from-failure/ and https://www.ecosophia.net/what-is-art-for/. And now we have "social distancing", which is more aptly called anti-social solipsism, ostensibly as a defense against a virus, but I wonder if subconsciously it's the ideology of individualism run amok.

We become whole by admitting that we have holes, by filling our holes in a committed relationship with a good matching partner, in a community of inter-dependent people, doing work we love and that is appreciated by our community. Instead of throwing out the whole personality in favor of some elusive Essence, we could pursue characteristics like courage, commitment, responsibility, compassion, love, beauty and joy and integrate the characteristics of hatefulness, insecurity, fear, jealousy, etc so they don't control us. I am freaking out about this like Nietzsche freaked out about the supposed death of God in Christian Europe. It is a death blow to family and community which have already been under attack by global capitalism. We must resist this ideology.


* My disagreement with Jung is partial. Of course in order to really connect with the Other, one must also have some things in common. So an inner understanding of femininity, the Anima, is a reasonable thing to cultivate and integrate in a man if he wants to know a woman weill, and vice versa for women. Still, there will be some qualities in the other that one might only have in minute amounts or not at all, and those can be appreciated and delighted in.