Tag Archives: conscience

Rethinking AUTHORITY

A conversation between Joe Dispenza and Gregg Braden touched on the challenges of increasingly dangerous, polarizing times and what I’ve described as the leadership deficit.

Authority, they observed, is shifting.

I agree.

As prelude to a deeper look into what this means for us, I’m posting here a 2000 essay which explores the full-spectrum potential of the authority-word. Although my writing style has evolved since then, the substance remains well worth your attention.

King

ESSAY 7. AUTHORITY

Christ was one of the greatest mystics of all time. He knew everything that has been ever said in the Eastern traditions. When Moses asked God, who are you? God said, I AM that I AM. Christ in the Gospel of John says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The very word Abraham comes from the Eastern word Brahman, which means the primordial being. . . So when you start looking, as paleo-linguistic anthropologists do, at the common roots of the various religions and traditions, you find that it’s all universal. Truth has to be universal. It can’t be your domain or my domain. Deepak Chopra, transcript, Larry King Live

Those who are adept in social intelligence can connect with people quite smoothly, be astute in reading their reactions and feelings, lead and organize, and handle the disputes that are bound to flare up in any human activity. They are the natural leaders, the people who can express the unspoken collective sentiment and articulate it so as to guide the group toward its goals. — Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

Archibald Garrod risked a conjecture that would reveal him to be a man far ahead of his time, somebody who had all but unknowingly put his finger on the answer to the greatest biological mystery of all time: what is a gene? Indeed, so brilliant was his understanding of the gene that he would be long dead before anybody got the point of what he was saying. — Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

THE FRONT

Definitions of authority span the Life Wheel continuum from mundane to sublime. We therefore get meanings mixed up and speak at cross-purposes. The ancient derivation refers to the Creator, the author. In English, the meaning shifts to the power or right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action or make final decisions.

It changes again to mean the power delegated to another. Further diminished, it becomes a quote supporting an opinion or action. In government, authority refers to those with the power or right to enforce orders and laws. It can also mean an expert, someone with knowledge in a specialized field whose opinion is reliable. Lastly, authority means assurance coming from personal experience.

It’s important to know what standard justifies each type of authority. Which authorities may legitimately exercise what kinds of influence, and by what right?

Traditionally, biological parents, the first authors of our physical form, are the original human authorities, taking responsibility for instilling values and governing childish behavior. After coming of age at 18, however, each adult is responsible for choosing which authorities to accept and follow. For the fortunate, bonds of gratitude, affection and mutual support sustain family ties.

In addition, however, we begin to look to other authorities for education, leadership and support. Communities grounded in commitment to common beliefs, goals and friendship can enlarge or replace family circles. Command of a particular subject qualifies the expert.

In the United States and other democratic countries, popular vote gives legislators authority to write laws. In bureaucratic military and government agencies, as well as in private corporations, rank — regardless of character or motives — legitimizes power over subordinates.

Deeper than credentials and social sanctions, however, is the inner authority called conscience which is deliberately invoked by working with the I Ching. It’s the innate sense of timing within each of us. It warns when and how to act and when to keep still, when to seize and run with opportunity and when to side-step danger.

In sages, authority is the fruit of self-discipline and direct experience. As Daniel Goleman suggests, “natural” leaders possess a cultivated knack for knowing what others need along with the ability to effectively coordinate individual gifts to meet group goals.

The gift for insight doesn’t, however, translate automatically into leadership ability. Those like Archibald Garrod – brilliant but lacking the communication skills to help their neighbors “get from here to there” – may inspire admiration.

But it takes a true teacher to bring the next generation of followers along. This requires a marriage of words, competence and consistent action, the ability to speak with clarity and live according to one’s beliefs. Christ is the ultimate example of such a teacher.

Most of us cherish the memories of authority figures whose lives have touched and improved our own — respected leaders whose accomplishments, example and encouragement have inspired us to honor and lovingly live the law.

THE BACK

The flip-side of authority is unauthorized abuse of power. To the extent those with delegated decision-making power are unqualified by inner experience to represent the ultimate author, the true spirit of authority is violated.

The murderous MacBeths in Shakespeare’s play are a famous example of tragic lust for power. Misled by dark-side mediums into violating the code of hospitality, they kill the sleeping king within their castle walls to usurp his throne. In so doing, they bring down both the kingdom and themselves.

Authority and responsibility are necessarily linked. When power is sought and used without genuine regard for the intrinsic value and practical interests of those governed, a divine as well as secular trust is violated. The scales of justice are knocked off balance, and misfortune for all concerned ensues.

 

Your Choice

Yoda make good choices

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink is exactly the right medicine for me right now. It might be for you too.

Here’s the amazon.com summary of his credentials:

Jocko Willink’s methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life.

