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Are you a human being? If you are, you buy into defending the insanity of the world. Got your attention? Insanity (other than chemical imbalances in the brain) is living in an idealized, conceptualized, imagined, and thought based world and then comparing our actual life to this. We all fall short, and so we struggle with this comparison and it makes all of us, at least a little bit nuts.

So why do we do this? We are all conditioned in this world as we grow up. There is no escape from this, and not all of it is bad. ( Don’t put you finger in the light socket, don’t run out into the street, etc.). There is no, absolutely no one growing up ‘unconditionally”, no matter what some parents proclaim. We are all conditioned, and that conditioning mostly entails how the world should be, how we should be, how life should be, how our parents should be, and on and on about everything. It is how you live your life and it is totally unconscious to us. It is just how things are, in our own mind.

And that is the problem, our conditioned reality is a function of our own mind. It is not out there, it is no one’s fault, no one imposing this on you once you are grown. A conditioned mind is ripe for crazy! Now many of the psychologists and the many “inspirational” folks want you to give yourself positive regard. In other words, to recondition yourself to a better place. But the positive is connected to the negative, they make each other. (ie, you cannot have hot without cold, high without low)

The issue is conditioning itself. To become sane in the world is to transcend conditioning. But, that means to give up all the positive stuff of our conditioned being. That means not being “smart”, “cute”, “handsome”, “successful”, “friendly”, “assertive”. “competent”, etc. The list is long of positive conditioning we carry. We love that list. We don’t want to give it up. We keep the game of “being conditioned” alive and well. We keep insanity alive and well.

Jesus and Buddha both saw this. Buddha said to give up the self, the source of suffering and Jesus said to become as a child again, to be as you were before you were conditioned. Both saying the same thing, and we do not listen, just as you will not listen to this. You like your good shit too much, even when it brings all the bad shit along with it.

To be in an unconditional state, is simply to be present, with nothing to defend, nothing to support, nothing to claim, nothing to worry about. And here is the dilemma of all that wonderful thing (John Lennon’s Imagine). We all face a world that does not live this way. We have children, and loved ones, and bosses, and spouses, and leaders, and neighbors, and everyone else in our life. And they all live a life of conditional unconsciousness. And we face them every day.

And it feels very real to us. It feels very powerful and emotional to us. And, if you get what I am saying, it is to turn the other cheek, it is to be present without reaction, it is to rise above the insanity, but that is hard when the positive side our conditioning, sees us doing well in that insane game!!!

Awakening is very hard. I was lucky and fell into it at 31. Took me years to understand why this isn’t obvious to everyone.. And that is why I write and what keeps me alive. We humans are destined to awake to the false life we have been handed. I just play my part in all that. Tlane 4/22/18


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One of the reasons we don’t understand the world we live in, is that we look for heroes to understand how our systems/culture work. You are looking in all the wrong places when you do that. I was just reading the latest Time magazine and there is a great quote from Bill Gates about why we don’t understand the progress we have made in the world.

His quote was, “we are looking for heroes instead of systems”. How true that is and how few will get that. Why is it that heroes are limited in how they change the world? History books are loaded with stories of the “heroes’ of human living. We know them all, from Marco Polo to Alexander the Great to Columbus to Washington to Lincoln to Edison to Carnegie to Roosevelt. The list is endless with mostly men. They did change the world and that is still the model we live by. Its time has passed, but we don’t know how to look for systems.

Our persistent problems of sexism, racism, nationalism, etc. are all systemic problems AND they all have heroes as their progenitors. We tend to worship men who “save the world”. And the corresponding collateral damage is not connected to this “hero worship”. When you think that it takes an individual to change the world, you miss how the world really works. Yes, individuals do make a difference, but it is the systems we operate by that really shape the world.

I am going back to a manufacturing story on this. My favorite exec at Cummins was a true to form hero. He was the VP of manufacturing and he was amazing in the way he almost single handily make the factory work. The blue collar union workers loved him. They would do anything for him. And he swooped in quite often to “fix” the break downs. He respected their world and they respected him. As good a hero as you could ever find. I adored him also. He was a good human being.

But he was killing the long term ability of the company to succeed. He made a bad system work, while I was trying to make a better system. I can remember our talk so many years ago. We had become friends (mainly because we like to hang out at the same local bar and drink beer), but he was still my organizational boss. We sat in his corner office one Friday afternoon and I confronted his management style of being the one that “put out the fires” in the company.

