Countdowns: A Cure for Mind Chatter

This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.

The mind has a tendency to ruminate on problems, issues and especially grievances. In the Digital Age, where clickbait news and social media feeds are assaulting your amygdala on a moment to moment basis, trying frantically to get you to bring your attention to their causes and invest emotional energy in them, it has become more important than ever to be able to spot rumination spaces within your mind and to deactivate them as quickly as possible. A simple but effective tool I developed called “Countdowns” can be used to counter this problem. Countdowns are a simple tool that will quickly quieten the mind, and bring your attention back to the present moment, or to whatever focus you prefer.

The purpose of Countdowns is not necessarily to eliminate reflective thinking, although returning to silent, embodied presence may be the best option in any given situation. Alternatively, you may wish to take more control of the mind, and to focus on something more important. Rumination is typically upon subject matters that serve little purpose, or are perhaps completely pointless. At worst they keep us trapped in drama and conflict with others. In other words, rumination is disempowering. You cannot stand in your power if you do not have rumination in check.

There are obviously life problems and situations that require focussed or even urgent attention, but much rumination is simply not necessary, representing on-going inner babble, a running background TV commentary that serves little purpose other than to fill your mental living room with pointless noise.

You can think of rumination spaces as those bubbles of emotional projection that you regularly return to in your thinking, where you repeat the same topic over and over again in your mind. Quite commonly they involve an imagined opponent, a person or people who are bad and wrong, and who have to be silenced and/or defeated. These might include your political or tribal opponents, the president or prime minister, your partner, your friends, the boss, your work colleagues and professional competitors and so on.

This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.

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Rumination has two common drivers. The first is simply the mind’s attempt to stay relevant, to ensure its continued existence. The drama that is entailed in rumination achieves that job nicely. There is a threat or an opponent that just has to be dealt with, or at the very least a serious problem that has to be solved. And we can’t just let that be, right? It’s too urgent.

For the mind, silence equals loss of control, and ultimately death.

The second driver is your story, and that story in turn probably emerges from your original pain. Rumination is often triggered by an external event which mirrors your story and its embedded beliefs, activating your emotional body. That means an instant upload of the usual emotional cocktail: any combination of fear, anger, guilt, shame and perhaps grief. The Countdown tool I share below is therefore best used in combination with some of the healing tools I outline elsewhere in this book. Countdowns won’t heal you by themselves. But if done with strong intention, they will pull you out of the drama and return you to the present moment, where you can focus on whatever is of greater value to your Authentic Self (including healing, if you wish).

Countdowns are simple. Whenever you catch yourself ruminating over someone or something, stop, still yourself, and count down from three to zero, focussing you’re your breath and counting one time on each exhalation. When you reach zero, affirm: “I choose peace.”

But you will likely find that it won’t end there. The mind is a field of habits, and the same subject of rumination will probably appear again within short time. It is important not to judge yourself at this point. It is normal to feel some frustration when we encounter resistance from the mind. But that resistance is perfectly normal. So, each time a ruminating thought or drama enters the mind, simply gently notice it, and repeat the countdown; only this time with a single difference. Add one more breath, counting from four to zero. Continue with this process throughout the day. Each time you find yourself ruminating on the undesirable topic(s), add one more breath to the countdown. I call these expanding countdowns.

The key here is your intention. But intention is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. First you must have a certain degree of intention and set the action in place (countdowns). However, that action also helps reinforce your intention. As you become better at mental self-control, your sense of agency will increase, along with your sense of self-empowerment.

I personally like to use two forms of countdowns. I use the expanding countdowns for targeted dramas. These are the topics that I consider to be most wasteful of time and attention, and most disempowering. Amongst these I include anything to do with differences of opinion on politics, religion, science and so on, or any argument or dispute I might have participated in with a work colleague or administrator, or with a friend or family member.

For other less “serious” thought patterns, those which have little emotional power over me, I usually just use three breaths in the countdown, and I find that to be sufficient. The subject matters here might be everyday things like thinking about news stories and current events, my next workout, what I am writing about in this book and so on.

Therefore, whether I use the expanding countdown or the three-breaths countdown simply depends on the emotional investment my mind has on the topic at hand. I use the expfgvtttttttttttttttttttanding countdown for more serious or lingering ruminations which require attention and self-discipline.

When I first used this mindfulness tool, I sometimes got onto the twenties with my countdowns. That was a little frustrating at times, but I released all judgment and gently but purposefully persisted. After some days the countdowns became less common, and the ruminations began to drop away.

Still, I personally find that during times of greater psychological challenge, the need for deliberate use of mindfulness tools like these increases. But the best part is that they are simple, and once you learn them they will always be with you.

This article is a excerpt from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World.

Presentation: “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.

This is my very recent presentation at the Society for Consciousness Studies, 2021. “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.” My central argument is that it is vitally important that we retain a strong sense of embodiment & intuitive intelligence even as the 3D Digital Society evolves. To further diminish that awareness would represent the deepening & perpetuation of a major civilisational error that has engendered the crisis in sensemaking. It thus represents an existential crisis that is potentially catastrophic, literally &/or metaphorically. Establishing an Authentic Self via Embodied Presence is a vital component of all this.

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Below is the video of my very recent presentation at the Society for Consciousness Studies, 2021. “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.” My central argument is that it is vitally important that we retain a strong sense of embodiment & intuitive intelligence even as the 3D Digital Society evolves. To further diminish that awareness would represent the deepening & perpetuation of a major civilisational error that has engendered the crisis in sensemaking. It thus represents an existential crisis that is potentially catastrophic, literally &/or metaphorically. Establishing an Authentic Self via Embodied Presence is a vital component of all this.

1. About Marcus T Anthony (1:15)

2. What is Critical Futures Studies? (5:10)

3. Context: The Metaverse, Embodiment & the Crisis in Sensemaking (6:45)

4. Deep Futures vs Money & Machines Futures (14:55)

5. Integrated Intelligence & the Extended Mind (16:45)

6. Scenarios: Four Possible Futures of the Metaverse (27:20)

7. Conclusion: Rediscovering the Authentic Self (33:10)

We become thing we hate… or the thing we love

The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments.  The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.

  
Recently, one late evening, I came across a post on my Facebook feed. I have many Facebook “friends” whom I have never met, or whom I barely know, and this poster was one of those. The post was a political one, a very common find on that platform. We’ve all seen them. The post warned of the dangers of fascism and extremism in the “other” political tribe. Now, if we take a detached perspective, it is easy to note that these accusations are almost always made against the “other” political tribe, never one’s own. But most of us have at least some bias in this regard, and tend to see the darkness in the other more readily than in ourselves, in our own side. I responded to the post by chiding the writer and proclaiming something like, “Can’t you see that your side is the same, that your “fascist” enemies are writing precisely the same thing about you and your tribe?”

This wasn’t the most conscious thing I’ve ever written on the net, and after I’d written it, my projections lingered in my psyche. As I reflected upon it in bed a little later, I realised that I had not practiced what I like to preach, and that I had judged the poster and projected against them. In fact, I felt ashamed of myself (and shame does serve a useful function, when we develop the right relationship with it). So the next morning when I awoke, I went to the poster’s homepage and apologized. After all, it was their homepage and their sandbox, not mine. I was out of line.