JW’s perspective is radically different from that espoused in Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life. As described in If You Love Your Children. . . and . . . Tell Them How the world Works:

Essentially, [12 Rules] advises people to “man up.” All of us have the potential to be much better than we are. Before criticizing the world, our first responsibility is to improve ourselves with discipline, carving out meaning in our lives as a bulwark against the chaos of life’s inevitable hardships.

But the two approaches are, each in its own way, complimentary.

Now – JW’s background is far different from mine.

I’m a woman brought up as a musician. As a college/university-educated scholar majoring in world history-philosophy-literature, much of my later years have been dedicated to unlearning and relearning.

As a violinist and yoga practitioner, my practice disciplines focused on harmony, balance and unity.

In school administration, I looked to the ultimate decision-making manual: the ancient Chinese I Ching — The Book of Change.

JW speaks of fighting. And aggression. I approach self-improvement in terms of transcendence. Our goals and results, however, are much the same. So my approach to discipline is also, in its own way, complimentary.

I find JW’s approach to discipline almost devotional. Similar to Chinese Taoists – including the Shaolin monks who based kung fu martial arts on the I Ching — he refers to The Way of Discipline. He writes:

Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow. . . . .

There is only one way.

THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE.

What inspired me to write this post was his chapter on NATURE VS NURTURE. He asks, What is more important? And he answers, Neither.

In the military, I worked with every type of person:

Ivy League kids with silver spoons, kids from blue-collar families, kids from strong families, and kids with no families, kids who were pampered and kids who were abused. And everything in between. Everything.

And with all those different types of people, there were good and bad. Successful and unsuccessful. And in working with businesses, I see the same thing: People from every walk of life. From the bottom to the top – and I have seen every type of person be successful.

His conclusion:

It is not about nature or nurture.

It is about choice.

He continues:

The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.

They choose who they are going to hang around and they choose who they will emulate.

Ultimately:

They choose to become who they want to become they aren’t inhibited by nature or nurture. They overcome both.

I totally agree. Choices and consequences hang together. And as pointed out elsewhere in describing the natural Law of Karma, failure to choose is also a choice — one with heavy consequences.

 

book header bird

There are two directions I could take from here. One is to share with you the post called What’s More Important – Nature, Nurture, OR . . ..

This subject is especially relevant in the context of answering ideologues who use the seeming unfairness of life and suffering as excuses for rebellion and destruction of social order . . . rather than discipline.

The other direction I could take is to share is the Essay on Discipline which give a balancing, complimentary perspective to JW’s military approach.

Here’s my choice. First I’ll offer a few snippets from the blog here. You’re welcome to click on the link if you’d like to see more.

Then I’ll post the Essay on Discipline below.

So. First. From What’s Most Important:

I’ll give one example here using the Positive Paradigm Wheel of Change. This picture talks to the right brain to balance the left-brain discussion which follows.

It places the relationship of nature, nurture and “much more” in prioritized context.

PPoC gold

The surface level that corresponds with MASS includes everything tangible and measurable. It’s the realm of empirical science. That would be “nurture.”

The middle ENERGY level corresponds not only with electricity, but with subtle but measurable energies that yogis call “chi” or “prana.” It’s the level associated with DNA, emotions and “gut” feelings. That’s “nature.”

The innermost level of LIGHT is associated with intangibles, including conscience. That’s the “. . . and More.”

My conclusion:

. . . leaders who intentionally live true their conscience and succeed in linking the levels of life are key to a viable future. The rest of us will depend on them to out-think, out-maneuver and succeed long after pretenders with no substantial connection to the center of life have been blown away like dust in the wind.

Phoenix - sized

And here’s the Essay. Hope you enjoy. Your comments are welcome. If you find this resonant, please share to magnify the effect.

ESSAY 26. DISCIPLINE

Tai ji is a discipline that can help you settle into the experience of your body and your surroundings and re-establish contact with what is happening now. — Chungliang Al Huang, Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn. — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When our emotions hijack us into overdrive, we react to others without the benefit of reason. By managing our emotions more effectively, we are able to dissolve distressing emotions, which allows us to think more clearly and use our emotional intelligence to make better decisions. — Lambrou & Pratt, Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions

THE FRONT

“Discipline” comes from the same root as “disciple,” meaning “learner.” Webster’s first definition is a branch of knowledge or learning.

Second, it’s training that develops either

  • self-control, character, or

  • orderliness and efficiency, or

  • strict control to enforce obedience.

Third, it’s the result of such training or control, specifically either self-control and orderly conduct or acceptance of or submission to authority and control.

Fourth, it’s a system of rules, as for a church or monastic order.

Fifth, it’s treatment that corrects or punishes.

The pristine word means love of learning. In self-actualization traditions, discipline refers to the process by which ignorance is decreased and wisdom is increased.

