Posts Tagged ‘greed’

As the Paradigm Shifts #M: Money and Mindfulness

by Rosie Kuhn on July 6, 2011

Money

Money is very much a spiritual issue. Some think that the pursuit of wealth couldn’t possibly be a path to enlightenment or spiritual serenity. We never know what our path will look like, what’s in store for us, or where our greatest learning opportunities will lay, awaiting our arrival so they can ambush us when we least expect it.

It’s not money per se but our attitudes and action in relation to money that harm us and others. Fear, not money is the root of all evil, and when we fear that we don’t have enough, who knows what antics our survival mechanism will concoct to give relief from the incessant anxiety of “I NEED MORE!”

It’s okay to want money, to have money and to spend money. All businesses are designed to manufacture or produce goods and services in exchange for currency of one form or another. This is a very good thing. We need this interdependent relationship to thrive. It’s when those “G” words come into play – greed and gain, that a healthy dynamic can turn dysfunctional. This is when abuse of power rears its head and resources such as people, animals and the Earth itself become taxed, stressed and depleted of life force. Work environments lose their soul, and so do those whose lives depend on these environments.

Mindfulness

The balance of wealth and power takes mindfulness. Mindfulness cultivates awareness of how our actions, our thoughts and our being impact the environment within which we live and work. It’s obvious Mother Nature is beginning to demonstrate her lack of appreciation for how she has been ignored, plundered and taken for granted. And because we are all part of this living system I believe that She’s indicating that we as a species, and also, we as individuals, need to become mindful of our relationship with our selves.

I heard the other day that the extraordinary natural disasters that are occurring in this planet are just a causation of the inner turmoil of every living system on the planet. We need to include our businesses, corporations, religious and financial institutions as living systems too. The lack of mindfulness within each system is the responsibility of us all, because all of us participate in the exchange of goods and services and want what we want when we want it. We can’t keep passing the buck onto those who appear to be in charge. We are all in charge and the practice of mindfulness will make that clear.

The Personal is the Political

We have no idea the degree to which our personal power can transform the world. To mindfully engage at work with integrity and a compassionate heart – you will move mountains.

Stress, disease and illness are caused, generally speaking by a lack of mindfulness. Healing brings about wholeness and awareness of the power to which we can shift and change ourselves and our environments  – acting in my highest good is acting in the highest good of everyone.

Mindfulness requires intention to be attentive to what you are committed to – enough that you’re willing to practice bringing awareness and focus to how you be, to what you do, to your thoughts, feelings and body sensations, witnessing it all in service to fulfilling that which you desire. There’s nothing to give up. There is nothing to lose. And, the gain in this circumstance is self-empowerment, self-honoring and the honoring of the sacredness of all that surrounds you.

Mindfulness also keeps us in the moment, present to what is within. We learn to be present and attentive to which impulses we follow – moving us toward fear-based choices or essence-based choices. There is so much more going on than you can imagine. And, it is so accessible.

As I write, I realize that M also stands for meditation. I’m not one to sit cross-legged on a pillow staring at my navel. My form of meditation is practiced throughout the day staying focused and mindful on the agreements I’ve made to myself and to others that are mine to keep. I emphasize, again, the notion of practice as a way to gain mastery, letting go of the idea that perfection will ever be reached.

Enjoy the adventure!

Every organization whether it be for profit or non-profit are in their line of business in order to gain something – it’s most likely in their vision statement. My vision statement, for example is:

The fulfillment of the human spirit through the empowerment of every individual on the planet.

This vision requires an acquisition of fulfillment and personal empowerment.

Gain

Whether to gain access to clean water, acquire political power, or to expand one’s capacity to lead effectively, we are all out to gain.

With the economic turn, the way it’s going, businesses are facing major dilemmas. On the one hand they – the choice-makers are facing potential loss of everything they’ve gained. Too often this drives them to act in ways that will hopefully allow them to not lose anything. Fear too often drives them to act in haste, making choices that may not be in alignment with their original vision. They are afraid. People make interesting choices when they are afraid.

We like to think of ourselves as gainfully employed or engaged, yet few of us want to associate ourselves with words such as greed. However too often we are unconscious of when and how we withhold what we’ve gained out of a fear we aren’t even aware of. Our greediness is often disguised.

