What Are You Really Attracting

by Lauren Kennedy http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

The ability to create is a an extraordinary gift. Creation is an integral and innate aspect of all consciousness. We are unable to hold, touch, see, hear, or measure consciousness with our five physical senses. But we can experience the results of consciousness. We feel it when we connect with something or someone deeply, at a point beyond our mental judgment of behavior or personality. We can see and hear the influence of it in the world and and beings around us. And we can touch it when we experience that inner voice, that inner knowing, that perfect flow, that creative urge, that imaginative idea, that impulse to be more, to expand. But, no, we can never measure it.

Consciousness is not the result of our brain, it is not dependent on our beliefs, it is not affected by our intellectual intelligence, it is not increased or diminished by external circumstances, and it is not concerned with our ego or our personality. It is the awareness behind our thoughts, the observer of our life experiences, the subtle urging toward honesty and virtue in intention and behavior.Consciousness is the space in which we integrate our experiences and create who we are.

Consciousness is our True Spiritual Identity, our Authentic Essence.

In recent years, Creation, manifestation, and attraction have become the focus of many spiritual philosophies and many techniques for growth. Creation and company are championed as the key to enjoying an abundant, happy life. We are told that, through our beliefs, desires and our focus, we create everything in our lives.

However, some interpretations of the process of creation or manifestation, sound suspiciously akin to control. Some experts claim that we create or attract everything – every situation, every circumstance, every person that we experience in our lives. They claim that we are entitled to do and to have everything that we want. We can have it all, even with the 24 hour time limit in a day. They say that we, ourselves, are responsible for any abuse, natural disasters, illness or negative events that we experience in our lives, because we have created or attracted them to us through our own negative beliefs, conscious or subconscious, and/or negative energy.

Furthermore, our creative powers seem to extend to controlling other life forms. They claim that nothing exists (except perhaps potentially) until we choose for it to exist, decide that it exists, and believe that its existence is real. And the most grandiose declaration of all, is the claim by some, that humans are responsible for the evolution of the Divine.

Attitude, Beliefs and Perspective are Influential

Without a doubt our attitude, our beliefs and our perspective influence our lives immensely.
A positive attitude can help us get through the storms of life. Our belief systems can enable us to recognize ways to benefit from seemingly adverse situations and to form new ideas for ways to avoid similar pitfalls in the future. An expanded perspective can allow us to see beyond our mere ego concerns, grant us some understanding of the larger picture, helping us to suspend judgment of situations, people, behaviors and creatures that we fail to fully comprehend.

Certainly, we are responsible for creating our attitudes, our perceptions, our intentions, our thoughts, our priorities, our degree of awareness, our integrity and our actions. And it is these aspects which are responsible, to a large degree, for how we experience ourselves and our lives. However, a formula for creating, arranging or focusing those aspects in a particular way, in order to guarantee that we will only attract the circumstances, situations, acquisitions, people, and achievements that we desire, is non existent. While we are responsible for how we choose to experience the situations in our lives, not always can we control exactly which situations they will be.

Universal Laws Guide Consciousness to Expanded Awareness

For that to occur, all humans would have to think, feel, believe, desire and conceive everything in the same way. And that would be quite a creative achievement since we typically agree on very little, from our favorite color to more serious matters. In addition, all the elements of nature would have to be under our complete control, and we would all have to agree upon the direction that control should take. And if we maintain our past and current status quo of priorities and behaviors, Universal Laws, created to guide all consciousness to ever greater awareness, evolution, expansion and experience, would have to be suspended when human desires found them to be inconvenient.

The Divine Creative Source initiated the movement of energy, guided by an intent towards expansion, diversity, experience, and evolution. This process has been unfolding, in accordance to Divine Guidelines or Universal Laws, since before the first single cell organism began its evolutionary journey.

Creation is the magnificent process by which the Universe unfolds and evolves. It is a cooperative process. The Universal Consciousness or Divine Source provides the energy/building blocks and the Guidelines for the Evolutionary Process, and consciousness uses that energy to recreate itself, experience its creation, and recreate itself anew. Consciousness uses energy and intent to evolve spiritually and physically in each moment.

Creation is the Result of Consciousness

Consciousness is the source of all creation. All physical form is the result of consciousness, not the other way around. And all physical form has some level of consciousness, hence some level of creative ability.

The gift of creation was not intended as a tool for humans to dominate other varieties of consciousness. Nor is it a tool for us to get our ego desires met , regardless of the cost. Our desires are the impetus or the carrot that propels us to reach higher, to be more than we are, to risk when we otherwise may not.

The Universe responds to the true essence of our desires. A poorly worded affirmation will not confuse the Universal Consciousness. It knows our heart, our desires, our needs and our true intentions, even if we are in denial. Yes, we will certainly manifest the essence of our desires, but the exact circumstances are not our personal domain. And it is the essence of our desires, plus our true motivation and intention, to which the Universe responds.

The Universe May Give Us what We Want, but It Always Gives Us what We Need

For example. Perhaps Joe wants to be a CEO. But what is Joe’s true motivation for wanting that position? Is it because he just loves the company and wants to lead it to excellence? Or is his true, innate desire based on his need to feel more important, or perhaps to feel powerful? The Universe responds to that innate desire, not the particular goal. Joe will attract situations into his life that can help him realize his innate importance, so Joe can finally Be and Feel important, no matter his circumstances. And he may just get that position in the process. He also may not. But the Universe will bring him the opportunity to realize his true desires. What he does with that opportunity is up to him.

If he becomes so focused on the goal that he chooses actions that are ruthless, dishonest or demeaning; if he has a hidden agenda behind his stated motivations or intentions; if his attitude is one of entitlement, one of disrespect for other people, creatures or nature, or one of judgment or apathy; or if he rationalizes actions that compromise integrity or spiritual principles; he may achieve his goal, but his true innate desires, empowerment and importance, will depend on retaining it. He will have failed to achieve the desire to feel important and empowered unconditionally. He will have failed to experience himself as important and empowered just for who he is. Plus, he may have created a new fear, the fear of losing that position, and the temporary fix that goes with it.

The opportunity to experience the fulfillment of our true desires depends on our actions, true intentions, and attitude along the way. When we have a single minded focus in pursuing our particular vision of our goal, we may over look other opportunities that would serve us much better. When we dismiss uncomfortable situations that arise in our lives as negative, not part of our own plan, or the result of our negative mindset, we may be turning our back on the very opportunities we attracted as the result of our true desires. The very opportunities, with the perfect ingredients to enable us to truly create our essential desires - if we greet them with awareness, honesty, expanded perspective and an open mind.

All Life is Endowed with the Gift of Creation but not over other Life, even less Conscious Life

Another area in which there seems to be confusion about the difference between control and creation is the claim that we control the existence of something other than ourselves, some other consciousness than our own, simply by making a decision about whether or not it exists. To assume that the trees, for example, which have been proven to have consciousness, don’t exist unless we believe, perceive or expect them to exist, is claiming that humans have the authority to banish other forms of consciousness into oblivion just by thinking them away. The stars that have died, exploding their guts into space, forging the elements necessary for the creation of life, existed long before humankind. So it seems unlikely that human beliefs and expectations are responsible for their coming into existence as a part of our reality. Although people use to truly believe that the world was flat, I am pretty certain that it was round a few hundred years ago, too. However, their fears and adherence to dogma, resulted in them experiencing a world that was flat, thus limiting their movement, their freedom and their imagination.

Perhaps, the notion that we are responsible, that we create or attract every situation, person, or circumstance in our lives is suppose to make us be accountable and feel powerful. But it is coupled with the following suggestions which often foster self blame and guilt. For instance, they suggest that we avoid any thought about or contact with people who are struggling or experiencing difficult circumstances in their lives so that we are not tainted by their negativity. They claim that since it was their own negativity that created the situation, it is up to them to change it. A difficult task if one is a subsistence farmer in a drought ridden area of Africa. Or it may burden someone suffering from a debilitating illness with an added sense of guilt, uselessness and inadequacy.

This line of reasoning sounds strikingly similar to the thinking behind the ancient Hindu cast system. It justifies and encourages apathy, judgment, and divisiveness. But Spiritual Advancement requires us to dedicate ourselves to tolerance, unity, humility, compassion and service. That is the Spiritual Evolutionary Path.

External Circumstances are NOT the Measure of Spiritual Advancement

The experts have taken their conclusions one step further by stating that people who are living a comfortable affluent life, represent individuals who are the most spiritually advanced. There are a few flaws and inconsistencies with this entire line of reasoning. First of all, wall street has recently demonstrated that not all wealthy people obtained their abundance by spiritual principles, so their level of spiritual advancement is in question. And there are other wealthy people who, throughout history, have done much worse than wall street to obtain or maintain their financial empires.

Secondly, since the experts state that there are no victims, that it is we who are responsible for every situation, any abusive treatment, every negative occurrence, I find it curious that they have failed to propose that all prisons be eliminated. According to them: we attract any wrong doing to ourselves; we are responsible for it; there are no victims. If there are no victims, there can be no criminals. We can’t have it both ways. Unless of course, we are talking about control, not creation.

A rather grandiose idea resulting from this philosophy is that we can control nature as well. If we are responsible for our situations and circumstances, then natural disasters must be included. Therefore we are responsible for controlling where and when volcanoes erupt, an earthquakes strikes, or where hurricanes form and travel. These so called “disasters” are essential processes for the Earth. Without them, the Earth would cease to be a living planet and would cease to support life as we know it. Our desires  frequently result in the destruction of nature and other living creatures, especially when we refuse to change our behavior, even as we devastate, disrespect and enslave the earth and her life forms.

Spiritually Advanced Beings or Humans Demonstrate Respect, Compassion,

and Tolerance for All Life (regardless of personal judgments)

Our reign of control on Earth, thus far, has been to the detriment of nature, other creatures, the Earth and even other humans. Now we want to control the Divine Process of Creation itself. Once again we are taking a bite from the fruit of the Tree of Life, with the mistaken belief that with the right knowledge, we can control our lives, the earth and the Universe, in a manner better to our liking. We have created a brilliant philosophy, that gives us the right and the responsibility to control Creation so we can avoid the forces, process, consequences and reality of the Divine Universal Laws.

While I believe that ultimately there are no victims, our current understanding, awareness and connection with consciousness on a spiritual level is minimal at best. We have focused on technological and intellectual evolution rather than spiritual. At our current level of spiritual and conscious evolution, we have yet to understand the intricate workings of the Universe, or even our own Soul. So we are pitifully under qualified to determine another person’s level of spiritual awareness, based on his external circumstances.

Take a person that is born disabled. Did they think negative thoughts in the womb to bring this condition upon themselves. Was Martin Luther King, Jr. responsible for his own assassination? Well, I suppose one could claim that. After all, he would never have provoked someone to kill him if he had just stayed in his place and kept his mouth shut.

And what about Christ. I imagine, during the time of Christ, the bishops also thought that their own opulent lifestyle and privilege were the result of their superior spiritual advancement. Hence, they felt totally justified when they conspired with the Romans to get rid of that poverty stricken rabble rouzer, who had the nerve to debate with them on matters of religion.

Many decisions are made at the Soul level, so in that sense there are no true victims. But to assume that a person can actively discreate their own Soul lessons, is putting the responsibility for their physical circumstances in the incorrect dimension.

However, I also believe that we can, in many, if not most circumstances, learn to improve our situation and we can always expand our attitude, perspective and awareness. But most importantly, by expanding our level of awareness, perception, intuition, tolerance, honesty and compassion, we can, without question, improve how we experience our lives and the people and circumstances in it.

When We Change Who We Are, We Change How We Experience Our Life

And that is the point of creation, on a personal level. It is ourselves that we are really creating and recreating. By changing who we are on a deep level, we also change how we experience our lives, and ourselves, in any type of situation.

Life is a grand adventure in creation and experience. It is an on going, ever changing, process of imagination and intention, expression and experience, creation and recreation, giving rise to ever greater awareness of spiritual consciousness in physical form.

Life’s purpose is to experience and express itself freely. Control and constriction are the antithesis of life. Expression lets us announce who we think we are. Experience is the window into knowing who we are actually being. Creation is the process of transforming ourselves into who we want to Become. Through honing the skills of honesty, awareness, and perception, we can better master the tools of imagination, honest intention and desire, enabling us to recognize and respond to the situations and experiences in our lives for the benefit of our conscious, spiritual evolution and life in general. We are much more than the sum of our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. And we are certainly much more than our visible external accomplishments and life station.

Without Fear, Courage would Fail to Exist

Without new and unexpected experiences, creations would stagnate for lack of motivation, new visions, insight, imagination, desires. Experience is the medium through which we know who we are being. Can you really know that you are courageous, if you have never experience and walked through your fear? Can you truly claim you are honest, that honesty is a priority, if you have never had to choose honesty in the face of loosing something you hold dear? Are you certain that you are a person who lives according to their truth, and with integrity, if you fail to take positive action, choosing instead to avoid knowledge of the situation. Are you being a person that lives according to spiritual priorities if you gaze off into space or nod in agreement, instead of speaking up and standing firm in support an innocent person, or against a policy, agenda, a plan, or some action that could result in harm to another – even if doing so may result in unpleasant consequences for you?

Do we look the other way when the corporate executive is involved in underhanded dealings or do we have the courage and integrity to face our fears and report the offense. Do we need to find someone or something to blame for an unpleasant experience or do we learn what we can, and move on. It is our responses to our experiences that express who we are. And our attitudes, our perceptions, our beliefs, our desires, our integrity, priorities and spiritual values are the qualities that determine who we are creating ourselves to become.

We can not avoid situations that would challenge our commitment to integrity, courage, or honesty and expect to experience ourselves as people who hold those priorities dear.. And it is those experiences that expand and evolve us at a deep conscious and spiritual level. It is those experiences that allow us to realize that we have become more. It is those experiences that give us the vision, the confidence and the desire to reach and stretch ourselves to a new, more evolved version of ourselves.

We can choose to remain comfortable and satisfied with our current state of Being or respond to life’s challenges and experiences with awareness, honesty, enthusiasm, integrity, and compassion. Either option is acceptable. Sooner or later, the impetus toward evolution will evoke enough discomfort to motivate us to move forward. We have free will, but the deck is stacked in favor of change and evolutionary momentum.

Our True Intentions, Motives, and Actions are the Measure of our Spirit

How we respond to our experiences is the measure of our spiritual growth not the success with which we control the situations we experience. Many of the greatest humans came to unpleasant ends, were not recognized for their excellence by their peers, or were dismissed as kooks. It is not what they accomplished, but who they were, the integrity and honesty with which they lived, the wisdom they courageously shared, the compassion they showed, and the humility that they demonstrated, which was their greatest gift to life.

Life is not a burden to endure, a game to win, or an unruly process which we must conquer and control. Life is an opportunity to experience who we truly are. Life is an invitation to participate in the evolution of conscious spiritual growth and to contribute to the unfolding of the Universe.

And while we are invited to participate in the evolution of consciousness, we have failed to receive an invitation to take over the evolution of the Divine. Rather it is the Universal laws, created by the Divine Source, that provides the impetus and the energy to propel us to ever greater conscious evolution. We are the waves, not the ocean. But we are also the drop which contains the ocean.

Our station in life, the situations and circumstances that we encounter, positive or negative, are not the measure of our spiritual or conscious level, advancement or evolution. The real gift of spiritual and conscious evolution is that we begin to experience the undesirable situations in our lives as waves rather than tsunamis. We experience more self trust as opposed to self doubt, clarity rather than confusion, intuitive solutions instead of forced logic that runs us in circles, a sense that we will be okay no matter what. No more looking for the other shoe to drop. Conscious, spiritual growth and evolution is demonstrated when we respond with awareness, integrity, honesty, authenticity, compassion and positive change rather then control, blame, fear, arrogance or entitlement, in even the most difficult situations.

When we use the creative process to express and to Be a more consciously and spiritually evolved human, our intentions and desires are in alignment with our Soul, with spiritual principles, with Universal Laws, and with the Divine Creative Process for the evolution and unfolding of the Universe.

We are free to choose control, but it will be to our detriment in the end.

Creation in Not a Competition or Race for More Goodies

Creation is cooperative. I create and sustain my life through accessing Universal energy, breathing the oxygen that plants expel, sustaining my body on the life blood of plants (or for many people, of animals). I experience myself through my interactions with everyone and everything in my environment. I create new life by the exchange of fluids with another human, and I utilize the earth elements in the make up of my body and in the items I use in every area of life. Those same elements were forged in a huge star at the end of its life, as it extruded its guts in a massive explosion. And it sacrificed its life, solely to be in alignment with the evolution of the unfolding, expanding, Supremely Conscious Universe through the Universal Laws created by the Divine Eternal Source of Life.

It seems that God, Yahweh, Allah, Divine Source, Universe, by whatever name one chooses to address the All That Is, has given extraordinary consideration to this Divine Process of Creation and Evolution and the Guidelines by which it unfolds. Perhaps we can relinquish our desire for control once and for all. Perhaps we can focus on aligning our own consciousness with that Evolutionary Process and according to the Guidelines that are in place.

Perhaps we can:

  • Accept the things we cannot change, (at least, in this point in time, with our current conscious, spiritual evolution)
  • Change the things we can, (but only by adhering to honest intentions and spiritual principles
  • Strive to know the difference, (which requires rigorous self honesty, courage, and connecting to that Authentic Innate Essence within.

November 21, 2010 at 11:34 pm 1 comment

Power – a Double Edged Sword

by Lauren Kennedy   http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

Power.  It is a quality that we covet. We admire and respect those individuals that possess power. We seek their advice and heed their direction. And we strive to acquire power for ourselves and eagerly anticipate an opportunity to use it.

We dread the thought of being powerless. And we typically feel pity or distain for those whom we view as powerless.  But power is a double edge sword. And it is one that we seldom use wisely.

So want exactly does it mean to have power?

Like so many words in our language, the dictionary has many definitions for power. But we are concerned with the ones that relate to “having power”. The following definitions would be applicable for our purposes.

  1. Control and influence over other people and their actions
  2. The ability to influence people’s judgment or emotions
  3. Political control of a country, exercised by its government or leader
  4. The authority to act or to do something
  5. A country that has political influence over other countries due to its military or economic resources
  6. A politically, financially or socially powerful person

The primary purpose of power, by its very definition, is to control and to influence what others do, say,  think or feel. It is the antithesis of freedom.

We use power to assure that we get the outcome that we desire. We use it as a intellectual club to manipulate,  intimidate, convince, and compel. We use it as a badge of authority to misdirect, justify, authorize, and control.  Power is a weapon in our hand, albeit one that is considered more evolved than brute force.

Sometimes we use power as a crutch. Power can  gain the respect and admiration of others. It can give us a false sense  of self confidence and importance. But the semblance of respect and admiration afforded to those in power is more akin to fear or envy of the power, not the person. And self confidence or importance that depends on power for it existence is an illusion.

Then there are those people to whom power represents a defensive strategy. They simply want to avoid being misused and controlled by others. They are weary of being labeled as weak, unimportant, or incapable. They no longer can tolerate  being invisible or disposable.

Understandable. Some would even applaud their newly found backbone. However, now they, too,  have joined the arms race. They too, have chosen force over creativity. They too, have decided that winning, forcing our desired outcome, is more important than the choices we make on our journey through life.

The arms race for power is just as dangerous as any other arms race. There is no finish line, except mutual self destruction, whether physical or spiritual.

Spiritual growth and evolution result from our choices – choices based in integrity and honesty. The frequency with which we achieve our goal, our desired outcome, or our level of success has little significance in determining our level of spiritual development  Many great leaders, teachers and prophets came to untimely ends and suffered indignities at the hands of people that were less spiritually aware but who had amassed more power.

These individuals, who valued principles above power, benefited humanity far more than the most powerful rulers, businessmen, or heroes. Their greatness arose from their choices, their honest motives, humanitarian intentions, their wisdom,  their true love and their non judgmental compassion for all life. They had no need for pledges of loyalty, honor or obedience. Nor did they choose to offer bribes or favoritism to ensure a following. Their sense of empowerment gave them the courage and honesty to make choices that were congruent with their beliefs. They lived, spoke and acted with integrity.

Personal Empowerment is the antidote to power.

We must change our priorities from power and control, to Empowerment within.  It fulfills our needs, supplies us with courage and confidence, never compromises another, and is not prone to misuse.

One of the justifications for the use of power is made by people who assert that their goals are positive. Or they claim that by acquiring power, they can make positive changes. And one of the favorite validations for the use of power is the declaration that the ends justify the means.

Let’s look at a few examples of the use of power to achieve righteous goals.

Most people in the Middle Ages considered the goals of the Crusaders admirable. They were going to save Souls, crush the non-Christian Islamic empire, and reclaim the Holy Land. That admirable goal resulted in tremendous carnage, plunder, the theft of religious items and the accumulation of an abundance of power and wealth for the Crusaders, if not the rest of the Christian populace.

In the end, the Crusaders were forcibly disbanded by the Royalty. The Royalty were aware of the great wealth the Crusader’s had amassed from stolen treasures and of their increasing power. The Rulers feared that their power over their subjects was being compromised. And they intended to bring the force of their still considerable might down on the Crusaders in order to maintain the status quo.

More recently, Law enforcement officers have also cut corners or manipulated the rules in order to convict a person that they believed was guilty. Many citizens often support their efforts, hoping to relieve their fears, silence their own sense of powerlessness, to mete out “justice” in the form of punishment, in order to quiet their own sense of powerlessness.

However,  the use of power as a means to an end, turned into a miscarriage of justice, in many cases. They used unethical tactics with impunity by wielding their power, authority and influence.  Such tactics often included psychologically coerced  false confessions, omission of information that may exonerate the accused, deliberate misrepresentation of evidence, and claiming something as fact that was not supported by evidence.

Thanks to DNA and advocates not intimidated by power, many people with life sentences or an appointment with death, were proven innocent.

These are just a few of countless examples of the negative results when power is exerted to insure a perceived noble result. Similar occurrences unfold every day. The concept that the ends justify the means, has resulted in many destructive actions.

So when is someone considered powerful?

Generally, we believe that a person is powerful when we think others consider that person to be powerful. They typically have a loyal group of influential people who support them and their goals, policies and agenda. They have carefully molded a powerful, personal image reinforced by a public relations expert to ensure the population view them as powerful and all knowing. Their public image is crafted to portray a person that is entitled to  admiration, respect, with unquestioned authority to carry out any agenda. And they are generally in control of substantial financial resources.

Our society admires and respects power, success, wealth and winning. That in itself, is not a problem. The problem arises when we value power over integrity. The problem grows when our respect and admiration is based on a persons attainment of power, control and success, instead of the quality of his choices, honesty, dedication, fairness, or understanding.

We admire a person that can win, that can compel the result that they desire. But we seldom bother or care to look into the methods he uses to grab that win.  We condone success at any cost.  If those in power propose something that sounds suspicious, self serving, or vague,  they can easily convince us that we lack the inside information to understand the intricate details of the issue or we lack the experience to interpret the multi faceted aspects and delicate factors of the situation. Since we have already put them on a pedestal, we respectfully concur.

We accept rationalizations from powerful organizations. We let corporations and governments avoid responsibility for their misuse of power. They smugly state that they have followed the letter of the law, when they know full well that they have abused the spirit of it. And we swallow that rationalization hook, line and sinker.

How does a person become powerful?  How do they acquire their authority, and their obedient following?

There is only one way for a person to acquire immense power. We give it to them. Yes, we give them power, our power. More and more we are turning the decisions for our country, for regulating our lives and for the planet,  over to corporations and agencies with long acronyms and vague descriptions.

This is not a reference to the current debate about big government. This is certainly not intended as a denouncement of improving our infrastructure or medical insurance.

This refers to the power brokers behind the scenes, who are twisting arms, providing the public with half truths or even false information. This is an indictment of the ruthless tactics, under handed deals and well placed bribes, that are considered common and acceptable, for the purpose of  achieving their hidden agenda, regardless of the cost to the majority of citizens, humanity and life in general.

Is Power really dangerous? Here are just a few examples.

Rockefeller behaved abominably during the time that the unions were beginning to organize. At one point, he persuaded the governor to rally the state police to stamp out the trouble makers. The workers lived in tent communities. The male workers had congregated in the woods far beyond the tent community. The police opened fire on the tent community, occupied only with unarmed women and children. The women and children could be seen scrambling to find some cover and could be heard screaming. But the gunfire continued. Needless to say, there were many fatalities.

Yet we name huge centers in his honor. And he is only one example of many.

We allow powerful corporations and their equally powerful management,  to be irresponsible and destructive. We look on while they continue to release poisonous gases into the atmosphere. We allow them to dump chemical waste into the waterways. And we show little concern while they bury cancerous waste products in substandard containers to leech their deadly contents into the soil and the water table.

We cease our feeble objection in the face of their propaganda, which typically sounds  something like this:  The expense of developing new energy sources, proper disposal and decontamination systems would result in soaring consumer prices plus elevated taxes. In addition,  in order to fulfill their commitment to their board members and share holders,  they would have to relocate to a country with more lax restrictions and  thousands of jobs would be sacrificed, along with substantial tax revenue for the area. This is definitely a power play, and one that, although hugely flawed, has been very effective.

We allow Wall Street to play fast and loose with the regulations and laws that apply to their business.   After the house of cards came tumbling down, instead of fines or penalties, the powerful were still able to award themselves juicy bonuses and the losses were passes on to the citizens. When restrictions and accountability requirements are mentioned, the powerful businessmen cried that it was socialism. Ridiculous. Citizen must follow the laws of the land, why should we exempt business entities from the same adherence to laws of fair trade and upright business practices?

Then we treat the employee who has the courage to point the finger at the dishonest practices of his powerful employer with more distain than the executives who were breaking the law. The employee is usually banned from his chosen field for the rest of his life and is viewed as a disloyal, dissatisfied, individual, rather than the courageous person of integrity that he or she is. In contrast,  the powerful offenders may spend a few years in federal prison, and upon release, they are awarded with a more lucrative and powerful position in their field than they had prior to being convicted.

