In Lak’ech, Ala K’in

by Christopher Lovejoy on April 24, 2011

My aim in this post is to make a modest contribution to the shift in thinking that I see occurring on this planet at this time in the way this world works.

Those who live within the ancient Mayan tradition or with Mayan wisdom per se, will, in all likelihood, understand the meaning and significance of In Lak’ech.

As an expression of greeting, goodwill, or courtesy, In Lak’ech speaks to the potential unity and harmony that underlie our daily interactions and transactions with each other.

Like the salutation Namaste, In Lak’ech honors the presence and promise of another spiritual being having a human experience. It means “you are another me”, or more simply, “I am you”.

Ala K’in is responsive: “you are the other me”, or more simply, “You are me”.

In a happier, less cynical world, these expressions would be made complete with a simple gesture of placing the hand over the heart.

For some enlightened individuals, In Lak’ech, Ala K’in has become more than a mere exchange of salutations, evolving as it has into a living code of honor for the heart of humanity.

From Passion to Profit

According to my dictionary, a profit is a valuable return. A profit is what we have left over after we’ve contributed our time and effort to a transaction or a series of transactions.

When we view profit, not in terms of revenue in a failing debt-based monetary system, regardless of the political “ism” involved, but in terms of time and effort contributed from the heart to a common good, the catchphrase “from passion to profit” takes on a whole new meaning.

In Lak’ech, Ala K’in invites us to think less in terms of how separate and divisive we are, and more in terms of how unified and harmonious we are through heartfelt cooperation and collaboration.

To do this, we can view the main currency of exchange in our interactions and transactions, not as money, but as goodwill through heartfelt contribution without expectation of immediate return.

Rather than viewing this transition as a leap of faith, we would do well to consider this transition with sound economic principles, which already exist and are ready to be applied en masse.

In making this transition, we would also do well to remember that every act we perform (positive or negative) affects everyone everywhere, directly or indirectly. Even though many of us are already aware of this dynamic by way of The Golden Rule, we have yet to apply it universally without the crutch of money.

Positive, responsive action produces positive, responsive effects, results, and outcomes. Negative reactions bring about negative effects, results, and outcomes. A neutral stance will see either one or the other arise in its wake, and only a wise, discerning mind can tell which is which.

When we live within the purview of In Lak’ech, Ala K’in, we live and give from the heart, knowing that every action we take is taken out of respect or reverence for all life everywhere. When we give to the world and to each other in this way, we invariably and inevitably give back to ourselves.

In making a transition from a money-based give-and-take to a goodwill-based give-and-take, we can practice the code of In Lak’ech, Ala K’in, knowing that what we give to others without expectation of immediate return, we eventually give back to ourselves. When we give, we receive.

When we give with passion from the heart to goals worthy of our time and effort, we receive with profit. Informed and inspired by The Art of Goodwill Giving, we go from passion to profit in two easy steps.

You might, however, find yourself tuning out from all of this; it sounds too good to be true.

If you typically feel drained or exhausted from your daily acts of giving, compassionate or otherwise, you might want to check in with yourself: have I been giving from a place of fear or dread? From a pervasive sense of wanting and lacking? From a nagging sense of obligation? From a perpetual need to be right? From an incessant need to be loved or liked, admired or accepted?

Counsellors would have you release the fear from within, replace the lack from within, lose the obligation from within, get back in touch with your need to be happy, and embrace acceptance for yourself.

The more you practice The Art of Goodwill Giving with In Lak’ech, Ala K’in, the more clear you become about your motivation for giving, and consequently, the more you receive. When you feel energized by the giving (and the receiving), you’ll know that you’ve given from the heart.

The Risks of Goodwill Giving

Before we go out of our way to apply goodwill giving en masse, it would be prudent to allay the concerns raised by skeptical and cynical discourse, and consider the risks of this type of giving and receiving without money as the dominant currency of exchange.

What goes around comes around, and what you put out is what you get back, but sometimes, more than a little time might pass before the fruits of your giving come around again and get back to you.

Or, as the ever-reliable cynic in us would insist, it might not even come back to us at all, and, as the ever-reliable skeptic in us would insist, faith in The Golden Rule might not be enough.

The challenge comes down to this: it’s all well and good when the conditions are ripe for us to keep giving from the heart, so that reciprocity is satisfied within a reasonable timeframe, but how do we get there in the first place? Could personal sacrifice be too great in the short-term before we get there?

It’s not enough to say that goodwill giving performed en masse will cause us to temporarily lose our bearings when accustomed ways of doing things no longer work for us. It’s not enough to say that we’ll no longer be able to act like victims, that we’ll no longer be able to live in fear, and that we’ll no longer be able to hoard our things as a hedge against economic collapse. Something more is required.

