Week 20 MKMMA – Choice

This week’s webinar was all about choice, and what informs choice.  I chose to wait until now to write this post, and as a result, all of my wonderful insights, my cogent logical arguments and deductions have escaped me.

Well, off the cuff, here goes:

Life is indeed about choice, and where we are now is where we have chosen to be – right now.  I don’t believe that we’re entirely products of our choices, but a significant portion of the current state of life is related to choice.  A fairly sizable, and perhaps much more significant portion is also related to opportunity, chance, luck, so-called fate, etc.  While choice may be partially responsible for determining one’s position, choice does not account for the lack of control over one’s own life most people have.  If people don’t have intimate control, then how can it be said that their position or lot in life is strictly due to their choice?

Within the same webinar where one individual made the statement that where a person is now is where they’ve chosen to be, another also stated that decision making is genetic.  That would seem to indicate that any semblance of choice was abrogated by birthright.  We choose how we are programmed to choose, so therefore once again we have no control over our position.

So which is it?  Are we where we’re at because of our choices, or because we had no choice about which way we’re programmed to choose?  Were we in fact predestined to be at the very spot we are now?  If so, that does seem to indicate the possibility that an omniscience could know exactly our reaction to every infinitesimal prodding, each stimulus along our path.  The odds against that however are staggering.  Imagine the sheer computing power that would be required to track every neuron, every impulse,  every situation and accurately predict the response of every involved individual in order such that we end up exactly where we are.  Then extend that concept out to encompass what most religions believe, which is that everything was planned – designed – by the creator, or the universal intelligence.  That takes it beyond prediction into causation.  To conceive of any God or universal intelligence that is capable of such a feat boggles the mind, and those who think they can define it or him are merely guessing.  That is the most rational argument against the existence of such a being or intelligence that I’ve heard yet.  Even now though, in the face of those odds and that logic, I can’t state categorically that there isn’t such an intelligence or higher being.  I have just as much of an issue with an atheist telling me there is no God, as I have with a devout Christian telling me my only path to salvation is through Christ.  The atheists have their Flying Spaghetti Monster thought experiment and when they bring it up, they’re just so smug, so sure of their rightness.  To claim they know definitively is the height of arrogance.  Is there no happy medium between the two positions?  So far, I find that the answer is ‘No’.  The squishy medium of Agnosticism is straddling two equally unappealing options.  Then too, if we’re completely programmed in our responses, how can it be true that we have free will?  And then, by extension, if our choices are not our own, whose are they?  Is there a puppet master?  Honestly, I could give myself fits if I contemplate this further.

Moving on…

Today being Chinese New Year, it seems almost fitting to include a blurb of eastern philosophy, since I’m currently a bit burned out on the Haanel New Thought philosophy I’ve been reading. This is from Wikipedia, so it might be good to cross reference the info.  I was born in the year of the Pig, in the Metal Pig elemental cycle.  Here’s what the Wikipedia article says about my particular Chinese Zodiac elemental sign:

“Metal, being the hardest of the elements give the Pig an air of firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength and determination. The Metal Pig can be controlling, ambitious, forceful and set in their ways. They are often more self-reliant and prefer to handle their problems alone.”

Those that know me might say that fits me to a ‘T’.  I identify with quite a bit of that statement.  There are some very good qualities in there.  Even the down-side of that statement in my mind is still more of a positive than a negative.  Having read it however, I would maintain that it is probably a perfect example of confirmation bias.  We tend to see ourselves in everything we read.  I believe someone mentioned that in the webinar as well.  It’s the reason that medical students often become hypochondriacs during the second year of their medical education.  It’s also a very general statement.  I could probably find things I see in myself and others in every elemental cycle of every year of the Chinese Zodiac.  Haanel does not have a monopoly on unprovable generalities.

So, conclusion?

