Being Liked

1052-relax-and-succeed-open-your-handsLikes on social media are no different than likes in person. They’re given out rather casually and they’re taken away with little notice. This is because no one is responsible for the fair dispersal of likes, they just tumble out of whatever conditions naturally form them, with the landscape being made up of moment to moment opinions.

It isn’t frivolous to seek likes to some degree. We need them to survive. Even covering the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid of needs is difficult when we’re alone, and achieving procreation and the other higher stages is effectively impossible. So partnerships and group pursuits are key to our survival both physically and emotionally.

That said, we also don’t want to live entirely for others. Our cooperation must in a way be selfish. Each individual must live and look out for themselves. At the same time if an individual who is struggling to contribute, or in cases where they’ve done something wrong and they require forgiveness, if they’re liked enough then popularity can act like a get out of jail free card.

1052-relax-and-succeed-none-of-us-is-as-smart-as-all-of-usThe idea of stored value in the form of good feelings can’t be sought for their own sake or that is a shallow, ego-driven life lived for others. But if they are done as part of an actual, active awareness and understanding that we really do need these other people, then even if a person is a child or elderly and therefore less useful in obtaining food etc., they are still safe.

So why can’t an office be like that? The problem in the office is that if the company’s goals cannot incorporate normal human pursuits then everyone is working for pay and not as a way of pushing the group forward, and that sort of shallow motivation simply will not last.

If we’re not interesting in being liked then the company society deteriorates. People start having wants that are out of sync with their contributions. Because bosses are seen as hierarchical over employees, we learn the very unnatural lesson that someone’s likes have bizarrely been made more valuable than other people’s likes. Now someone can just have one key person in a company like them and that can be enough for them to advance even though that would make zero sense to all of us other apes.

1052-relax-and-succeed-without-the-taoUltimate we must be balance being free with our natural desire for likes, because there is no point in having more likes than you need. In that case you would be seen as greedy and that would then result in less likes. Rich people the world over are seeing this now too whether they were generous or not. Overall we’ve now reached the point where the average world citizen has seen their internal scale tipped and they now see the group’s sharing of value is out of balance. Entire groups are now jostling to reorganise to see the sharing of resources be more equitable.

Why don’t we always act this way in homes and schools and companies and societies? Because now we no longer have the Tao holding us together. We’ve substituted our natural comprehension of our need of others and we’ve attempted to codify that into laws and rules and guidelines, but these are inhuman concepts that will often not match the actual temperament or feelings of various people.

In some cases there are revolts. Apes are killed, spouses leave, company employees start sabotaging the group, governments are removed, people are arrested or shamed. And this hardens divisions, and yet divisions themselves are fine. Sales shouldn’t really love accounting, they’re two different roles in the group that require different kinds of brains. But you need each one. If I didn’t get any wild pig today then I really need your berries and likewise. But when I convince myself your berries are worth less than my pig because I worked harder to get mine rather than me noticing they’re equal amounts of food, then that is the start of trouble: disrespect in the group.

Sometimes disrespect is what teaches an out of line group member the value of being in line. But this isn’t some rigid law-based line. The natural line has more flexibility. It has more understanding. It would look less to the rules and more to the moment. Hopes and expectations of others would be altered according to the situation whereas where laws always apply and there is only leniency in sentencing.

How are you in your groups? It’s fine for people in different groups to dislike you, or even for some people in your group to dislike you. But being cared about and for is a key part of enjoying life so we want to nurture that. We just don’t want to go so far that we surrender our core values and beliefs for ideas or groups that we do not truly believe in.

Find a group that encourages your participation and input by respecting you, and that respect should include compassion and the assumption that the relationship will be managed according to the Tao. That’s why even monkey’s recognise this elemental value in life. Selfishness for ourselves is essential in that our best behaviours are naturally driven by wanting to help provide for a generous and caring group.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Wave Energy


547 Relax and Succeed - Feelings are much like waves

Okay, this one’s simple, but it can be tricky to grasp at first. Not difficult—tricky. It would be unreasonable to call tying your shoes difficult but—when you’re first learning—it is tricky. Okay. Ready?

