The Collapsing Tower
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 06
December 1st, 2008

Newsletter #6 Robert Lorenz, Ph.D.

Completed 3 days after Thanksgiving, 2008.

Healing Disconnectedness

Thinking separates while feeling connects. The left hemispheric ego mind dissects, analyzes, and forms the basis of logical, linear thinking. It’s what has allowed us to develop science and make the great advances in this area we have made. When this function is unbalanced by the right hemispheric feeling, intuitive, and holistic mode of consciousness, however, we end up in a cold, loveless world that doesn’t support life and creates the existential dread that has plagued us for such a long time. We lose our sense of connectedness to our bodies, other people, and Nature.

Empathy is what makes us human. It’s the ability to feel what others are feeling, and this provides us with a profound sense of connectedness. Lack of empathy allows us to treat others, including the myriad life forms on our planet as objects, thereby opening the door to all manner of misuse and cruelty. Look at how we treat farm animals, for example. Would we do this if we would allow ourselves to feel the pain they are going through?

The way such callousness is perpetrated is through the psychological defense of objectification. When we make an object out of a living creature we deny its feelings along with any fundamental connectedness. This is how we carry out warfare, genocide, and social oppression of others—we deny their humanness and then treat them as if they were noisome or dangerous obstacles to our wellbeing. When we view others and life forms through the separatist ego we reflexively suppress the right hemispheric qualities of feeling and empathy. This allows us to feel guiltless and right. In this regard it’s interesting to note that many dairy or poultry farmers can treat their “livestock” with utter disregard for their wellbeing, yet treat their personal pets lovingly. Similarly, many owners of companies treat their employees like slaves and can be good and loving to their children and spouses. It’s been said of Heinrich Himmler, the notorious head of the SS and architect of the Holocaust, that he was a loving father. Even Hitler loved his mother and (German) children. Only by making others into objects can we commit atrocities and experience no remorse.

Lack of remorse for the perpetration of harmful or anti-life actions, therefore, is a sign of spiritual pathology. When an individual experiences a profound sense of disconnectedness—or alienation—this can easily create a suicidal reaction. When this is denied and projected outwardly it becomes the basis of homicidal intent. Look at the rejected, abused, and disenfranchised individuals who have committed atrocities such as mass murder, serial killings, or have incited others to do so—such as Charlie Manson. These are usually people who have nothing to lose because they have lost what’s most important—their sense of connectedness to others. Rather than kill themselves, as many others who experience this do, they turn the impulse of self-destruction outwardly. Connectedness, therefore, is a fundamental human need. When it is denied destruction results, either of oneself, others, or other life forms.

The psychopath, for example, has little or no empathy and, because of this lack feels free to treat others like objects to be used or abused. To a lesser extent this is true of the borderline and narcissistic character disorders. Frequently these individuals consider themselves quite sensitive. However, when one examines their behavior it becomes obvious that they may be exquisitely sensitive with regard to themselves, but completely insensitive to others. It’s interesting to note that in M. Scott Peck’s book People of the Lie he defines the evil individual as the narcissistic character disorder. Furthermore, in his book Narcissism Alexander Lower describes a pathological sequence that starts with the narcissistic character disorder, which then worsens to the borderline character, followed by the psychopathic character, and finally disintegrates to the paranoid schizophrenic. The more passive, or less obvious, forms of evil are seen at the level of narcissism, while at the borderline and psychopathic levels one can seen the more active, overt forms. Ted Bundy, Hitler, and other serial killers and mass murderers mostly fit into the borderline to psychopathic range. Manson is a good example of the psychopathic character deteriorating to the paranoid schizophrenic state.

Destruction isn’t always physical. Typically it takes the forms of invalidation, subjugation, or negation of others. This is what we see in the case of “normal” people, many of whom are quite narcissistic but not to the level of diagnosable pathology. It’s important to understand that narcissism really isn’t what most people think it is—self-love. It doesn’t involve love at all. Lowen views it as the condition of living in images—a kind of “posing”. As such it is part and parcel of ego consciousness, in that the images have to do with self-importance, rightness, and righteousness. These create the sense of separateness that diminishes empathy and promotes disconnectedness.

Our collective disconnectedness has created consequences that we react to with fear, which creates further disconnectedness in order to create a false sense of safety or peace. We bury our heads in the sand—or, more precisely, our feelings. This only worsens our situation. This tendency is what we must reverse in order to heal.

