Tag Archives: unified purpose

What is Important?

This video is a perspective on what’s important.

Here is a text of the narration:

What is important?

What is important? How would we measure it, and how would we know the measure was accurate? Although there are many possible ways, if we use a scale of things that have the most profound influence on our ability to realize our full potential, and use that to measure what we currently apply our energies to as a global culture; we can see the gap, the gap between what’s important, and what we do.

Somewhere in our not so distant past, on some day we couldn’t pinpoint because we weren’t watching, we crossed a critical threshold. We crossed the threshold where we no longer live in a world where people starve because we can’t feed them; we now live in a world where people starve because we don’t feed them. We have the skills and resources to make this a plentiful world, but we do not yet have the focus, nor the will – to do what’s important.

We have the capacity to cultivate a world brimming with potential – potential that can only be realized if we have each other’s backs. Instead we live in a world where, acting out of fear, we have to watch our backs – a world where we have to defend ourselves from ourselves. Maybe we don’t recognize this is the recipe for self made poverty – maybe we are suffering the echo of our collective traumatic past, where a veil of ignorance forced us to be at the mercy of a frightening and often cruel environment, and as a result, we learned to exploit each other, to dominate, or be dominated… This is a past we need to navigate away from if we’re going to cultivate our full potential. Until we do this, we will continue to rob ourselves of what’s important.

What’s important is you – the family, who shapes the lens through which the child understands reality by the way you treat them and each other. You forge their developing identity in the fires of the relationships you expose them to, and this defines whether that fire will refine them, or destroy them. You are the port from which the child launches, and you define what that child will be equipped with to navigate the wider social seas, and how they will influence those they touch – for the rest of their lives. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the teachers, who have the wheel that steers the future as you pass the torch of knowledge to the next generations. You’re not merely an installer of facts, but a primary cultivator of the tools that will determine whether we will capably face the challenges that lie before us, or sink under their weight. You have a powerful hand on the rudder that steers this Earthen ship of ours through sometimes troubled waters. Together with the family, you set the tone for the direction we will travel. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the friend, who doesn’t have to be asked, but actively seeks to offer your best. Your behavioral vocabulary doesn’t include apathy. You willingly act on behalf of your friends – ready to deliver a comforting word, a helping hand, or a stinging challenge depending on the need – your purpose remains constant – to serve each other. You have a powerful hand in the stability of this Earthen ship in which we all ride. And your aid through the storms, and companionship in fair weather, makes this journey we’re all on worthwhile. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the stranger, who may not be familiar with those in other ships that pass by, but know that they are full of kindred kinds – you who understand that it takes all of us, communicating through actions big and small, that we’re in this together, that we share the same waters – and that sharing what we have of value with each other is the reason for the abundance we have. You are the one that opens the door without being asked – you don’t hesitate to act to strengthen the larger community of life on which we all depend for breath because you know you are part of that same body. You are what’s important.

And what’s important is Earth – it is our common ground and our greatest teacher. On it we can stand together and flourish – or divided we can fall back into the soil which once generously gave us this opportunity for a plentiful life. Earth has given us what we need and taught us by writing its lessons into the fabric of who we are – like the need to strike a balance between give and take that’s written into our breath… and how all it asks in return is that we recognize that using that breath to cultivate fruitful relationships is what’s really important.

 

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Things That Matter – Can we work together toward a better world?

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Episode 0001- What is a realistic approach to move us forward as a global culture?

There are a lot of ideological systems throughout the world. We absorb them, as well as our behavioral values from our family and local culture. Many of these cultural idea-behavior profiles conflict with others. Some cultures appear to get along with others despite differences, others – not so much. Some express behavioral values that conflict their stated beliefs and completely miss the hypocrisy – so what we say and do might not line up – but the bottom line is – some of us behave in direct opposition not only to each other, but against the common good of the world. We will explore “Why is that?” AND – “Is there anything we can do about it?”

Biology is The Song The Cosmos Sings

0060-CosmicSongThe behavioral characteristics of biological structures rhyme. From the relatively simple single celled organism, to the entire biosphere there is an echo of form and function on widening scales. Behavioral characteristics at one level in the structure ebb and flow in a wave pattern at other levels.

Each cell inside our body has a skin in the form of a semi porous selective membrane. The membrane is geared to sense, communicate and negotiate relationships with the internal and external environment. These relationships are aligned under such purposes as sensing and responding to the environment, communicating with neighboring cells, letting in nutrients, expelling waste and defending against pathogens that might disrupt the function of the cellular system. The larger organs in our body have these same principles of form and function embedded in them. The external parts of our body including everything from skin, eyes, ears, anus, hands follow the same principles of form and function expressed at the cellular and organ level. The structural ideas reflected at the core are echoed in a rhyming pattern throughout our biological system. We are, in effect, a song written in the fabric of space-time and matter-energy.

If we widen the lens, this same rhyming aspect of form and function echoes outward beyond a single organism. A species develops a skin. Human communication itself is largely based on abstract membranes we call words that form the effect of a skin around a concept. Tribalism is the description of a cultural body that is also an ideological, ritualistic and sometimes geographic or resource driven skin. Expansionism and assimilation is the same principle as eating and digesting external resources. Religion, government, business, and professions as well as academic disciplines also develop this same skin like attribute within their structure.

Of course skin is just one of the many form and function aspects of a biological system that are echoed on many scales. The point here is not to outline all of them, but to describe the rhyming process itself and use it as a platform to gain some insight into ourselves. If we turn our eye toward understanding our nature with any degree of accuracy we must concede that we are far more a reflection – an echo – of the form and function of nature. The more we understand the depths of that communication made to and through the cosmos, the more able we are to navigate with intention through the waters she defines.

What if Our Behavior Mattered More Than Our Talk

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Each of us is cultivated in the ideological soils of our family and culture. This is what we become familiar with. As this familiar set of ideas takes root it becomes the rudder that steers our vision and in many ways our life. It also extends its tentacles of influence outward to affect the people in our sphere of influence.

On broader scales our vision of the world shapes the relationships we have with each other and the environment. It can ultimately set in motion irreversible sequences of events that, once we cross the event horizon, we lose control over. Carried by their own momentum, we become spectators in our own lives.

Sometimes what we become familiar with and move with intention to preserve is toxic and contrary to what we need as a global community. How do we find a vision that extends beyond our narrow cultural endowments and embraces this larger body of life we are both in and inseparably part of? Perhaps the first step is to value how we treat each other more than we value what we may have learned from our local environment.

A Life Worth Living

Eye

Music is a universal language that resonates in human beings. This is because it resonates with the rhythms inherent in biology and physics. These are the concentric wombs of rhythmic relationship that cultivate not only who we are as children of the universe, but who we can be if we don’t miss the meaning of the universal song – that if we sing together in harmony, using our different instruments to harmonize toward a unified purpose, we then cultivate our fullest most satisfied potential. The nourishing network of relationships that define harmony and order is what we are composed of and what we hunger for in our native state. Finding the balance is our chief task from breathing and eating to sleep and wakefulness, to the rhythms involved in raising young and connecting them to the larger community of life to reverberate the chords we struck on their heartstrings.Nourishing each other in the context our needs is the heart of the community principle. Every cell in our body tells us that this is the way to be fully nourished and fulfilled. We would do well to listen to this message resonating from this womb we call the cosmos.

Perhaps the hardest journey is for those of us who grew out of a disharmonious pit who then attempt to find our place in the orchestra – realizing that the alternative is locking ourselves in a perpetual reflection of that disharmony from which we came – swallowed by desire for retribution until we realize we reverberated the sour chords struck by others and never found and gave voice to our song – and in so doing, we robbed our self of our greatest gift, which is to overcome adversity without the life sapping sting of vengeance diminishing that victory. Socrates said; “the unexamined life is not worth living” Perhaps a more accurate view is that the unexamined life is not lived at all.

 

Where are you on the journey to finding your voice in the choir?

A Different View of Reality

Reality

Photo credit: nualabugeye

The fact that nothing unreal exists lays at the foundation of a realistic view of reality. Although we can dream up castles of verbal abstraction that aggressively step beyond the bounds of reality, every expression we actually translate into a real event is inseparably bound to the possibilities and limitations afforded to us by reality – plus and minus nothing. The fact that boundaries exist at all tells us the only way we can navigate effectively is to understand the possibilities and limitations of reality with clear vision. It can be a tricky business to recognize, much less utilize all the possibilities in the engine by which we move through this cosmic stew. Multiple layers of influence interplay to produce a delicate symphony of behaviors that constitute a system. Systems are the linguistic expression of reality. When wishful thinking, false assumptions or ignorance govern our perspective, it comes with a side dish of ineffective navigation – a prison without walls that traps us in an unsatisfactory state of poverty. To explore reality on reality’s terms, we must leverage clear vision to develop a better understanding of ourselves and to use this understanding as the map with which we can navigate to a more satisfied state of being.

If we look at the spectrum of philosophies that craft the current assortment of lenses humanity navigates reality with we see that they range from partially open to virtually shut. Some of us see a deep and narrow perspective. Others see a wide and shallow one. In order to craft a lens that renders a true picture we must use extreme caution not to be too liberal or sparing, neither can we allow obstructions to transform clarity to chaos. The lens that is best suited to the task of seeing reality in its true form is reality itself. Because of this we must unflinchingly question the foundations of every assumption we hold without respect to tradition, authority or personal experience in order to have our best shot at a clear image.

With all of this it is clear that something fundamental is missing from our typical view. While most recognize that reality is a statement of possibilities and limitations, the key point often missed in this is that reality is a statement. Reality communicates. To understand reality’s voice we need look no further than the relationship processes through which it expresses itself; systems. The language of reality not only speaks to us about the possibilities and limitations with respect to who we are and what fulfills us, but we are part of the conversation. Here is one example:

As biological creatures we are inseparably dependent on a delicate balance of very specific relationships both within our numerous biological systems and between those systems and the external environment. Both our internal and external relationships must be tuned to nourish the various biological processes toward a narrow range of conditions in order to be satisfied.  Imbalance in the relationships we depend on to be fully nourished can damage or destroy the system. A wide variety of internal elements such as light, space-time, atoms and molecules, cells, and organs as well as external elements are involved in the process. We ride on the wave of a complex community of specific cooperative interdependent relationships. How well or poorly we cultivate this communal environment on which our biology depends defines what we experience as life.

One of the clarion calls speaking through the fabric of biology is that of community. Each of the various elements of relationship we depend on in our overall biological system requires a particular set of relationships with the local environment in which it resides – a community. A brain cell cannot continue to function as a brain cell if it is outside the communal womb of other brain cells. This same context of relational dependence on community exists at all levels of biology. For instance, as human beings we depend on specific kinds of social contact in order to realize our most nourished and satisfied state of being. It is only when we are connected to the whole context of nourishing cooperative relationships that we are then able to effectively navigate to our most satisfied state of being.

When we explore the fantastic spectacle of relational communication pouring out of reality we soon see that the primary means of expression is through systems. Galaxies and stars all the way to atoms and sub atomic particles are elements of relational systems. Biology, ecosystems and social relationships of all kinds are also examples of systems. Whether these systems maintain integrity or disintegrate depends on the tapestry of relationships within them. The same way our individual cells must operate in the context of their place in order to contribute to the community as a whole, each of us must find our place in the community of the larger body of life. This is the cornerstone to finding ourselves, and our fullest measure of fulfillment.

Nature Calls, but do we Listen?

Sodium Chloride Crystals (NASA, International ...

Salt crystals. Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

We can learn a lot from nature if we tune our ear to the frequencies through which the language of nature is spoken.

The element chlorine is very hungry for relationship. It’s rarely found unattached. It typically is in relationship with other elements but in some cases it is in a free form state. In this unattached state, chlorine in high concentrations is very poisonous to biological organisms.

Sodium is a soft, silvery-white, and highly reactive metal that, like chlorine, is a very relationship hungry element. If a chunk of sodium comes in contact with water it reacts violently as it binds to the oxygen in the water and releases the hydrogen. If the water and sodium sources are large enough the heat can also ignite the hydrogen ejected from the reaction and cause an even more violent reaction spewing molten bits of sodium. In high concentrations sodium in its unattached form is damaging to biological organisms.

Both of these elements alone are harmful to us, but together in relationship sodium chloride forms salt, an essential ingredient for biology. Sodium helps us regulate our blood volume, blood pressure, hydration of cells and a host of other tasks that are essential for the proper functioning of our biological systems. If we understand this message pouring through the relationships that define nature, each of us is like a bit of sodium or chlorine; destructive or harmful by ourselves, but essential and valuable when we work together in relationship with the right partners. Finding our place in the context of the larger community is of high value, even essential, and being isolated from our place in the natural order is as damaging as sodium and chlorine are in isolation to biology.

Powerful messages actively pour out what we often consider mundane and obvious events. To properly unlock the value of this communication we must understand that communication is part of everything there is, but decoding that communication as it is intended is a matter of recognizing how the language works. Nature communicates through behaviors. If we fail to recognize what is being spoken or if we ignore nature as our guide we are also blind and powerless to both our limitations and our full potential.

The Value of Understanding the Whole Context

Dan Ariely speaking at TED

Dan Ariely speaking at TED

The meaning expressed through a musical composition cannot be fully understood by ever more detailed examinations of the nature and character of individual notes or segments of time within the whole composition. While a greater understanding complex systems can be extracted by this method, ever greater focus also has limitations and understanding can actually reach a point of negative return. Detailed examination of systems crosses a boundary where the greater detail with which the system is examined, the less the system as a whole is understood. A fact that often goes unnoticed among us; the more detailed our focus, greater role assumption plays in filling in the gaps of understanding the whole context of which that focused part resides.

If we use a translator such as translate.google.com, the English sentence “Meaning can quite easily get lost in translation.” becomes “Significado bastante fácil perderse en la traducción” in Spanish. If the Spanish is then translated to Arabic it becomes يعني من السهل جدا أن تضيع في الترجمة, and if this is translated back to English it becomes “Means very easy to get lost in translation.” An important point is that the loss of meaning, which is not too severe in this case, happens whenever things are translated. If we were to hear someone without a full command of English speaking the sentence “Means very easy to get lost in translation.” we might not be able to fill in the correct gaps to accurately get back to the original meaning.

Although we tend to believe what we see, if we begin to honestly examine all the places where we fill in the gaps to form our perceptions, we can begin get a better grasp on how much humility is appropriate on the certainty with which we carry our beliefs. One example of how this works is in vision. In crude terms, our eyes are stimulated by various frequencies of light. This stimulation is translated by special cells and specialized proteins into signals that are carried through the optic nerve and pathways to the occipital lobe portion of our brain. This portion of our brain translates the signal into what we perceive as vision, but this process also involves many translation steps where missing pieces are filled in along the way. For instance; our peripheral vision is color blind, there are specific blind spots in our eyes, and our brain essentially bridges one scene to the next when we move our eyes by filling in the blurry gaps. We experience a continuous color image, but that is because of a “filling in the gaps” translation effect, not because of accuracy.

If we were to place the inherent inadequacies of the means by which our method of perceiving the world exists, we can also see why some people hold ideas that appear irrational to others. We can see how tribal “in group”, “out group” divisions emerge in social environments. In fact, we can also see how culture and division emerges throughout the world, each division thinking it sees things clearly and all other views are false. We can also see how it is possible to be removed from the context of the whole in such ways that our individual positions could easily be irrational at the same time they look completely normal and correct to us.

To illustrate this more clearly, let’s ask the question; “Why are so many of us more concerned about such things as a new TV, taxes, or the stress of traffic in the context of a world where 16,000 children die of starvation every day?” The answer is not as simple as “we don’t care”. A starving child crawling on a sidewalk next to a vehicle stuck in traffic would probably prompt most of us to get out immediately and do something about it. Why? Because there is much less lost in the translation due to its proximity. To understand this effect better we can look at the work of the Behavioral economist Dan Ariely. He studies the bugs in our moral code that arise due to the way we translate information. He applies it to better understand the often hidden ways we think it’s OK to cheat or steal, but it also applies to all aspects of our perception, culture and our experience of life. He calls the concept “predictable irrationality”.

Think of a person; lose sight of people, think of people; lose sight of a person.

The Work it is to Lead an Intentional Life

Flow of information in biological systems

The cellular melody that plays out inside of us repeats a common harmonious theme. At the same time our organs reveal that slight complementary differences within that framework powerfully contribute to the overall community of relationships that make us what we are, a biological symphony. Like the various instruments within an orchestra contribute their individual tasks, the unified whole is the result. Our biology has a need for nourishing relationships that are defined by this same principle, different tasks interacting within the community, but a unified and shared nourishing expressive purpose by all. Should the measures and verse that define us have expressions of discord, we experience this biologically as disease. Each part within needs to serve in the context of what best serves the whole symphonic community of expression.

These same biological principles are mimicked in our social relationships. To understand this in more pragmatic terms; those of us who were exposed to relationships that flowed in cycles of discordant payoffs tend to repeat these patterns on our adult social stage. In the late 1950’s Dr. Eric Berne developed a lens to look at the behavioral symphony of human social dynamics and how these patterns shaped our experience of life. He called this lens “Transactional Analysis”. He called the toxic social patterns “games” such as “now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch”, which are actually power plays we do on each other’s life typically because we learned them growing up.

