Double Take

'When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find peace of mind is waiting there. And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you – George Harrison


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Nature vs Nurture

Published in the Society of Homeopaths Journal, Spring 2012
Double Take by Rowena J Ronson and Nigel Summerley

RJR
Was Lionel Shriver’s Kevin born a psychopath or was his parenting a strong contributory factor?

When we reflect on our own lives, how much do we honestly blame our parents for our issues, our stuckness and how we are in the world? Are we parenting our own children in spite and in opposition of how we were parented ourselves or do we consider our parents to be good role models and are consequently continuing in their flow?

How much do we judge the parents who sit before us in clinic when their conditioning differs from ours? Are we able to be the unprejudiced observer when a child is smacked, for example, if we are not raising our own children with that style of discipline? How do we feel if a child is punching or kicking his mother? By just bearing witness are we quietly condoning their behaviour? Do we find ourselves sympathising with the younger of two siblings if they are being bullied by the elder, if it touches a deep unhealed or perhaps even unknown wound in ourselves? We have all been affected by our upbringing and our aim as homeopaths is to be self aware and clear enough about our own individual conditioning to be clear in clinic.

As homeopaths we are in a privileged position to have the opportunity to create change in our patients’ lives. This potential is increased substantially when we are working with young children and their parents. Their journey is just beginning and can be influenced not only by our prescriptions but by what goes on and how we subtly respond to it in the clinic setting.

My experience working with families with children and ‘their’ behavioural issues is that the underlying problem sits within the family and is being projected on to the child. Bringing a child to see us can be a form of scapegoating. After all it is easier for someone else to have a problem than take responsibility for it ourselves. Systemic family therapy encourages us to view the family as a whole even in cases of anorexia, schizophrenia or other personality disorders. It is useful to approach families holding this in mind and to have an eye on the dynamics occurring between parent and child in the room, as this is often where we can find the centre of a child’s case.

But is a remedy capable of being a cure all? Will the family heal its trauma by the child receiving an indicated remedy, even when their dynamics are taken into consideration when prescribing? Is it our place and part of our role to point out any familial obstacles to cure that we observe when our patients are with us?

My belief, having worked with many families, is that there is a diplomatic way to bring parenting issues to the attention of a mother or father without making the parent feel judged as a consequence. It is important to hold an open and trusting space where we are approachable, wise and honest, so that both parent and child feels safe and able to be themselves and bring forth what needs to be treated. But in that space of trust, I often feel there is an underlying unspoken request by the parent to whomever they are consulting, for their lives to be made easier. They do not have the answers they need and they are searching for them.

I feel it is a wasted opportunity if we do not offer some guidance when we see a dynamic that may benefit from a slight shift, as the ‘nurturing’ by some parents can inadvertently create the state that needs treating within a child. How often do we see a Sepia mother forsaking her child creating in them a Pulsatilla state? And how often do we see the reverse too, a needy child bringing out Chocolate tendencies in their parent?

We know that even a foetus can have issues with nurturing. They can feel insecure from their time in the womb or traumatised from their birth process. These experiences are beyond their nature and are in the realm of nurture, so much so that it might shift them out of one remedy state and into another. A babe who might have been destined to be a Calc Carb could adopt a shocked and fearful Stramonium state as a result of an emergency C-section, and who knows what state this might trigger for the parent.

Incidentally, how we nurture our patients is influenced by how we were nurtured when we originally learned to be homeopaths. If we were role modelled supportive, long term holistic treatment to create deep and profound change in our patients, then it is more likely that we will follow that approach with our patients. It is one way of creating a busy, fruitful and fulfilling living as a homeopath, and as a result the benefits work both ways.

NS
The flipside of nurture is supposed to be nature. But what is the true nature of ourselves and our patients? Perhaps we have all had so much nurture that we can’t actually answer that question any more. It’s all very well to talk about the effect of the nurturing/conditioning perpetrated on us by our parents (variations of which we perpetrate on our children), but all human beings are the results of thousands upon thousands of years of nurturing/conditioning — by culture, creed, religion, family, philosophy… And that’s before we add on for good measure what the media, the politicians, the advertisers and the multinationals have done to us. How does the practitioner find the true nature of themselves and their patients in the midst of all this?

