Bill answers your questions…plus an update on last weekend’s Genpo Roshi workshop…
In this post I’m going to answer some of the questions you’ve asked me, and make a few other comments I think you’ll find interesting. Then, in my next post (honest) I’m going to talk about the developmental levels after those we’ve already discussed.
First, though, I want to give you a report on the 2-day workshop Zen master Genpo Roshi and I taught last weekend in Los Angeles. Quite frankly, I was blown away by what happened. We had about 220 people, from all over the world, and they clearly had a series of mind-blowing and life-altering experiences.
Toward the end Genpo asked if anyone had failed to experience the transcendent states we’d promised were possible with the Big Mind process, and not one person raised a hand (on the previous day, a handful of people did raise their hand and confessed that they were having trouble, but Genpo worked with them and once helped, each of them did have an experience of unity consciousness).
There is more to the Big Mind process than just accessing transcendent or “oneness” states of awareness, however (though that would certainly be enough!). A lot of the transformative power of the Big Mind process is in its ability to dissolve unresolved shadow material–the stuff we’ve been dragging around for a lifetime that makes us feel bad about ourselves and keeps us from being happy and fulfilled, or keeps us from taking the actions we know we need to take to be successful. Big Mind is probably the fastest and most potent method I’ve ever seen for getting rid of this shadow material, and a LOT of people got rid of a lot of it last weekend.
I’ve been with Genpo many times, and I’ve seen him work with a lot of people, but this time was beyond anything I’d ever seen. Truly, Genpo is the real thing, a fully enlightened human being. The amazing thing is that he is SO normal, so available to everyone, so clearly not coming from an “I’m better or higher than you” egoic place. Not at all. I’ve never seen anyone (and I’ve been around quite a few enlightened beings over the last 30+ years) so totally comfortable in his own skin, so unflappable, so totally “with” people–and so effective in helping them. This workshop may have spoiled a lot of people for other less-effective workshops.
And the people who attended really did rave about what happened. I do a fair number of public appearances, and people are ecstatic over what happens at Centerpointe retreats (which are quite amazing). Still, I’ve never seen anything like what happened at this workshop. A lot of people shifted some extremely deep stuff, right before our eyes, and it was, well, incredible. There’s really nothing I can say that would do it justice. Nothing.
I have to say that I feel very flattered that Genpo wanted me to be on the same stage with him, because of all the teachers I know (and there are few in this “business” I don’t know), he is at the pinnacle of effectiveness–and, of course, consciousness. I’m pretty sure that Ken Wilber, who also knows most of the top teachers in the world, feels the same way.
Some of you who read this blog were there. If you were, please write a post giving your impression of the workshop so the other people reading this can get an impression of what it was like from someone other than from me.
Genpo and I will be doing another workshop in Seattle on May 3-4. Since the LA event sold out in about 10 days, and we’re about to begin promoting Seattle, I’m giving those of you who read this blog a chance to register before the rush I know will happen once we mail to our entire list. If you want to be with us in Seattle, and have an experience similar to what those who came to LA had, go to www.centerpointe.com/bigmind right now and sign up now, before this one sells out, too.
And, you can get a $200 “early sign-up” discount by registering before March 15. For the LA workshop, EVERYONE signed up so quickly that everyone received this discount–which also means that the Seattle workshop could very well fill up long before March 15th. If you want to be there, don’t wait. Sign up now. Seattle is beautiful in May.
Okay, let’s look at some of your questions. I wish there was a way to answer all your posted questions, but there just isn’t. I just don’t have the time to answer them all and get my other work done. If you have questions about your experience with Holosync, instead of posting them here, call our support coaches at 503 672-7117 between 9:30 and 5:00 Pacific time, M-F, or email email@example.com.
Okay, let’s get started. Several of you have asked how to apply this material about human development to your own life. A good question.