Catching ourselves in moments of irresponsible projection can be embarrassing. But that sense of shame may serve a positive purpose if it emerges from the Authentic Self, if we acknowledge the truth of what happened, and if we act appropriately in response. A little shadow work can be invaluable in such situations. It can be transformative, helping us to shine a light inward, illuminating the darkness. But if we allow the darkness to linger without bringing the light of attention to it, that darkness can expand, embedding our hearts in shadow. The ocean of voices that is the Internet is awash with the murkiness of billions of souls lost in the illusions of such shadows.

Be careful lest we become the thing that we hate, or so we are told. It is an aphorism for the ages, reminding us that at some level our minds tend to mirror the consciousness structures that we project outward onto the world. Another way to think about this is that we become what we strongly judge. The process of judging – including hating or rejecting something – can shape our minds and our hearts.

There are two ways to look at this. We might note that our brains, and our mirror neurons in particular, tend to assume the morphology of that we imagine is occurring in another’s mind. Or a more metaphysical perspective is that consciousness itself is a primal force that may attract the thing that we focus upon. This later take on the old aphorism is more akin to the new age ‘law of attraction.’  

Regardless of whether we hold the mainstream scientific or the more esoteric version of this principle to be true (or, both, as in my case), when we hear the words ‘we become what we hate,’ we probably don’t stop to consider that if this is true, then logically the polarity  must also be true.

We become the thing that we love.

Or rather, we become the thing that we choose to love. The attitude or relationship that we have with others and the world can also transform us in beautiful and positive ways. It invites us to consider where our power really lies. And that locale is precisely the point in space and time where and when we choose to love (or not to love). My upcoming book Power and Presence: Rediscovering the Authentic Self in a Weaponsied World, contains many practical “actions” that can help us remain grounded in what I call Embodied Presence, and in turn help establish the Authentic Self. Below, I share one such action taken from the book. Its purpose is to transform hatred and projection into non-judgment and love.        


Loving the thing that you hate.

What is the thing that you hate the most? That you most often judge and condemn? Like an alchemist of the mind, you can take that one thing into your awareness and transform it into an object of love. In this alchemic transformation you may just find your greatest power.

Perhaps the thing that you hate is your ex-partner, or the boss who fired you without perceived justification. Perhaps it’s the Russians, the Chinese or the Americans. The Jews, the whites or the blacks. The men or the women; the feminists or the men’s rights activists. The trans folk or the cis gendered. The Republicans or the Democrats; the liberals or the conservatives. Perhaps you despise the fence-sitting centrists for their failure to take a stand. Or maybe it’s the elites, the establishment, the New World Order, the illuminati, the NCPs, the conspiracy theorists, the anti-vaxers, or those mindless sheeple. Perhaps you loathe Russian bots, soulless AI or the luddites. The Stones, the Beatles or Madonna. Maybe it’s the cursed politicians: Xi Jinping, Trump, Hillary or Biden. Or in this age of the Human Extinction Movement, perhaps it is the human race itself.

That which you despise does not have to be a person, nor a people. It could be a thing, concrete or abstract. Perhaps it’s your job, or your lack of a job. The commute to work, or the ‘toxic’ workplace itself. It could be an institution: the bank, the library, the senate or the legal system. Perhaps it’s the media: CNN, Fox News, the New York Times or The Sunday Mail; Rupert Murdoch, Rachel Maddow or Tucker Carlson.

The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments.  The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.

To practice Love the Thing That You Hate, find a quiet place to sit, preferably alone. Alternatively, you might choose to do this in the presence of another, or with others that you trust. One way to tame the shadow is to gently expose it before others. But these people will need to be well versed in shadow work, the murky machinations of the psyche. The ego tends to get triggered when exposed to the shadow of another, which often leads to drama. And needless to say, many projections are politically incorrect. Doing shadow work is not the time for social niceties and virtue signaling. It’s the time to delve into the darkness, no matter how unpleasant or debauched.

Begin by relaxing deeply, focusing for a minute or two upon your breath, feeling yourself settle deeply into your body. When ready, begin with a prayer or affirmation. Imagine the Great Light of Unconditional Love illuminating you.

‘I permit honesty and forgiveness, I hide nothing.’

Next, bring to mind the person or situation that you have been projecting against, then allow yourself to speak openly to it/them. If verbal expression is not possible, simply imagine or subvocalize the words. Allow any judgment or feelings of anger or resentment to simply express themselves. Speak to that person, place or situation, and let it know exactly how you feel about it. Judge, condemn, or even curse if that is what arises. Or shame, belittle, or berate. If the instinct is to strike or yell, you might like to imagine that, or even act it out for a moment. The key is to simply observe all this without judgment of yourself, without judgment of the projection.

Take no more than a minute or two to do this. It is not necessary to amplify or linger upon it. Gently notice any judgments you have towards yourself for what you have just seen about yourself. Imagine the Great Light before you, accepting it all without judgment. Then afform:

‘I relax and accept these feelings of (anger, rage, blame, judgment, fear etc.).’

‘I give them to the Great Light (or name a higher power).’

Then breathe and let go, safe in the knowledge that you are forgiven, free of any judgment. After all, it takes courage to honour the shadow.

Next, bring the object of projection to mind. Then say:

‘I fully acknowledge that I have judged and condemned you. I accept that I have lingered in resentment and blame. I ask for forgiveness. I allow myself to release all blame and judgment for both of us. I ask for grace and healing. I let go…”

Next, as you gently hold in mind the image of the object or person, imagine the Great Light enter your body, either from above or from before you, then project onto the other.

‘I accept you. I release my judgment and anger. I accept you. I accept you. I accept you.’

Feel yourself relax and fill with light. If feelings of anger and blame arise, do not judge or reject them, just gently permit them their moment, and give them to the Great Light.

‘Great Light, I fully acknowledge these feelings of judgment and anger. I share them openly with you. I choose forgiveness. I am forgiven. All is forgiven.’

When we let go and allow all that is within and beyond us to simply be without judgment, what often emerges is the experience of love and gratitude. If you feel this emerging as your feeling towards the other, give voice to it.

‘Thank you. I love you. Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you.’

If that does not emerge naturally, you might practice expressing this attitude. But there is no need to force that. If the feeling does not emerge, simply relax and permit that to be. Give it to the Great Light.

Ideally, practice Loving the Hateful Thing every day, or any time you find yourself strongly judging and condemning someone or something.

In this practiced,  you may just discover your greatest power, and your Authentic Self.   

A final note on this practice. Often when we judge and condemn another, when we feel genuine hatred, anger, blame and resentment, there is an underlying emotional or psychological issue that we have not addressed. The feelings that we have towards the person or situation may be a drama which emerges from some trauma or unfinished story that we have not resolved. Or we may simply be carrying anger and resentment over from other parts of our lives. There may thus be the need for some deeper healing work.