The therapist — even one enlightened enough to be able to operate as an unprejudiced observer – can only scratch the surface, and any real change in the patient will be superficial. Perhaps deep change can only come about when the nurturing of millennia is cut through. But how can that be done, and does homeopathy have a role to play?

Homeopaths are well used to dealing with “delusions”. The ultimate delusions of humans are those of “self”, “selfishness” and “self-preservation”. The human brain did long ago what the computer HAL appeared to do in 2001; A Space Odyssey: the ability to think created the delusion that “the self” exists, that this “self” is central to existence, and that it must be protected at all costs in the hope of survival.

This “self” delusion is primitive stuff. When people say human nature will never change, they actually mean this delusion won’t ever change. But can we work on the basis that real human nature is still there, even if it is buried deep?

As homeopaths, we know that sometimes near-miraculous changes can come about. Many things that have been done can be undone. But we also know of the power of “maintaining causes” — of which the most powerful must be the world we live in and which flows in and out of us.

Do we need a new kind of “selfishness” — a “true nurturing” of ourselves which destroys the self created by the “false nurturing” of conditioning?  For, in nature, there are no individuals and there is no self.

As patients, homeopaths, humans, we do not know our true nature. But there must always be the chance that it will be revealed. In crude terms, there could be a return to “Eden”; a state in which love overrides thought.

Such a transformation of the human being can only come about from within. But surely homeopathy can play a part — however small — in enabling the patient to come closer to that transformation.

Ultimately, we might equate nature with god/truth, and nurture with the delusions of humanity that go against nature. Homeopathy — using nothing but the energies of nature — could be part of a revelation.

RJR/NS
Our conclusion is . . . difficult . . . but despite the fact it is easy to be pessimistic, maybe there is optimism that homeopathy is one of the best therapies equipped to help the evolution or perhaps more properly devolution of the human being. Just as the remedy stimulates the body in its efforts to heal itself, then perhaps homeopathy stimulates the life force, the opening of heart/mind, the seeing of true nature (as Hahnemann says in the Organon, “the reasoning spirit who inhabits the organism can thus freely use this healthy living instrument to reach the higher purpose of human existence”).

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Relationships

What makes relationships so important to us, why are they so problematical, and can we change ourselves in order to make them work?

NS: What are our expectations from personal and intimate relationships? Are they fundamentally any different now than they were 500 years ago?

RJR: The world has changed fundamentally and in every way in the past 500 years, so yes, of course relationships have changed in that time. One major change is that we did not use to live as long as we do now, so when we committed to living out our days in a marriage, we were probably expecting 20 years tops. And the concept of “romance” did not exist 500 years ago, either. Do you know when and why marriage first became an institution?

NS: I would disagree that the world has change fundamentally – and thus I think what human beings seek from personal and intimate relationships may not have changed that much. But I take your point about longevity – that certainly adds something to the relationship mix – and perhaps we could go into that. I don’t think anyone really knows when marriage began as an institution, since in most cultures it seems to go back to ancient times. Presumably, a major reason for it was procreation and child-rearing – certainly not romance (which I think was a medieval invention). Sex and companionship may have been other factors. And marriage was also tied up with forging alliances and ties between families and communities.

RJR: I am surprised that you think the world – or the people living on it, shall we say? – have not changed fundamentally in 500 years. I suspect even on an animal instinct level, we have evolved dramatically. I remember being told once that marriage came about as a result of the convenience of land exchange. And the concept of romanticism came long after, and has become a lucrative commercial enterprise since our brains have been washed by the media. So do you feel we have the same expectations out of our relationships than those of our grandparents, for example?

