Corporate Kool-Aid

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I read a very interesting post from a financial expert about happiness in the workplace. It showed that only about 50% of our workforce is happy with their employment. Even less are actually engaged at work. 

We all have to work. Work is good for us, our communities, and our world. Most of us end up as employees within some corporation, where we are programmed to compete and rise to the top. 

Organizations cannot rise to a very high level of consciousness. This is because an organization must always be looking out for its own best interest. Self interest is inherent in any organization that seeks to stay an organization. Corporations place higher value on those employees that look out for the best interest of the company and this correlates with the rise to the top. As one moves up in leadership, their stake in the company goes with them. 

Within each organization, some employees are more “in” than others. They drink the corporate Kool-Aid. The more a person drinks, the more beloved they are by the organization and lose commonality with those who drink less.

Corporations divide people by necessity based on Kool-Aid consumption.

Colleagues that are promoted to leadership begin to morph under new interpersonal dynamics. We call it office politics. It’s a game of managing innies and outies. People with high consciousness usually do well, while those without interpersonal radar usually blow things up.  

Corporate Kool-Aid is the same at all start-ups, non-profits, ministries, small businesses, churches, religions and huge corporations. The Bible calls this “The World.”  The term refers to systems of power, control, government, or leadership. (Matt 4:8, Luke 4:5, John 1:10, 1 John 2:15-16) Because these political systems are everywhere the term used is “Cosmos.”

Systems of power (corporate Kool-Aid) gives people an identity? They’re powerful because they give people a life. These systems incubate our over-inflated egos. We think we want the title, the power, the income, or options that come with more power. Below the surface, we really want validation, acceptance, and approval. The Kool-Aid gives us a synthetic version, but not the real thing.

Those who realize their identity doesn’t come from their work (world) are actually free to do really good work. Those who need the company to define themselves are trapped in a cycle of striving, effort and output as they chase an ever deferring satisfaction.

The reason people are unhappy at work is because they are not free.  Organizations can only give us pseudonyms. They are stingy and only recognize the few. We can’t be happy if we don’t know who we really are.

People long to be free and suffer under the weight of compliance but the answer is not to blame corporations or capitalism or business. The answer isn’t to quit and go into radio silence either.

Make no mistake, corporate Kool-Aid IS RELIGION!  Everything we see, taste, use and touch has a CEO. All things have a system of self-interest. Each vying for talent that gives it advantage in our competitive world. Like religion, the world gives its constituents a (false) identity, a means of life, and some measure of purpose. It requires we place our faith in it. All organizations are institutions of faith.

Unhappiness really sets in when we realize we cannot escape the Kool-Aid. Even a lottery winning cannot save us from all the worldly systems. The homeless panhandler and the executive must both sustain and protect their existence by dependence on the system. It can all seem like a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Are we just slaves to the grind?

Freedom is possible, but not by evacuation or Lotto. Freedom comes from the inside. Our identity is not found at work. Our doing does not create our being! Freedom comes when we  switch from the system to what Jesus called the kingdom.

The system (world, religion, Kool-Aid) is easy to spot because it operates from the outside-in. It has many rules to control behaviors and runs of duty, ambition, exclusivity.

The Kingdom is inside-out. It has one rule, to love as we are loved. To know others as we are known. This produces the best of our humanity. We become free because we are not competing for an identity, we are just US.

If you’re suffering, tormented or depressed at work, then you’ve had too much Kool-Aid.  Try surrendering all outcomes at a soul level. You’ll feel something resist you, argue, but eventually it dies. Don’t quit your dream, quit the system’s means to your dream. Create a spaciousness for a new ending to your dream.  You’ll immediately start moving with the wind (pneuma) and experience FLOW.

We can now work within any system and make each one incrementally better. The world  becomes free once we become free. Free people are happy.

Freedom is to be in the world and not of the world.

5- Justice: It’s not what you think.

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Chances are good that any problems you have with this series surround the issue of justice. Today, I’m going to offer a new way to understand justice and I will prove to you that this idea absolutely permeates the scripture. It’s THAT big.

