Articles From the July 1995 Unification News


Toward True Intimacy And Hope

Victoria Clevenger

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson recently came through the Portland/Vancouver area to promote their new book, Spiritual Politics, Changing the World from the Inside Out. I spoke with them and read their book. The following includes insights from both the interview and the book and some of my thoughts.

Years ago in a San Francisco park, I began talking with a man in his late 20's who, like me, was enjoying the lovely spring day. I found out that he had a law degree and was about to also become a doctor. Impressed, I asked what was most important in his life. He thought for a moment, and then replied seriously, "Sex." His response totally surprised me, but I saw it was sincere--and not a come-on. "Why?" I asked. I've never forgotten his answer. He said soberly, "It keeps despair pushed back."

Yes, the temporary "intimacy" of a physical union can "push back despair," at least for that moment. But we hunger for much more--for closeness between husband and wife, parent and child, values and actions, and perhaps ultimately, between our ideals and our reality.

Can we bring these together?

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson have spent their adult lives seeking ways to change the world and can convincingly answer YES. In their new book, Spiritual Politics, they generously share the wide- ranging insight and perspectives they've gained regarding the application of spiritual wisdom to political action to aid in both individual and planetary transformation. A handsome and distinguished- looking couple, they spent six years writing this book, which reflects much of their own journey.

After burning out as political activists in the 60's, they shifted their efforts to internal change.

Corinne: "To really be an effective change agent, you have to change yourself, and I found I couldn't just keep pointing fingers at government or business, people who were being greedy or power- tripping. I had to clean up my own act."

They first met at the Findhorn community in Scotland, and their experience there taught them the importance of connecting with one's own inner divinity and showed them that international people can live together cooperatively. In 1978 they felt guided to form their own ecological spiritual community in Massachusetts, called Sirius, where they still live, though they also spend time working and teaching in Washington, DC.

Why did they write the book?

Gordon: "Political activists and spiritual growth seekers both need the other. Those concerned with personal growth are kidding themselves about going farther if they don't offer some kind of service in the world, and political activists can benefit greatly by learning the deeper causes behind events. We outline many different groups and activities that don't get reported in the media but which are finding new ways to operate. We think the core of the problem is that we are locked into an adversarial win-lose process in our political life. . . . There's no real listening going on, so it's a politics of confrontation, or trying to destroy your opponent rather than working out creative solutions."

The Ageless Wisdom they bring to the political process refers to the fundamental inner truths connecting all the major world religions, like the interconnected-ness of all life, compassion, karma, and seeing events as offering a lesson to be learned. They practice what they teach. Right before their national book tour, an arsonist burned down their home.

Corinne: "You get a major lesson about the impermanence of the physical world when everything goes up in smoke in 15 minutes. We've gone through every emotion--mourning, anger, fear--to learning to let go and trusting we'll receive what we need."

Their book is rich with insight and practical example. Here are a few glimpses:

Gordon, on current cosmic changes:

"At this time there's a shift in astrological energy from Pisces Sixth Ray to Aquarius, the Seventh Ray energy, which helps create new forms for civilization. One way it shows itself is in people experiencing their own inner divinity."

Corinne, on forces of darkness:

"The forces of evil try to keep us from embodying more light, love, and unity. They push us toward materialism and the divide-and-conquer mentality and move people to feel anger, resentment, or jealousy to cause distance and separation between them. Native American warriors say it is not the enemy that destroyed them, but their own inner weakness. Our own weakness gets magnified by these forces as we move out to do more major work." Gordon: "The principle of free will is sacred, so you can identify as evil any forces that try to interfere with people's freedom, to manipulate or oppress them, whether the pressure comes from a government or from a religion. Most people get affected by a generalized stupor, the hypnosis of materialism or television consciousness which encourages you to buy and consume and procreate madly. Once you become more conscious, you choose to act for the highest good of the whole and recognize opposing forces more clearly."

Gordon, on the impact of thoughts and feelings:

"Our collective thinking affects both other people and the natural world. For example, when the United States was trying to get the Filipino people to keep Clark Air Force Base, the Mount Pinatubo volcano, perhaps affected by the smouldering resentment of the Filipinos, erupted and completely destroyed the base."

Corinne, on the souls and personalities of nations:

"Nations, like individuals, can also be self-centered. According to research on how nations voted at the United Nations--for self-interest or for the good of all--the United States didn't score well. As more nations align their personality with their soul and true spiritual destiny, a compassionate and just new world order will emerge.

From the book:

"Those individuals who change crisis into opportunities for transformation and achievement are the hope for the world. Hope acts like a spiritual magnet which draws inspiration from high sources. Hope is not an emotional attitude, but a clear intuitive knowing that recognizes good can triumph when charged with courage and unshakable determination."

"There are three distinct groups in each nation: most widespread is the conservative element that resists change but provides stability; second are the creative innovators and problem solvers who are inclusive in their consciousness; the third includes people who feel lost and bewildered, many who destroy themselves through drugs or other addictions or who are hopeless and despairing, including the vast masses of poor around the world."

"It behooves us all to work together to create a climate of consciousness in which violence and horror in films and television become repulsive to most people because of the refinement of their heart qualities."

Corinne, on what each person can do:

"We encourage people to adopt a leader, write letters, and send them a lot of love and light in prayer and meditation to help them align themselves with their higher self and the good of all. We also include 15 things to do to aid planetary evolution."

They outline groups working behind the scenes, some laying the groundwork for the incredible developments in South Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland.

They also include several meditations for helping on the national and world levels, and ten "Principles for Public Life --'May the Best Person Serve'" that could be a code of conduct for public officials.

What do we do with all this?

One thing is certain: As they write,

"If we begin where we are to improve the lives of those around us, we can help create 'heaven on Earth.' . . . It is up to each of us to develop right relationships with others if we are to truly heal our world."

A primary vehicle for both spiritual growth and world healing can be our own family and its "politics". Creating close, joyful "right relationships" within this unit demands the best of ourselves and trains us to relate well to the global family of man. Much of the call for "family values" may come not so much from a nostalgia for some past experience--real or imagined--but may indeed originate from the inner voice of our Soul urging us to finally realize the innate blueprint in our hearts.

We disregard this voice at a price. Stress and anxiety have many causes, but perhaps fundamental is the tension between what is and what could be in ourselves. True intimacy on every level becomes more possible when we are intimate with our highest self and bring that to others. Hope shines as we understand this journey is everyone's destiny--joy to the world.

Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out (Ballantine Books, New York, 1994) would make a great gift for those who wish their lives to be a gift to the world.

I also wanted to share an experience I had when I decided to pray for our nation's leaders. I started with President Clinton, and then prayed that he, Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole could somehow unite closely together, centered on a sincere faith in God, and thus come up with some wonderful new direction for our country. As soon as I had the thought to pray for their unity, I felt such an internal surge of tears and emotion, as if Someone really wanted to encourage and thank me for praying that way. --VC

Shared Hopes vs. Hidden Agendas

Contributed by Don Maruska, 895 Napa Avenue, Suite A-5, Morro Bay, CA 93442. 805 772-4667. In the printed HeartWing, with permission I publish the full address of contributors so that others can contact if desired. I've eliminated most of the addresses here, but am leaving this one in case you want to contact Don about his book Inviting Healthy Decisions: A Guide for Work, Home and Community --VC)

How do you tell if someone or some organization is good at making decisions? Ideally, the decisions result in the hoped for benefit for all involved, a "happy ending." How is humankind doing? The unfulfilled hopes of so many people for a safe, abundant, and happy life, both throughout history and today, indicate we still have a lot to learn.

Decision-making is often not a fun or win-win process. However, Don Maruska and Art Stevens offer a way to make group decisions that is both "fruitful and fun." I spoke with Don about his method, and was impressed by its depth, comprehensiveness, and applicability to all kinds of situations. I also like that this process can help us identify what our real hopes are, feel safe to share them, and be open to receive that vulnerable part of another. I think it aids in accessing the common-sense Dr. Pransky describes [see "Learning to be Close," p. 3] as well.

Don has an MBA and JD and has been CEO of three Silicon Valley companies and an advisor to legislators and multinational corporations. Art has a Ph.D. in political science and now is also an Episcopal priest and counselor.

The following is excerpted from some remarks Don made to the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

Don writes, "I'd welcome reactions from you and your readers." --VC

How we reach decisions is the most important factor in group performance. How we decide, much more than any individual decision, tells 1) who we are, 2) the quality of our relationships, and 3) our potential for continued growth and development together.

Unfortunately, typical decision processes undermine effective action and reflect a widespread addiction to conflict and control. Underlying most decision processes are fears and expectations which create a feeling of scarcity that drives us into win-lose confrontations with one another.

An alternative approach that we have found to be dramatically effective is based upon shared hopes rather than fears. Whereas fears feed our anxious egos, shared hopes draw us beyond ourselves and empower us to be our best and most creative selves with a cooperative spirit.

Shared hopes express why we are together. A business might hope to create products to fulfill specific needs; a family business may also want to build a company to share with the next generation.

To engage our hopes and realize fruitful results, we need a decision process that translates shared hopes into action. The method we have found effective is built around the following key principles:

1) fully involve everyone who has a stake in the decision

2) concretely connect with your shared hopes

3) really hear one another's feelings to get at the true issue vs. the presenting issue

4) engage each person in stating negatives and positives about each option, without too much or too little ownership of any one option, and

5) call upon each participant to choose the best option to fulfill the shared hopes.

Applying these principles in easy to follow steps, groups achieve impressive results: 1) newly formed teams gain focus and momentum, 2) organizations with long-standing conflicts find common ground, and 3) bickering families rediscover the joy of being together.

In comparison with other approaches, this decision process is 1) frequently faster, 2) more open to new solutions, 3) better at building a quality decision, 4) more effective in gaining successful implementation, and 5) more flexible to respond to changes. For businesses, these benefits can translate into improved performance and a better bottom line.

What is especially appealing to me is how I can use the same basic method in my work, with my wife and daughter, and in my community activities. As a result, I feel a deep sense of integration in my life with each area supporting the others. And, since it is relatively easy and fun to use the process, I feel encouraged to apply it in all of my decisions, large and small. I have learned that I can let go of my own desire to control, and I can trust this process to guide us to more fulfilling results than I would have imagined.


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