Many are losing their homes and livelihoods now due to an economic tsunami. While this disaster is man-made, its magnitude is sweeping a good many honorable people away in the surging undertow. The broader truth here is certainly the same as in a natural disaster: there is far greater value in the lives being lived than in the possessions lost.
See the full post at the new Heal the Money website: healthemoneybook.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
(for part 1, click here)
Many of us recognize America has been operating out of integrity. Hypocrisy, fraud and lies have been the order of the day at the highest levels of government as well as corporations. Our financial systems both reflect and drive this widespread disrepute.
But, by the vigor in our recent vote for change, we have put our foot down. No more. We are ready for integrity.
Our clarity of purpose in this choice will determine the extent and the depth of this financial crisis.
Fortunately, even as the darkening clouds loom, we have a palpable sense now of having taken back our government. As promising an energy as Obama radiates, he can only follow the trail we clear. We are the change we’ve been waiting for. Our own determination to make sure that real change actually takes place will be the measure of our generation.
Big time change
To a certain extent, however, the tipping point has already been reached. Change is upon us, big time. Exposing and disposing of all the corrupted financial rot will mean coming to grips with one heck of a lot of change. Pillars we’ve been leaning on, striving for, or expecting to support us, will give way. Big banks and corporations will fail. More fraud will continue to be unearthed — I doubt we’ll even be able to take in the true extent of it.
The consequences of the upending are looming as large as a saber-toothed tiger, ready to devour us around the very next corner.
The key question becomes how we respond to these collapses and revelations?
Many will agree with Arianna Huffington, this is a mad-as-hell moment. Do we allow the rising fears, anger and outrage to run our lives and force our decisions? To lead us into violence or into despair?
What can a person do to avoid being sucked into the panic?
Three steps to gain perspective and avoid screaming
The effort of gaining perspective is a large one — one I’ll be addressing all this year. We are in the middle of a time of great change, no one seems to have the answers, and the future is shaping up to be a lot different than we expected. There’s a lot on our plates.
Below, I touch on three critical steps you can take personally to release some of the fear that can eat away at your energy and throw you into panic mode.
Step 1: Recognize it’s a transition to integrity
First of all, decide for yourself that this time is a transition to integrity. The rot simply has to go. To establish integrity, we need to hold our noses and dig up the rot. The fraud-based systems we’ve been used to will have to be completely transformed or jettisoned. Thieves have made off with the loot and set fire to the house as they left. Yes, someone’s going to have to go after the thieves, but that’s not going to save the house. Much of it will just have to come down.
What the new systems will look like, we don’t presently know. Most current “experts” won’t have the answers — they identify too strongly with the current system. And I wouldn’t count on those who got a chunk of loot from the old fraud to be too happy about the changes underfoot. Don’t count on them for solutions. As Albert Einstein noticed, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
On the bright side, nothing brings sides together better than a shared sense of not knowing what the answer is.
Indeed, we need to let go of what we think we know. It is only this energy of humility that will bring the inspiration for new answers.
Coupled with humility, we need to stand firm in demanding integrity throughout the new system. If we aim to deliver integrity, chances are good that what we create will be a vast improvement from what we have now.
Step 2: We are enough to face the unknown
Second, unpack your fear of the unknown and examine it for a moment. The unknown is frightening because somewhere inside virtually every one of us, there’s a firmly held belief that we are not enough to handle what’s around the corner.
A well-programmed voice in the head tells us we’re not prepared, we won’t know what to do, we won’t have the resources … ultimately, that we’ll die a horrible death, bankrupt, alone and unloved if we go around the corner. AAAHHH! We quake imagining the kind of saber-toothed tiger that we’re absolutely certain is just over there!
But if we examine this fear, we realize we don’t know for sure whether what lies ahead is actually a saber-toothed tiger. It could be a rock in the shape of a tiger… we could easily go around a rock. It could be a shadow of something we encountered in the past, say in 10,000 BC… we could walk right through a shadow.
