Tag Archives: Tao Te Ching

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

In writing this post, I surprised myself and took a different direction. I intended to pick up where the last left off, completing Dr. Phil’s sentence: “If you love your children, tell them how the world works.”

There, I quoted an exchange between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and a radical student on the subject of identity.

Student: My question isn’t about [the article], but more about identity. . . . Maybe nature lends itself to creation of arbitrary structures within society. But then people self-identify with these categories. . . . How do people reckon with the parts of their identity that may or may not contribute to environments where people feel more estranged, more alone?

JBP: That’s why you educate . . to separate the wheat from the chaff. Because you’re a historical creature. And it’s outside of you and inside of you.

Well. He’s right . . . but only partially so. For we are more than mere “historical creatures.”

What I would add to the mix is a deeper, more comprehensive component of identity. For that, I rely on the gravely misunderstood and underrated I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change, along with its more accessible and familiar spin-offs: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu’s classic Art of War. Together, they represent a blind spot in Western thinking, a glaring deficit in our knowledge banks responsible for dangerous deficits in every aspect of today’s civilization.

The I Ching and both spin-offs detail how the world works. They are especially useful when dealing with conflict.This is the gift of love I’ve labored long to restore to common knowledge.

To the extent we applied this knowledge to questions of identify and social structure, we’d have a hope of restoring common sense and sanity to our lives.

Earlier, I spend hours putting together pictures of shallow circum-stance and the biblical answer to suffering. However, instead, what I decided to do here is share three related essays. Each applies ancient wisdom to current confusions.

Essay 15 on Roles offers a broader view of gender and social identity. Essay 13 addresses how roles are learned in the Family. This in turn builds into rethinking the structure of Community, Essay 14. This is a lot to take in, I know. But please stay with me. It’s well worth taking the time to give these tried and tested truths your careful consideration.They could well make your New Year go much better.

Also, by the way . . . Dr. Peterson repeatedly states his respect for Taoist philosophy. Everything below is in harmony with and supports his view of how the world works.

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

Traditional business concepts of organizational structure and management technique often condition managers to classify and measure everything and everyone they are responsible for. Organizational charts assign names to little boxes in hierarchal order. . . Not that there is no value in all these charts and systems; on the contrary, they offer a worthwhile way of understanding the fundamental structure. But the structure should serve, as chords do in jazz, as a basis for innovation and improvisation. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Leaders must be people who will not fight change but who will anticipate it, and can be challenged enough by it to enjoy it. . . We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who feels strong and courageous and trusting enough to trust himself in the present situation. — Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

THE FRONT

Role refers to a part or character that an actor plays in a performance. By extension, it refers to a function or office assumed by someone for limited duration to fulfill a particular purpose. We wear roles like clothing put on by day, shed by night.

Success in the world depends on the ability to choose a suitable part and play it with sincerity and skill, aware of how that role fits into the larger pattern of family and business organization. When studied, practiced and performed to perfection, a well-defined role provides a structure from which to relate to others and serve a useful function within the whole.

Knowing one’s particular place in the universe at any given time, in specific contexts, is an important part of self-knowledge. It’s possible to wear an array of “hats,” suitable to many complimentary roles, even during the course of a day.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, MacBeth laments, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

When we live unconsciously, we identify not with our essential true selves, but only the roles arbitrarily assigned by accidents of birth and later, by chance.

Though there are exceptions to the rule, and many variations on the theme, gender is a primary dictator of roles. In the West, girl children are traditionally dressed in pink and trained for reproductive and housekeeper roles with no preparation for transition to a productive middle or old age. Boys are dressed in blue and expected to participate in contact sports, fight wars, earn a living and support a family, also with little thought for what else life may have in store.

For the most part, one’s wealth, business and social opportunities are largely determined by whom one’s parents happen to be. Likewise, religious beliefs and nationality traits are mind-sets usually fixed by place and time of birth. In The Taoist I Ching, the sum of these factors is called cultural conditioning.

A life thus lived on automatic pilot, running on programming that has never been examined, is barely human. One cannot say such a life measures up to God’s gift of free will. There’s no conscious choice involved in the way it’s lived.

The goal of I Ching-based, Taoist training is to

release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning,

so that the mind is freed to return to its universal, pristine nature.

The purpose of overcoming cultural conditioning is not to withdraw from life, but rather to live it consciously and intentionally, to the full. Those who truly know how to act, do so with heart and soul. Rather than merely going through the mechanical gestures of scripted parts spoken without understanding, they play out a changing succession of roles over a lifetime with full awareness and conviction.

Taking on and letting go of roles is either growth-productive or traumatic, depending on one’s philosophy of life. In I Ching context, ephemeral change is natural, not subject to moral judgment as good or bad.

But, to the extent we live unconsciously, we’re but tragic shadows of our true potential. We’re poor players because we know not what we do. The more we become conscious, the more we are able to bring vitality, depth and meaning to the roles we choose, and the more radiant our lives become.

Those in leadership roles with I Ching awareness carefully prepare followers for change, equipping them to meet challenges and survive adversity. People who depend on leaders stuck in the past, unwilling or unable to change, are in deep trouble. Their survival depends on listening to the warnings of conscience in combination with gut instincts, finding positive ways to work around and overcome the dangerous consequences of mismanagement.

