SOVEREIGNTY

Sovereignty of Mind

This page is an introduction to the individualized Sovereignty of Mind coaching offered by Dr. Peter J. Fox. Please email him at foxpeter@gmail.com if you are interested in diving deeper into developing your own sovereignty of mind and finding a deeper level of authentic meaning and purpose in your life.

What is Sovereignty?

Sovereignty comes from the Old French soverain: Meaning “authority, rule, supremacy of power or rank” “existence as an independent state”

Freedom is the great American value, but freedom is not sovereignty. A slave is free to live or die, but will never be sovereign. The ability to choose between options is what makes you free. Self determination, the ability to choose for yourself, is the act of a sovereign.

Sovereignty is often associated with royalty, or a nation state. It’s rare that individuals are considered sovereign, since they rarely develop the capacity to live completely self determined lives. When someone that doesn’t approve of your actions can strip you of your freedom, you are not a sovereign.

But the mind – the mind can be become sovereign. The mind is beyond control.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.

Your Mind is the Greatest Transformational Tool You Possess

Your mind is the most powerful transformational tool you own. You get to choose how that power is applied. But only if you make the effort to develop your mind as sovereign. A sovereign mind doesn’t happen on accident.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. We behave like the people we surround ourselves with most.

But what decides how people think and act as a culture?

Why does culture influence us?

There is a momentum to culture that is constantly shifting. Culture is transferred by memes. Memes are units of cultural information. They spread as we interact in society.

Cultural shifts happen in America when new memes are spread socially through media.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Cultural memes can be valuable. The influence of imagery and language in the social sphere can drive positive cultural shifts. The civil rights movement is the perfect example of a beneficial meme.

But what happens when they are used to create a culture based on conspicuous and disposable consumption?

At least 1 in 5 Americans are Miserable

The percentage of U.S. workers in 2015 who Gallup considered engaged in their jobs averaged 32%. The majority (50.8%) of employees were “not engaged,” while another 17.2% were “actively disengaged.” 

When you purposely undermine your work performance you are considered an actively disengaged employee. The fact that nearly 1 in 5 American workers is this miserable at work says a lot about the culture we have developed.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million Americans over the age of 18 are affected by anxiety — roughly 18 percent of the nation’s population.

What if the reason so many American’s are depressed and anxious is because our culture developed over the last 100 years specifically to create the feeling that we are incomplete to keep us engaged in a consumer driven economy and buying things we don’t need?

Why does self expression matter to you?

In the early 1900’s being an individual with a uniquely expressive sense of style wasn’t something Americans cared about. Henry Ford is famous for saying the customer could get his Model-T in any color they wanted – so long as that was black.

But America was expanding. Economic growth in America would depend upon building up a consumer class that would demand new industrial products on a steady and predictable basis.

That meant we had to buy things we didn’t actually need. We had to be convinced we needed them. The average person had to be convinced that spending hard earned money on consumable goods would make life better for them.

“We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”

What is The Century of The Self?

Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was the man who brought psychoanalysis and the subconscious mind into advertising to make this happen. Before Bernays it was assumed that people made purchases based on logical selling points. But that’s not why people buy nonessential products. Those purchases are emotional, and Bernays turned using subconscious emotions to drive sales and consolidate public opinion into a science.

This is the guy who got women to smoke by paying influential young women to light “torches of freedom” and smoke openly in public. This Austrian is the reason bacon and eggs is considered the quintessential American breakfast.

That’s real power, and the way Bernays’ work has been applied to advertising, politics and media has had a tremendous influence on who we are as people. The BBC produced a fascinating documentary on this titled The Century of The Self which is embedded below and worth your time to watch.

To focus on the self in the context of community, creates healthy individuals and a strong society. To focus on the self as a separate individual – independent from community – generates neurosis in individuals and weakness in society. The great work of advertising, in the absence of need, is to create need.

The truth is that real individuality makes us uncomfortable, and probably should

In the past we weren’t obsessed with self expression. Our identity was our tribe’s identity. We didn’t want to be different from “our people”. Our sense of self esteem was based upon the social status we earned through applying our skills in a way that enhanced the strength of the community as a whole.

The first time I went into a sweat lodge I was told to introduce myself to Great Spirit as “this one” rather than “Peter” and that stuck with me. It seemed an important thing. But I didn’t understand why until hearing this quote from Chris Morasky, a nature connection teacher at the Manzanita School in Southern California.

 “When I ran a school in British Columbia, with my partner there Michael Smith, He’s Diné, and in that community, in their language, they don’t even have words to say I, me, or, mine. The closest you can come to that is to say ”this one of’ This one, of this community, feels that we have stepped far from the path”

The difference between the two is that one way of finding value and meaning in the world is tailored to who you are as an individual, accentuates your gifts, and creates community and security in your life, and the other is based upon arbitrary fashions that come and go, with no inherent meaning or value.

This isn’t evil, there’s no real conspiracy. it’s just not serving anyone. Especially not Planet Earth.

How life is able to exist, and humanities resulting role

Life exists on Planet Earth for a reason. It has a purpose to fulfill, certain requirements that must be met for it to continue on existing.

I know it sounds pretentious to say I’m about to tell you the meaning of life, so instead I’m going to tell you A meaning of life. From the perspective of thermodynamics, the laws that govern the flow of energy through the universe, life exists to transform the ordered, high grade, energy of the sun into low grade, infrared radiation.

In tech talk, in case you want to fact check me, living things are dissipative structures that increase the entropy produced on Planet Earth by consuming and degrading solar energy.

What this means for you, is that your purpose for being, from a physics perspective, is to transform solar energy into infrared radiation. That happens when you fulfill your role in the ecosystems of Planet Earth as a hyperkeystone species.

A hyperkeystone species is one that is able to influence the world around them to such  powerful degree, that they decide what that world will look like. If humanity were performing that role well, we would be enhancing the abundance and diversity of life on Planet Earth as our technology advanced. We haven’t done that. The reverse is happening, and it’s affecting our well-being.

We have a role to play on Planet Earth and fulfilling that role is not optional. Even the King of England answered to the weather and the seasons. A key strategy in becoming sovereign is to perceive what actually is, and work with that, instead of working with an illusion that has no basis in reality outside of an artificial cultural construct. We’ve all been sold the idea that we are supposed to express our individuality as a means of achieving happiness. That’s not an objective truth based in nature, it’s a manufactured cultural construct that is only a century old.

How is this relevant to your path to sovereignty of mind?

What is The Veil of Illusion?

The upanishads of India describe the universal experience as a dance between Purusha – the eternal and unchanging cosmic self, or consciousness, and Prakrti – the temporal and changeable world of nature. Purusha becomes Ātman, the essential self. Prakrti becomes Māyā, or illusion. The main purpose of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, is to cleanse the mind of misperception so it can realize the true self of Purusha.

I’m not here to tell you how to live, or enforce a moral code on anyone. That would be antithetical to the concept of sovereignty. But I would be failing in my role as a sovereignty coach if I did not point out that while a bear in the forest is sovereign, has no requirement to offer obeisance to any other beast in the forest, it must submit to its own authentic nature as a bear to experience vitality.

This presents us with a conundrum, expressing our authentic nature as human beings is not a fashionable meme in our culture. In our current world we do not even know what that would actually look like. The expression of our nature as the hyperkeystone species of Planet Earth performing the role of enhancing the abundance and diversity of life here in a way that allows us to thrive as a species is a vision we can hardly imagine in our current place as a species.

For some of us the world is a place that would be better off without humans. Some of us see humanity as a parasite on the planet. Others see the planet as a stepping stone, and the other planets, such as Mars, as the future home of humanity post terra-farming. Some believe humanity will transcend biology and merge with technology in a world where experience is programmed on something like a holo-deck. Some of us believe that the planet was cursed as a result of sin and concern for the environment is antithetical to the religious purpose of life, and the world is destined for destruction and  a select number of humanity for ascension.

My belief is that humanity is here to use our intellect for enhancing the abundance and diversity of life here on the planet, and this will work in our benefit ultimately.

But most of us don’t think about this question. We live our lives without asking if the “reality” we are being presented is authentic or manufactured. There is a saying “perception is reality” and there is a lot of truth to that. The reality we perceive is the only one we can respond to or experience. But misperception places a veil of illusion over what actually is.

Sometimes illusion and misperception can be enchanting in a  way that moves and inspires us, such as shadow performance for example. But when the illusion separates us from the truths we need to be free they are disastrous for our well-being.

A major objective of the eight limbed path of Ashtanga yoga is to clearly see reality as it actually is, to develop a sovereign mind unclouded by illusion. You don’t have to be a yogi to see the value in that. Some people say that the source of suffering is a mismatch between reality and expectations. I would agree. And all expectations that emerge from a mind that is not accurately perceiving reality will not be met.

That may be a good thing. Reality is inescapably real, and you should be miserable for not responding to it appropriately. Nature rewards the most adaptive. The most adaptive people are the ones who see clearly enough to know what they are actually adapting to. If the reality you are presented with is manufactured, what do you replace it with?

Ironically, by manufacturing a culture based on expressing individuality through conspicuous consumption, Bernays created an environment where focusing on cleansing the mind of illusion, discovering authentic truth, becoming sovereign, means becoming a truly unique individual within that consumer driven culture. This is a bit at odds with human nature in regards to our desire to be a respected member of a tribe and sharing identity with that tribe, and a classic dilemma the sages have been aware of for thousands of years.

The king’s star gazer saw that the grain harvested that year was tainted. Anyone who would eat from it would became insane. “What can we do?” said the king. “It is not possible to destroy the crop for we do not have enough grain stored to feed the entire population.”
“Perhaps,” said the star gazer, “we should set aside enough grain for ourselves. At least that way we could maintain our sanity.” The king replied, “If we do that, we’ll be considered crazy. If everyone behaves one way and we behave differently, we’ll be considered the not normal ones.
“Rather,” said the king, “I suggest that we too eat from the crop, like everyone else. However, to remind ourselves that we are not normal, we will make a mark on our foreheads. Even if we are insane, whenever we look at each other, we will remember that we are insane!”

Becoming sovereign can mean looking strange at times. But the end goal of sovereignty is to make life better for ourselves and others. It’s not about becoming better than anyone else. It’s not about becoming separate from society. Living with a sovereign mind in a society of illusion is an acquired skill that takes just as much time and effort as freeing the mind itself.

Who is the check on your own mind? Who keeps you from becoming a madman once you start on this path?

When you as an individual are able to think and act as a sovereign without making life within society more disagreeable, you’re doing a good job of being a sane and graceful sovereign. When you make life worse for everyone around you and yourself, you’ve become a self-delusional tyrant.

When we as a community are doing a good job of being sovereign as a species, the world around us will benefit. As a species, when we do a poor job of exercising our sovereignty, ourselves and the world around us, suffer under our tyranny.

