I was talking with my friend Khurshid the other day, and he told the story of the drill sergeant. The drill sergeant is honest to a fault, and loyal, and he has trained soldiers that have risen to the rank of lieutenant, colonel, major, and even general. The drill sergeant works very hard and without him the army cannot survive. Yet the man never rises above the level of sergeant. He is stuck in his position, and in that position he is very low on the chain of command. In other words, the men he has trained have risen to ranks of greater power and influence, yet he has very little influence because of his low rank. This is the dilemma of the hard worker who values personal integrity.
The men above the drill sergeant, more than likely, have had to compromise their integrity in greater or lesser degree because in any organization there is a certain amount of “go along to get along.” No organization is entirely rational or operates on the greatest good all the time. Personal integrity is very often not compatible with advancement and success.
This tells us a lot about the world we live in. I ask you, what would happen if you told the truth in every situation at your place of work? Would you be looked upon as an ideal employee? Do you think your advancement would be hindered or strengthened by always acting in ways you thought were right? I’m betting that no matter what your position or in what company you work, there is a certain amount of compromise with your own values IF you want to rise in the organization. We do this because we need that paycheck, and because the world is a very complex place.
This poses a dilemma: the tension between character and integrity, and advancement. This ethical conflict was illustrated perfectly in the movie, “Scent of a Woman,” which came out in the 90s. A young man attending a private prep school from a poor family (Charlie) and a rich kid (George) witness a few of George’s rich friends pull a prank on the school headmaster (Trask) by dumping paint all over his new car. The headmaster learns that Charlie and George know who pulled the prank but they refuse to say who. The headmaster threatens both kids with expulsion from the school, which would be a big deal for Charlie, who needs to graduate to get into a good school. For George it doesn’t matter, his family is rich and he could do anything or go anywhere. Trask offers Charlie a bribe, a letter of recommendation that would virtually guarantee his acceptance to Harvard. The headmaster gives both Charlie and George the Thanksgiving holiday to think about it.
Now here is the dilemma for Charlie: he gave his word to George that he wouldn’t rat out George’s friends to the headmaster. To make a long story short, George eventually caves into pressure from his rich father, who insists he tell the truth. At school, Charlie and George are subjected to a formal inquiry in front of the student body and the student/faculty disciplinary committee. George, aware that his wealthy father might cut him off if he doesn’t give up the names of the perpetrators, cops out and says that his vision wasn't clear. When pressed for more details, George passes the burden to Charlie, who remains silent. Charlie is told that when he enrolled he agreed to abide by the influential school’s rules and that he is honor bound and duty bound to tell the truth. But he does not tell the truth, and does not give up George’s friends, even though George and his friends treat him with casual contempt because of his lower social status. Trask recommends Charlie's expulsion.
Charlie chooses integrity and character over honesty and truth. He is in the same position as the drill sergeant above, who cannot rise above his station and succeed. Charlie’s chance for success is ruined by his decision.
What would you do? Well, there are two equally valid answers. The first is to say, “To hell with these rich people who don’t like me but who expect me to cover for them.” Here, Charlie breaks his word and compromises his integrity, but he gets his recommendation and his scholarship to the Ivy League. He “succeeds.” The second is to do what Charlie did and say that his personal integrity is more important than breaking his word. But Charlie is the poorer for this decision. Charlie “fails.”
Khurshid pointed out that the real dilemma: the Charlie who “fails,” who is true to himself, cannot exert influence in the world, because he will never rise in the power structure. The Charlie who compromises his integrity can, however, rise in the world and be a player, and eventually influence and change the system for the better. So – is it worth it to stay in a low position and have character, and personal integrity, or is it better to keep the broader goal in mind, and do what you have to do to become powerful and influential? Isn’t the Charlie who fails really just a coward because he isn’t willing to face up to the realities of the world, so he can eventually change things for the better?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I would have said that the Charlie who fails really succeeds because he is probably a happier person than the Charlie who compromises his integrity. After all, if you are willing to break your word once, you are probably the type to do it again. Can you really influence things for the better if your own character is flawed? (see our political system) Or is that just the cop-out of a weakling who will never rise high enough to influence anything? In the real world, sometimes you have to go along to get along, keeping the greater goal in mind, don’t you? Sometimes you just have to make hard decisions that maybe don’t make you feel good personally, but you suck it up for the greater good. Otherwise you’re just a prude who will never accomplish anything.
