Deepak Chopra and Intent

An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question: Obama and Wright. McCain and Keating. Palin and Muthee. To what extent is it right or wrong to judge candidates by the company they keep?
Inevitably voters assess candidates by the company they keep. This begins with their preachers and spreads out from there. Sen. Obama renounced Rev. Jeremiah Wright for his outrageous ranting from the pulpit, but the association will continue to haunt him. The question is whether Sen. McCain will thump on the theme of guilt by association as he runs out of hail Mary passes. Obama has done him the courtesy of not playing upon McCain’s own embarrassing preachers. But we are all braced for what Republicans do when they get into trouble: they smear their opponents mercilessly. McCain has thrown Rezco into the race, and Obama feels that he has no choice but to hurl Keating back at him.
Character assassination is grossly unfair, but it’s not unfair to judge people by the company they keep. No man is an island, least of all in politics. We will never see another Lincoln walking out of the back-country straight into the halls of power. But that was a myth to begin with. In reality Lincoln was an ambitious, well-paid lawyer who played the political game shrewdly. If he existed today, he would be raising money from rich donors and attending chicken a la king dinners alongside hundreds of supporters, many of whom want a return on their contribution.
As much as we instill virtue in our own candidate and vice in his opponent, guilt by association rarely works. First of all, every national candidate either comes from the financial elite or rubs shoulders with them. Second, politics is about money, in both savory and unsavory ways. There’s no pure position in this regard. Constituencies want projects paid for by the federal government. Lobbyists and special interests call upon both parties all the time. Vast expenditures must be allocated. A candidate who absented himself from this side of politics would be useless. It remains for each office holder to manage his own ethics, and that will never change.
The real pitfall of the “birds of a feather” argument is that politicians flock with so many birds. We don’t know which ones they identify with. If someone on your staff is a divorcee, does that tempt you to be unfaithful to your spouse? If you get a contribution from a corrupt businessman, will his failings turn into yours? Osmosis is a stupid way to judge human interactions. But we won’t stop judging candidates that way, and for obvious reasons. We crave osmosis. We go to the movies to feel as beautiful and desirable as Hollywood stars. Cosmetics are sold so that women can absorb youthfulness by osmosis from supermodels. Voters ascribe shining qualities of leadership to politicians — many of whom don’t remotely deserve it — because they want to absorb courage, patriotism, steadiness in a crisis, optimism, and power from them.
This need leads to very bad things when we project those qualities on to leaders who seriously lack them. The neocons were birds of a feather who squawked the same tune so loudly that the public was fooled into believing them. At this point, when our economic crisis grows deeper every day, I imagine that most voters have stopped caring about preachers, pastors, and fat cat contributors. They’ve become a sideshow at best. As Bertolt Brecht said, first fill the stomach, then preach morality. He was considered a good Communist for believing that every citizen deserves survival first and morality second. It may turn out that the same axiom applies to good capitalists, too.
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I asked my friend Rinaldo Brutoco founder and president of World Business Academy to guest blog here on practical suggestions to reverse the trend we are seeing in our financial security. Rinaldo Brutoco is a leading international executive, writer and keynote speaker for over 25 years, widely recognized as a practical visionary, change agent and futurist who assists executives and organizations in adapting to change with breakthrough ideas. I believe his suggestions would be helpful for our next President as well.
The fundamental problem with Wall Street is not greed, but rather that it forgot the reason business exists.
The origination of business was likely started a individual who saw an opportunity to be of service by offering to bring the excess crops of one farmer to the other and to receive as payment a portion of what he conveyed. That is the fundamental role of business in society: to be of service to society. The World Business Academy has been publishing it’s belief that the purpose of corporations is not to make a profit. The purpose of any business enterprise, and that would include business organizations that populate Wall Street, is to provide some service or material goods that society needs. Profit is there as a necessary component of the transaction, but when it is seen as the only reason, we inevitably lose our way as we have today. Gambling and speculation may be something that society can afford to tolerate, but not something society can afford to have as its central economic model.
Success in life as well as success in business lies in the conscious participation of the expression of abundance and creativity, not merely for one’s own sake, but for others in society. This model of reward primarily through service rather than money is rooted in the truth that there is enough for everyone and that no one is better than, nor lower than anyone else.
The question is how we live this definition of success while watching our material world implode. If the answer lies in investment in green technologies, education and infrastructure, then the next question is: How will you pay for all this when so much money has already been committed to rescuing the financial institutions and credit markets? In fact, by intelligently leaving Iraq and reducing the military budget, along with judicious investment in wisdom-based economies, investment in education, universal healthcare, and our infrastructure, the American economy can actually create more money than these investments will cost us in initial outlay.
Re-creating our economy along the lines of this definition of success will generate a level of wealth in the US that will be a hundred times greater than the explosion of wealth that the US has experienced since the end of World War II.
It is ironic that greater material wealth will be created by adopting a non-greed definition of success but that is exactly what happens as a direct result of our collective decision to put important matters of humanity and the planet first. How does this happen? It happens as a direct result of making better choices so that we see our economic activity as being in service to each of us and to society as a whole. When we make better choices, business will begin to serve those choices as the most efficient way to thrive. Business in service to society.
For years I have stated publicly that I have never heard of, read about, or personally experienced any problem that human society faces for which we don’t already have all the resources and technology at our disposal to resolve. All that is lacking is our individual and collective will to resolve the challenge. This applies to overpopulation, global climate change, poverty, disease, and war. All that is lacking is our will to bring about this different paradigm of abundance and mutual success. And that begins with each of us accepting a new personal definition of success from which to experience all the difficulties we confront.
The time to do this is now.
The current bailout, is a band-aid. It is very important that we adopt it or something like it or society will bleed to death before we can make the fundamental changes to our society that will actually heal the broken economic system that we have. The pending bailout only buys us time. As soon as it becomes law we must put ourselves immediately to the task of re-building our entire economic system from one that was characterized as “trickle down” to one that I would characterize as “trickle up.” In a “trickle up” system we take care of ourselves and our neighbors by putting affordable housing, education, healthcare, meaningful employment, peace as a core commitment, and true success as our goals.
The speed at which the economic system is unraveling is mind numbing. This much speculation has to be brought under control carefully. We need to let the air out of the balloon slowly rather than have it pop. Adopting the bailout bill by itself will solve none of the fundamental, underlying, structural flaws in our economy. It will, however, buy us the time to address those flaws from a new level of consciousness and social policy. That is the short and long-term solution.
Rinaldo will be joining Deepak live on Sirius Radio tomorrow (October 4th) to discuss the economy.
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Ordinary people are outraged that the wealthy want to be given free money as a bailout, and at the same time they are frightened about losing their own money. Fear doesn’t live in a vacuum. To cope with uncertain times, many turn to morality. They blame runaway greed on Wall Street, even though, as a commentator wisely said, Wall Street without greed would just be pavement. They blame the financial world in general for being selfish and rapacious. They blame government for not looking after the average Joe, and finally, many people wonder if God isn’t blaming all of us for our sinful ways.
This flood of blame and judgment shows an impoverishment of spirit that is far worse than loss of money. Jesus was asking a serious question when he said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?” By the same logic he told his listeners to store up wealth in heaven, not on earth. This turns out to be good economics, because the more you attach your worth to money, the more harmed you will be in a crash. But there’s much more to it, of course. To be wealthy in spirit means that you are confident, tolerant and forgiving of others. If that seems too idealistic in hard times, then consider this. You are wealthy if you don’t need the things money can buy in order to prosper.
When we were young and didn’t have money, what motivated us? Enthusiasm, a vision of the future, the desire to follow a personal vision, curiosity about the world, a drive to fulfill our own potential, and love for those we wanted to nourish and support. All those things are tied to money, but they aren’t the same as money. They are the coins of spiritual wealth. Wealth of spirit gives you the ability to make a living. Having money in the bank doesn’t lead to love of others or a vision that motivates you to be better tomorrow than you are today. The way out of this financial crisis is for Americans to regain more inner wealth. How is that done?
— Reject fear and pessimism.
— Know what your vision is and act upon it.
— Don’t blame others and seek payback when things go wrong.
— Prosper inwardly through love, generosity, giving, and altruism.
