Your Story Is Your Life

Become Conscious Of Your Life As Story

 What story or script is your life illustrating?  Most of your life is lived unconsciously.  Would becoming counscious of your story give you access to new choices?



Right Speech vs Gossip

Right Speech & Gossip

I’VE FOUND THAT the best antidote to gossip is deliberately and consistently meditating on the kindness of others and cultivating lovingkindness toward them. Sit down sometime and reflect on everything others have done for you since you were born. Start with your parents or another kind adult who fed you as an infant. Think about all the people who contributed to your education, all those who encouraged you to exercise your talents, and all those who supported you through ups and downs. It’s truly amazing how much others have done for us. When our minds become convinced that we’ve been the recipients of a tremendous amount of kindness in our lives, the wish to speak ill of others vanishes. Instead, we become happy to talk about others’ good qualities, virtuous activities, accomplishments, and good fortune. Then not only is our own mind happy, but everyone who speaks with us becomes happy as well. The goodness in our hearts overcomes any wish to gossip.

Imagine having conversations in which we talked about people’s good qualities and accomplishments behind their back. Think about it: wouldn’t it be fulfilling in a completely positive way? Speaking about how others helped us, praising their talents, rejoicing in their dharma practice, admiring and aspiring to cultivate their good qualities—speaking about all of these uplifts our mind, creates the positive karma of right speech, and helps spread happiness in the world.

If speech has five marks, O monastics, it is well spoken, not badly spoken, blameless, and above reproach by the wise. What are these five marks? It is speech that is timely, true, gentle, purposeful, and spoken with a mind of lovingkindness.—the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya)


Seven Tips for Giving Up Gossip

1. Recognize that gossip doesn’t undo the situation you’re talking about. It only puts in motion another situation based on negative feelings.

2. Know that comparing yourself to others is useless. Everyone has his or her own talents. In this way, give up jealousy and the wish to put others down.

3. Be aware of and transform your own thoughts, words, and deeds rather than commenting on those of others.

4. Train your mind to see others’ positive qualities and discuss them. This will make you much happier than gossiping ever could.

5. Forgive, knowing that people do harmful things because they are unhappy. If you don’t make someone into an enemy, you won’t want to gossip about him.

6. Have a sense of humor about what you think, say, and do, and be able to laugh at all of the silly things we sentient beings carry out in our attempt to be happy. If you see the humor in our human predicament, you’ll be more patient.

7. Practice saying something kind to someone every day. Do this especially with people you don’t like. It gets easier with practice and bears surprisingly good results.


Understanding Trump And His Supporters

Understanding Trump

By George Lakoff

July 2016

The following is an abridgment of a much longer article.

Read the full article:

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

The Moral Hierarchy

The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above non-Christians, Straights above Gays. ...[C]onservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible. Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them … The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter...If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.”

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage

Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use your brain against you … by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

1. Repetition – The more a word is heard the stronger it gets. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way.

3. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Lakoff lists many other examples of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

Millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on TV and heard them on the radio. The result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people. And it is not just the media, such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ones we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens.... Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities... Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figure has. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people and good government. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Public resources create freedom, and Freedom creates opportunity and that creates more freedom.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches...Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s, black and Latino issues.... And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.


A Really Bright Guy, I Am

How To Know What Needs To Be Changed

As I said in an earlier post, this is a very difficult question for most of us, and often it seems very obvious to others. In truth, it usually is the case that others are as mistaken as we are ourselves. I know that sounds rather confusing and paradoxical, but bear with me and see if I can explain what I mean.

I am an alcoholic, I became one in Alcoholics Anonymous. Prior to participating in the AA way of life, most people would have described me as a problem drinker. It took quite a bit of work and a number of years for me to get past the problem drinker stage and become a full fledged alcoholic.

I was 46 years old when I got a DWI (or DUI) and wound up in jail, lost my drivers license, and the best job I had ever had. Along with those inconveniences I also ended up paying lawyer fees and fines associated with the DWI. All told with the loss of the job, fines and fees it probably cost me about ten grand ($10K).

It seemed pretty clear to my employer, my ex-wife and the legal system that what I needed to do was change my behavior by ceasing to drink (and drug). That was the problem and the solution was obvious to everyone, except me.

I had lots of problems: job problems, legal problems, transportation problems, kid problems, time problems, etc. and now I had to go to these stupid alcoholism education classes too. They were stupid because I had already decided to stop drinking when I bought a beer after getting out of jail and made the connection that there was some relationship between drinking and my getting into a lot of trouble.

I'm a pretty bright guy, 130 IQ and I got it. My drinking was something that had to stop. I didn't have a problem with that. I never said I was going to never drink again, but I sure wasn't going to get drunk anymore. Besides weed and a few uppers were enough for me and I wouldn't miss the Monday morning hangovers.

So if you recall my previous post (dated ), you can see that I had a pretty good handle on the “When to change?” and “What to change?” questions – Now and Drinking were the answers there. The how and why were however not really foremost in my mind yet. They would however be something I could handle. Remember, I was, after all, a pretty bright, high IQ, self-aware kind of  guy.

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