If you could take George Washington and transport him to today’s world, as he was when he was president of these United States, how would he react? Imagine George Washington, riding into Washington D.C. on his white horse, riding up to the White House, which was not built when he was president, and walking into the White House, into the Oval Office. Imagine that George Washington was made president for a day. How would he react? How would he look at America today and at the presidency as it is today with the demands that it has?
It would have been very shocking to George Washington and to his state of mind, to enter the White House today, and to see the difference between what it was to be America’s first president, and what it is to be president in the modern age. It is perhaps understandable that many modern people cannot grasp the difference between life as it was back then and as it is today. You have grown up in this world, you have from childhood become used to this world and you have no real awareness of how it was those two centuries ago.
The first thing that George Washington would have noticed is that life is so much more fast-paced today than it was back then. Everything happens so quickly. There are so many demands on people. They have to react to so many things in today’s world that it is completely overwhelming for a person from that time. Your entire mind, even your physical brain, will go into overload when exposed to the frantic pace of today’s world. Even the pace of most ordinary Americans is frantic. But the frantic pace especially affects the president and those who work in the government, in the White House. What a difference in pace! George Washington had many fewer decisions to make. He had incredibly much less information to process. We have gotten to a point where the information that needs to be processed by a president is literally overwhelming. Even though modern people have grown up in a more fast-paced world, and are therefore used to processing more information, many times more than George Washington was used to, it is still overwhelming. Quite frankly, nobody can do it. Nobody has the capacity of mind to process that much information. Any president goes into overload. The question is how the president deals with this.
There are two main scenarios: The president can adopt the attitude that he or she does not need to process all that information because the president has a state of mind that allows him or her to make decisions based on his ideals, his knowledge, his personality and his abilities as a leader, and therefore he does not need to process all that information. He could just make a snap judgment that this is what we are going to do. This is a similar mindset that you see in many leaders of large businesses who also face this information overload. They can become so used to not actually processing the information, not actually considering all sides of an issue and not even listening to what their advisors are really saying, but they make a snap judgment based on their confidence that they will choose the right thing to do. After all, how would they have gotten to the White House if they were not able to make the right decisions—they think. This is one way to deal with the information overload: you do not process it.
Another way is that you do not think that you know everything or that you are capable of making snap judgments. Therefore, you attempt to listen to your advisors who have studied all of the information and can compress it for you and give it to you in an abbreviated form. This is what we might call the Reader’s Digest approach to being president. You allow your advisors to compress the information, so you only get the essence of it, and not the full story. This, of course, means that you do not have the full understanding of the issue, but you at least have some understanding of the issue. You are willing to listen to your advisors, and then when you make a decision, as the president sometimes has to do, you are not making a snap judgment, you are going into your heart and you are asking yourself: “What is the most compassionate thing to do?” You cannot necessarily know what is right, but you can know what is the most compassionate thing to do.
You will see presidents even in recent decades who have taken both approaches. No need to name names. The difference between these two approaches is that the one approach assumes and takes for granted that: “Because I am president, I can of my own self do something.” The other approach says: “Just because I am president, does not mean I always know what is the right thing to do.”
The third approach would actually be that you surrender. You surrender unto a higher power, however you see it, because you recognize that there is a higher power beyond yourself.
Now, there have been presidents who have approached this, but in the history of these United States, there have been very few presidents—in fact, there have not been any presidents—who practiced this to the extent that George Washington did. This is partly because they did not have that experience that he had at Valley Forge of coming into that total surrender, where he fully acknowledged that he could of his own self do nothing. But nevertheless, it is still an ideal for what it means to be president. It is the highest ideal. You listen to your advisors and you attempt to gain as much information about the issue as you can. You can also consider what the most compassionate thing to do is. But before you make a big decision, you go into your private space.
You center in your own heart and in your inner being and you let go of all human opinions, all prejudices and all preconceived opinions about what you should or should not do. You find a way to ask the higher power, as you see it, not to tell you what to do, but to give you a higher perspective on the situation and on the issue. This is the third approach to being president. It is truly the only way that you can function as a president. This is one thing that has not changed from the time of George Washington to today. We might even say that because of the larger amount of information that you need to process today, it is even more important to have that surrender.
