The People’s Story

A Writer’s Introduction to the People’s Story

Act I: Departure

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Kelly Slater paddles into uncertainty

Models Versus Reality

“The word that can be spoken is not the true word.” – Lao Tzu

“Believe those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it” – André Gide

Life is a guessing game. It may comfort us to be certain we know the truth, but we are lying to ourselves to hide from our fears of an uncertain Reality. It is difficult to respect either the courage or the intellect of an ostrich that solves the problem of uncertainty by closing its eyes and pretending it away. We cannot afford to shut our eyes or be frozen by our fears, but neither can we afford to pretend that we are not guessing, and play our game without engineering for the possibility that we may be guessing wrong.

One reason we use models, images, and words attempting to describe Reality is to help us manage uncertainty in the game of guessing right. Consider the following model of consciousness.

Diagram 1c

In this model, we experience Reality as vibration detected by our senses. What I am calling the holodeck is a simulation chamber that translates the sensory data into a story our awareness can grasp. If you have ever experienced a lucid dream, then you understand two important aspects of the holodeck –

  1. A lucid dream can be an amazingly real submersion in a sensory simulation almost impossible to differentiate from being “awake.”
  2. A lucid dream has nothing to do with the Reality your body is occupying. The holodeck not only translates sensory data into a simulation, it can construct a Fantasyland without drawing any, or very limited, input from your senses. While your awareness is trapped inside of Fantasyland, your body is still exposed to the stimulus of Reality.

The less experienced we are, the more natural it is to mistake the simulation on our holodeck for Reality. Words and images can be useful to describe Reality, but they are not Reality. What we see is often very different from what is there, and this dynamic has important ramification for our survival. Reality is not trapped inside of our words and our stories, and neither should we be. Both our perceptions and our abilities to interpret our perceptions are flawed and limited. Uncertainty is inescapable, and guessing that we are not guessing appears to be a particularly bad guess.

If you want to learn how to surf Reality, you must have the courage to paddle into uncertainty.

Welcome to the Game…

Evidence-Based Models Versus Faith-Based Models

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I am going to present a basic model of the learning cycle intended to be useful in the game of guessing right. Models are far from equal to this task, and often, it is the process by which a model is developed that determines its reliability. The models developed from the scientific method over centuries by multitudes allowed us to fly men to the moon and back. That is a lot of guessing right. The scientific method is a special case of the learning cycle –

  • Observe (the stimulus)
  • Hypothesize (the response)
  • Test (the response)
  • Analyze (the consequences)
  • Report (what was learned)

The power of the scientific method comes from the testability of its models, allowing verification and collaboration across continents and across millennia.

The Story of Creation in Genesis, on the other hand, is an example of a “truth” model generated by a very different process, that of stating what is true, and rejecting all evidence or reasoning that challenges it. You cannot start with the available evidence of Creation and arrive at the conclusion that the Earth and all life forms upon it were created by a supernatural being in six days. To arrive at this conclusion you must begin there.

Those who embrace a faith model frequently begin with what they want to be true, then “walk in a circle” by seeking out a piece of evidence they claim supports their truth, and accepting this piece of evidence as proof of their belief, while ignoring or rejecting any evidence that contradicts their belief. When we blind our perceptions to block out evidence that contradicts our true story, and abandon the learning cycle lest it produce answers that challenge our right answer, we become trapped in a mental illness that is a rejection of Reality, our Creator, and the evidence of Creation. ALL of us need to constantly be on guard against the seductive self-righteousness of certitude. We are human, we are guessing, and pretending otherwise is not a virtue.

The Call to Adventure

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© 2007-2016 Coert Visser

The Progress-Focused Approach

In my version of the People’s Story we are all born into a guessing game in which Reality is continuously poking us with The Question – “What should you do?” – to which we are continuously responding. Those responses have consequences, and you would think it would not take long for the epiphany that we are guessing to be triggered by the painful experience of guessing wrong. But there is a hidden factor involved that I call “danger at the beginning.” Uncertainty can be frightening, particularly for inexperienced children, and especially when their fears are intentionally amplified with hellish threats in order to drive the child into the imagined safety of a true story that promises to protect them from their fears in exchange for their obedience.

Will the young player answer this Call to Adventure, move courageously across the Threshold of Uncertainty and begin the rising spiral of evolution towards Reality and awakening? Or will the young player Refuse the Call, retreat from the Threshold of Uncertainty, and seek refuge in the imagined safety of some true story that promises to protect them from their fears?  A young player that refuses the call must blind their perceptions lest they observe evidence that contradicts their true story. They must freeze their learning cycle lest it produce answers that challenge their right answer. This begins a descending spiral into delusion, separating further and further from a Reality that is increasingly perceived as an enemy of the truth.

