Compassionate Theory of Everything

Compassionate Theory – A Jungian Analogy

Jung used the terms “ego” and “Self” in very specific ways. His “Self” would include the total personality – consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.

While each of us is born “whole,” the “ego” begins to differentiate our conscious identity into a separate “part” based on a limited conceptualization of what “we” are. We then tend to ignore the rest of what we are, especially what our conscious minds judge as dangerous or bad.

We create a “shadow” in which traits and desires we do not like, and do not see as part of ourself, lurk in the darkness. The only problem with this is that everything we’ve separated from also has a positive dimension that would allow us to lead a more fulfilling life.

Over the course of life, through the process Jung called “Individuation,” we explore all parts of ourselves and learn to embrace and integrate all of what we are as “Self.”

A similar process of embracing all parts of what we are can happen in our conceptualizations of humanity as a whole.

In the process of asking ourselves “Who are my loved ones?” and including all of humanity, we are performing a task on a collective scale analogous to what Jung’s called “individuation” on an individual scale.

This does not require accepting the behaviors of sadistic individuals or rapacious cultures. Instead, we may recognize that such horrific behavior is an ugly expression of desires and aspirations that all humans share, which may also be expressed in beautiful ways.

We can see as we look through the pages of history, some filled with staggering achievements of empathy and progress and others dripping with blood – humanity is both bright and dark.

“The Self…embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension. As a totality, the self is a coincidentia oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither.” – Carl Jung

Compassionate Theory of Everything

A Playful Explanation of Everything

God made evolution, because She preferred to plant colorful humanity in a wild jungle and see how we twist and curl as we reach for the sun.

Let’s be honest: If you were omnipotent, omniscient and eternal, would you wind up a bunch of people-clocks so you could listen to their heads tick? That would get awfully boring after a year, let alone an eternity.

Messy organic diversity is exciting and frustrating and delicious.

We evolved physical bodies in lots of shapes and sizes, but mostly with two eyes to see and two legs to carry us.

We evolved minds that twist the world into symbols and metaphors in an endless array of singular shapes, but all these abstractions serve the same purpose of telling us how to collaborate with our families and thrive in this wild jungle.

First, we evolved to survive in a physical environment where we had to fight off wolves and find food on our own because there weren’t many people. Then, we evolved to thrive in a social environment where some people seemed like family but other people seemed like wolves. Today, our minds are still trying to figure out which people are wolves and which ones are family.

“Who are my loved ones? What is best for us?”

What America Tastes Like

Fried Chicken Seen Anew – Willie Mae’s Scotch House New Orleans

This place made me stop, stare, and completely re-evaluate fried chicken. It’s different from buttermilky Georgia fried chicken, it’s different from straight-shooting midwest fried chicken. It’s light-years from the only two good fried chicken places in the Pacific Northwest, yet also different from the rest of the South.

The batter is filled with potent flavor and a vague heat that builds pleasantly. Chicken stock reduced down to a paste for savoriness plus a cajun dry-rub? Maybe. But the texture of that crunch… this texture is simply unavailable elsewhere. This skin has a craggly, twisty surface, like dark waves of umami-lava frothed upward and fried into place. It looks like bubbly volcanic rock when you break it open, and every nook and cranny packs a wallop of satisfying piquant savor. How do they do that?

Green beans – Normally I have trouble caring about vegetables. In any meal, they’re the tambourine player of the band to me. Sure, maybe that tambourine guy adds something, but I sure as hell didn’t come to the show to hear him play.

These green beans are good enough I’ll wait for their solo. I’m big on salt, and they push the limit of salt’s flavor-enhancing qualities – but without salt becoming a flavor itself. They are pushed to the limit in every way, with vinegar, garlic, and red pepper. The result is a hit-making vegetable. How do they do that?

The cornbread is top-notch.

The lemonade is fresh squeezed.

The bread pudding is funky in left-field unexpected taste, blessedly free of raisins, and rum-boozy.

I’m pretty sure there is root beer in the yams.

But that chicken… how do they do that? I can only embrace the awe and wonder. And clean my plate.

2401 St Ann St
New Orleans, Louisiana

What America Tastes Like

Domilise – The Simple Po Boy Art of Doing One Thing and Doing it Well

Walking the sidewalk of the quiet residential neighborhood that nestles and hides Domilise’s, I glimpsed the simple sign. Finally! But wait. No light or sound came from inside. It looked closed. She wanted to go back to the car. I decided to check the door before a tumbleweed blew past us or something.

Opening the door, light and sound and laughter spilled onto us. I’d opened a portal to cheerful pub-like world of fried sandwiches. The bigger of two bars sits inches behind the door, calling ticket numbers and shuffling po boys to customers one after another. Another tiny bar is tucked in the far corner serving drinks.

This place is so focused on what they do well that locals continue to fill it up even though Anthony Bourdain came here for Season 4 Episode 5 of “No Reservations.”

They fry seafood flawlessly. They stuff a heap of it in a po boy. That’s all you need.

