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Michael Chat with Shepherd Hoodwin
Viewing Politics From Quietude




MP3 File

Transcribed by Gloria Constantin


Feel the weariness of all the world tensions and those in your own lives
dissolving away as you reawaken to the eternal.


Greetings. There is a particular concentration of intellectual energy among
human beings right now. This has been increasing over the last several days,
and is probably coming to a climax about now. It is not an unpleasant energy
particularly, but it is a little out of balance. When you think of intellect
you do not usually associate that with faith, and yet there is in this
current moment of consciousness a good deal of faith that intellect can, all
by itself pretty much, get clear on what is true. Therefore, you have, for
example, a good deal of back-and-forth surface intellectual noise, almost,
relative to politics. Most of that is not real thinking; it is reaction
added to previous reactions. It is a bit like scratching an itch, and then
it becomes more irritated, so you scratch it some more.

This is not as big an issue among those who have worked on observing their
thoughts and not identifying with them, which is an important lesson for
those who wish to grow in a more conscious way. You see thoughts cross your
mind, but you do not automatically assume they are correct just because you
thought them. It is equally beneficial to observe your emotions and choose
not to assume that they represent a greater truth other than what you happen
to be feeling at the moment, which could derive from all sorts of sources.
For example, if you aren't feeling well physically, you might be more prone
to negative emotions, yet they do not necessarily represent a personal truth
beyond the fact that you are not feeling well physically.

Most people attach great importance to the thoughts and feelings that waft
across their consciousness. This is one reason it is impossible to
accurately and consistently predict future events--something does not have
to make any sense whatsoever for large numbers of people to identify with
it. For that reason, there is a great deal of chaos in human affairs, and
this is true among people who consider themselves to be intellectuals as
well as those who identify as being more emotional.

Intellectual stimulation, even when it looks dry and reasonable to the
beholder, is not necessarily any more reasonable than emotions. Deeper
emotions are more reasonable than surface thought, and deeper thought is
more reasonable than surface emotion. The deeper the thought, the more it is
aligned with genuine emotion. Therefore, as you go deeper into self, there
is less and less conflict between thoughts and feelings. When you reach the
core of self, there is no conflict between them whatsoever. For that reason,
the amount of static, either emotionally or intellectually, and the amount
of conflict between thought and emotion, are indications of how far one is
from being at the core of self.

It is not really so difficult to live from the core of yourself at any given
moment. All it takes is awakening to the quietude of the moment, and there
you are--at self. It is challenging to *maintain* that knowledge of
quietude, because both emotions and intellect tend to be habitually lacking
in grace.

In any moment, such as now, when you are aware of the stillness of who you
are, you begin to exert some calming influence on both your intellect and
your emotions, and you can see more clearly. It is not the case that you
suddenly know everything or feel great; but this stillness is the best
foundation for moving forward both to clearer thought and more comfortable,
loving emotions. When you are caught up in the noise of either, you are
giving energy to the irritation of the surface.

A person can have a powerful, skilled intellect and/or emotional capability,
yet live entirely from the surface. The more a person lives from the
surface, the more self-righteous the person tends to be, and the more
polarized the person will tend to be either towards emotion or intellect. In
some people who are gifted in both departments there may be a veering back
and forth, but seldom is there integration between the two. More often,
people pride themselves on their shiny intellect or emotional fervency. Many
others have fairly dormant emotional and intellectual faculties and live
from the surface of bodily excitation; their hungers and other sensations
tend to be where they live. In the last few days, more people have been
living from the surface of intellect; with that, there tends to be a certain
pride: "Look how smart I am." "Look how right I am, intellectually."

One cannot know the universal force called truth from the surface of
intellect, emotion, or body. Truth may manifest through intellectual form,
but truth is not fundamentally an intellectual form; it is an emanation of
the Tao. It is simply what is. When it manifests through intellectual form
with reasonable accuracy (which will always have its limitations), it is
uncluttered; it is not confusing. To anyone who understands the language of
the form and is living more from the quietude of self, the truth seen in an
intellectual form will appear to be self-evident.

In the founding of the United States, these words were written: "We hold
these truths to be self-evident" because truths are, more or less,
self-evident. That is not to say that they will always be understood
intellectually. People have obviously varying intellectual capabilities, and
language can be an issue--do you speak the language of that particular
thought form? However, when you live with authenticity from your self, you
can recognize when others are doing likewise.