In balanced measure, incorrect ideas and behavior are recognized, corrected and put away, while correct ones are introduced to replace them. This entails digging deeper than cultural conditioning to reconnect with innate potentials and inner aspirations.

The word “correct” is intrinsic to the concept of discipline. Webster’s defines correct as to change from wrong to right, removing errors. The word is also means to make conform to a standard. Further, it means to scold or punish, or to cure, remove or counteract a disease or fault. Correct also means conforming to fact or logic, to be true, accurate or free from errors.

Whether discipline is a joyful privilege or painful punishment

is decided by the motives of involved participants.

If the learning and correction are imposed externally upon unwilling parties, it’s onerous. The subjects can perhaps be forced to alter behavior. No positive inward change results from coercion, however. If anything, force breeds the opposite of intent: resentment and rebellion.

Societies that fail to inspire and foster internal self-discipline therefore pay a high price in the form of escalating crime rates, overburdened judicial systems and costly prisons.

If, however, through the power of example, a sage attracts students hungry for wisdom and self-improvement, then the condition for positive change exists. When the teacher is motivated by compassion and generosity, and students with respect and love of learning, then innate potential for transformation can be actualized.

Negative emotions can be healed and self-mastery achieved. Mutual consent and willing compliance set the stage for improving oneself and, by extension, society.

As correction agents, coercive prisons impose external discipline on people perceived as threats to society. Those capable of inner discipline, however, remain free to use even external confinement to advantage.

For example, during the time he was imprisoned by a political rival, King Wen turned apparent defeat into the opportunity to order the hexagrams of the I Ching and write commentaries. Upon release, he helped found the next Chinese dynasty. The legacy of his steadfast resolve during dark times and ability to transcend adversity remains with us even today.

Nelson Mandela used thirty years of incarceration to carefully examine and correct his character. When the time was right, the extreme revolutionary became South Africa’s most responsible elected leader. His extreme isolation changed to an opposite and equal status of unparalleled international influence.

THE BACK

Absence of discipline is of the opposite of discipline. Though the immature may regard disorganization and irresponsible disrespect for worthy seniors as a measure of freedom, it isn’t. Without self-discipline and self-correction, there is no self-improvement or sustained achievement.

External regimentation can be a perversion of discipline. In the extreme, it suppresses creativity and initiative. Coercive military conscription, slavery, or other involuntary work are violations of free will that degrade the value of life.

 

The Tower of Babel Dilemma

tower-of-babel

There was quite a while when I didn’t speak with people, other than to exchange empty greetings and conduct routine business. I was so disillusioned, attempts to communicate about anything of substance seemed futile.

During this time, working with the Book of Change kept me in touch with the deeper, better side of myself and the universe. As this work led me to reestablish meaningful connection with others, my aspirations turned towards seeking ways to share this life-saving gift with others.

If the best I had to offer humanity was the same book which had served to keep me whole, how could I persuade others of its value? Whether intentionally or not, what I have come to call “The Tower of Babel Dilemma” – the degeneration and fragmentation of the English language – is a formidable obstacle to effective communication. Glib labels and false assumptions associated with the book led to out-of-hand rejection. “Foreign.” “Ancient.” “Unscientific.” “Unchristian.” “Pagan.” “Superstitious.” “Difficult.”

It seems to me that language has devolved into quite the opposite of the English I’d learned to love and respect in high school. There, we were taught to regard language as the premier tool of logic. When used with Sherlock-like diligence, applied the powers of keen observation and heightened awareness, it could solve mysteries — not only to detect the crimes of evil-doers and the nefarious plots of national enemies, but to unravel the mysteries of life and the universe.

Turned inwards, used with self-honesty, language is essential to cultivating self-awareness. For the truth-seeker, language is a necessary vehicle of information both on the inward quest and on the return journey outwards to share results.

But even people with the best of intentions use the same words to mean very different things. They miss each other coming and going, only vaguely aware of the disconnect.

Tracking the meanings of words, I was fascinated to find that their devolution is systematic. In some cases, the same word actually means not only one thing, but its exact opposite as well.The “positive” word is an important example. Webster’s dictionary lists seventeen (!) contradictory uses.

Instead of being used as a means for unifying human beings, language is often degraded into chaotic paralyzing noise – a weapon for stirring up animosities, division and confusion.

So I set about to build the all-important groundwork for communicating about The Book of Change. I needed to rescue the language – restore it from its debased status as a smoke screen spun to camouflage self-serving intent. To this end, I outlined chapters for The Yoga Dictionary: Answering the Tower of Babel Dilemma.

As a reminder, the biblical story describes defiant humanity’s fall from unity into confusion and separation:

In Genesis, a united humanity speaking a single language and migrating eastward, came to the land of Shinar שנער‎‎. There they wanted to build a city and a tower “tall enough to reach heaven;” God, however, disapproved of such behavior as disrespectful, scrambled their speech so they could no longer understand each other and scattered them throughout the world.

