A Series of Talks between Michael Laitman and Psychologist Anatoly Ulianov
Talk No. 4
December 13, 2012
Feelings Balanced by Knowledge
Question: In the courses on integral upbringing and education, we intend to first of all educate people who lost their job. The majority of them is disillusioned with life; many have difficulties with their family, self-actualization, and so on.
The first thing that you may encounter in such a group is resentment, frustration, and aggression. Would people in this state be able to perceive such distant, abstract, and theoretical information? What should we start with in order to find common ground with people?
Answer: We have no other choice. We, people, consist of two halves: heart and mind, and they have to balance each other. Then a person develops harmoniously, sees the world and himself within it. Perhaps he sees both himself and the world as unbalanced, but his worldview becomes more or less correct.
Therefore, first and foremost we have to counterbalance all of today’s problems with knowledge: From where did these problems arise, what is their origin, their necessity for our continued development, what exactly we need to come to, and so on.
As the first order of business people must necessarily complete an educational course, and not the ones on upbringing, practical work, and game scenarios—they are still far from that. The practical work within such groups begins only when the state of all sorts of problems and crises is balanced. People begin to understand the essence of these problems; they can now discuss, decide, arrive at some kind of an opinion, object, and discern the truth. But it gets discerned when feelings are balanced by knowledge.
If right now we simply take 50 people from the street and start to talk to them about today’s problems, we’ll be confronted with complete lack of understanding of our point of view. Correspondingly, feelings prevail above the mind, and we won’t get anywhere.
This is what happens in today’s world. Without understanding the general system ofnature, its development (beginning, middle, and end of this path), and the state of humanity (where we exist in this moment along the axis of time), we evaluate everything only on the basis of our small, worldly egoism that doesn’t allow us to obtain the correct result. Moreover, we make wrong decisions about the future and with that bring ourselves into an even more difficult state. That is why, personally, I have no doubts that first and foremost we need to pursue education.
Precisely with that we begin our interaction with children. We always need to take our natural attitude to children as an example.
Everything begins with explanations. A child develops and feels: I sense this and that. A correct upbringing lies in supplementing a child’s feelings with explanations and with a system of correct attitude towards what he feels and how he perceives everything. This has to be balanced in adults as well. Without this we cannot advance.
Only to the extent that a group adapts this knowledge into itself does it realize and understand the causality and consequences of the feelings, their cause and effect development, and is able to see itself from the side. When a person rises above his self, he can separate his own “I” and see himself and society from the side.
The same way in psychology: You look at a person not as an individual, but from the side, trying to imagine him as a certain psychological object. Then, exploring him, you begin to give him some concrete recommendations, fragmentary explanations without even explaining who and what he is. But in principle, these explanations too are based on some kind of balance between knowledge and feelings. You cannot do without that.
That’s why in the first place we will have to introduce the courses that we spoke about in the last talk. It is a great amount of knowledge.
In the process of study, this knowledge gradually gets absorbed by people, and a person then starts to internally assimilate it along with feelings. At this point we need to start fortifying it with practical exercises that help a person balance knowledge and feelings.
A person can receive an initial sensation of that state by studying the material first-hand. We need to tell him about the origin, evolution, and properties of egoism and to present it completely objectively as a certain existing reality independent from and having nothing to do with us, so that a person could absorb everything in the form in which it exists in nature.
Next in the same course, a brief explanation can be given about how egoism works in a person: how it manifests itself in our world, in connections with family, children, with one’s own self, and so on.
That is, education involves at the very least separation into two parts, when we objectively lay out what is taking place in nature and try to express that in a somewhat dry, scientific language, and afterwards, as a supplement to that, we utilize this. After that is when the practical training begins, where we try to investigate our feelings from the point of view of reason.
A theoretical study is always reason, and we study it, fill ourselves with all kinds of knowledge, data, graphs, formulas, images, discernments of relationships, and so on, while gradually adding a little bit of feelings to that. In other words, studying always proceeds from two directions, “reason and feelings”: feelings in reason and reason in feelings.
