Outgrown Clothes

(First posted June 15th, 2012)
Recently I was given a lovely, humbling, and hilarious insight. This good fortune presented itself while awaiting a Cyprus bound flight from London’s Gatwick Airport. First the images: I watched a thirty-five year old man who was entirely uncon

scious of his actions: He, in feigned, affected, noisy and labored breathing ‘in a breathless state’ moved in an asymmetrical and slow, attention-gathering gallop as he approached the gate where I stood.

As he pounded his national identity card and boarding pass to the counter, he spoke dramatically in an English that bore the lovely accent of his native country. He requested immediate assistance as he had missed his flight from a nearby gate. In response to each of four kindly delivered responses from the gate agent, he loudly exhaled an exasperated NO! She then informed that no matter how many times he made his pronouncements, circumstances remained the same: Her help is that of directing him to the airline service counter for rebooking.

The man then moved from the counter, stopping in the center of the aisle. He thrust his ID card and boarding pass to the floor and while loudly exhaling, further collapsed his shoulders. There he stood with his head hanging in seeming profound disbelief at his fate. Just two steps away, I, barely containing the incredulity of my insight, and my urge to laugh more audibly, stepped to his left side and stood mimicking his posture. In a couple moments, I turned my head toward him and in a quiet and dramatic voice said, so only he could hear, “Its fucked isn’t it?” I remained a moment longer, then slowly stood more upright…then slowly and silently walked away. Seconds later he collected his things and did the same.

My insight: I do what this man does all the time. I do it differently, of course. Yet, I too, have many unconscious habits of behavior, each with dramas large and small. Mine revolve around being impatient or being in a hurry. After all, I have so many things to do. I often move fast. I am in a hurry.

As I write this, there is a humor surfacing in me that is a blending of at least three mental and emotional states. The first is a delight in my new awareness. The second involves a bit of disbelief for the silliness of my little dramas, and for not having recognized them previously. Lastly, I feel chagrin. The second and the third are themselves examples – equivalences, though less visibly dramatic than the man’s actions in the airport.

As I rotate the prism of my perception, three perspectives vie for my attention. The first involves what I judge as the normalcy of our all too human obliviousness and somnolence: our insistence on remaining imprisoned by trivialities, on remaining dead asleep. The second angle prompts a warm compassion in seeing the plight of my own and others’ humanity. The last view prompts a remembering that I am best served when I see the humor in my own petty dramas, then let them go.

Our dramas perpetuate an embodiment of our having said ‘no’ to our lives and the Mystery. We can ill-afford to continue denying our sovereignty and the experience, expansion and creative expression awaiting us. Life asks us to announce, in an unequivocal and robust voice, ‘yes’ to the Mystery! And then to live out our lives embodying this ‘yes’ – taking all that life offers.

What will rouse me from my sleep?
What will prompt the letting go of my petty and distracting dramas?
What will move me to say ‘yes’ to my life?
What will open me to genuinely experience the immediacy of the Mystery and my life?
What will foster the expansion of my genuine nature?
What will prompt my genuine creative expression?

What I Am Learning

(First posted September 13th, 2011)
I had the delightful privilege of receiving a lovely letter via Spiritual Networks. In it there was a question asked of me. My response follows.

Hello:
I am delighted to receive the bundle of energy that is yourself and your promise (These things are imbued in your note). To me this is the dominant message in your writing. Feeling your heart energy buoys me.

I, like you, find it pleasing to meet energetic siblings on awakening’s path. You are correct, no one is alone, ever! Yet we humans benefit from reminders.

Wow! Your question! I am intrigued with your curiosity! Now to your question: “Out of all your years of teaching, what would you say is the most important thing you have learned?”

The most important thing I have learned is that we (humanity, you and I) are not what or who we are purported to be. The dominant behaviors humanity exhibits have nothing to do with our actual character and true nature. Our ancestries, biographies and cultures fail in their characterization of us.

There is a yet to be expressed creativity and motion available within the precincts of the human heart awaiting our embodiment. There is the promise of our promise awaiting fulfillment. This is a place of creativity and motion. It lives within the human heart. Yes, of course, this is a place of fierce and nurturing love of self, other, the Earth and cosmos (in other words, the Mystery); yet is much more than this.

