May 12, 2009: Levels of Focus

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Root Flower
Inward focus Outward focus
Sustainability Progress
Humanities Sciences
Communitarian Individualist

Notes from Previous Calls:

Dial-in Number: 1-218-936-4700 Participant Access Code: 815066


May 12, 2009 @8pm PST

  • Opening Words - 5 mins
  • Check in - 10 mins
  • Topic 1: The Untethered Soul - 15 mins
  • Topic 2: WorldCon - 5 mins
  • Topic 3: Levels of Focus - 10 mins
  • Logistics / What's next / homework / assign next call - 10 mins
  • Closing Words - 2 mins

Opening Words - (5 mins)

BEN: We believe that:

  The Destiny of SolSeed
  is to take root amongst the stars.



are precious SolSeed.

SHELLEY: As SolSeed's intelligent spark,

  We are its caretakers, 
  We must fulfill The Destiny.

BONI: We believe that:

 Our holy duty is to   
 embrace Self Love,  
 cultivate Empathy,  
 and pursue Wisdom,


   so that our being honors SolSeed,
   and our striving hastens
   the fulfillment of The Destiny.

BONI: Self Love is motive. Without Self Love, Empathy and Wisdom are impotent.


 I pledge to learn to love myself; 
 to become a person I cherish, admire, and care for. 

BEN: Empathy is transcendent. Without Empathy, Self Love and Wisdom are evil.


 I pledge to cultivate empathy in myself and others; 
 to share and demonstrate my concern for others 
 and for the growing life all around me. 

BRANDON: Wisdom is effective. Without Wisdom, Self Love and Empathy are feeble and capricious.


 I pledge to seek wisdom; 
 to honor my past, to strive for the future, 
 to be open to new ideas and new beliefs, 
 and to share my wisdom with others.

ALL: Through Self Love, Empathy, and Wisdom we have come to know that:

 We are SolSeed; 
 Children of the sun, 
 Awakened by starlight, 
 Growing, nurturing, protecting, 
 We bring life!

Check in and Reflections (10 mins)

  • Boni brings sadness from end of vaction, excitement of spring
  • Shelley also finds it hard to be back; told everyone @ work yesterday that she's pregnant
  • Brandon brings prioritization; sang for everyone at work today
  • Ben brings some skepticism and fascination with the notion of consciousness. He feels how Douglas Adams felt toward religion -- fascinated despite being a staunch atheist.
  • Mark is a staunch religious person fascinated by atheism . . . kind of joking. Tired. Has a couple more hours of work to do even. Glad to be back in touch as its been 2 weeks since we talked. Excited about possibilities including SolSeed campout. Let me know if I can further that.

Topic 1: The Untethered Soul (15 mins)

