I’m an advocate of spiritual development (Awakening). Of stabilizing a felt experience of the true nature of reality. It leads to Inner Peace, love, and compassionate acceptance of all that is. I believe there is no more important pursuit in life.
And yet I also find myself drawn to the game of business, money, influence and power. I’ve been a founder and investor for the last 15 years with no sign of that stopping. I don’t claim to know where one’s karmic desires come from but I believe strongly that one should follow them until they dissolve.
So I find myself spending my days meditating, practicing openness and compassion, AND also running companies, making investments, seeking wealth (Work and Purpose). The felt experiences of these two sets of activities seem to be at opposite ends of a spectrum. Almost like a light side vs dark side duality. I see why it’s easier to practice spiritual development as a monk.
To be effective in business the skillset and mindset is closer to war than to meditation.
The more I develop my spiritual openness the more I have to also consciously practice the energetics of war. It’s stretching my nervous system capacity in two directions simultaneously. One way to practice the energetics of war is to watch violent movies. I’m enjoying the TV show The Last Kingdom, a brutal account of 9th century England and the battles of Anglo-Saxons and Danes. Not for entertainment, although it is entertaining, but to understand through osmosis the energetic expression of conflict, of power, of alliances, of winning, of losing, of surviving. In business one must be prepared to embody those same energetic expressions in the times they are needed (Choosing to Suffer). This feels nothing like he bliss of meditative open spaciousness.
With the help of wise spiritual teachers I’ve discovered that is is possible to hold both simultaneously, but requires specific nervous system training. It’s such an odd combination that we rarely practice it in modern society. One of my teachers calls it the “loving killer”. We practice standing eye to eye with a partner, fully embodying the energy of “I will kill you if I have to.” Then we switch to love - “I will die for you if I have to.” We switch back and forth with increasing frequency until we can hold both simultaneously, all while receiving feedback from our partner in the form of “more killer” or “more love”. The Jedi kill, so do the Sith, but you can feel that when the Jedi kill it is with an open heart, there is love present.
I did this practice with my father once, during a sacred plant medicine ceremony no less. We both ended in tears of deep masculine love and respect toward one another. We can’t deny our ancestral lineage as killers, and the ever-present need for us to be ready to kill to protect those we love, but we can bathe it in the light of love. We can love that part of ourselves. Which is perhaps the most important practice of all.