By Dick DeShaw, MA, ABD
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TO THE READERS OF THIS BLOG

April 9th, 2014 | Posted by Dick in Comment | Intro - (2 Comments)

5 guys Easter Monday 011

U.S. President Truman was once asked if he made mistakes. “You’re damn right I did,” he said, “And it didn’t take me all day to do it either.”
Having just reached my 76th birthday and considering this blog which I began over ten years ago, I wholeheartedly concur with Truman’s statement.
In these essays are chronological errors, misguided opinions, stupid observations and displays of ego but throughout their writing and postings, I have tried to understand the whole of Spinoza’s ideas, not just the part. I shall leave that to academics.
However, like academics, I thought I could get a Toe Hold (Theory of Everything) – on life. But the academics under whom I studied wanted me to use their toeholds, not mine. My pride rebelled.
Discouraged with academia, I left it to become a federal prison guard for 18 years. I retired stress damaged,labeled with PTSD, wanting to kill myself. It was then I rediscovered Spinoza to whom I had been briefly introduced in grad school.
Since then in daily meditations and repeated readings, I have lived in Spinoza’s project to ‘heal the intellect.’ Spinoza taught me that my biggest mistake was in thinking I had any answers. This kind of thinking is the con job that humanists have perpetuated.
I could not heal my intellect until I could find my answers in the whole of truth (which Spinoza called, ‘god’). He said, when I think I have all the answers, I steal from god and from myself. This makes me a thief, (which is rather galling to a retired prison guard).
Samuel Shirley, the translator of Spinoza’s Complete Works (Hackett Publishing), understood this when he said:

“Can the essence of God be seen as the source of the ill-understood
phenomena that we call ‘artistic creativity?’ In the conatus of human
beings, a conatus that derives from God’s potentia do we see a
shadow, an image of God’s creativity, finding expression most markedly
in the process of ‘artistic creativity?’ (p. viii)

This is the essence that has driven my blog, that has freed me from agnosticism to an understanding that truth or god, is, as Spinoza demonstrated, our ability to think anything.
Spinoza has laid the foundations of this understanding but in the process, I have also found practical steps to explain; ‘Now I know how to go on,” (Wittgenstein) – from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the AA 12 x 12 and The Steps We Took by Joe McQ.
Spinoza says we are blessed, not because of our virtue but rather because we are blessed, we are virtuous. Because of truth’s blessedness, I no longer wish to kill myself, nor do I see death as escape from life but only a next step in the continuous joy of living. “Eternity…the infinite enjoyment of existence.” (Letter 12 Infinity, Complete Works p. 788)
So as you read this blog, seek the whole that I am trying to understand and forgive my limitations on expressing the parts. “The whole is greater than the part,” (Euclid)

HOW TO FIND – ‘WHAT IS GOD & HOW DOES IT OPERATE’
1) Go on ‘Recent Postings’ and hit 904
2) A screen will come up with ‘Revised 3pdf. Hit it
3) Another screen will come up with a LARGE Revised 3pdf & a smaller one below it. Hit the smaller one
4) ‘WHAT IS GOD..’ will come on & you can scroll down to see it/download it
NOTE – We have gone down a technological rabbit hole trying to get ‘WHAT IS GOD…’ online. If we were superstitious, we could say this is a result of divine intervention but we rather suspect there is a scientific explanation: We are technologically inept.

If You Fall Down 6 Times Get Up 7

May 24th, 2014 | Posted by Dick in PTSD - (1 Comments)

I wake gasping, sitting bolt upright in bed at 3am. Always at 3am for some reason. It feels as if there is not enough air in the room. Gradually the details of where I am start coming back and I am able to be calm enough to begin to shake it off. However now it is 3am and I can’t get back to sleep, my adrenalin is racing. I stay up until I am tired, usually around 430am and then try and go back to bed. Of course I have to be up at 6am to go to work. When I finally get out of bed at 6am, I feel like I could sleep for a week and have a low level headache accompanying everything I do. I wish I could call in sick, but then if I did that I would be doing it for the rest of my life, because most days start like this.
Hello, I am Andrew D, I am currently a clinical social worker in the field of mental health and justice. My story is entitled “If you fall down six times, get up seven” a journey of a PTSD survivor. The title comes from Martial arts where falling down and learning how to get back up is part of the philosophy.
The reactions I just described are some of the after effects I experience on a regular basis as part of being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other reactions include flashbacks. The 3am waking are often the result of the flashbacks. During the flashback I will be re-living a traumatic event in my life, and it will feel as real to me as if I am actually in the situation. These flashbacks often result in what I described earlier, sleep disturbances.
Other sleep disturbances I experience can occur without my knowledge. I think that my wife suffers as much as I do from having to live with me. I will often wake up in the morning. Bone weary tired with no knowledge of what went on. My wife will describe experiences ranging from me sitting bolt upright suddenly and shouting orders to me,talking loudly, to instances where I flail my arms about and she has to protect herself from getting hit. She describes that as suddenly as I start my reactions however, I just as suddenly stop, and will go back to sleep with no explanation, leaving her to become fully awake and wonder what has happened. It gets so at times that I dread going to sleep.
Post Traumatic Stress is caused by repeated exposure to trauma, especially if that trauma is extreme.

