Challenging Situations


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By Elisabeth Fraser

ISBN: 978-1-84747-539-8
Published: 2008
Pages: 52
Key Themes: autobiographical survival tips, philosophy, mental wellbeing, health, communication


Each chapter in this book is about a Challenging Situation as experienced by my sister. There is no attempt or thought in her writing to present an intellectual account of these situations in any way; they just represent how my sister experienced them, and responded to them, during her life.
The first paragraph or so is a simple imaginary story to introduce an aspect of a situation that is commonly experienced. The next one or more paragraphs represent a description of the deeper significance that these aspects have come to mean to my sister.
The remaining paragraphs present highlights from her own experiences, which led her to understand the underlying meaning that underpins these aspects of situations in people’s lives.
I think many readers will enjoy, as I have, comparing their own experiences to my sister’s and thereby see the commonality that pervades all people across the planet.

By Edward Averill

About the Author

Elisabeth Fraser had a lengthy career as a sales manager, editor and author for Jarrold Publishing. She is author of An Illustrated History of Scotland (1997) and has edited a number of other titles.
Elisabeth has been interested in spirituality for most of her life, and is now very involved in the Tibetan Buddhist field helping to promote talks and lectures from eminent Tibetan lamas and doctors in liaison with the monastery at Samye Ling.
She is based in Edinburgh.

Book Extract

I feel an introduction to this book is relevant. All personal communication is at a disadvantage when we do not know or understand ourselves. Communication is a subject, which is difficult to express. The dictionary meaning of that word is to impart shared information, feelings or flavour. Since our education has never informed us about what it means – “To know ourselves” – and since our parents have been mostly unaware of themselves, we prolong our conditioned habits. We have all been conditioned over thousands of years, and it is through this conditioning that we have formed our habits of behaviour and living. Habits that are so deeply imbedded within our psychological selves that it causes us to be totally unaware of our automatic conditioned behaviour; until perhaps someone points this out to us. Then it is bound to be hard for us to acknowledge the significance of what this conditioning has done and is doing to our lives.

We have become so automatic in our responses toward each other and situations in general that we are mostly unaware of the way we are expressing ourselves, or the affect that such behaviour is having on others or ourselves. Therefore, we are usually unable to communicate intelligently with each other, without causing problems and conflicts. This applies to everyone from the highest to the lowest all over the world. It also applies to every situation in which we find ourselves, whether it is over family matters or matters relating to humanity at large.

To communicate on all levels with all people requires a highly intelligent approach, particularly in our intimate family relationships – that is, if we want to avoid conflict. However, because of our conditioning, our religious out-looks and our habits, we seem unable to realise – except very occasionally – that real communication requires a dispassionate and intelligence ability, which has no ulterior motive. This is obvious when we view the perpetual breakdowns seen in our political, industrial, business, economical and worldwide cultural and environmental family relationships.

Yet, man from their very early beginnings has had to deal with these problems arising in relationships. Surely, failure to deal with them has led to family quarrels, national disasters and even wars. One may ask: “What is wrong with the way in which we communicate, aren’t our normal communication good enough, especially over personal family matters?” Perhaps, it’s our ignorance of ourselves that makes us jump to such a conclusion? Or could it be that we have never given any consideration to the way that we actually communicate with each other? Or maybe we have never examined ourselves sufficiently deeply enough, to discover that our conditioning and habits are so strongly encrusted within us that we are totally unaware of what we are behaving like? In consequence, we behave without knowing the affects that we have on others, or even realise that we are perhaps the very cause of the lack of affective communication that we assume we are portraying.

Before we can take the first step toward being responsible human beings in our communications; surely, we have to know ourselves through and through? Otherwise, we are caught in all kinds of emotional habits, such as blame and praise, likes and dislikes, rights and wrongs, power and pride, ambition and authority, etc. etc.

When we consider that in our communication we generally use the language of our birth to express ourselves adequately, but we are not always aware that when we use words, we do not always remember that words very often point to deeper levels of understanding that lie behind the words, which intelligent communication is trying to bring to our attention to share. This does not mean being diplomatic or authoritarian, but rather working at a higher level of communication available to anyone using intelligence.

