The following draft is my opening salvo to my upcoming book,
Confessions of a Profligate:
A Philosophy of Revitalization and Human Achievability.
If you don’t believe a leopard can change its spots then this book will serve you well. You have the ability but lack right perspective―an empathetic receptivity to divergent points of view. You deny the creative capacity that flourishes in the enlightened awareness of human ingenuity. Stretch the leopard’s spots to stripes and it is a tiger. Spruce up the spots and poof―a jaguar. Can you not see the possibilities? “It’s not scientific,” you argue. You mean the science that is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment? Observe the Jaguar over its lifetime; the spots expand as it matures, diminish as it molts, degrade as it ages, and disintegrate after death. And what is experimentation but a means to prove the validity of possibility?
Your resistance is formidable. “It’s not logical.” But isn’t logic simply a particular way of thinking about or understanding something? “No,’ you argue, ‘logic is an undeniable resolution to a problem.” But logic is an inexact science, subject to unbridled fluidity, contingent on experience, emotion, virtue, intuition, instinct, perception, ad infinitum. This is a study of human experience. Your thoughts flicker endlessly, assumptions and conclusions compromised by every occasion. Is it not plausible to claim that a jaguar does, indeed, change its spots, if utilizing the element of human imagination and hubris? I could go on but you are shaking your head in frustration. You cannot dispute the evidence given the conditions imposed. It’s argument by manipulation, nonetheless, I have proven my point. You are Adhemar in The Knight’s Tale―Adhemar, the fallen jouster, who lies defeated at young Thatcher’s feet. “You have been weighted, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.”
In my proclivity to pat myself on the back, I have neglected the most important aspects of argument―a willingness to entertain conflicting perspective, and the element of persuasion. By defining the parameters, I controlled the argument, limiting your capacity for reasonable discourse. You may have unenthusiastically deferred to my premise, but I did not capture your heart and mind. I have not lifted Adhemar from the dirt, brushed him off, attended to his wounds, and paid the appropriate respect. I have been found wanting. Both you as reader, and I as purveyor of possibility must agree to a novel participation, a being with and within the other, the resulting osmosis experiencing the other’s physical, emotional, and even spiritual presence.
I offer you a journey into the moral justifications of a profligate―a modest tale, not of the prodigal son’s return, but of the battles endured. My justification for revealing an unexemplary past manifests as you step into these pages. Vicariously, you may relish the tragicomic repercussions of ill-advised exploits; comparatively, you will observe the mirror’s reflection.
Contrary to opinion and the anonymous programs, epiphanies are a dime-a-dozen; the universe provides an unending supply of opportunity for reflection and rejuvenation. We are remarkably adept at evading what’s best for us. But when your disconnectedness, brought on by your failure to confront your inner-demons, becomes so fundamentally discomforting that resolution is essential for survival, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude action is warranted. So when I found myself at yet another proverbial fork-in-the-road, for better or worse, I was faced with that same nagging decision: choose what’s best or choose what’s easy.
To my left, a luminous walkway full of the familiar beckoned. The alternative path was obscured by shadows and apprehension, its odor a mix of decay and blossom. It seemed like a ‘no-brainer’ but, as I ventured down the path of complacency, I was met with a ghostly phalanx of the cheated, manipulated, and abandoned. My self-loathing steered me away from the mundane and led me down the trail of most resistance. The only road I could have taken was the road I took.” But let me be clear, my conversion was no miracle, but a metanormal occasion caused by an intentional choice of what I considered the lesser evil, an event that led me to this narrative.
I will not suffer anything in this book be construed as cutting-edge, scintillating new thought. It is methodological revisionism assembled from multiple sources and disciplines―yet another metamorphic shift in consciousness. The foundations of this book did not originate with me but with collective experience and theorem provided by better thinkers than I who have helped shaped my philosophy of human potential.
The principles adapted for ReChanneling are not esoteric, mysterious, or ‘religious,’ but part-and-parcel of every enduring social philosophy and ethical system. They are self-evident, easily validated by any individual who pursues rightness. The guidelines illuminate the potential that resides within all of us to harness that special aptitude for extraordinary living, the inherent capacity to lift the human spirit.
It is my fond wish that all readers entertain these theories with certain and benevolent suspicion. Skepticism, where gainfully employed, is a useful tool. A former professor defines skepticism as “the chastity of the intellect …The mind that seeks the deepest intellectual fulfillment does not give itself up to every passing ideal.”