First, we must stop hiding from ourselves and face the pain buried inside of ourselves. Failure to do this will result in further disconnectedness as well as physical disabilities and illnesses. This phenomenon, known as somatization, has been clearly presented in Dr. John Sarno’s books, the latest of which is The Divided Mind. Briefly, when the conscious mind doesn’t want to experience an emotional state it’s frightened of or finds unacceptable it creates a physical symptom as a distraction. If this symptom is addressed medically without dealing with the underlying emotional condition, the body then creates another physical condition that is usually worse. Sarno presents a number of cases illustrating this, some of which are life threatening.

When we face the underlying emotional/feeling states we’ve been hiding from the physical condition typically improves—hopefully before irreversible damage to the body has been done. In The Collapsing Tower I present several methods of doing this. If we can bring ourselves to face what we’ve been hiding from, and fully feel what we are afraid of feeling, we can then transmute the those feelings into free energy. The basic method of doing this is to focus one’s attention on the unpleasant or frightening emotional/feeling state and allow one’s thoughts to drift by. When we detach thought from feeling the energy that has been shaped by thought into a particular feeling begins to dissipate. This is because thought structures energy, and when we detach the thought-form the form of the energy changes. The willingness to contact what we’ve been unwilling to face within ourselves and transmuting it into free energy is a necessary step in taking on more challenging tasks.

Next we need to see what our disconnectedness has done in our personal lives, to the relationships closest to us. For example, when we take people for granted we’ve begun a disconnection, an objectification. We cease to perceive them in the present and, to an extent, disconnect from them. This commonly occurs when we objectify someone by categorizing him or her into a role. We cease to relate directly to the person and relate through roles. This causes a loss of empathic connection.

In my work with couples and families over that last three decades I’ve observed that the greatest disconnectedness results from unexpressed resentments. We don’t express resentments because we feel it will cause distance or that it would be useless. The very act of withholding, however, creates more distance than we’re aware of. Also, it’s important to understand that resentment is closer to despair than it is to anger. It may have originally been based on anger that we feared to express, or perhaps presumed that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. By withholding from the other what bothers us we have tacitly agreed that there’s no point in bringing it up. This reflects a despairing attitude, and because despair is a form of death energy the accumulation of it can ultimately bring about the death of the relationship. When this happens two people then live parallel lives without interaction, each disconnected from the other “passing each other like ships in the night.” I’ve seen whole families living in this condition. When the resentments are expressed, however, there then is hope of re-connection.

The emotional energies we express and carry inside of us have instinctual aims, or purposes. Despair, I mentioned, is “death energy”. What I mean by this is that it causes biochemical reactions in the body that result in immune suppression and open us to disease. It deadens us and disconnects us from life and others. Fear is the energy that causes contraction, not only resulting in all manner of physical problems because of muscular and vascular constriction, but also causes us to contract and pull away or disconnect from others. Anger does the opposite, in that it pushes others away, and in this way also results in disconnectedness. And hate is the energy of destruction, and has the aim of destroying what we deem threatening to our survival. It also has the effect of destroying the hater. Positive emotions on the other hand have salutary effects on health and promote connectedness. Thus, knowing what the various emotional states we maintain do to us and to others is very useful, and serves as a good incentive to either diminish or promote them.

When we see and acknowledge to ourselves how we’ve created disconnectedness with those closest to us, whether we’ve done this consciously or unconsciously, we enter into a condition of remorse. Remorse for creating harm, to ourselves or others, is a necessary step in change and healing. In Tibetan Buddhism there’s a powerful tenet that sadness is the doorway to enlightenment, because it opens the heart. If we attempt to avoid remorse and justify, deny, or blame our actions on others by remaining aligned with the ego there will be no change or healing. Our hearts will remain closed. In fact, we’ll simply repeat what we’ve done in a pathological strategy to be right, and by doing this we’ll create a deep sense of inauthenticity within ourselves and increase the self-alienation we already have. And the reason we are being inauthentic is that our ego minds are pushing away the sadness/remorse we’re feeling (usually with anger) to forestall its demise that the opening of our hearts guarantee.

Neem Karoli Baba said that relationships are a device for breaking the illusion of separateness. Basically, the way we see ourselves is the way we see others—thus, if we see God in ourselves we will see God in others. Normally, however, we use those close to us as “dumps” for what we don’t want to see in ourselves, and accuse them of what we don’t want to own. Over the years of working with couples I noticed that it’s quite common that people have the same complaints about each other. It seems that birds of a feather not only flock together, but they also complain about it. So, once again, we have to look at ourselves and see how others serve as mirrors of who we, usually unconsciously and frequently fearfully, believe we are. Such projection onto others of what we don’t want to own about ourselves, therefore, is another source of disconnectedness. When we pull back these projections and own them we can then see others for who they are.