Now, what does this really mean? What does it take to be a president and instead of making a snap judgment, or even a more carefully weighted decision, you stop. You refuse to make a decision. You go within, you tell your advisors to go have a cup of coffee and to leave you alone in the Oval Office. You sit there or you fall upon your knees. You empty your mind of all preconceived opinions and you ask this higher power, however you see it, to give you a higher view of the situation, and then you are completely open to whatever comes to you.
What does it take to do this? Well, first of all, it takes a certain spiritual maturity. This is not something you can emulate. Throughout your life you must have had genuine mystical experiences where you have stepped outside of your normal state of mind and contacted or experienced some reality beyond your normal state of mind and your normal perception filter. Otherwise, you would not have a frame of reference that there is something outside of your own mind and your own perception filter. Then, you have to be willing to reach for that something, and that means emptying your mind and setting aside all of your personal idealistic, ideological, preconceived opinions and judgments about what you should, and especially what you should not do as president. You also need to set aside the expectations that you know your advisors have, that the people around you have, that your voters have, that the people have, that the press has and that the Congress and the Senate have. All of these pressures are impinging upon the president and are being sent at him as arrows at the emotional, mental and identity levels, 24 hours a day. You have to be able and willing to set aside all of these pressures so that you can go into a neutral state of mind.
What does it mean that you are in a neutral state of mind? Well, it means many things. It means that you are free of all of these preconceived judgments and the sense of identity that most people have. But in terms of being president, what it truly means is that when you, as president of these United States, go into a neutral frame of mind, you are neither a Republican nor a Democrat. You cannot be neutral if you have an overlay that says: “Because I am a Republican president or because I am a Democratic president, this is how I have to look at this issue, this is probably the decision I have to make, this is what is expected of me by my party, by my electorate and by my advisors.” You cannot be worried about what reaction you are going to get if you disappoint or surprise all of these people.
Despite the fact that you have gone through this long process where you have been a Republican or a Democrat, and despite the fact that you are elected as representing one of the parties, you have to be able and willing to set that aside because you realize, or rather you should realize, that there are two houses of Congress, there are two parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but there is only one president. There is only one chair in the Oval Office behind the desk. You should realize, why former president Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk saying: “the buck stops here.” You are the one at the top.
What does that mean? It means that the Republican party can afford to say: “We represent only Republican voters. We represent only Americans with a certain mindset.” The Democratic party can afford to say: “We represent only Democratic voters, people with a certain mindset.” But as president, in order to be the best possible president you can be, you cannot afford to say this. You are the one president that must represent all Americans.
In order to go into a neutral frame of mind and receive a higher vision from a higher power, you need to be willing to recognize that when you are sitting in that one chair in the Oval Office, you must represent all Americans, or at least as many Americans as possible. What does this mean? This means that you cannot look at the issue through the particular ideology, platform, mindset or worldview of either the Republican or the Democratic party. As president, you need to look at what the greatest good for the greatest number of people is, not “what I am supposed to do according to my party line.” In order to be the best possible president, you need to have some awareness that in life there are certain fundamentals, certain principles, certain ideas and certain facts that are neutral. These are what we might call objective because they do not change whether you look at them through a Democratic mindset or a Republican mindset. They are what they are. This is what is best for the people regardless of party coloring.
If you can do this as president, you can be the best possible president that you can be, given your personality and given the times you live in, and how very complicated the equation of this large nation is in those four or eight years where you have the privilege of sitting in that chair. If you fall into letting all of your decisions be colored by either your party ideology or by your personal conviction of your own superiority, you cannot be the best possible president that you could be. You might, in fact, be far less than what you could be or what someone else could be in that situation if they had a greater willingness to surrender.
If George Washington walked into the Oval Office today, he would be shocked by the frantic pace. Of course, George Washington would not even be allowed to walk into the White House today. He would be stopped by security. They would demand to see some form of identification, and he would not be able to produce one. He might say: “But I am George Washington.” They would laugh at him and demand that he take off his wig and take out his wooden teeth. They still would not believe who he was. He would not even be allowed in the door.
