Tag Archives: democracy

Rethinking COMMUNITY

For years now, the same familiar pattern repeats. Whenever I decide I’m finished with writing, something comes along to make me rethink my decision. Two such events triggered today’s post. One was a thought-provoking article, “Mindfulness, Behavior and Social Change” by Mark Leonard, Director/Mindfulness Trainer at the Oxford’s Mindfulness Exchange.

I responded with a question: I’ve often thought about the possibility of building intentional communities, despite the evidence that experiments in the past have not always worked out well. Any thoughts on the subject?

In fact, I had mentally sketched but not followed-through on an article about intentional communities based on my connection with Spring Green and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship. It was an example which, for many important reasons, I would not recommend following.

He replied: I suspect an intentional community needs a suite of conditions including contemporary analogs of functions which hold traditional societies together. I think that mindfulness meditation could play a part here.

The basic axioms listed in The Positive Paradigm Handbook are my recommended contribution to this cohesive foundation. They were fatally lacking in the Spring Green experiment.

Coincidently, these axioms were the reason for accepting an invitation from Swami Narasimhananda to submit an article to Prabuddha Bharata, a journal devoted to the social sciences and humanities started by Swami Vivekananda and in continuous publication since 1896.  [See When Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW? ]

Timing being everything, I had decided a few hours earlier to list them there in the context of rethinking leadership, family and community based on timeless wisdom traditions.

My interest is based on the observation made in The Age of Heretics (Charles Krone) that when chaos enveloped the civilized European world, monasteries appeared during the dark ages as islands of purposeful community — centers of learning, healing and hospitality. Similarly, monasteries of refuge from barbarism appeared in Asian lands during particularly harsh historical times.

This dynamic seems highly relevant today, for, as Mark Leonard details in his article, the world is surely sinking into another dark ages. Intentional communities may once again become the necessary counter-balance of positive change — the means for ensuring human survival, which, as Einstein warned us, can no longer be taken for granted.

So for starters, from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, here are my original thoughts on community. It forms a hopeful basis for rethinking intentional communities. Although my frame of reference for thinking about the dynamics of change is the Chinese Book of Change, resonance with the immediately popular mindfulness movement will be immediately apparent.

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Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate.” — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat!” — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.” – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound 

THE FRONT

Community stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy. Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times. Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable. The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching natural law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based timeless values which the human community shares in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before one cleans out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life projects into external experience, fighting tyranny in the turmoil of anger and hatred reaps results in kind. Therefore, working to establish positive community relationships before attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is a futile exercise. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Conversely, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling to community and able to play their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts [heretics!] are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms. If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

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Democracy Is a Myth

Another installment of Reinventing Democracy must include my basic conclusion that today, for many reasons, democracy is a myth.

For starters, in Rethinking Survival, I draw on the key observation made by legendary comparative religion expert Joseph Campbell.

In his opinion, current myths (meaning creation stories and paradigms of how the world works) no longer serve us well. He called for a new paradigm, one that allows us to recognize the humanity of people living on the other side of the hemisphere.

Anticipating the Positive Paradigm of Change as the embodiment of Einstein’s long-sought Unified Theory, in The Power of Myth, Campbell wrote, “I’ve often wondered if some of the notions coming out of quantum physics, quantum interconnectedness, don’t express that.”

Historically, a belief in democracy is fundamental to the American world view. However, what I inadvertently proved in my dissertation’s statistical research study is that the existence of democracy in America is also a myth in the slang usage, meaning “false and fictitious.” Excerpts from Rethinking Survival explain.

 

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THE SELECTION PROCESS: Democracy is a Myth

Graduate school years were another mixed blessing. While earning a Ph.D. in Educational Administration didn’t lead to career advancement, it was highly therapeutic: another opportunity to divest myself of unconsciously held programming.

One day I would read in the research literature about the mistakes women new to administration make, being unable to read the hidden cues of old boys’ club colleagues. The next day, I would fall kerplunk, right into the same traps. Ouch! I would read about female stereotypes, and almost immediately find myself playing them out. Aha!