The Problem With Psychotherapy

The road to hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. The vast majority of psychotherapists I’ve known are well-meaning individuals who sincerely want to improve the lives of the people they’re trying to help. Many of them are also depressed, partly the result of emotional drainage but mostly from the fact that their results are so variable, and frequently only temporary.

One therapist I knew had been through over twenty years of psychoanalysis. He’d spent a small fortune over the years and admitted to me he still felt depressed and alienated. “I’ve got a closet full of interpretations”, he lamented, “and it doesn’t amount to anything.” Over the next few months he became increasingly depressed and one day just handed in his resignation at the hospital clinic and left.

What I’ve observed over the years is that standard psychotherapy can easily become an exercise in self-obsession—and as mentioned in a previous Newsletter, obsession is the doorway to hell. Frequently an exacerbation of disconnectedness results, along with a deeper sense of loneliness and alienation from others and life. How can this happen, many ask, when I’ve spend so long in therapy trying to become aware? The Tibetan Buddhist master Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, in his book The Practice of Lojong, explains:

People often mistake awareness for self-consciousness. They wonder, “How am I responding to this situation, person, or interaction?” and focus on what is going on in their heads. Self-consciousness just means becoming conscious of other people’s responses to us and is simply another form of self-obsession, because we are still the center of our own attention.

Traleg Kyabgon further explains:

I often hear people say, “I feel so empty; it’s like having nothing inside.” This is a common experience for most of us, because we have been self-obsessed since the day we were born. If we have siblings, we may remember that when we were children, we wanted to not only eat our share of the food but theirs as well. We wanted our sister or brother’s toys, and if we did not get them, we threw a tantrum. The emptiness we feel is a lack of love and compassion for others. If we had those wholesome emotions, we would not experience this existential crisis of nothingness. We feel nurtured when we are nurturing. Only a nurturing person can nurture, and a nurturing person is nurtured by his or her own caring attitudes. If you can develop those qualities, you will no longer have to go around like a sponge, soaking up the drops of love others leave behind.

“Self-obsession”, says Rinpoche, “is a solipsistic state.” This is the belief that only our experience exists, that nothing exists outside of ourselves. “In that self-enclosed world, we think our perceptions are incontestable and believe unconditionally in our own reality. That unshakable belief in our world is what prevents us from overcoming our conflicting emotions and delusory mental states.” The simple fact is that the only antidote for self-obsession is considering the experience of others.

In his criticism of psychotherapy Rinpoche says:

Those who accuse the philosophy of Buddhism of undermining self-worth and who maintain that psychotherapy is a more effective method of personal growth than the practice of meditation often have no practical suggestions of how people can help themselves. They often simply analyze the psychodynamic causes of a person’s lack of self-confidence, for example, blaming the person’s parents, without actually clearly identifying what “confidence” truly consists of. The remedy, according to them, is to see our own opinions as important and to develop confidence by asserting those opinions without regard for the views of others. However, such self-assertion does nothing for one’s self-esteem on a fundamental level. The real way to build self-esteem in the world is to love and be loved by others. If we don’t recognize the fragility and independence of our samsaric (illusory) identities, we will never achieve a genuine sense of confidence, because all of our hopes for happiness will be focused on maintaining an identity that doesn’t actually exist in the first place.

Western psychology is ego psychology. As such, psychotherapy preoccupies itself with an epiphenomenon, an incidental condition or by-product of spiritual development, not something real in and of itself but rather part of a spiritual whole that emerged in our evolution during the National Underworld of the Mayan Calendar. It’s the identification of Self with this little self that came to proclaim it’s separateness from All-That-Is that has become the source of our disconnectedness and, as a consequence, all of our personal, interpersonal, and ecological problems. As such, the ego is the destructive progenitor of all illusion. And this is what psychotherapy aims to strengthen.

A major focus of psychotherapy is “adjustment”. When I taught psychotherapy graduate students I argued that transcendence rather than adjustment was the proper goal. With the exception of a few students I got a blank response. One response has stayed with me since I left academics nearly thirty years ago: “I just want to earn a living.” My sense of it was that this was a general consensus.

If psychotherapy actually worked we wouldn’t have a significant percentage of the population, including children, living on psychiatric. Nor would we have such high concentrations of them in our water supply. The fact is that drugs further disconnect us from our feelings, thereby increasing our disconnectedness. For the most part drugs simply make people more manageable and fatten the coffers of the pharmaceutical companies that make them, as well as the insurance companies who prefer them because they’re cheaper than therapy.

