Barking up the right tree

In the last of this series of 12 explorations on finding home base in our minds, I'll explore those proverbial two trees in paradise. The wrong tree puts us to sleep and the right tree awakens us to what is real. We're coming from home base in our minds when we bark up the Tree of Life and turn away from the Tree of Knowledge.

The Tree of Knowledge is very tempting to us. When we eat of it's fruit, we believe what we see with our eyes and know with our other four senses. We take physical evidence literally. We assume the only illusions are in our minds, not in the observable world. Our brains are hard wired to survive in this objective world, as if there is no paradise to be found. We live in fear of every imaginable danger, including death. We know with certainty that there's no connection between what appears in our world and our devotion to toxic thinking and feeling. The portion of our neurological apparatus which handles our survival sits on top of our spinal cord. It's been called our reptile brain, which gets symbolized as the snake in Garden of Eden which tempted Adam to chomp on that infamous apple.

The Tree of Life becomes very elusive to us once we bark up the Tree of Knowledge. We may seek it but cannot find the right tree by looking on the outside. We fail to get anything else we want to show up. Our prayers go unanswered and many of our ambitious endeavors backfire. We presume we have to look out for ourselves because nobody has got our back. We've got unresolved abandonment issues from mistakenly barking up this wrong tree. We act out those issues by becoming extremely materialistic, antagonistic, needy or gloomy. There's no way to experience that unexplainable peace of mind which accompanies our finding home base.

When we bark up the Tree of Life, time stands still. We're living an endless moment amidst the illusion of passing time. We feel very eternal while experiencing a mortal construct that will turn to dust as we live on. We feel connected to every other conscious thing which excludes nothing in our experience. We are an expression of life among every other show of living and celebrating life. We are successfully creating experiences with the thoughts and feelings we entertain. We are free to let go of all those mistaken impressions that came to mind as we barked up the Tree of Knowledge. We see the error of our delusional ways and turn toward the right tree in paradise. The "Tree of Life" seems like a really good name for that right tree, since it gives us the motivation to live fully. We can become innocent of our excessive knowledge, trusting we will receive what we need to know to live serenely right now. We're free to be as we choose how to be a blessing to others.


Feeling our feelings

When we find home base in our minds, we experience a peace of mind that defies explanation. We can be in the midst of massive turmoil and feel serene within. This peace of mind is connected to who we really are, not our circumstances or past history.

With this peace of mind comes an added benefit: we can feel our feelings. The emotional turmoil that drowns them out recedes from our experience. We need access to our feelings to make good decisions. Our feelings guide us away from wasted efforts, regrettable engagements and baited traps. Our feelings guide us toward our calling right now. They show us what is the right thing to see, say and do. They inspire us with intrinsic motivation to get the little bit of what needs doing done right now.

When we've been traumatized by some unwanted experience in our lives, there are seven things we can do to change our state of mind. All seven of these have worked for me for many years:

  1. We can realize that our minds are clinging to what happened and choose to let go of it. We can tell ourselves it's not happening here and now or it didn't happened the way we think it did from our limited perspective. 
  2. We can stop being right about the objective facts of the incident and switch to the subjective dimensions of the experience. We can explore the personal meaning for us or reframe the "half empty" thing as ""half full" instead.
  3. We can disrupt our replaying the past in our minds and become absorbed in the present moment. We can listen with all ears and bask in the immediate sights, smells and textures.
  4. We can interrupt our labeling ourselves a failure and see the processes we're pursuing. We can see ways to do more growing, changing and learning from the experience.
  5. We can dispel our fears of being cursed and imagine freedom from that dreadful fate. We can envision a desired future and create a new way to be here now.
  6. We can silence our one-sided story and explore other viewpoints. We can entertain dialogues with other characters which reveal other interests and interpretations which contributed to the incident. 
  7. We can rise above our agitated emotions and embrace a calm acceptance of all that's transpired. We can feel our feelings of being loved unconditionally, forgiven totally and free of all troublesome illusions. 