Baudrillard and Neo’s White Rabbit

Everyone knows, or should know, that pornography doesn’t represent sexuality in real life. It’s a hyper-sexualized version of the nuanced sexual relations we have in real life that involve emotional connection, a shared history, expectations for future behavior, the influence of behaviors in the past, and much more. Pornography is an over the top representation of sexuality absent of anything but an over the top version of the mechanics of the act itself. It’s not real – it’s hyperreal.

Hyperreality is a term coined by the French philosopher Baudrillard, author of the book Similacra and Simulation, which made a brief flash in a small subset of culture that took a little film called The Matrix very seriously. In the film, the disk Neo sells to the girl with the white rabbit tattoo was stashed in a hollowed out version of this book, which is about reality, symbols, and society.

Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality.

The spectacle of reality TV is an example of hyperreality in the terms of Baudrillard. It is not real, nor unreal. The people involved are real. The actions and emotions are real. The homes they live in are real. But the spectacle extends beyond reality into something different and new, something we are compelled to attend to.

Besides, this family was already hyperreal by the very nature of its selection: a typical ideal American family, California home, three garages, five children, assured social and professional status, decorative housewife, upper-middle-class standing. In a way it is this statistical perfection that dooms it to death. Ideal heroine of the American way of life, it is, as in ancient sacrifices, chosen in order to be glorified and to die beneath the flames of the medium, a modern fatum. Because heavenly fire no longer falls on corrupted cities, it is the camera lens that, like a laser, comes to pierce lived reality in order to put it to death. “The Louds: simply a family who agreed to deliver themselves into the hands of television, and to die by it,” the director will say. Thus it is a question of a sacrificial process, of a sacrificial spectacle offered to twenty million Americans. The liturgical drama of a mass society.

I recall a certain episode of the TV show South Park where Britney Spears was offered up as a sacrifice. I have refrained from embedding the clip because of its sheer morbid brutality, but it reflects the sentiment of Baudrillard rather well.

Today almost all of us engage in some aspect of hyperreal expression in our personal lives. The carefully crafted imagery of our social media accounts are not so different from reality TV, except that you are crafting the image, your image (or sign as Baudrillard would call it) to work in your favor. You are the product of your own reality media project, whereas your suffering or drama would be the product in an externally produced reality media production. You are objectified through the hyperreal presentation of yourself in social media.

Baudrillard’s Stages

Simulacra – An unsatisfactory imitation or substitute

The precessional stages of simulacra in culture

  1. A faithful image/copy, where we believe, and it may even be correct, that a sign (a vehicle of communication) is a “reflection of a profound reality”. – The Sacramental Order
  2. Perversion of reality where the sign masks reality – The Order of Maleficence
  3. The sign pretends to be a faithful image/copy – but there is no original! There is nothing real to copy, but the image pretends there is – The Order of Sorcery
  4. Pure Simulacrum – nothing even pretends to represent anything real. Signs and symbols are merely signs and symbols of others.
This is a regime of total equivalency, where cultural products need no longer even pretend to be real in a naïve sense, because the experiences of consumers’ lives are so predominantly artificial that even claims to reality are expected to be phrased in artificial, “hyperreal” terms.

Successive Stages of the image as Simulacra

  1. it is the reflection of a profound reality;
  2. it masks and denatures a profound reality;
  3. it masks the absence of a profound reality;
  4. it has no relation to any reality whatsoever;
  5. it is its own pure simulacrum.
In the first case, the image is a good appearance – representation is of the sacramental order. In the second, it is an evil appearance—it is of the order of maleficence. In the third, it plays at being an appearance—it is of the order of sorcery. In the fourth, it is no longer of the order of appearances, but of simulation.

Stages of Simulacra in Science Fiction

  1. The Sacramental Order – True Utopia exists, there is no need for science fiction.
  2. The Order of Maleficence – Transcendental dreams of ideal places that do not exist in reality: Utopias such as Plato’s Republic, Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.
  3. The Order of Sorcery – Present technology abstracted into a  future that does not exist. Starship troopers, Transformers, Star Wars.
  4. Pure Simulacrum – There is no science fiction in the classical sense, instead there are hyperreal simulations of the present reality: Bladerunner, Total Recall, The Matrix, Inception, the Holodeck in Star Trek.

Fast Food and the Order of Sorcery

Fast Food is a wonderful example of hyperreality. Fast food is hyperreality. It never existed until “better living through chemistry” allowed us to preserve and flavor food products in a way that makes far below optimal quality food appear desirable.

Fast food pretends to be a copy of an authentic original – most of the time – but the actual sign – your bacon egg and cheese biscuit – has been flavored with chemistry that originated in a lab and was designed to replicate the flavor of smokeroom cured bacon, farm fresh eggs, and freshly baked biscuits. The sorcery of the flavor scientists in lab in New Jersey is needed because the preserved fast food biscuit is flavorless without these chemicals. It is a simulacra of food, and advertising is used to convince you it is a faithful copy of the biscuit your great great grandparents made on the farm 200 years ago.

The sign of this fast food biscuit creates value through advertising a sense of happiness and convenience that is part of your busy and ultra productive modern lifestyle. In this lifestyle, food is a necessity and a source of pleasure. It is affordable, always accessible, and far removed from any sense that it came from either animals or the ground. It emerges like magic through the bustle of a uniformed class of workers whose sole purpose in life is to hand you a bag of delicious edibles that will sustain you until the next break in your day of being busy with work or children.

The biscuit is nothing like what your great grandparents ate for breakfast. It has very little of the nutritional qualities of the foods they grew and consumed. Measured by objective value standards, it is one of the most overpriced items in the history of mankind. Fast food is appallingly bad value, but we consume it anyway. Because the value created by the presentation of the biscuit as a sign obscures that reality.

Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is a simulation of reality. Moreover, these simulacra are not merely mediations of reality, nor even deceptive mediations of reality; they are not based in a reality nor do they hide a reality, they simply hide that nothing like reality is relevant to our current understanding of our lives. 

Social Media and Hyperreality

Your presentation of yourself in social media probably fits within the Order of Maleficence or the Order of Sorcery. You are either masking and altering the true and real self or masking the fact that no authentic self actually exists. Hopefully it is the former rather than the latter. Either way the progression from augmented reality presented as entertainment in Survivor to the augmented reality we all project of ourselves on social media is testament to the power of the concept and our desire to project an ego derived image that masks reality rather than accept and work with what is true and present.

Illusion and Nature

What Baudrillard is describing is an entire culture built around Māyā, or illusion. The culture described by Baudrillard is our culture, and it requires our agreements its illusions to function on its current trajectory.

Because it is a simulation of reality, because it rejects and obscures the real, it prevents us from consciously choosing to act upon the truth of the natural world around us.

We operate in the world under the illusion that we are as supernatural as the flavoring agents that make the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit at the fast food place taste real.

The biscuit is a cardboard version of reality, as our perceived world is a cardboard version of the real one.

Meanwhile the true and natural world suffers under the burden of supporting our illusions.

The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

We are active and largely ignorant participants in the sixth great extinction event on Planet Earth. A lot of us may be aware of those facts, but we don’t feel them. We don’t perceive them for the dire warning they actually are. How could you feel the weight of that reality when the human designed landscape around you is comprised of symbols intended to obscure your reality to influence your behavior?

Your health and the earth’s health are one and the same

Your health – physical and emotional – is designed to express itself optimally when you are fulfilling your role within the natural world around you.

Your body expresses satisfaction to reward you for good behavior.

Good behavior – is you fulfilling your role in the ecological niche as a hyper-keystone species. Which means you acting as an agent on Planet Earth to maximize the entropy produced by transforming solar energy into infrared radiation.

This happens as humans work to enhance the biodiverse and productivity of the ecosystems they are a part of. In other words – we make sure there is food around us to eat, we eat it, and we make babies that will do the same.

If you’re miserable, it’s probably because you should be, and nature is telling you to get your shit together and get with the real program.

The devastation of delusional living

Humans are not getting with this reality focused program well. We are devastating ecosystem health across Planet Earth in a quest to produce and concentrate financial wealth on a quest to meet the needs that are manufactured through media as our culture progresses through the stages of simulacra.

The lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomena.

1. Contemporary media including television, film, print, and the Internet, which are responsible for blurring the line between products that are needed (in order to live a life) and products for which a need is created by commercial images.

Ecosystem productivity on the whole is decreasing. Ocean fish populations are on the verge of collapse. Mammalian species are going extinct at 100x the normal background rate. Basically, we are failing in our real world role as a hyper keystone species in charge of enhancing the biodiversity and productivity of solar energy transforming organisms – while simultaneously kicking ass at producing goods and services that meet manufactured needs in a  hyperreal version of reality that we think is the one that matters.

Has it always been this way?

This documentary shows how humans were able to live sustainably in the natural world enhancing it’s productivity and biodiversity in a sustainable life-way that worked for thousands of years.

I’m not suggesting we have to go back to this way of life. It’s not actually possible for us all to go back this way right now. We must find a new path forward. But what does that path look like? We have no idea. And we never will so long as we live under the delusions and illusions of our current way of life.

We have to regain sovereignty of mind. We must remove the shackles of illusion that prevent us from living sustainably in the world as it is, that prevent us from finding a path forward that makes the world a better place. I believe the strategies in this program will help us to find that new path. Satisfaction comes from fulfilling our natural role in the ecological systems we play a role in.

We feel good about making our lawns beautiful through complex landscaping and gardens because that is part of the purpose of human life. We’re here to create living abundance. When we engage in creative acts the further the abundance and diversity of life on this planet it makes us feel good.

I wish to make it abundantly clear, Sovereignty of Mind is not a proscriptive program for any one way of living. Module one here is the only module where this idea of a new cultural path based upon our role as a species is discussed. The modules that follow do nothing more than provide tools for working with the authentic core values you discover from this module. Up until this point there haven’t even been any strategies for developing sovereignty presented, it’s all been about introducing the concept of sovereignty and why it’s more important now than ever.

I bring up the idea that humans are here for enhancing the abundance and diversity of life on the planet, and that we once fulfilled this role very well in a different way of living and being than we do currently, because I have to acknowledge something about this program. If I have done my job well, I may have taken something precious from you. If you have been living with the illusion that humanity has been living out a linear progression from a raw, primitive, magic based, fear driven society, towards a present where a techno-utopian future is immanent, then I have probably shaken that illusion a bit, and left with with the discomfort of uncertainty.

I have to acknowledge that unless I present you with other ways that things have been in the past, and provide a glimpse of what might be possible in the future, I have done you a disservice.

Module one is about identifying the lack of sovereignty and providing you with a tool to explore how that sovereignty of mind has been stolen and hijack the programming to find your own authentic core values as an individual. Or, more accurately, to find the authentic core human values that are not being expressed in your life in a way that help you meet the needs that all humans have. It is to help you identify the values you are having a challenge expressing.