Another upside was the presence of exactly the right people in the right places to tell me what I needed to know to survive. . . . Howard Wakefield, the Department Chairman, took on the role of thesis advisor. His sense of humor and down-to-earth attitude saw me safely through the Ph.D. credentialing process. We spent long hours talking philosophy. Howard was a practicing Christian. He gave me a pocket Bible from the stash he kept in his center desk drawer. I treasured this gift.

The dissertation topic was as challenging for him as for me. Stereotype issues literally hit home. He began to see relationships with his wife and teenage daughter in a new light. But, he told me, it worked both ways. The job of his dreams had been to be a school district administrator.

But he was a short and small-boned. With thick glasses, he didn’t exactly project an athletic image. Muscular football coaches capable of nailing unruly teenage boys to the gym wall were the candidates of choice. He became a professor because, like it or not, that was stereotype he matched.

The Dissertation

Ethnology was ruled out for thesis projects. I was required to use statistical methods in my 1978 Ph.D. dissertation, “Women Principals in Wisconsin Elementary Schools: A Support-Success Theory.” With 99 percent statistically significant results, this study proved that public schools in Wisconsin are an inbred, insider’s closed shop.

No one enters the selection process who hasn’t first been identified and groomed by current school administrators. No one enters graduate school to earn a school administrator degree or applies to the Department of Public Instruction for credentials who hasn’t already been promised a job. The unwritten, informal rules of the pre-selection process require that job candidates mirror the values, beliefs and interests of current power-holders.

Dissertation research surveyed four distinct groups with the same set of questions. Each population had radically different perceptions of the same selection process. Men principals, those who benefit most from the process, responded with a remarkable 98 percent return rate, insisting the process is fair and unbiased.

Men teachers, however, those whose expectations and ambitions had been thwarted, were angry and cynical, certain that the process is stacked and unfair. In one respondent’s words, the chief qualification is “a willingness to screw teachers.”

Women teachers were oblivious to the existence of a selection process. Their mantra was, “I am not aware . . .” Only women principles were ambivalent. As boundary spanners, they had succeeded in being selected, but still recognized bias and injustice in the selection process.

What separated principals from teachers, regardless of gender, was the combined support received in their personal and professional lives. Those who got the most support succeeded accordingly. Those who received little support were least likely to succeed.

Interestingly, my research of the literature found that convenient myths are easily forgotten when they suddenly become inconvenient. A paradigm shift occurs, for example, during war time. When the men are away and there’s work to be done, then women are suddenly seen as perfectly fit to function as factory workers or school principals.

By extension, it’s only when the times make skewed rules of the knowledge and power-distribution game sufficiently inconvenient that the public will become receptive to the Positive Paradigm of Change and Positive Action ways to identify and support more effective leaders.

Applications: the I Ching view recognizes that patterned events repeat smallest to largest. Thus my research findings can be applied to the selection of government officials at every level. It applies to the selection of the CEOs in leadership positions within businesses and corporations. It also applies to political leadership, even on an international scale.

Conclusion: the American dream of a democratic, meaningful choice in leadership is but an illusion. In an informal process that proceeds the formal one, candidates are pre-selected and effectively owned by insiders. The sorry absence of innovative, effective leadership is explained by the documented filtering process which for the most part excludes creative, natural leaders.

What are the long-term survival consequences? To our detriment, the Western linear progressive theory of history puts in-bred leaders operating on dysfunctional paradigms at a loss to foresee cyclical down-turns in order to prepare for them in time.

Ancient Egypt’s pharaoh had his Joseph to interpret warning dreams and oversee the timely storage of grain during seasons of plenty to off-set famine during seasons of drought. Who prepares or listens to such boundary-spanning advisors now?

Rethinking SCIENCE – Does yours explain all the facts?