Nevertheless, if George Washington could walk into the White House, the one thing that would shock him the most would be how partisan the presidency has become, how partisan the Congress and the Senate have become, how partisan the political process in America has become, and how partisan the public discourse has become. George Washington would have looked at this state of animosity between people who adhere to the two parties. He would have looked at this and he would have said: “Well, it is a good thing that it was not like that back then because we would have never been able to come together to fight the British. We would have been so divided that there could not have been any unified resistance at all. We would never have won the Revolutionary War. We could not have accomplished the feat of establishing an independent nation. How can we actually expect to carry on an independent nation when the people are so divided?”
George Washington was quite aware that “united we stand, divided we fall.” He knew that there was only that fragile sense of unity that was behind his army that allowed him to be the instrument for bringing forth this victory over the superior British forces. There was a united vision that even though they were numerically and in other ways inferior to the British forces, the colonial forces could still win. George Washington would have looked at the current state of division in the United States and he would have asked himself: “How did the people of America ever become so divided? How can we have such a state of division in the United States?” He would have realized very quickly that this is not really because the people themselves are so divided, but because they have been manipulated into this division. He would have realized why this was so.
It is because there is an external force compared to the people who are manipulating the people. He would have realized that during his presidency and before, he was fighting an external force in the form of the British, but today the American people are faced with an external force that is external to the people, but seemingly not external to the country because the power elite, most of them, are in the United States. However, he would also have realized very quickly that this power elite has no loyalty to America. They have no patriotism and they even have no sense of the value of America. They only want to advance their own causes at the cost of the people. They are not loyal to America. Some of them are internationalists running these multinational corporations or financial empires that have no loyalty whatsoever to America or the people of America.
George Washington would have realized that just as the people in colonial times were facing this aggressive external force of the British royalty, the people of America today are facing this external aggressive force of the power elite. He would have realized that this power elite can only rule because they have divided the people. He would have looked at what is dividing the people and seen, of course that it was many things. But one of the things that is certainly dividing the people right now is the two political parties. So many people have been manipulated into a state of consciousness where they believe that only the Republican party can save America. If the Republican party does not win, the Democrats will take America to its certain ruin. Other people believe that the Republicans are so conservative and so reactionary that they will bring the ruin of America, and only the Democratic party can bring America forward into a better age.
What George Washington would have very clearly seen is that both groups of people believe that a particular man-made political ideology can solve all human problems. Neither of these groups of people see the need for the president to surrender himself to a higher power to gain a higher vision, nor do they see the need for themselves to surrender to a higher power to get a higher vision. Naturally, some of them, especially those on the Christian side, will think they are surrendered to a higher power and that their particular church’s interpretation of the Bible represents that higher power.
But George Washington would have seen right through this because he was not what you today call a Christian, certainly not the fundamentalist kind. He adhered to a more universal form of spirituality that he expressed as “Nature’s God,” which had meaning for him. When he surrendered to a higher power, it was not the God of the Old Testament. It was more like Jesus’ God of the loving father figure. But George Washington saw it more as Nature’s God, a universal God that is beyond all man-made images.
George Washington would look at this and say: “But neither of these two factions have their minds open enough to receive a higher vision of what is the highest good for the largest number of people. They are focused on their particular worldview, thinking it is the only true one.” There may be a certain group of Americans who adhere to the Republican worldview and a certain number that adhere to the Democratic worldview, but neither of these groups have a majority in America. Neither of these views represent a majority of the American people. The only reason a president from one party or the other party gets elected is because there is a group of Americans in the middle that sometimes swings to one side and sometimes to the other because they really are not in either of the two camps. But there is no other camp to vote for and they feel they must vote for someone, so they tend to lean to this side or that side. But they do not feel they have a real choice.
This is the one thing that George Washington would have realized has happened to America: this polarization that was not nearly at that level when he was president. Even though there were, of course, differences of opinions back then and different interest groups, nevertheless there was not this kind of polarization. There was not that clear belief that one way is the only right one, and the other one is sure ruin.
Higher awareness is neither Republican nor Democrat. It has a universal mindset and the highest goal is to raise the collective consciousness of the American people. Higher awareness does this by giving them a perspective and then allowing them to do with that whatever they want.