Becoming love
Assuming responsibility for our anger and projections is especially important in this time of tribalism and online drama. It is often true that we cannot directly change the people that we are in relationship with. But what we can do is transform our attitude towards them. We can become love, to use the words of Leonard Jacobson. Or to put it my way, we can become the thing that we love.


The kind of love I write about here has to be a genuine. It has to come from the heart. And for that to occur we will likely have to acknowledge the shadow. That is how we allow the possibility of love. In a sense we don’t control that outcome. We merely permit the possibility of its emergence.

A logical objection to deliberately releasing blame and anger towards another is that our deep feelings of rage and the judgment may be justified. What if the other person really shafted you? What if the boss really is an asshole? What about Chamberland’s appeasement of Hitler in 1938?  There’s no point in waving a white handkerchief when the Nazis are at the door, is there? But the truth is that most of the time the people that we hate are not  Nazis, the situation is not the holocaust, and nor are we getting fed to the machine guns at the Battle of the Somme. Are we really in Hell, dealing with the Devil himself? Or is the bigger problem actually within ourselves?

This is why we must be careful with our language as well as our attitude towards the other, and towards life’s circumstances. We have to be mindful of the images we employ, and the stories that we tell. When we unnecessarily throw around terms like “fascist,” “communist,” “supremacist,” “racist” etc., we are often engaging in hyperbole and catastrophic thinking, permitting ourselves to become something fearful and hateful. Sometimes we must ask ourselves whether we are the ones who are becoming the haters.      

Many of us are starting to realise that this is true. We are starting to realize that that we have to begin to tell new stories. Our media, social media, social justice and social science discourses are badly in need of introspection. There is a great need to teach cognitive responsibility. We cannot merely focus upon what is at fault with the other and with the system. The wisdom journey has to begin with ourselves. Ideally that should be the foundation of our lives. When we are well-established in the capacity for Embodied Presence we can then address what is “out there” in rersponsible ways; beginning from a position of personal empowerment, and releasing the illusion that somebody else is responsible for how we experience the world.

This post is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence.

Why the Current System Will Not Heal Itself

The emergence of a self-generated solution to tribalism in the US and elsewhere is unlikely to emerge from those currently embedded within the system. The system itself promotes division and drama, which in turn sustains the minds within it (in their current small-s expression). In a kind of pathological, dark feedback loop, the system is then perpetuated by those minds and their projections.

The emergence of a self-generated solution to tribalism in the US and elsewhere is unlikely to emerge from those currently embedded within the system. The system itself promotes division and drama, which in turn sustains the minds within it (in their current small-s-self expression). In a kind of pathological, dark feedback loop, the system is then perpetuated by those minds and their projections.

Tribalism is both a cause and an effect of the system. Social media platforms like Twitter publicly display, concretize and immobilize our thoughts and projections, many of them poorly thought-through. This exacerbates the tendency to identify with those thoughts, even as others either affirm or attack them. Further, those public thoughts are often also tribal markers. It is not merely that I am for or against illegal immigration. The very fact that I have revealed that opinion and left it hanging eternally in virtual space means that I cannot simply let it go, as is the case with most random thoughts and opinions that come and go from my mind. Suddenly, the tweet is who I am, and who I belong to.

The current system (Memeworld) and its drama-driven tribalism was not developed deliberately, but this is what it has become. In the US, both the Democrats and the Republicans need each other as enemies (mirroring the human mind’s need for opposition and drama to sustain its existence). An immoral and intellectually lesser other is required in order to perpetuate each tribe’s power over its constituents. That is the drama. An enemy is needed, one that we must unite against, crush and eliminate. In this way those in authority maintain attention and power (at least over their own tribe). The words to “unity” may be mouthed by those leaders, but the politics of division remains, a necessary drug to feed the habit of projection and drama.

The problem is more than merely that the drama is self-replicating. It is that the arrangement is not sustainable. If you need to sow division and stir up projection to maintain power, eventually it is going to blow up in your face. It is just a matter of time before the system becomes violent.

This game is as old as politics itself. And as old as tribalism.

It is interesting to note that many of our institutions – notably political parties, the media, the universities, the intellectual class, and big tech – are largely silent on the idea of unity, of coming together (except along preferred ideological lines). I suspect this is because of the inherently self-stultifying fact that this possible future (this is, peace) is a vote for disintegration of the tribe, and thus their tribal identification and very likely their power base. Too many have a stake in the current drama. The problem is not so much that their founding ideals are bad, but that media, social media and big tech need drama for clicks. And for the profit that flows from those clicks. They need the bad guys. For the intellectuals, the reputation and livelihoods of many in the institutions and the university system depend financially on the perpetuation of their politics and group struggle; or the cost of dissent is simply too great.

In other words, for these people and institutions, the overt, noble narrative of “compassion, justice and tolerance” is subverted by the inherent self-contradiction that on MemeWorld those values often express themselves via tribalism. It is difficult to truly embody these values via the mind in a state of ungroundedness, without deep connection to the present moment and to the body. Conversely, those values tend to naturally express themselves when we are in a state of embodied presence. Then they do not need to be enforced, top-down via regulation, censorship or even violence.

As I have argued throughout this book (Power and Presence), the need for drama is a function of the small-s-self and its constricted experience of “mind.” That mind needs a constant drip-feed of problems, including enemies to crush, in order to perpetuate its existence. For the mind, peace – like silence – equals death. Without conflict, it cannot recognise itself. I believe that this is in part biological. We humans have evolved to fight for survival against outside threats, whether they be other human tribes, wild animals, or environmental hazards. This is built into our hardware (neurophysiology). Therefore, in the current age, the task of we twenty-first century humans is to employ our software (intelligent self-awareness) to disarm that hardware. We have to develop the self-awareness to reduce our predisposition towards conflict and drama – the story we have written (or been written on) over millions of years (and now made worse by the shift towards life online).

So how do we address that?

One means is to intervene physically with the hardware. By this I mean to begin to tinker with human genetics, the body and the brain. This might be something akin to Elon Musk’s Neuralink, where we could implant wireless brain-machine interfaces into our skulls. The aim of Neuralink is to enable people to operate computers and mobile devices directly with their thoughts, but it isn’t hard to imagine applications for similar hardware/software which helps modify our thoughts, behavior and feelings. For example, the University of California has developed a “personalized, biomarker-based” treatment for depression. The process requires drilling electrodes deep into the brain and leaving them there for a year. When the device reads the bio-markers of depression, it stimulates the right ventral capsule/ventral striatum, which in turn reduces gamma brainwave activity in the right amygdala. Yet to date, studies have been only minimally successful, while the therapy is costly and labor-intensive, needing two days of testing and two cranial surgeries.[i]

Such invasive techniques are mostly in their formative stages. Yet over time we can expect the application of such technologies to improve. Physical interventions could potentially help us regulate our neurochemistry and thus our behavior.

Genetic engineering of human babies is another possibility, at least in theory. Perhaps we can tinker with our bits and pieces to create people that are less aggressive, more agreeable and less prone to create drama.