 

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21. SCIENCE

The achievement of decipherment . . . required painstaking analysis and sound judgment, but at the same time an element of genius, the ability to take a leap in the dark, but then to find firm ground on the other side. Few discoveries are made solely by the process of logical deduction. At some point the researcher is obliged to chance a guess, to venture an unlikely hypothesis; what matters is whether he can control the leap of imagination, and have the honesty to evaluate the results soberly. – John Chadwick, quoted in The Man Who Deciphered Linear B

 

Skinner argued for the intelligent and hopefully humane use of reinforcement theory to direct the course of the individual’s and the society’s development. . . freedom and choice are mere illusions. . . Rogers argued that freedom and choice were not illusory but real phenomena, and that a science that dehumanizes the individual and attempts to control human development paves the way for dictators and despots to move society inexorably toward a totalitarian, Orwellian future. — Kirschenbaum & Henderson, The Carl Rogers Reader

 

The genome alphabet does not tell you the full story. . . we are no way closer to understanding the real questions of life, which are, Do we have a soul? Where do we come from? What is insight? What is imagination? What is intention? What is intuition? What is inspiration? What is creativity? What is knowingness? What is understanding? What is free will? — Deepak Chopra, transcript, Larry King Live Interview

 

THE FRONT

The tacit implication of the first definition, with knowledge, suggests living what one knows, not mere theories or words. With knowledge suggests a full-spectrum continuum of awareness, not just rational thought that blocks off sub-rational experience and drowns out the super-rational music that sings from deep inside.

Unfortunately, the practice of inspired science, religions and philosophy inevitably degenerates over time, departing from the vision of original founders. Sadly, verbal codifications of partial knowledge used as guidelines for decision-making and behavior are poor substitutes for inner experience.

Truth seekers soon become aware that what un-in-formed authorities claim in the name of one system or another isn’t necessarily so.

Einstein’s famous e=mc2 formula is an accepted statement of the two-directional relationship of light, energy, and mass. It’s the physics equivalent of divine, natural and human law. This relationship, known and practiced by Taoist masters for thousands of years, is the logical foundation of an urgently needed comprehensive epistemology — meaning prevailing rules of the knowledge game that set limits on who may know what, and how.

In the comprehensive Positive Paradigm approach to science, the inner energy and light components of Einstein’s formula are approached without sentimentality, religious bias or superstition as simply The Way It IS. This worldview accepts the complete meaning of “science” as “with knowledge,” which includes not only the tangible, measurable objects of the material surface of life’s wheel, but the subtle energetic dynamics and causal origins of all the physical eyes see as well.

Ironically, tragic abuse of Einstein’s discovery may have been a necessary prelude to popular dissemination of holistic sciences. For those who must see something to believe it, an atomic bomb explosion is dramatic proof that releasing energies of a subtle sort can produce very tangible, powerful results.

The potentials for transformation embedded in medical DNA technologies and still deeper within the change sciences that are now being made public after being guarded for millennia as the secret treasures of esoteric inner temples will bring upliftment OR destruction depending on how responsibly and wisely they are used. Let the abuse of Einstein’s inspiration serve as warning.

Our challenge is to use the knowledge implicit in subtle sciences not for economic/political advantage or physical destruction, but for personal transformation that serves the common good, remembering that every leap of faith depends on deep honesty and common sense to ground the fruits of genius in the practical here and how. Science is a blessing when we live with knowledge, incorporating it as wisdom that enriches daily life. Abused as a means to conquer and control, it becomes a curse.

THE BACK

The complement of science is conscience. Empirical science depends on observation of tangible things and on rational thought. Conscience doesn’t. It’s instantaneous knowing, received in stillness. Direct connection with the higher mind/will implies profound responsibility to act as an instrument of greater purpose.

Prejudice and superstition are perversions of science. Rigid defense of rational “science” can take on the characteristics of irrational prejudice. When people’s minds are tainted by the whims of personal ambition, appetites and fears, subject to sensory stimulation without the mitigating influence of conscience, their words may sound logical, their acts appear rational. But they’re not.

