The Institute For Living

Tag: Relationships

The “G” Factor

by on Jul.19, 2012, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

God is the G Factor in the equation. We are the variables. The G Factor is constant; the variables constantly search for meaning and the co-efficient of determination.

The G Factor always has been; always will be — in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

THE I AM THAT I AM.

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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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Bankruptcy

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Blockbuster Video has come to be the generic for at home entertainment over the past few decades, yet there is now talk of that company going bankrupt. New trends in media and entertainment have perhaps shifted the dynamics of the market such that it can no longer be profitable with its business model.

But bankruptcy is not new, many successful companies and individuals have declared bankruptcy at one point, and moved on to reinvent themselves. Among the field of our potential presidential candidates, one is reported to have declared bankruptcy more than once, and another could be declared morally bankrupt by virtue of his integrity.

Indeed, in the recent economy — marked by massive layoffs, a mortgage crisis, runaway health care costs, and unsustainable credit — bankruptcy is an inevitable part of the individual and corporate fabric of our lives. Neither the principals nor the creditors are the real beneficiaries; the accountants and legal staff are the winners.

So deep is this structural, not cyclical, malady that its ripple effects are felt throughout communities. Those collective effects render states and our federal government (and, in turn, the world economy) pushing up against a ceiling that is not ideological, political or philosophical.

This crisis calls into question the core function of money. At its root, is money a medium of exchange, or is it a determinant of value? Does money, in fact, have the quintessential role to determine worth?

There is a powerful relationship between variables, and when that relationship is breached,  eternal damage is done at soul level. Priorities are misplaced, intentions are misguided, and behaviors are not authentic.

Unexpected tragedies can bring death at any time. When we trade the currency of life for the currency of eternity, what will we offer? Will we be full, or will our coffers be empty?

We may have amassed great material wealth; built estates around the globe; perhaps even bought an island or two; but when our sunrise turns to sunset, how will we answer the call?

Will our currency be good in eternity?

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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Emotional Abuse

by on Jan.26, 2010, under Politics/Economics, Relationships

Emotional abuse is a major problem in our culture today, whether experienced in our private relationships or in our public discourse. From parents verbally and physically abusing their children to spouses abusing each other, our homes often are places of emotional scarring, rather than places of refuge and repose.

And what happens in our private domain gets mirrored in our public forum. We have all witnessed the shameful tension around the health care debate. That debate is no less vitriolic than the discourse around issues such as national security, the housing crisis, the national debt, education, and a host of other critical issues. While no one will debate the importance of these issues — or the passion that they deserve — what is sad, and even frightening, is the emotional abuse that we bring to our handling of these issues.

The character attacks (including racial assaults and even death threats) go far beyond healthy political discussion, and reach a level of emotional abuse at a mass group level.

Whether emotional abuse occurs at the family level or the mass group level, it stems from a struggle over power relationships. In our October 13, 2009 post, Why Do We Fight? we discussed the innate tendencies toward fighting to resolve conflict. Ultimately, we can stay stuck at this level, or we can choose to move to a new level of conflict resolution. It is the level that all the great masters tried to teach us: the way of Love.

Although this sounds simple — and it is — it is not easy. Embracing love as the way to resolve conflict is the most robust skill we can master. We must begin by mastering our own internal enemies (our ego), and along the way, being able to embrace the foibles of the other person — or group. When we truly know who we are, then we can accept others just as they are — without trying to change them.

We spend tremendous energy trying to change other people, which simply does not work. Even if a person is going to make changes, they will do so because they are ready to do so. Our inspiration may be one of many influences in their change process, but their change is a work of spirit — not our genius or judgment.

Rather than abusing each other, by tearing each other down, we need to spend all of the energy we can muster building each other up. My mother was a very wise person, although she was a high school drop-out. One of her very wise sayings was, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” So many times I have learned to look for the good in everybody by forcing myself to say nothing until I had something good to say.

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