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Tucson Chat with Shepherd Hoodwin
Experimenting with Cooperation

(11/05/2008)

 



MP3 File


Transcribed by Gloria Constantin
Audio edited by Dave Gregg
 

MEDITATION:

Feel yourself merging into a larger sense of self: the you who feels
connected with nature; beauty; all the stars in the sky, including those
that cannot be seen with the eye; and the universal forces of truth, love,
and beauty. Feel your physical body uniting with your soul as you awaken to
the awareness that everything is connected.

MICHAEL:

You are, collectively, at the beginning of a new cycle. This has to do with
the U.S. Presidential election, but it is not so much that the election is
the cause, as much as it is a reflection of something happening at a deeper
level.

There has been a lengthy cycle in human experience that has been, you might
say, an experiment with the use of force over others. You might compare it
to a phase that children often go through:

Babies are helpless--they cannot do too much to change their environment.
They cry and hope that those who do have the power to do something will
understand and act.

Then, as children are able to walk and have some basic manual dexterity,
they are likely to experiment with using force over others. Of course, some
children do this more than others. In any case, it is not subtle. This phase
is, in part, a reaction to the previous feeling of helplessness. At some
point, most children gain new skills allowing them to cooperate more.

Humanity as a whole has been weaving back and forth between the experiment
with using force over others and the experiment with using cooperation more.
World War II was the apex of using force over others, although there have
been various aftershocks since then. In thinking about World War II, most
people identify "good guys" and "bad guys." However, both sides were
experimenting with using force over others--one was more on the offense, and
the other was more on the defense.

The Bush administration banged that drum loudly, branding itself as good vs
evil. Nothing happens in a vacuum: that government represented many people
who were not yet done with the experiment with power over others; a part of
humanity was trying to wring the last drops of experience out of that
paradigm. The idea of cooperation had been gaining adherents, but there were
still sizeable numbers of people exploring the previous paradigm of power
over others. There still are, and there are also still people who feel
helpless, like infants. However, the underlying change now is that enough
people have decided that they are done with the experiment with power over
others that your society as a whole feels ready to begin to leave that
behind.

This will take a long time. There will be, no doubt, moments in which some
backtrack, saying that this cooperation thing doesn't work. However, many
more can look back on recent history, particularly since World War II, and
realize that power over others has not been working out very well for
anyone. When more people agreed on the experiment with power over others,
wars were more straightforward matters. One army fought another: one side
won and the other gave up--that was all agreed upon. That hasn't been
happening much in recent years. Instead, there have been eruptions--wars
have been far more localized, and it is becoming clear what has, in fact,
always been the case: that not much is accomplished. Wars are about
individual or nationalistic egos getting out of control, pitting self
against others.

The early stages of the experiment with cooperation tend to be confusing. It
takes a while to build up trust in the process. We suspect that each of you
will be more overtly confronting the challenges of cooperation in the coming
months and years.

You will particularly see this in the legal realm. It has been valuable,
where there is a strong rule of law, that people have been able to
experiment with force over others through a legal system rather than with
lethal weapons. However, it has still largely been about wielding power over
others. Lawsuits are mostly about power over others, whether your side is
more selfish and destructive or whether it's more positive. It's not really
about positive or negative--it's about the whole approach that is being
used. You will increasingly see people trying to work things out more
cooperatively, as well as a desire for the laws themselves to be more
sensitive to the needs of individuals, less heavy-handed and less about
imposing one's will or beliefs over others.

MEDITATION:

Ask your inner self to help you think of one situation in your life where
there has been a paradigm of power over others, whether you've been on the
giving or receiving end of that. Now ask your inner self to bring the spirit
of trust, openness, compassion, and understanding into your heart around
this situation.

Think about the other side of this conflict, and ask that it also be gently
bathed in these qualities. Note you're not imposing them: if the other side
does not want to experience them, it won't, since you are not using any sort
of power over them; you are simply using your heart to create a more loving
environment.

