22 09, 2007

The beauty of gray

September 22nd, 2007|allowing, beauty, black and white thinking, love, positivity, wholeness|6 Comments

Recently it’s hit home just how pervasive black and white thinking is.?It’s fairly intrinsic to the American culture, so attitudes like the following list can be accepted without a second thought, or reacted to instantly:

  • “You’re either for me or against me”
  • “If you saying someone is wonderful, that’s fine, but bringing up mistakes made is blaming and should be stopped.”
  • “I’m through be controlled by my fear!?I won’t listen to it any more!

The latter two are less obvious than the first one, so let’s look at them.?In the bringing up of mistakes, there are an infinite number of ways this can be done.?It can certainly done out of blaming and desire to punish.?It can also be done out of a sincere desire to help others via gentle teaching, much like we naturally do with children.?It can be done simply as a desire to bring people together, for walking on tiptoes around issues in order to be “positive” usually drives a group apart in time.?It is sincerity and goodwill that brings people together, and there are myriad ways this can be expressed – sometimes in ways that may result initially in conflict.

For the last example, there’s an assumption that fear is simply an enemy to overcome, all in one step.?Of course, our fears are usually not as simple as being afraid of heights.?They pervade our entire perception.?The humor in this is that rarely does someone proclaim overcoming fear except when they are motivated by fear.?”I’m afraid of fear, so I’ll make war on it!” might be that reasoning brought to light!

Bringing up the concept of fear is of course intentional, because it is central to black and white thinking.?There’s always a core of it in that thought process.?Within the desire to go to extremes, there is a universe avoided in the remaining spectrum of life, which clearly has infinitely more colors than just two.?Even in the spectrum of gray there can be a swirling of colors, so to speak, and a great beauty.?There’s little beauty in a black and white world; it’s a harsh world of enemies and allies in a constant battle.



Everyone is affected by fear.?I too am affected by it on a daily basis.?And yet, by allowing myself to experience fears, without refusing them or trying to get them to end, I’m finding more and more there’s a perfect completeness in that.?Fear helps me.?It’s meant to bring awareness to threats, to pains, to issues needed to be resolved, and that’s what it does if it’s allowed to.?It’s not necessarily pleasant, but there is a great feeling of aliveness when I fully invite and surrender to it.

There is no one on Earth that has no lessons to learn, that never makes mistakes.?There is also no one who makes nothing but mistakes.?(Yes, that includes George Bush!)?We each have a limited perception, and acknowledging that is loving, because it allows the full totality of someone, warts and all.?It’s wise to be aware of potentials, for there’s always room for growths, but focusing entirely on them and not being present (and thus allowing) with the here and now is a form of cutoff and division.?

Though I rarely make reference to the Bible, one section I like (and usually find in a different interpretation than my own) is the part on Adam and Eve eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.?Most people overlook that description of the tree – the awareness of good and evil.?To me, that simply speaks that it is the splitting of our perception into “Good” and “Bad”, “Black” and “White” that takes us away from “Eden“.?Letting go of judgments and filters, and simply allowing whatever occurs without labels instantly brings us back to that state of primordial innocence.

28 08, 2007

beliefs … a new perspective

August 28th, 2007|allowing, beliefs, bigness, emotions, love, positivity, transformation, wholeness|Comments Off on beliefs … a new perspective

More material to be in the book “Loving Awareness”.

In the self-help community, there is much emphasis on how you need to change your beliefs to change your life.? “Change your thoughts, change your life!” is a maxim of Wayne Dyer.? ?Beliefs are how we interpret the world – every one of our experiences is filtered through our beliefs.? This is why ten different people coming from different backgrounds can have fundamental differences of interpretation of the same event – the jury system in the courts gives regular examples of this!? So changing beliefs can indeed have a powerful impact on lives.? However, most people think of a belief simply as a pattern of thoughts, and it is far more than this.? So what are beliefs, if we look deeply at them?