Don’t Be Ashamed of Yourself
Question: A modern person has accumulated a wealth of various limitations: He was prevented from expressing his feelings, they were trivialized, and so on. That is why his standard reaction to something new is negative. Initially a battle within a person always takes place between an interest towards something new and a fear of it. How can we maintain a person’s interest despite his fear and resistance?
Answer: When starting to talk about a person, his physiology, psychology, sociology, family relationships, and so on, we need to do it objectively, abstractly, not relative to the person himself. And only afterwards should we gradually include examples: Here is a man, a woman, and children; here is a person as he is, he reacts to himself in a certain way and is composed of certain images of vision, perception, and so on. In other words, we begin to talk about some abstract object and gradually bring that object to the person himself. I think this way we won’t encounter a problem.
The fact of the matter is that a modern person doesn’t know any of this. We hide our nature, we are ashamed of ourselves, ashamed in front of others; we are afraid to show any sort of weakness because we think that others could take advantage of it. I have to show that I stand firm like a wall behind my immutable opinions, which I do not actually have at all.
When we gradually reveal what man, society, and nature in its global and general form are, little by little we get used to the fact that we are the way we are created: It isn’t me, and everything in me works independently from me.
Then what exactly is this “I”? I is only the one who can research what in him or her is created by nature.
Like doctors who aren’t ashamed in front of each other or their patients, or psychologists who can express their own and other people’s feelings without embarrassment, understanding that all of this is an objective reality, we, too, are the way we are. Likewise, we also need to bring a person to such a state.
Everything needs to be based precisely on the fact that the next stage of our development is complete integration of everyone into everything, when all parts of nature get incorporated into a person, a person into them, and people into each other, and together with nature we represent one organic whole.
In such a case there is nothing here that I have to conceal, be embarrassed of, and attempt to hide from others. I must ultimately reach a state where, conversely, I am obliged to fully reveal myself and be connected to everyone.
It’s like an infant who lies in his mother’s arms: He is nothing and nobody, yet she concentrates all of her attention on him, and from the point of view of nature, relative to his mother he has absolutely no barriers, borders, or screens; on the contrary, an absolutely complete connection exists. We too, as a result of our integral education and upbringing, need to reach such a connection in the future.
That is why our flow in teaching, experiencing these courses, in their structure and interconnection (where one course begins and another ends, or a few of them go parallel to each other) needs to be structured precisely so: along the axis of time. Courses should supplement one another and follow either consecutively or overlap with each other so that people gradually develop a correct attitude towards themselves, to other students studying in the group, and towards the whole world.
The Particulars of Group Formation
Question: During one of the previous programs you mentioned that it’s better to begin a course on integral upbringing with the history of the development of egoism and only after that to introduce the courses on perception of reality and psychology. From your point of view, in what order should these disciplines be added?
Answer: I think this also depends on the people that we enroll. We should arrange these groups by types. After all, a mass of people has its own laws: One individual influences another. Sometimes one person among fifty could easily shatter our entire system with his or her remarks and divert everyone to a completely different direction, either with nihilism, fanaticism, or something else.
That is, primarily we should form groups of people considering who they are, their general worldview, understanding of life, and philosophy. They could be either simple ordinary people, or housewives, or engineers and technical workers, or scientists, or people of the arts.
That’s why groups need to be arranged according to people’s makeup and their inceptive perception of the world, even though that perception is imposed, evoked, and accumulated in them through distorted relationships in their occupation, their society, and so on. But we need to take this into account because that’s the material that we have to work with. Our task is to bring it to a common denominator since ultimately, we expect that all these people will be connected together through a common base of knowledge, feelings, and understanding.
In the end we will get several group prototypes, which we need to bring to some kind of a common form through the process of studies. And each of these groups will have their own path towards that common denominator.
Naturally, some groups will perceive the study material more emotionally, while others more dryly, scientifically, and technically. Some groups will perceive it on the level of their egoistic development, without rising beyond their current benchmark (although by no means do I mean to diminish this part of humanity), while other groups will strive exactly towards analysis, attainment, and realization of this process to the full measure both in themselves and in others.
