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Daily Wisdom: Joy (Chiyut)

Chi Gong

By Marc Gafni

From Your  Unique Self:

Joy is your life energy. Joy is a by-product of Unique Self living.

Joy, as we have seen, is realized as the natural by-product of the passionate pursuit of something other than happiness.

What is that other thing that you pursue passionately that is not joy, that is a by-product of its pursuit? Of course, you must pursue virtue, goodness, integrity, depth, values—all necessary, but insufficient to give you joy. It’s not just virtue, goodness, integrity, and depth that you need to pursue; you must pursue your virtue, goodness, integrity, and depth, that is to say, your story.

Joy is a by-product of Unique Self living.

The Chinese taught us that joy is chi, joy is energy. In Hebrew mysticism, joy is called chiyut, which means “vital energy,” or “life force.” So both the Chinese tradition and the Hebrew mystical tradition use virtually the same root word to allude to joy.

Photo Credit: Chi Gong by I’m Daleth

Critics cool to new film about Aung San Suu Kyi, citing a “cult of personality.”

Aung San Suu

By Joe Perez

ThinkProgress commentator Alyssa Rosenberg poses a challenging question for filmmakers: how do you capture sainthood in a story told on film? In her comments on Luc Besson’s The Lady, a biopic on the life of Noble Peace Prize-winning pro-democracy dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, she says the movie is flawed. She seemed to enjoy the movie more for the performance of Michelle Yeoh and its aesthetic, not its storytelling.

A large percentage of critics also found the movie lacking, according to the Rotten Tomatoes website, but there were defenders of the respectful and dignified tale of the Burmese national heroine. A top critic for NPR, for example was one of the most severe critics, saying that the film is hagiographic: all in favor of “a cult of personality” and which “nominates her for the sainthood.”

Alyssa highlights the key tension:

How do you tell the life story of a saint? In the old days, the formula for a Christian hagiography was simple: isolation, a hint of torment, prayer and the timely intervention of God. But when the saint is Buddhist, and Burmese, and has a husband, you make something rather more like Luc Besson’s The Lady

It seems to me that movie critics today — professionals, bloggers, and audience members alike — don’t quite know what to do with a story about a saint. Popular culture demands black and white portrayals of morality, heroes who stand up for principle, and (like comic book characters) are endowed with super-human traits and only permitted modest flaws.

I don’t think it would have made the filmmaker’s job any easier if Aung San Suu Kyi were Christian rather than Buddhist; she defies conventions in a way that people appreciate in the abstract but find difficult to relate to in the concrete. Critics lack a worldview which proclaims the divine dignity of each individual, personal unique selves with unique shadows equally fascinating. Having disowned their own sacred essence, they resent it when people are portrayed with their own sacred essence intact. It just seems too immodest.

Those who attack The Lady as sanctifying a “cult of personality,” lack awareness that in certain times and places, it is only through the efforts of strong-willed and admired personalities that the work of peace happens. Burma did not experience progress because abstract forces of evolution worked dialectical miracles; it progressed because millions of people faced difficult decisions and made personally courageous choices.

Until I see the movie I can’t wade deeply into the critical discourse. But I want to strongly highlight that the challenge faced by these filmmakers is an increasingly important one to be navigated in our times. We simply must find ways of understanding human stories as great mythic epics, simply lived stories as grandiose spectacles of human nature and destiny. Ours is a time for claiming the divinity formerly given only to mythic gods and owning its reality here in each of us, present in our Unique Selves.

The unfortunate fact that telling our story in such a way will lead to critical dismissal as a “cult of personality” is just one of the risks we all must bear when we tell our spiritual autobiographies. We have the choice to be the heroes of our own stories, and when we tell the adventure tale of our lives, it need not be about personality, but about character and Unique Self.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The narrative of conscious business


By Marc Gafni

Note: Marc Gafni recently participated as a guest scholar at the Conscious Business Conclave at Esalen. Here is an excerpt from Marc’s reflections on the urgent priority of articulating a narrative of Conscious Business. In Marc’s words, there is no World Spirituality that does not include the spirituality of the workplace.

The world of business is becoming one of the great cathedrals of spirit. Businesses are becoming places in which meaning can be created, in which mutuality begins to happen, in which intimacy and trust become core values, in which the expression of one’s unique self as part of a larger context becomes a reality.

Capitalism is the force that has lifted humanity out of poverty through voluntary exchange. Communism tried to life people out of poverty through coercion, but wound up killing 17 million collective farmers in the Ukraine and countless millions elsewhere. Business has lifted more people out of poverty than any other force in history. That is so shocking and so powerful that it makes you sit up in your chair and say “Oh my God! Could it be that evil corporations are actually responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other single force in the history of consciousness and the history of the planet?”