I knew enough about the system that I could show how his good intentions, set up dynamics that prevented making consistently good product. He patiently listened to me and I could see the recognition in his eyes. This was very hard for my friend to swallow. His career was based on his ability to get to the heart of a problem and fix it, over and over again. And his personal connection to people on the shop floor, let him do this without a union backlash. Some of his managers did not appreciate what he did, but he got results. That is what counted. Results in a vacuum are the enemy of system change.
It was a tough conversation, but he began to see it. I was so glad since I was putting our friendship on the line to have this talk. It is always a difficult talk to challenge someone’s core capability. He was big enough to rise above that and begin to “see” what I was saying. It made our friendship stronger.

Lots of other systemic stuff got in the way after that, but it was a turning point for my friend and for the company. But it illustrates that “heroes” can be such a deterrent to systemic change and how we love our heroes! We have built it in to our systemic dysfunction, things that keep the dysfunction alive and well. Who do you think are our “heroes” in our current dysfunctional system? How do they keep improvement from progressing as fast as it could? And why do we love our heroes???
Tlane 4/16/18

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We are all born into a trap. We come into the world in this innocence and awareness, then we are conditioned into a trap that diminishes the world we live in. We have no capability to resist this, we are subject to the powers that be. Called our parents and our social system. We cannot escape, but we can overcome. We don’t know that, but it is possible.

This trap takes our little innocent minds, and puts a barrier between directly observing the world we live in. We are told about “how things are”, which is nothing more than the bias and conditioning of our society. And who are we, as children, to resist this? The big people must know. They have so many positions and beliefs, and we assume they are based on some grand understanding. They are not. They are based on the same bullshit that they are handing us. We are indoctrinated into the trap.

Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out which of all these notions of reality, are the right ones. Here is the answer, NONE. All ideas of life are wrong. But, we do not know this as little children who cannot understand the anger, hatred, bias, and other harms we adults do to one another. Our adults try to explain, but what they are really doing, is simply passing on their conditioning. It does not matter what that conditioning is. All conditioning is wrong.

So, we children lose our wonder-filled view of life. We are told how hard life is, how conflicted life is, how we must strive to become successful and capable. And, here is the paradox. We need to do that to survive in the insanity humans have created, and in that we lose our innate ability to “see” life as it is. Life as we think it is drives out life as it actually is.

I wonder why I was different. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood, grew up very normally, grew up with the all the messages that everyone else got. But, something was different. I had several early experiences that made me wonder if life was like we were told it was. Now, I wonder if we all had those experiences, but just put them aside as being “weird”.

I often wonder why I was granted the “blessing/curse” of getting to step outside the human trap. Why was an ordinary kid from Duquesne Pa. given the opportunity to “see” that we live in a trap. Why me? I am certainly not complaining, since it led to an amazingly easy life, where things fell into my lap. People kept showing up to help me along. But, I did do my own work. I faced my fears and insecurities. I looked at my living and wondered what it was about. I did push myself to the edge of my understanding. And life pushed me over……………

I stepped out, or rather leaped out of the trap. From the outside the “trap” is very apparent. It is so deadly and deadening. The trap constrains us all. It is so easy from the outside to write all this. It all comes from my connection to not being concerned about how it looks, or how you will respond. And it is not a rebellion, since that would be connected to the trap. To rebel to the trap is to cement your place in it.

I feel this compunction to write more now as I get older. I want to say everything I can before I go. You do not have to live in the trap. You can transcend the conceptual reality and just show up. You can just “be” and have no concern for whatever the society says about that. But, be careful, the trap has many things to convince you that you are outside the trap. If you think you are right, you are still trapped. Tlane 4/10/18

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I need a new word. I am looking for your help on this, since I am coming up blank. Here is the situation. Tied to my last paper on mental health, I need a word that describes how we humans all get crazy when we put our words/ideas in front of what we are observing. What would you call that?

We have “racists” who put their idea of race in front of looking at a person of color. We have “sexists” who put their ideas of “females” in front of observing a woman. We have “Zionists” who put their views of Jews in front of their perception. We have nationalists who color their view of other nations, rather than simply observing. So, what is the word when all of humanity does this to the rest of humanity?

The basis of all insanity is not “seeing” what is directly in front of us, but instead thinking about our interpretation of that. Our history with that. Our bias with what we see is more important than the actual thing we look at. What would you call that? I want to call it crazy, but since we all do it, that gets too many negative reactions.