Even if a dangerous predator does sit out there, maybe it will be fast asleep by the time we walk by. Maybe it will go after someone else. Maybe it’ll be a bad pouncer and miss us. Maybe we can calmly saunter past it while it’s looking at a bug.
Maybe we’ll hit it at exactly the right place with a marshal arts move we learned in high school and knock it out, if it does charge.
Or … maybe it’s roaring because it has a hurt paw.
Or maybe we can charm it with our charisma and he’ll become our buddy. Hey, we could have a saber-toothed tiger pet!
By imagining alternatives, we can coax ourselves into realizing, hey, we may in fact be enough to face whatever lies ahead, even if we’ve never experienced it before.
So instead of spending time and energy imagining the worst, cultivate a calm confidence that you are enough to manage whatever comes. Let go of any thoughts that tell you otherwise.
Step 3: Don’t leap to the future, stay in the present.
Third, bring yourself into this particular moment. What in this moment is the problem?
Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
Almost all fear is future oriented: the anticipation of future doom, future harm. The dread of getting to the corner and facing the imagined saber-toothed tiger freezes us and chills our bones.
The actual danger lies in the future, but by anticipating it, we experience the doom right now, long before the consequences have materialized.
We become so afraid, the tiger may as well sink its teeth into us now because, internally, we’ve already decided that’s what’s going to happen — we can feel our flesh ripping apart and the blood spurting! Internally we’re already going through the very doom we’re trying to avoid.
So what happens? We can’t act, we lose clarity, we panic, we don’t know what to do, we make rash decisions. We’re stuck.
Albert Einstein recommends, “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”
Our expectations and judgments color what we see in the world. Some say they even create what we see in the world.
To reduce fear, take yourself out of the mode of judging what is, and instead put yourself into the mode of simply observing what is. As the wise master turtle Oogway says in the delightful film Kung Fu Panda:
Shifu: “Master master, I have… uh, it’s very bad news.”
Oogway: “Ah Shifu, there is just news. There is no good or bad.”
Do your best to see what’s happening as simply news, not “bad” news. (For the advanced course, try and do this when you’re watching FoxNews.)
Begin to let go of anticipated doom. Perhaps there will be bridges that need to be crossed at some point. Keep your focus on the now.
Ask yourself, “Am I safe right now, in this moment?” Do you have food and a roof over your head right now? If you feel safe now, can you let that feeling of being safe expand?
If you feel unsafe now, can you coax yourself to let go of that feeling of being unsafe, just for a moment? You have the ability to hold onto feelings, or let go of them. See if you can let go of the feeling of being unsafe.
Also start to let go of judgments about the circumstances you find yourself facing. Can you allow things to be different from how you think they are? Can you allow things to be different from how you worry they will be?
Above all, let go of beating yourself up for being in whatever predicament you are in. Can you let go of blaming yourself? Can you let go of blaming others just for this moment?
Can you allow yourself to feel you are enough to handle your current circumstances, whatever you are facing, in this moment?
Use the three exercises to defeat your own saber-toothed financial tigers. As you may have realized, the most important saber-toothed tiger to defeat is within ourselves.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
In the events since my last blog article, it hardly seems the same country. We cast a triumphant vote for change that resounded around the world. We’ve been buffeted by the opening waves of a mighty financial storm. And a great weight has finally lifted from all of us with Obama’s exuberant inauguration a week ago.
As I washed dishes between inauguration events, it hit me, deja vu-like: Obama has the character I’ve been expecting in a president since I was a small girl. Eloquent, visionary, sensible, compassionate … the kind of humble aspect but powerful purpose I saw, even as a youngster, in Lincoln and Washington.
Ah, no wonder I’d been so upset with every other president — they were not up to my inner standard, not even close. Finally, we have someone I’ve been expecting all along.
A sense of matter-of-factness enveloped me. Okay, now we can get to work. We’ve got a bunch of stuff to do.
