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The Great and Ancient Secret – Part One

If we look beyond the blaring events of war and change even a casual study of history reveals to us a frequent mention of secrets.  The secrets might connect with ancient mysterious cults, such as the Eleusinian mysteries, the Rosicrucians or the Freemasons.  But those are occidental mystery schools, and there are plenty of oriental secrets and secret societies also.

David V. Barrett, author of Secret Societies: From the Ancient and Arcane to the Modern and Clandestine, defines such societies as giving, “carefully graded and progressed teachings” that are “available only to selected individuals”. These teachings lead to “hidden (and ‘unique’) truths” that bring “personal benefits beyond the reach and even the understanding of the uninitiated.”

But why were they secret and what did they teach?

The two questions are linked because they relate to each other.  The organizations were secret because they led individuals to a completely new way of experiencing themselves.  They led to freedom of the mind and spirit.  In societies governed or even enslaved by the state or religion, that was a very dangerous thing to offer.

Virtually every society up to our present times has been built on a hierarchy.  The upper levels of the hierarchy usually do everything in their power to maintain their advantage.  To do so they live on the work and productivity of those in the lower levels of the hierarchy.  In the U.S.  and the UK today, recent figures show that the gap between the very wealthy, the middle and lower wage earners has widened enormously in the last 20 years.  The struggle is still on to maintain the status quo. [i]

In the past, becoming conscious of this system, and showing signs of freedom from it, often meant death.  It was wise to keep the organisations, the teachings and the techniques that led to freedom of mind and spirit Secret.

In recent times Steve Biko said that, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” [ii]

But what were the secrets that were so carefully hidden and protected?

Well, sometimes they were information and sometimes they were techniques to be practiced.  Strangely enough, after studying the secrets for 50 years, it seems to me that they are incredibly simple.  So it doesn’t appear they were hidden because of their complexity.  They were hidden because of the revolutionary change they could affect in the life of the person.

A case in point is evident in the book titled, The Secret of the Golden Flower.  It is subtitled, A Chinese Book of Life, and was written by an unknown author in the 700’s to record what had been a long oral tradition. In very symbolical language it describes a technique that transforms the practitioner. The language used is often as follows; ‘In the square inch field of the square foot house, life can be regulated. In the middle of the square inch dwells the splendour. In the purple hall of the city of jade dwells the God of Utmost Emptiness and Life.’

Commentary in such books helps, but to most modern readers that language is totally obscure.  However, if one has read widely enough the similarity between this and other traditions becomes obvious, and it is seen that this Secret has been stated in every language, and in countless ways.

So What is the Secret?

 

If you were told the Secret straight out you would probably either not recognise its importance, or would not really understand it and how it works. So some background is necessary.

The fact of life on our planet is fundamental to understanding the secret. All the countless bacteria, viruses, lichens, moulds, plants and creatures proliferating on our world all started from the same simple beginning of single celled organisms. If we look at the phenomenal range of life forms these became, and if we remember that as far as we know, this variety developed from bacteria and single cell creatures, we can see that the process behind the variety has infinite possibilities. The process behind the emergence of life can as easily become a flea as an elephant, a human or a bird.

The important point being made is that this variety could not have developed if there was not a potential for its appearance. The shaping influence of evolution then played its part in directing or expressing aspects of the potential. Some of the latest findings in regard to the quantum level of the universe and our being, suggest that at base the universe can be thought of as infinite potential.

The next step in understanding the Secret is to remember that as a human person you are an animal – a mammal. What you are today has largely been shaped by the condition, size and features of our planet, the environments and changes your ancestors met and survived, and to a smaller extent by human action and intelligence.

That background and its shaping influence has been called evolution; and without arguing the correctness or otherwise of that theory, let us use the word for convenience. Let it mean the shaping influences and the effects of past experience and conditions.

What is important here is where it has placed you, and in what way your body and experience have been shaped by whatever shaping force you accept. Comparisons with other living creatures help us gain an insight into where we stand as far as equipment and awareness is concerned. For instance we cannot smell nearly as acutely as a dog, nor see distances with as much detail as a hawk. We cannot hear in the same way as a bat, nor swim under water like a dolphin. But we do have self awareness and the ability to create complex constructions in a way animals do not.

What we understand from this is that evolution has shaped us in a particular way, mostly to survive in a dangerous world and to respond quickly and intelligently to threat and needs. This has given us eyesight to see food or threats. But it is sight that only shows us a tiny fraction of what is there in light. Huge areas of the ‘world’ are either invisible, unheard or unfelt. Nevertheless this is what we call ‘reality’. And it is upon this impoverished awareness of the universe around us that we base our understanding and response to life and what faces us.

Also, research has shown that what we know of the world is incredibly misleading if we do not understand how our senses work. As an example, take the texture of an orange skin. Really this is a mystery to you. Texture depends entirely on what you approach the fruit with. Your fingers and nerve endings are designed to give you a rough approximation of what your body contacts. This again is designed principally for survival and food gathering. If you examined the orange skin with an electron microscope, then the texture is one of shifting swirling atoms and subatomic particles. If you were tiny the orange would have a very different appearance than it does to you at your present size.

Remember also that you never actually know what the orange feels or looks like directly. Your eye takes in streams of light that are translated into nervous impulses and transmitted along the optic nerve. In the brain these nerve impulses are again translated, this time into an image that enables you to have some relationship with an apparently external world. In the same way the nerve endings on your fingers transmit signals that are translated into sensation. What your brain shows you is not the external world, only a sort of virtual reality of it.

Knowledge of the Ancients – Part Two

Although modern scientific investigation has demonstrated how little our eyes see and ears hear, and how our brain is responsible for creating a virtual world enabling us to survive and move around reasonably well, those things have been known for thousands of years. In 500 BC Buddha was teaching that the world around us that we take to be so real is actually an illusion. Even that far back it was understood that our senses do not show us the ‘real’ world. People have sometimes felt threatened by that statement, but all it is suggesting is that we see or apprehend so little of what surrounds us and we exist as, that we arrive at a misleading impression of it.

Some past cultures gave an enormous amount of time to exploring what really is the situation of the human being. They realised that the natural human person is the result of the past – or what we are calling evolution. Who we know ourselves to be is limited if we remain in our natural condition. Also, in this ‘natural’ condition we are largely victims.