You will not be empowered by practices outlined in this book. Methodologies, no matter how certain, do not capacitate but provide the means for empowerment. The creativity resides within you and the commitment is yours, alone. My assignment is to furnish the bricks and mortar, yours is to build the structure. The overarching premise of this book is that the secrets of the universe have been thrust into human consciousness but remain veiled until grasped through the cooperation of evolution and metanormal access. I challenge you to erect your noble edifice with the multitude of tools provided. I will assist you.
Innumerable proprietary and unique qualities underscore your humanness. Your awareness of being aware, the primary factor of your sentience, offers hope, piques your imagination, and enables self-reflection. It is recognition of this awareness that is human consciousness as we know it, an underdeveloped and feared acquisition that underscores your mistaken perception of inadequacy. It is your over-compensating egotism that overwhelms the inner voice-of-reason that substantiates your universal significance.
All the world is suffering, many say―but they are misinformed. Suffering connotes a purgatorial existence of physical torture, which is counterproductive in its gravity of message. The more reasonable condition of humanity is a state of distress or dis-ease. The word dukkha or ‘suffering’ that underscores the Four Nobel Truths can be translated multiple ways including anxiety, constraint, distress, and so on. Let me paraphrase in a more constructive yet lawful manner. We live in a world filled with discontent. We take responsibility for this discontent. To remedy is to cease doing what it is that generates this discontent. Through strength and determination, we can ameliorate this discontent. To put it another way, your life sucks―it’s your fault your life sucks because you keep doing whatever it is that makes your life suck. Maybe if you stop doing what it is that makes your life suck, it won’t suck as much. Carpe diem!
“I’m afraid I’m a hopeless case,” you protest, secretly concluding otherwise. Resistance is an annoying trait of indiscriminate conditioning. Your condition is your current state of being as consequence of your reaction and adaptation to experience and circumstance. Each of you is blessed with the qualities and uniqueness of your conditioning. It is these sensitivities that dictate your beliefs, peculiarities, fears, aspirations, and so on. They define who you are and you are defined by them. Now it’s up to you to redefine them. It’s realizing your condition that underscores your indefatigable thirst for a better life. Nietzsche writes, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how;” that how is underscored by hope and resolution.
Reconciliation with your inherent goodness is crucial to your transformation. Time is of the essence, procrastination an ill-fated alternative. We have since passed King’s urgency of now. Humanity has entered the sixth epoch of complexity, the one in which the universe wakes up. The higher the degree of complexity, the more substantial the consciousness. Maslow has expanded his stages of human motivational development with the penultimate self-transcendence. So what is this metanormal act of which philosophers and mystics wax poetic? Commonly, an existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level. It is attained through a deliberate metanormal occasion; an event that rarely materializes in a display of sugarplums but is the outcome of years of dedication. To attain something means you have achieved something by actually working for it.
Does this mean the world as you know it is coming to an end? Is humanity’s shelf-life due for expiration? I don’t pretend to know and that’s not the matter before us. “Then what’s the rush,” you challenge? To which I respond, “why put it off?” The road to excellence is long but each step brings you closer to the magnificent person you have the potential to become―the person who recognizes the capacity to expand the boundaries of normal life into one of extraordinary vision and determination. You say why bother, I say it’s the rational thing to do. If rediscovering all the things that make us good and subsequently happy―all of the intrinsic and beautiful qualities of our true nature that contribute to our own well-being and that of the community―than isn’t that time well spent?
It is yourself, and only yourself, over which you have complete control and the ability to restore that inherency of competence which has been misplaced. This should not be a worrisome struggle but one that fills you with pride and eagerness. In the film Bridge of Spies, Rudolf Abel, the Soviet agent faces the possibility of the death penalty. His lawyer, befuddled by Rudolf’s impassive demeanor, whispers, “Aren’t you at all worried?” The convict shrugs. “Would it help?” Don’t worry, be audacious.
Change is inevitable. The person you are today is not the person you were yesterday. The life you lead before entering a room is not the life you embrace upon leaving. Your body perpetually modifies, cells reproduce and die, and your neural network readapts incessantly. Your perspective shifts, and what was concrete yesterday is fluid today. Every new occasion provides an awakening and a reevaluation of what you thought you knew prior to that moment. I realize the concept of spirituality can be daunting or annoying to some so, for the sake of clarity, let’s narrowly define it as the deliberate aspiration towards and participation within virtue and inner consciousness, anything else being justifiably enigmatic. There can be no argument there.
Change is a naturally occurring dynamic, a constant and inevitable modification of what is. While most change is merely a happening within a system of happenings, you are unique in your ability to deliberately change. This change is transformative because you can only intentionally change for the better. The road to hell is not paved by good intentions but by inaction; without intent, there is no deliberate action, without thought, there is no deliberation, and without action, there is no progress. Every decision you make is determined by who you think you are, and what you can and should become is determined by what you believe you can become. In Goethe’s words, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can be and he will become what he can and should be.”