That is, the set of disciplines should be practically the same for all groups, but in different groups each discipline needs to be developed to varying depth. Courses need to follow one another, with the exception of the one on development of egoism, which will continue throughout the entire study to its very end and will remain with the person upon completion of studies.
After a person is “released” into life, he will not stop working with the information that he received, meaning that it’s as if he will still be continuing our coursework. These courses are practically endless because we have to reach a complete unity with nature. A person’s work on himself isn’t restricted to a defined segment of time, where he just passes his exams and that’s it. He is taking exams on his own every minute of his life, finding the point of equilibrium with himself, his environment, and nature, in which he feels complete comfort.
We need to continuously aid a person in that and to accompany him his entire life through mass media, education via virtual systems, television, and radio.
That is why I cannot name the exact sequence in which to arrange the courses and to what extent each of them should be subject to elaboration or truncation, for example, a course on psychology or on mechanics of egoistic development. There must only be one result: a common form in each group that initially is composed of people who are more or less similar in their social status, development, and attitude towards the world.
Naturally, even within that commonality they will still differentiate based on the level of their participation in the integral process of unification and mutual support. There are lower groups that participate on some small egoistic and, consequently, emotional and mental level of development. There are more advanced groups. And then we cannot exclude the existence of such groups that could be considered not only by their level of egoism, but also by their sensitivity and intelligence.
We have a lot of statistical and diagnostic work ahead of us in the analysis and synthesis of all the groups. In and of itself, this is a very interesting psychological challenge. I believe that one day this large field will be included in the science of integral concord of humanity.
Question: During one of the programs, when speaking about a system of higher education, you emphasized that it’s very important for an individual to attend various courses in person and to choose the one that feels nearest to him or her.
Let’s say that in the course on integral upbringing we formed groups based on people’s inner properties. Should we provide them an opportunity to visit other groups and to find the one that truly suits them? Or conversely, should we set a condition from the onset that it is better for him or her to study precisely in a given group and not another?
Answer: I think that the composition of physical groups for in-person study be fixed. But of course, it’s also possible to have special cases when a person transitions from one group to another.
But I doubt that the transition to a different group would be easy for a person who already joined and is interacting with a group in which studies are combined with practice, discussions, and role-playing exercises. He would not be able to do that until he begins (which will take a certain period of time) to understand integrality and the correct and easy interaction with others, independent from their level of perception, whether emotional or intellectual.
I think that the initial phase, which gives a person the freedom from his or her own self through the influence of the group, should be strictly fixed.
A Common Feeling, Mind, and Heart
Question: Suppose that for some time during the integral upbringingcourses people “brew” within the group, studying theory and doing practical exercises. But naturally, a time then comes when a person has to study integrality, to exit into the big world, so to speak.
Answer: For that we gradually begin to merge and consolidate the groups, bring them onto television, to discussions in virtual networks. Integral education, the study of integral connection, continues practically throughout their entire life until one reaches the very last level of harmony in human society and in nature.
That’s why gradual consolidation of the groups requires such a state where a person feels equally included into and connected to absolutely all levels of humanity and senses all of humanity inside of himself. Each one of us feels like we exist within a “round” society, not classified by any levels such as emotional level, IQ coefficient, or some other criteria, in other words, in a society that is independent from any innate parameters that we are not yet able to transcend.
Within an integral society, this mutual inclusion assumes such development of a person that he or she is able to use the mind and feelings of another, and through his attitude towards others this person incorporates himself into them and begins to use these “foreign” resources as his own. In this event, the personal “I” disappears in the sense that a common feeling, reason, and heart arise. And it’s as if a person connects to this total unified virtual image of man called “Adam.” Then all the differences between people gradually level out.
These are going to be exactly the conditions that humanity can only dream about: Everyone has to be equal, everyone has to live in the same conditions, states, and so on. That is, each of us will draw from one single mind and feeling, as much as one is able and as much as one desires.
