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suspicious_dog1Welcome back, loyal fans, (You’ll see why that’s a pun in a minute), to part Six of my nine part series where I interview different Enneagram personalities! Click on these links for the first five interviews:

One,

Two,

Three,

Four,

Five.

Today I am interviewing the Six, also known as the Loyalist/Skeptic. (See the pun? Do ya? Do ya?) Welcome Six.

Thank you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a question before we get into the interview. What are you getting out of this?

Um, what do you mean?

Why are you interviewing me in the first place? How are you going to use the information that I give you? Are you going to make me look bad?

Well…no. What incentive do I have to make you look bad?

Just because you haven’t stated one or I don’t know it yet doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I read your article with Three. I saw what he said about me. For all I know, you two are best buddies.

Everything I write is word-for-word from the interview. I don’t change or edit anything.

Fair enough. But what about ulterior motives? You really expect me to believe you’re doing these out of the goodness of your heart? Or are you doing this to get more readers and more power? Are you getting paid to write these? Are these interviews really about us, or are they about Livewithwonder? Well? I’m waiting…

Well, I don’t get paid to write these. I’m writing these because I feel like they help and inspire people, and I like how I feel when I help and inspire others. I do want to increase my readership, but the reason for that is that I want to inspire more people. Yes, I would eventually like to make a living doing this, so that I can focus all of my energy and attention on inspiring, and not have to divide myself between writing and jobs which I’m not fully behind anyway. Does that make sense?

Well…yeah. Okay, I’ll put you in my “probationary circle.”

What does that mean?

It means I don’t fully trust you yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and let you interview me.

Um, thanks…I guess?

Trust me. Most people don’t make it this far.

Okay, so what do you believe?

Well, see…that’s a tough question for me. There’s a few ideas and people I really strongly support, but that’s because they’ve proven themselves, much in the same way that you passed the first test. The way I see it, if you pardon my language, there are many BS people and ideas in the world, people who are fake, that crumble apart when things get difficult and leave you hanging when you need them the most. The same goes for ideals. Why follow an ideal if it’s a bunch of bull? So you test the people. You test the ideas, again and again and again, and if everything checks out? Congratulations, you’ve found something incredibly rare in life, something or someone to believe in.

Could you give me an example of this in practice?

Sure. Let’s say you’re dating someone, and that person tells you they love you. Well, people say that all the time. How can you be sure they aren’t full of it? You test them. You look for potential problems and ulterior motives. You bait traps, and if they fail, you know it wasn’t sincere. For example, if you think she’s merely after your money, you would provide a chance for them to get a sizable chunk of your money if they break up with you. You test to find out what is true.

Doesn’t this distrust hurt people’s feelings?

Sometimes, if they pass the test and I hurt their feelings I feel really bad about it, but most of the time, they don’t pass the test., so in that case I don’t really care if their feelings are hurt or not. They don’t really care, so why should I be loyal to them?

It’s funny that you’re called the “Loyalist” and yet you are so quick to turn away from others? Do you believe in second chances?

Hey, if they pass the test, you’ll never meet anyone more loyal. I tend to only take second chances on rare occasions. If someone fails a test, it’s for a reason.

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?

People always think I’m crazy when I say this, but Nine really bothers me.

Nine? Why?

Nine is always trying to play peacemaker, even when it isn’t necessary. Like, say I’m having a debate with somebody, Nine will say things like “Hey, its okay. It doesn’t really matter,” or “His points are valid too,” and it drives me nuts because it does matter and his points aren’t valid. It takes a long, long time and a lot of research for me to form an opinion on something, and I guarantee the other guy hasn’t done his research, so when she tries to tell me that his point is valid when it isn’t, well its infuriating. In fact, I get much more annoyed at her meddling than I do with the person I’m arguing with.

A day hanging out with Nine is a day staring at clouds with nothing happening. What does she even do, anyway? I just don’t see how someone could spend so much time doing nothing.

What do you think of your friends, Five and Seven?

Five is a really cool character. He’s played peacemaker with me a few times too, but the difference is that he doesn’t really care if I’m peaceful or not. He just offers some useful information and he’s on his way, and yeah that usually does calm me down.

We’re both anxious in our own way, I guess. I know in your interview with Five that some of his comments about me seemed kind of harsh or negative, but that’s actually what I like about Five. He’s honest. He doesn’t lie to me to be sensitive to my feelings. He acts almost computer like.

Does Five have any flaws?

Oh yeah. Of course. For one thing, he gets all caught up in the world of his head sometimes. He once locked himself in his room for three days straight. When he finally came out, his eyes were bloodshot. I’m pretty sure he didn’t sleep most of that time. I still have no idea what he did all that time. For all I know he was playing video games.

What about Seven?

Seven is a great guy who loves to have fun. He’s great because he knows how to pull me out of his shell, at least somewhat. Say we’re heading out to a party or something and I’m freaking out about how formal it is and wondering what the appropriate attire is. Seven will pop in with an obnoxious shirt and totally put me at ease. He’s a very fun person who helps me get rid of my anxiety for a while.

Of course, he’s got his flaws too. He does tend to ditch me if there’s a crowd. He doesn’t mean to, and it’s not like I couldn’t go over and join him. I’m just not a crowd person. Seven, on the other hand, he practically needs to be around people. He’s always telling me that I need to relax, but you should see him at a party that’s ending. You’ll never see a more anxious face.

