Archive for the ‘policy making’ Category

Is the Divine Feminine Working on Wall Street?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

woman in market

Seeing the global markets tumble is as unnerving as an earthquake. Beyond questions like, “Will I be able to retire?” and other understandable, personal fears, lie other more global and cosmic ones.

We’ve long suspected that the current way of running the world is not sustainable. And we know that if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be long before it begins to crumble. We’ve seen institutions and systems crumbling all around us. With them,  we can watch the crumbling of our illusions that the very ground beneath us and the climate around us are stable.

One way to frame this is to say that the energy responsible for the trouble we’re in is the energy of the wounded masculine. The predatory, win-at-all-costs, short-term way of “winning” through force, oppression and marginalization is the masculine in its most harmful form.

Like the masculine, the energy of the feminine has many forms. She is responsible for birth, but also death. Her realm is all matter and the passages it goes through: from seed to flowering, to dissolution, to decay, to rebirth. And so in many traditions, she has both a creative and a fierce aspect.

She is sometimes Kali, who wears the necklace of skulls. She roars onto the battlefield with a sword and cuts off heads of everything false. With the dead bodies strewn around her, she calmly sits down to nurse her baby.

In western culture, images like this one disturb most people.  When I traveled in Nepal, I saw shrines to the Divine Feminine in her fierce form everywhere. In the midst of the marketplace, many of them were covered with filth, and then strewn with flowers. They were honored just as they were, right in the center of human activity. They were not neat or pristine or protected. Many of them were destroyed in the earthquake. They are icons of the Hindu faith in the process of death and rebirth, the faith in destruction of the false as a path.

And so I look at this photo I took of a Nepalese woman in the marketplace of a little mountain village, and I wonder some things. How did she survive the earthquake? Can she still farm her vegetables and support her family? How well is the world and the marketplace supporting her? Is her faith sustaining her?

She is a reminder to me as I glance at the paper or hear the frantic debates in the media. What would be the saving grace of the Divine Feminine in this situation? What are the falsehoods the fierce feminine would destroy? What is trying to be born?

We know that our economy is largely built on a house of cards that is too false to be sustained. Our own welfare is complicated. We are in debt to the Chinese, and everyone is in debt to someone else. So the falsehood of the “dollar” will collapse at some point.

And what is trying to be born? Wall Street may be the most difficult arena for this, but the Divine Feminine in her Creative aspect is a birther, a nurturer. She is at the heart of Creation, and is the heart of Compassion.

And so as she works on Wall Street, she might be seeding a question: what would a compassionate economic system look like? What would truth look like translated into economic terms? It’s time to consider these questions.

Those men and women who are devoted to the Divine Feminine within us all can be devoted now to her re-emergence in the world. She is surely at work in the massive shift we are experiencing. Let us take a stand for her. Surely that could be the revolution that could save us all.

Gross National Happiness

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Bhutan

I had the privilege of traveling to the little kingdom of Bhutan recently, and one of the many gifts I received from that visit was the inspiration to spread the word about GNH. For Bhutan’s policy-making is guided not by the GNP (Gross National Product) but by GNH–Gross National Happiness.

It’s more than just a cute-sounding idea. There are documents outlining the four pillars, nine domains, and metrics for weighing and measuring progress. (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) This little country of only 750,000 people is a model for a self-chosen set of values based on something we all chase: no, it’s not money; it’s happiness!

Thanks to our trip organizer, Narayan Shrestha (founder of the non-profit, Helping Hands), we were privileged to have a private dinner with the mayor of Thimpu, the national capital. Kinlay Dorjee seems humble, sincere, and clearly devoted to increasing the GNH in the capital and throughout the country. He spent some time introducing us to the four pillars, which are:

1.  Good governance

2.  Equitable and sustainable socio-economic development

3. Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage

4. Preservation and promotion of the environment

Pretty wonderful measures for policy-making, right? Let me backtrack to the inspiring back story.

In the 1970’s His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck observed that economic growth had become the measure of growth and success across the world and at both collective and personal levels. Given the costs we are paying for this ideology, this enlightened king decided he would focus on a different set of values.

He came up with GNH, based on the belief that collective happiness of a society is the ultimate goal of governance. His legacy to his son, the current fifth King Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck, was the job of creating an operational framework for the growth of GNH in his country.

Finding that the four pillars were not complete enough, the Royal Government of Bhutan initiated the Good Government Plus (GG+) in 2005. Then the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research worked on indicators that now classify the values into nine domains. They are:

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural diversity and resilience
  • Community vitality
  • Good governance
  • Ecology
  • Living standards

Can you imagine a day when your government might ask if these nine domains are being addressed before deciding on a policy? For example, what if deciding on a policy for immigration involved asking, “What policy will increase cultural diversity and resilience?”

Can you imagine a day when corporate boards and executives might ask themselves how happy they and their employees and customers are, using these nine domains? How are corporate policies affecting the health domain, for instance?

And can you imagine a day when you might ask yourself if the decisions you’re making in your own life are taking these nine domains into consideration? Is that decision you’re considering going to affect the ecology of the planet? Your relationship to ecology will actually affect your happiness.

Some evidence I saw that these measures are working in Bhutan: the clean, sparkling rivers, which were like something out of a dream. Plastic bags are illegal; stores give out fiber bags. Tobacco is illegal and you cannot bring it into the country. People wear traditional dress–the men wear elegant robes over dark or argyle socks and dark shoes. The women wear lovely long skirts topped by jackets with a shawl collar often in a contrasting color. There is only a small military presence. Buddhist temples and other historical and cultural sites are beautifully preserved, and prayer flags fly everywhere there is a holy site or particularly stunning view.

Of course the country still faces challenges. But I was struck by the spiritual underpinning or energy, if you will, that was palpable everywhere. I felt an air of kindness, an atmosphere of reflection, an attitude of appreciation. This doesn’t stem from isolation; even monks were talking on cell phones. But it felt as if people had it straight that technology was not the end point. What they’re after is working with nature and with our own gifts, promoting what every human longs for: happiness.