Once again, our love affair with power is working its dark magic.

Yes, we give our power away. We give our power of discernment to others. We give it to people with hidden agendas, people who have a vested interested in maintaining the status quo, people who want to be recognized and important. And once we have given them our power, we give them our loyalty and respect because they are powerful.

But they only have that power because we gave it to them.

Hitler was powerful. But only after thousands of people said yes to the promise of a better life if they would support or ignore his condemnation  of the Jews. Was the Klan powerful? Only because a large population turned the other way at beatings and murder, then further supported them by refusing to convict the guilty parties.

Our notion that one person can gain  power and control over millions of unwilling citizens is ludicrous. We hand over our power. Sometimes, little by little, as with our eroding personal freedoms, and sometimes in unison by some unseen mutual consent, as with Hitler and the original Klan.

Certainly, after thousands of people pledge their support to a person or group, the few individuals who refuse to follow the majority are facing an uphill and at times a dangerous battle. But that result is due to the choice of the populace who continues to support the powerbase. Without that support, those in power would lose that power and the people would have nothing to fear. Except perhaps, their own fear of responsibility.

We try to ignore the danger of that double edge sword, but we still seem to get cut.

Those who desire power in order to control results and outcome, are not the type of leaders that will be responsive to the needs of the people, nor will they seek out new, creative, cooperative and beneficial approaches.

Are these really the types of people to whom we want to give our power.

Of course, there must be leaders to manage the complexities of our society and our businesses.  And those leaders have a tremendous responsibility and will require a good deal of support and cooperation. But aspiring to be a public servant in order to benefit the country or society is quite different than striving for a position to achieve power and to be powerful.

Becoming an astute business person in order to create a productive company that offers quality products and services to the public is a worthy pursuit. It is when profit and prestige at any price are the objectives, that power takes precedence.

When we honor someone by choosing them for a leadership position, we must expect accountability, transparency, honesty, communication and cooperation. People in  positions of leadership, need not be idealized or followed unquestioningly. Instead, we need to remember that we have honored them with those positions and they have an obligation to live up to that honor with integrity.

Martin Luther King was empowered. But he refused to wield power.  Never the less, he attracted large numbers of people with whom his belief of peace and equality resonated. His insight and dedication motivated others to sacrifice their own comfort for the cause of freedom.

Christ never sought to acquire power. He was critical of those who had, and misused their power. Yet, he attracted millions with his vision of peace, love, tolerance, forgiveness, and his wisdom and insight. His profound sense of empowerment strengthen his courage and resolve to express and live his truth, in the face of tremendous challenge and criticism.

Mother Teresa managed to get financial support for her goal of feeding, clothing and comforting thousands of people. She did it through her own sense of empowerment, dedication and compassion.

These people had no need to gain power, because they were empowered. They remained focused on their own principles, on their own integrity and their desire to improve the human condition. Instead of power, they employed creativity, insight, wisdom and appealed to the innate goodness of people rather than manipulate them by use of their fears and ego. They had no need to have power over others, because others were drawn to their message.  These genuine individuals attracted followers  by the honesty of their words, the depth of their compassion for humanity, the strength of their personal empowerment that they exuded. and the message  of truth, hope and integrity that they expressed and lived.  Power, control, manipulation, bribes, and agendas conflicted with their values, their message and their spirit.

In fact, blind obedience  and obedience based in fear are meaningless. Choice counts only if it is made freely and with awareness.

If we change our attitude toward the so called positions of power and the people that have them, then power, itself, would become obsolete. Those in leadership positions would be considered public servants, chosen for their character, honesty, ability, insight and integrity, as opposed to someone with power,  whom we must  follow, revere and submit.

There would be no power to grab nor to give away. We would no longer tolerate employers who bully, abuse and mistreat their employees. Instead, we would cooperate and support each other in our efforts to be treated with fairness and respect. With our newly developed sense of empowerment we would stand together, rather than lining up to be subjugated in order to grab the crumbs that are tossed our way.

Power is powerfully addictive.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Experiments have been conducted with normal participant, who were given power over other participants in the experiment. Some were given the role of guards and the other, the role of prisoners. The authors of the experiment had to stop it prematurely, because those playing the role of guards,  were quickly becoming abusive, physically and emotionally. These were normal people, corrupted in less than two weeks by power. And it wasn’t even absolute power.

We are doing a disservice to the people to whom we give our power. We are setting them up.  Few people can successfully compete with the eroding effects of power.

We can give our power away, hand over responsibility for our choices, allow someone else to bend principles so we can get what we want, without guilt. But no matter how much we may deny it, we are still responsible for our choices, our actions, our apathy, our judgments, and our power. No one is powerful until we hand over our power to them. But even in their hands, it is still our power and we are responsible for how it is used.  It is important to know the intentions of those to whom we give it.

But we must first have the courage to reject the worship of the double edge sword of power. Instead we must learn to embrace honest, principled leadership. Moreover, we must embrace and develop empowerment and courage within ourselves.

We can all become empowered.

That is the antidote to feeling powerless, helpless, to being a victim and to living in constant fear.  People who are empowered do not require, nor desire power over others. Empowerment is a quality within, rather than an external force. No one can take empowerment from us. But retaining power is a never ending battle.

When we give away our power, we are avoiding personal responsibility. We are hiding behind orders, blind loyalty, and ignorance. Each of us is responsible for our own decisions. We can not claim innocence while ignoring injustice, and choosing personal security over truth.

Swords, regardless of the original intention, kill. And so does power. It kills our sense of personal responsibility, it kills our courage, it kills our freedom.

Unless we change our priorities, the power wars will continue, and the losers and non participants will remain casualties.

We must replace our need for power and control, with the choice to become self empowered, the courage to be personally accountable, and the insight to value integrity, unity and cooperation.

Personal Empowerment is the antidote to powerlessness and the foundation for courage and freedom

April 8, 2010 at 1:31 am Leave a comment

Striving for Greatness – a fool’s errand

by Lauren Kennedy      http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

We spend our lives trying to be more than we are.  We are totally focused on becoming successful, important, respected. We strive to be great.

I used to work hard to be super woman, to be all things to all people, except myself. I thought being responsible meant fulfilling everyone else’s expectations and all the shoulds they had for me. I thought I had to be stoic, never cry, never ever get angry, never give myself a break.

My chronic illnesses prevented me physically from being super woman anymore. I had to find my true self within. I had to embrace my own worth.  And I learned that I had to start caring about myself, allowing time to be responsible for my own needs, feelings,  and desires, because no one else was going to give me permission to take care of myself.  I had to decide to value myself, regardless of the guilt trips others wanted to send my way.

I had been seeking my Purpose since I was 12. But I have realized that the reason that it had eluded me was because I looking  it to be something grand (or grandiose). I have discovered that the times when I helped someone the most, were the times I was just being myself, being true to myself, doing what I felt was needed at the moment.

It was when I was connected to my essence, not immersed in my own quest for greatness, being spontaneous and following my intuitive guidance.

We never know when our interaction with someone may make a huge difference in their lives. That is why we need to practice awareness and living in the present moment. Then our response will come through us from our true essence, our spirit, our heart, (rather than our ego) and then it is always just what is needed.

As long as we are striving to achieve more status,  to be more important, to be more respected, to be more successful, it will never be enough. We will never feel complete. Only by practicing being more aware, more present, more connected to our true self, and then expressing our true essence in order to experiencing life (pain and all) fully, will we feel whole, special, and valuable.

April 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

Limitless – What Does It Really Mean?

by Lauren Kennedy http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

Google the Law of Attraction and you will be presented with nearly limitless options from which to choose. But the majority of articles and experts will offer you similar interpretations.

For the most part, we are told that:
1.We can create the life we desire if we discipline ourselves to focus on only positive thoughts and feelings.
2. Our choices are limitless and we are limitless.. Struggle is unnecessary.
3.We can attract anything that our mind conceives and our heart believes.

It is a message that is very attractive.

Most interpretations claim that through applying the Law of Attraction, we can acquire whatever we want, everything that we want. We are limitless and struggle is the choice of the uninformed. Furthermore, nothing can occur in our lives without our consent, vibrational consent. We only have to avoid negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and choose to instill positive ones in their place. Then we will attract the means to attain our every desire, compliments of the Universe.

We are limitless. We are told that if we experience otherwise, it is because we have claimed our own limits, have chosen to be irresponsible and have made excuses for the results that we had attracted in the first place.

But let’s expand our focus for just a moment.

Can we jump off a cliff and not be smashed by the consequences of gravity? Can we fore go sleep indefinitely? Can we walk through walls, control others prejudices, deflect a bullet?