Transformation is liberation, fluidity and flexibility, acceptance and embracement. Transformation is creation. It absolves you of your tired identities, preconceptions, expectations, and so on; it exposes you to possibility. Don’t be afraid of change, dearest reader. Exploit your potential and grasp the uncharted. In the memorable words of Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
A friend once asked me, in his loving but annoying way, “Are you happy?” I responded as I always do when avoiding an issue. “Define happiness.” Moralists throughout history have pondered this conundrum. Happiness is harmony. The secret to happiness is freedom. Happiness is giving up all worldly goods. There is no satisfying universal answer, only pithy slogans to bolster personal ideology. Nothing in life is absolute except in mathematics, and quantum is challenging that. No blacks or whites, only depths of gray; no excess or deficiency, but degrees of moderation. “Death is absolute,” you say, very pleased with yourself. However, my statement was, nothing in life is absolute. “God is absolute!” To which god(s) are you referring, and are you absolutely sure? Everything exists in varying intensities, in waves, in gradations.
The universe abounds with possibility. Possibility is the compost of art and ideas, companionship and collaboration, hope and promise. Open your heart and mind and let the possible play havoc on your senses. If your shutters are closed the sunlight can’t penetrate. I spent many years mucking about in fear and ignorance; I know well the prison of stagnancy and hopelessness. To quote Cat Stevens, “I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy.” Resistance is not only futile, it’s destructive nature can crush any chance of rejuvenation. It is my fervent wish that something in this book will shatter your resistance because I remember the unbearability of solitude. Deliberate ignorance is the loneliest and most unforgiving consequence of weakness; it is capitulating to your perception of inconsequentiality. It doesn’t have to be so. You are anything but inconsequential.
Your life is an exquisite work-in-progress, an integral and creative force of nature. You are a conduit of creative energy, of the information that creates the universe. You are an active agent of all future becomings. You are creativity itself, responsible for capturing, preserving, and passing along the entire history of the universe! Science and philosophy have determined that you are not a useless, forgettable being, autonomous and alien, passing others like a ship in the night; you are integral and interrelated to all things, the life’s blood of being, the ultimate, dynamic, creative ground of the universe(s).
“Why are you writing this book?” The question was put to me by an aggressive young programmer in one of my practicum groups. Overtaken by a rush of hubris, I blurted, “because I can.” The truth was, I hadn’t yet put into words, my vision for this enterprise, my philosophy of revitalization and human achievability. Why did I write this book? Because I have something important to share. This is about addressing the injurious and maladaptive behaviors that shadow your condition, the accumulation of discontent and lack of self-esteem that leads to pain and suffering, revealing its wrongness in psycho-physiological complications that have the power to harm every fiber of your being―and those of others with whom you are inextricably intertwined. To reiterate, your life sucks―but it’s your fault your life sucks because you keep doing whatever it is that makes your life suck.
There is no instant gratification in behavior modification; it is an often-grueling, life-long work-in-progress. After all, it took you years to create your condition. But there is the element of exponential gain. A single seed yields a single plant, which germinates two more; one succumbs to nature while the other thrives. You have doubled your output. Four plants become eight, eight, sixteen, ad infinitum. Nature is infallible; you are of nature, goodness is your nature. Your potential is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it becomes. So be fearless and headstrong, dear colleagues. Your neural network is a tireless computer; program it properly, fill it with positive data and let the damn thing do what it was created to do. Philosopher Matshona Dhowayo writes, “Roses do not bloom hurriedly; for beauty, like any masterpiece, takes time to blossom.”
You are created in perfect homeostasis, your neural network a cohesive unit, your brain chemistry harmonic. Throughout your life, you acquire all the ‘stuff’ that cramps your condition, hurling your Integral Human Complex (mind, body, emotion, spirit) into a tailspin. As you struggle to regain balance, your metanormal capacity for moving on to a better condition reawakens. To make the most of this potential you must take unequivocal responsibility for your condition. “But not everything is my fault,” you protest. “True,’ I concede, ‘you are unaccountable for events beyond your control but you are responsible for how you react and interpret those events. You may not have control over the cards you have been dealt, but you are responsible for how you play the hand you have been given. The perception of impotence―the belief that you are not the steward of your own behavior, your values, and your well-being―is an unhealthy misconception that severely inhibits your potential for growth and change.