Would you care to add anything before we wrap this up?

Test everything to find what is good, and when you find it, hold on for dear life.

Thank you for your time, Six.

Thanks. You earned it.

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chess-nerdWelcome everybody to part five of my nine part series on the Enneagram. To read my past articles, please click the following links:
The One
The Two
The Three
The Four

Today, I am interviewing Five, also known as the Thinker/Observer. Welcome Five!

Hello, er hi. Yeah, hi.

You seem a little nervous.

Who um me? Well I guess I’m so used to doing my own thing that I’m awkward around people sometimes.

What is your own thing?

Well…it’s kind of hard to explain.

It’s okay, explain away!

Well it’s like…for most people, they don’t really enjoy being left alone. They get lonely. For me, it’s like I don’t ever get enough alone time. There’s so much to study and learn, and it just seems like people are always interrupting. No offense to them, but I wish I had more time to explore the things that interest me.

What interests you?

Well that changes from time to time. I’ll get really into something, practically obsess over it, and then I’ll hit a point where I move on. Right now I’ve been watching videos of all the TED talk videos and I’m categorizing which are my least and most favorite, in order.

Wait, you’ve seen all the TED talks?

Most of them. I still have a few to watch, but I’ll probably go do that when I’m done here.

If you don’t like interruptions, why did you agree to this interview?

Well, I made an exception in this case because I like to share my findings and things I learn with people. I find it’s easier to get along with people if they share the same interests as me.

What if they don’t?

Well…then things get a bit rough…

I see. So what is it you believe?

I don’t know. Am I supposed to believe something? I guess for me, believing something is just jumping to conclusions. What you believe is based on what you know, and there’s always more data to gather, and many times that data contradicts. The world is a very uncertain place.

How do you actually live like that? Don’t you value anything?

Well, I guess you could say I value knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the safer you are, so I hoard it. Knowledge protects you, empowers you, and liberates you.

Would you say that knowledge has its own problems?

It can. It certainly makes life more complicated, but I like to think of certain life problems as puzzles to be solved. Knowledge can also make you more miserable sometimes because you become aware of awful things in the world that you otherwise wouldn’t. The thing is, if you don’t know what the problem is, you cannot fix it, and people go on living in painful ignorance.

How exactly does knowledge protect you?

That question can be answered many ways. Without knowledge, you cannot specialize in anything , and if you cannot do that, you’re useless as far as society is concerned. You might as well be flipping burgers. I’m not taking that path. I want to have something to offer the world.

From a survival perspective, you can run away from a snake, but if you know that a particular snake isn’t poisonous, then you have nothing to worry about. You are not in danger of an illusion.

From a legalistic perspective, the people who are ignorant of the law get taken advantage of. Did you know the police can legally lie to you as a means to coax the confession of a crime? You may have known that, but my point is that if you didn’t know, you’d get taken advantage of.

Have you ever been arrested?

No, but its always nice to be prepared. You never know.

Honestly, though, you seem like a nice guy. What are the chances you’d be arrested?

Innocent people are arrested all the time. Its good to be prepared, just in case.

Aren’t there better uses of your time than learning something like that?

Well I suppose so, but when something catches my interest, I throw myself into it. It’s just what I do.

I was thinking of something more like a social life?

Like I said before, no offense, but other people waste my time. When I’m to myself, I have time to research and unravel the world’s mysteries.

But can’t others help you reach your goals?

Sometimes you have no other choice but to take donations from others but I try hard not to. Most people don’t understand what it is I’m trying to do with my research and discoveries. They usually just want to piggyback on my hard work for their own personal gain.

It’s always the same garbage. I’ll tell a well thought-out, researched, original joke and Three will spread it to everyone and take credit, or I’ll stumble upon a new fascinating discovery and Eight will find a way to turn it into a weapon. Most people don’t want to understand. They just want the results, the power that comes from knowledge.

Eight, for example, doesn’t care how a shrink ray works. He just wants me to build him one to crush his enemies. He doesn’t see the deeper potential. All he sees is s device that will add to his power. But a shrink ray could be so much more than that! You could, for example, drive to work, shrink your car, and put it in your pocket! Imagine, massive, ugly parking lots a thing of the past! But Eight…he just wants a toy.

I’m sensing a little animosity between you two.

Ha! I wonder why? If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say I’m jealous of him. Like…deeply jealous, like you have no idea how jealous.

Why is that?

You know how I study to protect myself? To solve problems? With him, he just jumps into life and survives and even thrives just fine. It’s maddening! It’s like the gods themselves have spoiled him and given him whatever he desires. He’s like my kryptonite!

You know my snake example earlier? For me, its like, I see the snake, run away, find out if its dangerous, and if it isn’t, I come back. The snake is harmless. I am safe. You know what Eight does? He just stomps the freaking thing. Problem solved.

You put me in a sales type job, and I’ll study how to be a good salesman, body postures, what colors to wear to make people want to buy, what techniques work, et cetera. How does Eight sell? He just does. He’s a natural leader. How do you learn that? You can’t. Its just an innate quality, and it makes a mockery of me.

Eight shows me how weak I am when I’m doing everything I can to make myself strong. The worst part is that Eight is totally oblivious to the fact that he is doing this. Just being around him is enough to make me feel like a worm.The rare times Eight is in real danger, he gets a few quick tips from people like me, a lahdeedah, he’s off being superman again. Like I said, maddening.

