Blog 58 – Time
How do you relate to time? Are you a punctual person?
Our relationship with time is important. Some of us are more oriented to the clock. When someone prefers to use our Judging process in the outer world, then one often has a different relationship to time. One is more aware of Chronos – a sense of time from ancient Greece related to chronological or sequential time. As human beings we have evolved from the sundial to the grandfather clock to the pocket watch to the digital wristwatch. Perhaps, we just look at our iPhone for the time. People who prefer their Judging Function prefer to be timely and organized. They tend to like planning and being methodical.
People who prefer to use their Perceiving Function are more spontaneous and flexible. They seek to experience and understand life as opposed to wanting to control it. They are adaptive and change course. People who prefer their Perceiving Function are more aware of Kairos – another sense of time from ancient Greece that is related to “a time in between.” While Chronos is quantitative, Kairos is qualitative.
The term Kairos reflects an earlier sense of time before sundials or clocks. Originally, our sense of time as human beings came from the cycles of nature – summer, fall, winter, and spring. The length of a day changes throughout the year depending on the season. The weather often varies from season to season. Time is variable. Farmers plant in spring and reap in the summer. The length of the light during the day waxes and wanes. Our bodies change with the cycles of nature – a woman has a period.
Yet the clock has become an unquestioned assumption for many modern people. We have a mechanical counting which reflects a 24 hour day. Our digital time is different from the rhythms of nature. A day in late December is very different from a day in the middle of June in Kansas City, USA, or Johannesburg, South Africa as well as for most of the world. Before we developed clocks our sense of time was different – more natural.
We had a different consciousness: sometimes referred to as mythical consciousness. These ancient people were keenly aware of nature and its rhythms. They perceived time as more of a circle of death and rebirth. “The ancients are said to have perceived events as iterations of a cosmic eternal return and regeneration within a specific place, whereas we believe that events occur on an irreversible, linear timeline that is independent of place,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Most of us just assume that this ancient perception of time is fairytale, but that linear time is real. We do not even consider the possibility that this ancient view of time has validity. “The idea that time and space exist as independent dimensions is a relatively recent development. For most of mankind’s existence, knowledge of time and space was dependent upon place, for it was closely tied to the observation of the natural cycles of celestial and earthly phenomena surrounding one’s homeland. Knowing when and how to hunt, gather, and eventually to plant food all depended upon a close monitoring of the recurring rhythms of a place. What we know as time and space were merged into place,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Our present day view of historical time assumes that time is simply a mathematical abstraction. This belief came from Isaac Newton who asserted that there was an “absolute” time. He asserted that time was then divorced from space.
Much of our modern thought originates from ancient Greece. One needs to carefully tune in to recognize an opening of Kairos. This is the source of the expression, “Seize the Day!” Kairos is also associated with an ever moving wheel of fortune. “Kairos time lives somewhere between intervals of Kronos time,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
“An Indigenous sense of time, it seems to me, includes both Kronos and Kairos and then maybe something more. It is understood that all is in flux, that everything is always changing and that even natural rhythms must be closely monitored because they are not guaranteed to remain the same. Monitoring these natural rhythms and cycles helps to develop an intuitive awareness, an awareness that recognizes the opportune time to act within a given cycle. This awareness seamlessly takes into account as host of variables, which are not logical or able to be broken down or counted because they are far too numerous – but they are understood nonetheless at an intuitive level,” concludes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Please watch this video on the Whole Brain State by Dr. John Omaha:
One of my favorite things to do with my mother, who was born in 1934 and turned 80 years old last year, is to go to the De Young Museum which is located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, USA. My mom loves to go to exhibits with art from all parts of the world. My mom and I as well as other friends have seen sculptures of sub-Saharan Africa, American artists, art of the Olmec people of ancient Mexico as well as European artists – Mattia Preti, Domenikos Theorokopolos (also known as El Greco), Claude Monet, James Mc Neil Whistler (the painter known for “Whistler’s Mother”), Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh – and modern artists, like Keith Haring and Jackson Pollock.
My mom had a series of strokes that began in 2006. These strokes made it very difficult for her to communicate at first. I later realized how much she was able to learn and understand when I took her to the De Young Museum. I asked her if she wanted to rent the device which would allow her to listen to a description of the art. My mom said, “Yes.”
I pushed my mom in her wheelchair through the exhibit as she listened with her headset. I would roll her to each painting, paying careful attention to what she said she wanted to see. At her request, we stopped at virtually every painting for 3 to 5 minutes. She listened to every recording – the entire recording – about the artists, the paintings, and the history of when the paintings were created. Often, we would enjoy a delightful gourmet lunch on the patio, looking out at Golden Gate Park. These visits were wonderful and have been some of my most joyful moments with my mom as we took the time to absorb great works of artistic masters.
