The Institute For Living

Tag: love

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.

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Moving from a Fear Based Economy to a Love Based Model

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This post was originally written over 16 months ago, but in light of current events, it seems to be appropriate to re-post it. Often we do not like to consider the raw truth of our affairs, but healing begins with unvarnished disclosure.

Here is the original post:

There has been much talk in recent months about our free market system and socialistic threats to that model. While no one suggests that there is really a “this-or-that” dichotomy, most of the participants in the debate are simply afraid that we are moving too far too fast away from the free interplay of capitalistic forces to a controlled economy. That is certainly a fair debate. As with so many debates, some of the positions people take start to get dangerously close to “sacred cows” for various stakeholders, and then passions are ignited.

What we want to consider, though, is that the basis of the argument itself may be from a perspective rooted in fear. As with so many aspects of our lives, when fear drives our decisions, we do not make the best decisions — although we might think we are doing so at the time. One of the best examples is a driver whose car starts to skid. Their fear causes them to slam on the brakes and steer in the direction that appears to be appropriate, although it will only put them in greater danger. Their fear based response makes them incapable of good decision making. Personal relationships are replete with such examples. One such example is the person who is caught in an abusive relationship but is afraid to venture out into the abyss of unknown alone-ness and possible new relationship.

This fear based captivity directly affects our behavior in the marketplace. We are the same characters in the bedroom that we are in the boardroom. And our virtues are no different.

So, then, what are we afraid of?  Even when the free flowing forces of capitalism are working just fine, isn’t fear underpinning the success or failure of that system? For example, fear that housing prices will rise causes people en masse to  go out and purchase houses — thus creating an upward pressure on prices. Fear that company XYZ’s stock price will decline causes its shareholders to sell — thus creating a downward pressure on its price.

Competition among participants in a given industry is all based on fear. The fear that one competitor will gain market share over the other causes a variety of behaviors to combat that outcome. So fierce has been the behavior in this category that the SEC has been required to regulate activities, under the umbrella of “combinations in restraint of trade” and other oversight. Price cutting, price fixing, collusion, and a number of other behaviors have been used to combat the fear that competitors carry that they will lose in the game of market share vis-a-vis their industry rivals.

All of this comes about because of the core value of WIFM (What’s In It for Me). In order to preserve the “sacred cows” for all stakeholders, we must embrace a new system. Whether we have a free market system without intervention or a completely supervised and regulated system, it will still be fear-based. At its core is the fundamental question WIFM? On February 9, we published an essay titled, Love and Its Opposite. In that essay we established that moving from self-centeredness to love is the key to unlocking greater capacity.

The creative spirit that we call God — or some choose to call by other names — is love. God is love. Fear and love stand at opposites, one destroying the other. When we have a model that is fear based, it is inevitable that we will create conditions of unsustainability. It is like a mother eating her own children, rather than nurturing them.

Of course maybe fear is a reasonable precursor in the dance of love. May be without fear we cannot make the journey into love with all its wonder and all its splendor.

 

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When David Would Be King

by on Jul.29, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

When David would be king, transformation will occur.

David embodies suffering and pain. He cannot be motivated by Goliath’s amour and assets.

As he walks through suffering and pain to establish his way of being, all the rules are changed. What worked in the past will not work in the future.

A new highway shall be there for those — the meek and humble — to walk upon. Oh, what a glorious new day when David becomes king.

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I’m Just a Flute

by on Apr.22, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

A flute is one of the smallest instruments in the orchestra, and yet its sounds are among the most pleasing to the ear. Sometimes the sound of a flute is like that of a bird dancing about the orchestral score. It adds life and brilliance to the fullness of the music that surrounds us.

When I think of my life purpose, I can use the metaphor of a flute to capture my role. I am dumb like a flute. The finest flute in the world is just a dumb instrument. Often we flatter ourselves based on our education, our financial stature or other worth-giving attributes; but I am dumb like a flute.

A flute can be kicked around, scratched, bruised, and thrown in the corner. But in the hands of a Master it makes the finest music. The Master creates the music; not the flute.