In module two of the program you will learn about the seven aspects of life that humans must actively engage in order to live a full and satisfying life. When we align our vision for each of these seven areas with the purpose of working to enhance the abundance and diversity of life around us, we create satisfying lives of abundant vitality. You can choose not to align yourself with the abundance of life as a value. It’s your choice. But I describe it here in module one because to me furthering the abundance and diversity of life on Planet Earth is as universal a human value as any I can imagine.

Module three is about learning to derail the strategies your opposition will use to attempt to derail you and force you back on the path to accomplishing their goals and objective for them, using your own precious energy. There isn’t any room for promoting an ideology in module three. It’s pure focus is on how influencers will almost always trigger a subconscious emotionally driven decision making process between two opposites of their choosing. Often it doesn’t matter which opposite you choose, because the options presented have been designed to work in the favor of the influencer either way. It’s one of the most essential sales tactics of the effective closer and the action steps in that module are designed to use the work of Freud, Berne, and Jung to counteract it by teaching you how to recognize the situation and engage your conscious mind to navigate your way out of a forced choice into a free choice.

The Sovereignty Strategies

The beauty of advertising and hyperreality is that, because we designed it, we can learn how to hack it and reverse engineer a way out. Illusion must always contain a kernel of the real, and there are strategies to tease it out and use it.

The strategies in this Sovereignty of Mind program are designed to use the triggers and technology of advertising to help you identify your authentic core values where your needs relative to those values are not being met in the key aspects of life.

Once you have those values your true core identity will naturally emerge and begin to run the show – so long as you maintain your sovereignty through discipline of mind and will. And you will learn tools for that. And they won’t turn you into a earth loving hippie unless that’s who you authentically are.

The Gorgon and the Hero’s Mirror

Medusa was a Gorgon, a beast of Ancient Greece, a woman with snakes for hair that could turn men to stone if they looked upon her directly. Perseus was a hero. He killed Medusa by using his shield as a mirror to view the gorgon in all her terrible splendor, and chop off her head with a sword. He placed the head in a bag and was henceforth able to use it as a weapon himself.

Developing a mirror to use as a tool for countering the specter of illusion indirectly is a great place to start developing sovereignty.

The illusions of media are like the many heads of the Gorgon. Look at them directly and they can paralyze you. All of the heroes that came before Persus thought they were too strong to fall for the Gorgon’s sorcery, or just didn’t know any better. They were turned to stone. Stuck, frozen in reaction to the world around them. The could not change it, or themselves – they simply succumbed by failing to take the situation seriously and adapt. Perseus first victory was in the awareness and acceptance of his own vulnerability. His second was using his mind to change his perception in a way that allowed him to adapt the challenges of Medusa, and win.

You are going to learn to use the shield of Perseus to guard yourself from the dangers of your own misperception. This exercise is about using the power of advertising against itself, to help you identify your authentic core values, your root level motives. Within the advertisements that attract your focus the most are tiny gems of wisdom. These advertisements are only effective because they are triggering something inside you. Perhaps that something is an insecurity, a desire, an unmet need. Either way, I have developed a process for harnessing the energy of these advertisements to help you learn more about who you really are.

Deconstructing Values with The Gorgon in the Mirror

Values determine who we are, how we spend our time, what we will settle for. If your values are programmed into you by media rather than emerging authentically by successfully integrating life lessons, you’re basically fucked.

I knew at one point in my life that I was fucked too, so I looked for a way to fix it. And I stumbled across something.

All the advertisements able to draw my attention must be appealing to me for a reason. I ignore so many advertisements, thousands a day no doubt. But some stop me in my tracks and capture my attention.

What values they are these advertisements appealing to. What unfulfilled or unexpressed authentic needs and desires do the imagery and language in the ads represent?

If I could discover this, then I would have a technology to better know myself. That technology would also break the spell, rendering me less susceptible to the programming of that advertising. This technology of mind is the exercise I call the Gorgon in the Mirror.

Becoming Alex Honnold

Aside from advertisements appealing to unquenchable desires: i.e. food and sex, one of the first advertisements that stopped me in my tracks after coming up with this exercise was in Forbes’s magazine. It featured free-solo climber Alex Honnold.

Top to bottom the ad had Alex standing on a ledge with no ropes looking out over a mountain valley, with some words about achievement, about being a high achiever, then being Alex Honnold, finishing with “To Be Yourself” and a large picture of a several thousand dollar watch.

Deconstructing this ad, the copy begins by talking about achievement and self actualization then follows by showcasing an example of  pinnacle achievement. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a really positive message.  We should all aspire to Alex Honnold’s level of achievement in our own lives. Which is the message being triggered by the words “To Be Yourself”.

Without the watch this is a noble and inspiring message.

With an expensive watch below it, associated with a message about achievement and the persona of Alex, it becomes a way of linking all three together in your subconscious mind.

The watch becomes a substitute for the achievement itself. One you can purchase on credit.

There are two possible way I am aware of that this ad can be effective.

possibility one

First we will consider the viewer to be a supremely confident pinnacle achiever in another arena of life outside of free-solo climbing. Maybe he is a banker, or a top level professional fighter, lead engineer or sales team leader.

He will look at the ad and recognize Alex as a part of the club of high achieving individuals he sees himself as a part of. The advertisement becomes a method of appealing to his desire to maintain the appearance of being a member of this group. Throughout history warriors, chieftains, leaders would wear clothing, decorations, tattoos that signified their rank in society.

By association with Alex, this watch becomes a status symbol that signals membership to a special club of elites that it is important for this man to be a part of.

Possibility Two

This time the ad is viewed by someone who aspires to attaining high achievement in their life. They are ambitious, hard working, and they admire Alex Honnold for what he has been able to do. And they feel inferior to him because of their perception of a deficit in their level of achievement and Alex’s level of achievement.

By asking this person to compare themselves to Alex Honnold, the advertiser is hoping to trigger a pain within them. A pain that can be solved by pulling out their credit card and purchasing the symbol (or simulacra) of the achievement.

The watch becomes the emotional substitute within the persons mind for the achievement, for being like Alex Honnold.

What would you die for?

Insurance advertisements are also rich with material. What would you die for to protect? Those are the things that you’ll see in insurance ads –  A husband and wife smiling in front of a crisp white or brick house with a manicured lawn, flawlessly tarred blacktop driveway, with children playing, and whatever they want you to insure.

Some are a little more creative, but most follow this formula. It’s a formula I like in a lot of ways. It’s not often we are told to be grateful for the things we already have: good relationships, a warm home, a quality automobile, health, etc. But insurance ads do remind bus to be grateful.

Of course the other half of the message is that all of this could be gone in a second and you should be frightened of that and we can mitigate the severity of the situation if you buy our stuff.

Nothing wrong with that either.

The goal of this exercise isn’t to stop you from buying things. It’s to stop you when you want to buy something and examine the reasons why so you can reflect on them and learn about yourself.

The Drives

There are 15 basic drives that advertisements can trigger

  • affiliation
  • domination
  • escape
  • nurturing
  • being nurtured
  • achievement
  • safety
  • prominence
  • aesthetics
  • guidance
  • attention
  • curiosity
  • food
  • thirst
  • sleep

These are the 15 basic motivations most commonly triggered by advertising. They may help mask your true desires, your core areas of vulnerability, where you must face your authentic self. Your ego masks your pain, but also steals the opportunity for the most authentic joys and pleasures – and for learning from our hardships. Occupy the self with fulfilling the desires associated with these drives, especially by substitution or consumption, and your true needs will go unmet and you will be miserable or anxious and you won’t know why.

Using the Drives

Step 1:

Begin looking for these motivations in the text, audio and imagery of every ad you look at for the next several weeks. Try to discover what the story of the advertisement is. Using the example of the watch advertisement with Alex Honnold I found the following: domination, achievement, affiliation, prominence and escape. That’s it for step one. Pretty simple.

Step 2:

Examine the values those motivations relate to in your life: I noticed achievement, domination, affiliation, prominence and escape. What do those things represent to me? How are they serving my ego identity?

Perhaps I valued dominance because I was feeling disrespect in one aspect of my life at the time I saw the ad. Perhaps I valued achievement because I felt like I was behind on my writing goals. Perhaps I valued affiliation because I was feeling insecure with who I was as a person, with my identity, with being valuable enough as I was. Perhaps I valued escape because I was certainly feeling trapped and was craving the freedom to escape.

As you can see, there is a difference between simple and easy. This takes some hardcore honesty. You almost have to get to the point where you feel you have nothing to lose, or the stakes are high enough to push aside the illusions the ego will put as a self defense strategy.

Step 3:

Is there a way you could focus your energy towards expressing those values or fulfilling those needs in your life? This is where you’ve got to get real honest, real creative, and do the hard work. Freeing your mind isn’t as easy as it is in the Matrix. There’s no Morpheus coming with a red pill for you.

Application

  • Copy the motivations list into a note on your phone.
  • Anytime you come across a powerful ad pull out the list and deconstruct the ad, see where you perceive yourself as lacking something that the motivations in the ad might satisfy and write those things down.
  • What values are you lacking in life that relate to those triggers?
  • Build a list of the values that are lacking in your life.

This leads us to the next strategy and module two: Dreaming

Dreaming

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m not a big fan of this question.

It starts out rather innocent.

People ask and you answer with something like “I’m going to be an astronaut, or a viking, or Indiana Jones.” And that’s totally cool with everyone so long as you are six years old.

Once you get a little older and answer that way, the responses start to change “No, really, what do you want to be when you grow up?” The responses start to become leading “Don’t you want to be a doctor like so and so?” “Wouldn’t it be nice to be an engineer like Mr. Suchansuch?”

Over time most children change their answer to something that pleases the important people in our lives.

And that works out OK sometimes. But considering the stats that 3/4 of us are disengaged with out employment, I’d say there’s something wrong with the process.

What’s the deal?

The deal, literally the deal we make, is to exchange our time and energy to have our basic needs met by society.

Society chooses which methods of exchange it values enough to trade for security in the areas of food/shelter/transportation/medicine etc.

If 3/4 of us are dissatisfied with our work we all need to play musical chairs to please everyone. Or, we can accept that finding satisfaction in work is not possible for everyone in this society and either change society or find a different path to meaning and significance in life.

Enter the second F’ing annoying question

What do you do for a living?

I hate this question for a number of reasons, even though I still find myself asking people what the do for a living. First of all, it’s a question that has the real questions people want answered buried inside of it – Who are you? What are you all about? Where do you fit in society relative to me and how should I be relating to you?

It’s automatic for strangers at any American social setting — right after “nice to meet you” and within the first two minutes of conversation or your citizenship is revoked. “What do you do?” It’s a line that would be considered rude in many lands, but not here, where inquiring minds have to know: What’s your status and how much money are you making?

To a certain degree this is a fair question. Most of us, especially the college educated amongst us, obtain our sense of identity from our jobs.