Dr. Berne created a simple lens through which we can more accurately see that the relationship environment we grew up in has powerful implications on how we live our lives over all. He called this overarching theme that drives our behaviors and relationships a “Life Script”. A life script is a life plan that is sometimes unspoken and sometimes unbeknownst to the person executing it. This plan can run on toxic games that are directed toward a specific reward which is sometimes negative. He called the end result of these social dealings “payoffs”. We learn to cultivate these payoffs by be being attracted to, or repulsed by certain characteristics on our social landscape, and in our relationship dealings with ourselves, so that ultimately the symphony turns out the way it is scripted. The idea Dr. Berne had was to create a framework by which we could begin directing our lives more intentionally.

The thematic communication represented through our biology tells us a lot about who we are. It should come as no surprise that the social relationship environment we’re exposed to as we grow up strikes a chord that echoes on our adult social landscape the same way the development of our cells and organs defines how well or poorly our biology operates. If the relationship currents in our developmental environment were nourishing we can ride the currents, if not, we either work to swim against the current or flow down the drain.

The Government of Nature

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

If we turn our eye to explore the nature of government we probably drift to notions of a narrow band of people that can be loosely bracketed in terms of “the powers that be”. This is not the kind of government we will explore here. The idea here is to set our sights on nature as the fundamental form of government, the laws of which any human endeavor to govern is ultimately subordinate to – one way or another. To contrast the difference between human government and the government of nature, we can consider the following: A human government, either by tacit approval, outright policy or some combination of these could build a coastal city  below sea level. This city can be made possible with the application of resources such as civil engineering and the building of levies and canals to control the flow of water. With these endeavors the city can exist where it would not otherwise be possible. Here on earth, the law of nature asserts that liquid water runs downhill, and that sporadic storms will buffet a given geographic area from time to time. Efforts such as levies and canals can hold back the tides, but nature is the ultimate decider of whether or not human endeavors are sufficient. Nature, no matter what laws and actions we might undertake, is the ultimate authority. In other words; human endeavors of whatever order of magnitude are only effective to the degree that they are exercised within the bounds of the laws of nature.

The laws of nature are steady. They are self-assured – neither diminished nor exalted by scorn or flattery. They’re neither boastful nor modest. These laws that govern us communicate what is possible and what is not. Two key points we can draw from what is communicated through nature is that there are both possibilities and limitations. The key to unlocking the fullest of possibilities is to both understand and operate within the bounds of the laws of nature. The flip side of this is that ignorance, wishful thinking or attempts to violate nature do not, will not and cannot sway the outcome of events. Nature is faithful and cannot make exceptions. If we choose to ignore or fail to understand the faithful communication of the links between cause and effect that determines every outcome, we do so at our peril. It is possible to argue the nonexistence of gravity and attempt to prove it by jumping off a cliff, but our argument will fall flat at the bottom of the cliff. Ignorance of the laws of nature does not excuse us from being subject to them. Another aspect of nature is that it does not lie, so if our efforts are not within natural bounds, nature will still assert itself as the final and highest authority.

Biology is part of nature. It is a lens that emerges from the conspiracy of laws that govern the relationships within nature. This biological lens enables us to peer with more depth and clarity into the nature of that which we are in and part of. Unless we understand and adhere to these laws, our experience of life is diminished or destroyed. Under command of ignorance and deception we are ships adrift in treacherous waters. Under command of understanding and discipline we are able to move with intention toward the most satisfied state of being. In fact, the very nature of disease can be seen through a lens that looks at how well or poorly we adhere to the laws that determine our most satisfied state. Biology needs nourishment. In order to accomplish this biology needs specific cooperative relationships. If biological creatures such as us did not exhale carbon dioxide, then plants could not inhale. If plants did not exhale oxygen we could not inhale. Without this reciprocal mutually nourishing aspect of what nature communicates about fulfilling relationships we experience imbalance. Mutually nourishing flow of relationship is a recurring theme throughout biology.

Our cells must serve each other with nourishing value in the context of the community. So must our organs. Certain bacteria are critical to our digestive processes and they depend on us for life. The bee is friend to the flower, and the flower is friend to the bee, because they nourish each other with what they need for life. This male-female theme of cooperative nourishing relationships not only defines the process by which biology successfully operates, but it is the means by which nature reveals its character. The more we listen and learn from nature’s voice, the more capable we are to realize our most satisfied state of being. The more we align our human endeavors around these principles at every level from personal to global, the more we can realize our fullest most satisfied potential.