An Appreciation of George Kinder, April 2, 2018

My brother, George Kinder, is a map-maker—he has been working on maps to the transformations that we need as individuals and as a world for decades.  I am celebrating his birthday by republishing this analysis of how his life work is contributing to changing the world for the better.

George has been recognized in national publications as one of the 35 most influential people in financial services, one of the top Icons & Innovators in financial planning, and the first of 15 transformational advisors whose vision most changed the industry.  He has revolutionized financial advising over the last thirty years, training over 3000 professionals in 30 countries in the field of Life Planning.

George is a spiritual teacher as well, and although his maps have been designed with financial Life Planners in mind, they have broad applicability. Hundreds of financial planners are now helping clients from all walks of life explore their deep heart’s core, their Golden Room.  The clients are living in, from and for the dreams or callings that they find there.  (A 2016 New York Times article described how people are following the Life Planning map to a meaningful retirement.)  Often these Life Plans contribute directly or indirectly to a healthier family, community or world.

George’s maps can be applied equally well to all facets of our lives and across the spectrum of our developmental lines or multiple intelligences, not just the financial realm.  All his maps lead us through the Golden Room of inner transformation to the transformed culture he calls the Golden Civilization.  Below I will look at the contribution that four of his books make to that movement.

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The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World Step Four

photograph by Lesley Wellman

It takes a complex set of tools and practices to make a simple basket, moving from log to woven splints to its bent and polished handle.  Every tool in this workshop has been carefully chosen by the master craftsman.  He requires that it be powered by the human body, be beautiful as well as effective, and be proven by traditional use to do the job required.  The integrity of every detail of the process and the practiced skill working with these tools are reasons why you can find this basketmaker’s work in the Smithsonian. The timeless beauty and ethic of care are why you can find people walking through his workshop with a look of joyous wonder on their faces.  Watching him work inspires creativity and hope.  A magical inner transformation takes place. George Kinder writes, “If you want a golden civilization, you must start with what is golden inside of you. If you want a civilization that will thrive for a thousand years, you must start with what is timeless inside of you.”  The workshop of Golden Room and Golden Civilization needs to be like this workshop of golden baskets.  We need to have the same kind of integrity and beauty in our process in order to work the same kind of magical transformation.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

Step Four:

The premise of this series is laid out in Step One, expressed through the words of many leaders confronting a range of issues that threaten our civilization and life on earth.  Here is another voice that sums up their consensus: Vaclav Havel said, “Without a revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing is going to change for the better.”

If all these voices are saying that we cannot make the progress we need to save the world and transform human civilization until we have a new consciousness, then doesn’t it make sense that we all focus in a serious, smart and expeditious way on attaining that consciousness?  No one is at too high a level today—we all could help the world by maturing further.

Steps Two and Three have talked about what would be needed to move the necessary percentage of the population to this new consciousness, and how we could get there.  Step Four completes the series by suggesting tools that can “facilitate the process of inner transformation,” in Thomas Keating’s words.

The tools and practices listed below vary in how much they require of us in order to be effective.  Some take an investment of time, energy or money initially and then become incorporated into our daily lives with minimal additional exertion.

They all require a degree of commitment and discipline.  This is a movement.  Movements for social change require only small groups of citizens to change the world, but they need to be committed citizens.  There is no getting around that.  We see that this work is needed.  We could be one of the ones to do it.  The choice is forced upon us.  We each need to decide to be part of the solution or not.

Below are some of the tools and practices that can help raise us to the new consciousness, higher developmental stage and deeper spiritual state the world needs.   Continue reading

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World, Step Three, Part C-2

Follow the Map: Structural Details

This great maple is growing in a landscape that the last glacial age scraped bare.  It feeds on soil formed over ten thousand years of patient building through cycles of life and death, decay and new birth.  The maple has found its own way to develop and create the structures it needs to reach the light.  It is a gift to countless lives, from birds and squirrels to spiders and beetles to mosses and microbes.  It inspires the humans who stand under it in awe.  Look at what is possible on this earth.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

Step Three is to study the map that leads us individually and culturally to the new, higher stage of consciousness that we now need—and to commit ourselves to follow that map.

Structural Details

The new consciousness and the ideal society it alone can create may have sounded wildly optimistic and out of reach in the past, but there are three reasons why we can and must leave that skepticism behind.

First, it is clear where the earth and human civilization are heading if we do not undergo this transformation.  Significant numbers of leaders and citizens support the idea that we must change in order to survive, and recognize that we need a new, higher consciousness in order to do so.  The suffering that will come of our failure to attempt it is unconscionable.  We simply must.

Second, abolishing slavery once sounded wildly optimistic and out of reach.  So did equal rights for women and the nonviolent liberation of India from the British Empire.  The transition from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment was unimaginable.  Many times in history the human heart and mind have undergone rapid  transformations that seemed impossible before they happened.  It can happen again.  And it must.