And, just like that, it is possible to move freely. With Bush Co gone, it’s as if we’ve each suddenly lost, oh, I don’t know… 400 pounds. Whew! Feeling much better. (And why oh why didn’t we shed that dead weight long ago!) Fortunately, it’s not a moment too soon. We’re going to need to be as light as possible for what’s ahead.
Each news broadcast this winter has revealed yet more stormy news — the bailout hasn’t done anything to help the crisis, the banks and the Fed aren’t going to tell anyone where our money’s gone, foreclosure numbers are even worse than stats show, the SEC is corrupt and has let fraudsters like Bernard Madoff (former chairman of NASDAQ no less) run billion-dollar Ponzi schemes unmolested for years, while they shook down petty street urchins instead.
Interspersed with the latest news truckload to dump onto the festering garbage pile over the holidays were relentless commercials pimping a bow-tied Lexus or diamond earrings: Spend every penny this Christmas as if nothing is happening!
Talk about a complete lack of clue on the part of these companies. As far as I can tell, the only reason massive protests didn’t materialize was that, thanks to our lifelong consumer-behavior programming, we actually beat ourselves up inside when we can’t follow the bouncing ball, instead of telling Lexus where to stick their shiny red bow.
Well, at least there was that cheery $5 footlong Subway jingle to brighten things a smidge.
How does a person keep herself from sinking in the face of this sobering bombardment? What’s a person to do?
That’s the subject of my book, Heal the Money, and it’s what I want to address this year in this blog.
First, a deep breath. There’s a lot to unpack.
What we’re starting to see is the rot at the foundation of our system. We’ll be seeing a lot more rot this year. It’s going to be very disturbing — kind of like seeing a wreck on the highway. Do we stop and try to help? Do we just keep going? Do we get mad about the disruption to our plans? Do we get pissed off at the idiots driving 90 miles an hour while texting who caused the pile up?
But the truth is our financial system has been rotten for a long time. The flowing money has been hiding it.
Just as with Madoff’s scheme, the critical part of the game has been to keep the money changing hands, so no one’s the wiser. Stop the flow of new takes, and, as with Madoff’s scheme, the gig is up.
This need explains the real reason why the bailout was so “urgent” in September — it was a frantic attempt to keep the money moving. The last thing the people at the top of this garbage heap want is for the people below to stop what they’re doing long enough to take a big whiff.
This pause in the flow of money will uncover just how much fraud had been driving our supposedly robust economy.
Unfortunately, our beliefs that our financial system as it was structured would have supported us into the future were an illusion — it would never have stood the test of time. So the time has come for us to find that out.
Now at last we can clear out what is rotten and build new foundations that can support us where we’re going.
At the same time, we need to come to terms with the likelihood that most folks have been basing major life decisions around this corrupted rotten system — relying on it for their future — so how are we going to react when what we’ve known collapses?
Ah… I believe that will be the greatest test of American character we have ever faced.
I believe we are ready for this test. Within all the chaos, is a gift, if we allow ourselves to see it. The gift is a return to integrity. We are ready for integrity.
So much of what has happened in this country does not align with its true purpose. Far too many dealings, even disastrous wars, have been based on hypocrisy, fraud and lies. We know it. We’ve finally rejected this path. By voting in such great numbers for the very ideas of hope and change, we have collectively chosen not to continue the old ways.
We are ready for integrity.
But that also means there is a shakeout upon us. Our choice will likely upend the current system from top to bottom, and many will need help to keep centered. We will need to keep urging the system to transform toward integrity, without letting the exploding fear of change sink us. I do believe by holding firmly to our nation’s purpose, we will create a system that will be far better than we can know right now. But as with every creative process, there is a descent into the unknown, and it is frightening. That’s where we are.
For the next step in letting go of fears, see the next article to come: Defeating Saber-Toothed Financial Tigers part 2: Three Steps to Calm Confidence.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. [snip]
Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure. [snip]
“You have to balance the need for transparency with protecting the public interest,” Talbott said. “Taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are going, but one piece of information standing alone could undermine public confidence in the system.”