This place is a leaping off point. A point where each of us can experience worlds and realities beyond this one; and, with these experiences be changed. If you give yourself over to this point and the experiences it offers, you will change again and again. In the accumulation of these changes you may experience theplay casino whole of the multiplicity of universal places at once, experiencing yourself – as the gestalt.

The most important thing I have learned is that something beyond us is continually asking something of and from us. The opportunity of the human heart is to respond with an immediate and robust YES and move in response to the Mystery.

The most important thing I am learning involves each of us moving into the unity of our own sovereign divinity. This involves a letting go of the denial of our onboard capacities for seeing the Mystery for what it is: Our loving playground, our design studio.

The most important thing I am learning is that YES to the Mystery is the only path.

The most important thing I have learned is that survival of the ego, whether keeping your looking good looking good, or ensuring the survival of one’s physical body and one’s life, individually or collectively, are meaningless endeavors, really. (Yes, of course, maintain yourself.) However when the universe offers you a test or opportunity (whatever its form) an immediate yes is the only response that is life expanding, life affirming!

I think I am just beginning to approach the place of the most important thing I have learned – that of living the Yes to the Mystery. With this, moving into truly living my own life – rather than the one the world has given me. I am not there yet however this movement has begun in my system of “self.”

I will leave this for now.

And you my friend? Is this place all that much different from the places of your learning?

Feel free to redirect the question if you like.

Warmly,

Stephen

“…Some Kiss We Want…”

(First posted July 19th, 2012)
“There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body…Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell…breathe into me…open the love window.” ~ Rumi

My neighbor teaches environmental studies at the local university. Recently he lent me the book entitledCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. This is a research-based exploration of human actions involving past and contemporary societies that collapsed, and those that live on.

The author suggests that individuals and communities wanting to survive, persist, and at times thrive, are best served by living in accord with the “nature” of their Natural environments. Those living at odds, move through processes of human indecency, ugliness and starvation en route to their collapse, their deaths.

My work orients around the personal and spiritual ecology of individuals, and groups of people. As such, the book prompted a deeper inquiry into the “nature” of my Nature and how confluent my life is with it. I looked, too, into the “nature” of others’ Natures. As with geographical regions, there are patterns and generalizations that can be inferred regarding people too. Yet, like each locale, each person requires her or his own recipe for achieving and maintaining an ecology of one’s own.

Contrary to popular rhetoric, we do not live in a one-size-fits-all world. “Truths,” if there are any, are space/time/context specific. They are not transferrable. What is “real,” if there are “real” things, is not generalizable. The majority of us do not live in confluence with the “nature” of our individual Natures. Our cultures impede such things. Remedying our alignments are worthy and honorable endeavors. I suggest that we recognize that this epoch’s moment is inviting us to direct our intent and attentions to this end, living genuinely.

Diamond’s book also invites us to look at contemporary circumstances through a life and death lens and to do so personally, intimately. Are our actions but repeated patterns of those whose societies collapsed? The author suggests that our contemporary actions are not without precedent. I ask, are we blithely walking in lockstep with an age-old inherited ignorance?

Yet, this is not my point. We know these things. Our unconscious denial keeps this knowing from our conscious awareness. My points are:

1. Individual awareness precedes necessary collective action. With rigor, we can become aware and choose differently.
2. The manner in which we live today arises from an unwitting orientation that Life itself is a problem to be solved. As consequence, we have centered our lives in problems, and identified ourselves as problem solvers. This position and identity is antithetical to life.

A wise mentor of mine informs that opportunities arising from problems are themselves closing structures. In other words, the opportunities themselves collapse before bearing fruit. Pursuing them does not serve! Such pursuit but squanders our attentions and energies. In the context of problem solving, opportunities whose structures open, do not present themselves. These opportunities arise from orienting a life on the frontier of creative self expression.

One of the greatest boons in my life involves the humbling and life changing epiphany of discovering that I had positioned and identified myself as a problem solver – in my existence, not simply in my work. The design of my personality and the models around which I have orbited have had a problem solving bent. I am damn good solving problems. I find stellar and uncommon solutions.