Art has the capacity to transform us. Symbols are very powerful and can affect us deeply. A movie such as “Schindler’s List” or a painting, like the “Mona Lisa” moves many people very powerfully. A picture is worth a thousand words. Just one flash of an image can have a profound effect on our emotions and thoughts.
Silence is also very powerful. We are often afraid of solitude in our American culture. Our iPhone or television can drown out silence all day long, all year long. For a lifetime, we can be cut off from our interior life. We may wake up at 3:00 in the morning with an anxious dream – sweating.
In silence, we can find our compassion and creativity pouring through us. Once we thought we would never find creativity, then it comes through us like a burst of fire. The embers of creativity always lie within us smoldering. This creativity inside us is just waiting us to notice it and express it. Join Sue Renfrew in this video and learn how to meditate and contemplate about a painting, whether you are at an art exhibit in a Museum or anywhere else.
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.” Thomas Merton
Our world is changing ever faster. Facebook, the iPhone, YouTube, the WiFi internet, Twitter, and Instagram give us a connected world with lots of instant information available. These and other changes complicate our lives in many ways. We may be busier than ever. Our children often are doing homework later into the night. The family structure is breaking down, and we see changes in marriage and sexuality. The values that we assumed made us unified are changing because of the great diversity we see in not only America, but throughout the world. As we cope with the impact of these changes and many more, we encounter stress in our bodies.
In the middle of all these changes globally, we still face the challenges of adult development. Frederick Hudson writes: “Most grown-ups know very little about the territory of their (later) adult years.”
This becomes more important as our life expectancy grows. The changes in lifestyle and medicine enables us to live much longer. We often waste our most valuable resource – citizens over fifty year of age. Corporations too often want to eliminate older workers. Our cultural assumption – in the United States – is that aging is bad and as we age we lose much more than we gain. Robert Lifton says, “There is a special quality of life-power available only to those seasoned by struggles of four or more decades. . . . The life-power of this stage can be especially profound.”
Carl Jung viewed the second half of life as a time of immense growth and development. It is a time for personal introspection, reevaluation of our lives, and dynamic spiritual discovery. We may assume that we need to decide on our work and marital partner by our late 20’s. Wow, that is a lot of pressure! Most of us are engaged in several different types of jobs in our working lives. Sometimes this happens by our choice. And there are times when someone chooses for us, saying: “You are fired.”
As our income changes, we need to reassess our lifestyle and adjust our spending. Our assumption that we would simply continue to earn more money endlessly may have been false. The larger world economy also affects us all as we learned in 2008 with the financial crash.
“For centuries, it was the understanding that when people became adults, they stopped growing and became fixed as predictable, responsible persons the rest of their lives,” writes Frederick Hudson. “Growing was over. The adult years were shaped by the personality and experiences of the child.”
Our lives are a heroic adventure. Life after fifty can be rich in many ways. Robert Epperly wrote his very personal and open book, “Growing Up After Fifty: From Exxon Executive to Spiritual Seeker,” about his journey after midlife. Please enjoy this video about his book:
I went to a workshop in the late 1990s with Deborah Bloch. We were learning about career counseling. Deborah had us take out a piece of butcher paper about as high as the length of my arm and as wide as three lengths of my arm. We folded it into three square sections. On the first section to the far left, Deborah asked us to draw with crayons: our life as it is right now. We took about 15 minutes to do this.
Then, on the section to the far right, she had us draw: our life as we want to look in 5 years. In the middle section, Deborah said to write down all the barriers, keeping me from the life I desired. I later added to the middle section all the ways that I could imagine that would enable me to overcome the barriers to the future life that I desired.
I have done this exercise several times since. I used collage a few times. The advantage of collage is that I can find images instead of drawing them. I do not need to paint them or use crayons to express my images. I just look in magazines, old calendars, catalogues, or newspapers. Whether you decide to draw, paint, or use collage, it is very helpful to put your ideas in a concrete form. This process has been very helpful in remembering what my goals are through the confusion and chaos of modern life. As I look back on my drawing and collages, I am surprised by how they have been manifested.
Yet life is much deeper than financial or career success. For we can possess all the gold in the world and still feel miserable. Mathew Fox writes that “True joy is an inside thing. Joy does not come from the outside. True joy is therefore non-addictive. Joy is what happens when we join with the powers of the universe again. To do this we must prepare ourselves, we must be willing to let go and let joy happen. We must let go of dictating what our joy will be (for example, ‘when I get this pay raise,’ or ‘find this boyfriend’ or ‘buy this car’). Desire has a place in our lives, but joy is deeper than desire. It will not be dictated to. It will not be bought and paid for.”
