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Simple Tools For When Anxiety Shows Up In Your Life (Video)

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It’s easy for anxiety to spiral out of control and take over, leaving us feeling that we are stuck, that there are no other options or that nobody understands. Those of you that experience anxiety can understand how challenging it can be to get through the feeling and thought patterns it creates within you. Most would likely choose to escape the feeling rather than to work through it, which I can understand as it is very uncomfortable to deal with.

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So much personal growth and healing comes from being uncomfortable. I have learned to find gratitude in feeling discomfort as I know it now to be a time of transformation and opportunity to bring awareness to my lifestyle, diet and thought patterns. It is common to fear uncomfortable feelings or situations but when we can sit with any emotion or feeling that presents itself to us, then we are able to move past those emotions and feelings much sooner than if we choose to avoid, escape or distract ourselves from them. Here are some simple tools to keep in mind for the next time anxiety comes up for you.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 16: The Choreographer)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

16. The Choreographer

With only a few weeks of rehearsals remaining before the premiere of the annual musical, the artistic director entered the village playhouse very excited. He went to the stage where all the dancers were in the process of stretching and warming up.

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“I have a new idea,” he said, “an idea so advanced that it will revolutionize the way you dance with your partners.”

“You’re going to make the floor move while we stand still?” asked one, provoking snickers around the stage.

“Pay attention, I’m serious,” snapped the director. “Now tell me, what is the main theme of this show?”

One of the dancers answered, “It’s about a girl who starts off as a slave and eventually becomes a member of—”

Equality,” interrupted the director, “the main theme of this show is equality between people. Now I’ve been thinking about this and suddenly it struck me that when you dance with your partner there is inequality, because one person is leading and the other is following. So starting today, when you practice your dances for this show I want to see both partners leading.”

“At the same time?” asked one of the dancers.

“Yes, of course,” said the director.

The dancers looked at each other in confusion. They had never heard of such a thing. Meanwhile the choreographer, who was taking in the scene from the second row, started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” asked the director.

“Your idea is ridiculous. Absurdly ridiculous,” she replied.

The director was stunned. He was not used to being challenged, especially by his choreographer, who he got along very well with. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying it will never work.”

“It might, if you try it.”

“We’re not going to try it,” the choreographer said.

“Well, I think you owe it to me to at least try it.”

“It’s not going to happen,” the choreographer replied sarcastically.

“Need I remind you that I am the director, and you have to follow what I say?”

“Well, this time I want you to follow me.”

The director was getting red-faced with frustration. He moved to the front of the stage to address the choreographer. “Why are you doing this?”

“What—you don’t want me to keep arguing with you?” asked the choreographer slyly.

“Of course not!”

“Because we’re not getting anywhere?”

“Exactly.”

“Then why would you ever want to see two people try to lead the same dance?”

While I have suggested that the time has come for us all to be leaders, this does not mean that we should all be leading simultaneously. That would be like a conversation where people were all talking at the same time, which is not a conversation at all. Taking on roles like leader and follower is an essential aspect of the human drama. Life would not be capable of producing excitement, wonder and profound learning if we were all self-identical creatures doing exactly the same things. If life flows from dualities, through pairs of opposites like leader and follower, then it is important for each of us to play our roles when required.

Mind you, nobody has to be told to assume roles—it comes quite naturally to us. Our Ego Self is designed to separate and distinguish us from one another. The perception of many of our differences is immediate, and we are already in the habit of grounding our interactions in these differences. What we may need to be reminded of sometimes is that this is only half of the story. The other half comes to us from the perspective of the Dao Self where we can see past the distinctions that separate us. When we come from this higher place we see that these roles will best help us move forward in our lives when we don’t take them so seriously.

When we live solely from the Ego Self our roles can easily fall into stereotypes and become the source of value judgment and comparison. We start believing that one side of the duality is better than the other, more capable, or more right. We may think that the teacher must always be wiser than the student, and so the student should simply be quiet and listen; that the servant is weaker than the master, and therefore must obey; that without the leader the follower is clueless, bereft of inspiration or direction.

As followers we are likely to harbor resentment towards leaders when this kind of stereotype is at play. We will feel that our ability to be an important part of any process is limited, and we will have few opportunities to express ourselves as individuals or feel that we are making a contribution. Even if we disagree with our leader’s approach, we will be forced to play a game that only rewards us if we try to elevate the leader’s already inflated status (see: brown-nosing).

But when we become leaders we’re not necessarily better off. The stereotypical leadership role puts us under tremendous pressure, both from ourselves and the outside environment. We are supposed to know everything, and we are not allowed to show doubt. We are expected to be responsible for things beyond our control. Worst of all, we are not allowed to make mistakes. When we do, we hide them: our shame makes us try to cover them up, lest anyone find out that we are not up for what is expected of us.

What a relief it is when we are able to step back into the realm of the Dao Self. From here the roles we have taken on lose their rigidity. Suddenly teachers are learning from students, masters can be the ones who serve, and leaders encourage followers to become leaders themselves. When leaders and followers rise above stereotype, their interactions move into the flow of life. Followers are able to make a greater contribution and take on more responsibility. Leaders are able to relax and allow themselves to be human, to show and voice their doubts, and admit their mistakes to themselves and others. When leaders are not afraid to show their ignorance and vulnerability it is inspiring, and actually serves as an invitation for their followers to enter into the process in a more meaningful capacity.

As humanity evolves, the status gap between leaders and followers is closing. Leadership is moving away from command-and-obey and towards a collaboration in which the insights, opinions, values and beliefs of both sides of the dichotomy are honored. Where there is a sense of equality between teacher and student, boss and subordinate, speaker and listener, there we find the new conversation.

When I look back on my academic life, I realize that the new conversation was not often a feature of the classroom. In fact the higher up I went, the more that professors seemed set in their ways, even condescending at times. I remember the lifeless discussions in class, where students—including me—favored intellectual questions that would make them look smart. Professors would then answer with similar pretense. On the odd occasion that someone would ask a question from the heart or simply state that they didn’t understand, eyes would roll and sighs of intolerance could be heard. There may have been some lively debates, but these were far from a collaborative effort to understand each other and discover new perspectives. Students and teachers alike were afraid to really open their own personal ideologies to honest scrutiny, and so most of the energy was used to defend and protect these ideologies.

When it was time to look into PhD programs, the curricula I saw left me cold: more intellectualizing about other people’s ideas, and more rehashing the past in a way that did not impact how I lived my life. I had an uneasy feeling growing inside me that continuing my formal education would be like purchasing a one-way ticket to the proverbial Ivory tower. So I walked away, despite being told that I had no teaching prospects at all if I didn’t pursue a PhD. It felt like I had gotten tired of learning. But I realize now that I was just looking for other ways to learn.

Over the past twenty years, I have enjoyed a host of non-academic programs, seminars, and transformational workshops, some of which had a big influence on me. Instead of just talking about different perspectives, some of these programs actually created the conditions that enabled me to shift my perspective—with all the discomfort that this entailed. It sometimes felt like the rug was being pulled out from under my feet, because the whole way I looked at the world, where I was coming from, was challenged.

What I found was that it was always worth the discomfort. Whenever I was able to shift my perspective, I saw myself and the world in a more powerful way. I became happier, more confident. My vision was expanded, and I was able to let go of ideas and attitudes that were no longer serving me. All this would not have been possible if the new perspective was presented in a dogmatic way—if, in other words, it was presented as absolute and irrefutable. It needed to be offered as a possibility. Significant transformation would not have occurred if someone was simply telling me what to do, think, or believe. I had to be given a real choice, and from a place of choice I was allowed to step into what I could handle and own the changes that were happening to me.

More and more I saw facilitators opening their workshops with the stipulation that the material is presented as one way of looking at the subject, and participants should question anything that doesn’t resonate with them and only take to heart that which serves them. This idea was reinforced when a facilitator acknowledged that they have as much to learn from the experience as everyone else. Rather than following a rigid set of procedures, the more skilled facilitators focused on building an atmosphere of trust and openness in which people felt safe and confident enough to share their unique perspectives, insights, and experiences. This gave rise to authentic conversation, which energized those who participated.

Over time I gained a growing interest in how these workshops were presented and facilitated, and paid close attention to whether the facilitators themselves were attempting to deliver the material as possibilities or as statements of fact. I got into the habit of putting myself in the seat of the facilitator, wondering how I would handle the questions and situations that came up, and thinking about how I might present the material differently. I have come to appreciate that it is exceedingly difficult—just from the standpoint of language, let alone personal bias—to present material in such a way that it is only one possible perspective rather than a statement of fact. But this is really the only way to go if we are going to move forward.

When I actually began to fulfill a long-time dream of facilitating transformational workshops myself, I was eager to bring forward this new conversation. I was very fortunate to work with someone who already had experience exploring this in her own facilitation. My good friend Carole really helped me over some of the initial rough patches when I wanted to be right or fretted when I didn’t have all the answers. I saw that it was more important to make people feel comfortable than to look smart. I saw that the skill of listening and learning to be with all the participants was at least as important as the material that was to be covered. In fact, we even enlisted the help of the participants to determine some of the content and context of the material that would be delivered.

It was hard for me to grasp that I didn’t have to convince everyone to agree with all the information and insights that I had prepared. I had to accept that some people couldn’t or didn’t want to get it. If some chose to tune out, to be obstinate or to complain, I needed to learn to flow with it, to be with what is, to keep things open. Sometimes I made the mistake of vigorously trying to defend my point of view. However I learned that being wrong and making mistakes was not only all right, it could often be turned into something beneficial for the group if it was handled with humility and humor. Carole sometimes made fun of my habits and tendencies during the session itself and this helped everyone including me to relax. Our co-facilitation itself became a dance, which was especially powerful since we thought and expressed ourselves in very different ways.

While I saw that leading people into the new conversation still required some direction and boundaries, it seemed to work best when these boundaries were almost invisible, when the space that we created was a circle of trust and communication in which everyone was learning and benefiting from each others’ experience and perspective. I learned that leadership in the new conversation was about modeling—walking the talk. If I showed an openness to learning then it helped to create an environment of trust and exploration. When I cleared away personal issues before facilitating I was able to be more present with the participants. Facilitating the new conversation has opened an ongoing examination of who I am being in my life, and particularly in my conversations.

This is a possibility the new conversation offers all of us. As we become more conscious and self-directed, I believe we will strive to move our discourses away from unyielding structure and towards the creation of an open space in which we all can reflect, discover, and create. The more each one of us tastes from the cup of the new conversation, the more I believe we will be looking to bring it into all of our human interactions.

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Awareness

50 Things You Could Be Doing Instead Of Staring At A Screen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The average adult spends as much as 12 hours a day in front of a screen while at home.

  • Reflect On:

    How much of our screen time is providing value to our lives? Is our screen time benefiting us or taking time away from doing what we love and spending real, quality time connecting with friends and family?

There is no doubt about it, screens have become a central part of many of our lives. From the moment we wake up and turn off our alarms and do a quick check of Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter notifications, email, and other apps — screens have the capacity to suck us in, right from the start of the day. The act of checking our screens has become so common nowadays that many of us spend the majority of our waking lives staring at various screens including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

There are some people who argue that before smartphones and tablets, it was the television set, and before that, the radio, and before that, the newspaper. However, we can’t ignore the fact that it is currently an epidemic, as many people (myself included at times) are so sucked into this virtual reality, they do not realize that it is a potentially harmful addiction.

Some believe that this type of technology is just a natural part of human evolution and that in may ways it benefits our lives. To a degree, this is true, as there are many amazing perks of technology and it absolutely can be used to benefit our lives — being able to access any information we are seeking, learning a new language, instrument, or practically anything we want, attending online courses, webinars or education programs, connecting with loved ones that are far way. But really think about your screen time and how it’s spent. Is it benefiting your life in any way? Or is it a compulsive habit? Whenever you have a spare moment–waiting in line, in an elevator, whenever you feel that you are bored–is that when you reach for your phone? Are you mindlessly scrolling through your Newsfeed, photofeed or Twitter feed? Potentially comparing your life to others, getting lost looking at the pictures from people you hardly know? Obsessing over celebrities and “influencers” that actually provide no value to your life? Sometimes we might have the T.V. on, watching a show, whilst at the same time mindlessly scrolling through our feeds. This is a double screen-time wham-o! Essentially getting lost in whatever is available to take you away from yourself and basically inhibit your ability to give love, care and attention to yourself.

We Are Wasting Valuable Time

Many of us, again often including myself, have dealt with a deep dissatisfaction with our lives — maybe we are not happy with our careers or our relationships, or perhaps we lack purpose, passion and drive. Yet, instead of doing something that could benefit ourselves, we instead choose to escape those feelings. We reach for our screens in a desperate attempt to get our next “fix,” our dopamine hit that gives us temporary relief from our dissatisfaction with our lives. This IS an addiction and it is important to be aware of that. What would happen if instead, we leaned into our feelings of discomfort and spent time in deep reflection about what is working in our lives and what’s not?

Using Tech To Help Moderate Our Use Of Tech

A great tool for me has been an app called “Moment” that basically tracks your screen time and how much time has been spent on each app. Without consciously trying to change your screen time habits, I challenge you to download this app and check out your screen time at the end of each day. Much like I was, you may be surprised to learn how much time you might be completely throwing away on social media.

After all, “Lost time is never found again.”

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If you’re like me, you may be thinking, “Well, what the heck else am I supposed to be doing?” And you may still enjoy spending some time on social media, but as with pretty much everything else in life, moderation is key! You may want to try setting a daily limit for screen time for yourself and sticking to it. If you can’t, then you know you may have a problem worth exploring.

50 Things You Can Do Instead Of Staring At A Screen

Below I have provided a list of 50 things you could be doing instead of scrolling or staring at a screen. While some of these are going to seem extremely obvious, you may not always think of them when you are sucked into the glowing light of a screen. This is meant to be a quick reference, it may be even beneficial to print this list off or copy it onto a physical piece of paper so that you ironically don’t need a screen to view it.

  1. Read a book
  2. Read a magazine
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Go for a hike
  5. Clean out your closet
  6. Write in your journal
  7. Play an instrument
  8. Play with your pet
  9. Practice a new language
  10. Listen to a podcast
  11. Draw a picture
  12. Paint a picture
  13. Literally sit and do nothing
  14. Meditate
  15. Stretch
  16. Do yoga
  17. Go to the gym
  18. Workout from home
  19. Call up a friend (use headphones or speakerphone to chat)
  20. Write a letter you intend to send
  21. Write a letter you don’t intend to send
  22. Plan out tasks you intend to accomplish within the next week
  23. Bake something
  24. Cook something
  25. Meet a friend for tea
  26. Play a board game or cards
  27. Go swimming
  28. Do a massage exchange with a friend
  29. Redecorate your home
  30. Give yourself an opportunity to really feel your feelings
  31. Notice the urge to reach for your phone
  32. Practice grounding
  33. Volunteer your time
  34. Go to a comedy show
  35. Listen to music
  36. Color
  37. Write a list of 10 things you are grateful for
  38. Go to the library
  39. Try something new
  40. Sit in quiet reflection
  41. Study something that sparks your interest using books
  42. Get clear on your vision for the next 5 years of your life
  43. Go to a Meetup group
  44. Dance around your living room
  45. Practice eye-gazing with yourself in the mirror, or with someone else
  46. Clean out your fridge
  47. Take a cold shower
  48. Have a bath
  49. Downsize your belongings
  50. Repair something that is broken

Bonus* Make a list of things that you’ve always wanted to do, but felt like you haven’t had the time.

Much Love

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We are standing up for ourselves like never before, and there is nothing the mainstream media and cabal can do to stop us from helping the planet awaken and shift consciousness.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 15: The Mayor)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

15. The Mayor

One warm summer day the arborist and her daughter were busy transplanting potted saplings in the village park on the island of Allandon. A portly gentleman who was casually picking up trash noticed them and said brightly: “Good morning ladies. Beautiful day isn’t it?”

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“Yes it is,” the arborist said.

Her daughter nodded, and moments later said to her mother: “Every time I see that guy he acts like he hasn’t got a care in the world.”

“Maybe he hasn’t,” said the arborist.

“Who is he anyway?”

The arborist laughed. “Don’t you know? That’s our village Mayor.”

“He’s the Mayor?” she asked incredulously. After pondering for a moment, she added, “Well, that’s very odd.”

“What is?”

“Well, what kind of Mayor is he? I mean, hasn’t he got more important things to do than pick up trash in the park?”

“Apparently not,” said the arborist as she continued to enjoy the scent of the young evergreens in their new home.

“So how did he become Mayor?” asked her daughter.

“He became Mayor because he’s a great leader.”

“What’s so great about him? I didn’t even know we had a Mayor. I always thought this village kind of ran itself.”

“Exactly,” the arborist replied.

Part of the evolution of consciousness we are going through today is a change in the way we see the leaders of our nations. We no longer put them on the pedestal we once did, nor are we willing to follow them blindly. The very word ‘politics’ immediately conjures up images in our minds of deception, corruption, and self-interest. We are convinced that hypocrisy is now built right into the system, and that someone who makes it to the top must be a person who owes a lot of secret favors and is good at making false promises that won’t be kept. We don’t believe any more that our leaders will do the right thing for us, for the community, the country, or the world. We have more than lost faith and trust. We have lost interest.

