In this article, I try to answer the minefield of a question “Do I make myself ill!?”
I delve into the facets of our self-conscious that can hold illness in place and I look at a new way of being that could solve all the world’s problems!
Carl Jung first divided our minds into different selves.
He recognised that people behaved differently in different circumstances, and that at the extremes, (as in a mentally disordered state) that multiple personalities could reveal themselves.
We’ve really become quite accepting of these ideas, and use it as common parlance to describe (usually) difficult self-centred men – “He’s so egotistical..”
But what do we really know of ourselves and the patterns that drive us?
Have you ever stopped to wonder why our beautiful planet is so under threat?
I have studied with a great Chinese teacher called Teacher Lu over the past five years, he learned a great deal of what he now teaches from a reputedly enlightened being called Dr Pang Ming, The founder of the Zhineng Qigong school.
Dr Pang studied martial arts from childhood, and was eventually sought out by masters from nineteen different traditions (A very rare occurrence) He became a western style doctor, then trained and work at the highest levels as an Eastern Style doctor, and eventually as a healer.
Not yet having met him, I can only assume that he came to the same conclusion that I did about five years ago, that so much of people’s illness is held in place by their patterns and mindset.
I felt very sorry for 1980’s legend Noel Edmunds who recently created a twitter storm and newspaper hate campaign, when he tweeted that people “were making themselves sick.”
Since the 1940’s we have, in the UK, had the National Health Service, and our Social services in general. The level of free care is almost unparalleled anywhere in the world.
It does however, have the side effect of taking a lot of the responsibility of looking after oneself away from the individual and into the hands of the machine, with all its doctors, nurses, scanners and drugs.
Noel’s comment (I suggest) had a lot to do with questionable lifestyle choices, but also to do with mental patterning.
The embattled NHS doesn’t really have time or funds to look at the long-term psychological roots of the average Joe’s diabetes or cancer.
I feel certain that they don’t see it as their role to educate the public in subjects such as nutrition and mental hygiene. (Although, were they to take on these roles, they could save themselves billions of pounds per year through preventative medicine and education..)
So Noel’s comment that people are making themselves sick, what does it actually point too?
I think it’s fair to say that if we were to look back 200 years, it would be difficult to pin down a profession that could be said to be daily stressful.
I’m sure it wasn’t fun being a soldier, I’m sure it was actually desperately boring, becoming very stressful for a few flashpoint days every so often.
When I worked in the City, it was stressful EVERY day for years on end!
How many billions of jobs are there like that round the ever shrinking world? As business gets bigger, practice get sharper, it’s hard to find people to tell you their job is NOT stressful these days! Stress suppresses the Immune system, can give you high blood pressure and leads to such illnesses as Diabetes, obesity and heart disease
I once saw a statistic that said in The United states in 1900 the average consumption of sugar per capita, per annum was 1lbs or about 2.2kgs.
A recent estimate suggests it’s approaching 200lbs or 440kgs per person per year.
Sugar in large quantities suppresses the immune system. Any cancer specialist will tell you to stop sugar, if they discover cancer in your body.
So to Noel’s Tweet once more, if you work in a stressful environment, and eat highly calorific food, it’s difficult to get angry when people say, “you brought it on yourself”
I know everybody wants the good things in life, but the mounting health crisis is showing us the cost of that kind of thinking (and also the cost of big business, big Pharma and their lack of care for those in their custody..) Clearly the Tabaco and Alcoholic Beverage industries are to blame for some of this massive rise in illness worldwide too!
So am I to blame? I like a glass of wine, I used to smoke 20 per day, I’m carrying 10 kilos I’d dearly love to shift, and I do love a sweet treat.
Is it the people who make these ‘drugs’ available to me so easily and cheaply, or is the responsibility mine? The Nannying system in the UK suggests that generally the public should be protected from excess by the system (I.e we are too stupid to look after ourselves) but unfortunately does little to support this view, as government is so bound up with the fortunes of big business. (When you have a share portfolio filled with blue chip stocks and shares, it’s difficult to find the energy to vote against these excesses…)
In other less developed social systems, the government just looks the other way, and allows big business to do as it wishes. (It’s hard to see what the difference is between these two systems, the one common factor is that big business does what it wants, where it wants, and when it wants, only, we in the UK seem to be slightly protected from the excesses.)