What do you think of your friends Four and Six?

Both of them are great for different reasons. Four is usually quiet like me. We both share a taste for abnormal things, and I’m really blown away by Four’s creativity! Her only real downside is that she seems like she’s trying too hard. Some people try too hard to follow the crowd. Four tries too hard to not follow the crowd. Me? I just don’t care.

How about Six?

Speaking of following the crowd, Six does exactly that, at least sort of. Six is very self-contradicting, very hard to understand. Like me, he spends a lot of time thinking. He just thinks in a different way. We both have trouble making up our minds sometimes. His deal is that he’s constantly asking others to make up his mind for him, which is pretty annoying. Like they know any better than he does!

He gathers knowledge on things too, but then he throws all that info out the window and relies on people he trusts. Speaking of trust, he’s kind of weird about it. It takes him a long to form a belief about someone. He’ll even be suspicious, bordering on paranoid with some people.

Then, when you finally enter his inner circle, his trust is unshakable. You could steal right out from under him and move to Mexico, and he’ll be like, “Its cool. I’ll be here when you get back.” If a stranger asks him for a pack of gum though, Six will look at him like the guy plans to stab him.

That all said, don’t get the wrong idea. Six is a fantastic, loyal, friend. He doesn’t always get my weird taste in stuff, but he’s always been there for me when I overwork myself or don’t take care of myself. Between the two of us, people should call us the anxiety twins.

Thank you for your time Five. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Uh…nope. I think that covers it.

Oh…okay?

Bye!

successWelcome everyone to part three of my nine part series on the Enneagram. Click the links to see parts One and Two.

Today, I will be interviewing the Three, also known as the Motivator/ Achiever. Welcome.

Thanks, Livewithwonder. I’m really glad I was able to move my schedule around for this interview. At first, I didn’t think I would have time, but I told my secretary I’d just skip lunch again to do it.

Wow! Aren’t you hungry?

No. It’s alright. I always have a few health shakes handy for this very reason.

You sound like a very busy person.

Ha. You have no idea.

Okay, well since time is limited, let’s get down to it. What do you believe?

Ha! I like the way you think! In short, I believe in not being a loser. That probably sounds harsh but let me explain what I mean.

Go right ahead.

“Losers” are the kinds of people who don’t take any responsibility for their lives. They think because they had a terrible past or because mommy didn’t love them, that defines who they are. Losers are either lazy, stupid, or too caught up in little “moral dilemmas” to do what it takes to succeed. People can have all the toys they want, everything they could dream for, if they had the same work ethic, intelligence, and finesse as myself.

But somebody has to lose, right?

Of course. And they “lose” for the reasons I mentioned above. Look, it’s true that some people start off in those categories and then change for the better, but most of them don’t, and that’s the way of the world. Even if someone did get as good as me in all those things, they still wouldn’t knock me off my roost, because I’d find a way to be better. I don’t let myself lose.

What about morality and ethics?

What about them? Look, morality and ethics are all fine and good, but they are an invention of society. They have no place in the business world. Also, news flash: people like me tend to change the laws to what we see fit anyway. If you rely on the law to guide your morality, well let’s just say there’s so many “immoral” laws on the books, so many loopholes that it all sounds like a joke.

What about those who get their morality ideas outside the law?

Oh, you mean idealists? They’re on no higher ground. Say an idealist manages the impossible and gets a good, solid, “moral” law on the books. It means nothing. No matter how tightly written the law is, smart people will find a way around it or work it to  their advantage.

So all you care about is your own success?

I don’t think I’d go quite that far. I care about my own success first, then I help others. Doing the “right thing” is a trap if that’s all you aim for. Ideally I prefer win-win situations.

I mean, it’s not like I’m some selfish jerk hogging all the success at others’ expense. They chose their fate and I chose mine. I once read this book titled “Who Moved my Cheese?” It’s an allegory about these mice in a maze. The mice get used to finding their cheese in the exact same spot at the maze everyday. One day, the cheese moves. Some mice sit around lamenting, “Who moved my cheese? Wah! Boo-hoo!” The smart mice waste no time, turn around, and start looking elsewhere.

So you’re saying people who aren’t successful don’t use their time efficiently.

Or they don’t care, or they get distracted by their emotions, or they don’t network, etc. There are many reasons people don’t succeed in life, but people who do succeed in life do so because they do all the right things, and yes, some of that involves being a little selfish. It’s fine to care about others and even help others (Plus, it makes you look good. Reputation is vital to success,) as long as you follow two rules. 1) Be selective about who you help, lest that person drags you down. 2) Make sure you’ve taken care of yourself first.

Some would argue that you do more than just take care of yourself.

Why? Because of my nice car? Or my $100 hairdo? Or my sleek clothes? People who say that don’t get my reasons behind all those things. A huge part of being successful is constantly projecting the image of success. That’s why I spend top dollar on something like business cards, which may seem silly to some, but to me they are vital. My whitened teeth make me look more successful, which makes people more willing to listen to what I have to say. Dropping a couple hundred bucks in a fancy restaurant with some business associates is worth the investment. It’s not like I’m dropping random money on solid gold jacuzzis just to know what it feels like. That’s Seven’s department. For me, there’s a method to the madness.

What would you say to the people who say success isn’t everything?

I would call them deluded. How could success not be everything? Without some level of power and influence, you’re doomed to be miserable. I would hardly call living on the streets a happy existence. Life is like a game, and the object of games is to WIN.