And I see this as a good thing.

Why? Because the time has come to be leaders ourselves—all of us. Instead of looking and listening for inspiration, it is time to be self-inspiring. Instead of waiting to be told what we have to do, it is time for us to decide how it’s all going to be. When Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world,” he was exhorting each one of us to lead by example. He knew that lasting change does not happen by political decree but rather inside the minds of individuals, one at a time. Each time an individual has an insight, expands their vision, or learns something new, then the collective human consciousness that we all dip into is forever transformed.

Today our politicians don’t even try to influence the evolution of consciousness. The best they can do is react to it, and they are usually pretty slow at that. In fact our leadership and the institutions that support them may be the last things in our society to evolve as we move away from the outmoded belief that our leaders will save us and do what we actually came here to do.

In Ancient times leaders were considered far above the common people. Often they were not even considered people themselves, but gods, or at least having a direct link to divinity. In Egypt, for example, the faith that followers had in the divinity of their leaders was enough to move—or build—mountains. The great pyramids stand today as a testament to that. The rule was simple in those days: leaders command, subordinates obey. In this traditional master/servant relationship there was no place for conversation, debate, or differences of opinion. A hierarchy or chain-of-command passed edicts down in one direction, from top to bottom.

This format is the legacy of our modern institutions, not only in politics but in all spheres of life. The hierarchy of the church is a most obvious example. Followers were not capable of direct conversation with God but had to communicate through the priest, whose return message back to the follower was to be accepted as sacrosanct and beyond reproach. Our education system was founded on desks rigidly set in rows, with students uniformly dressed, all eyes forward and sitting in fear, as the teacher walked menacingly through the aisles, ready to slam the ruler down on the hand of any student not absorbing the immutable doctrines. Business was modeled after feudal society where the Lord had complete domain over the field workers underneath him. The Industrial Revolution’s production line only strengthened the conviction that workers were self-same cogs in the production wheel. And in the family, a man was the ‘king of his castle’, where his children ‘should be seen and not heard’ and his wife had to be subservient to his will.

This kind of leadership, which employs control and a reliance on unbending structure, is ultimately rooted in the perspective of the Ego Self. Since the Ego Self worries about being separate and insignificant, the leadership it sponsors drives leaders to try to elevate themselves above others. This way of being a leader means always being right, and never showing any doubt or hesitation. Ever afraid to reveal that they are not all-powerful and do not have all the answers, Ego-Self leaders tend to be rather inflexible and dismissive of contrary opinion.

Even though our society has been politically democratic for some time, our institutions still tend to be run by this control-oriented hierarchical leadership. Subordinates are implicitly expected to conform, and are not encouraged to have a point of view. Much of the thrust of this leadership amounts to maintaining order and exercising power, which means making subordinates follow the leader’s vision.

This is not to suggest that it is easy to lead in a more open and inclusive way; the power implicit in leadership can corrupt the most well-meaning among us. Here’s an example that history has revealed to us before, in a variety of iterations: a dissident leader in an oppressed country, a true ‘man of the people’, starts off with noble intentions and a vision of equality for all. With the people’s support he succeeds in orchestrating the overthrow of a brutal tyrant. However once in power himself, this leader is slowly overcome by his new-found sense of self-importance. His vision of ‘equality for all’ takes a back seat to his growing vision of his own grandeur. Lacking a deeper self-awareness, he doesn’t even recognize that he is changing. Soon enough he is faced with an ever-growing discontent among the people, and has to fight mercilessly to keep power and suppress revolt. He often wonders why the people are no longer happy about his victory over tyranny until the fateful moment, perhaps as he is being put to death, when it finally dawns on him that he himself had become the brutal tyrant that he once loathed.

Since our society is dominated by the Ego Self, it should come as no surprise to us that our leaders may have gotten seduced by the idea that their perspective is the right one, and that in some ways they are better than those they lead. This is only exacerbated when they surround themselves with yes-people who will not challenge them.

The thing is that we are rather fed up of being yes-people, and it’s beginning to show. Leaders have noticed that we don’t seem to be following orders as automatically any more. We have become less afraid to challenge the status quo, and have started asking our leaders to consider our unique visions, our talents or our aspirations. While some are paying attention, others have reacted by leading in the only way they know how: by shouting louder and banging harder on the drum of obedience. This may give them some results in the short term, but they are only stemming a far larger tide that will not hold for much longer.

Our institutions are already showing cracks in their foundations where individual expression and influence are oozing out. The Church structure has begun to crumble, as increasing numbers of people are bypassing the need for an intermediary and establishing their own private and personal contact with divinity. In education the whole concept of the classroom itself is being questioned, where conformity and uniformity are more and more being seen as a hindrance to learning. Successful businesses are being forced to flatten out their hierarchies and move away from the strict command-and-control structure they once enjoyed, realizing that their companies are more productive when their employees take greater part in the decision-making and their individual talents are considered. And in the family, the roles and rights of both women and children have changed immeasurably in recent times, as has the very nature of the family itself. The husband/father can no longer simply ‘put his foot down’ to squash any challenges to his leadership.

As we gain awareness as individuals, our leaders will continue to evolve by necessity. More and more, leaders in our society will have to move away from feeding their own sense of self-importance and be willing to deflect the spotlight so that individual expression and contribution can shine. Leadership will increasingly be doing the work that goes on backstage and supports the roles of those who are performing. It’s gratifying that we may be finally heeding the words of Lao-Tzu, written over two and a half millennia ago:

The existence of the leader who is wise is barely known to those he leads. He acts without unnecessary speech, so that the people say, “It happened of its own accord”.

Enduring leaders of modern day like Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela walked amongst the people, as one of them. They did not seek to be deified or given superior status. They did not feel themselves as having privileged access to the knowledge that their lives modeled, but believed that each person was worthy. Their humility was not forced: it is a natural byproduct of leading from the Dao Self where we are all equal parts of the One. Doing this requires a high degree of self-awareness because to be human means to feel the constant pull of the Ego Self.

Jesus was considered one of the greatest leaders ever because he was able to resist the temptation to lead from the Ego Self, symbolized by the Devil. When the Devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus chose instead to remain firmly in the Dao Self.[1] While maintaining his connection to the source of all things helped Jesus perform miracles, it was also the foundation of his conviction that anyone could do what he had done and even greater things.[2]

For those who could not understand, he tried to be a model in his life, and told people to follow him—not blindly, but as an example of how to live. While Jesus tried in every way to point each person back to themselves and their capacity to live from the Dao Self, most were not quite ready for it. The difficulty he faced is comically illustrated in Monte Python’s Life of Brian, a parody of the life of Jesus:

BRIAN: You’ve got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we’re all individuals!

BRIAN: You’re all different!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!

BRIAN: You’ve all got to work it out for yourselves!

FOLLOWERS: Yes! We’ve got to work it out for ourselves!

BRIAN: Exactly!

FOLLOWERS: Tell us more!

BRIAN: No! That’s the point! Don’t let anyone tell you what to do!

The irony is not lost on us. Since he lived at a time when people had not fully individuated, and so were not fully self-aware, it was difficult for Jesus to lead them to the internal and personal experience of being in the Dao Self. Instead his followers sought to deify him, calling him their savior, abdicating responsibility for their own behavior in the process.[3]

Two millennia later, we are finally ready for leadership that comes from the Dao Self, not simply in the spiritual domain but in our politics, business, family and other human institutions. Leadership has begun to move away from commanding and towards facilitating. Rather than telling us what to do, leaders will have to engage each one of us in conversation, a conversation that leads us back to ourselves. This may come as a big relief to our leaders themselves, many of whom have become dissatisfied with the limitations of their command-oriented ways. Many will seize the opportunity to inspire rather than insist, to be authentic rather than simply do what is expected of them. And as the new conversation blurs the line between leader and follower we are all called upon to take up leadership positions, to support our individual expression while strengthening a collective voice that speaks for all of humanity.

[1] In biblical terms, this was expressed by the assertion that Jesus would only worship and serve God [Matthew, 4:9-10]. Jesus had absolutely no doubts that he was one with the One he called the Father, and the fact that he had fully embodied this knowledge meant that Jesus had reached the pinnacle of self-realization in human form.
[2] From John, 14:12. Salvation was possible for all people, not because of the miracles or even the death and resurrection of Jesus, but because every person has the latent ability to attain this Christ-consciousness, the absolute realization of oneself as the Dao Self. In Christian terms this is what it means to reach heaven.
[3] When we look back on the efforts of Jesus to spread the Good News we may conclude that the profundity of his message may have been too far ahead of its time. History tells us that over the past two thousand years the Church that stood in the name of Christ-consciousness was built on a foundation of control, intimidation, discrimination, and even killing, acts that are all sponsored by the Ego Self.

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