Now ask your inner self to suggest one thing you might do or say that might
shift this conflict to a more cooperative approach. Perhaps it is simply
indicating to the other side that you are listening, respectful, open to
ideas, or willing to talk. Now ask that all the old feelings of helplessness
that led to this polarization into power over others be healed in you. Just
the fact of your having considered some options might make you feel more
internally powerful and less helpless in the situation.

Ask yourself if you are ready to end your personal experiment in power over
others, and to experiment more with the power of cooperation. If you are not
ready to make that change, that is okay. Just see what is true for you.

Notice now what you feel in general. Would anyone like to share what you
experienced?

Q. When we did the meditation, what came to mind was the bad relations
between me and my family. I feel that I can let go of this. In my case, it's
about fear, lack of trust, and the need to protect myself. There's a lot of
work to be done.

A. What this is finally about is your own healing. Infants are, in fact,
helpless; they rely on others, and others donıt always do their best by the
helpless ones, so if they feel victimized, it is not merely an attitude of
victimhood at work--it's the reality. However, as you naturally mature and
have more fully developed capabilities, you are no longer, in fact,
helpless. However, you may not have updated your "software," your beliefs,
about that and still feel that you are helpless, so you maintain you
defenses.

It is widely understood that bullies are insecure people. They have found a
coarse way of having power over others because they don't feel that they
have other tools to use. As you heal, you take stock of the tools that are
at your disposal, and you get better at using them. Therefore, you don't
need coarser tools that don't feel as good to you as more sophisticated
tools.

Healing your family issues does not necessarily imply that you will choose
to have relationships with them. However, that is a choice you will now be
better able to make, based on a realistic appraisal of the facts and
intuition as to what's really possible there. In any case, you can now be
freer of the energy drain of keeping them away. Instead, there can just be
peace, and then a choice.

Considering the fact that there are still a lot of bullies in the world who
are not able to be reached through more cooperative means, there is still a
need for some occasional military shows of strength against those who would
violate others. However, as there is more maturity, this will be used
increasingly sparingly, only when it is absolutely necessary.

This could also be said to be true in your own life. We're not suggesting
that you should never sue anyone, for example, but as you increasingly feel
your toolbox being activated and don't have to prove anything, you have a
lot more options, including letting go when that is your highest good.

The greatest fear in letting go of an excessive attachment to using power
over others is the fear that others will use power over you. This is most
obviously represented in the political consciousness today by fear about
terrorists. It's similar to the days of fear of communism, where there was
concern that there was a "red under every bed" and that anyone could be a
communist. There were all sorts of accusations flying, mostly unfairly. Even
in your recent political campaign, there were frightened, insecure people
accusing the other side of being terrorists. This demonstrates what it is
like to be a very vulnerable and young child who does not have a safe
environment. Maybe you can think back to your earliest days in this lifetime
when you had nightmares and a light had to be left on. You saw shadows, and
thought maybe they were the boogeyman.

Sometimes there are, in fact, prowlers in the house--but not very often.
That is the point. When you start to feel more secure, you can evaluate what
the real situation is, and then you start to feel better. You're not on red
alert all the time, just when you need to be.

We're not suggesting being naive to real dangers. Pretending that everything
is always wonderful is just the flip side of the fear that everything is
terrible; both are based on fear of confronting dangers. You have a survival
instinct for a good reason. However, those who are still heavily
experimenting with power over others figured out a long time ago that they
could have it by pushing the buttons of people's fears when they are not
warranted, so beware of having your fears manipulated.

When he was leaving office, President Eisenhower warned about the
encroaching military-industrial complex. It has long been the case that
there are people who profit from war and similar manifestations; they have a
vested interest in increasing fear. That can be a self-fulfilling prophecy,
because when two sides are polarized in fear, it's often just a matter of
time before one of them does something that makes the other side feel
justified in fighting back.