For me the trauma started, when fresh out of University, I was hired to go into the Penitentiaries and interview offenders about their psychological and psychiatric issues.
This was the start of my falling down period.
In one instance, I walked into a range in the bowels of the pen, where tiers of cells stretched up above me. At the request of the officer, if anyone was interested in being interviewed, the offenders began to rain down objects from their cells on me. Seeing that I had got my answer I quickly left. In another instance, I was interviewing an offender in Saskatchewan at a regional Psychiatric hospital. I was equipped with a panic alarm and told to press it if I ran into any trouble. During our discussion, the offender disclosed to me that “he had broken the farm.” I naively asked what “broke the farm” meant and the offender proceeded to show me, throwing chairs, overturning the desk, while I crouched in the corner pushing my panic button repeatedly.
During my time in Kingston, I volunteered for The Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service.
The police would call us volunteers when they had people in crisis and couldn’t remain on the scene. For two years I was called out late at night to comfort victims of crime, I was exposed to everything from domestic violence to car accidents. In those days, there was no debriefing or crisis counselling after I had experienced a traumatic or violent event. I would just go home and be expected to carry on as if nothing had happened.
After leaving Kingston I moved to Toronto and worked for a mental health agency that had just begun taking patients with a diagnosis of Psychotic disorder. I was part of a team that provided therapeutic restraint when the patients would begin exhibiting violent behavior.
During the training for this, one of the patients I worked with got so upset he broke a toilet tank in half and then began kicking one of the pregnant staff in the belly.
My day consisted of an alarm going off and I would rush to the location and participate in a therapeutic restraint, taking the person to the ground and restraining them until the episode subsided. It got so during this time that I was hearing alarms in my sleep and this is the period where my sleep disturbance began. In another instance with this agency, I and another staff member were transporting a group of patients in a van along the 401 when the patients began to act out aggressively in a physical manner. We had to pull over, radio for help and attempt to contain the individuals until backup arrived. In another instance, a patient who greeted me each morning with a hug punched me instead knocking me down, it turns out he had had a bad night and no one thought to warn me.
Another worker who took one of my regular patients for the evening, committed suicide one day and no one told me. I stood there with patient waiting at the door, until finally someone noticed me there and explained. I stayed in that job, until during a restraint I dislocated my kneecap, and went back to Kingston to recover.
While in Kingston, walking down the street of my home town University, during Frosh Week I was accosted by a University student, running up behind me and yelling “FROSH!” loudly in my ear. Before I knew it, I had grabbed the individual, knocked his legs out from under him and had him in restraint position. It was not until my friends pulled me off that I realized what I was doing. To this day I cannot experience people running up behind me quickly without having a major reaction of fight or flight.
I was accepted into Correctional Officer training and experienced eleven weeks where each week I faced the fear of trying to learn the information so as to face a test at the end of the week that was either pass or fail. Each night my night terrors would invade my dreams and leave me in a panic sweat the next morning. I failed in the last week as my knee injury prevented me from passing the arrest and control portion of the training.
I applied for the police forces in my area, The Ontario Provincial Police, The RCMP and I took part in a testing process for local municipal forces, only to discover that I was color blind and therefore not eligible.
Discouraged by this I went on to get my social work degree in Ottawa. During this time I continued to put myself in trauma inducing and adrenalin fueled situations. As I worked towards my degree I hired on as a child and youth worker for a group home. I was employed as a casual, working in whatever home was short staffed and often being called to homes where a child was in crisis. I would repeatedly go into unfamiliar situations with the sound of screams and bangs to greet me where I would be immediately thrust into a situation where a child was acting out violently, physically or emotionally. In one instance, I was the only staff on when the residents took fire extinguishers and broke all the lights in the house, and then ran around in the darkness spraying the foam. In another instance I was asked to watch three girls in a home, who unbeknownst to me where francophone speaking, while I didn’t speak French. During the course of the evening they hatched a plan in French, barricaded their room with a dresser then went out the window with a bed sheet. On one of my rounds I went to check, discovered the dresser and then ran outside where I could see the bed sheet. They were eventually recovered and they sent over a female staff that was fluently bilingual.
I left Ottawa, got married and moved to Nova Scotia where I began working in child protection. Child protection in Nova Scotia was very different from my placement in Ottawa. In rural Nova Scotia, I was always from “away” and everyone in the area began to know what my car looked like. My PTSD symptoms continued to manifest in that I would always volunteer for the difficult duties. I was often one of the first to volunteer for apprehensions and I would regularly be on call where in the early morning it would be me and a police officer trying to decide if we should take children into care. Taking a child into care was often accompanied by the screaming parents and the crying child. One time I had to gently attempt to pry a child’s fingers off a porch railing which she had clung to because she didn’t want to leave her family. Every time I apprehended a child, I was also aware that I would need to appear in family court within the week to justify the apprehension. There I would be exposed re-traumatisation, having to re-live the event and endure cross examination and the wrath of the parents all over again.
For me one of the biggest side effects of PTSD is that I have become an adrenaline junkie. It’s as if the valve that runs adrenaline into my body is broken and instead of only running when I need it, like when I am in danger, it runs all the time and doesn’t shut off. I hate the after effects of adrenaline, with my heart and blood racing, yet in another way I crave it as well.
My marriage broke up around this time and I left Child Protection on stress leave, never to return. I fell into a period of clinical depression where I did nothing but sleep for months.
Eventually I climbed out of it with the help of therapy and a new partner and realized I had to go back to work. So I found a job in a maximum jail in Ontario as a social worker. Packing all my belongings in a van, I hugged my kids’ goodbye, a trauma in itself, and my partner and I drove to Ontario.
The jail consisted of six social workers to a ratio of fourteen hundred inmates. While here I continued my pattern of adrenalin fueled behavior, volunteering for suicide assessments, working the segregation range where I would routinely be greeted by screams and loud bangs, working late into the night with offenders in crisis, not seeing my partner much at all. On the weekends I took a job at a group home whose mission was to transition patients from a nearby Psychiatric institution to reintegrate in to Community living. Staff was assaulted on a routine basis at this home and was forced to endure regular acts of violence as belongings were thrown everywhere. The worst part of it was that the acts would come out of the blue. As a staff person, I would just be sitting down with a coffee, when suddenly screaming and banging would erupt. I became accustomed to rapidly springing into action at a moments notice. It got so that when I was at home, I couldn’t sit still being in a state of constant hypervigilence.
During this time, my partner and I were invited to a casino. Not being a regular I wasn’t aware that when one person left their seat at a slot machine, another would rush in to fill it. As a symptom of my hyper vigilance, my partner got up from her machine and a man rushed over. Believing her to be threatened, I grabbed him by the belt as he was rushing and tossed him across the casino. We were asked to leave.
Then one day I walked into a training session on working with sexual offenders that started with a DVD presentation of a famous sexual abuse case. At the end of that training and for a year afterwards I began to have physiological reactions, as if I was having a seizure and my face drooped on one side as if I was having a stroke. Several doctors could find nothing wrong with me until a neurologist, asked me if I had been sexually abused. It all came back, all the horrible memories I had suppressed since ten years old. As awful as it was to deal with the fallout of these memories, I honestly believe that this helped save my life. The reactions forced me to slow down and get help. It broke the pattern for me, for once I had to focus on myself and not rush headlong into another trauma filled event. I also began to see a pattern in my life. I had repeatedly put myself in adrenalin fueled, trauma inducing situations so as to not have to think about the abuse and its effects. As well I felt a need to prove to myself that the abuse was not my fault and that I could take care of myself, so put myself in situations where I could test myself and prove this.
Once I came to this realization, this was the start of my getting up phase. I was diagnosed with PTSD and began therapy with a clinician that regularly worked with first responders and I learned how to take control of my nightmares. I read everything I could on Post traumatic Stress and its treatment. I have studied mindfulness techniques and work on practicing meditation. The difference now is that I am trying to be compassionate with myself. My symptoms of PTSD will never go away but I can manage them better and not let them impact my life as much. I have stopped re-traumatizing myself. I take a step back now before volunteering for something, and try and think about the effect it will have on my health.
I recognize I will have good and bad days, and that sometimes depression is something I have to endure. However I also realize I cannot manage it all on my own. This ability to let go is a big step for me, being in control, and trying to control everything around me is a symptom of my PTSD. I have listened to the advice of my family doctor and have been prescribed medication to assist me.
I have developed a bed time sleep hygiene routine and routinely avoid watching any adrenaline producing shows before bed time. I stay away from the news in the morning as I am going to work as I don’t want to start my day with trauma, I routinely check in with myself to monitor my reactions and feelings.
I try now to appreciate the good things in my life and recognize the angels who help me on my path. I have taken part in a recovery group called “ManTalk” where I can talk about my experiences and work on my recovery. I have re-joined the choir at my local church, a big step for me as it was in a church choir that I was abused. I try and have faith that the glass is half full.
I have even begun realizing that having been diagnosed with PTSD and being an abuse survivor, allows me to relate empathetically to others experiencing mental health issues and I feel that it deepens my understanding in the clinical work that I do now.
Overall I feel as if I have gotten up that seventh time and am looking forward to the future.

MEMOIRS OF A STRESS DAMAGED THINKER

I am addicted to adrenaline highs and the despair of adrenaline lows. Stress-damaged thinking and the reactions which stem from it have damaged my body.

My spine is disintegrating. My rotator cup flares up regularly. I have a hiated hernia and a prostrate that tends to enlarge. The allergies I’ve had all my life have accelerated sinus problems and in my fifties I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Listing these problems I sound like any other senior responding to the rhetorical question; ‘How are you today?’

I am 76. However, this past year has been the happiest in my life due to discoveries about ways to handle my stress-damaged thinking that made me think I was cured.

But in the last two weeks, my body has become unbearable. I became afraid to go to sleep as my stress-damaged thinking threw me into panic.

Delmare Schwartz in his poem, ‘The Heavy Bear That Goes With Me,’ described this:”…That heavy bear that sleeps with me…Howls in his sleep because the tightrope/trembles and shows the darkness beneath.”

In my forties I became disgruntled with academia, put my PhD dissertation in a shoe box and became a prison guard in the Canadian correctional system. I was going to write the definitive book on prisons by learning not from social scientists but prisoners and guards.

My dad was an ironworker doing steel erection. I followed him in my teens, laying reinforcing and working the high steel. When I went into prison I felt, unlike academia, I had come back home. Guards and prisoners were my people. I was so happy, the prisoners called me, ‘Smiley.’

I chose to work the blocks which are now euphemistically called, ‘units,’ rather than outside posts so I could be around prisoners. Guards in other institutions called my prison, ‘Gladiator School,’ because we worked unarmed among the prisoners. I began to crave the adrenaline highs of the job.

Whenever a smashup or a stabbing, clubbing or other outbreak of violence went down, I wanted to be first on the scene. Working midnight shifts, I searched for shanks, shivs and brew so successfully that the prisoners added on a second name when they labeled me, ‘the Nose.”

The adrenaline highs were near daily and I loved them. Then a prisoner high on brew and downers, tried to stick a shiv in my gut. Because of my defensive stance, he cut my hand instead, though his momentum carried him into my body.
Not knowing where the shiv had gone, I didn’t know whether to fly or cry. So I flew. Meanwhile a fire had been started on the block. I rushed right down and carried out the dead weight of a prisoner on my shoulders, passed out due to smoke inhalation.

Something happened to my body after that. My hair turned white. Suddenly I was angry all the time. I argued with the other guards. I brought hell home to my wife. I was finally diagnosed with that misleading label – Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). Stress is, of course, not past but now and it is certainly not ‘mental illness.’

I was put on 3 months leave, (called ‘looney leave’ by guards). I saw a psychologist. He had done two stints in Viet Nam. We told each other war stories. Then a year after I went back to work, he drove in front of a semi and killed himself.

About 6 months after this I wrestled a prisoner, put my spine into trauma and went on 2 more months disability. Therapy gave me a series of exercises for my spine which I still do today. After that I went on permanent midnights and tried to write my book on prisons.

A year later I cut down a young prisoner who had hung himself on Mother’s Day. I tried to give him the kiss of life till finally a paramedic got through to me that he’d been dead the whole time. In the prisoner’s Bible was a letter to his mother saying that he wasn’t able to be a ‘good Christian.’

After doing all the paperwork required in such a situation I went home to sleep When after several hours I woke up to go to the washroom, there was the dead prisoner, floating in my bathtub. I let out a scream and my wife came running. “It’s just your white golf bag,” she said, looking to where I was pointing. “I would pick today of all days to try soaking the stains out of it.”

Writing this has caused my adrenaline to go through the roof. I will stop writing till it goes down.

* * *

It is the next day. My adrenaline has somewhat calmed down. It will go up again as I
continue writing. However, there is good adrenaline flow and bad. As everyone knows, adrenaline is a natural part of the body’s maintenance which tells us when we should fight or flee. The key for a stress-damaged thinker is knowing which is appropriate for a given situation.

After this series of incidents, my wife asked me to consider leaving the prison for good. We were at a local Denny’s having breakfast. I blew up at her that she dared suggest such a thing. Then I stormed off to the men’s room where I sat in a stall and cried. When I came back to our table, I took her hand and told her she was right.

Together we saw yet another psychologist who taught me everything psychology knows about stress disease. It was not enough to heal me.

Then he sent me to a return-to-work coordinator. She asked why I was there. I knew she’d probably just transfer me to another prison farther away from home, though the one I worked in was the only one I thought I had any chance of handling.

I told her about the PTSD diagnosis and after that, everything came out. “I’ve been trying to get the prisoners to kill me,” I admitted, for the first time. “I lean up against the cell bars on midnight shift where a prisoner could easily stick me with a shiv or cut my throat.”

“You haven’t tried to kill yourself?”

“No, Then my wife wouldn’t get my pension. Not that there isn’t plenty of opportunity up at the front gate, what with the .38 pistols and the AR15 rifles.”

She shook her head as if to clear away what she was thinking. “Have any of the prisoners tried to kill you, other than,” she consulted her notes, “this stabbing?”

“That wasn’t any of my doing,” I said. “But no. I’ve always tried to treat them with respect and they return the favor.” (‘Respect’ and ‘fuck’ are the two most common words in prison). “They seem to see me as a grandfather type.

She leaned forward, clutching her papers and looked me in the eyes. “You are not going back into any prison,” she said slowly. “The hairs on the back of my neck went up when you told me what’s been happening. You’ve got what – two years before you retire? Till that time you are on permanent disability leave.”

I could hear my wife who had come with me quietly sobbing with relief. I stood up, shook the co-ordinator’s hand and thanked her, though I felt suddenly empty and adrift. I went home with my wife and my little cauldron of despair and anger. What would I do now?

Before trying to write the prison book, I’d been doing research on quantum theory. There was a new kind of mathematical logic called topos theory. I had my wife check it out on her computer. She got right on it, only too glad to see me show an interest in anything at all.

Several topos theorists in Siberia had put a European philosopher’s paper on their blog. It was about quantum theory, topas theory and – Spinoza! How did that 17th century thinker fit into modern science?

I got out the old Spinoza Selections I’d read in grad school, remembering how I’d loved his Emendation (Healing) of the Intellect). But I’d hated the first part of his Ethics on God. I put an X through the god word, every time he mentioned it.

Still I knew for sure that I needed my intellect healed. So I began to read the Selections but they were only excerpts from his writing. I bought Samuel Shirley’s, Spinoza, Complete Works and then Edwin Curley’s Vol I of Spinoza’s Works.

That was over 10 years ago. I have read the Emendation, Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well Being and the Ethics, over and over since then. I continued crossing out the word, ‘god,’ whenever I came across it. There were an awful lot of them.

I wrote down my favorite passages from this reading and put them in my pocket so I could review them regularly. Meditating on Spinoza began to give me an intellectual understanding of my stress disease. I coordinated this with a new love; neuroscience.

Due to the meditation, my life began to change as the anger and despair subsided. I treated my wife better. I began to see that she had her own stress disease. We had both left church when our sons were sexually abused by a choir director. Our youngest son subsequently got into drugs and after many attempts to kill himself, finally succeeded. Our other son is a stress disease survivor.

My wife continued through all this to run an out of print bookshop. One day a copy of Alcoholic’s Anonymous came over the counter, what they called their ‘Big Book.’ She read it cover to cover. Then she began to apply the book’s 12 steps. One day I was talking to her about Spinoza when she had been discussing the steps and I suddenly saw that they were the practical expression of how Spinoza suggested we heal the intellect.

Not long after that my wife told me, with some trepidation, that she wanted to start a 12 step study in our neighbourhood. “I’d like to come,” I said.

She took a deep breath. “How about leading it?” she asked

I had never even read the 12 steps, let alone the Big Book but in my intellectual arrogance, I said, “Oh sure, I could do that.” My wife looked relieved. Through the 12 steps I had seen her change from an anxious, troubled person to a one that was loving and peaceful despite the many fights I routinely tried to pick with her. But my intellectual dismissal of AA and its use of God hadn’t changed at all.

We started the study of AA’s 12 steps with three other people. My interaction with those who joined us began to make me aware of my intellectual arrogance. I wrote:

ANSWERS ANONYMOUS FOR PHILOSOPHERS
1) I don’t have answers
2) The order of the whole of nature does have answers
3) Therefore this whole will guide my thinking and actions in an equal relation with things that exist. I am just a part of the whole. (sources: Euclid, Spinoza & AA Long Traditions ) ‘Each member is but a small part of the great whole.’
I also wrote:
“We use the word, ‘God’ to describe what we believe. I believe god is the
source of all information (energy & entropy) in the universe. God is a source
that is not contained in time & place. Energy eternally fluctuates god into
time & place. God is inside all things including us. Therefore all god’s
creatures think (send & receive information), because of god. You could
say god is, ‘it from qubit.’ This is my faith”.

Notice that my use of the word, ‘god’ is intellectual, not personal. While I loved
the use of ‘truth’ in Joe McQ’s book, The Steps We Took, I still had problems with the word, ‘god,’ in the 12 steps. Spinoza says, ‘Truth is god itself.’

Then I had the panic about not being able to sleep. Last Monday I told the group I couldn’t believe or have faith in god. When my wife and I came home, we continued that discussion.

I can remember almost every idea I have read and even where I found it. But I have a problem remembering exact wordings as well as names and other things. So my wife put up what I wanted to remember hanging down from our 10 foot ceiling in the living room. Right next to my TV is Euclid’s, “The laws of nature are the mathematical thoughts of god,’ along with his ‘Common Notions,’ (Fundamental Axioms of Thinking).

There’s also Descartes; “I doubt, I think, therefore I am.” (The Cogito), and Spinoza’s logical rewording of this equation: ‘I am while thinking.’ Finally there is a quote from Joe McQ, “We are not what we think we are, but what we think, we are.” Looking at all this I realize I do have a belief and a faith in ‘God As I Understand It.”

My adrenaline is going through the roof again. I’ll stop for today and watch TV. Maybe some episodes of Cops or Jail (busman’s holiday).

* * *

Back to writing today. My newly-realized belief and faith didn’t seem to be escaping,
‘the darkness beneath.’ I had the worst night’s sleep with panic, yet. After two hours of stress-damaged trembling, I finally fell asleep, exhausted.

I woke up after 4 hours to use the washroom. No floating bodies. Went back to bed and the stress-damage roared in cadence, over and over. I could not sleep. So I got up and began to read Spinoza’s Principles of Cartesian Philosophy.

Just as Joe McQ and AA had their Big Books, I realized that Spinoza and his friends had one too – the writing of Rene Descartes. I went to my shelves and took down the two volumes of Descartes’ writing.

In the ‘Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking For Truth in the Sciences,’ I found Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am.’ The Cogito. This statement is considered to be the foundation of modern thinking.

Modernity and humanism, the critical and skeptical thought of today are based on the belief that; ‘I think, therefore I am’ making human thinking the apex of what can be known. This also guides the search for TOE (Theory of Everything) that scientists seek today.

But in coming to his Cogito, Descarte’s said:

“…I could conceive that I had no body and that there was no world
nor place where I might be; but yet that I could not for all that conceive
that I was not.” … From that I knew I was a substance, the whole essence
of nature of which is to think and that for its existence there is no need
of any place, nor does it depend on any material thing; so that this, ‘me’
that is to say, the soul would not cease to be what it is. “

Then Descartes goes on to discover that:

…”all the things we very clearly and distinctly conceive of, are true, is
certain only because God is or exists and that [It] is a perfect being
and all that is in us issues from [It]. “

Reading this has forced me to turn in my membership card as a philosopher. Especially in the areas of modernity and humanism. Their, ‘I am’ is entirely different from Descartes ‘I am,’ one that needs god to think at all.

But let’s be practical. What happened to me reading these words of Descartes? First of all I was freed from the trembling of my heavy bear body, as my existence does not depend on my body. In fact, my body will someday no longer exist at all.

Using clear and distinct thinking, I discovered my physical problem in sleeping was because I needed an inhaler to enlarge my damaged bronchi which would close up when I lay flat.

Second, and more importantly, stress-damaged thinking can be cured by realizing all true thinking is from the logical reality we call god. Because it is what makes our brains work at all, it is personal and not just intellectual.

Descartes and Spinoza didn’t have the knowledge of the brain that we have today due to neuroscience, the fact of the three-fold brain that was meant to work in unity with itself but often did not. These three are first; the primitive brain, from where our survival skills and instincts come along with emotions.

Then we have the left brain which gives us reason, the ability to understand the parts of things we experience in living. Finally there is the right brain that brings everything we experience together by the glue of equal into a whole. Our knowledge of what we call ‘god,’ our ability to be empathetic and have feelings, come from the right brain.

Spinoza reading Descartes as his ‘Big Book,’ teaches us how to heal our stress-damaged intellect . Alcoholic’s Anonymous Big Book puts this process into practical steps which revolve around the fact that our existence and true thinking come from the logical reality we call god.

Like many people of our day, I had trouble accepting the second step in this category: ‘Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” But until I came to that acceptance, no healing of stress disease could occur.

Healing does not happen overnight in any case but as stress damaged thinkers, we can learn to be reflective about where our thoughts come from in the brain. We can learn which thoughts are adequate and which inadequate.

For example, anger, jealousy, envy, hate and so forth, do not come from the right brain, where truth and god come from. I can simply reject these thoughts as confused and disturbing.

My body no longer has the control it used to have over me. My thinking is discovering the joy of adequate thought. Since this discovery, my sleep has become peaceful as are my waking moments now

ADDENDUM
An Apology to Mr Descartes

I realize now how dumb I have been about Descartes in previous writings. I had ignored Spinoza’s Principles of Cartesian Philosophy because I did not understand how important Descartes was in Spinoza’s philosophy. Descartes had laid down the rules and essence of clear and distinct thinking.

Click on this link if you are having problems with the traditional idea of god in AA & would like a different version.

Deshaw

A atly

March 11th, 2014 | Posted by Dick in GRAPHIC ESSAY - (0 Comments)

Deshaw

The 17th century philosopher, Baruch de Spinoza said: “Truth is god itself.” 1 Recent discoveries and speculations by physists and philosophers encourage me to re-examine the writings of Spinoza and his mentor, Euclid, asking the question; “By the word, ‘god,’ do we mean the primordal soup of truth?”
Whenever I eat soup, I cannot keep some of it from spilling on my shirt. The word, ‘god,’ is like that. No matter how you approach the word, it spills over on someone’s sensibilities. Avoid the word when you can, it will still leave a historical stain on your intellect.
It is a fact that the word, ‘god,’ (and its equivalent in other than the English language), has been used by many people to describe the thing in which they believe.
Spinoza said most errors occur becaue we use the wrong word to describe a thing. 2
Have we misused the word, ‘god,’ in this way? Anyone who answers yes or no to this question has misunderstood the complexity of what is being asked. Atheists have spilled the whole question on their laps.
Spinoza used the word, ‘god,’ partly because he didn’t wish to be murdered and his flesh displayed on a gate as the Calvinists did to his friend, Jan De Witt. But he recognized the word, ‘god’s significance in many people’s lives. My wife whose father and grandfather were prospectors, always calls the solid matter in soup, ‘pay.’ It is a term prospectors use when they pan for gold. Water and debris are shaken out until gold nuggests are discovered.
This is what Spinoza did to religion in his, Short Treatise on Theology.3 He shook out the ambiguities and false statements in theology to find the nuggets of truth that we call, ‘god.’
Finally, Spinoza looked at the pristine nuggest of ‘god,’ and said: ‘Truth is god itself.” I have explored how and why Spinoza went through this process in my essay: Spinoza: The Man Who Changed The God Game. 4
As Spinoza panned for truth, he saw that this nuggest was not to be found in myths and dogma but in nature. He discovered what Euclid said: “The laws of nature are the mathematical thoughts of God.” 5 Logic and mathematics are the pans we use to shake out these nuggets of god but beauty is expressed in all arts, including religion.
Logic and mathematics are like the music notes in Mozart’s Et Incarnatus Est: “…ravished music in ectasy before God made man.” 6 The history of humankind’s search for this nugget of god are the symphonic playing of these notes. Sometimes the renditions have been off key but that’s no reason to throw away the score. This search has been made
with small, finite steps in the infinite soup of eternity.
Spinoza described the soup in this way:
“We conceive things as actual in two ways: either insofar as we conceive them to exist in relation to a certain time and place or insofar as we conceive them to be contained in God and to follow from the necessity of the divine nature. But the things we conceive in this second way as true or real, we conceive under a species of eternity and their ideas involve the eternal and infinite essence of God.” 7 Eternity is the very essence of God…” 8
Meditating on Spinoza’s description and coordinating it with discoveries and speculations of modern physics, this is how I conceive the phrase: ‘Contained in God: Truth (God) is an eternal soup of energy-heated bubbles, things that pop in and out of this containment in what we perceive as time and place or the actual. Some scientists call this container the ‘vacuum’ or ‘nothing,’ but as Spinoza said, this kind of thinking is absurd. Something does not come out of nothing.
These bubbles can be the smallest piece of matter possible or as large as a universe. Human beings are also just small things that bubble up and out in this soup. The meaning of life is that energy recycles.
Reality is Truth brough into existence by energy. God does not exist until Truth is brought into existence in a thing that expresses truth as actual. Truth is sentient because the things that express it are sentient, i.e. send and receive information. Truth is eternal (now) and things express eternity in time and place.
Now that I have done the abstract, let us get some ‘pay’ out of the soup. In a recent review in the National Post, David Berry puts forth the best description of this process I have ever read: “Philosophy is the home of our most unadorned truths, the way the world looks when we strip it of as much extra information as we can while still having
a place to look from.” 9
First let’s begin stripping from our discussion of the soup, any metaphysical adornments in order to undertand what the soup is and why it is there. Even though Spinoza did not know the scientific term, he described these questions as what we call, ‘The Halting Problem.’ We are finite creatures in a reality of infinite knowledge. We do not know the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ but we do know, ‘how it works.’
The thing, ‘Truth,’ tells us that it is actual as does any other thing, because it hits us in the face with its actuality as ‘how we think at all.’ While many people today deny the existence of god, nobody questions the actuality of truth. To do so would deny our ability to think.
Thinking is a tool Truth gave us. The brilliant mathematican, Descartes, discovered we can strip away all metaphysical adornments and only one fact will remain: “We think, we exist.” What does that mean? Let’s examine a group of people who are stripped of almost all abstract adornment. We used to call these people, ‘retarded.’ Now they are known as ‘special.’
They are indeed special. Many years ago I worked with such children at an institution in Seattle. At the same time I was taking a psychology course at the University of Washington. These were the days of the fad of Behaviorism in this discipline. I wrote a programmed learning paper on how these children thought. My grade was knocked down from an A to a B because I used the word, ‘love’ twice in the paper.
These special children knew love existed though the psychology prof did not. I discovered they knew all the great truths of humanity that are caught in the word, ‘equal.’ They knew it as direct experience and did not adorn it with irrational speculations.
Euclid said the concepts of ‘equal’ and ‘the whole is greater than the part,’ are the foundations of human thinking. 10 The concept of equal is the glue that holds all mathematics, logic and ethics together. ‘The whole is greater than the part,’ reminds us we are finite creatures with finite knowledge. Truth is greater than all our speculations. We will never have a TOE hold (Theory of Everything) on existence, as some scientists believe. But we have something better: energy continually bringing the things that exist, directly to us so we can experience them as actual. As the philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce understood, (like my special children), all truth enters and leaves through the gate of experience.
Spinoza said all things tell us they exist and have a unique, individual existence (essence). He said we know these things directly in our experience and then build our ideas of them as a being of reason. The former is nature demonstrating its actuality and the latter is only our knowledge which is always relative.
After writing these things, I was catching up in the August issue of Scientific American, 2013 and found an article, ‘What Is Real?’ by Meinard Kuhlmann. He introduced me to a new term for talking about things; the term, ‘tropes.’ As Kuhlmann says;
“You can regard properties as having an existence independently of objects that posssess them. Properties may be what philsophers call ‘particles’ – concrete, individual entities. What we commonly call a thing may be just a bundle of properties: color, shape, consistency and so on. Because this conception of properties as particulars rather than universals, differs from the traditional view, philosophers have introduced a new term to descibe them: ‘tropes.’ 12
After using an example of an infant seeing a ball for the first time, Kuhlmann says: “In trope ontology, we return to the direct perception of infancy. Out there in the world, things are nothing but bundles of properties, that we first have a ball and then attach properties to it. Rather we have properties and call them a ball. There is nothing to a ball but its properties.
Applying this idea to quantum field theory, what we call an electron is in fact, a bundle of various properties or tropes; three fixed essential properties (mass, charge and spin), as well as numerous changing, nonessential properties (position and velocity). This trope conception helps to make sense of the theory. For instance, the theory predicts that elementary particles can pop in and out of existence quickly. 13
Kuhlmann then goes on to explain how tropes make sense of a vacuum. I believe his explanation contradicts itself. He says: “The vacuum, though empty of particles, contains properties. A particle is what you get when these properties bundle themselves together in a certain way.” 14
Properties are something, not nothing. So how can you call the primordial coup, a vacuum? Kuhlmann says: “…the vacuum seethes with activity.” 15 We have to make sense of this ‘seething.’
Let us return to David Berry’s description of philosophy as “…unadorned truths, the way the world looks when we strip as much information as we can…” 16 Kuhlmann has stripped the seething of its particles and fields and all that is left are properties like, ‘color, shape, consistency, mass, change and spin,’ or tropes. These remain very complex entities so we still have not stripped far enough.
When you strip everything of all its information, what is left is information itself. A trope is a way station to a ‘bit ‘ – the smallest piece of information possible. So this seething is full of bits of information. We can call their container, (as it is outside our description of time and place) – ‘god, primordial soup,’ or any abstract word we want. ‘Vacuum’ seems misleading.
What we call the container is not important. What is important is that it contains bits of information. But what is a bit? George Boole said it is 1 or 0. Quantum theory ays it can be both. 17
As we know, computer science tells us all information can be contained in 1 and 0 and soon will be contained in both 1 and 0. So the ‘seething’ is bits of information which we call logic/mathematics. We do not know what the seething is or why it is there but we do know how it works, logically and mathematically. This is unadorned truth and Spinoza says truth is god itself.
However, this truth or god is very unsatisfactory to the generation of humans who seek a cuddly god, an anthropomorphic being or a father figure since such inception in Zoroastrianism. It is hard to imagine being loved or hugged by a digit. How can I be contained in its ‘everlasting arms?’ How can I know it has a ‘plan for my life?’
Here Kuhlmann’s description of a trope and our earlier discussion of special children, along with Euclid’s common notions of equal and the whole is greater than the part, can lead us to belief in a higher power of love and purpose for our lives. We experience truth directly as an infant. Later on we find words (abstract entities) to somewhat describe what we have experienced.
We use arts (including religion), to explore the beauty of these experiences. Like an infant, humans described their primary experience of god as trees, animals maybe even a ball but later on this description evolved to the first primary experience of an infant; its mother and father.
The Zoroastrians exhibiting their stern belief in morality and chauvinism, (which still flourishes in the middle east), decided this entity had to be male. Other cultures often made this entity a mother.
Unfortunately, reducing truth to anthropomorphisms included the worst behavior of humans such as anger, in their descriptions of god, as well as the best, such as love. Truth got lost in the description of god as a male.Strife and hatred have been the result. Describing god as a male strips truth of its essential operation: ‘equal.’ This simple, often overlooked operation is the glue that holds human thinking together and makes it human. The simple symbol, =, is the most powerful operation in human thinking.
Where would logic and mathematics be without =? Although philosophers have sometimes tried to con us with a relative description of ethics, this discipline is still best expressed as all religions have understood, as: ‘love your neighbor = to yourself.’
Out of the operation, =, has come all the great ideas of humankind, such as love, truth and fairness. We know these ideas directly as tropes in our experience because they are contained in the primordal soup of truth as the information we call mathematics/logic. We know love, truth and fairness as infants and then spend the rest of our lives using reason to confuse what we know in complexity.18
This is why Spinoza said reason is only a stepping stone to understanding. 19 Understanding brings us back to its behavior experience in = and the whole is greater than the part. This occurs in our right brain. When the right brain carries out its proper function of policing the left brain (reason) and the primitive brain, it brings us to the tropeness of truth or understanding.
As Aristotle and Spinoza understood, truth is inside us and not outside. It demonstrates truth to us. 20 All human feelings, especially empathy, came from this source. Spinoza’s whole project in his writing was to cure the intellect (all we think) 21 and return it to the freedom of truth. 22
Spinoza wanted to cure himself of the harmful effects of emotions which come from the primitive brain and from the self seeking left brain which wants to make itself the whole rather than what it actually is – a part. 23 Humanism is the best example of this kind of thinking.
What Kuhlmann has identified as ‘tropes,’ Spinoza said we call ‘god,’ because their properties stare us in the face. But the primordial soup of truth underlies this impulse. 24 We think anthropomorphic concepts not because god is human but rather because the primordial soup of truth has taught us what it means to be human.
Spinoza says we live in this soup eternally. Eternity is not time or duration but our position in the primordal soup of truth or ‘now.’ Or as the followers of AA say, ‘One day at a time.’ One moment as a time. 25 Because Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, was influenced by William James and James in turn was influenced by Spinoza, this understanding entered into Bill’s consciousness and then into that of the addicts who seek a 12 step solution.
In my opinion, AA’s 12 steps are a practical demonstration of what Spinoza meant by ‘curing the intellect.’ The book, Alcoholic’s Anonymous29 and Joe McQ’s, The Steps We Took30, are a good place to read AA’s message.
This paper is my attempt to explain the words of Step 3: “God as I understand [it].” (I substitute ‘it’ for ‘Him’ so as to avoid any anthropomorphism and male chauvinism.

BINARY LANGUAGE & SPINOZA

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by Dick in Comment - (1 Comments)

‘BINARY LANGUAGE-‘ I believe the brain, like the universe, is full of quantum wonders, (some call it weirdness). Thinking is processing information through logic gates of 1 or 0 but unprocessed information is in a quantum state of both 1 and 0.
Seth Lloyd, Programming the Universe, says the universe is a quantum computer. So is the brain. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have poets. Linear thinking can be very boring. (Try Acids, Bases & Salts in chemistry).

‘INTENTIONALITY:’ here is an outline of Spinoza’s methodology. (Is there any correspondence?)
1) Intellect, by its inborn powers, makes intellectual tools for itself. (innate tools)
2)We have a true idea – different from its object.
3)In order to know that I know, it is necessary that I must first know.
4) Certainty= objective essence – no other sign is needed but to have a true idea…
5)True method is the path whereby truth itself, or the objective essence of things, or ideas – (all these mean the same),- is
to be sought in the proper order.
6)Method must necessarily be discourse about reasoning or intellection…method is nothing but reflexive knowledge or the idea of an idea. There will be no method unless there is first an idea.
7) So a good method will be one which shows how the mind is to be directed according to the standard of a given true
idea…most perfect method will be one which shows how the mind should be directed according to the standard of a given
idea of the most perfect being.
Second Part
The More things the Mind Knows:
1) the better it understands both its own power and the order of nature
2) the better it can lay down rules for its own guidance
3) the better it understands the order of nature and restrains itself from useless pursuits.
This is the whole of our method.

Addendum:
…An idea is situated in the context of thought exactly as is its object in the context of reality (pp.10-12, Emendation of the Intellect, Shirley trans.) (The words are Spinoza’s. I just did some condensing.)

Like the word, ‘God,’ the word, ‘idea,’ is one which separates out the thinkers in history. Castles in the sky are romantic, but the dirt under our feet is more substantial.
__._,

February 18, 2014

Dear Vince:

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last saw you. You are always in my heart and on my mind. You got me out of prison and showed me there was a way to survive PTSD.
However, once I was out of prison, I brought PTSD home with me. My wife, Rose can testify to that. Just as I had done while working in prison, I continued to seek a rational answer to my problems. I am very lock-step left brain, thinking that logic is the answer to everything.
But my anger, fear and depression were not logical as they continued to control my life. I still wanted to die, feeling I was a complete failure. I didn’t think continuing to live was worthwhile.
I went into my books, trying to find answers in science. As I think I’ve told you, I found a new logic called, ‘Topas Theory’ In a book on Quantum Physics. Rose went online to find sources for this logic and found 5 Topas Theorists in Siberia. They quoted a European philosopher who wrote about Quantum Logic, Knots, Topas Theory and Baruch Spinoza.
I was fascinated to see this 17th century philosopher being tied in with these theories. I’d briefly read him in graduate school. I hunted out my old Spinoza selections and began reading him. That was over 10 years ago. I have read and meditated on him ever since, even to carrying around a pack of quotes from him in my pocket.
Spinoza is best known for his Ethics. I found however that his Emendation (healing) of the Intellect and his Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being to be equally important to me. It took me awhile to understand that his whole project was to heal his intellect which doesn’t mean IQ but simply everything we think in the freedom of god as we understand god.
I suspect he had PTSD. I quickly bought into what he said about how destructive are the emotions (passions). I resisted his use of the word, ‘God.’ So every time he used that word, (which he did constantly), I penciled an X through it.
While reading Spinoza gave me some intellectual peace, I began to see that PTSD is a physical rather than a mental disease. Adrenaline kept surging through my life; anger, fear and the need to control everything, (which I could not do).
Rose, in the meantime, had found help for her own demons in AA though she is not an alcoholic. She occasionally mentioned their 12 step program to me but I was not at all interested.
I considered her as naïve and AA’s use of god as a cop-out. Rose said she had an eating disorder and using the 12 steps, had discovered a support group online and locally through which she lost 150 pounds and kept it off.
The weight loss probably saved her life. On Boxing Day this year, she had a five hour surgery on her bowel due to a botched hernia job. At her age, if she’d still had the weight, they likely would have considered it too risky to operate.
But she had changed in many other ways through the 12 steps. She used to become angry at my PTSD outbursts whereupon I would escalate the situation to a major blow up. She no longer reacted in anger.
Spinoza says we are thieves, stealing from God when we don’t know God nor ourselves. I hated myself for these blow ups.
The change in Rose aligned in me to what Spinoza called, ‘healing the intellect.’ It impressed me. So when she said she had decided to start a 12 step study locally, obviously waiting for me to weigh in on the negative side, I surprised her by saying I’d go with her.
“So, would you lead it?’ she asked calmly.
“I don’t know anything about the 12 steps,” I said.
“That makes you an ideal leader,” she said. “It’s a study, not a lecture.”
When Rose had begun her interest in the 12 steps, I read a book on the history of AA. The American philosopher, William James was influential in laying the foundations of AA.
I got out James, Varieties of Religious Experience and discovered he had a fondness for Spinoza. So AA and Spinoza began to connect.
Shortly before this I had re-connected to my son, Louis. He kept attempting suicide due to his addiction to drugs. This involved many daily phone calls with painful discussions. He had tried both AA and NA. He inspired me to write a short graphic work connecting Spinoza’s idea of God with AA.
Rose put this writing on my blog, ‘Spinoza On Science & Stress.’ Whether or not it helped him, Louis was eventually successful in taking his life. I felt I had failed him.
About a year later, an AA member from New Jersey emailed me after reading this work online. His daughter had also taken her life. He felt he could no longer believe in god. In writing back to him, I discovered his daughter had died in prison on exactly the same day as my son, a year apart.
When he heard I was a retired prison guard, he had all kinds of questions for me, both about prisons and Spinoza. Weekly correspondence began and I started to explore Spinoza’s idea of god with him. This led to a series of papers on my blog, some of them illustrated, in which I tried to understand what god was.
This intellectual exercise cumulated in a paper: ‘Spinoza, the Man Who Changed the God Game.’ My intellectual struggle to understand god can be seen on my blog.
Like Spinoza, my understanding of god is scientific and not religious. Spinoza believed it was madness to describe god as a human being with human emotions like anger and hate, (anthropomorphizing). He wrote that this would keep humankind in darkness for eternity.
So he desacredalized religious ideas and presented a god instead based on mathematics. Armed with such an understanding, I felt confident I could lead Rose’s 12 Step group. She had found a text to use, The Steps We Took by Joe McQ along with the Alcoholics Anonymous book where the steps come from.
AA was contaminated with anthropomorphism, I felt. So I could make an important contribution to the group by pointing this out. I could accept Steps 1 and 2 without reservation: (1 We admitted we were powerless over ____, that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity).
I would replace the word, ‘sanity,’ with ‘heal my intellect,’ but this wasn’t a problem. At Step 3, however, I balked. (We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)
Joe McQ’s book begins with a promise from the King James Bible: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (Romans 8:12). Spinoza says; “Truth is god itself,” and goes on to say that this knowledge can heal our intellect and make us free.
So I could accept Joe’s point of view even though it was from the Bible.
There were six of us in that first meeting. After we got acquainted we decided to read a chapter from Joe’s book daily and return next week to share our understanding.
I was surprised how both the Alcoholic’s Anonymous Book and The Steps We Took were a practical expression of what Spinoza taught. My intellectual arrogance began to melt and dimly, an understanding of why Rose had asked me to lead the group.
Then I read in the AA book of Bill Wilson’s healing experience while he lay in a psyc ward, suffering from delirium tremors. His alcoholic friend, Ebby visited him. Bill was amazed at the change in Ebby who said he’d had a religious conversion. While the difference in Ebby’s life was obvious, Bill couldn’t accept his religious explanation.
So Ebby said Bill should just accept god as he understood god. Bill writes that his mountain of intellectual arrogance melted at this suggestion and he accepted god as the higher power in his life.
Reading these words, my own intellectual arrogance began to melt too. My participation in the 12 step study began to be of an entirely different nature.
After Bill’s experience, he found another drunk who happened to be a doctor and shared what had happened. Together, Dr Bob and Bill started the group that eventually was called, AA.
While I am an adrenaline junkie with PTSD and not an alcoholic, the principles of AA’s 12 steps work on any addiction. While I will never be free from the damage these surges of adrenaline did to my body, I now understand what it is when it erupts. I have ceased to lash out and try to hurt others when it happens.
The PTSD episodes have become shorter and shorter though at one time they would last for hours, days, whole weekends. Now they are over in a few minutes of reflection and doing the AA waltz (Steps 1, 2 & 3).
I no longer think of suicide. You can ask Rose about the change in my life that has occurred even through incidents that formerly would have activated my adrenaline in a second. I am actually enjoying my life.
A case in point where I would’ve turned to adrenaline was Rose’s surgery. My mother died when she was 36 from a ruptured spleen and an incompetent doctor. A great fear rises up when someone I love goes into hospital.
This time I resorted to the Serenity Prayer: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” The ‘courage to change the things I can,’ became part of my daily experience while visiting the hospital.
I have spinal stenosis which allows me to walk about 75 yards before pain stops me from going any further. I use a walker outside and a cane inside the house. Rose was up on the sixth floor and these long daily walks were painful.
Also painful was the knowledge that I had left all the housework to Rose including the laundry and the garbage. Following AA’s ‘one step at a time,’ I took on all the chores I had ignored for so many years, including buying groceries and putting up a step ladder in the living room to dry the clothes I washed.
My world before the 12 steps was intellectually secure, watching tv sports when I was not reading and studying. Now that I’ve returned to the reality of my life, I do not plan on returning to such intellectual malaise.
I no longer approach ‘god as I understand it,’ with smugness. I can accept anyone’s idea of god, including religious points of view. As long as someone has found a higher power, I don’t care how they express it. This acceptance has enabled me to return to some of the good parts in my earlier days in Christianity, including the songs. As long as it is not expressed in politics and dogma that originally led me away from that fellowship.
After all, ‘as I understand god,’ is not restricted to any intellectual movement but to the truth that lives inside us and makes thinking itself, possible.
Vince, this has been very long-winded I know but I have a reason for writing you. The 12 step study I am in has so far attracted only compulsive overeaters, though anyone interested in the steps is invited.
I would especially like to be involved with other adrenaline junkies like myself; guards, police and soldiers. If you know any individuals to whom my experience could be helpful, I would appreciate being involved with them.
Thank you for the blessing you have been in my life.
Dick

Significant Events in Energy Recycling My Life

ENERGY:
1) Brings a part from the Whole of Truth & gives it life – my birth
2) Gives me guides to Truth: books with stories of searches for Truth
3) Finds me a companion to share Truth – my wife, Rose
4) Brings me children to share Truth – my sons & daughter
5) Teaches me that IT is my life – gifts me with PTSD
6) Helps my understanding how IT is my life – Spinoza & the 12 Steps
7) Tells me to share Truth with family/neighbours in talk, writing, example
8) Restores my part back into the Whole of Truth – my death

Beyond this I cannot go.