THE BACK

The opposite of roles is to be without a part to play. Jobless and/or homeless people are excluded from the give and take of productive daily life, as are incarcerated criminals and those institutionalized with mental or physical health problems. So are slum dwellers whose extreme poverty results in lack of education, skills and access to the work world.

The value of roles is perverted when they’re frozen into masks and performed without authentic involvement. When people identify with roles (or hide behind them) to such an extreme that they forget their true identity, they become disconnected from life. People who think of others only in terms of their roles stereotype them, disrespecting their essential humanity.

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

The nature of the chakra cords that you build in your first family will be repeated in all the following relationships that you create later. . . As an adult, you will most likely grow dependent child/mother cords between you and your mate. As you move through life and mature, you gradually transform the child/mother cords into adult/adult ones. Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

In the family we learn love, patience, respect, nurturing, affirmation, and health. The family also teaches us about competition, domination, selfishness, and deceit. The family is thus a relatively efficient learning system for the development of mind, spirit, and body. It involves the whole self. — Tom Chappell, The Soul of a Business

For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. – Jesus Christ, St. Matthew 12:50

THE FRONT

The Latin root of family means household establishment. An obsolete usage refers to all the people living in the same house, including servants and slaves. A later definition refers to all the relatives living in the same house, including extended family. Only recently has it come to mean a nuclear unit, the traditional set of parents (one husband, one wife) and their off-spring.

A family can mean a group of people related by ancestry or marriage, including relatives. It can be all those claiming descent from a common ancestor, tribe, or clan — a lineage. A crime syndicate under a single leader is also called a family.

The extended Kennedy clan is a shining example of family cohesiveness. Yet, in an interview with Larry King, Maria Shriver described lessons her family never taught her. The “real world” lessons in her book, intended to spare others from learning the hard way, are strikingly similar to I Ching basics. For example, she observes, “Behavior has consequences.” This, of course, is the Law of Karma.

Ideally, children should learn the basics within the family. If we trained ourselves and our children in I Ching ways, there’d be no need for each generation to reinvent the wheel over by repeating the same mistakes. Sheltering them from the “real world” isn’t a kindness.

A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools

to give them the practical edge,

help them meet the challenges of adult life

with intelligence and self-confidence.

As Brennan indicates, first family bonds are instinctual. As we extend outwards, we unconsciously tend to replicate parent/child dynamics in later relationships. However, if we succeed in maturing and evolving over time, we can put childish ways behind and succeed in forming adult relationships based on conscious choice and commitment.

As Chappell indicates, within the nuclear family as in the family of man, everything, both positive and negative is possible. As we learn to articulate what we see and respond wisely to experiences in the family environment, we become increasingly able to apply these skills in school, business and extended political situations.

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates,

the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships

isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards.

It requires looking inward.

Efforts to improve personality lead to the necessity to know one’s mind. This in turn leads still deeper into exploring one’s innermost awareness. Then, in due time, inward movement cycles outwards once again, incorporating the benefits of inward journey into one’s personal and practical everyday life.

Within families of every size, whether communities, religions, corporations and governments, some live the law while others do not. As Christ taught, those who love and choose truth form the nucleus of his ultimate extended family.

Those who love life, who seek truth and understanding and do their best to help others as they can, have more in common with each other than with evil-doers within their own groups.

THE BACK

Opposites of family include strangers in our community whom we’ve never gotten to know, foreigners raised abroad who speak languages and practice customs we don’t understand, as well as others we’ve been taught to mistrust and dislike.

The antithesis of family is foe, including competitive opponents and military enemies. Whereas families are ideally founded on common beliefs, goals and mutual support, those who threaten or sabotage others undermine healthy relationships. Gratitude and hope build communities. Mistrust, hostility and abuse break them down.

book header bird

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 as 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 on energy dynamics which the human community share 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 first cleaning out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life conditions attract corresponding external experience, fighting in anger and hatred reaps results in kind.

Working to establish positive community relationships before personal attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is futile. 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 of conscience. They then become increasingly fit to participate as members of a viable community, able to fulfill 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 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.

Angel Calling

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Be Harmless, NOT Defenseless

Jordan Peterson is drawing predictable backlash upon himself.

Though a clinical psychologist, he seems irrationally intent on attracting danger, while at the same time, logically, persuasively but incorrectly protesting that retreating from conflict when you shouldn’t “will cause self-annihilation.”

The qualifier is “when you shouldn’t.” Sun Tzu, reputed author of The Art of War, is keen on the importance of knowing when to make strategic retreats. There is, after all, a time and place for every purpose under heaven.

Second, what does he mean by “self-annihilation?” As righteous warriors grounded in Old Testament faith know full well, the true Self is indestructible. So also, savvy martial artists who are seeped in I Ching wisdom trust that true identity is neither enhanced nor diminished by the dance of advance and retreat.

So what’s really at stake in pressing forward against the tide, against the grain, against the laws of nature? Why vent rage, disgust and contempt at despicable, treacherous, venomous opponents? If he exposes and humiliates them, however much deserved, they will mirror his negativity back – in spades. It’s called backlash. Every action generates an opposite and equal reaction. It’s a natural law of psychological physics.

There are other, wiser ways to shift gears — address valid grievances on higher ground without attracting inevitable vengeful retaliation.

Persisting in upping the ante, provoking human snakes, smells like pride to me. Hubris, to be precise. The stuff of tragedy in the making.

I am afraid for this highly articulate but unin-formed professor.

Here’s an example of the inevitable retaliation and escalating conflict he has drawn not only into his own personal life, but also into his neighborhood — not to mention the media.

On October 26th, 2017, he posted on Twitter: Those who consider themselves my enemies have been posting these all around my home neighbourhood.

Here’s the poster:

jbp

I tweeted back, “What else would you expect?” Afterwards, I realized that without this explanation, the remark wouldn’t make sense. Hence, this blog of explanation.

Phoenix - sized

Please understand. I do not write to humiliate or diminish Dr. Peterson. Quite the opposite. He has become to the current generation of young people what John F. Kennedy was to mine. A symbol of nobility. Of hope.

I remember as painfully as if it were yesterday what it felt like to me and my friends when we heard the news that his brains had been splattered by an assassin’s bullet.

I dearly want that NOT to happen again.

I’m writing to warn Dr. Peterson. To suggest ways to protect himself, not only for his own sake and for his family’s, but for those to whom he has become a hero – who would be shattered were he to come to harm.

To plead with him to rethink the limited psychology which allows him to rationalize such intensely emotional, dangerous risk-taking.

I’m writing to urge him to add to his armory of psychologies the survival wisdom of Lao Tze and the foundational attitudes prescribed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Their teachings have guided the lives of truth seekers of thousands years. There must be something of value to recommend them, having withstood this test of time.

For example, Dr. Peterson knows not whereof he speaks when he says, “Don’t be harmless.

Is he intentionally rejecting ancient wisdom by this word choice, or is he unaware of the significance of this virtue in ancient lore?

Lao Tze, in fact, uses harmlessness as his defense. It’s a time-honored strategy.

Here is a famous drawing of Lao Tze riding his ox. He is credited with writing The Tao Te Ching, which next to the Bible is the world’s most often translated scripture. It shows the enlightened sage as so intricately merged with the beast which carries him that they appear inseparable. This image represents the higher mind which has tamed and harnessed the energy of emotions. He uses them to carry him towards his destination.

Lao Tze on Ox

I will give you a hint of this survival approach to dealing with snakes excerpted from Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change.

snake

Passage 50 reads, in part:

Those who live by the law are protected by it.

They travel the world without being injured.

In the midst of hostilities, no one knows where to attack.

Wild beasts sense no openings to penetrate.

Enemies find no weaknesses to exploit.

Armies can’t locate a fortress to assault.

This accords with the following section about harmlessness used as defense strategy.

Non-Violence

Taoists abhor selfish meddling and gratuitous violence as equally destructive to individuals, society and the environment.

In this, their thinking is in accord with the most fundamental tenet of the yoga. Non-violence is the virtue listed first among the commitments which constitute the fundamental basis of yoga disciplines. The attitude of harmlessness, or non-violence, is the prerequisite upon which all more advanced spiritual practices depend.

In Sutra 35 of Book II, Patanjali informs us that:

When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.

Similarly, in Passage 55 Lao Tze describes sages as being accomplished in the ways of the ancient yoga masters:

Sages who master the infant’s harmlessness:

don’t startle wasps or snakes, and therefore don’t get stung;

don’t threaten angry beasts, and therefore are left in peace;

don’t bother birds of prey and therefore aren’t carried off.

Lao Tze describes non-violence as the cornerstone of social stability. In Passage 68 he tells us:

The best leaders act with subtle dignity.

Successful warriors move with alert caution.

Enduring winners shun prideful vengeance.

Good employers quietly support their workers.

The way of non-violence is the supreme treasure of communities

founded in the eternal Tao.

book header bird

Again, let me emphasize that I wish Dr. Peterson all the best. May he live long and prosper. Let him put on the full armor of God for protection. Give him the wisdom to tame his righteous indignation with the discipline of a seasoned sage. Let him survive as a shining inspiration to those who have come to treasure his innate nobility.

As yet, for whatever reasons, he remains unresponsive. The Catch 22 seems to be that since I’m not a well-known public figure, he assumes he has no grounds for communication. In Don’t throw pearls before swine, he says, “You cannot talk to people who will not engage in a discussion.”

So be it. He says he had no desire to engage in the legislative issue that catapulted him to fame, but felt compelled to do so. In exactly the same way, I had no desire whatsoever to write these blogs, but felt deeply compelled to do so. Unfathomable but somehow irresistible.

Whatever the outcome, at least I’ve done my best. And having done so, leave the future in trust to God’s will.

Angel Calling

It’s Hard

I identify with Jack Kornfield‘s stories about the hard work between leaving everything behind and coming to a bit of self-knowledge and calm. In the 1960s, walking away from an unhappy childhood in a troubled American society, he sought out Asian teachers via the Peace Corps and apprenticed himself to Buddhist masters.

However, a warning maxim sums up what he quickly learned: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

When Kornfield – a senior founder of the mindfulness movement – sat in a far away jungle monastery practicing meditation, he didn’t experience bliss. Instead, what came forward was a powerful mix of painful emotions – buried disappointment, fear, rage, and hatred – triggered by memories of an abusive father which he’d failed to heal earlier.

His experience confirms another cautionary maxim. As I was warned early on, best not expect quick results from introspection. “It’s hard to remember you’re here to clean out the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.”

alligators

I wrote about my own personal challenges in Rethinking Survival:

Rethinking Survival is a hybrid. It’s part memoir. But far deeper, it’s the stuff of a paradigm shift. It voices the aspirations which everyone shares in common. But it also fingers the false assumptions that too often tie us in paralyzing knots. 

Inevitably, shadow issues to face were embedded within the wonderful opportunities I’ve been granted.

Each opportunity that presented itself contained within it an opposite and equal challenge to divest myself of limiting myths and misconceptions. Yogis compare the process to peeling away the layers of an onion. The Taoist I Ching scholar translated by Thomas Cleary described it as stripping away artificial veneers of cultural conditioning to restore the original True Self. Another source likens the process to the Herculean task of cleaning out the Aegean horse stables.

Further:

The same friend who told me about neatsies also reminded me about R.D. Laing’s Knots.2 Undetected assumptions wrapped in twisted logic can tie people in knots. They act like a life-draining cancer. False beliefs can drive people crazy, even to acts of criminal violence. We agreed about the dangers of living a lie, as if there were no options. This is how individuals (then dysfunctional families and nations) self-destruct.

One benefit of respecting the wisdom to be found in ancient cultures is this: Those who lived simply, close to nature, remind us of timeless truths which we as complicated urban dwellers have forgotten. Asians seeped for thousands of years in the I Ching understood much that harried moderns dearly need to recover.

For example, Confucius understood the primary importance of personal responsibility:

Confucius

Though stated in reverse order in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze also held that the world is necessarily changed one person at a time, and from the inside out:

18

With this in mind, I had mixed emotions about the recent American election. In Clarion Call I wrote:

Perhaps deeper than the President-Elect consciously knows (or even needs to), his words ring true across the full continuum of the Life Wheel. BUT: here is the danger . . .

Many people, due to a host of unfortunate circumstances, live primarily on the shallow surface of the Life Wheel. They haven’t the depth to recognize or respect what,  for whatever reason, they’ve forgotten. Worse, some, unintentionally or otherwise, live at odds with inner truth. They will continue to spin, distort and attempt to delegitimize DJT’s victory . . .

They will definitely stir up unnecessary conflict to destabilize the world, as if to prevent his best intentions from coming True.

Today, looking back with the advantage of hindsight, I shake my head. What a noble but sadly mistaken approach, to focus on ending corruption on a national scale, while individual hearts, families, communities and states are, for the most part, alligator-infested swamps.

Current events reinforce earlier my conclusion:

Changing the world, especially in dangerous times, is an overwhelming prospect. It’s also unnecessary. No matter how much is going wrong “out there,” the manageable unit that’s one’s first responsibility to change is the one closest to home: oneself.

Our best hope is, still yet, to think small. Begin with one’s self.

Yes, taming one’s inner alligators is hard work. Very hard. But it’s infinitely worth it.

climbing alligator

 

 

 

Hidden Giants

According to the world-loved Tao Te Ching, when the times reach critical mass, leaders arise in response to the deep-felt heart-cries of the suffering masses for deliverance.

This assurance is repeated twice, first in Passage 18. “When countries degenerate into strife, anarchy sets in. / When danger peaks, however, heroes emerge and come forward.”

It appears again in Passage 78. “Like water, the sage takes the world’s suffering to heart, endures its hardships, / and responsive to the times, becomes the catalyst of collective action.

This is the underlying thought in the following rethinking of the David and Goliath scenario. The upcoming anthology, The BEST of WEST will include this excerpt from Rethinking Survival. It’s taken from the section called “We’re Never Alone: Gladwell’s Misfits and Giants in Perspective.”

globe

When Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath came out in October of 2013, I had to read it. The subject promised to be a perfect fit with the vision of Rethinking. After all, King David is my ideal: musician, psalmist, warrior and king in one.

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

As far as it goes, the book is a good read. What’s lacking is the Positive Paradigm to put David and Goliath in context. From this viewpoint, Goliath was stuck on the surface. Despite his physical size, he was ultimately powerless. David, on the other hand, was connected to center. That gave him the advantage.

Using this Einstein-inspired model of concentric circles linked in an infinite, two-directional loop, we can place the source of David’s strength as well as his strategies and his deadly slingshot.

Resting in the innermost hub of the Life Wheel associated with light was the source of little David’s confidence — the timeless God of Israel.

His strategies, however, belonged to the middle, dynamic level associated with energy.

His prowess as a straight-shooter depended on physical strength, visual acuity and years of experience. Those have their place on the outermost material surface associated with mass.

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

If David had drawn a blank on any one of the three levels, he wouldn’t have succeed then. Nor can anyone succeed today. Vision that’s not backed by a good plan and technical competence is incomplete. Cunning strategies lacking equal competence to execute them are lop-sided. Without a direct connection with the creative center, all the physical resources in the world aren’t enough.

There are several reasons, however, why the story of David and Goliath isn’t the best model for coping with adversity today. For one, we’re at a very different point in history. This is end stage. Civilization was relatively young back then. Different times call for different responses.

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

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

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

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

It took me a couple days to find it. Strangely, he doesn’t get much media attention. (Why not is an interesting question!)

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

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

As a philanthropist, Huntsman has given away more than $1.2 billion to both domestic and international charities. His humanitarian aid includes help to the homeless, ill and under-privileged. He holds that the very rich should give not half, as Gates and Buffet say, but a full 80 percent of their wealth to worthy causes. It should be through voluntary choice, however. Not taxation. In this, he agrees with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

His goal is to give away everything before he dies. But this isn’t an easy task. He keeps making too much money.

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

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

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

Timeless? Universal? Common sense? I like it!

Moving on, Gladwell also says little guys need to redefine power. I’ve done that too. In Positive Paradigm context, true power comes from within. Goliath, who drew strength primarily from the physical plane, was puny compared to the force behind David’s sling.

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

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

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

Here’s yet another point. David and Goliath has one take on the giants of the world. But there’s also another way to think about giants. The reverse, shadow side – the opposite side of the coin. Early on, for example, I was inspired by Awaken the Giant Within. I founded the +A Positive Action Press in response to Tony Robbins’ book. From a Positive Paradigm perspective, his words take on new meaning:

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

The threat of evil giants in the world serves to awaken the true giant that resides deep within each of us. That’s the blessing hidden in adversity. It’s the opportunity latent in Titanic Times. The Greek Titans, the giants sired by Kronos, survived his murderous envy and returned to claim their heritage.

Similarly, as Lao Tze assures us, there are surely sleeping giants are among us now.

It’s time for them to WAKE UP!

Are you a sleeping giant? Do you work or live with one? What will it take for you (or them) to wake up?

Savvy Leaders Go with the Flow

We’ve all familiar with the phrase, “Go with the flow.” It’s another way of saying, “Timing is everything.” But how does it apply to the leader selection process? That’s the final, forth factor Mike Lehr of Omega Z Advisors invited me to comment on. Earlier, he wrote:

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When I look at events, I see four major forces: circumstances, flow, people and leader. From my perspective, you wrote about the last two. [See “Scientists and Sages Can Agree on This,” wp.me/p46Y5Z-8W and “How Bad People Become Leaders,” wp.me/p46Y5Z-9B.] I’m asking about the first two.

The third factor has already been covered in a responsive blog. [See “Do Circumstances Influence Leader Selection?” wp.me/p46Y5Z-be.] That leaves the fourth major force influencing leader selection – flow.

Though I often describe flow as timing, my view is more from the I Ching on this. So, my question to you is this: Would being at different points in the I Ching cycle produce different leaders?

To summarize, I often ask people this question: If everyone suddenly awoke not knowing who they were and not remembering how they came to be where they are (if we could reset life), would the same leaders arise that we have now?

In fact, the Book of Change was traditionally consulted as a method of telling time. According to Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide:

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. . . the I Ching works like a cosmic clock, telling us the time. In the Old Testament, King Solomon expressed the natural, rhythmic alternations of time in poetic form: “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

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The Book of Change puts its users in touch with these pulsating, alternating rhythms of life. It connects them with inner knowing – call it intuition or conscience – that anticipates approaching changes, the better to prepare for what is to come.

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The Common Sense Book of Change explains it this way:

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This text is called the Book of Change because its readings sum up the natural laws of change. They reflect stages through which daily events evolve in predictable cyclical patterns.

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These patterns can be drawn on any scale from smallest to largest. For example, they might express the seconds which add up to a minute, or the minutes which complete an hour on the face of the clock.

compass clock

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What most leaders fail to take into account, however, is that the different hands of this cosmic clock return to the twelve o’clock alpha-omega compass point of True North at different rates of speed. By analogy, successful leaders have an overview of the complex point in time where their organizations currently stand, as well as the ultimate direction in which they’re headed.

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Unfortunately, short-sighted leaders see only the second- or, at best, the minute-hand of the clock, mistakenly assuming they see the whole picture. They remain sadly unaware of the larger context, oblivious to the long-term hour.

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For example, the fast-moving second-hand of the cosmic clock may point due North towards the zenith point of twelve o’clock and the intermediate-speed minute-hand point to 12:15. All the while, unobserved, the slowest-moving hour-hand may point towards the nadir, due South at six o’clock.

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Short-sighted leaders miscalculate. Their timing is dangerously off. For example, when they act as if prosperity is never-ending (or else just around the corner) when in fact a depression of unprecedented proportions is looming ahead like an “unforeseen” iceberg, they’re unwittingly leading unprepared followers into a disaster of Titanic proportion.

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To continue with Plato’s earlier “leader as charioteer” image, successful executives must be capable of harnessing the opposite forces of expansion and contraction, the yin-yang pair of white and black horses. If these energies are not reined in and balanced, they can tear whole nations apart, steering them off-course into self-destruction, either consumed by the sun or else smashed to smithereens below. [See “Know When to Mistrust Inner Voices,” wp.me/p46Y5Z-aR.]

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Those versed in the dynamics of I Ching yin-yang opposites know that each extreme generates its polar opposite. For example, extreme inflation inevitably triggers an opposite and equal extreme of deflation. Extremes of extravagant waste on the part of a few predictably lead to wide-spread deprivation and misery for the many.

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But how do the basics of flow apply to leader selection today? As discussed earlier, it depends on who the selectors are. For example, in biblical times, when the Egyptian Pharaoh had disturbing warning dreams which he couldn’t fathom, he had the humility (prudence) to seek out those wiser in such matters. He took the advice of a cup-bearer, formerly a prisoner, whose release and good fortune was foretold by an unjustly incarcerated fellow prisoner named Joseph.

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Joseph not only recognized the meaning of the Pharaoh’s warning dreams, but proved to be a skillful administrator. During the sunny cyclical time of prosperity, he advised on how best to meet the approaching shadow cycle of downturn with its specter of drought, famine and starvation. Given the responsibility to oversee collection of grain during times of plenty, he steered his people towards survival. (Joseph was what in modern parlance is called a “prepper.”)

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Unfortunately, most leader selectors have less humility. When they have bad dreams, they’re less likely to seek out the modern day equivalent of a Joseph to reap the benefits of inner signals. [See “Therapists as Agents of Positive Change,” wp.me/p46Y5Z-bA.]

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Disregarding disturbing signals coming from every direction, they’re more likely to listen to feel-good gurus who get rich by telling them whatever they want to hear. “Everything will be okay. Be Happy. Don’t Worry.”

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Unfortunately, repeating positive mantras can’t alter the patterned flow of events. As irresponsible leaders across the globe continue to lead their followers into war, playing political chess from their plush, comfortable offices, eating, drinking and making merry at others’ expense, the Titanic ship of Planet Earth continues on its fateful collision course towards disaster.

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In fact, as Old Avatar warns, at this late date in the flow of time, we’re not only approaching a Near Extinction Level Crisis (NELC). We’re already in its midst. The extreme outcome will surpass even the dangers foreseen by Plato or dreamed of by Pharaoh — more along the lines of the four-horsed apocalypse of biblical prophecy.

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Today’s savvy and responsible leaders — those with the prudent humility of a Pharaoh to recognize that they aren’t equipped to analyze warnings and prepare to survive approaching dangers — would do well to seek out and select those wiser than themselves and heed their prepper advice. The survival of their beloved children and grandchildren (which, as Einstein warned us, can no longer be taken for granted) hangs in the balance.

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Mike asked, hypothetically, If we could reset the clock to the zero hour and make a clean start, would the same leaders emerge? The ones he’s hoping might arise are already there, allbeit waiting in the wings. I’ve been hinting as much in recent tweets. “The presence of true masters is only suspected. Lao Tze 17.”

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The introduction of Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change quotes Passage 18, which echoes the Bhagavad Gita’s premise that at the nadir of historical cycles, true leaders come forward for the instruction and deliverance of troubled truth seekers:

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When countries degenerate into strife, / anarchy sets in.

When danger peaks, however, / heroes emerge / and come forward.

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In this context, the more realistic question is, Would a better leader selection process produce better results? That’s the immediate challenge facing today’s leader selectors.

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As for how timing influences leader selection, Lao Tze gives this answer:

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78.

Nothing under heaven is as soft,

receptive or pliant as water;

but when amassed,

nothing withstands

its tidal wave impact.

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As water penetrates

and dissolves the hard,

erodes and absorbs the rigid,

those who yield and encompass their foes

prevail long after evil doers

have disappeared.

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Like water,

the sage takes the world’s suffering

to heart,

endures its hardships,

and responsive to the times,

becomes the catalyst

of collective action.

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So it is that the low and high trade places,

and the forceful lose their influence;

this is known by many,

but practiced by few.

Dangerous Times Call for True Radicals

At 7:07 a.m. on Tuesday, July 2nd, a tweet from RhinoforDinner popped into my email inbox. “Thanks for the follow! I’m Page! What leadership quality do you think is most important for young leaders to learn?”

I tweeted back, “Great Q, Page! I’d say Confidence, meaning “with faith” in their True Selves: having the courage to hear & follow inner voice of Conscience.” I double-checked Page’s avatar – a seriously disgruntled cartoon rhino.

Here’s the description: “What is real leadership? A rhino in a restaurant is no doubt powerful… But he has no authority! Helping leaders lead with authority!” So I followed up, “Conscience is the connection with ultimate inner authority.” Then, on second thought, an hour later, “Con-science = with science, the true meaning of which is ‘with knowledge.’”

I have enormous compassion for Millennials . . . as well as great hope, which is why the 2014 edition of Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change is dedicated to them:

Though it may seem as if they’ve been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune on the surface of the Positive Paradigm Wheel contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.

Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared with the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those whom circumstances oblige to return to the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.

Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the materialistic, conflict-paradigm are so catastrophic that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of the Positive Paradigm buried deep within the Tao Te Ching‘s wisdom.

  They’ve been given the greater opportunity to dig deep,

rediscover their inalienable inner resources, and

become the truly radical agents of substantive, positive change.

In the repeating cycles of generational pendulum swings, their 1960’s grandparents (indiscriminately) embraced all things change – on the surface. Religious, sexual and cultural norms went by the board. Hippie flower children dropped out of “the system” and tuned in to drugs, hard rock and doing their own thing.

Working with less-than-perfect translations of the I Ching, they popularized the misunderstood Chinese Book of Change to rationalize (predictable) rebellion against security-obsessed elders, who (as survivors of the great depression and World War II), had reacted in opposite and equally extreme ways to the extremes of the generation before them. (And so on, and so forth, round and round again.)

My best hope for Millennials is that they’ll benefit from the lessons of history and NOT mindlessly perpetuate the pattern of yo-yo swings between opposite and equally dysfunctional extremes on the surface, disconnected from the timeless center.

We now recognize that different visions of timeless truth are, necessarily, inherently the same. Looking back in time, the Tao Te Ching (along with the I Ching worldview it expresses) is remarkably compatible with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Looking forward, it is equally compatible with the teachings of Christ. Most recently, the correlation has been made with the three variables of Einstein’s famous formula. He had the Unified Theory, though lacking familiarity with ancient teachings, didn’t know it.

Now, as in the time when Christ walked the Earth, true fundamentalists and radicals (both words mean the same thing) aren’t conflicting extremist groups that meddle with events on the material surface of life’s wheel, but single individuals with the courage and vision to change themselves from the inside out.

Millennials, along with the parents and grandparents who dearly wish them well, can benefit from a hard-earned, deeper understanding of change. They’re becoming aware that times of adversity and extreme danger offer opportunities for self-transcendence. They can anticipate hidden blessings (however well-disguised) and prepare according to The Common Sense Book of Change view of CHANGE:

49. CHANGE

Day and night replace each other

in endless cycles of CHANGE.

The same natural law generates flux

in human events.

The unprepared see change

as a threat,

but the well-prepared

face the unknown calmly.

They know that after degeneration

reaches critical mass,

regeneration follows.

Welcome the new.

Avoid short-sighted fear.

 

This, in turn, however, leads to a whole new subject.

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globe

Seven Axioms of Positive Change

As promised, here is an abbreviated list of the seven basic axioms of viable, positive change as they’re listed in The Positive Paradigm Handbook: Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change. They all refer to the basic model of concentric circles linked in a continuous, infinite loop:

 

PositiveParadigmWheel

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  • AXIOM ONE: A complete and correct paradigm is the key to personal well-being and success.

In the Positive Paradigm worldview, the physical world of experience has its origin and end at the creative center of the Wheel. The unseen drives the seen. The invisible precedes the visible. Inspiration precedes actions which in turn produce results.

Therefore, the quality of daily life depends on the quality of belief systems. If the paradigm held is complete and accurate, it leads to consistent action that yields successful, beneficial results. When paradigms are incomplete and inaccurate, however, they generate inconsistent actions that lead to failure, pain and suffering.

By definition, a universal paradigm can be applied to every and any aspect of life. A rethinking of personal lives, bringing them into alignment with the Positive worldview, will enhance well-being on all levels. A similar rethinking of organizational structures on increasingly larger scales of magnitude will have equally beneficial consequences.

A deep understanding of the Positive Paradigm illumines whatever field of endeavor upon which it is focused. This includes all the arts as well as the physical and social sciences — economics, politics and government.

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  • AXIOM TWO: We are each a world complete, containing the potentials of the universe.

Sadly, this is the least known but most important fact of life we never learned in school – but should have. In large part, the Handbook is written as the book I searched for on the library shelves, but couldn’t find. It should have been there, and now will be for others who also sense that there’s something really important missing from what we were taught which must be restored. It’s the basis of a fundamental respect for self as well as for all others.

The place to look in this information starts with ancient medical traditions. The traditional sciences of both India and China map the subtle inner energy patterns which Huston Smith called the “invisible geometry” which shapes all humanity to a “single truth.”

In these worldviews, energy emanates from and returns to an eternal source. It is the stuff from which the physical world is generated. It is the substructure which frames the physical human body, upon which mental and physical health depend. When this energy is abundant, its circulation free flowing, and its distribution balanced, we experience health. When energy is depleted, stagnant or unbalanced, the result is disease on every level.

The functional term “health” in the context of these traditions means “whole.” The health of subtle energetic and related biological systems depends on the integrated balance of the interrelated parts. Each part depends on and completes the whole. The concept of “holism” expresses this worldview. . . .

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  • AXIOM THREE: Unity and Diversity Are Necessary Compliments

The third axiom is almost as neglected as the second. In addition, it is subject to distortions and misunderstandings that make matters worse. This confusion is the unfortunate cause of conflict in family relationships, and all the way up the life chain to conflict between nations.

Inherent, inner similarity is the realistic foundation of common understanding. However, the fact that all people have the same inner structure does not mean that all are identical, or should be treated the same. Quite the contrary, within the evolutionary chakra scale, at any given time, most individuals are focused on only one or a small combination of centers and their related issues.

Like snowflakes, humans are identical in their basic structure. Each, however, is unique expression of the universal pattern. Personal abilities and needs are the result of an infinitely complex set of variables. And just as the balance of energy centers promotes the health of the individual, a balance of complimentary aptitudes and interests promotes the general health of society at large.

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  • AXIOM FOUR: The consequences of action are inevitable; those who respect the law of karma succeed.

Axiom Four is the practical foundation of ethics. In a materialist, linear worldview, it may seem possible to hide selfish motives and evil deeds behind a mask of false appearances and escape the logical consequences of one’s actions. This false premise and its horrific outcome, however, is exposed in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

In the circular and richly textured fabric of the Positive Paradigm reality, attempts at evasion and deception are ultimately futile. The Old Testament describes the karmic law of return in agricultural terms. “As ye reap, so shall ye sow,” 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 stated the Law of Karma as practical advice: “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.” This observation 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, return in kind.

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  • AXIOM FIVE: History is neither linear or progressive, nor can human survival be taken for granted.

Some things change. Others never do. Knowing the difference between absolutes and ephemerals is matter of life or death. The center of the Wheel is changeless. Those in the know depend on this. But the Wheel’s rim spins in endless circles of repeating, patterned change. Therefore, survivors anticipate the predictable, cyclical changes of nature.

They know far better than to take immediate appearances at face value. They’re not fooled by wishful thinking into the false belief that what can be seen is permanent.

Lao Tze, who wrote the world-loved Tao Te Ching, or The Way and Its Power, knew this and tried to warn the world. Sun Tzu, Chinese author of The Art of War — a manual used by successful military leaders for hundreds of years — taught savvy strategists how to exploit the knowledge of human dynamics to win their battles. Today’s international business leaders have adapted this wisdom, as well as spin-offs like the 36 Stratagems, to capture markets, maximize profits and beat out the competition.

All these texts draw on the wisdom encoded in the I Ching, the venerable Book of Change, to steer them in the decision-making process. They rely on the law of subtle change and the personal understandings derived from working with it to stay ahead of the curve. Knowing that surface appearances are deceptive can be used as a protective, self-defense measure, or exploited with endlessly ingenious variations that take advantage of the uninformed. . .

In the dark ages, Europeans were taught to believe that the world was flat. That the globe of spinning Planet Earth is in fact round was received as life-changing information that dramatically changed the way people thought and lived.

Similarly, some today still continue to think of history as a flat, straight line. In this they are as sadly mistaken as were the navigators who guided their ships on the assumption that the world was flat. In fact, the dynamics of human history resemble a multi-layered clock whose second, minute and hour hands continuously return to the same starting point at different rates of speed. Rethinking the paradigm of history to align with known facts would give future leaders an edge on survival.

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  • AXIOM SIX: Used as a linguistic tool, the Positive Paradigm Wheel of Change promotes clear, accurate and effective communication.

Like humanity itself, the English language is also becoming an endangered species. Clear and effective communication can no more be taken for granted than any other aspect of the civilization.

In tracking the meanings of words, their devolution is found to be systematic. In some cases, the same word means not only one thing, but its exact opposite as well. The inherent danger is that people often talk at cross-purposes, thinking they understand each other when in fact they’re missing each other coming and going, only vaguely aware of the disconnect.

It’s worth the time to pay attention to what’s meant by specific words in common use. Working with the Positive Paradigm Wheel explains the dynamics of shifting definitions. The same word takes on different meanings on different levels of the Wheel.

One example is the word “positive.” Webster’s Dictionary lists seventeen (!) different uses. They span the continuum from center to surface, with many gradations along the route. At the core, “positive” refers to that which is absolute, unqualified, and independent of circumstances; that which has real existence in itself.

At the middle, energy level, the term is used describe an electrical valence. As an attitude, positive can mean either confident or dogmatic. At the surface, positive may mean showing forward progress or increase, making a constructive contribution.

  • AXIOM SEVEN: With a correct paradigm, practical methods and useful tools, you can make yourself whole.

As stated in the Preface caveat, according to the Positive Paradigm, everyone is already intrinsically whole. Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” This is the wisdom behind the biblical admonition, “Ye must be perfect like your father.” However, just as Einstein had the Unified Field Theory, but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

Worse, many have been deceived into believing they’re inherently not-okay. The Handbook confirms inherent wholeness. Its structure provides the practical foundation for actualizing in-born potential and initiating the ongoing process of making and keeping ourselves FUNCTIONALLY whole, over and over again.

The subtitle Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change isn’t intended to suggest that this or any other book can magically or literally make anyone whole, or that once through the book, you’re done. It requires not only initial work, but ongoing follow-through. It’s personal intention and consistent effort that produce results. This is just a really useful tool.

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To be continued. Each of the basic axioms generates numerous related corollaries. Future blogs will list the most important of them.