It is interesting to note that in order to clarify their own separate interests; politicians, scientists, industrialists, business entrepreneurs, professionals of every kind – including the religious members of our society – plus the police, army, navy, and air force personal, all embrace an exclusivity, which inevitably create divisions. This exclusivity, formed within these various activities, produce barriers to intelligent overall co-operation and impartial communication. Exclusivity is the opposite of sharing; hence the lack of proper communication, which can create a conflicting personal temptation to outwit one another, when important decisions have to be made affecting each other.

All these separate divisions in our society inevitably create models and ‘‘me’s. By ‘models’ I mean that each separate activity has ‘models’ of behaviour and disciplines, which are upheld as a form of power structure. Models vary according to their degree of exclusivity of the different activities. They have been founded on experiences and experiments introduced from ideas of bringing about a so-called greater advancement for mankind.
Yet, one has only to observe the present situation in the world with regard to wars currently operating, to be aware of the lack of communication, especially within our United Nations, which was set up to prevent wars. For example, at the present moment Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Africa and Pakistan, are all engaged in situations of wars and intrigues. The United Nations, whose ideal is to prevent wars, appears unable to hold the peace, so soldiers are being killed, mortally wounded and mentally devastated? One can only imagine that communication within the United Nations has broken down irretrievably. Thus their lack of communication has led to bloodshed and devastation, not only to the countries involved, but also to the soldiers from countries that have been sent to manage the conflicting wars.

This proves that the ideals of a United Nation, that is meant to serve by its presence for the prevention of wars, fails utterly to communicate their purpose to warring nations. Since, it is true to say that ideals and ideas are essentially futuristic and our intelligent communication is always in the present, it must be seen then that break downs ineffably must occur in all such communications. And since our world is changing all the time, and in order to function adequately, we must also be prepared to radically change ourselves, to meet these changes; otherwise, we go round and round in circles – producing fundamental dangers to our society, as seen by the wars.

By using models and ‘me’s in our relationships, that have been founded on a process of objective thought projection, and put together from childhood; producing an exclusivity; it can be seen that this has made us think from a separation, instead of a totality. Under this method, we are unable to communicate adequately, as the different models and “‘me’s” suggest; ironically this has produced an exclusivity within us, which makes communications almost impossible, especially toward the society that we have all been responsible for creating!

All over the world, wherever humans reside, it is the same story, which causes the world to be increasingly divided in every aspect of life. These divisions affect us all and bring about breakdowns in communications. Is this because we do not have the intelligence to prevent these disturbing, divisive conditions through our exclusivity? Or are we suffering from ideas instead of realities? If we could only address our communication from an holistic state, instead of an isolated fragmented state of models and ‘me’s, we might be able to discover what is preventing a proper communication in our world.

The question arises: “What is causing our lack of communication?“ Could it be that thought is in itself in a state of miss-use?“ Being so conditioned we are either asleep to such a notion or we are incapable of acting in anyway that is not mechanically orchestrated. This lack of communication between humanity surely seems to be dragging us further away from reality and harmony. It appears that only when something very serious rears its head in front of our eyes and screams “You are destroying your world, your very habitat” that we open our eyes, if only for a moment, closing them again rapidly not wishing to see reality – it is too painful; while thought gushing away in explanations and excuses.

One difficulty seems to be that we are all too personal, running our lives round the “models’ and “‘me’s in our relationships, thus we produce personal states and consequently we are weak and incapable of seeing our way through our weaknesses to communicate by sharing our problems without conflict. Relationship is so precious and can be so rewarding when it is dealt with in the present – the Now. But, when we preen and pander to our self-imposed imaginations of what we think we are, we will always miss the opportunities presented before us for a total communication.

We have on the one hand made rapid progress to improve our living standards, yet; on the other hand, we find we have a backlog of unbiodegradable debris and unresolved situations to deal with, which we seem unable to do. Thus we either poison our earth or put ourselves at risk from endless wars. There seems no end to our stupidity.

In whatever field we are in, we tackle everything in more or less the same way using thought to justify our actions, whether it is to do with God or the devil. We dream up a God through thought to worship and then lay down dogmas and creeds to uphold our behaviour of models and ‘me’s. We dress up ways of dealing with evil using thought, though we are no closer to abolishing it: indeed, our society is heading toward a dangerous state. Besides the cruelty and tortures, the poverty and wars, we are affecting our earth with endless pollutions, bringing about unnatural climatic conditions.