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John Chadwick, quoted by Andrew Robinson in The Man Who Deciphered Linear G: the Story of Michael Ventris.. (Thames & Hudson: New York, 2002). p. 14.

The Carl Rogers Reader, ed Kirschenbaum & Henderson. (Houghton Mifflin: New York, 1989.) p. 261.

Depak Chopra, Larry King Live Interview, aired June 26, 2000. cnn.com/transcripts.

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Rethinking DISCRIMINATION

Saturday morning, May 17th, while browsing on Twitter, I happened upon the question, “Is Affirmative Action still necessary?” I tweeted straight back, “It was NEVER necessary. The goals are still valid; the legislation missed the point, triggering backlash without valid solutions.” On second thought, I tweeted “AA my thesis subject; response not made lightly; see  http://wp.me/p46Y5Z-7h. All best!”

Then, out of curiosity, I looked up the folks who asked. It’s a suspiciously faceless group using the same familiar but empty buzz words that attract all, but satisfy none. “Change is Coming. Engage. Unite. Inspire.”

It’s my ongoing work to take back and revitalize the language. Change is my subject. The Unified Theory inherent in Einstein’s famous formula is the message. Reinventing democracy by inspiring careful thinkers to Positive Action is my intended result.

Hence, today’s blog is dedicated to the history behind my answer. Take time to balance the overlooked neutral and positive meanings of “discrimination” with the overworked negative ones. It’s important.

An earlier blog posted on January 5, 2014, I spoke to a comment about discrimination made on “Off the Record” by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. She said racism exists and it’s terrible. But using the race card wrongfully is just as bad. Public figures who stir up the pot are dividing the nation, not healing it. They’re doing a real disservice to those with valid grievances. She called for “Real Solutions to Solve Real Racism.” I agreed whole-heartedly.

I continued, “Bottom line: exploitation is an energy dynamic, a symptom of self-destructive imbalance. To the extent that individuals operate on incomplete, inaccurate and false paradigms, they remain insecure, unconscious and functionally disconnected from their higher potentials. Out of that pain and suffering, like Kissinger, like Soros in the extreme, they will continue to feel justified in dominating, controlling and exploiting whomever they can, however they can — playing out power addictions with hypocritical talk of philanthropy.

“Affirmative Action legislation has not changed these dynamics — nor, as discussed earlier, could it. Looking in the wrong places doesn’t help. Tacking Affirmative Action legislation as an overlay on the surface level, while failing to address a deeper, divisive worldview, couldn’t help, and most likely would make matters worse.

“Blaming outside enemies as an excuse to avoid self-examination and correction is a futile waste of precious time and energy. Although venting frustration in politically motivated social movements — even terrorism and outright war — may temporarily feel good, it doesn’t address the underlying paradigm deficiency that drives hatred, violence and injustice. It therefore can’t put an end to catastrophic outcomes.”

Here then, is the supporting Essay from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.*

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19. DISCRIMINATION

“Relying more on the social scientists than on legal precedents . . the Court insisted on equality of the mind and heart rather than on equal school facilities. . . . Brown symbolizes the Good America, rather than the country that slaughtered Native Americans, subordinated women, and enslaved blacks. — Jack M. Balkin, What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said

Dealing exclusively on a rational level with an issue like discrimination which is deeply emotion-laden (sub-rational) on the one hand, and highly value-laden (super-rational) on the other, fails to acknowledge and draw on the levels where problems begin and where solutions can be found. — Patricia West, “Positive Action: The Next Generation”

Seeing and hearing are like food and drink; you need them every day, but you also need to digest and eliminate them every day. If they are not digested and eliminated thoroughly, they remain in the gut, eventually producing illness. — Taoist Meditation, trans. Thomas Cleary.

