Some thoughts I had while walking through a University campus: the revulsion in becoming a “systemite” and the “war for humanness”

Here’s a thought I had:

Recently, I walked through the campus of the University of Utah, where I went for several semesters (see a previous article on similar issues called “Some thoughts on my experience at the University“).  It brought back many experiences and one aspect in particular.

I really only went to the University for two semesters.  I withdrew at the beginning of the third semester.  It was during the second semester that I began to feel that I didn’t want to be there.  “Something” as if seemed to tell me to leave.  I did not really know why, exactly.  It felt like a revulsion . . . something seemed to disgust me about it all (and still does).  Something seemed “amiss” or “wrong” about the University.  Because of this, I started to see if I could find ways to leave the University that would be “acceptable” to everyone (such as my parents).  I racked my brain trying to figure a way to leave.  Basically, I was looking for an “excuse”.  Finally, I was told, in a class of mine, that the statistics for getting into a graduate school of Psychology wasn’t good (as I was studying Psychology at the time). It was so bad it would be an ample “excuse” to leave.  I almost jumped up with joy.  In fact, some months ago, while walking through the same campus, I passed by where that event took place and said, “that room is very special in my life . . . it was there I found a reason to leave the University” (I spoke of other reasons why I left psychology in my article “Thoughts on why I didn’t go into psychology“).  With this “excuse” I found an “acceptable” reason to leave the University.  Everyone thinks I left for this reason but the real reason is that I didn’t want to be there.

But the exact reason why I didn’t want to be there has always been vague, as if clouded in a fog.  I knew aspects of it but I never seemed to quite “grasp” the reason completely.  As I reflected on it, while walking around, a more complete image seemed to appear.  After a quarter of a century I seem to have a better “grasp” of the reason why.  To put it simply, I didn’t want to be what I call a “systemite”.  This is a term I use for a person that is nothing but an appendage to the system.  They conform and make themselves a part of the system and, thereby, become its servants and slaves. 

It became clear, to me, that the University was geared to creating “systemites”.  I could see that “education” is not really learning but, rather, learning what the system wants and in the way it wants, primarily to serve the system.  Because of this, “success” is measured, in actuality, by how well you do what the system wants.  To be “educated” means you have learned this fact “properly”.  In other words, things like ‘truth’ and learning tend to take a back seat (in many cases, they’ve been left out completely!).  As a result, “education” becomes more a lesson in systemism than of education, truth, and learning.   In that way, a “systemite” is a form of conformism.  “Education” then becomes nothing but learning to conform to what the system wants.  In fact, one could very well describe it as a conformism to excess, to the point that you believe, and do, whatever the system says (which is what students generally do . . . see my article “Thoughts on the ‘learning threats’ – a hidden tension in learning and education“).  In some respects, “learning” and “education” is nothing but learning to believe what the system says.  In so doing, you will have the support, and validation, of the system.   When you have the support, and validation, of the system it becomes “true” but, in actuality, its not necessarily true.  Its only true in relation to the system.  I often speak of this as ‘system truth’.

Generally, ‘system truth’ is considered true because of the authority and power of the system and the more authority and power in the system the more “true” the ‘system truth’ becomes.  In this way, the authority and power of the system is what determines what is true, not “inherent truth” (I mean the truth that “just is” with or without the systems support). As a result, the determining factor of ‘system truth’ is its association with the authority and power of the system and, at this time, the system has great authority and power which makes ‘system truth’ very prevalent nowadays and something sought.  As a result, catering to ‘system truth’ has this great quality of “truth” in it which, really, is an illusion . . . it a “truth” that relies on and rests on the authority and power of the system.

But, because the ‘system truth’ is based in the system, it tends to be narrow in the systems perspectives.  Not only that, it is limited by the authority and power of the system.  This creates a narrow form of “truth” overall.  As a result of these facts, there are always people who always tend to go beyond the limits of ‘system truth’ and seek more ‘inherent truth’.  Oftentimes, this becomes at odds with ‘system truth’ but, more often than not, it becomes an alternate way of looking at things.  To me, ‘system truth’ seems narrow and confined, almost like looking at life through a tube.  This is what I felt at the University.  I could tell that, to succeed there, I’d have to “learn” to look at life through a tube, which I did not want to do.

In conforming to the system, and believing in ‘system truth, the “systemite” is really displaying a form of mindlessness as conforming to the system replaces your mind.  That is to say, you let the system “do your thinking” or you “match your thinking to the systems”.  This is part of the failure of ‘system truth’ and the “systemite”.  This is because mindlessness, by its nature, entails an absence of ones self and person.  That is to say, by giving up your mind you give up your self and person.  This is because the “measure of the self and person” is how one conforms to the system.  Therefore, a person is not a “self or a person” but, rather, an appendage of the system . . . the self and person is either reduced or absent.  As I reflect on it, this is what I saw at the University, a bunch of people with an absence of self and person.  This not only includes the students but the faculty as well.  No doubt, this absence of self and person is primarily what caused the revulsion and disgust I felt.   In fact, to this day, this fact still gives the University (and “educated”) a quality of “a place where people drape themselves with facts, knowledge, ability, and social status to hide their absence of a person”.  Its this absence of self and person that, in a way, creates the “systemite”.  As part of the “systemite” quality, the absence of self and person gives people a quality of a “robot” or “automaton”, oftentimes, sometimes to the point of being “unhuman”.  This is no surprise . . .

The absence of self and person makes it so that the “systemite” becomes diametrically opposed to human nature and human qualities, which I call “humanness”.  My experience, and observation, is that the system actually undermines “humanness” overall.  In short, the more a person follows the system (that is, becomes a “systemite”) the less “humanness” they have.  I’ve never seen it any other way.  The most “human” people are always the ones who do not follow the system and generally stand removed from it, at least from my experience.

I should point out that I am not saying that to be a “systemite” is completely bad.  For some people, that is the way to be.  In fact, I would say that a “systemite” is an aspect of the human character, which is why its so prevalent and why people “slip” into it so easily.  But its not a defining trait of the human character.  For some of us, it is destructive and undermining.  It is this fact that I discovered while at the University:  I discovered that I didn’t want to be a “systemite” nor be around it.  To me it causes a revulsion and disgust, which still continues to this day.

The modern world, though, has made the “systemite” necessary for survival.  It needs “human machines” to survive and exist.  In other words, the modern world has made the “systemite” an appealing and desirable trait.  In many ways, “to get in with the modern world is to become a systemite”.  This is because the modern world is so powerful and influential . . . it requires you to conform.  Because of this, to follow the system, and become a “systemite”, has benefits.  This primarily comes through monetary benefits and social esteem and status.  Many people are motived by these things alone.  As a result, many “systemites” are often people who value these things primarily.  This gives many “systemites” a quality of an opportunist, which seems quite prevalent at the University . . . they aren’t there for learning or education but for the opportunities it offers (another example of how the University isn’t about education and learning).

Because the system is so strong, nowadays, a person who maintains their “humanness” tends to suffer in many ways.  It can include things like:

  • They don’t make a lot.
  • They are not socially esteemed.
  • They may have low social status.
  • They may be ignored or trivialized.
  • They may even become outcasts.

This fact shows that the system has created two conditions:

  1. That you are a part of the system.
  2. That you are not a part of the system.

In other words, the system, by its nature, has created a narrow path.  Basically, it favors, values, and esteems the “systemite” only.  The result of this is that “humanness” is not esteemed or valued that much in the system.  In fact, as near as I can tell, I’m the only person emphasizing the “human”.  Its almost as if the system is squashing it out of existence and replacing it by the “systemite”.  But, by becoming a “systemite”, a person as if trades their “humanness” for the benefits of the system.  This gives them the benefits of the system but a loss in their humanity.  This fact describes a basic conflict of the modern world:  the “human” versus the “systemite”.  In fact, I’d be inclined to say that the conditions of the modern world have basically created a “war for humanness”.

Oddly, this “war for humanness” is a silent war that many of us are now quietly fighting.   In fact, as far as I know, I’m the only one who has acknowledged that this war is even happening.  It seems silent for a number of reasons, such as:

  • The systems emphasis on the ways of the “systemite”.
  • The authority and power of the system which devalues anything else.
  • There is no adequate “expression” of this war.  That is to say, because its not been acknowledged it has no “form” or “substance” . . . it hasn’t found a “voice”.
  • It involves deep-rooted qualities of our humanity.  In fact, its so deep-rooted that many of us aren’t aware we are fighting it.  Not even I was aware of the fight I was waging initially.  It sometimes appears as a reflex action that is so innate that one is unaware of it.  This makes our reactions somewhat “hidden” oftentimes.

For many of us, though, we find ourselves fighting this war . . . its a war that is forced upon us.  After all, who would think that a “war for humanness” would exist?  I’m sure there are people who would deny that it exists at all.  But, to me, it seems a real war.

