Leadership at the Beginning of the End of the World 

Leadership at the Beginning of the End of the World 

September 4, 2022 #Perspectives 0

Following the call of our responsibility towards life

(hat tip to Jamie Wheal for the title inspiration)

At this years Garbicz Festival in Poland I gave a keynote on radical responsibility. This article was inspired by the talk to document some of the ideas I shared with the audience.

Listen to or download a recording of the talk here:

„Alles ist gut!“ – Yes, AND… given the state of the world we are all needed to grow up, clean up, wake up and show up to embody this frequency of deep trust and optimism while not falling into spiritual/hedonistic bypassing. This article attempts to orient us on the map of our collective predicament, present a vision to move forward and offer concrete steps for you to take to make the festival’s main principle an embodied prayer to inspire others instead of a cynical resignation in the face of a seemingly overwhelming task. 

If we look at the news we could indeed get scared and overcome with a sense of helplessness. The multidimensional crises we are in are challenging to navigate for us individually and collectively to say the least.

This year’s festival motto was „Confusion and Catharsis“ – and indeed we are moving through a time that brings up a lot of confusion. If we pick the word apart we come up with „fusion of contexts“. We are in a time between worlds where the old is coming to an end and the new hasn’t fully emerged yet beyond first glimpses in small pockets on the fringe of society. 

So in this article I want to share and connect a few concepts from other thinkers that inspire me and that help me to find some orientation and practical guidance in a time of exponential complexity and uncertainty. 

The first one is the idea of radical responsibility, as portrayed by Fleet Maull and other writers. I’m sharing that with the humility  that I have times where I feel least qualified to speak about this with integrity, noticing how much I fail to really embody this. But I suppose you teach what you need to learn yourself most. It is not about perfection and being overly critical with ourselves but about walking the path, stumbling, getting up again and making it part of the dance.

As an orientation we shift our awareness from victim to creator by choosing responsibility for everything in our reality. We move from blame to empowerment (at best „love it, change it, leave it“), we consciously choose and acknowledge that we ultimately have at least the choice of how we relate to what we experience. We take responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, our believes. 

And we see the outside universe as a reflection of our inner world. With all the risk of inadequately reducing complexity, we can engage in a dynamic dialogue with the outside world and inquire into what any „accidents“, illnesses or world events have to do with our own psyche and inner world. Instead of seeing ourselves as separate skin encapsulated egos we become conscious participants of this emergent phenomenon called life. We see ourselves as part of nature and not as something disconnected. 

I forgot the name of the physicist who through his research in quantum theory and the effect of the observer on behavior of inanimate objects concluded

„There are no parts, only participants.“

So, if we choose to acknowledge our active participation in this universe, then what are the areas in which we can take radical responsibility (radical in the sense of „going to the root“)? One of my biggest sources of inspiration in my early twenties was Ken Wilber who sums it up with the following quote:

As the wisdom holders, we need to help people find what’s important—to Grow Up by moving through the early stages of emotional maturing, Clean Up by doing shadow-up, Wake Up by doing spiritual practice, and Show Up by serving humanity in the world.Ken Wilber

How is my personal development going to have any effect on the world events and our global crisis?

Well, as part of this emerging worldview that emphasizes our interconnectedness we come across the idea of morphic resonance as proposed by Rupert Sheldrake. This “telepathy-type interconnection between organisms” can be used to reason that the smallest act of personal behavior has ripple effects into the entire cosmos. 

Could it be that intention and attention are much more powerful than we believe? And that acts done from a place of love, somewhat regardless of what the actual action is, resonate out in a wider field exactly that frequency? For me, this is motivation enough to create from a place that Charles Eisenstein explores in his article as „every act a ceremony“.

Reasoning from interbeing, applying the principle of morphic resonance, this opposition between heart and mind crumbles away. Every act of compassion strengthens the global field of compassion; every choice of conscience strengthens the global field of conscience.Charles Eisenstein

This kind of thinking transcends our linear understanding of time and space. And it is exactly this thinking that gives me hope. From a purely linear and rational analysis of „the facts“, our natural environment has been adversely impacted beyond the point of return and will soon become inhabitable for humans. 

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. Vaclav Havel

What we need now is a miracle!

According to Wikipedia „a miracle is an event that seems inexplicable by natural or scientific laws“. So what we’re looking for are phenomena that exist outside our scientific consensus reality. 

To me, life is a miracle. I mean, what are the chances of life on this planet in the great scheme of things? And I’m sure you’ve also had moments of miracles in some for or another that transcended the ordinary and cannot be easily explained by our existing scientific paradigm.

Another miracle to me is the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly.  I’ve shared it many times before so I’ll just refer to it here:

The key aspect I want to point to here is that once the imaginal cells come together and form these clusters, they cannot be attacked by the outside world anymore and grow much more rapidly.

This is where I see transformative festivals play such a crucial role. To me, these spaces offer a place outside of consensus reality where fellow imaginal cells can meet, form the protective clusters and experience themselves in ways that allow for us to see the potential of what might be. We create a reference experience of the collective imaginal being that we are and a sense of a vision of where we could be going. The butterfly is dreaming itself into existence and becoming aware of itself.

You cannot understand a system unless you change it. You cannot change a system unless you transform consciousness. You cannot transform consciousness unless you can make a system see and sense itself. Otto Scharmer

So part of our responsibility is to practice being that miracle in our everyday lives, with the intention and understanding that even the small victories in our individual struggle have meaning beyond the personal. 

A simple, yet powerful formula that helps me to live this responsibility comes from Bashar that can be summed up to:

„Follow your highest excitement and let go of expectations“.

And this is also reflected in the Garbicz Festival manifesto where they describe an ethical hedonism that leads to altruism:

„If I feel really good, I want others around me to feel the same – where decadence meets benevolence and makes love“

As a last inspiration I’d like to share an idea from Brad Blanton, the author of „Radical Honesty“. In this book he proposes the futility hypothesis, which I attempt to summarize as following: Given the state of the world, we need to acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves from global collapse and destruction of civilization as we know it. If we acknowledge this, we have two options:

  1. We argue and smash our heads in the fight about who’s to blame
  2. We celebrate the biggest party of all times, knowing that we have nothing to loose anymore

If we come together in this way that option 2 proposes, we would for the first time drop our agendas of trying to convince anyone of anything, win them for our program or whatever. And in coming together in this way and by not trying to save the world lies our only and last hope to actually save it. 

To conclude and to connect with the image of the transformation of the butterfly, what glimpses of the new can you perceive in your life? What is worth orienting towards? One of my most powerful teachers in the last years have been the waves of the ocean. From surfing I learned, that if a wave pulls you under and you don’t know where up or down is anymore, the best you can do is to surrender and to relax until you see the first glimpse of light again and only then swim towards it. 

So take your time to surrender, if you long for orientation and don’t see the light at the moment, relax, let go, hold your breath. And once you see the light, use your strength to swim towards it, let the light grow bigger and share it with the world. 

What is one small thing that you want to do differently in your life, maybe inspired from what you experienced at a transformational festival or gathering this summer?

I want to close this article with one of my favorite quotes that I discovered last year and that summarizes this collection of thoughts beautifully:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.Rabindranath Tagore