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Trusting our Deeper Knowing: On Cataclysms, Contemplation, and Circles of Trust

On October 10-12, 2008, Marcy Jackson and I (supported by our colleagues, Rick Jackson and Ann New), led a Circle of Trust retreat at the Fetzer Institute for fifteen people from the worlds of big business, financial services and philanthropy — many of them closely tied to Wall Street and all of them devoted to the common good. Our retreat began just one day after the Dow Jones had fallen nearly 40 percent below its record high, set only a year earlier.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

The former first lady talks about the responsibility of being raised in a privileged society.

An essay on frugality's new trendiness and old roots in Christian teaching.

James Wright's poem on the terror of hospital bills and refocusing on what we really value.

A search for stories about the relationship between children and grandparents revealed words of wisdom for current economic times.

Looking to a Jewish tradition found in Deuteronomy of absolving loans as a solution to current debts.

A panel discussion with three smart people exploring the moral and ethical aspects of the economic downturn.

Kate lends insight into the current economic crisis through her family history.

About the Image

"Walking to the Sky" — a 100-foot sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky that was originally installed at Rockefeller Center in 2004 before being moved to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas a year later.

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In the attached picture, you can see some people building a road together. These are Hmong people who live in a remote village. I included this picture because it illustrates how much can happen when people work together in community. Do you notice those smiles? I think the smiles come from contributing and belonging. Happiness in poverty is possible, but it helps to have a community and something to give to the community.

1. Are you experiencing this economic moment as a moral or spiritual crisis as well? My husband and I live in Laos, where he works for an organization that helps poor villages. Sometimes I feel detached from the economic crisis. We are so far from America, we have everything we need, and most people here haven’t really been affected by the economic situation in the west. That’s partly because Laos is so isolated - it was poor before and still is (actually it’s gotten slightly wealthier). The villages where my husband works mostly grow their own rice, so the increased cost of food hasn’t made a big difference. It’s easy for me to foolishly think I’m immune to the economic crisis because we’re doing okay right now.

On the other hand, I know many people in the U.S. who have lost their jobs and some who could lose their houses. The organization my husband works for is supported by people in North America. Although I feel distant from the problems, I know that we are just as susceptible to job loss as anyone in America. I wish people would see this as a time for generosity, but I’m concerned that they might become more focused on their own problems. Our organization has seen a decrease in donations and is preparing to continue work with a smaller budget. I hope Americans won’t forget about the rest of the world. That would be a moral crisis.

2. Do concepts of trust, of living in community, of what sustains you have relevance in new tangible ways as you face changed economic realities? I suppose my “changed economic realities” have more to do with where I live than with the economic crisis, but maybe some things I have learned here can be helpful for people in the U.S. I’ve learned that there are things worse than poverty. Poor people can keep enjoying life and each other. It would be harder for a Lao person to be without a family or community than to be without a job (partly because families take care of each other in times of crisis). Another thing I’ve learned is that cultures that are used to being poor are really good at frugality. In the U.S. people have forgotten how to eat and how to have fun without much money. I think that makes this crisis even harder – we don’t know how to deal with poverty. Maybe Americans could learn to cook like Indians and Southeast Asians – mostly rice and vegetables, a bit of meat, and lots of spice!

Seriously though, I know this is a hard situation for many people and I hope I haven’t made light of your difficulty. Sometimes we don’t know why life is so hard. Maybe the best thing to do is keep going and try to focus on the basic things: food, love, shelter, and faith.

As a student, there’s a sense in which I’ve been shielded from the economic downturn. Aside from stymied prospects for financial aid boosts, my full-time student status has more or less cushioned me from many of the hard financial realties those around me are facing. Yet, in the wake of this crisis (which began interestingly aligned with the outset of an academic year), I’ve noticed a palpable shift in my attitude both within and beyond the academy. It is always tragically ironic to me in academia, when we approach conversations with a posture of intractability, when the nature of education itself (yes, inscribed within its etymology the word educere, meaning “to lead out”) implies transformation contingent upon a willingness to be led, and thus contingent first upon listening and on humility. During this time where many of our basic assumptions about financial, ethical and national spheres are being called into question, I am reminded of the fundamental importance of approaching questions raised by this turbulence with the spirit of: “I could be wrong.” Indeed, as I weekly approach the altar in my church’s Eucharist service, it is this similar spirit of awe-induced humility that allows me to listen with authenticity for new possibilities and move with hope with toward new beginnings. My prayer is that out of this time, I, and the communities that surround me, would remember the significance of the phrase “I could be wrong” as we discuss for new possibilities and look for change.

If You Love Your Daughter

If you love your daughter, then join the fight
The fight to make her future bright
If you love your daughter then spare no might
To make her a social citizen with full right

Don’t just sit there and hope for a change
The world will endeavor to keep her strange
Don’t trust the laws, they only arrange
Those whom your daughter’s rights derange

Don’t tell me you love your daughter
When you don’t care for her mother
Don’t tell me you love your daughter
When you teach your son to be like his father

If you love your daughter, then join the fight
The fight to amend her plight
If you love your daughter then let her take a flight
A flight to the heights beyond the moonlight

What do you say about violence against women?
What do you do to prevent their living in a dungeon?
What do you say when women are bitterly beaten?
What do you do when your daughter’s heart is broken?

Do you tell your son a woman is a mother, a wife, a daughter?
Do you tell him he would never have survived without his mother?
Do you show him by your own examples that a woman is not a server?
Do you show him by your own treatments how best to treat a lover?

If you love your daughter, then join the fight
The fight to make her future bright
If you love your daughter then spare no might
To make her a social citizen with full right

copyright, 2009 Richard Homawoo

Hi Everyone,

I am Sudheer from India and just wanted to share my thoughts and feeling towards the recent economic crisis which has affected worldwide. We actually see the aftermath in every country possible. As there is this wide chunk of people whom I refer as "workaholic"....infact I too fall in this category are the ones who usually suffer the most during these situations. The problems they face are dangerous- family, loss of work/employment, despair, financial commitments.... struggle to make the 2 ends meet is very much required.

To over come such stress and strain, we need to focus our thoughts towards positive thoughts. let us take this opportunity to unwind, relax, spend time with family and discuss on future. Its time to end our greed and help one another and come up the crisis situation. Its time to turn to God and seek his help and blessings. Let us pray to get strength o overcome this hurdle together. Its time to work together and support our families and friends. Let us keep our ego aside and work for people welfare. Use the present resources and help people in need for basic resources. Its really important that people dont hurt anyone and focus building strong relationships.

God..Give us strength to spread love and support one another, give us the confidence and help us work towards building a better greener society...

By dint of many years of much suffering, sacrifice, risk, loss, and exertion to defend and uphold my profession of engineering, its code of ethics, and the public health and safety as licensed professional engineer (PE), employed by US Department of Energy as a nuclear safety engineer, I have become a well-known and influential member of mankind largest and most global profession of engineering (one can google my name for details). My profession's 20 million degreed members worldwide collectively hold civilization and much of the natural environment in their hands.

There is no organized Christian influence in my profession and never has been one - not in its modern form from around 1850. This is not without consequences - my profession enables much institutional evil in the world and inhibits much common good.

"Love of money is the root of all evil" is the best explanation - Christian members of my profession are reluctant to "rock boats" in the profession because of fear of professional/economic retribution. This kind of personal "look the other way," no "boat rocking" type of evil is necessary for instititional evil to take root.

Christian religious professionals take no exceptions for the lack of an organized Christian influence in my profession, also out of fear of professional/economic retribution if they "rock boats" about the failure of Christian engineers to "rock boats" in their profession. Neither do they criticize institutional lawbreaking when established by rule of law in situations as mine, sending a clear message to concerned professional employees - you are on your own with your concerns.

I see this fear of "boat rocking" in secular professions playing out in SOF and its "Reinventing Virtue" series - the economic meltdown is not an act of God, it was manmade and resulted, in essential part, from the lack of an organized Christian influence in financial professions - and the lack of Christian religious professionals taking exception to its absence. SOF takes no exception to either - not the lack of an organized Christian influence in mankind's secular professions nor the lack of concern expressed by Christian religious professionals to it.

A few years ago, I wrote a short article for "The Huntsville Times" about how writing a poem is actually the search for the spiritual. My writing poetry is an attempt to transform the grit of daily life into more than itself. One way I do that is, sometimes, by looking at the past. A big part of American history deals with our desire to strike it rich. That can be seen from the gold rushes of the past to the current greed by the oil industry and Wall Street. Sometimes thinking about the past puts things in perspective for me. My poem below deals with this issue that is so "American."

Photographing Bodie

Everything was left in place
in that high town dug so deeply
underground, the magazines
on the rack, billiard cues
on the table, the drinks
still set, a world map
schooling you to new mines.
But what gain was there
in Bodie? The corrugated
buildings housed the fortune
grinding everything down
for that moment of gold.
Now the brilliant light,
thinned by snow and dry wind,
heat and cold, polarizes
the gaming wheel, your last
poker chips. Coffins and
sewing machines, typewriters,
skis, a violin, its pieces
all unglued by dust, do
the speaking for you
as if you cast them down
like demons unto the earth,
a scar in the Nevadas cut
in haste, sick with altitude,
dehydrated, your bones chilled.
The human eye tries to correct
the colors here, find the contrast,
make up the difference with
filters, but we know the truth,
of the fires consuming you,
street by street, shop by horrid
shop, so violent a struggle
between you and the outside.
We mourn you isolated
in your death, arrested
in your frenzy to get somewhere,
torn by need. Did you find
what you were after? Or is it still
buried beneath you like
some mother lode never found?

---copyright, Virginia Gilbert
Published in "Greatest Hits"

I'm listening to the interview with Joe Carter and Negro spirituals. I was particularly struck by his comment, "Older people [of faith] will say 'it is well with me.'" Not that they are saying: I'm fine, all is great.
I've been trying to buy a house and I was told on Friday by the organization I'm working with that my debt is still too high, there have been too many late pays. I can work on the debt, but how do I erase the late pays? I don't. So I'm having a pity party. And the comment 'it is well with me' really reminded me that I am healthy, I have loving siblings (deceased parents who did love me), I have faith that I will succeed in my goal to get a home, just not this month.
Remembering that black people in slavery, concentration camp survivors, and others in impossibly oppressive conditions chose their attitude, I know I can too.
Who will I be for someone else? A support to my sister who had to put down her 13-yr-old dog, a support to a coworker with cancer, a laborer for my brother who is painting his daughter's new home and on and on.
Your program is my Sunday church. Thank you. In the photo I'm on the left with graying hair, younger sister and brother on the right.

I have been blessed with an amazing recovery from a serious mental illness. While so many others have been forced into a crisis of the soul because of the economic downturn, I have experienced over two decades to discover, recover and renew every aspect of my life.

My downturn began in 1981 when I was hospitalized after the birth of my baby at the age of 25 due to a clinical depression that subsequently “grew” into a serious psychotic disorder. With over 30 hospitalizations in mental hospitals from Dallas to Austin, I lost days, months, years, decades to a broken brain that kept me from functioning in the “real world”.

To make a very long story short, let me share that the blessings from my illness come from the forced opportunities to discover the authentic Diana Kern.

For so long, I was hidden inside a delusion that kept me disconnected from the world; disenfranchised like thousands of others who experience the terrifying symptoms of schizophrenia and similar brain disorders.

Now for the last ten years, I have enjoyed a life that I always wanted and a life that God and my community helped me to discover and enjoy.

Very early on in my adulthood, I learned that my success did not depend on my financial state or even in my place in the world. Rather, my fortune existed within when I discovered community, understanding, self-confidence and responsibility.

It is not only the right medications that keep me mentally healthy; it is the deep knowing that indeed we are all one.

My mission is to connect with others who aren’t as blessed as I am. I want to reach through their delusions and offer them the space to just “be”.

Is this a story? I'm not sure, but it is a record. Its beginning predates the present recession, but the same sorts of moral distresses resulted. I am not naive; politicians sometimes have to conceal the truth, and even to lie. But I began to feel morally sickened early in the George W. Bush presidency. The scope, intensity, and regularity of falsehoods and deceptions wormed their way into my spirit to the point that I told my friends I was felt culturally or existentially ill. I had physical symptoms of this disease. I saw much goodness in individuals, but my overall impression of human behavior in American culture widely speaking took on the grey color of hopelessness or despair. I am afraid that those eight years will end up taking eight from the back end of my life.

Anyway, that morally expedient or even lawless environment was fertile ground for a sort of thoughtless euphoria in the minds of many people who, for one reason and another, looked to the culture, not themselves, to provide their morality. The culture responded by providing distractions and entertainments designed to forestall careful consideration of situations that arose, such as the husbandry (what an outmoded word!) of one's financial resources. "Less is more" became totally defunct, and was replaced by "more can never be enough." This attitude turns a community inside out: the individual triumphs over the community.

Who will we be for each other? Government is attempting to exercise more control, and perhaps in the long run such a different ethos can restore to the citizens some dignity of intention when it comes to managing one's own affairs. The "green" movement, too, has begun to influence the way individuals see themselves in relation to the whole. More people are seeing themselves in terms of the world, rather than the world in terms of themselves. I believe we need to be better and better stewards of others. This can start in each family, as parents encourage their children to make principled, rather than self-driven, choices in economic matters. I do not believe we can condemn, criticize, punish, castigate, or force others into prudence, but people can be led or induced, especially in a scary situation like the one confronting us now.

Like most respondents, I'm thoroughly convinced that the present moment has deep spiritual roots. But I want to push back a bit on the notion that we're presently in crisis.

I think the spiritual crisis happened some time ago; we are now in the inevitable denouement. If I can compare these economic times to an avalanche: the crisis happens at the top of the mountain, when a cornice of snow collapses. The snow tumbles down the hill, gathering mass and momentum. Eventually, it reaches the valley, destroying buildings and lives. We are now, metaphorically, digging people out of the wreckage, bracing up tumbled walls, applying first aid, and mourning our losses. These are all good things, the necessary steps for this moment, but when the immediate has been dealt with, we should also devote some thought to preventing a the next crisis, and here it will be necessary to recall the cornices.

So, when did it start?

A lot of analysts have pointed to deregulation over the last ten years or so, which I'm sure has been a factor. But I think Paul Zak is closer to the mark, pointing to a loss of awareness of the humanity behind our abstractions.

There is a farmer's market near my apartment in Louisville. It is a large gathering at a Christian Church for a few hours every Saturday morning. I have made it a habit to visit every Saturday, regardless of whether or not I purchase anything. This market is a wonderful realization for me. People share and talk,laugh and exchange recipes. I can stop at one booth and hear news of the tomato crop and step 10 feet away to the next booth and find the most glorious flowers. There is a great peace to my Saturday mornings. I remember back to Krista's discussion of neuro-economics and the need to view tranasactions as more than impersonal exchanges of money for goods. This market embodies the virtuous exchange that is possible in business. Farmers harvest such beautiful crops and I help to sustain that beauty with my purchase.

Every time I am there, I think of what Thomas Merton said while standing at the Corner of 4th and Walnut, in my home of Louisville, Kentucky

"Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, I suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me."

I hope we can begin to see what Merton saw. This is a perfect time to find virtue in business. I struggle sometimes with this hope, and so I wake up every Saturday and I travel to the farmers market and I remind myself of what is possible.

The economic downturn appears to me as a welcome event, one that is capable of returning our culture to a measure of the resourceful self-reliance long reported by our elders as the good old days, and to the trimming back of our appetites to the benefit of our souls as taught by our spiritual directors. I make this brave statement as a previously employed and dues-paying taxpayer who is now a member of the handicapped, disabled and impoverished underclass. In other words, I have already trimmed back. When I could no longer climb stairs or get around without a walker, I too gave up riding horses, flying airplanes and driving for pleasure -- but I also had to give up personal independence. My cutbacks came a long time before gas prices became an issue and I haven't eaten out, seen a movie (except on DVD) or taken a vacation since well before others my speed slowed down on their shopping sprees. There's no such thing as a weekend off from MS. Accordingly, and long before the economic downturn, I moved back to my rural hometown where prices are cheaper, rents are lower and early retirement doesn't come as such a shock. Family matters, neighborhood means someone notices if you haven't picked up your mail, and going to church makes the difference between despair and discovering that suffering does purify the soul. I pray for those who have lost their jobs, homes, comforts and self-esteem. But still, let's be clear about this -- the stock market crashed because greed took advantage of weakness and the trickle down, ripple out effect from that is what's now chilling our world. Let's also notice one more important point -- a lot of us had already crashed. Half a million of us deal with MS, many more from other neurological impairments and far more than that from cancer, heart disease, crippling injuries and that meanest of all levelers --plain old age. We've already adjusted our lifestyles and cut back on our frivolities. We're already making do, doing without and asking for help -- more often than not without adequate answers. So excuse me if I'm not brimming over with concern that you've had to give up your second car. If you can still walk, as my mother used to say from her wheelchair -- you won't get much sympathy in this house. Welcome to the bottom of the heap. And let the trip teach you all a thing or two about tolerance for the weak and the weary, because you never know when you might have to join us.

On your program Parker Palmer said, "It seems to me that one of the commonest features of human life is what I sometimes call secrets hidden in plain sight, things we know but don't want to know and thus find systematic ways of evading or ignoring or denying. And I suppose the fundamental answer as to why we do that is that if we knew these things we would have to change our lives, and we don't want to change our lives."

Mr. Palmer reminded me of an article I wrote which began, "There are things in our history that most Americans don't know because they haven't been told, or what they have been told is not true. Unfortunately, some of the things are so disturbing that many of us would prefer to keep it that way."
http://www.dcdave.com/article5/090527a.pdf

I am a physician and a person who has suffered from and overcome depression through a multifaceted approach. I have also been extremely disciplined n my approach to personal finance, business planning, generous employment, charitable giving and caring for patients that have come on hard times in the state of Michigan. I appreciated Palmer Parker's contribution here but have a few disagreements with him.
1. Most of the time depression has a biological and genetic contribution that is beyond a person's control. I have several generations of depression in my family and no amount of spirituality will overcome that. Spirituality is one important contribution along with medicine, therapy, physical exercise and, quite frankly, a little bit of good luck to battle a very real, biochemically induced ailment. Implementing strong habits for overcoming depression is important, but please don't imply that those that are depressed are so because they have invested their spirituality in the wrong place/values or have ignored spirituality altogether. A person with high blood pressure is not a spiritual malfeasant, he/she has an illness that should be addressed in a number of ways. Same with those who have a tendency to be depressed-particularly in difficult times. Don't place indue burdens on those of us suffer with such problems and don't congratulate those that are wired for a more up beat disposition as they have not chosen their genetics either.
2. Community:
I find the term most interesting in these times and have morphed to a different view. As an active Christian for several decades, I have always tithed, participated in medical missions, have sacrificed my own personal income for the sake of my employees. I have been a strong believer in "Community". My experience lately in this country has caused me to re-evaluate my view of this term. As a potential "victim" of "Health Care Reform", I see a mob gathering outside my door demanding that they want more of me for less and it is "their right"- all in the name of "Community". I see beneficiaries of my generosity in the "Community" over many years voting to raise my taxes and lower my salary, so I can no longer generously participate in the causes or efforts that they hold so near and dear. They don't seem to understand that this is a time where I need to see some reciprocity of support for the years of generosity they have enjoyed and benefited from.This mindset will eventually destroy some of the efforts that have been built by "Community". It has become almost a Pavlovian reflex for me to go into "protection mode" now whenever anybody talks about "Community" because I have come to recognize that many times it is trying to convince me that I need to be more generous, they want "something for nothing", and a reciprocating form of support (of any kind) coming in my direction is never going to happen.
Call me cynical (to say the least), but this economic time has caused me to re-evaluate my generosity so that it is invoked and put forth on my own terms for the causes I value on my time frame. I also don't expect anything in return-which is sad and very demotivating in terms of jumping into the deep end of "Community". Quite to the contrary. I will be more guarded and skeptical. This is more like a realization of Rheinhold Neibhor's "Moral Man Immoral Society" than an awakening to the virtues of Community. I have been summarily unimpressed with many of the communities I have worked for tirelessly in the past to support only to see them apathetic or antagonistic in a time when I need their support.
Scott Wilkinson M.D.

I was so happy to hear Parker Palmer's comments on Sunday morning here in Ohio. I especially loved his comment on Jesus' words: "Be not afraid." As a minister myself, I have struggled with these words on a personal basis because of my own life fears and on a public basis as I have attempted to preach about it. When he said that Jesus didn't say that we shouldn't have the normal fears that often accompany human life, he said not to become our fear, I felt my heart leap. Our economic situation is frightening as I witness my friends lose jobs and struggle to find new ones. Though I feel that my jobs as a social worker and part-time pastor are pretty secure, one never knows. Because of state and federal budget cuts to human services, I am not guaranteed a job if something happens to my current position. I witness my clients who face medical crises (I work at a hospital) and how they struggle to stay financially solvent when it is becomes more and more impossible. I listen to them struggle with how to make sense of severe medical issues in theological/spiritual/religious ways. And I feel the sense of unrest as people struggle to trust their elected leaders and whether or not they really have any clue at all what middle America thinks or needs.

The concepts of trust and of living in community sustain me more now than they ever have. I think that if people are going to survive beyond these times, we need to pull together and make sure that people are being fed, nurtured, comforted and enjoyed. I preach about the building of community frequently on Sundays because I am hoping that people will look at the church as a means of finding that community and remaining hopeful in God and in each other.

I want to affirm the qualities of compassion, acceptance, honesty, healthiness and love in myself and in the people in my life. In my family and in my church I focus on the wonders of diversity and that God is open to everyone, no matter what his or her journey has been. I encourage people to listen to the undertones of messages because sometimes very judgmental ideas can be conveyed in terms that seem, at least on the surface, to be inclusive and positive. (The term "family values" comes to mind since it is really about a heterosexual couple with 2.4 children, etc.) I also remind people that God gave them a brain and God expects them to use it and not allow themselves to have their faith spoon-fed to them.

I hope that we will learn from this economic crisis the difference between what we need and what we want. American culture seems to be so much about "I want what I want when I want it." We have stockpiled a lot of "stuff"--far more than we need. I hope that the shortage of money helps us to become more creative in how we spend time together and makes us see that it is our human connections that are really important. I hope that we become more grateful for what we have because even in this economic downturn, it is still more than most of the world's poor will ever know.

I think this is a time when people might start to realize the relevance of the overlooked teachings of a whole bunch of different religions.

One of the main causes of this crisis -- and one of the main causes of the Great Depression in the 1930s -- is borrowing money on credit. Right before the Great Depression, people were buying stocks on margin: They would pay a fraction of the actual price of a stock, with the promise that the remainder would be paid by the change in stock's value. It was a promise to pay with money that might or might not materialize sometime in the future. The same is true of bond issues, mortgage-backed securities, and other instruments: they represent a promise to pay back loaned money, with interest that has to come from somewhere, sometime in the future, but the money might or might not be there. The value of these instruments is entirely in people's imaginations. People are paying money for promises of varied and sometimes questionable veracity. And the fulfillment of these promises is rarely within the control of the promise-maker!

Do you remember the story about Jesus kicking the money-changers out of the temple? Suddenly these religious teachings against money-lending are starting to make sense....

I have found the teachings of Asatru (reconstructions of the Norse pre-Christian religion), to be valuable also. It teaches that a person's value stems from their honor. And a person's honor comes from fulfilling promises and doing great deeds. So it's a really bad idea to make promises, when your ability to fulfill those promises is out of your control. By doing that, you're putting your honor -- your life -- into someone else's hands. You had better have a lot of trust in that other person! It teaches that "a gift demands a gift," and that this exchange of gifts is the foundation of friendships and other valuable relationships (gifts need not be physical!). One must contribute in order to benefit, if the community is to remain stable. It teaches that a person is nothing without a community to live within, and that no man is an island. A person should strive toward self-reliance, but in the end, complete self-reliance is impossible -- everyone needs a community to help them live. In short, it teaches how to live a sustainable life in the face of constant hardship.

I have found much inspiration in the writings of John Michael Greer, the leader of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. His blog is about some of the false premises our society is based on, and their frightening logical consequences: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/

hello, my name is adam majewski. and i am a pagan. spicificly a slavic reconstructionist. i live here in the twin cities and have for almost all my life. i am 22 and am a culinary specialist, and one of the local restaurants in town. currently i feel that for my self the economic moment has be come a moral and a spiritual crisis. the reason being is because before the crisis i was not to spiritual if at all. i like to think a was moral before the crisis but since it has started i have become even more moral through both the increase of spiritual practice, and how i run my life. the reality is, is that i have made changes in my life and how i think about thing and i carry my self as a person as changed be cause of the down turn. i am a year round bicycler and have been for some time, and the tightening of financing as made me very glade that i don't own a car, and don't plan on owning one in the near future. it has also opened my eyes to see that i don't have to many close people that i call friends, all i have is my mother, sister, grandfather, and myself, i don't have lot's of people to call on for emotional help, but would like to change it if at all possible. as a group that are only similer in the sence that we are all human, we are all going to screw up alot, but we are all going to be in some way a shining light for one another because we all want to do better then the person next to use, weather caused when looking in our selfs and saying we can be better people then we are when we see others being better people or just straight up competition, because here in the u.s of a we are all very strong competatures

Around Christmas time 2008 there was a news release published by some very credible media sources, like the Wall Street Journal and Reuters (to name two) stating that:

"...in the very near future a large, bright star will appear in the sky visible throughout the world, night and day. Around a week later, Maitreya will give his first interview on a major U.S. television program."

Since that time the aforementioned star did in fact appear all over the world and a subsequent news release published by at least the Wall Street Journal (and I'm assuming the others who covered the first news release) stated the following:

News Release: The Star is seen worldwide
As tension and desperation mount among those who suffer the fallout of the financial collapse, Maitreya waits for public debate over the new starlike luminary to signal the necessary response from humanity which will release Him to step into public work as Teacher for a new way forward for mankind. As photographic reports increase, it is hoped that with the help of media and the Internet, the law of free will may be fulfilled and His emergence can proceed apace.

This post is an effort to kindle some of the needed public debate.

Maitreya is a Divine Intermediary by the way.

In other words, all we need to do to trigger Divine Intervention is TALK about a star that has been photographed all over the world.

There has been very little media reaction to this story. Unless the voice of humanity (i.e. public opinion) demonstrates an interest in these events, Maitreya and the Spiritual Hierarchy are forbidden to take any action, because it would be a breach of free will.

I believe a program like yours could do tremendous work towards enlightening the masses about the ongoing changes in our world. There is plenty of video footage and information to support these grandiose claims. Please take the time to review the content at www.shareintl.org. Humanity's purpose is not to have a handful of powerful, greedy organizations controlling the resources of this planet forcing everyone into a life of financial imprisonment. We are chained to our jobs which suck the life and energy from us so that the rich can get richer. We are divine creatures living on a planet which can provide everyone with abundance. It is the imbalance and greed which have caused this economic collapse.

I hope you consider this story. When you read some of the underlying details, it sounds a little far-fetched, I realize, but that doesn't make it any less real. 2,000 years ago, the same kind of story was unfolding. Back then, very few people really understood what was happening. I can think of the three wise men, and the Essenes, but everyone else were relying on the wisdom of the Pharisees and the church elders. Jesus made it clear that those experts were way off the mark. The same scenario is likely to occur when He returns. Thousands of different denominations exist, each of them claiming to know the truth. Each of them expect that when God comes back to Earth, He will walk into their particular church and pat them on the back for seeing the real truth. What is far more likely to occur is that God will look around and announce that the majority of the churches are mistaken. Where is the church that stresses self sacrifice and self crucifixion? Jesus made it clear that we must pick up our crosses and follow Him down the path that leads to self annihilation. Nobody wants to hear that message. There are plenty of churches that offer an easier alternative. Just believe and you are saved from eternal damnation! No cross is necessary! These are the churches that the masses flock to, because people are not really interested in following a spiritual path to enlightenment. They are more interested in maximizing their creature comforts. The truth of the matter, however is that there are two mutually exclusive worlds: The World of God and The World of Man. Everybody claims to want to find the bridge to the World of God, but our churches haven't figured out yet that the only way to reach the spiritual kingdom is to eliminate desire for the material kingdom. Life is a gradual evolution into the awareness that the material world cannot satisfy. Things are not as important as relationships. Where two mutually exclusive worlds exist, it is only logical that paradox holds the key to bridging them. Jesus mentioned a few, we must die to gain eternal life, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven... Here is my favorite paradox: We identify our self as a separate, distinct subset of physical form, emotions and mental activity. We each have a self, and the rest of the universe is the not-self. The paradox of truth is that our true self is really our not-self. As our love of self shrinks through spiritual maturity and loving our neighbor, our awareness expands to include ever more of our environment. At first it is just me and my wants. But when I put myself in the shoes of my neighbors, and I truly start to care about them and their circumstances, my life is enriched exponentially, because when someone is loved, they have a tendency to love you back. Just think what it would be like to love everyone! Rather Heavenly, don't you think?

I know I'm rambling a bit. The point I'm trying to make is that the messages which are going to change the world and solve all of its problems are going to center around SHARING. This is what Maitreya will teach. You have an incredible opportunity to enlighten the public to the most incredible story imaginable.

By the way, I love your show!

Speaking of faith in these hard economic times.
to me is the most natural thing to do. Living
here in the Now remains our greatest defense
against hardships and difficulties.It had been
said that when times are good we might aspire
to emulate the buddhist, but when times are
hard we become Taoist. But can we really have
it both ways? The Tao te Ching is a book that
means many things to different people, yet it
is essentially unchanging and timeless. It is
the point of daily practice in the Way that
makes all of the difference. In these hard
economic we times we aspire to be Taoist but
why should this be any different in good times
or bad?

Natural Time

Here are a few old poems and a few new, most
tend to have a bitting edge. Not for everyone.

"It is, unfortunately, only too clear that if the
individual is not truly regenerated in spirit,
society cannot be either, for society is the
sum total of individuals in need of redemption."
-C.G. Jung

This Burden

I did not ask for this burden
when one becomes two
In a moment
everything changes
that is when a teacher is needed
- chop wood carry water -
this is only the beginning
As the old Shaman will tell his
apprentice
'I am sorry that you have become
enlightened,
Now get back to work'
Waking up is nothing
living it free and undetected
in a world without vision
that is the challenge
How do you speak a laungage
that has no words?

In The Dark

We can live in the dark
without a spark
And call this the light
We can live all our life
In obediance to ignorance
and call this divine
We can worship our own
intelligence and believe
that what we achieve
is worth the price
Who is at the helm?
We are a nation of fools
In a world spun out of control
In our bid for power
Without honor or humility
there is no impeccability
We neglect the totality
of the Self

Inside Out

If we are constant within change
like the Sun which remains
bright even in secret at night
not only upon it's rising
then contentment is supreme
without the weeds of desire
clogging the portal of awareness
Blind allegiance selfish and uncaring
will never rise up to the heights
Gradual development is the surest way
where as prompt delivery
gained in haste is soon wasted
If you know the firing process
for the gold elixer of illumination
then you have the quality of humilty
with great power in virtue
This is the Spirit of Tao
not detached but engaged on principle

~*~*~*~

Fear

All fear is death
make peace
the spirit
within
Ego
will not give up
the fight
step aside
one clear moment
there is no blame
plumb the depth
of your being
think outside
the box
let go
the identity
of opposites

Epitaph

And any last brave words
In the face of death
It is a good day to die
We have the capacity not
To think about
Those things we find
Fearful like our
Own Mortality
Let alone that of others
Stand up
There is no dress rehearsal
Live fully in the moment
Future and past have no presence

The Agreement

The Policy
of hate
and control
polarize factions
destroy obfuscate
Stop the mystic mind
before it can multiply
what isn't us
must be them
kill all heretics
recognize the danger
don't invite it in
be silent
don't disrupt the apple cart
make waves and
pay the consequence
remain myopic and all is well
don't distrub dead religion
fear is the cause
of all consequence
open the portals of clarity
bless our petty tyrants

Beneath Obstruction
Nov. 08, 2003

they felt they were justifed
in burning me at the stake
going through the fire
getting to the other side
being celibate all those years
not knowing what this might bring
I had become enlightened
soon to be crucified
beneath obstruction
Carl Jung did say
it is "a moment of deadliest peril!"
"this immortal" capacity
we have within
it is in the voice of sages
silent as thunder
discredit me
rob me of my good name
I can see the image you would create
a lie built upon obstruction

"When the fundamental is established.
the path develops."

"Once you recover your potential, it is like
it was always there..."

Taoist I Ching

Restore and rouse your vital spirit
nurture the virtue of natural reality
Return feelings to essential nature
Acting in the dragon's pool
enter the lair looking for the tiger
crossing great rivers beneficially
is not empty tranquility without action
working in the midst of great danger
and difficulty knowing when to act
return to the essence of real knowledge

The Mind of Tao

To active the Mind of Tao
dissolve the human Mind
Day by day
Mundane energy wanes
Gradually
Celestial Energy grows
Ture Mind
Building the foundation
There is White within Black
Male within Female
One must use the Bellows
Self-refinement
Requires the True Lead
The Four Signs combine
The Five Elements
Are One Energy
The Three Treasures
Return to One
At the Edge of the Universe
Yin and Yang Merge
Unified Energy
Absolutely Open Nothingness
The State before Birth
Clear and Free
Round and bright
Unfixed to Form or Void
The Gold Elixir Burns
With Illumination
At the Heart
Of Heaven and Earth

The Tao flows through all things
and returns to the origin of all things
Serene, empty, solitary, unchanging,
infinite, eternally present ~ mother
of the unverse - something formless
and perfect before the universe
was born... it you can accept the world
as it is the Tao will never leave you

Tao Te Ching

By nurturing the small to lofty greatness
keeping centered and embracing unity
taking charge of the pivoltal mechanism
to cultivate spiritual virtues, fulfill nature
and reach the meaning of life...

Interesting Jung's use of the word redemption
in the context of social survival not only of the
individual, but as this metamorphosis affects
the macrocosm in particular.

Turn around operate in reverse, away
from progressive conditioning, back
to the original integrity of the real mind
As long as a breath of living potential
remains there is hope for the way ahead
Where there is trust mutual progress
is assured earthly vitality is transformed
true vitaltity is born open awareness unobscured

"The energy of harmony of essence and feeling in people
is the yang fire; this is the real. The restlessness of acquired
energy in people is the yin fire; this is the false."

I Ching

~*~*~*~

Original flawless undamaged
pattern of nature...
nothing is more important
than accord with
the basis of true reality
Refining away acquired yin
is the work of refining the self
if you wish to conquer feeling
first conquer essence...
when stillnes is complete
then action goes into motion
utter emptiness beckons fulfillment
"if you give little and withhold much,
the spirits and immortals will not come"

"If you do not refine the mind thoroughly, the true yin
within yourself will not become manifest; if you do not
become thoroughly empty and quiet, the external
true yang will not come."

The Taoist I Ching

My friends tell me I should write from the heart
all this technical spiritual science is all well
and good from the safty of some ivory tower
but the real risk is in the living practice in action
And here lately new avenues have opened up
even though this is far from finished, this higher
calling as it were, it now feels ok to let up just a
little, long enough to be an artist that other part
of the creative nature... and yet i don't write nearly
half as much as I feel compelled to and a day
missed is a day lost in time forever...

Natural Time

All that we know can not be spoken in words,
words without appropriate action are
meaningless; reaching into eternity is as
simple as turning over the palm of your hand
step into the now and all things are understood
sustaining the 'now' takes practice, to often
we give up along the way, slack off on our efforts
forgetting the truth that is just before us...

Refining the self with dignity
Acting with unfailing clarity
once the earthly and celestial
are completed in consumation
use the path of nonstriving
to preserve completion and balance

Having your own epiphany only
marks the beginning of learning

"When illumination returns to the center,
and you show your own lack and respect
what others have, even if you are ignorant
you will gain understanding, and even if
you are weak you will become strong,
without losing your basic flexibility and
receptivity."

"What is auspicious and leads to good results
is the ability to empty and open the mind."

The Taoist I Ching

~*~*~*~

Images from the ~ Tao Te Ching ~

He who talks, it is said, doesn't know
he who knows doesn't talk...
After all once we are cleansed
of our personal history, once
the past falls into proper perspective
What more is there to say?
How many more books need be read
at the point of nonstriving spontaneity?

We simply learn in a different manner
once the search has ended... once there
is no more need for seeking if we do not
understand the necessity for hidden
practice all that has been gained will be
set to ruin against the mundane...

If you realize that all things change
there is nothing you will hold on to
If you aren't affraid of dying
there is nothing you cann't achieve
teach without a teaching
act without doing
arrive without being summoned
heal yourself of all knowing
without opeing your door
you can open your heart
to the world...
seeing into darkness is clarity
knowing how to yield is strength
if your want to take something
you must first allow it be given
if you want to shrink something
you must first allow it to expand
this is the subtal percepception
of the way things are
return to the source of light
practicing eternity...
these teachings are older
than the world how could
we grasp their meaning?

~*~

the subtle perception of the way things are
less and less do you need to force things
until finally you arrive at nonaction
when nothing is done - nothing is left undone

it is possible to arrive without
understanding the process
many paths will do
in recapitulation...
understanding the process
however, requires mastery

~*~

The master, it is said, teaches
by weakening their ambition
and strengthening their resolve
to emtpty one's mind and
thereby filling one's core...

yet there is danger
in solitary cultivation
of tranquility...
being outwardly flexible
but inwardly firm
refining oneself
controlling the mind
ascending from lowliness
to the heights...
eliminating anger
and convetousness
entering gradually
this realm of beauty
stopping falsehood
maintaining truthfulness
clarifing the good
restoring the original
"Profoundly arriving
at self-realization,
one will rise into
the inner sanctum
of sages."

"When one is flexible and balanced, keeping to
one's lot calmly and constantly, without thought
or effort, sincere and singleminded, this can
be called constancy in this one virtue. However,
fidelity to this single-mindedness is suitable
for cultivating quietude apart from society, but
it is difficult to thereby comprehend essence
and reach the destiny of life."

"So practioners of the Tao should be constant
in the right way, especially in practice of the
right path. Only then can they get somewhere
beneficially, comprehend essence and arrive
at the meaning of life, and preform the great
work in the world that is eternally unchanging."

I Ching

According to the Tao te Ching the world is sacred
it cann't be improved and yet much like the art of
governing a large nation is similar to cooking a
small fish, We spoil it with to much poking. Living
a spiritual life in this human existence can be a
challenge even under the best of circumstances.
Freedom, liberataion, transformation, illumination
are merely concepts much like fingers pointing at
the moon, if we focus on the fingers we miss what it
means to be authentic beyond the veil of words.

Much lip service is given to living an awakened
life, cults of fancy are created out of dark rituals
unquestioned as consumers are left to fend for them-
selves amid a sea of half truths and lies. And yet
from Holly Wood Kabbalah to out right worship of so
called higher intelligence in dianetics, we are daily
bombarded with ever increasing notions of spiritual
entitlements to few of us could afford. One need
only look beneath the surface to recognize that the
source of so many popular beliefs from Scientology
to New Age are deeply rooted in the radical precepts
of western magic(k).

Yet, is it little wonder that in the void created by
established religion the disenchanted would turn to
precepts that expound the virtues of being spiritual
but not religious? We do not need a new religion
new age or otherwise, but merely a greater understand-
ing of society in relation to our human condition.

~*~*~

Please note that my previous submission, though written
with good intention, was offered in haste with to little
time for authenticity.

One of the challenges of being unemployed for so long (more than two years now), has been a feeling that I have been forgotten by society. The unemployment benefits lasted for only a few months, and they seem such a dim memory now. I hear reports on the news about the fluctuations of the level of people receiving unemployment from the government, and I get the feeling that the economists and analysts have completely lost touch with reality, because I know very well that there are huge numbers of people who are unemployed just like me, but who are no longer counted because their benefits have run out. The government does not seem to care about us. I feel in some way the government does not care that I and others like me even exis, and this has actually had a subconscious effect on me: a small part of me feels like maybe I no longer really matter. That is a very dangerous thing to feel, if one is unemployed.

Fortunately, my wife works full-time, so the struggle for me has not been so much a financial one (although that is a real challenge), but rather, it has been a struggle to maintain a sense of personal self-worth. I believe this is probably a universal struggle for anyone who is long-term unemployed.

However, perhaps even more frustrating, is dealing with the immense frustration of absolutely knowing with complete certainty that I do have a lot to contribute to society, and that I could contribute so much through my work. I want to contribute, and because I do not have a job, I feel as if a huge part of me is lying unused and unappreciated. The thought of being able to do a good job, to help in some way to improve something, seems to me to be a beautiful and wonderful vision. To take this vision further, and to imagine someone actually complimenting me for my work or contribution seems to me right now to be akin to heaven. Not being able to find a way to fully contributte to society has been absolutely devastating.

These two things basically come down to one issue: the feeling of being invisible. And that is the hardest part about being unemployed, from my experience.

To whom it may concern:
Hello my name is Sarah Sierra, and I would like to share my story with anyone that will listen. This economy has made it so hard for single mothers to survive. I lost my job almost 2 years ago due to layoffs. I decided to take advantage and finish my school while my boyfriend and father of my 6 year old son took care of the bills. 2 months ago he decided to leave without any notice leaving me to survive with no job and no money. I was on extended benefits with unemployment and barely made enough to cover my bills. With unemployment and child support I could only cover my bills leaving my mortgage unpaid. It has been 2 months now since he left and I am now 2 months behind on my mortgage. I have tried reaching out to the bank even before I was late and they are not working with me and are only applying all kinds of late fees making it impossible to even catch up if I wanted to. To make the whole situation even worse I get a letter in the mail that they are cutting off all extended unemployment benefits so now I am left to survive off of $562.00 a month that I receive in child support. That covers just my car and insurance note. I applied for welfare and that is still pending, I had to take my son to the ER and they informed me that I have medicaid for my son however it is shared cost and unless the bill is $1497.00 they will not pay it. My medical bills are outrageous and the only medical care I can get for my son is if i take him to the ER because he does not have insurance. I have reached out to many agencies requesting assistance and have called for weeks and weeks and no one returns my calls or they say they are too busy and for me to call back. I have no family here in Florida and when i lose my home due to foreclosure I will be left in the streets with my son. This has been the hardest Christmas ever and it is so hard to explain to my son that Santa will not be able to make it to our house this year. I have been searching for a job for about 6 months now and have not had any luck whatsoever, I have experience however no one will hire me. I have even applied at places that I am over qualified for because i am desperate, but NOTHING... I only received 1 call from tons of jobs i applied for and after the interview they went with someone else. I have always had good credit and good jobs, however with the crash of the economy it is so hard to survive especially being a single mother. i am going to lose my home and do not have enough money to pay my bills, and the WORST part of it all is that is during the holidays....I am crying out for some HELP!!!! I am at my wits end and do not know where else to turn.
Desperately Needing Help,
Sarah Sierra (30) & Anthony Sierra (6)
Thank you for taking the time to read my story

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