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09.06.2019 – London, UK – Silvia Swinden

Spirit, consciousness and vision: the great human leap
A Labyrinth as allegory of internal process. Chartres Cathedral (Image by Ssolbergj • CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia)

We published a couple of days ago two articles apparently unrelated. The first one: “Spiritual science: how a new perspective on consciousness could help us understand ourselves”

The author uses the word consciousness as synonymous with awareness but puzzles over the capacity for altruism and finds in a more spiritual (which is different form religious but not mutually exclusive) scheme where the brain picks up the consciousness from the surrounding universe a possible more satisfactory conception.

The second article “Vision is finally on the rise in U.S. politics” notices that the rejection of alternative visions (ideologies) so entrenched in the neoliberal agenda is finally receding and new “visions” such as the Green New Deal, Democratic Socialism, etc, are no longer eliciting the foreign body reactions of the last few decades and are, instead, starting to mobilise the enthusiasm of new social and political movements.

The convergence of these two apparently unconnected concepts are, form the point of view of the Psychology of New Humanism (PNH), precisely what defines the conception of human beings in their existence in the world and their capacity to evolve. We live neither in “the world out there” not in “the consciousness in here”. In fact we exist in a consciousness-world structure in which what we perceive as the space external to us is a representation of that space which has been acquired by the external senses (with their limitations such as the capacity to function within certain thresholds) filtered through the pathways to perceiving centres of the central nervous system, compared to previous experiences in memory, given a certain affective tone and re-located in the space of representation to give an illusion of being in the external space. This is what we call “reality” and explains why different people perceive different realities. Diversity is not a choice but an opportunity to expand our understanding of reality beyond our individual limitations.

The particular way each person structures the world, what phenomenologists named Intentionality, is the most powerful driving force in the evolution of humankind, by aiding the process of moving from determinism towards freedom. The denial of intentionality in others is at the root of all forms of violence. Many perceive deep in their own consciousness a sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic impulse to grow, to evolve, to create a better self and a better world. Here is an ineffable quality of intentionality. It is a register, a sensation, but it is difficult to define and therefore it gets interpreted according to personal and cultural formative landscapes. Is it bestowed by God, the gods, daemons, an Evolutionary Intention, the unconscious, or what? It has the flavour a spiritual experience, as we may not know where it comes from but being experiential it is difficult to dismiss and although it is profoundly personal it connects us to a register that transcends the individual self.

The propioceptive sensations of the internal world, such as coenesthesia (general sensation of the body) and kinaesthesia (sensation of position and movement) follow similar patterns to the external senses but they are finally represented inside the limits of the body. The perception of other objects of consciousness such as thoughts and images tend to be represented inside the head. The energy associated to certain images is registered in different locations depending on their emotional charge, their brightness, their theme. Mystical images are represented at the top of the space of representation and move the body to build cathedrals. Falling in love overwhelms the heart or gives us butterflies in the stomach and watching football makes our legs feel like we are also kicking the ball with the players. And sexual images move what they have to move but also sell cars, perfumes and power, not to mention the odd hamburger.

“Visions” or images are fundamental to move this consciousness-world structure in the social, political, natural and psychological world. Here is an example. 

A person is sitting at home feeling hungry. Then an image of a sandwich in the fridge comes to mind. Moved by the image the person goes to the fridge to pick up the sandwich and the hunger goes away. 

This is not too different form what happens when people feel oppressed and dehumanised. Then an image of a better world forms and is communicated to others so that action can be taken to improve things. In fact there is no action without an image (a vision) that mobilises the body, suffering is not enough, there must be a picture of something to be achieved to give direction and energy to the quest to overcome that suffering. 

Others may produce a counter image and opposes the action, in fact, we have now experienced for many years the neoliberal agenda to suppress all images of alternatives, like Margaret Thatcher’s TINA: “there is no alternative”. Pretending not to be an image, an “ideology” by being pragmatic, letting the markets decide, the old laissez-fair concept, this vision of unbridled concentration of wealth regulated not by human but by market forces has dominated the world since its main ideologue, Friedrich Hayek was given the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.

