our birthright as Humans


As any man or woman with life experience knows, life includes struggle, sometimes great. The fundamental goal is attainment of inner peace and the ability to fearlessly give and receive love. It's therefore a question of what logic and wisdom to apply.

Conventional wisdom has gotten us this far. Which is to say, broken systems. Education, politics, healthcare, food, economy, environment, business. Serious crises face us.

And there is no way to grow up in broken systems, with distorted ego logic, without absorbing the negative impacts in our own mind-body-spirit. It may be likened to an infection which spreads from parent-to-child, school-to-child, television-to-child, and child-to-child. And the challenge is not having references for anything different. Because the infection is just seen to be “normal”. As if a system that could produce the powerfully foolish leaders we have is healthy. And therefore normal is something worthwhile.

I see three primary possibilities: (1) we feel the discomfort and dissatisfaction and are doing something about it; (2) we are in denial about it and are numb, continuing to chase what we were told would bring happiness (many in this category are unaware of the seriousness of the crises); (3) we feel the discomfort and are secretly yearning inside but in some way or other inwardly feeling alone and not knowing what to do.

The excellent news is that there are eternal paths which have been passed to us from Global Wisdom Traditions. About a different kind of wisdom we can cultivate. A soul wisdom. A wisdom of character and actual human virtue. Many of these references have been lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life. But to know ourselves and be ourselves, to be authentic, and to access this which is inside us as Our Birthright as Humans, is a much deeper question than we generally allow for. It requires an expansion of perspective.

And we have only gotten away from that, relatively recently as it turns out. One researcher’s examination of “success” literature over time found that in the first 150 years of research the focus was on character—universal human values like integrity, courage, humility, justice, and kindness. In the subsequent 50 years, the focus of obtaining success had shifted to more surface level considerations connected with the personality. This success concerns itself with appearances. This is what we have chosen to consider worthwhile on a cultural basis. Shallowing like this comes with unfortunate side effects—unhappiness. The feeling that something is missing. And broken systems.

This is but one simple illustration. We won’t go further for now.

Success is an everyday feeling that relates to the satisfaction of living in alignment with us. I can only claim to be starting to learn this. But I can say with clarity symbols are symbolic, success can’t be created from the outside in. They surely come as a consequence in a measure of enoughness when we work from the inside out. The worldview itself, the story we live by, no longer serves us and this is much more malleable than we would think.

From everything I have studied around the world from the Amazon rainforest to meditation caves in the Himalayas and hallowed classrooms of the west and through spirited service and action, I have understood it is only spirituality and self-knowledge which can save us. Because spirituality isn’t something woo woo or esoteric, it’s the courage to be who we are. It’s the art and science of our own character. And it has little to do with beliefs, it’s about understanding what actually works—it is about connecting to reality.

—And of course we need to continue taking concrete action in the world. Because this enables us to activate a virtuous cycle in the relationship between individuals and society. Instead of the vicious cycle which currently exists.

But outward action in the absence of looking at our own infections will never take us where we actually want to go. Because we will lack the satisfaction that lies in realizing the character that lives inside us as a constant invitation from our own hearts. And we won’t create anything new in the world. In the absence of self-knowledge--which is an expansion of consciousness--all creation emerges from the same distorted logic. We would continue to unconsciously believe in scarcity and competition, deepening the mess and suffering.

Massive disparities and imbalances result from choosing lower principles in favor of higher ones.

The good news here is that as we continue to transform ourselves, the more we naturally express authentic giving from our own unique gifts and talents. We thereby contribute and do our part to activate the virtuous cycle.

And certainly there are expressions of “spirituality” which actually further denial. In this day and age, we live in an era in which exist misinformation and confusion about what actually furthers us. The simplest analogy I use is that our minds are gardens. If we aren’t weeding and pruning as well as the watering and nourishing—if it pretends that positive thinking alone without deep self-investigation into the roots can realize deeper fulfillment—the teaching has limitations in its practical applicability. And therapy alone is wonderful. But in the absence of connecting to something greater it also has its limitations.