Waves don’t push beach balls towards the shore because the ball is sitting on the water, it’s not riding a wave. The weight of the water versus the lightness of the beach ball causes the beach ball to float on the substance that is water. That is how they interact.

In our metaphor, the reality of us is represented by the ball, and the external reality we live within is the water. Our reality comes into being when the two realities come together. And that’s why it is critical that we learn not to mistake the wave for the water.

The water itself is neutral, much like our consciousness. If there are waves it is due to the energy that acts upon the water. The amount of energy and its frequency will dictate the shape of the wave.

This means we are better to invest your life in paying attention to the frequency, magnitude and speed of the wave than we are to focus on the temperature or look of the water.

To turn the metaphor around, we’re better to invest our life in learning to pay more attention to the energy behind our thoughts than to pay attention to external events. The events, like the water, will be still be dictated by the energy that’s put into that reality by our thoughts. We shape the water with our thinking. Rough seas; troubled thinking, and dead calm achieves little movement.

We all start off perceiving this energy as our feelings or emotions. These are feelings we know well, and yet most of us spend almost no time truly considering their origins.

Someone can insult us, but if we don’t respect them then the insult means nothing. Another person can insult us, and if we have bestowed respect upon them, then we will choose to believe their idea by thinking it about ourselves. It will become our idea, and by comparing it to current self, we lead ourselves to suffer. This is how our ball moves.

Whatever thought we have generates a kind of energy in the world around us, and that energy creates the wave that either raises or lowers our ball. Thoughts that reduce us are like troughs, and thoughts that energize is are like the crests.

547 Relax and Succeed - What a liberationOur sense of being comes from our thinking about the world. We can be in intake mode where we are aware; or we can be in output mode where you are busy using our minds to create an ego by having a thought-conversations with ourselves. We make our own waves.

If we think angry or busy or worried ego-thoughts, then we will feel angry, tired and afraid. But if we’re in intake mode, then we have little choice but to feel appreciation in some form. It’s very natural once we get comfortable in that quiet place.

The world is the world, let’s not get caught up in battling with the water. We need to focus on the wave. We need to feel its energy and to steer ourselves accordingly. If one part of the wave is unpleasant, then we can shift the weight of our thinking onto something that balances us a little more. Because there are no perfect waves. There are just waves that get surfed almost perfectly.

We all need to stop treating our egocentric narratives like they are anyone else’s reality. Those thought-waves are ours and ours alone, people are busy sailing their own seas of thought.

Only when we learn to feel our thoughts more actively will we also find a version of reality where we’re not-thinking. That is when we are truly open and aware. That is when all we are is available to feel the universe.

We’ve all felt it. New babies, big sunsets, the face of someone you love. These are such wondrous experiences precisely because they are too big for our minds to make personal. Some of life is that, and other parts of life involve us fighting the rough water of a busy mind. But through either, our role is the same.

We must not battle the water itself. Our energy should be focused on riding and creating the energy of any experience much like a wave. This is how we play our role in the universe. In a world of roiling currents of being, we are an integral part of All. We should that; we should feel the energy beneath and within us. We are a part of it that energy, and it deserves our attention.

peace. s

The Flow of Tao

I’m learning about Taoism. How would you describe Tao?


Dear Flow,

How is it that the shortest questions need the biggest answers? 🙂 Indeed I can describe it. Whether or not I can do so in a way that effectively transmits the idea to you is potentially another thing. But here it goes:

Think of the Tao as the flow of life. You imagine yourself separately from this flow but in fact you and it are one in the same. It’s like vegetable soup. You have a bunch of individual vegetables that can fairly be identified within the soup, and yet the soup itself would not exist were it not for those same vegetables. They are both cause and effect. And so you can imagine yourself as separate from the flow of Tao, but it is your own psycho-spiritual motion that serves to create that flow.