Third, we are making rapid strides forward in many fields relating both to the Golden Room and the Golden Civilization.  We have the great spiritual and secular awakening of the contemplative path of meditation and mindfulness.  We have many brilliant insights, discoveries and innovations in the inner developmental process.  I will talk about two of the pioneers in this work below.  We also have outstanding leadership working on every problem threatening civilization and the earth today.  This series is about achieving the all important new consciousness, but the technical and advocacy work being done is obviously essential.  We have facets of the Golden Civilization vision emerging in every field.

Fear and doubt are understandable and justified in the face of escalating threats, but we cannot afford to let them control our response.  We need to acknowledge them, have compassion for them and let them go.  We need to free our hearts and minds to be transformed to a new consciousness, and that means employing tools like positive psychology and appreciative inquiry, and celebrating that we have the maps and tools we need to speed our transformation.

Here are some of the structural details from two leading thinkers who have dedicated their lives to helping people reach a new consciousness.

George Kinder

My brother, George Kinder, is a map-maker—he has been working on the maps we now need for decades.  George has been recognized in national publications as one of the 35 most influential people in financial services, one of the top Icons & Innovators in financial planning, and the first of 15 transformational advisors whose vision most changed the industry.  He has revolutionized financial advising over the last thirty years, training over 3000 professionals in 30 countries in the field of Life Planning.

George is a spiritual teacher as well, and although his maps have been designed with financial Life Planners in mind, they have broad applicability. Hundreds of financial planners are now helping their clients explore their deep heart’s core, their Golden Room.  The clients are living in, from and for the dreams or callings that they find there.  (A 2016 New York Times article described how people are following the Life Planning map to a meaningful retirement.)  Often these Life Plans contribute directly or indirectly to a healthier family, community or world.

George’s maps can be applied equally well to all facets of our lives and across the spectrum of our developmental lines or multiple intelligences, not just the financial realm.  All his maps lead us through the Golden Room of inner transformation to the transformed culture he calls the Golden Civilization.

Continue reading

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World, Step Three, Part C-1

Follow the Map: Story and Sketch

Trees have inner maps that enable them to grow out of situations that look impossible.  We do, too.  Let climate change or nuclear winter render earth uninhabitable for our species, and still a remnant may find a crack in that barren landscape to nurture a fragile survival.  We may not have much time left on the Doomsday Clock, but the good news is that we have something trees do not.  We have brains that can cultivate insights to solve problems, we have entrepreneurial spirit and technological skill that we can harness.  We may need a new consciousness in order to solve the problems that are threatening our survival, but we have knowledge and tools to “facilitate the process of inner transformation” (Thomas Keating’s phrase for Centering Prayer).  What we need are people who are willing to pursue the world-saving work of developmental growth toward that new consciousness.  Rarely have these questions been more poignant: “If not us, who?  If not now, when?”

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

Step Three is to study the map that leads us individually and culturally to the new, higher stage of consciousness that we now need—and to commit ourselves to follow that map.

Story

This story comes from one of the authors of The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain.  It was included in an article in The New Yorker in 2008 about research on how the human brain generates insights.

Researcher John Kounios told about a Zen Buddhist meditator who participated in a large study.  They were given a set of puzzles to solve.  The Buddhist performed extremely poorly at first as he strained his focus, but then he shifted his approach and used meditation skills to relax and unfocus his mind.  The article said he became “an insight machine,” and solved puzzle after puzzle.

We can cultivate insights.  We have maps that we can follow to new, higher levels of consciousness that may yield the insights we need.

Sketch

Here is a sketch of one such map.

It begins where we are now.  We face problems that we either lack the insights to solve, or that we know how to solve but lack the insight how to create sufficient political support.  The problems are urgent and threaten the survival of the world as we know it, even the survival of our race.

Already they are causing massive suffering: climate change and other environmental devastation from a variety of human causes; economic inequality and poverty; wars that unjustly kill or dislocate innocent civilians indiscriminately; the use or threatened use of cyber, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons; the rise of totalitarian and fascist movements, the weakening of democracy and entrenched polarization; hatred and oppression of people based on race, religion or other surface differences; and the escalating refugee crisis caused by many of these problems.

This map leads from here to the destination of a new consciousness that can save the world from these problems and create a Golden Civilization.

Continue reading

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World, Step Three, Part B

Follow the Map: Review and Overview

The emergence!  See the photo and caption in Part A for the hopeful metaphorical meaning in this.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

This is Step Three, Part B, Review and Overview.  Please see Step Three, Part A that gave an Image, Metaphor and Introduction to this step.

Review of Steps One and Two: 

The goal is to save the world and create what my brother George Kinder is calling the Golden Civilization, a society that can live sustainably with freedom and sufficiency, justice and peace for all.

