September 3, 2017
Leadership in the Ascending Cycle
Bill Isaacs: I thought this would be a valuable moment to take stock. This is the time of year, at least in the northern hemisphere, when people are reassembling themselves after their summer vacations. They are getting ready for work or school, for new tasks and new adventures. It also happens to be a time of year in some spiritual traditions when new cycles begin and others end. This fall also marks a moment eighty-five years ago when a mentor of many of us had a series of realizations that initiated a particular cycle of transformation, one that has led us to this very moment.
To take stock for most people means typically looking at the next few months or years and also looking back at what one has done in one's life. I would like to suggest we step back a bit further from merely examining personal cycles.
We are part of an intelligent living cosmic whole, one that is intricately coordinated and interconnected, beautifully and intimately designed. We need only look at our own physical body to see and appreciate this fact. There are accelerating developments in science these days that outline and articulate the unified and coordinated nature of the cosmic whole at both micro levels and macro ones. But one can become aware, simply through experience and reflection, of the vast range and limitless dimensions of the wholeness that is present. The immensity of the cosmic whole is not merely an external reality, but an intimate, internal one as well. Each of us participates in Undimensional Being. It is our nature, we could all say, the truth of what I Am.
At the same time I am sure we are well aware that the human world does not reveal the fullness and beauty of this living whole. There are different and competing origin stories in human consciousness across many different cultures, all seeking to explain, or in some cases rationalize the very evident gap between the magnificence of Life and the human experience of it. Whatever these human stories or explanations claim, people realize that there has been a departure and devolution from the potential we all carry, that things are not what they could or should be.
Over the past several decades developments in technology and the economy have compressed the world. People have become increasingly aware of their interconnectedness and interdependency, catalyzing an increased awareness of this state of oneness. While this is a recent phenomenon, one can trace a continuing ascending process through human history that has sought, in one way or another, to bring new awareness and awakening of the reality of the wholeness of Life to human consciousness. There have been great leaders over the ages who have brought this message and sought to encourage people to accept a new level of understanding. We are fortunate to have at least some awareness of these prior historical cycles, and to have learned lessons from what has come before. A record of some of these insights is recorded in the stories in the Bible. I am thinking of this less as a religious document and more as an outline of various attempts by human beings to reconnect with the intimate wholeness that is already present. There are other records, and other traditions that similarly chronicle the challenges and endeavors to catalyze the transformation of human consciousness.
It is useful to think of the descriptions we hear not only as a mere collection of stories, but also as a record of the courageous efforts of people over time to learn to live in a more expansive way. Some of these efforts were successful and some failed. This can lead us to the realization that we have not a distant but a quite direct relationship to these cycles. To the degree that we are seeking in our own lives to live in alignment with Life, we are part of a lineage of integrity that has persisted on this planet for a long time. Part of the awakening process itself includes the discovery of one's relatedness to all this, the realization that I am part of this history and lineage and as such carry direct responsibility for it. This sense of mission stems not only from an awareness of the past, but from an experience of awakening to the reality of oneSelf.
Taking stock implies understanding the larger flow that has brought us here as well as appreciating what is present now. There is much behind us. But there is also an enormous wealth and expansion of resources in this era too—as far as we know unlike any that have preceded us, in this ascending process. The level of richness and resources, backing, education, and freedom we have has not been so easily obtained in the past. We are the beneficiaries, the inheritors of this wealth.
To the degree that we have allowed it, we have come clear about our true mission and purpose and our true stature, not as insignificant individuals strutting and fretting upon the stage, but as people of significance. This is not because of our inflated human egos but because we have some recognition, experience and identification with our true Identity in the cosmic whole. We begin to know, at least to some degree, that we are here to bring this pioneering awareness into the world and we recognize our actual responsibility on this score.
This leads me to ask the question, "How are we doing?" We look back at other eras, other moments of spiritual leadership and efforts to catalyze awakening and spiritual focus, and have various opinions about how they did. Obviously at some level things have worked out well enough to bring us to this moment. But we can still ask ourselves the question, "How will people look back at us?" How will we look back at ourselves? This is not to speculate or invite criticism but to recall that we really are not playing, as it was once put, children's games. How we function matters.
This said, we receive very little outer confirmation of the value of our contribution or the progress of this unfolding cosmic drama. We do see evidence of much hunger and increasingly clear tonal expression by leaders everywhere, and much evidence of defilement and distortion. Our assurance and sense of responsibility emerges from within ourselves. We lead ourselves.
Given the magnitude of the challenge one could ask, "Why me?" We have evidence that leaders in prior eras have asked themselves this very question. Moses apparently did. Martin Luther King did not particularly want to lead the Civil Rights movement. It took all night, three pots of coffee, and a great deal of persuasion to talk him into giving his first significant speech, one that then led on to greater things. That same question—"Am I really the best prepared to provide the kind of actual pioneering leadership required here?" is one we have to address. We each have the challenge of, on the one hand deflating what remains of our self-important human egos, and at the same time actually accepting responsibility for the leadership that is ours to take.
Leadership in this era is different from what it once was and from what many think it is now. Leadership now is about resonance and allowing experience to ascend. I have been thinking about this relative to something that is very close-in in my life at the moment—namely parenting. We have a two and a half-year-old meteor of a little boy moving around our world. It has become very evident to me how profoundly influenced he is simply by the quality of atmosphere and vibration that he is surrounded by. The spiritual DNA of his life is set through our interactions with him and with each other as parents. That includes our thoughts, our feelings, and all the invisible ranges of experience. These all have profound, tangible, and unmistakable impact on him.
This is a metaphor for the kind of resonant leadership for which we each have pioneering responsibility. Our worlds go far beyond what is immediately evident. This is leadership now—vibrational responsibility for the atmosphere we exude. It is very easy to lose track of this at times and to become overly focused on the forms we must manage. While we certainly do need to be focused on the immediate, our responsibility is to provide a resonant point of focus for a world that goes well beyond what we can immediately see. This doesn't mean we need to know or could possibly know mentally what impacts that resonance has on the wider whole.
As I mentioned, there are changes afoot in an external sense that are catalyzing this ascending process. One is globalization, the economic integration that has stirred the realization that we live in a single world system that is deeply interconnected. Markets in one place impact markets in another. Pollution in China impacts the quality of the air in California.
However another thread in the ascending cycle is represented by the so-called digitalization of everything. Human beings are inventing artificial intelligence machines where the speed with which they work and the capabilities they have far exceeds human capacity. Soon machines will do many complex tasks far better than human beings, like surgery, driving, flying planes, growing food, or diagnosing illness. All of this is happening at a pace that has taken even the inventors of these technologies by surprise.
But the digital revolution does not just increase the speed and effectiveness of machines. It begins to allow human beings to influence ranges of control that have previously been inaccessible. Digitizing genetic and biological phenomenon for instance is leading to the ability to engineer new materials and chemicals by copying how nature creates and then directing these processes to human ends. The underlying ambition is to control and modify the processes by which Life creates. This has always been a wish in the human nature state but new technologies are making this wish seemingly come tantalizingly close. The digital revolution begins to give human beings some access to the control points of the forms of life.
However impressive, this really isn't where the true action or true power lies. While people are confused and disturbed by the idea that their jobs might be eliminated or their understanding of the world is outdated, these same pressures are also causing an awakening in people to the question: What is unique about how human beings function that machines cannot replicate? This is an inquiry that leads us to explore not what we do or how, but why—and who is it that does the doing. Motives, and purpose, matter. Human beings can lift up any situation. That is something that cannot be produced with artificial intelligence. We can participate in creative cycles, and learn to let them unfold. The fact that machines can do better what people once did potentially frees up consciousness for higher forms of function. This is the ascending process in action and it is forcing human beings to focus consciousness at levels beyond the rearrangement and movement of substance in an outer sense—something machines will soon be able to do with far more facility in almost every domain. Much as the body handles functions like breathing, respiration and digestion unconsciously, many processes human beings are now directly involved in will increasingly be done more efficiently and much more quickly by machines. All of this is creating a pressure to rise up and learn to function at a higher level.
Invariably as this pressure rises, that which doesn't fit surfaces too. Mainly what does not fit is the linear consciousness that seeks to operate and control form in incremental ways. Institutions for instance cannot be governed as they have been and are failing everywhere. The same is true for us as individuals. We must listen to how life is unfolding here and now, and not impose old incremental pictures and structures on it.
The necessary taking stock includes the recognition that we are certainly not immune to intensifying factors. We can always ask ourselves the question, "What old ways of functioning do I yet cling to?" My leadership only has real meaning to the degree that I generate a level of substance where I continuously refine what I express. Gaining mastery over one's own mind and heart so that one is in position to provide this kind of leadership is an ongoing endeavor—ongoing and never-ending. Pressured moments will arise in our lives. We handle them well to the degree that we have generated momentum by having continuously focused on expressing the truth. Then we have a rich reservoir from which to draw.
There are great examples of coaches who try to provide inspiration to their teams as they face critical moments, and we can draw insight from this. Coaches seek to inspire their teams to play at higher levels, often beyond what was previously imaginable, especially when the chips are down. When these teams succeed, sometimes people say it was partly skill but also partly luck. However the best teams, and the best leaders, do not rely on luck. They anticipate and practice how they will handle difficult moments and build the habits and discipline within themselves to respond well. The equivalent for us is our moment-by-moment living in the Tone, continuously expressing an ever more precise note, the right way of moving or speaking.
There is a football coach in Boston who focuses his team's attention in this exact way—on the character of their expression in all the small moments, and on the preparation needed to handle these moments. He has built—much to the annoyance of every other team in the National Football League, a consistent pattern of winning over many years that others cannot match. While I may reveal some bias here, this coach, Bill Belichek of the New England Patriots, has insight from which we might learn.
Several years ago there was a Super Bowl where the Patriots were behind in the final minutes. Belichek leaned into a sideline huddle with the team and said a few words. They then went back out and preceded, against the prediction of almost everyone, to win. I learned from some contacts what he had actually said to the team. It was very simple: "Remember who you are; do your job; trust your teammates."
Belichek in that context was inviting his team to remember who they were, in other words, to accept their identity as champions, winners who know how to handle and succeed in situations like these. Because they had prepared and trained for it, each player knew their job, what they were supposed to do, and Belichek simply reminded them that everyone else was also focused on this and that that fact could be trusted. While Belichek's words were intended for a particular audience, we can hear something valuable and true in them too.
We each need to remember who we are, and to relinquish anything that distracts us from that Identity. We have been well prepared to do our jobs. And we can trust, and love our colleagues, the others who are with us, known and unknown, in this journey. We have been trained, prepared, and blessed beyond imagination with resources of all kinds to do the job we came to do. And Life continues to provide plenty of intensifying moments to practice this art.
There is a great ascending cycle moving and people everywhere are being compelled to move with it. As they do this they come to realize that they are part of a vast rising tide. It becomes possible to recognize that one is actually part of an emerging community, an emerging collective which is rising together. As I was thinking of this, I was reminded of some words from a writer named Laurens van der Post. In a book called Walk with a White Bushman, he had this to say:
"I hear people everywhere saying that the trouble with our time is that we have no great leaders any more. If we look back we always had them. But to me it seems there is a very profound reason why there are no great leaders any more. It is because they are no longer needed. The message is clear. You no longer want to be led from the outside. Every man must be his own leader. He now knows enough not to follow other people. He must follow the light that's within himself, and through this light he will create a new community. You see, wherever I go in the world this to me is the general trend. I'm aware of the fact that there already are people in existence today—take us—who really belong to a community which does not exist. We are the bridge between the community we've left and the one that doesn't exist yet."
The community that is emerging in fact exists already at an invisible level. The ascending process of human experience, for which we have direct responsibility, is moving to allow that reality to be ever more widely known. We accept responsibility for providing a resonant focus of leadership at this moment of history. There is nothing more fulfilling and there is nothing else to do.
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