Oh, Brave New World that has such people in it! And then there are the tempests which might follow. The problems with all these physical and technological interventions are multiple, not the least of which are ethical and legal. Are we ready to accept the risks in becoming a truly cybernetic species? Or in producing genetically-modified citizens? Where might that lead to? Where would we set the boundary in terms of how far is too far? It would seem that in the short to medium term the legal and ethical roadblocks to this option are simply too great. Genetically engineering humans is currently illegal, even in China where in 2019 doctor He Jiankui received a three-year prison sentence for editing the genome of three babies to promote their resistance to HIV.[ii]

Not the least, most people would probably find futures peopled by such modified humans to be dystopian.

This is why my preferred future is that we work with the physiology that we have inherited from nature and develop greater mastery of our “hardware.” Grounding ourselves in the Authentic Self through embodied presence directly defuses the power of the mind and the dramas that tend to emerge from it. We can say this is a bottom-up solution. Top-down solutions feature a host of problems. Regulation of online behaviors and information control, as well as physical interventions to human bodies, delimits the opportunity to encourage transformation and empowerment of the citizenry via the six pillars of effective sensemaking. With such top-down processes, there is no embodied presence, no cognitive responsibility, no mastery of society or digital awareness, and no integrated intelligence. And there is no opportunity to use the knowledge that potentially emerges from all that to develop wise actions in the world.

Most notably, top-down interventions also potentially invoke the specter of authoritarianism. This is because there are always going to be at least some corrupt or power-hungry-leaders, and people who wish to give their power away to them. And then there is the problem of those people who resist being controlled. If the number of resisters is significant, what are the authorities going to do? This is the dilemma that all idealistic, utopian philosophical and political movements eventually face. Top-down social and political movements almost inevitably lead to the persecution of dissenters. We have even seen this during the COVID period, where those who have protested the vaccines have faced significant stigmatization in the media and from politicians and public figures.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World (2022).


[i] Clare Wilson, “Woman’s depression treated by an implant responding to brain patterns,” New Scientist, Oct 4, 2021, https://www.newscientist.com/article/2292182-womans-depression-treated-by-an-implant-responding-to-brain-patterns/

[ii] Sui Lee Wee. “Chinese Scientist Who Genetically Edited Babies Gets 3 Years in Prison.” The New York Times, Dec 30, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/30/business/china-scientist-genetic-baby-prison.html

The Authentic Self vs The Machines

Amidst all this we are foundering upon the collapse of sensemaking, the digitization and politicization of everything, systematically retarding our ability to understand the world and our relationship with it. We have lost touch with our inner knowing, set adrift upon a vast ocean of competing narratives and agendas. Which captains are we to believe, which shores are we to seek, and which winds are we to reset sail upon? These are questions that lie at the heart of this book.

The weaponization of the internet, politics and society is all but complete, and our souls – our Authentic Selves – are being defeated. Our awareness has shifted from the inner wisdom of that Authentic Self to become ensnared in a virtual MemeWorld, which we now increasingly confuse for reality. It is my aim to make Power and Presence a confronting but ultimately empowering book, one designed to shake you, the reader, from the grip of ITopia, empower you to rediscover your Authentic Self; and to build a truly meaningful life.

It is not that related challenges have not existed for those humans who came before us. And it is not as if all our ancestors lived lives that were automatically a genuine expression of their highest good. We all know that this is not true. Any essential reading of History will tell you that in many ways our ancestors had it far worse. Many lived lives that were typically shorter, more brutal and more oppressive. Think of almost any idyllic myth. The little house on the prairie. The Amazonian female warriors. The noble savage. All are likely just that: myths.

Indeed, it is the great progress we have made in a material sense, riding upon the back of increased prosperity, technological prowess and information access, that has enabled a kind of hegemony to creep into our skulls. We have heralded the rise of the Money and Machines society.

Over time we have increasingly lost touch with nature, with our bodies and with our hearts: our integrated intelligence. We can map this over time and note the shifts. There are numerous, but I can mention just a few here. The Copernican Revolution of the mid-16th century saw the planet Earth dethroned from its position as the centre of the universe, and ultimately humankind from its role as jewel in the cosmic crown (under God). The Industrial revolution, beginning around the late 1700s in Britain, removed most of our ancestors from the land and sent us scurrying to populate urban centres; filling ghettos, suburbs, and ungrounded high-rise apartments. The Darwinian Revolution of the mid 1800s was a further humiliation, with we humans rendered as mere big-brained chimps who share 70 percent of our DNA with garden slugs. Our feet left the earth and then city streets and climbed into humming cars, planes and spacecraft; even as our eyes left the increasingly hazy horizon to become fixed upon small screens stuck to plastic and metal boxes; and then ultimately to small devices clasped to our palms. We forgot about our bodies and our hearts and started to squabble with everyone, casting those whose screens depicted unfamiliar stories as stupid and immoral; that is, as long as they were not actually physically present with us.

Thus it is that our challenge to embody the Authentic Self faces a very different set of challenges today. Many of us have unconsciously given our power away to narratives and agendas that we did not deliberately choose. The actions that we take and the words that we speak often represent expressions that are not our own, and that do not serve our highest calling in life. Puppets of The Machine, we have allowed our souls to be colonised, and our minds and hearts have become deeply entangled in the broader socio-industrial complex of the early twenty-first century. We lead lives that are increasingly controlled by a host of external power brokers: media outlets, the Tech Giants and social media platforms, bloggers, political parties, online mobs, ideological movements, corporations, educational institutions and religious groups. Our desires, our goals and even our beliefs are no longer our own. They are driven by the ITopian Machine.

Many of us, and perhaps especially the young, feel powerless to make actual change in the world, instead venting rage from behind keyboards. Alternatively, some express their anger in protests or acts of violence played out upon city streets, or in the tearing down of icons, monuments and government buildings. Yet even as they do so they are often being recruited by agents which are in turn deeply embedded within the very systems which they are seeking to escape. They are again captured by The Machine, realizing too late what they have become. If they realise it at all.

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Amidst all this we are foundering upon the collapse of sensemaking, the digitization and politicization of everything, systematically retarding our ability to understand the world and our relationship with it. We have lost touch with our inner knowing, set adrift upon a vast ocean of competing narratives and agendas.

Which captains are we to believe, which shores are we to seek, and which winds are we to reset sail upon? These are questions that lie at the heart of this book.

Marcus T Anthony

Grace and the amazing story of John Newton

Amazing Grace touches a universal human theme, that forgiveness and redemption are available to all humans, no matter how much we have “sinned.”[vi] There is another layer of existence beyond our story of despair and suffering, and it involves a deepening awareness of an intelligence that is not within our immediate control, forces that our small-s-self can barely sense. This is why “Amazing Grace” is one of the most sung of all songs in the English-speaking world, with thousands of recordings. With every orbit of our planet about the yellow star, individuals of our species sing the tune around ten million times.[vii] Many of us live life acting out a story that we did not consciously choose, via a self that has not understood who we truly are. If we can accept that without judging ourselves or others, without making it wrong that we have not quite been true to ourselves, then our Authentic Self is ready to emerge.

