Philosophy


Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships10 Jan 2013 01:42 pm

Much of my thought over the last year or two has been focused on articulating and exploring the wonderful world of life becoming conscious of itself. A major part of my reflections has dealt with the complementary and integrated roles of the body and self-consciousness. I refer to the body as that which lives in the world, or the habit body. I’m generally comfortable as designating the self-conscious mind as the ego.

As you many of you who visit this site frequently know, I think too much emphasis and attention is placed upon the self/ego/executive function to the disservice and lack of appreciation of the skill and wonder of the lived body. You may want to read the previous posts in order to get caught up to speed.

 http://guidoworld.com/blog/i-realize-it-…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/reflections-o…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/life-consciou…

Okay, so lets start by the simple statement that the ego is the thinking mind, which among other things observes, savors, problem solves, plans, judges, blames, etc. The ego is by definition self-conscious (conscious of itself). We refer to it as the executive function because of its primal role in planning, organizing, problem solving, etc.

While the ego is busy being self-conscious and thinking, speaking to itself, problem solving and judging, the lived body is busy participating, integrating, harmonizing, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the world. The lived body is reacting, responding, selecting, documenting, perceiving and managing our mundane existence and coexistence with the environment.

The lived body is the habit body. Based on a few important data points it learns how to effortlessly function in the real world with lightning speed. The lived body is able to act and process at a far greater speed than the self-conscious mind. While we walk our habit bodies are soaking in the environment even if we are self-consciously else where. When our conscious mind suddenly becomes aware of the smell of lilacs it is usually only because of the constant perceiving and sensing being conducted by the lived-habit body (me). Hopefully this description has you better understand or feel what I mean when I talk about our bodies being-in-the-world or taking up a world.

It is the transcendental nature of our ego (self-consciousness) which allows it to be able to reflect, observe and savor. Likewise it is the nature of the habit body to orient itself and function in the world. The habit body participates and is in the world, and the ego is that which appreciates and reflects on our being in the world. The ego’s ability to transcend and observe our body and our experience our essential for our being aware of our experience.

So in essence the habit body is aware and conscious, it just isn’t self-aware and self-conscious. The problem with most of modern psychology, science and even spiritualism is that they over exaggerate the importance and autonomy of the self-conscious mind and deny the importance if not existence of any other aspect of our humanity. In psychology there is only (self)-consciousness and unconsciousness.

Let’s take the term unconscious memory and apply it to the dynamic between ego and habit body and see if it can become understandable and not just an oxymoron. Okay, our lived body is processing and documenting a tremendous amount of data (experience, words, sensation, etc.). Much of this information is placed in short, medium and long term memory even when our conscious mind was elsewhere or focused on one or two aspects of the total experience. This is why if pressed you can recall what song was playing at a party, or what someone was wearing even while at the moment of those occurrences your ego was deeply focused on a conversation or lost deep in thought. While your habit body acts of a minimal amount of information, it still processes and remembers a huge amount of data over a small space of time.

The so called unconscious memory of psychology is more accurately described as memory that was documented and incorporated into the data base of the lived habit body and was able to be retrieved by the ego to become data for the self-conscious mind. In the rare occasion that the habit body has protected itself from the pain, discomfort or failure caused by a specific event/memory or general habit/memory than it is true that the self-conscious ego has to struggle to access this data. Yet, almost all memory is habit body catalogued, and the vast majority is organized in a manner allowing for the best and most comfortable successful functioning of being-in-the-world.

When one reflects on one’s actual experience there are many other forms of consciousness and awareness which do not fit the strict definition of ego or self-consciousness. Yet, in the dual world of consciousness and unconsciousness, the unconscious is bad and a problem. While it is true that inhibition and many bad habits originate in a the world of the habit body (me), it is ludicrous to say it only has negative attributes. The lightning quick short hand allows the lived body to move and successfully function in the world, it also allows it to sort essential from inessential material. Likewise, it is the lightning speed of its processing which allows it to perform and catalogue useful information (memory, habit, sensorial cues, etc.) at the same time.

Just think how slow and difficult it would be for us to function and learn if we were totally dependent on the ego as our only form of awareness. Even walking would be near impossible if we had to break it down into the thousands of components and compensations involved in almost every step. We probably would never learn to walk if the skill had to be imparted to us by our ego. Similarly, we could think of nothing else when walking if the general mechanics and each subtle variation of stride and terrain had to be self-consciously orchestrated and analyzed.

The habit body’s ability to adapt to a new situation is far more quick and efficient than if it were attempted by the ego. We can adapt and master a major change in a matter of moments as our body incorporates and makes the changes part of our functional body image. If I put a feather in my hat within a few minutes I move in a way honoring the existence of the feather and seldom having it bump into objects as I move about rooms I’ve never even been in before. Just imagine how long it would take if I were to have to consciously think through each new scenario.

Likewise think how quickly one adjusts to riding a bicycle or a car with radically different dimensions than the one we are accustomed to, and how impossible it would be to adjust if we had to consciously identify and analytically teach our body the modifications of the new vehicle, as we make every turn, brake and park the vehicle. A musician within minutes of being seated at a piano with keys of different size and response, can play even the most challenging piece with a smoothness and deft that defies logic.

I’ll end here and hopefully what I have chosen to write here has clarified more than it has overwhelmed in my attempt to articulate the importance of the habit body and its relation to the ego.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology29 Nov 2012 05:57 pm

We humans seem to be fond of engaging in half thoughts which due to their nature are blind to their implications and ramifications. While entertaining incomplete ideas is both convenient and somewhat inevitable the crazy part is we often choose these partial thoughts to form the cornerstone and bedrock of how we define and view life.

Due to our dependence on these beliefs and incomplete thoughts we often adopt fundamental ideas on the essence of human existence which are inherently contradictory if not mutually exclusive to each other or to our expereince of life.