Education is one of the most significant predictors of how workers approach their job, with 70% of college graduates saying they get a sense of identity from their job, compared with the 45% of Americans who don’t hold a college degree who say the same.

Given the stats on how many people are disengaged from their work, that seems like it would be the source for some psychological health problems.

If you don’t like your job, but it’s where you get your identity, how could you possibly like you?

Fields of Opportunity

Ironically this creates a field of opportunity for those same companies we begrudgingly work for to sell us things. Most of us don’t want new things, we want a new life. But we aren’t consciously aware of that.

Even if we were, we would have no idea what we actually want or how to go about clearing the path to get there.

Instead, we buy things that are advertised to us in a way that subconsciously presents these things as the solution, the path to a new and better way of being.

Our experiences, beliefs and values create our identity. But our lives are purchase rich and experience poor. Our beliefs and values are typically unexamined and often absorbed passively from advertising and persistent cultural memes.

We tend to generate identity and purpose passively

But the first strategy provided us with some quality tools to take back control with the next set of strategies.

The ability to extract authentic values and identify needs from advertising and marketing media makes us capable of dreaming up a path through life filled with experiences congruent with those beliefs and values. We can consciously craft and identity that satisfies our needs and values.

And you may not even have to quit your job!

If you weren’t relying on your job to provide you with a sense of identity, would it still make you miserable?

You job is not supposed to be your identity. It’s not supposed to satisfy you. Its just one aspect of the seven main areas of life through which we experience identity and meaning.

  • physical
  • mental
  • spiritual
  • vocational
  • social
  • financial
  • familial

Relying on a  job for happiness is like relying on a romantic partner to make you happy every waking moment. If codependence in intimate partnerships makes people miserable and dysfunctional, why would we expect anything different from codependency with our job?

If you feel complete in who you are as a person in the remaining aspects of life, your job may be just fine. Unless a career change is required for you to live out your authentic identity, why quit a job that provides you with the financial security you need to fulfill the demands of the remaining six areas?

Daring to Dream

Goals are magic spells. What is magic? What do I mean when I say magic?

Magick, in the context of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, is a term used to show and differentiate the occult from performance magic and is defined as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”, including both “mundane” acts of will as well as ritual magic.

The key factor in this equation is the word “Will” – whose Will is being discussed? Because magic is something forbidden in some religion I will explain furthers nd hopefully enlighten you upon why magic of some sorts is forbidden, and magic of other  sorts is not even considered “magic” because it is such an indispensable aspect of everyday “mundane” life that we don’t even know it is happening.

From a biblical perspective the “Will” that is the source of all “good” changes is the Will of God, and none other. To the christian, their Will must be in perfect alignment with God’s will, or they sin.

Sorcery, a type of magic, is forbidden because it is an attempt to exercise the Will of self through power obtained from  source other than God. That source may be the self. Though the self is often thought so weak as to be pointless to bother, so divination and entreaties to spirits and the like are employed by the sorcerer, to borrow the will of a being more powerful than themselves, in the hopes of achieving something outside the Will of God.

Will is a complicated word. It can be used lots of different ways. It is used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal. It is used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition. It can express futurity or capability or sufficiency. It can signify probability. It can be used to express determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness. It can be a command.

Athletes rely on the power of the subconscious will to influence reality to get to the top of the podium. Every athlete at the elite level utilizes visualization in their training. The results can be significant. Just through visualization you can increase the strength of muscles. In one study, referenced in the resources section, mental training increased finger strength by 35%. Physical training for the same length of time increased it by 53%, the group that did neither had no change in strength.

Your dreams create perceptions and your perceptions influence reality. Genetics and luck can only get a person so far in a sport or profession. At a certain point they must learn to harness the power of their minds to generate that final level of mastery that allows them to achieve greatness.

This isn’t about stage magic, it’s about the power of the mind to act in the world. It’s about training the mind to see opportunity and seize the moment in power when it arrives. It’s about creating readiness, tipping the scales in your favor. We see what we are looking for.

This is part of our neurology. You were born a magician. If you are born into a dangerous environment you are hard wired to look for danger. You are a survival magician. Focusing the will towards protections of self and loved ones is the second highest purpose available in that environment. Transforming the environment would be the highest, but also may not be realistic.

If you were born into such  dangerous environment, and then find yourself in a safe, opportunity rich, environment – you will still focus your will on defense. But now you need to become a growth magician.

When there is nothing to defend yourself from, but you try anyway, you are using magic against yourself. You are bypassing opportunity because your mind has become hardwired to look for cues of threat rather than noticing opportunity. You may even hallucinate danger in an opportunity.

Magic – the shift in consciousness in accordance with will – through dreaming – is a tool for training your mind to see reality as it is, and how it can be improved. It trains your mind to see, create and capitalize on opportunity.

So much opportunity surrounds us and we fail to capitalize on it because we are wandering about in a spell of dissatisfaction cast by a culture that lives only if we feed it.

Work, Sorcery and Will

Recall how Baudrillard spoke of The Order of Sorcery  the sign pretends to represent reality, there is nothing real to copy, but the sign pretends there is.

You aren’t supposed to obtain a sense of satisfaction in your life primarily from the work you do, or the person you are in love with. But society pretends that meaningful work is the surest way to a happy and satisfied life, If it’s not working, its because you are not working hard enough.

Our primary sense of identity should not come from the work we do. But we focus our will upon work as a source of identity in the way we talk to children and how we get to know people. Every time you ask  child what they want to be when they grow up and associate a job title with that, every time you ask someone what they do for a living when you meet – you are enforcing a sort of spell that focuses our collective will towards generating identity from the labor we perform.

Milions of us go out every day and focus our will on achieving happiness through work, because the signs and symbols of our culture tell is this is how it is. And the majority of us are failing to achieve this. This isn’t a condemnation of work. It’s a condemnation of the message that says work is how we generate meaning in our lives.

Work is just one area we achieve meaning in our lives.

Casting Spells

There is an old saying: God sleeps in stone, breathes in plants, dreams in animals, and awakens in man. I believe this maxim to mean that we have inherited a portion of Gods creative potential. We build things. We create and recreate the world around us.

The International Commission on Stratigraphy is weighing the decision to declare a new geological epoch. The current age, the holocene, has given way to the anthropocene – the age of man.

The men and women who transformed the world so much that we need to define the world they have made by a new geological epoch were able to make that change because they had goals and a plan for achieving them. Cumulatively they transformed the planet into the one we live on today.

When they wrote those goals with a focus, intention and will, they were literally casting spells.

What is a goal but spell-ed out words cast on paper?

Goals are powerful. One should never cast a spell lightly. A lot of health coaches use goals as a starting point for their clients. If someone really wants to embody the values that I promote as The Wild Chiro, sovereignty – vitality – passion, goals are a horrible starting point.

Without a sovereign mind, whose goals will you achieve? Who will benefit from the energy you are going to pour into your achievements?

You will benefit whoever is crafting your current sense of self and values.

If you are crafting your own sense of self and values then you will benefit, you are ready to cast some spells and get to work!

If the values you are expressing have been instilled by media or society (whether directly into your mind, or secondhand through parents, teachers, preachers) then your energy will be benefiting whoever crafted those spells.

That may not be so bad. You may be surrounded by good and all the influences around you have been working to craft your mind to express will in the creation of all that is good for you and your people.

But it’s more likely that the influences around you have been serving their own personal interests, not your interest or the interests of mankind or Planet Earth.

Our goals are crafted from our values. If our values are unexamined in a society based on creating need through illusion, they aren’t likely our values. They are the values of someone else. Goals based on the values of another can derail you. They are goals that reward you hard work with a sense of emptiness.

Goals with their source in our own authentic values and needs result in accomplishments that build momentum in a life of meaning. They re goals aligned with nature, that support Planet Earth just as much as they support ourselves. You cannot separate your highest good from that of the planet, because you are part of each other, and need each other.

The Dreaming

Dreamtime

The first Australians believe in something called the dreamtime. It was in dreamtime that the ancestor spirits created the world and everything in it. But they don’t believe this happened in the past. Dreamtime exists outside of time and space. It is an eternity that mixes past present and future.

This is a fairly common belief among our hunter gatherer ancestors. What happens while we sleep is just as real as what happens while we are awake. We live two lives. And it is often the dream life that is considered the most real. I would like to challenge you to explore this idea. Why might the dreaming be considered more real than waking life?

While I am asleep, my dreams are not influenced by outside forces. You cannot influence my dreams. The physical space I occupy does not control my dreams.

While I am awake, the possibilities for what I can experience are constricted by the will of others, by geography, by the resources I have available, by time.

The dream is more real, because the dream is where our perceptions are purest, unclouded by the influence of all the other dreamers around us. The dream is the place where our capacity for experience is limitless.

It’s not a part of this program, but learning to dream is a powerful tool. Our experiences shape who we are. Our experiences in dreams can change things about ourself in the waking reality.

So how can you problem-solve in a dream?
Although any kind of problem can make a breakthrough in a dream, the two categories that really crop up a lot are things where the solution benefits from being represented visually, because the dreams are so vivid in their visual-spatial imagery, and when you’re stuck because the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong.

Learning to dream vividly, so vividly that your dream life is richer than your waking life, is a very valuable tool for developing sovereignty. There are no limits in the dream. Awake, we make agreements. We agree on the sciences, on social norms in our respective cultures, we agree upon symbolic languages. When we dream these agreements are suspended. Anything is possible in a dream.

Daydreaming

There are moments when the crisp line that separates waking reality and the dreamtime begin to blur. When we meditate, the line begins to blur. When we are caught in a flow on a  walk, or at work, and our mind begins to wander and create new ideas, the line begins to blur.

These are powerful moments. And we should harness them. That is what this exercise is about, using the power of dreaming to focus will on the creation of a life congruent with our authentic values that serves our authentic needs. By developing sovereignty of mind we clarify our vision. Our influence over the dream becomes more powerful.The influence of the other dreamers begins to fade and we can see our own path. But we still need to look for that path.

And that is what this exercise is all about, finding our path and crafting a vision for what we hope to find along the way. Will this guarantee that path is exactly as we wish it to be, that the end result will be everything we have imagined? Probably not, but it’s better than using your creative will to live out someone else’s imagination.

Your Ideal Day

The exercise for this portion of the program is to dream up your ideal average day.

It sounds simple, but it can be quite challenging. I’m talking about details here. What do you eat for breakfast? With who? What do you talk about? Who cleans up after? What time do you wake up? What time do you go to sleep? Who do you spend time with? How do you contribute to the world during that day?

Perhaps most importantly, what emotions do you feel during this day? What do these experiences look like, feel like, smell like, sound like? Pretend you are storyboarding for a film or a music video. Everything should be bright and vibrant in this vision. It needs to make an impact on the creative side of your brain or it will not be effective.

