Tag Archives: Bhagavad Gita

Now Needed: An Army of Arjunas

Sometimes it seems the magic is gone forever from my life. All that remains is chores, living like an unwelcome fugitive, dodging the condescending cruelties of householders who bring in more money. Pretty grim.

But suddenly that changed. Today the magic is back, full force. Coming out of the blue, encouraging messages from strangers sparked me back into the writing mode.

It started this morning (Saturday, April 18. 2015) with an email notice. A recommendation had been voluntarily added to my [now cancelled] LinkedIn profile. “Insightful, ground breaking, immensely important.”

Shortly afterwards, a delightful, koan-like message (re: Humanity) appeared: “Very acknowledgeable am smiling please carry on.”

That me jolted out of my funk. After thanking these messengers of the Universe (no naming names, so as not to offend anyone), I continued, responding to overlooked messages I earlier hadn’t had the heart to answer. One simply said, “Hey Patricia, Thanks for the new post.”

Another wrote, “Patricia, Good morning, I trust you are doing well. Take good care.”

After that, I checked an abandoned blog site to see how old friends are faring there. I was delighted to find a post from an earlier commenter whom I thought I’d offended beyond repair. Resonance with my work showed he’s following through in his own way. He wrote:

We tend to miss that our immediate environment is part of a much bigger ecosystem whose dynamics and ramifications extend far beyond our limited grasp of space and time.

Though delighted, I kept my response short: Well said. Agreed. : )

But I still had questions about writing. If I should I continue, in what in direction? I’ve been stuck on the topic of intentional communities, which has stalled on the drawing board for months. The content continues to elude me. Outlines only generate more questions.

Further, one LinkedIn connection who’s now occupied elsewhere rejected the topic, assuming communism is what I have in mind. (No way!) Another connection with enormous potential to do great good has taken a different direction, choosing to engage in a family-run start-up.

I considered listing my doubts and inviting comments. But that didn’t click either.

So now, in thinking about the “interesting” timing of encouraging emails, I remembered that today – April 18th – – is a new moon, traditionally associated with new beginnings. Before checking for a description of the day’s potential, I “knew” I should first consult my old, best friend, the Book of Change.

That’s when the magic kicked in big time.

Granted that the I Ching (especially useful as a vehicle for entering the fourth dimension of time-space where synchronicity comes into play) is outside the comfort zone of some professionals. Nevertheless, please stay with me. After all, it has also been the enduring, practical foundation of leadership training in Asian cultures for many thousands of years – with good reason.

Be that as it may, I queried for direction. The resulting hexagram COMMUNITY was directly to the point of my concern. The CSBOC reading for #13 is:

IC 13

A changing line in the second place reinforced the concluding warning against selfishness: Avoid special interest groups. Selfish and corrupt motives bring downfall.

The resultant change, were the warning heeded, is #1 – CREATIVE POWER, which further reinforces the text.

The changing line in the fourth place reads: If you have become isolated, understand why and correct yourself.

This warning line pin-points a major problem. If heeded, the resultant change would result in # 37 – FAMILY, the cornerstone of community. I take the concluding warning very personally: Avoid roles not suited to your nature.

This returns full circle to my immediate dilemma. As a writer, my topic – the uncertainty of human survival – puts me in the role of a Cassandra relative to the larger, defiantly oblivious society. Being the messenger of an unpopular warning, though it seems my calling, can be isolating, not to mention unrewarding. It results in lifestyle issues with no immediate solutions in sight.

Nevertheless, I persist in believing that as increasingly more people find themselves in desperate social and economic straits, readiness will increase and my time eventually will come. The funding needed to support the intentional communities I envision will eventually materialize.

The situation reminds me of the dilemma faced by the warrior-charioteer Arjuna in the Bhadavad Gita. Those who opposed him were corrupt relatives, which posed a great conflict. Was it morally right to take sides against family, even if they were in the wrong? Forced to make an apparently no-win choice was paralyzing. On the battlefield, overwhelmed, he put down his weapons and refused to fight.

But at this crisis and turning point, his chariot driver, Lord Krsna, revealed his true identity. With inspirational encouragement, he encouraged the warrior to take heart, stand firm and win the righteous battle against evil.

GITA sized

Similarly, the communities which timeless scriptures encourage, of which Einstein wrote, and of which I am thinking, are not based on biological or even cultural kindred, but rather on resonance of heart and mind. Communities connecting kindred souls, if you will. And in this, the exceedingly dangerous times in which we live hold magical seeds of opportunity. From Two Sides of a Coin:

Whereas most rulers suffer the unanticipated consequences of ignorance, pride and greed as shock, humiliation and undoing, sages intentionally harness the forces of nature to positive ends. Thus it is, that throughout history, at the right time, in the necessary circumstances, leaders of ordinary and humble beginnings have catapulted to extraordinary levels of accomplishment, effecting broad political and social change.

By voicing the collective yearnings of the suffering masses, perennial sage-leaders shed the light of eternal hope on times of greatest darkness. By inspired words and living example, they recreate ever-new the Gita’s vision of opportunities hidden within the outward experience of hardship.

For as sages know, “when social degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows.” From Passage 78 of the Tao Te Ching:

78a snippet

Returning to this morning’s magical COMMUNITY reading: another next bend in the road occurred. Surprisingly, the changing lines combine to produce a most inauspicious outcome: # 9 – FRUSTRATION, which begins:

External factors you may not even be aware of will cause FRUSTRATION. New projects will not work out now. . . Your choice is either to wait patiently or to leave the situation.

It concludes by advising, Avoid major commitments.

So, turning to what I saved for last, I asked, What is the nature of the frustration in building intentional communities? The answer, when I checked the astrological description of today’s new moon was this. Timing. Major planets of communication and reform are currently going into hibernation, so to speak. Retrograde.

According to the calendar, the correct decision for me personally is to wait until the end September and into October. For the time being, continue to patiently endure unavoidable frustrations.

For others, for many other reasons, there will be other choices. What is consistent across the board is that building effective intentional communities will depend on an army of Arjunas, each of whom listens to the inner voice of conscience represented by Lord Krsna rather than to the dictates of their particular biological families or immediate social, political and religious prejudices.

Sometimes I wish I could win the largest lottery in history, as if that would end current frustrations. Yet I know bringing in money that way cannot solve the deeper problems. It would not influence hearts or minds, persuade the public of the wisdom needed to ensure human survival. For this, patience is required. So it is no accident that first three letters of PATIENCE are also the first letters of my name.

Today’s magic provided the immediate encouragement now needed to keep writing . . . balanced with acceptance of long-term timing. May my telling of it encourage fellow Arjunas-in-waiting, those who also will, when the time is right, God-willing, be ready to build on common ground.

Know When to Mistrust Inner Voices

A recent misunderstanding taught me a well-deserved humility lesson. Millennial spokesperson RhinoforDinner had challenged me: “What leadership quality do you think is most important for young leaders to learn?”

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Like a thoughtless Rhino, I jumped in feet first with an enthusiastic response. “I’d say Confidence, meaning ‘with faith’ in their True Selves: having the courage to hear & follow inner voice of Conscience.” Further, in a blog, Dangerous Times Call for True Radicals, I elaborated on why Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change is dedicated to the Millennial Generation.

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In retrospect, I recognize my answer came straight from my own world view, failing to take Page’s background and beliefs into account. So I didn’t anticipate his response. Instead of answering me back, he cut off our Twitter connection.

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I felt surprised, baffled and more than a little hurt. But when I expressed my disappointment to a close friend, he showed no sympathy.

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In essence, he reminded me of the obvious. I still have a lot to learn. In particular, he pointed out that to people of faith who read the Bible, my response might have seemed New Agey. The responsibility is on my shoulders to be far more careful, considerate and clear in the future.

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I did my homework. Page Cole is co-author of The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution…One Person at a Time. The book’s sub-title “one person at a time” resonates with the Positive Paradigm of Change and its motto, “Change from the Inside Out, and One Person at at Time.”

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However, whereas I’m a respecter of the world’s great religions, with an eye to the timeless, universal basics they share in common, Page is firmly grounded in the Baptist faith. I have greatest respect for the Bible and regard Christ as the ultimate universal teacher. But my answer failed to reflect this acceptance and respect. He had no way to recognize my answer as being completely in harmony with his beliefs.

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He had tweeted, “We believe in a Leader with Character, who acts with Integrity/Trust/ Respect for People. What do you stand for?” What he probably wanted to know was where I stand in relationship to other people.

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After healing my wounded feelings and doing an attitude adjustment, I invited Page to connect via LinkedIn. He quickly accepted, so I sent this message:

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Thanks for the connection, Page. I’d deeply appreciate your feedback. Rather than guess, I’d like to know from you why you responded to my Twitter answer to your leadership question by cutting me off. My head says to let it go. My heart says there’s something important to learn from you. There’s so much good will on this side. Why the disconnect?