Our ideas regarding capital “T” Truth is one example. While science and religion may argue who is the actual custodian of the Truth, they both seem to share the same basic idea on Truth. Truth, in both realms deals explicitly or implicitly with certainty. In most cases this uncontestable certainty is professed to be eternal. Many believe that something can only claim to be True if it is an expression of universal law. Truth founded on universal law can pertain to both physical and moral matters. Truth based in eternal law is the very definition of certainty.

One of the fundamental Truth’s of both science and religion is in the fact that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. In religion it shows up in phrases such “as you sow so shall your reap”and in the concept of Karma, while in science it is the essence of not only the theory of relativity but is found in Isaac Newtons laws of motion. Viewing the universe as one big  predetermined and self-functioning machine has been a rather persistent Truth for much of man’s history.

In religion you don’t have to believe in reincarnation to be a proponent of predestination. Most monotheistic religions or those involving a creator have a tendency to make the creator perfect and infalliable. The creation itself has an inner design and purpose which must be played out and fulfilled.

A perfect god can only create a perfect world and there can be no room for surprises in the execution of his infinite wisdom and knowledge. The monotheistic god is a perfect and absolute god, and therefore, by definition, a compete and total god lacking nothing.

The world formed by an absolute prefect creator has little room for chance or free will. Likewise, a universe based on cause and effect has no room for accidents. In both cases life is fated and predetermined. If all is cause and effect than all is fated and predetermined. In the mechanical world of universal law of Einstein or Newton all action is fated by the execution of the laws that apply to every action. In such a mechanical world of certainty and Truth is there room for inventive action or free thought?

In the world of religion and science, of certainty and truth, all life is just on giant script that plays out ad infinitum. If every action has an opposite and equal reaction, then what choice do I have than to respond to every stimuli in the way that has been planned out?

The contradictory role of free will is demonstrated in the creation stories such as Adam and Eve, Gilgamesh and many others. These stories all feature the fall of man to explain man’s misfortune as he destroys the perfect Eden in which he was cast. Yet, how else could man exhibit his free will but to disobey or disregard the laws of the creator? If he followed the script without fail he would never assert his identity. Only by an ad lib could man distinguish and separate himself from god. Yet, if god is perfect, than any deviation from his will is impossible or a sin.

So, in the world of Truth and certainty there is no room for free will and choice. In the world of cause and effect and universal law, all is predestined and any feeling of choice or free will is an illusion.

How does one rectify the concept of an expanding universe with the status quo of relativity? How does one find a logical basis for human creativity, error, problem solving or choice? How does one even explain how a human created from a perfect god could even entertain the idea of thinking and deciding on his own? The answer to these questions seems to be that they don’t. There is no explanation since these implications and ramifications of the original half thoughts are never explored.

Yet, despite this logical conclusion both science and religion seem to claim that humans have a free will and can and do make choices. In the world of half thoughts all is possible even when it is logically impossible and inconsistent. The goal of these half thoughts was to create a world of certainty and Truth. Additional thoughts are judged and valued by their ability to support and prove certainty and Truth. Inconsistencies are glossed over in the case of religion by mystery, and belief. In science inconsistencies are avoided by collecting data, devising theories and engaging in experiments which support one horn of the dilemma at a time.

The real irony is that while cerrtainty and Truth were devised to provide life with meaning, they (when fully explored and thought through) actually strip and deprive life of meaning. While concepts such as purpose and responsibility are akin to certainty and Truth, meaning is more suited to a flawed and finite human existence.

In a world of certainty and Truth there are expectations, in a world of meaning there is growth, development and progress. When one discovers the Truth one’s journey is over, if one finds the answer to life there are no more questions. Yet, human life derives its joy and meaning from a journey never complete, from never ending layers and perspectives to uncover and explore.

In my book, Exploring Intimacy, which you can read on this site, I explore the rich and inexhaustible process of becoming increasingly familiar with life, knowledge, yourself and others. Becoming intimate with something is not a one way street of getting physically closer to, but an endless array of perspectives both telescopic and microscopic of isolated and in context. Life could be lived for centuries and not be exhausted. Purpose, certainty and Truth are fairly one dimensional while meaning is onmideminsional and indefatigable.

The fear which seems to motivate the need for Truth is that without certainty life would become meaningless and chaotic. A universe without law is considered random and unliveable. Yet, in reality the choice is not binary, It is isn’t a case of either or.

The space between certainty and chaos is not empty ether, but rather one teeming with real life. It isn’t the conceptual ideal world of Truth or Platonic Ideals, rather the real lived world of flesh, feeling and thought. Between certainty and chaos lies the enire world of probability, pattern, chance, intimacy, growth, creativity and opportunity.

The following chart is my attempt at making a clearer distinction between certainty/truth and meaning/intimacy. As you can see I started with contrasting purpose and meaning, but many of the other terms listed below could have headed each column. The words in each column are not a point by point contrast with the words in the other column. Yet, I do feel it gives you a pretty good feeling for the two basic ways of being and living in the world.

Please read each column and see which one feels more like the world you would want to live. Which one promises the most joy and satisfacrtion?

Yet, for me the beauty is in the fact that at each moment we are able to choose which way we are framing and coloring our experience. In my life, I have found the right hand column more to my liking.

 

Purpose                                                                           Meaning

Fulfillment of role/function                                    Significance

Pre-ordained design                                                  Discovery

Fate                                                                           Free Will

Knowledge                                                                    Wisdom

Certainty                                                                 Probability/Permutations

Truth                                                                       Functioning Premises

Karma                                                                        Variability

Destiny                                                                      Creativity

Absolute                                                                      Relative

Eternal/fixed                                                                 Historical/malleable

Metaphysics                                                                   Process

Positivism                                                                       Phenomenology

Interpret/analyze experience                                    Describe experience

transcend humanity (overcome, transmute)         Embrace, unfold,  humanity

Perfection                                                                       Self-actualization

enlightenment                                                              longevity and joy

Assume/believe                                                          deduce/construct

universal law                                                               patterns and cycles

goal                                                                                 intention

 

 

Jim Guido

 

 

Philosophy and Poetry and sexuality16 Oct 2012 08:46 am

The following is a poem I wrote sometime earlier this year which I hope you enjoy and pass on to those who might appreciate its sentiments. I never tire of celebrating the wonder of life and living.