The Sixty-Four Essays found in Part Two of Conscience are an off-shoot of this project. They’re meant to be used, as is the Book of Change itself, to cultivate mindfulness. They bring attention to the complexity of basic words we too often take take for granted and the critical importance of establishing a shared common ground of understanding.

Three-Part Format

Like the 64 images of the I Ching, each of the 64 Essays in Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide is self-contained – a miniature world complete. Each invites the reader to slow down and think carefully, taking the time to examine current beliefs and apply timeless wisdom to immediate personal experience.

There’s a method to the order of the Essays. Originally they were placed in a logical progression that seemed to tell a story. However, there’s no need to read them in sequential order. Using the Alphabetical Table of Contents is another option. If a particular subject stands out as immediately relevant or interesting, choose that one.

A three-part format gives each Essay structure-within-structure:

Part One. Though the Book of Change is dismissed as inaccessible and rarely taught in public schools, the number of influential thinkers whose ideas intuitively resonate with its timeless wisdom aren’t limited by either time or place. Quotes from the work of well-known figures serve as a springboard and bridge linking the familiar with the new.

Contrasting voices speaking to the same universal concerns highlight the yin-yang, old-new, East-West dynamic which everyone everywhere, deeper than deep, share in common.

Quotes from Chinese philosophers inspired by working directly with the I Ching include Confucius, Lao Tzu (The Tao Te Ching) and Sun Tzu (The Art of War).

Quotes from the Old and New Testament which resonate with I Ching wisdom include the Psalms of the musician/poet/ healer/warrior King David and the words of his direct descendant, Jesus Christ.

The Muslim tradition is represented, as are modern day medical practitioners, healers and teachers. Countless martial arts disciplines are based on I Ching science and philosophy, as are Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. Bruce Lee‘s Jeet Kune Do is one well-known example.

Also included are voices of Westerners in synch with I Ching wisdom, from Plato and Christopher Columbus to William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein; from Abraham Lincoln and Sir Winston Churchill to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela; from Norman Vincent Peale to Peter Drucker, Scott Peck, Steven Covey, Jim Loehr, Norman Cousins, and Tony Robbins.

Voices of creative women in harmony with I Ching wisdom include those of Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Naomi Judd and Oprah Winfrey.

Part Two. “The Front” examines a specific word’s meaning in depth, giving examples with emphasis on its use in I Ching context, elaborating on implications of the quotes. Quite often changes in meaning correlate with the evolutionary path of the chakra system, reflecting an increasing level of maturity and self-awareness.

Part Three. Just as the coins sometimes used to derive I Ching readings have two sides, every idea has its shadow, opposite side. Accordingly, a brief section called “The Back” balances The Front side of each Essay to round out the picture. It briefly describes each universal idea’s mirror opposite, as well as inversions and perversions.

angel-sized

Revisiting these concepts at this particularly dangerous window of time would be a particularly helpful investment of energy and attention, as the gap between an historical election and projected inauguration stands in the balance.

Let those with an ear to hear and heart to understand take heed.

I’m Writing To . . .

 

globe

Like magic, hints about the baby steps to take next have been coming from all directions.

Today, I’m writing in answer to a comment made on Two Out of Three Isn’t Enough:

Hi Patricia, I enjoy your writing style. That said, one must write with a target audience in mind; at least commercially. Otherwise you are just writing for yourself.

For a split second, I went on the defensive.

What??!! Just mental masturbation? Focus on making money?

This particular LinkedIn connection has followed my posts from the beginning. He should know me better by now.

To state once more what I’ve repeatedly said, I write because — like so many men and women – my lonely, early years were haunted by unspeakable specters of suicide and abuses of power. If what helped save me could, paid forward, make a difference in even one life, it would, for me, be enough.

To save one life is to save the world entire.” This is the mantra that keeps me going late nights, after daily tasks are completed, even when my physical body urgently wants rest.

Though surely not intended, what “a target audience” conjures in my mind is the image of armed game hunters dressed in orange and camo garb, scouting for animals to snuff the life out of and eat for dinner.

Not that I haven’t given conventional writers’ wisdom – “know your audience” – some thought, thank you anyway. I have. A lot, in fact.

Here’s part of the problem. The Life Wheel is universal. It offers a scientific underpinning to support humanistic calls to live in peace. As written in Sages and Scientists Can Agree on This, it has the potential to restore awareness of the common humanity everyone everywhere shares in common.

On the opposite, shadow side, today’s lack of a universally accepted, complete and accurate paradigm answers the plaintive question, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Limiting, misleading paradigms are a root cause of widespread conflict and suffering in today’s dangerously volatile world.

