just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Catalog of 2003 Writings

Published on 16/11/14
by randy






April 26, 2003


In Honor of Our Very “Being-ness”


When I can come to fully receive the intelligence of the universe…to accept what “is” in all its wonder and glory…I find peace. This morning I heard loons calling one another. The beauty of the song clearly reflected their full engagement within the moment, just as the tree stands tall in all of its “that-ness”. Last night I watched a young woman on the news magazine show 20/20, hosted by Barbara Walters, fully face her worst fear with courage seldom seen. She had lived in fear of exposure of her hair pulling habit. She had worn wigs to cover up this behavior that was just part of who she was. The show reported that several million Americans do this. With cameras rolling, she trembled at her first attempts to remove her hairpiece. Tears rolled down her eyes and I can’t imagine the freedom she felt within that moment. She had fully surrendered notions of pride and fear in a courage that had potential to inspire all viewers to do the same. The power she had given “fear of exposure” was ruining her life and she knew something needed to be done about it. We must all face those “distractions” in our movement to peace and harmony. Eventually, all “attachments” must be surrendered as we move into the glory of our very “being-ness”.


Yesterday I woke to a good forecast for windsurfing Lake Superior. A fellow sailor had posted a thread on our local club site challenging anyone with the “cajones” to join him for a session up there. For sure, images of large amounts of ice blocking our typical launching spot and morning temperatures at thirty-four degrees would make most of us wonder about the sanity of sailing in these conditions. Yet, as the morning wore on, my ability to attend to the present was trashed as images of sailing Superior kept pulling my heart. Finally, I listened, loaded my truck and headed north. Within the decision of following my heart I instantly found peace. I had sailed Superior several times before, but never from the new launch site I’d now be forced to use. As I came up over the hill I could see the whitecaps on the lake from ten miles away. The prospect of being the only human on the water for as far as the eye could see was daunting to say the least. A small crowd gathered to watch out of curiosity, cell phones in hand to call the Coast Guard, as I launched into the thirty-five degree water. They thought I was crazy. I knew I’d go crazy if I didn’t go. They didn’t know that I’ve logged hundreds of hours in conditions more extreme than this. They didn’t know I had thought of hundreds of “what if” scenarios and felt confident in my abilities “to meet” them.


As I entered Lake Superior at the mouth of the Lester River I had a sense of mission and purpose akin to the rainbow trout that were working their way through the river from the lake. I broke through the rust colored waves at the river’s mouth and sailed into blue-green waters of the big lake filled with notions of my “that-ness”, in full honor to my very “being-ness”. I know the small crowd that gathered either thought I was stupid, crazy or very courageous.


I knew it wasn’t stupid and I knew I was very clear and sane within the beauty of the sun’s reflection on the water and the breaking waves. When I thought of my “cajones”, I no longer thought of my action through notions of pride. There was a clarity that only comes through surrender. As I completely let go notions of pride and fear I could once again put full attention to matters of the heart within my completion of “oneness” with the elements. Just as Holy Spirit put waves to jump before me, I felt the blessings from those in my presence. Just as I was beginning to be taken with my solitude on the water a large ship passed by and I experienced a space beyond the distinctions of “big” and “small”…beyond our separation.


Yesterday was a day for learning about “courage”. It was a day for fully understanding how these actions of facing our fear are not “about us” and they’re not done for the approval of others. They’re actions taken from our core “being-ness” as “heart” pulls us to alignment in honesty. They’re actions taken for peace and harmony as we surrender our notions of pride, achievement and fear for our “that-ness”.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures come to the power of the moment in full appreciation of our very “being-ness”? As we face the day in realization that there are no hiding places, may we come to peace in surrendering our fears of discovery? May we find our life purpose through living honestly in the knowledge that there are no secrets? May we come to receive insights to real success, not through material accumulation and achievement, but through our capacity to “touch the heart’s pull” in full alignment to our “that-ness”. At this point, courage meets peace and harmony. I will never forget the power in the face of the young girl who removed her hairpiece as I come to more and more understand how we, “can’t stop the wave, but we can learn to ride it”.



On the “Nature” of Natural Talent


My son asked me yesterday if there was some organization that granted the proclamation of “virtuoso” to outstanding performance talent. I’ve always found it interesting to look at those individuals who’ve dedicated their entire living to a particular skill. Many of us have either used their superior performance as an inspiration to further our talents or as a de-motivator for our continued pursuit. The ones who “de-spirit” themselves through comparison seem to lock into their worship of the “virtuoso’s” natural born talents at the expense of following their own heart’s pull to the next step.


It seems that almost universally, the biggest barrier to our success is our own self-doubt and self-judgment. We seem to get caught in selfish notions of “if only” rather than filling with inspiration from what we’ve been given. A tremendous insight for me has been in the discovery of “that which I put attention to grows stronger”. For sure, I was not born with the gifted voice of Van Morrison or Elton John, but I’ve seen how my voice increasingly improves the more I put attention to it and the more I stop criticizing myself. Similarly, I’ve listened to trumpeters that have skill levels I’ll never reach and I can only view their spectacular performance as inspiration to what’s possible if one dedicates a lifetime to a particular activity. So, while some are born seemingly “pre-wired” to excel in a particular activity, others may not have this preset built in, yet they have what’s the core of “natural talent”…the passion. If you can identify your heart’s pull and then discipline yourself to put attention to it, you are almost guaranteed success.


I’ve seen it over and over and it’s called persistence. When you have the courage to beat self-doubt, judgment and need for self approval in your decision to follow your heart’s pull to action, you will move into a level of performance that meets success. This space takes you past notions of pride and fear into the essence of your very divinity…into a space of your “being-ness” that’s filled with happiness from gratitude for the true gift of natural talent…your heart’s pull in contribution to the healing of the universe.


April 27, 2003


Extreme…Just Be It!


Am I living my life on the edge? Am I “engaged”, going just beyond my accumulated ability in “full stretch”? Have I experienced the freedom of moving outside my level of comfort, with fear and pride fully surrendered? At this moment I meet my “arrival”, making my appointment with life.


Boardsports…Finding Your Heart Through Your Feet


It’s fascinating to see where different people put their attention and to see how advanced our discriminative skills can develop. Some become “connoisseurs” of wine, food or music. Others put attention to cars, guns or literature. I’ve found that those of us who’ve become “connoisseurs of boardsports” have put tremendous amounts of time to development of discriminative foot perception. While it’s the heart that’s pulled us to engage the board of choice, it’s the feet that seem to contribute most to our capacity to “push the window”.


