The Institute For Living

Tag: getting involved

Integrity at the Core

by on Feb.11, 2012, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

Once I had a conversation with a lady who had come to talk about a potential home improvement product. Our conversation spontaneously began with talk about the state of affairs in the country and the world. We seemed to have automatically been in synch with each other — understanding, agreeing with and applauding our mutual desire for a better dialogue than that which we were hearing day to day.

After this warm, heart-to-heart dialogue, though, it was time to “get down to business.” I was struck by how dramatically her mood shifted from one of seeming to care about the plight of people to one of wanting to make money.

This is not an indictment against her. Rather, it is an observation of the bigger system in which she and countless other people live, in which their lives are compartmentalized. In Box A is their genuine concern about the soul level issues of people and their well being — evidenced by the outpouring of good deeds when natural disasters strike. In Box B, though, is a totally contrary behavior that silently speaks, “I’ve got to do my part to make a profit — whatever it takes.”

I suppose most people are not even aware of the conflicting dialogues taking place by their two internal boxes. They literally, ‘just go along to get along.’  I have read stories of some people who, when they became aware of the conflict, lost their jobs by trying to quietly bring justice within the system that was designed to bring profits.  Make no mistake: resolving the conflict is no simple task or it would already be the predominant paradigm.

Ultimately, the mega systems must resonate with the ultimate system. When there is lack of integrity disturbances occur.

One person said that “passion” was the basis for his career, while “purpose” was the basis for his life. It takes a lot of courage to bring those two disconnected circles into synchronization with each other. And everyone may not be able to achieve 100% synchronization. It is a journey. Leaving them totally separate, though, may be like the married man who says, “Passion is my mistress, while purpose is my wife and family.”

Being “on purpose” is what integrity is all about. It may not be easy, because there are surrounding systems where the water is dirty. But integrity is about “wholeness.” It is not about legalism or moralism, or someone’s list of standards.  Integrity is about clarity of purpose.  Scripture says, “Be perfect.” That doesn’t mean living up to someone’s standard of righteousness, because other scriptures teach us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  There are numerous other scriptures that negate a notion of righteousness based on one’s ability to measure up to some arbitrary standard of living –established by some fallible group of people (who are not perfect).

What perfection, or integrity, does mean is the completeness illustrated by a circle: it is whole and cannot be broken. At core level, when we strive for integrity we will always exhibit love, because it is perfect.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Room for Compromise?

by on Jul.26, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

I saw two rooms: one sat vacant, the other was overflowing with two groups of people — one unlike the other.

I questioned why one room sat vacant while the other room had plenty of space for discussion.

My answer came: “We are waiting for discussion between the two groups.”

But no discussion happened.

So one room sat vacant, while the other room was overflowing with two groups of people.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

When the Answers are Hidden

by on Mar.26, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

In today’s 140-character, soundbite world, we often miss the deeper meaning of the events unfolding around us. When I was going to school, a major curriculum requirement was the study of Shakespeare’s works. The very point of studying his works was that the value was in wrestling with difficult questions –not rushing to easy answers.

And so it was with Jesus, the Christ, whose parables rendered life-giving principles that profoundly confused and disturbed the rulers of his day. His “asset value” was not valued; in fact, it was so profoundly devalued that he was killed. And yet, two centuries later, we set our calendars by the event of his being, and his teachings provide the moral compass for many of us.

In Mark 11:13, he said that although there were no figs on the tree, the value was there. The answers were hidden from those who were only willing to spend 140 characters to find them.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

From Corruption to Clarity

by on Feb.23, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

It is interesting that the dynamics of human interactions are the same whether they are observed at the individual, group or societal levels. Obviously, as more individuals are involved, the collection of individual energies determine the outcome, but the system dynamics remain the same. The system ultimately demands clarity.

Initially, corruption (or confusion) can be — and will be — hidden. Sometimes sophisticated schemes may be used to make it appear that everything is successful for a while. Eventually, though, chaos begins to pierce the veil of serenity.

As chaos emerges, truths are uncovered on both sides. As painful as they may be, they can actually be tremendous assets in the healing process. What best determines the outcome is how well both sides deal with the chaos.

There are both assets and liabilities embedded in the experience. Neither side can fully determine the outcome, because the true character of each side is revealed during the period of chaos.

And the period of chaos has no time boundaries: sometimes it is brief; other times it is prolonged. There is no inherent value in either case. The value lies in the final outcome.

There are a myriad of possible outcomes; including a possible transfer of power. Generally, though, the parties will either divorce or rebuild. The amount of destruction that has and will occur must be considered as a systems cost.

