Barack Obama

Like many of our friends, Lesley and I are ecstatic about Barack Obama’s winning the American presidency. It lifts a dark cloud of cynicism from American politics and represents new hope.

Personally, I like John McCain and think he is a great man but on the wrong side. His choice of Sarah Palin as vice president was pure politics and a mistake — only serving to cater to the weakest and dumbest aspect of the Republican party. Why an intelligent person like McCain would do that only seems to point to how desperate he was to be elected at any cost — up to and including the potentially great cost to our country if Sarah Palin were, God forbid, ever to become president of the United States.

I am heartened by Obama’s interest in encouraging people to go beyond petty divisive lines, find common ground and take more initiative for the direction of our country, our personal lives and, of course, our health.

I don’t have a clue if when Barack Obama says he wants to emphasize wellness and preventive self-maintenance, he is only referring to existing medical technology or if he might also find a place for comparatively inexpensive, less invasive methods such as acupuncture, dietary and herbal therapies, and other forms of healing. I think that if these modalities were given their due, immediately the health care costs of this country could be reduced at least 75%! I do know that Hillary Clinton was not open to alternative and complementary health care modalities so it will be interesting to see where Barack Obama might be on these matters.

Many have found ways to celebrate the election of Barack Obama (did you know that the meaning of Barack in Sufi-Arabic is “grace”?) but an essay sent to me by psychological therapist and poet David Bryen points out aspects about this change that I think are well worth contemplating.

It begins with a wonderful letter from his daughter who is studying in South Africa, and then goes on to describe how we relate to the world at four levels of consciousness, and what sort of interpretation that provides for the 2008 election. I am sharing David’s entire essay with you below.


SoundBites from the Still Point #35
November 5, 2008


My daughter Karis lives in South Africa, where she is often reluctant to let South Africans know she is an American because of the judgment she feels for Americans. I woke up this morning to an E-mail from her:

“HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOOD JOB AMERICA! Dad, I remember when you came to SA (in 2006) the first time you mentioned this guy Obama and said you thought he could be president and I laughed saying that America wouldn’t elect a black man. I’m so glad I was wrong, the whole of South Africa is cheering for America, which is a first. . I heard a British journalist saying that this election is a ‘test to see how many stupid people there still are in America’ and at least we passed…”

I responded to Karis saying that rather than trying to find out how many stupid people there are in America, I explained that it was a test of how many people were swayed to vote by responding to the reptilian, fear based world view of conservative America, or by responding to the heart based perspective that Barack Obama maintained through his whole campaign. Let me give you the four levels of consciousness that describe what part of the brain is activated by any response to the world:

  • The survival/reptilian: eat or be eaten, kill or be killed;
  • The tribal/Mammalian: black/white, good/bad, belong to the tribe, for us or against us;
  • The intellectual: pragmatic, efficient, logical derived decisions;
  • The connective Heart: the compassion, connection, connected to all things.

When we use this delineation to describe different ways we process information an interesting interpretation of the election emerges. This understanding that our thinking can arise from either or all of these brain functions, has become a seminal way for me to understand all human emotion, behavior, relational difficulties and spiritual practices. Congratulations to Barack, to an awakening America, and to all of us who have held to the need to learn the language of the heart. It is the heart that won this election, not race, not organization, but a tectonic shift in consciousness in which the fear, possessiveness, domination, superiority perspective was dropped in favor of a larger consciousness. We responded to an appeal from the heart of the world.

We observed the most dramatic shift in John McCain in his concession speech when he dropped away from his “fight and kill” rhetoric and we felt something in our heart as his eyes softened, he lost that peering frightened look, his gestures warmed, his body relaxed, he stopped baring his teeth with that forced grimace that was supposed to be a smile, stopped trying to scare us into voting for him, and he spoke of cooperation, connection, and finding a way to set differences aside for the larger good of the whole world. I have never observed such a dramatic shift from reptilian to heart consciousness in my life! If there is a lesson for me in this election it has something to do with observing this shift, not only in his concession speech, but in the bright eyes of all those caught by cameras across the nation. Gloria and I commented on what a difference this campaign would have been had he been able to communicate from that very fresh and enlivening space.

The lesson I want to point us toward is the difference that happens when one is able to find their way to heart consciousness and communicate from there. This is the center where one is not only in touch with the Source of life, but becomes one with it. This is the Stillpoint I have been trying to articulate for years. This place is the divine feminine, the holy place where we know we are part of everything. This place knows of our interdependence on everything. It is a place where soul language becomes eloquent and far reaching. It unites the world. It is this place that lets us know that the goal of human consciousness is to participate in what arises in the moment. Here, divisions create opportunities to bridge and expand, the knowledge of foibles allows compassion to reign, truth is welcomed because the fear of judgment is gone, and we become the portals for love to flow into the world.

The reason to hope is not primarily because of Barack’s bi-racial heritage, it is because he is the first national leader for many years who is able to speak from the heart of compassion, inclusion, and the dignity of all humanity. What a privilege to watch for a few minutes the possibilities for radical transformation when a national leader speaks from the potency of the heart.

My heart is filled today from the resonant note he sounded in my soul last night.

©David Bryen, all rights reserved.

By David Bryen. For more information contact: (503) 644 1027).

Leave a Reply