Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

Why Forgive?

Apr 20

David Beale, a long time spiritual friend from Perth, Australia, has a brilliant and penetrating mind. Years ago, he offered a wonderful analogy for understanding forgiveness:

The yin-yang, though symbolic, does sum up the harmony that averages to nothing when taken over a wide enough viewpoint. …. A hurricane that goes in both directions may in sequential time do lots of damage yet the net average is No Wind ….

David went on to note that to forgive, we must have a sense of both:

  1. It does not matter because it can and does add up to nothing; and
  2. In this physical life, we have an obligation to change both ourselves and the elements of disorder so that they balance and no longer bother us, “allowing us to enjoy our temporal existence with minimal disruption and maximum joy …. we are individuals growing in a limited environment so as to better enjoy a less limited environment. Forgiveness is part of the less-limited environment. (Emphasis supplied.)

In short, there is no need for forgiveness and yet every need for forgiveness. What in the world do I mean by that paradoxical statement?

In what sense is there no need for forgiveness?

Each of us physical human beings births onto this planet with limited perspectives, limited bodies, physical needs for food, water, and shelter, and emotional needs for love and belonging. Baby Mary cries because she is hungry or cold or has a bubble of air in her belly. Her perspective is limited to her own immediate needs. She doesn’t understand that Mommy may be exhausted from cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and caring for her brothers and sisters. She knows nothing about the sixteen hours per day that Daddy spends in a coal mine to provide a few dollars to buy rice and beans. Maybe she doesn’t even know she is hungry or cold or needs to burp. She just knows she hurts. She cries because that is all she knows how to do. She has done the best she knows how with the limited resources she has. Mommy is doing the best she knows how. So is Daddy. There is no need to forgive any of them, even though they live in desperate poverty and pain. They are all doing the best they can with the resources they have.

In what sense is there every need for forgiveness?

As Mary matures through youth and adulthood, the pain continues to gnaw at her gut. Now she notices that not everyone is hungry or cold or without shelter. As she becomes aware of her external world, her pain turns to anger. She may resent those who have more food and better shelter. She may blame her parents for their lack of education or the fact that they haven’t always been able to respond to her needs. She may come to hate other children whose parents can afford to buy them nice clothes. Her boyfriend may leave her for another woman, betraying her trust. Her internal pain and external anger may generalize to labeling all men liars and cheats, even though she has had personal experiences with only one or a few. Worst of all, she may hate herself because she feels powerless.

Pain and anger are simply different forms of the same energy. Pain is negative energy directed inward. Anger is negative energy directed outward. It doesn’t really matter where the negative energy is directed. The challenge for each and every one of us is how to release the negative energy and transform it into positive energy, or at least into neutral, detached awareness.

Mary’s adult condition is the human condition that Buddhists call “suffering.” Suffering is not necessary and can be released. At this point in Mary’s life, there is every need to release suffering. There is every need for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of many spiritual tools we’ve been given to transform our pain and anger into deep, personal, inner peace.

Why forgive? Certainly not because the other person deserves it. In their own misery, desperation, and low self-esteem, they may have done horrible, ugly things that felt like knives through our hearts. Perhaps they lied because they were ashamed to tell the truth. Perhaps they murdered. Perhaps they committed adultery or stole our physical possessions. Perhaps they were simply not present in their relationships with us.

Their actions were certainly not functional. We do need to pay attention to how others treat us and conduct themselves in their relationships with us. If we don’t notice what others do and how it makes us feel, we haven’t learned the relationship lessons we were intended to learn.

However, we never change the relationship by changing the other person. We change the relationship by changing ourselves.

Why then forgive? We forgive for ourselves. We forgive because forgiveness releases our own pain and anger, changes our relationship dynamics, and allows us to move forward in freedom and joy.

Holding onto pain, anger, and blame destroys each and every one of us. It makes us sick. It keeps us stuck. Anyone stuck in this negative energy and unable to let it go will eventually kill themselves as well as all the loving relationships that surround them and could support them. Being stuck in negative energy condemns you to a life lived in hell (using Christian words) or a life of suffering (using Buddhist words).

So why do we forgive? We forgive to shift our own energy from hell to heaven (Christian terminology). We forgive to release our own suffering (Buddhist terminology).

First, we forgive ourselves, knowing that we did the best we could with the resources we had. Then, we forgive others, knowing they did the same. Forgiveness does not mean staying in abusive, dysfunctional relationships. If we learn the lessons our pain and anger have taught us, we move out of abusive, dysfunctional relationships and seek out relationships that support us. When the abuser no longer has a victim, the abuse stops.

Word Energy

Feb 07

About three weeks ago, I received an email, through pure synchronicity, from published poet, Luisa Castagnaro. She sent me a link to a series of SoundsTrue audios about Sanskrit mantras,

Knowing that I was working on another book about word energy, my foreign rights agent had previously mentioned Sanskrit as a language I should explore. Western language uses symbolism and meaning. Sanskrit uses the pure vibration of the sound.

I ordered the audios and began listening. There was a mantra for bringing abundance into your life. Phonetically, it sounds like “Om schreem kleem Lakshmi ay Namaha.” Most of it is toned on a single note, with the “ay” one note higher and the “ma” in Namaha one note lower.

This longer mantra is composed of seed mantras. “Schreem” is the principle of abundance. “Kleem” is the principle of attraction. “Lakshmi” (pronounced “lockschmee”) is the Goddess of abundance, a beautiful woman with money flowing from her hands. “Namaha” means to salute.

According to Sanskrit philosophy, you can attract abundance into your life simply by saying, over and over, the simple seed mantra “schreem.” The longer mantra is supposed to be more powerful. I decided to play with the longer mantra and see what happened.

Two weeks ago, as I was driving to the Tampa airport, I repeated the mantra over and over. Then I forgot about it.

When I arrived in Panama, there was a penny lying on the ground beneath my feet. Mmmmmmmm. I picked it up. Three days later, in Boquete, my travel agent, out of the blue, gave me a free $3 phone card. Mmmmmmmmm. Then, my agent at the bank gave me two free 2011 calendars. Mmmmmmmmm. As so often happens in Panama, I fully expected the taxi driver who took me back to Boquete to notice I was an American and triple his fee. He didn’t. Mmmmmmmmmmm. That happened a second time. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Greetings, meetings, lunches, and dinners kept flowing in. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I’ve been wanting to facilitate healing workshops and have always wanted to go on a cruise. Suddenly, over the past two weeks, I’ve been offered opportunities by PacificOrient Caribbean Cruises out of Australia and WhaleWatchingPanama around Coiba and Contadora Islands off the southern coast of Panama. Mmmmmmmm.

The kicker happened shortly before I arrived home. I’d been getting about ten hits a day on my website. Suddenly, the hits jumped to over 100. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Is there something going on here that I don’t understand but that somehow seems to work? Or is it just that as I focus on abundance, I become more aware of the abundance all around me flowing into my life? I don’t know the answer, but I think I’ll continue chanting the mantra.

Warm regards,


Thought Energy, Intentions, and Synchronicities

Dec 10

“Drive safely,” my son Bill said as I was getting ready to leave our family get-together in Saint Marys, Georgia. He was the third family member who had said that to me.

I replied with a bit of irritation, “I am a safe driver.” Then, noticing my own abruptness and recognizing that Bill’s intentions were good, I added, “But I appreciate your thought. There are an awful lot of people on the road who don’t pay attention to their driving. Please hold the thought that the people who aren’t careful drivers stay out of my path.”

About 20 minutes out of Saint Marys, an unexpected question suddenly popped into my mind. Had I remembered to pack the power cord for my computer or had I left it plugged in at the motel? At first, I wasn’t going to stop, but then I figured it was better to check than to arrive home after a five-hour drive, only to discover I didn’t have it.

I pulled over to the side of the road, popped the trunk, got out and unzipped my suitcase and computer case. Sure enough, the cord was right where it should have been. Two minutes later, I was back on the road.

The drive was uneventful until I got to I-75 just below Ocala. Suddenly, all traffic in all three lanes came to a dead halt. Nothing moved for almost two hours.

I couldn’t see a thing. One motorist who had gotten out of his car reported that helicopters were dropping down to the roadway ahead of us. Another said that there had been a three-vehicle crash, and lifelines were pulling people from demolished vehicles.

When traffic finally began moving again, about two miles down the road I passed what was left of the wreck: one totally trashed vehicle, a pickup truck, a camper, and belongings strewn all over the side of the road. At the next rest stop, a woman said that according to OnStar, someone had been killed.

Two minutes. Two miles. Except for my stop to check for my computer cord, I could well have been in that accident with one of those less than careful drivers.

Did this chain of events have anything to do with my parting conversation with Bill?  Where did the thought about my computer cord come from and why did I unexpectedly stop for two minutes along the way?  Are our thoughts and intentions simply instantaneous energy exchanges that manifest desired results in unexpected ways?

I don’t ever expect to know the answer to those questions, but this strange series of apparently unrelated thoughts and events surely produced a strange synchronicity that may have saved my life.

Free Yourself from Fear Forever

Oct 11

When you’re feeling fear, notice where your mind is ….

Why Intention Matters

Sep 26

You’re starving. You skipped breakfast to sleep late and get to work on time. It’s 11 a.m. A co-worker offers you a doughnut. Do you eat it? Or do you say, “No, thanks.”

What you do depends on your conscious intention. (Please notice. The doughnut does not change.)

Do you want to satiate your hunger? Then, of course, you eat the doughnut. It’s perfect.

Or ….

Do you want to lose weight, increase your energy, fit into slimmer clothing, and feel healthy and relaxed? Then you don’t eat the doughnut.

Or …

Do you want to satiate your hunger and be healthy? Then you pull out your green drink and sip on that instead.

Green Drink

Green Drink

Now, of course, having a green drink may require a few other changes such as setting the conscious intention to prepare one and consciously setting aside the time to do it.

Do you set conscious intentions about what you want to bring into your life? Or are you living such a chaotic lifestyle that you’re functioning on autopilot?


… for just one moment, and notice what’s going on, both inside you and outside of you. Is your body tense? Does your back hurt? Do you have a headache?

Are you in an environment full of loud noise, critical people, and people who don’t do what they say they’ll do?

Ouch! Pay attention. Is this fun? Do you want to keep all this soul clutter in your life?

If not, start thinking about what you can change. You don’t directly change what’s going on around you. You change what’s going on inside of  you. That’s where your power lies.

What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are your resources? What can you do differently that will move you forward toward health, energy, enthusiasm and peace?

Consciously use your power of conscious intention and be amazed at the huge personal shift it brings into your life!