Tonglin and the Healing of Disconnectedness

Tonglin (or tonglin) is a Tibetan Buddhist method designed to shatter the illusion of separateness and create compassion and happiness. The method is based on doing the opposite of what we normally do, which, according to Rinpoche, is to reject all experiences we don’t want and cling to all those we do want. In Rinpoche’s words:

In tonglen, we are trying to adopt a radically new way of looking at things. Tonglen is called “exchanging oneself for others” because it involves giving away everything that is good in our lives and taking in everything that is bad in the lives of others. It is a training in courage, because the whole point in doing it is to train ourselves to be less fearful and anxious. Our capacity to feel love and compassion for others, and our courage to take on their suffering, will increase if our tonglen practice is working. This practice is so extremely beneficial because we’re training ourselves to stop thinking about everything from a defensive posture. The more selfish and egocentric we are, the more defensive we become. If we think about sharing our happiness, we will become less self-obsessed, and our conflicting emotions will naturally subside. In The Thirty-seven Practices of the Bodhisattvas, Gyalsay Togme Sangpo (1295-1369) advises:

All suffering comes from the wish of your own happiness.
Perfect Buddhas are born from the thought to help others.
Therefore exchange your own happiness
For the suffering of others—
This is the practice of the bodhisattvas.

In the practice of tonglin we breathe all of the suffering of others into ourselves. This includes their pain, affliction, misery, distress, illness and so forth. “We then think of ourselves purely in terms of our own happiness, imagining everything we hold dear, the special moments we cherish when we experienced love and intimacy or moments when we were at ease with ourselves, and breathe that out to others.” In essence, we breathe in everything that is debilitating for others and breathe out everything that causes joy for us.

Rinpoche cautions us that:

The more we fear discomfort and sickness, the greater that discomfort becomes and the more extreme the effects of our ill health will seem. For example, if we get the flu and our mental conditioning is weak, it can be very draining and painful, and we may even pick up more life-threatening forms of illness. In the same way, if our mind is not trained, it becomes lethargic and lazy, and any little unpleasantness is perceived as a dangerous affront.

And most importantly:

It is impossible to invite misfortune and disruption into our lives through tonglen. We have to remind ourselves that we do not engage in the practice of sending and taking in order to share the suffering of others. For example, if someone is suffering from cancer and we take on his or her suffering in tonglen practice, we should not think, “Now I will get cancer.” Once we have visualized taking on others’ suffering, it immediately dissipates within us….

Even if we diligently breathe out affirmations with the wish to solve the world’s problems, these will have no actual effect on the world. However, breathing out wonderful virtues and breathing in terrible sufferings will have an actual and powerful effect on our own transformation. All the difficulties and painful experiences that we have in life come from our fixation on the notion of self and other. When we exchange ourselves for others, we experience self-transcendence, because we have gone beyond the parameters of our own egotistic mind. We experience a release from the imprisonment of our conventional egotism and become something greater than ourselves.

Beginning With Ourselves

Before we address the problems of the suffering of the eco-system and the world’s population, which most of us consider too enormous to even comprehend, much less deal with, we can first deal with ourselves. Rinpoche states:

For instance, we have all known times when we were feeling overburdened by heavy responsibilities, overwhelmed by the enormity of others’ suffering, or had some kind of psychological resistance to letting go of our own misery. At such times, it can be helpful to jump start the process by directing compassion toward ourselves first in order to generate some genuine self-acceptance and expunge any feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. Therefore, we begin by using ourselves as the object of sending and taking: we breathe out (emphasis mine) the cause of our suffering and pain—our conflicting emotions and self-obsession—and breathe in (emphasis mine) the capacity to go beyond egotism and develop positive emotions.

One specific statement Rinpoche made at the end of his presentation of tonglin stood out to me. It was an answer to a request I made for intuitive knowing regarding the task of ecological/planetary healing that, at the time of making this inner request, seemed overwhelming. The statement was this: “Tackling our problems head on, especially if a problem is intractable, has the potential to cause more damage than good. If our attention is switched to something else, however, such as focusing on the antidote instead, the problem often diminishes without even noticing it.”

Tackling the Task of Ecological and Planetary Healing

The next intuitive knowing I had was to look into the story of creation depicted in the text of Genesis 1:26,27:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, And over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female created he them.