Images are used to share, to sell, to manipulate and to liberate. Advertising exaggerates the qualities of a product. Propaganda informs or creates fake news for political purposes. This is not new. Shakespeare was encouraged to smear the image of Richard III in order to legitimise the Tudor’s grab of the throne. In his trial Socrates was denounced for impiety and corruption of the youth, mainly by using his method of enquiry to teach people to find their own responses, their own images, rather than accepting dogma. Social media has multiplied the penetration of false images gazillions of times over. Brexit propaganda was dominated by two false images: massive queues of immigrants (in particular Muslims from Turkey) coming to invade the UK and present payments of £350million/week to the EU that would be diverted to the Health Service if the UK exited Europe. Boris Johnson, Member of Parliament and contender for the post of Prime a Minister was taken to court for supporting this lie, that is, misconduct in public office, but the High Court dismissed the charges as it is “for the good sense of the electorate to discount it if they choose so to do”(?!)…

Now we have the tools to take the leap: the Revolution of Consciousness 

The wonderful thing about this moment is that humanity has evolved an understanding of consciousness so that we now know how to neutralise propaganda and share real information. It is all about elevating the level of consciousness. The great awakening. This possibility has been around for millennia but accessible only to small groups, “the initiated”, or simply those lucky enough to be close to philosophers, guides and thinkers who found the path and cared to share it.

Today it is precisely the much maligned social media, the online libraries and news outlets, that create the possibility of access of everything to everyone. But as much of it (most of it?) is rubbish we must make an effort to communicate the tools of awareness so that people may recognise the rubbish and discard it. 

To elevate the level of consciousness means to be able to intentionally observe not only what is presented to our eyes but also to perceive the effect such information has on our minds, to form an image of what is intended with that information, to be able to verify it and put it in context understanding processes, relationships and the diversity of human experience.

We know that advertising agencies are well versed in how to lower the level of consciousness of potential consumers. Since sex works best in semi-sleep, where images of the type of daydreams have the highest suggestibility, scantly clad women are often placed next to cars and other objects for sale so that the critical sense is pleasantly bypassed. In wakefulness commercial advertising and political propaganda are less suggestive but it is in the state of consciousness of self where the maximum critical analysis of perceived objects can be exercised as observation of the mechanisms of consciousness associated to the experience and its effects on them and the whole structure can be intentionally directed. The tools to train oneself to do this are widely available. We include here a few links to clarify the concepts presented in this article.

The moment is critical as destructive fascism is advancing with its own violence-promoting dramatic populist images feeding off the frustrations experienced by people all over the world submerged in the failure of neoliberalism. There are several emergencies, not least Climate Change, antibiotics resistance, death and illnesses by pollution, and the struggle against poverty and inequality, all indicating the need to change the whole system. The methodology of Active Nonviolence is at the base of such change but in can only happen in the context of this revolution of consciousness.

Contributions to thought, Psychology of the image, By Silo

The Space of Representation as a psychosocial experience by Silvia Swinden

3. Self-liberation by Luis Ammann

ERASE

My sins

God will erase

With his gifts

Of love and grace

David Herr

LOOK AROUND
When I pause
And look around
I see God’s blessings
Truly abound
David Herr

08.06.2019 – George Monbiot

Want to tackle inequality? Then first change our land ownership laws
Henry George in 1865. He was perhaps the most famous advocate of recovering land rents for public purposes (Image by Unknown • Public domain, Wikipedia)

From housing costs to wildlife collapse, we pay the price while the rich boost their profits. But from today we can fight back

What is the most neglected issue in British politics? I would say land. Literally and metaphorically, land underlies our lives, but its ownership and control have been captured by a tiny number of people. The results include soaring inequality and exclusion; the massive cost of renting or buying a decent home; the collapse of wildlife and ecosystems; repeated financial crises; and the loss of public space. Yet for 70 years this crucial issue has scarcely featured in political discussions.

Today, I hope, this changes, with the publication of the report to the Labour party – Land for the Many – that I’ve written with six experts in the field. Our aim is to put this neglected issue where it belongs: at the heart of political debate and discussion.