At the same time, nobody will feel lacking because everything will be provided for everyone—the great mind and the great heart will relate to all.
Question: Today, several modes of human interaction exist. Generally speaking, you can divide them into two types. One type is when in the process of interaction people develop a need to create some kind of a new project. After they get acquainted with each other, complete a first phase of theoretical education, and unify among themselves, a natural desire arises in them to create some good, kind project that will be useful to other people.
The other type is when people are in the process of solving certain issues in their regular life and then come to the group, receive particular experience, realizations, and support, after which they enter the world again and try to transmit to it the newly received integration experience.
Is it possible to join these two types of people in the courses of integral upbringing for the sake of collaborative actions in the world?
Answer: For the time being we only put such people into groups, which organize joint trips, conventions, and various games. In combining their efforts and material resources, they create a certain prototype of a future society.
It is like a game where in the duration of a few days people unite in challenging conditions set up for them in advance. These conditions encourage them to unite, to mutually participate, to ascend above and exit from oneself, as well as help a person to feel just how much he or she is dependent on others. But all of that is still within the framework of so-called “laboratory” exercises, nothing more than that.
The “Golden Age” Groups
Question: In the integral upbringing courses, should we gather the elderly into separate groups or can they be in groups with people of different ages?
Answer: I think that we should match people by age. We know just how much age, differences in people’s mentalities, and their manner of behavior influence their perception.
However, ultimately, everyone should ascend, in mutual support and inclusion, above all emotional, intellectual, or age-related attributes that distinguish them from others. But initially we should arrange groups to be as homogeneous as possible.
Question: Should the instructors also be of similar age and qualities?
Answer: Nature is based on the law of similarity, equivalence, and compatibility of qualities. That’s why in this case we must follow precisely the same principles. That is, we should provide elderly instructors for elderly groups and younger ones for youth groups. As a matter of fact, youth groups can be taught by middle-aged people, but not by old folks, that’s clear.
Everything should be structured so as to exclude from the group anything that hinders a correct, kind, and open perception of the course, and to achieve contact and correct understanding between a group and its instructor as quickly as possible.
Question: For the elderly people, should we also form separate groups for men and women?
Answer: No. I don’t think that people of advanced age have a need for that because they are already used to every kind of communication and it is natural for them. I don’t think we should break their views and build some sort of a team out of them, like in the army or sports.
Interaction among them is built not on competition or some other internal impulses, but on mutual assistance and such. They already have a completely different attitude to one another, life, and the world. Therefore, we understand that this is an entirely different psychology.
The so-called “golden age” doesn’t require the same approach as children and especially adolescents. Among the latter thrives a battle for leadership, understanding, and self-expression, while here we are dealing with a relatively peaceful person. Although naturally, we need to come up with another manner of teaching and presenting our materials for them.
The Value of Life Experience
Question: What is unique about teaching integral approach to the elderly?
Answer: I think that they will receive it with greater understanding because a person who has already lived a lifetime understands to what extent one is not the master of one’s own life. It’s as if it passed by above him, commanding him, and not him being in command of it.
People of that age agree more with the fact that nature works on us, and now, when they don’t have that much time left to understand, realize, and possibly correct that in some way, they are more diligent, sensitive, and compassionate.
Besides, the enormous hard-won life experience gives a person a completely different approach to what is being offered. From the very beginning, a person is open to learning, so naturally, his participation in the studies is most amicable. We are offering a person to achieve harmony in that short segment of time that he or she has.
These are people who live and measure themselves not relative to some achievements, but relative to the end of life. Generally speaking, this constant subconscious sensation in a person determines his or her entire behavior.
And here is where we need to imbue the endpoint of their life with joy, attainment, and ascent towards a new state that exists beyond the end of corporeal life. We should give them a sensation that it’s as if they’re flying and about to crash into something, and suddenly a motor appears that carries them up above the obstacle. It is precisely a sensation of this possibility that will give them strength, and then, of course, it will be very easy for them to work in a group.
I hope that these groups will be a serious help to us because in principle, the more groups of this kind we can create, the easier it will be for us to include ourselves into all of humanity.