“Protecting the public interest” indeed. A thin screen.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Fear-mongering doesn’t get any more obvious than this. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA, Sherman Oaks, Northridge) despite intense pressure, stood up in the House and told the world that members of Congress had been threatened by the White House with Martial Law if they voted NO on the bailout bill. Martial Law. It seems my reference to “virtual guns” in my last blog post was incorrect — correction: they were real guns.
“The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere.”
Read Rep. Sherman’s breakdown of the bailout bill.
Thank Rep. Sherman here.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Apocalypse of Ego and Return of the King — AKA the “Financial Doom of Colossal Proportions!” and What To Do About It
This time of bailout frenzy and bank failures has indeed been a time of constant terror whip-up. My friend writes:
Hi Suzanne, what do you think of what’s going on? I am anxious and full of fear, and can’t watch the news anymore. Where can I go to get other points of view? There must be something positive to concentrate on while everyone seems to be in panic?
Indeed, this time of terror production is a precious moment to stare one’s ego plainly in the face. This is the gift in the darkness.
The fanning of fear, of doom, these are the weapons of ego, and ego is the dark side. Ego is the shadow. Ego is the part of us we have let run this world.
Egoic consciousness is breaking apart before our eyes as the Berlin Wall fell before our eyes 20 years ago — in astonishing swiftness. The egoic consciousness that dreamt up these financial structures that we’ve been enduring in the first place, let alone actually foisted them on the world is taking its last frantic breaths.
But before we go any further, some of you may be curious, what do I mean by “ego”? The way I think about it, ego is the aspect of you — of each of us — that works to put you above or below another person or group. It is the judging, condemning, or boastful, superior voice within. As Eckhart Tolle describes it, ego is the complete attachment to form. I understand “form” as the external, the physical (the house you live in or the car you drive) or the conceptual (the beliefs you hold about yourself and the world) that are interpreted positively or negatively by the mind. When one is attached to form, there is no separation between one’s identity and the external form or belief — you are your car, you are your beliefs.
Money, more than any other form, has been completely dominated by ego energy for countless generations. The end of this road is what is being revealed now: an unregulated, unrestrained frenzy of greed, of avarice, of recklessness, of irresponsibility, of lack of compassion, of blindness and deafness — of madness.
“Enough!” The call of Barack Obama touches the exact stand so many are intuitively reaching.
This “enough” is the voice of our knowing self. This is the voice of the observer of ego, the part of us who cannot stomach what we see. The part of us who cannot live with ourselves this way anymore.
With that “enough,” we have begun to give voice to the consciousness that is grounded in compassion and fairness and community and higher vision. We have called an end to the madness of ego and we have put our foot down: Enough!
Ego is not used to being denied.
Ego, after all, has been running amok for generations. “Who are you,” it booms menacingly, “to say no to me?!” (I hear Darth Vader’s or James Earle Jones’ voice here.) “Don’t you know what will happen to you and your children? You and they will be swept off the face of the earth if you don’t give me what I want! Give me what I want and we will rule the universe as we were meant to!”
“Then cower in fear as I unleash all the energy of destruction on the planet! Ignore me and it will be Financial Doom of Colossal Proportions!!!”
Standing Up to Abuse
The egoic consciousness is relentlessly abusive. No matter what the circumstances, what choice is made, what achievements, what breakthroughs, what path is taken, the energy of ego will never let up. It is constantly dissatisfied, constantly berating. Even $700 billion, $750 billion, $800 billion would not be enough. There is no amount that would be enough.
The thing to understand about ego is that it is programmed as a lack creator. By its nature, it is never satisfied. It is like trying to fill a black hole. The task is impossible.
But ego has no self awareness of this dysfunction, so it rains down fire and brimstone in desperate attempts to meet its current objectives.
We finally, collectively, stood up and said no to the abuse meted out by this abusive egoic financial system.