When I recognize my role as an instrument, I (1) preserve my integrity and sacredness, but (2) keep my ego in check. The Master will create the Universal Symphony if I will just do my part.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace” is a commonly used mantra. A totally different metaphor is “instruments of war.” These two stand in stark contrast to each other.

If I try to create music independent from the Master, I create chaos. It is the breath of the Master that gives life to the flute. Enharmonic overtones occur when the breath of Master and the structure of the flute are not in sync.

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Actions Have Consequences

by on Apr.14, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Actions have consequences. That is an inviolate spiritual law. We get to choose our consequences by the actions we take. The problem is we don’t know when the consequences will show up, or what form they will take. But it is as sure as sunrise follows sunset that actions have consequences.

In our limited sphere of operations we can inflict consequences on those over whom we have power, but those become actions — which have consequences. The universe is the final arbiter, and equity is assured.

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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.

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Now is the Moment

by on Mar.04, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

When we’re experiencing trials and tribulations we always pray that the suffering will end and “that moment” will come when God will show us favor.

Walking in victory requires that we redefine our perspective. We must learn to value the affliction as much as we would value what we would perceive as the deliverance. Circumstances really are “value neutral.”

For instance, rain is neither bad nor good. The city dweller may call it bad, while the farmer calls it good. In fact, it just “is.” Furthermore, the city dweller will suffer if the farmer does not get rain for his crops.

Learning to embrace suffering as joy is not easy, but it is essential for the victorious life. The faith walk is based upon the knowing that stepping off into the unknown leads to new knowledge — preparing for more robust living (or abundant living).

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Living on the Other Side of Fear

by on Feb.09, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

Wouldn’t it be nice to live without fear in our lives? Most of us live with fear from our personal lives to our cultural and global experiences.

At the personal level, we have the threats of sickness, financial hardship, interpersonal conflict and outside disruption — just to name a few. As we move to the larger group levels, political, economic, ethnic and other factors set the basis for our fears.

In all these cases, the core energy of fear is juxtaposed against the energy of love. Although the genesis of our lives is love, we lose our way and give power to fear so early in our journeys. Why is that? Why do we so readily abandon the power of love for the seduction of fear? It must be compelling in its alluring promises, or we wouldn’t be captivated by its charm.

People are drawn into abusive relationships because at some point there are charming qualities that promise to satisfy. And so it is with all the wares of fear.

But there is hope!

Psalm 111:10 and Job 28:28 teach us that the only appropriate fear is for the ultimate source of all sources. Connection to source is resource.

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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.

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But for the Grace of God, There Go I

by on Dec.15, 2010, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This title phrase is a very common phrase, and perhaps its meaning is different for each person who reads it. Legend has it that a person of significance was walking past a drunkard lying along the street and said, “But by the grace of God, there I am.”

Rather than looking at the drunkard with disdain and disgust, as we would often react, something triggered his response to connect with this person as if he were but a part of himself. Another well known cultural idiom, Six Degrees of Separation, suggests that we are connected to everyone else on the planet by no more than six degrees of separation. This sense of connectedness stands in sharp contrast to the narcissism that plagues our society and prevents conflict resolution.

Although we are each birthed through a unique birth canal, we really are part of the whole cloth of humanity. When we come to understand this, it changes our entire feeling about life and how we interact with other people. Our self worth can no longer be derived from houses, cars, education, physical appearance or other material assets. Instead we realize that we are part of the universe. We realize that we can do no better and no worse than the universal good.

Oh, all of those material assets and attributes are convenient set points from which to engage with other sojourners, but not to define our worth. Those are fluctuating value points that are not reliable.

Reliability is attained when we push beyond those boundaries into non-fluctuating currencies.

One of the most powerful phrases in the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As we push beyond the boundaries of debts and debtors to the concept of oneness we begin to move toward reliability.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is the wise man who sees the drunkard as one with himself, and forgives his debt, so that he may be forgiven.

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