‘The Horizon’, Part 3, Chapter 19: about Lack as a healing impulse, what biosophy can learn from creative writers, and an overview of the Path of Arrows
“Life is just too short to live without that kind of focus.”Barbara Sher
If you want to create ‘a better world’ for yourself, you can find advice in self-help books. One of the experts on the topic of ‘getting what you want and creating a good life’ is Barbara Sher, an American career counsellor and author of many books.
In her bestselling book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was Barbara Sher tells us about 2 Harvard psychologists who completed a study of people who called themselves happy.
“What did happy people have in common?” she asks. “Money? Success? Health? Love? None of these things.
They had only two things in common: They knew exactly what they wanted and they felt they were moving toward getting it.
That’s what makes life feel good: when it has direction, when you are headed straight for what you love.
And I mean love.”
The study Barbara Sher is referring to was conducted in the early 1980s, but the results are timeless. “When you get near people who are pursuing their heart’s desire, you can see the intensity on their faces.” she observes, before adding: “Life is just too short to live without that kind of focus.”
Some people seem to be born with that kind of focus. Many don’t have it. How do you get it? It must have something to do with how we perceive ourselves and experience the world we live in.
Sometimes we think of experience as an external event. Even the word experience is used interchangeably with occurrences that happen in the outer world. Internal and external experience goes hand in hand.
Understandably, we are tempted to assume our inner perceptions and sensations are caused by the outer circumstances. Consequently we spend a lot of time and effort trying to create desirable external situations and hope they may give us the internal experiences we want.
An alternative theory suggests that the life we experience ‘on the outside’ as it were is caused by what’s going on inside our own Consciousness. So we try to focus on happy thoughts and feelings and expect this will create a happy life.
External and internal experiences, however, don’t cause one another, as we learned from Margaret Newman in the previous chapter. They coincide. They happen simultaneously.
The ‘cause’ for our experience might be found in a pattern that determines the deeper strata of our Consciousness. This personal and unique pattern triggers our emotional reactions, our wildest dreams and worst nightmares, constructive and destructive beliefs, nice and nasty feelings, good and evil thoughts.
“‘DO WHAT YOU WISH.’ That must mean I can do anything I feel like. Don’t you think so?”Michael Ende
We have been taught to view the human act of creation as a voluntary act of our so called free Will. In the second part of this book we learned that creating the life we want is rather like a growth process. Our mental voluntary activities play an important yet a relatively small part here. The lion share of the growth activity is an autonomous process.
This explains why we often end up not getting the experience we wanted when we try to manipulate our external circumstances. And trying to manipulate aspects of our internal experience — such as thoughts, feelings, self-image, and beliefs — may be even worse.
In the Solo System we assume human experience arises from an intricate web of currents of Consciousness. Experience is created by our own Consciousness, and it has many facets. The external event — corresponding and coinciding with an internal experience — is one of those facets.
Any type of manipulation interferes with healthy growth. Moreover, very often we don’t really know what we want. So how are we supposed to get it?
The German writer Michael Ende addresses this question in his book The Neverending Story. Bastian, the hero of the story, carries an amulet with an inscription on the reverse side. It says ‘DO WHAT YOU WISH.’
“That must mean I can do anything I feel like. Don’t you think so?” Bastian asks the lion Grograman. But the lion disagrees.
“No,” he says in his deep, rumbling voice. “It means that you must do what you really and truly want. And nothing is more difficult.”
“What I really and truly want? What do you mean by that?”
“It’s your own deepest secret and you yourself don’t know it.”
“How can I find out?”
“By going the way of your wishes, from one to another, from first to last. It will take you to what you really and truly want.”
“That doesn’t sound so hard,” says Bastian.
“It is the most dangerous of all journeys.”, the lion replies.
Authors of phantasy stories are experts in creating new worlds. They create life like experiences for their readers. If we want to become experts at creating our own experience, we can learn a lot from Michael Ende and his colleagues.
Anything we want in life is ultimately a yearning for a particular experience. We want to have money because we yearn for the experience of freedom, security, and independence we associate with monetary wealth. (Or at least we want to get beyond the experience of limitation, insecurity, and deprivation associated with poverty.)
You may want a secure job, or have your own business, or become a successful artist — all these wishes have similar roots. Behind every wish there is a hidden agenda, a personal motivation.
When Michael Ende was asked in an interview why he became a writer, his reply was, “I didn’t want to become a painter. My father was a painter. I was tired of never having enough money.”
He must have seen the funny side of his reasoning, considering the odds of making a living as an author of phantasy stories. Could he be certain he was going to make money as a writer? Probably not.
Perhaps there was a seed of an experience waiting to sprout and grow. It lay dormant within his Consciousness long before he became ‘the nation’s story teller’ of post war Germany.