In essence, we — by our phone calls and rallies and protests — climbed on top of this virtual financial Berlin Wall — the division between the kleptocratic haves and the struggling have nots, between fraud and honesty, between cloaked dealings and transparency.
We climbed on top of this wall, triumphant — for a moment.
Today, however, Congress felt the pressure of the virtual guns trained on them and down from the wall-top they scurried.
They fell for the age-old trick of ego. To make us cower, ego will bring up all the things we fear most. It will try to make us feel like the failures for not agreeing to its demands. You could easily hear the egoic refrain from those pushing this bailout: they blamed those who questioned the giveaway saying any delay would threaten financial collapse — of colossal proportions!!!
Fear around money is a long-conditioned thoughtform: “If I lose all my money, what do I have to show for my efforts in life? How will I survive? If all this is taken away, what am I? If all that I’ve done has come to nothing, why go on? All the dreams and hopes, are they to end? Am I really worthless now?”
For some, these fears are far more visceral than the fear of death itself. Fear of dying can be very abstract — fear of losing all your money is very real.
Return of the King
There’s a scene that comes to mind from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that is an apt metaphor. In the scene, Aragorn has to venture into the dark mountain from which no man has returned — the Path of the Dead — and face the Dead Army. This is our time. Everything we fear most, all the past conditioning that causes us to back away from what we need to do, is threatening us. We need to face the fears, face the buried skeletons — the Dead Army — and find our “king” within that is master over what we fear, master of our ego, and move forward.
(scene begins at 1:46 into clip)
Our inner king, our awareness, our consciousness, is master over this onslaught of ego.
We are in the mountain. We need to dispatch our egoic consciousness.
How do we do that? The good news is it’s already happening. We would not have succeeded in stopping the first unlimited, unquestioned, unexamined bailout attempt if we hadn’t already collectively said “enough.”
First, know that we have all the power we need to change what needs to be changed, especially the abusive financial system in which we exist.
The world as it exists is not the world we deserve. Standing up for what we deserve is important, but to do this successfully, we will need to heal and undo generations of programming.
What we all deserve is freedom from abuse, of any kind, freedom from tyranny. The current money / debt system has become tyrannical, dictating virtually every aspect of our lives.
It is currently run by the collective energy of ego. As we become free of our own egos, as we loosen the desperate hold ego has on money in our own lives, the efforts of individuals will combine to move the nation forward. Soon, transparent, honest and fair financial structures will become apparent.
Each small step moves the nation to shed its egoic cloak and we will then be able to rise to our promise.
So take one step now to let go of your own fears.
Fear is almost always future oriented and is what the ego uses to put on the brakes. Ego cannot survive long in the present moment. Ask yourself, “In this moment, right now, what is the problem? Am I safe right now?” Often, the answer is “Yes, I’m safe at the moment, but what happens if…” Stop. Stay in the present moment, in that experience of being safe, and let that feeling expand. Don’t follow the “but…”
Instead, just observe any other thoughts that come up as you might watch a stream pass by. They are just thoughts. Let them pass in front of you as easily as the stream, without resistance or judgment.
Certainly there are times when real crises occur. But fear is not a required emotion for responding to crises. Even in those times, one can be operating out of an energy that is simply observant and responsive, without fear, as Aragorn strode into the mountain.
Imagine what this financial crisis discussion would have been like without the fear and desperation. Would we have climbed off the wall and given up on reforms to help Main Street so quickly?
We are far from finished, however, with this restructuring. There will be more opportunities to bring down the wall.
More steps to help ease fears to come in my next blog: Defeating Saber-Toothed Financial TigersRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Events of the last few days have thrown into high relief the background research I’d been doing. Here’s a breakdown of key points:
Present moment #1: Financial instruments that were too complicated for anyone to predict (even the mathematicians who developed them) have crashed the system.
Since thinking about “financial instruments” is about as enjoyable as reading a bad horror script, let’s not talk money for a minute, let’s talk cars. We all understand cars.
