Category Archives: Malcolm Gladwel

We’re Never Alone 

In the prescient, 2014 Rethinking Survival, this final section follows Alien Invaders, We’re in a Terrible Mess, Fresh Start, and Einstein’s New Way of Thinking.  

Again, it’s written in the free-association style of who I was at the time. I’m so different now, there’s no point in trying to rework it. I’m letting it stand, for the value it has to offer. 

In the book, all the quotes are footnoted with careful precision. I’ve decided against cluttering this space with scholarly paraphernalia. Most of the references are easily searchable online. If there’s a problem, I’ll gladly supply supporting materials. 

We’re Never Alone: Gladwell’s Giants and Misfits in Perspective 

When Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath came out recently, I had to read it. The subject promised to be a perfect fit with the vision of Rethinking. After all, King David is my ideal: musician, psalmist, warrior and king in one. 

It turns out this book is a perfect example of how sorely the Quantum Paradigm is needed. “We need a better guide for facing giants,” Gladwell wrote.  

I agree.  

Here it is. 

As far as it goes, the book is a good read. What’s lacking is the Quantum Life Wheel to put David and Goliath in context. From this perspective, Goliath was stuck on the surface. Despite his physical size, he was ultimately powerless.  

David, on the other hand, was connected to Center. That gave him the advantage. 

Using this model, we can place the source of David’s strength as well as his strategies and his deadly slingshot.  

Resting in the innermost hub of the wheel was the source of little David’s confidence — the timeless God of Israel.  

His strategies, however, belonged to the dynamic, energy level.  

His prowess as a straightshooter depended on physical strength, visual acuity and years of experience. Those have their place on the material surface.  

In other words, the levels of David’s life were coordinated. They were in synch. Unified. 

If David had drawn a blank on any one of the three levels, he wouldn’t have succeeded then. Nor can anyone succeed today.  

Vision that’s not backed by good plan and technical competence is incomplete. Cunning strategies lacking equal competence to execute them are lop-sided. Without a direct connection with the creative center, all the physical resources in the world aren’t enough. 

There are several reasons, however, why the story of David and Goliath isn’t the best model for coping with adversity today. 

For one, we’re at a very different point in history. We’re at end stage. Civilization was relatively young back then. Different times call for different responses. 

Further, confronting a single foe face-to-face was one matter. The tangled mess of corporate-faced, alien-driven evil which little guys are up against now is a much different threat. Different dangers call for different protections. 

Another point: Gladwell’s subtitle refers to underdogs and misfits. It’s not a good idea to romanticize misfits. Timothy McVey and Charles Manson were misfits. They didn’t fit in with mainstream society, but with good cause. 

It’s the telescoping mistake. Extremes on both sides of the bell-shaped median are lumped together and written off as “deviant.” But spiritual geniuses and murderous psychopaths don’t belong in the same category. 

Further, not all giants are enemies of the people. There are corporate CEOs who treat their workers decently and genuinely serve the public. When I searched my memory banks for a good example, I thought back to Glenn Beck’s billionaire philanthropist friend.  

What was his name?! It took me a couple days to find it. 

Strangely, he doesn’t get much media attention. (Why not is an interesting question!) 

But Jon Huntsman, Sr. is living proof. A corporate giant can be as much a part of the solution as the underdogs. Sometimes even more. 

A web search comes up with several sides to his story. He gained his wealth by climbing the corporate ladder of success. In 1974, Huntsman Container Corporation created the “clamshell” container for the McDonald’s Big Mac. It developed other popular products, including the first plastic plates and bowls. This led to the 1994 founding of the multi-billion-dollar Huntsman Corporation. He continues to expand into new business ventures. 

As a philanthropist, Huntsman has given away more than $1.2 billion to both domestic and international charities. His humanitarian aid includes help to the homeless, ill and underprivileged. 

He holds that the very rich should give not half, as Gates and Buffet say, but a full 80 percent of their wealth to worthy causes. It should be through voluntary choice, however. Not taxation.  

