ON AUTHENTICITY, CREATION AND LOVE
Internet conversation between Hal Lyon and Vince Giuliano
April 21, 2008
This is a two-stage dialog between Hal and Vince. Hal’s original remarks are shown in this font in green. Vince’s comments are shown in this font in black.
Hal: Last night and at first light this morning I was pondering some thoughts and questions about your paper On Being, Creation and Reality — enough so that I had to get up out of bed with Karin — a difficult enough action by itself — to write down some of what I had been thinking. I think out loud here a bit with you.
I'm not sure how this relates to your entire Creation idea, but what I was thinking is that misinterpretation of it could lead to the problems which much of our human potential movement addressed in the 60s and 70s: that people who accept and wish to practice “creating their own universes” might, in the effort to do so, slip into merely living less than congruent, genuine, or authentic lives — living somewhat blindly their dream that life is beautiful and that they are happy, but when in reality their lives are lonely or hellish by most accepted standards. (Remember the movie, “A Beautiful Life” father & son in the concentration camp?)
Vince: Right. In the technical discussion in the On Being and Creation paper I try to make it clear that full recognition, acknowledgment and taking into account of “what is” is a pre-requisite for generating a creation. Now what you are pointing out is the difference between “what is” as objective reality and how “what is” is held personally to be. External situations may be downright hellish but one can still be fully alive inside, contented and even happy, as in A Beautiful LIfe. The classical case is Viktor Frankl who published Man's Search for Meaning in 1946. You may recall he founded the Existential Analysis and Logotherapy approaches to psychotherapy. His book describes his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and discusses how if was possible for him to find meaning no matter how bad the circumstances were. He generalized this into a philosophy that there is always a reason to continue living.
Hal: But their created reality, or even their context, might be that their lives are heaven on earth. They may lose touch with reality and be labeled as loony as many geniuses are and locked away in hospitals somewhere. I was thinking of what I had thought were my worst 6 months in life. I now see it as a positive growing experience for me. But viewed from the outside, it was a hellish, humiliating, unjust, devastating experience in society’s reality. I could have created it within a victim’s context which would have made it horrible. But I created it as being something quite different and beneficial. Was that merely my incredible survival mechanisms at work?
Vince: Like Frankl, you could acknowledge the crummy circumstances of your existence to be awful like they were, and also like him, you could profit immensely from living through the same experience. I don't think there is any being out of touch with reality involved.
Hal: What is more genuine: my subjective experience of reality or a more objective reality? Certainly my reality is more authentic for me.
Vince: Both are genuine, I would say. There is no conflict involved.
Hal: Was I SOURCING my own reality? Isn't that what so-called “crazy” people do?
Vince: You were. Crazy people do that too. But they don't acknowledge the external reality so it can hurt or kill them. I can source great beauty in the rippling grasses, warm winds and great billowing clouds in a magnificent prairie scene before me. I can be very high on that. But if I don't acknowledge the rattlesnake on the path, he could bite me. A crazy person might ignore the snake and get bit.
Hal: If one went around trying to live from within a context of love, and trying very hard to do it, but in truth they were not really loving others, nor were they being loved back, might they be merely fooling themselves, but not others? Is fooling ourselves an acceptable reality? Does such intentionality lead to creating the reality?
Vince: Good question that warps my mind. It has to do with authenticity. If Hank is an absolute bastard to others by all external standards but genuinely think he is kind and loving and has no doubts about that, then he is authentic, an authentic bastard in the eyes of others. Others may think he is fooling himself but that is not a direct problem for Hank. As far as he is concerned he is not fooling himself. If Hank is absolutely out of touch with or does not care about his impact on others, being the authentic bastard that he is, he is likely to be unsuccessful in life by external standards. The world could treat him badly. He could even get himself locked up. That’s the kind of external reality Hank would create for himself. But the choice of how he holds that reality is up to him..
Hal: There is a physician I met and got to know with ____ in our marriage desperation (he died several years ago along with our marriage…) who was a popular Christian author (Dr. Ed Wheat) of a book called, Love Life … for Every Married Couple. His premise was that if we merely ACT AS IF we love another, it will lead to real love, no matter how bad the circumstances may seem or be. Merely consistently “acting as if” we love another will transform it into reality and create the love we want, and our partner will begin loving us back. After all, isn't God’s most important commandment: “Love one another as you would love yourself?” Loving is the most important of all “Source”s” commandments, isn't it? That”s what Dr. Wheat was preaching. Seems simplistic, but is it perhaps another route into the Creation/context theory you are writing about?
Vince: This raises the question of “What is love?” For me, love for someone has two main components:
1. Giving being to the person which is to see them whole, complete and OK exactly as they are, and also to allow him or her to become different as he or she may choose. For example, suppose I have a dear friend who smokes 4 packs of Marlboros a day and coughs up traces of blood. I am afraid he may die prematurely of cancer. Giving being means I accept him and love him completely as he is, a smoker who is destroying his body. And at the same time I can create a reality in my universe that he will give up smoking and live a long life in a context of health. This kind of approach has repeatedly worked for me with people I am close to.
2. If you choose to act in a way that affects the indivual you love, whenever possible act in the interest of that person. Normally this means supporting the person in his/her own intentions (creations) unless you see an intention as leading to harm for the person contrary to that person’s more basic intention (e.g. your friend says he is going to jump off a high embankment and you are quite sure he would probably get hurt if he did that. If you think he does not want to get hurt, of course you discourage him. If you think he wants to get hurt or that getting hurt would be good for him, you can passively support his intention to jump.)