No? But aren’t we limitless? I have no doubt that there are some evolved humans who have mastered the physics of overcoming these physical laws of earthly existence. However, they, at least presently, are in the minority and are equally beyond needing any of the knowledge that the most acclaimed spiritual teachers or experts could possibly provide them.

Many readers may counter with, “Only a moron would suppose that the Law of Attraction included physical laws.”  (However, that brick wall is really a form of energy. The experts of the Law of Attraction claim that all energy is always required to conform to the bidding of our conscious thoughts.) Never the less, walking through a wall is for most of us, at the level of our present evolution, a physical limitation.

However, many situations that people encounter in their lives, can also result in the experience of limitation, albeit, not quite so solid or obvious. But the Law of Attraction, as interpreted by many experts, takes a different view.

They consider difficult situations, struggles and challenges to be merely excuses – the repertoire of individuals with a negative mindset or victim mentality. Since a negative mindset creates such situations, the experts dismiss them from qualifying as valid limits in our lives.  But the impact of theses situations and obstacles, coupled with their inherent pain and challenges,  is ever bit as solid and debilitating as that brick wall.

Consider the following example of difficult situations in which some people find themselves.

People who are wheel chair bound , no matter how much they believe in their own limitlessness, will probably have to modify their dream of being a professional dancer. People who have chronic health issues with symptoms of constant pain or debilitating fatigue, would be hard pressed to work even 8 hour days, much less put in the required time necessary to climb the corporate ladder.

Many circumstances that can be extremely challenging for individuals are readily dismissed, not only by the experts, but by a sizable portion of society in general.

People with mental health diseases are faced with a variety of debilitating symptoms that complicate every aspect of their lives. These types of diseases have been proven to be genetic in nature. In order to have been responsible for attracting the genes that case these conditions, they would have had to entertained negative thoughts at the moment of conception, the precise moment that they came into physical existence.

Single parent’s, especially if they are stuck in a minimum wage job, with young children, can barely make ends meet, even working two jobs. If they put college on their to do lists, in order to improve their lot in life, and their kids get in trouble due to lack of parental supervision, at whom will society point the finger?

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of being a single parent, here is an FYI. Childcare for one child costs more than it does to rent a modest, two bedroom apartment.

Are we really comfortable claiming that all people who find themselves in these situations are demonstrating of victim mentality? Will we readily embrace the interpretations of the Law of Attraction which assert that the people who find themselves in the above or similar situations are solely responsible for their circumstances? The experts claim that it is the individual’s weak mindset, laziness or an unwillingness to help themselves, that is the exclusive cause of their circumstances. Are the experts really qualified to judge an individual’s character or level of adherence to Universal (spiritual)  Laws, based only on their personal observation of that individual’s outer circumstances?

Without a doubt, personal responsibility is essential if we want to improve our lives. And a positive attitude goes a long way toward improving our perspective, our choices and our experiences. However, making a character judgment (weak, victim mentality) based on a person’s difficult life circumstances or current situation, is similar to claiming that a person infected with aids is being punished for amoral behavior.

This notion,  if bad things happen to you then you must be bad, is archaic and self serving. Excuse me, negative is the preferred word I believe, as if there is really a difference. The basic judgment is the same, at least vibrationally. More over,  the repercussions of this judgmental attitude, for the individual and for society, are definitely not positive.

The proclamation that we are limitless does a polar reversal when it is presented and interpreted in a way that minimizes, discounts or judges the individual, his circumstances and his struggles. The seeds of confusion and self doubt are planted and fertilized when people  most need to believe in the limitless nature of their spirit and in their ability to create a fulfilling, meaningful life, in spite of their situation. These are the times when people most need to experience the limitlessness of human compassion, understanding and support, qualities that seem to be conspicuously lacking in most expert’s dissertation on our limitlessness, and on the Law of Attraction.
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In spite of their individual hardships, there are many determined people that continue to strive for that brass ring. And they follow the prescription of positive mindset, focused intent, determination, discipline and envisioning their goal. However, recognition, power and wealth continue to elude them.

But the popular interpretation of the Law of Attraction, and the experts’ opinion, could not possibly be wrong.

So they have come up with an eloquent solution. They determined that the individual’s utter defeat was obviously the result of their own refusal to change their negative beliefs, especially the unconscious beliefs.

Splendid catch 22.

Tell me this. How is one suppose to ever identify these negative beliefs when we are being directed to only think positive thoughts and feel positive emotions?

Another possible reason that is cited for our failure, is our insatiable need to know what is happening in our country and the world. The media is poisoning our minds with negative stories about the casualties in the war, the starving in Africa, the escalating hate crimes in this country and abroad, and the disaster in Haiti.

These unsettling events would produce uncomfortable emotions in any feeling human. Thus we are told to avoid knowledge of them. Better to stick our head in the sand than to feel a twinge of concern about one’s fellow humans. Besides, the rationale goes, these people obviously attracted these dreadful situations and this callous treatment themselves, hence they must learn to control their thoughts and take responsibility for their beliefs.

Then apparently, their crops will grow in spite of the drought, they will mysteriously receive a timely job transfer to another city before mother nature unleashes a new adventure in survival on their city, and they will know when to stay indoors and avoid the mean spirited folks who wish to beat them into submission.

Hence, we are directed to avoid anything that may negatively influence our positive thoughts and feelings. How can we be expected to risk our positive mindset for those unfortunates who obviously refuse to control their negative beliefs, unconscious or not. (No one seems to be volunteering to show them how this is done, however.)

Although the typical interpretations of the Law of Attraction judge the character of the unfortunate, they extol the character and virtue of the successful. Many experts assert that people who have acquired wealth, power and success are models of character, integrity, superior mindset, positive thinking, self discipline and focus. And they actually say this with a straight face and claim it is a fact. They encourage us to model the successful folks in every area of life.

They have actually created videos for those of us still in the process of envisioning our success. These videos provide affirmations for us. They extol the superior integrity, character and mindset of the wealthy. And then they encouraging us to validate and confirm our respect and admiration of them. A nice ploy to increase the influence, prestige and powerbase of the wealthy and powerful.

Idealizing the rich and successful as examples of character, positive mindset, discipline and importance sends a message that is both deceitful and debilitating. Deceitful because we only have to look to the recent past, (wall street CEO’s, bank executives) to see that character is not a required quality to acquire power and money. Historically, some of the wealthy in this country have taken actions that have cost hundreds of individuals their lives, figuratively and literally. Yet, they are remembered with respect and admiration because they achieved wealth and power.

Perhaps the suggested practice of avoiding negative information has given the experts a distorted view of the wealthy. Or perhaps it is merely self delusion.

It is debilitating, because if one has not reached that pinnacle of power and wealth, the implication is that one lacks these qualities, or at the very least, lacks determination and importance. What a good way to keep the peons in their place. Convince them that they lack what it takes, evidenced by the fact that they haven’t achieved it.

Without a doubt, there are many successful people who are the image of positive thinking and character, and whose contributions have been vastly beneficial to countless people. However, many people who remain in difficult situations, also possess character, integrity and are supremely positive, possessing mental and emotional fortitude. Suggesting otherwise is highly judgmental, and also reeks of discrimination, bias and bigotry.

Yet, the popular interpretation persists that the Law of Attraction provides a guaranteed spiritual formula for acquiring wealth, power, and success. Possessing  wealth, power and success is evidence that one is applying this spiritual formula, and has therefore also acquired spiritual principles and have developed a superior mindset.

Complete control over one’s life is simple: positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs, single minded focus, frequent visualization and presto, the universe complies with your every desire.

Mission accomplished.

Alternate Interpretation of the Law of Attraction

We are, in fact,  limitless Beings with limitless potential. But while in physical form, at this time and in this dimension, we are subject to some limits. We are unable to grow a new arm. If we are unprotected, we will most likely freeze to death in temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Here’s another fact. We are unable to have or to do everything at the same time. (those physical laws again) Sometimes by choosing character and principles over compliance, (or over sticking my head in the sand), I may forfeit a promotion. Focusing on my goal, to the exclusion of all other distractions, will affect my relationships. Meaningful relationships, (not just romantic), require commitment, honesty, focus and time.

Big goals and dreams require significant sacrifices, and sometimes difficult choices. The Law of Attraction does not eliminate the reality of living in the physical realm. You still can not have your cake and eat it, too. ( Perhaps if you eat it in your sleep and thus do not consciously observe it?)

The concept is no different than eating two cheesecakes a day and expecting to lose weight by positive thinking and visualization.

Sometimes we are faced with choices that can affect our goals and dreams. If I compromise my priorities and principles in order to achieve wealth, position, or power, at what am I really successful? I am a white collar con artist at best and a white collar wise guy at worse.

Justifying apathy and avoidance in the name of protecting ourselves from negative thoughts and feelings, is not spiritual or prudent.  It condones our tendency to put appearance, power and control above unity, support and understanding. Cultivating a true positive mindset is attained maintaining a positive attitude in the midst of negative situations.

Avoiding information that illuminates problems or suffering in the world, will not make them disappear. And one day those same problems will expand to touch our own lives, no matter how deeply we have immersed ourselves in our own positive world. Exploring possible actions that may alleviate the causes of suffering, sharing information and knowledge with our fellow humans to enable them to improve their lives, or developing an attitude of compassion, understanding and support, for all life, will raise the consciousness of the human species and result in a more positive world for all.

Many of the popular interpretations of the Law of Attraction have missed the message.

The Law of Attraction is about empowerment. It is about our right to an abundant life. It is about pursuing our inner truth. It is about expanding our perspective rather than judging our experience. (You see? It’s not the news that is negative, it is our judgment of it.)

Although we may experience limits, challenges and circumstance which we view as unpleasant, we do, in fact, have limitless potential. We may be unable to jump off a cliff and fly like a bird, but we have achieved flight, none the less.

We can create a fulfilling life in spite of, (and sometimes because of) difficult circumstances, extreme challenges, or catastrophes. However, to get from where we are to where we want to go, (in reality, it’s about how we want to feel ), we must make changes and develop new choices.

But we are impotent to change what we refuse to see.

We must acknowledge and accept what is. We must honestly evaluate and identify our particular situation and yes, limits, in order to discover ways to work with or around them.
Simply deciding that one’s chronic disease and symptoms no longer exists because it is a self imposed limitation, and consequently challenging oneself to perform as if one is healthy, will frequently result in hospitalization at best. It is also denial of what is. And denial is a form of resistance. And yes, what we resist, persists.

If we refuse to objectively seek out information, we lack the ability to make intelligent choices. When we intentionally ignore negative emotions, choosing instead to silence them by grasping at pleasant thoughts, we are missing out on the priceless guidance that our feelings provide.

Focusing on the message in the emotion is very different from becoming immersed in it or lamenting and judging the person or situation that triggered it. Knowing the trigger will not fix the situation but it can enable us to expand and change our perception which will result in new choices, based on the present rather than as a reaction to the past.

The universe and life do unfold according to Universal Laws, yes, plural. And our beliefs, conscious and unconscious, do have a powerful influence on our perceptions, choices and actions. But contrary to popular opinion, intellect is not king. We are limiting rather than expanding our spiritual evolution when we put our thoughts in charge of our Being. Intellect is dangerous without the balancing effects of compassion, unity, feeling (not the same as emotional reactions), and wisdom.

The Law of Attraction, as other Universal Laws, are spiritual guidelines to encourage us to reach for our potential, to inspire us to imagine and dream, and to give us courage to live our lives with passion in the pursuit of our true, inner purpose.

The way in which we perceive and experience the situations we encounter is within our power. That is our choice. And it is that choice which is at the heart of our limitless potential. It is our experience, rather than our accomplishments that are limitless.

It is through embracing rather than avoiding life’s experiences that we experience our potential, and the limitless nature of our Spirit.

March 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm 1 comment

The Cancer Without and Within

By Lauren Kennedy      http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

At the dawning of the twenty first century, disturbing reports of questionable behavior were beginning to trickle out  from various sources, despite organized efforts to suppress, conceal or spin. The inherent trust and respect that we have customarily  granted certain elite organizations, government positions and prominent businesses began to waiver. Over the course of several years, distressing revelations repeatedly exploded into public awareness. Reactions were varied: feelings of betrayal, confusion, anger, and fear were countered by efforts to rationalize, excuse or deny the obvious misconduct.

The first hint of betrayal oozed into the media, tarnishing the image of a long revered establishment. Powerful, wealthy and  the premier voice of authority on issues of morality, the Catholic Church was now on the defensive. The clergy -  Priests, Bishops and Cardinals had been harboring priests who were engaging in child abuse. They were actively protecting the offending priests from prosecution, by repeatedly relocating them to new unsuspecting parishes. The priests,  viewed with reverence and unquestioning trust from their parishioners, and had ready access to the most vulnerable amongst them.

Mounting evidence recently  exposed gross abuses in the use of executive powers. The politicians countered with justifications, alleging that they were misinformed, and claiming that they had acted solely in the best interests of the United States.

Taken with their own self importance, they concluded that fulfilling their personal agenda and/or beliefs, was more important than complying with executive restraints.  They expertly concocted galvanizing speeches, neatly spinning  propaganda, false information  and omissions designed to elicit an emotional response and convince us to support their hidden agendas.  Authoritative discourses by government elite, reminded us of our vulnerability and our patriotic duty.   We were duly motivated by a campaign of emotional manipulation to approve and support a war based on rhetoric and personal agendas.

But they went further still. They fed our terror, and in the name of protecting our form of government, they passed amendments and laws that infringe on our personal freedoms, our privacy, our dignity and strip away some long held constitutional rights. We overlooked the contradiction, accepting the rational that to protect the freedoms inherent in our democratic form of government, we must approve laws that limit, infringe or strip us of many of our constitutional rights and personal freedoms. We were fed, and happily swallowed a diet of fear, revenge, and blind patriotism.

Then came Guantanamo. Reports of torture, violations of human rights and disregard for the guidelines of the Geneva Convention surfaced. Then came accounts of individuals who were snatched off the streets and held incognito, without charges, without phone calls, for an indefinite time period. Interestingly, most of these reports elicited little public concern. Although, we have been quick to condemn human rights violation in other countries, we preferred to overlook them in our own. Finally the political climate began to shift when, over our justifications, some of the countries that we consider our allies, reproached our conduct. And for good reason.

Many of the techniques used at Guantanamo were previously identified as war crimes during the Geneva Convention. The manor in which prisoners were to be treated and the techniques that constituted inhumane abuse had been set forth in specific guidelines. The United States was instrumental in writing, approving and supporting this agreement. At Guantanamo, painful, humiliating and dehumanizing conduct was evident in some of the video recordings:  for example, prisoners were instructed  to lay naked on the cold cement floor, on their sides, one up against the other, while intimidating guards stood over them shouting out abusive, derisive comments in between their laughter, jokes and amusement at the prisoners obvious humiliation and powerlessness. Torture was routinely inflicted without formal charges and certainly without conviction.

In addition,  a psychologist, posing as a supportive individual whom the prisoner could trust,  would discover the prisoner’s greatest fears and helped to design situations that would maximize his terror. If you were afraid of insects, you would be put in a dark room, on the cold floor,  with insects placed all over you.

Individuals were abducted here and abroad, never to be heard from again. Sometimes the individuals only crime was having a second nephew who was a suspected terrorist sympathizer. Now there’s a scary thought, being arrested for the suspected views of a distant family member.

The most recent revelation affected our pockets. Powerful corporate executives’ single minded pursuit, to secure massive profits and satisfy share holders, tipped the country into financial mayhem. This was not an overnight occurrence. Corporate conglomerates have been wielding their power and gaining preferred treatment at an alarming rate for some time. They convinced congress to pass deregulation on their loans and financial dealings. They have lobbied successfully to minimize the regulation of the pollutants that they pump into the air, the water and the ground. They are gaining support  to access protected land in Alaska to drill for a small amount of oil, in the midst of concern about global warming.

Corporate supporters cry socialization when any government restrictions are suggested. Wait a minute. Citizens’ conduct is regulated by governmental laws and no one cries socialism. Why aren’t corporations subject to the same laws of civilized conduct?

In addition, they pay a pittance in taxes, while earning huge profits.   By default, they have transferred the tax burden of the country to the citizens. When called into question on their conduct,  their excuse is we haven’t broken any laws. Thanks, no doubt to deregulation. Since ethics appears to be an ineffective motivation for some corporations, logic dictates that they do indeed need some governmental  regulation.

Then we were further outraged when these same corporations received bailout money from the government. This is an understandable reaction. However, if the large corporate conglomerates fail, it will not be their executives that suffer from the economic collapse. It will be the millions of working Americans that lose their homes, jobs, pensions, health care,  hope, and respect.

By allowing corporations to expand and operate without checks and balances, they are in a position to hold the country and its citizens hostage in their pursuit of profit and power. Gratefully, our founding fathers were wise enough to include a system of checks and balances in the governmental structure. It would appear that only the corporations have unfettered reign.

Without doubt, all of the actions of the main contributors in these situations acted out of pure self interest.  They used their power, respect, wealth, and influence to mislead,  to deny, to blame, to whitewash and to protect themselves at the expense of others. They considered themselves too important to be governed by the law of the ordinary citizen. They felt no obligation to be truthful with the public. They felt justified in obtaining their goals, regardless of the obstacles. And if they had to lie or ignore ethical behavior to do it, well, their power and success gave them that right. They felt entitled to pursue their goals, agendas and judgments in order to insure that they remained at the top of the heap.. Their power and importance made them a cut above the masses, in their own opinion and also that of many others.

As negative as their behavior may have been, we also must accept responsibility for this  pattern of disregard for the law and for others . If we want to avoid a repeat, we must ask ourselves: How were these organizations and the individuals in them, able to behave for so many years, in ways that we have now proclaimed as unconscious? How were they able to mislead us? Why are many of those individuals that are responsible for aiding and abetting still in positions of authority and influence rather than facing criminal proceedings?

What do all these situations have in common?  As a society, we bought into the rhetoric. We confused material abundance and external power with integrity, wisdom and character. We let others tells us what was best for us, rather than researching, thinking and taking responsibility for ourselves. And we mistakenly believed that our social position rendered us powerless, less capable, less knowledgeable and less worthy.

Our own perceptions and priorities are largely responsible for this quagmire. We idealize the wealthy, powerful or famous. We assume that because they are skilled at making money, influencing others, or gaining recognition, that they are somehow superior in every respect. Being successful in business has no correlation to superior intelligence, self discipline or stellar character.

Sadly, we do not seem to have the same respect or the desire to emulate those people who devote time and energy to social issues, to giving others support and a hand up, to conservation, or to animal rights. We may say, “That’s nice”, or comment about how dedicated they are, but that’s just lip service. In contrast, we flock to see the rich, powerful and famous in person. We consider them to be more knowledgeable, more important, more deserving, and just plain better than those who are not in their class.

I can not count the times I had heard a newscaster, the police, government officials make the following comment when a violent crime occurs in an affluent neighborhood. ” You would never expect something like that to happen in this neighborhood.”

Why? Since when does power, prestige or wealth render a person incapable of violence? Why do we think that a successful image, wealth, and respect means that an individual also possesses empathy, self control, a peaceful nature, and a high ethical standard?

White collar crimes affect many people but the consequences are negligible in comparison to the sentences doled out to common criminals. A third time shoplifter, even if they steal one pack of gum, can receive more prison time than many of the executives that participated in a scam that led to millions of the public’s dollars stolen. They even use a kinder word – misappropriated. It was in fact stealing, same as the shoplifter.

Although we may be angry at the results of their actions, we do not have the same contempt for them as we show other criminals. Our perceptions clouds our reason.  If a thief breaks into someone’s home and steals their valuables, we want to lock him up and throw away the key. However, corporate greed has frequently, robbed people, not just of their valuables, but of their livelihood, their pensions and their dignity. And no insurance policy will cover that loss. And still they are rarely viewed with the same distain as other non violent offenders.

By contrast, the courageous people who report the misconduct of their company do not gain our respect and support. Instead they are black listed from obtaining work in their profession. They are labeled as ungrateful employees, non team players, betrayers. They suffer the consequences of standing up for their beliefs for years to come. But the companies and the corporate executive are slapped on the hand, only occasionally receiving a couple of years in a federal confinement. And after their release, they are rewarded with a new lucrative position in another corporation.

The clergy was also idolized. People looked to them for answers, for forgiveness, for salvation. We equated the piety and wisdom of the priest, the pope or their equal in another denomination, with our own level of spirituality. We believe that by virtue of their position, they had a more direct communication with the creator. And when they were shown to be less than perfect, many people suffered a personal spiritual crisis.

Spirituality is in each humans heart and soul. It is the life energy of the creator within us. Only we can choose to make it a priority to know the divine within. We choose whether or not to express our highest spiritual nature through our honest intentions, our choices, our actions, and our compassion. Our spirituality is not based on who we choose to follow, but by our clarity and courage to hear, discern and follow that small still voice within.

The ten commandment, our churches doctrine, societal guidelines, the current laws of the land, can give us a sense of direction. But we can also use them to appease our guilt and avoid personal responsibility. If I adhere to the ten commandments and the law of the land, I can rationalize overlooking injustice, justify ulterior  motivates and personal agendas, and claim that dishonesty in business  in no way makes one personally dishonest.

Appearance and image take precedence over true personal accountability. The image that we present and sell becomes more important than who we are and the qualities by which we live. The values that express true Character, integrity, personal truth, non judgment, acceptance,  and unity may become a hindrance to maintaining the our image, position, or wealth. We compromise our beliefs and values and justify this by saying that we are just being realistic.

We also use rules and loyalty to abdicate our personal responsibility. I was just following orders. I was being loyal to company policy. I didn’t break any commandments or  the law or church doctrine . It’s not my fault. I was misinformed.

By employing this tactic, we may be able to save face and even turn the situation to our own advantage. We may even gain public respect. Many of the Godfather’s had quite a lot of public respect and support. But respect does not translate into character. We may succeed at fooling ourselves into believing our own hype. But we can not fool the Universe, its laws or our own soul.

To avoid making decisions based on faulty information, we must learn to think for ourselves and act with objectivity. We never questioned the false information that propelled us into war. We wanted revenge after 911. We wanted to eliminate our fear and vulnerability. So we did not evaluate the information we received. We wanted someone to blame. And the former President handed us the culprit on the golden platter of propaganda, revenge and patriotism. And we were hungry. We were not overly concerned about whether the culprit we were punishing was the responsible party.

Our own fears and feelings of powerlessness resulted in our allowing ourselves to be used and manipulated. Others used those feelings to fuel our misconceptions. They used our respect for their image to convince us to listen to them and not ourselves.

Society, government, corporations, etc have  conditioned us to believe that wealth, power and influence  is synonymous with freedom, safety, importance, belonging, satisfaction and security, (qualities that are our birthright).  So we encourage our children to strive and compete to become a member of this elite group of people that we perceive as the cream of humanity. If our children make it to the top of the heap, we assume that they will  experience happiness, possess exceptional character, mindset and courage.  They will no longer be subject to the fate of those poor huddling masses.

We want our children to be happy. Our responsibility as parents is to teach, support and guide them to develop a sense of responsibility, self efficacy, independence, self worth, and  the courage to “Thine own Self be True”. However, our own fears,  insecurities, and desires get in the way. Instead of encouraging them to develop honesty, personal truth, compassion, thoughtfulness, tolerance,  and respect for all life, we stress the importance of acquiring social status, material wealth, influence, respect and power. And so the conditioning continues.

But material wealth and power alone, do not result in lasting happiness, freedom or satisfaction.

The entitled,  powerful, and wealthy have a secret. And they do not want you to discover it. Some of them are also motivated by fear.   Success wealth and power have enabled them to create the illusion that they are more intelligent, have more self discipline, dedication, higher character and  more worth, in short, that they are superior to others. The public has eagerly ascribed to this notion. But having created this illusion, they are now imprisoned by it.

They realize that their respect, influence, and entitlement depend on perpetuating this image, the wealth and power. Without those props, their illusion of greatness, superior intelligence, dedication and character dissolve. And so does their advantage.

For the wealthy and successful whose sense of self emanates from within, from who they are Being, the loss would merely be a disappointment, not a catastrophe. Their character, wisdom, courage, inner truth and respect for life will sustain them. However, for the rest, desperation sets in.

They are compelled to give themselves huge raises and bonuses, expediting the company’s slide into bankruptcy. They rationalize stashing funds in foreign non taxable bank accounts, shifting the tax burden to the masses.  They lobby, coerce, leverage or bribe politicians to pass or repeal laws to legalize unethical actions. They now use bankruptcy as an administration tactic so they can pressure employees to take cuts in salary and pensions even while they increase their own, and pay millions in lawyer fees in order to push the envelope further still.

If their image is tarnished, if their wealth is compromised, if their power and influence is lost, so to is the automatic respect and trust, their importance, their privileges, and their identity. Those who do possess true character, may feel the sting of disillusionment, that although they are the same person, they do not receive the same respect.  But beyond that, their self worth, identity, and enthusiasm for living are intact. Those who confused power with character will be left  with the bitter aftertaste from the loss of their misguided sense of entitlement.

When we  depend on externals to define our sense of worth, value and self, we are never free. We will never experience the full richness of our Being. We will always be running as fast as we can to get what we need, to keep what we have, and to make certain no one else get more than us.

Please understand, I advocate abundance, material, emotional, mental and spiritual, for anyone who desires it. And there are many individual in position of influence and success, that are people of character, integrity and compassion.

But the crucial point is this: one has little to do with the other.

Wealth, power and influence does not imply superior mindset, greater character or heightened intellect. Just as the lack of material wealth, external power and the ability to control others,  in no way reflects a lack of integrity, courage, character, intelligence, determination, self discipline or compassion.

Frequently, even when we are no longer fooled by the rhetoric and image, when we realize that true personal success may or may not include wealth and power,   and when we have learned to recognize, discern and trust  the still small voice within, we may still feel vulnerable and powerless in the face of the powerful. David may have slew Goliath, but we question if our aim will be as good or our method as effective.

We must remember, it is not the result of our action that demonstrate character, courage and integrity. It is our true intention, our compassion, our honesty and our courage to be true to ourselves that reflects who we are and who we want to become.