There are those who pride themselves on having a good "bullshit detector."
Sometimes this comes with the overleaf (attitude) of skeptic or cynic--a
person who tends not to take things at face value, and so more often tests
or questions things. Yet, as with any overleaf, this can be experienced
either more on the surface in a knee-jerk fashion or from a deeper knowing.
If it is more from the surface, the perceptions will often be tinged with an
excess of anger or mistrust, just as a more surface experience of the
attitude of idealist or spiritualist might be tinged with naiveté.

We have said that, with spiritual awakening, there can be an obsolescence of
the overleaves, but only in the sense that they lose their distorting
factors when the real person uses them. An idealist will not be naīve; a
cynic will not be caustic. They will still have different personalities and
different strengths, but these traits will not be running amok on their own,
on automatic pilot; they will be used as part of the toolset of the ensouled

Some fear that if you have to step back and objectively examine every
thought and feeling, you will become paralyzed--you won't be able to do
anything. It is true that human beings and all ensouled species have to rely
a certain amount on habit. You obviously would not wish to halt constantly
to analyze the way that you're walking or breathing. A lot of your mundane
thinking and feeling is better left to habit, because you are not capable of
being aware of every thought, emotion, or sensation all at once--it would be
too much. A good place to start, however, is to observe particular thoughts,
emotions or sensations that stand out as not feeling quite right. An example
are those make you feel self-righteous but don't make you feel good.

As you get in the habit of observing those particular aspects of your
personality, you run them by your deeper sense of what love, truth, and
beauty are like. Perhaps you reflect on prior moments when you were in your
higher centers--when you felt exalted by beautiful music or great art, or
were moved by an act of great selflessness and compassion. Or you saw or
experienced a movement that was exquisite, or you felt related to nature.
These experiences become the high water mark that you use to measure your
mundane feelings, thoughts, and sensations.

You probably have a sense of what great kindness is like from your own
experience or from those you have observed. If so, you can ask yourself, "Is
my attitude here kind, according to my best understanding of it?" If it
isn't, then you can observe where it is coming from. The simple act of
observing it, of comparing the high water mark to the lower water mark of
the moment, sets up a creative tension that can help you release whatever
has been holding you in the lesser experience of self. It may or may not
help you to parse it; it may or may not help you to explore factors in your
past that contributed. Sometimes doing so helps you get more objective and
release your grip on it. Other times, it may make you more stuck in the
past. Simply holding your higher vision in the presence of what doesn't feel
as good to you will move you towards a higher consciousness, one way or
another. There are all sorts of useful techniques and tools for releasing
specific imprints in your personality. It does not have to be all that
difficult, although at first it is often terrifying because you are asking
yourself to let go of some habits that your ego is quite certain have saved

So there is a leap of faith to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm ready to try
something different." It is admitting that, although what you have been
doing has gotten you to this point, it is not all that satisfying. However,
as you move away from the old defense mechanisms, at first you may feel that
you are going from the frying pan into the fire. You don't have the same
sense of solid ground that self-righteousness gave you. You have to find a
new footing, and that takes time. Whether you do this consciously and
deliberately, or whether you come to this because the events of your life
have undermined the old seemingly solid foundation, there will likely be a
dark night of the soul if self-awareness is new.

The personality is clearly not fond of any sort of upheaval, even when
essence knows that it is ultimately leading towards joy. Personality can get
quite vicious towards anything or anyone that upsets its apple cart. It
might co-opt the language of self-awareness. It might say, "Oh, this doesn't
feel good to me," and the fact that it doesn't feel good might seem to imply
some truth. However, personality on its own--on the surface, in other
words--is not a very perceptive judge of anything. All it knows is its
limited idea of self-preservation.

This brings us back to our initial comments about politics: that in the
political world right now, there is intellectual activity on the surface. A
lot of it is self-referential, meaning that one surface thought refers to
other surface thoughts that have been bouncing around out there, whether or
not they have roots in something real. So it gets to be like an echo
chamber. Any leader, political or otherwise, who bluntly calls people to go
beyond their own surfaces is sure to be hated by many personalities. There
aren't too many of those who were later thought to be prophets who were
popular in their day. Of course, they had their followers, but there has
also been a tendency to shoot them down, literally or figuratively. The
truth is not very popular in any of its forms.