Would you say you’re happy now?

Well…I’m better than the alternative, that’s for sure.

I sensed a little hesitation in your voice. What would you say are your flaws?

Well, I’m Three, so I don’t have any. That said, there are a few things that bother me.

Shoot.

Well, when you’re me, you have to be different things to different people. You have to wear masks, and your personality has to have a certain flexibility. I don’t even try to do it, I just sort of naturally do. It’s all part of playing the game. The thing is, when I’m alone, it’s like I don’t even know how to take the masks off anymore. I really don’t even know what it means to be me. I know that seems a strange thing to think about, but it’s like the only real personality I have is the personality people want me to have. It’s such a weird feeling…I mean, it’s not all bad. Like I said, better than the alternative. Better than being a loser, but still, it’s weird. It’d be nice not to worry about that all the time.

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along with?

Well, it’s not so much a matter of getting along, but Six just annoys the crap out of me.

Why is that?

You know all those little bullshit rules and policies I make to look good and keep my competitors busy? Six reads them and follows them all to the letter, ALL of them.

How is that bad for you?

It’s not just that he obeys them, it’s the extent to which he obeys them. Every meeting, if there’s the slightest contradiction between two policies, be sure that Six will bring it up, and then I’ll have to make up some bullshit policy ABOUT my bullshit policy just to settle the matter. The guy is taxing, and frankly, he wastes my time. If I go against my own rule in even the slightest way, Six acts like I’ve personally betrayed him.

The worst part is, it’s not like he even does this to get ahead or eek out some advantage. At least then, I could respect him. He’s like this little lost puppy that needs to be told everything to do. I mean, sure, One does his fair share of rules mongering as well, but at least he has values. Six just follows the rules without questioning them (or alternatively, questioning them nonstop to make sure he understands them perfectly,) because “That’s what he’s supposed to do.”

I could tell Six to walk off a cliff right now, and he’s look at me unsure. I would reassure him and then he’d walk right off! No questions asked. And then, if he somehow survived, he’d be bitter at me for “misleading” him so. Well, no duh, you idiot! What were you expecting?

It’s like Six is completely oblivious to the whole “game” aspect of life. When I inevitably mislead him, about something (because that’s what you have to do to get ahead), it just wrecks him completely, and well come on , I don’t need that on my conscience.

Tell me about your friends, Two and Four.

Two is very social and very warm. Her only real ulterior motive is for people to like her, so I like to visit her to get away from the usual “Pit of Vipers.”

“Pit of vipers.” Don’t you kind of create that for yourself with your philosophy?

Maybe, but I own up to that. Like I said, it’s all part of playing the game. Still, it’s nice to be able to take a break and let your guard down now and then.

And Two let’s you do that?

Yeah. I also like that she cares about her appearance and social standing. I really get that. She may not have a “winner” philosophy, but we both like to help and give back to the community. I just prefer to have a camera near me when I do it.

How about Four?

You know, Four is unlike me is so many ways, and I think that’s what I like about her. She takes all that stuff I say about competing, appearances, and masks, throws it all out the window and does her own thing. She acts how she wants, dresses how she wants, and doesn’t care who she offends. That’s got to be liberating, and I certainly respect her for it. Is it successful? Not always, but she fails beautifully and gracefully. When she succeeds, she wins big, but more often than not, she fails, because that’s what happens when you tread new ground and do controversial things. I’d almost be jealous of her if it wasn’t for that little fact.

Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Yes. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking there’s something wrong with being successful. There isn’t. If you care as much as I do, and do what successful people do, there’s no reason you shouldn’t deserve to succeed in life.

Thank you for your time today Three.

My pleasure. Speaking of time, I think I have a meeting I need to get to. Goodbye.

Goodbye.

enneagram-logo-yellow-dark-no1Welcome everybody to the first of my nine part series where I interview each of the nine personalities of the Enneagram. If you recall from some of my past articles, the Enneagram explores nine common ego archetypes that tend to appear again and again throughout human history, and the relationship these types have with each other. While we all have traits that match some of the Enneagram types, most people tend to favor one type more than any of the others. Each has their own outlook and way of life, and hopefully, through these interviews, you can get a better understanding of these basic ego types and how the effect us and interact with us.

Today I am interviewing the One, also known as the Reformer / Perfectionist. Welcome.

Thank you, Livewithwonder, for the opportunity and forum to express my concerns.

Concerns? What kind of concerns?

My main concerns are the problems of society, and the sheer number of problems society has seem endless. It is a real spiritual battlefield out there, and somebody needs to bring the order.

Is that somebody you?

I try.

I suppose this is a good time to ask you what it is you believe?

Fantastic. I would be happy to answer it. (By the way, your tie is crooked). I believe we need to work toward a more orderly, perfect world. There are so many wicked people out there, so many willing to cut corners. If we are all going to build a better world for ourselves, one that is fair and orderly, then everyone needs to pitch in. Not even one person can afford to be selfish, because that little grain of selfishness is all it takes to ruin it for everybody. Selfishness has to be stamped out. If people aren’t willing to do the right thing, they have to be stopped. They have to be corrected, pure and simple.

Opponents of your philosophy might ask who you are or what makes you so special to tell others what they can or cannot do.

See I don’t get that. To me it seems the obvious thing to build a better world, but I guess most people are too short-sighted or selfish.

Do you feel like you are better than them because of that?