This situation of being a victim is a central and key point so time will be taken with it.

We are all born victims of circumstance. But we need not remain a victim.

Your ‘natural’ response to your environment is to be influenced by it. A disturbing event would stimulate you to feel fear, a calming event to feel pleasure. Your moods are usually influenced by what happens to you. So being in prison would in general be more depressing than being free. Being rejected would cause more pain than being admired or loved. People go through extraordinary emotional pain when someone they ‘love’ leaves them or dies.

Our emotions and feelings about ourselves are like a keyboard that is played upon by people and events. If we are praised or rewarded our self confidence and therefore performance will usually be enhanced. That is fine except it means we will usually depend upon the world to create our moods and our sense of our own value. This makes us victims. We may not be dependent on a drug, but on praise, success, money, being admired or wanted. Without them we may experience the lows the drug user does on withdrawal.

However, the ancient explorers discovered an extraordinary possibility. This dream of Ed’s explains it.

I was in a prison with several others – all in one cell. It felt as if I had been in the prison for years. I was standing near the bars angry and shouting about the injustice of my incarceration.

As I stood raging I suddenly realised that all my anger was having no affect on the world. I was the only one suffering it. I saw that the peace and freedom I wanted from release I could have now by letting go of my anger. I would then be in peace, and would be free of my own negative emotions. So I let go of he feelings I had about my judges and gaolers, and a change came over me. In the following years I learned to drop the other ideas and emotions I tortured myself with. Then one day I woke and was filled with joy until my bliss filled the cell. In this way all had changed for me. In a strange way I was now utterly free even though in prison.

The greatest prison of all, the greatest of torturers, is our own thoughts, emotions and our concepts or ideas. While Ed felt angry and held the idea he had been wrongly accused, he was tormented and trapped – imprisoned in his own ideas and emotions. To have received a public apology and released would have changed his feelings, but he would still have remained a passive victim of events. Instead he found in his dream the greatest freedom of all – a blissful freedom – the release from his ‘natural’ mind and emotions.

Return to Base

What the ancients realised is that our past, our culture, our childhood and events in it, have all shaped us in a particular way. Mostly that leaves us victims of events and our own thoughts and feelings. We call that natural. Listen to people around you. They see it as natural to feel depressed, to fear death, to constantly live in stress.

The ancient explorers of human nature saw that as natural. But they also saw that whatever the forces of nature were that had produced us, they also held in them infinite possibilities. If you doubt this look around at the creatures and life forms that have arisen from those early single celled life forms.

Whatever you have become because of the shaping influence of the past and your present life, you still basically have infinite potential. Science is on the verge of demonstrating this in a physical sense. A recent news release said that the ability of zebrafish to regenerate nearly any cell type is helping U.S. scientists mimic cell loss that occurs in diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. Researchers demonstrated evidence that the zebrafish’s regenerating ability repaired its heart within two months after the removal of 20 percent of it. “What we are pinning everything on is the idea that humans also have this capacity, but it’s sort of locked up,” said Jeff Mumm, a biologist at the Medical College of Georgia. “The forefront of medicine is not what humans are limited to, but what biology can do,” said Mumm.

“It’s sort of locked up!” That is exactly what the ancients found in regard to our infinite potential. But their main finding was not in the physical realm, but in that of transformation of self. They found a way of releasing human potential that lifted the person beyond depression, pain, and the limitations of their sense bound body.

Unfolding this potential gives you a direct overall view of who you are in the scheme of things. Perhaps this can be explained by saying that mostly we consider things from what we feel, who we are at this day, this week, this time in our life, along with our needs, fears, demands and difficulties or opportunities. But, if you imagine that you are somehow enlarged so you not only know your life here and now, but at the same time you experience all the years of your life at once. This massive awareness leads to amazing insights from the very depths of you, into who you are, what you are and what you are actively pursuing. But the unfolding takes you beyond even that, and to your personal experience is added everything else.

This has been described as the perception that the universe is a totally integrated and unified whole and that you are part of it. You know that the whole cosmos is a unity and you have a place in it that is meaningful. Self-boundaries are lost as you become integrated with the rest of existence; however, self-identity and individual awareness persist.

In these further spaces of awareness people have found access to the motivations, fears and responses that lie behind their waking success or failure. They have a gateway to the roots of creativity and innovation that can enrich their everyday life. The processes of the body, usually beyond control, can be influenced to improve health.

That is all part of the Ancient Secret.

How Can We Release that Infinite Potential? – Part Three

A couple of times in recent months I heard a well known public figure saying with great enthusiasm that we all have within us a wonderful central self that if we access it brings bliss, health and creativity. He was almost shouting this message, and he said it was open to everyone of any age. He made it seem incredibly easy to find.

Personally I started a search for that Secret when I was thirteen. But it wasn’t until my mid thirties that I experienced it in any depth. And it wasn’t that I didn’t throw myself into the quest fully – I did. I really needed to find the release promised. After years of depression and emotional pain I was desperate. But there are, for many of us, hurdles to overcome. I write this feature because of that. As far as I am capable I want to define the stages, the barriers and the needs of the journey. I want to do this by looking at all the many pathways to this core experience and comparing them so you can see what is at the heart of them all. I hope this will enable you to see more clearly where you are going and how to get there. I want to give you a better map than I had.

So where do we start, and what equipment do we need?

Well, we are all unique, so each of us starts from a different place. But you have to remember from the very beginning that you already have what you seek. You must know there is nowhere to go, nothing to attain or grasp. You are already what you seek. Krishnamurti said, “Truth is a pathless land.” But we live a paradox, so there is a journey and a path to follow. You will move from darkness to light, darkness means ignirance of our real condition, and light means awareness or knowledge; but you will arrive at where you began, at the paradoxical nowhere.

BUT – you probably exist in a state of unconsciousness, so you cannot ‘see’ or realise who and what you are.

What the secret methods of the past and present help you to do is to heal or change that blindness and unconsciousness. You are brought to life – full wonderful life – from a condition of dormancy. That lack of life, that unconsciousness, is a deeply engrained habit. In most cases deepened and fastened to you by generations of forebears living in a similar condition. It takes work to gradually confront those habits. It takes courage and determination to meet and acknowledge your own part in killing the wonder that you are. It takes the ability to feel great emotion and excitation in order to allow the pains and traumas of yesterday and past upheavals to surface and be healed. It takes patience to allow the growth of what is dormant within you take place, and to be the careful detective investigating your own life path.