I want to believe that I have control of my current life and that all my decisions led me to this point, but at the same time, isn’t that just my own ego attempting to tell me that I have a semblance of control?  I think I have a choice, therefore I accept my current situation as being under my control.  It’s also possible that since I am such a stubborn person that I’m willfully pretending not to know something critical.  When asked, what am I pretending not to know, I honestly have no idea, since in my world view, I obviously already know everything I need to know.  To quote G.K. Chesterton:

“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

In the matter of faith, once I find something solid to close my mind on, I will.  Some things however are already very solid.

One thing I do choose…

I choose to continue asking questions and genuinely thinking about the answer my genetically programmed or properly nurtured brain provides.  Perhaps once I have the answers to these questions, I’ll be able accept and move on to modification of my pre-programmed autonomic responses.  I’d also like to go back and watch the webinar again now that I’ve had some time to ponder this post.  I suspect however that I will once again prioritize other things over spending an additional 2 hours in nonconstructive, non income producing activity.

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Week 16, 17 MKMMA – Faith – (holding off on Week 17 part 2 since I need to re-review the whole webbbbby first)

Once again, writing and not posting.  Here’s the post I wrote 3 days ago and didn’t publish.

Things have been a bit disjointed.  I’ve reached out to my guide and hopefully will have more to post after Thursday.  Here, for your perusal, is some writing I spewed out in answer to a blog post comment by an individual who was trying to provide advice and yet remain positive in the face of my cynicism.  Enjoy!

Ymra eht nioj!  (just ’cause)

This was initially a reply to a comment on one of my blog posts. This is how I was feeling at the time I read their words – “Have FAITH”.
In What? or Whom? I think faith is the issue; or at the very least a contributing factor. Quite a few of the self-help, self actualization programs, religious tracts, aphorisms and cutesy sayings include references to faith. In whom, I have to ask, am I supposed to have faith? I don’t believe in a universal power, I don’t believe in an almighty (but I’m not sure about that), I have nothing and no-one (outside of myself and a few trusted others), in which or in whom to have ‘faith’. It is important to note that ‘faith’ in the context in which I use it is more a matter of behavioral science, or predictive analysis; it’s a derivative of past experience informing a prediction of future or reactive behavior. In the context of the poster, however, faith is a steadfast attachment to the realization of a belief. Belief is a construct of a concept that is held to despite the lack of any evidence to confirm it. If there were tangible proof of a belief, it wouldn’t be called a belief; it would be called a fact. The very term belief implies doubt, and calls into question its object. Such shallow constructs cannot be the basis of a moral center, or the firmament on which to systematically build other beliefs. To depend so heavily on that which is assumed invites doubt and disillusionment when the inevitable denouement occurs. At any point, the chain of ‘logic’ can be broken, if the recipient takes issue with the lesson.  This is one of the reasons I have been growing apart from the program every week. Every week, I find it more and more difficult to accept the pronouncements of the MKMMA system as statements of fact, which are, after all, only Haanel’s opinions, beliefs and faith building upon each previous lesson. To continue accepting these statements would mean accepting the previous lessons as fact, which I believe (HA!), absent factual proof, directly contradicts my principles of faith in reality.

There.  I can write psychobabble garbage too.

Flame On!

The next post may be more favorable to the concepts in the MasterKey, considering where I was (both physically and mentally) at the time I was listening to the webinar.  As stated in the title, I do need to review the week 17, take 2 webinar.

Week 15 MKMMA – Still Here

Here’s my unfinished week 15 post, such as it is.  Hopefully I am still here.  Working on week 17 now.

I seriously considered not continuing the course.  I stared at the paypal PIF page and wondered what I was getting out of this.  Folks that have read my very late week 14 post (from a short few minutes ago) will know where my head was.  At that point, I can honestly say the only pull to keep going was the friends and relatives that are still going through the course.

This week I had an opportunity to go to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  It’s an event that I’ve followed for years, but never dreamed of attending.  A buddy of mine had an extra ticket and asked if I would like to tag along.  A couple of years ago, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it any further.  I’m more open to these opportunities these days, but that might be a result of aging rather than any influence of the course.  I’ve been making decisions like that lately, since before I joined the MKMMA.  In fact joining the MKMMA was one such decision.