On the other hand of the dilemma, there are those companies that are looking at their circumstances not from a fear-based perspective but from one that can benefit many during this time of adversity?

When we start to shift our contexts we see what’s to be gained – not from fear-based greed, but from some place other than fear – generosity.

Less is More

Do you remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, in A Christmas Carole? Scrooge’s greed wasn’t limited to money. He was greedy with his heart. We find out why, as we’re given the opportunity to witness specific events in his life that created devastating loneliness and heart break. Because of these events he chose to withhold and be miserly with his gains, which greatly impacted many people.

Like Scrooge, every one of us experiences, to some degree, loneliness and heartbreak. We experience, like Scrooge the inevitability of abandonment, betrayal and rejection. And, much like Ebenezer, we bury the pain deep inside, distancing ourselves from that pain, which wreaks havoc on the façade we’ve invented. This façade has us look and feel powerful and invulnerable, yet inevitably we find, as Scrooge found that this limits the potential to fulfill our true potential.

Fear is an enormously powerful muscle that is exercised far too frequently; so much so that we are unconscious as to how much it impacts on our choice to enjoy being engaged in the business of doing business. Our fears limit the pleasures of relating, connecting and sharing ourselves and our talents in service of our vision, which inspired us in the first place.

All of us – the Human Race – have the capacity to overcome the adversities of our pasts. Hiding our hearts in a scrooge-like fashion, though, is not the way to do it, but practicing generosity can be.

The Muscle of Generosity

This muscle called generosity is always with us. It just hasn’t had a whole lot of exercise.

Exercising this muscle generates the experience of abundance, openness and allowing, innovation and expansion. Scrooge found this place after his journey with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. He came to see that he had nothing to lose and had so much to gain in discarding his lengthy practice of greed.

As the paradigm shifts, we are so much more capable of witnessing our attachments to our gains, our fear of losing what we’ve gained and of finding that through some playful curiosity we can discover other ways to gain without fear of losing what we’ve gained.

Those committed to bringing spirituality into the workplace may feel like they have an uphill battle ahead of them. Simple exercises now will, however generate the necessary strength, courage and wisdom to engage in what’s to come. You will find the shift easy and effortless – trust me!

Just for one day I want you to try something (Maybe for some of us, it will be just an hour or a minute.): Notice opportunities to share a smile. Notice who you are willing to share a smile with, and from whom you withhold a smile. That’s it! That’s the practice.

You’re probably asking: “What’s a smile got to do with generosity?” Good question. I could explain it to you but it wouldn’t be the same as having you experience what happens when you smile. Plus, this practice isn’t about whether you smile more or less. It’s about noticing when you choose to allow yourself to smile and when you choose to withhold a smile. It’s about noticing how you are choosing to choose to smile. This choice-making process underlies so much of your being with fear, with gain and with spirituality.

Notice what it feels like inside you, without judging or assessing yourself. Our actions can be so automatic sometimes that we aren’t even aware of the thoughts or feelings we’re having underneath.

How can we be the generosity we so wish to experience?

I have the following three suggestions:

  1. Smile more often, even when you are challenged by your circumstances;
  2. Notice your desire to complain about anything and everything;
  3. Notice if what you are doing inspires generosity of spirit in your own heart. If it doesn’t inspire generosity of spirit in your own heart, consider doing something else.

Know that each and every one of us comes into our work environment anticipating and hoping that we will experience generosity of spirit from those we engage with during the course of our day. Like Scrooge, many of us don’t have the capacity to even share a smile. Even though it may be disappointing, see if you can share compassion to those who have less capacity to be giving of their hearts. Your compassion may be the most generous gift of the day. You may gain far more from that activity than you ever imagined.

… and of course, your sharing goes a long way, be it through a smile, or through this article. So, do share your experiences via your comments.

Enjoy the Exploration!

Flexible Focus #46: Lens on Consciousness

by William Reed on March 24, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked deeper into the realm of the mind, looking through the lens of consciousness to see our life from higher, bigger, and deeper perspectives. And yet even from vastly different perspectives, it is all in the context of our daily familiar existence. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right).