My epiphany also revealed a richness that awaits from another mode of existing and living: that which results from orienting and moving in concert with a universal wisdom and intelligence that I creatively express in my life. This involves embodying the Muse herself. This birthright is inclusive. Everyone can get not only a visa but a residency card for these places.

Collapses in our societal structures are natural outcomes of collapses to our individual internal structures. Neither Life nor people are problems! Life is expressive motion. Our lives are expression. We ourselves render them elegant, gracious, aesthetic, or not.

In my earlier post “Perspective Shift” of 21 May 2012, I wrote about our internal nemeses, those aspects of our personalities rendering ourselves our own worst enemies. This post is an entry into a mini-series of posts in which I offer models and skills for freeing ourselves from the ancestral and cultural constraints, those which our individual nemeses perpetuate within each of us.

Course Correction

(First posted September 17th, 2011)
There is an intended humorous maxim some men occasionally espouse: “I did not receive the technology gene.” This line is used during moments when a man need bring himself to bear in technological contexts – those for which he is ill-prepared. I never liked the damn phrase, yet it comes to mind here/now. I am mostly clueless in these contexts. Whether I have the gene or not, I neither know nor care. I suspect this maxim is but shelter for those of us opening to being wholly okay with oneself. This maxim is warranted until it is not.

Please bear with me. (Maybe you too wonder whether posting this is a necessary self-deception.) I online casino am learning that cutting and pasting posts from word processors and text editing software into WP skews formatting hugely. Having only this week migrated my website to WP, most of the content in both requires translation into WP speak. Soon, things will be in order. Too there will soon be more articles, poetry and stuff arriving.

Thanks for indulging this one”s ongoing course corrections.

Jump Rope, Jacks and Stickball

(First posted July 27th, 2012)
The great anthropologist Angeles Arrien reminds us that we Westerners conceptually frame, and experience change as loss. She used an example that most Americans could relate to. It went something to the effect: A friend asked another “I hear your

relationship is changing?” The other, in a concerned voice, responded “Oh my God! What have you heard?” Those of us in her workshop laughed in recognition of our pattern.

I love what Dr. Arrien gives us. Her work has contributed to me professionally and personally. I no longer agree with the inferences I once drew from my understandings of Westerners linking change with loss. I once believed I needed to break the connection of change with loss. That I needed, instead, to understand the reality that change is constant. It is always occurring and I need not associate it with loss.

I know the constancy of change. Yet, I think differently now. Change is loss, and much more. Although we are politically correct in using the word “loss” via-a-vis change, it is the wrong word to use. It is a softener, ostensibly making our lives easier. Yet it does not. The word “loss” misrepresents and distracts us from the direct and raw experience of what is actually happening and what it offers us. The word “loss” takes us away from the experience that will best grow, move and change us. So too does the word “change.”

We Westerners cringe even more strongly with the word I am about to use, the word that can move us toward and into the experience that serves our becoming: This word is death. Change is death. Death is what is happening in every change. Death is the constant in our lives. Death and life are one indivisible whole. We do not recognize the experience of death for we have been taught to distract from it. We fool ourselves pretending to attend to death, but we are instead attending to loss. The energy of death differs from the energy of loss. Experiencing loss in our lives changes us less beneficially than the giving of ourselves over to experiencing the many deaths occurring constantly in our daily lives.

Whether the deaths involve a hoped for future, a change in dinner plans, the death of a loved one, or the change in a summer day from one of warm sunshine to an approaching rain storm with thunder and lightening – like the one happening as I write this piece – death is occurring. Today’s sunny day is dead. What lives here, now, is an increasingly darkening sky with significantly cooler temperatures and blowy winds. A lovely death, and a new birth.

What I invite is this:

  • Consent to change. Consent to death. Say YES to the changes death brings us in each moment.
  • Experience the psychology and physiology of loss when it arrives, yet, know, too, that these experiences are distinct from experiencing the phenomena, the empirical rawness of death. It is this experience of death that changes us in beneficial ways.

Years ago the anthropologist and author Carlos Castaneda introduced us to his take on the ancient wisdom of Mexico. One of his invitations involved having death sit on our shoulder. He was fostering the beginnings of our developing a consciousness of death. One that would enable us to more fully live. Few if any of us have done so.

I, myself, have no death consciousness. I sense however it is wanting its place in me.