The Distance of Intimacy

the shroud that separates
becomes a gossamer like membrane
where touch is the medium of union
retaining the faintest of distance
an evanescent vestige
permitting intimacy this side of fusion

intimacy is the template
to be used liberally
with all of life
all our senses touch
probe….
as we offer our bodies
to be touched
by the world in which we breath
and exhale ourselves back into its manifold
in endless permutations
of it and me

From where does my voice come
if not from this thin membrane
which makes individual experience possible
and union an orgasmic urge
There are no set boundaries
just expansion and contraction
of intermingled air
and reciprocal movement
I accomodate life
as it accomodates me

What heresy
is the absolute
infinity and the eternal
What beauty
is contained in fragility
in birth and in death
experience forever articulated
but never exhausted nor complete
a process we are gifted to participate in
and to appreciate
yet like gosamer
life’s beauty
lies in its fleeting fragility

Life creates gossamer
Shrouds are of our making
either by over emphasizing our individuality
or by creating infinite distance inherent
in ideas such as immortality and the absolute
Destiny too is a shroud
a thick covering
which while it insulates and protects
destroys individuality and choice
that gives joy to the dance
of me, you and the world 
I breathe I exhale
I see, I am seen
I touch and am touched
and the world undulates
and I am so moved

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology04 Sep 2012 10:08 am

The following is a reverie on my song What We Live. You can listen to this song by clicking on to the music tab above and going to the CD entitled I’m Just Saying.

 

What we live                                                              6/6/09

Wrought by the night
Fraught with insight
The steely comfort comes shining through

No need to dream
No symbols crashing
Taking stock in what I see and do

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue
Pierce through visions spawning truth
Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

What we live

When we focus our attention and what we live as opposed to why or even how we live, we are guided to the content and very stuff of our experience. We return to experience itself and not our theories, explanations, interpretations or objective analysis of experience. What we live is a fixed awareness on the primal dance of experience and the experiencer.

The song is a contemplation and celebration of what we live. What we live is an identification, articulation and appreciation of our experience and how we take up and live in a world. It is more about participating and describing than explaining and theorizing.

The what of living is being a body experiencing life and not just living in one’s head. The what of living inspires us to appreciate and savor the awe of being alive and being conscious of being alive. In sum, what we live is being immersed in experience, while at the same time savoring this experience and developing wisdom and insight.

The lyrics begin after a full day of living and processing the functional and pragmatic wonder of life.

Wrought by the night

Wrought in the sense of created or fashioned, but also hinting at the existential angst associated with being emotionally wrought.
The night referring both to the time of day, and all the images and symbols of the night, including its quiet, starkness, solitude and lack of activity.

Fraught with insight

Such a time of contemplation is destined to be filled with meaningful insight inspired by the peace, calm and formless womb that is night.

The steely comfort comes shining through

The comfort of the night I’m referring to is the calm starkness it offers, not the pampered creature comforts we so often surround ourselves with. Which is why the comfort is steely. A steely comfort is pure and naked. The steely comfort of all our insights and joys softly streams through the darkness with the type of clarity that only starkness can produce.

When our eyes get accustomed to darkness we often are aware of there being enough light to catch a brief glimpses of objects such as a silver candle holder or the shimmer of glass. These brief glimmers are like the fleeting moments of clarity which come to a calm and open heart.

No need to dream

On a night where I’m content and awed by simplicity, I have no need to dream. I have no need to flee the moment, or to look beyond life. Content in the moment and enraptured with my very heart beat I have no need to look above or beyond the moment.

My reveries and reflections are so fulfilling as to have me feel emotionally and psychologically sated that even as I fall asleep I have no need to dream, just to rest and savor my contentment.

No symbols crashing

This line is a combination of symbols clashing and cymbals crashing. It again emphasizes that for a fully conscious mind there is little need or use for dream. If one reflects, ponders and processes during the day than the “unconscious” mind often has no agenda or need to speak to us when we sleep.

Taking stock in what I see and do

When one does their work during the day the night is free to rest. A day spent taking stock in what one sees and does is a full and fulfilling day, with no gaps to be filled in at night.

There are no symbols clashing, there is no need for drama or for secret dire messages for a person who has lived the day fully and has been open to and paid attention to their inner life. There is also no need for nightmarish anxiety and heart pounding reactions to cymbals crashing. No suppressed symbols are crashing and haunting us and preventing us from deep and peaceful rest.

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue

Everywhere I turn I see and benefit from mirrors which have me see myself. I find these mirrors everywhere, from my own body sensing and functioning in the world, to others, nature, language, music and history. I am forever energized, challenged and imbued by all myriad of snapshots propagated by the endless mirrors that dominate my vision and experience.

Pierce through visions spawning truth

My body, the world and self-awareness are all inextricably linked and interwoven. At times I see myself in the world, and at other moments I see the world in me. Each vision, reflection and pattern recognized contains a truth and a wisdom which deepens my life. Yet, these visions actually pierce through truth to the reality and experience that is what we live. Such truth unmasks and discredits the Truth that the less vigilant and thorough use to flee what we live.

Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

I invite you to come with me and straddle the real. The real that is both experience and our reflections of experience. That is both raw experience and the contemplation, processing and historical contextualization that gives birth to and sustains my sense of self. A self that is dependent and enmeshed in the world and my body.

While what we live is foreign to superlatives such infinity, absolute and Truth its reality is by no means pure fiction. The depth of our experience, and its endless revelations are only possible because we are limited sensorial beings born out of the interplay of world, body and mind. Yet, rather than bemoan our limits we should embrace them and though our knowledge and experience be transitory, our lives are none the less full of meaning.

Those who bewail that life has no meaning, are looking for the meaning of life outside of life itself in some form of absolute Truth. Yet, for those of us enthralled with what we live we are immersed in a world of endless meaning, a world of perpetual intimacy and increased familiarity with ourselves, our bodies and the world we live in.

