“The mind is inherently stubborn about change, and seems to snap back to its original position like an elastic band.
But there is catch: when we truly comprehend in our guts the finality and truth that THIS is IT, right now, no matter how our life is, then we grasp what Werner Erhard was always screaming about:
that no magic pill or workshop or experience of any sort is ever going to come along and finally “fix” you or me or make us permanently happy, and in that very moment of giving up the search for transformation, a transformation paradoxically does in fact occur.
One recognises that one was never broken in the first place, and suddenly all the energy previously devoted to seeking a way out of or through the problem of the unfulfilled self is freed up to power one’s mission and vision, which is a gesture of giving and contribution rather than one of searching, waiting, and hoping.
And that is a good thing, if a bit sobering, because it means we are asked to step up to the plate in life with what and who we already are. We have been given our piece in the game, and it only remains to play wholeheartedly.”
I invite you to show up and operate from an uncommon context. Which context? Please take a look at the following, short, presentation from an ex-colleague of mine, Bruce Kasanoff.
I invite you to go one step further. I invite you to to live from the context “Help this person, with love”
Why have I added “with love” to Bruce’s “Help this person”. Because there is a world of difference between helping this person with love, or helping without love. This world of difference shows up both for the helper and the helped. I am not talking theory. I am share my lived experience.
I guarantee that if you show up and operate from the context “help this person, with love” your experience of your living will be transformed. And so will the nature, number, and quality of your relatedness and relationships.
Are you up for testing this out and taking me up on my guarantee? Perhaps, you are up for joining me just because it speaks for you. Or it shows up as being a great way to live: a way that opens up adventure, invites relationship, and fun.
Finally, I invite you to consider that a new realm of possibilities open up for me, for you, for us, for the world of which we are an integral part, when you and I show up from “Help this person, with love”.
I share with you a talk worth listening to again and again. If you are a Landmark graduate then this talk may show up as welcome reminder of some fundamentals. If you are not a Landmark graduate then you are in for a mind opening talk. Enjoy.
When you and I came forth from this world we came forth naked. Totally naked: without any and all labels. No name, no gender, no nationality, no religion, no politics…
So how did you and I end up with such a strong identity? An identity that grips us. An identity that permeates us. More accurately, identity that is us. It simply happened didn’t it as we travelled through the years with people, from one place to another? Would it be correct to say that the foundations of my identity, your identity, our identity was solidly in place before you and I were in a place to choose, to discriminate, to accept or decline the garments of identity thrust upon us by our parents, family, caregivers?
I ask you to take a good look at the core of your identity? What do you see? Do you see ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘American’, ‘Brit’, ‘christian’, ‘muslim’, ‘atheist’, ‘painter’, ‘mom’, ‘CEO’, ‘marketer’….? Please go and look beyond that. What do you see?
If you look deep enough and have the courage to see, to listen, I say that you are most likely to find that the core of your identity is that of ‘being defective’. Is that not our common humanity at the most fundamental level? You and I see ourselves as ‘defective’, as ‘not good enough’, as ‘something is wrong about me’. Right? I get that my version of defective may be that ‘I am not good looking’ and that ‘my body is weak’ and that ‘stupid’. Your identity might be that you are ‘too tall’, ‘too fat’, ‘too shy’, ‘not considerate enough’, ‘poor’… Do you notice that the details differ and the bigger game is the same between us? I am defective: I am not whole, I am not complete, I am not perfect.
You and I were born without identity, born naked of all labels, born naked full stop. Naked! So how did you go from no identity, and the lightness and freedom that goes with that, to carrying the huge burden that goes with operating from the stance ‘I am not whole, not complete, not perfect’? We were programmed. Why? So that we would fit in with the existing order. So that we would better comply with the wishes of those more powerful than us. Right?
How is it working out? Put differently, what is the experience of my life, your life, lived from the context of ‘not whole, not complete, not perfect’? It is that of looking for all kinds of way to be whole, be complete, be perfect. That is what all the self-help books are about, right? That is what all the status brands and conspicuous consumption is about, right? That is what all the pre tense of being perfect and having a perfect life is all about, right?