Neurons are the core components of the brain and the facilitators of memory, thought, emotion, and consciousness. Sensory neurons respond to touch, sound, light, and all other stimuli affecting the cells of the sensory organs. A synapse is a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron. Your brain picks-up all the mental and external stimuli of the senses. As your network adapts from each experience, your synapses reconstitute, giving them greater or lesser excitatory or inhibitory effect. Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells to restructure to accommodate the impulse. In a nutshell, the neurons readapt continually in response to the stimuli. Everything good, bad, and indifferent is coded. In order to recover from low self-esteem, maladaptive behavior, addiction, and so on, your neural network must be allotted the time to reassemble its architecture.
The sanctioned method of behavior modification, endorsed by the American Psychological Association, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a methodology that addresses mental and behavioral issues but does not directly facilitate the emotional and spiritual. It’s insufficient by half. ReChanneling addresses the entirety of the Integral Human Complex, the totality of your being. It utilizes enhanced cognitive and behavioral procedures, Stanislavski’s emotional comprehension, and the Abhidharmic concepts of ethical governance
Cognitive theory assumes that your discontent is the result of inappropriate or irrational thinking patterns caused by deep-seated reactions to situations and conditions. It addresses the physical rerouting of your neural networks by disputing your irrational thoughts and beliefs, substituting rational ones by means of conscious mental repetition until they become automatic replacements.
The central core of your mental activity consists of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns that establish the behaviors you identify with most strongly. When the negativity is such that your outlook on life becomes warped or intolerable, the behavioral component of CBT aids in replacing old patterns of self-defeating behavior with new patterns and thoughts that underscore your value and self-worth.
To incorporate the spiritual element of the Integral Human Complex, ReChanneling focuses on the Abhidharmic teachings, which promote the virtue of right-living as guidelines for revitalization and transformation. You modify your aberrations by consciously redirecting your life to benevolent action.
Have you ever, in the heat of passion, said something you regret? Do your emotions dictate your behavior, or are you able to manage their volatility? Stanislavski’s practices evidence how simple, learned techniques assist in understanding your emotions as they relate to various stimuli. Rather than succumbing to emotional instability, this awareness prevents reactionary outburst and inconsistency due to lack of foresight and proper perspective. Just as kind words are creative and affirming, bitter words spoken in the heat of passion can generate incalculable damage.
ReChanneling addressees your totality by providing you the means to consciously replace negative addiction, maladaptive behavior, and any accompanying anxiety and dis-ease with positive and superior aspects of self-affirmation. Why a replacement? If you have dug a hole for yourself, stopping the digging does not remove the hole. In order for you to not recidivate (fall back) into the hole, it’s prudent to replace the dirt. Why superior? You’re less likely to dig the same hole if you have planted a prize-winning rosebush in its place. A particularly enthusiastic young actor tried substituting NoDoz and a Red Bull chaser for his crystal meth habit. He knew his efforts defeated the purpose but he was desperate to cold turkey―another example of the predisposition for a quick fix for a perennial problem. It is crucial to compensate for the sense of loss from the disposition of a harmful habit with a positive and superior replacement, not one of proportionate destruction.
And what is this ‘metanormal’ potential, I so strongly endorse? It’s simply your inherent ability to do great things, to evolve beyond the status-quo to a higher level of understanding and productivity. It’s a deliberate, evolutionary nudge that is within your power to engage. You have extraordinary potential which you have yet to fully understand or utilize. While some tout the advantages of enhanced performance or creative ability, I believe this evolutionary capacity can best lead you to a better awareness of your potential for living an extraordinary life and for sharing that vision with others. Your ability to act on this potential is exponentially amplified as you rediscover your authenticity and accept your innate self-worth, significance, and value.
Rather than ‘therapy,’ ReChanneling encourages you to think of these seminars, sessions, and workshops as, ‘practicum’s,’ because it is you who takes control, performs the work, and assumes responsibility. In therapy, you are a patient delegating credit for your recovery to your therapist. It’s not supposed to work that way but that is the nature of the beast. However, you are neither victim nor patient. A victim, by definition, is someone who attributes responsibility for his or her condition to an other rather than taking personal accountability. A patient is someone who relies on others for remedy, again assigning responsibility for recovery rather than assuming ownership. A person-in-practicum is one who applies theory or methodology in response to a situation or condition. You are the architect of your own condition, the custodian of your own behavior.
Embrace that within this book which fulfills your needs or expectations. As in life, take care to not discard what does not seem worthwhile but compartmentalize it in the possibility that it may be of value in the future. The methods, anecdotes, and personal histories are illustrations of the philosophical and psychological mechanisms I and others have employed to rechannel our moral turpitude, address dis-ease and discontent, and embrace the potential for revitalization and metanormal transformation. Life may be short but it is profoundly consequential, as you are all endowed with the awesome ability to lift the human spirit.
Let’s get to work.