It’s Dr Pang, and Teacher Lu’s opinion that it’s not big businesses fault, and not really my fault either, on a conscious level. Rather they look at addiction and illnesses as being a distortion of the Ego.
Let’s just look at the structures that they teach about in the mind. They bear some resemblance to those of Carl Jung.
They first split Mind into Natural mind, Society mind, and Trueself.
Nature mind is very simple, it’s that part of our mind that first evolved as animals. Do you remember the story of Romulus and Remus, brought up by wolves? There are modern day examples of these stories. A boy in the Nineties in China, who was caught killing chickens, and discovered to survive on raw meat from snakes and any small animals. He spoke no language, and was astonishingly healthy. They finally found his parents, he’d been lost in a cave as a small child, and had survived in the wild.
People with a nature mind (i.e have little developed functional thought) fall asleep at the drop of a hat, eat when they need, self-heal from nature. (Think of an injured dog, they find a safe, quiet, sunny patch, and lick their wounds, knowing saliva is a disinfectant, and that Vitamin D from the sun heals, they let sleep do the restorative work.)
There’s no worry, or thoughts of that sort, just a quiet empty mind. That’s Nature-self
Trueself is a very big subject, which I’ll only touch on now. The Western short-hand is ‘Enlightenment’ – although I’m informed that even enlightenment has level upon level! (Nothing is ever simple!)
So what is it that make the Human condition as we know it, and why would it be important to study it anyway?
Take a look around you, is this the World you were promised? Is this the World you’d like to give to your children? (If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, you may not need this article!)
As Teacher Lu points out, we have had texts regarding the Enlightened mind available and on our bookshelves for 10,000 years (The Vedas) – and how’s that search for enlightenment going so far for the Human race? Buddha, Jesus, Mohamed and a handful of marvelous others have made it through the gate, but generally, counting the billions who have gone before, the hit rate is astonishingly low!
What has happened however is that humanity has developed lots of rules, and lots of selves to help to protect and guide them.
Dr Pang’s system, as described by the excellent Teach Lu is thus, the Third divisions is called Society Mind.
This is Sub-divided further into Ego, Secondhand self and Self Image
(I’m inclined now to add my own subdivision that my teachers have not yet included – The Digital self. I understand now that psychologists have created a new term for anxiety induced by separation from one’s digital self i.e loss of phone, being out of Internet coverage for extended periods etc.. It’s now being termed ‘NoMophobia’ or No Mobile Phobia )
Secondhand self is the first place to look.
Start with the assumption that you are born as your Trueself.
(In itself not 100% clear. People are often born with family patterning things that run through generations such as stories like “All my ancestors died from cancer…etc” – You could call it DNA, genetic patterning, but these passed on fears and stories can be carried as ‘information’ in families and societal groups too. How else can you rationalise the death of a young pure child from such things as Leukemia?)
Just assuming that you are at your purest and clearest self possible at birth then, what are your first influences? Clearly your parents and Grandparents. What stories do they chose to tell you about who you are? Are you Black, or are you White, are you Rich or Poor, are you Catholic or Muslim, are you Israeli or Arab, you get the idea…all of this is secondhand information..
Next they tell you, that you support Chelsea football club, that Big boys don’t cry, and then send you off to School.
Schools adds the next layer of Secondhand information to you, telling you that you are clever or stupid, social or a loner, better at Maths, or sadly, an Artist…!
Along come relationships, are you good at them, did you watch your parents fighting and decided that that’s the only way to act, or decided that that’s the last person you want to be?Was your father a player, did your parents smoke or drink heavily?
As you pass into your twenties, their patterns, mixed with yours, slush around and slowly crystalise into the adult you.
It’s an easy step then for you to have children, and to pass it all along the line to the next generation.
What about Self-image? This is who you project yourself into the world as..
Jeremy, who worked in the City, Jeremy the computer whizz, Jeremy the carpenter, the lover, the Qigong teacher etc.. These are essentially masks that you add to your Trueself to navigate the pathways of life. They also crucially include your Moral frame work. Do you see yourself as a tirelessly honest person, or a charitable volunteer for all causes?
The big question is, what happens when this structure is challenged? How do you feel if you are falsely accused of something? (Your self-image takes a nose-dive!)