On the other hand, those who are sure they have the truth and that others
don't are generally operating at the surface. When there is
self-righteousness, there is not the integration of love and truth. On the
surface, you may have a piece of one or the other, but generally not both.
If a leader of any kind is living from a deeper place in him- or herself, he
or she will lead first by example and will carefully say and do things that
might gently lead people towards living from a greater depth. True leaders
know better than to try to take a sledgehammer to false personality; that
only provokes severe reactions. Anyone that you see using a sledgehammer is
likely living on the surface.

In the United States, you have a political election coming up. You could not
possibly have a leader who truly and consistently tells it like it is from
depth; such a person would not win any elections. However, you can elect
leaders who have a good idea of what's what and, at the same time, a sense
of what people are able to hear at this time, what changes they might be
able to accommodate. They cannot say everything that they know and
understand, but if you are living from more of your own depth, you are able
to recognize when someone else is as well. Maybe his or her politics do not
immediately go for what you feel would be ideal. Although these better
candidates might not be able to wave a magic wand and radically change
government overnight, the best that anyone could hope for would be someone
with vision and heart who will not get in the way of changes, and who will
facilitate those that people are at least close to being ready for.

Some of you are familiar with chiropractic adjustments. The goal is to align
the spine. There are those who do this in a rougher manner, perhaps leaving
muscles sore. There are others who have more skill, who can coax the body
into alignment, arousing fewer of its resistances. A similar analogy is
massage: some therapists find a tight muscle and just pound on it, while
others know how to more gently get it to let go.

Throughout history there have been many violent revolutions, and they seldom
really changed anything. They may have gone from one extreme to the other,
and then the state of affairs ended up looking very much like it did in the
first place. There's no substitute for evolution. People have to grow into
the kind of world that they want to live in.

In the United States, it appears that many aspects of public policy have
gone backwards; at a certain level, that is the case. Overall, however,
consciousness has not really gone backwards. It's that consciousness never
really grew enough to be able to hold some of the more progressive ideas, so
the remaining blind spots inevitably came to the surface, with politicians
ready to champion them.

Another factor here is that educational standards have dipped, though we
don't mean to oversimplify the problem here. However, even if educational
standards had grown, a well-educated populace is not the same as an evolved
populace. There have been some well-educated societies that brought forth
rampant brutality. Once again, there is no shortcut for evolution.

Furthermore, most things cannot be fixed politically first. Political
leaders are valuable because they represent something to people, and they
can set an example--people see them all the time. However, the most
enlightened political leaders cannot make the bad things of the world go
away when leading a population that is not done with them. People get
carried away with excitement over political candidates without stopping to
reflect on the last time they did that and the time before, and the time
before that--they don't see the discrepancies between their naīve excitement
and the results.

However, one cannot be too hard on the politicians, either, because it takes
a great deal of depth and mastery to lead people forward without losing
them, or the politicians losing their jobs.

If you want to help bring about a more conscious and compassionate
government and world, the very best thing you can do is be willing yourself
to live from a deeper place and endure the discomfort of aligning your
surface with that deeper place. The fact is that after some rough patches,
life feels a lot better. And being genuine yourself, you add to the
collective consciousness the possibility of greater change. What you do in
your own life is not divorced from elections.

There is nothing at all "wrong" with any kind of political activism that you
feel drawn to do. In fact, as citizens, it makes a lot of sense to exercise
your citizenry; it is part of choice. You live in a representative
democracy, so why not exercise your right to make your preferences heard?
We're not suggesting that it's futile and that you should, instead of
voting, stay home and meditate--you could do both.

However, know that you are also voting in every moment of your life as you
choose whether or not to live from the quietude of self or from the surface.
Your vote and the votes of all your fellow citizens add together, and that
is the real election. Choosing to live more from your depth is voting for
evolving in a more joyful manner--not that it will ever be easy, but it is
an *easier* way of evolving. Reacting to surfaces with your own surface is
voting for the old, slow painful way of evolving.

This particular election has importance; we do not minimize it. The best way
that you can participate in it, in addition to the obvious steps you could
take, is to live from the quietude of self as much as you know how to. As
you practice this day by day, you will get better at it.

Q. How does soul age relate to the Republican/Democratic divide?

A. Both the major political parties include a wide range of soul ages. Party
affiliation has more to do with imprinting than with any factor on the
Michael chart--both family and cultural imprinting.