That is the equipment you will need. Take heed.

First Steps on the Trackless Way

To quote Krishnamurti more fully:

Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.

Nevertheless Krishnamurti spent his adult life teaching this pathless way.

In 2005 I went to San Francisco to be with a friend. While there I had a very unusual experience. While wide awake and sitting alone I was suddenly shot into a dream state, yet I was still awake. In this state I had a very distinct image and sensation of a small bird fluttering close to my head. What was incredibly clear and real was the way its wings were fluttering. I could really see and feel that they were not simply waving up-and-down but vibrating at great speed. The bird kept fluttering near me, and I realised it was trying to attract my attention so I would follow it. So I did and it led me into a condition of great darkness. I could see or hear nothing except the bird. It led on and I trusted it, and we came to what was recognisably a dark cave from which were slowly emerging hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. I understood as I saw this that an enormous number of people throughout the world were now emerging from a dark place. I realised that there was the need for many workers to meet them and help them to learn to live life within the light.

Of course the darkness mentioned is what was called ‘blindness’ earlier on. It is a situation millions of people exist in without realising it, and in our present times a huge number of people are slowly emerging from it.

To understand that more clearly, think of the time when everybody was convinced the earth was the centre of the universe, and the sun and stars all circled it. Then Galileo stated that Copernicus’s theory of the sun being the centre of our solar system – heliocentrism – was correct from his observations. At the time this was so shocking the Catholic Church tried to make him withdraw his statement. So in the conviction the earth was central to the universe the people of the time exhibited the sort of blindness mentioned. They were living in a darkness of the mind that later generations emerged from.

As another example of this, Dr. Karagulla, a famous neurologist, in her book Breakthrough to Creativity, has described an experiment she made with two doctors. To test heightened sensory perception she blindfolded one of the doctors and gave him a photograph. It was a medical picture of a pregnant woman. He was asked to pass his fingertips over the photograph and report any impressions and sensations. At this the other doctor began to protest that what she was asking was not possible. But at this point the blindfolded doctor began to speak of impressions which vividly described the picture he held. The other doctor began to protest so violently, and began to feel so ill, the experiment had to be terminated.

The blindness is not skin deep. When we confront something that questions the blindness we may feel very threatened and even ill. The way must be walked with care.

So in regard to the first steps on this journey we have to go slowly. Strangely, the great Secret could be told you now in as little as three words. Unfortunately it would be very, very difficult for you to believe it or understand its truth. If that were not so you would already know it from personal experience, and it is certainly stated openly enough and frequently enough.

So the direction most traditions and teachers of the Secret have taken is not to state it outright, but to give people ways of experiencing it for themselves. The first steps of this are given in slightly different forms by different traditional paths.

In the yoga teaching the first step is the practice of yama and niyama. Roughly translated these mean restraint and non-restraint, and will be looked at more closely shortly.

Leo Tolstoy, the author of War and Peace, wrote that the first step for a Christian would be fasting. Obviously this is another statement of restraint of ones appetites.

In a Chinese teaching of the steps on the journey of discovery it is illustrated by what are known as the Ox Herding Pictures. In different versions of these there are from nine to twelve pictures illustrating the stages of finding and living the Secret. But in each of them the first picture shows the person going along in their daily life on a country track and suddenly becoming aware of an Ox’s footprints in the mud.

Victor Gollancz the famous publisher, in his book From Darkness to Light, tells of his own first step. He says:

For an hour past I have been the prey of a vague anxiety; I recognise my old enemy – - – It is a sense of void and anguish; a sense of something lacking: what? Love, peace, God perhaps? The essence of my hell was outlawry. By the sin which, as I felt, I had committed, I had broken the links that united me with universal living: I was separate, alone, without lot or part in the everything. I had deprived myself, treacherously, of it: I had deprived it, quite as treacherously, of me.

One forenoon, when my terror and despair seemed to be at their height, and after a total insomnia that had lasted for twenty-two days, and every muscle and nerve ached, I set out for a walk with my wife. We went very slowly. About half an hour later we turned, sharply, left, into a dark and narrow path that descended: and soon came out into a great open space – a sort of water  meadow, with herds grazing, and a high inland cliff just in front of us. There was dappled sunlight everywhere, and a slight breeze. I felt suddenly very still: and then I heard the inland cliff, and the grass and water and sky, say very distinctly to me ‘A humble and a contrite heart He will not despise.’ When I say I heard them say it, I mean, quite literally, that I heard them say it; a voice came from them: but they were also themselves the voice, and the voice was also within me I said to my wife ‘The trouble is over’, and that night I slept a little.”

For many this is the first step. The events of their life, their health, their inner state of pain or loss, of emptiness and lack of meaning, helps that initial shift.

In Sufism, the side of Islam that seeks direct experience rather than intellectual information or dogma. Ansari of Herat wrote that, “When you lose yourself, you find the Beloved.” There is no other secret. I don’t know any more than this.” Ansari is saying something similar to what Victor Gollancz has shown – when you are ready to let go of your old life, or have outgrown it, the new will appear.

But there is also a mention of another great doorway to the Secret – love and the beloved. For some it is not pain, ill health or despair that brings the first steps, but wonder and love of what they recognise as that which gives them life.

Opening the Door

 

To draw sense out of the several viewpoints mentioned above, we can say there are two or three aspects to the first steps. One is discipline as suggested by yama and niyama. There are several reasons this is a part of discovering what you already are. Firstly the habits. The blindness, the past we carry, is often so deeply engraved, that it is only passed through with perseverance. It doesn’t usually melt without a struggle.

Also we are often only half alive. As we unfurl the enormous energies that have been buried or suppressed they begin to flow and express. That is fine, but habits have dug deep channels in us through which that energy has expressed in the past. As the new energy flows it will by habit course through those old channels; channels of anger, depression; feelings of abandonment; failure – surely you know them well?

Those were difficult enough to meet in the past, but think what they will feel like with an increased flow.

Yama and Niyama are to train yourself in new ways of meeting this energy, as well as learning what are possibly new skills enabling you to deal with those energies in a new way.

