Thursday, April 8, 2010
How to Live
Ok let’s face it all forms of government have failed to perform. All organized religions have failed. Economics, the money system works bass-ackwards. The idea of survival of the fittest is not how the universe operates. The forms of organized religion and governments have damaged the planet and allowed the majority of the population to live in squalor and misery. The rich have been miserable too, because living prosperously when others are suffering will not ultimately lead to a fulfilled life.
So what principles can we establish by which to create an ever expanding life? How can we turn things around? If we were to “go back to the drawing board” and start over, what could we do?
This idea came to me many years ago when I thought about personal responsibility inside of corporations. Ultimately, there is no “passing the buck” in life, even though “chain of command” has created this preposterous idea: that if someone is my master or boss, and they tell me what to do, I have no responsibility for my actions. This is worse than a lemming mentality. For example: my boss gets an idea that it is a good idea to jump off a cliff, so he tests the idea by telling me to jump off the cliff. He’s my boss, so I have to do it. What happens, I die, or am severely crippled for the rest of my life. Now in truth both of these possibilities are not as bad as we think. In fact, at least in this world, they can lead to great demonstration. However, the point of argument here is, just because my boss made the decision, am I not responsible for the action?
What happens to my boss, maybe he doesn’t die, but in a way, hasn’t he suffered a worse consequence? Isn’t that how it really works? That if I benefit at the expense of another, whether it be another person, another life form, or the planet, I ultimately lose out much more – because like the law of giving is multiplicative, so is the Golden Law, the retributions for ignorance, especially intentional, will come back around, multiplied. Cosmically, or some would say karmically, I will pay a price, some day. But this too is “bass-ackwards”, for the reason “not” to do something is not about saving my own hide.
However, beyond the potential benefits gained from passing from this life, or the powerful demonstrations that can come from people who overcome physical and mental challenges, the question remains did we come here to Live or to Die?, at least in this physical form. If we could learn the lessons of Love, truly, I believe that we would have to answer that we are born to Live, period. This conclusion is what Albert Schwietzer referred to as “will to live”. His simple but profound realization, that all life forms are born and have the creative source’s inherent aim “to survive”, to live a full life, then led him to realize the fact that, to live in absolute harmony with other beings, and ultimately with himself, he needed to establish a foundation, or “ethic” for his existence. His epiphany he called “reverence for life” – and that means all life – including insects and plants.
"So what is the point here?", you ask - "I don't see the 'How to Live"'in this" and "where is this all coming from?" I don't know, but it feels like inspiration. I woke up this morning, after a wonderful Facebook chat last night with a high school friend Tom Dooley who has been on a similar life trek as I. It’s as if he and I ventured out walking from Ames, Iowa, as high school acquaintances, to experience the world and life in all its trials and tribulations, and through some set of serendipitous circumstances found that our wandering, weaving paths, ended meeting squarely head-on again after 30 years.
I found myself all last night dreaming, but also half-dreaming, about some of Tom’s experiences and insights that he has come to. That Everything is only One! Everything is a mirror! But also as I was dreaming, and half-dreaming, I was scripting a message to Tom about my admiration for his journey. Acknowledging his accomplishments and dedication in pursuit of “the Truth”. And I’m not talking about the Christian truth, or the Buddhist truth, or the American Indian truth, or the United States truth, etc. – I’m talking about the One Truth – the One Truth that I think Christ realized, that Siddhartha realized, and that Tom Dooley realizes. There is only One thing here.
I also told him at one point that I have now realized that I had profound epiphanies when I was young. He said "Like what?" And on the spot I didn't remember this one about "personal responsibility", but this morning I did, and I became inspired to write this.