We’ve heard it said that God or Spirit or Source or the Universe works with those who take productive action with goodwill giving, helping those who help themselves, guiding and supporting those who guide and support others, but again, not everyone relies on this type of faith, preferring instead to be guided by the cold hand of reason with facts and logic – and with critical inquiry and analysis.

Following and practicing and honoring the code that is In Lak’ech, Ala K’in, many of us certainly have it within ourselves to generate a good deal of positive, vital energy in the pursuit of a common good, affecting the collective consciousness on this planet in a most positive way, transforming a troubled world into a paradise of peace and prosperity, but the heart also requires input from the mind.

And vice versa. The open, judging, critical, demanding, fertile mind that would produce constructive dialogue also needs to be inspired by the open, guiding, giving, supporting, empathetic heart.

Goodwill giving applied by everyone everywhere requires discipline, courage, and balance, but more than anything, it requires a broad, sweeping vision of human promise and possibility.

When we’ve acquired the knowledge, wisdom, and confidence to bring our technical prowess into balance with our heartfelt requirements, we’ll at last be ready to appreciate the following passage:

The more humanity begins to live In Lak’ech Ala K’in, the less we will think in terms of our separateness. There can be no competition, jealousy or envy between us, because we are pieces of each other. We can share and help each other with our connections, ideas and resources without fear that there will not be enough to go around. When we live the reality of unity, abundance and wholeness, there will be unity, abundance and wholeness! The more of us that participate in the creation of a better world, the quicker it will arrive. We will have peace, love, harmony and unity, and will finally have arrived home ~ Aluna Joy Yaxk’in

Strong, Smart, Savvy Followers

In the literature of personal development, much is made of effective leadership, but strong, smart, savvy leaders require strong, smart, savvy followers – followers who are ready, willing, and able to follow each other’s lead if and when that is justified and called for.

A leader put in charge of a flock of sheep will be tempted by tyranny, and even if this leader knows better than to give in to this temptation, he or she will have no incentive to grow. A leader who takes charge of a group of strong followers, however, will have no choice but to learn, grow, and evolve.

None of this is new to seasoned leaders.

Instead of talking about developing strong leaders, I think we need to talk about cultivating strong followers, the kind who can understand and appreciate what it takes to be a strong leader.

Drawing on his research, Daniel Goleman discerned which leadership behaviors yielded positive results, identifying six kinds of leader: those who coercively demand immediate compliance, those who expect excellence and self-direction based on their own expertise, those who build consensus through participation, those who mentor individuals for the future, those who forge emotional bonds for the sake of harmony, and those who galvanize their followers towards the realization of a vision.

A strong follower appreciates that all of these approaches are fair game for a strong leader, depending on the situation or circumstances involved. Strong followers understand that each approach has its own distinct effect in a collaborative, cooperative atmosphere, so that when a particular approach is applied to a particular situation or set of circumstances, they’ll usually know when it’s justified – or not. When these specific approaches become styles, however, problems can arise, both for leader and follower.

A coercive style of leadership is obviously detrimental to positivity and productivity.

A pace-setting style also destroys morale. When a leader sets the pace with a high standard for everyone else to follow, it’s been found that guidelines are not clearly stated along the way. The work becomes more a matter of guessing what comes next, rather than doing one’s best. Followers are typically overwhelmed by demands for excellence and morale drops or is destroyed altogether.

The most effective leadership style is authoritative. A leader who employs this style more often than not is a kind of visionary, motivating followers by making it clear to them how their work fits into the bigger picture. Those who work with such a leader understand that what they do matters and why.

Authoritative leaders thrive on having authoritative followers. When everyone understands that what they do matters and why, the spirit of In Lak’ech, Ala K’in infuses everything they do.

They ask questions (inquiry) as much as they defend points of view (advocacy), and they cast their attention outward as much as inward. When balance is maintained, performance remains high.

In other words, they flourish as a group.

Who needs money when you have a surfeit of goodwill?

Think about it.

A Proposal to Change the World

Consider this oft-quoted passage on truth: 

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident ~ Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

In light of what I’ve just shared, here’s a modest proposal for changing the world:

Let us find a peaceful way to band together in every nation to shut down the world for a day by ceasing all commercial activity, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy A Day of Goodwill Giving.

At some point during this day, let all concerned persons assemble to consider, contemplate, entertain, and discuss privately and publicly the following question,  taken from this video presentation:

What are the immutable foundations of human health and prosperity, and how do we construct a system that meets those needs for the entire human population, understanding that we live on a planet with finite resources, while ensuring the sustainability of this habitat for future generations?

But let us get even more radical.

In the spirit of In Lak’ech, Ala K’in, let us proclaim A Day of Goodwill Giving on the first monday of every month until all commercial activity everywhere has disappeared from the face of the earth.

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