From Weakness to Strength – Part Four

 

If you are to succeed in uncovering the Secret there are certain things you have to recognise about human nature, and why preparation in sometimes necessary.

Self awareness is an incredibly fragile and new situation in the living creatures of this planet. If you doubt that look around at how many people break down in our society, or who only manage to continue facing life with the help of medical or street drugs, alcohol or nicotine. How many people do you know who are constantly taking antidepressants?

Also as a human animal we were not designed to live and work the way we do. It is an enormous stress to live and survive in modern society.

If you don’t recognise your vulnerability and levels of stress you will probably find the expansion of awareness and depth of experience that arises as you uncover the Secret to be intolerable.

I know some approaches, some traditions, give a very simple method for transformation and touching the wonderful freedom the Secret brings. For instance I know a woman who practised Transcendental Meditation for twenty five years and yet had never dipped under the surface of her conscious mind, and didn’t know how to when I sat with her. Of course we have the other end of the spectrum in Suzanne Segal who experienced continuous expanded awareness after using TM. However, Suzanne is an exception not a norm. Uncovering the Secret takes work and as the parable of the pearl of great price suggests, we need to give all of ourselves to it.

In the recent craze about The Secret, which offers to show you the way to riches and the gratification of what you want, we perhaps see a strange expression of our consumer society where the dream is offered you of instant gratification. Of course, sometimes it is offered at a price. However, my experience of working with many people, is that you cannot know the Secret without certain qualities and skills.

What is Yama and Niyama?

 

The word “yama” means “restraint” or “control”. This “restraint” applies to rules of conduct. In traditional yoga they are listed as ten in number and are: Non-Injuring; Non-Lying; Non-Stealing; Non-Attachment to Sensual Desires; Non-Attachment to Grievances; Non-Immersion in Inertia; Non-Attachment to Self Interests; Non-Attachment to Conceptions of Self; Non-Gluttony; Cleanliness.

At first these sound like all that stuff in religion about being good – doing the right things. Well, if you take them at face value without understanding things, that is what they would be. But what other way can we see them?

Well, yama is important because as human beings we are largely the slave of our instincts, emotions and mental conceptions. Members of opposing political or religious factions may fight to the death. This is not because there is a basic enmity, but because neither can let go of their opinions or their social indoctrinations. Remember also what was said previously about being victims. Becoming free of such habitual motives, fears and responses is not done by simply visualising a happy ending or financial success. Facing the internal reservoir of past experience and trauma is not achieved by someone who cannot deal with their own emotions and sexuality, and are the victims of their own urges and darkness. If we lie, we have not the courage to face that which made us lie, and therefore lack the courage to meet ourselves. The desire to injure includes the ability to injure or destroy subtle parts of your own nature that are struggling to be expressed, and so on. The rules are not intended to be merely moralistic, but to awaken latent possibilities within the individual. The Secret is the core of yourself. You cannot get there except by meeting yourself – all of yourself, and allowing it to live.

I agree that is a heavy bundle up there under the definition of yama. But you need to start somewhere, and what you can’t manage at the beginning will gradually become possible as you grow. But do NOT take those disciplines on yourself as if they are somehow spiritual needs. You will not get there by being good and doing all the ‘right’ things. They are simply guidelines, and something as simple as fasting or trying to move toward non-attachment can develop a great deal of personal strength and decisiveness. Believe me, you need to develop some level of strength, otherwise you will run away like a scared child when you start to meet your own inner depths of feelings and the enormity of the being you are. Your ego, what you usually call, self, is a tiny fraction of who you are. If you are scared you cannot let go of your defences.

But remember, the suggestions of yama are not the Secret. They are only guidelines, and there is an ancient saying that when you look at someone pointing at the moon, do not confuse the finger with the moon. Yama is just a finger.

Paradox of the Opposites – Part Five

 

Niyama is the opposite to the disciplines of restraint and control. Without it you would be unbalanced. My view of this is different to that stated by many writers, who, I believe, do not really understand these early instructions. Yama is restraint and control, niyama is about release, letting go so that in further stages you can allow discharge if it is necessary.

Traditionally niyama is translated as observances. These include opening to ones teacher, daily worship, and Patanjali gives one as surrender of self. What I am trying to do in my definition above is to state the essence and essential.

Two of the great forces active in your life are control and lack of control. To some extent you can control your actions, your breathing, perhaps even your emotions; but these are tiny in comparison with what you cannot control. The controlling aspect of yama is, I believe, a means of strengthening oneself in order to meet and allow the action of what you cannot control – or what should not be controlled. Part of what emerges from the uncontrolled is the process of your developmental growth and ageing. What is vital to understand in connection with this is that we have two wills active in us. There is your conscious will with which you can direct the way you move or speak, and there is the unconscious will that directs your heartbeat and all the millions of other functions underlying your existence.

This is not a new idea.  Many ancient thinkers and writers have expressed it in one way or another. For instance Jakob Boehme who lived between 1575 and1624 wrote that:

Thou must consider that there are in thy Soul two Wills, an inferior Will, which is for driving thee to Things without and below; and a superior Will, which is for drawing to Things within and above. These two Wills are now set together, as it were, Back to Back, and in a direct Contrariety to each other; but in the Beginning, it was not so. (See: Jacob Behmen)

St. Augustine stated it even more strongly in saying:

The new will which I began to have was not yet strong enough to overcome that other will, strengthened by long indulgence. So these two wills, one old, one new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contended with each other and disturbed my soul.

Part of the instructions to allow the Ancient Secret to be experienced was that in our usual life, often blighted by sorrows or difficulties, our conscious will is in many ways in conflict with what Boehme has call the superior will. This is still obvious today if you look around. Countless people struggle, even to their death, with the natural will of their appetite for food. Just as many or more people have a conflict with their sexual drive, their breathing or going to the toilet. Even sleep is difficult for many.

In these struggles we see how the personality is in some way conflicting or struggling against the larger internal will. Of course these are extreme cases, but from the point of view of experiencing the Secret most of us are out of harmony with the wider will that gives us life. The process of Life itself is often block, distorted or misdirected in some way in most of us. The signs of this are the loneliness, despair, depression, suicidal impulses, sense of meaningless or feelings of being isolated from life and cut off from oneself. Because of this learning to let go, to drop control, to open to what past cultures have seen as the inner divine is vital for health and to live fully. Quite apart from any rewards of knowing the Secret such as the wonderful freedom and creativity it brings, it is also a healing process that clears out and deal with things from the past that cloud ones mind and heart.

