Policies of Work

I was looking in a notebook on my computer and reviewing some of my personal policies and principles of work.
They have changed over the years. I have spent a lot of years in manufacturing and production, and I really beat my body (and mind) up when I was young. “Being a good worker” has always been important to me. That has never changed. But as I have aged I have learned to be more efficient in regard to staying healthy and happy.

Here is a rough list of policies I practice…. some policies from Zen and Permaculture Design writers that I have incorporated into my strategies and tactics of everday work:

Be practical

  • do what works… experience is useful.

 

Wu wei

  • no action, effort or thinking beyond whats needed. (wu wei)

 

Bring the right attitude:

  • keep a “beginners mind“- Suzuki Shōsan.
  • Be confident, unassuming, mindful(observant) and playful (experimental).

 

Be ergonomic and efficient.

  • understanding my body and my environment while at work.
  • always remember good posture and movement.
  • always use as little stresses on my body/mind as possible: See Wu Wei.
  • create good structures and workstations (e.g use a surface tall enough when working on it)
  • Use the correct tool the correct way. ( more on ergonomics)

 

Use everyday science

  • use my understandings of leverage, thermodynamics, rates, even saturation (I am pretty damn good and fast at mopping floors with only hot water :D ), gravity and other forces

 

K.I.S.S or Keep it Simple [,Stupid]

  • make small changes for the greater benefit.
  • it is much easier understand the changes (including costs and consequences) of a tweak,change or experiment when it is uncomplicated

 

Know the players of the playground

  • heh-heh. This one might seem to contradict the previous policy a bit, but it calls for a little balance. One thing I have learned is people, coworker’s that is, do bring their personalities to work with them. Know what a boss expects out me, and know what my coworkers want out of their day at work. Just like back in school, there are followers, there are there are the Kings and Queens. Work life is alot easier if one pays attention to this.
  • In Short: don’t step on toes, inadvertently; and acknowledge coworkers existence and place… usually as simple as a smile and ‘good-morning’.

 

“The problem is the solution”

  • Quote from Bill Mollison. Use difficulties to positive means

 

the standard of Quality is the conformance to Zero defects.

  • this policy only works in producing goods of the same kind (such as assembly line production)…It was one I used in my twenties at work. Personally I do not care for any universal or “standard” policies of quality or conformity when dealing with people, animals, organisms, communities or ecosystems. Thus, this old policy of mine may get thrown out.

 

Be Ethical.

  • practice reciprocity, remain dignified and respect others.
  • practice my primary cares: Care of people, Care of Earth, my primary concern of mental wellness

 

the policy of responsibility of authority

  • “The role of beneficial authority is to return function and responsibility to a system or people.
    If successful no further authority is needed”. from Bill Mollison’s Permaculture.
  • in my words: encourage self-sustainability in others… environment and other people.(See me poem!)

 
 

I hope to get old gracefully,with less pain and fatigue, and with good productivity.
May you do the same.

Diversity and Individual freedom

What would be the point of championing personal “freedom” without championing “diversity”?.
How can one talk of how fervently he or she values their own ability to make choices, have control of his world view and life styles, what actions they take today and in the future, without regarding the freedom of choices in others?
If one wish to advocate to others his / her ” personal freedom” : What is in it for his audience if they can’t have this same freedom for themselves?

Please excuse my rhetorical device…. No one actually to told me that they disdain diversity today . I am just entertaining the idea that social diversity and personal freedom go hand and hand.
After all, I expect that a large group of people, a community made up of individuals who enjoy their freedoms , would result in a community made up of individuals who act and think quite differently. — potentially a diverse population. I couldn’t possibly advocate personal freedom, without advocating the freedoms for others, the freedom to be different in some way than others.

You see, in my estimations , We still need to include group ethics in a conversation of freedom of the individual. Freedom is contextual, there would be no need to talk of civil liberties of persons (or other critters) if their was no one else around.

I champion the ethics of reciprocity and dignity , the golden rule : treat others as I would wish to be treated; expect the same in return; expect that all sides are esteemed. Its a cornerstone of individuality and diversity in community.

If I demand others to tolerate my personal freedoms in choices in belief , attitude and action then i must tolerate other’s freedom in choices of the same.
To do so is to expect that another may have a different lifestyle, way of thinking, way of being, then my own. If we are not trampling on each others dignity, well -being, or personal freedoms this should work out fine. To respect one and another, does not mean we have to like every aspect of one and other.  To do so is to respect and expect diversity and personal freedom.

My Zen and Empiricism

Zen, originally Ch’an , is a practice within the frame work of Buddhism and ancient Chinese-Asian philosophies. Zen practice includes meditation, experiential learning and academically deconstructing language (if it is assumed that language is a vehicle of truth). Thus with Zen, the importance of doctrine and texts falls below the former in priority.

The Buddhist presence in Zen is found Zen’s strategy objectives:

  • to let go bad ideas and attachments;
  • to be with the true nature of things; events; happenings… or “Buddha-Nature” ;
  • to end or reduce angst and suffering.

Inferred from ancient Asian influences, of early Taoist philosophy: the best way for one to experience the nature of things, is to focus on the present moment at hand.– the here and now.

Kill the Buddha

Embrace nothing:
If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
If you meet your father, kill your father.
Only live your life as it is,
Not bound to anything

-attribute to Gautama Buddha.

The allegory’s rhetorical purpose is to encourage one not to rely on the teachings of others. If one conceptualizes “the Buddha” or Dharma in the teachings of one text, one teacher or one master, then one should destroy that picture. One practices to become , or to find his or her own “Buddha”. More accurately, One strives to be with his or her own true nature, or “Buddha-nature” with meditation and experience. Experience includes interpersonal activity (that may include listening or working with others), Zen as is largely a personal study and practice, first.

Depreciating dogma and grand teachings, Zen, or at least my Zen, takes on an agnostic nature.
Outside the social order of Buddhism as religion, many Zen Buddhist or Zennist practice a personal Zen that is often combined with other studies.

My Zen practice is secular in nature. my Zen is combined with Natural Science and Humanistic Psychology

Zen, Rogers and the Rest..

Humanistic psychologist and philanthropist Carl Rogers often cited early Taoism (*), the Ancient Chinese philosophy that influenced Ch’an. Fritz Perls co-founder of Gestalt Therapy studied Zen in Japan (although not entirely impressed with zen (*)) as much as he conversed in European coffee houses. . Writer/lecturer Allan Watts, shared his ideas from Zen Buddhism, Ancient Taoism and psychology, as they applied to contemporary living. Twentieth Century writers in the studies of both Eastern and Western philosophies and psychology drew from Zen Buddhism, Taoism, the works of Danish thinker Kierkegaard amongst others.

The experiential nature of Zen is an easy synthesis with the methods of Humanistic Psychology, where both clients and enthusiasts are encouraged to understand how they experience their environment. Zen and H.P agree on the concept of organism and field connectivity… I would say both are the study of being. To use big words of academic philosophy Zen practice and Humanistic Psychologies use methods of Ontological Empiricism or “phenomenology“. All this really means is that when one is practising or applying these awkwardly termed approaches , one seeks to understand his own nature, in real time as it happens. Zen is personal in method.

Zen and Scientific Investigations

Empirical-world.jpgI believe that as studies, Natural Science, in particular Physics, and Zen have similar aims. Both theorize that the way the universe happens has a structure… a constant and common underlying nature to everything and nothing. Natural Law, Tao, or Buddha Nature pick your words, Nature is illusive. Both Science and Zen aim to investigate the nature of the happening universe by Empirical means. Science uses rigorous testing while all the time remaining as objective as possible, zen is a more personal introspection. Humanistic psychology with its “phenomenological approach” also uses personal investigations, all the while “bracketing” or reducing bias and judgement that obscure ones own interpretation of Reality .’

A Not So Perfect Synthesis

The true nature of things, even with bracketed personal experience, meditation and scientific evidence can be incredibly hard to pin at times. Even with all the evidence of this constancy it still requires a bit of Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith. What this means, for me is, I don’t treat all circumstances and all people the same. If this sounds contradictory, hear me out:
Its impossible to use a single strategy or approach for every circumstance, every interpersonal gestalt…. I suspect: too many variables and people are too different. So I am, at times, a pluralist, in the William James vein when I am problem-solving. For Example, Conversing between peers in mental health management We often say “What works for one person may not work for the next:. Its the best I can do. I’ll save my pragmatic and localized problem-solving approach for another post,

What happens, Now

So I usually describe myself accurately as an “agnostic”, for those who find labels important and for those who ask, but that never seems satisfying. Being Agnostic? that really applies to the limitation of knowledge, a knowledge that fundamentally rested upon what humans can experience. (We can’t even be sure if anything known can be described outside the bracket of human experience -IMO)

Tongue Firmly in cheek… I will now introduce l myself as an “Empiricist” when prompted.
and we’ll see what happens. :)

Symphony of Rain

So busy doing other things, some times I forget the beauty of the rain. Its not until I “sit” do I remember. I already was sitting — on the front porch playing chess against my android device on an otherwise “dark and stormy night”. Tired of that I just “sat” in the Zen definition:
Sitting, on the same porch on bench: posture square, straight… confident through the shoulders but relaxed; Legs straight with feet flat on the ground. I should point out that I was covered in bug repellent, so I felt safe from the army of mosquitoes of the damp night.

Soon the sound of the rain filled my awareness. The sound of droplets against asphalt roof and asphalt road with the grass, bushes and flower beds in between: quite a symphony.
Then I could fill the touch of the cool damp breeze. My thoughts meandered to other arbitrary ideas. When I caught myself thinking.. (I almost just wrote “When I caught my mind thinking” ) When i caught myself thinking about stuff: I let go of the subvocalizing process… I became aware of my breathing and posturing. And then the symphony of the rain, again

There is always a point, while meditating, where I want to get up and do something else. As if to say, “Well i am done. Yep I’m satisfied with the moment. Lets go do something else. Lets go be somewhere else. Lets go dancing!
I always have to catch myself, as if to say “hey! where do you got to be? Sit your ass back down and enjoy the moment.
The tricks that I play on myself (I almost wrote “the tricks that my mind plays upon me”) while meditating. Meditating is seldom peaceful for me. Neither is writing apparently, since I keep treating ‘my mind” as if where separate from the rest of me.

The bug repellent wore off, leaving me the anxiety of being eating alive by mosquito who have been seeking refuge from the night by porch lights. I love the rain, but I don’t like mosquito bites.

So I went inside and wrote about it.

Compassion

Compassion is the understanding of others, with the cultivated awareness of suffering.    Perhaps  more  accurately,    Compassion is empathy with the awareness of suffering.

The western concept of “empathy“, popular in the writings of twentieth century humanists, philosophers and psychologist has its own active verb tense. “to empathize” or “empathizing“. compassion does not have a verb tense in English… perhaps ” to sympathize“… but I will stick with Compassion, here.

To empathize is to imagine another’s experience,  compare that experience with his/hers and to be affected.   One empathizes with another person(s), organism(s) and their circumstance. It should be noted, that from a stand point of certain schools of thought,as in Zen Buddhism, Humanistic Psychology and existential- phenomenology, an organism is always considered with his circumstances. One is always interacting, affecting and being affected by his environment . This is “experience”, the participation of an organism in its world. “Phenomenology” is big ugly word for the study of experience(s), from subjective lenses.    “Empathizing”, is being affected by and imagining another(s) experience(s).

Another overlapping concept is “perspective-taking“. “Perspective taking” is imagining another’s experience and world-view.   Perspective-taking is objective and rational in method; and deliberate in avoiding any emotional affect and judgments.    To take another’s point-of-view and study while holding back any personal bias and presumption would be perspective taking. (see also Husserl’s bracketing or epoche`)
Is it at all possible to remove all bias?    Some psychologists argue that perspective taking is a primitive form of empathizing .

Alfie Cohen, Author of “Brighter Side of Human Nature“…… poses another  phenomenological approach to empathy that he calls “feeling-into“. To “feel-into” another’s circumstance, personal happenings, gestalt or being-in-this-world. Feeling-into is an full cognitive investigation of another’s subjective experience.

Back to Compassion

I do believe that there are people who can empathize or feel-into another’s situation without compassion.
A study of the psychopathology of some dangerous criminals might support my claim.   For example: there are a few who feel powerful or aroused when they imagine themselves as the victims of their violent attacks. in this case there is empathy and perspective taking, for pathological pleasure, but no compassion.

To act with compassion is to act and empathize, while recognizing and considering suffering. To act with compassion is to act and be affected by the suffering of others.

Understanding suffering is at the core of any study, religion, or way-of-being that is called Buddhism.  Thus compassion is a much talked about subject-matter . Understanding the nature of suffering is fundamental to Buddhist practice.
Note below a translation of the four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Four Nobel Truths of Buddhism .

  • Suffering Exists in Life
  • The Source of Suffering is attachment
  • The Emancipation of Suffering is attainable
  • The Path or the “Eightfold Path” (wisdom, conduct, development)

 
In Christianity, (at least from my non-religious outsider’s stand appointment), A great deal of importance is placed on the suffering of Jesus at the end of his days. In interpretations,   God seeks to empathize with man in the Life and times of Jesus. Followers seek to understand God in part by empathizing with the life and Crucifixion of Jesus. The very important Christian theme of Redemption is tied to suffering and compassion just as it is the teachings of Jesus, in the “Sermon on the Mount“.

Compassion is care for others. What can, at times, be overshadowed is the care for ones own well-being.   IMHO: It is important to act in the same compassionate manner for his or herself, as he does for others.   Just as important as anything written here:    The care and wellbeing of one’s self and others includes happiness, pleasure, curiosity and a spectrum of experiences…. not just suffering.

Compassion maybe a cornerstone of ethics along with self- esteem and reciprocity. If we truly love and esteem ourselves (that is, our being) ;    If we treat each other in the manner we wish to be treated, then we may presume that no one likes pain and suffering.   We’d care for ourselves and others, and act accordingly— rich in understanding perspectives beyond our own.
It would be unethical to deliberatively harm another (or one’s own being) that we have compassion and care for.

New Years Day. Death, Living and Changing

It is the new year: The beginning of a new calendar cycle – a graduated period of time that measures Change. I am experiencing a great amount of change recently. The most meaningful event of the previous year was the death of the man who was both my best friend and Father. The most noticeable change upcoming is supporting my mother as she gains (at huge cost) more independence and responsibility.

Death

Death, it seems final. It is, after all, the end of a life.  Life, a graduated period of living. However each life is an integral part of larger impermanent event. Yet, I am not transcendental in my attitude. I’m instead I remain empirical  and existential in attitude. Death, living and changing are existential themes.

  • What-exists is integral part of All,
  • What-exists has it’s own nature —All while changing . Willfully or with beat of the Cosmos.

What exists as a person, may cease existing as a person – We often say is ” the end of a life” or a Death. What existed as a person may be soon exist as a tree, be the Earth below it,   dew forming on its leaves,   the atmosphere around it.

A figure of an ever-changing work of art… eventually  fades into the ground.   A wave disperses to back to the tumultuous sea.
Figure and ground.   wave and sea.   ones-own-nature and Nature.     being and not-being.   –phenomenologically speaking .

Living

As I postulated: one’s existence is part of All. The willful part of existing, seem to be “ doing”.

Doing something is expressing our own nature. We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.

- Shunryu Suzuki

To say that I exist, that “I am!” (while remembering that, at the same time I’m an integral part of All) is to say that I am expressing my nature. I breathe, I feel, I move, I ponder… All the while I participate, I express my- nature  I am part of Nature — therefore I am.
(the two fold connectivity of “my nature”, and “Nature”. –Suzuki’s Oneness of two ; Kierkegaard’s authenticity, Te and Tao … I’ll save some future post/)

Changing

[...] the natural state of man is as a single, whole being not fragmented into two or more opposing parts. In the natural state, there is constant change based on the dynamic transaction between the self and the environment…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

One exists by expressing his own nature and harmonizing with Nature  . IMHO, this is participation,  an organism separating, connecting and integrating with his environment –this is living,   When one is  living in the present, while letting go of what is no longer part of he/she —this is change.
I am presently remembering my Dad and his life still affects mine. At the same time I let go of  what-is-not-me today.

change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

Its been a tough year, but i have a good life, with reason to optimistic towards the future.  I  am saving a Robert Frost poem,  that I read at my Fathers service, until my next post.  until then—
Happy New Year!

Intersubjectivity and Interpersonal Brighter Side Repost

Repost…
Intersubjectivity and Inerpersonal Bright Side” was origionally posted: dec 5, 2011.

 
Look upon other people and see that we are all  humans.  We  roughly appear to have the same forms and physics, the same sets of uniquely  human behaviors ( such as use of language). Upon deeper inspection, by biologists  who study DNA, There are traits and characteristics that are universally Homo Sapien or  human.
Meet and talk with other people and discover that people have cognitive differences of each person; Travel and note the cultural  differences of people.
If  you are one who has used medications and therapies for serious health problems, you will quickly learn the unwritten rule : “what works for one may not work for another, everyone is different“. One can infer each Homo Sapien is  biologically different from the next, Same  goes for their sum total of subjective  experiences. The individual  has characteristics that are unique.

I am  pretty sure  that a universal model does not apply when talking about all people, most of  the time. But we also, in talking about the human race per se , or groups… education  ,communication or interactions ..need to talk about more than just the individual. I certainly want to know more than the individual that is me.

