Monthly Archives: March 2006

inflicting beliefs?

in ragamuffin’s most recent blog entry, there is talk about the writer, steve, inflicting beliefs on someone, concerning his post on “top 10 reasons why men shouldn’t be ordained“.

what interests me – what does it mean to “inflict” a belief on someone? it conjures up an image of capture and wounding. i’m thinking of the windows of the scientology church into which i used to be able to see clearely from my office window in toronto, many years ago. i could see two or three people literally ganging up on a person, physically cornering that person and talking to/at them (i was told later on that that is a somewhat typical practice).

that is what i call inflicting beliefs. if indeed it is possible to inflict a belief on anyone.

if you don’t do that, what is the mechanism of inflicting? how easy is it to inflict a belief? a belief, after all, is something that is personally held. by definition, it’s not necessarily something that anyone else shares.

a belief is

“an acceptance that an idea is true” (according to here)

okay, so if it’s an acceptance – how can i inflict my acceptance on someone else? i mean, how does that work? i can try to force someone to also accept it (= ram it down their throats, literally – what comes to mind is one of the episodes of startrek TNG) but how can i make them accept my acceptance? at best, i can try to make them believe that i truly believe something.

trying to inflict a belief on someone seems a bit like trying to make someone else sense their sensations or think their thoughts. that’s just not possible. what i sense and think is, in its essence, not communicable to anyone. we can talk about these sensations and thoughts, we can describe them, but we cannot transmit them.

what do you think?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

biting the dog

i was digging around some old files and found this, a short story i wrote which came out of a journal entry which was turned into a poem and then another poem and then this …

i’ll tell you that process another time. it’s quite interesting, i think. for now, i got it in my head that i want to ask you – the people who read this blog – what you think this story might be about. how it continues, how it ends. not quite sure why i’m intrigued by that quesion but here we go …

the other day, some friends and i went to see naomi. we sat by the fireplace. it was evening. the atmosphere was warm and quiet but we all knew that in the back of our heads there was a thought, a question mark: some years ago, naomi had bitten a dog. we never found out what exactly had happened, only that naomi had been in a strange state of mind that time, and we were wondering if she had gotten over it. this managed to give our gathering a bit of an unreal air. i suspect that some of us wondered if they could ever do something like that. could we all of a sudden turn mad? is it something that could happen in a flash? tomorrow? so we sat there, with all those thoughts in our heads, talking little, enjoying the setting sun and the light breeze that came through an open window.

i for my part had been in a dark state that time. i had felt old, dark and cold but somehow also pregnant with the seed of new things to come. totally broke, i couldn’t bring myself to make money. once in a while i would admonish myself to pull myself up by the bootstraps but it wouldn’t work. it was an uncomfortable situation, but not catastrophic.

so anyway, we were all sitting around in naomi’s living room, pondering our thoughts. and then abruptly, naomi started to talk.

“you know, three years ago, or actually, it’s almost four now – it was – my life was over. my life was over. i was over. done. finished. i realized that back then, he had trapped me. totally. i was this beautiful, light, colourful butterfly and he came and slammed his net over me.”

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

9/11 – four and a half years later

i just came across an article i tucked away for future use a few years ago. it was written a few days after 9/11 – september 17, 2001, to be precise.

in it, one of my favourite authors, psychologist mihaly csikszentmihalyi talks about happiness and harmony post 9/11. csikszentmihalyi specializes in studying creativity, happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction. his bestseller flow talks about the state that is experienced in moments of creativity or concentrated work, when you just feel in the groove.

here are two quotes:

“We are focusing on retribution and not understanding, and that worries me. If we focus on where hatred comes from and how to make it go away, we wouldn’t be talking about retribution only. I hope this will end in the fact that the wonderful sense of togetherness America has shown will include other countries in the world. The best outcome is not only global policing but also global responsibility. Unless we find this type of balance, we are going to always have people who want to destroy us.”

“What we had before — in the sense that people felt like, basically, nothing could go wrong — was not normal. It was really unusual. In human history, we have never been in a position for long where we could feel secure. The plagues that used to devastate the world would often come one or two a generation and decimate the population. Despite that, people were able to create new, important advances. We will need to be creative and make progress in spite of the fact that we now know life is fragile — in spite of the fact that we now know civilization is fragile. That is a much more mature way of living than expecting that everything will be fine.”

what does that sound like today? to what degree has america included other countries? has there been a focus on where hatred comes from and how to make it go away? do we have a new awareness of the fragility of life and civilization?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

pema chodron on laziness

a few words about laziness by canadian buddhist monk pema chodron:

Looking into Laziness

Rather than feeling discouraged by laziness, we could get to know laziness profoundly. This very moment of laziness becomes our personal teacher.

