"The Choice of Methods"

Joann S. Bakula

Themes for the October/ Libra meditation October 18, 2013, center around Libra as the balance, the scales. The root word of Libra is liber meaning both book and free; hence libraries and liberty, knowledge and freedom. Some themes include: 1. balance, equanimity, equality, equipoise; 2. scales of justice, equitable laws, social justice; 3.the middle path and moderation, the middle point, half way through the spiritual year or the point in evolution, the in-between times, the turning point; 4. choices, the two sides of polarities, or a new relationship between them. These are just a few themes that may be applied to the times and to the individual seeking truth and freedom, love and wisdom. Bailey suggests the three primary themes for this meditation are law, money and sex indicating the mediating, bridging and unifying function between two opposites. The dominant rays are 5, 7 and 3. The seed thought commonly used is "I choose the way that leads between the two great lines of force."

A Turning Point in History
Psychologist Jean Houston calls this "jump time" to illustrate those special times in the history of evolution when a stride forward, a distinct step, is made. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell calls this the turning point and his organization Noetics/IONS is dedicated to this end, as are we, Barbara Marx Hubbard of Unity, and so many other groups. Alice Bailey is most often credited with making the term 'new age' popular. Nietzsche, a favorite among the Existentialist writers and secular seekers, an atheist, describes this in-between and transition time in the famous words: "Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman — a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping." (And indeed the American Congress is evidence of this.) "What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end….I love him who lives to know, and who want to know so that the overman may live some day." People of all traditions: religious, philosophical, secular and atheistic seem to come together in this view that we are in a period of world change.

The enlightened 'overman' has overcome himself and becomes a new human, a new man, and creates a new time, a new age with a more advanced civilization. Many, not all, work toward a world that is integrated with both the earth, the web of life, and worlds of higher knowledge and existence. To these efforts, advanced by the full range of traditions, monthly meditation as world service is dedicated. We, with so many other world service initiatives, seek to find the many techniques necessary to accomplish the great transition work. Ours is to meditate and mediate between higher states of consciousness like atma-buddhi-manas or bodhichitta, or true intuition as direct knowing between these states and the planning mind, the analytical mind, the organizing mind that works out the details and policies. Without opening out and up to this field of intuition that envisions something of the plan of enlightened social evolution and the future way of sustainable organization, the concrete plans and programs of leaders often cause more harm than good, and serve only to entrench the old ways of blind ambition and narrow self interest of a few. This is our opportunity to join in a great planetary meditation open to all people of goodwill and reach to the overman and actualize the higher potential within the human family and in each of us, and to move forward to a better, more just, workable and sustainably organized world.

Universal or Secular Ethics Conference
The theme of universal secular ethics is one key to this future and was the theme of another on-going conference at Emory University with the Dalai Lama and neuroscientists. Neuroscience and primate behavior specialist Franz de Waal (also an atheist) of Emory University, and Richy Davidson, specialist in affective neuroscience and brain imaging at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, joined with the Dalai Lama October 8-10, 2013, in an on-going discussion of ethics, consciousness and social evolution. It began with a talk on the "The Pillars of Responsible Citizenship in the 21st c. Global Village", proceeded to "Secular Ethics in Education" and concluded with "Traditional Buddhist Teachings on the root text of Mahamudra…"

The Dalai Lama suggested that we first look at the causes of unethical behavior and then spoke on karma as action, saying that the after-effects of action are determined by intention and its effects on another. 'All sentient beings love themselves', he said, 'but some selfishness is wise rather than foolish selfishness. We all need friendship; we are social beings; friendship is based on trust. If it is based on money, when money runs out so does friendship. The true basis of friendship is brotherhood/sisterhood.' The Dalai Lama went on to say that the principle of compassion is the foundation of ethics, and that awareness and dialogue should be the chosen method rather than choosing force. He clarified this by emphasizing that the dialogue should not be merely superficial dialogue, but should be meaningful, if it's to be effective.

The problem is that the inner world is not studied systematically by science, the Dalai Lama pointed out. Mind, consciousness, and feeling are formless and only experienced is internal states, making scientific study more difficult. The Dalai Lama suggested that the scientific world must include consciousness. 'After all, scientists also have self-regard and inner life and emotions. When scientists work when angry,' he quipped, 'probably they are not too successful! Human problems are created by mind, by desire, hatred, anger, and wrong motivation. Real gun control takes place in the heart, rather than legislation,' he said to applause. 'Intelligence can make a shield for negative emotions. We need more knowledge of the interior world, motivation and happiness. Motivation for money or name is inferior to the motivation to make a better world, which leads to greater happiness for the individual and for humanity as a whole.'

Other speakers were primate researcher Franz de Waal who pointed out that fights and reconciliation can be studied in primates. Primates can be seen to turn off hostility and resume normal social behavior, but that forgiveness cannot be studied because it is an interior state. He said that morality was not religious in origin; religion can help, but morality does not begin with humans, but is far older than our species. He found that both empathy and fairness were important to primates and showed an example in a video. Richy Davidson, affective neuroscientist and brain imaging specialist from the human experimentation department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studied infants 6 months old. Preference tests showed that even at this early age, infants prefer generosity to hindering behaviors, that giving results in happiness, and that compassion produces peripheral biological changes that promote health.

Wrong Methods
The Dalai Lama then resumed his talk on ethics, saying that our inability to resolve our problems resulted from a lack of conviction of the moral basis of happiness in life, and that the goal should be to reduce the gap between irreconcilable sides. The Dalai Lama then made the statement that force is wrong method and that right choice of method is imperative to happiness. Gain by force or manipulation is wrongful gain. Those who use force on others without their consent, suffer inside, they loose inside, no matter the gain externally, and that the inside is more important than external gain. Sacrifice must be voluntary, not by imposition. When sacrifice is imposed from outside it leads to totalitarianism and censorship; it also leads to hypocrisy, he said.

Wrong methods are often reinforced by education at home and school, he pointed out, by the educational system itself. We need moral teaching in school and some common sense on all levels from kindergarten to university. We need more studies in social science to work out the way to do this. We also need education for leadership. Today we often teach that aggressive and selfish behaviors will make us succeed. Social science and ethics needs more research, experimentation and emphasis. Long-term gain rather than short-term gain should be taught in leadership for the good of society. Our models of behavior, such as Richard Nixon, demonstrated a selfishness that was not wise and it was good that he resigned, adding that America is still the leading country in the free world.

First do no harm, then try to help if you can, the Dalai Lama advised the students of Emory. The hygiene of emotions is very important, he said. There is a basic hygiene for all states of the mind/body complex, and they differ with individuals, but in the hierarchy of states, the mind is a powerful factor in reducing the effects of negative emotions and physical experience. The sensory experience can be modified by mind and a deep satisfaction can be had through mental work, self-sacrifice and faith.

As we join together in this on-going effort to build a better world through achieving higher states of consciousness in meditation before we begin to forge any concrete plans and policies, we find the deepest center of the heart within ourselves as the source of love and the deepest center of our own minds as the source of higher knowledge and intelligence resulting in behaviors that are empathic, compassionate and therefore ethical, leading to greater happiness within us and for humanity and the world.

Wishing you and yours the unobstructed love, light and direct perception through intuition that is our fullest human potential,

Joann S. Bakula

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