So how did we miss it?

As a student in the Living School, Richard Rohr gave a talk to our cohort about the Justice of God. He used two or three verses from the scripture that taught that God’s justice is not based in retribution, but restoration. At dinner that evening I mentioned to Richard that I too had seen this in my studies and I asked if he would be interested in additional scriptures to support this idea. He graciously accepted and I returned to him, as I am giving to you, a list of nearly 132 verses where you can read for yourself that God’s goal is not about getting even, but about making us whole.

I’m realize that I’m overdoing it on the scripture because for most of us God’s justice is too big of a pill to swallow.

The only justice most of us have is retribution. Retribution is the idea that God has to even the score with us. Retributive justice is the lens through which nearly everyone we know has understood the bible, it’s the basis of Religion’s power plays and fear tactics. It’s understandable, given the countless texts that seem to teach it. The alternative form of justice (restorative) always shows up if we keep reading.

Retribution means God will do something severe to “those people” who are not as good as us, or who don’t believe like us, or who aren’t as smart, clever or lucky as us. When we go through life and see horrible suffering, sometimes the only comfort we get is from the balm that a payback is coming for those son’s of bitches.  It’s the thought which says; “God is on my side, so screw them.”  We felt this the day the twin towers fell. Like Esau, I comforted myself with the death of my brother (Genesis 27:42)

Jesus told a story about the Justice of Heaven and it destroyed the expectations of his audience. It’s still a scandal today and it’s likely you’ve never heard this.

The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) eradicates retributive justice. The story tells of a manager of field who hires workers at the beginning of the day and each worker agrees to work for a denarius (a days wage). Every couple of hours the manager goes out to the city and finds more people to come and join the work, offering each a day’s wage. He does this up to the very last hour of work. When it’s time for payment, those hired last are given a full-days wage and so it goes on down the line to those who bore the work in the heat of the day. Of course those hired first are pissed. “It’s unfair” they say. And that is precisely how I know Jesus is talking about justice. We latch on to retribution when we perceive life as unfair.

The response of the manager is not what was expected. He scolds those hired first for trying to begrudge the manager for his generosity. This is our clue to Heaven and why some people will not accept heaven on these terms. For them, an “unfair” Heaven is not Heaven.

The manager (God) is not dividing us up into good, better and best. The goal is to make all whole (thus the symbolism of the denarius). Religion and State are the two biggest systems of meritocracy and they nailed Jesus to the cross. Heaven is not like them.

The justice of heaven is not based on merit. It’s based in love. Restoration is justice because it makes all things whole, complete and justified.  Restoration presupposes that all of us fall short. Whether the gap is small or large it’s still a gap. So at the right time God makes us whole for no other reason than he/she loves us and wants to. The athlete who never drops a ball has more glory than the one who only catches perfect throws.

Restorative justice has no gradation, all are equally dependent on grace, but there is a catch. Restoration can not be celebrated if any hate, prejudice or pride exist in our soul. If we can’t get beyond “unfair”, we cannot enter Heaven. I think this is why the gates of heaven are always open and the river of life flows out of the city to heal the disappointed (Revelations 22:2).

Jesus concludes with the famous words: “ The first will be last and the last will be first.” It’s paradoxical that those who think they are closest to Heaven are actually farthest from it, while hose who can’t even describe themselves as insiders are so much closer because they understand that it wasn’t them that put them there. Prostitutes and sinners will enter before the religious (Matthew 21:31).

Again I’m back to the humble and the proud, and both are shocked at Ultimate Reality, The delighted and the disappointed are not what we expected. It’s far better than that. When we lay down our “right” to complain, we create the space for restoration and gain the eyes to see the Kingdom of Heaven.

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4- The Afterlife.

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What happens to us when we die? This has been the ultimate question for both science and religion. Whether you have the whole afterlife drama mapped out or you believe we just die and that’s it, no one really knows.

My plan is not to uphold or deconstruct your notion of the afterlife. If you like your grasp of the afterlife and it helps you, then keep it. I would like to offer 11 perspectives that I hope will expand each of our understandings.

