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Two Thousand Years of Propaganda

The burial ground at the Wounded Knee Massacre site on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end.

—One Tin Soldier

Why has acknowledging our universal connectivity and oneness been downplayed for so long?

The answer has two parts. First, only recently has scientific understanding advanced far enough to provide a glimpse at the underlying connectivity that binds everything in the universe through quantum physics and the study of matter in its smallest parts. Second, and today’s focus, is the fact that the existence of oneness challenges virtually all the propaganda deployed for centuries by emperors, executives, pious leaders, and politicians—call them the empire builders who consolidate power by emphasizing division and separateness.

Since the days of the Roman Empire, political, economic, religious, racial, and regional clusters of humans have banded together behind leaders who spin a narrative that says their group is special (and that other groups are dangerous). That imaginary “special” status is then used to justify taking dominion over others.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

To see oneness is to recognize that everything that exists in the universe (both known and unknown) is related and interconnected—including yourself. The Sioux tribes of the northern plains call this understanding Mitakuye Oyasin,which translates as “All things are one thing.” Separateness as we experience it does not actually exist. It’s an illusion.

The presence of an ultimate creator source of the universe has long been identified by virtually all religious and spiritual disciplines as sacred and powerful. Too often, however, that “source” has also been described as separate, detached, and superior. But if it turns out that the source of this energy is present in all things, well, that means all things are also equally sacred and powerful. This would include all humans—regardless of sex, race, religion, or place of origin. If one human is sacred, then all humans are sacred. Conversely, if one human isn’t sacred, then none are. It’s all or nothing because everything is connected.

But that’s not the story you’ve most likely been told. It’s not the tale you’ve been spun. This natural truth of oneness is why it takes so much propaganda, rule-making, weapons, and fences for any small group to lead by virtue of their claim to a special status. That claim, it turns out, runs against the very fabric of the universe, to which we all belong.

“We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls.”

—Frederick Douglass

Oneness shines light on the infamy of slavery.

Oneness exploits all rationale for genocide.

Oneness then pivots and defeats the cries for revenge.

Oneness melts any justification for centralized control and bureaucratic rule by a few over the many.

Oneness calls for dispersed power, shared leadership, and respect for all voices.

***

What change is required for the awareness of our shared connectivity to emerge as our primary organizing principle?

The answer is shared leadership and respect for all voices.

For the age of oneness to fully blossom, existing “leaders” must lower their own profiles and voluntarily distribute power. Everyone is sacred, powerful, and capable of leading.

In return, those who may feel destined to be followers must change as well. When the truth is revealed—that everyone is powerful—no one can sit on the sidelines and abdicate control.

Oneness demands engagement from everyone.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away.

—One Tin Soldier

 

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




What the Sandpiper Knows

“We Indians think of the Earth and the whole universe as a never-ending circle, and in this circle, man is just another animal. The buffalo and the coyote are our brothers, the birds, our cousins. Even the tiniest ant, even a louse, even the smallest flower you can find, they are all relatives.”

—Jenny Leading Cloud

__________

He moved in perfect unison with the rhythm of the surf without looking up.

As the mighty ocean’s final layer of foam peaked, paused, and receded, the sandpiper pivoted and followed it back to its lowest point. Feeding all the while, the agile creature changed course again precisely before the next wave’s uphill surge. Over and over, this intimate dance repeated itself. No conscious thought or strategic planning was required. No weather forecasts or surf reports were needed. That little bird intuitively knew when to turn, advance, and retreat.

I’ve seen similar examples of complete synchronicity between seemingly disparate entities on numerous occasions, from animals large and small, during my frequent visits to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. The horses, for example, know first and best when a severe storm is coming. They gather and huddle with their hindquarters facing the pending wind before any humans nearby detect that danger is in the air.

How does the sandpiper dance with the surf without looking up?

How do horses recognize what we can’t yet see, hear, or feel?

The answer is simple, in both cases: Their survival depends upon being attuned to the natural world that engulfs them.

Humans possess the same capabilities, but as we have systematically urbanized, mechanized, computerized, and televised across time, we’ve slowly given up this wisdom. Most of humanity has walked away from our connectivity to nature and, in so doing, we’ve abdicated the understandings that embracing our connectivity afford. Any indigenous community that lived and died with the wind and the tide for generations knew what the sandpipers and the horses know. Everything that exists in the universe is related and interconnected. Separateness, as we’ve come to experience it, is an illusion. Furthermore, seeing separateness where none exists has consequences. And we are paying them.

The Sioux call it Mitakuye Oyasin, which translates as “All things are one thing,” or “We are all brothers.” This understanding of oneness and connectivity was not limited to humans but rather included creatures and elements big and small. The wind, the rain, the buffalo, the eagle, the human—all of it is related.

Here’s the progression of awareness that Mitakuye Oyasin represents:

  • Everything that exists is interconnected and part of the whole. There is no separation.
  • This universal connectivity includes humans.
  • Damage to any part of that web of connectivity is damage to oneself and the whole. Conversely, kindness to any part of the web is kindness to oneself and the whole.

These principles redefine the fundamentals of winning and losing. In a universe where everything is connected, winning isn’t winning unless everyone is winning. Corporations don’t win if employees, customers, or the community lose. Democrats don’t win if Republicans lose in policymaking (and vice versa). If Christians win but Muslims lose (or vice versa), then both have lost.

This is the new self-awareness that comes with seeing oneness. Everything can be reduced to its tiniest particles of matter. In that infant form a cactus, a rock, and a human all consist of the same elementary stardust.

Why is this important? Because the majority of our societal ills are derived from seeing separation where none exists. Until we learn to see differently, we are destined to experience more of the same.

Science is only recently uncovering what ancient spiritual communities knew long ago: We are not perceiving what we experience; we are experiencing what we perceive. The world is divided only because we have learned to see it as such.

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

Note: For a great, short book on seeing oneness, consider reading The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden.

 

 




#35 | THE POWER OF PRAYER

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

—Soren Kierkegaard

Catherine, speaking only in Lakota, conversed with the buffalo scattered across the high grasslands of what is today Wind Cave National Park in present-day South Dakota.

The wind blew as it always does here, as the low dark clouds dragged themselves by. Whippoorwills sang and then answered their own calls. As each buffalo passed by, Catherine waved. These were not just unrelated and detached animals she was watching. The buffalo and the Lakota people have long been brothers and sisters. This was family, and as such, this was a reunion.

Despite this being traditional Lakota land, Catherine had never been to Wind Cave National Park, and it had been a long time since she’d been in the presence of buffalo. For Catherine, each buffalo was a related spirit, and she acknowledged them as such. Toward the end of our visit, she raised her hands in prayer. Eyes closed, she prayed . . . and she prayed. Given that her words were in Lakota, I understood nothing, yet I understood everything.

* * *

Catherine always prays. I’ve never spent a day with her, shared a meal with her, or exchanged a text message with her that did not involve prayer. Prayer is, for Catherine, central to how one navigates this world and embraces the next.

Catherine Grey Day was born on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Coming of age, she experienced firsthand the harshness of reservation life in the 1950s, as well as the tribal protests against the historic oppression of her people in the 1960s and ’70s. She attended boarding school where she was sent to be “remade” in the white person’s image.

As an adult Catherine escaped abuse, fleeing alone in the middle of the night from her home. She buried one son in his early twenties, and then a few years later, did the same for the other. She later opened clinics and safe houses for other native women escaping domestic abuse. She had homes, and was homeless. Catherine is simultaneously a realist and an optimist. In the same conversation she will laugh and she will cry. And all the while, she prays.

“I have many spirit guides,” Catherine once told me. “There are those I know and those I don’t recognize, but I talk and pray with them all. Some people think I’m crazy because I talk to them, but I don’t care. They’re with me all the time.

“Each morning, alone during coffee, I pray,” Catherine continues. “I pray for lots of people, so it takes a long time. Prayer is real. It’s heard by the spirit world and it travels as energy to those I am praying for. I pray for you, Kevin. I pray for your family and employees in Maine. I pray for everyone I know and care about. I even pray for those who have hurt me.”

* * *

 

I am a spiritualist who is also attracted to science. This dual interest has led me to realize that scientists and spiritualists are actually on the trail of the same universal truths.

One of my favorite books on this subject is The Field, by Lynne McTaggart. Her thesis is that all the energy of the Universe is actually connected by an invisible web of electromagnetic threads. There is no separation or detachment. What happens to one reverberates across all.

“During the past few years science and medicine have been converging with common sense, confirming a widespread belief that everything―especially the mind and the body―is far more connected than traditional physics ever allowed.  Our body extends electromagnetically beyond ourselves and it is within this field that we can find a remarkable new way of looking at health, sickness, memory, will, creativity, intuition, the soul, consciousness, and spirituality.”

-Lynn McTaggert

With this fresh scientific insight, let us revisit the indigenous commitment to prayer that Catherine espouses. Catherine has long understood that prayer is real. That it travels. That it is heard. That spirit responds. Prayer is connected. Its energy moves.

This spiritual understanding of prayer suddenly has a scientific underpinning. If all energy is connected, then that includes thought energy. In this context ideas would reverberate. Prayer, which is nothing more than deep, intentional thought, would therefore move with purpose across space and time.

The Lakota have long known that everything is connected. Mitakuye Oyasin, they say, which translates as “All things are one thing,” or “We are all brothers.” It is with this understanding that Catherine speaks to the buffalo and prays for their well-being.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Catherine, and I’m pretty sure she knows something about prayer that the rest of us could build upon. In fact, if my experiences at Pine Ridge have taught me anything, it’s that the old wisdom is the pathway toward new wisdom. So pray on Catherine, pray on.

 

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.”

—Mother Teresa

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

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This is the thirty-fifth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!