Summary of the First Steps

 

We can now distil some of what has been said into simpler form.

To recap, Victor Gollancz said it was a ‘contrite heart’ that was the turning point for him. The Ox Herding Pictures show the recognition of another living process with a will of its own – the ox. So this is about the meeting of the two wills. Sufism suggests the losing of oneself – the letting go. But this is also about the two wills in that your conscious ego lets go to know the deeper will. Tolstoy suggested fasting, and that is akin to yama.

So we have control and discipline to strengthen. But at the same time we have the letting go of control. And although that seems to be a loss of discipline, it is usually difficult to do unless you have gained sufficient self control. That is part of the paradox or contradiction of the way. If you have not learned the strength of meeting your unconscious habits and fears, when you let go they will take control. The strength needed is to keep the open space clear so something other than your old hurts, fears, sexual lust and narcissistic urges can emerge.

One of the Eastern statements of instruction says that you must become like an empty cup. If you are not empty nothing new can flow in.

Such teachings are almost universal, although they are expressed in different ways or in symbols. For instance in the little book of instruction titles The Voice of the Silence, the very first words say:

THESE instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the lower forces in the psyche. He who would hear the voice of ‘the Soundless Sound,” and comprehend it, has to learn to abstract awareness from the external world.

Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the ruler of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion.

The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.

Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.

The teachings of Patanjali about taking the first steps is similar, but worded differently.

Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis). At that time (the time of concentration) the seer (Purusha) rests in his own (unmodified) state. At other times (other than that of concentration) the seer is identified with the modifications.

Putting this is modern language, it says that seeking the unity of self means quieting the normal and habitual manifestations of thought and emotion. When this is achieved the practitioner experiences themselves beyond the surface illusion of their senses and thoughts. When this is not done the practitioner is lost in the illusory world of thoughts and feelings.

The Christian mystics also give a similar instruction. In the classic The Cloud of Unknowing, the unknown author, writing about 500 AD, tells us to approach with ‘naked intent’. But the title of the book tells it all – to stand before that Secret without knowing. Here is both a letting go of all you hold in your personality, and at the same time a quieting of the wayward mind and soul.

But in the original Christian symbols the same is told in a different way. Taken as a symbol instead of a historical character, the Virgin Mary shows us how to approach that forever indefinable Secret – like a young woman freshly become fertile and open with all her heart to the invisible that gives life.

The Subtle Trick – Part Six

 

As I hope is becoming clear, the many different traditions have a great deal in common. Although they explain things in very different ways, when you examine what they teach carefully, the essential meaning is the same.

But now we are faced with what is done to quiet the mind and to stand before the Secret of Life with ‘naked intent’, like an empty cup, or like a virgin. And here once more it must be remembered that the finger pointing is not the moon.

Throughout the long millennia of human history men and women have done certain things in order to go beyond their usual experience of themselves. Perhaps it was to seek healing, to be capable of conceiving a child, to know their connection with the universe more fully, or to have a clearer vision of their potential and life direction. Everything from flagellation to lonely vigils, fasting to repetition of prayers or phrases, feats of enormous self discipline to whirling in circles like the dervishes have been used. And once again, if you analyse what any of these techniques do, you will see that they break the hold of the habitual state of mind. They lead to an altered state of consciousness. If you can grasp what they are all pointing to it makes the way enormously clearer. In doing that it means you do not get caught in the web of the promotional statements broadcast by the different sects and doctrines.

To make things clear we need to look at some of the major or classic techniques used experience the Secret. And as we look at them, remember that you already are the Secret. So the techniques are not to develop within you this magical thing; they are not a way of earning God’s blessing by being good or obedient; they are not a means of becoming something other than you already are. Think of it more like having a magical and beautiful lake in the middle of a garden that has gone wild and is overgrown. What you are doing is to clear the growth so the magical shining lake is revealed.

Om mani padme hum – the jewel of your being is within the lotus of your unfolding.

Another way of looking at the way to the Secret is to realise that you are already all that you can be. Like an acorn, you already have the potential of the full grown tree within you. To manifest and know it you need to allow yourself to be all that you can be. The techniques are to remove obstacles and allow unfolding. They are not in any way the jewel within you.

The Many Paths to the One

 

I suppose the many paths can be summarised by saying they all fall within the description of meditation, prayer, discipline, or a particular way of life.

Almost undoubtedly it is the last one, a particular way of life, that is the most widely practised. This is because whether we look at Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Native American Spirituality, the religions of black Africa, Hinduism; Taoism; Paganism, or even New Age or Humanistic practices, they all end up being things the practitioners change or are asked to change in their outer or inner lives. The person makes adjustments to their otherwise ‘natural’ or habitual way of living and doing things. In this way, even though it might be a very gentle change, they are confronting the habits and feelings that most people are  slaves to. As the more rigorous methods are looked at you will see that is fundamental to them all.

I know the word ‘slaves’ is a strong word, but it needs to be. Most of us are without any awareness of why we are doing what we do or living in the way we do. Of course we rationalise why we act in the way we do, but that is common even to acute paranoia. But mostly we simply go along with what circumstances or our feelings and urges lead us to do. If that were not so youngsters would not start smoking and drinking to the level they do knowing the effects of those drugs.

But there are levels even within this general layer of proposed ways of life and behaviour. Worship, prayer or meditation of one form or another is general to all of them. They may argue about their differences, but they are all proposing similar aims.

Worship and prayer are easy for us to see the underlying significance. Both of them shift the person’s attention away from their own individual life in some degree, and create an altered state of awareness in which they are open to something beyond their limited life and self. It doesn’t matter what belief system you look at, or what name the spirit or god is given, basically the person is ready to be influenced in some measure by something beyond self. In some cases there is even an active awe or love as part of that opening.

Opening to the possibility there is something beyond the self we know is a fundamental, even in psychotherapy.

Meditation on What?

 

Meditation is slightly more complex as there are so many possible results and types, but I think it is safe to say there is an underlying aim, and that is to find or create a change. The change might be the achievement of a different experience or a new insight, but the act of meditating aims at changing the state of mind that already exists. Usually it moves from being lost or deeply involved in the state of mind and feelings produced by daily tasks and events, to something that is less involved and perhaps far removed from them.