Everyone is fascinated by both sides of change. On the one hand, we yearn for positive improvements. On the other, we dread the unknown. That’s because no one taught us the survival basics in school. We never learned how the dynamics of duality drive relationships in the world. We don’t know how to balance yin-yang opposites to maintain stability, first within, then without.

So we remain conflicted – on all levels. Ambivalent. Paralyzed. In fact, lack of survival basics has become our Achilles Heel – our fatal flaw.

Change is a word on the lips of CEOs, politicians, radicals, therapists, pastors everywhere. All use it. But very few have an in-depth understanding of what it’s about, much less have the methods and means to act as effective agents of positive change.

That’s one reason why I have a problem with niche thinking. The current trend of carving humanity into smaller and smaller, mutually exclusive either/or interest groups is a symptom of the fragmented, isolating thinking we desperately need to overcome. . . . which the Life Wheel has the potential to heal.

Fortunately, however, this coin has a flip side too. Being universal, the Life Wheel can be brought to life – animated and applied to illumine each and very tiny corner niche.

So, I’ve done my bestest to go with the flow of common wisdom.

For example, for a time I focused on MILLENNIALS. Being tech savvy, I thought, they are especially well qualified to resonate with the digital technology of the Book of Change — The I Ching. Further, they’re the ones most disillusioned of the “American dream.” Being less invested than their elders in prevailing, dysfunctional paradigms, I thought they would “get it.”

In When the Lights Go Out, Who Will Millennials Call? I wrote what still reads to me like a wake-up tour de force.

I continued with Good News and Bad News for Millenials.

Did any one get it? What more can I say? (Perhaps, I sometimes think, someone else might say it differently and better.)

Nevertheless, I tried again, suggesting what could have been billion dollar game and app ideas in An Inner Compass App for Millennials

Response? Instant contact from a venture capitalist. He wanted to pick my brain; tried to coerce me into signing a non-competition agreement that would, in effect, block further blogging. So sorry. No can do. (Reminded me of Hannibal’s words, “When the lamb cries, the wolf comes. But not to help.”)

Next, in frustration over the foolishness of a self-proclaimed millennial leader who didn’t get it whatsoever, I wrote What the Generations Share in Common.

So, moving on to other audiences.

The I Ching has been the primary decision-making tool used by LEADERS in every walk of life – government, military, monastic, medical, mercantile . . you name it . . . for thousands of years.

So I applied the Life Wheel, as the next generation Book of Change, to address a host of leaderships issues. For example, in response to a direct question, I wrote How Bad People Become Leaders; and then Savvy Leaders Go with the Flow.

In True Leaders Trust Their Inner Compass to Over Come Confusion, I introduced the Life Wheel to Authentic Leaders who already accept the importance of following their North Star.

In The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change, I’ve shown how THERAPISTS and SELF-HEALERS can turn the Life Wheel into a diagnostic and a decision-making tool. I have a special fondness for Jungian analysts, and said so in Therapists as Positive Change Agents.

For those who chose to frame their truth in the language of PHILOSOPHY, I wrote Change the Rules of the Knowledge Game. Here I focused the Life Wheel on the field of epistemology – the (politically charged) study of who can know what, and how.

The list goes on.

But . . . I still ask myself, how does one “target” the diverse and widely scattered audience of readers who hide painful dark secrets under the facade of their ordinary lives as housewives, students, soldiers, athletes, priests, poets, politicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs and on and on. . . ?

How does one “target” the hidden army of loved ones so poorly equipped to win the war to rescue sons, daughters and spouses from quiet desperation?

How does one effectively extend compassionate hope to the multitude of isolated, face-saving power abusers in high office — addicts driven by psychological forces outside their conscious awareness, rendered taboo by current dysfunctional paradigms.

How do I tell all of them, that like me, with the I Ching as a confidential best friend, they would find out that they are never, ever truly alone. And that everyone can choose to change for the better.

With its wisdom and support (explain its magic as you will), I have brought myself back from every temptation – from hated, the impulse to revenge, from self-pity and despair.

With its help, I’ve gleaned the benefit of lessons to be learned from adversity.

It has inspired me, instead reacting against abuse and succumbing to the danger of becoming an abuser myself, to live and to serve as a healing beacon to others.

What follows is a personal example of desperation and life-saving help excerpted from Rethinking Survival:

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The scriptures were inspiring. [the swami] cynically perverted them. A pundit disciple based in Minneapolis initiated gullible students in the rituals of guru worship. This aristocratic charmer held Western seekers in contempt and dummed the teachings down.

The powers of this smooth, flamboyant “holy man” were foreign to Western sensibilities. He flaunted a repertoire of magic tricks. He could change blood flow in his feet. He read minds and hypnotized students.

He reportedly bilked American students out of thousands of dollars for nonexistent hospitals in India.

By his own admission, disciples in India would have burned his ashram to the ground had they known he was habitually performing sexual tantra (rape) on unsuspecting American women. . . .