A Friend Leaves the Planet

(First posted October 9th, 2011)

On September 29, 2011, General Aviation lost a stellar, yet, unspoken hero. So too did the communities who loved him. Though insufficiently acknowledged, Bill Warren was the chief diplomat, emissary and envoy of the Spirit of Flight. He was born in Port Angeles, Washington on October 13, 1946. His family’s farm was under the flight path for the local airport. Ronn Dilling, Bill’s first cousin, reports that ever since Bill was three years old he gave his attention to airplanes and flying. As a child, if Bill was not watching planes from the farm, he was at the airport.

At eight years old Bill’s family moved to Medford, Oregon. He became a fixture at its airport. Bill first held the controls of an airplane, in flight, at age ten. From that moment, flying became the center of his life. Bill was fifteen when he got his private pilot certificate. Save for a brief stint in a city Parks Department, Bill’s career was aviation. He flew every type of aircraft except jets. It is said, if a plane can be started, Bill could fly it.

Whether flying Mercy flights, dusting crops and local orchards, providing air support for wild land fire suppression, dispersing airport fog, or shuttling planes, Bill was the one for the job. So too, he performed aerobatic stunts in the movies, founded a flying circus in which he designed and performed previously unseen aerobatic maneuvers. He was one of the main attractions in regional air shows in the lower forty-eight and Alaska.

Bill trained new pilots and tested those with experience as they sought new ratings and to maintain current certifications. Too, Bill provided flight knowledge training courses at Rogue Community College. Over the course of his career, Bill experienced nineteen engine failures – each time – through deploying his keenly developed attention, knowledge and behavioral skills rendered nineteen successful landings.

Bill Warren was out of sync with modern aviation. He seemed better suited for flying with the legendary French pilot and author Antoine De Saint-Exupery – or better still, being a character in one of his novels. Too, Bill’s soul was a contemporary of author and pilot Richard Bach.

Although Bill owned many airplanes his plane of choice was a 1946 Taylorcraft. Like himself, the T-Craft was lightweight and free from contemporary excesses. Flying a T-Craft, he would say made necessary that a pilot be a Pilot, god damn it. A T-Craft is affected by the subtlest movements of air. It’s just a big kite. You cannot power your way through anything – the pilot has to fly and fly well!

But for a few, all gauges and instruments were concealed and unreadable in Bill’s plane. To him, autopilot, GPS, and speed indicators were the pernicious bane of General Aviation. Pilots need to feel the tiniest motion of the weight shifts in their body…their body informs the pilot moment to moment of how the flight is progressing, how the plane is performing, and when to apply the controls. This is flying.

Bill was adamant that people already know how to fly! He would point to birds of prey riding the thermals and say – we are made of what they are made of. What is in them is in us, god damn it! Stop thinking and feel. You KNOW how to fly! Yes, he would say, there are things you need to learn to pass the test. And, there are things you need to know to be safe, but you already KNOW how to fly! Everyone does! Now, go over there and catch those thermals and get some altitude without having to work for it, god damn it!

Bill’s plane was named Simply Magic. She knew how to fly. Let the plane do her work, he would say. Stop over-controlling the plane. The pilot’s job is to relax and pay attention to the energy you are feeling in your body. It will tell you everything. Scan for other planes noticing too the altimeter and compass. Listen to the sound of the engine, and, in a relaxed way, gently slowly make what corrections are needed. Let the plane fly itself. It has much to teach us.

Those of us in Bill’s world could not – not – love him. It was simply impossible. Yet, he was often oblivious to the fact that his disdain for conformity, specifically to social contracts of interaction, was, at times, difficult for others. There are those who permanently closed their hearts to him. Bill could be a pain in the ass. Although Bill loved women, he did not protect them from the aspects of men that are best reserved for the company of men.

So too, Bill could be ornery in the way a wizard would be: messing with people to tease them – to shake them from their foibles. Women tell me he was naughty. I believe them. He fancied raising a Rolling Rock beer as oft as he could.

I read some place that some heroes need be defined by their greatness rather than their foibles. I contend this is the case for each of us. This is so regarding Bill Warren. His staggering genius, talent and abilities as a pilot and flight instructor are overshadowed by two other qualities of character. One: The profoundly delightful light of his heart – albeit issuing from behind turbulent life circumstances. Two: his profound respect, appreciation and love for children and young people.

