Thursday, September 6, 2012

Robin's Prize-winning Sculpture

Here Robin is hanging a sculpture in his backyard for pictures used in his brochure. The sculpture won  First Prize in Sculpture from the Plymouth Art Guild in 2006. 

The Course in Self-understanding and Personal Integration

"Life is short and of uncertain duration. Plus, in a hundred years, no one will remember who you were. Seize the day, seize the morning, seize the hour, seize... right... now!"

The Course helps people get clear about who they really are, what they really wants out of life, and how to go about getting it. It does this by helping the student understand his or her fears, then acknowledge and take responsibility for his faith in himself.

The Course is in three parts. In the first part, the student learns how human beings actually function, as opposed to the way society tells us and insists we believe we function. In the second part, he learns how he actually functions, as opposed to how he has been taught he functions. In the last part, he learns how to resolve inner conflict and get into consensus. It is this consensus that then enables him to identify and achieve the life he truly wants. When students begin The Course, they are tyrannized by fear; by the time they complete it, they’re guided by faith in themselves. As this occurs, they become more pro-active, as opposed to reactive and, as a result, more effective and fulfilled.

The first part of The Course also deals with the untruths inherent in language, abstractions, and the rules and  conventions of society.. When the student begins The Course, he is in the habit of acceding to a variety of external authorities. As he looks at this, he comes to see that events don’t actually determine experiences, experiences determine events. Events occur; we perceive them in a limited and biased way; we interpret our perceptions based on our pasts; and we then respond to our interpretations of our perceptions of the events, rather than to the events, themselves. In fact, acquiescence is a choice and we are always our own sole authority. This breakthrough in understanding is experienced as a liberating epiphany.

In the second part of The Course, the student looks at the way his interpretations of his past experiences have led to his particular assumptions, how those assumptions have determined his present, and how his present will determine his future. In the process, he discovers that yearning for things is not the same as working for them, and trying to do things is not the same as actually doing them. As these insights are integrated, he becomes better able to acknowledge and take responsibility for both his strengths and limitations, which makes him stronger and less limited.

In the second part of The Course, the student comes to understand and appreciate himself more than ever before. In the last section, he acknowledges and takes responsibility for his spiritual or transcendent self. As he does this, he learns to open to, attend, or listen to himself, others, and the world with fewer intrusive thoughts and bias. He also comes to realize that this quality of pure attention is the essence of love, and that in learning to listen in this way he has learned to love – himself, then others and the world. In the process, he also learns to expect and ask for the same quality of attention/love from others.

Basically, what the student who completes the process has done is vanish the context of fear and hatred, and create a new context of faith and love. In doing so, he ceases contributing to the problems mankind faces, and begins contributing to the solutions to those problems.    

Robert Leaver teaches The Course to both groups and individuals. Different formats are available but the standard for individuals is one 2-hour class per week with 2-3 written assignments between classes. The process takes anywhere from three to eighteen months, depending on the student’s willingness to choose to acknowledge and take responsibility for his faith-in-self.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rob's Transcendent Self - Part II

Many years ago, I subscribed to a wonderful little weekly entitled Manas. Full of short, elegant essays on philosophy, education, art, and people, Manas was a treasure. One week, it introduced us to the German poet, Novalis and his term for our spiritual selves, our Transcendental I. "Ollie," I thought when I read it, "You are my Transcendental I. Nice to meet you."

That was back in the 1960s. In 1980, when I dropped out and went to ground, determined to understand the secret to life or die trying, I began making notes on my sense of our Transcendental I. I was reading extensively in religion, philosophy and psychology at the time and my sense reflected the wisest things I could find this aspect of our psyches.