I can place myself on a freshly waxed surfboard with ocean spray whipping about, the crisp cool salt air in my nostrils, the vibrations of the wave moving through the board into the bones of my feet and legs, my muscles responding to the shifts in the waves surface, the sun moving lower and lower in the sky, the cheers of my friends when I get a good ride – all in the creative portion of my mind more clearly than I can write about it. The image in my mind is far more detailed and charged than the description you just read.

You need feeling, emotion, sensation, to make this exercise work for you. You need energy. You need to wake up and inspire your subconscious to harness the power of the dreamtime.

There are some freedoms you should take in this exercise and some restrictions you must accept if it is to be done properly. This should be an average day, not an exceptional one. If living this day over and over would kill you by exhaustion, you’re not doing the exercise properly.

I would love say my ideal day is spent adventure racing, or surfing all day, or fishing in the morning, mountain biking all day and partying all night. That’s not a balanced or sustainable life. It’s got to be an average day, one you can repeat over, and over, and over.

Do not focus on things: cars, houses, money in the bank. They are probably not what you want anyway. You want the experiences those things can offer, or the experience you think those things can offer. Focus on experiences. What experiences make the day ideal?

These restrictions do not mean that you are limited. Let go of most of the limitations that would hold you back otherwise.

There are no geographic boundaries for this exercise. No financial boundaries for this exercise. If your ideal day involves people other than those you are involved with right now who you may feel limited by, pretend they aren’t a part of the equation for now. Time and physical conditioning is not a limiting condition here. If you are missing a leg, imagine some advanced prosthetic tied into the wiring of the brain has just been invented and you are the first person who gets it. You are not overweight either.

As long as you can do it every day, without getting bored, arrested, or dying, it’s fair game.

This isn’t a ten minute exercise. It may take a few hours. It may take a few hours or a few days. It all depends on your ability to dream and your ability to suspend the disbelief for the time necessary to create the most powerful spell possible. If the exercise is challenging, work at it. Write it out until you get good at it dreaming.

Check in with this exercise from time to time. Add to it, alter it, mine it for new information for goal setting. Use it for creating your plans for your day. Check back in with this vision every few  weeks. Modify it if you are the right mood to improve upon it, or use it for inspiration if you are feeling lost.

Planning The Garden

When I did this exercise myself I created a day that happened in a place that may not even exist. The place I imagined had elements from several places I’ve visited around the world. That’s totally fine. The intention of the exercise isn’t to create an attainable dream, it’s about creating a day where you are authentically expressing your highest values in day to day life. You are answering the question “Who are you, at your best?” by imagining yours life living that out fully actualized. You are the destination you will be attempting to reach.

We achieve because of who we are. You can’t get to your highest potential as the person you are right now. You’ll need to grow as a human being. Having a vision for who that person in the future is means you can plan a path to grow your way there. Goals are spells and seeds. You need a vision to make a garden work. You need some knowledge too. You can’t cast seeds at random and expect your garden to thrive. Some plants need sun. Some plants need shade. Some plants have companions that help them grow, and other plants that stunt them.

So we develop a structure around our goals so we can arrange it all.

The Seven Areas of Life

Earlier you learned an exercise to identify values by deconstructing advertisements that you find particularly appealing or attention grabbing. If you’ve been doing that exercise regularly, and writing the results down, you should have a solid list of core values. That list, and the vision for your ideal day, make this next exercise possible.

There are seven major areas of life experience that must be expressed and balanced for most of us to feel fulfilled in life. You need to know your values relative to these seven areas in order to craft goals the get you somewhere. These seven areas should be present, implicitly or explicitly, in your ideal average day. This is holistic goal setting.

Holistic goal setting is more powerful than setting goals in isolation. It helps locate and resolve internal conflicts that can prevent us from achieving our potential. If we neglect to consider any one of the seven areas of life in our vision plan, we could end up with conflicts that stall us out in an uphill drive to become the best version of ourselves possible. When our goals are in conflict with our values we will sabotage them. This requires massive internally directed radical honesty.

If we don’t sabotage ourselves in this, life has a tendency to sabotage us when we are in conflict. These areas aren’t arbitrary. Human ecology has demands on us that we must meet to be service able members of the human ecosystem. Any species that doesn’t fulfill the role demanded by its ecological niche will be recycled. It’s how nature keeps the balance. Some classic examples are those who elevate financial achievement over family and end up divorced, or the person who values spiritual life to such an extreme that they are hardly here physically, or the person who has an incredibly vivid mental life but doesn’t ever develop any community.

  1. Spiritual
  2. Mental
  3. Vocational
  4. Financial
  5. Social
  6. Family
  7. Physical

Those are the seven areas. I will add that considering the natural environment is implicit in all seven areas. Nature is reality. The environment created by man is artificial by definition.

Artificial (adj.)
late 14c., “not natural or spontaneous,” from Old French artificial, from Latin artificialis “of or belonging to art,” from artificium “a work of art; skill; theory, system,” from artifex (genitive artificis) “craftsman, artist, master of an art” (music, acting, sculpting, etc.), from stem of ars “art” (see art (n.)) + -fex “maker,” from facere “to do, make” (from PIE root *dhe- “to set, put”).

This does not imply that artificial is inherently a negative. Art is beautiful, it can enhance the natural world in a way that makes it more suitable or pleasing. But art can suck sometimes. Just because a piece of art is considered exceptional or valuable, doesn’t mean it is inherently good or beneficial. There are cities that are considered great cities, but from an environmental and human health perspective, have a great cost that is a real thing to consider. Some of these costs are quantifiable. We know how much particulate air pollution increases early deaths from lung and cardiovascular diseases.

Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the U.S.
New MIT study finds vehicle emissions are the biggest contributor to these premature deaths

The article quoted above noted that the average amount of time lost by someone who dies early from particulate related diseases is TEN years! That is a full decade of lost potential as a result of the artistic styling of American transportation. Imagine how much better life would be in big cities in America if environment were taken into account when these cities were first being planned.

The principles that incorporate ecology into life are a part of something called Permaculture. A whole course on Permaculture Design applied to Lifestyle Design is beyond the scope of what I can offer here. But the Permaculture Design Principles are easily accessible and I do suggest you explore them and look for ways to apply them to your own life.

Exploring the Seven Areas

Spiritual:

This is your relationship to source, however you define that. It is about honoring the source of life and focusing attention and gratitude towards that source by living a life in alignment with its principles. it doesn’t matter to me what you believe the source is. It could be God, it could be the scientific principles surrounding the emerge and evolution of life. Either way you are responsible to the laws of nature governing the interactions of living things. They are either God’s principles or science’s principles. Take your pick. Honor life by learning to respect and be grateful for it in all aspects of life. Teach your family to honor it. Don’t work against life in your vocation. Respect the gift of life in yourself by maintaining yourself physically. Be aligned with wherever you believe the source of your being is.

Mental

What kind of knowledge do you need to live out your vision for your ideal day? Do you need to get a degree? Do you need to learn how a certain business works? Do you need to learn a new language? Your brain is constantly seeking novel information. You are programmed to learn and you will learn what you pay attention to. You need to prune out distracting inputs if you want to develop a quality mind. What kind of knowledge serves your overall purpose in life? What kind of knowledge is irrelevant? Ingest all you can of the former and avoid as much as you can of the latter.

Vocational

Your vocation is how you share value in the world in exchange for currency. It can be a major factor in living out your values and purpose, or it can be an incidental source of support. Not all of us are destined to be entrepreneurs. We don’t all have to radically transform the world with the work we do to live a life with meaning. Sometimes vocation is simply how we earn a living while we are doing other important work that doesn’t have a great deal of marketable financial value. But for some of us vocation is where we serve out the most unique aspect of our purpose and we need to find a way to make an innovative vocation work financially. Something to keep in mind for most of uses that our vocation is not our identity. If we are able to live congruently with our values and express our full potential without making this aspect of life more challenging than it needs to be that is great. I am focusing on this message because I meet so many people in my practice as a chiropractor who are dissatisfied with life because they are placing the full weight of fulfillment and identity creation on this one area out of seven. That isn’t possible, even if you are fully meeting your potential in the area of vocation.

Financial

When your life is congruent with your authentic core values you will put money to very good use. Money is a physical representation of stored energy. All exchanges are energy based. We expend our energy to create or do something and trade that for something else. Money just makes the process easier. This means that wasted money is wasted energy. Nature doesn’t tolerate wasted energy. Focus on applying energy, money, in a way that furthers your personal values and vision. Do not let it get highjacked by the values of others. This is the whole reason the advertising and propaganda industry has been developed, to hijack your values and shift the way you focus your financial energy Put your finances to work for you.

Social

Humans require social interaction to be healthy. This is how social structures that support the advancement of the human enterprise develop. We have to interact with each other so we have to make sure that these interactions are mutually beneficial and productive. You shouldn’t be able to achieve the vision for your ideal day alone.What kind of social interactions are needed for that day to happen? We only have so much energy available for social interaction. We can only have so many close friends, only so many acquaintances. Who will yours be? How can you direct your energy socially to create the conditions where you will shine and reach your maximum potential?

Familial

Family can mean many things. But we have a duty to our ancestral lineage. We are the guardians and progenitors of the human genome. How we live impacts the quality of the genes we pass on. Our resilience becomes the resilience of humanity in the future. That doesn’t mean we have an obligation to reproduce, but we do have an obligation to support and be supported by a small tight knit group of up to somewhere around five to ten people. Maybe that means a household of your own. Maybe that means supporting the household of a sibling or close friend. Maybe it means being there for a few really close friends. However you define family, this is where we find support and support others. What does family mean in the scope of your vision?

Physical

I saved it for last but physical health is foundational. It’s where the energy for working in all the other areas comes from. Your primary relationship is with self. You must love yourself and care for yourself. It’s simply not possible to express our maximum potential without caring for yourself physically.

Short term vs. Vision Based Goals

“To never trip and fall again” is not a goal. There is no positive outcome to aim for. If you don’t want to trip, the  goal “I am always moving in a state of ease and graceful balance” is a much better. It is stated in the present tense. It has a positive outcome, and it states the desired outcome as though it has already happened.

Part of what makes this kind of goal setting so effective is the way it hacks the subconscious to shift you as a person to someone capable of achieving the goal. Something important to consider for that first goal “to never trip and fall again” is why you even had that goal in the first place?

It’s very common to set goals based on the problems we are experiencing right now at the moment rather than looking forward to an ideal future. This is where our immediate pain is so it is where we tend to focus goal setting energy. That is ok for short term goals. But these goals shouldn’t be our only focus. We need to incorporate bigger vision based goals  as well. Most of your goals should be focused on living out your vision for your ideal average day. These type of goals create the momentum that makes achieving the short term goals easier and easier. They also make short term goals less and less relevant

as you build momentum in life.

Short Term Goals

Because these goals often arise from problems we encounter they are likely to shift rather frequently.  Long term vision goals don’t often change unless your overall vision changes. The strategies you employ to achieve those vision based goals can change quite frequently, but the goals themselves stay fairly consistent unless your vision is altered or improved.