We all have a story, and all such stories are legitimate at the level they are lived and told. You are magnificent, regardless of your strengths and flaws, and no matter how far you have strayed from your Authentic Self. We all hide parts of ourselves from others. And from ourselves. We are not quite courageous enough to allow a more genuine expression to settle into our bones, into our hearts.

Yet the tale is incomplete. And so it is that every story told seeks a new chapter. Another layer that resolves its tension and finds closure. For that resolution to occur, lessons must be learned, and themes mastered. Then, in its ultimate transcendence, the world of story itself is witnessed from outside of ourselves. Here we can draw comparisons with narrative types in literary theory. When we are in the unawakened state, we are merged with the story. The story lives us. This is the first-person protagonists’ perspective. Ultimately by adopting a witnessing perspective we can begin to transcend the story as a third-person, objective narrator to our own lives. We now live the story. Finally, in very deep states of consciousness the rarest life narratorial form emerges, that of third-person omniscient narrator. We may experience this in flashes of revelation in meditation, dreams, crisis visions, ayahuasca trips and so on. The study of near-death experiences represents perhaps the most extensive body of report-based data in this respect. Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to be Me, experienced this state when she came close to dying from cancer. As she was being rushed to the hospital and slipping into a coma, Moorjani suddenly found her consciousness being radically shifted. She found herself in a transcendent realm, looking at her life and all lives from an all-knowing realm.

I was transformed in unimaginable clarity as I realized that this expanded, magnificent essence was really me. It was the truth of my being. The understanding was so clear: I was looking into a new paradigm of self, becoming the crystalline light of my own awareness.[i]

Disconnection from the Authentic Self is an inevitable part of all our journeys. We are lost. Then we are found. That is a grace so amazing that it inspired English poet and clergyman John Newton to write these famous words some two hundred and fifty years ago. 

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,

  That saved a wretch; like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

  Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

  And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

  The hour I first believed![ii]

We have all heard the song. But you may not know the story behind it. Born in 1725, John Newton’s childhood was one of much suffering and despair.[iii] His mother, who held firm religious convictions, died of tuberculosis when he was but six years old, and his father was absent for years at sea. Newton was thus raised by his cold and emotionally distant stepmother. Newton was soon sent away to boarding school, where his years as a student were marked by angry disobedience and abuse at the hands of his teachers. A brief and bleak childhood all too quickly became premature adulthood, as at the age of eleven Newton went to join his father at sea. The Englishman abandoned all faith in religion, writing: “Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the very time when every other comfort was about to fail me.”[iv]

Newton became a rebellious and recalcitrant individual, and that behaviour led to him being conscripted into the Royal Navy. But he soon deserted, pursuing courtship with a young woman named Mary “Polly” Cattlett, who was a family friend. Yet no love was to be bestowed upon him yet, for the humiliation of deserting followed him like a dark specter, and he was traded to work on a slave ship.

The bawdy young sailor saw no reason to change his rebellious ways, and his life as a troublemaker continued. Newton’s creative flair for language was soon put to use, as he regularly mocked the ship’s captain, deriding him with obscene poems and songs. Other crew member’s shared Newton’s coarse sense of humour, and the songs were regular “hits” on deck. Yet the angry child within Newton wasn’t about to let popularity go to his head, and regular conflicts with his fellow seafarers led to periods of chained imprisonment, often without food. Newton thus found himself shackled like the slaves aboard his ship, and almost starved to death. He was then literally enslaved on a plantation in Sierra Leone. Despairingly, the young Englishman became resigned to his wretched fate, but when he wrote a letter to his father describing his situation, the latter intervened. Shortly thereafter a crew from another ship stumbled upon him, and he was freed.

At the age of 23, Newton was sailing in the Greyhound off the north-east coast of Ireland, when it was hit by a terrible storm. Furious winds tossed the boat while angry seas threatened to swallow it. For hours the crew bailed water from the ship. Newton saw a crewmember swept into the turgid sea right before him. To avoid the same fate, Newton tied himself with another shipmate to the ship’s pump, stating, “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!” echoing words written in Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, which he had read only several weeks prior. John Newton returned to the deck to take the wheel, steering the battered vessel for almost half a day. In the long hours that it took the Greyhound reach safety, the seas tossed and turned the vessel, even as Newton contemplated his life and relationship with God.

It was another two weeks before the ship was able to land in Ireland, a time during which the crew had almost starved to death. But the safety of port did not quell Newton’s troubled mind. He started to become more humble and prayerful, asking if his wretched existence could be redeemed in the eyes of God. He felt deep guilt at his neglect of faith and mocking derision of others’ religious beliefs.

John Newton’s story was thus forever changed. God had whispered, and the bawdy sailor began to feel that he had a new mission: to do God’s work on Earth. But his was no blinding flash of revelation, no instantaneous conversion. It was a slow unfolding over several years.

Newton changed his attitudes and behaviour enough to convince Polly’s family to allow him to court her and eventually get married. Yet he continued to work as a slave trader, sailing the coasts of Africa as a ship’s captain, then transporting his wretched cargo to North America. It was only when his health deteriorated at age 30 that Newton left the slave business behind. In 1756 he began working as a customs agent in Liverpool, teaching himself Latin, Greek, and theology. And after several years of work in the Church of England community, in 1764 he was eventually ordained and offered the curacy of Olney, a tiny town of some 2500 residents in Buckinghamshire.

Collaborating with William Cowper, Newton wrote the words to Amazing Grace in 1772, as part of a church service. Seven years later a collection of the religious poems of Newton and Cowper was published anonymously as the Olney Hymns. “Amazing Grace” was then entitled “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” Till that point the hymn had had a life of relative obscurity, but it soon became popular in the United States. The version we hear today was set to music by William Walker in 1835.[v]

Despite speculation, there’s no direct evidence that the “wretchedness” mentioned in the song refers to the slave trade, and Newton only voiced abolitionist sentiments after he left Olney in the 1780s. It was nonetheless clearly a religious piece, drawing inspiration from the Bible. The reference to being lost and found, for instance, is taken from the parable of the Prodigal Son, while the theme of being healed of blindness echoes Jesus’ healing a blind man in the Gospel of John.

This is a “wretched” story indeed. But it is not only John Newton’s story. It is, yet again, our story. The journey of the hero. A tale of a man who becomes lost upon dark and stormy seas, who confronts death and the narrative of his own life, who is then to be born again, his story transformed.

Amazing Grace touches a universal human theme, that forgiveness and redemption are available to all humans, no matter how much we have “sinned.”[vi] There is another layer of existence beyond our story of despair and suffering, and it involves a deepening awareness of an intelligence that is not within our immediate control, forces that our small-s-self can barely sense. This is why “Amazing Grace” is one of the most sung of all songs in the English-speaking world, with thousands of recordings. With every orbit of our planet about the yellow star, individuals of our species sing the tune around ten million times.[vii] Many of us live life acting out a story that we did not consciously choose, via a self that has not understood who we truly are. If we can accept that without judging ourselves or others, without making it wrong that we have not quite been true to ourselves, then our Authentic Self is ready to emerge.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence


[i] Anita Moorjani, (2012). Dying to Be Me. Hay House.

[ii] “Amazing Grace.” (2021).Hymnal.net. https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/313

[iii] “Amazing Grace.” July 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

[iv] Quoted in, “Amazing Grace.” July 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

[v] “Amazing Grace.” July 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

[vi] “Amazing Grace.” July 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

[vii] “Amazing Grace.” July 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace

Liberation In A Suit

Is the suit a symbol of oppression, or a symbol of liberation?

Is the suit a symbol of oppression, or a symbol of liberation?

As filmmaker Guy Ritchie states, there are many businesspeople who go to work in a suit because they have to. The suit doesn’t fit. Something within them rebels against the suit. And so the suit wears them. It becomes a straightjacket. And yet Guy Ritchie loves to wear suits. His suits have become his shining armour. He knows who he is and why he is doing what he is doing. He wears the suit. And makes it his own.

So, is the suit a symbol of oppression, or a symbol of liberation? The answer is that it depends on how you wear it. And so here we arrive at a crucial distinction. What you do for a living is important, but it’s not the most important thing. It is what you bring to that work that is of the essence. You have to own the work, and you have to own the time that you put into it. You have to be present to what you do, and to the people who are there when you do it. So, when you work you are there, and your spirit is with you. And to do that, to be that, you need to know who you are. You need to learn how to say “yes” to your Authentic Self, and “no” to those who do not honour that.

Writer Natalie Goldberg puts it like this: “If you really want to be a runner but you think you should meditate, make running your practice and go deeply into it at all levels.”[i] This is exactly right.

This is a short extract from my upcoming book, Power and Presence.

Marcus


[i] Natalie Goldberg, “Writing Down the Bones.”

Tests of mindfulness: What happens when Daddy makes you eat your beloved pet for dinner?

To learn how to feel deeply is not easy. Many of the more popular or academic practices of presence do not understand this secondary level of healing. This is, of course, due to the limited aims of most of these practices. The purpose of many current mindfulness modalities is to permit calmness, and they are not usually healing practices. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why some mindfulness studies indicate that mindfulness practice results in a small percentage of practitioners becoming more depressed, anxious or even suicidal.[ii] Mindfulness may allow us to relax just enough to leave us poised at the gateway of ancient caverns of the psyche; but ignorant of the cruel goddess. Those practices may not provide us with the proper tools to navigate our way out of that murky domain.


Being present to emotions is not as simple as we might think. That is because emotions do not merely have immediate short-term expressions.

The easiest emotions to master are the feelings that show up physiologically and immediately. You can plot them on an EEG machine, and they can be indirectly detected in the body through such things as respiration, heart rate, blood chemistry and so on. And dealing with these kinds of feelings is not that difficult. If you are angry at your spouse for example, you can take take ten breaths and calm down. If you are scared of using elevators, you can learn to breathe deeply and alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety. If you are sad because your dog died, you can cry. Because these emotions are immediate and conscious, we have all strong awareness of them, and so it is not so difficult to process them.       

But there are some kinds of feelings which are not easily detectable via our modern technologies, because they are not immediate emotional expressions. Here we are talking about the world of the unconscious – or the barely conscious. Trauma that is buried within the psyche is invisible, for example, and is very difficult to detect via neurophysiology. Some wellbeing practitioners may be able to identify such deep emotional baggage through physical symptoms such as chronic tension in the forehead, shoulders and abdomen, or via an examination of posture. Some might see indirect evidence in addiction and other adaptive behaviours; as indirect attempts to control difficult emotions. Yet it has to be acknowledged that these are all indirect indicators.     

The dilemma is, how do we know our unconscious feelings if they defy direct detection and are by definition unconscious?

Please allow me to share a story.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who passed away in 2004, was perhaps the most well-known thanatologist of the modern era. She studied dying. Kubler-Ross learned early in life not to grieve for herself, not to cry and not to feel. Much later in life she realised that traumatic childhood feelings do not simply disappear. In the passage below, she writes of her earliest days in Switzerland, just before World War Two.

During my childhood we always had bunnies around the house, and I loved each and every one of them. The problem was my father was thrifty, and every six months he needed to roast a bunny for our dinner. I would have to bring the beloved bunnies, one by one, to the butcher. But I always made sure that my own special bunny, Blackie, was never chosen. He was mine, the one love object I had that belonged only to me.

Blackie got pretty fat because I kept giving him extra food, and of course the dreaded day came when my father told me it was time for me to bring Blackie to the butcher. I could not allow it. I begged Blackie to run away, but the more I shooed him away, the more he thought I was playing and would run back to me. No matter what I did he kept coming back, and my pain only escalated when I realized that he loved me too.

The inevitable happened soon enough when my father sent me off with Blackie, making me promise to give him to the butcher. I did it, crying the whole time, and in a few minutes out came the butcher with my dead Blackie in a bag.

“Here’s your rabbit,” he said, handing it over. I felt catatonic when I reached out to accept it. I could still feel Blackie’s warmth when the butcher remarked, “By the way, it’s a damn shame you brought this bunny in now. It was a girl and in a day or two it would have had babies.” That night at dinner when my family ate Blackie, in my eyes they were cannibals. But I would not cry for this bunny or anyone else for almost forty years.

It finally happened in a workshop in Hawaii. During the week, the landlord nickeled and dimed me for everything. For the next five days I felt unbelievable rage toward this man, so much so that I wanted to kill him. I struggled to contain the rage so it would not ruin the workshop, and when I arrived back home, my friends confronted me on my anger. After some resistance I talked out my anger and was shocked to suddenly find myself sobbing. The rage gave way to a deep sorrow underneath, and as I cried, I realized this was not only about the landlord. His cheapness had been the trigger that reminded me of my all-too-thrifty father. I was suddenly that little girl crying over Blackie. Over the next few days I cried for him and all the other losses that had gone ungrieved.[i]

Now you can contemplate how traumatizing being served your best friend for dinner must have been for a little girl. We can only imagine being forced to eat our beloved pet cat or a dog.      

Nearly forty years passed before Elizabeth Kubler-Ross processed that trauma. Where was her pain during all those years? How would modern techno-centric medicine possibly have detected that emotional energy? How could anybody have even perceived of the grief and rage which she held towards her father, as well as the terror that must have been etched in her psyche, as a child experiencing how terrible one’s caregivers – and the world – can be.

And this is why learning to be present is not as simple as depicted in some naïve, popular versions of the practice. The art of presence invites us not only to be present with our immediate experiences and feelings, but also to deeper and more subtle emotions, including the  trauma that sits within the psyches of all of us. These feelings can be very strong or even overwhelming, and the stories that accompany them terrible to recall. Developing the right relationship with the psyche can be very challenging.     

This is difficult work for all of us. For some more so than for others, because some of us carry more pain than others. If we are merely present to immediate feelings, then we will not feel at the depth is required to heal.

