Posts Tagged ‘William James’

The Three Principles

February 24, 2013 3 comments

William James, who is regarded as the father of modern psychology, once wrote that the field of psychology had no true principles. He said if such principles were ever realized on a large scale, it would make the importance of every human advancement since fire pale in comparison.


As always, it’s our choice to decide what’s true for ourselves, but the three principles behind psychological life are: Mind, Consciousness, and Thought (MCAT). From formlessness, Mind produces a formed Thought and Consciousness brings this thought form to life via our senses. It’s as simple (simplistic?) as: Mind->Thought->Consciousness.

Three Principles

As long as we are alive, the MCAT trinity is in continuous operation. Whether we’re aware that this irreducible, equation-less, metaphysical system is operating silently in the background of our psyche or not, that’s how we experience psychological life moment-to-moment.

Of the three principles, “thought” is what we are intimately familiar with. Unlike formless “mind” and formless “consciousness“, we can directly “see and feel” our thought forms in real-time. Thus, from the instant we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep at night, we act on them as they spontaneously emerge during the day.


Note that the universal MCAT trio is impersonal. It doesn’t say anything… nada… zilch… about quality of “thought“. That’s where the “personal” you and I come in.

As soon as we become aware of an impersonally created thought, we instantaneously attach a level of personal “I-ness” and judgmental quality to the thought. Thus, hypothetically given the same thought, you can experience its associated feeling as joy and I can experience it as sorrow. Ergo, quality of thought is personal.

Personal Thought


February 20, 2010 5 comments

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” – Albert Einstein

I love this quote because for a long, long time (half of my life to be more specific – and I’m not, uh, very young),  I fit the “incapable of forming such opinions” part. However, for reasons that I don’t understand but am grateful for, I’ve done a total 180 degree turnaround. By design, I consciously choose to form and express opinions which differ from the prejudices of my social environment, both the local social environment and, more ominously, the global social environment. What I’ve yet to learn, and I may never learn it because I’m not intelligent(?) enough to suppress emotion over Spock-like logic, is the “equanimity” part (equanimity = evenness of temper even under stress). What keeps me going is this juicy gem from the father of psychology:

It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. – William James

Getting back to Mr. Einstein’s quote, it’s essence really comes alive in CCH organizations. It’s especially true between levels of membership in a caste-based hierarchy. Because of “the way things are“, an unwritten rule exists that is followed unconsciously by (almost) all. That rule is: “it’s a blasphemous act of disloyalty for those in the lower echelons of the corposphere to question any actions, decisions, and/or strategies effected by those in the upper echelons“. The rule implies that judgment is a one way street, with the judgers on top and the judgees on the bottom. The penalty of violation, of course, is excommunication or expulsion from the org so that the internal environment can snap back to the mind-numbing status quo. It doesn’t matter if the rule violator(s) contribute more to the well being of the whole org than they consume from it. It only matters if the infallible dudes in charge have their feelings hurt. But then, business isn’t personal, right?

Just because things are the way they are doesn’t mean they have to be that way.

So, how about U? Are U capable of expressing, with or without equanimity, opinions that differ from your social environment? If not, why not? If U do, how do U feel when U take the plunge? Uncomfortable, insecure, isolated? Come on, gimme some feedback here.

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