We have a difficult time seeing ourselves as “crazy” even when we do consistently do “crazy” stuff. Crazy is a relative term to all of us. We compare to those “really crazy” people we encounter in the media or in our own life. We are not that way!! We tend to set the bar very low to our own being.

For some people, if I do not do physical harm to another, I am not crazy. If I do not burn crosses in yards, I am not crazy. If I have never raped a woman I am not crazy. Yes, all those are signs of crazy, in the sense that our idea of “sane” is not doing those things. But, I need a word that describes all the subtle things we all do that are not that crazy!

Again, crazy to me, is when we put our idea of something ahead of what we actually observe, and then believe in our idea, rather than the actual. We all act from believing, not from observing with clarity. Of course, we “think” we are observing with clarity, just like the racist sincerely believes he/she is looking at reality. It is only a matter of degree. (I wrote before about my former mother-in-law who said she was not a racist, since she would not run over a black person crossing the street! She set her bar really low)

So, what is good word for someone who looks at the world through the eyes of their conditioned past. Who sees everything in terms of how they have defined themselves in their world. It is the way we each personally exclude our own being from the horrors of human life. “I did not do that, therefore I do not have any responsibility”. German prison guards used this to exonerate themselves from the gas chambers.

The way we live in this world, is about doing. If I cheer a guy for grabbing a woman’s butt, am I responsible for sexism? If I look away from a racist remark that someone else made, am I not a racist? So, if I did not “do” anything, am I innocent?

We all buy into the mental constructions of race, sex, nations, religions and all the rest. We are all responsible. What is the word for that. A universal collusion to maintain insanity? Tlane 4/9/18

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We have a lot of mention of mental health currently, especially around all the shootings/gun issues. I won’t go into those positions, but it seems we do not have a conversation about what is mental health.
How would you define that? Have you ever considered it? The medical profession tends to come from a “disease” model, including the mental health side. That means, absence of disease, is health. It is what I used to call a “failure driven” model. That means that if you draw a line of “normal” health, both physical and mental, and when anyone falls below that, they are in a “failure” mode. Normal physical health is like this. If you have cancer, a heart attack, a kidney failure, or any other abnormal function in your body, you are “below that line” of normal.

That is when our medical system kicks into gear and fights the disease. Being “failure driven” is not bad at all, but it will not create health, just absence of disease. This, is why we have so much “wellness” emphasis now. It is sometimes a tough sell. Mental health is more difficult. Is absence of a diagnosed mental disorder, a mentally healthy person? Hmm, I would struggle with that.

So, how do we define “mental health”? Is it a function of the culture we live in? That is where most people would find their definition. But, that is very suspect. In some cultures of the world, women, are property, is that mentally healthy, to hold that view? In many cultures, ethnic cleansing is an accepted norm. A mentally healthy idea? The list goes on and on

Is mental health impossible to define? Is it so arbitrary that we resort to the notion that “if you are not harming yourself or others” you are mentally fit? Then you have to deal with “harm”. Is it just physical harm or also mental harm, like bullying, controlling, demeaning, etc. Do we have any clue what mental health is? Or is it whatever we want it to be, as long as it is not a disease?

Is our current President, someone who is mentally healthy? Is anyone who seeks power and control a mentally healthy person? Is someone who works 80 hour weeks to get ahead, a mentally healthy person? Is it mentally healthy to stay in a relationship that is not working, no matter the reason? Is mental health ultimately a personal decision? Wow, that raises lots of serious questions.

We keep throwing up this “mental health” issue without ever trying to define it. Maybe it is just too hard to do. Maybe we are all crazy! And I am not kidding about that. I do see that the vast majority of human beings are at least a little bit crazy. Some a whole lot crazy!!

To explain, I am not using the idea that “normal” is a definition of mental health. Normal is simply a lack of disease or problem. Looking at the history of human beings, I would say that killing each other is pretty normal, and other than a few instances of self defense, killing is not mentally healthy. All humanity is somewhat crazy.

Mental health, to me, is presence in the world. Presence is about not living in the conditional state of your past based mind. To be present is to show up without a past. Without a history of belief and identity. It is all that history that leads us to kill and demean and fight anyone different than us.

