Archive for January, 2011


Description of The Mindful Leader

A new generation of business leaders is turning to mindfulness as a cutting-edge leadership tool. Scientific research suggests that the practice of mindfulness (a technique for learning to live in the present moment) can help individuals to gain clarity, reduce stress, optimize performance, and develop a greater sense of well-being.

In The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll explains what mindfulness is and how to develop it in the hectic and often stressful environment of the twenty-first century workplace. He focuses on ten key principles of mindfulness and how they apply to leading groups and organizations. Along the way, Carroll addresses a range of topics, including how to:

* heal the “toxic workplace,” where anxiety and stress impede performance

* cultivate courage and confidence in the face of workplace difficulties

* pursue organizational goals without neglecting what’s happening here and now

* lead with wisdom and gentleness, not just with ambition and power

* start a personal meditation practice to develop your innate leadership talents

Full of engaging stories and practical exercises, The Mindful Leader will help leaders in any field to discover their innate intelligence, bravery, and joy on the job.


Michael Carroll is the author of Awake at Work (Shambhala 2004) and The Mindful Leader (Shambhala 2007) and over his 25 year business career has held executive positions with such companies as Shearson Lehman/American Express, Simon & Schuster and The Walt Disney Company. Michael has an active consulting and coaching business with client firms such as Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca, Starbucks, Lutheran Medical Center, National Board of Medical Examiners and others

Michael has been studying Tibetan Buddhism since 1976, graduated from Buddhist seminary in 1982 and is an authorized teacher in the lineage of the Tibetan meditation master, Chogyam Trunpa. He has lectured at Wharton Business School, Columbia University, Swarthmore College, St. Mary’s University, Kripalu, Cape Cod Institute, Zen Mountain Monastery, Omega Institute (assisting Pema Chodron) and many other practice centers throughout the US, Canada and Europe.

Meet Author of The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll

Author Michael Carroll discusses his book, “The Mindful Leader: Ten Principles for Bringing Out the Best in Ourselves and Others” as part of Northeastern University Libraries’ Meet the Author Series. Michael Carroll, a Buddhist-trained HR executive with many years of experience in both the corporate world and the world of Zen, draws attention to the benefits that can result from taking time out to reflect in the workplace. In “The Mindful Leader,” Carroll addresses ways to enhance productivity when working, focusing on ways to open communication and break the limitations of routine. By the end, stressed-out employees and students may be willing to give meditation a try as a way to connect with and open up to their colleagues.

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Foreword
by Deepak Chopra

As a physician, I am concerned with healing. In my view, the more we are in touch with the universe we come from, the more we will be able to heal ourselves and at the same time heal our planet. We are an integral part of a living and intelligent universe. Not only is the universe alive, it is imbued with consciousness. Th e universe wants to live and breathe through you. To fi nd out the truth of this, you need to relate to the universe as if it were alive. Otherwise, how will you ever know that it is? Today, begin to adopt the following habits:

Talk to the universe.
Listen for its reply.
Be on intimate terms with Nature.
See the life in everything.
Carry yourself like a child of the universe.

Duane Elgin writes about our living universe as an evolutionary pioneer. He has been an explorer of scientific knowledge and spiritual understanding for more than four decades. He has worked on a Presidential Commission looking into the deep future; helped pioneer sustainable ways of living with his book Voluntary Simplicity; developed a stunning view of the big picture of the human journey in Awakening Earth; co-founded three non-profit organizations working for media accountability and citizen empowerment, and more. Th e uniqueness and span of this book refl ect Duane’s wideranging life journey.

The Living Universe is written with elegant simplicity and yet it addresses our most important existential dilemmas

Where are we? Who are we? What journey are we on? Step by-step he offers us new insights about ourselves and our human journey. At the foundation is the understanding that we are each an expression of a living universe. The universe is conscious, self-regulating, self-creating, ever-renewing, and always evolving to increasing levels of complexity and creativity.

Through us (the human nervous system), the universe is becoming increasingly aware of itself. We are beings of light, love, music, and happiness. We are evolving toward unity consciousness where we experience ourselves as cosmic beings participating in the evolution of the universe. If we consciously participate in this evolutionary
process, we can heal the rift in our collective soul and bring creative solutions to poverty, social injustice, war, terrorism, and ecological devastation. If we ignore the call to our collective awakening, we put at risk the future of human civilization on our precious planet. Th e choice is ours.

It is my hope that the human family rapidly awakens itself to the reality that we live in a living universe. Th e human body is part of the cosmic body. Th e human mind is part of the cosmic mind. Awakening to this cosmic dimension of ourselves is profoundly restorative. With that experience and understanding, we bring healing to our wounded planet and a new sense of adventure to the human journey.

Duane has written an important book because, at this pivotal time when we are separated by so many differences, it is vital that we discover our common ground as a species. A widely shared understanding that we all live in the same living universe provides the foundation for positive visions of the future that off er beacons of hope to pierce the darkness of the world’s gathering storms.

Duane Elgin on “The Living Universe”–Part 1

Author and visionary, Duane Elgin, explores “The Living Universe.”

Duane Elgin on “The Living Universe”–Part 2

An Interview with Duane Elgin
by Janice & Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublishers

A social visionary looks beneath the surface turbulence of our times to explore the deeper trends that are transforming our world.

Duane Elgin is an internationally recognized speaker, teacher, and social visionary. Over the past 25 years, Duane has co-founded three non-profit organizations concerned with media accountability and citizen empowerment. He advocates the importance of simplicity, sustainability, and community for building a green future. A local Marin County resident, Duane is the author of several best-selling books including Awakening Earth, Promise Ahead, Voluntary Simplicity, and his latest, The Living Universe. Duane has an MBA from the Wharton Business School and an honorary Doctor of Philosophy for work in “ecological and spiritual transformation” from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

The Share Guide: Duane, in your latest book The Living Universe, you say that our future pivots on whether we regard the universe as dead or alive. Why?

Duane Elgin: I say this because our future depends upon our story as a human family. If we see the universe as not simply a bunch of dead matter and empty space but actually a living system, then our story may well be one of learning how to live together in a living universe. If we don’t have a story to guide us into the future, we’re going to pull back into our smaller life stories of the past–stories of nationalism, of ethnic groups, of tribal groups, of geographic groups–and instead of pulling together in cooperation we’re going to pull apart in conflict. What I am suggesting is to step back and see the universe as our original, larger home. If we are going to pull together as a human family for a promising future, this is an inclusive project; no one is left out.

The Share Guide: Would you agree that one of the keys to saving our environment and stopping the pillaging of the planet would be educating the children to see the universe as alive?

Duane Elgin: Yes, the attitudes of parents and teachers really amplifiy and reinforce that pivotal point of view. We’ve lost the sacred dimension of life, and what we’re left with is a kind of existential materialism that’s not serving our evolution now as a species.

The Share Guide: Some people talk about the universe being inherently friendly or unfriendly. Einstein had a comment related to that.