The methods of meditation are so many it would be foolish to try to look at them in detail, and the point here is to consider those that are directly connected with revealing the Secret. And this is where the subtle trick comes in. So we will look in detail at some of the classic approaches, and also at the strange trick they play.

The Simple Truth – Part Seven

 

Well yes, we could look at the classic approaches, and there are dozens of them. But don’t you sense some confusion already in what has been said – you should do this; this has to be done before you do that; this is the best way- or maybe that would suit you better! It’s a maze you could get lost in. It’s a Babel of voices and opinions. There is so much crud offered to us in our world today, probably someone trying to sell you something packaged in extraordinarily attractive wrappings. And why are they trying to sell it or convince you of how good it is? Well, if you dig deep, it is because they haven’t found the Great Secret themselves, and they need you to give them some of your wealth to give them a security and confidence they lack. They need you to swell their numbers so they can themselves feel they are doing the right thing.

And why do we follow such people? Why do we get involved in organisations, paths  and methods?

Well, its because we fail to open to the wonderful being we already are.

Honestly, its an old, old story. It is the fullness of life you were born. What we are all seeking is that wonderful creative life we veil and hide, deny or crucify within us. There aren’t any secret ways to help you to unveil that and accept it when, as it is always doing, it knocks on your door. It isn’t in any particular faith, or meditation or understanding of ‘dreams’. It doesn’t need any special breathing technique or secret vitamin.

What it does need is the sort of guts it takes to live your life fully; to feel everything that life puts in front of you; to let your deepest passions be expressed – the best in you not the worst. Not fear or despair or uncertainty. Those are shadows getting in the way of your own light – and it is that light of your innermost self that is the Secret.

How do you do that?

 

Most of us have been brought up to believe we exist as something separated from the great creation of our universe. We feel lost in the immensity of what surrounds us; a speck amidst teaming millions – what have we got to offer?

If you take time to look at how you exist you will see that it is not through some talent or skill of your own. I know you might get proud and sometimes people get big headed because they believe they have ‘made it’. Success, acclaim, money, and they lose sight of the basic things – they don’t beat their own heart. They don’t produce their own food, make their own clothes. Build their own dwelling. It isn’t their conscious ego that keeps them breathing while they sleep. It is LIFE – the whole process of the universe is behind that.

If we fail to acknowledge that; if we fail to open to it, then we are dead, blind, lost in a crazy world. Life, the spirit that gives us existence, is constantly a part of your daily life. It is forever trying to lead you toward the full flowering of who you are. Real success, real creativity, riches, wonderful sex and love, all emerge from that flowering.

Life speaks to us all the time, not as a great voice from the sky, but in all we meet each day, in the animals we connect with, through parenthood and love, through being able to really see other people, in being able to respond to what knocks on our door.

Life told us all this 2000 years ago. Forget names like Jesus or Christ, it was Life speaking. Forget the churches and the dogma, the rules and regulations, go straight to the source.

Life told us that, “The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you, not in buildings of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and you’ll find me, lift a stone and I’m there”.

 

Life showed us how to live without judging people or ourselves. Life didn’t turn the prostitute away, or the sick. Life loved unconditionally, not grasping because of ones own insecurity and needs. Life said that we each have the wonder in us, but we deny it, crucify it because it doesn’t bow down to authorities or rulers. And it isn’t something that happened in past times. That same life is calling to us now – “Let me into your life. Let me heal your blindness and paralysis. Let me wake you from the dead. Come to me as a little child, or as a lover, opening your being to me. Drop your preconceptions and I will live in you.”

I ask you to imagine that – a glorious love affair with the very spirit of life! A love affair with the invisible and forever indefinable, the infinitely creative. Is that something you are afraid of?”


The Liberated Mind – Part Eight

 

Most of us are raised and live within enormous limitations.  In this way our innate genius and creativity is stunted, trampled on, or held back in some way.

The limitations may differ with each of us.  While involved in creative workshops I was often able to observe people learning to sing.  I heard people in middle life say that when they were a child a teacher had told them they couldn’t sing and had no singing voice. They had never attempted to sing since.

Taken in a general way, that happens to many of us.  Somewhere along the line we have learned or been told that we are not capable, we haven’t got the talent, who are we to think we could achieve things; or perhaps our performance according to tests set by a commercially oriented world suggest we are lacking something – and so we do not sing our song.

Such barriers to unfolding who we are extend far beyond that however.  We live in a world where a tiny portion of the population own most of the wealth and property.  So we may see our economic status as a barrier.  We have also been educated in a society that has been developed in ways to control, segregate, and manipulate. David Korten, in his book The Great Turning, a book that spells out in detail the way people are trying to break away from the forces of Empire and International Business governing their lives, says:

The real intention of the United States was articulated in U.S. State Department Policy Planning Study 23, a top-secret document written in 1948 by George Kennan, a leading architect of the post-World War II world:

“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population… In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity… To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our intention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives… We should cease to talk about vague… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

He goes on to say, on his website:

The corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of “Empire”: the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class. The result has been the same for 5,000 years; fortune for the few and misery for the many. Increasingly destructive of children, family, community, and nature, the way of Empire is leading to environmental and social collapse.

As I said at the very beginning of this series, “Virtually every society up to our present time has been built on a hierarchy.  The upper levels of the hierarchy usually do everything in their power to maintain their advantage.  To do so they live on the work and productivity of those in the lower levels of the hierarchy.  In the U.S.  and the UK today, recent figures show that the gap between the very wealthy, the middle and lower wage earners has widened enormously in the last 20 years.  The struggle is still on to maintain the status quo. [iii]

In the past, becoming conscious of this system, and showing signs of freedom from it, often meant death.  It was wise to keep the organisations, the teachings and the techniques that led to freedom of mind and spirit Secret.”

I have spent most of my life gradually finding my way out, and helping others find their way out of the limitations built into us, or placed on us – perhaps even by ourselves. The struggle has been to emerge from the influence of  generations of our forebears being raised in religious and political systems of control and threat; immersion in and education by a system developed around class, (social or economic); being trained to  believe in and conform to a way of life that reflects huge distortions of who we are and what the universe and the world is. Such training is usually called education or religious training. For instance I was born in a small country town where men and women were burnt at the stake for daring to read their own bible.