The buoyancy of Bill’s heart and his work with young ones are his magnum opuses! Children and young people knew that Bill saw them! They knew he loved them! They knew he empathized with their circumstance! They knew they belonged in the world when with Bill! Lastly, they knew they were safe with Bill and from him!

Bill Warren, you have my love and deepest respect! I trust you are fog free and aloft in smooth air. I am privileged, heartened and changed – bettered – for having known and learned from you. So long my friend. Oh, one last bit: A poem.

Late Fragment

And did you get what 
you wanted from this life even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
             ~ Raymond Carver

Latte

(First posted September 15th, 2012)
Acting out of character, I finished my sunrise walk by nipping in for a latte. The woman making it was in the her in-between years – her transition from girl to adult. Though lovely physically, her real beauty lay in her presence – that radiating diaphanous field in motion around her body and personality. Yet, it was shadowed by what I saw as a dissonance with and a remoteness from her promise. A counterfeit compassion surfaced in me.

In acknowledging her color choice in scarves, she replied “That’s helpful this morning.” Her response to my query about her morning of “still waking” was almost convincing. I wondered whether she was persuaded.

Walking onward enjoying the places the latte’s flavors took me, I ruminated about how we can begin seeing and acknowledging others, such that they recognize their place and promise – a seeing which fosters their confidence to live well the true nature of their own natures, to be genuine in the creative expression of their daily lives, to reveal themselves – their degrees of difficulty on their journeys, and their joys.

I then thought of a business guy I liked and respected. One who respects the fulfillment of my promise as I deliver elegant and ecological change to individuals and families. I then felt my discomfort as I sensed that he does not respect me personally. He sees more promise in me. This promise involves me articulating my work in ways which make it attractive to business and organizational leaders. He sees promises I have yet to deliver, those awaiting fulfillment.

As for my counterfeit compassion – it is my personal mask of grief regarding the distance I have kept from the rendering all of my promise. I felt gratitude for the reminder given by the young woman. Like her, others see through my ruses too. As to my query regarding how can I see others – it begins with the courage to see the greatness of my own self, to see the value in my creative expression – in its consequence – and to muster my courage and to act at the behest of my promise – and to do so now.

As to the criteria that would garner the businessman’s respect? They are but one possible map lending toward me delivering my promise. One worth modeling, not for his respect, but as a means for furthering my path and promise.

I am grateful for Life’s difficult and generous Grace.

Joy Irrespective

(First posted October 9th, 2011)

About fourteen years ago I was sitting in Bert Hellinger’s audience in San Francisco. At that time he had been coming to the States for a few months introducing his family constellations. These are methods for clearing ancestral and systemic impe

diments in a life. As a consequence of this work, one more easily accesses personal freedom, resourcefulness and love. Mr. Hellinger ended our gathering with this blessing: “May you know joy irrespective of circumstance.”

Incredulously and involuntarily I said to myself: “How the Hell! do you do that?!” Although the wonderful woman who works as my webmaster – whose name and link appear at the bottom of this blog – might well, during moments of my impatience, deny the claim I am about to make: I have come a long way toward experiencing joy irrespective. If not always in real time – in only moments I access joy, or at least equanimity. A testament to my claim is my response to the yellow smiling face you will see later in this post. The thing turned up instead of a number eight and a closed parenthesis mark. And so it goes. I don’t know how it got there and I have yet to sort how to change it.

Notwithstanding my skill and history of passionately saying no to life – mine, mostly – and, too, saying no to the Mystery – a practice we humans have a penchant for – I can well say that I am educable, for I have changed. Increasingly I let go of resistance…increasingly I am saying yes to my life and the Mystery. So can you.

My point: If you haven’t noticed, there is a fair amount of turbulence in all domains of human endeavor today. Albeit politically incorrect, undermining to Goldman Sachs and socio-religiously blasphemous to point this out, one can know joy irrespective of circumstance. One can move into states of equanimity. One can drop and completely Let Go Of the subtext of your life. For example, narratives such as: My parents were a horror! My early years set an impotent and ill-fated course for my life. I do not have XYZ… I am not this…I don’t have…blah, blah, blah! Whatever!