Look, I’m aware that I’m not perfect. Believe me, I’m dreadfully aware, more than you know. Sometimes, I can’t stop beating myself up when I screw up, but I care at least. Too many people don’t care. Too many are unscrupled. One does not need to be perfect, so long as you are actually working toward perfection. Perfection is divine. What is the old saying? Cleanliness is next to godliness. You could argue that cleanliness is a form of perfection.

You like things very clean?

Creating a better world starts with one’s immediate environment. You cannot help others do the right thing if you are constantly distracted by things like dirt or clutter. You have to push and make things right for yourself before you can move on and help others.

What would you say are your greatest flaws?

Well, I really don’t like the word “flaw”, and I’m really hesitant to admit this, but I care so much about what I believe that I tend to be a bit, um, abrasive. I’ll admit that I’ve gotten into a shouting match or two when others didn’t see eye to eye with me, but some attitudes are just destructive and they need to be extinguished. It’s hard to get others to see your point of view when it involves telling them they are wrong about something or that they need to improve themselves, but it’s often the truth and needed for the greater good.

Tell me more about the people you argue with.

The evils of recklessness and deliberate deceit must be purged from our society. People like to act like it’s all about me as a way to villianize me, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s about us. It’s about society. It’s about what is best for everybody. The world is like a giant frat house where nobody wants to do the dishes. Well somebody’s got to, or guess what happens? Mold grows, ants crawl all over the kitchen, people eat everything out of paper plates or (groan) their hands. If we don’t discipline ourselves to be civilized, we become like animals. I’m not about to let that happen. If that comes off as disliking others or talking down to them, then so be it. I’m sorry, but it has to be said, doesn’t it?

Are there any personalities that you don’t get along well with?

Well, I’m not a gossip, but for the sake of getting things off my chest there is. Seven just drives me up the wall. You want to talk about selfish and reckless people? Seven is it. All he cares about is partying! Have you ever heard the fable of the ants and the cricket? It’s a story where the ants spend all of fall storing up food for the winter while the grasshopper just sings and plays his songs. Come winter, the ants have food and shelter and the cricket is just hopping around asking the ants to help him.

Seven is that cricket. He let’s others work hard, blows his money on pointless things, and then makes others help him when he inevitably gets himself in trouble. I don’t think seven can be serious about anything. It’s annoying. To continue with my metaphor, he would be the guy at the frat house who dirties all of his dishes and never goes back to clean them ever again, waiting for everyone else to clean up after him. If he would just care and stop wasting his life! Ugh.

Tell me about the two personalities you do get along well with, the nine and the two.

Nine is all about peace and unity, which I totally stand behind. Nine helps me relax. She’s just a great personality to talk to and be around and she values similar things as me. The only problem with her, respectfully, is that she has no backbone. I don’t even know what she really believes because she’s so wishy-washy. She’ll help me out, but I wish she stood up for her beliefs more often now and then. Still, she’s a wonderful friend, and I’m happy to know her.

Two cares about love, and will bend over backwards to help anybody. I really love that about her. Unlike nine, she’s willing to stand up for what she believes. She definitely cares, and she’s warm and friendly. Her biggest problem is that she’s a little needy at times. It’s like she expects people to do nice things for her because she does for them. I try to repay the favor, but it bothers me when others don’t. She takes it so personally and I feel bad for her.

The other thing about two is that she let’s her ideas about love confuse her and pull her away from doing the right thing from time to time. If people don’t return her love she freaks out (behind closed doors). I wish she would stop worrying so much about what people think of her and just do the right thing. That all said, she’s a fantastic friend, and everyone has their, erhm, flaws.

Is there anything else you’d like to share before we wrap this up?

I just want to encourage people to look to the vision, and focus on the overarching goal. We are building a better world, a world that is safer, where everyone can have their needs filled, but we need to work together.

Thank you for your time today one.

I should be the one thanking you for helping to tell my side of the story. Hopefully you understand it better.

I certainly do. Thank you.

You’re welcome. By the way, you have some spinach in your teeth.

livewithwonderBack when spirit science first started, there was a troll who came on the forums and acted as though he was a member of the Illuminati. After a while of his shenanigans, this troll revealed the truth. He explained that spirit science was too open-minded and that he wanted the members on the forum to have better discernment.

I half agreed with our troll friend. However, the half I do not agree with is a very important distinction to make. You see in my opinion there is no such thing as being too open minded. At first that may seem an extreme position to take on anything . However, if you look up the definition of skeptic in the dictionary, you’ll find that the definition is not too far away from the definition of open minded.

A true skeptic is a person who says “I may be wrong and I may be right,

but I do not know for sure. Let’s examine the facts.”

That is a far cry from your typical definition of a skeptic. If, for example, you read an article at random from the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, what you will find is that the general approach of the writers of that magazine is to say “x is bunk and here’s why”, and then give facts to support their already established doubts. I am not attacking the writers of that magazine, let me clarify that. However, this is what the common definition of skeptic has changed into in our society, one who doubts.

The world needs more true skeptics. The world needs people who say “I don’t know but I’m eager to find out,” with enthusiasm, and I’m not talking solely about the uneducated. Even a doctor with years of experience under his belt shouldn’t stop learning. Remember, only the intelligent say they don’t know.

