Archive for the ‘Humanism’ Category




Are you happy?  Do you know how to gain happiness? What do ‘experts’ say happiness is?



10 insights from the planet’s foremost experts on the fabric of happiness in the 21st century:

1 “Feel the real — happiness is not the absence of sadness. I’ve never lost a patient to terminal crying.”

2 “Happiness is the absence of stress-related thoughts and memories, toxic hostility, Type-A responses and a hysterical amygdula.”

3  “We are wired for good, and we can cultivate a good life through things like meditation and boosting our oxytocin levels. Touch and expressions of gratitude boost this neuropetptide that floats through the bloodstream, which spreads trust and compasison.”

4   “Realize, experientially, the absence of self. That’s genuine happiness.”

5  “The wonder of the voice is that it’s the only musical instrument that we carry around with us all the time. If you use your human voice in song, you will be happy. It takes you away from all the troubles of the world.”

6  “Attaining the conditions of happiness in its highest form is to care for the collective soul, our collective life-force.”

7 “When it’s ‘normal’ that every workplace offers massage, meditation, three organic meals a day, and lets you bring your dog to the office, our work will be done. If everyone develops mindfulness from the inside out, we will make world peace.”

8  “Happiness is Platonic, Darwinian hedonism.”

9  “Pursuit, according to Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, means ‘to follow with hostility’. It doesn’t go with happiness.”

10  “Happiness is freedom from excessive self-concern.”



To see whose definitions these are go HERE


To read a very interesting article on happiness by Craig Lambert go HERE

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Being human – an American high school principal´s view

Many years ago a copy of this letter came my way – supposedly issued by a high school principal to his/her teachers on the first day of school.

It was seminal in the development of my world-view  – and it is worthy of re-circulation;

Dear Teacher

     I am a survivor of a concentration camp.  My eyes saw what no man should witness:

        Gas chambers built by learned engineers.

        Children poisoned by educated physicians.

        Infants killed by trained nurses.

        Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.

        So, I am suspicious of education.

My request is: Help your students become human.  Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmans.

Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human. 

SEE ALSO: http://www.hmh.org/ed_faqs.asp


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE

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If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.


See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.


Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.


But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”


And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64



Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.


Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.


Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.



All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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From QuakerDave we have a post we should all be asking – What if mothers did rule the world?

Funny. Sally Field is getting ripped by the Right because of her “insane ranting” at the Emmys last night. This savaging comes in spite of the fact that what she said (despite Fox’s attempt to censor her) is about as “family values” as you can get. The war-hawkers at Fox had to cut what she said because she had the audacity to mention war in the context of her being (and portraying) somebody’s mother, and Rupert couldn’t ever let that happen:

“This (award) belongs to all the mothers in the world – may they be seen, may their work be valued and raised – and especially to mothers who stand with an open heart and wait — wait for their children to come home – from danger, from harm’s way and from war. I am proud to be one of those women… If mothers ruled the world there would be no (expletive) wars.”

Here’s the question for the day: What if mothers did rule the world? ………………

I would say:

Those that live under terror might then have security.

Those that hunger might be fed.

Those that thirst might have clean water.

Those that long for education and a means to earn a living might be affirmed.

Those that seek justice and a respected place in the human family might be given a place at the human family’s ‘table’.

To read QuakerDave’s answers go HERE


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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De-mystifying the mystical and deciding on your definition of ‘mystical’?

What’s your definition of mystical and mystical experience? The one I came up with is as follows;

‘The mystical is positive, ineffable, unitive, experience that enhances insight or knowing – in a spiritual or religious context.’ (My composite definition to use with Hick’s definition below)

This is a composite developed from a range of authorities I looked at. In addition to developing a definition that works for me I want to de-mystify the mystical. Many mystics are presented as rare creatures but I wanted to emphasize that mystical experience is part of everyday life – like philosophizing. There are neutral and even negative such experiences. The essential thing is the experience of being at one with the Whole and losing what Wilber and others call our ego-boundaries of self (ego).

Positive such experiences provide us with deeper insights into reality and the will to do good in the world. This may or may not be in a religious context.

Neutral or negative such experiences – I will leave it to you to decise which is which – include sex, drugs and rock and roll and such experiences as are available via flotation tanks. Music must surely be included.

What proof is there that such experience is part of normality? Perhaps there are clues in everyday language such as the phrase, “It took me out of myself?” or “I was transported…” (rather more 19thC).

I think that the ‘rarification’ of such people as mystics can be part of how a power elite has in the past exerted power over the common people. Fundamentalists are wary of mystics because they might have a view that’s different to the ‘party line’.

Apparently mystics flowered only for a short time in England.

Of course submitting your own experiences to reason and reasonableness helps create a balance.

My slightly adapted ‘John Hick’s definition’ of the mystical is helpful – the mystical is nothing more or less than direct religious experience’. It’s especially useful if combined with the Christian idea that you will ‘know them by their fruits’

The point is the mystical is subjective. We might be self-deceiving – so its a good idea to have some teachers whose ‘living of the life’ and creating of ‘good fruit’ qualifies them to be seen as authorities.

