Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
There are people all over the world who are beginning to awaken to a new culture. It is a culture that is not born out of the past. It is not born out of the way humanity has lived over the years. This is a culture that is born from the potential that comes to us out of the future. It isn’t born out of how we’ve always done things. It’s born out of an awakening to how we could do things. That is a radically different kind of culture.
It is a culture of the possible, not a culture of the familiar. When we live in this culture we are tapping into a universal field of consciousness that contains the potential for us personally. But, more than that, we are opening to the true potential of humanity. That universal field is brought into physical reality not just because of universal consciousness but because of human consciousness. So we are interested in vertical memory, a keener awareness of the possible in our life, and not just an awareness of it but an expression of it in what we bring into our world and to other people.
There are two activities that take us out of the culture of the familiar and into the culture of the possible. These two acts are incredibly simple. One is the expression of what is true. When I’m speaking about what is true, I’m not just speaking about what’s already happened; I’m not just speaking about the facts of the physical world around us. I’m speaking about the world of what is truly possible: the true nature of all of us and our true potential, and the true potential of the world. It sometimes helps to temporarily ignore the facts so that we can pay attention to the possible. The expression of the possible, when it’s consistent through a person, changes their life and changes their world.
You can test this out and see if your life changes. You can see if you have a changed experience, and you can see if your world changes when you stop being so focused on what’s become familiar, and give expression to the possible. Familiar culture exists at many levels. It may be a culture of one—your own personal culture that you’ve developed over the course of your life—or the culture of your family, your community, your organization, or your nation. If you let familiar culture recede, and give expression to the culture of the possible, your life will change.
The other powerful act that we can participate in is an act of gratitude for what is true. We participate in this act of gratitude simply by being thankful that there is a reality of the possible, by whatever name. By the way, the word possible is a synonym for God. God is the God of the possible. God is the God of what could manifest in your life and mine if we let it. The true God—not the God of religious tradition or belief—is the God of the possible.
Those two things, taken together, set in motion the creative process for a person and for us together. First of all, express what is true. There can be such a fixation on what isn’t true, and a fixation on facts, perhaps facts about other people: “This person is such and such a way. I know it; it’s familiar to me—they are always like that.” A fixation on facts can prevent one from seeing what is true about that other person. Fixation on facts can prevent the possible from manifesting, at every level. In a culture of one, the facts of one’s life can get in the way of seeing what is possible. Even in a culture of two, containing you and another person, what’s always happened, how it’s always been, can stand in the way of how it could be.
How about intervening in the facts with the possible? There is a television show called Intervention that portrays situations where people’s lives have become dysfunctional and unsustainable enough that family members and friends decide to intervene and do something radical. Why don’t we do something radical, not only in our own life but in our culture, whatever that culture may be?
Over the last week or two I stumbled across a short essay by Margaret Wheatley. The first time I became aware of her was through her book Leadership and the New Science. In 2009 she wrote this short essay, “Are We All In This Together?” She was speaking about America, who at the time was facing some very hard economic challenges, and we still are. She was exploring how people were going to respond to the challenge of the day, and she was asking whether people were going to come together as a community and as a nation, or whether we were going to “hunker down,” as she put it. She said this:
We each need to make a choice, and it’s our choices that will determine the outcome. Will we choose to engage wholeheartedly with one another, working together to create healthier communities, persevering through the difficulties and frustrations of working together? Or will we withdraw and hunker down in self-protection? Or will we give up, overwhelmed and exhausted?
She was speaking of being together in the context of America, and I appreciate that. I do believe as Americans we need to come together. I’m also interested in another range of coming together. I’m interested in people who are awakening spiritually around the world, coming together. I do believe that’s part of the paradigm shift that is under way, part of the possible that’s before us. It’s a shift from consumer spirituality, where each one is trying to find something to feed themselves spiritually, to a collective coming together. This is a collective change in perspective in which we stop looking to consume something that would fill us up spiritually and look to offer something that would be of spiritual nourishment to our world.
I want to read some of the questions that Margaret Wheatley asks that I think are relevant for America, as she points out. They are also relevant for people who are in a process of spiritual awakening. She says this:
Yet there’s a long journey ahead, and to make it through, we must give up our love of self and individualism and truly embrace community. Here are a few questions about the behaviors that need to change:
- Can we get over ourselves? Can we stop focusing on our private needs and open to the greater good, to what will benefit many?…
- Can we let go of our need to blame, to judge, to scapegoat—all the thoughtless and hasty ways we separate from each other?
- Can we shift away from self-interest and self-protection? And do this everywhere—at work, at home, in public meetings?
- Can we give up fear and exchange it for generosity?”
She ends her essay by saying this:
One of my friends works tirelessly as a CEO of a major nonprofit that provides relief and leadership in areas of natural devastation. She said, “Every day I have to choose not to give up.”
I hope we realize that we, too, have a choice to make every day. We can choose to be in this together. Or not. (See Source)
As Americans, I believe we have hard challenges in front of us. It is hard to make something thrive that is by its nature unsustainable. As Americans, we have adopted a way of being in the world that is, by its nature, unsustainable. Dependence on fossil fuel, for instance, is unsustainable long-term; we’re going to run out. It is unsustainable to keep filling the atmosphere with CO2, which is causing global warming.
But my greater concern is what’s unsustainable for people who are on the edge of a breakthrough in consciousness, people who are pioneers in consciousness. What is unsustainable is spiritual consumerism—always looking for the next workshop, the next book, the next spiritual gimmick; always looking for the next guru, the next spiritual teacher, the next practice. All of those things can have value, but until a person has learned to feed themselves on the inside, they’re going to be trapped in spiritual consumerism, trying to feed themselves from the outside.
It’s interesting that a great spiritual teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, spoke of this in his prayer that we now speak of as The Lord’s Prayer. That prayer was addressed to the invisible reality of being, the realm of the possible. He spoke these words: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Do you think that might have something to do with spiritual nourishment? He was indicating where the real nourishment comes from. It comes from the inside. Another person can help us find what’s inside, but they can’t actually give us the spiritual nourishment that sustains us. It is interesting that Jesus spoke of it as daily bread: it is available daily from the inside, not just once. It is accessible to us every day, and in fact in every moment. But it’s only accessible, and only remains accessible to us, as we not only consume it for ourselves but we let it flow through us so that it is available to our world.
Two millennia later, Martin Exeter took the words of what we speak of as The Lord’s Prayer and translated them into the first person, speaking from the standpoint of the invisible reality of being. I want to read his words that mirror these words of Jesus. Jesus’ words were, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In Martin’s words: “I give the bread of life in each moment of my living on earth.”
That is a key to spiritual nourishment personally, because ultimately if all a person is interested in is receiving the daily bread, and they won’t give it, that’s unsustainable. We can’t keep consuming without something being given, even at a physical level, and it certainly doesn’t work spiritually. We are nourished daily from the inside when we give daily from the inside. We have something to give personally and individually, and we have something to give together.
When vertical memory is restored, we remember where the source of the nourishment is. We also remember that the only way that the gift that we have to give has any meaning is as we are together with others. Can you show me a totally fulfilled individual human being? Is there anyone individually who could be fulfilled? It could not happen. We are not made like that. Fulfillment is together. We either do it together or not at all. There is no such thing as individual personal fulfillment. That’s one of the myths of spiritual consumerism. “Read this book and be fulfilled. Go to this workshop and learn how to be fulfilled.” Individually, we can do our part, and there is pleasure in that. But fulfillment only happens together.
Recently I was feeling these things deeply. Sometimes when I feel things deeply it comes through as music. To me, writing music or writing songs is like tuning in to a radio station: Once you tune in, it just keeps coming. In some way, I know it’s always there; it just takes changing the dial. I think creativity is like that. When people learn how to tune in to whatever frequency it is for the field in which they are working, they are in touch with the realm of the possible and everything that streams from the possible.
Recently, I dialed in to a country music station, and the things that I was pondering in my heart came out as a country music song. I have the lyrics—I haven’t put them to music yet. When I look them over they seem a bit wordy for a song, so we’ll see how that goes. But I want to share the words with you because they carry something of the spirit of fulfillment together.
It is written as a love song—being country music, I think it had to come out that way. But I want to tell you that my motivation for the song, and the spirit of the song, isn’t just about a man and a woman. It is about you and me—you and me and all of us who are part of this spiritual awakening that is occurring on the planet today. It is my way of saying to everyone I’m connected with, “We either do this together or we don’t do it.” There is no such thing as doing it as an isolated individual. And even if we could, it would have no meaning. I believe it would have no meaning globally—it wouldn’t be sustainable in that way—but I also mean this in a very personal way. I have no interest in personal fulfillment individually, aside from what I do with other people. So I am interested in what we have to do together, and when I say that I am not just speaking to people of my culture or spiritual background or organization. I’m speaking to anyone, anywhere, transcending all those things, saying, “We have something to do together.”
So please picture Merle Haggard or Brad Paisley or whomever you’d like when you read these words.
I never really wanted to be famous,
I never really wanted to be a star,
I wasn’t sure where my life was going,
And I didn’t care how high or far.
I didn’t care if I made a lot of money,
Or if important people thought I was a fool,
It didn’t matter if I ever hit the jackpot,
Or played by other people’s rules.
But I knew I wanted you,
To be with me forever,
I knew I wanted us to be standing there
When all was said and done,
I knew I wanted us,
To do it all together,
And for the two of us to be as one.
If people asked where I’d like to travel,
Or if they asked what work I’d like to do,
I didn’t know just what to tell them,
Because they lived a dream I never knew.
And you stand with me,
In all that we go through,
And you go with me,
In all that we must do,
You love me through it all,
And all I’ve done I’ve done for you.
We don’t unilaterally determine who will and who won’t be close to us in our life. We don’t choose who will be a spiritual pioneer and who will stay spiritually asleep. But for those of us who are awakening in consciousness, let us do this together. Let us see it all the way through together. Let us learn together what it means to be truly spiritually nourished, so that we come out of any kind of spiritual consumerism and find that we have something of true spiritual nourishment to offer to our world, and that we offer it best when we offer it together.