I propose the following: 
1) Suspend your acculturation and upbringing – too, your education, training and experience. Push all of that to one side of you – of your body. Use your hand, gesturing in front of you as you do this. 
2) Now, take a moment to become aware of your breathing. What is the location of your breathing? Where in your body – chest, abdomen, belly? What is the rate – or how fast or slowly are you breathing? Whatever it is, no big deal. Simply become aware of rate and location.
3) Now, change the rate and location of your breathing while you simultaneously move your body. Move it slowly, changing posture and body position. 
4) Now, using your hand, gesture to erase any and all images on the white board in your mind’s eye. Let no images stay. All are to go. Lower the volume of our self talk to the point that you no longer hear it. If you must have sound, listen to agreeable music or sounds of nature. Let your body loosen by feeling yourself under a shower of light and refined energy.
5) Now, take a moment and reflect, get in touch with, or think of an event – or several distinct events when you experienced or witnessed acts of human decency. Acts of compassion. Brilliance. Creativity. Acts of bravery. Acts reflecting dignity – a woman being publicly honored for example. The smiling of an infant. The innocence of a child. The promise of a young person. Couples who honestly love and respect the other. Allow yourself to experience one of these things. (If you need help, read my poetry on this blog. The poems contain a lot of heart.)
6) Now, Using your other arm, gesturing in front of your abdomen – bring these sentiments, sensations, words, sounds and images in front of your body. About abdomen height or slightly higher. Your arm will know where to go. Place them about 12 inches (30 cm) out from your body. 
7) Now, repeat steps five and six. While keeping a minimum of one positive event or experience in front of you. Gather many others around it. Keep them centered.
 Now, think of something you love that you will be doing in the future. Place it, using your hand, in the center too. Arranging these icons front and center so they are visible or palpable will be a boon to your ongoing experience.
9) Now, make this a daily practice until you need only do it periodically.

This practice will move you more easily toward states of equanimity, a stepping stone to joy.

Regarding the sociopolitical and economic circumstances that many of us seem to be at effect of: The world can own the objective circumstance of your life – up to a point. It need not however own your subjective experience. It need not limit or constrain your creative expression. And, it can never impede your Being. No matter how tightly bound or contained is your circumstance, you can stop all self-deceptions. You can clear all pre-and subtext from your life stories. (A hint, if you are particularly attached to a bit of your story, you are deceiving yourself.)

You can consent to what is and in doing so your heart can honestly sing the buoyancy of being – of being sentient. I leave you with these questions to ask of your own self:
1) How might I do this?
2) What am I afraid of letting go of?
3) What is life asking me to let go of?
4) What is life asking me to move toward?

You can ask these questions with your mind. The answers however must come from beyond your mind and personality. I wonder, how do you do that?

The above exercise is a blend of NLP State Change Technology and a piece from Paul and Patty Richards’ Sente Energetics work.

Scarecrow

(First posted on October 22, 2012)
Although, or rather, because of being surrounded by the strong spirits of the gorgeous mountains of France’s Grand Massif region, I have been experiencing and releasing an unprecedented amount of grief in the last ten days. I am grateful for this undoing, its moments of seeming brutality notwithstanding.

The dictionary on my phone defines arrogance, a noun, as an overbearing pride evinced by a superior manner toward inferiors. Its synonyms are: haughtiness, hauteur, highhandedness, lordiness. Its adjective ‘arrogant’ is defined as having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance out of overbearing pride. Synonyms: chesty, self-important.

Some time ago I mused about arrogance being a discontent with circumstances differing from what I wanted. My ego dismissed this outright! Recently I grew impatient with the pace in which my mentor was assisting me and told him so. He gently suggested that arrogance may be one’s impatience with the circumstances and timing of the Mystery in our lives. My ego was humbled.

Immediately I saw the relevance and rightness of this perspective: I relived moments when the only workable thing to do was respond to what is by consenting to it; by acknowledging my current reality; by saying yes, this thing is occurring here and now whether I like it or not: These circumstances are in my life in this moment. I instead often did the non-workable thing and resisted the moment.

I have lived so arrogantly thinking the world should be as I desired it. I have begun the discipline of letting go of my impatience. Given that the majority of my resistance is outside my awareness, I endeavor to remember to consciously consent to what is and to live in a state that enables my remembering. What helps is slowing down the pace of my daily routines, staying centered and grounded in my body, inhabiting it more completely, more often. This too requires remembering as taking refuge in my brain and places beyond, have been all to well practiced.

Letting go of arrogance is a crucial step in rousing the genuine nature of my own nature – this is the Being and expression that has been waiting patiently in the background of my life while the one masquerading as myself impatiently lives out the histrionics of my culture. A foreground background shift is well underway in me. This change is exacting a fierce levy of grief: Facing this incongruity of having lived a cultural, familial and ego’s intent bent on distancing myself from my genuine nature is harrowing.

Freedom from grief involves an inescapable process that is at odds with Western culture’s “Be a Man Training” – the course of study in which I excelled. Its first tenet: Crying is prohibited. Nonetheless as I betray my training and give myself over to a good cry, the griefs of my ancestors, family, and my own, return to the beauty of the earth, to life. As consequence my genuine nature comes more into fore. I have had milliseconds of knowing the unbearable lightness of being. What a boon!

As I negotiate this labyrinth I wonder whether there might be an echo of my process in others: I am curious about such things.

Although, or rather, because of being surrounded by the strong spirits of the gorgeous mountains of France’s Grand Massif region, I have been experiencing and releasing an unprecedented amount of grief in the last ten days. I am grateful for this undoing, its moments of seeming brutality notwithstanding.

The dictionary on my phone defines arrogance, a noun, as an overbearing pride evinced by a superior manner toward inferiors. Its synonyms are: haughtiness, hauteur, highhandedness, lordiness. Its adjective ‘arrogant’ is defined as having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance out of overbearing pride. Synonyms: chesty, self-important.

Some time ago I mused about arrogance being a discontent with circumstances differing from what I wanted. My ego dismissed this outright! Recently I grew impatient with the pace in which my mentor was assisting me and told him so. He gently suggested that arrogance may be one’s impatience with the circumstances and timing of the Mystery in our lives. My ego was humbled.

Immediately I saw the relevance and rightness of this perspective: I relived moments when the only workable thing to do was respond to what is by consenting to it; by acknowledging my current reality; by saying yes, this thing is occurring here and now whether I like it or not: These circumstances are in my life in this moment. I instead often did the non-workable thing and resisted the moment.

I have lived so arrogantly thinking the world should be as I desired it. I have begun the discipline of letting go of my impatience. Given that the majority of my resistance is outside my awareness, I endeavor to remember to consciously consent to what is and to live in a state that enables my remembering. What helps is slowing down the pace of my daily routines, staying centered and grounded in my body, inhabiting it more completely, more often. This too requires remembering as taking refuge in my brain and places beyond, have been all to well practiced.

Letting go of arrogance is a crucial step in rousing the genuine nature of my own nature – this is the Being and expression that has been waiting patiently in the background of my life while the one masquerading as myself impatiently lives out the histrionics of my culture. A foreground background shift is well underway in me. This change is exacting a fierce levy of grief: Facing this incongruity of having lived a cultural, familial and ego’s intent bent on distancing myself from my genuine nature is harrowing.

Freedom from grief involves an inescapable process that is at odds with Western culture’s “Be a Man Training” – the course of study in which I excelled. Its first tenet: Crying is prohibited. Nonetheless as I betray my training and give myself over to a good cry, the griefs of my ancestors, family, and my own, return to the beauty of the earth, to life. As consequence my genuine nature comes more into fore. I have had milliseconds of knowing the unbearable lightness of being. What a boon!

As I negotiate this labyrinth I wonder whether there might be an echo of my process in others: I am curious about such things.

Compassion and Love

(First posted October 12th, 2011)

Twenty years ago while stopped in traffic in Portland, Oregon’s downtown district, I looked to my left and watched an elderly homeless man stumble from the hold he had on his shopping cart of belongings: He fell to the ground.

In an instant, a man jumped from his truck and assisted the old one to his feet…to the steadying influence of his shopping cart. I wept at such compassion. Traffic began moving. I went on. Did the one coming to the old man’s aid know compassion and love?