Advice from an Old Player

Over 30 years ago I enlisted in the United States Military. After eight weeks of Basic Training in which almost every decision was made for me, on my first day of freedom, I went to the mall. Chaos. People wearing whatever they wanted, going wherever they wanted. I was spooked, and then I got spooked about getting spooked. The courage it takes to make your own decisions is a spiritual muscle, and if you do not exercise this muscle, it will quickly atrophy. It becomes increasingly difficult to face the uncertainty of making your own decisions.

“Judgement” is the term I use for the skill of understanding the stimulus of our current circumstance, the options we have for responding to this stimulus, the expected consequences of those responses, and the potential consequences if we are guessing wrong. Good judgement is not something we are born with. To become a master of the game we must evolve our judgement by exercising our learning cycle, while surviving the consequences of guessing wrong.

This exercise can be both difficult and dangerous, and many times the best judgement call is to accept that someone else has superior judgement in a given circumstance. There is much we can all learn from players who demonstrate excellent judgement, but surrendering judgement comes with its own risks.  In a game where every decision can be the difference between living and dying, improving our judgement would seem to be worth the effort.

Beware of those who demand that you surrender your judgement to them, or to their right answer book. Beware of those who claim divine infallibility. Beware of those who demonize all facts and all arguments that do not issue from their mouth or their anointed news channel. When you surrender your judgement, you are surrendering control over your game in exchange for a security that may be either imaginary or pretense. When you surrender your judgement, your courage atrophies, you become increasingly fearful of making your own decisions, and you are easily manipulated by those who will use your fears to enslave you, or who may transform your fears into rage, and direct your rage to serve their selfish purpose. This often ends badly for you. This is YOUR game. I highly caution that you be extremely careful about surrendering your joystick.

Uncertainty is inescapable, but in many cases it can be managed, and it can offer opportunity as well as risk. Sometimes surfers drown, or get eaten, but others find the courage to paddle out and take their place in the line-up. We cannot choose whether we will die, but we can choose how we will live, and what we will try to accomplish with our turn upon the field of play.

Eddie would go…

Act II: Initiation

Letter to a Friend – There are four (types of) persons: those who from light, end up in light; those who from darkness, end up in darkness; those who from light, end up in darkness; and those who from darkness, end up in light. Be like the first of these.

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  • Where you stand controls what you see.
  • What you see controls how you act.
  • How you act controls the consequences of your actions.

Threshold of the Mind

  • “I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.” George H. W. Bush
  • “Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they’re quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the Ten Commandments.” – Sarah Palin
  • “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” Ann Coulter
  • “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship.” – Gary North (Institute for Christian Economics)
  • “When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil.” – Gary Potter (Catholics for Christian Political Action)
  • “God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” – George W. Bush (President of the United States)
  • “When science and the Bible differ, science has obviously misinterpreted its data.” – Henry Morris (Founder, Institute for Creation Research)

When Hollywood bases a story on the Hero’s Journey template, that story often begins by establishing the Hero’s life before the Call to Adventure. We naturally begin our journey in childhood trapped inside of a belief that will be challenged by the stimulus of Reality. Visualize how your awareness might by trapped inside of a sphere whose inner surface represents the Threshold of the Mind. Inside of the sphere is the “knowing mind,” outside of the threshold is the “seeking mind.” The nature of a threshold is uncertainty, it is what allows movement between locations, and uncertainty is the only escape from a true story. Uncertainty is frightening, so the inside surface of the sphere is pushing you back to prevent you from escaping from inside of the knowing mind, out into the seeking mind, leaving behind your true story…

Campbell: “With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the ‘threshold guardian’ at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions — also up and down — standing for the limits of the hero’s present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.”

The Threshold of the Mind acts as a filter, a test of moral courage which many are “content,” “even proud” to fail. The people who fail this test are not only “left behind” in the game of guessing right, they become increasingly delusional because of their separation from the evidence of Reality and the interruption of their learning cycle. More than four out of every ten people in the United States believe that the world was created 10,000 years ago, in six days, by a supernatural character in a book of stories, ignoring all of the evidence of Creation and all reasoning that challenges their true story.

You could have the world’s most powerful supercomputer, but if the operating system is garbage, and does not permit upgrades, no matter what is input, the output will be garbage. This is what happens to brilliant young children when their parents trap them in their certain minds with a static true story designed to stupefy them into obedience. The Bible has become the Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and many are convinced that when they swallow it, God begins to speak his words and his thoughts from their mouth. It is this arrogant assumption that they speak for God that separates them from their Creator and the Garden. This is tragically ironic and unnecessary. Humility is not a sin. Science and faith do not have to stand in contradiction, and if religious leaders force this contradiction in order to command obedience with God’s words, we will never end war and poverty. I advocate for a Natural Christianity, and even the Pope recognizes the danger of villainizing science and scientists to protect religious certitude –

Pope Francis: God is not ‘a magician with a magic wand’.

