Finding You in a World of It just received a very positive review from England’s Network Review, the Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network. This is a organization of cutting edge thinkers that includes the likes of Rupert Sheldrake, Ervin Laszlo, Lawrence LeShan, Karl Pribram, and astronaut Edgar Mitchell. It is an honor to be considered by this visionary group. Here is the review from the current issue.
FINDING YOU IN A WORLD OF IT
Living Matrix Publications, 2014, 175 pp.,
$16.99 p/b –ISBN 978-0-9960-58858
Years ago in Cambridge, a friend gave me a copy of a famous book by the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber – I and Thou. The title of this down-to-earth and humorous guide to living life to the full reflects Buber’s distinction between the I-It and the I-Thou dynamic. Rick brings his background in Chinese martial arts and polarity therapy to bear on how to engage fully with life, using the philosophy of Buber along with other traditions as a starting point. Real life consists of meeting, not just experiencing.
For this, Rick identified three essential components: coherence or wholeness (he works with the human energy field on a daily basis) presence as conscious awareness of the moment, and relating where the you encountered is not an object but rather a co-creator of a vibrant world. In this context, he quotes Buber as saying ‘when two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.’
An important starting point for Rick was a near fatal accident from which he made a miraculous recovery. He learned to slow things down, to participate fully in the moment and not to objectify or abstract his experience and become a nonparticipator in the world of It – what he calls the trance of objectification that takes us away from what is by putting it into a scheme (here Korzybski, Bohm and Krishnamurti come in).
Rick gives a vivid example of the meaning of meeting when he holds his son Brian for the first time – an I-Thou moment of oneness and connection. This is possible, even in relation to objects if we, like Goethe, simply remove the mental barrier of separation (he illustrates this rather dramatically with an experiment involving fork-bending). He explains that we have two operating systems: the I-It and the I-Thou/You (I prefer to use the old form as it is an indication of intimacy and still exists in other European languages). Buber called the first experiencing and the second relating – in these moments there are no objects, no thoughts even, perhaps only love.
We can in fact choose between these operating systems, and Rick provides exercises to bring this to life, commenting that there are no thoughts in the I-Thou system, which is entirely in the present. By contrast, the I-It is already in the past. Ironically, he identifies words as the biggest barrier to awakening from the trance of objectification where people are objects rather than subjects. Indeed, he defines the ego as an objectification of the self. He then moves on to wholeness and coherence, sharing a crucial insight that, by pointing his index fingers, his fear and anxiety disappeared, and the coherence of his energy was restored. This sounds disarmingly simple, but readers can try it for themselves, and it can also be applied in meditation. The key is to bring presence or consciousness to each action and to create space between our thoughts. This means bringing attention in the now to what is, without adding any explanation. Here the technique interfaces with mindfulness, which one can understand is essential for Rick when he is working with people’s energy fields.
He suggests a simple technique of self-location by asking where am I now and answering here I am. Interestingly, he applied this technique with great success to a round of golf and played better than he had for over 20 years. I intend to try this myself next month, especially given the fact that I have played very little golf for six months. We can each apply this technique to reset our awareness many times a day. Rick gives another example from the martial arts where used the technique to win a match against a much larger man. Many people have written about love and fear, which Rick claims can only exist in the separate state of the It mind and can be overcome by meeting in the Buber sense.
People can ask themselves what game they are playing and in the process become more present, changing the game when necessary. Of course, this requires practice, which the martial arts call Kung-fu, and applies to the acquisition of any skill or expertise. This book helps the reader apply this to life itself in a simple and accessible manner as a way of changing the quality of one’s experience
– what could be more important?