Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Harmony Equity Group

So over the course of the last two years or so I've been working with a remarkable team of individuals, both formally as well as informally, on attempting to revisit the basic assumptions of the role of business and commerce in society.

Watching everything go down with the financial industry has had me very agitated at times. It seems we often end up trying to blame a bad CEO or a few greedy people at the top or even an entire industry while we completely ignore the fact that the entire cultural context within which ALL corporate decisions are made is rooted firmly in a pervasive materialist ideology that explicitly states that human prosperity will follow material prosperity as a matter of course. (Though I wonder if the series of failed social experiments that we refer to as the 20th century might provide a bit of evidence to the contrary)

In the absence of any significant attempts at explicitly nurturing the moral, social and spiritual spheres of civilization, it doesn't seem to me like there should be much doubt as to the outcome. If the entire emphasis is on the material and we have a society that is completely lopsided in that direction, of course people will be irresponsible with other people's money, of course they will lie, cheat and steal, of course they will sacrifice any notion of morality for greater material gain. Because if human fulfillment follows material material fulfillment, then the "material advancement by any means necessary" actually becomes your moral code in a sense.

Of course this is not to say that material prosperity plays no role in human fulfillment...quite to the contrary. Surely it is tough to think lofty thoughts when you're starving, but the problem is when you place an undue emphasis on the material, neglecting the other essential elements of societal, and thus human, development.

So in this project of ours, we're trying to take a stab and learning something about an alternate role for business that takes into account these other elements. One that believes that the fundamental purpose of business or commerce is to ensure the prosperity of humankind. It seems to me that the very existence of NGO's and trusts is a testament to the failure of commerce to accomplish that purpose. As such, we're starting from that assumption, recognizing that we don't know what type of a system will actually emerge, but starting from the ground up in the hopes that we will start to discern patterns and trends that might contribute something meaningful to the global discourse on "Oh no! Institutions we once thought were impregnable are crumbling...what do we do?!!"

I've found it useful for myself to think about our initiative in terms of hardware and software elements.

The "hardware" side of this project is to define and implement an institutional structure that takes as a fundamental assumption the role of a firm to be an animator of progress for an ever-advancing civilization instead of strictly to increase shareholder value, where the definition of progress or development is more holistic and not strictly defined in material terms (Amartya Sen, for example, defines development as freedom). This also has to do with creating the appropriate incentive structures, ownership models, management structures and a collaborative IT framework that would be reflective of such a paradigm that takes into account the need for harmony of the material, social, moral and spiritual spheres of civilization.

The "software" side of the project really has to do with redefining the cultural context within which the corporation operates. Central to this is an HR development program that acknowledges our spiritual reality and recognizes its development as one of the responsibilities of a corporation. If the firm is to be player in advancing the interests of society, surely one of its responsibilities is to have a program that considers the spiritual and moral development of its workforce. The implications are not only profound for a healthy and collaborative atmosphere within which a unified organization could be far more productive, but really for the entire extended sphere of family and other social connections that the employees will now be interacting with on a more enlightened level.

Additionally, the fact that we can institute a curriculum without the approval of a board of education or that we can institute an experiment in governance models without worrying about losing an election should the experimental governance model prove to be defective, places the firm in an optimal positional to act as a Petri dish of sorts for other civil organizations that may not have the flexibility necessary for experimentation (which in turn is essential for our survival). It seems to me that the one big thing lacking from the entire field of political science is the science (at least from my perspective). It also seems to me that we need to start finding radically innovative ways of governing ourselves and of revisiting the role of commerce in society at an ever increasing pace as the forces of disintegration continue to wreak havoc in the old world order.

So...that's what I'm doing these days. Oh, and New Years Resolution: I'm going to blog TWICE A WEEK for 2009. I have an enforcer that has kindly promised to inflict severe pain upon me if I neglect that duty.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another Second Chance

'Tis late this night you visit me

I lay upon my bed
Perplexed as how you know the time
I sink as molten lead

My mountain turns to rubble
'neath the overcasting sky
The weight doth clinch my beating heart
my lash embrace mine eye

The hope that once enveloped me
I long to taste her lips
That freedom, flight, eternal bliss
the raging torrent barely drips

Into the cup, that broken glass
that gleamed in sun, eternal shine
That glory that I once did know
that glory that's no longer mine

The manic, frenzied, bullet pace
Doth slow to grinding 'thought a trace

And there you stand...lovely...bidding me come dance.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Teeth of Paradox

Oh angel ye of fire

Oh ye angel of the snow
Though you burn in brilliant passion
Yet the gap you see you know

Do you see the crystal vision
of that you wish to be
Whilst you drown in tears of sorrow
'thin the shackles of reality

Oh angel ye of fire
as you soar in Realms unseen
as you discover wonders
Wonder what could be and been

Oh angel ye of snow
whilst the frost doth bite thine feet
Will you press relentless drive or
will you crumble 'neath the long retreat

Oh angel ye of fire as you soar you surely see
Oh angel ye of snow, how you suffer just to be

Thus doth he exist...thus doth he move on...eternally trapped within her grasp


Monday, March 10, 2008


'Tis within the pulse of silence

that mine timid heart doth dance

'Tis in these times of solitude

my thoughts within the Trance

That space so long forgotten
whose name once bore my home
whose song was sung between the notes
That pulse, that steady drone

That calls to me as if I were
a slave 'neath chains of purest gold
whose shine who's splendor who can shun
Yet shun I do and wrong I'm told

And if that voice, that soft sweet voice
could leave me but a choice until
That first caress upon my ear
and choice shuns me and robs my will

A mindless fool enchanted dunce
A heart that lifts his voice this once

That pulse...that rhythm...that primal tempo of Truth.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grandma Lilian's Lips and the Art of Meditation

I recently spent a few days in Vancouver with a dear mentor and friend of mine, Don Streets, and an amazing and incredibly diverse group of individuals. The event was put on by Lee Brown, a Cherokee gentleman who got his Master's degree in education 25 years ago through Don's program at National University in San Diego, California and has since completed his doctorate in education. Lee is a faculty member in the College of Education at UBC and has been asked by the University to begin a doctoral program for First Nation students which is already underway.

The event was a conference for tribal leaders and educators from all over Canada, including a couple Maori representatives from the University of Aukland, New Zealand. The conference was one of the most amazing processes to witness and participate in that I have ever experienced. No parading of credentials, no blasting of hot air and pontificating, no evidence of ego, none of the trappings that often stymie discussions and consultation, especially in academia, no interrupting of those speaking, etc., but rather the kind of humility and rapt attention, respect, and consideration one only experiences among those of the highest sensibilities.

The most highly respected individual there, and the most revered, with the most profound and eloquent contributions was "Grandma' Lilian", a First Nation grandmother in her 80's, who, for the most part appeared to be asleep, but that was hardly the case. I can only guess that she was in deep meditation, and either, when called upon or by her own initiation and after being recognized to speak, would come out with the most incredible contributions, statements I can only label at this time as the wisdom of the ages that set the direction of the consultation within its proper context, with implications for the direction in which it should be going, sort of like a vector quality that gives both energy, focus, and direction. Invariably she was bang on the underlying dilemma with every single comment and clearly she was accessing something I was not.

As it turned out, Grandma Lilian and I were staying in the same hotel and so I had the opportunity to give her rides back and forth. Though it was only about a 10 minute ride, and only twice a day, by the last day we had developed a very sweet relationship. As I dropped her off the last night, I leaned over to give her a big hug, but to my surprise she grabbed the back of my hair and planted the biggest kiss right smack on my lips. She then looked me dead in my sure to have been very wide eyes and said, "Sometimes you need to slow your mind down," and she walked off!

So in trying to figure out what it was about that woman that allowed her to know what it was that I needed I searched through the Baha'i Writings for quotes on meditation and the nature of meditation and found a couple of interesting ones.

In a talk given in Paris, Abdu'l-Baha says:

Bahá’u’lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time—he cannot both speak and meditate. It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see.

This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.

This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.
Its given me something to think about while I continue to ponder Grandma Lilian's lips and the art of meditation.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Musings of an 11 Year Old on the Hidden Words

I am enclosing here the transcript of a conversation (to date) between myself and a very precious human being whom I love dearly and who happens to be 11...

Hey sweetheart! Good! I miss you too baby...I think its maybe because I love you so much!!! Hey, are you on facebook? Couldn't remember if I'd added you or not. You should hop on there if you are. Hey baby, I was reading the first Hidden Word, and Tara and I wanted to do an arts project, where we all read the first Hidden Word and then we all express it in some artistic form, whether it be music, drawing, or whatever else you choose to express it with. It is...

Oh Son of Spirit

My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.

What do you think this quote means? Are you interested in doing this with us? Hit me back.


Dear Toddles,
I think you added me on facebook, but I'm not sure. The Hidden word thingy sounds cool. There is this junior youth/youth open mic thing in ABQ where you xpress yourself in any way, shape or form. Being my scatter-brained self, I forgot what its called, but we could present it there. Speaking of song: Come back to me! To the girl who lost her cousin to Canada!! Okay, gtg.

Hey still didn't tell me what you thought the first Hidden Word meant. What do you think that means? And what comes to mind in terms of artistic expression?


Dear Toddalicious,
I think it means to have a clear heart that is free of any badness, and you will be an immortal ruler. Or something like that. I'm thinking of painting as an artisitic expression.
Lots o' luvvvv,
Kiana pie

Dear Kiana pie,

What will you be an immortal ruler of?


dear toddicus,
cheesecake aside, i'd be the immortal ruler of...hmm. i want to say peace, but how can you rule peace? ah! got it. the ruler of a world that knows no war, no fighting, no homicide, gencide, and all that jazz. alright, at least i can start by minding my mom to get the heck of the email and do bio homework!! peace in home, then world!!!
love and smooches,

Dear janey-khozeiny,

So when the Hidden World says...
Oh Son of Spirit

My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.

Does that mean that we will literally become an immortal ruler of cheesecake or otherwise? What is that referring to?

Toddy Potty

dear toddy potty
no, i think that it means that our soul will become everlasting. i know, souls always progress after this world, but its like a power-boost.
love and cuddles,
kiana banana

Dear kiana banana,

Very cool you're saying that one of the things that this quote says is that this world is kind of like an opportunity to give ourselves a power boost for eternity...if we do it right. That makes sense to me and I like it. And presumably the first council God gives us is to have a pure, kindly and radiant heart....hmmmm...ok, so you explained what a pure heart meant to you...what do you think a radiant heart means?

Love and snuggles,


Dear Toddalicious,
Yah, I like it too. Kinda drawing from virtue studies in baha'i'(?) school. Hmm...radiant heart...huh. Well, think of the prayer:
"O God! Guide me, protect me. Make my heart a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the mighty and the powerful.
So, I'm thinking along the lines of that. A brilliant heart shines (duh), but, in this sense, I think it means to shine with the love of Baha'u'llah. My dad said that there was a quote that said that His love attracted all the other loves like moths to a flame. So, if we carry that love in our heart, everyone else will be attracted to it. My mom said that when you have that in your heart, it shows, and you look illuminated, alive. So, that is what I think it means to have a radiant heart. Because, incedentally, (and this has happened among my friends), and i don't know what happened, but people start to talk, and ask, and get interested. So, you kinda teach the faith, too.
Love and snuggles,
Kiana cupcake