One group of people, it seems, that are fighting this war, silently and unaware, are white males.  Interestingly, this often appears as an avoiding or abandoning of society by the male, which I call the ‘male exodus’  (see my article “Thoughts on “failing” boys and males “dropping out”: “the male exodus” . . . another account of the fight against dehumanization???“).  This is not surprising as, in general, the best way to fight the war, at this time, is to avoid the cause (namely, being a part of the conditions that cause it).  I did this by leaving the University and by avoiding modern society.  Many males do it by various forms of the ‘male exodus’.

This avoidance is a good start but a person needs to know why they are doing it and that they are moving in a healthy direction.  Most males do neither . . . they avoid and end it there.  As a result, the exodus is incomplete and ineffective.  The reason for this, no doubt, is that they are only reacting to the condition.  But they don’t know why they are reacting that way.  This is one reason why its important to admit that one is fighting the war and why and to pursue a healthy direction.  It took me many years to realize why I reacted the way I did.  The reason why it took so long is because I had to give this situation a “voice”, a “form”, and a “substance” . . . and there was no one to help me.  Much of this began when I began to feel these revulsions and feelings (such was caused by the University) and began to wonder why and what they meant.

In short, my basic conclusion is that my dropping out of the University was me saying:

“I don’t want to be a “systemite” . . . I’d rather be a human being!”


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Education and learning, Modern life and society, Stuff involving me, Dehumanization and alienation, The 'system' and 'systemism' | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on “wonderful humility”

Recently, I have been speaking of what I call “wonderful humility”.   This is a feeling I often get when walking around or being in the woods.  Its really, I feel, a state of mind.  That is to say, its not “just a feeling”.  It was something I had to work for and took many years to develop.  I believe it originates from contemplation (I’ve written a number of articles about it in this blog).

As I reflected on this “wonderful humility” I wondered what it was.  I found I tended to mention a number of themes:

  • I feel as if I am “just a guy”.  I find I see myself as “no better” than a tree, a fly, or anything else.  If I see that I am about to step on an ant I move my foot away so that I do not step on it.  This is because I am no better than the ant.  It seems that there is “nothing special about me”.  I am no great person . . . I’m “just a guy”.
  • I feel “stupid and dumb in life”.   I don’t feel that I know anything.  All that I know seems inadequate.  There always seems to be “more” that is beyond me.  I seem unable to comprehend life.  More importantly, I accept this fact.  I don’t need to know and its OK to be “stupid and dumb in life”.
  • I feel as if “nature” or “life” is larger than I can possibly conceive.  It seems to tower over me and is much larger than me.  I seem very small and insignificant.
  • I feel a part of “nature” or “life”.  I seem to belong to it.  In a way, this belonging is what makes me someone.  In addition, this belonging makes me “alive” and “be”.
  • I feel dependent on “nature” or “life”.  I need it to survive and be someone.  I must look up to it and rely on it.  I cannot live without it.  “Nature” or “life” makes me who I am and allows me to be someone.
  • I feel as if “nature or “life” watches over me.  I feel protected and watched.  “Nature” and “life” seems like a parent to me.  It gives me what I need to live and survive and grow.
  • I feel as if I am a child.  In many ways, I feel as if everything I do in life is like a child playing under the eyes of their parent.

To me, all this seems to suggest that “wonderful humility” is really rooted in “being a child”.  In some respects, it is a “regression to childhood”.  I don’t mean this in the sense of reflecting a mental ailment.  Perhaps it would be better to say a “rediscovery of childhood”?  This, I think, is more accurate.  In “wonderful humility” a person must be like a child again.  In this way, “wonderful humility” is a condition that is as if “opposed” or “contrary” to adulthood.  That does not mean that it is against adulthood nor does it mean a person should cease being an adult.  I believe, in fact, that “wonderful humility” accentuates and “completes” adulthood.  But, because they are opposed and contraries, it often creates a dilemma, especially at first.  It even seems to me that there is an initial repulsion to “wonderful humility” when one first feels it.  This can be so strong, in fact, that it prevents “wonderful humility” from happening.  In fact, I feel that most people cannot overcome this hurdle.  This fact shows that there is an “child/adult dilemma“, with “wonderful humility”, and that it can be so strong that it actually stops its appearance.  This dilemma seems to be require two things to be overcome:

  1. A “letting go” of the adult attitude. 
  2. An acceptance of the child. 

The “letting go” of the adult attitude can be difficult.  This is because the adult attitude is rooted in the reality and conditions of life.  The fact is that the reality and conditions of life, being so serious in nature, tend to “suck us in” like a vacuum.  This pull is so strong that its often hard, even to the point of being impossible, to “let go”.  Because of this, “wonderful humility” tends to be undermined by the reality and conditions of life which make up the adult attitude.  For many people, its so powerful of an undermining that they will never know it.  In this way, the “child/adult dilemma” actually describes a condition a “wonderful humility versus life’s conditions dilemma”.  Basically, a tug-of-war between humility and the demands of life and living happens in which, usually, life’s conditions win over.  This is primarily because of the power and pull of demand and need of the reality and conditions of life.  This makes “letting go” of the adult attitude difficult.  Some things that help “letting go” include:

  • Learning to not make a big deal about things.  The fact is that most of what we make a big deal about really isn’t a big deal.  It seems that we have to train ourselves to NOT make a big deal about things.  This can be very hard and difficult to do at times.
  • Learning to calm down.  That is to say, don’t get stressed out over things and don’t get uptight.
  • Endurance, acceptance, and tolerationIn actuality, this seems to encompass a lot in life.  Much of life encompasses these qualities.  In many ways, these are some of the most important qualities a person could develop.
  • A faith.  With faith we don’t have to always be “in control” which creates less pressure and stress.  This makes it so that we are not sucked into the realities and conditions of life as much.
  • Living the correct lifestyle.  This primarily means to live in a way where the pull of the vacuum, caused by the reality and conditions of life, is minimal.  Usually, this means a non-stressful lifestyle.

This “letting go” of the adult attitude allows the child to come out in a person.  This is important in that it seems that the more adult attitude there is the less child there is.  As a result, to learn “wonderful humility” a person must “let go” of a lot of adult attitudes.  This doesn’t mean that the child will come out automatically.  A person must “promote” it with things such as:

  • Acknowledging the child and the humility.  This may be one of the most difficult aspects of “wonderful humility”.   Being so opposed to the adult attitude a person may find it hard to acknowledge the existence of the child and humility.
  • Accepting the child and humility.  This is often more difficult than it may, at first, seem.  It seems that a person learns to accept the child and humility by experience and discovering its good qualities.  This means it takes awhile.
  • Allowing the child and humility to happenThis can require great openness on ones part to achieve.  In other words, a person must discover “wonderful humility”.  In fact, I tend to feel that “wonderful humility” is something  a person must discover and that it is a continual discovery.

In actuality, these describe a need to deal with both the adult and the child.  Because of this, “wonderful humility” is a reflection of an overall maintenance of the self, both adult and child aspects.  This is why, I feel, “wonderful humility” is so wonderful:  it addresses the whole self.  The adult attitude, though seeming all-important, only addresses part of the self:  the adult.  In many ways, it tends to create an “adult fixation” where everything must be “adult”.  Its for this reason that “wonderful humility” may be perceived as a ‘fantasy land’ by people too engrossed in the conditions of life (that is, too adult or “adult fixated”).  They may even see it as “escapism”, laziness, or something similar.

In actuality, though, to truly experience “wonderful humility” a person must balance two things.

  1. Deal with life’s conditions (the adult).
  2. Practice “wonderful humility” (the child).

In other words, “wonderful humility” is not caused by being one or the other but, rather, by doing both.  But even that’s not enough.  They must be balanced.  This need for balance, in fact, is probably the most difficult aspects of it.  Some things that allow for balance include:

  • Leaning to one side or other when needed.  That is, when you need the seriousness of the adult attitude, take it.  When you feel the “wonderful humility” then experience it.  There is a time and a place for the adult or child.  You need to act accordingly.
  • Practice both.  You need to play the part of an adult and a child and have sufficient experience with both.
  • Have the attitudes of both.  This is a result, primarily, of experience and doing.  Having the attitudes shows that they are ingrained in ones self.  In order to have a balance you need to have both as part of who you are.

I often feel that “wonderful humility” is a reflection of a confidence in ones self, that one is secure in their self and who they are.  Because of this, “wonderful humility” requires great awareness, knowledge, acceptance, and being of ones self.  This requires one to be their self and manifest their own traits, good or bad.  This means that one must have experience with their self and how it behaves.  In other words, “experience of self” is needed for “wonderful humility”.  This can be painful and difficult at times.  Accordingly, since the self is rooted in life, “wonderful humility” requires great life experience.  A person must experience both good and bad in life, the joys and tribulation of life.  This means one must experience pain and suffering.  This shows that “wonderful humility” is not just a “learning to be happy” or a “learning to be calm”.  It is more than that.  It has roots in the self, life, good, bad, joy, happiness, pain, and suffering.  Without these things “wonderful humility” is lacking and incomplete.