"It's not what we don't know that will hurt us. It's what we do know that ain't so." ~Will Rogers~

“It’s not what we don’t know that will hurt us. It’s what we do know that ain’t so.” ~Will Rogers~

If everyone had that attitude of ope

n mindedness and skepticism then we would be a very fortunate , creative society, and we would discover truths about life more quickly.

in the same vein that there is false skepticism there is also such thing as a false open-mindedness. If you look closely at false open mindedness, you will find that it shares the same traits as false skepticism. it is false open-mindedness that our troll friend truly attacked.

What is false open mindedness? It is the exact same thing as being gullible. Open mindedness and being gullible are not the same thing. In the former, you are open to the possibility of a given thing being true. in the latter, you accept an idea to be true without discernment. False open-mindedness is when you accept something as the truth and call it open-minded simply because it is a fringe or more “out there” belief.

In the example of our troll friend, the proper response to be truly open-minded would be to say “interesting claim, let’s see what the facts say.” If there are no facts to support the claim, then one doesn’t suddenly take the false skeptic position and say “What a bunch of buck. It is obvious you are lying.” Instead, one merely waits for more information, and eventually, the truth will present itself.

if you wanted to fail at being open-minded the first thing out of your mouth would have implied that you already accepted his claim to be a member of the Illuminati, for at that very point, you would cease to be open-minded as you would have made up your mind about his claim being true and would shut yourself out from other possibilities.

So you see the false skeptic and the false open minded person suffer from the same ailment. Both are in fact, closed-minded, and when you are closed-minded you shut yourself off from other

options, and it is always possible that those other options were just the thing you were looking for. Likewise, the true skeptic and true open-minded person are synonyms. Only through the open-minded path can you expect to find the truth of reality.

An interesting experience

Speaking of open-mindedness, I recently had an interesting experience at my job (yes I’m a slave to the man) and wanted to share it with you.

One topic I have either written about or wanted to was, synchronicity compared to Apophenia. The former is a New Age idea that means meaningful coincidence. The latter is a skeptic idea that means when a person perceives meaning when there is none, or it is merely two unrelated coincidental events.

From a philosophical standpoint, I always saw the idea of apophenia to be nonsensical because who determines

meaning can only come on an individual basis. What holds meaning to me may not hold meaning to you, and vice versa. Therefore, if a schizophrenic man for example, claims to find a meaningful pattern between lottery numbers, business names on his local street, and the current weather, then who am I to contradict him? At the same time, this is a slippery slope and this is exactly where my story is headed.

a customer walked into my place of work, and she was a very strong Christian wanting to convert as many people as she could. She believed a few “out there” ideas to say the least. She believed for example, that God personally spoke to her through the first name her parents had given her. She believed in hell, and while she spoke of many different people in danger of going there, for some reason she singled out drug users specifically.

This lady said that she could prove the biblical God existed. I asked her how. She told me through the meanings of people’s names and street names. She began to find all kinds of names of people that had to do with God. And so she believed God must exist because, if he didn’t people wouldn’t all be named after him right? She then went on to explain that whenever she saw new street names for the houses of places she moved into, those street names would always give her some sort of direction in her life.

What I realized at this point, was that this woman was experiencing synchronicity/apophenia, and in

this instance at least, this synchronicity was aiding her fear caused by her belief that people were going to hell if she didn’t do something to help save them.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

In other words, what I learned was that synchronicity is not always a positive experience for everyone. More accurately, the experience itself was positive for her, but it also further solidified her fear for the souls of others, which, to me at least, doesn’t feel very positive at all. Likewise, what of the paranoid schizophrenic who experiences synchronicities that further fuel his or her paranoid beliefs?

So the question boils down to: Is there value in experiencing synchronicity when said synchronicity has the potential to lead people into damaging belief systems? The answer that I’ve come to regarding that question is that yes there is value and meaning if you choose there to be so, but we must treat synchronicities like they are little jokes of the universe. We can experience joy and wonder when they happen, and find meeting in that, but they don’t have to be interpreted as signs that we are supposed to believe this or do that. At that point, we are imposing beliefs upon our meaning, instead of meaning upon our beliefs, and that’s not a very skeptical thing to do. 😉

Until next time, question everything and accept nothing as the whole truth.

livewithwonder

“Totem animal” is one of those spiritual topics that I think some people are quick to dismiss. On the surface, it seems as though the concept is a little out there, at best a flight of fancy, at worst an ego trap.

After all, who wouldn’t like to imagine themselves as having the spirit of an animal? In a weird way, it’s empowering to think about. So are those who claim they’ve found their spirit totem or guide just indulging themselves, or is there something more to this?

I’ll be honest, for the longest time I thought it was the former, because I tend to have a different perspective on spirituality than most. My usual philosophy is “If it helps you grow as a person, it holds spiritual value, and if it helps you grow in power, or creates the illusion of it, then there’s a good chance what you are looking at is rotten apples.” Granted, this doesn’t always hold true, but it makes for a decent makeshift spiritual compass. If someone claims that they can help you speak with the deceased, (at the low, low price of $100 an hour) then it seems best to tread carefully. I had always just filed away the concept of “animal totems” away in the similar area in my mind, but lately I’ve been rethinking it.

The Power of Symbols

flower of life

I hear this one’s pretty well known.

There is no denying the power of symbols. The longer a symbol exists, the more meanings it can take on to different people. There is a reason countries choose national flags, national flowers, and national animals. Likewise, there is a reason corporations spend millions of dollars on their brands and logos. In literature, symbols are excellent devices to tell stories, and they have potential to give characters further depths and personality. Symbols have the power to deeply impact our subconscious quickly and flawlessly. The ability of our minds to associate external symbols with internal suffering is remarkable.

