Regeneration is born out of a generous universe. It is born into our human experience when we find the generosity of the universe within ourselves.
What is generosity? Sometimes we have limited definitions of generosity that relate to the giving of a gift or money. And it could be those things but generosity is so much more. Sometimes it is thought of as something you should do—you should be generous. How confusing! And what a mix-up it creates in the mind when the very urge of life within us is already generous. There is a generosity that wells up from within us all the time, that seeks to express through us and give of itself and be born into our world through our thoughts, our feelings and actions, and through our very presence in the world. The God in us wants out.
The creative urge is there every day. It is there with every breath, it is there with every thought, it is there in every moment. And so how confusing it is to have someone say, “You should be generous.” Should be generous? Everything in us is generous. We have that urge and we live with it in every moment.
The key to living a regenerative life is being in touch with that urge. It is connecting to it and feeling it, knowing it, and then expressing it, embodying it and acting upon it. Part of that process for us, as we grow up to be sophisticated, mature human beings, is to discover the ways in which we have self-sabotaged that generosity; to discover the ways that we have found reasons to cut it off and we have suppressed it. Oh, I was generous once, and nobody else was. I gave and it didn’t come back. Of course, we may have had a very measured way of giving ourselves, and a very calculated way in which we thought it was supposed to come back. And then it doesn’t come back that way. And therefore I am going to cut off my generosity.
There is a rather remarkable book that was written by the Arbinger Institute. It is called Leadership and Self-Deception. The book identifies what goes wrong in the human experience as self-betrayal, and the betrayal is really a betrayal of generosity. The authors talk about what happens when you have a generous urge and then you suppress it. They describe how that can become a way of living for an individual. And so what the authors say is that if you want to lead, you have to discover the ways in which you have done that and then undo it in yourself. Over time, you must re-create the character and culture of the life that you have created so that you are acting on the natural generosity that is within you.
They talk about generosity as an urge to give to other people. I would like to broaden the definition. The root of the word generosity means to give birth, and it relates to generation. It is generation of any kind. A creative thought is generosity. When you think an enlightened thought that is born of the life within you, that is being generous. It is being generative. That thought is bringing something to the world that is creative for other people as well as your own life, and creative for the whole world around you. That is generosity. Generosity is not just doing good things or the nice things, the things we think we should do. It is following out the urge within us to give of our own creativity in all the ways that we are made to do that as human beings: in our thoughts, in our feelings, in our acts, in our very presence.
This is from a chapter of Leadership and Self-Deception that describes the process by which a person betrays their generosity. It sets forth seven points on self-betrayal.
- An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another is called an act of “self-betrayal.”
- When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal.
- When I see the world in a self-justifying way, my view of reality becomes distorted.
- So—when I betray myself, I enter the box.
- Over time, certain boxes become characteristic of me, and I carry them with me.
- By being in the box, I provoke others to be in the box.
- In the box, we invite mutual mistreatment and obtain mutual justification. We collude in giving each other reason to stay in the box.
Boxed-in people are creating a reality for themselves, and then they are being very generous in sharing it with you. They are proliferating that reality for all those who will be a part of it and react in kind to a lack of generosity. An entire culture can be infected with living in the box.
Two people who see each other as enemies do not see themselves as colluding together in living in the box. The reality is that while they are living in different parts of the box, they are living in the same box. It is so easy to see how relevant this is at a personal level and how relevant it is to someone who is leading. A leader in the box is creating a culture of living in the box. But of course, we all lead in some way, and we are all promoting whatever reality we are living in.
I would like to see this in the very largest of contexts. In so many ways, we live in a world that is in the box—a world that has, in so many ways, betrayed itself, and so it is not regenerative. That is a polite way of saying “dying.” There is so much that is of the dying in our world—that is not filled with the spirit of life— war, famine, desertification, decimation of species, and more.
Within us, in the most real way possible, there is the urge of God to be born through us into the world. It is individual, relative to us. God is looking to be born into the world through our thoughts and our feelings and our actions. You and I are living with that urge every moment of our life. Everything in us at our core wants to give of itself so that it can be born in the world and be in the world. What it is, it is nothing less than the son or the daughter of God. The son or daughter of God is not just a particular physical form. It is that presence that is born into the world through an individual when they allow it to be born, when they feel the urge and answer it and give it expression, allowing it to be fulfilled through themselves.
That is, importantly, an individual act, but the individual act is part of a collective act based on a collective urge. You are feeling that urge every moment of your life. And you can shut it down as best you can. You can choose to live a life in the box which is a life of self-betrayal. Or you can be in touch with the urge and discover the ways in which you have cut it off—not to self-flagellate but simply so that you can stop doing it.
The choice is individual, and it is at the individual level where we have the most authority and the most power. Part of the pattern of self-betrayal is trying to force someone else to be generous. It is impossible. You can hope, in your generosity, that you can open that experience for someone else. But certainly generosity, by its very nature, is something that comes from the inside of that person.
This week we are holding a four-day course, Enlightened Thinking and Courage: Primal Spirituality. Courage seems like something that requires you to get up nerve and energy. It sounds like it is something that you do not want to do but which you force yourself to do. And yet, if you listen to stories of courage that we might normally accept as true courage, that is not the experience that the person was having. So often what you hear is, I simply did what anybody would do. I simply did what was obvious that I had to do. I didn’t stop and think about it—I was just called to do it and so I did. The self-betrayal was not present for that person. The mental function that tends to cut off our courage was not there. And perhaps, because of the momentous nature of the occasion, they simply answered the urge from within themselves to act in an expression of their generosity in that situation.
All real courage is like that. Courage is, yes, something for a momentous occasion. But courage is the everyday expression of generosity. It is the expression of who you are in all facets of your life. It takes courage to love, and to face what does or does not come back. It takes courage to love authentically. It takes courage to think for yourself and not simply adopt somebody else’s thinking as your own. It takes courage to allow your creative imagination to soar, and then sort through what of that you need to act on, and then to act on it. Courage is the lack of self-betrayal when it comes to any facet of our creative expression. And so it is the undoing of all the things that are so habitual for so many people that keep them in the box and stop them from showing up in their life as themselves.
While the choice to end our self-sabotage and embrace our generosity is individual, collectively, the God in all of us wants out, and wants to walk in this world. Today we have a hurricane walking in the world. Don’t you have an innate awareness that there is a presence from within us which will bring peace to the land? Which will calm storms and wildfires? There is regeneration when we answer the urge for the God within us to come out. There is peace in the land and there is peace among us.
I cannot undo your box for you; I cannot undo your self-justifications for not being generous. But I can undo mine. In that act, I express my generosity, and in so doing open up the floodgates of creativity and presence from within myself. Any of us can do that. As we do, we are offering an inspiration and invitation to others and, through the magic of our innate connection as human beings, when you are doing it, the person next to you is feeling it. They are feeling your generosity and they are feeling that urge that is not only coming from you but also from within themselves. They are seeing it mirrored to them, and it is coming up for them—and maybe driving them crazy. Because it does drive us crazy if we block it.
There is so much that has to happen for regeneration to fully blossom on the planet. At the heart of it all is generosity. The self-sabotage of the human species that cuts off generosity is killing us. It is a core wound that is creating desertification at all levels of the human experience and for the planet. The honesty that has us looking at our self-betrayal, so that we can undo it and answer the urge, is what saves us, as a person and as a planet. That kind of honesty opens up a flood of innate generosity and the regeneration that results.