Mantra Clothing


Our richest life lessons come through insights from loss. Within our healing we find those golden nuggets of wisdom that bring us to a richer appreciation of our humanity. It seems that life lessons abound once we let go of our dependence on others or things. Yet, just as we come to receive these “truths revealed”, we seem to forget them along the way, just when we need them most. I’ve found it helpful for me “to wear” these life lesson mantras, not for the approval of others, but as reminder to myself and as a subtle invitation to dialogue with others.


If the statement’s presented large and loud, others may perceive me as a “persuader to my view”. At this point I’m caught “in defense” of my view, once again wrapped up in attachment. I see it as more of my own personal witness statement to the mystery revealed. If it opens dialogue…great! If it threatens another into argument…it’s not meeting its purpose.



April 28, 2003


Harmonizing My “Being” with My “Doing”


It seems so much of character building relates to conscious decision-making. I’m continually drawn back to a greeting a friend uses, “What’s the “action” Man?” This greeting challenges me to reflect on whether or not my actions have been in line with my core “being-ness”. I think all parents dream of the day when their children can be fully aligned with their “being” and their “doing”. When we have enough of this “soul” action, we seem to find peace and satisfaction. Yet, we’re continually hearing reports of more than two thirds of employees “unhappy” with their work situation to the point of not wanting to go to work. Is this because there’s not a sense of contribution or is it because their “real” sense of purpose and contribution has not been opened?


It seems that previous generations didn’t have the luxury of exploring their “being-ness” to the extent we can today. International conflicts, conservative political climates, difficult economic times and the heavy influence of family expectations often put the individual into time consuming actions with little regard for the individuals unique “heart pull”. I think many almost envy the fact that these decisions were almost pre-determined. Certainly, the “work” of finding one’s “work” didn’t have to be done.


Today, in an ever-changing workforce, where graduates can no longer rely on the notion of a “profession”, where the average graduate will go through more than four career changes, it becomes all the more crucial to align our “doing” with our “being” for personal satisfaction and sense of contribution. Each evolutionary step we take through this living must be done with a respect to “the old road”, in honor of what we’ve learned through our years of character building. Are our decisions “to act” in harmony with our power “to be”, beyond notions of seeking approval from others?



Holy Spirit, we truly live in abundant times with a freedom seldom seen in previous generations. Yet, we find a growing restlessness in the population with increased drug use, entertainment increasingly focused on personal destruction, growing violence and diminished emphasis on education. May we not question the perfect intelligence of the universe, but rather, may our actions align with our “being-ness”? May all creatures “arrive” within the moment of their creativity in contribution to the healing of the universe? May we generate our unique gifts and talents in honor to those who’ve come before us and those who will follow as we share life lessons and those choices that have “worked”? May we stand outside temptation to judge and criticize others as we fully open our hearts in complete courage to the wonder and mystery of this living moment?



April 29, 2003


Contribution With Impact


Over twenty years of experience in the boardsports industry, and perhaps one of the strongest insights for me has been learning the importance of filling a void, a specific need not yet met. It seems that so many who start a business come at it from a parasitic perspective. Basically, if “that guy” is making it doing what he’s doing, we’ll just change it a bit and make it better. Yet, for real success we need to “really” make it better and this involves more risk. Perhaps, more importantly, it involves persistence and courage. I’ve frequently been told that most lasting businesses started out as a “blunder”, a mix of timing and luck meeting heart’s desire with building momentum through execution.


Personally, I’ve found my unique contribution in communications. For successful customer service, I’ve become the advocate of the phrase, “What do you want?”. It’s simple, let’s the customer know I have the courage to face their problem, and most importantly, pulls me out of the specific remedy to the conflict as they offer a solution that’s 99% of the time far less than what I would have given them in the first place.


For raising happy children, after twenty years of experience in communication disorders, I’ve found the greatest need in the area of pragmatics. In particular, the void is within our understanding of the gratitude response. The only studies I’ve found in this area have dealt with “thank you” as a social etiquette, a means of gaining approval from the giver. Yet, the real power in “thank you” comes from our understanding that happiness is a necessary consequence of our gratitude expression. Moving from despair and suffering is as simple as moving from focus on what’s not working to a perceptual shift to what “is” working. It’s forever living in wonder at life’s mystery, moment-to-moment, and expressing gratitude down to our last breath.


For staying true to our heart, I’m proposing an impact on what we wear. Previously, clothing style has put emphasis upon “approval” from others. If we’re “in style”, we’re judged to capture a notion of “best dressed”. If we push the window of risk outside the bounds, we can be judged as “worst dressed”. I’m proposing to make an impact on clothing by switching emphasis to the “wearer” as clothing becomes an augmentation to following one’s heart. Rather than wearing shirts that scream a message to “others”, I’m proposing clothing that gently reminds the wearer about the “actions” the heart is pushing one to. This clothing continually assists the wearer in the art of presence and the importance of not separating. “Just Be It” clothing points the wearer to surrender in peak performance, just past the edge of previous ability.


In music, I propose filling a void in the standard “audience/performer” paradigm. The actual music is only a small part of a musician’s presentation and the multitude of aspects that make up the texture and intensity of a “gig” appear to be wide open to study. Once again, there’s a focus upon surrender, pushing the performance just past the edge of one’s ability. Peaks and troughs are forever explored beyond notions of separation from one another. Not only must the musicians “get on the train”, but everyone in the room is invited in the discovery of the universe of rhythm and harmony. This experience can extend beyond the typical “gig” atmosphere to special events, including the new area of “life legacy party”, a celebration given later in life that honors and individuals contributions and provides a platform for them to express life lessons learned.


In the area of boardsports, I propose making an impact in moving away from a consumptive approach to one of respect and courage. I propose a program that includes focus on body/mind/spirit balance as the way to the heart is found through the feet. Notions of “extreme” will be explored as the rider is forever “just pushing past the level of comfort” in stretch to the next level of performance. Rather than risking permanent bodily injury from moving to a fifty-foot cliff after jumping a ten-foot cliff, the rider would steadily progress from ten to twelve, etc.


In the area of motivational speaking, I propose an offering of “messages to action in contribution”. As youth struggle to find meaning in their vocation and as aging workers hold false notions of happiness in “retirement”, I propose that happiness is found “in action and contribution to the healing of the universe”. This speaking would challenge listeners to not only explore, “What should I do with my life?”, but also, “Why must I be doing this?” There would be an emphasis on “faith” and “appreciation” and “acceptance” in the universe as it “is” in all of its perfect intelligence. There would be a focus on “peace” as we explore the importance of “listening” to our hearts first, even if it takes a lifetime of listening and service to others to truly “hear” the message. This motivational speaking would be augmented through written documents, voice recordings and a website.


