Intents of the Heart, Not Resolutions of the Head
By Martin LeFevre
Jan 1, 2018, 4:41pm
Einstein famously said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." A corollary of this truth is that we cannot look to the same people who largely created the mess to lead us out of it. That includes the intellectual elites of the old order.
We need radically new thinking, and radically clear leaders. We're not going to find either within the existing structure, which is collapsing around us and cannot be saved.
Without implying apocalypse (however imminent it may appear to be), I feel the overall question this year is: Will a few be left standing in the rubble of the old order, or will many be moving in a new direction as the old order continues to collapse?
We (and by 'we' I mean whoever still gives a damn) won't be able to rebuild from the ashes of the old order in 2018 if we don't begin to pour the foundation now, and keep pouring it every day.
Life begins anew each day. Only man carries over the past, and thereby lives today in its shadow. Is there an approach that allows the human being to have a perpetual beginning, rather than the accumulating continuation of the past that we know all too well?
One key is the difference between intent and intention. The words are used synonymously, but the distinction between intent and intention is the difference between planting seeds in the heart (without the weeds of desire), versus keeping the machinery of goals and resolutions going, which require effort and will.
I don't think much of the psychological industry, feeling that the healers are often more confused than the people they're attempting to heal. But here's a compelling quote by a psychologist with regard to New Year's resolutions: "If using willpower to keep your nose to the grindstone feels like a struggle, that's because it is. Your mind is fighting against itself."
Psychologists are finally questioning willpower, but still not perceiving the depth of the challenge that the nation and world now face. So they are dethroning the will while continuing to value self-control. That is a philosophical and psychological contradiction of the highest order.
Giving primacy to control is intrinsically false. Humans appear to have achieved a tremendous control of nature, but that illusion is now biting us in the butt with mass extinctions, climate change and the threat of ecological collapse.
Self-control is an extension of the illusion that we actually have control over anything. Someone exercising self-control still relies on what psychologists euphemistically describe as "executive function," a fancy phrase meaning the calculating, controlling mind.
The same psychologist that wrote the true statement above uttered this bit of nonsense: "Given self-control's importance for success, it seems as if evolution should have provided us with a tool for it that was less excruciating to use. I believe it did; we're just ignoring it. That tool is our social emotions."
Caring about others does not strengthen self-control however; compassion and gratitude eliminate the need for control.
Our so-called social emotions are precisely what Facebook and other monolithic monstrosities are so good at manipulating.
We are social creatures no longer anchored in social contexts. The aptly named Net is a poor substitute for the subconscious social networks that formerly defined us as individuals and peoples, an entrapping web that is addictive to millions of young people.
When self-control is conflated with "gratitude, compassion and an authentic sense of pride," the mind as thought still rules and ruins lives, and continues to destroy the future of humanity.
"Numbed out" people must, by definition, "discount the value of the future," because they don't feel there is a future for themselves, others or humanity.
In such a climate, which is precisely the climate that saturates the souls of so many in North America and beyond, 'getting mine while I still can' remains the ruling principle.
Plant a seed of intent in your heart, and let go of the illusion of control from your head. The resolutions of the will are not only counterproductive. They are unnecessary.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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