My mother was a Saint, a grateful knower, a devout Catholic nurse with the purest loving heart of anyone I have ever known. My father was a Hero, a grateful seeker who retired from Hughes Aircraft where he was head of the missile propulsion section, head of the secret analysis section, and senior staff for top-secret analysis of Russian missile systems.  He converted to Catholicism so my mother would marry him, and more than sixty years later, as I watched her dance across death’s threshold to the Sound of Music, neither I, nor any of my six siblings, had ever heard our parents argue. Their minds were a universe apart, but their grateful hearts beat as one. After my mother died, and shortly before my father did, he told me the first criticism of my mother that I believe he had ever voiced –

“The one thing that always bothered me about your mother was that nothing I had to say meant more to her than anything the Pope had to say.”

Like my parents, the GOP has become a mixed marriage between two different characters, the Pirate Predator and Monster Punisher, but where my Saint mother failed to propagate knowers of the truth because my father’s seeking mind was too powerful an influence, in the GOP, the seeking minds of the Pirate Lords enthusiastically embraced the propagation of knowing minds which they assumed could be more easily directed to serve the Pirate’s selfish purpose. The growing Monster Pack of selfish hearts and certain minds was nurtured, trained, and controlled by the Pirate Lords, which used their media orifices to feed their Monsters stories of delusional attacks by villainous Democrats trying to take away their freedom. The Pirate Lords did not expect the rise of a Monster King, and they did not understand how quickly their Monsters could turn against them.

When the truth of a selfish knower is challenged with evidence and reason, the trembling fears in their selfish heart frequently transmutes into rage against whatever challenges their truth. Many of them become addicted to the emotional rush of empowerment from this rage which relieves their trembling fears, and their hunger to satisfy a growing appetite for punishment consumes their lives. Donald Trump and many of his supporters, including the Religious Reich and the Alt-Right, show signs of this aversion to Reality and addiction to righteous wrath, and this is relevant to this post because we are approaching an election in which guessing wrong about who should lead this country will have serious and long-term consequences for we the people.

We need to understand the critical difference between the life of a player who never leaves the comfort of the certain mind, and a player who moves forward across the threshold into the seeking mind by baptizing themselves in uncertainty, the universal solvent. Players inside of the certain mind are “story-bound” in a static truth that no evidence or argument is allowed to alter. Their perceptions cannot see beyond the blinding limitations of their true story, nor do they believe that any Reality can lie beyond their truth except for chaos. For these players, doubt unlocks the Gates of Hell, it is not the entrance to the “zone of magnified power.”

Be very sure of this, people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it only too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment. ― J.C. Ryle

This statement demonstrates the perceptual blindness inflicted by the certain mind. Ryle appears to honestly believe that either you embrace the Bible as a true story our Creator wrote about Himself using the hands of men, or you have rejected God to embrace evil. Since Ryle is not permitted to doubt his truth, he rejects doubt as even possible, and brands all of those who profess doubt to be liars using doubt as an excuse for choosing to embrace evil. Like the ostrich, Ryle is so terrified of uncertainty that he closes his eyes and pretends uncertainty doesn’t exist, freeing himself from the moral responsibility for his decisions and their consequences. This is a debilitating mental illness that makes you a terrible problem solver who constantly mis-defines the problem, and then blames your failed solutions on God’s Will. Since God “instructed” George W. Bush to launch a preemptive war against Iraq, God is responsible for the consequences, which saved President Bush from the effort of worrying about, or planning for them.

Also understand that for many players trapped inside of a true story, it is not their fault. Their natural fears of uncertainty were intentionally amplified to drive them into the illusional protection of a “truth trap” and a life role that the Pirate Lords control. Doubt is the only exit from a truth trap, and this exit is not left unguarded. Many people grow up in communities where the heresy of doubting the communal truth will get you banished or executed, and the Pirate Lords are quite skillful at demonizing any source of information or argument that does not issue from a sanctioned orifice. Monster can be particularly vindictive in defending their egos and their truths from any criticism. Seizing control of the media is one of the first steps to silencing criticism and enslaving the hearts and minds of the people. For example, Donald Trump is a big fan of the Second Amendment, but of the First Amendment, not so much…

If you are not story-bound by the delusion of truth, your judgement is not a static skill, but one that continues to evolve through testing and analysis. Both the Pirate and Hero Players share this advantage, and there are many Pirate -Hero friendships that are based upon a mutual respect for demonstrated skill at the game of guessing right. Both Hero and Pirate Players have selfish needs that must be satisfied, and responsibilities that must be met, and both enjoy and respect skills developed during competitive play. My experience is that Pirates make much better drinking buddies than Monsters and Saints.