Duane Elgin: Yes, Einstein’s famous quote was if he could ask God one question, it would be: “Is the universe friendly or not?” But I’m suggesting there may be a more fundamental question: Is the universe alive or not? In my mind, that question is really a scientific one; it’s not theology and dogma. We can use the tools of science to inquire into this question, and what’s revealed is stunning. The universe is not the dead mechanistic system that we used to think it was. The more that we inquire, the more amazing the nature of reality appears.

The Share Guide: So the materialism that’s rampant in our society is related to the way we see the universe? In other words, if we think of the universe as alive, we’ll revere it, and if we think it’s dead we’ll exploit it.

Duane Elgin: Yes. If we’re intimately connected with the entirety of creation, then we feel a sense of stewardship, a sense of communion and caring. Now, sometimes it’s hard to see that connection. We look around and it seems like there are a bunch of fragments. However, quantum theorists are saying there’s no such thing as solid matter; there are only strings of energy. More importantly, the fabric of space is not a static emptiness. It is now understood to be a very dynamic, living presence. Einstein clarified that there’s no such thing as space; there’s only space-time.

We have an enormous amount still yet to discover and understand. For instance, science now knows that 96% of the known universe is invisible. It’s called dark matter and dark energy, and it’s called “dark” because you can’t see it. But here we are, in the 4% that’s visible, and I say to people: if we’re going to make materialism our life path, we’re essentially giving our lives over to the 4% solution. Because the 96%, the invisible part, we’re just completely ignoring. In a way, the living universe paradigm is shifting our perspective and saying let’s give due regard to that 96% that we’ve been missing.

The Share Guide: In your book, you mention that we humans are the optimum size for a conscious life form.

Duane Elgin: If we were significantly smaller, as creatures we would not have enough atoms in our body to create an organism of sufficient complexity to sustain the kind of intelligence and dexterity that we have. We would just be too small to have that size of brain, the reach of arms, and so forth, to be really functional in this world. On the other hand, if we were a lot larger, that wouldn’t work either. Think of the dinosaurs that had huge bodies–they moved extremely slowly because it took so long for the electrical impulses to travel the length of that enormous body. If we were huge we could end up being just lumbering giants, very slow to respond and create. So we’re of a size that really is optimal for engaging the world as we have. I think if we saw alien conscious beings from other solar systems, they might look different than us but may be of similar size, as opposed to being huge or tiny.

The Share Guide: Do you believe there’s intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?

Duane Elgin: Absolutely. I would find it extraordinarily unlikely that there is no other intelligent life out there given the immensity of the universe. The conditions for life seem to be widespread, so I would think there is, indeed.

The Share Guide: In your book you’ve stated that you don’t believe that consciousness is confined within the brain, and that you were involved in some psychic experiments in the past, such as remote viewing.

Duane Elgin: Well, for more than 20 years I didn’t say anything about it because it’s so controversial. I was involved in these experiments for a period of almost three years, and they were funded by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The basic core question was that if you had an astronaut on the far side of the moon, and you thought they were in trouble in their space capsule, was there a way to get remote, intuitive knowledge about how they were doing? That’s what we were researching.

So over a period of three years, I was involved in all manner of experiments to explore this. It was an extraordinary learning opportunity, and one of the things that I learned was that we all have these intuitive capacities; there’s nothing special about this. If you would imagine a few hundred years ago, someone had the ability to read, and a village of illiterate folks said, “Oh, this is amazing. This person knows how to read and he must be so incredible.” That’s how we are now with our literacy of consciousness. We’re projecting miracles onto people when it’s really a very normal capacity that we all share. What’s required is study, just like going to school. That study requires meditation, and taking the time to actually do the interior inquiry to develop the understanding that we do participate in a living universe.

The Share Guide: So you think that those who meditate and do other spiritual practices can enhance and develop their innate intuitive skills?

Duane Elgin: Yes. We’re living in this ecology of consciousness. We all participate in it and it’s easy to miss. That’s one thing I learned: it’s easy to overlook those little small twinges and insights and intuitions that come up, but if we slow down and pay attention, what we find is that we’re swimming in a universe of insight and information all the time.

The Share Guide: Do you think that the work you did with these experiments and meditation helped exercise or enhance your skills by getting you to pay attention more?

Duane Elgin: Yes, it was very reinforcing. At the time I was simultaneously studying Tibetan Buddhist meditation, and doing the experimentation in the laboratory. The lab experiments gave me a chance to actually test the validity of my experience, to see if there actually was something of significance happening.

The Share Guide: The Share Guide has interviewed a number of authors whose work seems to dovetail with your books. For instance, when we interviewed Deepak Chopra, he said that the purpose of meditation is to “Get in touch with your soul, and then go beyond that and get in touch with the consciousness that your soul is a ripple of.”

Duane Elgin: There is a field of energy that permeates the universe. This is understood by science, and now what we’re beginning to discover is that field of energy is alive. One of its qualities is sentience or consciousness, and we can interact with that field. We’re not just closed off in our physical bodies. We have the capacity to interact with the larger field of consciousness; it permeates our lives and touches us day-in and day-out. If there is needless suffering happening in the world, it tinges and colors the ocean of consciousness that we swim in, and we imbibe this daily. So, if we can create a world without undue suffering–one where we’re not killing off all of these species and harming one another–it will change the atmosphere of our lives.

The Share Guide: Many people have written that we don’t just have an individual unconscious but we’re also part of something larger, which Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. What do you think about that?

Duane Elgin:
I think the collective unconscious is actually becoming the Collective Consciousness. With the mass media, every time we watch some event, whether it’s a mass sporting event or it’s the president speaking about one thing or another, we are tuning in with our collective consciousness to a happening in the world. In the past, we didn’t have that ability. And so in a way, we have been awakening a capacity for reflective consciousness at a social level unbeknownst to humanity. It’s an almost invisible process of bio-osmosis; we are developing a new capacity for witnessing, for being an observing species, and this is transformative.

The Share Guide: Is it true that lesser-evolved creatures, even monkeys and apes that are closely related to us, don’t have the capacity to reflect like we do?

Duane Elgin: Researchers are now seeing that there are a number of animals that do have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. They have consciousness to some degree. Dolphins have it, elephants have it, some birds have it, and I think chimps and some others too. So there’s probably a spectrum of consciousness where the ability to be reflective is not unique to humans, but the capacity to be truly introspective probably is.

The Share Guide: Deepak Chopra said that when you experience enlightenment, “You see the whole world as an expression of yourself, and you see that the ground of your being is also the ground of all existence.” This seems to go along with what you’ve written about the living universe and experiencing ourselves as a connected part of it.

Duane Elgin: Yes. Not only do we live in a living universe, but the living universe lives within us. In other words, we’re not just sitting here and looking out at a universe that’s alive–we ourselves are that aliveness.

The Share Guide: When we interviewed John Hagelin for The Share Guide, he talked about a universal field of nature’s intelligence that governs the vast universe with perfect order. What are your thoughts on that?

Duane Elgin
: I think it’s a self-governing universe. All of the pieces of the universe have some degree of choice and consciousness, whether it’s an atom, a single-cell entity, or a human being. We all have some degree of freedom and choice, and we’re all choosing and co-creating the sum total of reality as it presents itself at every moment.