THE FRONT

Three levels of definition attribute opposite, contradictory meanings to the single word discrimination. In the last century, failure to recognize and sort out this confusion resulted in muddled perceptions of purpose, inconsistent implementation and half-hearted compliance with Affirmative Action legislation.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s rational definition of discrimination posits a neutral function of mind. To discriminate is to distinguish with the mind or intellect; to perceive, observe, or note the difference in or between. As an analytical tool, discrimination is the neutral function of mind used to dissect a situation’s parts and deduce cause/effect relationships amongst them. As a tool, effects of its use, whether creative or destructive, depend on the motives and competence of the user.

The last given definition adds a preposition: against. To discriminate against is to make an adverse distinction in regard to, to distinguish unfavorably from others. This negative definition is the sub-rational use. It describes abuse of the critical faculty of mind to separate, distance and subordinate others, and to rationalize exploitation. Discrimination as a function of biased, negative emotions such as fear, hate, envy, arrogance or greed is the polar opposite of objective analysis.

Still further from the rational meaning of discrimination is its super-rational definition. It is not included in The Oxford English Dictionary. However, in Eastern scriptures, the highest function of mind is called buddhi (hence the name Buddha), translated into English as the power of discrimination.

This usage alludes to the ability to see through deceptive illusions, to recognize the eternal in the midst of change, to be aware of all-pervading spirit operating within gross material forms. While rational discrimination is neutral and sub-rational discrimination has separatist results, the super-rational function of discrimination is unifying in effect.

Depending on the user’s mind-set, the I Ching can be used to serve rational, sub- or super-rational motives. Ideally, it’s used to facilitate the process of mental metabolism. When the senses are overloaded with impressions, the Book of Change can be approached as a discipline for settling down and organizing one’s thoughts sufficiently to define the immediate situation and ask questions about it.

As negative emotions surface, they’re named and released, not unlike the process of separating toxins from useful nutrients, eliminating them as waste. Rational thoughts are then simplified, prioritizing essentials and aligning them to basic purpose. Then, when emotions and rational mind are harmonized and stilled, the higher mind is invoked.

It is in this state of tranquil revere that one pierces the veil of ordinary thought, allowing the transcendent awareness attributed to genius to come forward. Einstein, for example, acknowledged that his famous e = mc2 formula came in a flash of inspired contemplation. He faulted his peers for what he called the “fateful fear of metaphysics,” a pernicious prejudice that’s easily as dangerous as racism or sexism.

THE BACK

Mercy and compassion ameliorate the effects of negative discrimination. Introspective activities like self-analysis and use of the I Ching promote the positive capacity to discriminate, make correct decisions, and act wisely. In human law, the opposite of discrimination is justice and equity. In an equitable society, wisdom is promoted as the foundation of harmony and order.

The discipline of positive discrimination is neglected in an unjust world. Ruthless extortionists in positions of political power will kill to prevent discriminating thinkers from recognizing and opposing their abuses. Tyrants promote negative discrimination. They exploit hatred, weakening the people by turning them against each other, conquering by dividing them.

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What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said. Ed. Jack M. Balkin. (New York

University Press: New York, 2001.) pp. 4-5.

Patricia West, Positive Action: The Next Generation of Affirmative Action. Unpublished paper. (Madison, WI, 1976).

Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body, trans. Thomas Cleary. (Shambhala: Boston, MA, 2000.) P. 57.

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* See the Conscience Page for illustrations, description of the structure-within-structure format of the Sixty-Four Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.

Rethinking RESPECT

“The wisdom of the ancients can inspire a reinvention of democracy now.” In this context, RESPECT is the necessary balance to the earlier blogs on FREEDOM and POWER.

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53. RESPECT

Through the text runs a moral thread, which foreshadows the most noble ideals of Confucianism: A respect for the Natural Order, an esteem for self-cultivation, and a sense of social justice.  — Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching

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As long as companies think of employees as costs rather than assets, they will always be tempted to reduce the costs rather than invest further in the assets by providing safety nets for health care, retirement, and all the things that help people to get through their lives with dignity.  — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

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Our respect for ourselves determines (a) the amount of respect we crave from others and (b) our need to push for control and dominance. . . when you are in a situation when you feel disrespected, it causes a negative response [as if] the outside world, through your ego, is your only source of psychological support or nourishment.  — David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone

THE FRONT

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Roots of respect mean to look at, or look back on. Webster’s first definition is to feel or show honor or esteem for, to hold in high regard, or to treat with deference. It also means to show consideration for, to avoid intruding upon or interfering with, as to respect others’ privacy. It can mean a deference or dutiful regard, as in respect for the law. Respect is used to indicate courteous regard, as in respect for others’ feelings.