I say to me, to you, to us, what fools we are! We can simply give up the game. We can give it up right now, just like that. How exactly? Notice, that we were born naked, without labels, without identity. Notice, that identity is a choice. You and I can choose to live from another identity, another context. Which one? Where I declare myself as ‘whole-complete-perfect’, and you declare yourself as ‘whole-complete-perfect’. Let’s not stop there. Let’s declare all of our fellow human beings ‘whole-complete-perfect’.
Imagine how life would show up if you and I did declare ourselves as ‘whole-complete-perfect’. Imagine how life would be if you and I declared each and every human being as ‘whole-complete-perfect’. Not as a truth but as an identity that we give ourselves. And as a stand from which we show up and operate from this world. When we relate to ourselves and our fellow human beings as ‘whole-complete-perfect’ a totally new dimension of conversation and action shows up for us; you, me, everyone. We stop being small! We are free to be BIG: to give wings to our dreams, to act on the world, to co-create a world that works, a world that is wonderful for us all.
Given that we come forth naked of identity, why is it that we have not been conditioned to believe and operate from stand-identity of being at our most fundamental level ‘whole-complete-perfect’? If we had been conditioned that way, we would operate as ‘gods’ right? What if those that condition don’t want ‘gods’ and instead want ‘slaves’ who do not know that they are enslaved? Then giving us the identity of being ‘defective and weak’ would make perfect sense. So I say choose: slave or god.
Still convinced that you know yourself? Still convinced that you are defective, small, weak, and powerless? I invite you to watch the following video:
Inventing possibilities is not sufficient
It is not enough to invent possibilities; inventing possibilities does not lead to a transformation in the experience of my/your living. If you/I are to experience a transformation in our experience of our living then the access to that transformation is inventing possibilities that leave us moved-touch-inspired. Why?
It takes something say “activation energy'” to get us to be/act differently to the default that you/I have become accustomed and addicted to. To use the analogy of the rocket, it takes a certain amount of energy to overcome gravity and get the rocket those two inches off the ground. If that “activation energy” is not there then the rocket will continue resting on the ground. Put differently, our habits run us – they run us without us even being aware that they run us. Like the rocket, it takes a certain amount of mindfulness/effort/energy (“activation energy”) for you/I to break loose from these habits. And you/I are most likely to put in the required effort when we are moved/touched (emotionally) and inspired to act.
I am inspired by the possibility of communication & relatedness with my children
A couple of months ago I invented the possibility of being intimately related to my children and vice versa such that we spent more time together and enjoyed the time that we spent together. I was so moved-touched-inspired that I told my children that I would be available and present for them every day between 7pm and 9pm – to do whatever they wanted to do. And that is exactly what I did.
How did it turn out? Not as I had expected. In the main the children were looking for me to play entertainer – to come up with ideas that appealed to them and then put on the show. I soon ran out of ideas! Truthfully, disappointment was present. And I was struggling with how to generate that interaction and thus relatedness between us.
The hidden power of the context/situation/environment to call forth and shape behaviour
Then one evening I came home and noticed that the dining table had been converted into a table-tennis table. It just so happens that we can all play table-tennis and most of us do enjoy playing it. What showed up? We showed up at the table-tennis table playing table-tennis. Not only between 7pm and 9pm but also at other times. The ‘table-tennis’ was calling us to play table-tennis and in the process relatedness was showing up – indirectly!
One day, I came home and noticed that the dining table was once more the dining table. Then what showed up? For sure no table-tennis showed up because there was no table-tennis table in the house. I notice that the interaction that had been called forth by the table-tennis was no longer present – the children were in their rooms doing their own stuff. And I was left missing the interaction with my children. Now here is the puzzling thing. I left the dining table as the dining table rather than make the effort to convert it a table-tennis table. And over the course of a week or so I got used to the ‘lack of interaction’.
A week or so later I came home and the table-tennis table was there again. Delighted, I invited one of my children to play table-tennis. He agreed and the interaction was there once more: noticed that in the course of playing table-tennis we talked and laughed with one another – the relatedness was present once more.