Step One toward that goal is to identify what is needed to overcome the many obstacles in its way.  That step was summed up succinctly by Gus Speth, who wrote, “Many of our deepest thinkers and many of those most familiar with the scale of the challenges we face have concluded that the transitions required can be achieved only in the context of what I will call the rise of a new consciousness.”

In other words, the path to a Golden Civilization starts in the Golden Room.  The Golden Room is our truest self, our heart’s core.  We live increasingly in, from and for the Golden Room as we move to higher levels of consciousness and deeper spiritual states.  It is the place within us where we find the intuition, insight and creative connections we need in order to fulfill our individual callings and solve seemingly impossible local or global problems.

The Golden Room is also the place where we find our oneness with all.  Universal empathy and unconditional compassion grow out of the sense of oneness.  Empathy and compassion lead to support for the changes that saving the world requires.  Imagine how seeing our oneness and having compassion for all would change the way our society looks at climate change or economic inequality or war, no matter how far from our back yard it was happening.

We do not need to raise the consciousness of a majority to have oneness become the dominant perspective.  Step Two in this series showed that we need a committed minority of only 10% that sees the world from a new, higher level of consciousness in order to make the transitions required.

The first thing we need in order to implement solutions to the problems threatening the world is the higher consciousness that can both produce those solutions and engender sufficient political support to enact them.  (See the story at the end of this post for a practical example of this.)

Overview of Step Three:

So how can we move 10% of the population to that higher level of consciousness as quickly and directly as possible?

Continue reading

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World, Step Three, Part A

Follow the Map: Image, Metaphor and Introduction

The beech leaf shone with a green-gold light on sunny mornings in its spring, filling the woods with a feeling of youthful hope.  Now the natural cycle has brought it to this, as happens to all, from single cells to civilizations.  It hangs on, drained of vitality, weather-beaten and wilting.  Meanwhile the bud is swelling above it, about to burst forth with new life.  The old leaf feeds the new with the light it transformed and stored in its roots.  The natural cycle is not only birth, life and death, it is also to move through that process over and over, each time building on the past and growing higher, stronger and filled with more light than ever before.  That is the eternal hope the universe has planted in the heart of all things.  We need to keep living in and for that hope.  It is The Map.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

This is Step Three, Part A the third in a series of posts about the relationship between the Golden Room we each have within us and the Golden Civilization that we need to create in order to live sustainably on earth with freedom, justice and peace for all.

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

The Golden Room is our truest self, our heart’s core, the place we live increasingly in, from and for as we move to higher levels of consciousness and deeper spiritual states. It is the place of self-emptying at the heart of our self where we find our oneness with all, and find the gifts we have to offer for the transformation of the world.

In Step One of this series we heard many voices—the Hebrew prophets and Hindu Bhagavad Gita, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi and leaders in many fields today—calling us to transform ourselves to a higher level of consciousness as a necessary first step to the world transformation that our survival requires.

In Step Two we saw that a surprisingly small percentage of transformed people could make the difference to save the world.

The third step’s four posts will look at a map to see how we can get from here to the needed higher consciousness.  It requires that we make attaining a higher developmental stage a priority.

The final installment of this series will present the Fourth Step, which is to adopt practices and tools to reorder our lives to follow this map and speed our inner and outer transformation.  We will get there if we commit our time and energy—as we need to do, if we want to be part of the solutions that will save this world we love.

You can continue reading this series in order by clicking here.

More Introduction to this Site: We Need Metaphors

The English word metaphor comes from a Greek root.  The “meta-” part means across.  The “-phor” part means to carry.  The Greek root meaning of metaphor is “to carry across.”

A metaphor is an image we use, a bridge that carries meaning across from one thing to another.  For instance, when we say that our spiritual quest for oneness is a journey home, we carry all the connotations and images of journeys and homes over to add to our understanding of the spiritual quest.  A metaphor is a plank thrown across a ditch to move studs onto a deck to frame a new house.  A metaphor is a door we open to enhance our lives.

Metaphors can be beautiful images that add meaning by associating one idea with another—we can read poetry and look at photographs for the sheer pleasure of how they transport us and expand our hearts and minds—but metaphors have urgent, practical uses as well.  We need them in order to grow, in order to build, in order to journey toward new understandings and destinations.  We need them as individuals living increasingly complex lives, and today we need them as a society facing threats to so much that we love and depend on to survive.

The Golden Room is a metaphor that first came to me as a vision (to read it, click here).  The metaphor has extended over time in two directions:

  • the image of making an inner journey to and through our heart’s core Golden Room;
  • and the image of building an inner home or outer ideal life that is an expression of our heart’s core calling and becomes the Golden Room in and from and for which we live.

This website moves back and forth between spiritual and material realms over the bridges of these two extended metaphors of journey and building.  They are not meant to provide a map or house plan to follow, they simply help describe the ways we go about finding and living in and from our Golden Room.

In Life Planning we try to go as deeply into the heart’s core as we are able to reach. Continue reading