One of the absolutely beautiful things which unites us is the knowing, the certainty we feel inside us, of our own dormant possibilities. We aren’t resigned to that being some distant thing while we get on with “real life”. And resign ourselves to quiet despair and feeling of disempowerment. It is ours for the asking. It just depends on how deep the willingness and readiness are.

I chased conventional wisdom. I went after the formula. It didn’t work. I am the same guy who got a JD/MBA and graduated valedictorian. I know the system from inside and know deeply its limitations.

I am cheering for us. I see plenty of challenges ahead. And I trust that Life is rigged in our favor and ultimately human spirit must, MUST triumph. It’s the time of greatest challenges that give us a chance to reveal our character. And that’s when we always pull through. Union will take more than our lifetimes to achieve. But we work for our children and they and us together will work for our grandchildren.

This is about our heroic journey as individuals and a race.

If you fall in the first category above, thank you. If you fall in the second category, I wish you all the best in achieving whatever it is you feel you need to achieve. If you fall in the third category, know that you are not alone. We are in this together. Send a message if you wish.

Samasthah Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu. May all beings in all places be happy.

UN Pasito Mas: More Realistic and Satisfying Growth

What's the next step?

What's the next step?

I. Story

The lobby was a bit dated. But somehow welcoming because it wore its middle-aged wrinkles and weariness well. It wasn’t trying to be anything it was not, and accepted its own slightly tired splendor. It was where we stood when a recently renewed friendship revealed a useful insight.

As we neared the end of a retreat, my feisty Argentine amiga announced her resolve not to get carried away.

She told me:
Un Pasito Mas. Usually by retreat's end, I get preeetty excited. I think I am going to get up at 6:30 everyday and that I am going to go to the heights.

(Crucial side note: this is the type of friend it’s impossible not to love. Going to the heights is an expression of her sense of humor. Tangentially, in Sao Paulo in the aftermath of the retreat, we sang Shoop from Salt-n-Pepa together. We read the lyrics on my phone with the song playing on another friend’s Spotify. She didn’t need the lyrics though. She placed her attention on maximizing artistic interpretation and dramatic expression.)

Going to the heights, I learned, meant more or less a series of perfectly executed days lived one after the other, without any obstacles of fear or resistance. The heights are retreat fueled optimism--an illusion of day-to-day life transformed overnight.

Nowadays, she told me, she catches this enthusiastic, slightly unruly part of herself. She says I love you, I embrace you, now chill. Just chill out a bit. Imagine an unkempt child with one small dreadlock in its formative stages and a bit of mud on her right cheek.  She doesn’t need to drive the truck.  

II. Deeper Dive

Un Pasito Mas (#UPM), then, is an alternative.

Start small.  Build slow. Go steady.  

It’s taking a relaxed, realistic approach to growth. It translates as One More Step.

Instead of wanting a comprehensive A - Z and to arrive already (Are we there yet??), it slows us down.  It calms us down--an elixir that focuses on the process of A to B. And then B to C. 

There’s good reason of course to have a good plan and sense of direction. And at the same time, it’s helpful to not get too attached to those plans. Sometimes when we have A - Z planned out, we forget that life is happening in the meantime. We'll inevitably need to make adjustments.  Focus on the next step helps our plans unfold in the most effective ways.

Take habit formation, for example. I could easily imagine 20 new habits I'd love to have. I can imagine the glory of realizing those changes.  I can almost imagine a fan blowing my nonexistent long black hair back.

But UPM encourages focus on choosing one simple new habit at a time.  Like, try focusing on one for 3 weeks and doing it every single day. For example, even though I want to drink more water and look at my phone less, I focus on singing the Hanuman Chalisa everyday. That's what I have prioritized. The others can come later. I have started to acknowledge that's how change works.

Most of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get somewhere and be something, right away(!). I remember, turning a little red, how many times I have deceived myself. I have thought, habits and daily routines gradually change for other people, but not for moi. I indeed have loads of will power. 

And that’s it right there.  

I love you.  I embrace you.  Now just chillax un momentinho.  Have a lemonade.