A cooperative approach can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Putting out
to others kindness and openness makes it more possible that they will do the
same. At Christmas every year, people say, "Peace on earth; good will toward
men," but there have been many who really don't want peace on earth, because
they believe they stand to profit from conflict, in one way or another. In
addition, many people enjoy the drama and excitement of it.

The best way that you personally can contribute to peace on earth is to
realize that you no longer feel much of a payoff from conflict, and that
there are other means of resolving issues. This is where you are now,
collectively: there is a slight, subtle, but meaningful shift in your
society that says, in effect, "Okay, we don't really understand this
cooperation thing very well, and we're not sure how to do it, but we're kind
of sick and tired of the way that we've been trying to solve things for
quite some time. So we will grudgingly stick our toe in the water of
approaching others in a more respectful and open-hearted way when we find
ourselves on opposite sides of an issue."

We do not know how long it will take to get from this grudging acceptance to
the point where a lot of people are saying, "Hey this is really great; I
like this a lot better. Let's get rid of this war business and its cousins,
such as extreme litigiousness--all us-vs.-them framing of events." However,
it *could* move from here to there pretty quickly. The reason we think that
is that you've been lingering in the old experiment for a very long time. It
need not have gone on so long, or have been so destructive. So you might say
there is a pent-up demand for peace. Additionally, with the current
financial situation, a lot of people might wake up to the fact that war is
very expensive, so that could be a silver lining to what is happening in
that regard.

What you do in your own heart can be contagious. As you feel that you would
like to support this new experiment, that can help foster more widespread
adoption. As you see that you are having a positive impact on others, you
start to feel more powerful and less helpless even when bad things are
happening. The more powerful you feel, the less need you feel to try to
control others, and you help this new experiment pick up speed by modeling
more cooperative actions.

What is inside people has to come out one way or another. What has been
going on politically over the last years has been a regression, but it has
also been useful, because it has allowed some old remaining fears to take
center stage where everyone could get a good, hard look at them. These
continue to be unresolved in some people; there's an opportunity to reach
out to them and reassure them that things are okay. That is what people
really want to know--that things are okay.

Q. (An audience member shared about his house once having been broken into.)

A. There's nothing wrong with taking sensible precautions: good locks, an
alarm system if you feel it's warranted where you live, that sort of thing,
and you don't necessarily act out of fear to do that; it could just be
common sense. On the other hand, sometimes things happening to you are an
out picturing of your psychic drama inside; making the connection between
what you see and what you are is very useful. So someone breaking into your
house may or may not represent some fear that you have. Sometimes you have
to have that experience and then survive it in order to flush it out from
your consciousness. It's always worth looking at, to see if maybe that is
the case. However, sometimes things like that happen just by chance or bad
luck, so you don't want to over generalize in that regard. The very fact that
you are sensible enough to take responsible precautions is part of your
toolkit so that you don't have to be in fear. You know that you are taking
care of yourself the best that you can.

Everyone is growing, slowly or quickly, even those who appear to be
backtracking: they are collecting experiences that will ultimately
contribute to their growth. Today, people have far more access to knowledge
than ever before. Of course, the internet is good for that, along with
television and the other media. There's a lot of bad information being put
out, but there's a lot of good stuff, too. People are starting to be
attracted to the idea that growth does not have to be so tedious, that there
are ways to become more conscious and have less wear and tear, and are
finding knowledge that supports that.

In the Michael teachings, we delineate the five soul ages that are commonly
experienced by humans and other ensouled species on the physical plane. We
each start out as what we always are in our core: an eternal soul who comes
to a particular planet to inhabit a particular species. In your case, that
is obviously the human species. You have a series of lifetimes in order to
evolve and expand your horizons. Your progress over many lifetimes is
roughly equivalent to what you experience as an individual within each
lifetime. That is, your soul starts out as an infant, where your experiences
are quite simple. Then, you move to the baby or toddler soul stage where you
are working with a basic structure, similar to the way that toddlers learn
about "yes" and "no."

