Being Human II

There is a phenomenon which moves through forces generated within itself, which continually takes in and expels matter. When that matter becomes part of “it”, or whether the 2-3 kg of symbiotic bacteria living on or inside it is part of “it”, is a question making it even more difficult to state what “it” is. Similarly it continually takes in ideas and sense-impressions, which it processes. Increasingly, “I” do not feel that the word “I” relates to any particular part of this phenomenon. It is greater than I know. Specifically, it is greater than anything I could identify as my conscious self, and I don’t know what consciousness is.

Just as my brain will form patterns from what I see, which leads to optical illusions, so possibly consciousness is an illusion, a set of sensations or processes within the phenomenon imagined to be one continuous discrete phenomenon. But memories pop into consciousness from somewhere, “the unconscious”, or words can elude me- “It’s on the tip of my tongue”- so the conscious self is continually affected by the unconscious.

I know there is no homunculus living inside my skull and looking out- I know this because I am aware of where my toes are, right now (in “toe separators” so that I can apply “superGel” candy pink colour, actually. The things we do for beauty.) “I” am the whole phenomenon, unconscious and conscious. I know that the conscious part is not the decision making part: where subjects were told to move one of their hands, and to choose which one to move, brain scanning equipment showed a choice made within the brain before the subject was aware of it. So my conscious may be of benefit to the phenomenon to explain its decisions, to rationalise rather than to decide.

I can tell you without consciousness of lying what I would do in a particular situation, then find myself in that situation and do something else entirely. So, consciousness may have the effect and benefit for me of fooling others. I would say that if I were sexually assaulted I would resist, but for the fact that when I was sexually assaulted in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, in the late 1990s I did not. I don’t know what I would do. I hope I would resist.

I know I am not “rational”, if by that you mean doing what is clearly in my interests, rationally calculated. I have desires which are irrational, and depending on how important it is to me to appear rational I am conflicted. I have desires which conflict in any case. “I hope I would resist” shows conflicting, unknown desires.

Sometimes I am aware of what I am feeling, and sometimes I am not. Sometimes feeling overwhelms me, and it seems like if I try to suppress it the unconscious part of me will not be ignored, and makes me cry or shout to make me conscious of it; or I can simply feel it without external sign. Sometimes there is external sign without me being conscious of the feeling.

I can remember the process when it was younger, when most of the atoms and cells of which it is made up, and most of its ideas, were different, and in some way it seems to make sense to call that earlier process “me”. Perhaps this is simply because the culture suggests we do.

I feel “leadings” in the Quaker manner. I feel “moved”. It seems to me these things emerge from my unconscious rather than from some supernatural power; but in my experiences religious practices such as the Quaker meeting have value.

What does she think of me?

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This cannot, of course, be known, but there may be indicators.

What do I know of her?
What interactions have we had?
How does she respond to me?

I thought, I cannot imagine that she thinks of me something I cannot think of myself; but I can, if I realise she might think something of me that is not true.

I do not need to believe what she might think of me to be true, and imagining that she thinks it of me nonetheless might help me believe that it might be true.

How many steps from what I may observe and ascertain are we willing to go? Any number, but the further we go, the more speculative it becomes, the less certain I might be.

It is easier to imagine she thinks of me bad things- an irritant, not worth the effort, a project because some people get warm feelings of self-regard from helping others. She wants to see herself as a good person.

Well, I want that for myself. Doesn’t everyone? Stuck between the thoughts of “Oh God, I thought only I was like that” and “Doesn’t everyone?”, I am continually surprised. I feel isolated.

Or I could play lawyers’ games. We do not need to believe something- what is possible, is there any evidence for it? Think outside the box. When I did Myers Briggs it seemed I could express how I wanted to be, what I admired.

If you have enough humility, it may be impossible to humiliate you. This may be a strength, because you cannot be prevented from doing something by the risk of humiliation, or a weakness because you see no need to avoid humiliation. It all depends.

I want safety, but my ways of seeking it make me unsafe. In particular I do not act because I want certainty of success before acting, and have stringent ideals of what success looks like.

What stories do you tell about yourself, and what do they achieve for you?

“I am a victim”.
-So, I am not to blame for my situation.
-So, there is nothing I can do about it.

Blame does me no good, especially self-blame, but it is my habit. Could I let go of it, without seeing myself as a victim?

What stories do you tell others? Would they tell you if they thought them untrue? Would you be able to hear them if they did?

I want to extend my range of possibilities.

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Encounters at Buddhafield III

buddhafield!

healing areaQueuing is wonderful. I stood in the queue for the hot shower, and got chatting to a woman who had just arrived the night before. She will check out the twelve-step tent later. I tell her how unsatisfying I find alcohol, and she said it’s not giving up, because there is nothing to give up– it is embracing sobriety. Next day by the cold shower I found myself discussing original sin and Bishop Berkeley’s Idealism.