The other important aspect of this self then is to Judge everything and everyone. You are constantly weighing yourself against your family, your colleagues, friends and anybody. Judgement is possibly one of the hardest aspects of self to get over.
We hear Self-image in our conversations all the time, “My club, My wife, My car, my, my, my..)
Let’s look then at the last, the Ego.
Your ego is essentially your character, the more developed the ego, the bigger your character will appear in life.
Essentially the ego is all about protection, this is your army!
It’s primary function is to protect all of your selves.
However Ego is also deeply connected to your emotions, the stronger the ego, the stronger the emotions. Unfortunately the Ego is at the core of most emotional problems..
The Ego and the Secondhand self are barely divisible from one another
You hear the Ego pop up in daily speech all the time.. ‘I like or I don’t like, I do this, I want that, I, I, I….’
Ego only loves itself. The Ego tries to control you in order to keep you safe (in a way that the Ego thinks is best for you.) – but things are always changing round you, life never remains the same. This leaves the Ego feeling daily unbalanced. The only thing the Ego has to rely upon for reference are past situations. (Clearly this is a false economy, as NO situation can ever be the same… the place, the players, the moods and emotions have all moved on, but the Ego only has this old information to use as it’s guide. It’s a bit like trying to navigate London today, using a Tudor street map! (Vaguely possible, but generally exceptionally inaccurate!)
The Ego wants you to be different and important, requiring respect for you, but again you can’t control that either. Sure, you can dye your hair blue, tattoo yourself interesting, drive a fancy car, or take up extreme sports! All these things will set you apart from your fellow man. For a while I was a very mediocre Punk Rocker. In our Teens and Twenties, we have the freedom, occasionally the money too, to allow our Egos to sculpt us a new personality.
The respect thing is more difficult. Silly mistakes can easily lose you respect of your elders.
If you come in contact with people who have a strong Secondhand Self, their Moral ‘fiber’ is there to help them JUDGE everything and everybody.
My ex-father-in-law was a self-made man, who had done really well in life. His family had been dirt poor, he has left school at 16 to work to bring money into the family. He continued his studies (To become a book-keeper) by the light of a park street lamp, as his family couldn’t afford the candles. He eventually became a very successful accountant.
His Self-image of the poor boy made good, caused him to INSTANTLY judge people, based on what he knew from his past. It took me years to gain any trust from him, my best friend in South Africa, was dismissed on first meeting as a loser, never again to be rehabilitated, based on who knows what pattern from his past…
One of the key factors about Ego is that it can be very tricky.
One of the most towering Egos I ever encountered was shrouded in humility, charity and kindness. “Look what a wonderful and evolved person I have become…” on the face of it, the person was kindness itself, but inside the Ego was raging at everything.
What does an Ego out of control do to one then?
Let’s first look at the purpose of an Ego.
It’s a mask that your Trueself can wear to navigate social interactions. You put on your mask, present yourself as ‘Jeremy The Teacher’ then take it off and relax back into your Trueself, or do you? Here’s the kicker. As the 20th and 21st Centuries have progressed, our Egos have progressively become bigger and more complex.
From a very early age, parents are now asking their children questions such as “How do you feel?” “What do you want to do?” Children are growing up with an inflated sense of self, that only two generations before, they would have never had.
Until recently, children were the bottom of the heap, looking up to their elders.
Respect ran right through society. As both parents now have to work longer hours, and see less of their children, I think people exaggerate their love for their children, trying to pile treat upon treat to make up for their absence. As more people have to move away from home to find work, the natural Support and Respect structures are broken, the family image is shattered.
Young people would traditionally have learned respect for their elders by being with them much more than is possible these days.
Consider too, the rise of television and advertising.
All advertising is aimed at the Ego. All advertising tells you that you could be a better version of the current you. All marketing is about selling your ego new products, to make it different, and better that other people’s egos!
So many of our TV series feature stories about quirky and interesting individuals, doing Life their way. We just miss the obvious in all of these things, it’s not called “Mass Marketing” for no reason. If the latest pair of Nike trainers are going to make you a more extraordinary individual, what about the further million pairs of identical shoes they sell?
So I content that the drive for individualism is feeding our Egos, and that day by day they get bigger and bigger. What’s wrong with that?
In Chinese medicine, we strive for balance in life.
