While working on a discussion of spirituality and healthy psychology, I found myself drawing lots of circle diagrams as illustrations. Over and over, explanations of personal boundaries, the self, relationships, the cycle of life, egalitarian resourced based economy and humans’ place in the world-wide ecosystem included a little sketch of a circle or circles.
Then an accident of teh interwebs led to a couple of pages of Native American quotes and stories… Lo and behold, the system I’d been trying to describe was remarkably similar to the ancient beliefs of the indigenous Americans.
You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….
Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.
Back in February during a day of visions, it had become apparent that it was a good idea to write down the things that had been going through my head. Discoveries, histories, a merging of spirituality with solid, healthy psychology to enable people to heal and grow rather than being manipulated and abused by a greedy ideology. Not new at all. Plenty of people have been doing this for some time. Now I get to add my voice and thoughts to the growing body of realisation amongst humanity.
Many people in Western or Anglo countries have found themselves walking away from shallow religion that forces them to think and behave at their own expense. Many move on to explore Buddhist or Hindu ideas and find that quite productive. It has been observed, however, that there is a difficulty translating some ancient Eastern philosphical ideas into Western language. Sometimes an idea is used without adequately examining the context in which it will be lived. An example of this would be attempting to live with unconditional love, without first realising that Western religion can expect people, particularly women, to live like doormats. One requires healthy boundaries to live in love and relate well to others.
Recognising unity does not necessarily mean giving in to others’ dysfunctions. Your ultimate responsibility is to your own self-control. The only life you have any control over is your own. The only life you are really responsible for is your own. The only contribution you can possibly make to the community is your own life.
This refers back to one of the primary points of my understanding of humanity. Humans are an animal species that has evolved as a group. It is in the interests of the individual for the group to do well, it is also in the interests of the group for the individual to do well. It is not selfish to entertain personal development, it is your best possible gift to others in your life.
A few thousand years ago, human culture underwent a change from resource or agricultural to military/urban focus. Over some five hundred years the civilisations around the Middle East began to build cities and promote violent men to kingship and maintain standing armies. Archeological remains from earlier human settlements, like Catal Huyuk in Turkey and Murgab in Turkmenistan, show communities organised around management of resources and trade rather than invasion and dominance.
Catal Huyuk is the earliest known human city, some three thousand years older than Sumeria, and it was inhabited consistently for over a thousand years without once being attacked or invaded.
At some stage the priests and kings organised what we now know as Patriarchal or Oligarchal society and began controlling more than their fair share of resources. When people talk about hierarchy we usually are given a picture like a ladder, the corporate ladder perhaps, or a pyramid, such as about 5% of the population control up to 90% of the world’s wealth and resources.
An alternative to the ladder or pyramid of power that creates poverty and class distinction is a round table at which everyone can participate. A circle.
A diagram of personal boundaries, showing the line between one’s own responsibilities and area of control and what is outside of one’s control, is a circle.
A diagram of boundaries in relationships is a series of concentric circles.
“Circular” is probably better described as a way of seeing the world, rather than a spirituality per se. The basis for the thinking is psychology and sustainability, so the terms and language used are about human emotion, perception and relationships. This is done with the intent of leaving decisions and feelings about the “Other” open for individual interpretation. Atheists and Agnostics will be reluctant to think in terms of spirits or deities, in preference for psychology, sociology, scientific observations and ecology. Others may think of chakras, chi, angels, Goddesses and Gods or however they choose to populate the emotional, mental, non-physical aspects of human life.
Each of these views is legitimate if it provides a way for the thinker to get a handle on life, the Universe and everything. The framework described here serves as a helpful foundation for creative, constructive thinking. The intent is that each human being may live in peaceful well-being, in healthy connection with the world and environment around them.
When Aleister Crowley rather famously said “Do as you will…” the reaction, particularly from churches and governments interested in enforcing personal moralities, was disdain. In reality this perspective, when taken in the context of healthy boundaries and community, is really very useful. It extends to the individual their full responsibility for themselves and their contribution to society. It also provides for the individual to question, explore, agree or disagree with society and it’s values where necessary.
I won’t neglect to observe that often those most opposed to the philosophy of ‘doing as one will’ are those who most do as they will at the expense of others. This is a crucial distinction in the worldview proposed here. One does not seek one’s own benefit at the expense of others, nor does one permit oneself to be used for others benefit at one’s own expense. The preference is to gain what is desired for oneself in a manner that also provides positive outcomes for others and the rest of life on the planet. Concentric creativity.
