To have and to hold

14 January 2018

Indeed we have needs. As living organisms we require sustenance and we require shelter. Maslow spelt that out pretty clearly. And then we have ‘wants’. Now here things get a little murkier. For while it can be said that needs naturally morph into ‘wants’ otherwise there wouldn’t be the drive and focus to acquire, problems arise when ‘wants’ become ‘needs’.

When a ‘want’ which was not a ‘need’ transmutes into a need there is often but not always, the spectre of some nurture deprivation element which is playing out the ‘need’ in compensatory behaviour. In this way, the drive to acquisition incorporates the heritage determinants of material and emotional deprivation. The often obsessive motivation to seek and acquire can be seen to appease the fear of being left bereft of survival resources – the material and emotional deprivation are inextricably bound as one. Flowing from this dynamic is the fear of loss – loss of not being recognized because this results in the belief that if one is not recognized then reward and personal gain is compromised. The fear of loss also translates into the need to hold on to one’s gains and the need to acquire more so as to create a greater margin of ‘safety’. Together with fear of loss is fear of failure with all its incumbent anxiety triggers. Fear of failure similarly raises the spectre of failing to have the means to acquire and thereby appease the fear of loss. To complete the picture is the compromised self-esteem which hums in the background as the accompaniment to the show.

The study of this human condition can be found in the ancient Buddhist literature. It is referred to as dukkha. Dukkha refers to the pain that arises out of loss or the fear of loss and consequently to the need to hold on tightly to what you have. In this context, the fear of loss includes the fear and its accompanying uncertainty that arises out of changing circumstances and a changing landscape - the loss of a familiar status quo and comfort zone. The metaphor that is quoted in this regard in the Buddhist literature is that our individual and collective lives are as the brisk flow of a river. And flow we must, for life is an ever changing meander with the occasional tight turns, rapids and waterfalls. But if we attempt to move to the safety of the bank and hold on to something to slow or stop our flow, we shall have our arms ripped off!

The manner in which we live our lives determines also the way we approach our deaths. And sadly all too often I have observed that those who held on too tightly to the artifacts of life, also hold on tightly to the remnants of life out of fear of loss. This often translates into the expectation to prolong life at all costs to appease the fear of the afflicted and invariably that of close relatives – we inflict life upon the wretched and the dying with all its indignity.

The state devoid of dukkha is that of Nirvana – a state that arises out of sensitivity, awareness and clarity. The drive to strive for a state of Nirvana arises out of the increasing dissatisfaction and lack of gratification in a space of increasing dukkha. Once arrived at the watershed point of recognition of the folly and pain of dukkha we commence a process of evolving from compensatory behaviour to one of authenticity. In this way we transcend the limiting beliefs that imprison us in the space of dukkha and all its pain. The first step in this process is to sharpen our sensitivities – of self, of others and of the extended environment. This is the fundamental component – to be able to perceive with all our senses, sans disparaging judgement. In this regard it helps by reminding ourselves that every person is a product of a heritage in which they had no choices, most notably in the earliest and most influential period.

The next step is to apply our sense of reason to achieve clarity of self – identify needs, aspirations, purposeful and gratifying activities. From here follows the reasoning process to gain clarity of others and indeed of the extended environment. Finally, the entire process is fine tuned by the acknowledgement of a personal value contribution (making something better than it was before you engaged with it).

In transcending dukkha and approaching Nirvana we become more accepting of the bigger picture and our place within it. It is an acceptance also that we have very little control over others and over the extended environment. Our lot is to reason, achieve clarity and evolve to the best that we can become. In this way we become a positive resource for others within the greater environment – true value contributors. And indeed we set ourselves up for a fulfilling death when the time comes (which it will), for a fulfilling death follows on from a fulfilling and authentic life.

Archive

14 January 2018
To have and to hold

1 January 2018
Superconsciousness

22 December 2017
The Lethal Cocktail of Fear with an Existential Crisis

9 December 2017
Reflections in a cemetery

3 December 2017
Go forth and multiply

15 November 2017
Reflections of a mirror

29 October 2017
Dumbing down

26 October 2017
Avoid the brain drain

4 September 2017
An authentic lead

30 August 2017
Pop

23 August 2017
Respect begins at home

16 July 2017
An awe-full story

3 July 2017
Mushroom soup

2 June 2017
Relativity, relatives and other relationships

29 May 2017
Inflamed and smoked

25 May 2017
An Ode to my Mentor

10 May 2017
Counter-evolutionary

27 April 2017
Inspire

16 April 2017
Lost in an expert fog

12 April 2017
Don't be short-changed

30 March 2017
A brAIve New World

15 March 2017
The problem with Gus

12 March 2017
United in Energy

5 March 2017
Transcending emotions

25 February 2017
In the blink of an eye

25 February 2017
The real story about emotions

27 January 2017
Meditation Re-visited

21 January 2017
As a light to a flame

31 December 2016
Drowning in snake oil

24 December 2016
In the glow of an aura

19 December 2016
Mindfully yours

14 December 2016
Time to transcend the Flat Earth Society

4 December 2016
Prejudice and other violations

20 November 2016
Lighting up the Abyss

12 November 2016
Embrace the Zeitgeist and Transcend

9 November 2016
A Curious Life

8 October 2016
Perhaps we ought to read the stars?

22 September 2016
The truth about truth

27 August 2016
Conscious Integration

21 August 2016
The Toxicity of the Social Media

3 August 2016
Time to Integrate

24 July 2016
I Believe ...

16 June 2016
Crime, punishment and the brain

4 June 2016
The Essence of Effective Leadership

22 May 2016
Engage with the Eloquence of Neuromodulation

15 May 2016
Peer Reviewed Publications: A Trust Issue

28 April 2016
A Cathartic Therapeutic Moment

11 March 2016
Gateway to Consciousness

16 December 2015
Profile of Hatred and Cruelty

9 November 2015
Drivers of Success and Effective Leadership

2 November 2015
A Two-Point Solution

20 October 2015
All Black Rugby: The Eloquence of Applied Neuroscience

8 October 2015
In Mitigation of Limiting Deprivation Determinants

20 September 2015
Lamenting our intellectual malaise

13 August 2015
Respectful Intervention

25 July 2015
The Creative Leadership Zone

16 May 2015
Coaching to Pleasure

6 May 2015
Glowing the Void - Thoughts under a May Full Moon

1 April 2015
Context and Integration

7 February 2015
Add some Awe and become Awesome

11 January 2015
Effective Intervention

3 January 2015
The re-emergence of the right hemisphere

26 November 2014
Where is consciousness?

11 May 2014
A Strong Determinism

15 February 2014
The Physiology of Mindfulness

16 August 2013
The Triple Wheel Combination Model of Value-based Leadership

1 June 2013
Authenticity and Leadership

13 January 2013
The Neurobiology of Empathy

29 November 2012
Neuroplasticity

8 June 2012
The brain as a deterministic blueprint

21 April 2012
That 'Aha' Moment

17 April 2011
Rewarding Value

28 December 2010
The Dangers of Cyber-space

27 November 2010
Enhancing Gratification

23 June 2010
Systemic Degeneration

14 June 2010
Meaning and Purpose

3 June 2010
Medical Challenges