Shape the context/environment/situation to call forth that which you wish to call forth in yourself and others
If you/I wish to transform our lives and our experience of our living then we have to act. The default way of acting is to rely on willpower – to will ourselves to do what is necessary. And over the longer term it does not work. Experience and research studies show that willpower depletes itself and once depleted we find ourselves enmeshed in our defaults – our habits. Yet there is another way, smarter way, to call forth the behaviours we desire. What way?
I say the most powerful way is to shape the context/situation/environment to call forth the mode of being/acting that we wish to generate. So if you wish to generate conversation, interaction and relatedness, for example, then stop that subscription to pay-tv, unplug that tv, put in a table-tennis table, make it a custom for everyone to sit around a table and eat together, introduce and play the game of three questions three answers……… If you want to exercise your ethical values then work for a enterprise that shares/exhibits/calls forth those ethical values. If you want to be more laid back then live in a culture/people who are laid back…
When Martin Heidegger (‘the philosopher of being’) was offered a prestigious post in Berlin (the capital of Germany) he refused even though it was his dream job. Why? Because he knew that the cosmopolitan/sophisticated/urban environment would shape him in ways that he was not up for being shaped. He also knew that the provincial and agricultural context/environment in which he lived/worked was the environment that nourished him as a person and as philosopher of being.
This post continues the conversation that I started in the previous post where a ‘sister’ reached out to me for help, for advice, for my point of view as she was and may still be suffering.
Let’s set the ground for this conversation
Look into the matter deeply and you might just find that we human beings do not have access to the truth. If you are scientifically minded then study what has been taken for knowledge and ‘truth’ and you might just find that ‘truth’ is always provisional and ‘truths’ have come and gone. Once ‘truth’ was that the heavens revolved around the Earth and women were held to be inferior to men – some men, tribes and religions still cling to the belief that women are inferior to men and are the property/playthings of men. I remember standing up to my parents so that my sister could go to University and create her own life rather than have a forced marriage thrust upon her.
How best to illustrate, provide your for a feeling for what I am pointing at? Allow me to share a sufi tale with you. A sufi master is said to have told the following story:
‘Finding I could speak the language of ants, I approached one and enquired, “What is God like? Does he resemble the ant?” He answered, “God? No, indeed – we have only a single sting but God, he has two!”‘
Which is not to say that all viewpoints, all the places we choose to stand are equal in value. If you are driving in the UK it makes huge difference as to whether you drive on the left (the UK viewpoint) or the left (USA/Continental Europe). The same applies to Life: some vantage points are simply more useful for tilting the table towards the ‘workability’ of life. So the point of view that I share is not the truth. I make no such claim yet I do assert that living from the vantage point that I am sharing can increase the ‘workability’ of your life. Now that we are clear on this lets move on to the conversation itself.
All kinds of unhelpful/disempowering feelings & thoughts can show up in our lives
Sister I notice that all kinds of thoughts and feelings are showing up in your life: feeling lost; feeling the loss of physical intimacy; feeling lost and alone; feeling the burden of uncertainty/insecurity; feeling unwanted; feeling you don’t belong; longing for the one; thinking and believing there is something wrong with you…….
It might occur to you that you are all alone, that this is only showing up in your life. You are not alone. Many, many of us have experienced these thoughts, these feelings at some point in our lives. How many thousands are thinking/feeling this way right now? Allow me to share a story with you.
“One day a mother turned up to the abode of a holy man clutching the body of her dead baby. She was in so much pain and she pleaded, again and again, with the holy man to bring her baby back to life. The holy man listened patiently and then told the mother that indeed he could help her. And in order for him to help her he needed her to go back to her village and bring back a glass of water – but only from a household which had never experienced death.
The mother went back to her village and started knocking on doors. Each household was more than willing to give her a glass of water. Yet the water was of no use as every household had lost someone – grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, friend……
After knocking on all the doors and finding no household, no person, left untouched by loss of someone dear the mother returned to the holy man. This time she was lighter because she had gotten that loss, sorrow and death touch us all – an intrinsic part of human life.”
How about living from this stand: whole-complete-perfect?
So ‘sister’ you are no less than anyone else on this planet. Suffering is not a sign that there is something wrong with you, that you are defective. Loss, pain, sorrow, suffering come as intrinsic to human existence on this planet of ours. You are whole-complete-perfect just as you are and just as you are not. How about standing in that space? The space of “I declare myself to be whole-complete-perfect just as I am and am not!”