Bun? It’s a French loaf with as much character as Keanu Reeves. Just like Mr. Ted Theodore Logan can add to a film by adding nothing, a nondescript bun can add zen-thing-no-thing to a sandwich. Sometimes all you want is an empty vessel through which a thing substance may flow. This whatever-bread is that vessel. It may have squiggles of lettuce in it too, but who knows.

The oyster po boy showcased the best fried oysters I’ve ever had. Those aren’t usually my favorite, but these had a crackly crust on them and their singular perfection had me plucking the occasional rich mineral-y molluscnugget from the sandwich to enjoy it on its own.

Golden mid-sized shrimp tumbled over the sides of the shrimp po boy, asking, really – for nothing at all. Another shrimp po boy with what seemed almost like a side dish on top – gravy and swiss cheese – confirmed this.

There is a simplicity of purpose that shines through as your po boy passes through an efficient line of cooks to be handed over with pride by the man who calls out your number. If only everyone’s mission statement could be so straightforward. Fry flawlessly. Stuff bun. Take money. Make happy.

What America Tastes Like

Verti Marte – the shrimp tucked in the corner of French Quarter

Yep, it’s a dingy corner market with narrow aisles. I had to shuffle sideways to the back to avoid knocking bags of chips on the floor. It’s also some of the best food I had in the French Quarter.

The shrimp they use in the po boys splays fat and wide, and it somehow packs more of the “local” flavor in its flesh than other shrimp I had in the city. It’s seemingly a higher grade of shrimp than most places in town use for their sandwiches, and it bursts with that signature swampy-delicious flavor I came to identify with nola crustaceans.

Get a “grilled shrimp po boy,” and you may find that swamptastic flavor nearly overwhelming. Get a “fried shrimp po boy,” and its freshwater undertones dance flawlessly with the savory breading.

There’s a crazy variety of sandwiches on the menu, so I asked the man who makes ’em what to get:

“All That Jazz” is grilled shrimp and ham and turkey and melty cheese with a Verti-made stoneground mustardy sauce. Between the multiple animals and cheeses and creamy sauce, this is a bellybuster in the best way possible. (and I’m a “large pizza to myself” kinda guy)

This is a spot we returned to multiple times after discovering that much of the food in the French Quarter is touristy in a bad way.

Get beignets while you’re here, because they’re fluffly and creamy and light, so you can skip the sugarbricks at Cafe Du Monde.

1201 Royal St
New Orleans, Louisiana

Compassionate Theory of Everything

What is the “Compassionate Theory of Everything”?

What is “The Compassionate Theory of Everything”? Where did it come from and what do I do with it?

Personal Background: When I was young and attending an Indianapolis school, our teacher had us crawl under our desks and cover our heads to protect against nuclear attacks from “Russkies.” Many people said we had to get them before “they” got “us.” Attacking another country was supposedly justified because “they” were Communists, and not really human like “us.” I wondered if “communists” might still be people regardless of their beliefs.

When I went to buy bubblegum at the corner store, I was often attacked by a group of kids who claimed I was something bad because my skin color was different from theirs. I wondered if they might be mistaking me for “something bad” based on their ideas. This mistake had to be based on “their ideas about my skin color” as opposed to the reality of my “skin color.” None of my friends in the neighborhood had the same skin color as my own, so the violence was based on ideas about reality and not reality itself.

I developed a burning curiosity to know how and why human beings come up with ideas of “us” vs “them.” I wanted to know why these ideas could shape our reasoning process and justify attack. Over decades I began to see patterns in common between racism, nationalism/war, and ALL forms of prejudice.

Summary of the CTOE using more technical terms: Human beings are born with the capacity to see people as part of an “in-group” or “out-group.” Empathy and compassion are innate parts of the human experience occurring naturally for our in-group, yet these are applied ONLY to those we PERCEIVE as part of our in-group. The in-group is formed through a perception of “who is similar to us,” and who we conceptualize as having physical or mental traits in common with us. All forms of “moral” or “immoral” behavior can be explained by an individual’s conception of their in-group.

An in-group can be conceptualized by the individual as including only the individual (in remorseless criminals who will harm others for personal gain/pleasure,) our own nuclear family (in the CEO who sells carcinogenic products to the public to buy his children a mansion,) expanded to those who share our religion (Crusades, etc,) our nation (war,) our race (racism,) our gender (patriarchy,) or all people (as in the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.) This perception and conceptualization of in-group is often learned from culture and upbringing, but this learning can be modified through conscious effort. We can make a deliberate effort to EXPAND our conception of an in-group, by seeing their desires and mental activities as similar to our own. This conception can include all people who are human beings.

Application of the CTOE: Widespread and cross-cultural understanding of this basic process will reverse the global trend toward extremism and fragmentation of societies.

This extremism has grown as our ideological differences (dissimilarity in conceptualizations) have been highlighted and advertised through tweets and modern communication technologies. The natural result of this has been in-group bonding through shared outrage at the conceptualization and behavior of others and out-group attack of those who see reality differently.

An awareness and understanding of our OWN in-group formation process is vital to the survival of our species, or at least human political and social systems. Without it we continue to create a world full of groups all viewing themselves as “moral and good” as they attack other groups.

Research supporting the CTOE:

Psychology – Pre-verbal infant behavior indicates in-group bias –…/babies-help-unlock-the-origins…/3/

Yale Infant Morality Researcher Paul Bloom: “We are predisposed to break the world up into different human groups based on the most subtle and seemingly irrelevant cues, and that, to some extent, is the dark side of morality… We have an initial moral sense that is in some ways very impressive, and in some ways, really depressing — that we see some of the worst biases in adults reflected in the minds and in the behaviors of young babies…a bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences.”

Endocrinology – The one hormone we think of as the “love hormone” motivates both in-group favoritism and out-group antagonism

“Results show that oxytocin creates intergroup bias because oxytocin motivates in-group favoritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation. These findings call into question the view of oxytocin as an indiscriminate “love drug” or “cuddle chemical” and suggest that oxytocin has a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.”

History – Individual conceptions of in-groups can be expanded by cultural conceptions, when legislation grants “personhood” –

In 1879 the Native American Chief Standing Bear’s family was being removed from their land by the US Government. He brought suit against the Army general charged with removing him.

The Ponca chief spoke before the court: “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain,” said Standing Bear. “The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled on May 12th, 1879 that “an Indian is a person.”

Most of the US population now sees Native Americans as “human beings,” which was not the case in the 1800s. Those whose skin “looks different” than “ours” can be seen as fully and completely human, and legislative changes promote cultural changes which promote individual changes in conceptualization.

In Canada, On Oct. 18, 1929, women were declared “persons” under the law. Women were granted the right to vote in 1940, and all women regardless of race were granted the right to vote in 1950.

Those whose “gender is different” than “ours” can be seen as fully and completely human. We would prefer this process to happen “on its own,” but cultures and individuals must instead “learn” to see those who look or think differently as fully and completely human. There are evolutionary reasons human beings have twin capacities to “recognize humanity” and “reject it,” and those will be covered elsewhere.

Summary: Although we continue to see horrific violations of human rights around the world – human cultures and civilizations have been moving in the general direction of “expanding our in-groups” for hundreds of years. The UN Declaration of Human Rights was a milestone in the 20th century impossible in the century before. That declaration was likely a result of awareness – many people could see the danger to all humanity posed by a world of fragmented in-groups each possessing nuclear arms.

Cultures provide answers to our individual questions, and these answers in general have become more and more inclusive as evidenced through advances in “personhood” and suffrage. But sub-cultures often still teach us that “we the people” are different and better than “they” the not-quite people.

We, as individuals, can nurture the process of compassion in ourselves by recognizing that all people have certain questions in common – regardless of the various foreign “realities” their answers may bring them. Having questions in common aids us in experiencing empathy and compassion.

We can nurture the progress of this compassionate process in society through our daily interactions with others, and find our own ways to communicate and share “how the process works.”

The “2 Universal Questions” are the simplest and most direct communication I could come up with, after working at unifying evolutionary and psychological perspectives, and attempting to boil them down to a process as simple and cross-culturally recognizable as possible:

“What is best for my loved ones?” (my family and those I see as similar to me in some way)


“Who are my loved ones?” (who, specifically, has something in common with my conception of myself and can be embraced as my in-group?)

Whatever your sub-culture, be it an academic or political or spiritual, there is some way of communicating this same basic process to others.

Please find it and spread it, because it will help human civilization continue to grow in compassion.

Compassionate Theory of Everything

What a “Compassionate Theory of Everything” Did When I Tested It

There was a decade after I joined Facebook that I couldn’t use it without getting pissed off.

One morning I opened my laptop and saw all the political chaos, spiritual debate and outrage and horror we create in the world… and I felt love for humanity.

I knew I had something.

The theory helped me create a house-wide oasis within a ghetto, where I brought homeless people and felons and stroke victims to eat Thanksgiving dinner together. We watched Tom Hanks on the wall with my projector.

Police responded to no calls to the address. One of my tenants was arrested in the driveway, but for charges unrelated to behavior in our home. Parole officers called it the nicest rooming house in town.

My success, failure, addiction, depression – and even the anguish of meaninglessness – now has a sense of order I can relate to based on a theory I developed over decades.

This theory – the story I believe is true – has also helped me train dogs for both behavior and emotional state. Compassion can be found between humans and animals.

The theory, which explains why humans have such different ideas about reality and everything in it, is congruent with evolutionary theory.

It does not negate religion or spirituality.

It has allowed me to find fulfillment and quality of life, regardless of my lifestyle at any given time. Living in a rich neighborhood or sleeping on pavement affected my comfort level, but I’ve enjoyed purpose and a sensation of aliveness.

I have tested the Compassionate Theory of Everything in my own life, and it brings me empathy and understanding for others. Self-compassion allowed me to integrate parts of myself I had hated or feared into a fulfilling whole.

I’m not going to insist that the CTOE is “true.” It produced a predicted result for me.

If you want the world to make sense in ways that let you love all the people in it, I will be offering the theory to you. So you can test it yourself.