Archive for November 23rd, 2020

So, in terms of what I had learned from Covey’s book, what did I continue to make of all this as the months and years rolled by?

Mission Statements

After a couple of years my Mission Statement morphed, in the early summer of 1994, from its original simplistic idea of seeking to live more closely in tune with the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, to something more specific and perhaps a touch less ambitious. I wrote, ‘my mission becomes to understand reality more deeply and by promoting that understanding to reduce suffering and promote growth.’ This was in the light of my realising that a key point about the Faith for me was that it offered a possibility of greater understanding across different perspectives and thereby greater leverage to alleviate suffering on a wider scale. What Covey was helping me do was get closer to the core of what the Faith meant to me in this important respect than I could ever have done otherwise. Re-reading him has reminded me of just how close some of his key insights are to central ideas in the Bahá’í Faith. This is perhaps not so surprising in the light of his Appendix[1]where he explains his belief that ‘correct principles are natural laws, and that God, the Creator and Father of us all, is the source of them.’ He also quotes Teilhard de Chardin: ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ That he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), whose doctrines differ from the ones I subscribe to, was no impediment to my responding positively to the spirituality in this book as it is more generic.

I am however not claiming that, even with Covey’s help, creating a specific and constructive plan as a path to positive change was a walk in the park.

By late summer I was still tweaking the Mission Statement. Though I agreed that it had got some things right, I felt ‘it missed the need to write and did not catch the core issue: understanding human nature, human experience and the human predicament.’ 

By April 2003 I was journaling this:

. . . . I have always had a strong feeling for earthenware. It’s partly the colour and partly the feel of it. Also now I wonder whether a crucial aspect of its appeal doesn’t also lie in the way that it exemplifies earth turning to a kind of stone by means of fire. I respond to earthenware with an intensity quite out of proportion to its aesthetic merits. Earthenware artefacts predate history, define cultures and yet are in many ways at the same time very ordinary. They evoke the rhythms of domestic routine. It would not be too strong a statement to say that I love them. I would love an earthenware life.

I have no over-arching purpose anymore. I have a set of competing purposes. . . . Three things pull me in different ways and my energies are dissipated. As Covey rightly points out I need to find my basic most deeply felt principle(s) again. I need to be principle-centred and the principle around which my life then revolves has to be connected to my heart as well as my head and my hands.  

. . . There is something about a carefully crafted object that means something special to me. Bahá’u’lláh says He has moulded us out of the “clay of love.” He has placed within us the “essence of His light.” We are enjoined to ignite a fire within us. Does my clay recognise its brother in the earthenware jar? Does it respond to the painful process of transformation by fire that it has undergone?

. . . Earth is grounded, basic, slow, unpretentious, unsophistical. I need less head more heart, less hot air more earth. Also tuning in to my heart means less getting lost in externals.

. . . The earth symbol is also useful in that it indicates my basic nature which I need to honour, but also allows for the use of other modes of being when appropriate but not as my basic way of being – i.e. peat can burn for fire and release gases (a constituent of air) and create water vapour, clay can turn to stone. I am adaptable but not infinitely malleable. Tune in to my heart, be down to earth, remain rooted in the deepest possible levels of experience, use art/consultation/reflection to assist in this process. This is the hearth that will warm my whole being and bring more warmth to others. Action needs to spring from this nexus not from reactions to superficial and synthetic stimuli. Technology, plans, targets, documents, agendas, administration, and all the paraphernalia of bureaucracy are tools not masters. Remaining constantly in touch with the earth in my heart will keep me grounded, in tune with God, unbamboozled by the blandishments of power and pretension. All the cold, frenzied and unfriendly haste will thaw into a more measured humane and complete response to people and to nature. 

So, obviously influenced in these reflections by my Hearth dream, which features elsewhere on this blog, I formulated a sense of mission from the connection between heart and earth.

There are further examples on this blog of various attempts to refine and modify this further. One example is the post in the sequence entitled The Wheel of Life. Basically they show how my restless dissatisfaction with each mission statement triggers further changes.

This is already probably enough to illustrate the torturous process by which, after countless such attempts over the years, including since 2009 when I began this blog, I have finally arrived at another formulation, drawn up recently before I went back over my diaries of the Covey period: 

My overarching goals are:

  1. To enhance understanding and lift consciousness to ever higher levels, using the 4Rs; and
  2. To foster growth and healing in a spirit of interdependence and constant awareness of our interconnectedness.

(The 4Rs are reading, writing, reflection and relating.) 

Re-reading Covey has triggered me to tighten up the pragmatics of this above and beyond, but including the 4Rs. My mnemonic is Carers prep: views concur. Carers, in this context about consciousness, is an acronym to remind me about the importance of Consultation, Action, Reflection, Experience, Reading and Scribbling. Most of that has been familiar fodder for my blog over the years. Proactive End-Based Priorities (PREP), Values, Interdependence, Empathy, Win-Win and Synergy (VIEWS) and Consideration and Courage (ConCur) are there courtesy of Covey revisited.

Any reader who seriously expects that this formulation will not be radically revised before I die, unless I die tomorrow, is grievously mistaken. I think I’d better leave it there for now. I’ve honoured my debt to Covey. Time to stop.

[1]. Covey – page 319.

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