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In the context of Affirmative Action objectives, respect refers to acceptance of diversity in public life, honoring each individual’s dignity and value, regardless of national origin, age, gender or personal beliefs. This implies more than an obligation to pay token lip service to legislation or an attitude of condescending tolerance. It supports the welcoming, embracing view that everyone has something of unique value to offer; that the whole is completed and enriched by contributions from every possible point of view.

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In Native American, Buddhist and Hindu traditions alike, children are taught a reverence for all of life, extending not only to humans, but nature as well. This includes creatures of the animal and insect kingdoms, as well as rivers and oceans, forests, mountains, deserts, jungles and even the air we breathe. Together they weave the fabric of life on earth, and evoke a commitment to maintaining the delicate balance of life-sustaining elements.

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In corporate context, unfortunately, respect takes on the qualities of intimidation, fear of retribution, and enforced loyalty. In the context of inner city gang cultures, respect takes on intense meaning. The slang word “dis” means to disrespect. News stories tell of youth so outraged when strangers show disrespect that they kill for revenge. Their extreme desire for external show of personal respect changes to its extreme opposite, the ultimate show of disrespect for life.

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Sages teach enduring respect for the timeless essence of all traditions, but do not hold onto particular forms of its expression after their usefulness has been outgrown. In Chinese history, the life span of successful dynasties was extended not by resisting change, but by embracing it.

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When barbarians hordes assailed the empire’s gates, royal advisors, knowing that resistance was futile, recommended that the newcomers’ vitality be respectfully assimilated by mutually beneficial intermarriage of races and ideas.

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When paradigms are in flux as new approaches are sought to answer new questions and meet new needs, messengers of change are often shot as if traitors by short-sighted, self-serving gatekeepers of the passing order. This may impede progress, but cannot turn back the clock.

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When the times are dangerous and the need for growth imperative, attempting to inhibit urgently necessary change is as dangerous to the civilization as is attempting to stop a mother’s labor pains once the birthing process has begun.

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If, through our examples, we taught our children self-respect, self-awareness and a fearless respect for life, they’d experience no need to demand respect from others. Then disrespectful behavior would trigger not rage, but rather compassion and a commitment to uplift the ignorant and less fortunate.

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THE BACK

Disrespect is the opposite of respect. Often it’s a product of sheer laziness and inattention. It can manifest as careless word choice or manner of dress. It’s reflected in failure to maintain one’s health, relationships, tools or property. This attitude is passed down through the generations and perpetuated by imitating bad examples.

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The word respect is perverted when used in the context of Mafia-like extortion. It becomes a euphemism for submission due to extreme fear and the illusion of powerlessness. Corrupt governments and organized crime rings which depend on passive acquiescence to stay in power are not respecters of life, nor do they receive of authentic respect.

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Kerson and Rosemary Huang, The I Ching. (Workman Publishing Co.: New York. 1985.)  Preface.

James A. Autry & Stephen Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching. (Riverhead Books: New York, 1998.) p. 186.

David J. Lieberman, Make Peace with Anyone: Breakthrough Strategies to Quickly End Any Conflict, Feud, or Estrangement. (St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2002.) p. 15.

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* See the Conscience Page for a description of the structure-within-structure format of the Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.

Rethinking FREEDOM

 

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40. FREEDOM

“The natural laws of the universe are inviolable: Energy condenses into substance. A person who neglects to breathe will turn blue and die. Some things simply can’t be dismissed.