So look at it this way, what happened was the fancy auto-maneuvering car that some super wealthy people were driving recklessly around the world crashed into the wall. That’s what happened. People are not dead. Important fact here … no dead people.
Thing is, their expensive vehicle was not insured. These super wealthy signed a paper saying that if they crashed their car, they could afford to lose it. That’s the only reason they were allowed behind the wheel in the first place.
Now their egos are all bent out of shape and they’re asking for their insurance money — you know, the insurance that didn’t exist. They’re trying to talk us into being their insurance company and giving them money to bail out their expensive crashed vehicle.
Well, if I were Congress, I’d say, no, you don’t get the $700 billion you spent on the car — hope you enjoyed the ride while it lasted.
In fact, we could pay for a few million heart operations around the country with that money instead. And since you have not demonstrated that you have a heart, here’s a Honda Fit. Welcome to the rest of the world.
Present moment #2: The money lost was lost by gambling it away.
What do I mean, by that? Okay, this time, I am going to talk money, but instead of talking banks, I’m going to talk casinos.
The fancy car I talked about in the previous metaphor was being used to make money — it was what got you into the high-stakes poker room, so to speak. The super-wealthy were using machines — unregulated machines, no less — and complex math to place thousands of million-dollar bets a second on whether, say, a certain currency market was going to go up, or going to go down. Or, with macabre perversity, whether people would foreclose on their homes, or stay in them. It was a bunch of bets.
It was a pointless game as far as the economy goes — it didn’t aim to support promising businesses, build infrastructure, cure disease. Most of the trades lasted only a few seconds. It was as pointless as betting whether the roulette ball was going to land red or black. It was countless bets on mere fluctuation, on volitility. But it made money, scads and scads of money, for the gamblers.
Present moment #3: “Contributions” to political friends got happy tax rates for the gamblers.
Because of well placed “contributions” to the high-stakes gamblers’ favorite political friends, these winnings from the gambling mentioned above were taxed not as “winnings” as in a lottery, not as income as you and I pay, but as capital gains at a much lower rate than income tax.
There was nothing remotely capital-building about these “capital gains”.
Present moment #4: The winnings were paid out in billion dollar salaries and million dollar bonuses.
This is the real kicker. The money isn’t in the coffer to cover the high-rollers’ bad bets because it’s all been paid out in million and even billion-dollar — yes that’s right, billion dollar — salaries, commissions and bonuses.
As you know, you and I and the rest of Main Street didn’t get into that high-stakes poker room. We didn’t share any of their billions in salaries, bonuses and commissions, but now we’re being asked — strike that, commanded — to cover their losses.
As Dennis Kucinich said, “The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses.”
Tell me, do you think you’d get your money back if you went to a casino and lost your house because you’d refinanced your mortgage on a whim to buy a jet?
This is what is.
And these ego-filled folks are using fears of financial meltdown to terrorize us into saying yes.
If there’s anyone who deserves a bailout, it’s the people using a credit card just to eat. It’s the people fishing bottles out of the recycling bins to add to their income. It’s the people working three jobs simply to put a roof over their heads and gas in their car to get to work — those are the ones whose lives would dramatically de-stress with a piece of that $700 billion.
Give the money to the regular people all around the country actually producing goods and services — actually building things — not the trust fund playboys and the uber rich hedge fund managers getting richer from a high-stakes poker game and calling it “capital.”
Bail out everyone else first — they’re the ones being asked to pay this bill.
If these banksters have to take public transportation the rest of their natural lives it will do them the world of good.
To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, let them eat bread.
Update: A groundswell of people across the country tapped into the deep sense of unfairness and frustration, and collected in spontaneous protests around the country today (Sept 25) — I organized one here in Hollywood through the advocacy group TrueMajority.org. This rally (pictured) was featured heavily on local TV news stations KCAL-9, KTLA, ABC7. Radio station KFWB was also covering the rally with interviews.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )