Ryan Rudolph | Back

Transforming Mind ~ Transforming World

Ryan Rudolph's new website, Transforming Mind / Transforming World, which is still in it's earliest stages, has been an excellent compliment and support to the ideals of Core Webworks. Ryan's work is a resource for anyone who is opening up to an alternative lifestyle. For this discussion, my intention was to introduce his website to our readership and explore the ideas and values behind Ryan's transcendental economic theory, along with a host of other ideas and values promoted through his website.

We decided to use G+ for recording an interview.


Ryan: Good Evening.

CWW: Hey, Ryan. So, like I was telling you, I'm pleasantly surprised by your website, transforming Capitalism / transforming Mind. The title of the site alone raises an interesting point - that capitalism, or any economic structure and activity, is a reflection of mind? Is it accurate to say that, in your view?

Ryan: Yes, I would agree that the current outward economic activity is largely due to our inward subjective attitudes and values.

CWW: For those that haven't read your site, you are quite critical of today's business practices and the ideas that support them. By being critical of current practices and ideas, it would then seem that you are being critical of peoples minds. In your experience, do most people seek comfort and identity in ideas? Ideally, you could criticize ideas without anyone getting hurt. Is that the case though? How scary is it for people to see ideas criticized and undermined?

Ryan: Yes, people cling to ideas for a false-sense of security, so to criticize any idea that someone values is frightening for them because they are afraid to lose the comfort that the idea provides. However, they do not realize that there is greater freedom in abandoning ideas that are just not working for the society as a whole, and ideas that are holding them back psychologically.

CWW: The first thing you wrote on your website was the term "Conscious Self-Destruction". Readers can check your site for your definition of that term, but it basically refers to how businesses will consciously dismantle their business by selling assets, rather than change the ideas and modify their products. I suppose it is not entirely passive is it? They are at least taking action and getting out of harms way. What else would you add to this?

Ryan: It is basically the recognition that the direction they are heading is being undermined by a new industry or paradigm so they consciously jump ship and adapt with it, rather than being sucked down with it and destroyed. financially, of course. However, one can see the parallels with the life of the philosopher. The philosopher does this as well. What I was trying to do is pull metaphors that cross-relate.

CWW: Yes, the theme of metaphor reoccurs throughout your site often, as you seem to stress that phenomena on one level of existence (e.g., biological) often have strong parallels with phenomena on other levels of existence (economic and psyshological), and that perhaps the economic world is best analyzed by using the psychological world as a mirror, and that likewise, the psychological world can be easier understood by using the natural world (winter, spring, waves, trees, clouds) as a mirror. Is this naive? I notice your metaphors become rather sophisticated...

Ryan: yes, you have nailed much of my intention on the site. I became quite intrigued by how powerful metaphor is in the creative process, especially across related disciplines, and how new insights and new ways of thinking can emerge through the playful cross-analysis of these metaphors. I then began to contemplate the importance of a database of such metaphors, theories etc, which could be used as a tool for the creative community.

CWW: It's a secret well known among creative scientists that metaphorical thinking has been what has lead to many important discoveries. For instance, Edison established a discovery in electricity by imagining a water pump. You used the term Bio-mimicry to show how directly science can learn from nature, using the nautilus snail as an example of how a modern day submarine uses the same mechanistic principles to accomplish it's motion. What about psychology and mental illness?

The reality is that psychologists and psychiatrists are in a position to judge patients. How appropriate, or even therapeutic would it be to explain mental sickness with metaphor to faciliate healing, self acceptance and social orientation?

Ryan: I believe you can use metaphor in any discipline and it will only enhance it, and make the discipline itself more effective and resonant to everything else. For instance: Suppose someone comes into a therapists office miserable because they do not feel they relate to anything or anybody, as science has destroyed their faith in religion, or perhaps they have lost relationships, or failed at something they really wanted in society. Well, In addition to some solid philosophical definitions, one could offer the metaphor of the swinging pendulum representing the swing between happiness and unhappiness, meaning a personíspursuit of happiness and failure has a relationship to their degree of unhappiness and misery. A decent therapeutic approach would get them to realize what goals and wants are realistic and what ones arenít, and the negative consequences of pursuing each one."

CWW: Would you actually say that to a professional psychologist or psychiatrist? Misery due to alienation, inability to relate, a broken relationship, or career failure... that is very reasonable to me. However, it would seem that in the psychiatric community, misery caused by ones "idea" of oneself is a very unexplored and even controversial area. Many modern psychiatrists have difficulty with the concept of self esteem and self value, attributing emotional well being to non-ideational factors, such as hormones, chemicals, neurotransmitters such as dopamine, etc. It is this combination of physical factors that creates ones idea of oneself. Personally, I think this is an entirely unsatisfactory way of repairing what are, in most cases, broken human beings. Care to elaborate?

Ryan: Yes, I think psychologists use reductionism because it is an easy way to dehumanize the patient, to think of them as simply a malfunctioning machine, which shows the person is not a true doctor because they have no true compassion or sensitivity to what they patient actually needs. I would assert that a true psychologist, which is quite rare in our society would be open to the exploration of the suffering of the other, totally and fully, which means no reductionist escapes. It is an unpopular approach because one needs to have a pretty strong emotional pain tolerance, and be able to view life deeply with all its universal hurts. Ironically, to view psychology through the lens of the universal impersonal makes the therapy session hit home very hard for the doctor as well, so it becomes a very personal affair for that doctor. And I don't believe doctors like the emotions of confusion, depression, fear and all the rest of it when they realize how little they actually know about the patient and themselves for that matter.

CWW: I agree about many psychiatrists dehumanizing their patients, and I think they do this because the doctors themselves are living in a dehumanized state.

The pioneers of psychology - Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, RD Lang, and Carl Jung had been recorded as having undergone great suffering and confusion throughout their careers. These are people who changed the world and opened minds to new frontiers, frontiers that to this day are not entirely understood. (Freud and Schopenhauer also did great pioneering work, but we'll discuss those two in a future project).

Carl Jung had said: "It is, unfortunately, only too clear that if the individual is not truly regenerated in spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum total of individuals in need of redemption. The salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual soul."

I think the problem that doctors face is that it is not enough to be actively engaged with the patient, you have to be actively engaged with your community, challenging the gravity that is pulling the community down. This brings us back to the theme of your website, your economic interests seem focused on economic contraction, is that correct? What else would you emphasize to someone who is new to the ideas behind your site?

Ryan: For many people, the economy currently operates at a speed too rapid to allow enough dedication for serious character development. Plus we live in a culture that expects full time work or the culture assumes you have something wrong with you. I want to challenge the existing economic assumptions, and all existing psychological attitudes that sustain them as a means to slow the economy down.

Character development will naturally slow things down for the individual who decides to make changes anyway, but my logic is that it will be easier for people to break away if the society is collectively moving into a direction of increased leisure for all. It might be a long shot, but that is why I am also exploring many different things on the site such as the expression of art, philosophy, science, metaphor, the nature of invention, and character development in general. There are many interrelated themes that will probably become more or less important and dominant as time moves forward.

CWW: A popular debate among intellectuals is whether or not the economy should be prioritized around economic growth (GDP) or around happiness. It's amusing to watch the intellectuals become very eager to explain what GDP is, but from what I've gathered, very little effort is put into understanding what happiness is. Do you think it's wise to frame the debate in this manner? Happiness VS. Economic Growth? Personally, character development is one of my highest priorities, but I'm not sure I would equate that with happiness. What are your thoughts?

Ryan: I think that the overvalue of happiness is one of the primary reasons we are slaves to the endless economic growth model because the more one takes from the world then the more you gotta contribute to the growth model to be able to sustain it. People basically live with too many pursuits in the future in their heads, or they are trying to hold up an unsustainable financial situation. A philosophy of minimalism combined with a focus on character development is a decent ideal. However, people do need some basic survival necessities that require constant income such as shelter, heat, food, clothes, access to information, etc. People basically put too much effort into survival for reasons of status recognition, for self-esteem motives, to appear strong, etc.

CWW: The philosophy of minimalism is not attractive to many, because instead of physical objects and other humans to drain, instead you have to have mental objects to drain. And make no mistake, there is drain. There is a vampric nature to human beings. Personally, I experience happiness through my ideas, my creativity, both within myself, and through the interpersonal act of creativity, such as what you and I are doing now. We are no different than ordinary people in the sense that we have our objects of fascination and delight, we do grow discontented and weary, and we do move onto new things. But in our case, the objects of our happiness are not physical. Our joy is in the creation of the world, whether it is through laying down new value systems, new ideas, new aesthetic perspectives, new art, or music. There is also a great deal of recycling - in that old, dead endeavors, these end up reappearing in fresh new forms, serving new ideals and ideas. So happiness and misery, life and death, they are one thing. There comes a day when a man wakes up and admits that there is no happiness without misery, and joy is seeing the unity of both. The truth is that misery is a challenge, and the challenge is to love what is difficult, and to do what is difficult. Is this how you see it? - I should add... what you said about the pressure of self esteem through comparison to others is a vital piece to this. ...

Ryan: yes, I think people get greedy with happiness, and do not process the negative that is related to each source of happiness. So then they attempt to avoid the negative in everything, and only pursue the positive, which creates all sorts of psychological imbalances. I suppose it amounts to not fully processing the full spectrum of life fully. Also, they judge others on the superficial appearance of happiness they have, and copy it, without a willingness or even an understanding of the sort of negativity that are getting themselves into.

CWW: Happiness can then be seen as a prison. Would you have anything to add about the distinction between being greedy through material things and being greedy through the non-material?

I think it's obvious by the way we pile up garbage and complicate our lives with debt that physical, materialistic consumerism is not very bright. But if I told you that we had to escape inwardly and engage emotionally with our inner selves, our thoughts, what kind of trouble lies there?

Ryan: There are many pitfalls with the non-material as well. The religious folk become obsessed with metaphysical realities/belief and attempt to arrive at certainties that cannot be known. I would also say that the spiritual seeker can also get caught up on things such as the mystique around a sage, self-esteem through how many philosophers he can name, refusal to end the search etc. There are probably an equal amount of traps the mind can fall into when it begins to go inward. Basically, when the mind becomes fixated on a particular thing for emotional reasons, and a cognitive loop occurs, there is trouble.

CWW: Thanks for your insight, we'll have to pick this up again soon.

When the country is ruled with a light hand
The people are simple.
When the country is ruled with severity,
The people are cunning.
Happiness is rooted in misery.
Misery lurks beneath happiness.
Who knows what the future holds?

- Tao Te Ching, verse 10

Carl Jung

"All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination."
"It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts."
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity."
"A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them."
"An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."
"Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism."
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."
"Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble."
"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent."
"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."
"The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers."
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
"The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases."
"We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
"The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it."
"Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other."

(Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) Swiss psychologist)

Further Reading

Nature As Metaphor | The Art of Seeing the Outer World As A Mirror
Employing the art of metaphor to assist in truly seeing oneself clearly.

Wisdom of the Infinite | by David Quinn
A clealry written analysis of the nature of form, boundaries and reality as a whole, by living Philosopher, David Quinn

The Ending of Time | by Physicist David Bohm & J. Krishnamurti
feeling panic and pressure from deadlines? Rushing and Cramming? Why?!

Comedy and Truth

George Carlin | Time

George Carlin | Teach your children to question