In the western cultural framework, we tend to think everything is intellectual.? We’re a society that usually values intellect above all.? So when we talk about “mind” we generally refer only to thoughts and leave the emotions and the body divorced from the equation.? Not so in many oriental traditions.? The word “mind” in those cultures encompasses all of the mental, emotional, and physical parts of ourselves. ?From these perspectives, we are a fully integrated system, with every part of ourselves affecting any other.? When there is recognition of this, there is more possibility of transformative changes occurring within ourselves.? Thinking it is only our thoughts that affect us and denying the real effect the body and the emotions have upon our thoughts and each other can easily lead to mind games, with no changes resulting, and thinking that all that it is needed is more effort in doing the same thing that hasn’t worked in the past.?


Now, on this expanded field of who we are, beliefs exists everywhere in who we are, even outside thoughts.? In a real way, they are analogous to habits â???? a pattern that repeats in how we process information .? I liken them to rivers across the continent that is the Self.? Over time, trenches and canals appear that are the result of the water flowing in a certain pattern.? There is then a tendency to continue on the same course (whether in thoughts, body movements, or emotions), but any of them can be changed with consistent effort.? If dams have been constructed, blocking the flow, there will be alternate ways things flows.? Many of these can cause more harm than good, of course, but our bodies are quite adaptable – within reason.? There’s actually a lot of similarities between the “flows” of our emotions, thoughts, and body processes.? For instance, an emotional memory might cause someone to feel anger and disappointment when someone doesn’t look them in the eye.? This “gut reaction” occurs without thought.? Similarly, a sound of a traffic accident might cause adrenaline in someone and they’d jump up to run outside, without thought or much emotion.?

Because we’re a complete system, it’s all interrelated.? For example, a man may have fixed thoughts about how a woman “should behave” in a relationship.? These thoughts may be a protective layer around a core pain in the body relating to abuse by a mother-figure in childhood; in this abuse there would be both emotional pain and body memories.? Now, trying to change the thought patterns of this man will likely run up against a brick wall because it’s only addressing thoughts.? This wall of course, is perfect â???? the thoughts are self-protective, and there is definitely pain that needs protecting, for it isn’t appropriate to bring up just anywhere or with anyone.? This isn’t to say changing thoughts is pointless; it creates ripples which may create a domino effect in other parts of the system.? But thoughts aren’t the master control of it all, especially when there’s not much consciousness in them.? We’re a great tapestry of interweaving energies we call thoughts, emotions, and matter, and we become more adaptable and powerful when we work with this whole, rather than a smaller part of ourselves.


So then how to do this work in this quagmire?? The answer – which will be familiar to regular readers – is via allowing.? We’re not like machines that break and then require a mechanic to go in and fix. We’re constantly healing and balancing simply by being who we are, in every moment of every day.? Most alternative healing recognizes this and tries to support the body’s natural strength instead of imposing harsh chemicals, for example.? If everything’s out on the table – and everything includes thoughts, emotions, and the body â???? it’s quite a change provoking event in itself.? Anyone who’s been a witness to a person being deeply vulnerable cannot help but be affected by the experience.? Once the full wholeness of self is brought forward, there is a space of creation in that present moment that literally enables new worlds to be created.? These are worlds forced on your body by ramming affirmations inwardly; this is a process of mutual creation, and thus, a process of Love.


To put this in action, here’s an exercise I wrote:




This exercise is about being big about whatever process is going on in the moment, in ways that encompass the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of ourselves.? To be precise about being big, here is my definition:


Being big is about bringing the full totality of who you are to the world.? It has nothing to do with being loud, or pushing others, or speaking inspired thoughts.? You can be big no matter what your experiences in the present moment are.


For instance, someone desperately angry might be very loud and attempt others to change.? They would feel small to others, because they are not showing vulnerability about where this emotion is coming from.? On the other hand, others might be feeling worthless, full of condemning thoughts and not feel like they deserve to take any space around them.? They might be very shy and quiet.? Bringing that forward, in its totality, without any apology or protective face, would be big.? They might tell others they need to express this, then crawl into a corner, crunch themselves into fetal position, and mumble the thoughts they are having.? So long as they bring the full totality of who they are â???? which includes the knowing that this is only an experience and not defining in any way – they are big.? They are showing they are bigger than their own experience.? This is vastness.