What does it mean to lift people out of poverty? It means babies not dying, it means mouths being fed, it means girls going to school and getting educated, it means a response to slavery that never existed in the world before. It means that all the values of the great traditions get enacted on two levels: by ending the physical oppression of poverty and by opening a gateway for human being to be able to experience genuine growth with spiritual, emotional and personal evolution.

We need to bow deeply to business, which initially did all this unconsciously. Lifting people out of poverty was never the conscious intention of business; it was the by-product of a business well enacted. Now business is awakening to itself and becoming conscious. It is recognizing that it is a force with enormous power and responsibility. By becoming conscious, it can do what it does even better, creating a tide that lifts all boats. It can create more community, more mutuality, and paradoxically, more profit, by engaging everyone in the system. That is exciting!

Business and the Great Traditions

Business is the force in the world that is actually accomplishing the goals of all the great traditions. What a paradox! Every major value of the great traditions is fulfilled in business: intimacy, trust, a shared vision, cooperation, collaboration, friendship, and ultimately love. After all, what is love at its core? It is the movement of evolution to higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union and embrace.

The core principle of capitalism is the expression of mutuality between people – the voluntary exchange of value. That mutuality is the cultural force of transformation and healing that is lifting people out of poverty in a way that the great traditions were never able to do. Business enables large bodies of people in voluntary mutuality to work together for a higher purpose, which is to create the prosperity that enables people to live, to love their children, to create a context to grow morally, spiritually and socially.

The great traditions, which are beautiful and from which we have received so much, thought in terms of charity, which is a one way gift from the haves to the have-nots. That was essentially the technology of the great traditions. Business moves us beyond the arbitrary split between the haves and the have-nots, between giving and receiving. Business understands a deep truth of evolutionary mysticism, which is that giving and receiving are one; at their core, they are the same. Business enables a mutuality in which the giver is receiving and the receiver is giving; there is no split between giving and receiving. That deep momentous leap in consciousness has created the most potent force of social transformation in history.

Evolving the Narrative

Narratives are the stories that infuse our life with meaning. The narrative of business matters greatly, not only to the business community, but to virtually every human being. The majority of people on planet earth are working in some form of business. But the dominant narrative about business is that it is greedy, exploitative, manipulative and corrupt. Since that is the story being told, the majority of human beings on the planet experience themselves as furthering and supporting exploitation, greed, corruption and manipulation. When people experience themselves that way, they actually begin to become that way. They think, “I’ve sold out. This is what I am. Isn’t it a shame that I didn’t open a soup kitchen? Isn’t it a shame that I didn’t become a volunteer worker in Sudan?”

But the true narrative is that by participating in business, they are creating prosperity through productivity and lifting people out of poverty. They are creating stable conditions for families to be raised, they are helping build communities that can create schools, they are creating places for people to exchange value and meaning and relationships and intimacy and trust. When people realize that they are part of the largest force for positive social transformation in history, their self-perception changes.

We must awake to the reality that business has the ability to change the self-perception and the self-narrative story for most of the human beings on the planet. We thought that was the role of psychology, but it’s not. Psychology can only deal with the broken pieces of people living in a society which pathologizes their core activity, which is business. We must change the essential narrative of business to make it an accurate reflection of the transformative impact of business, its true identity as the great healer. This is not a kind of Shangri-La vision; it is an accurate narrative of conscious business which should become internalized by the majority of citizens of the planet who are engaging in business. It is a huge and dramatic paradigm shift that actually shifts the very source code of our self-understanding.

Thomas Hübl asks, “What is humanity’s new story?”

By Joe Perez

What if we didn’t meet other people filtered through their stories? Spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl says:

First of all we learn to look through stories. Too much is attached to stories. We are holding stories. What we need is people who are more free to see what is actually happening. We are constantly looking for something that will keep us more safe. A new story will keep us more safe than the old story. But it’s just an illusion, because the new story will be a new stuckness later on. We don’t need more stories. We need people who are more here without stories that can see each other…

See the whole video.

I deeply appreciate Thomas’s perspective, but the idea that we need more people without stories rather than people with new stories because any new stories are going to eventually crash, doesn’t exactly speak to what I think of by “being awake.” My vision is one in which we need each other and honor our stories, pre-modern, modern, and post-modern.

Story is fullness. Abandoning story is abandoning fullness. The dance between fullness and emptiness is where the really juicy spiritual practices are happening today.

As it comes out in this video clip, Thomas is pretty much a True Self teacher (and a beautifully articulate one), not giving voice to a Unique Self vantage point. In the Unique Self understanding of enlightenment, humanity’s new story is one we are collectively writing together, immersed in its partiality and incompleteness.