And here we encounter a common misperception within some meditative and mindfulness philosophies. Silence does not heal. Not by itself. Quieting the mind merely presents to us doorways to healing. As the mind retreats into silence, we may find ourselves sinking into the dark cavern where the cruel goddess resides. Or rather, she appears to be cruel. Yet the frightening visions she shows us can guide us through the dark shadows of the cave and back out into the light of day.

Being merely silent and acknowledging only our immediate feelings and current story to be known, we cannot truly know our deepest needs for healing. We must descend into darker waters, or the greater story within us shall remain hidden, and frosty mountains within the psyche will remain glacier-bound, encrusted with the sleet of our frozen tears.

Here we encounter the paradox of presence. You cannot be truly present till you have developed the right relationship with your feelings; but you cannot develop the right relationship with your darkest emotions till you have invited your deepest pain to be present with you.

Thus, in becoming present an opportunity arises, a choice that you will be asked to make. All emotional wounds seek healing. All unfinished stories seek closure. These are unwritten principles of consciousness that explorers of the psyche well know. We see it in the wisdom of Jung and the teachings of modern mystics like Eckhart Tolle and Leonard Jacobson.

As you relax into presence that principle will seek to make itself known to you.

To learn how to feel deeply is not easy. Many of the more popular or academic practices of presence do not understand this secondary level of healing. This is, of course, due to the limited aims of most of these practices. The purpose of many current mindfulness modalities is to permit calmness, and they are not usually healing practices. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why some mindfulness studies indicate that mindfulness practice results in a small percentage of practitioners becoming more depressed, anxious or even suicidal.[ii] Mindfulness may allow us to relax just enough to leave us poised at the gateway of ancient caverns of the psyche; but ignorant of the cruel goddess. Those practices may not provide us with the proper tools to navigate our way out of that murky domain.

This is an extract from my upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World.


[i] On Grief and Grieving” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. (2005) Taken from: http://jameslau88.com/my_own_grief_by_elisabeth_kubler_ross.htm

[ii] Wilson, C. (2020). “Mindfulness and meditation can worsen depression and anxiety.” New Scientist, Aug

14, 2020. Retrieved Feb 10, 20121, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2251840-mindfulness[ii]and-meditation-can-worsen-depression-and-anxiety/#ixzz6mX1FZnPR.

The Rise of Computational Warfare

The Consilience Project is a sensemaking platform founded by Daniel Schmactenberger. I’m a “fan” on their Facebook page. TCP is a fairly recent initiative, but one that is vital at this time in human history. Just a day or two ago they published the first of a series of articles on the crisis in sensemaking, entitled “It’s a MAD Information War.” It is lengthy, but I encourage everyone who is passionate about human futures and sensemaking to read it. The article is written articulately, is deeply insightful, and all while being well backed by both research and deeply reflective thinking. Its central argument is that we are all soldiers in an information war, and where the propaganda is so effectively implicit that many of us may be completely unaware of its pervasive presence. Exemplars are more easily identified if we are lie outside the battle zones. As stated early in the article, an American citizen resident in a swing state may be “subject to propaganda on social media from both domestic political parties and foreign militaries—a constant battle, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, all in high-definition in the palm of (their) hand.”

But are any of us that much different?

And consider this:

“Just as the destructive power of nuclear weapons forced humanity to reorient to the idea that mutually assured destruction exists at the extremes of physical violence, so advances in information warfare require us to face the same truth of inevitable self-destruction, and to mutually back away. The challenges before us are technological, psychological, and cultural. But the first step in all of this is knowing that we are caught up in a new kind of war. If we are to survive, we must all understand how this situation came about, and grasp the basic dynamics of the advancing battle fronts.”

I first became interested in sensemaking long before it was called that. In my twenties, and because of personal experience research, I explored what might be described as “anomalous” cognitive experiences. I became involved with deep thinkers and deep-thinking communities which held a very different view of the human mind than that espoused in modern scientific representations. Eventually I came to the conclusion that our civilization has unconsciously permitted a delusion about the nature of the mind to pervade its entire formal sensemaking structures, including universities, its science and social sciences, and our established information media systems.

So, I was more skeptical (in the broadest meaning) of our sensemaking apparatus long before the current discourse in this area began to emerge. Yet things are now more urgent. To quote the article again:

“But it was not until the emergence of digital technologies that humanity collectively faced the reality of information weapons of mass destruction. In the context of informational warfare, mutually assured destruction is the total collapse of the epistemic commons, and the exhaustion of language as a means of cooperation for all parties on all sides of the conflict. (italics added).”

It is within this context that I am researching and writing a book: Power and Presence. Embodied presence (the ability to bring the mind into a state of quiet rest at will) is one simple means via which we can remain grounded enough to limit the power of external manipulation upon our minds. Having a well-developed capacity for embodied presence is not the end of the battle, perhaps merely a beginning. But it is a foundation via which we can begin to venture forth into the worlds (physical and virtual) and remain sufficiently grounded such that our capacity for sensemaking is not systematically attacked and retarded. As the Consilience Project article states, the potential cost of this sensemaking crisis is rising every day. Like astronauts who have crash landed on an alien planet, we need to learn, to understand and to master our very strange subject matter. And we need to do so very quickly.

One way to learn is through “the wisdom of trauma,” as Gabor Mate calls it in his film of the same name. But it would be far better (and wiser) to learn from foresight and intelligent sensemaking, before violence and bloodshed become our teachers. For then it may be too late.

I present you the Consilience Project article, here. Do feel free to comment.

Marcus

https://consilienceproject.org/its-a-mad-information-war/

Power and Responsibility

– Higher levels of cognitive responsibility are positively correlated with expanded stages of consciousness evolution.
– The degree of our victim consciousness is inversely proportional to our level of cognitive responsibility.
– Our need for drama is directly related to our unwillingness to assume responsibility for our lives and especially our emotional experience.
– Our sense of personal empowerment (agency) is positively related to cognitive responsibility, and inversely related to our need for drama and identification as a victim.
– A key barrier to assuming higher levels of cognitive responsibility is the often unconscious fear of the emotional pain that we will (possibly) need to feel if we do so.

The need for personal responsibility is an idea you will see me writing throughout this book (Power and Presence). In particular, I like to talk about cognitive responsibility, the capacity to assume the right relationship to the thoughts and feelings that arise within the mind-body dynamic. This includes our reactions to what we experience in the world.

              I came to this awareness of the need for cognitive responsibility many years ago when I worked with some very advanced spiritual teachers in a far-flung corner of the world. They not only had very highly developed intuitive capacities, they were also very strict, thanks to the woman who founded the group. This was a small organisation with the prime purpose of helping people to heal from their emotional and psychological suffering. The leader, whom I shall call Jessica (not her real name) had experienced a very traumatic childhood, which included ritual sexual abuse. But when she reached maturity, she did not allow that to dominate her life and her identity. Instead, she set about finding the best way she could to heal from her psychological trauma. Jessica absolutely refused to take on any victim consciousness. This was years before some current social justice movements assumed institutionalized victimhood; and long before critics of those movements began to re-emphasize the need for more personal responsibility.