— Stop identifying with your salary and possessions.
— Work for the common good whenever you can.
No country has ever had a Golden Age when people lived by all these things, but there are times when these things dominate social behavior and other times when they are forgotten. I think it’s foolish to try and calculate whether America is in moral decline. Individual lives are always full of promise and hidden potential. The rise of a corrupt ruling class and the huge inequalities between rich and poor aren’t a good sign, but even here there’s enormous will to pull back from the brink. The key to a turnaround isn’t financial or moral, for that matter. It comes down to understanding the difference between wealth and money, and then living as if that difference matters.
Lest people think an idealist vision does not translate into practical economics, let us consider some of the specific policy outcomes that the current crisis could lead to:
1. A de-militarized economy that does not equate security with the size of the Pentagon’s budget.
2. Investment in wisdom-based economies, including alternative energies, sustainable agriculture and ways to restore balance in the ecosystem.
3. A genuine re-investment in education that rewards excellence in science and creativity.
4 The building of infrastructure, including urban oil-free transportation, restoring our bridges, roads, parks, and forest.
5. Comprehensive health care coverage for everyone in the country.
Every crisis comes with opportunity. Knowing the difference between wealth and money provides the wisdom to seize these creative opportunities. A monetary bailout, on the other hand would merely serve as a band-aid, not a long-term solution.
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An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question: Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will debate this week. What would you ask them about their religious beliefs and why?
If Joe Biden and Sarah Palin aren’t asked about religion in their upcoming debate, that would be healthy. The fact that the right wing has profited handsomely from the religious issue doesn’t make it fair or even constitutional. Nor does it offset the harm they have done. The Constitution kept God out of politics in order to avoid the inflamed conflict that has mired this country since the Reagan revolution. But as long as religion does play a part, voters will keep casting ballots for their favorite brand of God. Therefore, I’d like to see the moderator for the next debate ask Sarah Palin if she gained the governorship of Alaska by exorcising witches at the behest of an African minister who prayed over her.
The YouTube video that shows that event is embarrassing enough, but my intention wouldn’t be to embarrass Palin further. My intention would be to point out the absurdity and wrongness of turning religion into politics. As a Catholic, Joe Biden is entitled to hold beliefs that would disturb practicing Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists. Whatever position he takes on Jesus as savior of the world should be private. Sarah Palin should also be allowed to throw chicken bones in the privacy of her living room. But Palin, riding the crest of right-wing fundamentalism, insists that religion become a litmus test. Having done that, it’s her own fault if she is exposed for her primitive beliefs. Being as far out of the mainstream as she is, the public should find out the truth.
Getting God out of the voting booth is a process, and hopefully that process took a step forward with the revelations about Palin and her belief that the Almighty awarded her the governorship as a kind of gold star for church attendance. The drawbacks of such a view are enormous, but most people don’t see them.
— If success in this world means that God loves you, then he must be punishing those who aren’t successful. Poverty, for example, means you have offended God. Armed with that logic, there’s no reason to pass social legislation to help the disadvantaged.
— Since many people are unsuccessful or have various troubles, they must need conversion. As a result, enormous pressure gets put on them to believe in God. Using this logic, the Bush administration has tied aid to Africa to an ulterior motive, making the recipients accept Christianity.
— It’s clear that many people do succeed without going to church or holding strong religious beliefs. These people become alien and threatening, because they expose a weakness in your belief system. Using this logic, the God-fearing condemn atheists and liberals as Godless. They war against Communism for the same moral failing.
Once intolerance toward unbelievers becomes God’s will, true believers can oppose and harm their opponents as much as they want. A loving God becomes a God of exclusion and social division. It goes without saying that we’ve been seeing a lot of that over the past few decades.
In the end, my innate desire to leave Sarah Palin in peace is something she wouldn’t accord to others — Communists, Muslims, atheists, probably Catholics — if she had her way. Should she land in the White House, she’d have her way as never before. The bottom line is that we have been tolerating her ilk, including George Bush, for a long time, and yet they proudly march under the banner of intolerance. If we can back away from using God as a political propaganda, we will also see a decrease in the number of intolerant religionists who manage to reach the corridors of power.
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