Week 14 MKMMA – Doubt, disharmony and cynicism

I wrote the below during week 14 at the same time as my week 13 post (late, I might add).  I am including the post below in part to confess that I backslid, to take ownership for my disharmony, and also in part to show that my bout of cynicism has not as yet prevented me from continuing with the MKMMA.  I still have my reservations about the course, mostly due to my lack of belief in any oversoul or overmind of the universe.  Consequently every time Haanel talks about it as though it’s self-evident, I’m reminded of how much I don’t believe in it.  This has resulted in me not reading Haanel routinely, leaving just my index cards, the sits, and Og to keep me centered and grounded.  Well, over the holiday weeks I faltered on those as well.  I’m struggling to get the habits of reading and performing the exercises back on track, but when you sink so low, it’s a bit difficult to claw oneself out of the muck to stand on the firmament.  If I’m honest, the old blueprint is still alive and well.  It was amazing how quickly I fell back into old habits.  I’ll have more later this week about this week’s exercise.  So, below, for better or worse is where my head was at last week:

I’m close to caught up.  I’ve been making an effort to become so.

However, to be very candid, perhaps detrimentally so, I’m wondering if there will be any consequences for falling this far behind.  The cynic in me is wondering if the only tangible requirement that will result in loss of PIF scholarship is if the PIF payment is missed.  To date, the only time I’ve had an issue was when, due to a slight mismatch between my name and my pay account name, my access to the site was cut off for a couple days until they found my payment.  The statements about maintenance of a PIF scholarship are quite clear, however;  filling out the survey is a requirement, and I’ve been (I’m ashamed to say) consistently late in completing the surveys and have not as yet suffered any consequences.  This has me concerned, as there has been no attempt of which I’m aware to bring me back into harmony by either my guide or other agency.  Thus, I’m in a quandary:  Do I open my mouth and demand consequences, which may result in being booted from the course, or do I attempt to test the theory by remaining consistently behind to see if my lack of harmoniousness attracts attention?  By even writing the paragraph, I might attract the unwanted attention… or perhaps not, as long as my PIF giving is up to date, my cynical self tells me.  I hope that I’m wrong, and that the requirements as well as the consequences are real and tangible (which might result in the negative consequence of being asked to leave this course), but to be right in my cynicism would mean I’m wasting my time – to be wrong would mean I’ll be ejected.

Pretty bad, huh?  I think that part of my issue might have to do with the fact that I’m not trying to turn the MKMMA into a revenue stream, and the surveys and other various things appear to be hinting at the future task of becoming a proselytizer for the MKMMA in which I have zero interest.  That more than anything may be the source of my disharmony, because I’m here for self improvement, not evangelism.  It’s also possible that nobody noticed my disharmony!  Maybe I’m blowing the whole thing out of proportion.  Maybe people have better things to do than notice when one guy doesn’t submit a survey on time, or comment and share other people’s posts on twitter.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to post this or start over.  I’ve been rereading, and staring at it for about an hour.  On another subject, there may be a post later this week about decisiveness, or perhaps taking initiative – I haven’t decided yet.

Yes, that was a joke.

Week 13 MKMMA – Better late than never

OK, so here it is week 14 and I’m just now getting to my week 13 post.  I was on the webinar on Sunday (9 days ago or so), but wasn’t able to listen to the whole thing since I was at my brother’s place, and then in transit to my sister’s place, both of them out of state.  I listened to the rest of the webinar while wrapping Christmas presents for the entire family which was together again for the first time in 7 years.  I prioritized all family events higher than any of my MKMMA tasks.  I know others that did not do that, but I have no issue with my priorities.  My issue reared its ugly head once I returned home.  I had no desire or motivation to get caught up.  I still needed these last 2 days to decompress from the family gathering, the journey home, the end of the football season and the catchup on TV shows that I still haven’t managed to excise from my weekly routine.  I am back on my way to getting caught up today however.  Hopefully, this post and the next post that I intend to do tomorrow, coupled with watching the video from this past week, and filling out the survey from a week and a half ago will return me to harmony.  I’m feeling much better now that I’ve begun the process.  At least I haven’t devolved into a bout of negativity, as I have in previous weeks.