Because “wonderful humility” is a “rediscovery of childhood”, as I mentioned above, it has origin there.  But, in the course of life, we forget the “wonderful humility” of childhood.  This, of course, is a result of the realities and conditions of life that appear in adulthood.  Because of this, we must, rediscover the child again in adulthood.  There are some people, I think, who have traits of it which as if “colors” their life but I still feel it must be rediscovered in adulthood to truly be “wonderful humility”.  In other words, rediscovery of the child, in adulthood, is a requirement for “wonderful humility”.  This is also true because, as I said above, a person must have self and life experience.  This can only be achieved in adulthood.  The “wonderful humility” of childhood is, in actuality, lacking because of this lack of self and life experience, even though childhood may seem the “model” and “ideal”.  Again, this shows how the “wonderful humility” is really a mixture of adult and child, of “being an adult with a child’s attitude”.

The experience of “wonderful humility” can create a number of qualities such as:

  • It can be very profound and mystical.
  • It can become very “deep” and seems to “hit to the core” of ones self.
  • It can be insightful.
  • It can have a calming effect and peaceful.
  • It can make one feel a part of life with a place and purpose.

“Wonderful humility” can be so deep that it can take on the qualities of a religious experience at times.  In fact, I think that its not uncommon that it often turns into one.  In other words, “wonderful humility” can turn into other things.  Because of this, “wonderful humility” can appear in several ways, such as:

  • An experience.  One just experiences it.  This can last from a matter of a few minutes to hours.
  • A “doorway” to something else.  Sometimes, I’ve found that it as if leads me in a new direction.  Usually, I experience the “wonderful humility”, often for a few minutes, before it leads me to something else.  This could be another state of mind, a new interest, a thought, etc.
  • A “revealing”.  In the midst of the “wonderful humility” things often come to me, an emotion, a thought, an insight.

There is a close relationship between “wonderful humility” and religious feeling.  In fact, I don’t feel a person can truly experience “wonderful humility” without a religious sense.  As a result, “wonderful humility” requires religious-like feelings in a person.  Without it then “wonderful humility” does not take place easily.  One of the interesting things that this fact shows is that there is a close relationship between religious feeling and the child.  In fact, more than once have I said that religion is nothing but a means to continue the parent/child relationship into adulthood, god being the “parent”.  I think there is great truth in this.  “Nature”, “life”, and the “parent”, that I mentioned above, are really references to what is generally called god.  One can see that the theme of god is prominent.  This is no mistake . . . it’s a requirement for “wonderful humility”.  Associated with this is a sense of being protected by the “parent” or god.  It seems, to me, that “wonderful humility” needs this sense of being protected.  If a person feels threatened by life then a person cannot really experience “wonderful humility”.  This shows that the need for a sense of god, as well as being protected, are critical for “wonderful humility”.

Much of “wonderful humility” is based in the unspoken quality of life.  In a way, the humility can be said to be based in “being beyond words”, that one cannot “speak”.   This is also, no doubt, why “wonderful humility” has such a sense that life is beyond a person, that it is beyond ones conception.  Because of this, a person must be able to accept these conditions, which is not easy.  The struggle with these show that putting things into words and feeling that life is under ones control is part of the adult attitude and a reflection of life’s realities and conditions.  Because of this, these are things that one should try to “let go”.  They suppress and inhibit the child.

Overall, though, it seems that “wonderful humility” is a more natural state of mind.  There is something about it that hits a person deep down.  This does not necessarily mean that it is “adaptable” and “responsive” to the conditions of life.  It really is not.  In a way, this is its failure.  This is why there is the “wonderful humility versus life’s conditions dilemma”.  This is also why it is so hard to achieve and maintain.  But, in discovering it, there seems as if a door is opened to a greater depth of life.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Life in general, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More thoughts on contemplation: aspects of the ‘yearning’, with remarks about the self and other things

In contemplation, I often speak of the ‘yearning’ or ‘great yearning’ (such as in my articles, “Thoughts on the symbol I use for contemplation – describing the act and traits of contemplation” and “Thoughts on the ‘contemplation of passion’ – seeking the yearning“).  ‘Yearning’ is primarily a sense that contemplation seems to instill in a person.  In many ways, it defines contemplation to the point that one could very well describe contemplation as the embracing of yearning.  This makes yearning very critical and important.


The ‘great yearning’ is generally felt as a longing, desire, or something similar.  I often have described yearning (or, more properly, the ‘great yearning’) as the longing and desire for life and to live.  In life, though, we generally experience this longing and a desire as wanting some “thing”, usually an object or some sort of a condition.  But, in contemplation, one focuses on this feeling alone, without any other element.  Because of this, contemplation is really the experiencing of the ‘great yearning’ as a pure and single entity, alone and unclouded by other “things”.  In addition, it does not use or rely on other means (such as experiences) as part of how it manifests itself.  For example, you do not do specific acts or things to “experience life” (such as ‘bungy jumping, partying, climbing mountains, and such).  Interestingly, you do the opposite – nothing – or, to be more precise, you begin with nothing.  From this nothing contemplation tends to lead to many other things.  In this way, contemplation is like a farmers field, which sprouts many different things from a flat tract of land, a “nothing” piece of land.  Because of this, we can say that there are two forms of contemplation:

  1. Contemplation proper.  This is the practice of silence, doing nothing.
  2. The fruits of contemplation.  This is what contemplation proper creates.  This includes transformation of self, awareness, insight, etc.

In this way, contemplation is really the condition where you allow the ‘yearning’ to manifest itself and “cause things to happen”.  Because of this, what one is actually seeking, in contemplation, is not the act of contemplation but what contemplation creates, its fruits.  The normal tendency, though, is to focus on the ‘act’ of contemplation, of what one does, which is the contemplation proper.  In this way, we tend to “overlook” the fruits of ‘passion’ and ‘yearning’, which is what its really about.


In actuality, the yearning is the experiencing of what I call ‘passion’.  This is primarily a sense of something like a “force” or “energy” that “moves things”.  It gives the sense of “livingness” or “aliveness” in things.  In addition, it is often felt as a “presence” about ones self and in the world (which is how I first felt it).  This shows that, in order to embrace ‘passion’ and the ‘yearning’, a person must be able to sense ‘passion’ in some form.  Many people, it seems to me, cannot do this.  It seems particularly so with older people who, I think, end up getting wrapped up in the affairs of life and years of habit.  This makes it so that the sensing of ‘passion’ recedes into the background.  Younger people, on the other hand, are greatly influenced by it.  In a sense, they are controlled by it.  As a result, there is a lot of “aliveness” when young.  But, though they may be influenced by ‘passion’, they are not overtly aware of it.  They only know that “something” affects their lives.  Because of this, they are not able to distinguish it.  This makes it so that younger people have ‘passion’ before them but do not fully embrace it and may not even be aware of it.  To put it another way, the young tend to let ‘passion’ slip through their fingers.  As a result, when they get older they then wonder where “life” went.

These experiencing of ‘passion’ in contemplation – what can be described as ‘passion manifestation’ – describe three aspects of contemplation:

  1. Awareness – being aware of ‘passion’
  2. Embracing – feeling the ‘yearning’ and acceptance of it
  3. Allowing things to happen – letting the ‘passion’ and the ‘yearning’ influence you

Truly, in contemplation, a person must do all three.  To put it another way, a person must practice all three traits to truly contemplate.  A person may, for example, be aware of a “livingness” in life but never embrace it or allow things to happen.  Because of this the ‘passion’, and their ‘yearning’ is never really completed or experienced.


In actuality, ‘yearning’ is the slight imbalance that ‘passion’ creates in a person that makes us seek life.  This shows that the awareness of ‘passion’ automatically puts a person in an imbalance.  This is because ‘passion’ creates a “need” or “movement” or “longing” in us which is experienced as the ‘yearning’.  Because of this, a person cannot say that contemplation causes a “peace” or “calm”.  To be frank, contemplation causes great turmoil and conflict which is a manifestation of this imbalance.  This appears particularly strong as one begins to contemplate and it continues to make occasional reappearances.  It does create a form of “peace” and “calm”, though, that is quite unique.  Perhaps one could call it the ‘calm of passion’?  What this is, primarily, is a “harmony” with the imbalance of passion.  In other words, one finds a calm in the imbalance itself.  This is at odds with most peoples view of “peace” and “calm”, which is an absence of imbalance.