Here is an example of how short term goals can change. Last year I went camping and ended up having to use the SUV my camping partner had brought to get back to the campsite because my convertible couldn’t make it down the two track to the campsite. That made three times that year I was concerned about bottoming out my car in the woods and damaging it. So I made a goal to buy a new car that year.

This goal wasn’t crucial to achieving my long term vision, but it was aligned with it. Part of my long term vision is to express the value of nature connection. So having an automobile that doesn’t get stuck in the woods would solve a problem for me and be congruent with my values.

At that time I was earning a rather good living practicing Chiropractic in Chicago and was considering a Land Rover. So the goal of “I drive a low mileage Range Rover” seemed like a decent goal.

But it didn’t really serve my values all that well. Range Rovers are rather pricey and high maintenance for lots of long distance camping trips. Instead the  goal of “I drive a reliable and fuel efficient Japanese SUV with decent ground clearance” is a better goal that is more congruent with my entire value set across the seven areas of life. That goal doesn’t require me to compromise as much because of financial constraints.

Shortly after setting those goals the office I worked at ran into financial difficulties because of an interesting set of circumstances and I decided to keep the car I had and focus my energies on other short term goals better aligned with my vision.

I could have chosen to keep the goal of the small SUV, but it would have shifted the momentum of my life away from the vision of my ideal day. The long term vision supersedes the short term goal.

Vision Based Goals

The same principles that apply to short term goals apply, but your focus changes to incorporating your values into the seven areas of life. From these big vision goals you create strategies for achieving them which contain measurable short term goals with time frames that will lead to the accomplishment of the vision based goal. These are a few examples of what this looks like for me based upon the vision I have for my ideal average day.

Spiritual
“I experience deep connection with the natural world and carry back lessons that I regularly share with others in ways that help them experience wonder and wholeness in their lives”

Mental
“I routinely discover, document and share the secrets of health and healing hidden in plain sight. I advance my knowledge of the human body and how I can assist it in becoming more aware and energy rich in a way that allows others to experience more vitality and express there unique individual gifts ”

Vocational
“I help thousands of people to align their lives with natural laws in a way that is easy and effective for them, and brings them a tremendous sense of vitality allowing them to pursue their personal joy”

Financial
“I create an abundant flow of financial resources in my life through providing a level of value in my vocation that makes it feel fair and easy for the individuals I assist to exchange the financial resources for the gifts of service I provide with the knowledge that their lives will be enhanced powerfully as a result. I have a deep understanding and practical knowledge of the structures of commerce that facilitate this process easily and profitably and I direct this flow towards the creation of my ideal average day”

Familial
“I find ways to visit my family and spend quality time with them on a frequent basis. I have the vocational, familial, and financial stability essential to raise children in the way I would like to should I chose to do so.”

Social
“I am surrounded with good people of integrity with whom I have established connections to in regard to each of the seven areas of life. We work together to support and enjoy our individual quests to live rich and fulfilling lives full of good times and celebration with each other.”

Physical
“I live a life of sovereignty, vitality and passion through the application of natural laws in regards to health and healing. I feel strong, comfortable and able in all situations I encounter and am able to adapt successfully to any physical challenges I encounter”

Goals Require Strategies For Achievement

Each of these seven goals creates a beautiful dream that stimulates the creative portion of my brain. These vision based goals are always at work in my subconscious, because there is an emotionally charged film playing in my subconscious mind associated with each of them.

Those goals require actions and strategies to achieve them. I’m going to use an example from my ideal average day to show you how you might go about it.

The Goal:

“I help thousands of people to align their lives with natural laws in a way that is easy and effective for them, and brings them a tremendous sense of vitality allowing them to pursue their personal joy”

To help thousands of people, you must reach thousands of people. This means that I must become skilled at creating and distributing compelling content in way that is visible to a large number of people. The content must be transformational, which means it must be able to reframe the subconscious narrative of people’s lives, not simply compelling enough to make a sale or two.

The content must also be aligned with natural law and implementable by thousands of people. And these people must also have a sense of the direction their personal joy lies in, or I must be able to help them discover it.

The Actions

Developing a knowledge base of natural laws and their interactions with human health and vitality is something I have been doing for the past ten years. So that comes almost automatically for me. I have trained my eyes and ears to recognize when good information about this topic comes my way. But there is an action step that I can take here to improve the process.

Action Step #1 – Curate the knowledge I have gained over the last decade on this topic into digestible bites and categorize them in ways that are relevant to peoples lives.

Action Step#2 – Continue to learn about what makes life meaningful for individuals and finding more and more technologies for people to discover meaning for their lives and the transformational tools they will need to align their life with that meaning.

Action Step#3 – Develop my chiropractic and coaching skills to the level of mastery. This is accomplished through undergoing regular training and developing a daily ritual of checking in with where I am at and choosing a skill set to focus on for that day.

Action Step #4 – Research and implement one new type of marketing or marketing strategy each week and catalog the effectiveness of each type of marketing so I can discover over time where to best invest my marketing resources.

Action Step #5 – I do my best every time.

Something you may have noticed, all of these action steps involved other areas of life. Step 1 involved knowledge, step 2 involved something like spirituality, step 3 involved physical skills, and step four involved the community or social area. All of these areas interact and overlap, so when you have a severe deficit in one, it will often bleed over into the others and decrease your effectiveness there.

Strategies from Action Steps

Strategy for action step #1 – I have a series of folders in the electronic devices I use for capturing links and other types of information and cataloging them for future use, no matter where I am or what I am doing. I use the voice recorder on my iPhone to record notes for concepts as I develop them. I review this information monthly. I listen to what people talk about, the concerns they have, what are the blind spots people have that are preventing them from seeing the full scope of the challenge preventing them from living the life they want at the deepest level and what information and energy to I need to share with them so they can transform their lives.

Strategy for action step #2 -I make exploring the theme of meaning and purpose an everyday part of my life. I listen to podcast by people who are living our their dreams, who are passionate about their mission and I focus on the way they approach life, talk about life, what they do and don’t do. I read autobiographies of inspirational people. I watch them speak. I read about the science of what makes life meaningful, satisfactory and happy.

Strategy for action step #3 – I attend advanced workshops and seminars for my chosen technique as often as possible. When masters share their knowledge, I take time out of my day to come learn and take notes. I do this at least twice annually. I give each person I work with my complete present time consciousness and focus, every time. I spend time in community with elite level master coaches and chiropractors. I pay attention to who they are and what they do.

Strategy for action step #4 – I observe what the most successful people in my field are doing. What services are they using? Which marketing masters are they paying attention to. Which of these people, and what strategies are in alignment with me and my core values? I employ these strategies as able and measure the results. I use booth success and failure as feedback. I attempt at least one new strategy per month.

Strategy for action step #5 – I respect the fact that death is constantly looking over all our shoulders, and I treat each moment as one letter in the story of the legacy I will leave behind. I acknowledge that this is true for you as well as for me, so I respect the role I play in your story too. My legacy is recorded in the minds of every person who looks me in the eye and I maintain and awareness of this.

The power of goal setting is that some of this information makes it’s way into your subconscious and the creative part of your brain gets to work to make it happen.

Especially if you can develop an emotional charge around these goals.

This is why the vision for your ideal average day is so critical. If you have done the exercise right you felt the emotions that you get to experience during that day. You have vivid imagery in you mind of how awesome it is going to be when you get there. It is experiential based so the creative part of your mind becomes engaged.

YOU NEED TO REPEAT THIS ON THE REGULAR!!!

I cannot stress this enough. As I repeat this exercise after giving it some time, the goals, action steps and strategies get better and better. To the point that my original action steps and strategies seem laughable.

Why does this happen?

Because life is success feedback.

You don’t even know what you don’t know right now! And a lot of what you don’t know is really really important for your success. The way you discover that knowledge is by paying attention to success feedback. That includes a lot of learning from failure.

Energy flows where attention goes. It’s a cliche, but it’s also true.  Focus it on what matters and how to get where you want to be and it will happen. Pay attention, do the work, modify as you re-assess and you will live out your dream.

Binaries – Transcending Mind Control

Binary Thinking

Binary thinking is how your mind sorts information. Any information entering our brain is immediately relayed in two directions. One way makes the information available to the cortex of the conscious, logical part of the brain, the other carries the information toward the amygdala, the area that mediates emotional reaction to that information. The cortex and the amygdala are activated at about the same time. However, the amygdala decides whether we like the information or not and often initiates an adaptive behavior before the conscious mind has had a chance to process it.

Thanks to a bi-directional pathway, there is a dialogue that ends up happening between the conscious, logical portion of the brain and the subconscious, emotional portion. This dialogue can allow the conscious mind to harness the energy of our emotional reactions and use it to fuel learning and behavioral change.

But if, and only if, the initial emotional reaction is not overwhelming.

When the reaction is overwhelming, the energy of the emotional reaction takes control and people do incredibly irrational things. They literally act without thinking.

Why do we do this?

Snap judgments in survival situations mean the individual lives to reproduce and carry on the genetic lineage. It’s that simple. You think in binaries and make snap emotional decision on those binaries before you are even consciously aware of having chosen. If a lion attacks you, you must choose to stay and fight, play dead, or run/hide. You don’t have time to think about it. For a Masai warrior, whose coming of age ritual involved killing a lion with a spear or knife, any of those options might be viable depending upon the situation. The snap binary judgement at the subconscious level is the best shot he has at living through a surprise lion encounter.

The same is true of businesses men and women in a high speed high stakes world where languishing over a decision means missed opportunity and ending up on the wrong side of deals. Gary Vaynerchuk uses binary thinking as a tool. “Is this marketing campaign working?” The answer is either yes or no, kill it or feed it depending on the answer.

They can be useful in relationships when it comes time to make a decision about the future. “Is the this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?” The answer is either “Fuck Yes!” or “no” and you are both better served by acting in accordance with that binary.

Binary thinking works very well in high stakes situations where snap decision making is valuable. But you live in a civilized world of hierarchy where people use binary thinking to influence your behavior in all kinds of settings that don’t have a lot of significance as individual decisions, but make a massive difference in your overall life as a sum total. This is a polite way to say they are using mind control technologies to limit your sphere of conscious awareness to the foci of their choosing and ensure you live in way that adheres to the established hierarchy. This means everything from your choice of toilet paper, housing arrangement, food choices, decisions about debt, or your choice for a political candidate.

Hierarchy –  from Greek hierarkhia “rule of a high priest,” from hierarkhes “high priest, leader of sacred rites,” from ta hiera “the sacred rites” (neuter plural of hieros “sacred;” see ire) + arkhein “to lead, rule” 

In order to use binary thinking to influence or control you, something has to stress you out. If they don’t you will have access to your conscious decision making processes and the binary will fail in forcing your decision.