When we ascribe characteristics, values and honor to a person based on their image, power and influence, we are helping to create a false illusion and dishonoring ourselves.  When we allow our fears and outrage to determine our choices, we must rationalize our decision with the ends justify the means. Pledging allegiance to a concept, enforcing it blindly instead of applying the essence of the concept to each situation, results in decisions that are unjust. And when we allow our spiritual connection to the creator and the responsibility for expressing our highest personal truth to be controlled by the religious icons, we are betraying our highest responsibility.

Our greatest freedom results from trusting our intuition and ourselves. Our greatest growth results from being aware of who we are and who we want to become.  And our deepest fulfillment results from courageously expressing our truth in each new moment as we constantly change and evolve.

That is what feeds our soul, empowers us and gives us courage in the face of fear. Listening to that still small voice within, requires dedication, accountability, awareness, and courage. And sometime it requires that we take that lonely road less travelled,  the path to happiness and personal freedom.

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June 11, 2009 at 12:29 am 7 comments

Criminalizing Morality

By Lauren Kennedy    http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

This morning I was enjoying the luxury of lying in bed and drinking my coffee. The kids were, gratefully occupied, and I was contemplating if I could put off going to the grocery for one more day. There’s actually plenty of food, but the items that my children like have been consumed. The television was turned to the history channel, and while I was deciding if staying home was worth the complaining I was certain to hear, a documentary on prohibition aired.

As I watched, my thoughts about the obvious parallel between the effects of the 18th Amendment (prohibition) and the government’s current war on drugs were again confirmed.

The proponents of prohibition intended that the 18th Amendment would mandate that the public adhere to the moral values and principles that they, themselves did. They sought to elevate the moral fiber of the masses.

But Prohibition not only failed to improve the public moral fiber, but set the stage for increased violence and organized crime. Prior to prohibition, the gang were unorganized, unsophisticated, and marginally profitable.

The process of producing, obtaining and distributing liquor created the need for organization and teamwork. And the thirst of the American public made the enterprize well worth the effort of cooperation. Thus organized crime was born.

With the advent of organized crime, murder, violence, police corruption and tax dollars for fighting them rocketed. To maximized their profits, mobsters cut the liquor before it reached the public, just as drug dealers do today. Some of the alcohol was just diluted, but some gangsters added toxic substances to enhance the flavor and the kick. This resulted, as it does today, in many consumer fatalities.

Finally, even some of the original proponents of the 18th Amendment, realizing that it didn’t have the desired effect, called for its repeal. The American public rejoiced. But the mobsters were in mourning.

The war on drugs has produced parallel results in nearly every way. Increased violence, street gangs have become organized, organized crime has partnered with banks to launder money, and corrupt police or government officials aide in the import of contraband. People die from poorly cut products. In addition, due to the high cost of illegal drugs, consumers have resorted to theft, forgery and prostitution to pay for the drugs, making up 70% of the prison population. Alcoholics seldom have to resort to criminal acts because their drug of choice is legal and thus much more affordable.

Tax dollars are spent on this war. Tax dollars that could be levied on the substances if they were legalized, are being lost. Some undercover agents have become indistinguishable from their suspects. Is this working?

Educating people about the dangers of drugs is next to useless. Has the cancer label on cigarettes stopped many people from smoking? When one is in emotional pain, health concerns take a back seat. And emotional pain on some level is the basis for addiction, not the substance. I knew many people, some of them lawyers and judges, who used cocaine. Not everyone who used became addicted. They were akin to social drinkers, they were social users. One does not become addicted to pain medicine because their doctor wrote them a prescription. All prescriptions for pain medicine have directions that state “as needed.” If you take it when you are not in physical pain, it isn’t the doctor’s fault. Many people take pain medicine on occasion without it resulting in addiction.

In a free society, by definition, only laws necessary to protect the public from harm from another person, organization or business are appropriate. Laws protecting people from themselves are an invasion of privacy and laws protecting people from their fate in the hereafter are in violation of separation of church and state.

But the real lesson here has little to due with drugs, alcohol or laws. It is the world’s need for tolerance and compassion. It is feelings of alienation, powerlessness, and worthlessness. It is the negative consequences of judgment and punishment. It is the feelings of inadequacy, the perception that to be important and respected one must fit into a narrowly defined image, role, or segment of society. It is view that only positive feelings are acceptable. It is valuing material success and power over valuing individual purpose, allowing spontaneity, and honoring principles. And it is making goal achievement a priority over experiencing life as an adventure and a journey.   These are some of the issues that leads to addiction, all addictions. It leads to gangs. It leads to teen suicide.

In a free society, legally mandating moral behavior is unacceptable, and it doesn’t work. It didn’t work during Prohibition and it’s not working now.

April 18, 2009 at 6:29 pm 1 comment

Worth is Not Measured in Dollars or IQ

By Lauren Kennedy   – http://www.InsitetoExcellence.com

I frequently shop at Krogers. Their plastic shopping bags are rather small and extremely thin and weak.  If you put three cans in one bag and pick it up too quickly, they will bust out the bottom of the bag.  Any item that has square corners, quickly tears a gash in the bag. And my kids are anything but careful when they bring in the groceries from the car.

Time and again, I have said to the baggers, “Please do not make the bags full or heavy.” But my request always seems to fall on deaf ears. After a glass jar of applesauce fell through the bottom of the bag and smashed all over my driveway, I decided to bag my own groceries.

The baggers always look a bit confused when I tell them that I will bag my own groceries,  but at least I get all my items in the house in one piece.

The other day, I was once again standing in  line at Kroger with a cart full of groceries.   I had spent two hours in the doctors office to get treated for asthmatic bronchitis and another hour waiting for my prescriptions to be filled. By the time it was my turn to check out, I just wanted to get back home and lay down.

So when one of the baggers came to help me unload my cart, I was relieved to have some assistance.  Instead of telling him that I would bag them myself, I just ask him not to pack the bags full or heavy, expecting the request to once again be ignored.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Finally, I wheeled out the cart load of groceries with my last bit of energy.  As I put them in the car, I realized he had actually complied with my request, and he had also packed cold food with cold food, and non food with non food, something that I had completely given up on ever getting done.

A job well done deserves acknowledgement. So I thought I would go back into the store and give him a tip. I though that  tipping might be against their policy. So I asked the manage if I could tip my bagger because he had done a wonderful job. She said, “Oh, you mean David? Isn’t he sweet?”

David happened to be one of their employees that is mentally challenged. (I believe that is the proper term.)

I replied, “Well, yes he is sweet, but I want to tip him because he is the only bagger in two years that has ever packed my bags the way I had asked for it to be done.”

But no,  tipping is not allowed. She said that a compliment would mean just as much as a tip to him. Hmmm. Even if someone is sweet, he can’t buy anything with compliments.

Since I could not tip him, I found him and paid him a compliment instead.  He actually hugged me.

What do You Value?

As I trudged back to the car, feeling a bit lighter,  in spite of the  congestion and fatigue from the bronchitis, I reflected on our priorities and values as a society.

We reward intelligence, but it  is conscientiousness and thoughtfulness that demonstrate  character.  We idealize the wealthy, expressing  disbelief that a violent crime could occur in their high class neighborhoods, and if so, the perpetrator must have been an outsider. We respect  the successful executives, while we penalize  the corporate whistle blower who risked his career for having the courage and integrity of his convictions. We unquestionably give credence, our trust and our loyalty  to people with power and prestige.  To a person that is compassionate and honest, we  give platitudes, isn’t that nice, isn’t he sweet, but they remain insignificant for us unless they also have status.

Given our priorities, we can hardly blame wall street for their actions.  A as a society, our values, the qualities we most respect and desire, are wealth rather than honesty, success rather than integrity , and power and prestige over fairness and compassion.

But it was David,  not those wealthy, successful and powerful individuals, who created a bit of sunshine in a rather long and trying day. David, rather than dismissing my request, as the more intelligent individuals had done, actually listened.  In addition, he demonstrated superb reasoning and conscientiousness when he bagged the cold foods together, non food items together, and produce together. Unlike the other baggers, he realized that putting fresh fruit under a can of soup, was not a good idea.

Yes, he was sweet, but he was also capable, caring, conscientiousness and valuable.  Character, integrity and value are independent of wealth, status or power.

Each of us is important, no matter our level of intelligence, status or wealth.  We each  can touch others’ lives in our own unique way. We can choose to remain self involved. Or we can choose to be aware and present to each moment and to the people that show up in it. We can choose to cast our judgments, rationalization, and fears  aside, and respond from the urgings of our heart and spirit.  You can never know when that one caring word, act or gesture may be the motivation that changes the course of someone’s life. Or puts a ray of hope in their day.

I may still slip David a tip.

April 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm 4 comments

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