How greed is mirrored in social groups

In my last post, I introduced the idea of mirroring to FIML terminology. Language, semiotics, and mirroring (LSM) can be thought of as a fairly simple set of factors that can help us understand social situations.

Several studies done at UC Berkeley (Unethical Behavior More Prevalent In The Upper Classes According To New Study) have shown that upper-class individuals tend to behave less ethically than others. Of course, any good historian knows this is the history of the world–privileged classes always become locked in a self-referential world that gradually moves far from the reality of the societies that support them.

If we consider the UC studies in terms of LSM, we can say that those people are ensconced (or trapped) in a subculture that upholds a “greed is good” semiotic, that they will speak to each other (language) in terms based on that semiotic, and that they will mirror each others’ expressions and bodily movements. Of course there will be a lot of variety in how they do these things, but generally we can expect to them to act in roughly those ways.

It is not surprising that in a capitalist society attitudes toward greed would be a central marker of upper-class groups. In ancient China, the operative upper-class words might have been obedience (of others) or loyalty. In traditional India, it would be sticking to your caste.

Traditional Buddhism makes a distinction similar to LSM. As Buddhists, we speak of the karma of body, speech, and mind. In this context, body = mirroring; speech = language; and mind = semiotics. Not exactly the same, but pretty close.

We can also see in Buddhist terms how it is that people get locked into their groups and why we call that “karma”. It can be very difficult to go against any group (and especially the upper-class) in any of those areas of body, speech, or mind. You can’t speak against them or speak all that differently from them; you can’t hold ideas that don’t fit (greed is bad!); and you can’t stop mirroring their expressions and body language when around them. If you deviate too much from any group, you will find yourself becoming separated, even ostracized, from it very quickly.

FIML partners have an excellent way to observe these general truths in the microcosm of their daily interactions with each other. Almost all FIML queries/discussions will contain small bits of body, speech, and mind, or language, semiotics, and mirroring. After a FIML query has been basically answered and understood, it is a good idea to review these three aspects by asking specifically about them.

What sort of mirroring was happening? Was one partner using the mirroring (body language) of a subculture the other partner did not understand?

What sort of speech/language was happening? Did one partner use a word or term that sounded off to the other? Did someone’s tone of voice sound wrong? Why?

What sort of mind/semiotics was happening? Was one partner assuming something (greed is good) that the other partner does not believe? Does the first partner really believe that or are they just mirroring the beliefs of others?

Buddhist teachings can help us a great deal during discussions of this type. Ask yourself, am I being wise or stupid right now? Am I trying to understand more deeply or just trying to bs my partner? Is my state of mind conducive to learning and wisdom or not?

In the studies described above, we can see that some of those people have allowed themselves to act unethically based on unsound thinking. They have a mistaken view of themselves and the world. In FIML, we call this sort of view a neurosis. If a person who held views of that type were to do FIML practice, they would eventually see their views intruding on their speech or on how they listened to other people. In FIML practice, they will get immediate feedback, so it will become difficult to maintain those mistaken views. In real life, too many of those upper-class people never get the feedback from anyone, so their delusion drifts further and further from what is right and wise. Ergo, the current state of the USA, but that’s another story.

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