Healthy understanding and use of personal responsibility requires healthy boundaries, which brings us back to the psychological element. For humans to function well as individuals and as a community, each person requires appropriate personal boundaries and a capable bullshit detector. Meditation, visualisation and healthy creative outlets are all part of a helpful system of self-development to this end. Yes, that does include daydreaming! Therapy may also be useful. In the past, seeking counselling was considered the domain of the emotionally disturbed (or those who’d gone “batty”). Now it’s fairly common, since people rarely live to adulthood in Western or corporate culture without feeling the effects of a truly screwed up society (In other words, feeling like you’re going batty).
Since humans have evolved as an animal in a group, with each taking responsibility for their own life, this is probably the most important task facing a person. Knowing when your boundaries and responsibilities end and those of others begin. Anglo culture with it’s obnoxious, invasive corporate media, the influence of militarism, growth economics and manipulation of feelings and opinions, has perverted our understanding of our boundaries and personal power. We are frequently driven to feeling anger, despair or depression over the state of the world because of having our noses rubbed in situations that we are not primarily in control of. The media voices that drive fear, anger and despair are those same sources that confuse or ignore the situations in which individuals can and do make positive changes in their lives, like downshifting, sustainability, alternative energy and permaculture farming or gardening.
It is a learning process, discovering where our life, control or responsibility ends and another’s begins. Changing and developing better boundaries, learning when and how to say “No,” are part of growing into healthier relationships and living a happier life. For women in particular, this can be something of a challenge in a culture that defines us as being of secondary importance and consigns us to merely supporting roles.
Basically, what we find is that without good boundaries we end up vulnerable to “psychic vampires.” Those people, circumstances or institutions that seem to sap our energy and emotions, leaving us feeling drained, worthless or incapable.
The Circular worldview encourages using tools that will assist making constructive and necessary changes to improve our lives and those of people and life around us. Some of the most effective tools are the most ancient, like meditation and visualisation. There are many different types of meditation and people who use them find that they’re all good though some are designed for specific purposes. Relaxation meditation, for instance. There are a squillion studies around now that demonstrate the positive benefit of meditation for our bodies, minds and relationships. When we’re not stressed out, we feel better, look better and learn better. When we feel at home in our own skin, we make better decisions and improve our connections in relationships and the community. Best of all there is no particular pre-requisite of belief system for this to work. A Catholic, Atheist, Moslem, Buddhist and Pagan will all derive equal benefits from a practise of meditation.
When you’re in a position of feeling depressed or vulnerable, as one frequently is when questioning the meaning of life and how to understand a place in the world, meditation on the Universe is of real value. This is similar to the idea of feeling gratitude or appreciation expressed in “the law of attraction”. The beauty, complexity and ingenuity of the Universe is simply amazing. What we’re doing in the meditation on beauty is to connect with that feeling and centre it within ourselves. It’s not about trying to change your thinking, although it may. It’s not about focusing on what one shouldn’t be doing… This is a simple variation on a mindfulness meditation and it can be done as often or as long as one pleases.
Like walking meditations, it doesn’t require a particular posture or setting. Simply observe something around you that makes you realise that feeling of love and beauty, be it a scene, friend, music, animal or flower. When the mind wanders, or thoughts intrude, don’t be concerned with following them, simply come back to the feeling.
This simple and easy form of meditation helps us centre ourselves, release stress or tension and benefits mind and body. Perhaps best of all we find that it makes us less palatable or vulnerable to those “parasites” that would leave us feeling drained or hopeless.
One notices, when making changes to a way of life and patterns of living, that there may seem to be objections. It’s as if you’re wanting to change for the better and being told, “change back”. That’s to be expected when you’ve lived your life according to certain roles or habits and developed relationships at home and at work in tune with them. Sometimes it’s worthwhile seeking out more constructive relationships although often time and persistence will prevail. (Certainly don’t let a “change back” reaction stop you from doing what you need to do, to live well.)
A person who is seeing a counsellor or therapist will most likely find that meditation practise can assist with therapy. Use your own intuition to find something that suits you, or talk to someone who has a bit of experience. It’s not like rock climbing or paragliding. There isn’t any pressure or huge risk involved. Grab a book for reference or peruse one of the many how-to pages on the internet.
Since this is a page about the Circular nature of life and energy, it’s probably worth finishing with the obvious: A person who feels less stressed, more content and confident is able to contribute in a healthier manner to those around her or him.