In the more recent Batman films, for example, it is the symbol of Batman that strikes terror into his foes. Batman himself is just a person, but the “idea” of Batman makes him more threatening, larger than life even. The reason Batman’s symbol is so powerful is that it held personal meaning to him first. In fact, Bruce is terrified of bats, and usually when we’re afraid of something, it’s because that thing reminds us of a part of ourselves we don’t want to come to grips with, to accept as part of who we really are. In Bruce’s case, the part of himself he kept hidden away was the scared little boy, alone at the death of his parents. The bats were already scary, but the additional layer of trauma at the death of his family left him impressionable. Bruce associated the bats with everything else he had already gone through. Mastering a symbol like that? How could it not be a powerful weapon?

This of course, is just an example from a fictional movie series. However, this kind of thing happens to us in real life all the time. It’s where fiction writers get their ideas. It’s just that usually, in real life, the revelations are less linear. Where in a video game, for example, a character may go into the fire dungeon and fight the powerful fire monster and come out of it with a new found passion and inner strength (not to mention cool stuff), in real life a person may undergo countless exposures to a subtle stimulus that stretches throughout their life before they “get it” and rediscover that little piece of their soul. I think that may be how it worked for me.

How I Discovered my cutie mark Animal Totem

spaelotis-clandestina-713564For the longest time, I have been absolutely terrified of moths. Since I was a little kid, there was always something about them that unsettled me. I used to come to live with my parents during the summers in between college. At the time, I told them I wanted to be a writer, and that I was going to use the time there when I wasn’t working my part time job to get some writing done. Instead, I procrastinated heavily. As I slowly worked on one mediocre short story, I found myself switching to flash games and movies, literally surfing the net for any kind of video game related distraction I could. Whenever my mom would peek in to say hi, I treated it like a huge invasion of privacy. I would freeze up, minimize the window on my computer (there was absolutely nothing worth hiding on there, but I did anyway) and act like I was guilty of something when I wasn’t.

During this time, I saw a lot of moths. I’m not sure how, but they kept on getting into my room. It was almost as though they were drawn to me, and they always made this disgusting sound when they would hit the light bulb in my room over and over. It didn’t help if I turned out the lights, they’d just fly over to my computer. I’d go out of my way to try and get rid of them. After a while of this, I started thinking about it, so I came up with a list of reasons why I hated moths so much.

1. I didn’t like the awkward way they fluttered, as though they are always in a panic. A moth will fly right into your face and not even care, because of their panicked, alien way of moving.
2. I saw them almost as parody of butterflies. Like butterflies, they go through metamorphosis, but instead of turning into something beautiful like butterflies, they merely just change into something equally mundane and hideous.
3. It always bothered me the way they lived in darkness yet craved the light. A moth will immolate itself in fire just to be a part of the light, but it can never be so. When daylight comes, the moth hides. A moth will fly to the first artificial light it sees, even if it kills it.
4. Have you ever swatted a moth? When you do, dust comes out. I couldn’t honestly think of a better reminder of our mortality. It’s like a little Biblical reference. From dust he came…etc.

Fast forward years later and I overhear a conversation online about animal totems, and I ask out of curiosity how you go about finding one, and how you know it’s not just an ego trip. The very first piece of advice I’m given is to look at an animal that scares you the most, especially if it’s an irrational fear. Sure, it’s entirely possible that when a person is afraid of something external, it’s just because, and there is no underlying explanation, but how often is it the case that we project our own internal fears or the things that we dislike about ourselves on external things?

I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been afraid of moths, because they remind me of me, or at least of parts of me. It reminds me of parts of me I’m not always proud of. Like the moth, I too flutter awkwardly, and I too move as though I am in a panic. I hide my panic, but it’s still there. I too expected myself during that time to transform into something beautiful, but what actually happened is that I simply transformed into something different, something that I saw at the time as ugly and dysfunctional. I expected myself at the time to change the world, inspire people, write beautiful things. Instead, I found myself wasting both my time and society’s time, contributing literally nothing positive to the world.

I wanted to be a part of the light, but I always feared what that meant, and as much as I envied the light, I never trusted it. At the time, still confused and pseudo-Christian, I wasn’t even sure what I believed “the light” to be. In the dark, I at least felt at home.

One of the things I learned about the moth recently is that it actually uses moonlight as a guide. It’s just that when it sees a campfire, or a bug zapper, it gets confused and cannot tell which light is from the moon and which light is the “false” light.

I knew that by not hoping in things, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. How I ever wanted to step into it though. The sun was just too big, too proud, and I wasn’t deserving enough. I didn’t realize at the time all the false light out there, and I found myself burning again and again, just so long as it was light.

Finally, the dust metaphor. I found myself wrestling with existential issues at this age, constantly wondering what the meaning of life was if we were just going to die anyway. Life seemed short and pointless and I couldn’t find a way out.

Is it any wonder then, that moths kept appearing to me to remind my mind of the things I was hiding to myself? And is it any wonder that their presence filled me with an irrational fear and rage, to the point that I would spend 15 minutes trying to hunt one down when I heard it, only to not find it, sit back down, and be interrupted by the flutter again?

The moth has taught me many important lessons. It taught me how to discern true light from false. It taught me that just because the person I am now isn’t who I thought I’d be it doesn’t make me awful. It taught me of my own mortality, but not to live in a panic. The moth is really a beautiful creature actually, at least I think that’s what the most peaceful man in the universe would say. I think the most powerful lesson it has taught me is that it takes a beautiful, whole soul to recognize beauty for what it is, and this world, it’s filled with it. For that, I’m proud to call the moth my totem.

Until next time, may the sides of you hidden away be exposed to the light.

livewithwonderIf you’ve recently read my article “Words from the Avatar of Truth,” you know that by now his words have come true. No immediate, magical type ascension has occurred, and the world has not come to an end. Truly, his Holiness, the Avatar of Truth is wise indeed.

I’m just joshing ya. There is no monk with a chip. The whole thing was a bunch of bull.Why would I deliberately deceive like that? Before I answer that question let me quote one of the comments in the last article.

“We did not expect any daddy to come and rescue us from ourselves anyway. most people have learned to live without expectations and perceive the world as it desires to (so to speak). Giving up because something did not happen is false spirituality anyway. Real spiritual people are not such because of the date that something is going to happen – but because of the way they evolved, seeing things, understanding, enlightenment. You message is full of negativity as it is not just the message by itself, but the first half is justifying that one mus believe in this message because the monk and the chip etc. The guys here are enough smart and sensitive to pick or not without any forced proofs.

Love to you all
Namaste”

Kudos to Antoni for telling it exactly like it is. I honestly could not agree more, or put it better myself. The only part that I didn’t agree with was the idea that my message was full of negativity. Honestly, I thought my message was chock full of encouragement, but I guess that depends on your outlook. Perhaps it was the monk part that seemed negative, perhaps even condescending. I was pleasantly surprised with most of the comments on the article. Most of them pertained to how the message was good, but the “monk with a chip” part stunk to high heaven, but you can even then gain wisdom from the most unlikely of places. This is exactly how I intended the message to be.

In short, the reason I used that little deception was to set the house on fire to save it from the plague, so to speak. What is the plague?

The plague

Alright, I got my crystal, now where's my Porsche?

Alright, I got my crystal, now where’s my Porsche?

The ultimate plague of spirit science (or any group that provides spiritual leadership) is the mindset of complete and utter trust in your spiritual tutors. Don’t get me wrong, trust in of itself is a good thing, but when one fails to listen to their own inner discernment out of a desire to be faithful to the teachings of others, well that tends to not turn out so well. A mindset like that is the reason the Spanish Inquisition existed. It is the reason that people were burned as witches in Salem. We all have an inner voice, I think, that knows when something is not right. To ignore that inner voice because a leader you hold in high regard says differently, tends to spell disaster. There is an old Buddhist proverb. It goes like this:

“If you meet the Buddha on the street, kill him.”

That is to say, trust your inner voice. Learn and reason, and find out for yourself what the truth is. Don’t accept someone else’s version of the truth over your own just because they have a title, or seem knowledgeable.

The whole reason I wrote these two articles, is that I started seeing threads on spirit science that worried me. Threads that said things like, “I stopped studying school because I’m going to ascend anyway.” or “I’m going to kill myself is ascension doesn’t happen.” or “What’s it going to be like when I ascend?” (Not if, when). I knew these people were setting themselves up for disappointment. Myself, I did nothing different to prepare for ascension then I already did, one, because I really didn’t expect a literal ascension, and two, because I figured that if it’s to happen, it’s going to happen by me doing what I’m already doing, what I already love, by “living with wonder.” As I stated in my simple spirituality article, spirituality is not complicated unless we make it that way.

What happened after December 21st, is that all the skeptics banded together to shout the proverbial, “Ha! I told you so!” and all the people who believed with all their heart in a literal, immediate ascension were let down, and either, 1) left spirit science altogether, 2) did something rash and awful, or 3) posted something on the forums. Jordan already posted his response, so I won’t get into that, but needless to say, simplicity really is the key. I actually agree with much of what Jordan has to say. Do I believe his claim that we’re entering an existence where manifesting things will become easier and quicker? Probably not, but we shall see. I’ve seen more absurd things from the world.

The Plan

Anyway, to cut that whole thing off at the heel, I posted a simple and obvious prediction and attributed it to some mysterious spiritual leader. Given some of the posts on the forums, on Facebook, and on Youtube, I figured I would mainly get answers of two kinds, either people posting about how utterly wrong I was and how there WAS going to be an ascension, or posts from people on December 22nd about how the Avatar of Truth was correct and how we should follow his ways. Then, I would use the deception as a means to encourage people to follow their own path, to show there never was a guru, it always has been and always will be you. Instead what I got was mature comments on spirituality from people who “get it.”

To those of you who took the time to comment on that last post, thank you for your words, and I’m sorry if it appeared I was talking down to you. The post was less intended for you and more intended for those who really needed the lesson, the people posting hate and disappointment on the internet when what is true is different from what they expected. To those people, I cannot stress this enough: Listen to your own voice. Use your discernment and discover the truth for yourself. Likewise, for those who consider themselves skeptics, perhaps instead of trying to prove spirit science wrong you could look for the truth inside what you perceive to be falsity? I learn from everything, even people I disagree with. Even if you don’t agree with spirit science, you can still learn from it. Take what helps and leave the rest.

Until next time, sharpen your discernment in tune with your love.