You (and I) are neither our thoughts nor our feelings
Sister, being a woman, it is quite possible that you may find the following a struggle. And I say there is value in listening to what I am about to say. I say that you and I are neither our thoughts nor our feelings! That’s right I get that thoughts and feelings are present and I say that you are not these thoughts nor these feelings. Do you disagree? Does this upset you? Bear with me and let’s explore.
Do you choose the thoughts that pop up into your mind? Just sit and meditate even for five minutes, keep a blank mind, think no thoughts. What happened? Did a stream of thoughts simply show up? Did you choose to think these thoughts? If you are honest you know that you did not choose these thoughts, they simply pop up in your house of being without your bidding. Look deeper and you will find that some of these thoughts hook you and others don’t – they show up, they disappear.
What about your feelings? Do you choose them? Do you choose to feel sad, miserable, joyful? If you look deeply you will find that feelings show up in your house of being uninvited just like your thoughts. And you will find that some feelings show up more often than others. You are also likely that some feelings hook you more than others – they stay longer, you connect with them more deeply. And all feelings fade away whether you want them to or not.
Do you still find what I say difficult to accept? Imagine that you are throwing a party and a you get a village load of people turning up at this party – some invited and some ‘gatecrashers’. Does your Self expand to include these people? Do you ever say to yourself I am all – me, the people that I have invited and the ‘gatecrashers’? No, you do not. What is more once you noticed the ‘gatecrashers’ you would ask them to leave and if they did not you would call the police so as to eject these unwelcome ‘gatecrashers’, right?
How are the thoughts and feelings that show up in your house of being any different to the ‘gatecrashers’? And why do you collapse them with yourself and call them your feelings, your thoughts? I say that you do that because you have been born into a culture that says and teaches you that the thoughts and feelings that show up for you are yours – they constitute an integral part of yourself. And that is why you latch onto them and confuse them with yourself. Yet you are not the thoughts and feelings that show up and then disappear!
Do you want access to freedom?
If you want access to freedom then I invite you to live from this sand: “I am the context and not the content. I am the house of being not the furniture that turns up, stays around, wears it, is thrown out. I am the chooser not the chosen (content) nor the ‘gatecrashers’ (thoughts/feelings/moods) that show up in my house of being uninvited . I choose and declare myself to be the possibilities that I project and the stand/s that I take in life!”
You might be wondering how that gives you freedom. Allow me to illustrate with a personal example. Last week I was in considerable pain – some days I spent curled up in bed, some nights I did not sleep at all. Then Friday morning arrived and it was the first morning that I felt OK. Months ago I had agreed to meet a ‘friend that I had not yet met face to face’ and his guests for an informal chat in London. That informal gathering was due to start at 4pm. What to do? Do I take a chance and drive into London – an hour drive? Or do I play it safe and rest given that I have already let my friend know that I am ill and might not make it? The day showed up as being miserable: dark clouds and heavy rain.
What thoughts and feelings showed up? Thoughts: don’t go, stay at home, it is safer (more accidents on the roads in this kind of weather), it is the right thing to do as I need to rest, and if I do go and am unwell then my wife/family will criticise me. Feelings: confused, worried, scared – about doing the wrong things, making my health situation worse.
What did I do? I chose to be my stand: to honour my word as myself. I got into the car at 14:45 and headed into London in the pouring rain. Half and hour later the noticeboard showed speed restriction and a blocked lane, long delays – an accident had indeed occurred on the motorway. This was a great excuse to turn the car around and head back home. Those thoughts did pop up in my mind: look you have done your best, you have kept your word, no disgrace in heading home. What did I do? I chose to play full-out to honour my word. I diverted onto minor roads and found myself a different route into London. I arrived 15 minutes late and yet I did turn up and I am proud of myself: I choose not to allow the uninvited thoughts and feelings to deflect me from my stand in life.
You, I , we can choose to relate to ourselves as the possibilities that we invent live from/live into and the stand/s that we take in life. You, I, we can get and live from the stand that we are not the thoughts and the feelings that pop up, stay a while, disappear, reappear in our minds/bodies/lives.