The old Chinese story goes thus:-
A wild horse turns up at the farmers house one day, his neighbours say, “Wow what good luck for you!” the farmer replies “Maybe yes maybe no”
The next day his son tries to ride the horse, but falls off and breaks his leg, his neighbours say “Wow what bad luck for you!” the farmer replies “Maybe yes maybe no”
The following day the Chinese army arrives to recruit soldiers for the forthcoming war, they leave the farmer’s son with the broken leg behind. His neighbours say “Wow what good luck for you!” the farmer replies “Maybe yes maybe no”
You get the idea..
It’s best if you can avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, but it’s also best if you can avoid happiness that turns into hysteria. The Chinese try to avoid extremes of all sorts.
Take for example the moral self, (Such a huge part of the Self-image) imagine that you are at the top of your profession. Sometimes things out of your control, can turn people against you.
You make a simple decision that turns out wrong, you experience the stark disapproval of your friends or colleagues. This can really hurt you, it can quite literally feel like a dagger in your back.
A fall from grace, can often presage an illness. Bankruptcy can quite literally destroy a man’s health and mind. I this case, the ego had been built up to believe that the person was an excellent business man, well respected in his community, now cast down.
In daily life, we set huge expectations, and daily they are dashed. Daily the TV tells us what a wonderful sunshine life we should be leading, which is rarely if ever experienced.
People marry, and have kids, expecting every day to be like a bliss filled TV show, when the reality bites, and one finds oneself living with a boring old windbag, in a crap suburb, with children that answer back and have no respect for you, it’s little wonder that people experience massive disillusionment, and thence to depression.
This is where we start to discover from Dr Pang and Teacher Lu that emotions and feelings are all caught up in this game too. The physicality of emotions and feelings are chemical reactions. These emotions and feelings create fluctuations in the Hormone levels.
Let’s look at a typical chain of events.
Your partner says “you have the keys, I gave them to you”
You say “No you didn’t”
Your partner retorts “You are always losing the keys”
This cause you to feel that your ability to function on a basic level is being called into question.
Your ego jumps to your defense
Your self-image is wounded
This triggers emotions (e motion i.e energy in motion in your body)
Your face goes red, as blood courses to your head and cheeks (In English we even say “seeing red..”) …you explode.
What happens if you are the type of person who’s angry all the time, your patterning is constantly making you feel cross about the world around you.. Damn politicians, damn immigrants, damn children and so it goes..all day, your mind, patterns and emotions are changing the chemical constitution of your body.
These toxins remain in your system, and are always being topped up. In a very simplified diagnosis this might lead to Liver cancer, as liver controls anger in Chinese medicine (We used to say “He’s rather liverish today” – for grumpy people)
So what information does Ego use to protect you?
It only has past patterns that it’s seen before.
The situation you have just walked into, cannot under any circumstances be the same as anything that has ever happened before, as I said, different day, different players, different moods and emotions, but this doesn’t stop the ego looking for a shorthand. “It looks like the time I had an argument with my partner about the keys… therefore my first stance will be to be defensive towards them…” – Not a very good assumption, in fact one that’s likely to strike up a new fight.. But the ego is trying to defend you from being hurt again.
The profound problem is that YOU have become THE EGO! It’s become you!
There’s no way to peel off the mask, and be that calm inner Trueself. The mask is welded firmly in place, and the triggers and reactions are sticking out of you like some sort of energetic porcupine, just waiting to be pushed!
So in answer to the Question, do I make myself ill, the answer has to be yes, but pretty much unconsciously!
Eckhart Tolle talks a lot about these problems in his books, especially The Power of Now. (But in a slightly too dense, intense and complex way for me!)
There are some inalienable facts about life.
Your thoughts create your future, they are the path that you plan.
You cannot change the past, because it’s PAST!
Living in the present isn’t half as exhausting!
I read about plastination of the brain, a while back. It seems that the pathways, grooves in our brains, a little like the grooves of an old style LP, can become fixed in place, if we constantly use them. If you drive to school every day on the same route, then when asked about how to get there, it’s be the first possibility to present itself. Dr Edward De Bono invented a new process for problem solving that forced people, rather than to go from A to B, as they always would rather do, but to start at point C, and find a new way to B, i.e not use the old paths.
So we are patterned – we do often react “the old way” because it’s easier.