The target outcome is clarity. The revelations from the stage of chaos serve as teachers for the future. Either one learns or repeats the course.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Love Says No

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

One of the most compelling energy forces in our lives is love. We want to give it and receive it more than anything else. For most of us this is true at the most personal level and at group levels. All of our religious or spiritual traditions have some basis in love. “God is love” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself ” are cornerstones in the Christian faith. Certainly, no church or spiritual group would expect to build a following by proclaiming that their central energy provided no validation or support for them in their deepest places of being.

The sense that when we are at our most vulnerable state, we are enraptured by an energy called love is what gives us ultimate hope. It defines the bookends between despair and assurance. This warm blanket with which we can wrap ourselves even in our darkest nights is vital for our survival. But is that the only quality of love?

I shall never forget the night when one of my sons sat on the bedside and asked if he could wander off into the hillside the next day alone. I knew that he was a good child who had nothing but the best of intentions. (I had taken him with me to a job-related conference at a state resort center.) The day before I had told him to go with a companion so that if any accident occurred one of them could come back and alert us. He wanted to go alone because he and the other fellow had divergent agendas.

I had to say no.

As much as I knew he would be angry, I had to say no. I had to say no, because I knew things he didn’t know. I had to say no, because I loved him too much to allow bad things to happen to him. I had to say no because if some tragedy were to happen to him, I would be absolutely heartbroken, because I love him.

So often, children do not see the big picture. They only want what they want; went they want it; and they want it now! Sometimes they will get angry when love says no. They may even run away in disgust.

When children are little babies we show our love with milk and diapers, but as they grow older, those symbols give way to curfews and learners permits. Our love is constant, but as the child matures — and begins to realize his/her dreams — along come new opportunities with boundaries and discipline.

And so it is with all of us. Revelation 3:19 says those who I love I rebuke and chasten. The great invisible hand of the universe must steer the interactions of billions of people all over the world. Imagine what it would be like without some loving intervention to bring order to the chaos of our myopic selfishness. It was once said, “Your freedom to swing your hand stops at the tip of my nose.”

We live in limited time and space. It is inevitable that in pursuit of my selfish goals I will infringe upon the freedom of someone else. Sometimes I will do it intentionally, other times I will do it unintentionally. In either case, the damage remains. I have often said, “a girl is just as dead whether I intended to run over her or not.” We are so limited by the breadth, depth, and other dimensions of knowledge — beyond our imagination — that we must rely on a source outside ourselves for love’s guidance.

So often, in seeking guidance, we pray. Our prayer, though, is guided by our own desires. Matthew 6:10 says, “Thy will be done…”, but rather than coming into conformity with the sovereignty of the creator, we attempt to make him conform. How arrogant: to try to make the creator of all that is, a prop in our off-Broadway reality play — and call it prayer.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

We Have no King But Caesar

by on Dec.07, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

Caesar represents money, power and control; how seductive are those qualities. As we move into the Christmas season, we are presented with the Christ who represents the alternative: love.

But he was despised and rejected of men, and we hid our faces from him. He was a wine bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners. He identified himself with the suffering and those less fortunate. Who would want to be in his club when offered the choice to fraternize with Caesar’s court?

So when the babe of Christmas was offered up to death, the judge said, “I offer you the king”, but the people said, “we have no king but Caesar.”

His mother cried.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

When Love Walks In

by on Oct.29, 2010, under Core Values, General Updates, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

I’ll never forget the time when my oldest son was about 15 years old and he had done something that made me so angry I was seeing fire (I cannot remember his crime, because forgiveness has washed it away). I had determined that when I went to pick him up I would give him the tongue lashing of his life. Something strange happened, though: the moment he came walking toward my car, feelings of love washed over me. All I could say to myself was, “Yeah, that’s my son!”

At that moment, whatever he had done didn’t really seem to matter when measured against the lifetime love that I have for him. Events will pass; love stays.

We all know that among our families and friends we have numerous experiences where friction occurs. The true measure of our love — of various kinds and dimensions — is our ability to deal with those tests and trials constructively or destructively.

Often relationships are based on rules. A rigidity around those rules is the cause of the end of many relationships. However, when love walks end, patience, kindness, understanding, and other qualities help us enlarge our tent to embrace each other in our humanity.

Many people feel that rules are necessary to have order in and  among a group of people. And they are right. If we stop there, however, it becomes somewhat like a bed frame without a mattress. And certainly we are left without a warm quilt for long winter nights. When love walks in, our humanity is recognized, and we feel protected –not just supported.