Living from this context we can let go of “I am feel insecure or helpless” and replace it with “How interesting I notice insecurity and helplessness are present, I wonder how they ended up in my house of being.” And living from this context you can let the thoughts and feelings that show up, simply be, whilst you continue to be ruthless in living from/into the possibilities that you have invented and the stands you have taken.
I guarantee that if you live from the context that I have outlined above your experience of living will be transformed. You will relate to yourself as a powerful human being. If you do that then you can drop the need to take more courses to fix yourself. How/why? Because you are already whole-complete-perfect and as such there really is nothing to fix and no course will fix it!
Ultimately it comes down to choice. Whether you choose to live from the context of whole-complete-perfect, living from/into the possibilities that you invent and the stands you take. Are you up for that ‘sister’?
Ordinary living: we play ‘victim’, we avoid responsibility for what is so and what is not so, we are left complaining
Engaged in a conversation on leadership, my partner in this conversation asked something like “What is the cause of poor leadership and how is it that poor leaders stay in power?” I replied something like “Us”, he looked puzzled so I continued “I am the cause, you are the cause, we are the cause!” This response took him by surprise. So I continued “By following ‘poor leaders’ we tell these leaders that they are ok, their leadership style is ok. And as such we encourage them to continue being who they are being and doing what they are doing. We are the cause of poor leaders and poor leadership”
He got it instantly and dropped the conversation – the ‘complaint’ around/about poor leaders stopped instantly. I saw that my partner got access to the ‘truth’ and that this ‘truth’ opened his eyes and set him free – free from his ‘complaint’. This got me thinking that it is time for me to share, with you, some powerful distinctions and insights which are the pillars of this blog.
‘Extraordinary’ living: what is the access to living powerfully, living a transformed life?
The access to ‘playing BIG’, living powerfully, living an ‘extraordinary’ life and generating a transformation in the quality of living requires that one creates a map of the territory (of our lives, the situations we find ourselves in, the world at large) that is both ‘accurate’ and which leaves one being an ‘author’ rather than a character (or characters) in the play of Life.
Let’s listen, profoundly, to a master of living – Werner Erhard. Why? Because you want to have your life work. Right? Because you understand that you only get one go at living and you want that living to count. Right? Because you don’t simply want to live you want to feel ALIVE. Right? If that does not resonate with you then stop reading and go do something else. If it does then stop everything, be silent, be present and soak in the mind-blowing insight / wisdom that Werner Erhard unconceals for us. Why? Because you and I are locked inside the prison of ordinary living and Werner is giving us the keys to our freedom, to living an ‘extraordinary’ life.
Responsibility: is the access to being powerful and living an ‘extraordinary’ life?
“Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. All of these include judgments of good and bad, right and wrong, or better and worse. They are not responsibility.
Responsibility starts with the willingness to experience your Self as cause in the matter…… Responsibility starts with the willingness to deal with the situation from the point of view, whether in the moment realised or not, that you are the source of who you are, what you do and what you have. This point of view extends to include even what is done to you and ultimately what another does to another. Ultimately, responsibility is a context – a context of Self as source – for the content, i.e., for what is.” Werner Erhard
Wow! Do you get that? Responsibility is a choice. It is a choice that only you can make. It is gift that only you can give yourself. Why is it a gift? Because choosing to view yourself and operate from the context ‘I matter, I have a say in how I am being, how I live, how the world works, how the world turns out’ transforms your being, your experience of yourself and your living. It moves you from being a ‘victim’ and ‘complaining’ to a creator of possibilities, the Director of the play called ‘My Life, My World’ and this leaves you being powerful (powerful as opposed to forceful) in the world. It is really important that you get the distinctions ‘context’ and ‘content’.
Accountability: the access to joy, fearlessness, energy and satisfaction?
“Accountability is the opportunity to live at choice rather than accidentally. Accountability is the opportunity to carve out a future rather than sit back and have it happen to you. Accountability held as stand ‘as one’s word’ is the ground from which one’s own transformation is created ongoingly. Transfomation lives in accountability. Without accountability, without committed speaking, without promises and declarations, there is no transformation…..