              I recall Jessica one day lamenting before a small gathering that, “The hardest thing to do is to get people to damn well take responsibility!” That was about 25 years ago. The human tendency to want to avoid responsibility for our lives and our pain has been around a lot longer than current social justice movements. It is rooted in our psychology, and I would say is a reflection of typical levels of human psychological and spiritual maturity, as expressed in human civilisation over the entirety our history. In other words, there is an interplay of shorter social and political factors, as well as longer historical factors which impinge upon commonly expressed levels of human spiritual maturity. Within that dynamic, individuals and groups may also shift into typically higher or lower levels of cognitive responsibility, according to more localized or personal situations.

              To help people to acknowledge their tendency to give away their power by avoiding personal responsibility, Jessica developed the idea of “levels of responsibility,” as well as an intuitive way to assess how much responsibility a person was taking for their life. It wasn’t an infallible process, but I felt it had much merit, and it helped me and others who worked with Jessica to reflect upon how much cognitive responsibility we were taking for our life experience.

              Having said this, there is nonetheless an issue many people have with taking on too much responsibility in certain situations, and blaming themselves for life experiences which they have had little or no control over. Yet this is irresponsible responsibility, rooted not in a desire to develop the right relationship with life, but in a need to reject and diminish oneself. This is a self-destructive narrative and belief structure that we can unconsciously carry, and it is typically picked up in early childhood, because the child may have no way to properly appreciate why painful things are occurring to them, or why others are abusing them.

              There were several key insights that I drew from working for several years with Jessica’s process; both with her and the group personally, and during the years after I departed that group and country.

  • Higher levels of cognitive responsibility are positively correlated with expanded stages of consciousness evolution.
  • The degree of our victim consciousness is inversely proportional to our level of cognitive responsibility.
  • Our need for drama is directly related to our unwillingness to assume responsibility for our lives and especially our emotional experience.
  • Our sense of personal empowerment (agency) is positively related to cognitive responsibility, and inversely related to our need for drama and identification as a victim.
  • A key barrier to assuming higher levels of cognitive responsibility is the often unconscious fear of the emotional pain that we will (possibly) need to feel if we do so.
  • Addiction to an identity of victimhood (“Poor me!” “Please feel sorry for me!” “You owe me!”) is a key barrier to assuming higher levels of cognitive responsibility.
  • Counter-intuitively, the rescuer complex is often rooted in victim consciousness, or the fear of one’s personal pain. The rescue may be a “drama” designed to ensure that one’s personal pain does not need to be addressed (while we focus upon another’s pain).
  • The persecutor complex may also be inversely proportional to the willingness to assume cognitive responsibility. The rescuer avoids pain by being the good guy; the persecutor avoids his/her deepest pain by playing the “bad boy/bad girl”. Conversely, the victim identity avoids pain by refusing to accept responsibility for it, and/or leveraging pain for attention and power.

All these insights are generalisations. For any given person, self-reflection is needed to develop an awareness of these habits of mind which may have become resident within their own psyche.

              Sometimes, just the “aha!” moment of seeing the pattern is enough to change a person’s life story and behaviour. But typically, it takes some time and diligent focus upon the problem before the behaviour shifts. Typically, that shift occurs in degrees. Recurrences of the drama and its underlying story and beliefs will tend to occur over time. 

              In my own life the victim mindset was once quite deep, but I have largely transcended it. This deep mental habit was offset to some degree by another of my sub-personalities: the warrior archetype. We all have competing sub-personalities within us, but at any given time (or situation), one or more will tend to be dominant, others latent or undeveloped.

 I was very shy and quite emotionally damaged as a child. But the warrior was also there, peeking out from behind the curtain. That was the part of me looking at myself and saying, ”Hey! You don’t need to be so scared all the time!”

At age 17 I decided to play rugby league, which is a fierce game requiring lots of physical strength and courage. I had not developed much of either of those things at the time, but somewhere within me I felt a need to “come out.” My first few games of league were frightening, and my playing ability painfully inadequate. But I persisted for years. Eventually I became a reasonably good amateur player. But it took a decade or so of persistence and blind faith to get there. Playing rugby was a very important part of my spiritual development. I didn’t become a great ball player, nor was I necessarily the bravest on the team. But the experience permitted the warrior energy to be integrated within my psyche.

              In my early  thirties, just after I had stopped playing rugby, I threw myself into self-healing work in much the same way I had thrown myself onto the ruby field while being grossly unprepared. I stumbled upon inner child work with Jessica’s healing group. The process was unfeasibly difficult. Even though I was expressing great emotional vulnerability before others – deep grief, shame, fear and seething anger – it required true courage to allow myself to trust others enough to share my deepest feelings with them.

My personal pain was incredibly deep, I soon discovered. One night, not long after I had joined the group, I had a dream that I was sitting around in a circle with other members of the healing group. Someone called my name and said it was my turn. I stepped out into the centre of circle feeling frightened and vulnerable, and sat down. Suddenly a great wall of flames engulfed me, and I begam to scream in terror as scorching pain filled my being. I abruptly awoke and sat up, literally sweating with fear. I was relieved to realise that the experience was only a dream, but as I relaxed into my bed I began to sob. For at that moment that I realised just how deep my pain really was.

As my intuitive awareness and embodied experience developed, I came to see that my suffering was rooted not only in my personal biography, but in much deeper ancestral and karmic consciousness structures. None of us walks through the world alone. We inhabit a dark forest entangled via vine-like threads with both our human ancestors and contemporaries. Many of those threads represent entangled suffering.

Our belief in separation is a persistent illusion.

              As the years passed, I refined the process I was shown by Jessica’s group to help heal my emotional body. Today, whenever I experience turbulent feelings, I still employ this emotional alignment method (my sharing those understandings is a big part of what this book is all about). Simply put, I deepen into embodied presence and allow any emotional disturbances that show up in my life or in my dream/meditative states to have a healthy expression. I simply permit emotional and intuitive feelings to be expressed and to pass through me, without resistance.

              The key point I want to make is that such “disturbances” still emerge from time to time in my life. But I now have the skills to be able to align with them. I rarely experience these emotions as “suffering,” no matter how “painful” they may be. By reducing judgment of them, relaxing with them and allowing them their place in the light of awareness, I have developed a healthy relationship with them. I am rarely afraid of them.

I write “rarely” because sometimes big issues do emerge, and a fear of looking within can arise. Yet I am now quite familiar with that resistance, and am proficient at working with it. Some adjustment of self-concept may be required. For example, I may have to reset my self-description from a delusional “healed,” to “work in progress.” This is a process in letting go.

Cognitive responsibility does not come without a price. We often have to release some agenda of mind (at least for a time),  parts of the ego which are insisting upon an external outcome. Instead, we may have refocus upon the body and the present moment, and allow ourselves to experience what is arising spontaneously within us – including psychological and emotional disturbances. When our personal agenda and that of spirit are out of alignment, we have a choice about whether to gently acknowledge that, and return to the body – or ignore it. Yet what I learned as that such ignoring also has its price, and one that I came to see as being much greater.

Marcus

This article is an edited extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World