People in the Christian faith often use the Ten Commandments as the basis of their living. The paradox, though, is that the very churchmen who were the arbiters of that code of law killed its heir — thus rendering the law null and void.

Before this heinous crime was committed, though, that master teacher said, “I’ll trade you ten commandments for two: just love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we begin to understand that all of the chaos and abuse we are experiencing from the personal to the group to the national and international levels is coming from this one stem, then we will be on our way.

Fear and Love sit at opposites: one destroying the other.

Our economic policies, our culture wars, and our political struggles all reflect our inability to let love walk in.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

I’ll Have the Cherry Pie, but Not the Chocolate Cake

by on Sep.13, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

In these days of obesity, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to skip the chocolate cake and eat the cherry pie if we want to lose weight. Clearly, we must reduce all of the sweets and calories in our diet in order to accomplish our goal.

And yet in our goal of social harmony our strategy is just like eating one dessert while forsaking another. That is absolutely fine as long as we do not fool ourselves into thinking that we will accomplish our goal of peace and prosperity. The “weight loss” of excess tension and turmoil can only be realized by giving up both the cherry pie and the chocolate cake.

These desserts are being used here as metaphors for the prejudices that we like to hold on to (some unconsciously) against people who belong to “other” groups than we do. There is almost an infinite variety of groups among which we can divide and identify ourselves. These differences can enrich us — like the flowers in a garden — or they can be used to play the zero sum game.

Recent events, centered around the Muslim community, are really no different that many previous forms of prejudice focused on other groups. The gift from the Universe is that what we have not seen before, perhaps  we will begin to see now; the Universe brings us many teachers. Unless and until we decide to go on the diet of “love thy neighbor as thyself”, we cannot achieve the goal of peace and prosperity. Instead, the energy of love will be sapped by the energy of fear, producing destruction.

Scripture says God is love and we cannot love God — whom we have not seen –  and hate our brother who we see everyday. That is dishonesty.

1 Comment :, , , , , , , , , more...

Official fears 100,000 dead after quake

by on Jan.14, 2010, under News Commentary, Spirituality

Rescue workers struggled to clear rubble and bodies from the streets of Haiti's "flattened" capital, where a government official said the death toll from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake may exceed 100,000. This tragedy makes my heart go out to all the people who have lost loved ones. As a father and grandfather who has suffered near fatal tragedies, I can empathize with the gutt-wrenching pain and agony these families face. There is a passage in the Old Testament of the Bible -- Jeremiah 31:15 --that says, "There was a voice heard in Rama, Rahel weeping for her children...because they were not." This prophecy, tied to the Christmas season, which we just celebrated, calls us all to honor the least among us and care for the defenseless. When we recognize the poor, the needy and the despised among us, we bring life, healing and hope to the whole of humanity. If we neglect those less powerful, we breed the seeds of our own defeat.
Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , , , more...

Changing the World: One Good Deed at a Time

by on Jul.19, 2009, under News Commentary, Politics/Economics

Yesterday I heard a news story that warmed my heart. It was a story of a lady who provides a life for boys & girls whose parents are incarcerated. There are so many things about life and love that these young people need to experience, and this lady is able to help them have that experience — at least at a secondary level.

Like this lady, we all have gifts to give the universe. So often, though, we hold back, and think only about what the universe will give to us. There is a lot of literature that shows that depression and other health effects can be altered by doing good deeds. So often we see big problems and wish we could have an impact, while we ignore the impact we can have immediately in our everyday lives.

In this day of high unemployment and talk of health care reform, I wonder how  many of us think of what we can do to help somebody else.

I believe that at the root of our economic and social problems is a fundamental attitude of greed and avarice. Yes, the folks on Wall Street are culprits, but we all carry our share of the burden. Our focus in life is always “what can I get”, rather than “what can I give.” How many of us would have agreed to work for our companies for a year without pay? O. K., that’s too radical: How many of us have asked: “What can I do to help generate more revenue for the company”?

For those who are laid off, here is a suggestion:

While you continue your job search activities, why not make yourself the President  of a company? Decide something that you can do that will really help someone or solve some problem in the world. Clearly, you have some skill that you can utilize to help someone; what is it?

Use this web site to post your thoughts. Although you may not have all the answers, someone else may be able to add to your idea. Synergy can result from collective thinking about right thoughts.

Remember: a trip around the world starts with the first step.

2 Comments :, , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...

Archives

All entries, chronologically...