Once we find home base in our minds, we naturally make these seven changes in our mind all the time. There's seems to be no valid reason to get upset. There are too many benefits to feeling our feelings to mess with our serenity.


Preparing a bridal chamber

Several spiritual traditions compare finding home base in our minds to preparing a bridal chamber. We are all capable of:

  • getting inseminated with inspirations and realizations from out of this world
  • getting pregnant with those possibilities which grow increasingly complex and realistic
  • giving birth to the resulting creations to make our world a better place than the one we manufacture with fear, guilt, greed and vengeance

This birthing cannot happen when we are filled with fears, past history, control issues or other mental clutter. Preparing the bridal chamber involves emptying our minds which then changes what we're feeling. When I get inseminated in this way, it feels like getting filled with serenity and freedom from being bored or agitated. This delightful experience has also been compared to receiving a bridegroom once we've restored our virginity and cultivated enough patient expectancy. We become sufficiently empty to get filled with inspirations, serenity and freedom. We also become sufficiently humble and faithful to accept we cannot come up with these treasures on our own or cling to them exclusively.

I like to visualize a bridal chamber with four walls which can be opened up with a little effort. By taking down the wall or creating a portal in it, my mind has become more accessible and inviting. These openings also clear out the chamber of all the mental clutter which had no where to go. The four walls suggest four different ways to prepare our mental bridal chambers for the arrival of the bridegroom:

  1. Gratitude: When we appreciate the goodness and give thanks in all things, an opening is created in our minds. We take down a wall of resentment and resistance. We've become poised to recognize more good when we're already seeing goodness to feel grateful for receiving. 
  2. Presence: When we "stop the world" which captivates our five senses, we become pure observant awareness. We realize we are human beings, not tools or human doings. We become still and know we really are being here. We bring a presence to every situation which extends peace rather than fueling agitation. 
  3. Forgiveness: When we let go of what happened to us, we free ourselves of lingering grudges and vendettas. We free the others whom we've blamed or booked onto our guilt trips. While we're thinking we we're really wronged, we can set things right by forgiving others "seventy by seven times". We may eventually realize there really is nothing to forgive. 
  4. Receptivity: When we experience our own innocence, we're open to receive what we don't see, consider or understand. We embrace the mystery before us and receive clues that further our exploration. We realize we don't know what to do, what will solve our problems or what to contribute to our situation. We then get impregnated with a perfect next step. We know not to know too much. 

Each of these approached tear down barriers in our minds. They prepare the bridal chamber for the bridegroom. They succeed at finding home base in our minds.


Coming up with business ideas -4

Whenever we've found home base in our minds, it dawns on us that there's a fourth way to come up with business ideas. It no longer makes sense to us to struggle with the first three ways I've already explored: (1, 2, 3). We can be far more imaginative and visionary than falling for those survival, conquest or service issues. We see how to be in business that is clear of fear and filled with peace of mind.

This four approach includes the other three as market segments. A total solution works for every level of play and space that others come from into this enterprise. It allows for customers and employees to be coming from lower levels of play like a commissioner of a professional sport that nurtures everyone touched by the sport. So many get served directly and indirectly by this approach, it seems like a win/win/win to most. They look upon this enterprise with enlightened self-interest that contributes to its success for selfish and altruistic reasons.

This fourth approach get built on paradoxes. It routinely poses the challenge of doing both. Customers seem like external employees who do some of the work for the enterprise. Employees seem like internal customers who serve the actual customers in the same ways they get treated themselves. Top-down exercise of authority gets balanced with bottom-up feedback, suggestions, insights and and learning. So many facets of the enterprise seem like balancing acts:

  • planning and execution of those plans
  • pursuing changes and stability
  • teamwork and individual accomplishments
  • extrinsic rewards and self motivation
  • handling environmental turbulence and internal issues
  • increasing efficiency and redundancies
  • increasing revenue and reputation

This approach cannot be modeled on pro forma spreadsheets. It's not accurately captured by objective data and projections. It's rife with intangibles, virtuous cycles and side effects. It resembles the complexity of thriving ecosystems which are extremely interdependent. This approach realizes many emergent outcomes that cannot be caused directly or replicated consistently. This kind of enterprise happens unpredictably and invites the participants to play along without fear or fuss. It works great with an ongoing peace of mind that looks upon life as an unfolding mystery.