In this, he agrees with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. His goal is to give away everything before he dies. But this isn’t an easy task. He keeps on making too much money. 

On the personal side, Huntsman not only lost parents to cancer, but is himself a four-time cancer survivor. His response has been to turn adversity into opposite and equal good. The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City accelerates the work of curing cancer through human genetics. It also focuses on providing humane care to cancer patients. 

Huntsman has been married to his wife Karen for over fifty years. He’s the father of nine children. The eldest son, Jon Jr. is a public servant. He was the governor of Utah, and later an ambassador to China. (Small world.) The second son is a corporate executive who carries on his father’s business. 

Come to find out, Jon Huntsman. Sr. is also an author. One of his books is Winners Never Cheat – Even in Difficult Times. Amazon’s editorial review calls him “one of the finest human beings, industrial leaders and philanthropists on the planet.” His book drills down on “ten timeless, universal values” for business and life. The review concludes that Huntsman’s work edifies, inspires and motivates all of us to model his common sense lessons. 

Timeless? Universal? Common sense? I like it!  

Winners Play By the Rules is another of his titles. This book tells “how to keep your moral compass pointed toward true North — even when those around you are compromising their ethics.”  

True North? Compasses? WOW. There is a positive paradigm shift going on. I am not alone in this. 

Redefining Power 

Gladwell says little guys need to redefine power. That’s what I’ve done in Part Two. True power comes from within. Goliath, who drew strength primarily from the physical plane, was puny compared to the force behind David’s sling. 

Gladwell notes that a single smooth stone to center of Goliath’s head probably destroyed the pituitary gland. He quotes researchers who theorize that the giant had a glandular disorder which explains his huge size. This same pituitary disease would have caused eye problems. That’s probably why a slave had to lead him into battle. Presumably his vision was failing. 

But from a holistic perspective, the same story has a deeper meaning. David’s single shot went straight to the third eye, the ajna center located in the center of the forehead. It correlates with the pineal gland, a close neighbor of the pituitary. In yoga anatomy, this center is associated with spiritual vision. 

David’s projectile put out the giant’s lights. It was poetic justice for an enemy who was closed to inner truth. That was the giant’s weakness. It remains the weakness of bad guys today as well. A single shot is all it takes, when you know where to aim. 

It reminds me of the plumber with a golden hammer. The story is told about a home owner with a flooded basement who makes an emergency call. The plumber comes. Climbs a ladder. Reaches up to the leaking pipe. Takes out a golden hammer and taps. Once. Tink.  

Problem solved. 

Then he gives the owner his bill. That will be $350.  

What? Why? That took less than five minutes!  

The plumber’s answer: “The charge is for knowing where to tap.” 

Bad guys have blind spots. That’s their weakness and the good guy’s advantage. If they’ve cut themselves off from the center, no matter how rich and powerful in the world, or how charismatic at the middle level of energy dynamics, in the long run they’re the losers. 

The middle layer of the Positive Paradigm shows us what’s missing from Gladwell’s book. Applying David’s story to today’s dilemmas falls short without the complete picture. David’s God broadcasts from the center of the wheel.  

Today, noisy competitors are broadcasting from the middle, astral plane. In effect, they jam the air waves, making it hard to hear the still small voice of conscience. 

When religionists comfort us that we’re not alone, they’re telling us a half truth. Christ is broadcasting from the center (even when we can’t hear or won’t do). But there are lots of competing distractions. Some voices mimic good angels, but aren’t.  

My description in Part Two bears repeating here: 

. . . spirits, ghosts, leprechauns, angels and demons or jinn acknowledged by various mystic traditions also reside at the middle level. From here, unseen hands from the “dark side of the force” reach out to derange the minds of power-hungry rulers and undermine political affairs. So long as their invisible influence remains unaccounted for, the failings and depravities of human governments remain mystifying. 