Chapters 1-4
Chapter 4 concludes with a movie analogy which we already discussed once.
Ben: Discussion question: If we are to take the author's assertion that consciousness is pure awareness (movie), how do we reconcile that with the fact that we can "make" our inner voice say things, like "hello." Does he think any time we think, say, or do anything . . . it's all an illusion that we're in control.
Boni: Page 12 -- you can control you mind but not the world.
Mark: It depends on what we define as "you." There's a part of us that is part of a universal consciousness that is transcendent and aware, the "witness." There's another part of us that is the "spacesuit we're in" -- our body. Also there's our mind, which we have some sort of control over. One of the ways we can have some perspective is to recognize that we have deeper levels to ourselves.
Ben: Is there a single clear answer to "Who are you?" in Ch 2 or 3? Or are there several answers depending on what you focus on?
Mark: The answer will be increasingly revealed in the rest of the book.
Brandon: I think the way Mark said it earlier was good. You can be unaware of your thoughts/feelings but have them "running you" without being aware of your emotions and your thoughts. Or you can start being aware of your emotions/thoughts. Then if you go a little deeper you can realize you are the one watching those emotions/thoughts.
Ben: If your awareness is who you are, then does that leave any room for agency, i.e. the ability to act?
Mark: A good question. Possibly awareness would be an element, but you can choose to act
Ben: As opposed to watching James Bond on the screen ... trapped in the movie
Mark: He's trying to drive a wedge between the sense that we are just the actor, you are such a good method actor that you've convinced yourself that you are James Bond
Ben: metaphor is someone in theater not actor
Mark: But we identify with the actor in the movie we're watching ... but it is just a character
Ben: "that you are not even a human being ... that's just a character you play on TV"
Mark: he's making the case that you have a soul that has the ability to obeserve things ... you're the subject not the object
Shelley: Can I ask you what's at stake for you?
Ben: simple ... in SF story your brain just fools your consciousness into thinking that you make the decisions yourself ... if Singer believes that I'm going to find it difficult to read the rest
Mark: there seems to some scientific evidence that many actions are initiated and we later explain them using I higher brain
Shelley: What's at stake? Some people don't want to know that the earth is getting warmer ...
Ben: Presuming that it's possible to act at all ... this movie scenario is like a horror story that someone else has control and you are trapped inside
Shelley: Interesting to hear you say it this way ... I understood it the other way ... that there is great freedom in recognizing that I'm not only my feelings, only my thoughts, but that I have an existence outside them and can thus differentiate myself
Ben: like your thought that your life is the movie and that you've been taken over
Mark: he's outlining what he thinks is true for many people
A little arguing and laughing :-)
Boni: I'm enjoying the book, finding it interesting and enlightening
Shelley: do you feel trapped in the same way ben does "movie happening with out him having anything to say about it"
Boni: What I felt is that you are being given a choice as to how ... by being aware of it you can choose what you do with it (the mind that is talking continually) ... more freedom not less
Brandon: What Ben is bringing up is pretty interesting -- the idea that we are not *merely* our thoughts I find freeing, AND I recognize that most of the things that my body does and says come from the Brandon-mind. Most of the time, the movie I am watching is The Brandon-Mind Movie. Unfortunately I cannot watch the Shelley-Mind movie very well, except when it intersects with the Brandon-Mind Movie. I find I am less trapped in the movie when I find I am the one watching the movie, not the one IN the movie. I don't have to feel as deep of angst when the Brandon-Mind misbehaves. I can just notice it, and it controls me less in the future, b/c of the dissaciation with it. Wow. The Brandon-Mind has gone on here.
Mark: Actually both he Brandon-Mind and the Ben-Mind have had interesting things to say.
Brandon: I like the terms "brandon-mind" and "brandon-body." And I like the distinction from Brandon, the awareness that watches.
Ben: Awareness is a wonderful thing. If you think there is only one thing you can be, you're in trouble. IT works better for me to . . .
Boni: Page 27: You are the subject, and the thoughts are just another object you can be aware of.
Ben: Ditto for what you say and what you do. You don't control them?
Boni: I guess b/c of this, once you're aware of it, you are free.
Mark: If the author is postulating that who you really are is this person that acts independently of you, then it's like you're a captive tied up in the back seat of a carjacker driving around, then that's pretty scary. Is that what you're trying to describe, Ben?
Brandon: Do you like to watch movies?
Ben: Yes, but I don't want to watch a movie the whole life. This author is passivist -- he's more interested in watching than in doing.
Brandon: The Ben Mind is a great thing to watch, actually, pretty cool.
Ben: Straw man argument!
Brandon: It's not!
Ben: I'm saying straw man b/c the MOnty Python is 2 hrs over and over. What I'm trying to get at is that part of what we are is agency.
more was said but not recorded

Topic 2: WorldCon (5 mins) Montreal, Canada Thursday August 6th to Monday August 10th Adult admission is $240 Canadian = $195 US Special family rate is $460 US for 2 adults and 2 children ages 6-12

Topic 3: Levels of Focus (10 mins)

  • Brandon: focused on the red area all the time, harder to focus on outer levels
    • spheres of influence: have to act in your local sphere in such a way as to convince others to act in their spheres
    • but the things I do locally must be in the context of the outer levels
  • Shelley: organizations - any bigger than that is overwhelming
  • Mark: abstract interest in starfaring, focus is on the groundling perspective, acting here and now to create a movement
  • Shelley: lower image helps me think of humanity as an organism
  • Brandon: root is conservative, keeping what we know alive, while flower is progressive
  • Shelley: don't vilify people who are really good at keeping the recipes that work

Next Call

  • Facilitator (Mark)
  • Opening/closing words (Shelley)
  • Summary and reminder email (Ben)
  • Topic ideas (Brandon)
    • Permaculture
    • Purpose of the roots (avoiding bias toward the flower)

Closing Words (2 min)

Ben: May you be filled with loving kindness;
Boni: May you be well.
Shelley: May you be peaceful and at ease;
Brandon: May you be happy.

(read to yourself silently)

May I be filled with loving kindness;
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease;
May I be happy.
Shelley: May we be filled with loving kindness;
May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease;
May we be happy.
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