There is a famous parable about the Emperor’s New Clothes, I’ve copied the condensed version from Wikipedia:
A vain Emperor cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers don’t see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.
In light of the current political free for all, I thought this parable was a perfect summary of what we all endure in the power grabbing and slanderous attacks among the various candidates. How disheartening to know that that our leaders are a reflection of our own awareness. It’s time to look in the mirror.
As Michael Brown, the author of “The Presence Process” and “Alchemy of the Heart” stated, we each have the choice of living in full presence, or living a life of pretense. “Pretense” is a life of that is driven by ego, much like the Emperor’s vanity had him pretending he had donned rare and special garments.
On the other hand, “presence” values the truth and open-heartedness above all things. It requires that we admit our vulnerability and “nakedness.” It means that we have to be authentic, not parse our words and not be devious and sell delusions to gain status for ourselves.
In the parable, the Emperor suspects that there is a scam going on, but he plays along, afraid to stand in the truth. What a perfect example of what we all do in our insecurity and fear of being the outlier that has a different viewpoint. So much safer to join the crowd than to stand alone… Or is it?
Each of us has a voice…an authentic viewpoint that is part of the mosaic of conscious presence. When we don’t sing our part in the human choir, there is something missing. From what I saw in the political debates, there is a whole lot missing so there must be many of us humming under our collective breath rather than singing our heart songs.
The amount of energy it takes to edit our individual voices to fit with prevailing sentiments could be better used in other pursuits. If the motive to express our heart songs is love, there can be no fear in where the words land. “When more than one of you are gathered in My name, I am present.”
I’m suggesting that each of us consult our inner truth, authentic presence and speak from that place. I’m suggesting that living in pretense makes our lives one long Emperor’s parade. It qualifies us for “leadership” that plays to media and immediate gratification. In the larger picture, pretense leads the world to Hellish places.
How do we practice presence? We purge our demons. We go within and get comfortable there. We affirm principles that are Universal, rather than convenient. We align with what is right, rather than searching for what is wrong. We listen not only to what is said, but to what isn’t said. We stand for something beyond extrinsic reward and expediency.
May we not be seduced by pretense but rather be adorned with the sacred garments of presence. And may we continue to care for each other as part of One Family.
Much love, Rosanne