Listen to our two leaders, John Mackey, Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market, as well as the Co-Chair of the Center for World Spirituality Board of Trustees and co-author of Conscious Capitalism, and Marc Gafni, director of Center for World Spirituality and author of Your Unique Self and many other books, while they are telling each other stories on obligation: the negative usage of the word in our modern world that means being obligated by external forces to do something that I don’t really want to do, and the new meaning that Dr. Marc “feels obligated” to bring into the world: an obligation that means the deepest joy of living our Unique Self. Don’t miss this or any of their other discussions from this series, which are available on our website and at the Whole Foods blog.
Join the two friends in their dialogue…
John Mackey (start 1`54): I’ll give you a story. It’s the holiday season and tomorrow I have an obligation to go to San Antonio for a party with my inlaws. And it’s an obligation. So, I’m not looking forward to it. I don’t really want to go. It’s not what I would choose to do freely, but because I am married, I made certain commitments and choices. It’s an obligation I need to fulfill.
Marc Gafni: So, that’s one notion of obligation. That’s story 1. We’ll do story 2…
So, I am with Mother Teresa… on an island… Mother Teresa was a sainted person, but all of her biographers say that she was one of the most difficult people in the world. And you don’t carve out a new order out of the Vatican. if you are not a powerful woman… So, you are stuck with Mother Teresa on an island… and you know you’re never off. And as a matter of fact, John, she is driving you crazy… And she breaks both of her arms… and you set her arms in a cast… and she can feed herself… should you feed her or not? Are you obligated to feed her?
John Mackey: Not just feed her. A lot of other things you have to do for her, too.
Marc Gafni: … We all know that I am obligated to feed her. So, why am I obligated to feed her? I am obligated to feed her, because
1. there is a need
2. it’s an authentic need
3. I recognize the need
4. I have the capacity to meet the need
5. I am the only human being in the entire world that ever was, is, or will be that has the capacity to respond. Response-ability. I have the ability to respond in a way that no one else does.
So, the excitement and the entrepreneural passion of being the artist of your own life, of being a Unique Self, is actually living that consciousness. And that sums up the whole thing. It says that I have the ability to respond to a set of needs in the world that no one else that ever was, is, or will be can respond to through my unique set of gifts. And the set of needs that I can respond to are different, unique, and therefore, living that is my responsibility or obligation. But it’s not an obligation that is externally imposed. It’s actually reality itself, the very nature of who I am obligates me – but not in a negative way. In Hebrew, the words for obligation and love are the same. It’s the unique way that the love-intelligence of the cosmos lives and addresses un-love in a corner of the world that can only addressed by me, so, that’s my responsibility…