Healing Thinking and Being

Book Manuscript by Rolf Sattler

First Published on March 1, 2010. Latest Update on January 1, 2011

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Introduction: The Need for Healing - The Prevalence of Thinking in our Culture - Harmful and Healing Thinking - Being

Part 1: Healing Thinking

Chapter 1: Ways of Thinking: Thoughts - Ways of Thinking - Laws of thought (identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle) - Beyond the Laws of Thought (Yin-Yang, Buddhist logic and Jain logic, fuzzy logic, both/and logic, and non-identity (Korzybski) - Conclusions

Chapter 2:
Healing Thinking through Fuzzy Logic: Fuzziness - Fuzzy Logic - Examples of Fuzzy Sets - Harmful and Healing Thinking - Conclusions

Chapter 3:
Healing Thinking through Both/and Logic, Buddhist and Jain Logic: Both/and Logic - Buddhist Logic - Jain Logic - Conclusions

Chapter 4:
Healing Thinking through Non-Identity (Korzybski): Language and Reality - The Unnamable - Korzybski’s Structural Differential - Harmful and Healing Thinking - Conclusions


Chapter 5: Language Transcending Logic: Exercises in Style – Playfulness and Body Language – Poetry - Koans - Conclusions

Part 2: Being

Chapter 6: Beyond Thinking, Writing, and Speaking - the Unnamable: Limitations of Thinking - Transcendence of Thinking - Conclusions

Chapter 7:
AQAL Map by Ken Wilber Integrates the Unnamable and Namable: The AQAL Map - Why a Map? - Beyond Dualism - Sacred Sex - Yin-Yang, Male-Female - Stages and States - Healing in the Transpersonal - The Integral Psychograph - Integral Life Practice - Applications in Society - Conclusions

Chapter 8:
Complementarity of Maps and Mandalas: Maps - Mandalas - The Dynamic Mandala - Conclusions

Overview of the Book

I begin Chapter 1 with a short discussion of harmful thinking that has its roots in the exclusive use of the so-called laws of thought: identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle. Since these so-called laws are widely taken for granted, we witness the prevalence of harmful thinking.

In contrast to harmful thinking, in the remainder of Chapter 1 and Chapters 2 to 4, I explore
healing thinking based on Yin-Yang, Buddhist logic, Jain logic, non-identity (Korzybski’s non-Aristotelian logic), both/and logic, and fuzzy logic.

In Chapter 5, I point out that written and especially spoken language can at times transcend logic more or less. Thus, the constraints of Aristotelian either/or logic and logic in general are overcome or more or less alleviated.

In Chapter 6, I emphasize that all thinking is more or less fragmenting and limited. Names are given to the fragments created by the thinking mind. Hence, the realm of the thinking mind may be called the namable. Beyond the namable we can discover the Unnamable that cannot be penetrated by the thinking mind; but Yin-Yang thinking, Buddhist logic, Jain logic, and non-identity can at least point to it and invite it. The experience of the Unnamable can be profoundly healing because it trancends conflict and violence. I could have ended the book with this chapter, but then I would have implicitly acknowledged a dualism of the unnamable and namable and perhaps a negation or devaluation of the namable. To avoid this, I added Chapter 7 that presents the AQAL map by Ken Wilber, which integrates the namable and unnamable. Healing in this world occurs through the integration of the namable and unnamable, of matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit.

In Chapter 8, I conclude that although the AQAL map looks very comprehensive, it represents only one view of reality. Other views have to complement the AQAL map to provide more balance. Health is seen as balance in Chinese medicine.
The recognition of the complementarity of different maps and mandalas provides greater balance than adherence to only one view such as the AQAL philosophy. Greater balance means greater healing power and better health. The creation and contemplation of mandalas heals because mandalas often integrate the namable and the unnamable.

Summary of Book

Our common thinking and language cut the world into pieces – pieces that may be more or less antagonistic to each other and thus can lead to disharmony, conflict, and war. Changing our thinking and language would help to create a more harmonious and peaceful inner and outer world.

Our common thinking has its roots in Aristotelian logic and therefore is often referred to as Aristotelian. To a great extent Aristotelian logic is based on the so-called laws of thought: the laws of identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle (see Chapter 1 on Ways of Thinking). If thinking exclusively implies these laws, it can become harmful and destructive. Healing thinking can heal the harm done by our common Aristotelian thinking. Healthy thinking prevents the harm that can result from harmful thinking.

Healing thinking includes Yin-Yang thinking, Buddhist logic, Jain logic, fuzzy logic, both/and logic or the principle of complementarity in the widest sense, and Korzybski’s non-Aristotelian logic (general semantics). These ways of thinking transcend the so-called laws of thought. Some of them may both include and transcend the so-called laws of thought. In any case, they are healing thinking and healthy thinking (see Chapters 2-4).