The ‘calm of passion’ though is a condition that requires a great ‘balance of self’.  In many ways, that’s why its so powerful.  A person must hold themselves in the right frame of mind, attitude, stance, and such.  This ‘balance of self’, though, cannot be maintained indefinitely and so we often fall back into conflict.  As a result of this, contemplation is really an alternation between “calm” and conflict.  This creates something like a cycle, much like the day/night and the seasons.  In actuality, this creates much harmony and a depth with contemplation.  One finds that following the cycle IS the great “joy” of contemplation.

Part of the power of conflict is that it instills in the ‘great yearning’ a tendency to seek the ‘balance of self’ and ‘calm of passion’.  This phenomena makes it so that there are phases in the manifestation of the ‘great yearning’:

  1. A lacking.  This is like a sense of a loss or lacking in some way.
  2. A longing.  A longing, desire, or want.
  3. A finding.   This is finding what the yearning seeks.  This appears in many ways, such as a passion, idea, or image.
  4. A utilizing.  Its not enough to find what the yearning seeks.  One must find a use for it.
  5. A fullfilling.  This refers to when the yearning is found and given a place and, in so doing, the yearning is as if “completed”.
  6. A satisfaction.  Because it is “completed” there is nothing more to do.  The ‘yearning’ ends and one may feel satisfied, calm, and at peace.
  7. An absence.  Eventually, with the ‘yearning’ gone, there becomes a sense of an absence.  This slowly leads to the first phase – “A lacking” – and the cycle begins again.

These phase, really, describe a cycle, the ‘cycle of the great yearning’.  That is to say, one goes from one phase to the next, to the next, to the last phase, and then starts over again.  Because of this we are really continually alternating between lacking (conflict) and fulfillment (calm).


If there is conflict at one stage the cycle as if comes to a halt.  Each one of these phases can bring specific problems and battles.  In fact, one can easily become caught in one of these phases and become as if lost in it.  It often has the quality of a ‘pit’ that one fell in and can’t get out of.  Because of this, we could speak of them as the ‘yearning pit’.  Various versions of this ‘pit’, corresponding to the different phases, are:

  1. The ‘pit of loss’.  Here one feels that one is empty or a void.
  2. The ‘pit of want’.  Here one feels an insatiable want or longing that can’t be fullfilled.
  3. The ‘pit to find an object’.  Here one feels that one cannot find what one is looking for.
  4. The ‘pit of finding a use’.  Here yearning, and often contemplation, seems to have no use and seems a waste of time.
  5. The ‘pit of finding fullfillment’.  Here one feels unfullfilled in what one does, bored, or disappointed.
  6. The ‘pit of satisfaction’.  Here one feels overly calm, satisfied, content, and overconfident.
  7. The ‘pit of absence’.  Here one begins to feel that something is missing.  This, and the ‘pit of loss’, are really variations of the same thing.

As I said, any one of these ‘pits’ can bring the cycle to a halt.  Because of this, dealing with the ‘pits’ is a big part of the ‘great yearning’.  In many ways, learning the ‘great yearning’ is learning how to overcome the ‘pits’ and to keep the cycle going for by only keeping the cycle going is the yearning (and contemplation) maintained.  This is far more difficult than it sounds.  Oftentimes, to me, these ‘pits’ seem like a big chasm that I cannot escape and there is often a great sense of hopelessness about it.

Often, one overcomes the ‘pits’, I’ve found, by a number of things, such as:

  1. Setting the ‘self’ straight (that is, putting ones self in the right perspective)
  2. A loss of self

Examples of setting the self straight include:

  • Determining what’s wrong.
  • Finding the correct attitude or stance one should take (in other words, finding the way to compose ones self . . . see my article  “Thoughts on composing yourself in contemplation“)
  • Finding an ‘inner resolve’ and strength

In general, the idea is to give the self what can be described as the ‘correct form’ so that it is receptive and capable for contemplation.

Examples of a loss of self include:

  • Finding a humility.  This may get to the point of even weeping.
  • Being patient.
  • Forgetting ones self.

The loss of self is critical in contemplation.  It is so important that it is a defining trait of contemplation (for example, see my article “Thoughts on ‘loosing ones self’ – the ‘experiential self’” and “Thoughts on saying “I do not know who I am”“).

Both of the ways to deal with the ‘pits’ entail the self in one way or another.  This fact shows the ‘pit’ is associated with a strong self presence.  In fact, it seems that the ‘pits’ are created by differing ways the self gets in the way of the yearning.  In other words, the ‘yearning’ and the self are at odds.  Because of this, there must be a harmony between the ‘yearning’ and the self.  This, in actuality, is what the ‘balance of self’ is . . . finding this harmony.  This makes it so that there requires a “maintenance of the self” in the yearning.  This, though, entails a deeper relationship . . .


The ‘yearning’ describes an association between the self and an “object”.  This “object” is what is yearned for.  The “object” can be, in actuality, many things, such as:

  • A physical object
  • An idea
  • An awareness
  • An emotion
  • A condition (such as being rich or being approved by society)

So we see that an “object” entails any “thing” that is “sought” or “needed”.  This shows how the ‘passion’ describes, then, a lacking or a need of some sort.  What we lack or need is the “object”.  This means that contemplation, really, is developing a healthy relationship with need, want, longing, and such (which is the yearning).  In many ways, a person must learn to “yearn in the correct way”.  Its quite clear that if a person does not learn to “yearn in the correct way” then they cannot contemplate.  For many people, I think, this is where they fail.  This makes the ‘yearning’, and how one maintains it, critical in contemplation.  In many respects, it is the most important thing.

The particular relationship of ‘yearning’ with the self and “object” can be drawn this way:


The ‘yearning’ is in the middle thereby establishing a direct relationship between the self and “object”.  In short, the ‘yearning’ is the means of association with the “object”.  In fact, the ‘yearning’ makes the “object” an object and gives it value and worth.  In this way, ‘yearning’ gives meaning and value to things.  In addition to this, ‘yearning’ makes the “object” become a part of our self, of who we are.  The yearning, then, is really the “incorporation” of the object into the self, so to speak.  In this way, the yearning unites the self and object into one.  In this way, the yearning is a unifying element.  As a result, ‘yearning’ places us in-the-world making us a “person”.  This shows one of the great benefits of contemplation:  the creation of a “personhood”.  It also shows how ‘yearning’ is instrumental to this.

Typically, we tend to focus on the self and “object” and forget the ‘yearning’.  When this happens, we become “self-centered” or “object-centered”, respectively.  The former tends to make us selfish and vain.  The later tends to make us worldly and materialistic.  As a result of this, contemplation requires the need of “forgetting” of two things:

  1. The self.
  2. The “object”. 

In the “forgetting” of these, the ‘yearning’ is emphasized and becomes prominent making contemplation possible.  Perhaps we could speak of these as the ‘contemplative forgetting’?  In general, the less self and “object” the more deeper and meaningful the ‘yearning’.  The self and “object” easily cloud and distort the ‘yearning’.  In fact, the more self and “object” the more ‘yearning’ tends to fade into the background where it will often disappear.

Often a person must periodically “relearn” to forget the self or “object”.  Its not uncommon that this is a painful procedure and can hurt.  In many ways, this act is what gives contemplation some of its greatest challenges.  This “forgetting” can be experienced as a great and horrible pain.  In fact, it is often experienced as a “death”.  Because of this, a person must “die” in contemplation, meaning they must forget the self and “object”, emphasizing only the ‘yearning’.  One could speak of this as the ‘contemplative death’.  Many people cannot overcome this death.


A person must manage or balance ones ‘yearning’ or it can get out of control in contemplation.  In fact, it can utterly destroy it.  This, it seems, is also true with life in general.  In some respects, one of the big secrets of contemplation and life is the balance of ‘yearning’, to keep it under manageable control.  A big element of this is related with the intensity of the ‘yearning’.  There seems to be three conditions of intensity of yearning:

  1. The ‘over yearning’.  Too much yearning is felt.  A person wants too much, desires a lot, wants to possess, etc.
  2. The ‘managed yearning’.  This is when its best and productive.
  3. The ‘under yearning’.  Too little yearning is felt.  We feel ‘dead’, depressed, exhausted, uninspired, no enthusiasm, etc.