-You know, Bishop Berkeley, the Idealist philosopher?

I quoted Boswell. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

Except actually, I said, “Didn’t Dr Johnson say he would refute Berkeley by kicking his backside, or something?” Oh well. I imagine someone being irritated by Doctor Who fans talking of The Doctor, and meaning an alien.

In that cold shower, in the shade at 8am, I went in thinking it would be difficult and resisting, tensing up, and then I consciously relaxed: yes it is cold, but not more than I can bear. Staying in long enough to rinse properly became much easier. Or in that workshop. What do you sense now? I sense my thigh telling me that sitting on the ground in this posture is uncomfortable, and it is OK now but not bearable indefinitely. Relax into the pose. It is OK. Oh, that workshop was heart-opening, moving in the tent to the promptings of emotions and sensations.

wicker buddhaThis is something I have noticed- relax into the pose, relax into the difficult situation, and would like to notice more. Relax into the human encounter? Yes, oh, yes- yet that is far more complex. “What do you sense now?” I sense the beauty of the man I am paired with, I smile.

I am a little embarrassed, cleaning my teeth, spitting into the long grass at the edge of the site. What if everyone did that? thunders my Inner Critic. Well, I am not walking all the way to the single handwash-basin by the loos. So when a man passes from the tents under the trees I flinch away, ready for an argument about it. “Hello,” he says, then notices my attitude- “Oh, you’re cleaning your teeth-” perhaps anyone would not want disturbed at ablutions. I notice it is the beautiful man from that exercise, and am abashed at my confrontational attitude. Yet I am nervous of human encounters, expecting judgment: like a puppy, wanting to play but expecting a kick.

Breakfast again. Oh, it’s Paul! I go over for a hug. I have not seen him since March last year, and it was his suggestion of the Cuddle Workshop that got me into camping at, well, this sort of thing in the widest sense, anything even vaguely hippyish. And if you go to this sort of thing you will meet lots of people you have met at this sort of thing before. I had a longer conversation with R, of queer sensibilities and her experience of herself as queer even though she is in a relationship with a man. He finds her inner male a bit frightening.

The monster won’t get me

leather dressAs a self-confidence exercise, I went round the supermarket this morning without my wig. Terry, who remained in the car, was more embarrassed than I was: people mostly looked at me so we could avoid our trolleys colliding. If people look at me quizzically, to be abashed by that is responding like a prey animal- and my response is my choice.

What irritated me was the way the check-out assistant started chatting to the woman behind me, while still serving me, and ignored me when I responded.

I give, or can choose not to give, permission to others to dictate my appearance; even if in some cases a particular appearance might help me achieve a particular result. This is an improvement. She irritated, rather than distressed, me. There was no overt insult, and if there had been I could have handled it.

I ended a course of counselling in 2009 with:
-What are you afraid of?
-The monster will get me.

As Yvonne pointed out, this is small child’s language, and it was the only way I could express it. I could not go further: in fact, so non-rational is this that my barriers against the realisation leather dress 2were great. I wanted to rationalise the fear, and find a proper cause for it. I saw later that the monster is my mother, and if it gets me I die. It seems I have moved on from then. The monster won’t get me.

In the park, families have paid to be taught and supervised building shelters for the night- a “Survive” event. They had a gorgeous warm weekend for it. I went into the woods following the path the 4x4s had made (AmE- “SUVs”) and chatted until told to leave by the “ranger”. He escorted me away, which irritated me again- why not just trust me to walk away, it is not as if I will scratch that motorcaravan (for use, perhaps, if a family could not bear it).

This is an improvement. I am not so crippled by self-consciousness that I cannot go out. I still have difficulty articulating anything I Want, which I feel I could achieve, or a way to achieve something, but a barrier within my own mind has melted away.

My distress is not as dangerous as it was. If my anger terrifies me, I freeze and can do nothing but suppress it. If I can notice and permit it, it can energise me.

For comparison- or not:P1010248

Fragility

I will celebrate my fragility.https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Jardin_de_la_rue_Cortot.jpg/647px-Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Jardin_de_la_rue_Cortot.jpg

Fragility is not vulnerability, that beautiful openness to possibility and risk which sets us free, or sensitivity, which is both easily hurt and intuitive. These qualities are a burden, as they demand my Understanding and my Action, which I have always demanded of myself, never satisfied. Fragility is not brokenness, being affected by past hurts. It is not just my state with my scars and my damage, but my natural unscarred way of being.