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

MIND MANDALA BODY (From Flexible Focus #38: Flexibility without Forcing)

Out of your comfort zone…into freedom

Many people like the idea of flexibility more than the practice of it. This is understandable, for if the experience takes you out of your comfort zone, you may prefer the familiar to the flexible. When your body is stiff, then physical stretching can feel more like pain than gain. A similar thing happens mentally when your values or beliefs are forcibly stretched beyond their limits. The key to expanding your comfort zone is to have more degrees of freedom. A brittle stick has no degrees of freedom, so anything which bends it, will break it. The fear of breaking causes many people to retreat into their comfort zone when stretched, but rigidity is ultimately a zone of discomfort. When you have more degrees of freedom in your mind and movements, then you experience flexible focus in action!

A NEW MODEL FOR COACHING (From Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude)

You are not the only one in trouble…Make the world a better place

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. These attitudes have ruled and ruined empires as well as personal relationships throughout history, and of course are equally evident today. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. In Asian tradition, pride is like the brittle stick which does not bend, but only breaks. The inflexibility of mind, also known as the hardening of the attitudes, is ultimately the cause of the problem. It is better to be flexible, like bamboo.

A NEW KIND OF NATION (From Flexible Focus #40: The 8 Frames of Life: Society)

Social Media is a classless…and virtually free territory

What is your place in society? At one time, and still in many countries, this was a not a question which you were permitted to answer or control. Rather, it was a matter of birth, circumstance, good or bad fortune, and your place in society was largely determined by people and circumstances beyond your control. Throughout history in various times and places, individuals and groups of people have raised this question, and asserted their right of self-determination, the right to determine their own role and mission in society. Now due to the momentum of such movements in the past, and the amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication, these questions are being raised widely around the world, not just in the traditional style of political movements, but in a brand new style of personal movements.

YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN A MANDALA PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #41: Your 100 Year Lifespan)

The past can be changed…and the future is fixed

You periodically encounter popular sayings that life ends or begins at 30, or at 50, depending on the attitude and experience of the person saying it. It is a poor and arbitrary perspective really, and let’s face it, sour grapes living produces sour grapes sayings. Yet there are many people who lose the plot of their life somewhere along the way. If you look closely there is a plot, and although life’s drama unfolds differently for each person, there are underlying themes that are remarkably consistent in a meaningful life. The originator of the MandalaChart system Matsumura Yasuo created a framework using the 8×8 B-style Mandala Chart, called the 100 Year Life Span. He said that, “The past can be changed, and the future is fixed.” How can this be? Commonsense tells us that you cannot change what has already happened, and that no one can say for sure what is coming. However, using the Mandala Chart you can reframe what has happened, and you can pre-frame what is coming.

PUTTING TIME IN A NEW PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #42: Time Lapse as a Mandala Movie)

The Mandala Chart takes you out of conventional time…gives you a new perspective

The 3×3 framework of the Mandala Chart lends itself well to showing the relationship of the frames as a visual Gestalt, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The bird’s eye view gives you a 3-dimensional perspective. But what about the 4th dimension, that of time? Most discussions about the 4th dimension focus on its abstract geometry, trying to visualize what it would be like to be 90-degrees perpendicular to the 3rd dimension, in effect looking at the transformation of a 3-dimensional object over time. This is not so difficult to imagine if you look at the effect you get in time-lapse photography, where you can watch a flower grow, or see a full day of cloud transformations in the span of a few minutes. Time-lapse in real time – it is even closer at hand than that, because we all experience transformation moment to moment.

WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET (From Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness)

The central premise…is that our thoughts create our world

As central as the number 8 is to the Mandala Chart and the original Buddhist framework of Wisdom which it is based on, it is not surprising then to find that in this framework there are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are quite familiar. We call them the five senses: Visual, Auditory, Olfactory, Taste, and Touch, which are how we perceive the world, through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought, referred to in Buddhist thought as the Monkey Mind, because it is typically unsettled and constantly chattering. The first six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. What gets interesting is when you delve into the subconscious mind, which has two layers; the Mana (Obscuration/Shadow) consciousness, which we refer to as the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF BALANCE (From Flexible Focus #44: Lessons in Life Balance)

How many things are juggled already in perfect balance…without any effort or interference on our part

The common word for it is Work-Life Balance, the challenge and stress of giving proper attention and time to both work and family. Part of the challenge is that every individual’s situation is unique. No one pattern fits all. Sometimes the stress is generated not so much by the situation, as by the person’s thoughts and attitudes in responding to it. Particularly stressful is the effort to give equal attention or equal time to everything. This cannot be done, though you can work yourself into a frenzy trying. At the end of the day, what really makes for Life Balance is not how you juggle the parts, but whether or not you maintain a calm center.

