Throughout history, I’ve learned that the world’s religions, philosophies, and mysteries tend to converge on a common set of core values. These values serve as a code which allows to transcend the imaginary boundary, a line that separates the deficiency-oriented state of mind, the me-state, from a more evolved state of being characterized by growth, unity and abundance, the we-state. These foundational values are Awareness, Responsibility, and Empathy, collectively forming the acronym ARE, as in We are rather than I want.
As a result, my constant check-in question has become:
“Can I determine at any time whether I am positioned in a state of deficiency or one of growth, and am I consciously embodying awareness, responsibility, and empathy to transition from a ‘me’ state to a ‘we’ state?”
This concept not only follows Mazlow’s famous hierarchy of human needs from a psychological point of view, but also closely aligns with Plato’s timeless philosophical cave allegory. This is where Plato likened humans to creatures dwelling in a cave, fixated on the shadows flickering on the wall, mistakenly perceiving them as reality, rather than turning around to seek the source of light and a deeper truth.
A profound feeling of humility has since taken root within me. I started to grasp the significance of the countless observations made by indigenous peoples from all corners of the globe when they reflected the modern Homo sapiens’ ceaseless pursuit of more. When they observed our willingness to forsake the magical realms of these mindsets and spaces, and in doing so, jeopardize the very foundation of our existence. I came to deeply appreciate the wisdom of indigenous tribes in the Americas who have successfully maintained the wisdom of integration of all three realms within their societal structures, with “best practices” going back thousands of years. With growing humility, I’ve learned from them that mastery in the transactional realm alone holds little meaning when one is still a toddler in the other spaces and mindsets. As I am continuing my journey, the unsolved challenge became clear: Since the existing transactional operating system has reached its limits, how can these additional realms be integrated in my private and business worlds without throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
I had to acknowledge that embarking on this journey is not for the faint of heart. It also cannot be accomplished with just a few coaching hours or workshops. As in all of us, my transactional state combined with the narrative I inherited growing up has the strongest identity within me. It is based on fear and thereby linked to our oldest and fastest part of the brain, the Amygdala, driven by the oldest hormone, Dopamine. The ego of the old identity consistently fights me on my journey, fearing even the smallest “identity-death” as an existential threat.
Much like in the physical realm, where neglecting regular visits to the gym leads to muscle atrophy, the same principle applies to my inner world. My inner muscles, which have already atrophied over time as I focused exclusively on the outer world, require diligent training. Without it, my inner world will not support the development of my outer. It is, therefore, a continuous and uncomfortable path of exploration that demands my full commitment, and it is a journey I cannot undertake alone. this journey is just as the character Morpheus says in the ‘Matrix’ movie – ”take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes”.
The ancient Greeks recognized this challenge and wove the solution into one of their most enduring myths: the story of the Argonauts. For the first time, this myth conveyed the idea of humans embarking on a seafaring adventure first as individuals and then as a collective, transforming from a state of “Me” to “We.” Without this transformation, they could not find the metaphorical Golden Fleece, representing the fulfillment in their lives. This narrative has endured through millennia for a reason. As Victor Frankl famously stated, this “Search for Meaning” is a core human need—one that necessitates a dedicated group of like-minded peers to navigate the turbulent seas of this never-ending journey.
In the third and final part of this essay, I will emphasize the significance of authentic dialogue and the necessity for professionally curated access to transformational spaces to facilitate meaningful conversations.