Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Torch of Our Passions

Much has been said about passion by many of the world's finest thinkers:

"The will to overcome a passion is in the end merely the will of another or several other passions." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Our passions are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes." - Goethe

"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafairing soul, if either your sails or your redder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in the mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction." - Kahlil Gibran

Passion is the fire that burns inside you. It is the driving force that keeps you going. It is a high! It is contagious! We are multi-faceted beings. Most people have many passions. What are YOU passionate about? Take a moment, daydream, tell us what sparks your passion.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Success is Always Best When Shared

The future is bright. Because the future is created by positive people.

Those who are negative make a lot of noise about how bad things are. Those who are positive quietly and steadily make a lot of real improvements and contributions to life.

There are always problems and there are always challenges. And there are always people willing to transform those challenges into great opportunities.

Those who have the courage, commitment and discipline to follow their own best dreams, bring the rest of the world along with them. Those who choose to do the best they can with what they have, create a better life for everyone.

For every high-profile guru of doom who wails about how hopeless and unfair life is, there are millions of others working tirelessly to make life better than ever. For every frightening crisis that is breathlessly reported, there are millions of real, meaningful success stories that don't get noticed, but that do have enormous positive influence.

Negative people obsess over the past while positive people work their way eagerly toward the future. Life gets better and better when you choose to make it so, and the future is bright indeed. - Ralph Marston

What is YOUR latest success story?

Artwork by Cindy Hesse - Many thanks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Understanding Acceptance and Resistance

In a world filled with war, crime, violence and anger, how do we act when confronted with it? It is easy enough to aspire to peace, but how can we actually live peacefully when the world presents otherwise? Is a peaceful action always the best response? If not, are war and violence in perfect order?

In words of the Hindu sage Vivekananda, two ways are left open to us--the way of the ignorant, who think that there is only one way to truth and that all the rest are wrong, and the way of the wise, who admit that, according to our mental constitution or the different planes of existence in which we are, duty and morality may vary. The important thing is to know that there are gradations of duty and of morality--that the duty of one state of life, in one set of circumstances, will not and cannot be that of another.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krishna calls Arjuna a hypocrite and a coward because of his refusal to fight. This is a great lesson for us all to learn, that in all matters the two extremes are alike. The extreme positive and the extreme negative are always similar.

The story tells us that one man does not resist because he is weak, lazy, and cannot, not because he will not; the other man knows that he can strike a fatal blow if he likes; yet he not only does not strike, but blesses his enemies. The one who from weakness resists not commits a sin, and as such cannot receive any benefit from the non-resistance; while the other would commit a sin by offering resistance.

When the vibrations of light are too slow, we do not see them, nor do we see them when they are too rapid. So with sound; when very low in pitch, we do not hear it; when very high, we do not hear it either. The difference between resistance and non-resistance is of like nature.

What do YOU think?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Finding Peace in the Midst of Change

Both for individuals and for organizations, the skills that we most need to learn in order to survive and thrive are the skills of dealing with change. When we look at the trends underlying the rate of change - trends within society, demographic forces, technological shifts - nothing suggests that this is going to get easier. In fact, as we look forward into the new century, every indication is that the ride will get much wilder. Do you feel that you have the capacity for more change? Can you find peace in the midst of it?

The more variables there are that are changing and interacting, the more turbulent our future, and the less we can predict it. So we have to prepare for it in a different way. Surviving and thriving in a turbulent environment calls for a particular skill set. These skills are more than a certain philosophical bent, or a quirk of personality. They are actual methods, tools, ways of seeing that work in turbulent environments. Some of the less obvious skills needed to facilitate change in our lives are:

Capacity For Paradox: The skill of entertaining two opposing ideas at the same time, as the raftsman maintains his balance in the midst of the rushing river - not because of the river or in spite of the river, but with it. Here as elsewhere, the answer is not in the answer, but in the question. The question here is: "What would happen if I did not try to resolve this, but just let it be a paradox?"

Zanshin: the skill of sustaining relationships. Sustaining relationships strengthens your network before you need it, gives you an "early warning system," and generates ideas you could never have thought up yourself. The question here is, "Who am I talking to these days? Who could I call?"

Anamnesis: The skill of keeping touch with what is deep and constant in the midst of change. This allows you to maintain your balance and keep contact with your true goals. The question, for individuals, families and organizations, is: What are your deepest values? How do those deep values inform the way you react to change?

What do YOU think?

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Artist, The Art and YOU

What is the role of the artist in 2008? Is there one beyond personal expression? Is there a social role for an artist to play, and if he does, does it even matter to anyone other than to those to whom the artwork speaks? Or is art holographic in nature, bringing us to a different state of being each time we enter, and the artist's only role: creator?

The writer (Lolita) Vladimir Nabokov said, "A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual."

Fredrich Nietzsche felt that art had a broader value: "Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the deification of existence."

Andy Warhol disrupted the common views of the role each artist should play in their art. With Warhol's Brillo there is absolutely no sign of the artist's hand or that this piece was even made by an artist. Since he uses different techniques than traditional artists, at times he may never touch the piece at all and it still will be credited to him. This is a complete turn around from what was once expected from the artist. Skill is no longer involved, it is much more about content, appearance, and processes. Now many artists, such as Chihuly and Oldenburg follow in the footsteps of Warhol, by acting as designer, and letting the actual making of their art work be the job of their hired contractors, laborers and apprentices.

Artist such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt are thought to have especially personal art because the "artist's hand" or brushstrokes are visible throughout their pieces, showing their inner emotions. This personal quality of is often said to be why their paintings sell at such high prices. The same can be said of Jackson Pollock's work.

There are those that believe the artist has a higher calling. Carl Jung believed, "Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being."

Joseph Campbell said, "The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul."

What do YOU think?

Artwork by Nancy Standlee Many thanks.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Do you find yourself speechless because the communication around you is edgy or hostile? Do you often think of things that could have been said afterward? How do you talk to others whose only concern is their own agenda?

Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg is founder and director of educational services for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, an international, non-profit organization, and has been developing his practices for compassionate communication since the 1960s. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) helps connect us with what is alive in ourselves and in others moment-to-moment, with what we or others could do to make life more wonderful, and with an awareness of what gets in the way of natural giving and receiving.

Whenever we become disconnected from our compassionate nature, whenever our hearts are not devoid of hatred in all of its forms, we have a tendency to act in ways that can cause pain for everyone in our lives, including ourselves.

Nonviolence, Dr. Rosenberg tells us, does not refer to the mere absence of physical harm. It is a way of life that takes its lead from a compassionate and connected heart, and can guide us toward a more complete and happy way of being. It is a practice rooted in understanding, in living honestly, and in acting empathically with all beings. It requires nonjudgmental observation, separating feeling from thought, assessing and meeting need, and making clear and concrete requests for action.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being."

What do YOU think?