A lot of misery, it seems to me, is actually caused by the mismanagement of yearning primarily because of over or under yearning.  In a way, we either “over-want” or are “depressed-like” in some way.  This shows, of course, a lack of harmony with ‘yearning’.  One could describe this as a “misalignment”.  Because the ‘yearning’ is so associated with the self and ‘object’ (see above) there can be two forms of “misalignments”:

  1. The ‘self misalignment’.  The “misalignment” between the self and ‘yearning’ ends up causing great strain on the self causing misery.  In some respects, its like a tug-of-war and the self cannot hold itself against the ‘yearning’.  In ‘over yearning’ the self as if looses control against the ‘yearning’.  In ‘under yearning’ the self as if gets lost in the hole created by the absence of the ‘yearning’.
  2. The ‘object misalignment’.  This is primarily ‘yearning’ for the wrong ‘object’.  In other words, the ‘object’ does not satisfy the ‘yearning’ but we think it does.  Because of this, we are always striving for something we really don’t need.  Perhaps we call this the ‘wrong object misalignment’?  Sometimes, the ‘yearning’ is either so strong or so weak that we loose hold of the “correct object”.  Perhaps we could call this the ‘lost object misalignment’?

Keeping the self and ‘yearning’ “aligned” is not as easy as it sounds and is part of the great struggle of contemplation.  It is, in actuality, a battle that never ends.


Because of the continual problems and misalignments of the yearning its often good to develop what I often call the “general stance of contemplation”.  This is a particular stance or attitude one takes in contemplation.  Much of it is based in dealing with the problems of yearning.  In general, its based in  some general things one can do in regard to the intensity of yearning, such as:

  • In over yearning –  “tone oneself down”.  One could describe this as calming down, relaxing, and becoming patient.  This can be so hard that its painful.  In fact, I’ve often described it as a “death” at times.
  • In under yearning – “increasing zeal”.  This can be quite difficult as one has to discover a zeal.  Many people can’t find this zeal and, sometimes, it can be hard to find.  In many ways, a person cannot become a contemplative until this zeal is found.

In general, we see a pattern of learning patience, of a casual awareness, and where one is calm.  One must also be patient enough to wait and watch for the ‘mood’ or ‘passion’ of zeal to appear.  When it come then one must “take it” while its there.  So a good stance of contemplation may entail qualities such as:

  • Being calm and relaxed.
  • Patience.
  • Endurance.
  • Watchfulness.
  • A desire and willingness to take zeal when it comes.

In that sense, it has the quality of a hunter sitting and waiting for an animal to appear.  When the animal appears then one must take action.  In this way, a contemplative is, in many ways, a hunter.  In fact, I have always felt that contemplation entails the ‘hunter instinct’ to some extent (see my articles “Thoughts on the ‘hunter stance’ – its interior form“, “Thoughts on some ponderings I did at a high school“, and “Thoughts on how shamanism seems to be related to a hunter society“).  Because of this, I tend to feel that a person should try to ‘tap’ that ‘hunter instinct’ within them.

The ‘contemplative hunt’, though, is very unique.  What one hunts is not ‘concrete’ in any way nor is it abstract.  Its also often hard to put into words.  This means its often hard to grasp.  Sometimes, I compare it to trying to grasp smoke.  Because of this, one often loses sight of what one is seeking.  As a result, the ‘contemplative hunt’ requires a resolve and a continual sense of what one is looking for even though it appears to be missing.

There seems to be two stages in the ‘contemplative hunt’:

  1. The hunt for an awareness. 
  2. The hunt for a ‘state of mind’. 

In short, one begins by seeking an awareness of ‘something’ (such as a ‘presence’ or a sense of sanctity or a sense of “livingness”).  Over time this turns into a seeking of a ‘state of mind’.  In some respects, the awareness is getting the “scent” which a person must track down and find.  The ‘state of mind’ is catching what you’re seeking.  The ‘state of mind’, though, doesn’t just happen.  It seems that it comes after one has:

  • Discovered and sought the awareness.
  • Has become proficient in contemplation.

When one seeks a ‘particular state of mind’ I speak of this as ‘Poesy” (see my article “Thoughts on how I am not an intellectual – the coming of ‘Poesy’ and the seeking of a state of mind“).  In many ways, ‘poesy’ is the height of contemplation.  Once it reaches this point contemplation has taken on the quality of a way of life.  In addition to that, it has a quality of transformation of self.  In this way, it greatly affects a person.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Poesy - seeking a state of mind, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the question of study and its relation to the person

Here’s a thought I had:

Some of us (some more than others) find a desire to study things.  That is to say, there is a tendency to want to look at things to as if ‘decipher’ them.  It seems, though, that study tends to entail a certain mentality.  Some people are predisposed to this mentality.  Others are not.  In this way, one could say that there is a ‘study character’.  This character tends to entail a number of traits:

  1. A sense that one does not know.
  2. A desire to look.
  3. A desire to decipher or interpret

Typically, there is a satisfaction in this.  A person who truly has the ‘study character’ will continue to study even though they will gain nothing from it.  They also will continue it when nothing demands it (such as necessity, schooling, or a job).  Also, these traits are seen in their day-t0-day lives.

Its not uncommon that many people will display what I call ‘sporadic study’.  This is study that is done here and there for various reasons.  It tends to be sporadic and each study is usually on a different subject and once they are done they are done.  ‘Sporadic study’ is actually a part of normal living and life.  With the ‘study character’ it is a more extensive version and can, for some people, define life.  They will study as a part of everyday life and its usually on similar subjects or, rather, all the subjects tend to be related in some way.  It seems to be an ongoing affair that never ends.

I’ve found that many people who study, nowadays, do not have the ‘study character’ even though they may study a lot.  This is the ‘pseudo-study character’.  They may appear to have the ‘study character’ but really don’t.  Other things motivate their study than their character.  Typically, conditions end up requiring the person to study, often extensively . . . but that still doesn’t mean that its a manifestation of their character.  Because the study is not “genuine” it often does not have the three traits of study as described above.  For example, they may have no real sense that they do not know (for example, they think they know everything because they study) or have no real desire to look or inquire.  Because of this, they really have no intention to look or decipher things (that is, study) though they may go through the motions of study.  This tends to create a more shallow form of study that tends to create more shallow results.  This is very prevalent nowadays, I’ve found.

In study we tend to only look at the subject matter.  This is generally the focus and main point.  We could speak of this as the ‘subject-oriented perspective of study’.  But I often think we should ask ourselves more involved questions about study itself, such as:

  • Why does one study a subject at all?
  • Why does a subject interest one enough to want to study it?
  • What are you’re intentions?
  • What are you trying to get out of it?
  • Am I interested in the subject matter or the act of study?

These are, in my opinion, very important questions.  Asking questions, such as these, views study as a more involved thing, as an entirety of the person, the act, the motive, and the subject.  We could call this the ‘holistic-oriented perspective of study’.  In this perspective, study is viewed as being much more than subject matter.

In asking these questions, though, it seems to particularly reveal questions of ulterior motives.  These are motives that use something (in this case, study) as a means for some other end.  Because of this, study is not the motive but a ‘stepping stone’ for something else.  The reason why this is so important is that ulterior motives tend to distort and alter ones perception and interpretation of things, often unconsciously and without ones awareness.  Not only that, it tends to remove the person from the equation, making it practically a mechanical act, like using a calculator.  In short, we “see what we want to see”, basically, and forget the rest.  In this way, our perception and interpretation of things becomes more a reflection of the ulterior motives than anything else.

So we see that the purpose of the ‘holistic-oriented perspective of study’ is to gain a more ‘genuine’  and undistorted perception and interpretation of things.  Not only that, it is intended to get a perception and interpretation of things that hits ones self deep down and has personal relevance and value.  In many ways, that is what a person is truly seeking in study, a “genuine personal relevance”, unclouded and undistorted.  The ‘subject-oriented perspective of study’, on the other hand, tends to look at things mechanically and in a non-personal way which means it tends to lack a genuine personal relevance..

The types of ulterior motives are many.  Some, that I commonly see, include:

  • A person is just casually “interested” (this makes it something more on the lines of a hobby).
  • A person has an ability or knack at it which makes them do it even though they have no real interest.
  • So they can make more money.
  • For some social standing and prestige.
  • Trying to fit into a ‘group’, social trend, fad, etc.
  • Because of some personal relation to the subject matter (such as that it reminds you of someone you love).
  • Because one feels an obligation to do it (such as peer pressure).
  • The need to satisfy a job or school project.

Many of these motives tend to alter the perception and interpretation in study.  It can do this in ways such as:

  • It can alter the interpretation to favor the ulterior motive.  In this way, it may make the perception and interpretation seem “correct”.  Typically, it is only in relation to the ulterior motive.
  • It can alter the interpretation unconsciously, often to justify, support, or confirm to the ulterior motive.

In ways, such as these, the perception or interpretation tends to be twisted or warped as a result of the ulterior motive.  As a result, study, in a way, only becomes a means to falsely justify the ulterior motives and, often, to promote it.  From my observation, this is quite common nowadays.  This is because, in this era of “ultra information”, there is so much material.  In addition, there are so many means to manipulate and distort things.  In a way, all this information is asking to be distorted . . . and it is . . . and all for the purpose of the ulterior motive.  In many cases, I’ve found, the question is not the subject of study but the motive of study for that determines everything, the interpretation and the conclusion.