The bottom line is beliefs matter less that action – so why vilify or kill those whose only difference is that they might hold different beliefs?

Of course – but there’s a sting in the tail – there’s room in my world for fundamentalists, but there’s no room in their world for me. Hmm……..


” Mystical experience…..does not seem to me to be anything other than first-hand religious experience as such. This is, however, the core of religion.

…the explanatory function of religion is secondary and derivative. Religion consists primarily in experiencing our life in its relation to the Transcendent and living on the basis of that experience….

…..in terms of Ninian Smart’s six-dimensional analysis – distinguishing the





social and

experiential dimensions of religion

– mysticism is a general name for religious experience together with part at least of the network of religious practices which support it.

…. Brother David (Steindl-Rast) defined mysticism as “experience of communion with the source of meaning“; and he stressed that all who worship, and indeed all who are conscious of the divine, are mystics. ….and Swami Prabuddhananda defined mysticism as ‘the realization of relationship between the individual soul and the infinite reality‘” P423

Hick, John, (1981) Mystical Experience as Cognition in Understanding Mysticism, ed. Richard Woods, London: The Athlone Press


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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Wilber, heart-knowing, head-knowing, and the 3 ‘voices’ through which we engage with reality

Heart-knowing, head-knowing, and the 3 ‘voices’ through which we engage with reality

The three intrapersonal ‘voices’ of human engagement, have previously been presented as Caring, Creativity and Criticality.

Our Caring, Creativity and Criticality ways of engaging are developed through internalizing the voices of parents and family and then all of the Humanities, the Arts and the Sciences experiences we have at school and in the wider society.


Corresponding to the three voices we have three ways of knowing:

1 the ‘social-others-centred’ way of knowing – in the case of Caring

2 the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ way of knowing – in the case of Creativity and

3 the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’ way of knowing – in the case of Criticality


Caring, the ‘social-others-centred’ way of knowing = the internalized voice of the Humanities, and is about engaging with reality via the moral viewpoint


Creativity, the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ way of knowing = the internalized voice of the Arts, and is about engaging with reality via the subjective viewpoint


Criticality the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’ way of knowing = the internalized moral voice of the ‘Sciences’ and is about engaging with reality via the (supposed) objective viewpoint.


NB Criticality is wider that what is normally meant by the Sciences and scientific methods. It includes philosophy and such activities as Eng Lit criticism. Why? Because it is about reasoning and other ‘left-brain’ objective activities. The participant assumes the position of being objective and is learning or teaching about phenomena – s/he is not learning or teaching in the phenomena – a distinction that correlates with that between ‘knowing that’ (Paris is the capital of France) and ‘knowing how’ (being able to dance a response to a tragic event).


Heart-knowing and head-knowing, left-brain and right-brain

Heart-knowing, the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’, is seen as partly an innate, intuitive way of knowing and seems to relate to right-brain activities.


The ‘methods of the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’’voice’ seem to relate to right-brain activities.


The third form, i.e. social knowing, is seen as deriving from the cultural interpersonal matrix of family and community relationships, internalized as the Caring seems to draw upon both sides of the brain (as do architects!).


NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE





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Heart-rending testimony of an Afghan woman in Fazal Sheikh’s online book, ‘When Two Bulls Fight the Leg of the Calf is Broken’

afghan-woman.jpgBe sure to visit Fazal Sheikh’s on-line HERE

Take a look at the heart-rending testimony of an Afghan woman in ‘Fazal Sheikh’s online book When Two Bulls Fight the Leg of the Calf is Broken’.

Here is a short extract;

‘When our great Islamic revolution succeeded, we thought our day of deliverance had come. Finally we would be free and independent. Afghanistan was released. But once again women were treated as the goat in the game, pulled this way and that by one faction or another. Once again, on all sides, indiscriminate bombing and rocket-attacks, bullets and mines killed Afghan children in their mother’s wombs. We were forced to flee with bare feet and uncovered heads to escape the killing. Some of us fled to foreign countries and became refugees. It should not be forgotten that some of us were forced to flee to Moscow for our safety!

I shall never forget how so many of us spent frightened lonely nights waiting patiently in the front line for a single loaf of bread. How many of us were abducted by armed men from Mujahedin parties in the middle of the day in busy streets. How many of us were raped. How many of us threw themselves from buildings to keep their chastity. How many of us were taken from the scorching refugee camps in Jalalabad to become a commodity for men in neighboring countries. How many widows were forced to sell themselves to feed their families.

Those who have come to power, those with guns, continue to leer at us, to make fun of us, to take pleasure in harassing us. These men who think of themselves as the defenders of our faith, as our fathers and brothers sent to protect us, are the same ones who call us “Honey”. They say: “Don’t come out of your bottle, the flies might touch you.” The flies are the men that rush at you. Others tell us that we are “live wires that must be covered.” It is a pity they don’t recognize us as individuals, as fellow human beings. Over the loudspeakers they announce that years of holy war has simply been to cover Afghan women in Muslim dress.

That, dear brother, dear father and son, I am sure was not the purpose of the holy war……’


Of course people need water and food but as Maslow pointed out long ago security is a comparably important need.


NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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