1. Consciousness is non-physical reality. Max Planck, the Theoretical Physicist credited with quantum theory says; “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

2. The afterlife is more like a conscious experience than a cloud with a harp. Science now supports what religion has been saying all along. Consciousness influences matter, it is not a derivative of it. The body does not create consciousness, but instead contains and conducts it. This was proven with the discovery of quantum entanglement via countless double slit experiments. Word becomes flesh (John 1:14).

3. The afterlife is eternal. Science is increasingly adopting the notion that our consciousness (like energy) does not disappear, but instead changes forms. The bible says we are transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). This “mind of God” (consciousness) is the essence of Eternal life. 

But where does our consciousness go? 

4. The afterlife is a transfer of consciousness! Similar to sleeping. This aligns with the best of science, sacred texts, and human experience. Henry Scudder, a Puritan writer, describes sleeping as death practice. Our sheets wrap us like grave clothes and our consciousness shifts to another dimension. Upon awaking, we must reorient ourselves into our bodies again. Scripture often refers to death as sleeping.

 5. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven (afterlife) is not solely a place we go to, but also the place from which we live (Luke 17:21)Scripture depicts the afterlife (Kingdom) as both now and not yet. String theory can explain simultaneously parallel dimensions and scripture clearly depicts this over and over.(2 Kings 2:11, Luke 3:22, Mark 9:2)

6. The afterlife is another dimension that is partially connected to this life. Some mediums are total scams. Some seem to be able to access people who have passed away. Hebrew scripture talks about a medium in En-Dor who brings Samuel back from the dead to talk to Saul (1 Samuel 28).  This aligns with the idea that people go to be with God when they die. If God is accessible here and now, then that aspect of our loved ones who are now with God are also accessible because they are with God (Acts 17:28).

7. We can access the afterlife now. The afterlife is accessed when we bring our consciousness into the present moment. Prayer, meditation, contemplation, solitude, athletics, crafts, and many other things can be conduits that allow us to access the eternal moment here and now.

8. An afterlife with God makes more sense when God is understood as “BEING” not “A Being.” So what or who is God? Scripture tells us God is Light, God is Life, God is Love, God is consciousness, God is everywhere, beyond all things, in all things, and through all things. These are descriptions of BEING. Being is consciousness. Our being becomes shared with God and others.

All we have is metaphor. Our words fail to describe what we intuit at the graveside or holding a newborn. Scripture says we see in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12), but then we will know face to face.  God is dynamism or Flow or Energy. As Richard Rohr would say, God is not the dancer, but the DANCE.

9. The afterlife is some sort of returning. If consciousness is where we start, it is also where we end. If we come from God, we will return to God. To be with God is to join in the consciousness of God, to share the mind of God. The bible uses the metaphor of a bride and groom joining in intimate union. We join the dance. Science says we come from carbon and return to carbon.

10. The afterlife depicts a new body. If the drop dissolves into the ocean its the end of the drop. Like waking up each morning, our consciousness after death is said in scripture to reorient itself within a new body. All are resurrected (Daniel 12:2, John 5:29). Jesus’ resurrected body contained the scars of this life. Something about our present life remains with us forever, yet all sad things will become untrue (Revelation 21:4).

11. The afterlife is not our goal; humility is. Religion has cashed in selling us tickets to heaven. For some, faith is an evacuation strategy based in fear and hate. If we possess the kingdom now, death has no sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). We cannot err by dismissing the afterlife either. The way we live now has a lasting effect beyond the grave. Ultimate Reality has no bandwidth for pride. Learning humility is our surest path to our best life now and the one beyond. (1 Peter 5:5, Zephaniah 2:3, Jeremiah 50:31-32, Luke 14:11, 18:14, 2 Samuel 22:27-28, Psalms 25:9, 18:27, 147:6, Daniel 4:37, Isaiah 2:17, James 4:10, Matthew 23: 11-12)


3- The Chasm

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I originally posted this content in January of 2015. I suspected I was on to something, but I wanted to vet my ideas before posting this series. Even if I’m completely wrong, it doesn’t mean our Sunday school teachers were right. We desperately need our ideas of Heaven and Hell to be updated. The typical framework is untenable for most modern people because the supposed savior of the world essentially loses nearly everyone who ever lived to fiery torture. Fear is not a basis for true faith. Marriages are not consummated under threat. The cross was the end of appeasement.