By the way, longevity inherent in our time (life expectancy is more than doubled compared to the previous centuries) means an accumulation of life experience by an individual. At some point, people lived 30 or 40 years and died young, without gaining any experience in life. From the ancient times and all the way until the 18th century, a person lived no longer than 35-40 years. It’s hard to believe now that there was once such a short life cycle. A person practically had no time to attain anything in life, grew old very quickly, and died. Everything somehow broke off very abruptly.
We need to take advantage of the fact that in our time, the developing ego offers us an opportunity, in accordance with its development, to simultaneously live through and internalize the experience and the point of view that develops in a person by the age of sixty and beyond. Today elderly people comprise the vast majority of humanity. We need to take advantage of this group, which is sympathetic to our methodology and its outcome, and through them create in all of humanity a certain correct background for integration.
Therefore, under no circumstances should we pass these groups by, although our usual automatic attitude towards this segment of the population is: “We’ll create all the necessary conditions so they wouldn’t bother us. Let them sit somewhere on a bench and calmly live out their life.” No, we need to build very powerful groups out of them, and they will disseminate this method, its usefulness, and a life-saving solution that it offers to mankind among their children and grandchildren.
Question: We know from experience that the majority of the elderly really love to tell the story of their life. Should we give them an opportunity to share their stories?
Answer: Only if it helps us in the capacity of a psychological example: What you related, what you saw, what you lived through. Naturally, the elderly love this, but their stories need to be accompanied by investigation and analysis: Why this happened, what it provided, what this should teach us today, and so on.
Elderly people passing time in various gatherings is their own business, but we need to take it into consideration and teach them how to relate to the lived experiment of life.
Not Seeing Life Off, but Welcoming It
Question: We spoke about the fact that in the integral upbringingcourses people meet for seven to eight hours a day, and together they first go through the preparatory informational stage, that is, receive aneducation, and then proceed to the practical part, the upbringing, where now in their psychological interaction they go through various states. Aside from study and upbringing, is there room in this program for joint celebration of holidays?
Answer: Constantly. After all, in spending seven to eight hours together, they need to participate in some sort of a meal at least once, perhaps even twice. There should be a lunch and also a small break, like an afternoon snack. There need to be breaks for rest and a constant change in activities; otherwise a person will simply be unable to handle it, especially the elderly—they’d all be falling asleep.
Since they have free time, we need to break their day into morning and evening lessons, and in the middle to give them some time for rest, for housework, for their natural needs. After all, this is a special age group whose physiology may not be fully healthy anymore.
Our task is to have a person connect to a group and thereby acquire for themselves a new society in which they live and not merely pass their time, but find there their bright future. We need to create for them an atmosphere of joyful anticipation that would psychologically support and indeed heal them. Starting with the very first hours of them being with us, we need to work specifically on that.
We should organize dances for them, some kind of special evening functions. In other words, there needs to be a special approach here.
I would like to emphasize once more that their disposition towards our methodology, their desire for it to come true, and their goodwill will play a positive role within other age groups. Elderly people can and know how to influence everyone. We are well familiar with this age: In reality it is quite active. We only think, based on their physical guise, that they are passive, but in fact their influence is very strong.
A Fear that Uplifts
Question: The elderly have an especially emphatic fear that arises in any group: What if I won’t have enough time to reach the sensation of eternity and perfection? How to handle that fear?
Answer: We need to set very concrete tasks before them, not prospective ones, like for the youth, and to set defined goals that are attainable and realized very quickly. At the same time, we need to tell them about the entire global picture of nature’s system, its eternity, its life cycles, as well as our life cycles within it. That is, here we need to provide serious psychological support from the very beginning.
Question: During one of the programs you explained that a fear of death paralyzes a person’s life, impedes him. It manifests less in young people and more at a certain age. How does the methodology of integral upbringing regard attitude to fear? How to work with it?
Answer: I think that a correct clarification of our place in nature is the key to understanding a person’s place within it, the place of death and our biological life. We need to bring a person to the next level of understanding, not even feeling yet, but simply understanding of this.