Yet, this earth has been marvellously created, every creature and living creature capable of communicating with each other in love and harmony. Every blade of grass is a living part of the whole, just as every human being is part of the whole of humanity. Thought is not present in nature, so there is a natural sharing – a silent caring communication. It is only humans who miss-use thoughts indiscriminately; yet, we are supposed to be the most advanced of all our world’s creatures.

We have to ask, “Why are we setting such a bad example? Is it that we are so caught up with images, which we have made of ourselves, so that we cannot expand our vision beyond these images? But, aren’t we a part of the whole and thus responsible for the whole? So we have to ask ourselves. “Why do we act in isolation when we are part of the whole of creation?” John Muir, the conservationist from Dunbar, in Scotland said: “One cannot take up anything in this world without finding it is part of everything else in the Universe” He eventually set up many National Parks in America.

So why do we isolate? What is responsible for this fragmentation? Surely it can only be the miss-use of thought. For thought is the only process that is going on in our heads, day in and night out, non-stop within every human being. We have only to watch ourselves very carefully and without bias, to see the way that our psychological thought processes operate.
Our educational system traps us into thought from the very early days in our development and is carried on through the years until it is a fixed habit. We naturally have to have thought, otherwise we could not function, but when we miss-use thought or are unaware that thought can be divided into a usage of intellectual or psychological thought – the usage of thought becomes more and more confusing -leading us into psychological states of emotional tumours and unsettling situations, of which psychological thought, which is so fragmented, can never resolve.

If we are able to be aware of the way that thought is miss-used, we should be aware of the way it affects our body. Perhaps then, we could begin to see the danger of this kind of thought. “Thought breeds fear”, is a common enough expression, and it is very true. Our body reacts to emotions, especially fear; and as a consequence, we do irrational things to escape from what we have created through psychological thought. We at once feel threatened and since our brain must have security, we feel we must do something about it.

By watching psychological thought immediately when it arises, it is possible to be aware of the way that psychological thought responds to fear, for example. And then by watching the body’s reaction, we are aware of the way that our body behaves, and then we can be conscious of the danger of the miss-use of thought. Surely this intelligent realisation is more powerful than any reaction from our emotions, especially fear. Maybe then, we can be aware of fear naturally subsiding.

As psychological thought has been responsible for the creation of our models and ‘me’s I feel, it is necessary to get to the root of why this kind of thought has come into being, which seems to have created images in an endeavour to respond to our conditioned impulses and years of habit.

Thought by its very nature is of the past and since psychological thought is responsible for creating models and ‘me’s, which must also be of the past, our communication must be null and void since we are living in the present – the NOW? So, if we consider what has been brought forth, we can see that the miss-use of thought forces us to live in the past, and every time we miss-use thought psychologically, we are dealing in the past and not the pre

sent, which is ridiculous.
While we operate through these models and ‘me’s, which are put together through psychological thought, it is not possibly to be real to ourselves or anyone else.

Surely this kind of miss-use of thought is the root of all our unintelligent separate behaviour. For is it not a fact, that all psychological thought must of its very nature be an illusion. So if we can deal from the whole, instead of its parts, humanity will never be isolated into confusion and all would be harmonious in our world.

Unfortunately, for thousands and thousands of years we have all been habitually driven by this miss-use of thought. Now, more than ever it seems to be the time to watch this performance of the miss-use of thought – particularly as a disinterested spectator – so that we can be clearly aware of all its misleading and deceitful movements. By not wishing to alter, shape or change what we are seeing in ourselves, we can catch ourselves acting and reacting to the miss-use of thought, then, and then only, is there an immediate sudden awareness of what we are doing to ourselves by this devious miss-use of psychological thought. But if we do not make this concerted effort to be attentive to the constant miss-use of psychological thought, which is so extraordinarily quick and deceitful in all its movements, we will be dragged into its dangerous pathway. Once we are really aware of this destructive nature of the miss-use of thought, this deep awareness will radically change our outlook and we will find that our lives too will rapidly change. When we change – society changes, never the other way round. “To go very far, we must start very near” or as the Chinese would say. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”



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