First of all, “dominion” doesn’t mean domination. Dominion refers to authority or ruling power. In the best sense it implies stewardship. But what does it mean that man has dominion over all living things? And how is this dominion exercised? The answer may lie in line 27, wherein it’s said twice that man was created in God’s image. Image means likeness or resemblance, the Hebrew translation of which is tselem. “Tselem” can mean image or images. Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) in his Exhortation to the Greeks 10, as found in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Genesis 1-11, edited by Andrew Louth and Marco Conti (Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 2001, p. 29), quoted by Rinpoche, wrote:

For “the image of God” is his Word (and the divine Word, the light who is the archetype of light, is a genuine son of Mind [the Father]); and an image of the Word is the true man, that is, the mind of man, who on this account is said to be created “in the image of God” and “in his likeness,” because through his understanding heart he is made like the divine Word or Reason [Logos] and so rational [logikos].

One could infer from this (in line with Neville’s books on manifestation, and particularly Immortal Man) that the abilities of the human mind to create thought forms and images with the faculty of imagination are God-like or Divine capabilities—and it is through these capabilities that dominion is established over all life on the planet, and perhaps even the air, water, and physical functions and characteristics of the planet itself.

Thus, the quality of human consciousness is the determining factor that controls the quality of the eco-system and, likely, the physical functions of the planet itself. This means that the ego consciousness of separateness must be transcended in order that the eco-system (along with us) can survive.
The practice of tonglin is essential in this regard. The more we dedicate ourselves to a daily practice, the stronger will be the associated morphogenetic field. As the number of people doing this practice increases, the field becomes progressively stronger and more refined. My guess is that many individuals on earth are engaging in this or similar spiritual activities. It would be of immense benefit to coordinate these efforts into a coherent practice with the intention of overcoming human disconnectedness.

Getting Started

When the thought-form of human connectedness becomes established I believe very powerful and magical transformative effects will occur, not only within the human population, but for the entire bio-sphere. However, we must first start with ourselves and heal our own disconnectedness, which is tantamount to healing our suffering. As we proceed with this and feel the beneficial effects of the practice, we can then join with others in practice in order to create inter-connectedness, and heal our disconnected from Nature.

Sit quietly in a meditative posture with your legs crossed and back straight. Breath slowly and rhythmically, paying attention to your breath and noticing the feelings and sensations in your body. Let your thoughts drift by. Don’t try to control them in any way. Just let them be there without giving them any attention other than simply noticing them. If images come up just let them also drift by. As you sit in meditation begin to focus mainly on the feelings in your body.

To initiate tonglin slowly breathe out the causes of our suffering and pain—our conflicting emotions and self-obsession—along with unpleasant feelings such as self-loathing, inadequacy, anger, fear, and misery. Then slowly breathe in the capacity to go beyond egotism and develop positive emotions. Do this for 15-20 minutes at least twice daily for at least a week with the intention of generating self-acceptance. Notice how you feel after doing this for a week.

Small Group Tonglin Sessions

Start with 6-12 people who’ve done their individual tonglin sessions. The intention here is to build compassion and diminish self-obsession by breathing in the pain and suffering of others and breathing out the joy and happiness we can feel within ourselves. The same preparatory breathing and focusing procedures can be employed here as were used in the individual tonglin sessions. We do this for all of the members of the small group and for all those suffering on our planet. I recommend holding these sessions at least once a week using the following format: Initial discussion and statement of intention—1/2 hr. tonglin—discussion—1/2 hr. tonglin—discussion. This could be done for several weeks at least one time per week.

Working like this in a small group will start a morphogenetic field for healing disconnectedness. As the field becomes established, new members can be added. This adds to the power of the field and also facilitates the new members “getting it” faster. Telling friends about this practice and starting small groups would be highly beneficial. The more the better. Eventually, we can assemble into large groups that can generate immense power toward the end healing our disconnectedness and giving birth to a truly human collective consciousness.

The fact that we have entered Day Six of the Galactic Underworld, ruled by the goddess of birth, ought to facilitate our efforts greatly. Perhaps this new Unified Consciousness of Humanity is meant to be birthed at this time.

In Newsletter 7 I’ll further address the establishment of a Unified Consciousness of Humanity, and what we can expect as these efforts proceed. I’ll also begin dealing with the subject of Revisioning and co-creation with the Divine.

If you have any questions or comments contact Robert Lorenz through the email link below:

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April 30, 2008

The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 02

August 28, 2008

The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 03
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 04
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 05
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 06
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 07
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 08
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 09
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The Collapsing Tower Newsletter 10
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If you have any questions or comments contact Robert Lorenz through the email link below: