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Yoda and You

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” - Yoda

Yoda is right, of course, Yoda he is – a standard bearer for luminous beings fictional and actual. You and I are luminous beings. Or at least have that potential, which is the tension of Yoda’s quote. If we aren’t crude matter, or at least have a propensity of being crude matter, why even mention it?

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So, how do we make the move from crude matter to luminous beings? We don’t have the 900 or so years Yoda did for his journey. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be luminous beings during our shorter lifespans, especially in our careers and business dealings. Let’s talk about how. Let’s talk about character. Character is the hyperdrive from crude matter to luminous being.

In a previous blog post we introduced the unified ethical decision-making model with its three components of rules, goals, and character. (Our diagram of the model is posted below for quick reference.) Character, we noted, ultimately springs from one’s understanding of Creation. How do we perceive our place in Creation and the Creator’s character? How do you perceive that Luminous Being? Character traits that typically reflect our nature as luminous beings include honesty, trustworthiness, righteousness, mercy, tolerance, unity, patience, endurance, and others as described in writings such as the Ten Commandments and Jesus’s Beatitudes. Other faith traditions have their respective parallels and, ultimately, show a person’s potential as a luminous being is through the development of his or her character.

Our character defines whether we are luminous beings or crude matter. When asked to name luminous beings, people tend to be consistent in their responses: religious figures like Abraham and the Dalai Lama; freedom fighters such as Gandhi and MLK Jr.; political leaders including Churchill and Mandela; cultural leaders such as Chopra and Oprah; and individuals who light the way for us like our best parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. These luminous beings are just a few examples of those who have developed spiritual intelligence. At we see and make the connection between character and spiritual intelligence. (Spiritual intelligence, which we introduce in a previous blog, is distinct and unrelated to the practice of religion or any faith tradition.)

Cindy Wigglesworth, in her book SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence provides a list of descriptions she often hears regarding spiritual leaders, which likewise describes luminous beings:

  • Authentic and with integrity

  • Calm, peaceful, and centered

  • Clear mission or vocation

  • Compassionate, caring, kind, and loving

  • Courageous, dependable, faithful and faith-filled

  • Forgiving and generous

  • A great leader, teacher, and/or mentor

  • Humble, inspiring, and wise

  • Nonviolent

  • Open-minded and open-hearted

  • Persistent, values-driven, and committed to serving others.

Take a moment to re-read these descriptors while you ask yourself, “What’s the source of these traits?” Is the source not your character? The right follow-up question is, “And from what sources am I building my character?

To be a luminous being is now a mystery unpacked. Those luminous beings we so consistently admire display high spiritual intelligence. High spiritual intelligence is a result of our developing our character to reflect the virtues and values of our best understanding of Creation and the Creator. As we develop our character, sometimes under extreme conditions, we mature into the luminous beings that is our birthright. We can choose to be luminous beings rather than crude matter.

At we bring the issues of character and spiritual intelligence into our discussions of economics, and particularly America’s form of capitalism, because we recognize that no human is what economists’ label ‘homo economicus’ – a hypothetical person who behaves in exact accordance with a rational self-interest. None of us are walking calculators who automatically take the ideal course of economic action as it may be calculated theoretically according to the mathematical models of classical economics. Behavior plays a part; hence we have the branch of behavioral economics that takes human psychology into account for economic decisions and behaviors. Still, our economic behaviors spring from our character so back to square one of character we are.

We invite you to take up Yoda’s challenge and join us in choosing the path of becoming luminous beings. With enough luminous beings we collectively will begin making the mutually beneficial changes we all want to see in the various systems we’ve created and suffer under, including our corporations, governments, cultures, and even capitalism as a whole.

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