Added to that are personal psychological injuries to our psyche brought about because, as said above, we are raised in a system that reflects huge distortions in understanding who and what human beings are.

Having said that, I do not have a view of the world to sell you or promote to you – other than what I have just said. What I have come to understand is that each of us have our own wonderful genius that will tell us what we need to know about the world and ourselves. It is dynamic and responsive to what faces us in life and the system in which we live. When it is active in your life it brings enormous creativity and innovation to what you do. So all I want to attempt is to show you ways you can gradually drop the barriers that have prevented you from knowing yourself in that way.  I  want to see if I can help you recognise those barriers and then move beyond them into the wonderful experience of the liberated mind.

Questions you need to ask yourself

 

The very first step in finding liberation is to become aware of the things that prevent it.  So give time to the following questions.  Don’t rush through them.  Take days or even weeks with each one.  Dropping away the limitations that may have taken generations to be built into you takes time and work.

1.      Recently I was involved as an observer and participant in a workshop run by a capable and intelligent woman. It was obvious as she worked that she was mature, well balanced, with a lot of integrated life experience. Afterwards, as we were parting, I said to her, “You are a lovely woman.” Immediately and with some energy she said, “No I’m not!”

She had a built in response to deny her own beauty and capability. So the first question to ask yourself is – What am I denying of myself?

This question can be framed in a number of ways. Carl Jung put it in another way by say, “What am I editing?”

We deny or edit in all manner of ways. We might have a habitual inner voice that tells us how inadequate we are, or what a failure we are. I worked with one woman who was gradually learning to recognise the things that were holding the best in her back. She told me as we worked, “It is amazing how we are so influenced by what our parents tell us, carrying it around with us, not realizing how much it affects how we live out our lives into and throughout adulthood.   And it is amazing how we can come to know we aren’t what they say we are, yet there it is holding us back in some way.  I hold back because so deep within me is the fear that I might be wrong.”

For many of us, our parents were raised and educated in a social situation that was deeply controlled by political or  religious do’s and don’ts, the domination by authority figures or the threat of unemployment. They may thus have raised us in the same way, a way helping us to deny any spark that would make us stand out.

But we also do it to ourselves by comparing our body, our social standing, our wealth or some other factors with those who appear more attractive, popular or successful.

So, how are you denying yourself? What are you not daring to do? What are you not worthy of? What is wrong to think or feel?

How Are You Holding Yourself Back? – Part Nine

 

What you deny in yourself, what you edit out of what you allow yourself to think and feel, is all part of how you might be holding back your own creativity, your own talents, and your own innate Secret.

Let us be clear about this. There are thousands of books on the market on how to succeed and become rich, or how to be a great lover or creative genius. Courses are run on the same subjects and to enter them you have to be rich anyway because they charge so much.

Mostly these are about techniques such as saying that to become rich you must save a percentage of what you earn, and then you must find ways make your money work for you, not you work for your money. Or to be a good partner or lover you must use sexual techniques, or learn to communicate with your partner honestly. You must learn to Make Love, not just do it.

Such instructions are fine and they may help you in some degree, but if you are all the time holding out on yourself, denying yourself, crushing your creativity, then you have less to bring to whatever else you do or try to achieve – or even what you have already achieved.

But The Secret is even a step beyond those things. Again, let us be clear about this even at the cost of repetition.

From the early 1940’s onwards new tools were used in psychotherapy. Such psychotropic agents such as Ritalin and Psilocybin were used to plumb the depths and heights of human awareness. Never before had researchers, psychologists and psychiatrists been able to peer into the human mind and emotions so clearly. It was like having an x-ray or scanner of the human psyche. Such books as Stanislav Grof’s work, Realms of the Human Unconscious, describe what was found.

What was uncovered was extraordinary. Grof summed up his years of clinical experience by saying, “There is at present little doubt in my mind that our current understanding of the universe, of the nature of reality, and particularly of human beings, is superficial, incorrect, and incomplete.”

It was seen that not only do each of us have an inbuilt power and drive toward our own transformation and self realisation that is often blocked, but we have at our core the same power and potential that lies behind the emergence of our universe.

Perhaps that seems like an exaggeration. Maybe, but there are reasons why it appears like that. For one, the equipment you have is a big filter. Secondly, many of the other reasons have been explained above.

Taking the first – the equipment: consider for a few moments what life on this planet can do. It can fly, it can live under water, it can hibernate for months or years and then suddenly become active again. It can be incredibly small or amazingly big. It can express genius, cunning, aggression, love, great artistry, incredible memory and learning ability either as instinct or as learned skills.

Okay, I could go on, but think about it. Fundamentally Life is innately the same in all the varied creatures suggested above. It is just the ‘equipment’ – the body form – that enables one or the other things that Life can do. Birds fly and fishes swim because of the physical equipment they have. But Life has infinite potential, only parts of which are expressed in its living creatures.

You have a body form that has a lot of built in deficiencies, but also immense possibilities. You can’t smell or hear nearly as acutely as many animals. Your sight could almost be considered as blindness measured against the spectrum of light. You are quite weak physically when put against a chimpanzee. BUT – you have an incredible talent. With your self awareness you can look into the way you function and you can re-program yourself and transform the heritage you have been left by evolution, education and culture. You have the ability to self direct, and not just be a product of old instinctive drives. You can access your potential and help it unfold – a limitless potential. Mind and imagination can leap beyond boundaries – as we have done by creating machines that fly and telephones. But there are boundaries within us to leap beyond too.

Staying with Question One

 

Finding out how you hold yourself back is so important you need to stay with it for some time. To help clarify the question – to look at it from a different viewpoint – I will use a tree as an analogy.

A tree grows from a seed that is, compared with the tree’s mature size, tiny. So do you. The sperm and ovum are minute.

Within the seed is the potential of the full grown tree, but many things can interfere with the complete unfolding and growth. A harsh climate, poor soil, attack by disease or an exterior force, overcrowding and insufficient light can all be causes of poor growth.

Are these factors in what holds back your own potential?

Let us take them in turn.