There is a slight tendency for those who are politically conservative to be,
or have strong influence from, the solid roles of warrior, king and scholar.
There is a slight tendency for the more liberal, progressive people to be
the fluid roles--server, priest, artisan, and sage.

There is a slight tendency, though we don't want to make too much of this,
for the Republican Party to be a bit younger in soul age, but again, there
is a wide range. There are some extremes there; there are both some very old
and very young souls who like the idea of minimal government. So probably
the mean soul age is younger with the Republicans, but there is a wider
range. The philosophy of the Democratic Party has more of a mature soul
flavor to it, yet people's party affiliation has a lot more to do with their
cultural and familial imprinting than what they really believe. There are a
lot of Democrats who are, in fact, quite conservative, although it might not
be immediately evident.

The proclaimed divide between Republicans and Democrats is really calculated
to build brand loyalty. It's like the difference between Pepsi and Coke;
they are far more similar than they are different. However, it's hard to get
people excited about brands if they don't differentiate themselves. There is
a lot of maya that reinforces the cultural and familial imprinting, when the
parties are not really so different from each other in a mundane way.

Of course, the politicians of one party tend to vote differently than the
politicians of the other because of how they perceive their brand and what
they think the voters want from them. However, it's different on the level
of individuals who habitually vote for one party or the other. When they
talk theory, as people mostly do during election cycles, they sound like the
politicians. However, what they really think and would like to see--when you
get down to the sort of world that people want to have--many times there is
more ambiguity between the parties.

It is good work to release the charged energy around political parties and
to instead get down to cases, meaning discussing issues in a more specific,
grounded way, looking for common ground. There is more of it than the brand
loyalties of the two major political American parties would suggest. We are
not saying that there are no differences between them--there are different
emphases, but a lot of it is more in the philosophy than in the day-to-day
workings. Also, over history there has been flip-flopping between them on
certain issues despite their current identification with particular stances.

Q. Can a baby soul live from a deeper place and be conscious? If so, what
would that look like?

A. Emphatically, yes. Any soul age can find quietude and live from a deeper
place. There is no limitation on this whatsoever. If you are a baby soul,
being conscious looks a little different than if you are young, mature, or
old, just as a child who is highly self-aware looks different from a
self-aware teen or someone in his twenties, thirties, and so on. However,
what is shared in common among those who are self-aware, living from depth,
is much more significant than what is shared in common by those of the same
soul age who are not. So if you are old and living more from depth, you have
more in common with someone who is young living from depth than you have
with someone who is old but living from the surface.

Q. What roles are the most popular politicians?

A. Clearly Barack Obama is a priest; John McCain is sage with a lot of
warrior secondary influence. Sarah Palin is also a priest, and here you see
the importance of cultural imprinting, which she has absorbed without much
examination. In soul age, she is actually a little older than Barack Obama,
yet in consciousness, she is much more on automatic pilot. This points out
some maya (illusion) among Michael students about soul age: age is age, but
it is not consciousness. We would say that she is using her overleaves in a
much more knee-jerk manner, whereas Barack Obama has put forth a lot more
effort towards knowing himself.

Q. Are there more folks in the Democratic leadership living from a deeper
place at this time than in the Republican leadership?

A. There's a little more depth in the higher levels of the Democratic Party
than in the higher levels of the Republican Party, but there is a little
more depth among the lower ranks, the more local levels, in the Republican
Party than in the Democratic. However, the difference is slight and we would
recommend that people not make too much of that. The lower ranks of the
Democratic Party tend to consist more of people who are active because of
what they personally want to get out of it. The lower ranks of the
Republican Party tend to be more people who are more philosophically
motivated. A problem there is that they often donšt recognize the difference
between the philosophy or, as wešve been saying tonight, the branding, and
the reality. However, the lower ranks of the Democratic Party are not so
concerned with that, one way or another; they are generally more narrowly
focused in what their desires are.

Neither party is very elevated in consciousness. A great deal of what goes
on universally in politics is at the knee-jerk surface level. There is not
much vision or self-awareness anywhere in the political world. Having said
this, we would add that Barack Obama is perhaps the most self-aware
presidential candidate since Abraham Lincoln. This is not meant as an
endorsement, to say that hešs "better"--it is the choice of those who are
voting that counts.