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“It is also part of the cosmic law that what you say and do determines what happens in your life.” — Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching : The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu

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“Especially for those of us who lived in single cells, we discovered that sitting down just to think is one of the best ways of keeping yourself fresh . . . to address the problems facing you. You could stand away from yourself in the past and examine whether your behavior was befitting to a person who tried to serve society.” — Nelson Mandela, Interview, Larry King Live

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“When employees trade love, soul and freedom for maximizing profits, corporations lose their human center, and that’s as deadly for corporations as it is for us. The unhappiness and suffering that trade-offs create suggest that the paradigm is the culprit. We’re using bad software, and it’s distorting our concepts of what’s going on. We need all three together to be creative. When we’re destructive, it’s not because our nature is destructive, but because the trade-off paradigm is destructive to us.” — Breton & Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path

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THE FRONT

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Freedom is the state or quality of being free, implying exemption or liberation from the control of other people or arbitrary powers. It means liberty and independence. It implies exemption from arbitrary restriction or a specified civil right. It can mean exemption or release from imprisonment, or being able to act, move or use without hindrance or restraint. It means being able of itself to choose or determine action freely, at will, implying ease of movement performance or facility. It means being free from the usual rules or patterns. It can also mean easiness of manner, or sometimes an excessive frankness and familiarity.

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Like the words peace, love and unity, freedom is a state attained on the inside first, only then reflected in external circumstances. In I Ching context, freedom is a state of in-dependence, depending on inner resources for guidance, protection and peace. The freedom sages seek is the cessation of negative, involuntary patterns of behavior. Breaking the chains of destructive cause and effect is a function of focus combined with self-correction, forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment) in positive action.

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Those secure in themselves dedicate their lives to extending the freedom they value for themselves to others without prejudice. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had the soul of a sage. He intuitively knew the basics of magic, and recognized the difference between black and white rules. He wrote, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” As if direct from the Treatise on Esoteric Ethics, Abe delivered a speech in Wisconsin where he said, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith do our duty as we understand it.”

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Yet legal prohibitions cannot end of slavery. Saying and doing whatever one wants as a puppet of blind impulse isn’t true freedom. Seeing through negative filters of fear, pride, or apathy is as limiting as literal blindness. Even in a society that calls itself democratic, to the extent we’re unaware of inner wisdom and the laws of natural change, we’re not really free.

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Soul is like the in-breath of life. Love is like the out-breath. Freedom is the intertwined marriage of soul and love in balanced, rhythmic exchange. When we can’t breathe freely, we slowly starve from within, and wither mysteriously even in the midst of apparent prosperity.

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Breton and Largent, quoting the Sufi mystic Rumi, write, “Whatever we do, we do from our inner compass. That’s free:

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Take someone who doesn’t keep score,

Who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,

Who has not the slightest interest even

in his own personality: He’s free.”

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In I Ching context, the self-mastery attained by thinking and acting consistently from a positive paradigm that’s simple, complete and correct is the most precious, inalienable freedom.

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Nelson Mandela’s life is proof that it’s not circumstances which enslave.

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THE BACK

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The opposite of freedom is imprisonment or slavery. This includes not only external, physical incarceration, but internal, self-imposed limitations. Bad attitudes, negative emotions and self-destructive habits can be as addicting as tobacco, alcohol or drugs, undermining personal freedom.

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Recklessness and heedlessness are perversions of freedom. If a mistrusted authority says not to drink, smoke or drive too fast, for example, the first thing a rebellious teen will do to assert “freedom” is disobey, regardless of the consequences. Sadly, this is the hard way to learn the connection between foolishness and disaster.

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Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching: the Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu. (HarperSanFrancisco: New York, 1992.) #40.

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Nelson Mandela, Larry King Live Interview, aired May 16, 2000. cnn.com/transcripts.

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Denise Breton & Christopher Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path. (Hazelden: Center City, Minnesota, 1998.) p. 7.

 

Rethinking Our Common Humanity

Rethinking Survival

Excerpts

Without an accurate reality map, chances of success in life are slim to none. You need a complete picture of your potentials along with an accurate belief system, one that explains how the world works and what it expects of you.

