How a 5½ weeks experiment helped me discover the secret of awareness. Cyber Autism, Redux.
By Ehden Biber
I have been investigating the nature of awareness ever since Rephael autism took his ability to communicate with us, when he was about 18th months old. This beautiful boy, the youngest of our 3 siblings was disappearing in front of my eyes and I didn’t know what to do. The impact of his autism on my understanding of how much I cannot perceive what another human being is perceiving came a few years later, when he was still a young boy. One day, when he and his two siblings were at my place, Rephael came to me crying his heart out, but I had no idea why he is crying. That realization, this experience of disconnection between my personal experience and the perception of reality someone else is having was one of the most profound moments of my life. Before that, I was busy trying to fix Rephael. After that, I was busy trying to fix myself. My moment came when I realized there wasn’t anything in my son that prevented him from communicating with met, but it was something in my own perception of reality which prevented me from communicating with my son. I was the root of my own suffering.
Fast forward to summer 2019.
This summer I dedicated five and a half weeks of my life to serve Rephael. I theory that if I will do it something will change, and I wanted to see if there could be any visible change to his “normal” state of autism. We spend multiple nights a week outside allowing him to be who he is, free. While we were jamming (me mainly on my Djembe, an African Drums) Rephael was dancing, singing, hugging, running, eating, moving in his own rhythm, sleeping, and endlessly standing in stillness while hugging me, touching my back with his fingers as if he is trying to communicate to me via a mysterious code I didn’t know. My friend who held space for both of us loved him so much, and he felt so accepted, so free. Suddenly, things changed. 3 weeks before his 18th birthday my son told me for the first time in his life “I love you so much”. Then he told me he wants me to speak English, not in French (my son was born and lives in Belgium). One day he said, “I missed you so much”, again for the first time in his life. I discovered that my son was a funny, intelligent, wonderful young man, the son I always dreamed of having.
In the now.
The secret to awareness lies in being present. It does not come from web-based training. It does not come from posters next to the coffee machine. It does not come from funny movies. It comes from being in a right setting so that you will be able to engage in that state. It is a very different state, a state most of us know but don’t remember, it’s a state that movies and music are designed to induce you into, and this is the reason why watching a movie in a cinema or going to a concert is such a seductive and addictive immersive experience.
For far too long the cybersecurity awareness community has been avoiding the most important fact about the nature of awareness. We are supposed to tell a story about cybersecurity, and we are supposed to make people engage correctly in that story. This is true not only for our paid jobs but also by our families and friends who don’t stop asking us what to do to be safe online. But to be able to tell such stories in a way will be able to bring change we really need to be able to understand what that state is. How many of the people who oversee cybersecurity in your organisation have any clue about the nature of flow states? How many people who work in the field of cybersecurity awareness had a shared flow experience with others, one that will allow them to grasp the magnitude of change of worldview they are trying to help people experience? How many of the people in the awareness industry actively practice being in such state in levels that will allow them to help other people, to be able to hold a space of love to allow these people to grow? How many people who work in cybersecurity awareness grasp what it means to lead others via a death of their perception of reality? Does anyone in your HR organisation even knows how to measure these cyber artistic capacities?
We, who wish to help people develop their cybersecurity awareness, are required to tell a story which requires honesty and modesty and humbleness and bravery, all of which only one who experience their true self can understand. I learned all of this via my journey with my son. It was Rephael that allowed me to grasp how blind I was about him and about myself. He is one of the most precious human beings I have ever met, and the only way for me to reach him was via a journey of going through deep forgiveness to “my story” and celebrating with him whatever is in the now. Will individuals, organisations, corporations, and governments understand the essence of the human experience, and the roots of our blindness?
Above everything else, the journey I am experiencing with my son via his autism taught me more about my humanity than anything else I ever “learned”. When it comes to the world of cybersecurity, you cannot leave one’s humanity aside and treat them with the tools you are using to solve technical problems. Paraphrasing the great Bruce Schneier, if you think you can solve the cybersecurity problem without experiencing what a sense of awareness is, then you don’t understand cybersecurity, and you don’t understand what it is to have a sense of awareness.
The secret to cybersecurity awareness requires a very different set of skills than the ones which are being discussed today. If you ever had a glimpse for a second, or perhaps a day or a few years of feeling you are stuck in a world that made you experience a sense of suffering from bad cybersecurity incidents, both on the individual level and organisational level, please realize that the only way out of that state of suffering is via a collapse of a current perception of reality and utilizing that energy to move forward in the now. As I’ve written about it in the past, cultures all around the world had and have death ceremonies, and while organisations are practicing cyber playbooks, how many of these simulations involves people who actually understands how to construct the setting that will allow the people involved in these simulations to truly experience how it feels to see your perception of reality crumble in front of your face as a result of a cyberattack?
The solution to the “outside” cybersecurity problem is, was, and forever starts “inside”. It comes with grasping the unpredictable nature of the world; it rises when you drop your perception of reality, including cybersecurity, it awaits you, in your hearts, where your true self forever shines, where I discovered my beautiful Rephael. It was via surrendering and serving my son that the devotion to love, compassion, kindness, happiness, and stillness brought to my life the connection I never had with my son, the one I wanted so much and suffered for not having for so many years.
It took me almost 18 years to reach the point in which I was ready to communicate with Rephael, where the miracles happened. I have one advice to everyone who struggle in life: there is nothing more worthy in life than to discover who you really are before it would be too late. The only way for you to escape the suffering you have as a result of your relationship with “yourself” (your ego-constructed self), is via this witnessing experience. It is also true for your relationships with your loved ones, and it is also true for the relationship of individuals and organisations in the cyber world. The bibles tell a story about Moses encounter with god in the desert, were he saw a burning bush and heard a voice telling him “remove your shoes because the place you are standing in is a holy place”.
The now is a sacred place, the now is where awareness occurs, the now is the place we are free to grow and face the truth, even while in deep pain.
The secret to cybersecurity awareness is simply:
(ending this article with an Earth Wind & Fire song, one that Rephael loves waking up with when he stays with me)
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