Holy Spirit, there are so many gifts…so many blessings…so much contribution to be made. May all creatures find their area of impact through this mystery called life? Touching the heart’s fire that needs no wood, may we find the courage, discipline and persistence to serve in our unique way, forever dedicated to the healing of the universe?




May 1, 2003


Stepping Into The Mystery Commands 100% Attention


Am I “here”? Or am I caught in the trap of “multitasking”, carried away with the false importance of my “busy-ness”? I’m currently in a life transition, preparing to go through a gate of “generativity” much earlier in life than what I’d anticipated. I’ve seen how dependent my happiness is upon “focus” and how restless I become when my attentions are divided. I’ve seen, within the daily course of running a company, how important “full attention” is to employees, customers, and overall management When I’ve only shown up 50%, there’s a restlessness inside that builds. This “split attention” zaps my energy and short changes those I’m around. As I lay out the structure to my new “business” I know it’s all got to me synthesized with a common mission that’s continually met with “focus”, with my complete “arrival” to the moment.


Each note must be met with 100% attention. Each speech must be given 100% attention to the extent the audience looses its separation from me. No matter what the presentation, there is no room for divided attention. All notions of “doing-ness”, of dissatisfaction for what “is” and my notions of self-importance over others, must be surrendered into gratitude for my very “being-ness”. This “arrival” into the moment of each breath in and each breath out defines “quality” within the momentary experience. At this point there’s a “newness”, a meeting of creative artists of life that goes beyond our needs of approval from others.


Holy Spirit, fill all creatures with an appreciation for the wonder of this life. May we come to never-ending happiness in gratitude for each unfolding moment? May we find our sense of life purpose through careful listening to the mystery and our heart’s pull? May we surrender fear for focus? May we surrender pride for purpose? May we smash notions of duality for peace and harmony, notions of right and wrong for affinity and understanding? May businesses surrender need for “busy-ness” to sense of mission and contribution? May we see that we have “no control” except for our perceptual attention and may we have the wisdom to release attachment to our suffering and notions of time and space as we arrive into the glory and wonder of this moment.



May 2, 2003


The Relation of ‘What Should I Do With My Life” to “Who Am I?”


I clearly remember people asking me as a youngster what I wanted to “do” with my life? I don’t think I gave it much thought until I was four or five. I recall a little interest in being a cowboy, but the vocation that stuck was jet pilot. In the mid ‘50’s we frequently had jet planes breaking the sound barrier over our dairy farm and each day I could look up and see planes flying thousands of feet above me. Yet, I think the biggest draw to flight were my constant dreams of flapping and flying. There was something in me that had to fly. I recall jumping from some pretty good heights into loose straw and using a large sheet of plywood to lift me off the ground during strong winds. At this very early age I had connected a moneymaking vocation with a strong pull from the heart. I carried this vocational dream all the way through high school and attempted to get into the Air Force Academy. The combination of missing the mark on their stringent entry requirements and the imminence of flying bombing missions in Vietnam left me in a quandary about “what to do with my life”. At a time when we put most of our energy into where we’re going and what our careers will be, in 1968 many of us were just trying to stay away from fighting a war we didn’t believe in.


I opted for a small liberal arts college with the main goal being a student deferment. At the end of my junior year of college I was once again faced with, “What will I “do” with my life?” I was perplexed with the combination of making a living and making a vocational impact. I had also met the woman I knew would be my wife if she’d have me. After only spending thirty days together, we were married shortly before I started my senior year in college. That summer I had also received my draft notice and was putting a great deal of effort into receiving a failing status of “4F”. In a fiasco that makes Arlo Guthrie’s experience in Alice’s Restaurant look tame, I had made a mark that left an impression and I received my failure notice on our honeymoon in northern Wisconsin.


For sure, I had guilt feelings about not “serving our country”, but my notions on peace and ‘not killing’ were much stronger and the military didn’t seem interested in working with me on a Conscientious Objector position. During my senior year of college I pursued a strong interest in language, communication, communication disorders and the ‘art of presence’. My degree focus continued in speech and drama, with a side focus in speech pathology, communications and comparative religions. This blend of linguistics, general semantics, Zen Buddhism, Christian mystics and existential theatre touched my center more profoundly than my early aspirations to fly. In the interest of contribution, meeting a societal need and making a living, I pursued a graduate degree in speech pathology and psychology. My vocational dream of teaching at a university was met early in my career as I taught speech pathology courses, communications classes and directed the university Speech and Language Clinic. After four years I was stricken with the disease of ‘feeling I was pretty fuckin’ special’. I knew it was time to get out and put more time into the ‘service’ of actually working with those individuals who needed help in their communication skills.


My wife, our young son and I made a move to geographic paradise and I took a position in British Columbia as director of the Speech and Language Program for the Sunshine Coast, an isolated peninsula just north of Vancouver. The community received me with open arms. There was a huge void in this area and I was the first to bring these services to them. It was very easy to feel a solid sense of purpose and contribution. For sure, there were days where I felt useless as I saw a child’s successes vanish.   Yet, there were always days where the contributions and expertise paid huge benefit as I witnessed a client break through to more effective communication. I developed a multi-media, highly redundant language program that seemed quite effective in teaching children who were delayed in this area. I had become somewhat frustrated with the “union” situation in Canada and my inability to work with children because the ferry workers were on strike. I decided to pursue the development and marketing of my language program and received the endorsement from a leading authority on language development and the promise of financial backing from a relative, provided I get a little first hand business experience before launching this campaign’s budget.


We moved back to Minnesota. The relative thought I’d have natural interest in windsurfing since I had been an avid hang glider pilot and my wife had demanded my grounding. I marketed to the first children’s windsurfer in North America and we then expanded to adult windsurfers later that year. I discovered just how risky it is to work with seasonal business owners as our account receivables soared while many of our accounts went ‘out of business’ in the fall. With great business experience, I found I had accumulated serious debt from all my work. Out of desperation, we decided to cut the cord with the dealer network and go direct to the customer with dramatic savings. It worked! We doubled our sales for several years before the windsurf market failed. I had tried to stay involved with speech pathology through this process, but found the addiction from business too strong. By the mid-‘80’s I was totally sucked into the mania of ‘making money’ through selling ‘widgets’ that people wanted.


The death of windsurfing was apparent by the end of the ‘80’s and I hung onto the business, desperately working more and more hours, taking more and more risk.