…but the hardwired habit of snap judgments in binary form is always right below the surface. In most cases all it takes is a certain amount of stress to trigger it. Any kind of stress will do… 

But the binary may still work, if the meme supporting that binary has been used so consistently, and for such a length of time, that it has come to define culture. These binaries, used en masse, can actually generate cultural memes. Especially in the realm of politics.

Humans are not likely to survive in the wild without a small group of at least five people. The feeling of being ostracized, or not belonging to the group is such a powerful motivator that people will make choices they know are wrong in order to maintain their status within a group rather than act on their own moral compass. In the extreme this can lead to deindividuation,  which was a major factor in the German population following the lead of Hitler in The Holocaust of WWII.

Deindividuation is a concept in social psychology that is generally thought of as the losing of self-awareness in groups. Theories of deindividuation propose that it is a psychological state of decreased self-evaluation and decreased evaluation apprehension that causes abnormal collective behavior.
 Perpetrators of genocidal executions are always part of a group. This group creates an atmosphere of anonymity, easing individual transition into total susceptibility. Zimbardo references this as the “Mardi Gras effect,” a label given to the feeling of personal deindividuation experienced by an individual when he or she is part of a group (367). The individual is caught up in the actions of the group and personal identity is erased along with any sense of responsibility that might otherwise have been felt. Just as the old adage “safety in numbers” would suggest, so too do these individuals feel a sense of security within this realm of perceived anonymity. 

The Holocaust is an extreme example of this. So here is a humorous example of just how powerful this drive to belong is in people.

What you see is binary thinking in action. “Do I follow this ridiculous behavior?” Put yourself in this situation. I imagine at first you start consciously evaluating the situation. It’s not stressful at first, so you don’t fall in line right away. But as other people start to follow, you begin to question yourself. You are the odd one out in this environment. And that is stressful, whether or not the behavior actually makes sense. So at a certain point you make the choice to be uncomfortable and behave according to your norms (those you have learned in your cultural upbringing)  or you follow the group norm in this new and novel setting, even if it is just in this setting and nowhere else.

Now imagine this motivational drive being triggered all day, every day, through media, and you get a sense of how culture develops and can be influenced by those who choose the images and norms we are exposed to.

It may not seem like a binary, because it’s not a choice between two opposites on the surface. But it is because the binary is implied. The binary is to belong or to be an outsider. One means access to the support of the group or culture. The other means you risk loss of social support. Choosing to behave outside a well established social norm becomes a survival situation, which means your conscious mind is not often engaging in the decision making process. You will fall in line with the norm without even thinking to question it.

We default to snap binary decision making processes in emotionally relevant situations because it’s natural.

Transcend to Ascend

Just because it is natural doesn’t mean it is the best. It’s only a stepping off point for transcending instinctual biology and developing the nuanced and controlled thoughts and actions of an adult human necessary for focusing energy towards creation. If you cannot step out of the binary process and expound upon it, you cannot develop abstract thought, create new ideas and concepts, you cannot innovate.

Intelligence may essentially be the general measure of our capacity to make numerous, ever-finer, multidimensional distinc- tions of the reality around us, and within us— to transcend “binary thinking” and our elementary tendency toward dualism.

Triads

Hegel’s dialectic articulates a theory of change and implies that progress is made by sequentially resolving a series of emerging conflicts. Thus, a thesis suggests its antithesis, and the conflict is resolved by a synthesis of the two; this new synthesis, in turn, becomes a thesis, suggesting a new antithesis, which in turn becomes resolved in a new synthesis, and so on.

Hegel and Plato both left us discourses on the process of transcending binary decision making. But it was the modern philosophers who taught us both how to use them to control, and how to voluntarily take on the work of transcending them.

Sigmund Freud was the uncle of Edward Bernays who wrote the book on Propaganda and Public Relations – the man who created the concept of engineered social consent. And Edward based his work upon his uncles. Freud, Berne, and Jung are the triad of modern philosophers who give us the path out of the mental rabbit warren Bernays made for us. In order to transcend a binary process you need a third option – a ternary or tertiary option.

The creation of a third option implies we’ve made the transition from the amygdala driven subconscious emotional decision making process and engaged the rational pre-frontal cortex to consciously create a third alternative that transcends dualism. We become rational and creative the moment we realize a third option exists. A fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, will arrive in short order. So lets look at the map left by the philosophers and then develop an exercise that applies that work practically.

Berne

Berne developed Transactional Analysis, which is somewhat related to modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The trinity for Berne is the Parent, Child and Adult aspects of self. The automatic binary aspects of the trinity are the Parent and Child. The Parent is the conditioning from the adults we were raised by. The child is the primitive and wild instinctual self driven by physical needs. The adult is the conscious self managing the demands and influences of the child and parent. The adult is the rational third party observer that consciously manages the tensions between the two.

Berne did not argue that the job of the Adult, or of the therapist, is to eliminate this tension. On the contrary, he suggested that the starting point for therapeutic work, and the basis for healthy psychological functioning, is to estab- lish a clear tripartite structure incorporating the conflict and reinstating a triangular dynamic— with the Adult cast in the middle of conflicting forces as a solid “third point”—to manage that tension purposely and affect development and change.

Freud

Freud may be more familiar to you. Freud developed the trinity of the Id, Ego and Superego, each with its own drives. \

The Id is “the great reservoir of libido” the great creative and destructive force. it is the subconscious source of energy that is reactive to the external world in a  completely self serving and short term way. It is impulsive and irrational, and born in.

The Superego is cultural and familial conditioning. it is the externally applied expectations for behavior of the self that must be adhered to for safe passage through the real world. But it is boring as f**k to the Id, who requires a more energy rich experience of life to be satisfied and has no trouble with placing itself in a dangerous situation to satisfy the two urges of libido and mortido, Eros and Thanatos, the drive to create and destroy life. The Superego is concerned with acting appropriately, with how the self will be viewed externally. The Id doesn’t care.

The ego is the conscious aspect of self that manages the expectations of these two opposites, plus expectations of the reality of the external world. It’s a tough job, and one that we struggle with at times, resulting in the various types of mental illnesses or negative personality traits we can classify.

Denial, displacement, intellectualisation, fantasy, compensation, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and sublimation were the defense mechanisms Freud identified. However, his daughter Anna Freud clarified and identified the concepts of undoing, suppression, dissociation, idealization, identification, introjection, inversion, somatisation, splitting, and substitution.

Transference neuroses correspond to a conflict between the ego and the id; narcissistic neuroses, to a conflict between the ego and the superego; and psychoses, to one between the ego and the external world.

Jung

When I read the works of Jung I notice a near obsession with polarity, which would appear to be a rather dualistic binary perspective, but the body of Jung’s work is about harnessing the tension of polar opposites (binaries) to transcend, to grow, to create. He believed the ultimate reason for living is to achieve our full innate potential through the spiritual path of individuation which he believed to be at the mystical heart of all religions, a quest to meet the self and the divine at the same time. The third component rises from the conscious exploration of polarity.

Under favorable conditions, the “tension of opposites” gives rise to an intrapsychic dynamic regulating three elements: a principle of polar extremes and a third, intermediate balancing principle. Jung (1966/1983) continued, “Thesis is followed by anti-thesis and between the two is generated a third factor, a lysis which was not perceptible before”

Jung was also the master of the symbol. A symbol itself, being a human constructed abstraction of reality, has a magical role in transformation and transcendence. The symbol is not actually real. Thus, to understand it, one must consciously contemplate it. This may be one reason Baudrillard’s Order Of Sorcery, where the symbol pretends to represent something real, is so dangerous. One person consciously creates a symbol, which carries an influential meaning, then presents it as something real, in  way that discourages the activation of the conscious mind. The influencer creates a “reality” and it is accepted as such.

Like Freud’s and Berne’s triadic structures of ego, superego, and id and Parent, Adult, and Child, Jung’s work rests implicitly on a dialectic foundation, with the role of the third, mediating element assigned to “the transcendent function” of a unifying symbol (Jung, 1957/1986b). Jung’s transcendent function describes a triangular dynamic wherein the symbol bridges the schism between conscious and unconscious domains. It seems to us that Jung’s accent is less on a tripartite structure than it is on a tripartite process that offers the possibility of transcendence—of rising above a simple duality and potentially creating something at least partially new.

In Jungian terms, the tertiary option that transcends the binary would be the symbolic image, whereas for Berne it is the Adult self and for Freud it is the Ego.

The work

Dialectic

In our day, the word “sophisticated” is often seen as a compliment. Even the definitions of the word present sophistication as an ideal trait. yet the origins of the word are hardly complimentary.

The Sophists were the ancient Greeks who developed the strategy of debate through rhetoric. This also sounds like a compliment, but think about it a moment. Is it usually the side of truth that wins a debate through rhetoric? When was the last time you saw a politician use rhetoric to actually answer an M’F#@$$%g question during a presidential debate? You haven’t. They use rhetoric to appeal to emotion without actually answering a question.

Dialectic on the other hand is about using logic to rationally explore two opposing viewpoints to find a third that holds common ground between them or transcends both. There are four possible outcomes of dialectic in relation to binary thought.

  1. The end of interaction between the two opposing binaries – I pick up my toys and leave.
  2. The annihilation of one binary by the other. I force my viewpoint upon you, or you force yours upon me.
  3. No real change happens and both binaries exist in a stable relationship of continual strife. Democrats and Republicans in American politics.
  4. A synthesis emerges which is not identical to either binary, but contains either aspects of both, or lessons learned from both.

Number four is the optimal solution, because it means both sides have transcended their past and grown. It is the solution that leads to evolution. It is the solution that allows us to escape the control of subconscious manipulation through emotionally triggered binaries.

How do we get there?

In summary, to allow individuals and groups to explore their moments of polarization— instead of being destroyed or paralyzed by them—the mediating element needs to perform a twofold function: first, letting the client hold the tension for a sufficient period of time in order to explore the finer and finer distinctions of the issue provoking the polarization, and second, translating the suggestions provided by the emerging imagery and symbolic material. In this endeavor, it is the therapist’s job to put himself or herself on the side of the mediating element—whether one con siders that third element the ego, the Adult, or the symbolic image that potentially reconnects and heals the split between unconscious and conscious domains.

Basically, you take the time to sit with any binary you can identify and relax into it, finding a third option, or ternary.

Example Work

“In a similar way, every lively movement within a group—from the family through the whole variety of organisations based on common interests, including political groups—generally results in the differentiation into clear-cut dualism” 

9-11 was the major turning point in American history in my lifetime. I had just turned twenty years old a few months before the whole country changed. Probably because the first ten years of my life involved being raised in an evangelical christian cult (why else would sovereignty of mind be something I care about?) fear in the post 9-11 world made no sense to me.

I had been raised to accept that the antichrist was going to arrive and usher in an era of persecution and terror by the time I was a teenager. That was the timeline I had been raised to expect for my life, death by beheading at the hands of some globalist anti-christian henchmen before I was finished with high school. It didn’t happen. But I had been raised with that expectation. I was accustomed to living with terror looming over my uncertain future.

But very few people in America shared that experience. 9-11 shook those people to the core, and the restrictions on civil liberties that were to follow were something they practically begged for.

If you are old enough to have experienced those days, perhaps you remember the terror threat alert levels that would be broadcast at regular intervals. Sometimes the threat was yellow, others orange. I don’t recall if it was ever raised to read alert or not, but it doesn’t really matter. The real purpose of the system was to trigger your emotions to prevent you from rationally criticizing any legislation that was being passed at the time, or any wars that we were about to enter.

You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists – Binary Transcendence Exercise

The exercise is rather basic. You identify the binary, in this case the W. quote, and you find a third option. Most binaries are far more subtle that this, practically hidden within news stories or opinion pieces etc. You have to locate them and ferret them out. But I am starting here because this binary was so obvious, yet somehow incredibly effective. Lets just start listing third options: – I’ll list them in the present tense for the sake of the exercise –

  • President Bush is inaccurate in his assessment of the threat level and his response will be ineffective, so by being with Bush I am acting in favor of America’s enemies supporting a strategy destined to fail or backfire.
  • The policies Bush claims to be directed towards curtailing terrorism are actually intended to enhance strategic position in the Middle East, not combat terrorism. So I am neither for nor against any terrorists by opposing the Presidents strategy.
  • I am for my own self interests and those are neither beneficial nor harmful to an organization in Afghanistan that lacks the capacity to reach me. And my interests neither support or harm the future recruitment strategy of that organization nor its ability to fund expansion into my reach.
  • The problem is a problem for the American public to deal with and I am (hypothetically) an indigenous Patagonian who has no rational role to play in this binary.
  • I am (hypothetically) a large corporation that will profit from the tension between the two parties in the binary and I have an interest in supporting both sides and retaining that tension as a new status quo.

Expanded Work

Locating more subtle binaries is more challenging. These are often binaries presented within opinion pieces or rhetorical discussion etc. The goal for those presenting the binary in these situations is not to state the binary directly, but imply it by leading the emotional content of the rhetoric to favor a certain side of a nearly invisible, implied binary.

Let’s say, for example, that a local newspaper in your area is in favor of a certain policy decision in your local area. They develop a story with emotional content that describes how things in your town have been the same for too long and there is an option to do something about the situation, and now is the time to act and change it. There is an option on the ballot at polls to make the change the paper wants to happen, but it’s just one option. And it’s an option you wouldn’t choose if you were given the ability to provide input for an alternative way to solve the same problem. The paper spins the story in a way that implies if you aren’t for the proposition on the ballot you are in favor of the way things currently are. Which isn’t necessarily true. You may want the situation to change more than the person writing the opinion piece, but you dislike the scenario in the ballot proposition even more.

There is no blatant “you’re either with us or with the enemy” statement in the article, but the message is implied.

Even more potent is the illusion that there is even a binary to choose. Speaking with a friend who is a nurse about this topic, she remarked that she learned how to use the particular strategy I am about to discuss in sales, and uses  it currently in working with dementia patients. When she offers them a choice, she doesn’t offer them one choice she hopes they make and one choice she hopes they don’t. She offers two alternatives that sound different in the way that they are presented, but actually lead to the same end goal.

It’s called the alternate of choice close. “Would you like to take home the couch with you right now, or would you like us to schedule a home delivery for you?” There’s no real choice. If you choose either you’re buying the couch. There are a lot of “choices” presented to us like this. We realize the truth of this when we attempt to do something outside of the cultural norm like the tiny home movement. Zoning laws, mortgage structures, property taxes etc all work together to make living in a tiny home far more challenging than it should be. With the extra burden from those challenges you realize that your choice of home style is actually quite restricted to what is on offer already and fits the cultural norm for homes in most areas with a population that makes a business or employment viable.

These situations are much more difficult to discover and unravel. So much so that there is little point in working with this situation in this module beyond making you aware of the scenario and cueing you to look for it, step into a relaxed state and access your conscious mind to deal with it. For now, lets work with binaries form the media.

Finding the Binary

Let’s get started. I’m going to do this exercise with you right now (or copy and paste this from the time I did this exercise before Donald Trump was president and Russia/Trump/Hurricanes was all that is in the news). I’m about to hop on Google and search the opinions pages of various news sources for articles on a particular topic.

In this instance I searched the New York Times, Russia Today and CNN for opinions on the Apple iPhone 5 password encryption hack that the FBI is demanding in the case of the San Bernardino shooter. I chose these three sources in an attempt to find stories that will attempt to present a balanced status quo view, and persuasive articles for the opposing sides of the binary.

One Times article by Tim Cook promotes the binary that creating the hack makes all of our information less secure and is a potential national security risk.

Another article in the The Times by Mike McPhate presents a relatively balanced approach to the topic as to whether Apple should comply or fight, but presents the dilemma as a balance between individual privacy and public safety.

Another Times article by Robert Levine squarely sides with the FBI by noting that the government was elected and that CEO of Apple was not and that this is an issue of democracy bumping up against a brand building campaign.

So far we have looked at the New York Times. The tone of the articles appears relatively balanced, stating mostly fact and limiting opinion to a really surface level, its level of discourse is the average, the polite, what is acceptable to discuss around cubicles without upsetting anyone too badly. That’s hard for you to get from my brief synopsis here, but when you go to do this exercise yourself you will see what I am talking about.

Now we go to a much different news source, Russia Today.

In an article published on February 23rd titled John McAfee blasts FBI for ‘illiterate’ order to create Apple iPhone backdoor (EXCLUSIVE), (can you see what I mean already?) the author strings together a series of quotes by Libertarian presidential candidate John McAfee, the computer security expert, stating the dangers of giving the FBI a key to access to all iPhones. One quote notes that the agency promising to keep the key safe and inaccessible to outside parties was hacked by a 15 year old boy last week who walked off with the personnel records for all its undercover agents. The opinion of this article is that American security is at stake and could be compromised by demanding Apple to comply with he FBI’s request.

Now on to CNN. Here is a direct quote from a CNN article: (link below)

“Which do we value more: Our personal data security or the risk of not helping law enforcement prevent further murder and mayhem?” “Or, to put it another way: Who do you trust more with your safety? Apple or the FBI?”

This article, titled Apple’s encryption fight: What price are you prepared to pay? by Richard Quest, is a great example of using subconscious emotional drives to trigger a particular response to a binary. I recommend looking up this article and reading it, as it is a really great example of the technique at work.

Here is a bigger sample of the article.

“General Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA, surprisingly sides with Apple. “”I know encryption represents a particular challenge for the FBI,”” Hayden said at a speech in January. “”But on balance, I actually think it creates greater security for the American nation than the alternative: a backdoor.”” Now we as a society must come to our own decision.
I think we must accept that in some crime investigations, data on phones could help law enforcement. And if we deny them access, we can’t complain when the worst happens.
I am not taking sides in this dispute. I am asking you to think, when you hear of the next terrorist atrocity — bomb on a plane; attack on a music concert; shooting at a café — will you wish more had been done? My point is that neither choice is pain free. It comes down to the fundamental question of the price we are prepared to pay for privacy in the digital age.”

Breaking down this story, we see binaries everywhere: Apple or the FBI, who do you trust with your personal safety? Do you want privacy or security? The article includes some quotes that attempt to show some balance of opinion within the article, but the overall tone and all the emotional languaging trigger the subconscious emotional drive of fear, limiting the consciousness of the untrained reader to the developmental level of that emotional drive and then offers two binaries, one that implies risk, insecurity and more fear, and one that implies safety and security.

Any attempt at providing a balance in both the Russia Today and CNN article is pretty weak, they are both blatantly propaganda. The New York Times on the other hand has a much more balanced presentation, but also limits its presentation of the topic to a relatively superficial level. I don’t feel it possible to get a true grasp of the scope of the debate through the several articles in The New York Times. The remaining two propaganda type sources provide a great deal more information, but it is much more manipulative in its presentation.

The Exercise

Remember, the goal is to sit with the tension between the two opposites in a relaxed frame of mind and engage the rational conscious mind in a creative quest to seek alternatives.

Binary: Individual privacy and public security are mutually exclusive i.e. you want security or you want privacy

  • A careful balance of a reasonable level of both security and privacy is attainable.
  • A dysfunctional society is the cause of public insecurity, not a lack of monitored surveillance.
  • Excessive incursions on personal privacy create a reactionary element in society that  creates greater risk than a society with a reasonably high level of privacy for its citizens.
  • Reducing privacy may have no real effect on increasing security.
  • Excessive monitoring will become unwieldy and too expensive for effective execution, and real threats may be missed as the haystack of data gathered grows larger and larger.

Binary: Siding with Apple is siding with terrorism

Data security is an illusion and Apple’s obstruction to the FBI is merely a formality.

The risk of terrorism is primarily associated with other factors and not having access to phone data doesn’t make a great deal of difference one way or the other.

The debate is a talking point without substance that is making Apple a fortune in publicity.

Providing the FBI with access to Apple products operations places the US at greater risk to international cyberterrorism through decreased data security even if it does reduce violent domestic terrorism.

The type of data available through these devices is accessible through other channels indirectly and this debate is a waste of time and resources on both sides.

Binary: Data privacy is the greater public good vs. Law enforcement access is the greater public good

Investment in data privacy by private companies enhances data security options available to public institutions who would have to fund security development on their own with limited public resources otherwise.

Only financial data and transactions should be secured privately through a separate kernel in each device that is inaccessible to law enforcement.

A balance between these two options is in the greater public good. A moderate level of privacy and law enforcement access will provide a reasonable level of security.

What do your ternaries say about you?

Often your ternary options will reveal your personal biases. As you can see from my ternaries above, I don’t believe blanket access to private data by law enforcement actually makes us significantly more secure. I also believe it has it’s own negative outcomes and am willing to trade a modicum of security for privacy.

But that doesn’t matter a tremendous amount for the purposes of this exercise. The only thing that matters is that you actually transcend the binary, not just make a new variant of it.

Conclusion

Sovereignty of Mind is a tremendous gift to yourself. The exercise and strategies in this program are not an exhaustive list by any means. There are lots of tools out there, but these are the tools I have been able to use simply by holding them in my conscious awareness as I go about my life. Even if you change nothing about the way you live, it will at least be an examined life. Some other tools are reading a variety of literature, learning from pioneers in the various realms of human endeavor, and exploring religions. Some people employ psychedelics in a quest for psychological freedom. In my experiences with many such people, the ones who find success with this strategy are those who are using them as an adjunct to other form of work, such as those in this program. Some people use Chaos Magick as another sovereignty technology. I’m not here to judge one or another, just to tell you what I have done, and that the journey is worth the effort.

My music fights against the system that teaches to live and die.