The Share Guide: Don’t cosmologists now say that there may be multiple universes?

Duane Elgin: Yes, in the last 20 years, cosmology has shifted from talking about a single universe to saying there must be multiple universes co-existing simultaneously. We’re just one among an infinite number of other universes.

The Share Guide: You’ve written that our universe is a place of miracles but it is not a place of magic. Does that mean you still believe in the scientific method, and we can’t just believe everything we read?

Duane Elgin:
Yes, I do believe in the scientific method. The wonderful thing is that we can use the tools of science to explore these seemingly invisible realms of ecology of consciousness. So it’s not impenetrable; we can explore.

The Share Guide:
Your book discussed three major stages in awakening to the living universe: Reflective consciousness, oceanic consciousness, and flow consciousness. Can you explain?

Duane Elgin: I think people would recognize each of these stages of progression towards union with the living universe. Reflective consciousness says, “I will pay attention to myself as I move through daily life.” Whether it’s with psychotherapy or a spiritual tradition, watching yourself as you move through life is powerfully transformative, because it requires that we come to a place of reconciliation and friendship and a place of connection with ourselves. In doing so, we end up in a place of connection and communion with the larger universe.

This reflection then moves us to an oceanic sense of communion with the living universe. Studies have shown that approximately 40% of the American public has had the experience of communion with a living universe. People speak about a sense of feeling great safety, of great peace, of a great sense of connection, which is what I call the oceanic experience. Then, as people rest in that kind of oceanic experience, we begin to see this as a living, dynamic presence.

This offers us the potential for flow consciousness, where we dance with the flow of the universe. This is something that’s widely recognized. People on high-performance sports teams talk about flow consciousness. Jazz ensembles that are playing together speak about flow consciousness. People that have a high level of challenge and productivity together will sometimes speak about flow consciousness. All sorts of areas of our lives bring out those moments, those little periods of, “We’re just moving at one with the flow of it all.” So, that’s the sequence of progressively engaging and coming into a more intimate relationship with the living universe.

The Share Guide: You’ve compared all the major world religions, and point to a common thread through them all showing that we are all part of a connected, living universe. So how do we overcome all the strife and hate and racism, and learn to live in peace with each other?

Duane Elgin: We’re still in discovery. Unfortunately, most people don’t look at their religion and think that other religions around the world share the same foundation. This is good news that has yet to spread around the world. People have yet to see that we all share the same foundational insight; we’re in the same universe together. However, science is now sharing that same awareness, so science and religion do not have to be at odds with one another. That gives us the foundation for actually creating a resilient and strong understanding for moving into the future–where the reconciliation and the work towards cooperation and collaboration can come from.

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi leapt to prominence in the 1960s when his teaching of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and his widely-reported involvement with The Beatles and the Beach Boys provoked reactions ranging from reverence to mockery. Now Paul Mason takes us behind the scenes, drawing on scarce and previously unpublished material.

Much more than just a biography, this is a seminal enquiry into the aims and methods of the Maharishi Movement. We are taken deep into the Indian tradition of the Vedic scriptures, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

He describes the early days of the teachings in the 1950s, through the development of a sprawling bureaucracy, to the fiasco of the attempts to enter mainstream politics with the Natural Law Party.

Paul Mason learned the practice of Transcendental Meditation after hitchhiking to India in 1970, when he visited the Maharishi’s ashram at Rishikesh. He has maintained an abiding interest in yoga-meditation and Indian teachings. He is also a musician, composing music that integrates East and West. He has contributed to the magazine Yoga Today, and to Behind The Beatles Songs

Contents
PART I: The Spirit and the Flesh
1. Mahesh and His Master 3
2. Himalayan Hermitage 14
3. ‘The Maharishi’ Emerges 28
4. From Hawaii to Hollywood 40
5. The Divine Plan, God and Suffering 52
6. Talking Book 63
7. The One and the Many 75
8. Flower Power 85
9. Time for a Song 98
10. The Blessing of the Beatles 104
11. Indian Summer 117
12. Retirement Party 128
13. The Comeback Tour 141

PART II: Maharishi Upanishad
– An Audience with the Maharishi
14. Evolution to Immortality 149
15. Celestial Connections 158
16. Those Who Speak Don’t Know 168
17. Water the Root and Enjoy the Fruit 179
18. Free Will Over Destiny 190

PART III: The Enlightenment Business
19. Nothing But The Sweet Truth 203
20. Research and Developments 214
21. Dawning of a New Age 227
22. Superpowers 238
23. Quest for Utopia 252
24. At the Hop 263
25. Corporate Structure 274

Jyotirmath: Seat of the Shankaracharya Vasudevananda Saraswati

SHORT SUMMARY of the 12th January 2011 speech of His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj, Shankaracharya of JyotirMath:

Maharaj Shankaracharya mentioned that about 75 years back, when Maharishi went to the feet of Guru Dev, on that time no one in the world would anticipate that a young man in this age, will establish the rule of Dharma in the whole earth. He was mentioning that on that time there were 4 Bramacharies who came to get the blessings of Guru Dev, one of them was from Maharashtra and he was sent to Randhavan. The rest of the 3 were working under the guidance of Guru Dev, and Maharishiji, at that time was taking care of all the writing work and whatever other work that has to be managed for Guru Dev.


Dandi Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati.
He also mentioned a very nice point – Adi Shankara established 4 seats of knowiedge, all over India he divided India to bring the knowledge in 4 parts. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Maharishi single handedly brought the knowledge to the whole world himself. Maharishi was forgetting whether he needs to eat, or whether he needs to do any other work, he was always busy bringing the knowledge to the whole world.

At that time itself Maharishi took Sankalpa that: I wil! bring this knowledge to the whole earth, all over the world. And that Sankalpa he actually not only established, but he really brought it into the practice as weil. In a practical shape he has really given the message of Guru Dev to the whole world. Shankaracharya also mentioned that no where
there is such an example in any religion or in any aspect of knowledge that any person who has taken the picture of the Guru to the whole world, and got the whole world enjoying the blessing of Guru Dev.

Another event in Africa, in 1983, Maharishiji brought the Shankaracharya of that time to Africa, and Maharaja the current Shankaracharya was a Bramachari and was there in Africa with them as weil. He mentioned the cook, who told Shankaracharya, that for 3 days, Maharishi did not take any food. So when Maharishi came to receive the blessings of Shankaracharya, he was told to stay in the room. When Maharishi asked what is the matter, Shankaracharya told him:

You did not take any food for 3 days. Maharishi replied: Oh, I completely forgot that I have to take the food. On that time Shankaracharya advised him that we have to take care of the body also, because only through that we will be able to bring the knowledge to the whole world. Because it is said:

Sharir Madham Kal Dharma Sadanam.
This body, also is needed in order to bring Dharma to the whole mankind.

Maharishi got this knowledge from Guru Dev, so from this seat Maharishi got this knowiedge, and Maharishi was not keeping anything to himself, always giving to others. And after bringing this knowledge to the whole world he left everything at the feet of Guru Dev, at the seat of Sankaracharya.