A promise has real power. A promise made from the stand that ‘who you are is your word’, engages you as a participant. You cease to be a spectator, and your words become actions that impact the world. With a promise you create a condition that supports your commitment rather than your moods. When motivational dialog comes up about your preferences versus your commitments, and you disregard the dialog in favour of doing what you said you would do solely because you said so, you distinguish yourself from your psychology. In that moment you are your word as an action, rather than only an idea you have. In that moment, the promise becomes who you are rather than something you said and your relationship to the world shifts. You find yourself producing results that seem discontinuous and unpredictable from the point of the view of the spectator. The experience is one of joy, fearlessness, irrepressible energy and satisfaction. ” Werner Erhard
If you get this, really get this then you, your living, how you show up in the world, your experience of living will never be as it was before you read this. If you didn’t get it that way then go back and read it again – read it out aloud to yourself, read it slowly savouring the words. Let the words sink in. If after that you are still left untouched then move on: the master will appear when the student is ready – always.
Integrity: why it matters and the price we pay when we give it up
“You and I go through life and you would be surprised how much of the time, in life, the question, ‘How can I live and have integrity at the same time?‘ is present. It’s very difficult for people to live with integrity. Usually, there seems to be a conflict between integrity and living. The fact is that you give up your life when you compromise integrity.” Werner Erhard
Be careful how you read this because when Werner speaks ‘Integrity’ he is not speaking what you are most likely to be thinking he is speaking. When Werner speaks ‘Integrity’ he is not referring to morals and virtues – being a ‘good person’ or a ‘upstanding citizen’. No. Werner is pointing out / speaking on the subject of wholeness; the match between your word, your being and your actions; the fit between who you hold yourself out to be for yourself and the world and how you show up in terms of your being, doing and having. If I say “I am going to drive over to your home and smash your car tomorrow!” and then tomorrow I drive over and smash you car then in a sense I am in Integrity. Yet, it is not as simple as that. If I declare myself to be “kind, calm, considerate and law abiding citizen” then I am out of Integrity when I say “I am going to drive over to our home and smash your car tomorrow!”
Making a difference: what does it take to make a difference?
“All it takes to make a difference is the courage to stop proving I was right in being unable to make a difference….. to stop assigning cause for my inability to the circumstances outside of myself….. And to see that the fear of being a failure is a lot less important than the unique opportunity I have to make a difference.” Werner Erhard
There it is! If you and I are serious, as in moved-touched-inspired, about making a difference in the world then Werner has left us nowhere to hide. Werner is telling us that we have the capacity to make a difference and to make a difference we simply have to quit ‘playing small’ – quit making excuses, quite playing ‘victim’, quite being small in life.
Summing it up
You and I want our lives to work. You and I want the ‘world to work’. What does it take, what is the access having a a life that works and a world that works? The access, according to Werner Erhard as I understand Werner Erhard, is Responsibility, Accountability and being in Integrity – as explained in this post not as commonly understood and spoken about in our day-to-day living.
Incidentally, when you live into and from these distinctions, and the context that is intimately associated with these distinctions, then you will show up as a leader. Showing up as a leader in the world is simply a side effect of living from/out of Responsibility, Accountability and Integrity.
A birthday card that makes me cry!
This month we celebrated my birthday and as usual the question was “What do you want for your birthday?”. As usual my answer was “I am blessed, I don’t need anything. Really, I don’t need anything. What I’d like is heartfelt, handmade card from you to me.” And that is what I got. The one that really captured my heart is this one:
When I read this card for the first time I was deeply touched and moved to tears. Every time I read this card I am deeply touched – the tears just flow down my cheeks. Great, this card makes me feel good. The deeper, more interesting, question, for me, is this one: “Is it true? Is this an accurate description of me?”
Who am i?
I am clear that “i” does not live up to the picture that my son paints. What do I mean by “i”? What / who am I pointing at/towards? When I use the term “i” I am pointing at the automatic machinery of human beings. The machinery that is always there, always running, and which runs me. What are the characteristics of this machinery, this “i”? In my case I associate the following with my “i”: selfish, critical, safety seeking, negative, impatient, intolerant, aggressive, unhelpful, manipulative, looking for approval, seeking admiration, lying, pretense, cowardly, focussed on me, me, me and my survival. Not a flattering picture is it? Yet, if I am to accept the picture painted by my son it occurs to me that I must also be present to and mindful of this aspect of me.
Who am I?
I am clear that who I am is not “i”. That is to say that I am clear that I am not my automatic machinery – the “i”. I am clear that I am the conscious, self-determining being, who declares that I am the author of my life. I am the person who totally gets “At all times, under all circumstances, I have the power to transform my life”. I am clear that I am the person who has invented and entered myself into ‘playing BIG’ of living an ‘extraordinary’ life, of being of service, of being a source of contribution, of co-creating a ‘world that works’ none excluded.
What does that mean for me, my living, my life?
To show up as the kind of person that my son writes about, is proud of, and loves it takes something. First, I have to be constantly mindful that the default condition of human existence is “i” and the game that goes with that ‘playing small’. Second, I have to create myself as the “I” that is committed to be ‘playing BIG‘; living an ‘extraordinary’ life; being of service / contribution to my fellow human beings; putting something into life; being a stand for a ‘world that works’ none excluded. Third, I have to keep “I” and the game that I is playing in existence. And a fundamental part of keep “I” and the game I is playing in existence is telling the truth.
So here is my truth for you my son. If I was as great as you say I am then your card would not mean anything to me. My truth is that often and frequently I am not being the person that you describe and that you are proud of. Yet, I am clear that my stand is to be the kind of person that you describe, that you are proud of, that you love. And living from that context I am deeply touched by your card and the the small contribution I have made to your life. Your act of kindness towards the beggar moves-touches me deeply and inspires me to be my Stand and play full out to be a source of contribution to you, our fellow human beings and Life itself. And within that context, falling short of the mark encourages me redouble my Being and my effort. I love you.
Intentionally blind to the truth of our existence?
I am blind to something and if you are like me then you are likely to be blind to something. Why am I blind to this particular truth? Because, to get present to this truth leaves me no excuses. When I, you, we get present to this truth there are no escape routes. I, you, we become responsible for a ‘world that does not work’ and then the usual avenues of excuses and complaining are closed to us. For most of us that burden is so heavy to bear that we go about absolutely convinced of the opposite of what is so. Before I share this truth with myself and with you let me share with you what is so in the taken for granted, ordinary, mode of being.
The ordinary mode of existence: I am puny, I do not matter, I am not responsible
In our day to day existence we tell ourselves that we do not make a difference. That’s right we feel small, we occurs to ourselves as being insignificant in comparison to the powers that matter, that shape the world. We are puny in comparison to; the nation states; the institutions of the nation state including government, judiciary, the police; the global corporations that often wield more power than many nation states; and the media which decides that which gets attention and what gets ignored.
Take a look at the picture. Do you not see yourselves as one of those small dots – one amongst an ocean of small dots surrounded by, subservient to the powers that be? And do you not just give up – go with the flow, accepted practice, doing you best to fit into the way that the world is. If you have more gumption, more intelligence, you may make the effort to carve out a place for yourself in the world where you can simple be – rather like a hermit or a warlord, depending on your disposition.
Seeing ourselves so puny do we (you and I) not comfort ourselves with the notion that we ‘victims’ of the way that the world is? Do we not say that the way it is has nothing to do with us? Do we not escape any and all responsibility to do with the way that it is and the way it is not? And as such we can comfort ourselves saying the world may be ‘bad’ but we are ‘good’?
A funny thing happened in the office recently
I turned up at the office recently and talking with a member of leadership team I was confronted with what is so and I do not wish to face. What exactly am I talking about? I was told that my presence in the office was missed! He was telling me that it matters (to him, to the leadership team, to the company) whether I am present in and work out of the office. My automatic reaction? What are you talking about? I don’t matter to you, to the leadership team, to the company! I do matter to my clients and I take care of my clients – I make sure that I take care of my clients.
Then it hit me. How many times have I been told that I matter? How many people have told me that I matter? How many people have told me that I have changed their lives simply by being me and doing what I naturally do? What is my response – what goes on in my mind? Sometimes I discount what I am told, other times I am simply embarrassed and most of the time it is both. My reaction? “You cannot be talking about me. I am ordinary. I make no difference. You are just being nice. No, you cannot be serious, I’m just an ordinary fellow getting through life as best as I can.” Outwardly, I simply say “Thank you”. The conversation finishes, I am glad it is over and so I can forget about it.
‘Extra-ordinary’ living: I matter and I take the stand that I am responsible for EVERYTHING as it is and as it is not
I matter, you matter, they matter, we matter! Through our speaking and our acting – including that which we do not speak of and that which we do not do – we influence, shape and create the world we live in. Why is that? Because, our existence is like a wave that ripples and touches many others. We are waving all the time and so we are touching others all the time. Contrary, to our beliefs and our cultural worldview, we are NOT particles. No, we are waves: we are constantly touching others and being touched by others; we influence others and they influence us – all the time. This influence extends to our death – we touch others through our dying. And even beyond the grave we touch others with the legacy that we have left – either through action or inaction. Allow me to share a quote with you:
“We cannot be deceived. Men can and do destroy the humanity of other men, and the condition of this possibility is that we are interdependent. We are not self contained monads producing no effects on each other except our reflections. We are both acted upon, changed for good or ill, by other men; and we are agents who act upon others to affect them in different ways. Each of us is the other to the other. Man is a patient-agent, agent-patient, interexperiencing and interacting with his fellows.” RD Laing, The Politics of Experience
- whether I work here at home, with my clients at their offices or at the offices of the company I work for;
- whether I look my fellow human beings in their eyes and smile;
- whether I choose to let one of my fellow human beings cut into the main road from a side road given that I have the priority;
- whether I cycle to work or drive a gas guzzling car to work;
- whether I help the old man in the start that has fallen over and is lying on the pavement;
- whether and how I speak to you when we encounter each other in the office;
- where and how I spend my money..
EVERYTHING I, you, we speak or do not speak matters; EVERYTHING I, you, we do or do not do matters; EVERYTHING we focus or do not focus our time-money-effort on matters. I, you, we matter, ALL THE TIME. That is simply what goes with existing – being a part of the pattern called life.
EVERY action or inaction, no matter how small matters: we live in a non-linear world where small changes can have a huge impact. The ‘Butterfly’ principle shows that in the world as it is EVERYTHING is interconnected, interdependent AND a miniscule change, action, like a butterfly flapping its wings can change the weather half way across this planet.
Now more than ever I, you, we are enormously important and powerful. It is easier than ever for each SINGLE one of us to change the world. The internet, mobile telephony and social media allow us to come together and effect change in the world.
Two great examples of the impact we can make if we choose to make it
The first is our fellow human beings, in Brazil, putting their humanity into action and saving 30 stranded, in pain, dying dolphins. Their actions matter – notice that it started with one person moving from the beach into the sea and this set the cue for others to follow, to join in. And that video has been viewed over 2 million times.
People in Brazil save 30 beached dolphins:
The second video is part of the most talked about social campaign in existence today. It has been viewed over 69 million times and as a result Joseph Kony is now a well known name.
Final question: am I, are you willing to give up the delusion and live as ‘gods’ and shoulder the responsibility that comes with that?
I matter, you matter, they matter, we matter – that is simply what is so and it is even more so now, today, than any other time in our history. Our delusion is that we think, we believe and we go about our living from the context that “I am insignificant, I am puny, I do not matter. So I can do whatever I want as it has no impact on anyone else.” We do not leave it there. We add a fool’s errand on top of this delusion, actually it is only possible if this delusion is there as the foundation. What is this fool’s errand?
Fools errand: being deluded that I am puny, I am in signficant, I do not matter, I set about doing all manner of stuff to prove to myself, to you, to my work colleagues, to the world that I do matter. Hey look I matter, I am important, I am significant. Look at my job title. Look at my big, new house. Look at my latest, expensive car. Look at my clothes. Let me tell you where I went on holiday this year……
I can give up the fool’s errand and so can you. You and I can face up to the scariest (and most powerful) truth of all: you matter, I matter, we matter all the time. Everything that we do or do not do has an impact (especially now in the days of the internet and social media) and because of that you and I are 100% responsible for EVERYTHING that is so and is not so in this world. What an awesome responsibility that is. What an awesome opportunity that is. What an awesome context to operate from! And this context provides the access to live a transformed life.