At his ashram in Rishikesh, India, three women he’d seduced got together and traded information. We realized none of us was a “special exception” to his vow of celibacy.

When we blew the whistle, he flipped out. Tantric teachings, he raged, were sacred teachings. Exposing them would damn us forever. We were terrified and backed down.

To the detriment of other relationships, I obeyed his command, “Keep still!!”

Covering his backside, the swami informed his psychologist henchmen that I was “mentally disturbed.” Protecting vested interests in their careers, they treated me as if I were crazy.

It took years to get over the pain, anger and confusion caused by their betrayals.

But I healed. I used yogic introspection to get over it mentally. To repair emotional damage, I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine. For solace and hope, I looked to the New Testament.

But my best friend and advisor throughout was The Book of Change. I didn’t dare talk with people who knew the swami. They would have turned against me, not helped.

His powers were outside the experience of university-trained therapists. There were no qualified professionals to turn to.

Confiding in family was out of the question. If I went to them with one problem, I’d end up with two.

But with the I Ching, I could be completely honest. It has no agendas. Opening my heart to ask my questions was like talking with my True Self. Its answers rang true. Instead of tearing myself apart by warring against abuse of power, I used it to turn inward to the higher authority I could trust: my own conscience.

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To Survive, Change Your Rules

Expanding Rules of the Knowledge Game would give problem-solvers greater leverage over a wide range of social-political malfunctions, from budget deficits to crime (legalized theft included).

A wider field of accepted information options would give a broad new range of diagnostic tools for pinpointing origins of unjust discrimination, inequitable wealth distribution, work-place violence, addictions and mental-emotional depression. It would give a new face to healing PTSD and preventing suicide.

What these personal, social and political ills have in common is a fatal knowledge deficit.

But before defining Rules of the Knowledge Game (epistemology), I’ll share two examples from personal experience. They’re comical, but they demonstrate the basic mistakes people make on limited information.

The first occurred when I was 6 and my brother David was 5. We were living in Tuscon, Arizona at the time. A blond-haired playmate age 3 who lived down the street adored David. Jason pleaded with his mom for a hair cut just like David’s. He expected the change to transform him into the likeness of his idol. But he came home from the barber streaming tears of childish disappointment.

The brush cut didn’t change his hair color from blond to David’s dark brown, nor did it transfer any of the desirable qualities associated with his hero to Jason.

The second happened when I was in my mid-20s. Rooming with a yoga student in Madison, Wisconsin, I was increasingly troubled as more and more of my stuff – kitchen utensils and even clothing – went missing. When I asked Mukit (her initiate name) if she knew anything about this, she explained why she felt free to take whatever she wanted.

“We are all One,” she said. By her logic, it followed that my stuff was hers too.

These are just small examples of the twin mistakes that continue to repeat when our reality maps aren’t complete and accurate. Writ large, they generate crimes and tragedies in every area of life, on every scale of magnitude.

What is lacking is the two-directional, in- and out-breathing reality map which accounts for all dimensions of personal experience and puts them in prioritized perspective.

Today’s prevailing Rules of the Knowledge Game exclude vitally important components of the human condition. Here, “Rules of the Knowledge Game” refers not to philosophical inquires into truth, but rather punitively enforced social-political taboos which prescribe what can be known, by whom, and how.

These rules stipulate what kinds of knowledge are allowed as well as others that are prohibited. Knowledge is sometimes made off-limits to second-class citizens (low income people, for example). Subtle ways of obtaining information (intuition, conscience) are written off as non-existent or invalid.

Here’s the tacit logic behind limiting the field: “Knowledge is power. IF I want to hoard power (and the resources it yields) in order to control others, THEN I must deny others access to knowledge that would empower them.”

To heal the harm incurred by limiting what can be known (ruling out the senses, intuition and conscience as valid information sources), it is imperative to reintegrate these decision-making influences into the rules of what is acceptable.

Currently, rules of empirical science dictate that only knowledge about material, tangible, observable and quantifiable objects is valid. Only university educated, degreed and certified “experts” using standardized research methods are qualified to obtain and disseminate knowledge. Here’s the picture of the hollow shell allowed by these rules.

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Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this approach to obtaining information is invalid. In its place, on the surface of material appearances, it is an important piece of the knowledge puzzle. It’s a necessary balance to the opposite and equally exclusionary “religionist” mistake of elevating inward experience to the exclusion of the material world.

BUT, however necessary, it is not sufficient.

Throughout his lifetime, both in personal experience and professionally, the pioneering Swiss analyst Carl Jung dealt with the suffering caused by squeezing the richness of life experience into this hollow mold. As a matter of personal sanity and social health, he advocated “individuation” as a process for reintegrating all the layers and levels of life into conscious awareness.