I don’t know, frankly. I have personally chosen the “failed” Charlie route, but I am just a happy person with little influence in the world. I suppose there are people who maintain their personal integrity AND become real players, but I don’t know any of them! I see a world run by sociopaths at the top, who are selfishly focused on their desires for power, or whatever.
In a vibrational universe, intense and exclusive focus on anything sets up a powerful matching vibration. Therefore, sociopaths who are intensely focused can be very successful. A vibrational universe operating on the Law of Attraction doesn’t care whether you are a nice person or not. In fact, the LOA punishes people who are “nice,” because nice people are usually not so intensely focused. They can see both sides of a situation, whereas a sociopath is convinced he or she is right and plows ahead regardless of others. In a vibrational universe this focus is rewarded.
In a world with a collective consciousness as low as ours, where the economy is driven by an energy distribution system based on scarce fossil fuels, who do you think is going to wind up at the top of these organizations? Monstrously competitive people, intensely focused people, and sociopaths who are blindly concerned with their own needs. Their vibrational focus is so strong that it is rewarded.
In the movie, the situation is only partially resolved. Before the hearing, Charlie takes on a “babysitting” job over the Thanksgiving holiday, taking care of a blind ex-Army vet (Al Pacino) who is tired of life and ready to end it all. Long story short, Pacino (Slade) recommends that Charlie give up the rich kids and go to Harvard. Slade shows up at Charlie’s hearing and gives a rousing speech defending Charlie’s character, which shames the student/faculty disciplinary body and they allow Charlie to stay in school. Slade tells them that Charlie may have acted wrongly (against the school regulations) but that he “isn’t a snitch!” and tells them that he’d rather have a platoon full of guys like Charlie (guys with character) than a bunch of rats from the Baird school, who are willing to squeal on their mates when the going gets tough. The disciplinary committee clears Charlie of wrongdoing, but we never find out whether Charlie gets his recommendation from the headmaster (most likely not, as the guy is a twit) or whether he gets to go to the Ivy League.
The movie tells us, “you have to have integrity to be happy,” but the successful guys in the movie are the headmaster and the rich kids who get off because their parents’ money can buy them a degree.
So the question is, how many of us can be happy and successful? By successful I mean powerful in a world that is dominated by governments, militaries, and corporations in fierce competition for scarce resources. We might say that the recently departed Dr. Wayne Dyer was one of those guys – but his influence only extended to people in the metaphysical community. Oh, he leaked out into society as well, but the people making the important decisions in the world – people who decide whether we’re going to invade Iraq or Afghanistan, for instance, or what the LIBOR interbank rate is – aren’t listening to Dr. Dyer, otherwise this planet would be a much different place. The same for Oprah, or Deepak Chopra. These people are happy and influential in their circles, but they aren’t making important decisions that affect the lives of everyone on the planet. THOSE decisions are being made by selfishly focused people who have risen to the top of one or more societal pyramids because of their rigidly focused mentalities.