(cont. this thread later)




May 3, 2003


Let It All Go, Except Spirit


The Bible emphasizes it. Buddha made it his first Noble Truth. It’s actually one of the major premises of most world religions, this notion that ‘attachment is the cause of all suffering’. It’s easy to see that the more material ‘things’ we accumulate, the more attention we must give them. Living in the awareness of a ‘perceptual budget’, we can choose to put attentions to ‘things’ that seem to gain the approval from others or we can become courageous listeners. Clearly, life is an accumulation of experiences that when done right, we synthesis for clearest insight and growth. If my experiences and perceptual windows are cluttered and shunted from my fascination with ‘things’ and my notions of ‘achievement’, ‘hope’ and ‘accomplishment’, I find my courage to face the moment in ‘full listening and spirit’ is dramatically diminished. Yet, when I find the courage to release my attachments, to settle my cluttered thoughts and meet the moment, I touch Spirit, that “I” that remains standing when I shed my body.


From time to time it becomes necessary to “attach” to Spirit. Throughout life there are “spirit vampires”, otherwise known as “bullies”. These individuals feed on our spirit, drive and sense of purpose. It seems so many become so diminished because of these ‘spirit robbers’. They’re often the ones who ironically ‘rise to power’, sucking the life force from those around them. Sam Horn has written extensively about the damage that can be done by these people in her book Take the Bully By the Horns. It’s basically saying we can courageously let it all go, except for our spirit. She provides wonderful instruction in ‘fighting the vampire’ for Spirit’s sake. We must feed that which drives our life affirmation as we come to meet our appointment with life. We must meet our last conscious moment of each day in appreciation…in full gratitude for this precious gift of life. We must relish in the freedom that we ‘need nothing’ but Spirit, finding the courage to face those who would rob it from us.


Holy Spirit, you fill the universe, from the soles of our feet through the top of our head and beyond, with your loving grace and compassion. May all creatures come to value the freedom in ‘nonattachment’, yet never surrender courageously listening to heart’s pull as we find our contribution to the healing of the universe? Feed all creatures with the wisdom to ‘take the old road’ in synthesized wisdom from life’s experiences building from birth to death. Within this wisdom, may all creatures know who feeds Spirit and who sucks the life dharma from us? May we find the wisdom to move away from those who rob spirit in their thirst for power and self-recognition? May we find the strength to forever feed the “I” that remains standing when we let our bodies go? Breathing in, Yes! Breathing out, Thank you.



May 4, 2003


Standing Outside Myself I “See” Where I “Must” Go



The famous Sufi, Rumi, wrote about how important it was to follow the heart’s way rather than the way fear would have us go. Interestingly, the way of the heart is much more difficult than the way of fear. It commands action in contribution through our unique gifts and talents. It means staying true to that which we know must be done, even when those around us laugh at our efforts. Tremendous freedom is gained when we surrender our pursuit of happiness through seeking others’ approval to seeking our approval of heart’s pull. Standing tall in the “I” that remains after I die, I can see the power in my unique contribution while inhabiting this body and this body finds its ‘original smile’.


So where do we find happiness? How is it so many grow through life so unhappy? How can we not teach our children the secrets to happiness? Why are we continually caught in the false notion that happiness can come through accumulation and consumption, through ‘dying to our work’ in retirement, through taking a ‘just do me’ vacation to Disneyland or Las Vegas? Why do we ignore the simple answers to finding happiness? It’s so simple, yet one of life’s most complex applications. I find that when I offer the answers to happiness, most meet this ancient wisdom with disappointment. They just don’t get it. Successful, happy living will always be found through our disciplined sacred intention to contribute in the healing of the universe, through our expression of gratitude for gifts given and through our commitment to standing tall in life affirmation. Simply put, happiness is found through a perceptual focus on “yes” with each inhalation and “thank you” with each exhalation. Within this body, the only thing I really need is breath, and as long as I have it I can find happiness through expression of gratitude for it.


Holy Spirit, your abundance and our opportunity for perceptual shifts to the mystery of life, forever in awe at the miracle, lead us to never-ending happiness through our continuous flow of gratitude. Today, traveling this life gate transformation, I scream in joy for the blessings received and the perfect intelligence of the universe. Amen.



May 5, 2003


Just ‘Be’ It…Threads of Insight to the Art of Presence


Am I engaged in this project called ‘life’? Or do I stand outside as a stranger? Are my thoughts taken with desires to impress and receive recognition or am I following the pull of the heart? It seems my success from life comes from the discipline to set sacred intention each morning, commitment to expression of gratitude within the present moment and the strength and courage to launch life affirming actions each day. Within these commitments we find the courage to surrender our fear and pride as we unite with the ‘oneness’ of the universe in contribution to it’s healing. At this moment of synthesis, I am no longer divided in my actions. At this point, in action, I am the instrument and the elements of the action in loving gratitude for this gift of presence.


Divine Source of Life, may all creatures find the creative heart and living contribution within this precious moment of the day. As we surrender notions of our separateness and self-importance to loving compassion and “response ability”, we touch the “I” that remains standing when we surrender our bodies. At this moment of “re-membering”, at this present moment of wonder, we are once again connected in loving kindness and compassion “engaged” in the rhythm and harmony of life’s dance.



May 6, 2003


Notions of Control Surrendered


I learned long ago in helping others, there is no control. I could spend months working with a child, only to see all the progress vanish due to events that were simply beyond my control. I’m older now and instead of becoming totally demoralized at my “lack of impact”, I can now ask how this sense of loss is “working me”. I used to go to work with a sense of fear and pride. There was fear that if I didn’t earn an income our family would starve and lose our shelter. There was pride from “attaching” to ego’s pull to feeling “special” about what I did. It was almost like a feeling of a desire for recognition and approval. I’m older now and have learned I really don’t “need” anything. I’ve seen too many lives ruined when people were carried away with their sense of “need”. I’ve finally seen the rich quality of life found in those who face each day with courage and faith in this mystery we call life. In a day filled with increasing fear, where more and more are literally arming themselves with guns or building walls from fear of the world, I find tremendous peace and harmony in greeting the day without notions of control.


As we surrender notions of control in faith to the perfect intelligence of the universe, we courageously open to the mystery of life’s unfolding moments. At this point we find passion. I used to think I could motivate employees with distribution of special little perks or salary increases. I’ve had several others starving for validation with comments of approval for the “fine” work they’re doing. Yet, with a forecast of one of the most difficult economies looking at us over the next twenty years, my experience is predicting that the companies that do well are the ones that have a clear sense of mission…of contribution to the healing of the universe. The companies carried away with notions of “cleverness” in manipulating balance sheets to please stockholders will fail. Those companies that maintain a military approach to management through fear will fail. Those companies that are filled with pride from previous years of success will fail. In effect, any companies filled with notions of “control”, driven from fear and pride, will fail.