I have more to say, but that’s all for this (last) week.

 

Week 12 MKMMA – Catchup

Sometimes when a task is daunting, we have a way of putting it off.  We say we’ll do it later.  We don’t have time now.  We’d much rather do this other thing, not what we actually need to do.  Then eventually after a while of procrastination, we forget about the task until much later.  Soon the task is compounded.  Since other tasks invariably depend on the first task, subsequent tasks are also put on the back burner.  The task wasn’t so onerous at first, but through prolonged inattention, it became more so over time.  Eventually, we decide the task wasn’t worth doing anyway, and we actively avoid it.  And then we find things with which to distract ourselves in order that we can forget that we blew off the task.

Why was the task daunting?  Perhaps it isn’t something enjoyable to do.  Perhaps there are other higher priorities – like watching TV, browsing the internet, playing music, packing for vacation, laundry, etc.  It might have simply been because it was what you had to do, not what you wanted to do.  Writing 300 words isn’t that hard.  But it isn’t what I wanted to do!  Maybe it’s because to do a good job writing a blog post would necessitate revealing how far behind one has gotten.  Rather than spend a lot of time hashing that one out, let’s explore this one thing, my blog post for this week.

This week, my goal was to have my blog done by Wednesday.  Those of you paying attention will know that this did not occur.  I even remembered, shortly before I went to bed yesterday, that it was my goal to complete the blog post, and I decided not to do it anyway.  That’s the old blueprint, which kept me watching TV until the wee hours in order to avoid the work.  And now I’m reinforcing an old habit, because blogging about how I didn’t blog on time is at least something to blog about, and I can distract myself from other things that are still left undone by knocking off the low hanging fruit of completing this week’s blog post.  About blogging.   Instead of writing something more revealing about how far behind I am in my reading.

But enough focus on the negative!!!!  I’m through kicking myself for stuff I haven’t done yet.  I’m still hanging in there, and I’m getting better every week.  And the work is getting done.  Eventually.  And now, someone say ‘start over’.  So 7 day mental diet, we begin the beguine again!

A few positive items.  This week, I got my service done.  I cleaned my kitchen counter.  I cleaned my server hard drive.  I wrote index cards with accomplishments on them!  And I will have time to catch up some more this coming week.  So I’m doing my blog post now, only a day late, but still sooner than last week.

Baby steps.

Week 11 MKMMA – Delay, delay, delay.

I have nothing to say.  I’ve been staring at the screen for minutes, and I’ve typed some pretty inane stuff and erased it all.  The only thing keeping me going today is the payoff of being able to click ‘Publish’, do my reading and go to bed.  I seem to be most productive when under the gun, after I’ve left things to the last minute.  Perhaps that’s why my blog posts at the end of the week, usually very late night are the most revealing – I’m forced to type in the random thoughts until the blog post is long enough to cap it off with something relevant to the MKMMA.

I started writing this post on Wednesday, and got as far as the title, which I subsequently revised today.  I’m not sure what distracted me but the net effect was to put me behind the 8-ball struggling to get a post done before midnight Kauai time, spewing my own drivel until I have enough material to call it a decent post.  Looking back, I think that my ‘persistent’ delayed blogging extends from habits learned in my youth.  I would leave writing assignments until the last minute and usually come up with something reasonably clever that satisfied the writing requirement, but was nowhere near as good as what I was truly capable of if I set my mind to it.  I feel the specter of the old blueprint holding me back even now.  It feels good to recognize the resistance to change, and persistently override it.

Well, this bull is tired of pricks from picadors.  Time to retire for the night.  Next week my goal is to blog no later than Wednesday.  (Do it now!)  I will sit and I shall believe that I shall receive the desire to blog with alacrity.

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