Transformation… Week 02


a Moment for Wisdom…



a Moment for…



“Through return to simple living comes control of desires.

In control of desires stillness is attained.

In stillness the world is restored.”

Lao Tzu




Personal Wisdom:


What parts of your life are “still” or “simple”?


What parts of your life are too “busy”?


Do you think there is a relationship between your stillness and the control of your desires?


What parts of your “busyness” give you
pleasure? Which ones don’t?


What parts of your “stillness” or “simplicity” give you pleasure? Which ones don’t?



Societal Wisdom:


In what ways is your society devoted to “busyness”?



a Moment with Sharif…




The transformation of our society involves us going forward by going backward.


I don’t mean that we return to caveman days, or spend all of our time chasing down a gazelle.  (I don’t have a recipe for baked gazelle…)


Going backward in this case does not mean giving up anything, except our preoccupation with “busyness”.


Let’s take these two concepts: “stillness” and “busyness”.  Looking at the word in its traditional setting, we can see that our political and economic leaders are completely devoted to “business”.  All a Congressman has to say is: “that proposal is bad for business” and it is immediately shot down.  ALL of our colleges and universities offer classes in busyness.  (In most, you can become a “Master of Busyness Administration”.)


Where are the institutions that offer courses that lead to a “Masters in Stillness”?  Where in our society are the systems and structures that support stillness, reflection, contemplation, simplicity?  (Even some of our emerging values, like “ecology” or “sustainability” can lead to more complex solutions, not to simpler ones.)


We say that we NEED all this complexity – 20 TV screens in your restaurant, 6 floors of shopping in your mall, 20 lanes of travel on your highways.  Without it, “the world as we know it” would come to an end!


Yes… and?


What would happen if our world of “busyness” did come to an end?

  • What would happen if you and your community) were directly responsible for the food that you eat? 
  • What would happen if you (and your community) had to do something to generate the electricity that you need?
  • What would happen if you (and your community) took direct responsibility for your reasonable security needs – and made a commitment to not meddle in your neighbors’ affairs?
  • What would happen if you (and your community) were responsible for your own entertainment?

 Three things would happen:

  1. You (and your community) would become more focused, vibrant, healthy and
  2. The national economy would pop like a balloon.  (Local economies would thrive…)
  3. The Earth would start to heal.


Many of us feel that we are “out of control” regarding our lives and the direction of our society.  We feel that things are too complex for us to understand or influence.  (For example: there is no one human being who has ever read the IRS Code and regulations.  It’s simply too complex for anyone to understand.)  This feeling of “out of control” leads to the societal numbing that many of us feel – just tell me what to do and where to go… even if it doesn’t make any sense.


This must stop.  WE must put a stop to it.  WE must transform our societies.


Step One:  As Lao Tzu says, it is time for us to become still, to reduce the busyness, to pay attention, to restore the world.  And: that is not enough!  Changing our consciousness and our own behavior will NOT change the society.  (This is the mistake many of our “leaders” make – even the ones calling for a change in consciousness.  They miss Steps Two and Three.)   We must go on to…


Step Two:  It is time for us to re-think, re-structure and begin to dismantle the systems and structures that add to the toxicity in the existing society, the stuff that prevents us from hearing what Mother Earth is telling us.  The IRS Code won’t “go away” on its own… we will have to replace it with something that actually makes sense. These laws, codes and regulations represent “crystallized consciousness” – a consciousness that existed decades, even centuries, ago.  Our understanding of the world – and ourselves – has evolved over the years.  It’s time for this crystallized consciousness of the past to dissolve into new forms.


And, even that is not enough!  Protesting what is wrong will not create what is right.  Saying what you don’t want does not create a vision of a society that you DO want.  In order to do that, we must go to…


Step Three:  We have an opportunity – unique in all human history – to envision and implement a new path for humanity.  To call forth a whole new pattern of systems and structures – on a global level.  To create new patterns of living… based on our stillness, not our busyness.


So, you want to change the world by becoming a “Master of Stillness”?  You want to go beyond working on your own personal growth, to dismantle the toxic systems and create new, visionary societies?  Welcome to Commonway Praxis!







Transformation Exercises:


This week’s “Transformation” exercises:


  1.  Make a list of the things in your life that you believe are “still” or “simple”.  What are they?
  2. Make a list of the things in your life that you believe are too “busy” and/or that interfere with your ability to be “simple” or “still”?  What are they?  Do you see a pattern between the two lists?
  3. When you hear words like “simple” and “still”, what comes to mind? Pleasure or drudgery?  Suffering and deprivation?  Joy and happiness?  Where do your beliefs about simplicity and stillness come from?
  4. When we talk about dismantling the toxicity of our existing society, where do you believe we should start?  What are the top five areas where the “crystallized consciousness needs to dissolve?  (Please, go beyond the usual “hot button” issues of the Progressives and Conservatives.  We’re not trying to reform the status quo, but make a fundamental transformation in our systems and structures.)
  5. Where should we start to envision and create new systems and structures in a new society?  What are the top five areas where new systems and structures – fueled by a new level of consciousness – can and should emerge?  (Think big – global.  And think long – 50, 100, 500 or more years.  Yes, you are allowed to do that!)  Remember: the goal is simplicity and stillness, not more busyness.






All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.








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