If we look at your life it is made up of fates and choices. Of course the fates are derived themselves from previous choices so really it’s all choice, but to your individual piece of carrot or corn it can feel like some things happen to you, whereas other things are things you cause to happen. Where people trip themselves up with The Tao is that they argue with what’s happening.

Rather than being accepting of the fates and remaining focused on their choices, egos will lament the fates and forgo the choices. That battle with what is is the basis of our discomfort with the present moment. We must make friends with what is by understanding the nature of causality. We must accept reality by silencing our rejection-narratives. And then we can take the energy we were wasting on struggling and instead we can focus it on spotting our opportunities.

386 Relax and Succeed - Act without doing

I’ve referred to him in the past. There was a big US tycoon around the time of the Depression and he was said to have a “disorder” that caused him to believe the world was conspiring in his favour. This is kind of like a belief in a generous personal God. So it didn’t matter what happened in this man’s life he viewed it as a gift. He saw everything as good fortune.

Think about what that means: if a business deal collapsed after months of work, he wasn’t unhappy—he was excited. He saw the collapse as notification that his money would be better spent elsewhere. He never argued with what happened. His assumption was that it was good. That’s what it feels like to live in the Flow of Tao.

Every life has this flow. Your arguments feel like resistance because they are resistance. Each collection of individual words that you assemble into a larger idea that pushes against the current of what is, is like you paddling upstream. It feels harder because your ego is swimming against a much larger motion—a motion that is far from personal.

The Tao is the flow of Oneness, meaning our little thought-created senses of separateness are already an act of defiance. Our thoughts are egotistical because they purports to know better than Oneness in which direction Tao should flow.

386 Relax and Succeed - Incredible change happens in your life

The chef does not consider each piece of carrot individually. The chef is wholly invested in making soup. When we “get healthy” we stop trying to advocate for our personal self (me the carrot, you the pea) and we begin to become One with the chef, and in doing so we surrender our desire to control the Flow of Tao and instead we focus on staying aware, awake and alert to the sensations that help guide us within the flow, and thereby we also become one with the soup.

Be yourself. Affect the flow. But do so within the flow, from a place of authenticity, not from a dissatisfaction with what is. Be like the aforementioned tycoon. Happily accept what is given to you and rather than offer resistant word-based arguments, instead invest your being in seeing the best in your situation and then manifest whatever comes naturally.

Do not stop to judge. The moment you stop and create time so that you can judge another time you can be assured that you are out of the Flow of Tao. There are no word-based questions in that flow. There are only your natural reactions.

There are forces and truths in this world. Gravity, viscosity, momentum etc. Water does not question that is-ness it merely flows. Do not divide the world up into words and then glue them together into concepts. Dissolve those thought-borders and simply Be the Flow of Tao. No arguments, no wants, no desires.

386 Relax and Succeed - The best way to show my gratitude

Without a self to advocate for, you naturally rejoin the Flow. Not that you can ever be out of it, but you can certainly paddle upstream by thinking you are. So relax. Be. You don’t earn or win or think your way into Tao. The flowing will be what naturally happens as long as there’s no you being created by a habit of personal thoughts. You don’t learn how to flow. You let go of your identity and then relax into the flow.

Surrender your argumentative, judgmental, unaccepting thoughts. Stop clinging to the rocks on the bottom in fear. Dissolve your self by going so quiet inside that you can actually sense the larger flow of which you have always been a part. Feel the world around you. You can’t stay there forever because for there to be flow there has to be not-flow. But whenever you feel out, the way in is always the same. Go quiet, stop thinking, and experience.

The Tao is always present for you. You need only realize it. It does not require anything from you but your presence. You only need to stop creating ego-based narratives of separateness, (the ones you use to define who you believe you are). You can easily do that because your ego builds things out of words and stories, so if you’re quiet inside—if you’re listening rather than ruminating—then you will literally have stolen the energy from your ego and you’ll have used it to expand your awareness instead. Brilliant!

So remember, this is not some place you have to earn your way into. All you need is the presence of mind to be able to recognize and quiet your thinking and, in becoming aware of that powerful silence, you will find yourself capable of swimming comfortably in the profound Flow of Tao.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.