Far too often, with that thinking, I got stuck in the door of the rocketship on my way to the heights. No perfectly executed days. No beautiful buildings without strong foundations. I am learning we develop humility, patience, and self-acceptance while we learn to enjoy the process.

“Going-to-the-heights” is a self-deceptive daydream. Let’s call this spade the ego’s fantasy— a self-aggrandizing tendency to neglect its own limitations. It loves the temptation of a more grandiose vision of itself, without effort, patience, and a price to be paid.

UPM recognizes that a plant doesn’t rush to flower. The growth of the stem brings that sweet moment about in its own sweet time.

Sometimes we don’t trust the flower will blossom as an inevitable natural expression. We don’t trust that we will reap what we sow. Or that what we are sowing is good enough.

Giving our best will always find its just rewards. Nature runs its course with a bit of attention, courage, and healthy attitude. What if we relaxed into this simple premise of self-trust?

One pasito after the next, word.  In a culture dominated by vanity, it's easy to feel incentivized away from natural principles and what brings real growth. The antidote is knowing our slow, steady path is more real than the effort to, say, go viral.

Jerry Seinfeld was known to mark his calendar based on whether he worked on jokes or not each day. Not how long or how funny they were. Working up long streaks of days in a row was the key to his success.

If you develop a habit of developing habits, good stuff happens. Habits are the stuff of our daily routines and our lives. The compounding effects can be immense. 

And a little secret is that’s where the living and the fulfillment are anyway. The result is only a welcome, fleeting validation of that process. And it’s not in our control. As Gandhi said, full effort is full victory.

That's exactly how we move in the direction of what we all long for--the expression and realization of our own potential.

III. Macro

It's what we want in our society too.

This principle expresses on collective levels, for example, in cities. Furthering the example, bending over backwards with tax breaks to try to lure big corporations is a proven loser. It's the opposite of UPM. It's the Viral rocketship rearing its ugly head again.

Again, the ego loves a top-down solution, a quick fix. It doesn't want the effort of building from the ground up, even if that is a wiser, more effective, and sustainable approach.

Local sustainable, resilient economies always triumph. Economies that draw on a diversity of small local businesses bring 2- 4 times the number of jobs, incomes, multipliers, charitable contributions, taxes, etc. (Source: Tomorrow, a documentary) It’s as simple as that.

But of course the high road less traveled takes effort, planning, and patience. Many politicians can’t stomach waiting for two marshmallows.

And it's also acknowledging that our local communities are a far greater lever for change than our national government.  That should be obvious by now.  Ground up is the mantra everywhere we want real change.

A growing number of us see better ways of doing things. There are bright spots everywhere, including many dynamic steps being taken in cities around the world.  The link is just one small example of probably billions, sans hyperbole even though it seems terribly hyperbolic. 

It’s the same natural principle whether it’s about us as individuals, us as businesses and organizations, or us as communities and cities. Fear, conscious or unconscious, calls for instant results and the poorly crafted rocketship to the heights.

Un Pasito Mas is an expression of trust, humility, relaxation, patience, detachment (in one way all ultimately synonyms) and an affirmation of how life and sustainable growth works.

On Divisiveness in America

It’s not working. And we’re all responsible for it.

We have a few things to remind ourselves.

We have a few things to remind ourselves.

I am sure my fellow Americans notice that the discourse among us has become increasingly + increasingly polarized. Do we also notice how it almost always contains eye-rolling towards the “other side” — that there is a condescension and moral superiority regularly bubbling near the surface? I am not only talking about Washington. I am also talking about us citizens. I include myself, very much so.

Do we see how terribly unhealthy this is? Let’s remind each other that perhaps with a bit more empathy, we can actually create channels of dialog, respect — actual communication. Understanding can happen.

The “other side” isn’t the villain. This blame is not who we are. We aren’t getting anywhere by each furthering this divisiveness in our own ways.
This has gotten to be really ugly, my friends. Really ugly. And there is a difference between negativity and naming something unpleasant that is simply an objective dynamic which exists.

I encourage us to recognize people have good reason for holding the views they have. Life has brought circumstances which created those views. I do believe some views are less wise than others as some attitudes take us closer to where we want to go, and others distance us from that. But we can’t discover wisdom by false conviction and self-righteousness.

Life is much vaster than those who agree with us of course. How do we relate to that? Surely we can do better than however we characterize our current reality. Shoulder-shrugging remains an option, though one I choose not to choose.

What happens when we cultivate our higher qualities in moments of greatest tension? And nobody said this should happen overnight. It’s a practice. It’s indeed cultivation. This thing looks ugly right now, I say again. It calls on the courage of all of us to create culture change. It starts with how we relate to each other as human beings, not just a person who agrees with me or disagrees with me — a bundle of beliefs. Fundamental tolerance is taking several critical body blows.

I have as much to learn as anybody about this. I am not above this at all. What I can say is that I have spent plenty of time outside the United States and I consider myself to have a fair amount of perspective. I have spent time with very wise and loving leaders, and very wonderful communities. I have references outside what we call normal and know it doesn’t have to be that way. And that tools exist for each of us to take responsibility for our own shadows in healing, loving ways. And I am still an American who cares and has a hunch patriotism is something we still have a lot to learn about.

We have become very separate from each other. I think we’re all tired of this hate and fear and greed. I pray for our growth in fundamental human values.

Gain Peace and Confidence by Climbing the 5 Rungs of Self-responsibility in Work or Love Conflicts

Interpersonal conflicts always somehow include our buttons/triggers. The effect of a trigger is that our judgment and emotional response blend with the facts. This creates a distorted subjective perception of what is actually happening. Yet we have no reference that this is happening. Our perception seems like reality.

The Anatomy of a Good, Tough Decision by Being Oneself

(7 minute read)



I. Introduction

One strong impression sticks with me above others from my law school days.

I would read a monumental Supreme Court Decision—one of these hotly debated 5-4 decisions. It would be something of great import to the nation.

I would read the majority decision. I would think, whoa, thank god. Hot damn. They got that one right. They nailed it! (I almost feel like Napoleon Dynamite when I say that last part.)

Then I would read the dissenting opinion. I would then fill with doubt. I would no longer be so sure.

These were the brightest legal minds our nation could offer. They could dive into the nuances and legal intricacies and swim gracefully. They could see far-reaching practical implications. They could identify deep ethical and moral considerations. Of course there were brilliant arguments on both sides of such crucial issues.

And this is in many respects like every important decision we face. We do not have 9 judges deliberating on our options. Yet our minds can create brilliant reasoning to back each possible alternative.

For many, this can be a daunting challenge. It can be easy to freeze in the headlights with indecision. It’s pretty common.

A tough decision is the type that has a huge bearing on the quality of our lives. It calls on our power of contemplation, self-reflection, soul-searching.

I present a framework here for working through a Good, Tough Decision (GTD). I provide simple, concrete examples as we go along.

As always, I aim to add texture to self-reflection. I don’t offer a set of rules to avoid self-reflection.


II. Start from the Inside Out

Before we get to the step-by-step, let’s start with the biggest key. Attitude is more important than what we decide. Attitude is about process. Process is in our control, outcome is not.

Navigating life means no fool-proof plans. Living with increasing maturity means embracing uncertainty. Bringing our utmost to the process is the best we can do. It's rewarding. We can look back with self-acceptance and minimal regret if we approach the process with care.

But we typically place much more attention in the what than the how and why.

We sometimes neglect to see that the what is the most superficial aspect of the decision. The decision is best served when we dig deeper, into our core. Deciding who you choose to be relative to any particular situation is an act of self-creation. It’s an act of declaration to yourself, to others, to life, to the universe. Its best when it comes from the Inside Out. An Inside Out decision is much more satisfying and effective than an Outside In approach.

An Outside-In approach complicates the process. It focuses on the what. It elevates superficial appearances above our natural inclination. Our ideas of who we are supposed to be and how we want to appear get in the way of what we actually feel and want. The fight between who we are supposed to be and who we actually are brings on self-judgment and labels. It emerges from limiting beliefs.

Let’s try a simple example to illustrate. Let's say we hold the belief that it’s cool to be the type of person who says “yes” to things. We believe saying yes is taking a plunge and being open to life. This can be at best a half truth. It can’t apply 100% of the time. Life is too vast to simplify and generalize like that. It doesn’t pay to make this a rigid rule, harden it into a “final solution” that applies regardless of context.

We give away our power to discern what is actually right for us when we try to live up to a final solution, a set way of being.  Context rules.

Saying no to someone or something can be in fact the strongest way to say yes to ourselves. So, the bias of saying yes interferes with who we actually want to be relative to this situation. It’s a superimposed dogma that we have not yet challenged. It influences and limits us unconsciously. It creates a disturbance in the decision making process. It creates the feeling that there are more than two sides inside you. The challenge is realizing which internal voice feels more core. What is the "should" here and what is YOU?

Our challenge is to identify what the noise is and cut through it. We want to give ourselves permission to accept what we actually want. We want to validate our own experience. This means that we are “allowed” to want what we actually want, instead of what others around us think we should want.

When we honor our actual inclination rather than a pre-defined notion of who we are supposed to be, we relax. How many times have we heard the advice to be ourselves? It often is difficult. It’s our formidable idealized self-concept and vanity that get in the way, never other people. I honor the challenge we face in this.


III. GTD Framework

The challenge calls on us to proceed with self-awareness, self-responsibility, and self-trust. What do those qualities look like in practical terms?

These qualities mean recognizing no option will create pure advantage only. If it’s a tough decision, there will be some downside to any course of action. There is a price to be paid. We often don’t want to embrace or hear that. We sometimes get lost wishing for life to be different than how it's showing up in the moment. It can take the edge off for a sec, but it’s in the end pointless and unconstructive.

Determining what we want given the circumstances and the downsides is an act of maturity. Like the judges, "5-4" type decisions mean not all parts of ourselves will be thrilled.

Here's a guiding principle. Our core/heart/intuition provides our most effective, powerful, satisfying decisions. Our reasoning power will understand and follow our heart after we feel into our best option.  Yet, when we can’t feel our best option, we need to use our power of reason to make the decision.

The steps below can support our reasoning process when it is not clear what our heart wants.


Step 1: Hear yourself think.

When it's hazy, we don’t have access to feeling into the options with sufficient clarity.

Let each alternative speak out its strongest argument. Listen to each side of yourself from a place of spaciousness and objectivity. Try to listen for what resonates with you most. See what sounds like appearance-based concerns. Try to detect what your core actually wants.


Step 2: Speak it out with a good friend.

If you speak it out loud to a friend, can you feel something new as you speak? Or can they reflect what it sounds like you actually want? Sometimes it’s not so much hazy as rather we aren’t willing to accept the downside of our preferred choice.

It’s rare that there isn’t at least a 55/45 inclination one way. The challenge in this case can be more about willingness to follow through. We may have sufficient clarity for a 5-4 decision but be in denial about the downside, the price to be paid.

Don't take your friend's reflection back as the absolute truth either.  That can be an easy way out.  See what you learn and what resonates with you.  

You may already have your GTD if you can feel that inclination and are willing to maturely accept the price.

In steps 1 + 2, we have been seeing if we could discern the voice emitting from the core. The following steps tap further into our power of reason in the absence of that.


Step 3: Dropping the RIGHT decision.

Unhealthy attachment to finding the RIGHT decision brings complication. The practical consequence is placing undue pressure on ourselves and creating unnecessary stress. Often this attitude connects to our fear of uncertainty and our fear of making a mistake.

It’s worth reminding your fear that you are strong enough to handle whatever comes of this decision. You have been in challenging situations before and you came out fine. And you always learned something. What happens when we let go of the idea of one right decision? We can navigate with more calm and tranquility.


Step 4: Shifting towards curiosity and experimentation.

A great remedy for this type of block is taking the attitude of a scientist conducting an experiment. Gandhi titled his autobiography the Story of My Experiments with Truth. True science can happen in our own lives, from the intentional willingness to learn from experience.