NS: Human technology has changed. But I cannot see that people have changed in 500 years – or in several thousand years. If you read Shakespeare or Chaucer or Homer or the Book of Moses, do you not think the human being today is still the same as those portrayed there? The ideals or the fashions associated with relationships have changed. But the fundamental needs of people don’t seem to have changed: sex, closeness, intimacy, friendship, companionship, sharing (and the problems associated with all these things haven’t changed, either). One woman I discussed this question with suggested that romanticism has been there longer than we tend to think, ie that alongside marriage, in all its earliest and various forms, there has also been “romance”. In crude terms, men and women have married, for all sorts of cultural reasons, and then had extramarital relationships of all sorts, some governed by lust and some by love – or a mixture of the two. Our grandparents may have lived with reasonable expectations of greater stability in relationships than we can hope for now, and they may have been satisfied with fewer marriages, fewer relationships, fewer partners. On the other hand, they may have been caught up in the same confusion of permanent and impermanent relationships. How can we know how many affairs our grandparents had? It seems we are in uncharted territory – both in the past and now. What do we expect today from relationships? Can we even answer that? Is it perhaps that all we need is a hand to hold as we clamber down slippery slopes and walk through the dark?

RJR: I understand all that you say, but I am not convinced by your argument. Men’s and women’s roles have changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and this has encouraged a lack of commitment when the going gets tough, as a new relationship can be bought on-line, in secrecy, with a “no returns policy” on consequences.

NS: I agree that relationships do now appear to be more fragile and that technology has played a part in this. But do you not think that people have always found ways to have the kind of relationships that you refer to here? One can look at contemporary relationships on a surface level and see the predominance of fly-by-night liaisons and a lack of willingness to commit; one can also see successful long-term relationships based on hard work – and love. But deep down, why on earth do we get involved in relationships? What is it that we get from them? What is it that we give in them? And can they be a way of finding out what we ourselves are?

RJR: I think a smaller proportion of the population were promiscuous in the past. We get involved in relationships because we are not complete without them. Clearly we are not hermaphrodites. But incompleteness emotionally, and forming relationships in order to fill up and feel complete seems to be part of our culture and era. This creates endless dissatisfaction and a need to refill in one way or another. I can understand the point of view that we learn about ourselves from being in relationship, but I also think it is a very unevolved way to evolve.

NS: On the evolution question, I would still argue that human beings have not evolved since the time of the Minoans, the Aztecs and the ancient Egyptians. But maybe we should try a slightly different tack for a moment, and also follow what you have said. Why do we feel incomplete without relationships? And are we actually complete in relationships?

RJR: You really think we haven’t evolved mentally, emotionally, spiritually or even physically? As individuals we evolve or dissolve, if we chose to or not – throughout our lives – but I am happy to move the conversation on… We feel incomplete in relationships because of two main reasons. First, we were created as two halves of a whole, and second, because we are conditioned to seek fulfilment in and of life with someone else. The first point probably doesn’t need exploring, but I am happy to discuss it if you feel there is mileage. The second, however, is very much of interest to me. We can work at being fulfilled in all aspects of our life, but when it comes to sex, there is nothing like the connection with someone whom you love and fit with. I am not talking about romantic love. I am speaking of that infallible and inexplicable feeling that one gets when all our energy points, our chakras, are aligned with someone we love and the energy flows from within out, from the source through us to ground in the earth. It facilitates us to be absolutely present, in the moment, connected in all ways, as if nothing else matters… and nothing else does….

NS: We were created? By what? By whom? There are two reasonably distinct genders that are generally required for procreation, as in many other species. But where does the idea of two halves being somehow deeply fulfilled in each other come from? I think, as you say, we are conditioned to think in these terms. The primary function of sex, whether we like it or not, is procreation. Who or what has turned it into the thing that has assumed such importance for human beings? There are arguably many things that are like the intense connection with someone you love… like the stillness of wild places at night, like being on tops of isolated mountains, like being absorbed by the sea or the stars… all of these things are surely love/beauty/truth, aren’t they?Is it not possible that chakras are a concept dreamed up by imaginative humans? Yes, great sex gives one the feeling that nothing else matters… isn’t that why humans spend so much of their time pursuing or thinking or reading or writing about great sex? Such sex provides the (temporary) ending of the self (something most of us can’t do in any other way, except perhaps to get out of our heads on booze or drugs). That ending of the self through orgasm is an ecstasy. But it does not last… desire is temporarily satisfied… then the act has to be repeated for that ecstatic release once more. Sex is dressed up by so-called tantric practitioners as if it might lead to some awareness/enlightenment… but in reality it leads to nothing… except more sex… Doesn’t sex tend to be just one more escape from the emptiness within… as with all addictions, philosophies, religions, politics? And if that is so, what is it that makes for real relationship between human beings?

RJR: We were definitely created. I am not saying we were created by God. But we came into being and therefore we were created, even if only by evolving chemicals and an inner desire for evolution and life. And we were created in a way that we could procreate in order to continue life. As for the two halves and deep fulfillment – maybe it is a case of you have to be there to experience it! I have clearly conditioned myself and I am happy with that. Sex is pleasurable and addictive, and purposefully so. If we did not enjoy it so much, we wouldn’t do it, and therefore we would not procreate. The two go hand in hand. It has assumed such importance because those who experience how wonderful and fulfilling sex can be know it. We all know it collectively, even if we have not experienced it ourselves. I agree that a very real sense of fulfillment can be achieved by being with nature, but again it is a connection with that something else that is separate yet fundamentally part of ourselves. As for chakras, I have personally experienced the sensation of chakra connection through sex and I can assure you it was not my mind’s invention. And tantra therapists practise reaching self-actualization through tantra and it is certainly not all about orgasm and destination. Perhaps that is where you are limiting yourself. It is all about the journey and it surprises me I need to remind such a well travelled man as yourself. As for addiction, I agree that sex and love are chemical addictions in a similar way to drugs and alcohol. My thoughts and process on addiction are forever evolving; having been more black and white about the subject in the past, I am now open to a new way of thought. Perhaps we can view addiction in a more holistic way rather than just seeing its dark side. Chemical addiction to substances which alter our own fine balance is clearly not a useful way to evolve in this world. But chemical addiction to other human beings… the oxytocin release when a woman breastfeeds her babe, bonds them in a way no words can describe. We are not empty vessels. Sex does not fill us. We are full anyway. We are receptive, though, to chemical reactions, within ourselves, and with others. It is how we connect on a profound level. And it is worth living and dying for.

NS: We evolved into creatures that use sexual union for procreation – although that necessity seems to be in the process of being overturned, with the arrival of surrogates, gay parents and the not-too-distant prospect of cloned human beings. Maybe these developments highlight what humans have done with sex. Animals also appear to get some pleasure from sex, but many of them still seem to do it to procreate and in tune with certain natural cycles. Humans seem to have taken the pleasure aspect of sex and made it something to be desired and attempted, or at least talked about, at all times. It is also something that humans have made ever-present, with sexual images, particularly of women, becoming ubiquitous in every medium. Perhaps sex can be “deeply fulfilling” but it also seems to be something that humans can’t get enough of… and is therefore more associated with addiction and frustration rather than with fulfilment. Great sex, with or without chakras, is great sex… it does not appear to be the key to enlightenment, any more than playing a great guitar solo or completing a triathlon. All can give a sense of transcendence of the self. But how can we be certain that any experience is “not the mind’s invention”? Everything is in your brain… every so-called experience or sensation is in your head. What you experience IS you. The observer IS the observed. And paradoxically, this is the most difficult – if not impossible – thing for our brain to accept. Surely the well-travelled person knows there is no “journey”… there is no route from here to something else… there is actually nowhere to go. “You can travel anywhere and hang yourself there – you’ve always got more than enough rope,” as Dylan said. The truth is always here in the eternal now… there is no path to it… only away from it, only diversions. Which leads us back to escape through “travel”, “journeys”, “experiences” and so on. Sex may be an addiction. Surely love is not an addiction? Romantic “love”, yes. But not love. You say we are not empty. Is that really the case? It seems that we can be fulfilled in relationship. But I think we are still a long way here from finding out what real relationship is. It has nothing to do with chemistry, sex, romance or esoteric flimflam. Yes, it has to be profound, and it has to be the essence of life/death. But could it be possible that we human beings have yet to embrace real relationships? And that what we currently call “relationships” are actually escapes, diversions, delusions and entertainments?

RJR: I feel you are deflecting my argument. First of all, surrogacy and cloning are not about sex and will only ever be a necessary substitute for procreation for a very few – not an argument for overturning the norm. And I am not talking about sex being mutated and manipulated by the media either. We have created ourselves an era where everyone can’t get enough of everything. Sex was obviously going to be yet another area of our lives to be over-consumed. And I did not say the answer to enlightenment is through sex. What I am saying is that it is important for us to be as complete as we can be before we are in relationship with others, and then the union sexually, and otherwise, can be very fulfilling and can take us on a journey together that can be exceptional and different from the road we travel alone. And I believe we do travel, although I understand where Mr Dylan is coming from. And he too has been on his own journey to get to the place from where he writes. I agree, there is no escape from ourselves but I do think love can certainly be an addiction. If you were to design what an evolved relationship would be, without escapes, diversions, delusions and entertainments, what would it look like?

NS: I take all those points. It does seem logical, sensible and probably incontrovertible that we need to be as complete as we can before we can be in real and sustainable relationship with others. The stumbling block is the “as we can”. If we fall short of completeness – which we all do – then ultimately relationships will contain immense difficulties for all concerned. Can there be degrees of completeness? It seems not. Ultimately, we are all alone (born alone and dying alone) and perhaps ultimately we are also all the same human being – all of us just one more attempt at that completeness. What would that wonderful “evolved relationship” be like? No one can answer that question, surely – in this world where “almost completeness” and “almost relationships” seem to be the best we can expect. It certainly can’t be “designed” from where we are now. That would simply be an idea – and no use at all. But that does not mean that that “evolved relationship” will not be…

 


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No Worries

Have we become more self-centred or is selfishness simply a constant human trait? Is it still possible for us to evolve and be selfless?

RJR: What strange times these are. Strange, selfish and self-centered, in fact. What factors have contributed to make people so wrapped up in themselves that they feel not only the centre of their universe but the centre of everyone else’s as well. What hope do we have when we write a note to a friend saying that we are unwell, or that someone has died and we cannot keep an arrangement, and we get back in response: “No worries”?

NS: In an infinite universe, every organism and, indeed, every part of every particle IS the centre of the universe. As you say, the error is to be convinced that there is only one centre. Human beings appear to have been self-centred since the day they realised they could exploit one another to assist their own survival: and that was quite some time ago. One might argue that that selfishness has become more intense with the passing of the centuries; it certainly hasn’t lessened. Does the problem also stem from humans appearing to be convinced that the universe revolves around humanity? And then the step on from that is that every single human is convinced of their own importance. No human is more important than another; no organism is more important than another. I know it’s a cliche, but hasn’t the huge advance in technology (and with it, increased “choice” and “power”) seen people become more and more self-centred? People can now record and broadcast their every move. In short, they have become the stars of their own ongoing movie. And every one else is a bit-part actor.

RJR: Where to start in my reply? You have made so many important points Nigel, and there is nothing you say, that I disagree with. So let’s take the discussion deeper. We only need to look to David Attenborough’s work to see how self-centred organisms are and how they rely on each other for their advancement. Survival, competition and evolution are all key for the continuation of any species. Humans have indeed, surpassed all of their predecessors because of their determination and ability to endure selfishly without considering their surroundings. I was referring to the smaller picture of humanity’s selfishness within its own species, in this day and age, when we are supposedly more skilled, more refined, more enlightened and informed, more able to communicate compassionately with one another effectively and thoughtfully, and we still mostly chose not to. I would be interested to hear your opinion on this smaller scale, although the more universal perspective fascinates me.

NS: What you say about survival, competition and evolution is certainly key to how humans have turned out – so far. But I think it is also key to the point you are exploring about the “smaller scale” problem of self-centredness. I don’t think there is any separation between the smaller scale and the universal scale. The microcosm actually is the macrocosm. I think the relevant word in what you said is “supposed”. We are supposed to be more skilled, more refined, more enlightened etc, but who supposes this? We do. But obviously we are not. There is as much war, poverty, misery and inequality in this world now as there ever was during the time of humans. The only actual change is on the technological level. The human remains primitive – and, crucially, self-centred. And is it possible that once one has set off on that evolutionary path of self-centredness, it will go to the extreme?

RJR: Extreme meaning the use of all our fossil fuels reserves in the last one hundred years leaving us unlikely to be able to sustain human life on earth beyond another fifty years?

NS: This is the Attenborough view. And even allowing for the fact that he is approaching the end of his own life, and that old men tend to be pessimistic, he is probably right. He has seen more of this world and what we are in danger of doing to it than almost anybody. The selfish – and foolish – depletion of resources for short-term gain, with no thought for the long term does seem to be typical of the human approach. Back at the smaller-scale level, the person who said “No worries” has that same attitude — they are only bothered about how anything affects THEM at this moment.

RJR: So we are in total agreement there. But what can we do about it? If we don’t start with making changes ourselves, we are playing the part of silent witnesses? Surely there is something we can do…

NS: Again you have identified the key, I think. We can’t be silent witnesses. But we can’t change the behaviour of every human being. The only thing we can do is change within ourselves. But does that have any impact on the larger-scale problem?

RJR: Well if we are talking micro and macro levels, then any change we make as individuals must affect the whole? But what changes can we make?

NS: Yes, I think you are right. If the micro level is essentially no different to the macro level, then any change, however small, must have an effect on the world. In fact, at the very moment of that change, the world changes too. What changes can we make? Is it possible that if we see things clearly – for example, really see the self-centredness in ourselves – then just that act of seeing will change us?

RJR: But how many people are really aware? Really have their eyes open? Really want to create change? How many do you know? What changes are you prepared to make, Mr Summerley?

NS: The answer to the first four questions is: none. And that might be the answer to the fifth question, if I am honest. However, change must be possible. Perhaps not as a conscious decision or choice, but through awareness. That is what I was asking you: is it possible that awareness can bring about change in us, and thus in the wider world?

RJR: I absolutely do feel awareness can bring about change. Not enough is being done – it is that simple. I have this fantasy every New Year’s Eve: I imagine that instead of the billions of dollars spent worldwide on fireworks, instead, perhaps every two, three or four years, the funds would go on a campaign and funding to create change in many ways for our planet, for the greater good, for the bigger picture. The campaign could be promoted during New Year’s Eve and encourage people to lead better lives with awareness of their behaviour and its impact on others and on our surroundings. I think if planned and executed in an appealing way, we could take our finger off the self-destruct button and change the world.

NS: I suspect more money is spent on alcohol than on fireworks on New Year’s Eve! But yours is a nice fantasy — although you know it would never work. Enlightenment has to come from deep within. It can’t be engineered from the outside, whether by a well-meaning PR campaign or by politicians or by philosophers or by religions. All of these are bound up so tightly in the very problem of humanity’s failure that they can do nothing – apart from change themselves from within.

RJR: Of course change needs to happen from within. But how many of us are aware of that? How many of us are prepared to take responsibility when we are surrounded by messages that condition us not to do so? It needs to be from within out and from without in, a continuum, otherwise, again, we are just not taking responsibility and we will carry on just as we are, with our finger on self-destruct.

NS: If change can only take place from within, then that is an end of the question – there is no room for alternative or compromise, however much we would like there to be. A compromise, or partial, enlightenment seems to be no enlightenment at all. Or could it be a step in the right direction? The conditioning that predisposes against enlightenment is so strong that we who are caught in it do not appreciate the extent of it. All the philosophers, scientists, politicians and religious leaders are working within the conditioning, talking within the conditioned state, and never even seeing the falseness of the trap they are in. Arguments and discussions go back and forth within a closed unreality, while reality goes on regardless. Are you asking whether each one of must take responsibility for all of us?

RJR: Each of us needs to take responsibility for each of us and all of us, yes. Just like in a relationship each of us need to take responsibility for 100% of our input, our behaviour, our issues – 100%, not 50%. Then the impact of that 100% has an impact on the self, and the whole. What other way forward is there?

NS: I think you have hit on something tremendously important here. Just to clarify, do you mean by 100%, in a relationship, that we need to take responsibility for ourselves AND for the other person in that relationship? Or by 100%, do you mean just 100% of ourselves?

RJR: 100% responsibility for what we bring to the relationship: our past issues, our current dynamics, our behaviour, how we communicate, how we don’t, our unsaids, our stuckness, our projections. I don’t think we necessarily need to bring 100% of ourselves. Space is very important in a relationship and the very nature of the word ‘partner’ implies, our partner should be ‘part’ of our lives. To rely solely on another is more about filling a gap within ourselves rather than two complete people meeting as equals to walk side by side in this lifetime, or at least part of it.

NS: Thanks for clarifying. That makes sense. But what I thought you might be saying takes this a stage further. And I would still like to do that. To what extent do we take responsibility for the other person’s behaviour in a relationship? And is the other person’s behaviour not a mirror of our own? (By relationship, I mean any human relationship or interaction, not just intimate or long-lived personal relationships.)

RJR: I don’t think the other person’s behaviour is a mirror of our own. It might hold up a mirror to us, reflecting the difference in how we see ourselves and how others see us. If we look and listen carefully we will be able to detect the disparity. I am not sure it is healthy to take responsibility for someone else’s behaviour. Surely that creates symbiotic relationships and co-dependence dynamics?

NS: Thanks. I think you have expressed the mirroring thing better than I did. And what you say about codependence also rings true. So does it follow that close observation of the mirror may be the way to clarity and the kind of change that we were talking about earlier?

RJR: The man in the mirror, ie, ourselves, yes. To check in with ourselves and become truly aware and responsible for our own behaviour and its impact on others and our environment. The current ‘no worries attitude’ runs through our every particle and it will be the death of us. In saying that, nature will always endure. Our planet will just create another trajectory.

NS: So perhaps we need to bring about the “death” of us now, ie the death of the selfish “no worries” human. Bring an end to this way of behaviour.

RJR: What is your plan?

NS: Perhaps this is beyond having a plan. The selfish “no worries” human being tends to make plans. There may be nothing we can do. Or is it simply a case of NOT doing what we have been doing for millennia?

RSR: David Suzuki says it is too late. On the contrary David Attenborough responded to Jonathan Ross’s question recently as to whether the planet would be better off without humans by saying ‘we are capable of behaving better than we are doing at the moment, we aren’t fully aware of the consequences of what we are doing most of the time. And if we behave better, we have the power to make everything better for everything else. Which is more than you can say for almost any other species. So we have the potential of making things much better. At the moment we are making it much worse. So it is time we wised up.’ And Ross agreed and said ‘it is time we take responsibility for our actions.’

NS: I think we are talking at cross purposes to a degree. Suzuki and Attenborough are doubtless right on the planetary, environmental level (although what Jonathan Ross says is perhaps of a little less consequence). But I was referring to a possible transformation of the human mind. Could that take place if we stopped, totally, behaving as we have done throughout our history? And even if humanity is now doomed from an evolutionary point of view, is there still the possibility of a transformation, even if it’s just before we hit the buffers? Should we now give up on the possibility of change because we have passed the point of no return? Even at some minutes past the eleventh hour, is it possible that we could end the “no worries” selfish approach to our lives (individual and universal)? In short, could a miracle still happen?

RJR: I am expecting, or relying on a miracle. That would imply that some outside force is going to take care of humanity despite us not taking responsibility for ouselves. And for that outside miracle maker to favour our race and forgive us our self-destructive trespasses. For me it all about each one of us taking responsibility, pure and simple.

NS: Taking responsibility must mean taking 100 per cent responsibility, yes? Not just some responsibility. There is an outside force but whether it has much interest (if any) in humanity remains to be seen. Why would it? What is the difference between a human being and a dinosaur? Or a human being and a worm? The miracle, which I still think is possible, would come from within. Or maybe within-without, as you have referred to previously.

RJR: So what do you suggest? Let’s be practical here. Give our readers something to think about rather than just philosophise….

NS: You’re right. I wonder if it is possible just to wake up one morning and from that point go through the day paying attention to EVERY thing and EVERY situation and thus acting differently… with complete awareness… and never to stop doing that… it seems to me to be the only way.

RJR: It is certainly a start. I think Double Take should be a place to encourage just that!