Coming up with business ideas -3

When we're in pursuit of vastly superior product and services, we're unconsciously exalting ourselves. The market will eventually humble us with its indifference, abuses and successes of some overrated/inferior competition. These setbacks prepare us for a third approach to coming up with business ideas. It's time to attune to our customers when they are not shopping, but rather valuing what they have already purchased. If we could get into the customers' heads, we might find:

  1. they see the marketplace and rival offerings differently with different frames of reference (beauty is in the eye of the beholder)
  2. they feel apprehensive about their ability to make a good decision amidst so much sales hype (establishing a need for consumer advocacy)
  3. they have changed their minds about what they really wanted after buying what they assumed they needed (defining a migration path to explore with them)
  4. they endured several bad experiences with prior purchases which taint their outlook toward this expenditure (calling for added comfort and safety)
  5. they use what they've bought differently than we designed for or promoted when we sold it (as if they bought our tools for their own varied uses)
  6. they value the relationship with us more than the actual purchase (wanting to trust us, to respect us and to rely on us to return the favor)
  7. they live in contexts which pose different problems and define different needs than our own (providing opportunities to address the fit in to their situations)
  8. they interact with their social gathering known for spewing opinions about questionable purchases (posing a need for allies in the fight for acceptance)
  9. they experience difficulties with owning, transporting, storing, maintaining and/or repairing what they've bought (creating opportunities for service after the sale)
  10. they have a lot to learn to make more and better use of their existing inventory of purchases (valuing genuine assistance more than sales persistence)

When we discover these kinds of issues troubling the minds of our customers, we're set up to make a better difference. We can change from selling added services to being of service to them. We can abandon our own power trip and find ways to empower our customers. We can learn from buyers who teach us how to better serve them, rather than doing all the selling ourselves. We can show how well we know our customers by addressing their concerns, working with their applications and helping put their minds at ease. We can do more to nurture the relationships with buyers rather than exclusively refine the products and value-added services. Being in business changes from the enduring the daily grind to an ongoing mystery with fascinating discoveries, revelations and new questions.

You may have noticed with approach to coming up with business ideas is a lot more complex than either prior approach. Each customer appears unique. One size no longer fits all. There's so much more besides the product and services to customize. The work involved can be overwhelming. This approach can feel like too big a sacrifice or a martyrdom trip. When it becomes an obvious lose/win deal after so much success with attuning to the customers, it's time for the fourth approach to coming up with business ideas.


Coming up with business ideas -2

Coming up with business ideas for merely making money quickly turns into a slippery slope I explored in the first installment. Everyone competing by lowering prices ends up at the bottom of the pack. We can get turned around and climb upward by coming up with ideas for superior products and services. The better our offerings, the more we can charge for them. The customers in this better space believe they get what they pay for and that it pays for them to pay more for something. They feel like winners who succeed by shopping for the best features and benefits on the market. They demand the best and reward the providers who can meet their expectations consistently.

To come up with ideas for superior products and services, we need to get to a better place than thinking about making money. We need to explore how to upgrade the product, improve the design and enhance the features. We want our offering to look better, feel better and function better than every other offering. We can use our competition to fuel those ambitions. We're figuring how we can beat their products and services when they get compared to ours by customers or consumer advocates. To deliver higher quality consistently, our business idea must include a production system. We'll need to set up factory-like procedures, mechanisms and delivery systems. We'll aim to eliminate mistakes and make routines much more efficient as if our business can become a fine tuned machine.