We may be too rational in America. We may miss the joy of embracing the mystery and beauty of life. Art gives us an opportunity to welcome the colorful images and subtle joy of a soulful life. M.C. Richards writes that “by example and practice, I try to teach that creativity is built in – like the sun – it shines in everything we do – look!”
When I write or have a conversation, I am being creative. The way I communicate is unique – unlike anyone else. When I love I am being creative. When I cook, I am being creative. All our relationships are creative. It is an art to start and to build a meaningful bond with another human being. Our lives are creative journeys. The question is do we realize it.
Art gives us practice at being creative. We get to see our drawing, our painting, or our collage that is a result of our creativity. It serves us well to learn how to be creative in soulful ways. In this video, Sue Renfrew, M.A., shows us how to do collage. Get our your paper, scissors, glue, magazines, catalogues, calendars, strings, cloth, feathers, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Please watch this video and join in the joy of creation.
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Everybody’s got a secret, Sonny
Something they just can’t face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them ev’ry step that they take
Till one day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag them down
Where no one asks too many questions
Or looks too long in your face
In the darkness on the edge of town
A song by Bruce Springsteen
I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, what is now called “Silicon Valley” – home to the businesses of Google, Apple Computer, and Facebook. When I was born, I was full of joy. I think babies are whole and feel connected to all of life – everyone and everything. I took the criticism of my parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, and friends and began to criticize myself. I tried to be good. I blamed myself for many things that had nothing to do with me – my dad’s temper or my teacher’s angry outbursts. In turn, I learned to judge others, and I felt better by comparing myself to others. At least, I was a better football player than him. In my family, school, and later work, I came to realize as an adult that our American culture was one based on harsh judgements and conditional love.
Our culture has a strong belief in independence – doing it yourself. This strength of character has its faults. Due to this rugged individualism, we are lonely and isolated in many ways. It is true that we may connect with our iPhones or other computers, yet many of us live in communities where we are strangers to our classmates, neighbors, family, coworkers and – even – ourselves.
Here is a list of what people are wanting socially in their families, neighborhoods, and workplaces (from a North American research study):
- Having neighbors with whom you can interact freely and comfortably.
- Being able to share deepest feelings with someone.
- Having friends who value the same things in life.
- Being in a group where you can discuss your most basic beliefs and values.
- Having friends you can always count on when you are in a jam.
- Having people in your life who are never critical of you.
- Being part of a group that helps you grow spiritually.
- Having cooperation rather than competition with people at work.
- Having people you can turn to when you feel depressed or lonely.
- Know more people in your community.
One doctor found out about this in his research. Dean Ornish, MD, wrote: “At first, I viewed our support groups simply as a way to motivate patients to stay on the other aspects of the [heart-disease prevention] program that I considered more important: the diet, exercise, stress management training, stop smoking, and so on. Over time, I began to realize that the group support itself was one of the most powerful interventions, as it addressed a more fundamental cause of why we feel stressed and, in turn, why we get illnesses like heart disease: the perception of isolation.”
There are reasons why we separate ourselves from others. The answer lies in this research. People attending a community building workshop were asked to rate significant barriers to connecting with others:
- Hard to find people you can trust (before workshop-65%, after-32%)
- Fear of being judged (61%, 13%)
- Fear of being rejected (55%, 10%)
- Feeling misunderstood (52%, 16%)
- Unable to lower my defenses – social mask (48%, 0%)
- Too shy (42%, 21%)
- Fear of appearing weak (35%, 7%)
- No opportunity to meet people interested in connecting (30%, 16%)
How do we find community? One answer can be found in the research of Daniel Siegel. When we are mindful, we are more able to change in order to face the challenges of every day. Being mindful is just being aware of what is going on around us as well as being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. When we are mindful, we are not overwhelmed with worry about the future – the test tomorrow or the baseball game next week. We live in the present and our mind and heart is liberated from much worry and emotional suffering.
When we are mindful, we are paying attention to the unfolding of possibilities in every moment. Attunement is how we focus our attention on others and perceive their communication at all levels – the sad words they chose, their eyes shamefully looking downward, or the fearful look on their face. I need to take these and other signals from the other person inside my mind and be aware of them to be attuned to this other person to whom I am listening. I can think someone is angry at me, because they look mad. If I ask my friend, “Are you upset with me?”
My friend may say: “Am I mad at you? No way. It is Bob who I am so angry with!”
Now, I am getting more attuned to my friend. I understand what is going on inside her. I need to carefully set aside my assumptions about what someone is thinking or feeling to see and hear clearly what they are really feeling and thinking.
When I am present, I am open to others and the wisest parts of myself. When I attune to others, I work to become aware of what the other person is thinking or feeling. At a wedding, they often say referring to the couple: “Two shall become one.” Resonance is when I connect with another person in a special way.
Resonance is when we both attune to each other and we are changed by the thoughts and feelings of each other. Daniel Siegel writes: “When such resonance is enacted with positive regard, a deep feeling of coherence emerges with the subjective sensation of harmony. . . Two literally become linked as one. The whole is larger than the sum of the individual parts.”
The word used for this is synergy. This is a relationship between people or things who rise to a new level, because of the quality of the relationship. Groups can be high in synergy or low in synergy. David Goff writes: “Synergy, therefore, is a way of describing the qualities in a relationship (that produce the likelihood of a greater or lesser whole). A good example of this difference is one that most people have experienced. Some groups generate positive energy, the way members interact makes the group smarter than any member would be alone would be. Conversely, the way members interact can create a negative synergy, which makes the IQ of the group lower than any given member.”
In 1978, I went to work at the Rustler Steak House in San Jose, California, USA. I was fifteen years old and worked with a group of employees who were around my age. We spent a lot of time together away from work doing the things that teenagers often like to do: playing football and baseball, going to the beach, going to movies, and going to parties. I loved spending time with my friends from work. Our connection with each other changed the way we worked together. The quality of our relationships improved as a result. The performance scores of our restaurant dramatically improved when we were evaluated by the area manager.
Food is something I love. We can find synergy in delicious food. Recipes, which often combine the same ingredients in different proportions, or add or delete certain ingredients for different effects. When I cook spaghetti sauce, I use many individual ingredients: tomato sauce, basil, sausage, oregano, mushrooms, onions, thyme, and peppers. If I were to eat a raw onion by itself it would be an unpleasant experience. If I took a handful of basil and ate it, I would not enjoy it. Yet the combination of ingredients in the spaghetti sauce with pasta and cheese are magnificent. This is synergy!
In this video, Tim Locke describes the “We Psychology” of Fritz Kunkel and the barriers that keep us from connecting with our own creative center as well as others – our parents, classmates, siblings, friends, children, spouses, and significant others.
I live in a culture of rugged individualism. I generally feel that I dare not be honest about myself, even with a person sitting next to me at church, a line at the store, or someone who works down the corridor. I have learned to be vulnerable and express my needs and emotions with those close to me – my beloved, my friends and some of my family. Yet it is different when I am walking around the community of Silicon Valley where I live, in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA. When I am out in my community at AT&T Park at a San Francisco Giants baseball game, the mall, or at the beach, I am polite and careful, generally not talking about my private feelings or conflicts. When I was 26, I came to learn a very different meaning of the word community.
Community can arise when there is a crisis. An earthquake or a Tsunami can leave an area devastated with badly damaged buildings and flooding in the streets. Many people may be injured or dead. As a result, people pull together, whether rich or poor, from different cultures, and from different religions. They work together in a spirit of cooperation and sacrificial love. Once the crisis ends, people often return to their ordinary lives and prejudices.
There is a different type of community than one the emerges in crisis and it is called intentional community. I first met my friend David Goff at a workshop for Community Building in Marin County, California, in 1989. On this weekend, I learned how to develop an intentional community. The two leaders gave the group of about 50 people, who were mostly strangers to each other, simple instructions: listen deeply, speak when you feel moved to speak, use “I-messages,” practice inclusivity, observe how you maintain separation, and share responsibility for the outcome of the workshop. The leaders used silence, stories, reminders about the guidelines, and brief feedback to the group as a whole – not directed to any one person.
After two days sitting with the group in a circle, I experienced a profound sense of community on a foggy Sunday morning in the Marin Headlands. I felt peaceful and my mind was quiet. Feelings of compassion and kindness filled my body. I lost track of time and self: a sense of the sacred. I had a shift of my awareness and felt a connection to the group as if we were at one with the whole group. I had never aware that I felt this way toward my family or friends.
This weekend changed my life and motivated me to learn about intentional community. With David Goff and others, I spent from 1991 to 1998 learning about how people function in groups and how intentional community arises.
David Goff had a stroke in 2003 due to a rare disease. David is bound to a wheelchair, wears a patch on his right eye, and types using only his right hand. In 2013, he published a book called, “Embracing Life: Toward a Psychology of Interdependence.” David impresses me with his resilience and strength. He writes that we need to see ourselves as we are truly. You are a part of the whole universe which is larger and more diverse than it is possible to imagine. Like the universe as a whole, including all the planets, stars, galaxies, black holes, and supernovas, you have creativity, strength, and resilience that sustains you.
Yet at times, I may fail to remember, recognize, and experience my potential. I may be going on a date and feel afraid of the unknown. I may be about to take a test and get angry at the challenges. Yet, I am always connected to the universe as a whole: a vital source that is positively vibrating with energy, potential, and creativity.
Fritz Kunkel was a German doctor who was injured badly in World War One, during a battle. Dr. Kunkel also had an experience of connection, where he felt connected to everything and everyone – a sense of “we-ness.” In this video, Dr. Tim Locke, Executive Director of Four Springs Retreat Center, describes the psychology of Fritz Kunkel, called “We Psychology.”
Lee Atwater wrote shortly before his death from cancer: “The 1980’s were about acquiring – acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I pay for a little more time with my family! What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends! It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead (in the future), but they must speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”
When someone says, “He has a big ego,” they mean he is inflated. Inflation means to fill up like a balloon or tire – to be puffed up! To be inflated is to see yourself as unrealistically large and unrealistically important. One is beyond the limits of one’s proper size, so one is proud, vain, pompous, and presumptuous. Deflation means letting the air out of something. It can be a great blessing to hit bottom which has been called, “the dark night of the soul.”
From 1995 to 2001, I worked for CPP, Inc. as a corporate trainer and consultant. CPP, Inc. is the exclusive publisher of the MBTI(r) which is also known as the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator(r). The MBTI(r) is the largest selling personality test in the world.
I had just graduated with my Master’s Degree from Santa Clara University a few months before arriving for my first day on the job at CPP, Inc. I thought I knew a lot about the MBTI(r). Over the next six years I learned a great deal about the MBTI from psychologists, researchers, and authors who have devoted a great deal of their profession work to study personality type . It was a humbling experience for me in a good way. I had an exaggerated perception myself and life corrected me. It was a painful lesson – but a valuable one.
Emma Jung said to Elizabeth Howes, “There are egos, and egos, and egos, the problem is to find the real one.”
There is a false ego which is not based on the reality of who I am. Yet, there is a real ego. When our real, authentic ego is in its most creative role, it is spiritual in nature. This healthy ego is an accurate view of who I am. I perceive myself and the world in the right size. I can develop a real ego by making healthy choices which are sometimes difficult and painful.
The ego is who I am speaking about when I say “I.” The ego is what I know about myself, including my attitudes as well as my reactions. It is the part of myself that is aware of reality and makes choices. The ego is an extension of my creative center, what Carl Jung called, the Self. This is true for all of us, I believe.
Some egos are like a canoe on a raging sea. When someone has a weak ego, they feel overwhelmed by the challenges of their life: homework, dating, money, family, work, or children.
There are egos like a Cruise ship on a duck pond. Someone with this type of ego says and does things to look powerful or important, often in an aggressive or ruthless way. Like a large ship, they are too big and slow to maneuver efficiently and effectively with other people and situations.
Once in a while, we find an ego like a tugboat. This type of ego is small, yet nimble and very powerful. The tug boat is powerful enough to tow a Cruise ship. Robert Johnson writes that humility is to know yourself as you are – no more, no less.
The modern world has lead us into a state of consciousness that feels hopeless and barren, because we have lost our instinct. We build planes that fly into space, map genes, cure certain types of cancer, design and build amazing super computers, and reduce the spread of disease – like AIDS. Yet our success goes to our heads, and our contempt grows for what is natural and accidental. We consider the irrational to be an inconvenience and the irrelevant to be a mistake. I get frustrated when my iPhone takes too many seconds to respond to my command. We must all cope with the reality of the world which is both logical and emotional as well as rational and irrational.
As human beings, we can be in a state of self-deception where we are cut off from our psychic resources. This alienation of our ego is a state of not being aware of ourselves and others – egocentricity. When we are consciously aware of reality, our decisions reflect the people around us – those whom our choices affect. If we are objective, then we serve the world with our choices and not merely what we perceive as our narrow self-interest. The more egocentric we are, the greater we lie to ourselves. Fritz Kunkel writes: “Egocentricity without self-deception is not possible.”
Gerhard Adler said, “The ego has to be born and the ego has to be reborn.” The real ego is reborn continually when we act with wisdom. Sometimes, we act under very difficult circumstances with people criticizing us, and it can feel painful – sometimes extremely painful. These are the choices that shape who we are. These are the choices that, in time, cultivate joy within us. Please watch this video, where Dr. Tim Locke discusses, “We Psychology” and the reality of inflation and deflation.