There is a myth that “study automatically makes it right”.  Its as if study makes it abstract and distant (“scientific”) thereby creating ultimate and absolute results.  This is especially true if study is done “officially”, such as at a University or for work.  People seem to think that this makes it somehow “pure” and “correct”, as if by magic.  My observation is showing that this is not true at all.  In fact, there are now so many ulterior motives that any product from the University or work (such as a study or some research) is now under question.  More than once have I been able to tell what the motive is just by looking at the interpretation and conclusion.  Oftentimes, the motive is to “come up with something” in order to get a grade or as part of ones career.  This creates what I sometimes call “fluff theory”.  This is where some interpretation or conclusion is made (the “theory”) that appears to mean something but really doesn’t mean anything.  Its done to primarily get a grade or for ones job or career . . . that’s the motive.  I often jokingly compare it to doing research to determine “exactly” what color the sky is:  blue, blue-purple, turquoise, or maybe there are different colors?  In my opinion, a lot of scholarship, nowadays, is becoming “fluff theory”.  This makes scholarship, really, nothing but a lot of “intellectual noise”.  This is because, to be frank, a lot of subjects have been gone over so much that there really isn’t a whole lot of new stuff to add.  There are now so many people looking at the same thing, from the same point of view, and with the same (or similar) motives that its all become a blur.  But school and work “demands” new stuff and so it is created by necessity and requirement.  This situation, then, is forcing the creation of “fluff theory”.

I have often felt that a true form of study always leads back to ones self.  That is to say, the study becomes an expression of ones self in some way or another.  In this way, study becomes a reflection of ones self.  This is one reason why I am skeptical of “scientific study”, where they think they are being abstract and non-biased.  In some forms of study, such as chemistry, there is truth to this but in many areas (probably most) this is not true.

A persons study reflects the need of the self in many different ways.  Examples include:

  • Practical – usefulness.  This includes learning how to do something that has practical value, such as a trade or how to change the oil in the car.  Much study, particularly when it is work related, tends to fit in this class.
  • Practical – conception.  This includes study as a way to get a better, wiser, or more healthier conception of the world and situations.  A good example is studying the texts of ones religion to understand it better.
  • Personal.  This refers to satisfy ones personal interior need for something.  Usually, it has a psychological or spiritual value to the person.

These all tend to entail an honestly intended inquiry that is motivated out of need or for a definite use.  In other words, it has a “genuine” motive.  Because of this, study does not twist or warp its subject matter as it often does when there are ulterior motives.  In addition, it also seems to become more productive and meaningful, I think.  It certainly has more value to the person.  A lot of study with ulterior motives becomes “waste” or “frivolous” and tends to be forgotten even though it may seem important at first (as is seen in a lot of “fluff theory”).  This is because it has no real value to the person or self.

I tend to view that “deep study” is always personal.  By “deep study” I mean study that one seems somehow ‘driven’ to do and in which one puts a lot of their heart into (unlike the study, say, of trying to figure out how to fill out a government form).  Its “deep” because it hits ones self deep down.  This is because what one feels inclined to study is a reflection of something about ones self deep down.  Because of this, I often feel that its often best to inquire where the desire originates from.  In many ways, inquiring into the “real motive” of study may be more revealing than the actual study of the subject matter itself.  My own personal experience has shown this to be true.  Because of this, I tend to feel that a person should seriously ask ones self why they are interested in this or that subject and what they expect to get out of its study.  One should also ask ones self if there are any ulterior motives and what they are. 

In many ways, asking questions, such as these, becomes the “real study” as this is what a person truly seeks.  The subject matter is only the object of the “real motive”, not the source.  Because of this, inquiry into the “real motive” may reveal a lot about a persons state of mind, what they want out of life, their conflicts and dilemmas, and reveal inner situations and realities.  Many things, such as these, can be found hidden under the desire to study this or that subject.  This gives a whole new dimension to study.  Oftentimes, it makes the subject matter one is studying look shallow in comparison, almost to the point of being trivial. I also feel that the inquiry into the “real motive” should be an ongoing inquiry.   This is because a person changes through time.  Sometimes, this change reveals other motives, desires, dilemmas, etc.  Even the three traits can reveal hidden dilemmas.  Examples include:

  1. A sense that one does not know – a feeling that one doesn’t have a grasp on life, feeling lost, etc.
  2. A desire to look – an attempt at trying to find an ‘answer’ to a hidden conflict, a revealing of a need that can’t be fulfilled, etc.
  3. A desire to decipher or interpret – an illusion intended to make it feel as if one has a hold on life when you actually don’t, an attempt at “explaining” some inner failure, etc.

In other words, the desire and emphasis to do these things may, itself, reveal hidden dilemma’s and aspects about ones self.  In short, not only can the subject matter disguise a “real motive” but also the very act of study!   That is to say, studying – that is “how” you study – can hide great truths about ones self and become quite revealing.  Sometimes, the “how” can show things such as:

  • A certain quality one needs.
  • A specific way of being.
  • A need of doing something.

In other words, the “how” tends to reveal the unspoken aspects about ones self.  Oftentimes, one finds certain ways or aspects of study that seem appealing for some reason.  This may lead to certain emphasis on orientations in ones study and how one does it.  In some cases, the emphasis on a specific “how” can become a form of expression and reflect a persons “style” of being, much like an artist who has his style of painting.  In this way, the “how” can lead to great growth of self.

This shows that study actually has many aspects, each of which may reveal something else in itself.   These aspects are:

  1. The subject matter of study.  What is studied.
  2. The motive of study.  Why its studied.
  3. The act of study.  The actual “how” of study.

Inquiry into these three things may reveal the “real motive” of what’s behind it.  Each, though, seem to reveal different things.  It seems they tend to follow this pattern:

  • The subject matter:  reveals themes and symbols.
  • The motives:  reveals intentions, wants, and desires.
  • The act:  deeper unspoken aspects of ones self.

It seems, at least to me, that the ‘holistic-oriented perspective of study’ tends to lead to a greater sense of ones self and the world.  In other words, a person becomes a part of the world and the world becomes a part of them.  The ‘subject-oriented perspective of study’, on the other hand, tends to lead to “information”, “facts”, and such.  The person, in general, is removed and distance.  In fact, the person is generally absent in the whole affair.  This may be fine in some forms of study, such as chemistry or how to change the oil, but for people with the ‘study character’ it is usually not enough and is grossly insufficient, in my opinion.  I’ve always felt that, for people with the ‘study character’, there needs to be more than subject matter:  study, as a whole, is what’s revealing.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that few go that far.  This creates a condition so that the ‘study character’ becomes sort of ‘stunted’ or so it seems to me.  I call this the ‘stunted study character’.   This is primarily a person with the ‘study character’ who focuses only on the subject matter and does no inquiry of self.  But, because of their emphasis on the subject matter, the need for their self remains unfulfilled and incomplete.  As a result, they are looking for “answers” (which is really their self) in the subject matter . . . but it isn’t there.  Their emphasis on the subject matter makes them completely forget their need to look at their self.  But the need of their sense of self is so strong that it becomes projected onto the subject matter.  This causes them to distort, warp, accentuate, or exaggerate aspects of the subject matter to reflect their self . . . the subject matter becomes, in a way, their self.  In some cases, this causes them to do things like:

  • They glorify and even “religionify” the subject matter.
  • They fabricate false truths, seeming to have truth but actually without it.
  • They see things that aren’t there.
  • They create off-the-wall viewpoints.

In short, they “distort things to see their self in the subject matter”.  This is seen a lot with scientists, I’ve found.  I see it a lot with quantum physicists, astrophysicists, UFO researchers, and such.  These are people, interestingly, that are on the ‘border’ of definable things, of things that are “just definable but not completely”.  That is, they are looking at things from the ‘subject-oriented perspective’ but the subject matter not only has a very definable area but there is a part of it that is very vague which as if leaves a vacuum that allows for their projection of self.  In this way, the vacuum becomes the area where they project their self making it into a reflection of their self:  the ‘self-projected subject matter’.  Often, you can tell a lot by a person by their interpretations and theories because it really is a reflection of their self.  Typically, though, they never associate their interpretation and theory in respect of their self as they view it abstractly, as the subject matter, devoid of self.  As a result, even though they project their self onto the subject matter (that is, their self is actually in front of their faces) the ‘stunted study character’ never ends up finding their self.  This is the irony.  Because of this, it often makes the study of the subject matter an endless quest for “answers” that never seem to be answered, causing a general sense of frustration and disappointment.