Our language, especially the structure of our language, reflects our way of thinking. Therefore, it is desirable to use a language structure in accordance with healing and healthy ways of thinking. Korzybski suggested extensional devices that help in this respect. To overcome the limitations of the law of identity and identification, he suggested adding “etc.”. For example, instead of saying, “John is dishonest”, one would say, “John is dishonest, etc.” The “etc.” may include that he is handsome, charming, witty, etc. It may even include that he is also honest at times. Thus John is no longer identified with dishonesty. He is infinitely more than just dishonest. This recognition and its verbal expression appears not only much more realistic but also much less offensive. In other words: it seems much less harmful and more healing and healthy. Other extensional devices suggested by Korzybski include the following: Instead of referring to 'John' in general, one would refer to John at a particular time and in a particular context. For example, one could refer to 'John-October 22, 2009.' This would be much more precise, taking into consideration that 'John' is never exactly the same (identical) at different times and in different contexts. Implying that he is the same by using the same word 'John'” when he is not the same, leads to a distortion that can be harmful in many ways.

For other extensional devices suggested by Korzybski see Chapter 4 on Healing Thinking through Non-Identity. One could argue that his devices render language and communication awkward and that therefore it might be preferable to only think the devices such as 'etc' instead of expressing them verbally. One should, however, not underestimate the power of words and habits. What Korzybski called non-Aristotelian training requires a change of our thinking and language. Furthermore, it requires that we pause before we verbalize, that we first see, sense, and intuit what can be represented only very dimly by words and language.

Buddhist logic includes four truth-values: either, or, both/and, and neither/nor (see Chapter 3 on Healing Thinking through Both/and Logic, Yin/Yang, Buddhist Logic and Jain Logic). Saying that something is neither this nor that (neti neti, as the Hindus say), points to the vastness, the infinite, beyond thought and language (see Chapter 5 on “Beyond Thinking”). In the 7-valued Jain logic, the indescribable is also part of logical reasoning and verbal expression (see Chapter 3).

Both/and logic and complementarity can be incorporated into our language by adding the word “both” and the complement(s). For example, instead of simply saying, “This person seems bad”, we could say, “This person seems bad and good”. Such an expression also implies the Yin-Yang principle, according to which anything contains its opposite, which negates the so-called law of contradiction.

The recognition of complementary mandalas and maps of reality implies both/and logic and complementarity (see Chapter 8 on Complementarity of different Maps and Mandalas). Thus, instead of claiming that the Kosmos 'is' basically hierarchical (holarchical), as in Ken Wilber’s AQAL map (Chapter 7), one could allow in addition other complementary maps or mandalas of the Kosmos as I suggested in my book “Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond”. This would lead to a more comprehensive and realistic understanding of the Kosmos and would eliminate much of the conflict that has arisen as a result of Wilber’s dogmatic insistence on his holarchical map and other one-sided tenets. The recognition of many-sidedness can also be healing (see Alan Kazlev’s book in progress).

Fuzzy logic transcends the so-called law of the excluded middle but includes it as a borderline case of 0 or 100% membership in a fuzzy set. In most, if nor all cases, membership is somewhere between these extremes. Since everyday language usually is not mathematical, we may indicate the fuzziness by expressions such as “to a great extent (or degree)”, or “to some extent (or degree)”, or “more or less”. Although such expressions appear not very precise, they convey more precision than lumping everything into either/or. The binary mode of “either/or” can be very distorting and as a result harmful. For example, calling someone a liar when he was caught only once in a slight misrepresentation, conveys a distorted picture of that person and can do much harm to his self-esteem, his social status, etc. He is not comparable to someone who frequently tells major lies. Yet if both of them are simply called liars, we obtain a distorted picture that could be avoided or ameliorated through fuzzy thinking.

Besides the use of non-Aristotelian holistic kinds of logic, strictures of Aristotelian logic can also be alleviated or overcome through playful and poetic language. In spoken language we can use in addition tone and body language to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of Aristotelian logic.

The deepest experience of Being is reached beyond mere thinking, writing, and speaking in the unnamable and un-speakable (as Korzybski put it). We may attain it at times spontaneously or through meditation; it can happen in an instant through laughter because we cannot laugh and think at the same time.

The AQAL map by Ken Wilber provides the big picture that comprises both the unnamable and the namable and many levels and dimensions of the latter. Although a comprehensive map of the Kosmos, including human existence, it has limitations. Therefore, complementing it by other maps provides a still more comprehensive picture. Especially useful are mandalas, maps that often represent the unnamable in the center and the namable radiating from it. Creating and/or contemplating mandalas can be profoundly healing.

You may continue with the Introduction of this book ms, or return to its Table of Contents

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