Fragility is me, freed, allowed to be, my flinching and softness permitted and not judged, because the judgment just hurts. It is not “masculine” or “feminine” because whether I am a man or a woman, whether I am authentic or deviant, is just more judgment.

Fragility is me categorised. It is a word rather than a sense or feeling, because I reach understanding through words, communicating with myself as well as others. It is not a box or a boundary, but a stepping-off point, a possibility, a permission. It is a word which fits without constraint. It is OK.

Hello. 

My name is Abigail, 

and I am fragile.

I reached this understanding in the HAI Room of Love. It is not Pupating, or being born again, but it is a new understanding, a step forward. It is liberating for me.

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The bus draws up as I kneel in my nightwear in my ritual space, and I do a thought experiment:

What if I were to get the bus into Swanston, dressed like this?

It would probably be OK. I might get a few looks, but perhaps not many. It is unlikely that anyone would approach and be horrible to me. It really is not all about me. Our self-consciousness and desire to fit in prevents us from doing that. Much of my resilience comes from the way society is- my fear does not fit reality, though it may be part of the matrix which makes that safety for most of us.

Making connections is a different matter- that comes from my attitude: I want a superb bearing, and approachability as I am a nice person.

These teenage speculations arise because I do not trust myself to know how to interact with other people well, and hope thinking about it with words may help me improve.

Presence

So, what is this Presence thing?
What is it not?
What goes with it, and need not?
What prevents it, and what enables it?

It is not Self-consciousness, that “What will people think?” feeling which always gets them wrong- no one thinks of me that much, or so maliciously. That brake, block, barrier, which always holds me back, is not there.

It is seeing the world as it is. It is Consciousness, accepting all the things I have denied because I have been frightened. Is it the same as that feeling of Heightened consciousness, each sense more alive- you could hear a pin drop? I think, not necessarily, but it may go with that. Consciously seeking to get into that state, for example by rubbing my fingertips on a surface and concentrating on the feeling, may get me into the state of Presence.

Meditation

may enable it, though I am not always in it when meditating: I can be either beside my thoughts, noticing them, or in my thoughts, absorbed by them.

Habit and habitual ways of being, people and places where I fall into old habits, may knock me out of Presence, but I can stay there- if I am aware of this. Something to notice, something to practise.

Can I think things through in a state of Presence? Can I make plans? Actually, I think that is the only state in which I think things through, though it feels different. My “thinking” when I imagine my flashing, passing thoughts are Me so often is just moving round the same old tracks. To realise something new, it certainly helps to be Present in the moment.

Adam and Eve

They saw that they were naked. They hid, because they were afraid.

That is the result of eating the apple of the knowledge of good and evil: self-consciousness. Before, the sinless natural man does his thing, at unity with himself.

Or, before the natural man obeys God, doing as God sees fit, though capable of disobedience; disobedience breaks the bond with God, creates fear and separation.

A wonderful story, dating back to the exile in Babylon, 2,500 years ago- probably not to the time of Moses. Bibliolaters dishonour it by taking it literally. We have two ideals to strive for in the religious life: a life of obedience and submission; or a life of simply doing my own thing, without over-thinking, without internal conflict because it is Natural. Perhaps, they are both the same.

Homosexual transsexuals

This is a hard core tranny post. You have been warned.

The term “homosexual transsexual” is used by scientists to refer to a male to female transsexual person who is attracted to men. So it is hate-speech: it refuses to recognise that we male to female transfolk are women. And that is hate-speech: it reserves to the Scientists the right to make the classifications and the judgments, ignoring what we have to say.

To get round that, we coined the words “gynephile” and “androphile” to mean attracted to women and attracted to men without making a statement about the person. This post is about trans women who are attracted to women, or trans men who are attracted to men. Why on Earth would we go ahead with the Op?

I was quite certain that the Op was right for me. I had it after I had been expressing myself female all the time, including at work, for 22 months. When I had it I was quite clear even on the trolley going to theatre that I could change my mind, and I was not going through with this because it was expected of me. And I was quite clear that I would not, that it was the thing I wanted more than anything else.

And after it did not go as well as I had hoped-

So when I read what Zane has to say about operations, about having a pussy even though she is not going to have an operation, having already suffered an intersex person’s forced adjustment to male-

Were they cultural, rather than atavistic, motives, that made me have my penis removed? If I could have been fully accepted as a woman with a penis (or whatever you call it), as myself without an operation, would I have wanted the operation?

That is, can I imagine growing up in a world without “Normal”, without self-consciousness, without Judgment, where people are celebrated for who they are? Then I am quite sure there would be a wide gender spectrum, quite naturally a broad range of gender expression of men and women: there is now. I might be “feminine” with my semen-producing pussy, and it might go better with what people with ovaries usually have.