Watching this happen over the years with people has made me see the importance of looking closer at study or, to be more precise, to look at it in a more ‘holistic’ way.  I particularly know this from personal experience.  I can remember all the years studying subject matter up the ying-yang and continually feeling frustrated and disappointed:  there seemed something missing.  Even though there were moments of “answers” and fulfillment there always lingered this sense of frustration and disappointment that hung over me like a cloud.  Over time, I began to realize that I was actually using the subject matter to find my self:  it was my self that I was actually after!


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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Thoughts on some advice I wanted to give a young kid about work

Some time ago I was sitting down at a restaurant eating and noticed a young kid that was working there.  He was around about 20.  He was wiping the tables and started to mop the floor.  As I ate I had a desire to give him some advice (I guess its the father in me).  I never got around to saying anything as he went away before I formulated it in my head.  What I wanted to say amounted to something like this:

“You know, I have been working for longer than you’ve been alive.  Would you like to hear some advice I can give you?  Here’s some things I’ve learned over the years:

First of all, develop a good attitude about work.  I feel that this is so important that it may very well be one of the most important things you ever do in life.  Sadly, no one ever seems to mention it.  Really, a person needs to spend much time and effort to develop this ability.  Having a good attitude about work tends to lead to a good attitude about life.  Perhaps, even, it is one of the secrets of happiness?  This  makes sense as work encompasses so much of life.  And don’t expect it to be easy.  Believe me when I say that there are going to be many times when this attitude will be tested . . . and you will have moments of failure.  This is normal and a part of life.  In many ways, a person must fight for a good attitude oftentimes, and it can very easily become one of the greatest fights of ones life.  I tend to feel that this attitude is something someone “earns”.  That is, you don’t “learn” it like learning how to ride a bike.  Its “earned” by experience, success, failure, and persistence.  This means that this attitude is really developed later in life . . . but one should set the stage for it early and strive for it from the beginning.

Learn to appreciate what other people do.  It doesn’t matter what other people do, appreciate it, be it a janitor, the guy who mows the lawn, or a cashier.  Everyone plays a part in things and, in actuality, does a necessary part in life.  I often go through periods of time where I find myself appreciating everything everyone does.  I look around and see the guys working on the roads, the policeman, the guys stocking the shelves, the doctor, the mothers who does the laundry, and so on and feel an appreciation for all of it.  Everything everyone does matters.  This is true for you, me, and the guy down the street.  If people did not do what they did then we would not have what we have.  Appreciating the work other people do helps you appreciate the work you do and to feel better about it.

There is no “hierarchy” in work.  In other words, there is no “lowly” work nor is a person “low” because of the work they do.  A janitor is not “less” than a doctor . . . the work they do is just as important, but in different ways.  I feel that its not good to view work in a class society orientation (that is, as “upper class” and “lower class”).  That point of view probably undermines work more than anything else.  This is because it tends to devalue necessary and meaningful work (such as a janitor) and overvalue other forms of work (such as a lawyer).   In that way, it gives an illusion to work, making work seem something else than it really is.

Seek to do work that is “desirable” to you.  The difference between “desirable” and “undesirable” work depends on the person.  Because of this, a person should try to avoid what they consider to be “undesirable” work.  For me, examples of “undesirable” work are varied and range through all forms of work, from “lowly” work to “prestigious” work.  It would include things like cleaning public restrooms (too “dirty”), accounting (too tedious), a doctor (too much responsibility), and even public office, such as the President of the U.S. (too much responsibility, too much in the pubic eye, and you get blamed for everything).  I should also point out that “desirable” work is not the same as a “dream job”.  “Desirable” work is work that suits ones character and temperament.   In other words, its work your suited for, which is generally not your “dream job”.  I tend to feel that the more suited or “desirable” work is the happier you will be.  Because of this, a person should seek “desirable” work and not a “dream job”.  (I’ve written an article, on similar themes, calledThoughts on determining what type of work you want to do“.)

Find a way to accept the wage injustice.  No matter where you go you will find that there is an injustice in wages, often to great excess.  Most people do not make as much as they should and other people (which seems to be a minority of the people) make more than they should.  This fact is beyond any of our control.  I have found cases where this is so appalling that I think it should be considered a crime . . . but it seems no one else seems to care and, besides, there’s nothing I can do about it.  You’ll find that many people “justify” and even support the wage injustice, particularly if they are benefitting from it.  That still doesn’t make it right.  Often, trying to accept this injustice is one of the great battles of work.  Finding out how much someone else makes can be like having the carpet pulled from underneath your feet or being hit in the face with a steel girder.  Because of this, one should try to avoid being the one who makes too much and you should seek a fairness in how much you make.  In fact, I feel that one of the best ways to accept the wage injustice is by being fair in what one makes (that is, not making more than you should).  This means, more or less, that you must make an “average” wage.  Even though you do not solve the wage injustice at least you’re not contributing to it.”


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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Thoughts on how schooling, nowadays, is forcing kids to develop traits of Asperger’s Syndrome

In a recent conversation, I found myself mentioning something interesting (which is all speculation at this time):

It seems, to me, that schooling, nowadays, tends to create Asperger-like traits in kids.  That is to say, it teaches kids traits of Asperger Syndrome.  It can become so extensive that they may even appear to have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Perhaps it may even bring out traits of this syndrome in some people.  Perhaps, even, it may cause Asperger’s Syndrome???  Because of things like this, I spoke of this as the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’.

The fact is that much of the modern world was created by people with Asperger’s Syndrome.  This could of appeared quite strongly, such as in Isaac Newton (see my article “How would you describe the character of Isaac Newton?“) and Albert Einstein, or mildly, as found with many Engineers.  They are the people of science, engineering, chemistry, etc.  Without them, the things of the modern world would probably of never of been created.   Because of the success of what they created, their ways and techniques had to be emulated and recreated by other people in order to be successful.  This has created, through a number of ways, what can be described as a proliferation or even an “infection” of the Asperger’s Syndrome mentality into society.  This seems to of been done by a number of ways such as:

  • People have to imitate them.  What they did, people had to do, such as going to school 8 hours a day for years, having to do intensive study, etc.  These tendencies actually tended to go against most peoples inclinations.  In many ways, its this that made things like the University so hard for many people.  Its not that it was hard necessarily but they had to do it the “Asperger way”.
  • People had to use them as an example of how to do things.  Their successful ways set the pattern.  Because of this, people began to look up to them and aspire to them.  This created, in a way, an ‘Asperger-trait cult’ in the Universities, science, etc. that looked at these qualities as desirable and a good thing.  I, myself, was brought up with the ‘intellectual ideal’ of continuous study and such, which glorified much of this behavior.

In short, their ways were imitated and emulated because it achieved results.  Because of this, normal people had to develop Asperger-like traits to also achieve results and, probably more importantly, to compete with them.  In some respects, in going to school, such as the University, one was not in a competition of intelligence with other people but a competition of Asperger-like traits.  Whoever developed them the best tended to do the best in school.  Even many of the traits of so-called successful studying techniques (that’s taught today) sound amazingly Asperger-like.  That’s probably no mistake.  The pressure to be successful created a need to develop Asperger-like traits which, in the end, made a person become Asperger-like:  the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’. 

Initially, this tendency seemed to be focused on the Universities.  Recently, though, there has developed a tendency in which it has carried down to public schooling today. This seems to of slowly increased after WWII and become a fact by about 2000.  Its prevalence in the common people seems to be because of the pressure to succeed and the belief that every kid, and their dog, must go to the University (see my article “Thoughts on the problem of the inundation of people into college or the University).  As a result, normal everyday kids are now being put under pressure to develop Asperger-like traits, whether they have them or not.  In this way, schooling, at least in my opinion, is impairing kids nowadays (this is true on many levels, see my article “Thoughts on the ‘squashed mind’ – the impairing effects of formal education” and others) and one of these impairments is this attempt at making kids have Asperger-like traits.  Perhaps even the automaton-like quality found in Asperger’s Syndrome has helped to view the kids as nothing but an automaton, robot, or machine, which is so prevalent today (see my article “Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”“.  If this is the case, it shows this tendency has gone so far that it has greatly influenced kids life, character, and society . . . far further than it should of ever gone.  And it may go further than that. Many of the new “techno-toys” (computer games, cell phones, etc.) are as if only aggravating this condition.  It seems to cater to this mentality which is only making it worse.  In some respects, the reason why these toys may be popular is because they often emulate Asperger-like qualities in kids.  In this way, its as if we have made the “Asperger way” a way of life for many kids!

I often felt I had a mild version of Asperger’s Syndrome (I was never diagnosed with it but I displayed many traits of it).  I looked into how it appeared to me and wrote an article on it called “Describing My Condition“.  In this article I described how I often called it the ‘myopic mind’ or ‘rift illness’ based on its character traits.  I defined four traits of this condition:

  1. Over and under sensitivity to perception.
  2. Concentration issues.
  3. The “Crib Reflex” (the need to surround yourself with a ‘comfortable’ environment).
  4. Inability to ‘relate’ or ‘connect’ to things.