When we're thinking this way, we're in a place where a winner takes all and winning occurs at others' expense. We're a match to customers who think this way and like what they see in us as their mirror. In this space, we assume we're superior to all those losers who shop for bargains in their space of lack and insecurities. We're unaware of our power supply because we've got plenty of power to burn. We like the atmosphere of dealing with powerful customers who know what they want and demand the best above the rest.

It costs a lot more to run a business in this space. Customers don't already know they need what we're offering. They don't realize what we're do is superior to what they're already buying and bragging about. They have a lot to learn and are not exactly ready to listen. Most of the extra money we can charge for the superior goods and services gets spent on sales and advertising expenses to educate potential customers about our superiority. We have to push our products into a market that is preoccupied with seemingly inferior goods and services. We may also spend more on better supplies or on keeping more inventory on hand. It's very possible to make even less profit in the high end of the market with all these added expenses.

When we're in this space of succeeding, we're quick to dismiss any feedback that we're selfish, greedy, pushy or overpowering. It appears our critics are envious losers who want what we've got. We cannot connect the dots between this space of succeeding and our growing dissatisfaction and burnout. We may end up wondering if we're not cut out for succeeding in business or for coming up with a viable idea. We've become ready to find yet another space for coming up with business ideas.


Coming up with business ideas -1

When our last job, project or start-up is nearly over, we may need some good ideas for a new business venture. In this next series of blog posts, I'll explore this challenge from an unusual perspective: where we coming from and what comes to mind in those spaces.

In this first section, we'll explore the how difficult it is to come up with good business ideas when we need money. We may be thinking we need to make more money than before or to make lots of money in a hurry. We usually don't realize it, but we're coming from a place of lack when we've got revenue, income and profitability on our minds. We're assuming we would not bother with another business if we were already rolling in dough. We going to the trouble because we're in need of a bigger bankroll. We're in a space where very few ideas come to mind for launching a new business, and the few that do aren't good.

When customers realize we're in business for the money, they know to shop for bargains. They assume they could pay too much and look for the cheapest provider. They don't care much about features, quality or long term investments. They want to save money now as if they're following our example of being money-minded. They're more concerned with how much they saved right now than how much they missed out on by paying too little. These customers seem easy to please so long as we can save them some money.

We're in big trouble when we rely on offering lower prices to satisfy the customers. Rival enterprises can come along and beat our price if they run a bigger operation with economies of scale. They may also sell below their own costs if they've been able to milk a cash cow in another market which gave them the cash reserves to spend on this price war. Competing on price amounts to a failed negotiation where no nuanced value was established in the minds of the customers. We'll be struggling for survival against incredible odds on the brink of going out of business.

When we're in the space that's attractive to bargain hunters, our power supply is pitiful. We're lacking in the courage, creativity and confidence we need to succeed. We're feeling needy, insecure and apprehensive about getting exploited. We don't have what it takes to put down our foot or to define what's fair game on our own terms. We're poised to placate customers to excess and offer discounts we cannot afford. We're assuming we have to make a big sacrifice to get any business because we're not worthy of increasing success, respect and quality customers. We're coming from a place of perpetual lack.

The kinds of customers we'll attract in this space will appear to us like a bunch of losers who have nothing to lose by treating us like losers too. They will think of themselves as needy for a special price. We'll lose out on making the money we sought by offering better bargains and cheaper prices than the competition. Those customers cannot win in their worlds either. They barely show up on their power supply meters while wallowing in perpetual lack as well.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can come from other spaces where better business ideas to come to mind as naturally as those bad ideas come to mind in this space of lack and survival. In the next post, I'll explore the space of quality products that command premium prices.


Nothing to forgive

Whenever we're watching a movie, we're in a great place to draw a line between what is real and not real. We're really watching the movie, feeling our feelings about it, and believing in what appears to be happening for the time being. Yet the harm done to the characters and their situations is not real. The changes in the lives of the characters are not really occurring. The time that passes during the movie is an illusion. We rely on our insights, rather than our eyesight.