So who’s going to survive? Those companies whose employees are driven from the heart in passion to the purpose of their company’s contribution to the healing of the universe. Without purpose there’s no passion. Without passion we’ve lost our endurance and courage to face our customers. We lose our resolve to stand open to our customer’s complaint in fully open listening. We may become carried away with “fixing” what’s not working, forever trying to “solve” the problems of this “imperfect” world. Yet, we know the ineffectiveness in trying to put up solutions to our customer’s problem. We know that all healing begins with openhearted listening. When we can stand strong in the most difficult of conflicts and ask, “What do you want?” in full faith and confidence to our company mission…success is inevitable.


Holy Spirit, you’ve shown us the folly in ego’s temptation to “control” the universe. Daily we see the toll taken when we’re driven from fear and pride. May we all find the power and strength that comes from passionate living…living from the heart? In these years ahead many lives will come to see the benefits of loss. We will see how most of our greatest life insights come through our most dramatic trials. The baby that’s born from the dark night of the soul will eventually shine in wonder and glory as we “arrive” to our appointment with life, fully surrendered to receiving life’s mystery beyond ego’s temptation to control.



May 7, 2003


The Disgrace in Judging Oneself


We know that self-esteem is crucial to healthy living. We know our happiness depends upon our capacity to give thanks for our blessings. Yet, we find ourselves continually in comparison with others, caught in notions of our inadequacies. With each action birthed from our notion of incompleteness, we spawn fear. Within the fear of losing what we have, we may tend to cling to our pride. Yet, we know the degree of our strength is directly proportional to our capacity to surrender, our happiness directly dependent upon our ability to cooperate rather than compete. As we follow heart’s pull to contribute in the healing of the universe, we glorify the unique gifts and talents we’ve been blessed with. To the extent we criticize any portion of body/mind/spirit, we “dis-grace” these very gifts. In today’s society we seem to have a perverse relation between our notion of humility and self-deprecation. This causes much unhappiness and closes many hearts to the potential of contribution.


One of the best examples for me has been my observation of musicians. So many “dis-honor” their musical gifts as they become consumed in comparison to “master” musicians. It is one thing to stand in awe at the wonder and contribution of those who’ve contributed so much to our musical evolution. It’s another to be caught in notions of inadequacy, spirit-robbed from “thinking” we’re inferior. As a performer, I can literally feel the room change when I move to judgment of my performance as “good” or “bad”. It just “is” and I must be fully surrendered to the unfolding musical moment, beyond notions of division from the audience. At this moment, in full honor and gratitude to those present, magic happens. There is no more pride. There is no more ego. Fear is surrendered in loving cooperation as we dance the universe in genuine harmony and rhythm. Boundaries between work and play are gone, notions of achievement and accomplishment gone.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures come to see the tremendous destruction that comes from judgment? May we clearly see the value in honoring these blessings received, following heart’s pull in continual evolving actions to heal the universe? May all creatures stand naked in honor of the wonder and mystery of the body…to our last breath? May the “I” that stands outside of the self, the one that remains when we shed our body, forever bath us in loving kindness as we move through this miracle called life?


(title: Can You Afford to Treat Your Customer as a Competitor? Customer Service Based On Love and “What Do You Want?” Listening



May 8, 2003



The Art of Teaching Happiness Through Gratitude and Life Affirmation


As parents and teachers we’ve been entrusted with the sacred task of teaching our children how to be happy. In a world filled with increasing messages of fear and separation, this can be difficult. We want our children to maintain their innocence and sense of wonder, yet we don’t want them willingly getting into a stranger’s car. We want them to appreciate the beauty of nature, in awe at all of life’s daily miracles, yet we don’t want them exploring without our protective eye on them. No doubt, this is a delicate balance, this teaching of “wonder” and of “protective instinct”. I’ve witnessed an overload emphasis upon the teaching of “fear” over the past years. We seem to allow our children to watch excessive violence in the news, TV shows, computer games and movies. We let them listen to violence and anger in their music. We coach them on the importance of staying away from strangers and places where they may encounter strangers. We train the virtue in “survival” and “defense”. Yet, we seem to have lost a focus on teaching happiness through gratitude.


I used to work with children of all ages in their development of speech and language skills. I always noticed the decreased expression of wonder on the faces of children once they had moved into first grade. The preschoolers and kindergarten children generally presented faces filled with smiles, happiness and a sense of life appreciation for the unfolding moments of the day. The ones that did not generally had been put into a passive life experience by parents using the TV as a main stimulant. I used to coach these parents in the skills of self talk and parallel talk. In self talk the parent would describe their present moment actions in short sentences. In parallel talk the parent would describe the child’s actions in short sentences. These skills have been regarded as the two most important skills for stimulation of language development. They had a focus on the present moment. Consequently, it was not possible to project into the future about what “might” happen or to dwell on regret for what happened in the past. The notions of time were still too limited and this necessarily put emphasis upon the precious present moment. There was generally magic happening in these moments when the parent fully surrendered to the “wonder” of the child’s changing perceptual focus.


Within this ‘moment of magic’, can we teach happiness? Can we teach skills that the child can draw on for the rest of his/her life, skills that will bring a return to the ‘happiness response’ through the most difficult of times? I believe we can, that we must, and that we’ll profoundly change the universe through some simple changes in our approach to early play with our children.


One of my greatest life insights has been how my expression of gratitude generates my happiness. I’m not talking about ‘thank you’ expression for another’s approval. This is fully surrendered “thanks in wonder” for the precious gift of life received. I propose that we have to “teach” this response to our children while they’re still in a natural sense of wonder for the world. I propose we break down various body movements and specifically give thanks for the gift to move…to make action. For example, take the child’s hand and ask them to move a finger, express wonder at the ‘magic’ in this ability, and teach them to ‘give thanks’ for this blessing. Most importantly, teach them to breath in deeply and then breath out, followed by expression of gratitude for the gift of air. Now comes the most important teaching; have them notice how happy they feel when they give thanks for these gifts and tell them this is the ‘key to a lifetime of happiness’. Tell them that whenever they’re not happy, all they have to do is look at their little finger and move it, giving thanks for this gift, and they’ll once again find happiness. Or ask them to return to the breath in gratitude for it’s moment-to-moment life restoration and they will no longer be attached to their suffering. Isn’t this what we all want?

No, lasting happiness will never be found in a pill and it can’t be genetically programmed. We see that lasting happiness can’t be found through consumption and material accumulation. It’s not found through achievement and accumulation and our continual desperate attempts for control and power. Happiness comes from our expression of gratitude and we must teach this ‘thank you response’ to our children for their lasting happiness.




May 10, 2003



If You Want to Survive, Forget About “Blind” Faith


I’ve seen many people end up injured by throwing their “fate”, their complete faith, to chance, to luck, to a god, or to God. I once heard a story about a man who lived in a river valley. The embankment had given way and his house was flooded to the windowsills. A rescue boat came by and pleaded for him to get in. He declined, proclaiming his complete faith in God’s capacity to take care of him. The water rose to roof level, a second boat came by, and once again he declined stating God would care for him. The water rose to completely cover the house, and only his upper body was exposed and a helicopter dropped a basket to lift him up. He shouted, “God will save me”, and flagged the helicopter off. The water rose further and the man drowned. In heaven, before God, he was perplexed. He asked God why he was let down since the man had complete faith in his god. God returned the confused look and said, “I just don’t understand you. I sent you two boats and a helicopter and you refused them all.” This story points to the necessity of our trust in the intelligence of the universe and our innate powers to listen to the rhythm and harmony of life’s dance. This means developing a deep sense for our instinctual talents, recognizing them as one of God’s greatest gifts. Putting our attention to what was or what we hope to be only dilutes our capacity to see the present and dulls our capacity to “listen”, to follow our “feel”, that innate instinctual action that honors this wondrous gift of body/mind/spirit. This sense of “just beyond our ability” puts us in “touch” with life with minimum risk of stupid injury.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures come to see that one of your greatest gifts to us is our capacity to “listen to the moment”. Within this precious moment’s unfolding we discover life’s symphony in all its wonder. To the extent we see You outside of us and outside of this moment, we endanger our body/mind/spirit in “dis-honor” to the blessing of the present of the Present.



May 12, 2003


  1. de Board


Boardsports have been a large part of my life. This notion of finding the heart through the feet has been a big part of the generation of Just Be It. In recognition that happiness comes through gratitude and contribution, U. de Board is founded on the mission of sharing the life insights gained from engaging in boardsports. Students will learn the “art of presence” in relation to discovery of the “extreme”, that level of performance “just past one’s level of ability”. New performance levels will be discovered as students surrender separation from the board and the elements, applying the power of “just be it” as the core of our very “being-ness” is touched through action.


The curriculum for U. de Board will involve classes in developing skills that train the boarder to greater sensitivity to the body/mind/spirit. Students will learn skills in meditation, focused listening, hatha yoga, weight training, aerobic training and music in addition to specific training in various boardsports. The rider’s unique “style” will emerge in full harmony and rhythm to the dance of the universe. Graduates will dedicate a part of their life in contribution to the further education of “spirit riding”, that place that doesn’t know whining and complaint.



May 13, 2003



Breaking Form


Can I step outside the realm of structure? In my attempts to “newness”, do I sabotage my relation and harmony to the form presented? I’ve always liked to shake things up, to pull the rug out from beneath complacency and expectation. And while I like routine and the discipline required, I dislike shutting my perceptual window down. Within any moment there’s opportunity and choice for a number of perceptual focuses. There’s the capacity to put attention to intellectual discernment, instinctual direction emanating from perceptual focus on the heart, and millions of other perceptions available as we dance with the stimuli of the universe.   Certain ritual and dogma have been created to stimulate a united response as we come together in group experiences. Yet, when we shut down, no longer experiencing the group focus anew, when we go on automatic failing to “engage” the moment in its precious unfolding, we’ve separated and must “smash the duality” created from our lethargy and comfort.


I’ve seen relationships grow old because people settled into the “comfort of their routine”. I’ve seen people at high levels of performance give up their talent because they became “numb to the newness of each event”. I’ve seen churches die because the congregation became too comfortable with the dogma presented. I’ve listened to uninspired music because the performers submitted to the comfort of a previous formula outside of their heart’s discovery. Within the domain of perceptual shutdown we reach a point of passive surrender, unengaged to the wonder of the moment, missing our appointment with life. Within the perfect design of the universe, restlessness builds and heart commands the form be broken. These may be some of the more creative moments of life.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures marvel at the wonder of life’s perceptual opportunities? May we forever be grateful for the fire that burns in the belly when we sedate our perceptual actions in comfort and lethargy? Fill all creatures with a sense of purpose and contribution as we actively engage the universe, making our appointment with life.


May 16, 2003


Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire


There’s something wonderful when I can jump into the fire with someone else.   I often “feel” the fire for what heart tells me must be done and when I can fine myself in the presence of others with even more intense fire, my flame grows.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures find those who would feed their fire of creative contribution to the healing of the universe?



May 17, 2003


My Peace Commands My Expression of ‘Thank You’ From My Gratitude


Brother David Steindl-Rast has says a working definition of love is “the yes to belonging with the whole of being”. He believes we can’t have gratefulness without acknowledgement of our belonging, that to really come alive is an experience of interdependence. I think this is why my happiness has seemed to be related to my cognitive expression of gratitude within the ‘thank you response’. There’s something that enhances our belonging when we move from the ‘feeling’ of gratitude to the expression of thanks. This enhancement of belonging appears to be a great source of happiness.


Holy Spirit, Source of Life, may all creatures find you in everything, in complete belonging through expression of our gratitude in the ‘thank you response’. As you continually give Yourself to us in the manifest, our heart necessarily pulls us to thankfulness in what Brother David refers to as “a circle dance of gratefulness”.



May 18, 2003


Ride as Gift


Some amazing things happen when we have enough trust to receive all moments as “gift”. In the face of hopes gone down the drain, expectations not met, can we still face the mystery in wonder and appreciation? When we recognize the “all” is gift from Holy Spirit, our only appropriate response to any life event within this moment is that of gratefulness. Brother David says, “The Source continually gives itself into the manifest and then we give this back in thankfulness…it’s a circle dance of gratefulness”.


Within our acknowledgement of gratefulness through “thank you”, we find peace. Forgiveness is our release of disappointment for events and moments that fell short of our fantasy or expectation. As we release attachment to thoughts of what we think should have been, as return to the moment in strong affirmation, we find our healing. We give thanks for insights gained through life’s greatest pains and suffering. We ‘meet the mystery’ in the moment filled with gratitude and consequent peace and happiness.


As we cultivate our gratitude, creativity is a necessary consequence.


Loving Customer Service…When We Truly Open to Service Beyond Notions of Fixing



Just “Do” What?


What we put attention to grows and if we’re not clear on our intentions we just may “do” that which is not the best for universe. Yet, when we polish the heart with clear intention and courageously set forth in action, we find our very “being”. When we move to action, as we must, the internal voice that says, “Just do it” definitely sets things in motion. Unfortunately, it’s been the battle cry for many as they’ve slipped back into addiction, gave in to violence or any other number of emotionally driven acts to be later met with regret. Yet, when we surrender into “Just be it”, even if we’re feeding the Wolf of Destruction, we find ourselves “connected” and as a result fully surrendered, non-attached to our notions of separation and other temptations of ego.


Spirit, may all hearts be fed with enough attention to clarify our life’s intention. As we come more and more into the heart’s truth we come to better know you. As we surround ourselves with the fields of love, forgiveness, and gratitude, we come to find our truest “being” beyond notions of division. We call this field intuition or faith as our “doing” fully meets our “being” in affirmation to the mystery we walk, breath by breath.



Understanding the Difference Between Scratching an Itch and Blossoming into One’s Being


Have you ever found yourself torn between the desire to scratch an itch and your hesitation to scratch for fear it may complicate things? Sometimes we know the itch is caused by poison ivy or poison oak and our intelligence helps discipline ourselves from scratching for fear of spreading the irritation. Other times we almost unconsciously scratch to remove an itch and don’t even think about the fact that our action eliminated the itch. And then there’s the dilemma of simply not knowing what the scratch will lead us to…relief or complication. The key to correct action may lie in disciplined listening to the heart.


Have you ever smoked a cigarette or been tempted to? The degree of itch certainly varies depending upon your background, peers and the situation your in. I’ve found myself more likely to feel the “itch to smoke” when in Europe where I’m surrounded by other smokers. In my youth, surrounded by peers who endorsed smoking, the itch was so strong I scratched it several times a day. Fully aware of the severe health threats from smoking, millions continue to scratch this itch every day. Out of touch with our heart’s life intention, so many lose so much sense of worth through this continued action of physical destruction. With all of the research documenting the risks of smoking, it would seem that today it’s easier to decide not to scratch, particularly with the evidence showing that less than twenty per cent of those who try to quit are successful. Yet, we continue to take the “risk” on being able to scratch without getting caught in addiction.


So can we say smoking is “wrong”? This seems to lead us to instinctively react against another’s control or judgment. Perhaps the best teaching technique is to tell a child to “not” do something and then almost guarantee that they will counter in a natural reaction of independence. The Native Americans who smoked around a campfire didn’t become addicted to the peace pipe. So what’s that difference? Once again, was the decision to “itch the scratch” made from the heart or not? What about the cultures that use hallucinating drugs during spiritual ritual on certain limited occasions throughout the year? Once again, when clear intention is found through the heart, one can be more certain that the “scratch” will not complicate the itch.


For sure, life is a mystery and we’re curious. We want to experience the universe in all of its fullness, yet it requires a “connection” or “sense of belonging” as we faithfully explore the domain of the heart. This domain goes well beyond “need for approval”, “peer pressure” and other notions our ego tempts us to. As we enter the stillness of the heart, here we find our answer to “itch” or “not itch” as we feed spirit in our life blossoming.


With this knowledge, can you examine those instances where you itched your scratch only to damage your flower? Can you vision healing your flower back to full blossom through appreciation from insights learned from your suffering? Certainly, this is where we find the seeds to many of the 12-step programs (i.e. AA) and the healing that comes from these wonderful organizations.




May 22, 2003


Just Do “What”?


When our phrase to action is “Just Do It”, we may be clear on the physical action, but may have failed to check alignment with our heart. In a more and more complex world filled with shades of gray, we find it more and more critical to polish the heart in search of that which touches our spirit. “Right action” is activity that’s attuned to the rhythm and harmony of the universe. This is the space where our “doing” meets our “being”.


Physiologically, it’s often helpful to first put attention to the belly. Common sense tells us to check with our gut instinct. After this, we move to the heart. Can you “feel” the difference when we move from “Just Do ‘What’?” to “Just Be ‘What’? As we journey to our core, beyond notions of our ego, pride and fear, we enter the cosmic community in ‘full belonging’. In this space we come to know ‘taste’ experientially in the moment, far removed from consumptive notions tied to past and future. Within this space we courageously live beyond needs to achieve and accomplish. We just ‘do it’ outside of ego’s temptation to recognition. At this moment we move past the division of performer and audience, rider and instrument of rider, musician and instrument of the music, naturalist and elements of nature, teacher and student, etc. This is where we touch “that-ness” in all of its wonder and mystery and find peace, freedom and courage to face the moment in honor to its precious unfolding. At this moment we live in the paradox that it’s ‘not about us’ and ‘it’s all about us’.


Dear Spirit, fill all creatures with the peace that comes from meeting our purpose. May we inspire one another to polish our hearts, carefully listening to the messages that have been placed there long ago? As we move from neurotic needs of “doing-ness” and enter our very “being-ness”, may we all come to peace in those actions we know must be taken?



May 23, 2003


It’s Our Job to Say “Yes” to Life


We can watch the animals and plants in nature and see how they say, “Yes”, to each moment. As babies, they’re carefully trained in what to pay attention to for survival. We often mistake their keen attention for fear, yet we suspect they have no concept of time, necessarily living in the moment. It’s like we’re continually being shown through Spirit what “works” and what “doesn’t work”. So why do we as humans continue to act in ways that don’t work?


It seems as though we’ve almost come to accept a “not OK” universe by surrounding ourselves with those who may be filled with fear, regret and dissatisfaction with way it “is”. Yet, we know it “works” to still see the gift in those events that cause us the most suffering. We know it works to “see” grace given through the intelligence of the universe. We know it “works” to be filled with wonder and awe in our “belonging”, beyond notions of separation, judgment and comparison. We’ve seen this naturally happen in cultures living outside the influence of power struggles and competition and we now see how crucial it is to find our “connectedness” and gratitude for this gift of life.


Spirit, fill the hearts of all parents with the intention to teach our children. Teach them the strength in affirming this gift of life with each breath in and teach them to find full gratitude with the miracle of each breath out. May we all meet our heart’s desire by working to find gratitude and peace for the opportunities that arise in easy and difficult times? Within this space, may all creatures find purpose and contribution to the healing of the universe?



May 24, 2003


Meaningful Work Necessarily Involves Your “Presence”


It’s been said that our “work is to find our work”. Essentially, this means connecting our heart to our actions in contribution to the healing of the universe. I find so many that use their work much like they use TV. It’s a “dis-engagement, a place to go “to not be in the moment”. Have you ever noticed how you’re pulled to turn on the radio or TV when you’re in silence in your house? One’s “job” can be similar and it’s how we can easily become caught in the “rat race”.   For sure, when we don’t “know” what our work is, we can simply be “of service” to a cause we think is helping. Yet, so many of us follow the road of fear and simply go to a job to ease the pressure of silence and the natural pull of the heart.