St. Paul described it in his letter to the Ephesians: 

6:12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

This is why the David paradigm can’t be taken at face value. David told Goliath, “God is with me.” But since then, the same claim has been made by numerous demon-driven leaders. Combatants on both sides of every battle want their followers to believe that God is on their side. 

What makes sense in Quantum Paradigm context is that David was with God. He was listening. He “knew” what he had to say and do. And he did it. 

Here’s a time-tested way to know who is who. Ask who’s calling. If it’s Christ broadcasting from the center, or a true disciple, LISTEN. If it’s a voice from the astral plane that won’t acknowledge Christ, then DON’T. Tell it to scram.  

Remember the words of the marvelous cartoonist James Thurber. He drew a panther lounging in a telephone booth with the receiver in its paw. The caption reads: “If it’s a panther, don’t anther.” 

Here’s another way the David and Goliath book breaks down. Gladwell wants to identify ways for little guys to battle big guys. First, not all little guys are good guys. Nor do little guys have to come up with strategies now as if inventing the wheel from scratch. They’ve been codified in cultures saturated in I Ching philosophy for thousands of years. 

The middle level is the realm of the Natural Law encoded in the Book of Change. Energy dynamics are impartial. They work regardless of the user’s motives. For every David who uses strategies to defeat a wicked enemy, there are countless Alinsky clones. 

They’ll use every underhanded strategy in the book to undermine anyone who gets in the way of what they want. Sometimes the motive is sheer greed. They fabricate excuses for confiscating other people’s wealth. 

For every sage like Lao Tze who honored the Tao and wrote the classic Tao Te Ching, there many others also immersed in spinoffs of I Ching savvy whose connection to the Center of the Life Wheel is uncertain.  

Sun Tzu, for example, applied the principles of natural law to describe The Art of War.

Later offshoots include versions like the 36 Stratagems. One has the suggestive title Lure the Tiger Out of the Mountains. This book pairs anecdotes from Chinese history with stories about current corporate practices. It shows how IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and other business giants overcame early odds to beat out the competition. They used the same yin-yang strategies which the advisors to Chinese emperors recommended in the past. 

A more chilling version is Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile: Use the 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies to Seize the Competitive Edge

Musashi’s Book of Five Rings is a Japanese approach to strategy. 

In fact, Saul Alinsky comes straight out of this tradition. He could well have taken his ideas from the Asian history books.  

Remember him? He’s the one who dedicated Rules for Radicals to “those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.” 

Change strategies are variations on the theme: “Extreme yin changes to extreme yang. Extreme yang changes to extreme yin.” 

In others words, giants and underdogs trade places. In this scheme of things, the apparently powerless, like little David, have always had options for turning the tables in their favor. 

Natural law also reminds us of the yin-yang paradox. “Whatever has a front has a back. The larger the front, the larger the back.” As described from personal experience, those who project the most holy image predictably have the most corrupt underbelly.  

Extreme size like Goliath’s is unbalanced. It changes into a liability. One’s greatest strength can be flipped to become one’s greatest weakness. (The same goes for governments, too.) 

So, the David and Goliath story is a useful example that can be applied to current events. On the surface, it may not seem unique. Corporate executives who accept the Japanese maxim “Business is War” practice taking advantage of yin-yang principles to maximize profits and power. 

But here’s the important riddle to solve. What’s the difference between Saul Alinsky and David? What separates Alinsky-clones from Positive Action advocates? 

The answer: Alinsky and his clones are functional atheists. 

Like Goliath, they’ve cut themselves off from the center of the Positive Paradigm Wheel. They may be intimidating or charismatic, but they’re not enlightened. Far from it. 

David, in contrast, linked the levels. He was in harmony with Source. He spoke for it and acted from it. Positive Action advocates aspire to follow David’s example. 

Perhaps it’s time for the good (not necessarily little) guys to take the hint. Mastery of Natural Law can be a good thing. As I’ve labored to demonstrate, in Quantum Paradigm context, it’s not opposed to Divine Law. 

There’s no either/or choice. Nature is integral to the whole. 

Stratagems aren’t good or bad in themselves. There are white magicians and black magicians. Both are adept at manipulating the elements of nature. It all depends on who’s doing what and why. 

Bottom line: it’s a matter of survival to be savvy in dynamics at the middle level of the paradigm. A step in this direction is already being taken. Books coming onto the market now advocate using Alinsky’s tactics to protect and restore what alien infiltrators of both church and state are actively destroying. 

Conversion 

The real beauty of the Quantum Paradigm model is this. It serves as proof that it’s never too late to change. Given the right circumstances, even the most obstinate resistance to the calling of conscience melts away. 

Einstein’s formula of energy conversion applies to changes of faith in both directions. Believers fall away from their faith. The faithless return to the fold. The prodigal son completes the hero’s journey. After trials and travails, much to his father’s joy, he returns home, forgiven and welcomed. 

Here’s a current example of conversion in both directions. 

Matt Morris, known as a Micky Mouse Club member and later as a writer, has captured public attention. He was raised as an Episcopalian. In 2009, reacting against his church experience, he left Christianity. He turned instead to Druidry. a form of nature worship. In 2013, he was actually on the cover of Witches and Pagans Magazine.  

Shortly afterwards, Morris made a sudden about face. It was as if he’d become aware of Christ broadcasting from the center. He wrote in a blog post: 

I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus. Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope and judgment and freedom from judgment and all of the things which made (and make) me feel connected to the Sacred. 

He denied that he’d returned to institutionalized religion. It seems his experience was qualitatively different. He’d made a direct link with the eternal center. 

The biography of C.S. Lewis is another example of conversion. He’s best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, a thinly disguised parable of the Christ story.  

Earlier, however, during WWI, horrors witnessed on the battlefield turned him to atheism. Then, eventually, he changed his views. He used reason to reconnect with faith. The world’s beauty persuaded him of the undeniable existence of “Intelligent Design.” 

Nelson Mandela’s story is the most famous example of two-way conversion. Frustrated by lack of results from protesting peacefully against state-sanctioned apartheid, he became a card-carrying Marxist Communist. He turned away from the path of peace to violence. 

When he was arrested as the leader of a terrorist organization in South Africa, Mandela admitted to his crimes. But instead of receiving the death penalty, he was sentenced to life in prison. 

Twenty-seven years in jail became a blessing in disguise. They gave him the gift of quiet time, which he turned into the opportunity to rethink his past. 

Had Mandala chosen to pursue the path of vengeance when he was released from prison, a bloodbath would have followed. 

However, he had changed. He chose the path of love and forgiveness. He became a unifier, leading blacks and whites together to overcome unjust separation of the races. By the time of his death in early December of 2013, Nelson Mandala the peaceful protester and then hunted criminal had become a revered national leader. People worldwide had come to regard him as a saint. 

But always remember: the opposite side of the coin is equally possible. Even those who’ve had a glimpse of the eternal cannot take enlightenment for granted. Many pitfalls and unforeseen dangers lurk along the paradigm’s two-way street. God is constant. Humans are not.  

The night of Christ’s arrest, Peter denied him three times before the morning came, much to his great sorrow.  

Continuous vigilance is a must. 

You Never Know 

In Part One, I described my experience with neatsies — miracles. With the supreme confidence of youth, I traveled safely alone through Europe. There was little planning and less money. But a lot of “luck.” Looking back now, it only seemed that I was alone. Of course, I never was. 

The same hidden hand that guided and protected me throughout has brought me to this point. Just as I wrote The Common Sense Book of Change as an act of faith in 1975, I’m doing the same with Rethinking Survival now, more than thirty years later. The twists and turns on my road — the numerous kaleidescope reversals — were integral to the process. 

Even in this, I am not alone. I was amazed when I recently happened upon the story of another life traveler. He used exactly the same words I have to sum up his experience: “Your never know.” 