We can also get into a bad place when we're watching a movie. We get sucked into the illusions and become obsessed with what happened. Our minds can replay incidents from the movie as if they really happened. A movie can give us nightmares and daytime paranoia about what might happen to us -- long after we sat and watched the film.

We get into this bad place when we cannot forgive others for what they did to us. Likewise, we cannot forgive ourselves for what we said, did or didn't do to others. We cannot sort out what is real and not real. We cling to what happened with guilt and every flavor of fear. It's as if we're stuck in our seats watching the movie in a theater with no exits, aisles and house lights. By clinging to this misery, we lose our authentic life of experiencing freedom from our past history and serenity right now. What happened to us or by us seems very real and unforgivable.

When we get to a great place to draw a line between what is real and not real, we've found home base in our minds. Nothing that happens in the movie needs to be forgiven because it didn't really happen to who we really are that's really watching and feeling all this. How we feel right now can be totally forgiven and free of any past harm, hurt and violations. We can repeatedly look on what appeared to happen with innocence. We believe there's nothing to forgive and everything to love once we let go of what did not really happen. We can love our adversaries in the movie unconditionally because we're really joined in spirit watching the same movie.


Viewing evidence with innocence

When we're hard wired to our circumstances, we're a long way off from home base in our minds. We're facing the drama with fear, guilt and other negative emotions. We're feeling urges to overreact as if we have no choice. How we're feeling seems to depend on those circumstances which are "making us feel this way".

We cannot conceive of viewing the same evidence with innocence unless we can detach ourselves from them. We already know what this is because it's happened before and it about to happen again. We're clinging to being right, in the know and good at predicting the future. We're hooked on our eyesight, rather than switching over to insights.

With innocence in our outlook, we've become like children without acting childish or foolishly naive. We've become harmless without losing our cunning and creativity. We are full of wonder and empty of prior opinions. We're using our "don't know" mind rather than trashing our "bare sensing" with cultural conditioning and projections of our inner torment.

From home base, the evidence appears wonderfully mysterious. With regard to our past history, this looks like it could be different from any prior occurance. When it comes to predicting what will happen next, all is possible from here on out. The situation offers lots of freedom for us to choose how we take the evidence, where we go with it and where we're coming from to see it the way we do.

With innocence in mind, we're seeing:

  • how there's good in the bad and more good that can come about from seeing some good in it already
  • how to trust the process unfolding for us rather than push the river that only makes it work against us
  • how to take the evidence as a mirror of a portion of our mental state or skewed outlook
  • how to learn from what we're seeing to upgrade how we're seeing it as if we're free to come from a better place closer to home in our minds. 


Calling a timeout to chill out

Whenever we're busy thinking, there is always more thinking to do. We think of more things to think about. We add more considerations to whatever issues remain unresolved in our minds. We stir up more apprehensions and anxiety which turn us into stress cases.

When we call a timeout, we mean "no thinking required for the moment". If we don't declare a moratorium on our incessant thinking, there will be no end to it seeming like there is more thinking to do right now. There's no use trying to chill out or thinking about stopping our thinking.

When we successfully called a timeout, we've headed for home base in our minds. We've moved our state of mind to a place where we can simply be observant of what we behold. We can watch our inner and outer worlds without adding anything to either. We can feel contented,  joyful or full of fascination without thinking about what we're observing. We can be with what is in our awareness as if we're a presence or space for it.


Replacing eyesight with insights

When we're using our physical focus, we're turned away from our inward focus. We're trusting our eyesight and neglecting our insight. What we're seeing seems factual. We think we're being objective about what we see. We assume we're facing reality with admirable realism. We're convinced that dealing with what it is rather than what it might be if we start kidding ourselves.

When we've found home base in our minds, we've experienced a turnaround. We're facing inward and realizing lots of insights. We're getting ready to reframe the objective facts and redefine the apparent problems which have caught our eye. Things are no longer as they appear on the surface. We can read into their significance and dismiss their show of being what's is realistic. We realize that "what's so" is merely "so what" and "no matter" to our insightful outlook.