“People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”Ursula Le Guin
In view of his quote from the Never ending Story Michael Ende must have known that he was taking a risky route, the ‘most dangerous of all journeys’.
We find a similar notion in the work of one of America’s greatest story tellers. “Can you walk the road your dream goes?” Ursula Le Guin asks in her novel The Word for World is Forest, which was later used as an idea for the film Avatar. And the answer follows: “Sometimes. Sometimes I am afraid to. Who is not.”
If you want to experience something different from what you are experiencing — and if you accept that all your experience is produced somehow by your own Consciousness, largely in mysterious ways beyond your voluntary control — then it makes sense to examine the substance your Consciousness is currently producing.
Your current personal experience is your creative medium; and you are the artist. Does this mean you can simply do whatever you want?
Ursula Le Guin is a master of her art. In an essay with the title The Question I Get Asked Most Often she writes, “Art is craft. All art is always and essentially a work of craft: but in the true work of art, before the craft and after it, is some essential, durable core of being, which is what the craft works on, and shows, and sets free.”
As novice creators we want to learn the art of ‘crafting’ our experience. We want to discover the essential, durable core of being hidden within the rough, uncouth, and uncomfortable experience of everyday life.
“First you have to be able to wait.” Ursula Le Guin says. “To wait in silence, and listen… Readiness — not grabbiness, not greed — readiness: willingness to hear, to listen, listen carefully, to see clearly, see accurately.”
She goes on to explain that writers get their ideas from experience, and from imagination. Exactly the same applies to every human creator. We all get our ideas from our personal experience and from images produced by our Imagination, or captured by observing others. From those ideas we make up the stories of our lives.
When we read a good phantasy story it may look as if a whole new world is created by the writer out of thin air. “But there is no such thing as pure invention.” Ursula Le Guin tells us.
“It all starts with experience. Invention is recombination. We can work only with what we have. There are monsters and leviathans and chimeras in the human mind; they are psychic facts. Dragons are one of the truths about us. People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by the dragons. From within.”
“Human yearnings are arrows of light.”Cheyenne wisdom
In the Solo System we work with inner monsters, leviathans, chimeras, and dragons all the time. They all belong to the kingdom of beings also known as ‘negative experience’.
There are basically two categories of negative experiences in human life:
A — phenomena which are not desirable, pessimistic, destructive, or defective, i.e. any negative event, which we called ‘adversity’ in the previous chapter, and
B — phenomena which stand out by their absence; these are desirable, optimistic, constructive or (expected to be) perfect events, but they are missing from our current experience.
In this chapter we take a closer look at negative experience from category B.
The Path of Arrows is ruled by the Faculty of the Will, and it stimulates Self-Determination. Our so-called ‘free Will’ is a vital organ of human Consciousness, but it causes much confusion. Often it is difficult to get what you want or even to determine what you really want.
Self-determination is our ability to be decisive, to make decisions, to have authority over the direction of a certain course of events.
The word determination also means to identify, ascertain, assess, establish or fix certain facts, to understand what’s going on based on certain signs.
Determination is very important for any journey. It contains the end goal (terminus), the terms and conditions of the track, the limits, and influences under which we travel.
In the Solo System the term Self-Determination includes examining a set of ‘Arrows’ provided by the 8 Faculties of our Consciousness.
Each of our 8 Faculties has ‘a mind of its own’ so to speak. Our Will doesn’t have authority over the other Faculties. It cannot force our Instinct to produce certain emotions, or the Intellect to think specific thoughts, or the Inspiration to come up with particular ingenious ideas. Even the control of the Will over the Body is limited.
Self-Determination is a collaborative activity in which all 8 Faculties participate, and for this purpose each Faculty carries its own Arrow. We can’t change the Arrows, but we can make sure they don’t fly off in opposite directions.
A Cheyenne saying reminds us of the powers of such ‘inner Arrows’: “Human yearnings are arrows of light. They can explore dreams, visit the land of the soul, heal illness, dispel fear, create suns.”
The Path of Arrows is suitable for working with the experience of lack. Here we are interested in events which are experienced as negative due to their absence. No matter how hard we try to fulfil this lack, it remains evasive.
In the Solo System not only yearnings, but also emotions, beliefs, images, intentions, thoughts, and motivations can become ‘Arrows’. This Path helps us align our personal Arrows in relation to a particular perceived lack.
Like all Paths of Responsibility the Path of Arrows has 8 Healing Impulses. This Path can be divided into 3 phases:
Phase 1 consists of the first 3 Healing Impulses. They help determine a so-called ‘complete wish’ in relation to perceived lack.
Phase 2 consists of the second 3 Healing Impulses. These help determine an inner conflict in relation to the perceived lack.
Phase 3 consists of the final 2 Healing Impulses. They help dissolve inner conflict and determine how to nurture the immature wish.