The same year, while standing at a triage station in the Emergency Department of a university hospital, I observed something profoundly beautiful. Opposite me, across the station, a woman police officer was walking toward an exit, through the crowded waiting room. In but a moment, from behind her, a man took a running dive, springing from the back of a chair: He flew toward her. (I knew something the man did not: his target possessed a Second Degree Black Belt in the martial art of Teakwondo.)

Not only did this man’s actions arise suddenly, they were nearly silent. While the man was airborne, within a couple of feet of the officer’s shoulders, she, with the elegance of a dancer, albeit it with lightening speed, spiraled to her left and grabbed the man in midair. The police woman’s presence and motion were fierce.

In milliseconds, while directing the man to the floor, the woman changed her state of being to a controlling one engendered with a profoundly palpable presence of compassionate motion. Somehow this woman’s compassion cushioned the man’s body as it struck the floor. It did so more gently than thought possible. With hastened elegance, she constrained the man’s hands and arms, yet her gentle presence of compassion persisted. This was perceptible for all present to experience. Does this woman know compassion and love?

While walking vacant city center streets early one wintery morning, I came upon a homeless man sleeping under a light blanket in the middle of the snow covered sidewalk. I asked myself: “How do I do this? How do I be right with these circumstances?” Gathering up my US Navy issued wool watch cap, pea coat and wool uniforms from their place of storage, I gave them to an encampment of homeless under a bridge near my apartment. A wholly insufficient act. Do I know what compassion and love are?

Recently, a Greek Cypriot friend told me of her last visit to the States: While in Los Angeles, she happened on two plain cloths police officers who, using their batons, had a teenager or young man on the ground, and were beating him. Immediately without hesitation, she shouted “That’s my son! That’s my son!” She charged and tackled the two officers interrupting their actions.

She was arrested, placed in a holding cell overnight and arraigned the following morning. The judge asked her to explain herself. She stated: “I am a mother! Mothers do not allow children to be hurt!” My friend’s visa was terminated and she was enjoined from entering the States for ten years. Do you suppose my friend knows what compassion and love are?

I contend those of us listing compassion and love as two qualities of our character are deceiving ourselves. We know who we are. We are the ones espousing the new age dribble of political correctness whether in our attire, the cars we drive, our dietary preference, the language patterns we utter, the popular places we buy from, the restaurants we enjoy and the coffee venders we patronize. We work hard at keeping our looking good looking good.

The feelings accompanying the momentary tears we allow to fall during the infrequent and brief moments that we open our hearts are NOT expressions of compassion! What we are feeling instead is the grief arising from absences of our own self-compassion and self-love. In these moments we are experiencing mourning. We are mourning our failure to love ourselves. We are grieving that we are living out another’s idea of who we are. We are mourning the reality that we have squandered our promise.

You want a life? You want to change your experience and expression? You want to love yourself? You want to be self-compassionate? Let go of the falsities you cling to. Let go of your self deceptions. Let go of your stories. Begin doing what is important to you. Begin being the decent being you are. The movements in the Arab world, the movements in Britain, in Wisconsin, on Wall Street are not political acts! They are instead the wise motion of claiming the life that is your own. A claiming of human decency. The movement into the integrity of the human heart! Love and compassion are movements of intent, attention and your genuine right action.

Rise up within yourself. Say enough to falsity! Say enough to your pretense of impotence. Act in ways to bring your promise to the fore! This my friend is our charge! This my friend is the time!

Modeling another will further your movement into your personal empowerment! Personal power, self-love and self-compassion ensue from being moved into the integrity of expressing your promise. Candidates to model: Hafiz, Rumi, Mother Teresa, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Joseph Campbell, William Stafford, and Nelson Mandela.

Want more contemporary people? Consider: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Tomas Transtromer, Tom Robbins, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leyah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman, J. K. Rowling, Elizabeth Gilbert, Caroline Kennedy, Lezley Hazelton, Christopher Alexander, Mary Oliver.

How about these people? Mozart; Haydn; Beethoven; Louis Armstrong; Beatles; John Denver; Leonard Cohen; Woody Guthrie; Tom Waits; Bob Dylan; John Lenin; Simon and Garfunkel.

The world awaits the expression of your gifted greatness. It is this expression that will further change everything!

Please leave comments reminding me of others for us to model!