Switching from eyesight to insight calls for letting go. The way we take things literally involves clinging to our past conditioning. We're confirming our preconceptions without questioning our premises. We're captivated by making things overly familiar. We're suffering from "hardening of our self-serving categories". We're seeing what we want to see by projecting unconscious beliefs onto our perceptions.

When we can say "so what" rather than "it is what it is", we've let go of what our eyesight and beliefs insist upon. We've opened ourselves to insight. We're turned around to face our inward focus. We've headed ourselves toward home base in our minds.


Happily held in suspense

When we're reading fiction, watching films, hearing a joke or playing games, we love to be held in suspense. We don't want anyone to give away the ending. We want to be surprised by the ending and held in suspense in the meantime. We enjoying guessing and needing to guess again.

There's a flip-side to this coin we we despise suspense. We don't like to be left hanging when we need to know the final decision or the plan for moving forward. Unwanted suspense means we're left in limbo and incapable of acting with confidence. We may even get hang-ups from repeated experiences of powerless which seems to eliminate putting our foot down or standing on solid ground. We'll resort to leaning on others and needing crutches to cope with adversity,

When we've found home base in our minds, everything we see provides us with the good kind of suspense. We're wary of knowing too much, jumping to conclusions or assuming nothing has changed. We're happy when we're seeing the familiar in an unfamiliar way. We're eager to see the same old things in a new light, from a different perspective or inside a bigger picture.

We want life to seem mysterious and full of revelations each day. We're content to patiently wait in the dark. We trust whatever comes along next is meant to be and good for where we're going in our lives. We're on that solid ground where we can trust ourselves and value what comes our way. We're at home in life as it unfolds.


Go within or go without

Finding home base in our minds is an inside job. We'll find it by turning away from the outer world that our senses feast upon. We may get a feel for home base or get imagery to envision by going within. Finding it will change who we think we are and what our lives mean in the big picture.

Most fail to find home base in their minds because they go looking on the outside. They seek satisfaction, respect,  peace of mind, forgiveness and/or love. They seek all that from the drama we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. They fail to find what they seek because they're looking in the wrong place.

Much of the fruitless searching is a flight from what most find at first when they go within. They experience being haunted by past incidents, dreaded predictions and a burden of guilt. They find their emotional baggage on the inside, rather than home base.

Our inner worlds are only haunted in the 3D world of the horizontal horizon and space-time. We're tormented when we're traveling the out rim of the wagon wheel of life. When we switch horizons or exit the wheel on a spoke toward the hub, we've found a way to come home.

There's no inner torment in the mysterious now moment that defies categorization, explanation or captivity. We find freedom from our remembered past and predicted future. We get to a place in our minds of intrinsic satisfaction, self respect, unexplainable serenity, profound forgiveness and unconditional love. Welcome home!


Using the other horizon

We use the horizon line to keep ourselves oriented in space. The horizon tells us if we are right side up, upside down or on our side. The horizon stays put regardless of our movement in space. It remains horizontal when we get high above the ground. It remains distant when we move toward it or try to "go beyond the blue horizon". There seems to be no possible relocation or reorientation of the horizontal horizon.

When we find home base in our minds, we've found a different orienting horizon. In contrast to the horizontal one, this one seems to be vertical. Rather than extending as far as our eyes can see, this alternative horizon crosses that horizontal line.

Our popular culture includes numerous reminders of this other horizon. There's a band "Vertical Horizon". There are those Mountain Dew commercials to "get vertical" that speak to surf, snow and skateboarders pursuit of "grabbing some air" and "getting some hang time". There's the wireless company named with a concatenation of vertical horizon: Verizon. My favorite is Brian Griffin's cover art for Howard Jones 1989 album: cross that line.

The vertical horizon intersects space time rather than orienting those three dimensions of picture planes with depth. The vertical horizon suggests a fourth dimension that encompasses the familiar three. It shows us the orientation toward an endless, timeless moment. The vertical horizon reveals right now to be eternity.