This is my sense of the Transcendental I:
Your Transcendental I is your innermost being, your Highest Self, the God that lives within each of us. Your TI is IT in the sense that it is your access to ultimate Truth.
Your TI understands that life is completely absurd. While the rest of your Personae think experiences are serious and important, your TI knows that nothing is important. Your TI reminds you that all experiences come to an end. IT is awakened from the seriousness and importance of experience. 
Your TI understands that nothing exists outside of Consciousness, and that Consciousness, itself, is nothing but a passing phenomenon. 
Your TI understands that your body, like the stars it sees, is nothing but a record of the past, and that your mind is nothing but memories and associations. 
Your TI understands that nothing is necessary. Even life. The universe is not "ultimate." Nor does it hide a great fact. There is no secret to be learned. It doesn't matter what you do; therefore, do what you please. If you do what truly pleases you, you will discover that what pleases you is listening with an open mind to your selves, to others, and to the universe outside of yourself. Such listening is reverence for the experience of life. It is the purest form of love. What better way is there to spend our time here? 
Your TI understands that in order to realize the present in all its fullness, you first have to transcend your sub-selves and yourself. Your TI is the part of you that is leading the rest of you to self-transcendence. IT understands that in order to self-transcend, you must surrender and listen. First, you must surrender and listen to your Fears. Then, you must surrender and listen to your Faith in yourself. 
Because your TI has understood and achieved this awakening, IT is free of the past and future. To IT, all phenomena are theater, a source of joy and delight. 
You will know your TI by the fact that IT is always full of humor. When you understand why, you'll understand how.

Rob Leaver's Transcendent Self

Here's Part II following my earlier post re Jung and his spiritual self, Philomon...

On my thirteenth birthday, my mother took me for a ride and told me that I had been a twin but my brother had died shortly after birth. It was very upsetting for me because we lived way out in the country, my father was away all week, my mother was occupied with my three sisters, and I was often lonely. I spent a lot of time at my secret campsite by a brook back in the woods with my pony, Thunder, and our dog, Benny Beagle.

My mother told me that when my brother died she and my father decided to give me both of the names they'd chosen. I was named Robert, after my father, and Oliver, which was my twin's name, after my mother's father. I remember wanting to know whether I was born first or second, whether I was Robert or Oliver.

That night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I became very sad and started crying into my pillow. Then, for some reason, I started whimpering "Ollie, Ollie, Ol-lie." Somewhere along the edge of sleep, he responded. He told me that he was there, always had been there and always would be. When I asked him what had happened, he paused, said he wasn't used to language, and would have to find the words to describe it. He then explained that God had decided to send me out into the physical world but to draw him back from that world into the spiritual realm. He said it was kind of an experiment, something God wanted to try out. Then he told me that from that day on he'd be available to me as a spiritual guide or self, and I could call on him at any time, and whatever I asked him he'd always tell me the Truth.

And I have called on him. Not much at first, because I didn't really want the Truth, but more and more as the years have gone by. All I have to do is think, "Ollie," and he answers, "Yes," and we start right in. He doesn't tell me what's going to happen in the future, mind you, but he's very clear about how our world works. One thing about him is that he doesn't tell me what to do. Nor does he talk in terms of right or wrong. He says it's not his job, because, from a purely spiritual perspective, none of that stuff matters. Gallaxies come and gallaxies go. He says, basically, that life is short and of uncertain duration, and I can waste it or make the most of it.

"So, Ollie, do you have anything to say to these good folks?"

"Sure. Tell them they've all got their own Ollie and they can call on him or he

Carl Jung's Transcendent Self

In January of 1913, at the age of 38, Carl Jung wrote his last letter to his friend, Sigmund Freud. In it, he said

"I accede to your wish that we abandon our personal relations, for I never thrust my friendship on anyone. You yourself are the best judge of what this moment means to you. 'The rest is silence.'"

Later that year, after eight years as a lecturer at the University of Zurich, Jung resigned his post. About his resignation, he wrote

"At the university, I was in an exposed position, and felt that in order to go on giving courses there I would first have to find an entirely new and different orientation. It would be unfair to continue teaching young students when my own intellectual situation was nothing but a mass of doubts."

Jung then began what he called a "self-experiment." Over the next six years, he tried to understand and come to grips with his own unconscious. He transcribed his experiences in the "Red Book," a folio bound in red leather.

During that period, Jung had a recurrent fantasy of an old man whom he called Philemon. He had many long conversations with Philemon. Later, in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, he said about Philemon:

"He said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I...psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. At times, he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. To me, he was what the Indians call a Guru... Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and h their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself."

About that period in his life, Jung went on to say:

"The years when I was pursuing my inner images were the most important in my life. In them, everything essential was decided. It all began then; the latter details are only supplements and clarifications of the material which burst forth from the unconscious, and at first swamped me. It was the 'prima materia' for a lifetime's work."