Then there is a young soul phase when you are gaining a lot of energy
relative to acting in the world, like youngsters playing. Humanity in
general and the United States in particular have been focused at the late
end of the young soul cycle, so there's a lot of energy there. On the
negative side, there can be bullying and fascination with things like
building a big military because it's something that is easy to understand at
that stage in development, just as a lot of kids play with action figures.

Next comes the mature soul cycle, which is equivalent in human development
to the adolescent phase. Adolescents have a lot of confusing new impulses,
wanting to relate to other people in a deeper way as well as wanting to get
to know themselves and their own feelings more. This is what humanity is
just beginning to move into.

Although this is a bit of an oversimplification, we would say that the Bush
administration was, for the United States, the last hurrah of the young soul
cycle, with a negative twist to it. It's not always negative; it can be
quite wonderful and exhilarating in many ways. The Obama administration
represents a turn to the mature cycle, which values emotions and connecting
with others more intimately. Of course, young souls have relationships too,
so it's not like suddenly there are relationships where there were none.
However, there is a different emphasis: there is less taking of
relationships for granted and more of a desire to explore them, to see what
they are all about.

Cooperation is much more a hallmark of the mature cycle than the young
cycle, although certainly, young souls can cooperate and can see that as a
positive way of experiencing their vitality in the world. On the other hand,
mature souls can use power over others and be manipulative, sometimes more
psychologically, but there can still be an experiment with power over others
in the mature cycle. So experimenting with cooperation is a specific
decision being made, regardless of soul age: "We have experimented enough
with more negative, destructive approaches to resolving issues with others.
Maybe we don't have to do this the hard way anymore. We can find more
positive ways of figuring this out together." Even people who are currently
in the infant or baby soul cycle can have an experience that is more
cooperative.

(Someone asked about election results restricting gay marriage.)

Individuals and collectives do not evolve at the same pace in every
department. People have more fear around sex than just about anything else.
We don't mean just what is classified as sex, but everything that would come
under that overall classification, which is the power of your energy to
impact and explode with others who are creating with you. That's truly what
sex is. Even if you are not having physical sexual relations, you still have
this potentially explosive energy in interacting with others, and with the
cosmos as a whole. Although people are afraid of being powerless, they are
also afraid of being powerful, because there is not a lot of experience of
harnessing that. Therefore, a lot of baggage is dumped onto the idea of sex,
and any form of it that is a little foreign reminds people of their
generalized fear of the power within themselves.

Much in evolution is two steps forward and one step back. Eventually, things
get there. There are always those who are out in front of everyone else
trying to get everyone else to catch up. However, many people are not as
eager to move forward because that means facing more things within
themselves. It is not easy to grow. Both presidential candidates spoke about
change--itıs a vague enough term that they could safely do that--but all
change suggests overcoming a certain resistance in yourself because it's a
certainty that change is going to bring up uncomfortable things in yourself.

No matter what they say, some people will not accept change until staying
where they are becomes more uncomfortable than what they're going to have to
face in the change. Furthermore, a lot of human beings are so stubbornly
resistant to change that the only way that the societies they're in will
change is for them to die. Then, they will reincarnate into a new set of
assumptions that pushes them a little bit beyond where they were holding
onto previously.

The pace of change today is much faster in than in most historical time
periods, and having a longer life span helps with that, except for those who
are stuck. They feel more pressure; they don't like it because they're
living longer, and things are changing underneath them.

You really don't want things to change too fast because you become
disoriented; but if they are too slow, you feel less alive. So there is a
sweet spot to go for there.

Q. Are we going to experience rapid progress relative to race relations
because of the power of having the symbol of a black president?

A. It's going to take a while before people are widely completely neutral
about race. Although there has been a lot of progress, some people will hold
onto their racism to the grave. Again, society just has to wait for a
certain part of the population to die off for this to change. However,
younger people are impressively free of a lot of prejudices that their
elders have, and a lot of that has to do with the media; when you grow up
seeing media stars you identify with who are of different races, you tend
not to take on so much of your parents' or grandparents' racism. You're
probably not going to get rid of all blatant prejudice over the next 50
years, but it will gradually become less and less accepted.