I suppose this is what the eschatological predictions of the Bible and the Hopi and the Mayans and other cultures mean when they talk about a battle at the end of the world. We are living that battle – the battle for the consciousness of the planet. Right now the collective consciousness of humanity is unsustainable. We cannot continue to industrialize the entire planet using scarce fossil fuel resources for much longer. We can no longer afford to allow sociopaths and other selfish people to run our most important organizations. We have to change our consciousness or human civilization is not going to make it. It’s as simple as the words “resource depletion.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to “re-educate” humanity. There are universal forces at work, beyond the silly materialism of our primitive science. The physical universe and everything in it is a perturbation, a set of vibrational impulses, within a universal field or superstring field. This universal field is pure consciousness. It is non-material in origin. It is beyond present-day science and the scientific method. Therefore, a true science, a sustainable science, will take this into account. It will unite materialism with what has been called spiritualism or metaphysics. A true science will integrate CONSCIOUSNESS into itself. Consciousness, even though it is non-material, has the ability to create thought, the basic building block of this universe and any other (see “The Unity of Spirit and Matter,” at sunrise-oproduction.org). Quantum mechanics deals with material entities at or above the Planck level. But a quantum science must deal with the universal field, and consciousness, as well as the material, because consciousness and the universal field are non-material, and material things are vibrations upon this universal field. (See John Hagelin, quantum physicist, in his excellent presentation, “What is the Universe made of and where does our Consciousness come from?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV5Vptx0iJw&feature=youtu.be )
Universal forces are pushing awareness to a higher level. This is occurring at a deeper level than the current consciousness of humanity can conceive of. It is a little like the operating system of a computer, which is completely invisible to the user. Yet the OS provides an environment that allows all of the programs and devices on your computer to run smoothly. Guess what – some intelligence actually wrote that operating system. Some intelligence understands how it works and can fix it if something goes wrong. And most importantly, that OS is designed for harmonious interaction of all components within it.
Is it such a great leap of logic to postulate that the consciousness which underlies the universe has an intelligent plan for the advancement of life within it? I’m not justifying the idiocy of people who say that the universe was created 6,000 years ago because not believing so will undermine some religion. No, if a universal field really exists, then what occurs in that universe is not, cannot be, random. Materialists say that life evolved randomly and mysteriously from the random collisions of matter that somehow magically got created during the Big Bang. That is absurd and delusional. The universal field and everything in it is designed around harmony – otherwise life could not have evolved – and free will.
If you are really, really stupid you can use free will to deny the obvious: the inherent well being of the universe and this beautiful planet. You can deliberately turn your back on well being and create a civilization that thinks it’s really cool to fight and compete within itself to the detriment of the people living in it. Yup, free will – consciousness – allows you to do this. But you’d do it only if you were really, really, dumb.
And that brings us back to our original question of success vs. integrity. We simply need to redefine what success means. If you ask ten people in the US what success means, all ten of them (or at least nine) will tell you it either means making lots of money, or having lots of people approve of you, or some combination of both.
If I asked a child this question and got these answers I wouldn’t be surprised. But really, as a civilization we have to do a little better than that! Why? Because these adolescent beliefs are simply unsustainable! We have to get over the idea that the general is more “successful” than the drill sergeant because the general has some pretty stars on his uniform. Without the drill sergeant, the general never gets anywhere, because he himself never gets properly trained and his troops don’t know how to fight. A dumbass might say that the general is higher than the sergeant, but a rational military analyst will recognize the invaluable contributions of both.
Until we can go beyond the adolescent need for approval and shiny stuff, this civilization isn’t going anywhere. But the good news is that the underlying pure consciousness of the universal field is driving the process – and it is totally benign. Invisibly, the nature of life itself will turn a negative to a positive, if we let it. And it will do so despite the wailing and the sneers and the derisive comments and actions of people who don’t get it. If we are smart we just don’t buy into that.
Last week we talked about the creative impulse being fundamental to everyone on earth, even the clueless, and even the sociopaths. The creative impulse stems from the benign nature of pure consciousness, so all motivation for action, no matter how twisted, has a benign orientation. Recognizing that harmony is the sine qua non of existence will go a long way toward making our progress to a new, benign civilization a lot easier. And it will allow the drill sergeant, and the general, to understand how valuable he is.