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

After a contented deep sleep we awake refreshed and open to a new day. We begin to commune and take in the world by filling up our lungs with the morning air. As we exhale we give a little of ourselves back into the world and reestablish our enmeshed dependence on our body and our environment.

During the night our attention retreated from the world. While asleep many new cells in our body developed while others died, and a slew of biochemical changes transformed our body every passing minute. Yet, despite the retreat and bodily changes we awake the same person able to recall and build off of our expanding and deepening sense of personal history.

Each and every moment brings possible discovery along with a renewed sense of familiarity with ourselves, our body and the world we share with others.

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Language is like the air we breathe. It surrounds us and is the very way we take up and have a world. As we experience and reflect on our sensory world our attention spawns observations and insights. Accurate descriptions of what we see and sense, resonate deep within us and give voice to our experience.

Our discoveries and curiosity give rise to new questions to be answered. When our sense of wonder slowly coalesces into a specific question it opens us up to a world of new discovery, insight and wisdom. Words and thoughts disclose the world to us as well as articulate our experiences. Through words and thought the world and our historical self are revealed (disclosed) to us.

Our increasingly accurate descriptions and observations resonate deep within us giving voice to our experience. This process born of dwelling in what we live is energizing and allows us to pay close attention to what we experience rather than what we think we experience. Observations based on real and actual experience dispel preconceptions and misperceptions that we have presupposed, and lead to increased intimacy with ourselves, body and world.

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

The more we learn about what we live the more we realize that there is no end to the wondrous puzzle of life. For those attuned to what we live; learning, developing, discovery and increased intimacy are endless processes. Even though each day we add to the familiar, this does not prevent us from being surprised or stumbling across a novel way of taking up our world. Our assembled puzzle will never be complete, for there is no final answer or solution to what we live.

So let’s enjoy the experiences and processes of life. Let’s dedicate ourselves to following the clues afforded us by our experience, and assemble a puzzle together. Let us enjoy the freedom and options that comes with the reality that there is no final solution, or True answer to life.

Each day we can add a few brushstrokes to the great canvass we call our lives. What we live is best seen from a host of perspectives and viewpoints, each one with its own value and meaning. Each revelation regarding what we live is a perspective which we have the opportunity to use in a fashion which brings us closer to ourselves, each other and the world we experience.

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

My life is forever enriched by staying attuned to what we live. This perspective teaches me (reminds me) that fulfilling experience is not a choice between being present (immanence) and reflective (transcendence) but a combination of both. My body feels and senses and my thoughts have me savor, appreciate and form a personal history. The simple act of enjoying the soft fur of my cat involves both my hand feeling the fur as it strokes the cat and my mind savoring, reflecting on and appreciating the experience and placing that one experience into the history and life world of my pet.

What we live is not just of the moment, but woven into the great tapestry we create. Each moment propels me to the next with anticipation and rewards me with adding to the expanding totality of my life. What we live is a self-contained entity comprised of my body, the world and my awareness of myself. All three aspects are interrelated and interwoven and no experience of mine happens in isolation or divorced from this primal trio. From my first breath until my last what we live is truly all I know, and where I begin and end. What we live is my story and my future, it is where I am going and where I have been. What we live is both context and content, and the generator of all life’s joys and meanings.

 

To say that life is precious is a gross understatement.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Relationships03 Feb 2012 08:59 am

Each year I write my wife 12 letters during the Christmas season (the 12 days of Christmas) as part of her presents. She has graciously given me permission to post this letter.

I decided to post this letter as it was written. Hopefully, you the reader, can follow it despite some of the inside references and verbal short hand. Recently my thoughts have been darkened by some dark prospects I will address in my next post to be entitled “Let’s hope I’m Wrong”.

Yet, it is always nice to take a moment to reflect on the wonder of human existence. I hope you enjoy this post and keep it in mind when you read my next few posts.

December 12, 2011

This year for me has been one of getting back to my phenomenological roots and feeling increased gratitude for being healthy. This has been a year for focusing on what I have, rather than what I do not have.

As the mighty storm clouds continue to build around our economy and social structure it is difficult to not feel a little anxiety regarding the future. Yet, at the same time it is almost impossible not to feel very fortunate in the present and to take heart in how well the years have treated us.

We don’t deserve suffering nor good fortune, yet eating right, exercise, kindness and appreciation are their own rewards. I feel that doing the healthy thing is going to continue to be one of my highest priorities for the coming years. I hope you too, make your continued health the highest of personal priorities.

Putting together the package of my lyrics for the book club has helped me gain some perspective and appreciation of what I have written and sung. “I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun, words pour out in rapid runs, painting the world that is me, making the world I am to be…….sometimes the world touches me. “

Speech has always come easy for me. Thoughts and words do shoot out in constant streams. Getting older I do have the occasional experience of struggling for a word, yet for the bulk of my life words have come to me effortlessly and even complex or original thoughts have been there for me with no hesitation.

My writing forever surprises me. On one level I’m a rather controlled and thoughtful writer. When writing a song I more often than not take my time slowly building the song phrase by phrase, often going back and changing lines until a certain flow happens. Yet, even when I have anguished over its creation my words always surpass my intentions. Days, months and in some cases years will pass by before I appreciate or even recognize some meanings that lay hidden inside the words.

Being human is such an extraordinary thing. Each human life is far more fascinating then its author intended. If people truly appreciated human experience and the richness of self-consciousness than there would be no greater endangered species than depression.

Despite the fact that we refer to ourselves as human beings we seem to unrealistically and negatively judge and evaluate ourselves as human doings. Most of us race about doing, acting and accomplishing while rarely matching up to our expectations. We are finite and limited beings who seem to demand of ourselves absolutes, completions and perfections.

As I wistfully mention in Opportunity Lost, ‘I wish the human race could be run at a more comfortable pace.” It does seem that we are pitting the two most dominant ways we refer to ourselves against each other. In one corner we have human beings and in the other the human race. Yet, despite the popularity of mindfulness and spirituality the realities and demands of modern capitalism are having the race overshadow the being.

There is no inherent problem in doing, acting and performing as long as it is anchored in being. Being is not the opposite of acting, for to be demands breathing and all sensorial experience necessitates movement. Yet, being includes an acceptance of one’s real situation and one’s intersubjective connection with the world, others, the body and self-consciousness.

Yet, there is no where on the globe in which people stay centered in the real and actual experience of being human. It appears that it is extremely difficult to accept our inherent ambiguity and uncertainty. Either self-consciousness is the goal or the illusion, or the present is the goal relegating history, reflection and anticipation into evils or distractions.

As I point out and question in Come on In,

The limits we strive hard to overcome
Make life possible are its total sum
Why is being human such a bad gig?
What’s so wrong with life as it is?

And all I have to say is the invitation I offer in the same song:

I’m so excited by the challenge within
I’m so delighted to take it all in
I just want to dance, I just want to swim
I just want to laugh, I just have to grin
Come on in

It is hard to imagine anything more interesting and fulfilling that to think, feel and speak. For me no description of heaven, nirvana or cosmic consciousness has surpassed or even matched the beauty and satiation I can acquire through the simple process of human experience and intimacy.

Hopefully we can enjoy many more years in appreciating our journey on this our earthly and all so human Magic Carpet Ride.

Psychedelically,

Jim

PS No not Hendrix, the Italian guy

Philosophy and Relationships11 Nov 2011 12:48 pm

One of my popular posts is the one I entitled Learning How to Purr which I wrote back in 2008. I’m glad it has been read so often as I think Learning How to Purr is a rewarding skill. The post by the way was based on the lyrics of the song by that name which can be heard and read on Zephyr in the music section of the site.

What is amazing is that for a cat purring is not a rare event or a sign of perfect bliss. Purring is the default mode of a cat, if nothing pressing is happening then for most felines purring is the thing to do (feel). I, too, am learning how to make that humming type of contentment my fall back mode of being in the world.

My nature is to be reflective and thoughtful and even in the midst of activity I am often ruminating on some thought or observation. I love learning about myself, others and the world I perceive. Each day I find it easier to do all these things in a manner which makes purring commonplace.

A calm cellular joy which traverses my body and guides my perspective is finding its way into my daily activities. Even at the height of activity at work, playing music or sports, or in conversation I can sense the purr arising from deep inside me. I meditate twice a day and it is now becoming rare when the bulk of that time is not spent purring (basking) in cellular joy.

As you can tell from my posts, this purring does not prevent me from looking at the world critically and realistically. My cellular joy isn’t born of dreaming and escapism but from my visceral integration with others and my surroundings. The warm hum is visceral and emanates from and circulates through my body. It is not an abstract joy divorced from the real world and a possession of my mind, it is not a platonic ideal, or a spiritual consciousness, but rather a full bodied joy of the wonder of the dance of me perceiving myself and the world.

In my poems Awed and I Realize It is Me, which have been posted on this site, I try to paint and articulate this beauty in a form which helps create the perspective that gives rise to the experience of cellular joy and purring. Each day that passes I learn new ways of celebrating life, and make new discoveries revealing the wonder of human existence.

What I’ve learned from developing the habit of purring is that it is not what you do that’s is so important as how you do it. Cellular joy comes more from adopting the right perspectives than having total control over the activities you do from moment to moment. In fact, what seems to be emerging is an organic realization that the cellular joy has little to do with any specific activity and the very search for the right activity or accomplishment often runs counter to the experience of cellular joy (purring).

Though certain thoughts and attitudes are helpful in fostering or allowing purring to occur, I have come to learn that cellular joy is an actual organic experience. The human body makes our having a world and perception possible. Without my body there would be no me, and no way for me to experience a world. My sense of self is not a thing, it is a process, and without my body and its taking up a world there would be nothing to feel, know or experience.

Cellular joy is the celebration of being alive. And when it comes down to it, what better is there to celebrate that the gift of life.

Jim Guido

Philosophy27 Aug 2011 08:39 pm

Before reading these recommendations you may want to read Awed and Reflections on Awed to better place yourself in this post’s attitude and perspective.

1) When making any decision remember how rare and fragile life is in our vast universe, and strive to act in ways which honor and respect the dignity of all forms of life.

2) Keep in mind that human existence is a journey and be patient and understanding of those who are at a different point in the journey or are where you were years ago. When impatient with yourself or others ask yourself, “What makes me think I’m smarter today than I will be tomorrow?”

3) Enjoy the process of life, and the fact that you are forever learning and improving. Realize that certainty often deprives us of the joy and appreciation of personal growth and development.

4) Embrace your history and the passage of time. A reflected life is fertile ground for intimacy and poignancy.

5) Our sense of self (ego), life and experience are processes and not things. A rich life is less noun than verb, yet what we are is more important that what we do.

6) Take to heart the words of the sage, “there is no road to enlightenment, you are already there”. Revel in the beauty of the moment, and enjoy the process. When possible avoid engaging in unrewarding tasks and sacrifices performed for some future goal.

7) Right action is more about being compassionate and having good intentions than it is about choosing the perfect path. We cannot always control the fruits of our actions, but we can usually monitor the honorability of our intentions.

8) Satisfaction and contentment are more often than not accomplished by how you do something rather than what you do, just as the quality of a picture is more about how it is framed and presented than in its subject matter.

9) Remember that personal freedom and free will are only possible in an imperfect and ever changing world. An existence based on absolutes, eternals, infinities and universal laws and truths is a fated existence, and incompatible with any genuine notion of free will, personal choice, or individual existence.

10) Strive to see the good in others, and let others see the good in you.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology18 Jul 2011 12:16 pm

Recently I saw an article which made a distinction between feelings and emotions. I was very excited to read the article since I too have considered feelings and emotions to have different origins and purposes. Yet, the article quickly disappointed me in that it was more interested in casting judgements than in distinguishing and describing feelings and emotions.

The article had a spiritual bent with a quasi-Buddhist attitude in which equanimity and love were the goals. The conclusion of the essay was that feelings were positive and emotions were negative. Feelings such as love, compassion and empathy were of our higher nature while emotions showed the type of ownership and over attachment which leads to pain, suffering, disappointment, hatred and the like.

My appraisal of feelings and emotions is much more complex than that of the the author of that article. I have a difficult time labeling this specific experience or response as an emotion and that one as a feeling. In my world there are grey areas and many experiences which may be both feeling and emotion.

Let’s take a minute and try to define the similarities and differences between feelings and emotions. The simplest place to start is with emotions since the literal meaning of the word is easy to identify. An emotion takes place when one emotes. An emotion therefore is a time when one emotes a feeling. An emotion is an expression of a feeling, or a desire to communicate a specific attitude, mood or condition.

One could say that emotions are based on feelings. The goal of emotions is often to express or communicate an underlying feeling, mood or attitude. Since emotions are a presentation of something felt there is always some form of performance or drama to an emotional expression. This is why emotions can sometimes come off as insincere or over the top. This is also why emotions can appear to be manipulative or having an agenda.

When emotions are seen in this light it becomes a little easier to define or delineate the realm of feelings. Feelings are general states, moods and attitudes which can give rise to emotions. One feels secure, safe, irritable, anxious, vulnerable or confident. These general states are what specific emotions are based on. Feelings are the background and mood which emotions attempt to express, amplify or communicate.

We are free to express positive or negative emotions which are based on comfortable or disturbing feelings. One can express joy, love, silliness, elation or gratitude based on feelings such as contentment or satisfaction. Likewise one can express anger, hatred, prejudice, intolerance, and rage based on feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, disgust or frustration.

Anger is probably the emotion most talked on. In my many years working with kids and their families this negative expression has often been center stage. So much time is spent talking of anger management or on how to extinguish or resolve anger.

In my work with people I often address anger as a secondary emotion and help people identify the feelings which precede anger. The typical primary feelings which precede anger are often identified as frustration, irritation, embarrassment or one feeling imprisoned, pushed, invaded or penned in. The ability to identify and express these earlier feelings is often the key in having a person find a way to break their anger response and find healthier and less destructive forms of communicating their feelings.

Yet, the line between feelings and emotions is anything but clear cut. Due to the function of language many words we use can represent both a feeling state and an emotion. Yet, the harsh reality that we cannot fit emotions and feelings into to separate and distinct boxes does not preclude us from using this distinction in a positive manner.

Unlike the author of the article and many spiritualists of various persuasions I do not view human emotion in an inherently negative light. I do not view emotional responses as inherently indicative of artificiality, over attachment or a need to control.

As I mentioned above many emotions can be highly beneficial and rewarding such as elation, passion, joy and rapture. Yet, even these emotions can be mishandled and become as destructive as hatred, envy and idolatry. The choice is ours, we can experience and use emotions and feelings in healthy or self-destructive manners. The fact that emotions can be painful or destructive should not prevent us from seeing and benefitting from their positive side.

Oftentimes the drive for spiritualism and mysticism is born out of a desire to avoid pain and suffering. In such cases they advocate for disciplines and perspectives which equate freedom and salvation with equanimity, non-attachment, and annihilation of the self.

Yet, to me such denial is a denial of the human experience itself. Love, empathy, compassion and intimacy are not an absence of feeling or emotion, but rather a deep expression of life and our humanity. Once again for me the wonder of life being conscious of itself is something to embrace and not something to conquer or overcome. The art of living life is a constant but potentially rewarding challenge, it is a challenge a dance which I hope to partake in for many years to come.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology21 May 2011 08:59 pm

Recently I’ve been describing my ego, as the conscious part of who I am. I’ve also been thinking of how often my body is able to just wing it without my ego being involved. In this poem I explore the relationship between my mind and my body, the relationship between I and me.

I Realize it is Me

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, of course,
You could say the same

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, quicker than the labor of thought
You respond
As fast as a tap under the kneecap
With a river of cogent words
Reflexive but coherent

We can continue this way
for minutes
if not hours

With long verbal volleys
and fierce rallies
Words lobbed about
With deft and force
We are on our game
With more instinct that thought

In the now of speech
Who has time for thought?

You and I together
We listen to me speak

I realize it is me speaking
Though I am more observer than participant
Yet, every word is me
Said by me,
Expressing me

Speech is more me than I
While thought is more I than me.

When speaking I learn about me
While listening and thinking
I guide me
I mold me
I judge me
I improve me

I am amazed by me
The me that is my body
That moves about
and inhabits the world
Even while I am lost in thought
Or completely asleep

The me that is my body
That smells, tastes, feels, sees and hears
That breathes, loves and lives

I often take me for granted
I often forget about me
Or mistake me for I

Some believe that I will live on
Long after my body dies
Yet, I can’t imagine
Living without me
Even if this were true
It really wouldn’t be I anymore

For if I were to lose me
The I that would remain
or return
Would surely bear little
resemblance to me

Personally,
I hope that
I and me die together
It’s not just a romantic ideal
But it only seems fitting that
Since I have no memory
of a time without me
That without me
I am nothing
I owe everything I am
To me
All I think and know
I’ve learned from me

Without me
I would never have met you
I would not know your smile
your laugh, or the sound of your voice
I would never have touched your body
Or felt the pleasure of your embrace
I would never have been able to say
Or even learnt your name
Without me
I would have never experienced life
I wouldn’t have known love
Or been able to share the
Miracle of life with you

I am nothing without me
I am no thing without me
Thanks for being there for me
Thanks for caring for me
Thanks for sharing with me

Without you I never would have found me
Without you I would not have become me
Without you I would not be me

Jim Guido
5/21/11

Philosophy and Poetry and Relationships15 May 2011 06:19 pm

Dear Aunt Nancy,

As I mentioned in my last letter I prefer our conversations to me writing you a letter. On the telephone I can learn of what you’re currently thinking and feeling and co-tailor our conversation to take into consideration both of our present concerns and joys.

Often our conversations begin with your making an observation, stating an opinion, or asking a question based on a recent thought you’ve had, discussion you’ve been part of, or a news report you’ve heard. This leads me to a favor I want to ask of you.

Could you please email any thoughts you have so that I may be able to respond to it? It would be very helpful. I may not be able to respond quickly, so anytime you have a thought you’d like to share or talk on, just send it to me. I’ll read and mull them over and then write my thoughts when I get a chance. Is it a deal?

In the meantime I thought I’d just do some of my current thoughts mixed in with some extensions of my last letter. In my last letter I talked of your being like a river, with your ability to both influence and adapt to your environment. A side bar to that letter was my having you explore what one can do, and how you could best adapt to your current state of health and well being.

So, let me be selfish a second and answer that question from my own perspective. When not feeling well or recuperating from an injury I often resort to contemplation. Which even though is sometimes difficult due to the distractions of illness, is far more feasible than most other human activities.
So, lets spend some time contemplating.

In my last letter I mentioned how much I enjoyed our conversations and how much I would miss having them. The bulk of the letter focused on you and the person you bring to the table. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about me and my motivations for liking our conversations.

One of the major reasons I enjoy our conversations is that I like the person I am when I’m speaking with you, and I like the person our conversations inspire me to become. Reflecting on that last observation I realize that those internal feelings truly mark off my strong friends from my acquaintances.

Many people, often through no fault of their own, have me speak and respond in ways which make me uncomfortable with myself or with my reactions to them. My distance from them is more created by how they make me feel about myself or who I am with them, then any judgement on my part about them as a person. Wow, I think that’s bordering on a self-revelation, thanks for inspiring that thought. Is it any wonder I miss our conversations?

This morning while I was walking my attention was drawn to the elaborate song of a mockingbird. Over the last several years a mockingbird has been a constant companion to my spring and summer walks perching in a short list of high places and singing away with rapid urgency. I am amazed at how often I hear him sing no matter what time of the day I choose to walk. Even during the short time it takes me to pass him he serenades me with dozens of bird songs.

Most of us are like most songbirds. We spend our lives developing and perfecting our song. We develop very deep grooves of habit which gives us a sense of history, identity and meaning. These are all very good things.

Yet, in some ways I would like to be more like a Mockingbird. It would be nice to be able to learn and perfectly repeat the songs of others. It would appear that to truly learn anothers song I would have to inhabit their reality and there way of living life. This would be true compassion and allow me to stay sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. Being able to sing anothers song would be invaluable in terms of creating harmony and having a positive influence on those you speak to.

The greater portion of my contemplation centers on human experience and my experience in particular. I never stop marveling at how intricate and fascinating human sensorial experience is, and how inaccurate our unreflected assumptions of what we actually experience often is.

One of my strongest joys is in reflecting on simple experience and being able to describe my observations to others. The following lyric and a few reveries on each line will help demonstrate what I mean.

The World Touches Me 4/26/2008

What I do see is more than I see everyday
What I do feel is more than I sense
Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens
Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me
_________________________________________________

If you want to listen to the song you can go to guidoworld.com and listen to it on the Go! CD in the music section of the website.

What I do see is more than I see everyday

To understand and appreciate this first line and the general tenor of the song takes a little background. So,….

In every conscious experience I have there is part of me having the experience (my sensorial body) and part of me that is aware of it (ego, self-consciousness). A large part of my life is unthought and kind of on autopilot. I walk, pick things up, breathe, move my arms and legs, smile and make gestures often without any conscious assistance. Even a great part of speech is done naturally and in the flow of the moment far faster and more often than conscious thought is capable of producing.
Life happens too fast and there is far too much information for us to weed through in the most basic experience to depend on our ego. In order to survive and make sense out of life we need a most basic part of us to exist and be in the world prior to a self-conscious decision process.

A major part of us needs to be in the world and respond to it with lightning speed. First we need to be able to select and organize a world out of the tons of sense data assaulting our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin at every moment. Then while doing this we must breathe, chew, blink and respond to specific demands of the environment (someone speaking to you, a dog running in front of you, or catching yourself as you fall) all at speeds faster than our ego can think.

Our ego, though slow is extremely valuable. Without the ego we would not process, appreciate, evaluate, alter or plan our actions. Our ego, is the central manager, who feels embarrassed, proud and happy. It is our self-consciousness which gives life its history, meaning and sense of direction. Yes, it is our ego which often causes us conflict with others or gives rise to negative emotions, yet it is also the ego that makes loving, savoring and relishing life and others possible.

So when I say that “What I do see is more than I see everyday” I mean it literally and figuratively. First, the amount of input coming into my eyes has to be organized into a comprehensible (and livable) environment. Yet, what I see at the moment with the help of my ego becomes part of my history. So, at each moment I see, I see with the eyes and knowledge of my past as well as the feelings and memories they evoke in me.

Yet, even in vision itself we see more than we see. As I look about my room I see many things. I see a table, lamps, chairs, sofa, TV, speakers, paintings, pictures, plants, shelves, walls and floor to name just a few. The simple fact of the matter is that I never fully see any of these things.

I never actually see the entire room, only a series of partial snapshots. Yet, I am able to imagine it as a whole, and to move about in it as if I saw the entire room at once. If I stare straight ahead I begin to realize how little I actually see at one moment. Even individual object only seems to come alive as my eyes move about and quickly make scan after scan.

What is even more astounding is the fact that I never see all of the chair or even the lamp. Depending on my position and its distance from me I may only see a fraction of the object, the rest of it is filled in by me. I never see the backside or the underneath of the sofa or lamp, but it does not prevent me from seeing the lamp or instinctively being able to reach and lift the entire lamp.

When in a room, walking in your neighborhood, or driving in town, you are able to successfully move about, adapt to, and respond to these environments even though you are not seeing a substantial portion of, or even thinking about them. We truly do see more than we do see.

What I do feel is more than I sense

Likewise, what I feel is more than I sense in a number of ways. First, though I never touch the entire cat, I know what my cat feels like. With my eyes close I recognize the cat almost the moment my hand makes contact with her. There are very few objects I could feel at one moment, and even many of those have shapes, contours, nooks and crannies which make it impossible for me to feel it completely. Yet, my mind is able to fill in what is missing, both in what can’t be felt in one caress as well as the absences that could not be felt at all. It may be a little misleading to say my mind fills in the gaps because it often is done with no thought and instead accomplished by the preconscious part of me that lives in the world which usually is labeled the body.

“What I feel is more than I sense”, is also true in terms of emotional feeling. The entire network of sensations cannot explain nor capture my emotions and feelings. I always feel more than I sense, and my feelings are also influenced by reflections of sensations that has taken me an entire lifetime to form.

Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

We often make thought in charge of perception and view perception as something that occurs in the brain (mind). Sight, for example, is when images come to us through our eyes and rest on our retina in an inverted fashion, only to be corrected by our mind. My experience tells me that world -body – self consciousness are one intimate network, in which complete separation is impossible.

My experience says that sometimes the world beckons my attention and touches me. It is obvious that the world touches me when a breeze blows or when the sun peeks out from a cloud and bathes me in sudden warmth. Often times when deep in thought, or reflection a sound or smell will summon me, or keep me company while I think.

Also, often events in my environment will touch me in the sense of having a certain poignancy or inspire me to have some strong emotion. In this sense, the world in all its wonder and mystery is forever touching me. When one recognizes the intimate relationship between the world – our body – and our sense of self, it is truly impossible to feel isolated and alone.

The world, the environment and my immediate setting affect all that I feel, perceive, sense and think. My environment defines my limitations as well as my possibilities. At each moment my setting and my body color, guide and inspire my thoughts, emotions and experiences.

My setting and others who are part of my setting, influence and help create who I am. In so many ways I am the product and project of others and the world I live in. All of my experiences are created by the world and my body, and I would not be who I am if I had a different body or lived in a different setting.

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

We’ve already covered those first two lines with the realization that we speak far faster than we can think, and therefore, most of speech is preconscious and evaluated by our ego as we speak. If the ego agrees or is pleased it lets us ramble on, and only intervenes when it feels a need to interrupt or redirect.

Words paint and describe the world and person that is me. My words not only express who I am, but are the very tools which help construct my view of myself, my world, and my future. My perceptions and experiences are articulated through words, but words also help create and fashion my experiences and perceptions. My words and perceptions have a mutually beneficial relationship. My experiences can inspire me to find better words to articulate my perceptions, yet well chosen words can improve and refine my experiences and give it a richness it would otherwise not have.

Similarly, it is impossible to assess to what degree the world forms my perception of myself as opposed to how my self-perception fashions my views of the world.

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens

All of the above thoughts lead me to see the world, my body, and my sense of self all with a sense of wonder and mystery. We are all born out of the world and at some point dissolve back into it. With something like a plant this concept is very easy to see. The plant sprouts forth from a seed in the ground and after a time dies and becomes reabsorbed into the earth.

We are born from a seed in our mothers body. Our life, being self-conscious, evolves a little differently than our experience of the plant. Becoming conscious is born out of the entire stew of sensations and perceptions fostered by the interaction between the world and our body. Soon our sense of self seems to form like condensation. Where eventually we become self-conscious, that is we become aware of the fact that we are alive. Not only that, but we become aware of all life, whereby through us life is becoming aware of itself.

We are aware of not just our ego centric existence but we become engulfed and surrounded by life. We exist and are alive, because we inhabit a world teeming with life.

Our self-conscious existence is dependent on the fact that we have a body and live in a world. The world, our body, and consciousness are co-existent. This is the beauty and wonder that is human life. We only live because we can breathe in life from the outside world.

When we inhale we take in life, when we exhale we give part of ourselves to the outside world. With this in mind it is hard to say where we end and where the outside world begins.

I became enthralled with life many years ago. I find great joy and satisfaction in reflecting on human experience and life and in describing what we actually see and feel. I find meaning in life itself and have no desire to try attain ultimate Truth. I stopped asking big questions when I realized I was only capable of producing small answers.

Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Obviously other people talk to me. Yet, even those who speak a foreign language speak to me through their gestures and through my interpretations of their actions. Animals, insects even trees and plants seem to speak to me, to teach me their secrets. All of nature reveals themselves to me, and in the process reveal me to myself.

The world touches and speaks to me through every sensation of my body. I reach out and touch the world in all my activities. When I have my hands touch each other, one always has to be the toucher and the other the one being touched. I can switch the roles at a moments notice, but one hand cannot be both toucher and touched at the same time. Likewise it is just a matter of perspective that has me switch from being touched by the world to its touching me.

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Though I’m never separate or alone in the world, I feel the most connected to other conscious beings. We all need to feel unique and special as well as a need to belong and be connected. It is through higher animals and people that we get these needs met. It is though others that I get validation as well as a greater perspective. Many experiences and thoughts I would otherwise have no access to, I can vicariously experience through my dialogues with others.

I find comfort in the predictable, in habits and in the patterns of life. The basic rhythms of life ground me and from this base give me the courage and stability to grow and develop.

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me

Life is a never ending process of growth and discovery. Each sensation, perception, experience and feeling we have is just another color with which to paint our world or a puzzle piece to use in constructing the great mosaic of our life.

Many seek to overcome life and view it as an illusion. Me, I view life as this wonderful dance we have the privilege to attend. I love the world, the body and our consciousness and relish the opportunity to live and savor this life.

Every sentence needs a period to have meaning. Every song only becomes one when it ends. We would not know the day without the night, and life would have no significance if it had no end.

We are bound by the limits of a body that occupies a specific space and experiences life as an unfolding of time. Yet, their would be no experience for something limitless or eternal. Something all knowing could not learn, grow, be surprised or have a revelation. The true beauty of human life is that it is born with so little, and through the unfolding of time, through the interaction of world-body-and self-consciousness develops a history and a personal story of ever increasing complexity and richness.

Wonder and mystery fill our days, and as we touch the world and the world touches us we begin to see patterns and forms, and we begin to feel connected to the world, nature and others. The miracle of conscious life is in its delicate fragility which dazzles the eye and captivates the reflective soul with its rarity and ephemeral beauty.

United in Compassion,

Jim

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