A person will reach the sensation of eternity and perfection when he or she will be integrally connected with a certain critical mass of other people who are also attaining this integration. Then it is as if we rise above ourselves, creating above us some image of one person with one heart and mind. And our physical body exists nearby as an animal that accompanies this one image, the way our dog or cat lives alongside of us.
We need to focus people’s attention on that and to try bring them to this kind of sensation. In principle, psychologically it’s not that difficult considering that there is no resistance on their end, but on the contrary, support and anticipation of results. They represent that part of humanity that joyfully strives towards integration and closeness, understanding that all else passes and vanishes.
Elderly people easily part with everything for the sake of achieving the feeling of ascent above death, rising above the very factor of the seemingly inevitably impending end. We need to give them a feeling as if they are in a plunging airplane set to crash into a mountaintop, but suddenly some great force force lifts it up, and it speeds upwards with boosted power. I think that such sensation can be created in them quickly.
Besides, the courses for the elderly naturally need to be easier. They don’t require great theoretical and practical studies; they will gladly just participate. And I think that precisely the egoism and fear that appear in all older people, the desire to achieve a result that uplifts them, all that will provide a very serious basis for movement to other groups in society.
The Main Principle of all Courses of Study
Question: You said that the overall integral education curriculum consists of approximately ten courses. The history of evolution of egoism is an on-going course that continues until complete integration of humanity. What other courses are included aside from perception of reality and psychology?
Answer: We should definitely study human physiology and demonstrate just to what extent our body is structured in a holistic way, whereby all the bodily organs are interconnected. They are all composed of opposite elements and function in different ways, but each organ operates in harmony with itself and others. A departure from this harmony is what we call illness, and it instantly causes a malfunction in the operation of the entire organism.
Similarly, within the organism of society each person should be its united, integral, and simultaneously unique individual part. Nobody infringes on my individuality, but I need to correctly balance myself with the entire society, and then society will represent a single healthy organism, a healthy collective. And together this collective will then unite with nature.
Generally, I need to constantly think of how to be organically and integrally connected with myself, society, and with nature. Initially I cannot connect with other people, and I need to know whether relative to nature this would also be unification or not. In other words, everything needs to be formed simultaneously: individual, group, society, and nature.
And this is why our courses need to include the following sequential studies:
- Human physiology, physiology of integral systems, the structure of integral systems, their interdependence and feedback mechanisms, tracking factor, and system equilibration or progression along a set course towards a particular goal, as in small cybernetic systems with simple feedback loops;
- The structure of creation and of society, perception of reality, and history;
- Practical application within a group, family, on oneself, and in society;
- Crisis, its cause and purpose;
- Courses on upbringing in which we supplement all that with practical activities. This includes trips, tours, and so on.
The guiding principle of all the courses is to provide a person with a sensation of integrality of the world, which gets perceived by us, egoists, as the opposite, anti-integral and isolated. It’s more convenient for us to imagine it this way so as to “swallow” it in parts, to maximally exploit it for our own sake.
But when I think about the fact that this system must work precisely in this integral form and that I will feel good because of it, then I have to study it, its interaction, interdependence, and global scope. This helps me to be a co-participant, compassionate and empathetic.
That is why all the above mentioned courses are necessary and will include no more than ten interconnected disciplines. All the courses (just each with its own particular emphasis) develop a clarification of the subjects: From the small technical details of integral, analog, and servo systems, the structure of our organism, physiology, and psychology to a gradual transition towards mutual involvement.
Each course must be taught by a specialist. Every specialist naturally should be appropriate for the given group, that is, as is known from psychological practice, he or she must be compatible with it so that people accept, respect, and value him or her, and hear what he or she has to say. He must treat them correspondingly, be of a corresponding age, title, and so on because we’re dealing with beginners that judge others “by the cover” so to speak. Although in principle, anyone can be an instructor if they are studying in our system today and has no academic titles. But it is preferable that instructor be someone whom the listeners respect.