But what does this mean - the idea that there is "only One thing here"? How can this Truth, which many call love, which isn’t what it really is, because love is only a word, that has been tremendously misunderstood, but it comes as close as any word, be realized. How does one go about day to day, to make decisions in a backwards world, to move toward a world that reflects the Love of the One? How do we move from the world of wars, of suffering, of disease, of disharmony and pain to the world of love and harmony and peace and understanding? How do we move away from the “status quo” where people are searching for the truth outside only, instead of inside and then reflecting the beauty that they discover to the outside and then have it reflected back? How do we move out of the existing world we live each day where the economic system seems to be designed to destroy the very thing where the bounty comes from? “Modern” economics kills the geese that lay the golden eggs. And we blame it all on “greed”. The basic premise of Adam Smith’s economic model of scarcity, is the catalyst for greed which feeds “fear of lack”, that puts us in the modality of “get what you can for yourself and your loved ones”, but damn the rest of them. Who is responsible for all this stuff – these ideas, these theories, these beliefs, these excuses? We are! Each one of us. As individuals, we collectively contribute to the continuation of all the things we say or believe are bad. So that is where the solutions to these “apparent dilemmas” must begin. At the individual level. One person at a time. And the amazing thing is, that if I change my mind about these things that something magical happens: I will see the world differently, and subsequently the world will change!
These ideas of what is wrong or who is to blame are all based on a cop-out. If we say these things are “reality” we’ve given up: given up some of our greatest attributes and capabilities such as, imagination, agility, and adaptation. It’s not even about corporate greed or government’s incompetence or political corruption. Because in the end corporations, governments and political systems are composed of people, supposedly created and designed to serve the people. I think it comes down, basically, to personal responsibility. That I need to take responsibility, to the best of my ability, for every thought, action and deed. I would say simply that the world would change significantly if we guided our thoughts and actions by Love. At some level that should be enough. The seven "virtues of the heart" (ps): admiration, compassion, forgiveness, humility, gratitude, understanding and valor provide a wonderful “acid test” of our thoughts, actions and behavior. But how does that convert to practical methods? How do we convert the wonderful “ideas” of the seven virtues into a “practical technique” – maybe just by asking ourselves a few questions.
I suggest this list as a starting point:
- am I being asked to do something that I would do if I had to take personal responsibility for the action – or if I were to receive the negative repercussions?
- have I given some thought to how others might or might not benefit? – and this means as comprehensive a list as possible.
- am I keeping secrets?
- am I telling lies?
- do I think I can pull the wool over someone’s eyes and gain personal benefit at their expense?
- of all possible choices of action, is my action the best choice for other people, to nature, the planet, and myself?
- am I constantly challenging myself to do better? This includes helping others raise their awareness of this level of personal responsibility?
- if I were being watched by a sort of “quality overseer” would I feel ashamed of my efforts, or would I feel that I have done my best?
- am I trying to justify my actions or explain with excuses?
- am I expecting someone else to clean up my mess (this means in every aspect of my life)?
- am I willing to consider the application of “Reverence for Life” in my life?
- am I willing to take time to measure my thoughts and actions against the seven virtues of the heart: admiration, compassion, forgiveness, humility, gratitude, understanding and valor
And finally, do I realize that there is One infinite Loving presence that is overseeing all of this? So really there are not big deals. And all that I have written here doesn’t matter much at all, in the whole scheme of things, but at least I did my best.
Of course all of these things roll into the “Golden Rule”, which I believe is really The “Golden Law”, but this short list of questions provides a practical way to evaluate any given action. The fact of the matter is, that inside each one of us, is the mechanism or guidance program that will answer each of these questions – perfectly – that is if we are clear with our feelings. It’s been called “our conscience”, but it speaks to us through feelings – anxious, angry, painful or fearful (bad) feelings mean we’re making a mistake. Smooth calm, happy, comfortable feelings mean it’s a pretty good decision. The program associated with our heart feelings will guide us with absolute clarity, if we take the time to notice what they are saying to us. The questions provided here are intended to establish a means by which to measure the viability of each decision.
(ps) James of the Wingmakers (www.wingmakers.com) six virtues of the heart - I added gratitude to make it seven