Traditionally, laziness is taught as one of the obstacles to awakening. There are different kinds of laziness. First, there’s the laziness of comfort orientation, we just try to stay comfortable and cozy. Then there’s the laziness of loss of heart, a kind of deep discouragement, a feeling of giving up on ourselves, of hopelessness. There’s also the laziness of couldn’t care less. That’s when we harden into resignation and bitterness and just close down.

Comfort Orientation

Comfort orientation comes in a variety of forms. Sogyal Rinpoche writes that in the East, for example, laziness often manifests as flopping down in the sun with one’s cronies, drinking tea, and letting the days pass by. In the West, he observes, laziness frequently manifests as speed. People rush from one thing to another, from the gym to the office to the bar to the mountains to the meditation class to the kitchen sink, the backyard, the club. We rush around seeking, seeking, seeking comfort and ease.

Whether we flop or rush, and wherever on the globe we happen to be, the comfort-orientation brand of laziness is characterized by a profound ignoring. We look for oblivion: a life that doesn’t hurt, a refuge from difficulty or self-doubt or edginess. We want a break from being ourselves, a break from the life that happens to be ours. So through laziness we look for spaciousness and relief; but finding what we seek is like drinking salt water, because our thirst for comfort and ease is never satisfied.

Loss of Heart

The laziness of loss of heart is characterized by vulnerability, woundedness, and not knowing what to do. We tried just being ourselves and we didn’t measure up. The way we are is not okay. We chased after pleasure and found no lasting happiness. We took time off, went on vacation, learned to meditate, studied spiritual teachings, or spent years dedicated to certain political or philosophical views. We helped the poor or saved the trees or drank or took drugs, and we found no satisfaction. We tried and we failed. We came to a painful, hopeless place. We don’t even want to move. We feel we could gladly sleep for a thousand years. Our life feels meaningless. Loss of heart is so painful that we become paralyzed.

Couldn’t Care Less

Couldn’t care less is harder, more icy, fatalistic. This particular flavor of laziness has an edge of cynicism and bitterness. We feel that we just don’t give a damn anymore. We feel lazy and mean at the same time. We feel mean toward this disappointing and lousy world, and toward this person and that person. Mostly we feel mean toward ourselves. We made a mistake. We’re not exactly sure what this mistake was, but we got it all wrong; and now, to hell with it! We try to forget in any way we can. We stop doing much. We feel as if we can’t do much anyway, and frankly, we don’t care.

if you want to go on and find out what pema thinks could be done about this, go to the shambala web site and read the rest of the article.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

phew! our brains don’t think coca-cola is our friend

Brain Scanning Technology Reveals How We Process Brands And Products

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University use cutting edge brain scanning technology to explore how different regions of the brain are activated when we think about certain qualities of brands and products. The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first to use fMRI to assess consumer perceptions and has important implications for the use of metaphorical human-like traits in branding.

“[fMRI] allows one to gauge, for the first time, the degree to which the underlying thought processes are similar,” write the researchers. Subjects were given 450 adjectives such as “reliable,” “sophisticated,” and “cheerful,” and scanned while indicating whether each word was applicable to themselves and someone else. The sample group was also scanned while making similar judgments about brands they know and use.

The researchers discovered that even when the consumers were judging products on unmistakably human terms, they still used the part of the brain associated with inanimate objects. “Although we may use similar vocabularies to describe people and products, we can’t say that the same concepts are involved,” explain the researchers. “Companies building brand images and icons should be wary of taking the legitimately useful metaphor of brand personality too literally, since it’s now apparent that consumers themselves do not.”

… thus writes suzanne wu. i find this piece of research somewhat comforting. apparently, there is a sliver of hope that we are not that easily roped in by advertising …

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

focusing

through the practice of focusing, we get in touch directly with our “felt sense” – the body’s awareness of all the situations and processes that go on in our lives. it is about notcing inwardly, in the body, all of how it feels.

for instance, i’m thinking of the tingling in the soles of the feet that can accompany a fear of heights. the need to move around that often comes with being excited is another example, or a feeling of heaviness around Continue reading