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He responded charitably, re-following my Twitter account immediately. Later he emailed a detailed response. The cut-off was an unintentional error, he wrote, adding , . . “your comments were insightful and genuine. I loved the blog post.” But he also added a hint: “I’m not as versed in the writing you mentioned. . . “

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He continued, “I come from a distinctly Christian background.  I believe that ‘inner voice’ is the character within me that is being shaped by many factors, among them culture, family, relationships and of course Scripture and my personal relationship with God.”

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So far, it was merely a language disconnect. For him, “character” is a highly value-ladened word, one that by his definition spans the surface, middle and center of the Life Wheel, linking them. What I call a Philosopher-Warrior-Ruler, he calls a Person of Character. So far, no substantial disagreement. 

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Here’s how I picture our common understanding:

0 leader ruller

 

BUT then came the heart of the disconnect. He continued,

 

I’m not convinced that the “inner voice” is always a good thing to listen to, as evidenced by the actions of destructive and evil people throughout history.

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This is a seriously important reservation. It’s my boundary-spanner job to reach across the divide with a response that connects us in common understanding.

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The unique contribution of the Positive Paradigm of Change is that it speaks to this issue. It pictures a reality map that draws clear distinctions between rational, sub-rational and super-rational levels of experience. It’s not a new model. But it rephrases the “perennial philosophy” in terms of Einstein’s physics, linking historical wisdom with modern experience. It gives a way to articulate the important difference between misleading, deceptive voices that imitate conscience and the “real deal.”

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It follows in the footsteps of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who was instrumental in introducing the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching, the venerable Chinese Book of Change to the English-speaking public. He worked to define the common thread of human experience that links wisdom traditions throughout human history, as did comparative religion teachers, notably Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith.

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Universal stories they focused on include one told by the Greek philosopher Plato. His psychological model pictures a chariot drawn by a pair of horses that pull in opposite directions. A white steed tries to pull the chariot off course, striving upward so close to the sun that it risks catching fire and being consumed. The black one pulls downwards, threatening to crash the chariot and driver into the ground. The driver’s challenge is to rein in and coordinate the team, steering a steady middle course that avoids danger-filled extremes. In this way, he succeeds in reaching his intended destination.

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[Regrettably, this poetic model, while psychologically accurate, has been taken literally and harmfully misconstrued as if it had racist implications.]

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A similar chariot story from the Hindu tradition is told in the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna, a warrior driving his chariot into battle, grows faint of heart. At this point, Krisna, a god representing conscience, makes his presence known. As the passenger seated behind Arjuna, Krisna advises with encouragement and wisdom, giving him the heart to prevail in fighting the good fight.

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The Positive Paradigm Wheel is true to these poetic traditions. All account for the interdependent facets of awareness. The rational mind (driver) of the chariot (physical body) must skillfully harness the horses (energies, emotions) that power the vehicle, while heeding the guiding voice of conscience in order to meet ultimate goals.

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In addition, however, the Positive Paradigm, also accounts for the actions of destructive and evil people throughout history which give Page pause. Despite claims to the contrary, such actions are not the result listening to the Inner Voice of Conscience. Evil actions are the mark of unbalanced extremists who have been misled into following the seductive voices lodged within the middle, sub-rational level of the Wheel.

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Destructive leaders are heeding not the innermost voice of Conscience, but the clamor of the Seven Deadly Sin-Demons — starting with Pride, followed by (and often in combination with) Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Lust, Envy and Sloth. Modern day demon off-spring include Separatism, Exclusiveness, Arrogance, Ambition and Competition.

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What’s dangerously missing from the prevailing, exclusively materialistic paradigm of empirical science — a glaring gap which the Positive Paradigm of Change fills — is a universally acceptable reality map which includes the sub-rational middle level with all its dangers, but in its complete and correct context: contained by the super-rational level of intuition on one side and by the rational level of practical experience on the other.

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Herein is the common thread which continues the earlier blog, the Fateful Fear of Self-Awareness. I will shortly post a description of the reality map with emphasis on the too little known and greatly misunderstood, danger-fraught middle level. Character- based leaders in every walk of life and therapists as positive change agents can use it as a reference to realistically navigate the temptations of Seven Deadlies and their off-spring in order to prevail in fighting the good fight for themselves, and then for those those who place trust in them.

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In the meantime, dear Page, I heartily encourage you to read your Bible faithfully. I’m remembering Old Testament words burned into my mind from a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah long ago. It’s a tenor solo, the scripture-based words being, “If with all your heart ye truly seek me, Ye shall ever surely find me. Thus sayeth our God.” It’s as good a guide for sincere leaders as one would wish for in this dangerous world.

 

All best.