These same traits are often being seen in many kids today, with variations of course.  In some cases, these traits seem excessive and exaggerated.   In fact, I often feel many problems kids have, nowadays, may be a result of ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’.  Over the years I have been particularly skeptical of all the kids being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, for example.  This diagnosis is being handed out to kids like candy.  It seems, to me, that it has become a generic term for an ‘unaccommodating kid’ or ‘difficult kid’ which they cannot explain.  I often wonder if it is more related to the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’, particularly manifesting the first two qualities.  I cannot say.

The male and female seems to of reacted differently, of course, to the “Asperger way” of life, prevalent today, based on their different character traits.  From what I have seen so far (which isn’t that extensive) there seems to be patterns.

The male tends to display qualities such as:

  • He becomes hyper-like.  This seems to be because of over sensitivity.
  • He gets overly involved and addicted to things.  This reflects over sensitivity and over concentration
  • He can’t relate with things.  This can appear as an apathy or an alienation.

The males seems to develop strong traits of over sensitivity, over concentration, and an inability to relate.  This makes the male appear, overall, as if he was ‘disconnected’ and lost and even that he can’t control himself.  It may also contribute to why many males are ‘dropping out’ of society and don’t want to participate in it (see my article “Thoughts on “failing” boys and males “dropping out”: “the male exodus” . . . another account of the fight against dehumanization???” and “More thoughts on “the male exodus” – the importance of a world that is worth the effort or ‘world worth’“).

The female tends to display qualities such as:

  • They follow things slavishly, such as trend or the social media.  This is a reflection of the ‘crib reflex’, the need to find a ‘comfortable surroundings’.
  • They become robot-like.  More than once have I called the female the “robot of society”.
  • They have problems with a lack of self.  This is a reflection of the inability to relate with things.
  • They become oversensitive and overly ‘touchy’ about things.  Even a glance, overhearing a statement, or knowledge of something that happened can “bother” them.

In short, the female seems to develop a strong ‘crib reflex’, which seems somewhat prevalent, and a tendency to over sensitivity.  Because they become so rooted in following social trend, this gives the female the appearance of doing what’s acceptable, and, because of this, they are often viewed as not having any problems.  In fact, they may appear ‘stable’.  In short, the female character tends to hide the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’.  Some of these traits are seen in what I call the ‘failed sex’ (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘failed sex’ – how many female traits have failed – a hidden crisis of the American female “).  In fact, I would not be surprised if the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’ may of contributed to creating the ‘failed sex’.

More than once have I speculated that many of my “Asperger traits” may not be genuine at all and may of been learned.  In other words, I developed the ‘pseudo-Asperger’s Syndrome’ by living in this society.  This may of accounted to why it is so mild.  Interestingly, a man who greatly influenced me probably had Asperger’s Syndrome:  Isaac Newton (see my article “Thoughts on the three most influential men in my life and their significance to me – Newton, Freud, St. Antony – and the “great inquiry”“).  Not only that, several of my best friends in grade school apparently had it (one felt he did).  I’m pretty certain another one had it.  In addition, I was in a society that emulated it.  In short, I was surrounded by it.  In a way, it would be no wonder why I developed it.  Its this observation in myself that made me question if many other people were also being “taught” Asperger’s Syndrome by this society.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Education and learning, Modern life and society, Oversensitivity, the 'rift personality', shyness, love shyness, and Asperger's, Psychology and psychoanalysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on interpreting history: “fill-in history” and the need for meaning

In a conversation recently, I said something interesting:

I said that, it seems to me, that to be a good historian you need to be able to say and do several things:

  • You must be able to say “we simply don’t know” and leave it at that.  In other words, you must be able to accept that there are no answers.  Though this may sound easy my observation is that this is very hard for many people to do.
  • You must be a person that is able to understand that “speculation” is speculation that that is all it is . . . it is not fact.  That is to say, you must understand that any “speculation” is not definite.  Many people, I’ve found, tend to confuse speculation with fact to the point that any speculation is considered fact.
  • You must be able to understand that a lot of history (even firsthand accounts) consists of “opinions”, “different points of view”, and “different perspectives” which, by their nature, are not definite.  For example, they may be true from one angle but not another.  Just because a chronicler says this or that happened for this or that reason does not mean that it did . . . it may only be true from his perspective.
  • You must understand that some things are assumed to be true because there’s nothing else to rely on.  In other words, do to lack of information there is a tendency to make any explanation true when, in actuality, they really have no basis.  This often creates ‘assumed truth’ that may not, in actuality, be true at all.
  • You must understand that historical interpretation is often based on what you accept as true.  What you accept as true may not be what another accepts as true giving a totally different explanation.  This tends to lead to different interpretations of history based on ones philosophy (such as the Communist interpretation of history or Capitalistic interpretation or Christian, etc.).

A good historian, in my opinion, should be aware of these things.  Unfortunately, many people find these hard to actually put into practice.   This makes it so that people tend to “fill-in” gaps in history, giving vague explanations, assumed explanations, etc., in which there is no concrete validity.  I speak of this as “fill-in history”.  I tend to feel that most history is nothing but “fill-in history”, created, made up, or assumed to be true to fill in gaps we simply don’t know.  In other words, I tend to view that most history is not founded on concrete truths.  In fact, I tend to view that historical interpretation is more a lesson in the fact that we need to have things ‘make sense’ and give things a meaning, than in “actual facts”.  In this way, we are actually seeking ‘meaningful history’, not ‘factual history’.  Personally, I believe this is the primary purpose of history.  To be frank, history, really, is nothing but a form of storytelling with all the pomp, exaggeration, and distortion that it requires to tell a good story.  In many ways, the best historical interpretation is the one that is told the best.

Because of this, history tends to not be ‘factual history’.  In fact, if we were to, say, get the history books and erase all the material that is not founded on concrete facts, we’d end up erasing most of the book.  On a closer look we’d find that most historical interpretation entails a lot of:

  • Speculation
  • Guessing
  • Assumption
  • Fitting, altering, twisting, and distorting to fit a particular philosophy.

This means that a lot of history is basically “made up”.  In this way, most of history is really myth, in actuality.  As I said above, what we really want is ‘meaningful history’, that makes sense to us . . . that’s what its really about.

A lot of ‘meaningful history’ is based in several themes, I’ve found:

  • On who we are.  History is interpreted in the light of defining and delineating our identity.  Often, this is done in the context of race, culture, religion, or politics.  It helps to delineate where we come from, where things (such as tradition and custom) come from, our people, and eventual who we are as people.  This often makes historical interpretation very personal and, subsequently, entails many deep feelings.
  • On what humanity is.  History is interpreted in the light of reflecting the nature of humanity and its traits.  This seems more prevalent in recent decades.  History is used to create ‘patterns of behavior’, examples of human traits, and such.
  • As a respect for the people of the past.  In this sense, history is often used to glorify the past generations, honoring what they did.  Though this means well, it often tends to paint the people of the past as saints.
  • As a description of events.  History becomes nothing but a ‘mechanical description’ of what happened.

In creating ‘meaningful history’ we tend to “cut out” aspects of history that does not help that historical interpretation.  Most of history, frankly, is boring, dull, and mundane.  As a result, we tend to disregard it.  Other aspects don’t fit into our ‘meaningful history’ interpretation and also tends to be disregarded.  And still other aspects of history are so “bad” that we don’t even want to accept it at all.  Stuff, such as this, tends to create “fill-in history”.

I’ve always felt that, in historical interpretation, we should be aware of a number of things, such as:

  • Accept the need for ‘meaningful history’ and that this is what we are tending to do.  What use is history without meaning?  This is the need we are trying to fulfill.
  • We should look, carefully, at what our intentions are and how we are intending to create a ‘meaningful history’.  We should be aware if our motive is to discover who we are, or the traits of humanity, for example.
  • We should be aware that our intentions will tend to alter our interpretation of things to fit our purpose.  This, in my opinion, seems almost unavoidable.
  • Accept the limitations of historical interpretation.  As I said above, a lot of history is speculation, unknown, opinion, etc. which does not constitute ‘fact’.  We should be aware of this fact.
  • We should try to avoid the creation of “fill-in history”. 

In this way, we are really trying to create an honest ‘meaningful history’ that is limited by our intentions and the limits of historical interpretation.  In other words, we are not creating an ‘ultimate interpretation’, as if trying to make historical interpretation into something like a science.  Instead, we should see our interpretation of history (or any, for that matter) as a specific type of interpretation and that it is not the only one.  In other words, we should see any interpretation of history as limited and that the important thing is its meaning to the person In many ways, “the meaning is everything”.   


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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