First of all, I’ve come to realize in the last few years how important understanding the developmental process is in understanding myself; in seeing the next step in my own growth; in understanding other people, including how to motivate them, manage them, help them, or even how, in some cases, to protect myself from them; and in understanding the many conflicts going on all over the world–most of which are conflicts between groups at different developmental levels and based on developmentally different ways of seeing things.
Though Piaget’s work is universally accepted (despite what a few posters have claimed, other than a few minor details here and there his work has been proven over many decades, up one side and down the other, in every human culture), and though development has been studied at prestigious institutions such as Harvard for many years, not many people outside the field know that much about it–despite that fact that it reveals more about a person than pretty much anything else I can think of.
So, as a person interested in your own growth, it’s valuable to know where you are developmentally. Growth IS development. Your developmental level reveals how you tell right from wrong, how you make sense of your life, what your perspective is on the world and other people, how you will respond in different situations, what you are not seeing about yourself and the world, and a lot more. It will tell you what you are likely to be unconsciously immersed in (and therefore have no control over) right now. It tells you what you could begin paying attention to, so as to move from being unaware and unconscious to a place of having greater control over your life.
For example, a lot of people who come to Centerpointe are immersed in (unconscious of, caught up in) their emotions or their thoughts (or both). If you are immersed in your thoughts and beliefs, but then begin to observe these things, something amazing happens. Your perspective expands. And, you gain control over the most potent tool you have–your own mind. There is no such thing as total control over life, but when you control your mind you gain enough control that you can pretty much create whatever you want. Those who are truly successful have gained this control; those who struggle generally have not.
Knowing where other people are developmentally is helpful, too. You know where to meet them, how to talk to them, what is important to them. You also know that expecting them to see things from another developmental perspective is unrealistic (in fact, impossible), so you stop wasting your time assuming they will think like you or understand your perspective. You meet them where they are.
This is also important is dealing with children. You can’t expect children to operate from a developmental level they have not yet attained. Knowing this, you can provide a supporting framework, a container, an environment, that helps them successfully make the next developmental shift–instead of inadvertently doing something that gets in the way (as many people unknowingly do, creating all kinds of problems and dysfunctions in their children). The details of this are beyond the scope of this post, but Robert Kegan of Harvard has written a great book, The Evolving Self, discussing this.
I could say a lot more about how understanding development will serve you, but in the interest of answering some other questions, I’m going to move on.
I was asked was how one can make the transition from concrete operational to formal operational. The majority of people in Western countries are at a concrete operational level of development. This means they deal with the world is a very concrete (as opposed to abstract) manner. They accomplish the daily tasks of life, using a concrete understanding of how cause and effect works: if you do this, you get this result.
In fact, such people can become incredibly skilled. Such a person might be, for example, in charge of the entire electrical grid of a major city. The concrete operational person, however, is unlikely to examine his basic premises about the world, or about himself–he is immersed in these premises. He is also not likely to think abstractly, to do “as if” thinking, to futurize, or think about possbilities. These are types of abstract thinking associated with formal operations. In terms of knowing what to do or who to be, the concrete operational person is guided by the rules of his group, and his identity is based on his role in that group.
To move to formal operational, he has to begin to “think about thinking,” to look at his premises, his ideas, his methods of navigating the world, to step back from his concrete operations and observe them. This is one of the major things I’m teaching in my first online course, the Internal Map of Reality Expander. I ask you to look very closely at your own internal processes, and to notice what is being created when you do things (internally) in certain ways. Instead of being unconscious of what is going on in your mind, and how it affects what you create and experience, you begin to observe these processes.
In doing so, your learn to “have” (and interntionally use) these processes rather than just allowing them to operate unconsciously and automatically. This new perspective takes you into formal operational thinking. (For more information about my online courses, go to www.centerpointe.com/life. To listen to a free preview lesson, go to www.centerpointe.comn/life/preview.)
A college education often puts a person in a position to develop formal operational thinking. Any situation where you have to examine your thinking, examine your premises, create, utilyze, and observe theories or mental models, or look at the theories and mental models of others, will increase your ability to use formal operational thinking.
