In discussions with friends recently the question of our financial system needing to change has come up and the fact that a system that produces such vast inequality between rich and poor cannot continue. We were discussing particularly capitalism and whether this was now outmoded and needed to change. Certainly this seems to be a prevalent perspective, even among the rich. Yet, I question whether this is right. The reason for this comes down to my experience in business working on change programmes and also being Chairman of the local charity that I have been involved in. The reason that I question this is not because I am attached to Capitalism per se, or that I am enamoured of the gap between rich and poor, but rather because I question the way that change really takes place. I notice that, as a coach, organisations and individuals place a huge amount of emphasis on actions that will create change. The want concrete actions. Similarly, much time in business is spent designing new systems and structures whenever change is felt to be necessary.
At an individual level, I have noticed that while everyone suggests that where people are stuck or not acting the way they or others want, they should have a plan and actions to take to address the behaviour my experience is that this does not work. Instead my experience has been that if they shift their awareness or understanding of the situation, ie. if they are able to generate a new insight then they automatically change the way they behave or act. Thus, when working with individuals, I focus on changing the way they see things rather than on what different actions they are going to take. I trust from experience that if they see their situation differently then they will act differently without any need for me to change their approach. I recognise that on occasions, new structures or actions can shift things, but interestingly this is not because of the structures themselves but rather because they are new or produce new ways of thinking for the individual.
The I-Ching makes a distinction between the Creative and the Receptive. The Creative is the invisible, creative force, the Receptive, is the receptacle of form in which this creative force can take shape. Thus yin and yang are complimentary polarities which bring forth change in the world. In Physics terms they are mass and energy and their constant dance of creation. In astrological terms it is Saturn and Uranus. In terms of thinking it is the difference between mind (the metaphysical conception which contains our consciousness) and brain (the physical construction in which mind is contained). It is clear that these two are so interdependent that they are almost the same thing, as the symbol of the tao aptly portrays (and as astro-physics recognises by talking about space-time). Yet the I-Ching is very clear in stating that the Creative or Yang must lead. It became very clear to me from experience that where structure led in organisational change the change was rarely successful. Where the focus was on a shift in thinking or understanding the change tended to be much more successful. Thus the real issue is about changing our thinking. Any system we design that does not involve a change of attitude or thinking will not shift anything. Thus the issue is not capitalism but greed and instinct. If we were all to change our attitude or thinking then it is likely that we could make almost any system work. Where we put all our efforts into changing the system it re-inforces the notion that the issue is the system and it allows an abnegation of responsibility which dooms any change. Any system designed without a change of thinking will end up repeating the issue. As Einstein correctly noted “you cannot solve the problems of today at the level of thinking that created them”. In this respect it is interesting to watch the relationship between Aquarius and Leo. It takes insight (Leo) in order for society (Aquarius) to change its thinking and interestingly this can only happen at an individual level – ie. if one of us can shift our consciousness or thinking it allows the possibility for all of us to do so. When Coperincus postulated that the earth revolved around the sun he did not seek to add to or change the elaborate systems that had grown up to explain the anomalies of the geo-centric world view. Yet, the systems and structures for astronomy changed radically once this shift to seeing the universe from a helio-centric point of view had taken place.
What does this mean in terms of the current global crisis? It means that this crisis is provoking us to change our thinking and deepen our understanding and that is the important work. Once our thinking and understanding changes then the systems will automatically shift. So the issue is not capitalism but rather, I suspect, good old fashioned greed and fear.