The Life Wheel compliments Jung’s work. It can be used as method to assist in this process of making the unconscious conscious, of restoring access to inner knowing that has been repressed by socialization, including education.

Here is a picture to show you what I’m getting at:

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On the outward path, the individuation process differentiates the individual from the universal center. It integrates timeless unity with the outward layers of idea, energy, action and results. This was the reality check Mukti needed – a correct picture of where my personal boundaries began and hers ended. We are one at the center, but not on the surface. It was NOT okay for her to take my things.

On the inward, return path, the individuation process reintegrates personal, separate identity with awareness of the timeless, universal source. This is what Jason lacked – a concept of his own inherent value, independent of the people. events and circumstances around him. The qualities he admired in David weren’t defined by physical attributes. Looking on the outside for the inherent self-worth he already had on the inside was a sure recipe for disappointment.

What is needed to change the Rules of the Knowledge Game is access to a useful reality map, one that includes the whole of human experience, one that is easily converted into a practical diagnostic and decision-making tool. That is the purpose of working with the Life Wheel. It can easily be personalized to ask, “Where in the Wheel Am I NOW?” — “Where Do I Intend To Be?” — and then decide – “How Do I Get from Here to There?”

Expanding Rules of the Knowledge Game to match the whole of life can be a matter of life or death. For example, just as 3 year-old Jason tried to acquire my brother’s virtues through imitation, David, in turn, copied his dad. As a Yale grad, David chose to become a physician, following in the footsteps of our Harvard-trained cardiologist father.

David too accepted the scientist’s belief that exclusively empirical science can explain everything. He dismissed other approaches to knowledge as ignorant superstition. He rejected as quackery my quest for deeper knowledge about the origins and purpose of life.

I dearly hope when when faced by extreme adversity, he’ll not, for lack of inner awareness, make the same choice his medical role model did.

When we first found out in the year 2002 – 50 years after the fact – that Kirby hadn’t died of a sudden heart attack (as we grew up believing), that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the back of the head, my younger sister Annie was instantly reminded of a haunting poem by Edward Arlington Robinson.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim. . . .

. . . he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without meat, and cursed the bread.
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

This poem dramatizes the saying, “Appearances are deceiving.” The key difference it illustrates is this. Those who endured external adversity by patiently waiting for the light survived. Whereas Cory, who seemed to “have it all,” lacked awareness of the inner resources needed to cope with hidden suffering.

Without the confidence that comes from inner wealth, all the riches in the world cannot withstand the despairing, dark of night of the soul.

In sum: the first front against suffering remains knowledge. Knowledge – complete and correct – is the beginning of empowerment. Ultimately, changing the Rules of the Knowledge Game is matter of personal as well as human survival.

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The Law of Karma Is a Key to Success

AXIOM FOUR of the Positive Paradigm is the practical foundation of functional ethics. It states, “Consequences of Actions Are Inevitable; Those Who Respect the Law of Karma Succeed.” Were it taught earlier in schools both public and private as the survival basic which it is, today’s world would be very different indeed.

For in an exclusively materialist, linear worldview, it seems possible to “get away with murder.” Unethical leaders mistakenly continue to act on the false premise that they can avoid the consequences of their actions by hiding selfish motives and evil deeds behind a mask of false appearances.

But ultimately, they deceive no one but themselves. (Remember the fate of ponzi racketeer Bernie Madoff and his two tragically unfortunate sons?)

Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray dramatizes the horrific consequences of hiding hideous deeds behind an unnatural mask of eternal youth and physical beauty. Just as Dorian comes to an awful end, in the circular and richly textured fabric of the Positive Paradigm worldview, attempts at evasion and deception are ultimately futile. The concept of a “perfect crime” is an oxymoron.

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The Old Testament describes the karmic law of return in agricultural terms. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap” and “For everything there is a season. . . ”

In modern parlance, the saying that underscores the circular dynamic of poetic justice is, “What goes around comes around.”

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks the Law of Karma as practical advice: “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.” This rule holds true as axiomatic. It has been observed for a very long time that in fact — even if not immediately, or directly — what is done does, for better or worse, returns in kind.

This code is neither self-righteous nor moralistic. It’s simply a practical fact, an observable law of nature. Because we are all interconnected, good deeds return exponentially, while harm intended becomes harm received.

There’s nothing personal about the Law of Karma. It’s simply how the world works. The dynamics of natural law are similar to computer logic. “If this, then that.” If one respects life and treats others with kindness, then others are likely to respond with gratitude. If one disrespects others, then all but wisest will feel threatened and react with fear, hatred and vengeful retaliation.

This is good news for those content to do the right things for the right reasons. It’s exceedingly bad news for those who choose to intentionally hurt and harm others, whether for immediate financial gain or petty ego-satisfaction.