Love is a context, not an action plan. You can love someone and do nothing about it. I love my mother and father who are dead and all of the four women who mothered my children but I can behave differently with them as appropriate to our commitments. And love is a context in which I can formulate commitments and action plans that bring out expressions of that love.
Love is therefore giving a person freedom to be as they choose to be, or in other words, to create themselves as they may. When I love someone and choose to give that love expression, I support them in their creative aspirations and intentions. You damn well know what this means because you and I have been supporting each other like crazy in our writings, just to mention one dimension. This exchange is an example.
Now to your question. Does acting consistently like I am loving lead to my “really” being loving? I think there is a confusion here between love which by itself requires no action and romantic love which does require action if is going to lead to expression. If I form a context that I am going to act consistently like I am loving somebody and really mean it, then for me that context by itself means I really am loving. From the instant I create that context I will be following my two principles. In fact I will just have created myself as loving. The point is that I can make that creation without any necessity for follow-through. How many people have you found in your life whom you loved but also at one point chosen not to relate to? Love does not require relationship. Relationship may be born of love or born from other commitments. Sam could commit to living with Mary because of the good sex but be scared of committing to love her. As he sees it, if things work out he could commit later to loving Mary. What Sam does not get is that he can love mary from the very start and that his love for her does not box himself in in any way.
Hal: In the 70s we might have labeled that as phony or non-authentic behavior, to be summarily exposed in an encounter group where the price for survival is strict honesty, congruency, and authenticity.
Vince: That is because the human capability to authentically create in an instant was not acknowledged back then. Also love was seen as necessarily requiring action, which put people in binds. That view of love requires people to do loving actions for others whom they love but who may be dangerous or untrustworthy. Where is the incongruency of committing to myself that, if I act with respect to Mary I will act in Mary's interest, and that I will grant Mary the space to be exactly like she is?
Hal: And my essay on, “Let’s play a game called, ‘Let’s Pretend,’ and pretend we're not pretending.” Remember that? Might it be a process for the creation you write about? Might pretending, and pretending we are not pretending, be an effective pathway into creation, as you speak of it?
Vince: It will lead to creation of something Whatever “pretending I am not pretending” leads to in a specific instant will become real, perhaps the creation of a beautiful experience. Once that experience happens there need be no pretence about it. It really happened. I will have created that experience. If I create something I am ashamed to have happened, that event will have become real too. That context, like all contexts, leads to realities.
Hal: For example, we begin by pretending we love our partner, even if we do not feel it fully or trust that it is real, as is the case with many lovers from time to time. And then this pretending (Ed Wheat’s acting as if…) feels good, our partner likes our “acting as if…” and “acts as if” back to us … and pretending seems safer than risking being vulnerable enough to really love. So once comfortable in that first step, the next step is to pretend that we are NOT pretending, which seems to create it being more authentic than just pretending. (A Leonard Cohen song says, “Just pretend you love me…one more time…all of the time.” Another says, “…get naked for me, like you would for one you love.”)
And (still doing as Dr. Wheat says, acting as if…) we then realize that it feels so good and is even safe enough to stop pretending we are not pretending. So we stop that, and we begin not to pretend we are not pretending. Then one day, without us even realizing it, we find there need be no pretense at all as our love is growing like a seedling in a green house and blossoming into something much more genuine than pretending. And so, have we created (in the sense you write about it) the context of loving — a crucible out of which has grown genuine love? This has become our created reality, not at all a pretense or anything phony. We are in love! We created it from (or with) Source!
Vince: Righto! Beautifully portrayed. The feedback situation between the two beings creates the love. Two people in love mesh their creative energies instead of being in stalemates where one person is trying to create something, the other person trying to create the opposite. So expression of love frees up creative capabilities for both parties.
I think all the pretending we are not pretending stuff is for covering our bets, protecting ourselves from hurt. That is, as a single young man of 23, Nick does not want to declare (and thereby create) full love for pretty Patricia who he just met at Starbucks until he gets to know her better. What if Patricia has hell-on-wheels temper flashes, or is so wounded inside that she can't love back? Or what if she wakes up at 2AM and eats Doritos every night filling the bed with sharp crumbs? What if she hates sex? Is she kind? Would she make a good mother? So the reasonable voice in Nick says ”I better hold back on love until I find those things out. I can do this by pretending I love her and pretending I am not pretending.”
It possible for Nick to look at Patricia for the first time sitting there at the next table in Starbucks and declare “she will be the perfect one for me; I declare this is and will be so. So the perfectedness of his future mate will have been created there instantly, just based on intentionality. If Nick did this without reservation he will have created a perfect mate. Of course she could turn out to be moody and temperamental, eat Doritos in bed and hate sex. But that would not matter to Nick in the reality he has created. We play “let’s pretend and pretend we are not pretending” because we think things like having an emotionally-balanced mate who likes sex will matter. We have prior intentions like having lots of good sex with our mates and don't want to put those into conflict.
Hal: The superficial mistake many might make in adopting your creation process might be initially to be out of touch with “reality” (acting as if…) But whose reality? Not their own, but reality as defined by others, or society. But what is our own separate reality if not the reality of the Universe? (Remember Carlos Castaneda?)
Vince: Right. I guess the bottom line is to make sure any internal reality I create is sufficiently consistent with the already-there external reality that I don't get screwed up between them.
Hal: Greetings from Munich where that wonderful natural context called “spring” is being created! Hal
Vince: And greetings from my study-bedroom art-writing loft in the woods in Wayland where the trees are just starting to bud. Vince
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