Self and Other, Person to Person

As I am  a subject of my  own permeated world that I participate in,  other persons are the subject of their own. As  subjects we have considerable influence upon the world. a subject acts upon other things.  In  the shared circumstance, such as that  of  a  conversation, or any other interpersonal experience, Each must treat the  “other” as a subject of overlapping or joined existence– an intersubjective circumstance.  Intersubjectivity.

On the hand, a we appreciate, as it were, [another  persons]  otherness, and on the other hand we appreciate the humanness we have in common

-Brighter Side of Human Nature. Alfie Kohn chapter titled The Self and Other
Kohn goes on the explain  intersubjectivity in a meeting  (conversation, circumstance, Dasein etc) .  After the two fold contrast of Self and Other arises; and two subjects recognize an intersubjective  meeting, A   twofold attitude with the contrasting  of  sameness and difference arises. This is not a state between sameness and difference, according to Kohn, rather a “dynamic tension of the two”.

One  who appreciates both dimensions of otherness and common humanness is able to appreciate a given individuals subjectivity [...] a subject is an actor, a knower, a center of experience and while two individuals share  these features each is  also a different subject.

I would postulate  that one is  often comforted in the  sameness beyond humanness in a intersubjective moment.  A subject maybe comforted in the sameness of culture, age, gender, ethnicity, ideology.  Perhaps, for better or for worse,the  Sameness    we find in other people confirms ones own identity.
We are at the same time excited by the novelty of otherness, sometimes startled…. sometimes curious. If   man is  to reach  beyond his own hands grasp , it could be said one seeks  out  otherness beyond himself. In interpersonal relationships, we very often find another person’s Otherness, including the persons individual experiences and circumstances, compelling or alluring.

Beyond Objectification

Many Neuroscientists believe that they have located “Mirror neurons” in the human brain. These neurons are believed to activate when we observe   other people actions.  In certain developmental stages (the experts argue the exact ages)  one learns by observing others, an interpersonal  action.

The understanding  that: other people  that one contacts (meets and interacts with) in his/her  own experiences,  have  similar  experiences  of their own, more than any stone, tree , structure or object;
and that they impact and influence  as subjects within their own experiences… this is understanding  takes a practical leap of faith.
But this understanding, which requires assumptions supported by a subjects growing experiences, lifts one beyond dull  solipsism and egoism , to the richness of an intersubjective matrix, which is our human world.

Modern Physics may suggest a  “subject:object” or “I:it” outlook as impractical. All things  have influence on all other things in a field, whether the affect is grand or arbitrary.  Any subject acting on a body, whether a stone, tree, another person, earth, sun, is influenced by the other in return. Objects are not static or inert.
For the purpose of interpersonal subject:subject or intersubjective relationship We may  as, Martin Bubers suggest, choose “I:thou” interpretation over “I:it” .

The Brighter Side

The rich understanding of other people in their  Dasein beyond ones own existence is one thing and Learning from others another. We also have to live with each other in space and our societies.  If I am ” to treat others  in the manner I wish to be treated“, Wouldn’t I have to know what is it like to be in another circumstance?

I am Reading Alfie Kohn’s The Brighter side of Human Nature“. Which postulates an individual’s existence is ideally positioned somewhere between the poles of  Egoism and Altruism, and the motivations of an individual lies somewhere between self-interest and pro-social selflessness.
He writes about the importance of  “Perspective  taking” including Empathy (or feeling into)
three types of perspective taking:

  • Spatial and perceptive:  imagining what its like to be in someone else’s physical circumstance.
  • Cognitive:  imaging how another people (and organisms) think,feel and act from their perspective including strengths, limitations
  • Empathetic: Being affected by another’s circumstance.

Perspective taking is understanding another’s perspective, while Empathy is “feeling into”, or being affected by another persons perspective or circumstance. In quoting by Robert Salmon Perspective taking and Empathy…”Are  form[s] of social cognition intermediate between logical or moral thought “

Cohn synthesizes the work of scientist(including doctors , biologists) , psychologist, educators, and  philosophers and the book is   heavily annotated.  Cohen further illustrates the importance of  understanding intersubectivity in interpersonal relationships, to promote the pro- social(or altruistic) and motivations and actions of individuals. He makes a strong case for an the Altruistic interests of the individual beyond self interest. I would recommend the book for all, but especially humanists, individualists and existentialists.

To be a subject in Existence is  moral participation. To act upon and with others requires Dignity, Reciprocity, and Tolerance, (Ethics) in addition to subjects self -interests and mutual interests with others.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 251 other followers