A harsh climate: What was your childhood situation and environment? Napoleon said that as the twig is bent so the tree grows. That is obviously true of human life. We know it only too well now from studies of the childhood and home environment of psychopaths and abusers. Hitler’s past abuse went back many generations.

Even if your childhood was good there may have been particular events that left marks and blockages. Sometimes things that may be thought of as inconsequential are important. A woman I worked with demonstrated to me two such things. In one she remembered herself as a child taking her first steps. She was holding a cup and fell. The cup broke and cut her lip badly. Her mother was upset and scolded her. The resulting impact was that she felt any independent activity toward independence was likely to be painful and end disastrously. Subtle but life shaping.

The second thing was that she became pregnant and did not feel she could raise the child. She did not want to have an abortion so decided to give the child for adoption at birth. When the time came she felt such connection with her baby that its loss was painful. She was given no counselling and returned home and started sobbing to release her pain. Her neighbour came in however and instead of supporting her release, urged her to stop crying. Seventeen years later in her work with me she released that pain. It had been blocking her flow of love and feelings all those years.

What are the events that have led to blocks in you? And what attitudes or lessons have those events led to?

Ideas:

I need to use the Life Decisions information at some point.

Need to make it very clear that success, sexual and loving ability, self ease, all come from allowing oneself to emerge. Whatever success one has is only a fraction of what can be done if you are not fully grown.

Excitation

What Pavlovian – conditioned responses do I have, and what set them in place? What feelings or images of fear or repugnance do they trigger? So as I look at this nightmare scenario – these nightmare images – I recognise them for what they are and pass through them, seeing, as it were, the projectors that produce the images.  I can see that the is images project from some of one’s most profound childhood terrors.  They can erupt all those old feelings about such things as their, torture, abandonment, sex.  And I look into these images to see what lies behind the outer form.

Now I think I switch channels and have a sense of myself from which I say, “I am much older than my years, for I have drawn up on the wisdom of my ancestors and their experience.  And I have not seen their wisdom as if these were laws and taboos to be laid in place for ever.  I see them as things to be understood and venerated has great wisdom relating to their time and their circumstances.  I see their wisdom and something to be taken and re-evaluated in terms of what is needful in today’s world.  In this way I sit amongst you as an elder who is older than my years.

I have knelt at the alter of my ancestors and learned their wisdom.  But I have also knelt at the alter the ancestors of other tribes and peoples and learned of their wisdom too.  In this way I have been enlarged.

Today, enlightenment requires a lot more than it did in the past.  In the past people were a part of a tradition.  They were sheltered by it, enriched by it, and expressed it in their enlightenment.  Often the culture around them supported what they were doing and the direction they were taking.  Today’s enlightened person is in a different league.  They have, if they have truly reached that point, integrated all the great traditions of the past.  They have felt their essence and are a part of the essence.  That essence lives in them.  They are not particularly Jewish or Christian, but they are, at the same time, deeply Jewish, or Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.  They are a Zen monk.  They are a native American warrior or squaw.  They are all of those things, and that means they are moving beyond what’s there was in the past.  Yet it is the same wonderful ancient way, moving beyond forms, traversing the formless, melting back into the origin of things.  This is a very strange place to be because there is nowhere to go.  There is nowhere that I am not.  Yet I am still this skeleton.  I am still this old man, this Tony, with his penis and balls.  I am still that.  I still have arms to hold you with. I am still that.  I still have eyes to look at you through.  Why should that not be so?

Spirituality, in its best form does not mean unworldliness.  It means the insight into the world.  It means being more fully a part of it, creativity a part of it.  It means being in possession of who you are, your being, your possibilities, you’re outreach.  The spiritual path means not being afraid.  It means daring to experience, not simply for the sake of experiencing, not simply having a screw for the sensation of it, but in a way to look at and digest what you experience.  It means  seeing what the experience means, what it holds in it and what part has in the scheme of things.

Then there is the spirit – the spirit.  That is represented in each culture by the national religion.  That is always, in each culture, a doorway to go beyond.  In each culture, religion is a doorway enabling us to go beyond forms.  It enables us to go beyond all that has existed in the influences of our life.  It opens the doorway to touch something that stands beyond – beyond the beyond.  And if we can bring something of that back into our everyday life, we are a genius.  We are a genius of life.  We are a genius of creativity.  We are a genius of love.  We are a genius of being a mother or father.  We bring, by touching what stands beyond, something new into being.  It is ever, ever, new.

We cannot take out the treasure we have been bequeathed if we are not willing to meet our mother and father, if we cannot find our way through old angers and hates, and pains.  If we cannot see beyond the limitations on weaknesses of our times; if we cannot tap the enormous cultural heritage that has been given us; if we cannot reach beyond that into the spirit of things, then we cannot inherit that vast treasure we have inherited.  If a person cannot do that then they cannot bring that treasure to awareness; they will never know the details of it.  But to know it is there, to honor it, is important.

For instance one could start with something like, “What age are you?  What biological age are you?  What psychological age are you?”

This could continue with the questions such as, “in what way are our those things influencing any relationship you are in or your ability to relate?  What are the dynamics of that?


[i] The day of Friday the Thirteenth, 1307, which began so uneventfully, was the beginning of one of the world’s most enduring mysteries, and one of its greatest tragedies. On that morning, Philippe le Bel, the King of France, in collusion with the Pope, gave orders for the arrest of over one hundred knights of the Order of the Temple, on charges of heresy. Over the next seven years, dozens were tortured, tried, and executed. Many more were imprisoned. The Grand Master of the order, Jacques De Molay, was broken and burned at the stake.

 

[ii] Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and early 1970s. A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population.

[iii] A Boston Globe cartoon shows two bosses in a fancy office saying to three workers: “Why should you have a minimum wage? We don’t have a maximum wage.”

From the end of the 1970′s till the end of the 1990′s the income level of the lowest fifth of    workers in the US fell from 9300 to 8700. The middle earning rose from 31,000 to 33,200.  The highest earners rose from 256,000 to 644,000 in the same period. Also the length of life, health and opportunity within those groups also reflected their income. So the children of those at the highest level were much more likely to live longer and be rich in adulthood than those at lower income levels.

That, I am sure, constitutes a class system in the US, producing many of the inequalities we saw in work opportunity, personal well being, and wealth in the past. In the UK it is called class. In the US the same thing is called – money; wealth!

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