I want to make one point, however. You will only move to the next developmental level if and when you need to. If and when your enviroment changes in a way that places new demands on you, you will at first struggle to adapt. (An example of such a situation might be going off to college.) Then, if conditions are right, and if there is some sort of support structure that supports your ability to develop the new skills and new perspective you need, you will probably develop the abilities and perspective of the next developmental level.
Sometimes this support is not available, and you either need to get out of the environment you’re unequiped to deal with, or remain in a situation in which you’re “in over your head, as Robert Kegan has described it, where you are expected to deal with a situation requiring skills or perspectives you do not yet have.
I have a son who is stuggling to make a developmental transition (a transition before concrete operational) and he is so resistant to giving up his current perspective that he’s in an almost constant state of struggle. It’s all he knows, and the perspective of the next level might as well be a different planet. I’m about to get him some structured help from people who know how to help kids make this transition–one he should have made when he was a lot younger.
Remember that there are two kinds of development–horizontal and vertical. When you move to the next higher developmental level, you are moving vertically. When you develop more skills and abilities at your current level, you are developing horizontally. Everyone wants to move vertically, but in my opinion, and in the opinion of most of the experts in this field, what is needed in most cases is more horizontal development–a higher level of skill and integration at one’s current level. When vertical development is necessary, it usually happens by itself (unless the conditions that would facilitate the transition are unavailable–another reason for understanding development, so you can spots such situations and work with them, if necessary).
Another question: I was asked if one can revisit previous developmental levels to increase one’s horizontal development at those levels. Yes, of course. If you improve your motor skills, for instance, or further develop your sensory abilities, you are revisiting the very early sensorimotor level. I play several musical instruments, and am always improving my motor and sensory abilities in that regard. If you further master concrete skills (driving, flying an airplane, using a computer, woodworking, installing electrical or plumbing fixtures, etc., etc.) you are improving your horizontal development at the concrete operational level. So yes, people can (and hopefully do) grow horizontally at all the levels they have so far attained.
Another person asked if we can be a different levels at the same time. Yes, we can, and usually are. Ken Wilber talks about different “lines” of development, including cognitive, ego or self-image, emotional, moral, aesthetic, kinesthetic, and several others. Daniel Goleman has written extensively about multiple intelligences, each of which is subject to development. You could be highly developed cognitively, but at a low level morally (think of Nazi doctors, for instance). You could be at a lower level cognitively, but at a high level aesthetically (you have great artistic skill, or a great eye for decorating), at another level morally, and at still another kinesthetically (your ability to use motor skills, balance, and so forth to ski well or dance or do tai chi, or perform some other physical skill).
A few people asked if there are tests one can take to determine one’s developmental level. Yes, there are. The best such test, with the greatest amount of data to back it up (going back to the 1950s) is a sentence completion test initially created by the famous developmental researcher, Jane Loevinger (google her). My friend Susanne Cook-Greuter, while she was at Harvard studying under Robert Kegan (mentioned above), noticed answers to this test that did not fit any of the profiles of the various levels Loevinger had identified (her levels mirror Piaget’s in many ways, except that she was measuring ego development, the development of one’s sense of self, rather than strictly cognitive development). Dr. Cook-Greuter realized that these unusual answers indicated developmental levels beyond those identified by Loevinger (levels I have yet to discuss in this blog).
She has now spent many years researching these higher levels (which I will explain in another post), expanding upon Loevinger’s original work. She is, in my opinion (and the opinion, I think, of most people in this field), THE expert on mature adult ego development (and she knows plenty about the earlier developmental levels, too). I just attended a workshop with her to improve my own understanding of human development, and was extremely impressed with her.
At any rate, if you want to test your own developmental level, take her testing instrument. Because it is hand-scored, it isn’t cheap, though: $325. You can take it online at www.cook-greuter.com. When you get there, click on the link labelled SCTi. I have taken this test myself, and found it to be very valuable.