It’s also incentive to become as knowledgeable as possible about the natural law encoded in the Book of Change. For the more deeply one understands the operations of this law, and the more skillfully they’re applied, the more likely it is that success will follow wherever attention is focused.

The law holds true for relationships on every level and in every avenue of daily life. Family members who honor the law bring blessings upon their loved ones as well as themselves. Those who are ethical in the conduct of their business and political lives succeed accordingly.

This dynamic is central to martial arts and the conduct of war. At the middle level, there are no reservations attached to energy manipulation. In a vacuum, out of context, motives are irrelevant. The playing field is open to all who know the territory.

To the extent that we’re not conscious of the energies that drive us at this middle level, we’re easy prey to behind-the-scenes puppet masters. American journalists see U.S. politicians’ abysmal ineptness at this level (in contrast to their Russian and Chinese counterparts) as putting Americans in grave danger.

Those who go with the grain, being truthful and trustworthy in their words and deeds even (and especially) when the going gets rough, find life ultimately abundant. Those who choose to go against the grain, preferring to get whatever they want however they can get it with as little effort as possible, find the opposite.

The popular riddle asks, “Why do con artists do shabby work, charge unreasonably high prices, and get away with murder.” The cynical answer: “Because they can.” However, this cynical half-truth tells only part of the story.

They can, because there’s free will. They can, because they’re ignorant, or else incredibly stupid. Choices have (all too often unforeseen) consequences. Whether one believes in God or not, whether one respects the natural law or chooses to be blind to it, these consequences are the same. In modern parlance, “Do the Crime. Do the time.” Or, as it’s also said, “Pay back is a bitch.”

Punishment for unrepentant wrong-doing can take many forms. The consequences of breaking human laws include fines. jail-time, and in the extreme, death. Over time, retribution for violating the natural law is visited in many forms, from mental or physical disease, to personal, professional or financial misfortune

Consequences of misdeeds often return on the psychological level. Carl Jung, the Swiss analyst who popularized the concept of archetypes, also wrote the introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching. He noted the unintended kickback from rejecting the basic axioms of religion and natural law with mere reason. There are consequences not only for decision-makers, but also those they influence.

In sum, Jung noted that modern thinkers have made a fatal mistake. The facts of inner life can’t be driven out of existence by arbitrarily banishing them from the decision-making equation. Saying God doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. It just leaves the unbeliever at the disadvantage of being cut off from the center.

According to Jung, denying the facts of inner life has the effect of burying rejected aspects of the whole in the “unconscious,” where they continue to reap havoc on our daily lives. Politicians and journalists under the influence of unacknowledged emotional demons “unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.”

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Corollary A: Free will allows that no one’s fate is irreversibly cast in stone. Destiny is the result of many choices made over a very long time. But even at the eleventh hour, consistently better choices can ameliorate and redirect the outcomes of history, on a personal and on up to national levels. The Law of Nature allows that everyone can change. This is the eternal and best hope of even the seemingly worst among us.

Corollary B: The intricate workings of karma are unfathomable to the human mind. Asking why events happen is productive only insofar as it’s instructive as to how personal beliefs, attitudes and behavior can be improved to generate better results. Then, the most practical question to ask is, “What is the best way to respond to immediate events now?”

Corollary C: It’s best to forswear ignorant meddling. Life is infinitely complex. Humans can’t possibly fathom the far reaching effects of their actions. The best results come from listening to and acting on conscience without imposing selfish ego.

Corollary D: The atheist uses personal suffering as proof that either God does not exist, or that God is so cruel and unjust that this being deserves no trust, respect or allegiance. The answer is, that human suffering is a consequence of consistently poor choices made over a very long time. The opportunity inherent in suffering is to take responsibility for making better choices, beginning with an acceptance of and realignment with the basic axioms of life.

Corollary E: The Law of Karma operates without exceptions. Ignorance is no excuse. Violate it only at your own peril. Nature and Nature’s God cannot be fooled or circumvented. There’s no way to cheat. Nature can’t bet bribed. Conscience can’t be bought off.

Corollary F: A best-selling shaman book advises that it’s okay to go full bore after whatever you want. If others get in the way, it’s their problem. If they hurt you, it’s your fault for letting them. His answer to God, like Cain’s, is, in effect, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Implying, “No way.” But in Positive Paradigm context, the correct answer is, “We’re more than our brothers’ keepers.” We not only share the same seed origin in common. We’re inextricably connected. The pain and suffering we inflict on others returns, magnified, as our own – as do the kindnesses we compassionately provide along the way.

Corollary G: Justice belongs to the Creator, the all-seeing eye and all-knowing heart that resides at the center of the Wheel. Since everyone’s misdeeds are accounted for, there’s no need for revenge. Why try to even the score? It’s already been taken care of. Besides of which, who are we as short-sighted mortals to presume to judge? It’s far more beneficial to focus on personal karma and dharma.

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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:

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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.