Basing decisions on a worldview that’s distorted, incomplete or otherwise out of synch with the way things really are seriously diminishes chances of survival. In times as dangerous as these, it’s more important than ever to operate on correct and complete information.

But, as comparative religion legend Joseph Campbell observed, traditional creation stories no longer serve us well. He called for a re-vision of the timeless wisdom shared in common by the world’s great religions. We need a unifying view of creation that transcends cultural differences. In The Power of Myth, he put it this way:

“If we’re to solve the problem that’s confronting the world today, we will have develop a new mythology. The old myths are no longer serving us. We don’t have a mythology for people recognizing the humanity of a person on the other side of the hemisphere. I’ve often wondered if some of the notions coming out of quantum physics, quantum interconnectedness, don’t express that.”

Humanity needs a more inclusive reality map, one people worldwide can understand and identify with. The Positive Paradigm model meets this urgent need. It’s based on universally recognized and accepted physics, discovered by an internationally known and loved world citizen, Albert Einstein.

The Positive Paradigm of Change pictures an elegantly simply yet complete and correct reality map that accords with the way life truly is. It meets the Occam’s Razor standard: maximum inclusiveness with greatest simplicity. It has the power to give life travelers, wherever their journey starts, a new vision of life’s possibilities and with it, a realistic hope of survival.

It’s not “myth” as the slang implies, meaning unscientific, false and fictitious. To the contrary, it’s pure science, meaning “with knowledge.” It expresses the perennial philosophy embodied in the world’s great scriptures and shows them to be compatible with modern physics. The Positive Paradigm is equally consistent with science, the visionary poetry of culture-specific myths, and the Star Wars movies of George Lucas.

The Positive Paradigm structure satisfies Campbell’s call for a new mythology as the term is traditionally used. It is a symbolic representation of the creation story (genesis) and how humans fit into the picture. If it has a hero, as myths are said to center around a key figure, it would be Albert Einstein. He intuited the unifying theory which Campbell sought, and gave us the formula which, when plugged into Positive Paradigm Wheel, bridges the apparent gap between world religions and modern science.

The Positive Paradigm pictures what Campbell called “quantum interconnectedness:” a circle that, no matter where on the surface people stand, they are all connected to the same center. Every spoke of the wheel is linked to one unifying hub. The Positive Paradigm Wheel (which represents the whole world, of which everyone is part) literally gives us Einstein’s option of “widening the circle of compassion.”

It pictures a worldview where delusional separatist thinking has no place. Because, contrary to the conventional, competitive manner of thinking, the apex of individual achievement isn’t to rise above, separate from and dominate others. Quite the opposite. Paradoxically, the pinnacle of human attainment rests at the center of the Wheel of Life. Here, the illusion of Einstein’s dreaded separateness disappears.

Uniqueness belongs to the surface of the wheel, but the true height of attainment rests within. However, when the surface is linked with the center in an endless, infinite loop, there’s no conflict between individual freedom and universal compassion.

Tyrants of the world hate enlightened unity. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that everyone, everywhere shares a common origin, that we are all inherently okay.

Because once you know this, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. No one can sell you on the virtue of warring against your neighbor. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness. It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

“You are already okay.” This is the basic premise of the Positive Paradigm. It’s the realistic foundation upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear. It’s the rock-solid foundation of functional democracy. It’s grounds for rethinking what the word really means and how to implement its promise.

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to WAKE UP.

Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for. A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster. But, like Dorothy stranded in the land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

Educators can use the Positive Paradigm of Change as a positive tool for motivating students. It is easy to understand, uplifting and unifying. It confirms the innate okayness of everyone everywhere. It simplifies the essence of world religions without bias. It emphasizes the importance of rational thinking and is compatible with science. It shows students the importance of experiencing every aspect of their lives. It’s the optimal tool for building the philosopher kings urgently needed today.

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Rethinking Survival can be purchased at amazon.com.