Overview of the Path of Arrows
The Path of Arrows is suitable for any kind of LACK
1st Arrow — Will — Wish
Any perceived lack can be translated into a fervent wish.
What is my fervent wish?
2nd Arrow — Soul — Yearning
Behind every wish there is a deeper longing for something rightfully yours. This is the yearning.
What do I yearn for? What is my deeper yearning behind the wish?
If you are not sure about your yearning, there is a question, which usually points straight to this deeper yearning:
What do I expect to get or experience when my wish is fulfilled?
3rd Arrow — Inspiration — Motivation
Behind the yearning and the wish there is always a motivation. This is usually a lot more mundane and ordinary than the deep longing. It may even seem superficial. Whatever it is, it needs to stated clearly.
What is my motivation?
4th Arrow — Intuition — Superstition
Superstition is here defined as a belief that makes me stand in amazement and/or dread in front of something greater I don’t yet understand. A belief in being stuck between ‘shoulds’ and ‘cannots’.
What is my superstition?
What is my belief I should…, and what is my belief I cannot…?
5th Arrow — Imagination — Double Vision
Double Vision here refers to our internal vision. This Healing Impulse has 2 aspects:
1st aspect – wildest dream: seeing myself at a desired destination.
2nd aspect – worst nightmare: seeing myself stuck in my current situation forever.
Describe your wildest dream and worst nightmare.
6th Arrow — Instinct — Suspense
Suspense is defined here as the emotional tension while waiting for a wish to fulfil itself. The tension between the excitement of fulfilment of the wildest dream, and the despair about being stuck forever in the worst nightmare.
How do I feel in my suspense?
a) What does my excitement of the fulfilment of my wildest dream feel like?
b) What does my despair about being forever stuck in my worst nightmare feel like?
7th Arrow — Intellect — Solution
The term Solution is used here in a double sense. In the Solo System we understand that every problem carries the seed of its own solution within itself. Therefore a problem can be solved by dissolving it into its components.
Dissolve the problem into its components. What are the elements of the problem?
1st element: Wish — I want …
2nd element: Yearning — I yearn for…
3rd element: Motivation — I am motivated by …
These first 3 Arrows form a triangle: The wish is like the tip of an iceberg, the yearning is the substance of the iceberg, and the motivation becomes the base of the iceberg — This is the complete wish.
4th element: Superstition — I should …, but I can’t because …
5th element: Double Vision — Here identify the essential quality of the experience of fulfilment of the wildest dream
Then look at the key function you fulfil in your worst nightmare scenario. What do you do in this scenario?
6th element: Suspense — between a) excitement … and b) despair …
The second set of Arrows 4, 5, and 6 also form a triangle:
The 4th Arrow — Superstition — forms a line with arrowheads at both sides pulling in 2 opposite directions. One arrowhead is called ‘should’ the other is called ‘cannot’.
The 5th Arrow — Double Vision — is represented by the 2 sides of the triangle, wildest dream and worst nightmare.
The 6th Arrow — Suspense — is represented by the contradictor contents of the triangle, pouring out at the ‘point of suspense’ (the point at the bottom of this triangle)
This ‘upside down triangle’ becomes the incubator for the immature wish.
8th Arrow — Body — Incubation
Arrows 1, 2 + 3 represent the complete wish but it is immature. Any unfulfilled wish is immature because it hasn’t come to fruition. Now we want to build an incubator for this wish to mature. We want to nurture this wish. We don’t want to manipulate it, and we don’t want to spoil it either by ‘giving it whatever it wants’. In other words, we don’t want to compensate for the lack.
Here we need to work with the 3 elements of the bottom triangle because this is where the conflict lies.
1st element: Suspense needs to be transformed into emotional balance.
A very effective way of improving our emotional balance is by keeping an ‘emotional journal’, meaning you write down exactly how you feel whenever you detect a wave of negative emotions coming up. You can do this with positive emotions too, of course, but it’s usually the negative waves that throw us off balance.
2nd element: Double vision needs to be transformed into one clear focus.
Your key function in the worst nightmare scenario shows you an aspect of how you act naturally. This reflects the way you ‘operate’ in the world.
Now ask yourself: How can apply this operating mode to my dream?
The essential experience of my fulfilled dream is …………… (fill in the quality of the essential experience)
This becomes your focus. This essential quality of the desired experience tells you what you need to cultivate so that your wish can mature, and the ‘key function’ from your nightmare tells you how to go about it.
The immature wish can be cultivated by applying your natural ‘operating mode’ to the experience you desire.
3rd element: Superstition is transformed into certainty.
I should ……, but I can’t because …… can now be transformed into:
I want to ……, and I can do this because ……
This completes the Path of Arrows.
© Veronika Bond, 2017
This article is a draft of chapter 19 of The Horizon, volume 2 of The Solo System.
It is complemented by an e-letter, containing additional background information about the progress of the book and the creative process.
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