So the exercise is to be big.? Bring whatever it is going on in its totality and express it.? If you need to scream, scream.? If you need to crawl into a fetal position in the deepest corner of your garage, do so.? If you need to hit pillows, do that.? But do it from a space of allowing.? Allow emotions to flow, whether through written words on the page, wordless sounds, or through the voice.? Let it come through your body; place your body in a position that encapsulates your experience.? Let thoughts ramble forth from your mind.? But above all, allow all this from a place of play.? Be a child again.? This is through a choice to let it all come forward, laughing at yourself from the dual perspective of seeing how whole you truly are while allowing all the “imperfections” come forward. ?You know that this is not defining you, and yet it is just perfect the way it is. ?If you can’t inhabit that space, allow whatever you can.? The point isn’t to change anything in this moment, but to allow it and give full expression without judgment or control.


The magic of fully allowing is that it transforms.? If you are fully you in one moment, there is no limit to what you can be in the next moment.? It’s amazing how someone’s experience changes by the end of the exercise, especially if there’s someone you trust watching, which is encouraged!?


Beliefs permeate the being on every level.? Transformation can manifest through altering one level or another of perception, and it is possible to alter beliefs within the space of an eye blink, thereby creating irrevocable transformations that reverberate through all levels of the Self.? And it is true also that transformation within the Self will create transformation within a wider space known as a family, a community, a world, or a universe, or all of them – for they are all essentially the same.? For this, then, we can change the phrase into “change your thoughts, change the world”.

26 06, 2007

With an eye to what helps.

June 26th, 2007|conflict, politics, positivity, wholeness|Comments Off on With an eye to what helps.

To recur on the theme of power from before, one idea that has stuck with me for many years is:

Power resides in simplicity.? The more powerful you wish to be, the slower and simpler you must be.

Gandhi was a superb example of this; he affected hundreds of millions by his simply living.? However, I had an experience during a debate a few weeks ago with the Work Less Party that illustrated this as well.? The debate was about whether it was right for Canada to send troops to Afghanistan.? There were, of course, many arguments which could be said for and against it, most of which exist for any nation in NATO.? However, my response bypassed all of this:

“I would say that we’re answering the wrong question here.? The question isn’t it whether it’s right or not to send troops.? The question is 😕 what will help?

(I then went on to document examples of missions in the world that actually did help, which were generally in the area of non-profit activities.)

The interesting thing about this tact is the lack of arguments it created.? If I had stated that something is wrong with that action, it’s guaranteed to provoke conflict, because it is a divisive statement.? I would be saying that this behaviour and the people supporting it are wrong, and I’m right.? For example, those with loved ones in the military might feel personally attacked.? Others might contradict me as a matter of course without listening to me because they know that who they are isn’t wrong (which is true) and the argument makes them feel so.

On the other hand, focusing on only what will help, without any judgment on the current state of affairs, creates much more room for both clear seeing and open choices.? It is a stance of Love.? Love starts with what IS, without any reservations about what it “should be”.? It then focuses on what will help â???? even if it is only one small step on a path a continent away.? The next moment is responds in the same way, always with an open mind.? Sometimes what will help is different than before.

This a lot of parallels to other areas of activism and human conflict. Activism is filled with a lot of conflict driven behaviour.? So much of it comes from admirable motivations, such as environmental stewardship, a desire to end poverty and the inherent violence therein, an end to conflict, or a desire to have small voices heard.? However, if the focus is on what is wrong with the world, it will provoke defenses.? It may attract attention, but it rarely provokes listening.? By focusing on only what will help â???? not what will help me, or the environment, or them, but the entire situation without division â???? you remove so many barriers towards effective change. 

? Everyone wants to help.? Yes, even George Bush!? The problem isn’t that â???? it’s the myopic vision that cannot see the whole picture that creates the situation.? Bypassing right and wrong creates a shortcut into this big picture.

This applies to personal relationships as well; when one person says “you did this to me!” there is an inherent conflict in that statement.? It’s a desire to make the other person wrong.? Changing that to a desire to help the situation â???? for both parties to experience joy â???? will always change perspective.? Sometimes what will help is an apology.? Other times it is clear communication of your experience without blame.? Still other times it is appropriate distancing.? It’s all flexible and starts with clear seeing and listening.? That’s what Love is.

[oh yes, and I did get a nice applause for my speech with some strong listening from the audience!]

5 06, 2007

True Power.

June 5th, 2007|bigness, freedom, positivity, power|1 Comment

If there’s anything that seems to create both longing and repulsion in our society, it’s power. People see it, and are both drawn to it and repulsed by its misuse. Even if we try to avoid power, we cannot avoid it completely. Power is a need as much as breathing and connections are. Without power, we would have no energy, and would only be a husk instead of dynamic beings.

However, the manifestation of power can vary greatly in its degree. Here’s some examples (those of you into Michael will recognize them) :

  • Power from obtaining blind unquestioning obedience from others.
  • Power from learning how to follow “the rules”.
  • Power obtained from positions in society.
  • Power from being an active member in a community and the support that means.
  • Power obtained from knowing yourself.

You can see a progression there. This comes in to what true power means to me:

You know when you have reached a state of true power when your power cannot be taken away.

If you look at the above list, only the last item cannot be taken away. Others can refuse to listen and obey you, rules change, positions can disappear, and communities can undergo upheaval. Jobs can be lost; friends can be offended. As Buddhism teaches : everything in this world is transient.


However, I’m discovering more and more in my life things which are not transient, but are simply intrinsically part of who I am. Here are some things that give me power.

I have the power to not resist.

Though this sounds paradoxical to power, it goes to the root of all suffering. We suffer when we resist whatever experience is happening to us in this moment. Creating division internally by resisting an experience is a form of violence to myself. The knowledge I can choose to not resist anything gives power.

[Note that this doesn’t invalidate or make wrong the choice to resist; sometimes it’s very practical and necessary to say “No” or “Not now.”]

I am open to support in all form

Support is absolutely necessary for power and well-being. No one can experience joy or power in an ivory tower. A baby is perhaps the best example of this, as I’ve mentioned before. They are profoundly open to others support; they attract attention and care through their trust and openness. It is their openness that attracts rather than any active behavior.

It is also powerful for me to be clear what “all forms” means. It means that I simply don’t know what form it will take, and I’m fine with not knowing. It can be from friends. It can be from guides. It can be from the earth under my feet. It can be from the simple sensation of brushing my fingertips against a couch, reminding myself of my aliveness. Being open to all forms requires flexibility, which brings me to the next itemâ???

I can adapt and change

Those who are rigid in their approach to life find themselves in constant battle. The world changes, as it’s designed to do, but they cannot. Therefore there is constant effort to make the world conform to their expectations. If a tragedy occurs, they are devastated. They will exhaust themselves in denial and in futile attempts to move the unmovable mountain.

Some martial arts can be good for learning this; they teach us to use the energy of the other person in an adaptive way, never making more effort than necessary. Some effort is always required, but by being flexible, we minimize it. The Tao Te Ching says it wonderfully :

A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

This of course goes directly against the Hollywood ideal of power. Try it on for yourself and see if it works better for you than that!

I have detachment from results

Any attachment to an end result means there is something you want that can be taken away or not reached. This in itself provides fuel for fear. When we derive power from the process of living, instead of the results of our effort, there is nothing that can be taken away from us.

The best example of this is the greek concept of
aretÃ?. (see the link for a full definition) The person with aretÃ? simply lives to their utmost potential, even in the face of hardship and disaster. Their well-being is derived from this sense of excellence in their life. Their actions come not from a place of desiring results, but simply because excellence is who they are. It is a continual, self sustaining source of energy, filled with love of self.

I can speak out and exert influence

This is what most people would think of when it comes to power â???? but note that it came after all of the above. There is no power without the ability to make an influence. However, it is the ability, or potential, that makes the power. It there is a need to make an influence, there is of necessity an attachment and inflexibility. There is also a lack of Love in the behavior, and so it will always create a counter force. If you make influence from a place of complete acceptance and love, there is no additional resistance created. People start listening.

Others’ power adds to my power

This is the final clincher, because at the root of true power is Love. True power is in harmony with others; it rejoices when others gain more power in their own lives. There is no one to compete with, and therefore no fuel for conflict, either externally or internally.

By all means, share your own source of power!