ABUNDANCE IN 8 AREAS OF LIFE (From Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over)

Gratitude grows into giving…and is a principle seen everywhere in nature

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life. Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over

by William Reed on March 17, 2011

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life.

Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

Abundance in 8 areas of life

The Mandala Chart looks at wealth as part of a larger mosaic, and abundance as the experience of blessings in 8 areas of life: health, business, finances, home, society, character, learning, and leisure. What does this mean, and how is it possible to achieve such a thing?

We have seen how abundance eludes the grasp of greed. The real appreciation of what we already have begins with gratitude. All common complaints fade in the light of the Jewish proverb that, I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

But gratitude grows into giving, and is a principle seen everywhere in nature. Japanese refer to tarai no mizu, the way water in a basin flows away from you when you try to pull it in, and comes back to you when you push it away. This is the Japanese way of describing the Law of Attraction, that givers gain. Rather than trying to hoard everything for yourself, you will find it much easier and more appealing to let go and let flow.

The Mandala Chart gives you a way to put this into practice. Take a 3×3 chart and in the center write down a compelling issue in your life from one of the 8 areas of life listed above. Use the surrounding frames to write out at least 8 ways in which you could reframe your problem by focusing on what you can give, rather than what you can get. Chances are that you can take specific actions on one or more of these ideas, and the results will surprise you, because this is the opposite approach which most of us take to solving our problems.

In business it means being more client-focused, at home it means focusing more on your family than on your self, and in self-development it means concentrating on your strengths rather than weaknesses. It means learning by teaching, giving pleasure rather than taking it, eating to 80 percent of your fill, investing instead of spending, and doing things for others without expectation of return. Abundance may be more about who you are than what you have.

A second look at the hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed a psychological theory that human beings had a hierarchy of needs, from physiological needs at the base, followed by safety needs, then the need for love/belonging, for self-esteem, and what he called self-actualization at the pinnacle, where the finer elements of human character come into expression. Maslow’s theory had a profound influence on developmental and growth psychology, as well as on the positive psychology movement which followed years later. This is not surprising, because Maslow focused his study on exemplary people and the elite of the population, rather than studying abnormal or dysfunctional states of mind.

But the premise of Maslow’s approach was that growth was linear, developmental, hierarchical, and this is fundamentally different from the premise of the Mandala Chart, which is synchronistic, serendipitous, and holistic. Grounded in the framework of Buddhist thought, the Mandala Chart sees all of these needs existing simultaneously, and expressed in each area of life. You can satisfy your stomach and your spirit, without separating them into levels of development.

A Samurai swordsman and Zen Master named Gettan who lived in 17th Century Japan said that there are three kinds of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who maintain the temples and shrines, and then there are the rice bags and clothes hangers. While this was no doubt a criticism of people who were disciples in name only, Zen Masters made frequent reference to the attainment of satori, or spiritual awakening, while in the performance of daily disciplines. They did not separate spiritual insight from daily life. Satori itself is sudden and serendipitous, not hierarchical and developmental.

Engaging others in the process

The quality of abundance is not something to experience in solitude. It starts with the appreciation that your cup runneth over even now, and that it gets even better when you share your blessings with others. When viewed from the 8-frame perspective of the Mandala Chart, it seems that there is no limit to the ways in which you can do this, other than the limitations you impose on your perspective.

Ask people what they think, how they feel, and in what ways you can help. Ask better questions, and engage in great conversations. Learn to engage others with interesting shifts in perspective, like a brisk tennis volley on an 8-frame court. Seek out new perspectives yourself, expert perspectives, historical perspectives, universal perspectives. Most of all, have fun with flexible focus, and watch how quickly the process catches on.