What is truth? As any neurologist will attest, if there is such a thing as truth, we humans sure don't have the capacity to recognize it. As any linguist will tell you, we humans learned abstraction at about the same time we learned language, probably 30-50,000 years ago, and we've been abstracting at an accelerating rate ever since, to the point where we've reified many of our most common abstractions. We've made our symbols more real than the things they symbolize. "Truth" is such a reified abstraction.

And, as we use the term, it is either what we, as individuals, believe, or what is generally believed by a credible set of people. It is true for me that there is no such thing as linear time. It is true for most people that there is. And there you have it. Neither of us has any proof.

How do you find it? The individual finds truth by crowning untruth as his truth. In other words, you choose it. Though we like to pretend they're well reasoned, our choices of truth are based on emotion and, thus, arbitrary; when we feel differently, we may well choose an alternative truth. This means that no one is locked into any truth - unless he chooses to be locked into the feelings that gave rise to it. This is what's so heartbreaking about fundamentalists - they're all suicide bombers, sacrificing their lives for exclusion. Such a waste.

How do you recognize it? Since, if there is such a thing as truth, we humans don't have the capacity to comprehend it, we can't recognize it. All we can do is pretend, which is precisely what we've been doing since we came up with the abstraction. The delusion may lead to our extinction, I'm afraid, but there it is. IIWII.

On Meeting With Your Selves

I recently spent 5 days alone. All by my selves. The first day, utterly played, I wept, intermittantly, all afternoon and into the evening. When I wasn't weeping, I was too exhausted and dazed to think.

The second day, I felt lighter but still terribly confused. The most I could get to was that the past 5 years have been exceedingly trying.

On the third day, I made a list of the experiences that had so depleted me. Many wonderful things have come into my life over the past five years, but there has been much pain and loss, as well. At the end of my list, I wrote "Our deteriorating environmental, political and social circumstances."

On the fourth day, I began reflecting on my list in preparation for restructuring my life. As I did, I realized that the last item on my list was much more significant than I'd been aware. Our environmental, political and social circumstances are, after all, the context within which the other experiences unfolded. And talk about pain and loss. Accordingly, I moved it from last to first on my list.

On the fifth and final day, while listening to the news on NPR, I realized that all the news, everywhere, is invariably sad and anxiety producing. Then, I remembered something I read in Harpers about capitalism. It was that business creates a need and then tries to fill it with a product. And I saw that as we, the consumers, have become more savvy about advertising, specifically, and the true nature of capitalism, in general, the business community has escallated from creating needs to be satisfied, to creating problems, which, they tell us, possession of their products will at least ameliorate.

The media being owned by big business, the way news is packaged and presented has been contaminated by this tendency to create problems. When I am sad, I tend to indulge myself; when I become anxious, I tend to seek solace in things. On my second and third days, without thinking about it, I bought some things I'd long pined for over the internet, spent extra money on good food for myself, and rented movies.

It is becoming clear. The 20% of America who are running our late capitalistic system are desperately strip-mining for the last of the big-time profits. To this end, they are creating problems without regard to life, community, or even civilization; they are making depressing, anxiety-fostering theater out of the problems to stimulate consumptionm; and they are leaving their customers broke, psychologically and spiritually as well as financially.

I'm not sure how much of this is conscious, much less a conspiracy, but it's happening, and that's all that matters. It is the context within which we're living ourlives in this pre-Apocalyptic period. It is a context which penalizes imagination. Witness institutional reactions to non-conforming creativity, especially in the three traditional pillars of our society, the family, our public school system, and our churches.

It's like some old horror movie, perhaps "The Matrix". They're everywhere. The Goodyear blimp flew low over our house yesterday, causing Edie to cry out and hug my leg. I held her but I couldn't bring myself to tell her, "It's all right." Because it isn't all right. The reason they're everywhere is because they're using pawns who either deny or don't know that they're pawns - teachers who test to the exclusion of listening; churches which push status quo dogma; police who enforce business-inspired laws.

What to do? All I know is that the system thrives on a depressed, frightened, fragmented citizenry living a pell-mell lifestyle. Got to slow down. Less stimulants. Got to stop, look and listen before responding. Got to give my Ching a ring, as Ken Kesey once put it.