Being outside of the present uses much more energy than being present.
Get this, it’s estimated that 80% of our body’s energy is used in the thinking process! Eighty percent!! (Another study showed that almost 80% of our thoughts are negative and do not serve us. What a huge waste of energy.)
People who meditate (A way of staying in the present) generally can survive on much less food that the average person, pointing to the fact that they are conserving basic power!
I find it interesting in Chinese medicine that the Spleen “out of balance” emotionally is often described as a “busy mind” or “Monkey Mind” or “Overthinking”
The spleen is all about the balance of sweetness in the body, so an overactive mind requires more sugar to power it! Think of students cramming themselves with biscuits late into the night as they study for exam.
I also find it interesting also that some forms of Dementia talk of a plaque like substance that blocks up the pathways for the brain. (Just like sugar making plaque on our teeth.)
So our brains need the right amount of sugar, but too much clogs them up!!
So what’s it all about then.
Well, to me it’s clear that the Old World Mind that we use today needs to change.
But how do we get to the New World Mind, and what does it look like.
Death of the Ego sounds like we’d be walking into a bland grey world does it not? “I’d rather have myself, than become a robot…” yes, well that’s what an ego under threat would say! An Ego will do anything to protect itself and you from boredom.
We have to first find a way to step away from the maelstrom of the mind.
This is going to help us have much more energy daily.
The Buddhists say, “One thought is better than many” – agreed, if you can silence your mind to one thing, such as focusing on a candle, the mind will quieten dramatically.
The benefits of this practice is that your body switches off the “Fight or Flight” mode, and goes into deep healing, and energy conservation. Very Good!
But better than this is closer to Eckhart Tolle’s becoming the observer of your thoughts.
This is exactly what Dr Pang suggests. It came as a shock to me to realise that the meditation I’d been doing was still DOING! ( I practiced till I became very adept at quietening and pushing aside all forms of though. This is still an activity, and takes energy!)
What I’m now practicing is siting, lying or walking, but allowing the thoughts to come up, and pass through, like bubbles coming to the top of a champagne glass, and popping.
Each one represents a thought, pattern or emotion that you can let go. Sometimes one process will take a while to finish giving off the bubbles, but go it eventually will. Each time you pare away a little more of the rubbish, the closer you become to realising your Trueself.
The idea is that it becomes easier day by day to live in this new world, and look back at the old world in a calm and balanced way. The Ego, now coming under you control is just a tools for your daily navigation of the old world, no longer your ruler.
All you need do is to let the thoughts go by, and not connect to them – easier said than done!
From a New World Trueself perspective, when you love, you love without control. This allows space into your relationships with everybody. It doesn’t mean that you have to lose any love, you just take off the control reins, and love even more, and without any conditions.
It would mean that you no longer constantly judge everyone and everything, because standing in the New World Mind you see the systems that operate other lives for what they are.
Everything starts to change.
There’s no question that this is a higher practice, and practice it you must, daily, if you wish to start to see the cracks in everything.
How do we get to the Trueself
- Recognise that the structures of Ego, Self-image and Secondhand self are not really you!
- Meditate using the Do Nothing Empty Mind to clean the inside of you from emotions, patterns and feelings
- Let all the thoughts go..
We say that normal humans use about 3-5% of their brain, people like Stephen Hawkins would probably use 10% of their brain power.
Somebody, like Eckhart Tolle or Dr Pang might be able to access as much as 50% of their useable brain.
Thinking from this higher level perspective would never allow us to go to war, populations would find balance, nobody would starve, we would stop destroying our perfect blue planet.
In Dr Pang’s model of the Universe, which is now in the process of being proved by Western Science, concludes thus.
Being in ones Trueself allows you to connect to the Universal information layer. Science is now just beginning to understand what Dr Pang published 20 years ago. Everything in our Universe is made up of Space, Energy and Information.
This information in all things becomes much more available to the Trueself, our understanding of ourselves and our Universe will expand exponentially, leaving behind the bad old ways that are destroying our habitat and leaping mankind forward to a sustainable future..
All that’s required is that your Ego mind accepts the idea of the existence of your Trueself deep within, and anything can change!
With deepest thanks to
Dr Pang Ming
Teachers Lu and Ling for being their Trueselves and showing others the way.