We might add that John Kennedy was quite self-aware, and he was a young
soul, illustrating that soul age is not the issue here.

Q. Would my being a liberal today mean that I was a conservative in an
earlier life?

A. Not necessarily. What it is to be a liberal today is different from what
it meant in other generations, and is different in different locations.
However, some souls tend to be more attracted to whatever is the more
progressive brand of the day, and some tend to be more attracted to the more
conservative brand of the day. We spoke about the more solid roles tending
to be more conservative in a certain respect; with one input, they are
slower to change.

One could be a warrior or king and be a firebrand of progressive politics,
so the generalizations are a little weak here. Most souls are agnostic in
this regard, so the familial and cultural imprinting can have a large
impact, at least at first. Later, a lot of people are strongly influenced,
starting in their teenage years, by their peers. The people whom they admire
who are their own age or a little older can become very significant here.
Therefore, even if your family and culture are very conservative, if you go
to school with someone who makes a big impact on you who is more
progressive, then you might move towards that (or vice-versa). Friendship is
more influential in politics than advertising. Today, therešs more
segregation, so those who are more progressive tend to stick with their own,
and those who are more conservative stick with theirs. However, in the
schools, there is still a fairly good mix, and there is more of a chance to
get people to question their imprinting at that age than there will be

Q. What does Michael think of the fact that at the same time, both the
United States and Canada are in a political process of elections--is there
any national karma present here?

A. There's no karma. However, these two countries look to one another, and
have for quite some time, to try to learn from each other. There is much to
be gained from greater communication between the peoples of these two

Q. How would Michael characterize the masses of young people who have
galvanized behind Obama in terms of soul age and consciousness--are they a new and different class of souls?

A. There is no such thing as a new and different class of souls; there does
not need to be--the garden variety of human souls is quite adequate. What
you have here is a lot of youthful idealism. This is a generation that grew
up knowing about things many of their elders either learned about later, or
still donšt know about, such as the dangers to the environment. Therefore,
at least the better educated of this generation are more aware of what is at
stake. Also, they recognize the cynicism of most politics, so to have a
candidate who is not cynical is hopeful to them. Although this generation is
idealistic, we do not think it is naīve. It knows that there is a lot of
hard work ahead. We would say also that Obamašs opposition to the war in
Iraq is a large factor in his popularity with this generation.

Q. Can Michael say what they feel are the real issues in this election: for
example, the war, health care, education, jobs, and so forth?

A. The unspoken, overriding issue is self-centeredness vs. altruism. That is
what the election is about, fundamentally.

Q. I understand that soul age and consciousness are not synonymous, but how do you measure consciousness--what are the signs, for instance, of an advanced consciousness?

A. We do not claim that consciousness can be objectively measured. As one
particular individual grows in consciousness, the emanation of light from
that individual grows both in quality and quantity. However, two individuals
can be conscious in different ways, and their illumination may be of
different qualities. You can obviously tell the difference in the aura of
one person who is highly unconscious and one who is highly conscious.
However, with two people in the middle range, who are both struggling to
awaken, we could not say that person A is at 67 on a scale and person B is
at 68. Itšs a little like comparing apples and oranges. Some people are very
conscious in some areas and still asleep in others.

However, if someone is on the spiritual path, in the process of awakening,
you can see that the energy is not stuck or badly blocked. There are changes
happening, and the person is responsive to higher input; those who are
firmly asleep are not--they do not take in light that shines from more
conscious people or from spiritual guidance, at least not very much.

We would underline here what might be thought of as our mantra: that all is
choice. We are not encouraging you to think of unconscious and conscious as
another form of "better" and "worse." In fact, the more conscious you are,
the more unity you see in all things and the less you tend to judge others,
even if they are at the moment stuck in unconsciousness. You recognize that
they are sparks of the Tao just as you are, and that they are following
their own path. So this is not a competition. Itšs just that most of you are
interested in being more consciously on your path, so we speak to that.
Others who are not choosing that at this time are on their path, and it is
their right to choose that. All you can do is choose for yourself--choose
the path that you want to be on right now. Obviously, there are many people
still choosing to live from the surface. That is neither good nor bad, but
choosing to live from your quietude will ultimately bring you much more real
joy. It is not easy at first, but it pays off in that regard.

We will conclude here with love and blessings to each of you. Good night.




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