I could not be less impressed with the pretended virtue of quoting God, or the arrogance of congratulating yourself for the objective morality obtained by swallowing a right answer book. The source of religious terrorism is not that we have lost control over what our Creator is saying, but that we help cultivate the delusion that our Creator is speaking. Thus we empower the vested interests that claim to be the divine source of God’s words, and use them to command obedience and motivate martyrdom. We must find the moral courage to stop willfully propagating this mental illness that makes us blind to facts and deaf to reason, or the knowers of the truth will succeed in their mission to seize control over our government and persecute seeking minds into extinction.

Threshold of the Heart

Image result for joseph stalin images
“Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” – Joseph Stalin (Pirate Lord)

Like the Threshold of the Mind, the Threshold of the Heart can be modeled as the surface of a sphere. Inside of the sphere is the selfish heart, a place we are all familiar with, because it is where all of us begin. It is our selfish hungers drawing us to the center of the sphere, and our selfish fears repelling us from the threshold surface, that hold us inside of the selfish heart. Like the Threshold of the Mind, at a very early age we may anchor our position inside of selfishness, and/or certainty, and spend the rest of our lives with no understanding or experience of the Reality beyond these thresholds.

From inside of the selfish heart, it appears that outside of selfishness is selflessness, which is as repulsive a place for the selfish as doubt is for the knowers of the truth. This is a perceptual illusion easily dispelled by experience after crossing the threshold. The geometry is not right and left, it is inside and outside. Beyond selfishness is gratitude and fairness, which includes fairness to yourself.  The player outside does not forget what was learned inside, while also understanding its limitations and how selfishness blinds us to the larger roles we play in the systems that support us and inside of which we exist. Selfish players feel no debt to these systems and no responsibility for maintaining their health, and they often prey upon these systems to serve their selfish purpose without due consideration of the blowback.

In my version of the People’s Story, the Hero Players serve the function of the people’s problem solvers, and the Hero’s Journey is a map of the solution process. It is the grateful heart that motivates the Hero to try to help the people solve their problems, and it is the seeking mind that enables them to work the solution process. A selfish heart will never undertake the Hero’s Journey, and a certain mind cannot work the solution process. The Hero’s Journey is an exercise in collaborative solution play serving the people, and those who do not perform the exercise will neither experience, nor understand, the gains that this exercise produces.

Those who have crossed the threshold into the grateful heart prefer to seek their answers in win/win solution space because win/win solutions meet less resistance, are more stable and robust, and suffer significantly less backlash when they fail. Players of the grateful heart are not locked in eternal warfare against Reality. This does not mean that the players of the grateful heart do not enjoy the thrill and the benefits of competitive exercise, or enjoy receiving the fruits of their labor, or that they cannot play win/lose if they are forced onto the field of war.

In a guessing game where Reality is continuously poking us with the stimulus – What should you do? – when we respond, our motives arise from our location in the heart, and our methods arise from our location in the mind. We cannot stand inside of both the certain mind and the seeking mind at the same same. We cannot stand inside of both the selfish heart and the grateful heart at the same time. Where we choose to stand relative to the thresholds of heart and mind is a consequential choice in the game of guessing right.

Act III: Return

From Witch’s Rock (2004)

How many times did I tiptoe to keep from awakening the sleeping beast? How many times did I turn the other cheek, trying to pacify the angry king, while the monster hiding inside laughed, and then struck again? The beast herds the victims into the pen with his carrot and stick, then slams the gate shut, and unlimbers his spear to satisfy his vicious pleasures. I was never supposed to escape. Everything he did was to set things up so that I couldn’t get away, so that he could lock the exit, and torture me at his leisure. I whisper –

“I see one. I see two. I see you all.”

The monster appears behind me, spear in one hand, stiff penis in the other. He thrusts his hips while stabbing me with his spear –

“Take that! And that!”

I turn and grab the spear, catching him by surprise. He looks panicked, trapped in the glare of the dragon’s flaming eyes.

“You’re not invisible anymore.”

I pull him in until we are face to face.

“You picked the wrong frickin’ pawn to get your monster kicks.”

I seize him by the throat and lift him thrashing off the floor.

“The sun is up you bloody pricks. Now you’ll see some hero tricks.”

Hero Propagation

In the game of guessing right, many problems benefit from collaborative solution play. Selfish Hearts and Certain Minds interfere with collaborative problem solving, and are often the source of our most enduring conflicts that create horrific suffering. Pirates, Monsters, and Saints all have vested interests in propagating characters that they can control, and long ago they mastered the process of programming young minds with a true story that would have long since died out without their vigorous and relentless evangelizing of their truth. Mankind is trapped in a Character Propagation War, and it is time for the Hero recognize that Hero Propagation is the winning play.

Hero Educational Philosophy is one approach to propagating grateful hearts and seeking minds by teaching the people’s students  how to work together solving the people’s most desperate problems.

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