Q. With a more progressive President, it is more likely that some
fear-based, stuck person is going to come out of the woodwork and try to
assassinate him. Would Michael speak about the probability of Obama
finishing his term in health and well-being?

A. One of the positives about the fact that many people have brought this up
is that humanity, particularly in the United States, has had a chance to
collectively mull it over. A lot of people on an unconscious level have been
pondering, "Is this how we want to go? Do we need to have a beloved
President be martyred in order to progress, or could we keep him around and
have progress without people needing to be heartbroken?" There can be a lot
of growth through being heartbroken, because many will not grow unless
something gets broken first; otherwise, it's just too easy not to grow.

However, our sense is that the collective leaning is towards, "We've had
enough drama. Maybe we could just see what this guy might do for us." We
would not say that it is a firm collective decision, but as long as there's
a strong leaning that way, there's a likelihood of safety. Of course,
security is very strong around him, as it needs to be.

The way to approach this is to affirm your ability to grow through joy in
your own life: that you are flexible and fluid, willing to solve problems
creatively, and donıt have to be broken to grow; then, visualize the
collective also being able to do that.

Q. Would you speak about humanity cooperating with the planet's ecology in
the next couple of decades?

A. The potential here is very good. Humanity's raping of the environment has
been a perfect example of the power-over-others paradigm. As with war, many
people are recognizing that that it is not working, so there is more
widespread desire to figure out a way to cooperate with nature.

However, there are still a lot of people who believe that ecological harmony
is a luxury, not a necessity. That needs to change, but also, as the
technologies become better and less expensive, that also will become less of
an issue. It's a tricky thing because people are afraid that they will lose
their conveniences; however, if changes are not made, they may lose them
anyway. Therefore, it behooves people to adopt changes by choice.

We have said, not that long ago, that because of the destruction of the
environment, we had no certainty that humanity would survive what it has
done to the earth. We thought it was, roughly, in the 50/50 range. It's
looking better now. The best way to promote wider acceptance of ecological
sensitivity is to demonstrate in graphic ways how it can actually save
people money. One of the big fear areas for people is money, right up there
with sex. Showing others how being "green" is to their advantage financially
is a useful approach.

The industrialization of the world has been rapid and not very elegant or
efficient; there's been a great deal of waste. You see this both in
individuals and collectives who, when they have money, waste it on things
that they need, and then suddenly they don't have enough money for the
things that they do need. Among other things, the production of energy has
not been very efficient, and it really hasn't needed to be, but now it does
need to be. So even in countries with a relatively high amount of oil, they
are finding that they need to be efficient, too, that they need to use their
oil for things that they don't have substitutes for; this is emerging out of
necessity for everyone.

Q. I'm very concerned about species dying out. We're all interconnected;
therefore, for every species (including insects) that dies out, a part of us
also dies.

A. There has already been a substantial loss of plant and animal species on
earth, and more are dying out every day. This is not optimal, but we think
that in about 50 years that will stabilize, and some of the diversity will
start to come back. There are some species that may have appeared to die out
but didn't, and given the right circumstances, will re-emerge. We think that
things will be okay in that regard, but it is not ideal. It is better to
have more diversity.

CLOSING MEDITATION

Feel the goodness emerging from your heart. Notice all the resources that
you already have. Feel all fear releasing from you.

Notice the power of self. It is independent of the choices that others make.


Being human will always be somewhat challenging. However, reminding yourself
of the increased tools you have as you awaken spiritually for dealing with
the world, it becomes easier. That is really why you take the spiritual
path. It is in your enlightened self-interest to get better at playing this
game so that it isn't quite so difficult. Human relationships will always
offer challenges, and that is not a bad thing because they show you where
you have opportunities to grow, but approaching them more cooperatively will
make your way easier. So it is a worthwhile experiment.

Love and blessings to you all.

 



 

 

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