I'm OK, your not !?!?!

Submitted by Joel on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 7:55am.


Several decades ago, a man by the name of Eric Berne engaged in an interesting experiment.   He was a practicing psychiatrist, and thought it might be possible to take those experiences and points of view, and render them in a much more ordinary language than otherwise common to the discipline.   As a result he wrote a book Games People Play, and eventually was born Transactional Analysis.  This system of thought gave birth to the idea of three ego states (threefoldness?): Child; Adult; Parent; and,  four life positions (fourfoldness?) I'm OK, your Ok; I'm not OK, your OK, I'm OK your not OK; and I'm not OK, your not OK.

A "transaction" (play of conversations between two or more individuals) could manifest different combinations of ego states (parent-child; child-adult; adult-adult etc.)  and be also based on one of the four life positions.  So a conversational gambit could involve: I'm OK, your not OK, and be between between the parent ego state of the OK person and directed toward the child ego state of the person seen as not OK.

Now it was a given that a big aspect of this was interior to the individual perceiving the situation.  So, for example, if I take a parental position and treat you as a child (as regards ego states) this doesn't mean that this is existentially true.  What happens in this as a kind of therapy is that the conversational gambit is analysed and through this examination of the gambit (game) we learn to see that one person was playing the role of parent in relationship to the other person, and the other person was playing the role of the child, and what in conventional psychiatry was seen as "neurotic" behavior could be understood in more simple terms. 

People were also seen as "collecting stamps".   That is they would have a resentment of one kind or another, and instead of sharing this resentment, they would "collect" it, and then sometimes they would "dump" the whole collection into the conversational transaction.   One kind of "game" or conversational gambit reflecting this dumping of stamps is called NIGGYSOB, or "now I've got you you son of a bitch".   The person doing the dumping has an opportunity, upon finding some kind of minor flaw, to dump the accumulated resentments all in a bunch.

I gave a lecture in the mid-1970's to the Eric Berne San Francisco Chapter of the American Transactional Analysis Association in which I pointed out interesting points of correspondence between this intellectual structure and a number of so-called "spiritual" disciplines.  After my lecture the head of the Chapter got up and said this is either total BS, or very very brilliant.

What's this got to with the Philosophy of Freedom?

Spiritual disciplines, and this includes Anthroposophy, are not free of ordinary neurotic behaviors.   Anthroposophists are people and the points of view of psychiatry remain valid, and even though the language of Anthroposophy and psychiatry remain quite different, both seek to describe human nature.  Georg Kuhlewind wrote a book along these lines: From Normal to Healthy.

One of the general characteristics of human thinking, that an introspective science of the mind can discover, can be called: "comparative" thinking".   Mostly we sleep through this activity, and don't notice that underneath it often lies an antipathetic reaction to something.   For example, it is common for people in Anthroposophy to denigrate the work Valentin Tomberg.   This is done by "comparing" Steiner and Tomberg,  which if we think consciously about it really amounts to trying to compare apples and oranges.

Certain categories of ideas lend themselves to a kind of neurotic comparative thinking: enlightenment, initiation, living thinking.   We can think: he is enlighted, I am not (he's OK, I'm not); he is an initiate, I am not; he can do living thinking, I do not.

The root of the comparative thinking is often a self-judgement.   One of the phases of self-knowledge is to come awake to the inherent flaw in making such judgments about ourselves - to know our tendency in this regard.   The spiritual fact is that we are complete in all given moments of the Now.  We are not supposed to be something else, and we are just fine where we are.  Sometimes, however, part of our development involves waking up to this self-judgment and learning to resolve it - to go from being normal (our shared "fallen" condition) to healthy (inwardly awake).

Because of the phenomena called: "projection", we also can come to believe someone else holds a view similar in kind to our own somewhat neurotic self-view.   I can think: I don't do living thinking, and Dennis Klocek does, so (via comparative thinking) he is better than me (which is a kind of spiritual I'm not OK, your OK).

Now these matters vary over the Earth in different kinds of ways.   Skipping past a long discussion found elsewhere in my writing on this subject, it is factually accurate to say that Enlightenment belongs to the East, Initiation to the Center and a new kind of Shamanism to the true West - the Americas.  I write "new kind" because we can also make a coherent integration of present day ordinary consciousness in the Americas and the prior states of conciousness of aboriginal peoples in the Americas.   The latter soul life is the roots of the former soul life.  Aboriginal consciousness (with is nature-oriented perception of the Mystery) is the beginning iteration of modern American consciousness with its social-oriented struggles with being spiritual.    We can find a modern "shaman" in Martin Luther King, or modern shamanistic work in the Bioneers and so forth.   The term shaman is being used here to denote the Earth-centered aspect of spiritual development.

In the East, the center of development is Heaven, thus Buddha's seeking to get off the Wheel of Life.   In the Center, the heart of development is Initiaion which involves building an artistic bridge (which is what Steiner did) between Heaven and the Earth, and in the true West (the Americas) the unfolding center of development is other-directed at the social level.  We in the true West only spiritually become according to how well we serve (wash the feet).

Once we understand this in practice, we will find the basis for Steiner having said: Americans come to Anthroposophy naturally; and, English speakers are in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights.  To be a social activist, or to be a helper when disaster strikes, is to be anthroposophical in the true West.  You don't need to know a thing about Steiner at all.  Even just being a good neighbor and caring for an elder parent, or being a good friend or a parent or even a son or daughter involves "washing the feet".  The deepest source of who we are can be called "the Christ Impulse" - the impulse to sacrifice sefl for other.  

What happens, unfortunately, is that the inward neurotic conditions can inflame (from the sub-consciosness) the thinking of people when they relate to other people even in an environment where folks are "pretending" to be spiritual.  I say pretending because the use of spiritual language or concepts has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not one is behaving in a neurotic (normal) way, or in a more developed (healthy) way.

At the same time, the Deeds in the "transactions" (the conversational gambits) can be illuminating.  However, each of us has to take responsibility for how WE interpret those conversational gambits - those judgments belong to us, even though we may try to exteriorize them into perceived facts about the antipathetically perceieved other.   The Human Way (LIfe) is not meant to be easy, otherwise we'd just dream like the plants, and moan like the animals.  Having language, we get to do and be something far richer.


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