We can’t possibly know how something is going to turn out. What is the more interesting experiment to conduct? This means shifting one’s attitude towards curiosity about possibilities. That's more practical than the attitude that this is some sort of, say, final exam.

Here are some questions that can feed the inner scientist. Perhaps not all will be directly relevant to your situation. The point is to move back to your center, be as mindful as possible, and take an action that you can be proud of.

Giving one's best is a tastier recipe for the well-lived life than dependence on things turning out as we insist.


  • In what ways is this challenging decision actually something positive? (There are always some.)
  • What have you done in this type of situation before? How has that turned out?
  • What further information could have a bearing?
  • What is your hypothesis about each course of action?
  • What steps are in your power to prevent and limit the downsides?
  • What options would you have to address worse-case scenarios?
  • What decision gives you the best chance to learn something interesting?
  • What personal values are most important to express in making this decision?

All along the way, we are still listening for clues from our intuition.  Yet we may not know what our core wants.  If that's the case, then we simply pull the trigger based on the best our inquiry and reason can bring us.  Maybe we sleep on it one more night.  But we don't allow the indecision to linger indefinitely.  Investing in process can also become distorted if taken too far.   


Step 5: Double-check.

Even when the decision approaches clarity, it can help to entertain and double check the other option(s). This means letting the dissenting opinion speak out its most stellar argument. Hearing out the dissenting opinion can offer possibilities to strengthen the course of action. Sometimes there is a valid consideration easily addressed. 

But sometimes the dissenting opinion gets personal at this stage, bringing self-harshness. It is good to be aware and prepared. When this tone emerges, it’s usually based on rigid ideas of what is right and wrong. It wants to create labels that you are not living up to and demean you for that. It neglects to see the nuances of the situation. It definitely works against your own self-acceptance. It can be very insistent and persuasive.

If you stand firm after hearing out the noise, your conviction and resolve strengthen. It also means that you can look on the decision knowing you did it as consciously as possible.

This also gives us insight into the part of ourselves that is actively working against us. These observations can be precious because we know what it sounds like and how it operates.

This is all part of bringing our utmost to the decision-making process.


IV. Conclusion

Step 6: Aftermath.

It will never be possible to know what the other alternative(s) would have yielded. In the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books, you could retrace steps and discover where the other trails led. Life doesn’t afford that opportunity.

In the aftermath, the dissenting opinion may not let go. It may be bitter and try to pick moments to launch into doubt, regret, or attack. When you followed what you actually wanted and gave the utmost of yourself to the process, remember not to jump on that train. Simply don’t feed it without needing to fight and resist it either.

We will always have the comfort or burden of knowing how much or little we invested ourselves in the process. The better our process, the more readily we will live with the outcome. I wish you  well with your GTDs. 

Descartes’ Great Mistake, The #1 Quality in Organizations, and a Modern, Western Understanding of Why the Cow is Sacred in Indian Traditions

(7 MIN READ + Videos)


I suppose the body to be just a statue or a machine made of earth.            ~Rene Descartes

Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it. ~Rene Descartes

I am indeed amazed when I consider how weak my mind is and how prone to error. ~Rene Descartes

Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else. ~Leonardo Da Vinci


I. Introduction

A group of friends and I decided to do an intense workout challenge together. We’re all enjoying it, for the most part. We live in different parts of the world. We use a WhatsApp group to encourage, groan, tease, joke, and share the experience.  Other friends who get wind of it seem to be joining daily. There are any number of observations I could share about it. 

One of the women in the program, Tanya, shows great endurance and determination. The fitness professional leading the program has dubbed her, “The machine”.  It's intended and received as a compliment.

When a team or organization functions well, we often call it a well-oiled machine.

From where do these mechanistic conceptions arise? What are the implications?

It paints an outdated relationship to ourselves, life, animals, and the planet. The wide-ranging implications include our ongoing survival and well-being.


II. Descartes’ Great Mistake

Prominent historical ideas gain traction and can exert influence even centuries later. Descartes' underlying principle was that the world and living organisms are machine-like, mechanistic. The essence of this belief lies potent and largely unexamined in our culture. Our mechanistic analogies hint at the lingering power of these historical artefacts.