Since 1995, land values in this country have risen by 412%. Land now accounts for an astonishing 51% of the UK’s net worth. Why? In large part because successive governments have used tax exemptions and other advantages to turn the ground beneath our feet into a speculative money machine. A report published this week by Tax Justice UK reveals that, through owning agricultural land, 261 rich families escaped £208m in inheritance tax in 2015-16. Because farmland is used as a tax shelter, farmers are being priced out. In 2011, farmers bought 60% of the land that was on the market; within six years this had fallen to 40%.

Worse still, when planning permission is granted on agricultural land, its value can rise 250-fold. Though this jackpot was created by society, the owner gets to keep most of it. We pay for this vast inflation in land values through outrageous rents and mortgages. Capital gains tax is lower than income tax, and council tax is proportionately more expensive for the poor than for the rich. As a result of such giveaways, and the amazing opacity of the system, land in the UK has become a magnet for international criminals seeking to launder their money.

Because we hear so little about the underlying issues, we blame the wrong causes for the cost and scarcity of housing: immigration, population growth, the green belt, red tape. In reality, the power of landowners and building companies, their tax and financial advantages and the vast shift in bank lending towards the housing sector have inflated prices so much that even a massive housebuilding programme could not counteract them.

The same forces are responsible for the loss of public space in cities, a right to roam that covers only 10% of the land, the lack of provision for allotments and of opportunities for new farmers, and the wholesale destruction of the living world. Our report aims to confront these structural forces and take back control of the fabric of the nation.

A Labour government should replace council tax with a progressive property tax, payable by owners, not tenants. Empty homes should automatically be taxed at a higher rate. Inheritance tax should be replaced with a lifetime gifts tax levied on the recipient. Capital gains tax on second homes and investment properties should match or exceed the rates of income tax. Business rates should be replaced with a land value tax, based on rental value. A 15% offshore tax should be levied on properties owned through tax havens.

To democratise development and planning, we want to create new public development corporations. Alongside local authorities, they would assemble the land needed for affordable homes and new communities. Builders would have to compete on quality, rather than by amassing land banks. These public corporations would use compulsory purchase to buy land at agricultural prices, rather than having to pay through the nose for the uplift created by planning permission. This could reduce the price of affordable homes in the south-east by nearly 50%.

We propose a community participation agency, to help people, rather than big companies, become the driving force in creating local plans and influencing major infrastructure. To ensure a wide range of voices is heard, we suggest a form of jury service for plan-making. To represent children and the unborn, we would like every local authority to appoint a future generations champion.

Councils should have new duties to create parks, urban green spaces, wildlife refuges and public amenities. We propose a new definition of public space, granting citizens a legal right to use it and overturning the power of private landowners in cities to stifle leisure, cultural events and protest.

We propose much tighter rent and eviction controls, and an ambitious social housebuilding programme. We also want to create new opportunities for people to design and build their own homes, supported by a community right to buy of the kind that Scotland enjoys. Compulsory sale orders should be used to bring vacant and derelict land on to the market, and community groups should have first rights to buy it.

To help stabilise land prices and make homes more affordable, we propose a new body, called the Common Ground Trust. When people can’t afford to buy a home, they can ask the trust to purchase the land that underlies it, while they pay only for the bricks and mortar (about 30% of the cost). They then pay the trust a land rent. Their overall housing costs are reduced, while the trust gradually accumulates a pool of land that acts as a buffer against speculation, and creates common ownership on a large scale.

We call for a right to roam across all uncultivated land and waterways (except gardens and similar limitations). We want to change the Allotments Act, to ensure that no one needs wait for a plot for more than a year. We would like to use part of the Land Registry’s vast surplus to help community land trusts buy rural land for farming, forestry, conservation and rewilding. We would like a new English land commission to decide whether to make major farming and forestry decisions subject to planning permission, to help arrest the environmental crisis. And we want to transform the public’s right to know, by ensuring that all information about land ownership, subsidies and planning is published freely as open data.

These proposals, we hope, will make the UK a more equal, inclusive and generous-spirited nation, characterised not by private enclosure and public squalor, but by private sufficiency and public luxury. Our land should work for the many, not just the few.

 George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

Reprinted with kind permission from the author

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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