In a seminar recorded on video, Master Chungliang Al Huang tells how one thing led to another through a lifetime of unforeseen changes. As a child, he was given a traditional education in all things Chinese. He studied the philosophy of Confucius. He practiced Tai Chi. He mastered the art of calligraphy using an artist’s brush. 

He then came to the United States and became thoroughly American. He studied architecture and worked as a architect. Then one thing led to another. 

A step at a time, he reverted back to the roots of his Chinese origins. He became a dancer; he performed with the Martha Graham troupe. In the 1960s, when Americans were hungry for Tai Chi, he was invited to become an instructor at the Esalen Institute in California. 

He’s become a boundary-spanner, working to link Western and Asian cultures. Just as I fantasized about the possibility of seducing the Chinese into remembering their neglected I Ching roots, he’s working to rescue his native land from the heartless, atheistic influence of current rulers. He literally says,” There’s a paradigm shift going on in China now.” 

Actually, sir, it’s going on worldwide. Everyone everywhere is being called to remember the heart of the perennial philosophy which they share in common. In fact, there’s a Quantum Paradigm shift going on. 

So I must make this small caution. The highest compliment Chungliang Al Huang gives Caucasian members of his audience is, “You have a Chinese heart.” I would answer, “No. I have a universal heart. And so do you. So did Einstein.” 

The same hidden hand that has opened doors of opportunity and taken him on a marvelous journey of change has guided me all my days as well. No country, culture or class has a monopoly on miracles or inner truth. 

David told Goliath, “God is with me.” But it’s more correct to phrase it the other way around. We need to be with God. For with God, all things are possible.  

As long as people everywhere, in every circumstance, continue to focus on the center, there’s hope of human survival. Whatever threatens to block access to the Center must not be allowed to interfere. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.” 

This is why it’s imperative to root out the assumptions based on dysfunctional paradigms that tie us in knots. They tear us apart. They drive us crazy. They push us to murder and even suicide.  

We urgently need to recognize and root out false paradigms. To survive intact, we must cleave to the essence of the perennial philosophy.  

The quantum Life Wheel is a snapshot of the essential truth which the world’s great religions share in common. It offers us a way out of global madness. It gives us a means for restoring sanity to our world outlook. 

David and Goliath has one take on the giants of the world. But there’s also another way to think about giants. The reverse, shadow side. The opposite side of the coin.  

Inspired by Awaken the Giant Within, I founded the +A Positive Action Press in response to Tony Robbins’ book. From a Quantum Paradigm perspective, his words take on new meaning: 

If we want to discover the unlimited possibilities within us, we must find a goal big enough and grand enough to challenge us to push beyond our limits and discover our true potential. . . The answer to our current energy challenges will lie in the imagination and resourcefulness of today’s physicists and engineers. And the resolution to our social crises, like the alarming spread of racial hate groups, homelessness, and hunger, can only be addressed with the inventiveness and compassion of dedicated individuals like you and me. 

The threat of evil giants in the world serves to awaken the true giant that resides deep within each of us. That’s the blessing hidden in adversity. It’s the opportunity latent in Titanic Times. 

The Greek Titans, the giants sired by Kronos, survived his murderous envy and returned to claim their heritage. Similarly, there are giants are among us now. It’s time for them to WAKE UP! 

In the face of Titanic dangers bearing down from all directions, remember the stork and cobra cartoon. The snake is winding up the bird’s long, skinny leg, wrapping around its neck in a choke hold. The caption reads: “Never, ever give up.”  

To this, I would add more — essentially other ways of saying the same thing. First, to the snake: “It’s never to late to change.” Second, to the bird: “Never, ever forget.”  

Never forget that, no matter how dark and dangerous life becomes on the surface, God the Creator — the Tao, the Source of all life — broadcasts love, wisdom and hope eternal from the center of the quantum Life Wheel.  

We’re not alone. We never have been. We never will be. 

 

Patricia West is author of The Common Sense Book of Change and Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change. She’s current working The Phoenix Response: Dying To Be Reborn – in the Same Lifetime. 

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