Another question: I was asked about the difference between “being immersed” and “being in the zone.” Being in the zone is another term for being in a flow state, a mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. The big expert on flow states is psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and I highly recommend his books, including one called Flow.
Being immersed in something, as I have used the term in these posts, is completely different. When I use this term I mean that you are caught in something, doing it unconsciously, without ever having been conscious of it, as when a person is caught in his or her emotions. You are like a fish in water, so immersed in something that you don’t see it, or see that there could be anything else.
Though they may not be using their linear, analytical mind to think their way through what they are doing, person “in the zone” is fully conscious of what they are doing. They are immersed in the sense that they are fully involved and do not have to think their way through it, as when a jazz musician improvises, or a race car driver drives at 250 miles per hour. Such have consciously mastered something to the point where they can now do it without consciously attending to it as they do it, at least with the linear mind. This is often called being “unconsciously competent.” Being in the zone involves awareness but usually without linear thinking. It is immersion in the sense of full involvement in what one is doing. Immersion as I have used the term means doing something automatically, without awareness, because it’s all you know.
Another question: How does Holosync affect horizontal and vertical growth? If I had to describe what Holosync does in a word, I would say that it increases awareness. Since becoming aware of that which one was previously unaware (i.e., achieving a new and broader perspective) drives vertical development, the increased awareness created by Holosync tends to move people more quickly to higher developmental levels.
Holosync does this by increasing your ability to observe yourself, your internal processes, and your relationship to and interaction with the rest of the world. After a certain amount of Holosync use, for instance, you are more able to stand back and observe your emotions. In doing so, you gain more awareness about your emotions, more control over them, and more choice. The same could be said for your thoughts, or how certain ways of thinking create your feelings, your behaviors, and what and whom you attract into your life. Once you can step back and observe these things, those aspects of what you are doing that do not serve you tend to fall away.
This is why people have such dramatic shifts, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as they use Holosync. You can continue to do something that does not serve you as long as you do it unconsciously, but when you do something with awareness it becomes very difficult to continue doing it if it is not resourceful. For this reason, the ability to observe yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, your beliefs, your premises about life, how you create your sense of who you are–and anything else–naturally selects what does serve you and weeds out what doesn’t. And, in this process, you develop to higher developmental levels.
And, by the way, if development continues to the highest levels, you eventually step back and observe your own sense of being a separate self. They begin to see that what they thought was “me” is really just their IDEA of “me.” Instead of “being” a separate self, which is how 99% of people feel, you “have” a separate self–but realize that this separate self isn’t really the totality of who you re. This is the beginning of a shift to a perspective where one feels a unity with the entire universe–where the actual locus of “self” is not inside, but everywhere. (This is, by the way, how it feels to be in Big Mind.)
Ken Wilber has noted (after several years of his own Holosync use, and after knowing a number of people who have used Holosync) that Holosync does, indeed, accelerate vertical growth.
I have noticed that Holosync also increases horizontal development. For example, many therapists have told me that clients who use Holosync move through their issues much faster than those who aren’t using it. Many musicians have told me that their musical abilities increased significantly after they started using Holosync (mine certainly did–I was much more able to access the necessary flow state, for instance). Students have told me that their ability to succeed in school increased. In fact, over the years I’ve noticed that just about anything a person is doing, they do it better when they are using Holosync.
Another person asked me about how one can let go of the roles one assumes during the concrete operational level of development. I’ve mentioned that concrete operational is very much about rules and roles. As a group member, your identy is determined by your role in the group. In fact, this is a good example of what I mean by being immersed in something. At this level you ARE your role in the group.
When you move to levels beyond concrete operational, beyond a conventional level of development, it isn’t that you stop having a role in the world, or in your group. Your perspective of who you are expands, however, to include more than just your roles, but you still have them. I have several roles: teacher, business owner, father, board member, friend, and so forth. However, my identity is not defined solely by these roles–and I can shift from role to role as needed (something that is difficult for the concrete operational person to do).
For some people, at some point, a sense of self based solely on one’s role in the group doesn’t work anymore. Your circumstances change, and defining yourself by your role doesn’t allow you to make sense of you life as it once did. If that happens, you begin to create a more individual and more independent sense of self, based on a point of view independent of what the group thinks. Instead of living based on rules, you begin to see how certain principles can sometimes override the rules (as when, for instance, the rule to not kill is overridden by a threat to one’s family).
If, for some reason, the role you have in your group is no longer fulfilling, or the world no longer makes sense when viewed through that lens, I would suggest that you stand back and observe it, that you think about it, question it. Investigate the underlying premises regarding who you are and what your role is. When a person moves beyond his or her current level it is always because he or she has gained more awareness–a greater perspective–regarding the way things are. And, this almost always happens because it needs to happen, because you are in a position where you are forced to notice and allow for something that you previously were immersed in and unaware of.
To do this, you have to step back and observe yourself. I’ve said that we are always immersed in something. In this case, it is your identity as defined by your role in the group. If you stand back and observe that role, how it defines who you are, and examine the underlying premises or reasons for it, you will begin to move from being immersed in it, from “being it,” to having it.
another question: I was asked if narcissism is “curable”–and, if one can be in a relationship with a narcissist. I don’t really like the word “curable,” but a person certainly can grow beyond narcissistic developmental levels. I was an adult narcissist well into my 30s, and I overcame it. And, I might add that meeting the world from a narcissistic perspective, particularly as an adult, puts one directly in the path of a lot of trouble. Because a narcissist cannot see the perspective of others, they end up getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. I certainly did. “Why does this always happen to ME?” was my constant question.
We expect children to be narcissistic, and make allowances for it–mostly because they aren’t powerful enough to enforce their narcissistic desires. We even see childlike narcissism as charming. A narcissistic teenager or adult, however, can be very annoying, or worse, because they have a lot more power to act on their narcissistic impulses.
For a narcissist to develop to the next level, they need new environment stimuli. Robert Kegan discusses a young man (a narcissist) who was sent to a jobs program. The participants in this program made boats and sold them. For their work, they received a portion of the profits, so they were motivated to do the work, and to cooperate with the others in order to do a good job. They were put in a position where in order to succeed they had to work as a team (in other words, be a functioning member of a group).
This moved them from thinking only of themselves to thinking in terms of how the group could best build each boat. In this environment, they learned the benefit of being a group member, which moved them from the preoperational, narcissistic level to the concrete operational, conventional level of development. They learned to trade their “it’s all about me” perspective for the rewards of being a functioning group member.
Can you have a relationship with a narcissist? It depends on how you define “relationship.” I was in quite a few “relationships” during my narcissist days, but none of them really worked. In fact, they were a constant source of suffering–for me, and for those in relationship with me. Narcissists don’t really have a defined sense of self because they have no perspective on themselves–despite the ironic fact that they are very self-focused. A true sense of self, along with the ability to see and appreciate the perspective of another, is necessary for a relationship.
Narcissists have little if any ability to see the perspective of the other person, so their associations with others aren’t relationships so much as they are opportunities to meet their own needs, or dependencies (as a child is with his or her parents). They are busy trying to meet their own needs, and are only willing to meet those of the other person to the degree that doing so helps them get what they want. This does not make for intimacy or real love.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, however, you have to realize that there’s a reason why you chose that person. You may be one yourself, or you may have some other psychological problem that led you to that person. If, for instance, you’re afraid of intimacy (perhaps your first intimacy, with your parents, was painful, or you were in some way abandoned, and you’re guarding against getting close to keep that pain from happening again), you’ll probably choose a partner who also can’t be intimate. This protects you from what you’re afraid of–getting too close and then losing the person, or being hurt in some other way. My advice if you are in this situation is to find a good counselor or therapist and work on your own issues–and, of course, keep using Holosync.
That’s probably enough for now. I’ll answer more of your questions in another post.
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