An important corollary of mechanistic thinking is breaking things down to analyze them.  Yet, Life itself emerges as something wondrous, beyond an assembly of natural, periodic elements. We disregard our own wisdom that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. As a Cartesian habit, we miss the possibilities of systemic, holistic thinking.

Of course, his methods and accomplishments have also benefited society. Certain problems are indeed best solved by analysis and breaking them down. There are shades of grey.  Context always remains vital.

Our mindsets express through our speech and action. As one commentator put it:

Descartes and his followers performed experiments in which they nailed animals by their paws onto boards and cut them open to reveal their beating hearts. They burned, scalded, and mutilated animals in every conceivable manner. When the animals reacted as though they were suffering pain, Descartes dismissed the reaction as no different from the sound of a machine that was functioning improperly. A crying dog, Descartes maintained, is no different from a whining gear that needs oil.


Today, most agree this is inhumane. Yet, mechanistic analogies also go further, limiting our potential in other destructive ways. The underlying thought process ignores higher potential perspectives. I touch next in the context of organizational life because many can relate. I then go onto a bigger, deeper challenge facing us.

I like to focus on the learning always inherent in the current moment. I am not a fan of regret and critique for the sake of being a critic.


III. The Virtue of Learning in Organizations

Most societal forward movement comes from organizations. Organizations are groups of people banding together to achieve a common purpose. In some cases, the purpose is survival, status, and material well-being. In other cases, it is something more than that. (There’s low hanging fruit there but we’ll ignore it for today.)  For now, our primary org references remain mechanistic. This comes at great cost to our effectiveness and fulfillment.

In the early 1900’s, Frederick Taylor, measured people with a stop-watch. He timed them doing repetitive, simple, mind-numbing tasks, minute after minute, hour after hour. He encouraged managers to get their staff to reduce “wasteful” movements. This came to be known as“scientific management”.

This organizational approach limits adaptability at the very least.  (Change is constant. And it seems to only get faster and faster. Machines breakdown when used for unintended purposes.)

From the Harvard Business Review:

“Since the early 1900s, this [mechanistic] model has been the prevailing paradigm for how organizations are designed and run.

The problem is that while this approach enables large-scale production, it doesn’t seem to work for innovation. Over the past several years, we have compared... teams in a dozen global organizations. One of our key findings was that teams functioning more like machines – blindly following highly defined processes and execution plans — were the least effective at achieving their goals and coming up with innovations. The most successful teams, on the other hand, operated less like highly efficient machines and more like ant colonies. These teams were able to quickly adapt to changes in their environment, because they had a set of simple [principles] and a clear goal, allowing them more flexibility and ability to learn along the way.”


And the digitalist has this to add:

"In the knowledge economy, the business was typically considered “a machine.”…

Machines remain static; however, companies must grow… An organism’s purpose comes from within. An organism strives over time to realize its goals in the world. As conditions in the environment change, an organism responds…it learns. [emphasis added]

For many years, the “machine” mindset has prevailed. As a result, many companies are designed as information-processing and production machines…But information processing is not learning. Production is not learning. Learning is a creative process, not a mechanical one.

Inherent in the mechanical viewpoint, all knowledge is explicit and can be represented in manuals, documentation, and quantitative metrics….This harkens back to Frederick Taylor, the father of scientific management. His theory is based on measuring and analyzing work with the making it more efficient. Scientific management is focused on defining and measuring work in the form of words, charts, and numbers. In other words, what can be seen and recorded is the only thing that matters.”


Yet, many of us have learned the mechanical viewpoint doesn’t feel very good. ~70-80% of people are disengaged at work. Projections say 50% of the work force will be freelance or entrepreneur by 2020. People are exiting work environments that are mechanistic and unnatural. The feeling of unfulfillment is strong.

Perhaps the Life or magic in work emerges from beyond what can be broken down and measured.  Whole > Sum.

(For those interested in the topic of learning organizations, the book The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge is the seminal work.)

Let’s continue to other terrible implications which unfold from the mechanistic model.