The language of scripture is a means to an end, not the end in itself. As James Finley would say; words are in service of the unsayable.  These are idioms, figures of speech, and abstract concepts that point to something beyond all the words. These are not blueprints for the afterlife. They are portals through which we gain glimpses of Ultimate Reality. If we are to make room for a fresh reading of these texts, we must be willing to deconstruct bits of our literal, fear-based, formative container. The new will destroy old wineskins (Mark 2:22).

The idea that residents of Heaven can see the residents of Hell comes from a story Jesus told in Luke 16. People insert hollywood’s Hell into this passage and as a result we are taught to strain out a gnat and swallow a camel (Matt 23:24).

The Chasm is a figurative “Grand Canyon” placed between the poor man in “Abraham’s Bosom” (Heaven) and the rich man in torment (Hell). Despite this impassible rift, a conversation ensues between the characters of Jesus’ story, a rich man in Hell, and a poor man in Heaven.

Many think of the Chasm as a landmark of a literal Hell. I’ve heard pastors explain that it adds to the sinner’s torment if they can see the joy of Heaven. How can we have joy in Heaven if we can see the torment of Hell? I’ve concluded that the chasm is not a geological border feature of Hell, but rather a metaphor for a disposition of the heart.

The Chasm existed between the rich man and the poor man before anyone had died. This becomes the portal through which we learn something vital about Heaven and Hell, namely, they are potentiated.  Think of potentiation as a volume control knob for your life. Frequent use of muscles creates motor memory and the nerves are potentiated (enhanced). (Read more here: Hell and Pubes in the Urinal.)

The Chasm of the rich man ignoring the poor man outside his gate potentiated over the course of his life (which is eternal) and now his Hell is the same chasm between himself and the poor man, whom he still views as his servant (v.24). The rich man did not go to Hell when he died, but has always lived in hell. There was never a time when he was not in Hell for he never recognized his chasm of otherness.

An attitude problem now gets bigger when life lasts forever. Our insecurities, anger, greed, lust, malice, racism, and bitterness that resides in our lives are Hell within us. Annoyances become tormenting prisons as life goes on.

We all recognize our living Hell. We know it intimately. Richard Rohr would say that pain we do not transform, we will ultimately transmit. We know our ugly untransformed pain and we know it keeps us from experiencing joy. This is the point of Hell narratives.

Hell then, is not about a punishment for bad deeds (sins). It is the state of being not in Love. Sin is not a bad thing you do, Kierkegaard would say it is the refusal to be ourselves before God. Sin is going after a good thing in a bad way. Hell then is our hiding place before the light of Truth (Gen 3:10). Hell is skimming over this moment. Hell is choosing our pain instead of healing. Hell is the fear that keeps us stuck. Hell is settling for sex, money or power when we really want connection, reassurance and validation.

A spaceship that is one degree off course can be a galaxy away from its destination if enough time passes. The more mid-course corrections the straighter the path. Spirituality is learning to course correct within each moment.

The solution is both easy and hard. The solution is to course correct and surrender our untransformed pain to this present moment. Judgement Day is simply our most honest day, let it be today. Let’s surrender our outcomes and pride will go with them, and Love will backfill the space. Eliminate “otherness” wherever it shows itself and love others as ourselves. This is soul work on which all religion hangs (Matt 22:40). Awareness (Presence) to Love is the Light that dissipates any darkness (John 8:12).

Finding this mid-course correction closes the smallest gap in our hearts and ensures there will never be a chasm or a future Hell. Then in 100,000 years we’ll look back and realize we’ve always been in Heaven.