So gaining the victory of knowledge in the whole world, he just offered it at the seat of Guru Dev. Shankaracharya mentioned also that Maharishi called him and told him about the Brahmananda Saraswati Trust, which Maharishi established and he offered the whole trust at the seat of Knowiedge. The Patron of the trust was offered
to the seat of Guru Dev. Jai Guru Dev, -V.

Duane Elgin is an author, speaker, educator, consultant, and media activist. For more than three decades, Duane has been in the forefront of exploring humanity’s evolutionary journey, sustainable ways of living, media accountability and citizen empowerment, and the convergence of the new science with the world’s wisdom traditions. For more of Duane Elgin’s videos, check out http://www.globalonenessproject.org

Bounce or Crash: Will Humanity Wake up in Time?

Duane Elgin explores the choice to either pull apart in conflict or to pull together in cooperation. http://www.duaneelgin.com/

Is humanity waking up to a new level of consciousness? What changes in consciousness are underway? Can we wake up in time?

Pete and Duane’s Window is a series that explores our world in transition including topics such as consciousness, world trends, sustainability, spirituality, and our common future. http://www.PeteAndDuane.com

Awakening Earth: Pilot pt 2 (Pete and Duane’s Window)

Description of Beyond Happiness

Happiness is available to all of us—right here, right now. All that’s required is that we learn to let go of our expectation that life should go according the agenda we have in mind. Zen teacher Ezra Bayda provides the teachings and practices we need to learn to let go into true happiness—the kind that goes far deeper than the kind that’s about getting what we think we want.

Most of our unhappiness, he explains, is the result of seeking satisfaction in things external to us: new jobs, better relationships, luxury vacations. By liberating ourselves from expectations about these outward things and looking inward instead, we can find a deeper and unshakable kind of satisfaction that not only makes things a lot more pleasant for us, but that generates in us generosity and compassion toward others.

Beyond Happiness includes simple meditation and mindfulness practices you can use to access true happiness, including basic sitting meditation, gratitude practice, loving-kindness practice, and the Three Questions practice, in which we ask ourselves: Am I happy now? What blocks happiness? and Can I surrender to what is?

Ezra Bayda on Beyond Happiness

Ezra Bayda, author of Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment, gives a teaching on happiness and how we mistakenly seek it from external sources like relationships and possessions. Bayda explains how happiness can be found in looking inward and in acts of generosity and compassion for others.

WIE: Back when the great religious traditions were developing, nobody knew about evolution. It hadn’t been discovered yet. Therefore, all the transformative spiritual practices that emerged within those traditions naturally lacked an evolutionary worldview. But times have changed. What does our growing understanding of evolution mean for spiritual practice today? Does the evolutionary perspective change the spiritual path itself?

Michael Murphy: Absolutely—because this evolving universe is now the context of spiritual practice. I think that today, anybody who is the least bit thoughtful has to slow down enough to say: “Okay, evolution is a fact.” Any educated person has to say that. The evolutionary story is continually being disclosed to us. Literally every day, there’s some new discovery in some field.

The story of evolution is bringing all other stories together. It’s the great myth of our time, if you want to call it a myth. So if you’re thoughtful and you accept that fact, then you have to conclude that all human activity has that as its context, including all long-term transformative practice of any kind. Today, practice means getting yourself in sync with the most fundamental urge of the universe itself—namely, to develop, to evolve in a progressive way.

If all transformative practice—including all contemplative practice, Buddhist practice, shamanic practice, whatever—is indeed embedded in an evolving world, we need to find out what that means. We’re driven to find out more and more about it, to become conscious of the fact that evolutionary progress is in our being as well. Spiritual practice is evolving; vision is evolving; realization is evolving.

Enlightenment itself is evolving, no matter what you mean by enlightenment. The experience of consciousness is changing, in all sorts of unexpected ways. Take golf for instance. Why is it that thousands of people are now having these mini-satori experiences playing golf? That’s fascinating in its own right. People who’ve never heard of satori, who’ve never even heard of Zen, who have no spiritual aspiration whatsoever—all these guys out there having spiritual experiences. I think that golf is a mystery school for Republicans.

We could make a catalogue of the ways in which the evolutionary vision serves transformation, but one of them is that it’s a paradigm buster. So there’s the thrust of the new, but there’s also the death of the old. Just look at the troubles of the church. Look at the hideous forms of Islamic and Christian and Jewish fundamentalism—it’s like we’re witnessing the decay of these old religions right in front of us while this new thing is being born. And more and more people are disaffected.

The snake is growing a new skin, but the old skin is really getting old and it’s ready to slough off. It’s like Yeats’ line from “The Second Coming”: What rough beast, its hour come round at last/ Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? It’s this worldview that’s slowly emerging, this rough beast. But it’s unfinished. And folks, we’ve all got to go out there and contribute to it. I mean, either we do it, or we don’t and we sink back into the next cataclysm. Because it ain’t predetermined. It’s all up to us. And we know that deep down—we know it’s up to us. Now, we can work at it in many different ways. We don’t all have to be philosophers. But at the heart of it is transformative practice itself, which is about what you actually do. Because in the end, we have to live it. We have to want to live it.

Michael Murphy is the cofounder of Esalen Institute and author of Golf in the Kingdom.

The research and writing of this book is a personal journey that not only brings together forgotten wisdom about the origins of sacred female power and Durga, but changes the author in the process. Her personal story is compelling and it shows us that this ancient myth and Goddess are a living, transformative power that is completely relevant to our daily lives and a much-needed guide at this time in our history.

Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power explores the many faces of the Goddess Durga in ancient and contemporary culture. This book takes us on a pilgrimage to goddess temples and natural shrines, to visit shamans and living goddesses in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, and to India for the annual ten-day Durga Festival. The mythology, rituals, philosophy, and spiritual practices of this distinctly female-centered and millennia-old tradition of Durga offer an alternative model of female potential and empowerment, focusing on peace, healing, spiritual liberation, and realization of inherent divinity

We are at a global crossroads. Environmental devastation, economic upheaval, political corruption and unconscionable acts of man-made violence threaten the precious equilibrium of our planet. Racism, sexism, homophobia, war, violence, genocide, human trafficking — it is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the massive injustice perpetuated by humans against our own species and ultimately the fragile web of all life on this planet. How do we make sense of the destruction? When all seems futile, how do we approach formidable life experiences from a place of compassion for both self and other? To whom do we turn for guidance?

To many in the West, the orthodox religious traditions we grew up within have failed to provide solace. Many of us are looking for a spiritual model that addresses the needs of the tumultuous 21st century and yet is grounded in respect for the interconnectedness of all life. While some have found guidance in indigenous beliefs, western mystical traditions or eastern philosophy, the ululating call of the divine feminine seems to be making itself heard across the board.

Most of us are familiar with Greek mythology and its pantheon of goddesses and gods; however, fewer are aware that there is a thriving tradition of goddess worship in South Asia where devotion to the divine as Compassionate Mother and Fiercely Protective Female Warrior has existed for millennia. In fact, there is not one, but thousands of manifestations of goddess in South Asia. In Hinduism human diversity is expressed by this vast pantheon of deities; and yet, as one of the most popular goddess myths reminds us, despite our differences, we are indeed all One.

The Devi Mahatmya or the Great Glory of the Goddess is a 5th century myth that offers potent teachings relevant to this day and age. The heroine of this story about the victory of good over evil is Durga, Goddess of Divine Justice, Invincible Power, and Impenetrable Compassion. Her name, Durga, means fortress, and speaks to the unassailable essence of our inherent nature. Durga is also known as the Remover of Fear and Difficulty for she always comes to the aid of any who call on her in distress.

According to the myth, demonic forces are threatening to conquer the world and take down any who do not agree with their agenda. Despite the gods’ intentions to stop the demons, the methods they use only perpetuate the violence. Moreover, this demon king has received a boon from the creator God Brahma, which makes him undefeatable by any man, god or demon. When Brahma asks the demon if he wants to be exempt from defeat by a female as well, the demon’s inflated ego puffs up with pride. To the demon, battling a woman is an easy win — he declines.

After eons of senseless violence, the male gods convene and call forth the Supreme Mother Goddess behind all existence. Only she is powerful enough to stop the bloodshed. The initial chapter of Durga’s mythic journey of restoring harmony to the world tells how the demon king learns a beautiful female is waiting to engage in battle with him. He orders his two favorite demon generals to bring her to him so he can force her into wedlock. However, the generals do not have a chance against the all-powerful goddess. As they approach her, the composed goddess emits a flame from her finger that restores them to a state of tranquility and compassion. Outraged, the demon demands that the goddess engage directly with him in battle. She does.

The demon becomes more and more furious as he faces the great goddess. He hurls mountains, uproots forests and causes earthquakes with his all-consuming anger against the possible loss of power and control. Every time one of Durga’s arrows flies at him, the demon changes form from water buffalo, to tiger, to man until finally she grabs him, pins his neck down with her foot and sends a spear through his heart.

Metaphorically, we can consider Durga as the wisdom of the heart, untainted by cultural, religious and societal conditioning. The buffalo demon symbolizes our ignorance, reactions and ego attachments. The constantly shifting appearance of the demon speaks to our irrational behavior and the need to pin down the destructive causes of our negative emotions: anger, jealousy, pride, greed and delusion. His shape shifting is symbolic of the grasping ignorant mind that continuously jumps from one desire to another.

The demon’s uncontrollable rage, destroying everything in its path without regard for the consequences, is a fitting analogy for the violence we face today. This myth asks us to consider how we choose to express our anger — whether we will use our rage against injustice in constructive ways, or if we will be divisive, fearful and blaming, thereby poisoning our environment. The fiercely compassionate divine feminine nature will help free us from the afflicted ego and return to the penetrating wisdom of divine love. Goddess Durga may not solve all the world’s problems at the moment, but as this ancient scripture teaches, she is the impenetrable place of calm within our hearts from which we can choose actions that promote harmony and unity rather than selfish harmful acts.

In the myth, after the demon has finally been defeated and the gods gather to celebrate, Mother Durga promises to return whenever any of her children are in distress. As we face crises on both a personal and planetary level, might we call on this ancient divine female force of compassion and courage to help us confront and transform that which threatens the well being and contentment of all beings on this planet?

The Devi Mahatmya teaches that the grace of goddess is unconditional and will never be withheld from anyone — ego demon or not. Through her fierce love toward self and other, harmony will be restored within and around us. We need only invoke Durga to help us remember our true nature and that divine love conquers all.

Laura Amazzone is an author, teacher, jewelry artist, and Yoginī. She completed her master’s degree in philosophy and religion, with an emphasis in women’s
spirituality at the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2001. Her book, Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power, explores the millennia-old rituals and manifestations of the Goddess in South Asia and honors female creative & sexual power as a divine force. Laura teaches classes and workshops on Goddess spirituality and Eastern religious traditions. She has published numerous articles discussing myth, ritual, adornment, and the significance of South Asian Goddesses as divine models of female empowerment. Laura has received initiation into the Shakta Tantra, Sri Vidya, and Kashmiri Shaivite lineages.

http://www.lauraamazzone.com

Happy Navratri – Durga Sooktam (Sanskrit Hymn)

Durga Sooktam
(Lyrics with meaning)
Jatavedase sunavama soma marathee yatho nidhahadhi veda,
Sa na parshadathi durgani viswa naaveva sindhum durithathyagni. 1

Our oblations of Soma to the fire god,
May he, the all knowing one destroy all those who do not like us,
May that divine fire lead us out of all perils,
Like a captain takes his boat across the sea,
And also save us from all wrongs.

Thaam agni varnaam thapasa jwalanthim vairochanim karma phaleshu jushtam,
Durgam devim saranamaham prapadhye, sutharasi tharase nama. 2

I take refuge in the divine mother Durga*,
Who shines like a fire due to her penances,
Who resides in actions and their fruits and makes them effective,
And I salute her who helps us cross our difficulties.
* It could be translated as Mother of difficulties also

Agne thwam paaraya navyo asmaan swasthibhirathi durgani viswa,
Pushscha prithwi bahula na urvee bhava thokaaya thanayaya shamyoh. 3

Oh God of fire, you are worthy of praise,
For by novel methods you help us cross,
The difficulties and make us happy,
May our land in this earth become extensive,
May the land for growing crops become large,
And be pleased to join our children and,
Their children with joy and happiness.

Vishvaani no durghaa jathaveda sindhunaa nava durithathi parshi,
Agne athrivan manasaa grina no asmakam bodhayithwa thanoo naam. 4

Oh Jatha Vedas who is the destroyer of all sins,
Make us cross all our troubles like a boat,
Which takes us to the other shore without problems,
Oh Fire, protect us like the sage Athri, who would take care of us,
Mindful of our safety and our happiness.

Prithana jitham saha mana mugram agnim huvema paramath sadhasthath,
Sa na parshadathi durgani viswa kshamaddhevo athi durithatyagni. 5

We invoke the fierce Fire God who is the leader of us all.
And who is the killer of all our enemies from the highest place,
To take us across all difficulties and all that is perishable and protect us.

Prathnoshika meedyo adhvareshu sanacha hota navyascha sadhsi,
Swacha agne piprayaswa asmabhyam cha soubhahya maya jaswa. 6

Oh Fire God, you are praised during sacrifices,
And always increase our happiness, and exist as sacrifices,
Which are olden and those which are new,
Please make us, who are only yourself, happy,
And grant us good fortune from all our sides.

Gobhir jushta mayujo nishithktham thavendra vishnor anusancharema,
Naa kasya prushtam abhisamvasaano vaishnavim loka iha madhayantham. 7

Oh Lord, you are not connected with sin and sorrow,
Permit us to always serve you who pervades all wealth,
May the Gods who live in the highest region make me,
Who adores Vishnu, delighted and happy and grant my wishes.

Duane Elgin explores our existence and the idea of living in a living universe. He discusses both scientific and spiritual perspectives, from cosmological dark energy to Native American beliefs.

As a futurist and author of Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future, Awakening Earth, and Voluntary Simplicity, Elgin has anticipated some of the most important trends of our time. According to a 1997 Trends Research Institute report, “voluntary simplicity. . . is now spreading throughout the industrialized world. . . . Never before. . . has a societal trend grown so quickly, spread so broadly, and been embraced so eagerly.”

More related speakers on big ideas and big issues here:
http://www.ecospeakers.com/future-wor…

We come across these terms all the time in spiritual study: spiritual awareness, spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening. Is there any difference to their meanings or are they simply variations of a theme? They are often used interchangeably so any difference in meaning would have to be negligible – right?

As with the concept of “the trinity” where an understanding of the one God tries to be explained in terms of three distinct overall expressions of God, these three concepts of spiritual study (spiritual awareness, spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening) might more understandingly be thought of as three distinct phases of a single process known as spiritual evolution.

Every phase within the spiritual evolution process so seamlessly flows into and feeds the next phase that there really is no genuine distinction between them. It’s all one process which continually repeats itself. After moving through each of the three phases you find that the process turns in on itself and that the end of one cycle is simply the beginning of another cycle, with the same phases, but at just a slightly higher degree of nearer to Source-ness than you were before. One journey ends, and a new one instantly begins. And along each rite of passage you move through the stages of spiritual awareness, spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening, then back again.

Let’s examine the definitions of the words awareness, enlightenment and awakening in their specific contexts.

To be aware simply means to be cognizant of; to recognize. In this, Spiritual Awakening awareness is simply about being mindful of spiritual Truths.

To enlighten means to inform; to give the light of truth to. So having spiritual enlightenment implies that your awareness of spiritual Truths actually informs both your thinking and life outlook. Spiritual enlightenment happens when you actually become accepting of spiritual Truths. For it is possible for you to be aware of something but still not allow that awareness to illuminate or factor into your way of thinking or in the way you perceive life. For example, it’s common knowledge to nearly everyone above age six who lives in an industrialized society that if you step out into traffic without waiting for it to be safe first, you could very well be hit by a car.

Now I don’t know how prevalent this behavior is in other cities, but where I live (in Boston) it’s not an uncommon occurrence for grown people to knowingly step out into the path of an oncoming car. I’ve never understood what the thinking is here. Perhaps these folks have a running internal dialogue that says, that car is just going to have to stop because I’m out here now. Or I’m superman. My body’s invulnerable to high speed impacts. I don’t know. It baffles me – but that’s moving away from the heart of the conversation. To bring it back to the point, your awareness does not have to inform your thought process. You can choose to disregard, distort or minimize any awareness, any understanding of an idea, you may have.

To awaken means to arouse, to become active. Therefore spiritual awakening involves allowing Spirit to actually act through you with lesser and lesser degrees of obstruction from you. Spiritual awakening denotes a growth in your active awareness of spiritual Truths. For you can be aware of something, accepting of that something, but still choose not to act upon it. Simple spiritual awareness can be passive; it may simply bear witness. Spiritual awakening, however, requires that you actually put your spiritual understandings into life action.

So if you know that love has power over hate, and you accept this understanding and allow it to illuminate your life outlook, you will have moved through the spiritual evolution phases of both awareness and enlightenment. But in order to progress to spiritual awakening you will have to actually express this understanding in how you react to the situations you are faced with in life. Spiritual awakening is the application part of the spiritual evolution process. It’s the leg of the journey which actually promotes the expansion of consciousness so that your awareness grows to know greater and greater depths of understanding. So here the cycle begins again you see?

For every spiritual lesson there is to learn, for every spiritual Truth we must perfect our understanding of, there is a cycle. We each have multitudes of these cycles going on in our lives simultaneously. With this situation in our life we may be working on truly understanding compassion, with that situation it may be patience, and with that situation it may be self-assurance. And for each of these sub-cycles going on within the one grand cycle of spiritual evolution, we move through the stages of being aware of a more pure understanding of a particular Truth; to allowing this deeper understanding to illuminate our life outlook; to actively applying this understanding to the situations which arise in our experience. Spiritual awareness, spiritual enlightenment, spiritual awakening.

Evette Gardner is an author of spirituality topic ebooks.

Sit with others and with the Realms of light to send light and healing to the planet. There is only One here. http://oneworldmeditations.org.

——————

Music – “Vijaya Devi Mantra” from the album “Mantras of Tibet” by Sarva-Antah.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~ Lewis B. Smedes

Most of us carry around anger, resentment, jealousy, or some other negative emotion directed to others. Unless dealt with, they will eventually start to broadly affect the quality of our lives and those around us.

Forgiveness is the act of unchaining yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to an offense, imagined or real, committed against you. It is a commitment to a process of growth and change. The first step is to recognize the value of forgiveness and the positive impact it can have in our lives. When we forgive, we release the control and power of the offending person and stop playing the victim. We no longer define our lives by how we have been hurt and instead can define ourselves by how we have grown.

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.
~ Cherie Carter-Scott

A POWERFUL SENSE OF PERCEPTION

Magic is the power within oneself. You have enough strength, exertion and energy to view things as they are, personally, properly, and directly. You have the chance to experience the brightness of life and the haziness of life, which is also a source of power. The fantastically sharp-edged quality of life can be experienced personally and directly. There is a powerful sense of perception available to you.

An expanded edition of Chogyam Trungpa’s Dharma Art (1996), this book presents Trungpa’s teachings about the power of art to awaken and liberate. Trungpa extends the principles of dharma art to everyday life, showing how any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open our senses to the phenomenal world. This edition includes a revised introduction and a new essay.

“Genuine art has the power to awaken and liberate. The renowned meditation master and artist Chogyam Trungpa called this type of art “dharma art” – any creative work that springs from an awakened state of mind, characterized by directness, unselfconsciousness, and nonaggression. Dharma art provides a vehicle to appreciate the nature of things as they are and express it without any struggle or desire to achieve. A work of dharma art brings out the goodness and dignity of the situation it reflects – dignity that comes from the artist’s interest in the details of life and sense of appreciation for experience. Trungpa shows how the principles of dharma art extend to everyday life: any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open our senses to the phenomenal world.”–Back cover.

Full contents

* Dharma Art – Genuine Art
* Discovering Elegance
* Great Eastern Sun
* Basic Goodness
* Meditation
* Art in Everyday Life
* Ordinary Truth
* Empty Gap of Mind
* Coloring Our World
* New Sight
* Dharma Art – Genuine Art
* Discovering Elegance
* Great Eastern Sun
* Basic Goodness
* Meditation
* Art in Everyday Life
* Ordinary Truth
* Empty Gap of Mind
* Coloring Our World
* New Sight
* The Process of Perception
* Being and Projecting
* Lost Horizons
* Giving
* Self-Existing Humor
* Outrageousness
* Wise Fool
* Five Styles of Creative Expression
* Nobody’s World
* Choiceless Magic
* One Stroke
* The Activity of Nonaggression
* State of Mind
* Heaven, Earth, and Human
* Endless Richness
* Back to Square One
* Art Begins at Home
* Joining Heaven and Earth.

That business leaders are struggling with the implications of global, systemic, and structural change cannot be denied. After all, business has always had to deal with the sometimes chaotic processes of evolutionary change. During the Industrial Era, for example, the emphasis was on efficiency and a view that employees were just one more component of the production process.

Progressivism, otherwise known as “scientific management,” assumed that employees were incapable of making decisions and needed to be directed or managed. Employees weren’t trusted to do the right thing, nor were they empowered to contribute. Then along came Dave Packard, cofounder of Hewlett Packard, and other foresighted humanistic leaders who saw that the responsibility of a company went beyond designing an effective economic model to recognizing, as Packard put it, that “we had important responsibilities to our employees, to our customers, to our suppliers, and to the welfare of society at large.”

Although many companies weren’t as ready to trust their employees to the degree that Hewlett Packard did, some were prepared to flip the organizational chart and slowly move toward employee empowerment while still holding on to the reins. For most, though, making that leap of faith seemed riskier than sticking to what seemed to be the tried and true. However, that option is no longer viable for companies that want to survive and thrive.

Dave Packard’s intuition served him well. He saw above and beyond the limits of thinking that were prevalent at that time. In his book The Biology of Transcendence, Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “We actually contain a built-in ability to rise above restriction, incapacity, or limitation, and as a result of this ability, possess a vital adaptive spirit that we have not yet fully accessed.” He further explains that we can intuitively sense this adaptive potential. I wonder if that desire for inspiring, engaging, fulfilling, and creative work arises naturally from deeper levels of knowing that we have unrealized potential waiting to be released.

And release it must, for we are at a pivotal point in our evolution. The accelerating degeneration of our natural systems, including climate change, diminishing biodiversity, and disruptions in our global food supply, confront us with some very complex issues to resolve. As ecological economist Herman Daly has pointed out, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.” A 1997 article in Nature estimated that “Through its natural resources, the earth provides $33 trillion worth of value per year to the global economy.”1 Linear styles of management are simply too archaic to effectively respond to the uncertainty and complexity we now face. As our collective consciousness rises to meet these challenges, business has yet another opportunity to apply its considerable resources toward solutions.

Paradoxically, it is nature that provides the guidance.The LAMP index, created by investment advisor and author Jay Bragdon (Profit for Life), is rigorously screened to include companies that operate with integrity (where the means align with ends), value their employees, and follow the principles of nature. These principles include interdependence, where the success of the individual depends on the success of the whole and vice versa; nonlinear networks, which feature multiple feedback loops that serve to support self-regulation; and frugality, the efficient use of energy and resources.

“Globally, fewer than 4 percent of stock exchange–listed companies operate from core values of care and compassion,” Bragdon explained to me. “Most people believe this approach to business is ‘soft.’ But when done with deep commitment and professional competence, it produces hard results. In 2009, for example, Global LAMP Index companies returned 44.56 percent, far surpassing returns on the S&P 500 (+26.46 percent) and the MSCI World Index (+28.01 percent). Over the past decade, Global LAMP Index companies returned 98.03 percent, while other benchmark companies collectively lost money.”

If such achievements confront conventional wisdom that the profit-and-loss statement is the only measure of a successful business, then we are on the right track.“Managing a company as if it were a profit-making machine imposes a linear-thinking mentality that blinds it to important relationships . . . Managing a company as if it were a living organism, which it is, creates a radically different and more beneficial set of relationships.”2

Systems thinking maps these relationships, most often as thought patterns, cycles, and feedback loops. By combining systems thinking with insights from such emerging trends as the internalization of social and environmental responsibility, open and crowd sourcing, social enterprise, increases in self-employment, and other indicators of change, a wider and more integrated map emerges that shows these interrelationships on a global scale. And in order to seize the opportunity available to work with rather than against the emerging forces of change, a higher level of consciousness is needed.

A Reckoning of Forces

Force 1: A Shift of Consciousness. Scientific analysis of the Mayan calendar tells us that we are right where we are supposed to be.The connection between the Mayan Calendar and contemporary systems thinking was presented in an award-winning paper by Slovenian professor Tadeja Jere Lazanski at the 2009 Computing Anticipatory Systems Conference. Most modern-day businesses, she explained in her paper “Ancient Maya’s Evolution of Consciousness and Contemporary Systems Thinking,” grew up during what the Mayan Calendar describes as the “seventh step” of consciousness:

“The seventh step of consciousness, from 1755 to 1999, was a consciousness of power, where there was no place for integration but analyzing, separation, creating towers of power, wars, and manipulation. This is a reason that no one would think of connection and integration, of systems thinking in its highest meaning — not one philosopher or politician.”

In other words, there was no receptivity for the kinds of connected consciousness we see appearing today. Everything was neatly sorted into black and white, with no tolerance for ambiguity or shades of gray. Duality prevailed: right-wrong, good-evil, environment-economy, green-profit. Differences of opinion were pitted against each other as opposing ideas rather than a piece of the larger picture. Power meant the ability to control or influence others rather than mastery of the self. Left brain–right brain was synonymous for practical and impractical. You took your left, linear, analytical brain to work and used your right, creative brain for family matters and hobbies. A focus on the short term was being practical; a focus on the long term was considered pointless given the expectation of volatility and uncertainty.

Those operating from this mind-set will, by force of habit, have a great deal of difficulty shifting to a more holistic, big-picture view unless they agree to boldly commit to doing so. And the pressure to do so is intensifying.

From now until the end of 2011, we are (from the Mayan perspective) in the eighth level: “a consciousness of ethics,” writes Lazanski, “where all the towers of manipulation and of negative power are collapsing. Ethics in the higher sense refers to spontaneous solutions through the application of law and power to the benefit of everyone. It shines from within and is personal, knowing the right thing to do and doing it. It is a refined consciousness. Now, the powerful people who make the laws and lead the nations and societies cannot get away with anything without being exposed; all abuses of power are becoming uncovered.” Look no further than the recent Wall Street meltdown for proof.

The ninth and next step leads “the planet to one harmonious system” of conscious cocreation. Affirming that evolutionary step is a finding published by IBM in its 2010 survey of global CEOs titled “Capitalizing on Complexity“: social networking has exponentially increased the degree of interaction customers and citizens expect of organizations. It isn’t enough just to collaborate anymore. Today, the watchword is ‘cocreate.’

Force 2: From organizations structured on Newtonian principles to those structured on quantum principles. Newtonian principles operate quite well in a simple, linear world. They rely on materialism, reductionism, and determinism — the idea that the only thing that matters is matter and that outcomes are predictable and controllable. Quantum principles, by comparison, recognize that everything is energy; everything is connected, interrelated, entangled, and uncertain. In today’s reality, where the context for day-to-day living is characterized as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), such an understanding is imperative to survival. Companies that remain attached to the hope that these underlying conditions will follow old rules face certain decline.

Force 3: From controlling behavior to focusing on performance and results.
We are used to thinking up and down when it comes to hierarchical organizations, but that is not how phenomenal results are produced. Nick Zeniuk, now retired from Ford, described the shift to me in this way: “The traditional managerial system is based on the concept of control, which was a reasonable concept fifty to one hundred years ago, when managers and senior managers knew enough about the business to effectively control the business.

Many of the managerial systems in our organizations are based on controlling behavior: the performance systems, the reporting systems, the reward systems, and quality control mechanisms like Six Sigma. That is no longer a valid system. The realization that we were operating under the illusion that we, as executives, could control the outcome was quite a startling discovery. What I discovered personally and what we are discovering now is that our focus needs to be redirected from control and behavior to results or performance — because when we focus on performance, we are focusing on those attributes that enable us to achieve the results we want.” In this process, trust is essential — trust in one’s own sense of inner power and trust that people will do the right thing when given a shared and worthwhile goal. Effective managers no longer control performance but support it. Higher levels of personal mastery then become a prerequisite.

Force 4: From hierarchical leadership to leadership at all levels — top-down, bottom–up, and sideways. Collective intelligence emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals, with the group having a higher level of knowledge than the individuals in it. Collective intelligence happens through networks of performance that cut horizontally across a company’s hierarchical structure. Social scientist Dennis Sandow and his client, Anne Murray-Allen, formerly of Hewlett Packard, mapped out networks of performance at HP to understand how, as complexity increased along with the growth of the inkjet cartridge division, that division performed at a consistently high level of achievement over time.

“What I have learned from working in organizations where we had truly phenomenal results day after day after day is that leadership does not come from position; it comes from a place of contribution. It can come from anywhere in the organization. It is based on who is in a position to see what no one else can see, to make the contribution that everyone can get behind and support. My experience from working in organizations for over thirty years is that it is in our nature to be motivated by two things. First, we all want to make a big contribution, not just a contribution but one that is significant. It drives us in terms of purpose. Second, we all want to belong. We are social and emotional beings. We know now from what have learned through neural and cognitive science that we are hardwired to be together and collaborate.”3

Sandow and Murray-Allen also discovered that the people involved in achieving a goal rarely showed up on the organizational chart. In fact, they discovered that most of the people working on a particular objective were from outside of HP and included customers, competitors, suppliers, and anyone else who needed to be a part of it.

Jay Bragdon calls this phenomenon “relationship equity.” “Relational equity is the foundation of financial equity,” he writes. “How companies relate to employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders matters more than most people think. Corporate leaders who understand this build cultures that inspire systems thinking and organizational learning. Those who do it well catalyze a powerful, reinforcing cycle of profit, which turns their firms into innovation hothouses.”4 Employees might describe this as taking your whole self to work, doing work that truly matters, and contributing to a hopeful future.

Tools for Transformation

To accelerate the evolution of leadership and innovation from the old model to a new one, we need to let go of a few habits.

1. Overreliance (or addiction) to linear and analytical thinking.
Life does not operate on a runway; it operates as a network, a web of complex and interconnected systems.Linear-logical thinkers link one thought to another in an orderly sequence until a story or thread is constructed that makes logical sense. Analytical thinking takes a concept apart to its more manageable pieces. Both were effective in a simpler world when interrelationships could be ignored at minimal risk. In the workplace, linear thinking is heard whenever older generations depict the exceptionally creative Gen Y as “the entitlement generation” who need to “suck it up” and “pay their dues” on the same career runway they experienced. As creativity becomes the talent du jour, linear thinking can still offer support for implementing creative ideas. But seeing the value in different ways of thinking and processing information must come first. It starts by listening with the intention to understand rather than to be right.

2. The temptation to file and sort new ideas and incoming data so it feels like they have been handled
.This is one of the greatest temptations and pitfalls of reacting to complexity. Clarity is achieved by seeing the system, not getting lost in the details. Everything is connected to everything else. The moment you file it, you’ve lost the link to an interrelated dynamic. Fish might be managed by one government department, forestry by another, and the environment by a third. Though administratively convenient, nature ignores such political boundaries.

Further, there is a temptation to place anything outside the norm in the “woo-woo” or “New Age” file, where you’ll find alternative health, quantum physics, and holistic thinking. This habitual dismissal of new concepts unnecessarily narrows options and diminishes the capacity to see the whole picture. Developing sufficient self-awareness to know when your coping strategy is “file and sort” versus “listen and absorb“ is critical.

3. Negative thinking and limiting beliefs. Uncertainty can provoke fear.
Deepening the skill set and ability to regulate emotions reduces stress and opens possibilities. Limiting beliefs operate both consciously and unconsciously. The former are readily identifiable, the latter are not, so it takes a deepening of our inner skills to spot the telltale patterns and know what to keep and what to release. Upgrading personal mastery and expanding self-knowledge are inherent and imperative in such a process.

Systems thinking recognizes that we are a part of the system, not above it. Identifying attachments to old patterns of thought, belief, and habit about how the world works allows new innovations and our greater human potential to emerge.

Organizations as Living Systems

“Companies that model themselves on living systems typically practice what I call living-asset stewardship (LAS),” writes Bragdon in “Capitalism as a Human System.” “To them, profit is not so much a goal in itself as the means to a higher end of service. When such ends are condensed into a compelling vision — one that calls forth the life-affirming instincts and future hopes of employees — the firm becomes a profoundly inspirational workplace. The operating leverage in this is easy to understand. Employees who work with their hearts as well as their minds are more productive than those who simple ’do a job.”5

Project Shakti (meaning “strength” in Sanskrit) was started by Hindustan Lever, Unilever’s Indian division, in 2000. They turned to local women entrepreneurs to distribute products to their rural communities. By 2008, there were 45,000 women distributing $3 million worth of products to 100,000 villages. For Unilever, the rural Indian communities, and the women entrepreneurs, this is an “everyone wins” solution, creating a vast rural marketing network through the resources of the community. By trusting that the local community networks would do what would best serve the entire system, Unilever tapped into a deep well of motivation, creativity, and commitment. Unilever is also behind the establishment of the Marine Stewardship Council, now recognized as the good housekeeping seal of approval for sustainable fishing.

Such initiatives represent good examples of next-stage corporate evolution as well-intentioned businesses move toward a higher level of planetary stewardship. Perfection is not the goal; “self-actualization” is a process so mistakes will happen. To stay on track and overcome the temptation to lose focus, organizations must commit to continual learning and maintain allegiance to a higher purpose.

When control is replaced by trust and the joy of being in service to something larger than oneself, tacit knowledge emerges — the innate know-how unique to each person. The power of our human potential is unleashed and the community as a whole becomes healthier. The simplicity of complexity is that by making a leap of faith, trusting people to do the right thing, supporting development of an employee’s wholeness (self-actualization), and actively stewarding our relationship with nature, organizations will nurture the most powerful source of innovation — the human spirit.

* * * * *

Fluent with the science behind self-actualization, Dawna Jones develops leaders who can function in any environment, helping them to clear hidden barriers to achievement while restoring entrepreneurial intuition. She knows it is the power of the human spirit that drives creativity and radical innovation and contributes big-picture thinking and deep personal insights to that process. (www.FromInsightToAction.com)

About the Author
Dawna Jones

Fluent with the science behind self-actualization, Dawna Jones develops leaders who can function in any environment, helping them to clear hidden barriers to achievement while restoring entrepreneurial intuition

Executive Fireside Chat: The Power of Intuition

Increased amounts of information, complexity and the need to adapt business cultures to engage and keep talent requires being plugged into your intuition

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