Well, I am not in that world, and I know I made the right decision at the time. Speculating on whether I would reverse it if I could is meaningless, because that is not a possibility. Were it a possibility I would know whether I was drawn to it. Expressing myself male and using a male name remains a possibility, and I am not drawn to that. Quite the opposite.

Attracted to women and needing to be authentically Me in a relationship, I make love as best I may.

Resentment

In my twenties, often I would not know what my feelings were, however strong, and in the late nineties when I discovered my feelings I found they were anger, frustration, resentment and fear. Resentment is one of the ground bass notes of this blog, obvious in my recent London post. Here, I state it to show that I am not ashamed of it, in the hope that I might pass through the other side.

So. I resent concepts of Normal or Manliness or Effeminacy which restricted me. I resent the bullying and suppression of gay and queer people, in my schools and the wider society. I resent every single person who laughed at or insulted me. I resent those who still pretend that Christianity condemns gay sex. I resent the fact that I have been afraid.

I resent that in my society which made us not touch each other: after my mother died, my father, thinking me male, was embarrassed to hug me, we shook hands when I left until I forced a hug, and then he was self-conscious. I resent that which exalted intellectual analysis over intuition, mocked and belittled as “Women’s intuition”. I resent kyriarchy. I resent all those who by their action or inaction perpetuated these injustices, this waste of talent and potential. I resent those who use religion to control and constrain, where “The Truth shall set you Free”.

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Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

Your resentment is delicious.

Rather than seeing resentment as a negative thing, I glory in it. Picture me in the mid-nineties, still stuck in my old Daily Mail morality, imagining that those ideals of Manliness are indeed the proper thing for me to emulate. Consciously, I have bought into Kyriarchy entirely, I am the agent of my own oppression. And underneath, just ready to explode into consciousness, is my Resentment, knowing that all this is Wrong and that I deserve better. My Resentment is a way in which my Organismic Self gets through to my self-concept.

I Resent the concept of negative or bad emotions, of the Shadow. I Resented, and feared my own resentment, and suppressed it from consciousness, as one of those bad emotions which it is bad to feel, and which have to be restrained and controlled. Whereas Resentment is a way I have of seeing that things are not as they ought to be, which might give me the energy to change them. How wonderful that when I did not consciously realise that there was anything wrong except in me, my unconscious, shadow, Organismic Self knew there was Wrong, and resented it.

Take the necessary steps to make things Better, and never doubt your right to take them.

Biodanza

I had not done Biodanza before the twenty minute taster at L’s birthday party. Her friend S teaches it. She had a colleague calling up the music. I thought, well, I have done 5Rhythms, this should be OK. S talks us into an in-the-moment place, heart open. I flick into that immediately, which is a useful skill, then find myself thinking, get on with it, as she carries on talking us there. Intriguing. How would you get people in this state, in your group? How would you know they were there?

Actually, in other groups, leaders have used dancing as a way of getting us to relax into that state of Presence. Perhaps S could just trust the dance, if she had longer to demonstrate. Or perhaps she needs us there first, so that when we do the dancing we get its full effect.

There is a great deal more instruction than in 5R. There is some couple work, we move in concentric circles making eye contact. Again, with L’s friends, this is easy enough. We are into that eye-contact thing.

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I held the weight in my hand, arm extended sideways. “Are you lifting it with your Qi?” asked H. Mmm. Actually, I can see it could be called that, but I would explain what I was doing in a materialist way: often lifting a weight I tense up, and I was seeking to relax all the muscles apart from the ones actually needed to hold the weight up. It is a lesson I took from my handful of yoga lessons: relax into the pose. The tension does me no good. If I screw my face up as I try to twist the lid off a jar, how might that help?

File:Vishnu Kumartuli Park Sarbojanin Arnab Dutta 2010.JPGI had not known the “spiritual” explanation could be given for the technique (though, possibly, those who would “lift a weight with their Qi” are doing something different). I do not know what value it has. It sounds like obfuscation.

Thinking as I write: if I told you that it was possible to lift the weight with Qi, and that you should simply relax and do it, would that enable you to lift the weight unconsciously? We are so good at self-consciousness. We overthink everything. Perhaps I could limit my consciousness to telling my body and my unconscious mind to do its thing. That might feel like Spirit or Qi doing the work.

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Law of attraction seems so fitted to a materialist explanation, stripping away all the taboos and fears holding us back from decisive action, that a spiritual explanation seems otiose. Could I “manifest” something other than by my own actions?

I still want breast growth. I can manifest that easily, paying a surgeon to stuff them with silicone. Then again, after eleven years on the Sweeties, I would have thought any growth I was capable of would have happened by now. So, just as a game, I will seek to manifest it Spiritually. I will use my Qi. I will pray for it. See what happens.

Picture credit.