IV. On the Sanctity of Cows

There are tremendous positive developments connected with our environment. But there is tremendous distance to travel yet. The mechanistic view contrasts with seeing the interconnectedness of all things.

Our relationship to animals is the greatest source of environmental destruction. Most people don't know that and the systemic connections are missed.

I accept the sanctity of each one’s choices. I encourage people to inform themselves and make conscious decisions. Our guiding principles should be eminently practical--higher forms of well-being.

Here are some interesting facts (find the infographic below at the bottom of this post):

  • 51% of Global Greenhouse Gas emissions come from livestock and their byproducts, 13% due to transport
  • Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land
  • Animal Agriculture and mostly cattle agriculture is responsible for 91% of the deforestation of the Amazon, sometimes called the lungs of the earth. Another 1-2 acres are cleared every second.
  • The waste from 2500 Dairy Cows = the Waste from a city of 411,000 people
  • 1 Hamburger takes 660 gallons of fresh water to make
  • Every minute, 7 million pounds of excitement are produced by animals raised for food in the US
  • 110 species go extinct everyday because of rainforest destruction


These figures are self-evident. The way we raise, slaughter, and eat cows, is one of the single biggest threats to our world. (Nuclear codes in the hands of kids is one of the others.)

We often look for huge ways to contribute to a better world. But the solutions are often not so complex as clear, simple, and straightforward. Small is beautiful.

Most people also shrug their shoulders at or ignore the rate of climate change. Cartesian thinking is part of the problem, because we tend to isolate our behavior from the impact on the whole. We don’t think systemically and see the interconnection of all things.  We don't see our connection to everything else. 

Here’s a video that can help us remember how nature relies on balance and interconnectedness.

In Indian traditions, cows are seen with Shiva, Krishna, Indra and other Indian deities. They are inherently associated with divinity and nature.

The ancient yogis in India had great insight and wisdom. They studied the nature of life.  They saw the interconnectedness of all things. They recognized that how we treat cows is deeply symbolic of how we treat the earth. They perhaps intuited we would imperil ourselves and our existence in how we relate to cows.

One view of man places him atop the animal kingdom. In this view, inhumane treatment is acceptable. Top of the food chain.  This puts forth man’s animalistic aspects. We see self-destruction in this perspective.

Another view of man places him as friend of the earth. This connects to wiser ways of being.

It's practical to see how our actions impact our surviving and thriving.

Here is an inspiring video which shows how man’s relationship with nature could be different:



Ignorance includes stepping away from the satisfaction of being in integrity with ourselves. Especially once we know better.  Who wants to be willfully ignorant?

Ahimsa, which we often translate as nonviolence, is the foundation of Yoga. By yoga here, I mean more than asana/postures. I mean the science, study, and practice of the highest forms of living. At its root, it is exactly the same word as religion—which is union. Nonviolence is nothing other than the Golden Rule actually. Its fundamentals include acknowledging the sentience of animals.

There is much further we could go with this that includes bulls raping cows, in the dairy industry. I also focus only on small elements of environmental and ethical considerations. There are many other dimensions we could explore. I’ll leave that aside for today.

I am not making a specific comment on whether you choose to eat meat or not. Yet, our impact on the whole is in some way felt by us. It may be of practical benefit to consider even one meatless day a week.  Be informed and do as you please.

Many dis-empower themselves, not seeing their choices matter and have real-world impact. Cheap clothes made in sweatshops and plastic entombed convenience items reflect the issue too.  Lisa once showed me how the shrimp industry creates slavery and cyclone destruction in Bangladesh.  A messy world accumulates from dis-empowered people believing their choices don’t matter.


V. Conclusion

The mechanistic view continues to wield destructive influence across broad swaths of life in this world. Seeing the deep interconnectedness of things helps us to make better choices.

For those who don't know Leonardo Da Vinci beyond his artwork, he might be considered one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived. He studied art and science with such intensity that they became each other. He saw the interconnectedness of all things.  As many commentators have noted, he also studied the nature of life.  He was in his own way a yogi.

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men. ~Leonardo Da Vinci


PS- Here's the InfoGraphic I referred to above.