Mental health is a direct realization that we humans made up all this stuff we identify with, and all of it takes us away from showing up in the actual world that is undefined. An undefined world has no reason for differences, angers, hatreds, conflict, comparison, aggression, etc. That is mental health, being at peace in the world. Most of us value our uniqueness too much, to be present. Most of us do not see that the way we show up, is what makes the world crazy. We live in the asylum that we created and now we guard with our lives. Tlane 4/2/18

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I am a “true believer” that true believing is a sign of grand ignorance. Hmm, is that an indictment of me? Think about it. So, why is true believing a sign of ignorance. How would you explain that?

I do not care what someone is a “true believer” about. Religion, country, abortion, guns, economics, LGBT, race, or absolutely anything you can think of to “true believe” about. It is the process of “true believing” and not the content of our various beliefs. What does it mean to truly believe in something?

To truly believe in anything, is to completely buy into some idea of life. And that process of completely buying in, is to shut down the conscious part of our brain, in favor of the conditioned part. We are allowing an idea of life take place of life itself. It is the definition of being unconscious to the world.

Becoming a “true believer” is a substitute for staying tuned to life as it unfolds in front of us. It is a way of downgrading our innate intelligence in favor of some socially taught version of life. Life is not any socially taught version, and at the same time, many versions.

Why would anyone want to impose this kind of ignorance upon themselves? And it is self imposed, maybe not at first, but as we go on in life, we must constantly and unconsciously reinforce our “truth”. It becomes our identity, who we are, and a source of energy and connection to similar “true believers”. It feels “real” to believe. Life without belief does not feel as real.

And that is sad that human beings can no longer “feel” life unless it is connected to a set of concepts/beliefs that say you are right in your approach to life. I am a true believer that there is not a “truth” to life that can be thought of.

Life is a movement in front of us, without any particular meaning at all. But, if you approach life from an idea, instead of actual presence, then that is very unsatisfying. We want to know what it means to be here. We want to “know” and be right about our knowing.

And some of us really like telling others about our “truth”. It does give a little shot of superiority to feel that you own the truth. And many are willing to sacrifice their awareness for that ego shot of being superior. The price is ignorance. I know there is no “truth” to life and that is the truth. Deal with it. Tlane 3/26/18

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Is wealth an indicator of unconsciousness? After all, “the desire for money is the root of all evil” is an oft quoted Biblical saying. And of course, it is the word “desire” that most people leave out in that quote. Desire is a mental state. It means that a mind is using its energy to acquire wealth rather than understand its own life. That is a “sin” to use the words of the Bible. Energy is the most valuable asset we have, and to use it to seek gain at the physical level, is to deny a higher purpose of life.

You can think of that as an indictment of poor people. They tend to use a disproportionate amount of their energy to make a living and simply survive. Of course, that is not what I mean by this. We live in an economic system that is rigged to make the wealthy, more wealthy, and to keep the poor more poor. It is a system against spiritual awakening. It is a system designed to make the physical level of life the most important, most admired, most sought after, and most focused on.

Wealth is all focused on the lowest level of human existence. And it works. It keeps all of us in that lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Basic survival is food, shelter, safety and that is what wealth guarantees. The upper levels of social belonging, personal relationships, personal achievement and finally self actualization, are oblivious to wealth. I think this why wealthy people strive to make their social strata important, where they live, who they know, what they have done, etc so important.

Many have given up their personal journey of awakening to make money, to gain wealth, and to gain status. But, our spiritual being will have none of that. The hole in our heart knows that wealth is not true worth in this world. No matter how much your wealth, it is not a substitute for a life of awareness. Awareness is our connection to a wholeness of humanity.

Although wealth allows one to give generously to many good causes, it does not fill the hole in our heart. Money is the lowest level of human living. It is a very useful tool, but when you try to make it a meaning of life, it is hollow. Money and wealth are a deterrent to human growth. Now, that does not mean you cannot be wealthy and awake. It is the desire and notion that it means anything more than a useful tool to live.

The sad part of our human society is that we created this economic system that forces so many people to consume their energy in the seeking of money to survive. This is a denial of human spirituality to so many people. And in many countries, we find very poor people very content with their poverty. What a contradiction. But, I get it. They walk away from wealth.

The world is run by the desire for wealth and power that comes with that. It is why we will struggle with awakening. Not much in our world contends with this desire for wealth. And the wealthy mostly pretend they are happy with this. And shallow people will do that. Nothing like lots of money to distract one from the life they are living. And nothing like lack of money will make someone lose the will to find their purpose. Tlane 3/23/18

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