(also, relate the Power of Now and how in aging the perception of speed changes like when I was driving like a racecar driver from Santa Cruz only to realize I was going the speed limit.)


(use the Solomon’s Wisdom story to emphasize the power in revisiting wisdom over and over to be sure we “act” on it rather than just find “closure” in grasping the concept)




May 25, 2003


Choosing Our ‘Tribe’ in Alignment to Heart’s Intention


It seems our ‘awake-ness’ is greatly influenced by those we hang with. I recently spent some time in Yosemite Park and was filled with wonder at the magnificence of the giant trees. There’s something that’s very telling when we can observe thousands of baby trees filling a meadow with only a few of these ‘master’ trees. When we examine ‘how’ we want to live and where we want to put our attention, it seems crucial to explore the nature of our education. It seems most helpful to “still the heart” as we listen to the pull to attention. Some of us are pulled exclusively to a single tribe, a singular interest that with discipline and attention can put us in a position of great honor and respect in that area of interest. Actually, it seems that our culture puts tremendous importance to “being the best” in a particular area of interest. Once this position is recognized, there’s great approval or ‘fame’ from those within and outside of the tribe. Many of us look at this ‘success’ as something to aspire to, not because it’s a result of listening to the Divine within, but because ego tends to draw us to temptation for others’ approval and validation. It seems that the ‘master’ of a particular area of interest, when all attention is on him/her, recognizes that it’s not about him/her. At the level of ‘mastery’ the wonder is further enhanced as we step into our humility and ‘belonging’. The master comes to experience himself through the student, beyond notions of separation or comparison. At this moment in education, ‘consciousness’ is fed and the universe awakens.


As we look at what we’ll ‘do’ with our lives, it becomes more and more evident how it relates directly with the tribes we choose. If my heart says, “play the blues”, it only makes sense that I surround myself with others who’ve been able to put much more attention to this pull. This is what ‘real’ education is about as we continually push the edge of performance to new levels. Clearly, whatever we put attention to grows stronger and it seems to only make sense that we ‘hang’ with those who’ve put most attention to our area(s) of interest. Their wisdom moves us to that ‘effortless’ ground of performance just beyond our level of ability.


Dearest Source of Life, may all creatures be fed to ‘consciousness’ and alignment of heart with the tribes we chose? May we move beyond action driven from fear, pride and need for approval to action with intention to heal the universe through our unique talents and blessings? May we come to see the “dis” on honor (dishonor) when we fail to listen to heart’s pull? May we come to see the “dis” on grace (disgrace) when we fail to stand in the wonder and glory of attention to the heart’s pull? Loving Spirit, may we be filled with gratitude for the gifts of these pulls of the heart and our discipline to put attention to them? May more trees of lasting wisdom spread their knowledge to hungry hearts of similar passion as the universe continues to heal in fullness? Breathing in, the heart screams “Yes”! Breathing out we find joy, peace and happiness in “Thank you”.





May 26, 2003


It’s Our ‘Job’ to Be Happy. Happiness Is When Our ‘Doing’ Meets our ‘Being’ From Careful Listening to the Heart


Every great spiritual teacher has placed strong emphasis on ‘walking our talk’. It seems we place a certain pride on our cognitive understanding of ancient wisdom, yet we continue to ‘act’ out of harmony from these universal insights. So many times we act against ‘heart’s pull’ for fear that our security may be threatened. We dilute the power of Jesus’ parables and the teachings of the Buddha by selectively listening to the message that works best with our daily actions. Yesterday, thousands of churches paid tribute to the courage shown from our youth in the military who merged ‘doing’ with ‘being’ in a life sacrifice for our civil liberties. We are filled with awe for those who ‘give at the risk of their own harm’. Clearly, their ‘sense of belonging’ filled them with tremendous satisfaction and we derive great happiness in recognizing their contribution. Yet, the fact still remains that actions of ‘killing’ clearly violate the heart’s pull and what we’ve been instructed from our spiritual masters. Jesus didn’t speak of parables where killing was ok in certain instances. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is seldom presented with the strength Jesus had in mind. This teaching takes us beyond our notions of ‘small belonging’, past our concepts of patriotism and nationalism, to a greater sense of belonging and love. This parable of love was stimulated from the audience question of, “Who is my neighbor?” after Jesus had instructed them to love their neighbor as themselves. Yet, after all the times I’ve heard ministers use this parable as meat for their sermon, I’ve yet to have one stress the hate the victim had for the Samaritan tribe.


He describes a good law abiding citizen like you or me, innocently walking down the road only to be viciously attacked by robbers, left to die along the road. He can barely open his eyes when he sees a member of his tribe approaching. His hope vanishes as this person walks on by. He then sees another person approaching, his hope jumps when he sees it’s not a member of his tribe, but an ally of his tribe. Again, his hope vanishes when this ‘supposed neighbor’ leaves him to die. The point I’ve never heard stressed is how much the victim’s tribe hated Samaritans. In their day, the only good Samaritan was a dead one. Jesus was instructing us to act in love and compassion to even our worst enemy. To update the story, it would be like recognizing our aid came from a Saddam Hussein. Within the power of this story, we come to see there is no defense and our temptations to war and defense are in clear violation of the ancient wisdom of this parable.


Holy Spirit, may all creatures come to find happiness through the meeting of our ‘doing’ with our very ‘being’ in honor to the gift of heart’s pull? May all creatures find peace, joy and happiness beyond notions of separation?




May 27, 2003


There Are No ‘Sides’ To The Circle


It’s so tempting to ‘join’ a particular tribe for a strong sense of belongingness. This connection can give us a sense of grounding and can fill us with love for other members of our tribe. Yet, when we find ourselves in separation from other tribes, there’s an instinctual draw to ‘defense’, a pull to separate and take sides. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus had just finished expressing the wisdom in loving your neighbor as yourself. This circular spirituality was new to his listeners. They had not heard of a cosmic connection beyond notions of duality and asked for further explanation. From his heart came the story of how two men on apparent ‘opposite’ sides, two enemies, came to find a deep connection of heart. They surrendered their anger for love, their violence for peace, and their separation for connection.


Today there’s tremendous gain in research pointing to the value in connection, belonging and a sense of the circle in our spiritual living. It seems very much related to which part of the body we’re listening to. Does my ‘doing’ come from listening to an intuitive vision from the mind, a gut instinct, a sexual drive, or is it corresponding to the heart? Our doing seems most potent when fully aligned with the heart. This connection of our action with our heart seems to align with our ‘being-ness’ for optimum health. It seems that by listening carefully to our heart, we find the ‘fuel of action’. Perhaps one of our greatest indicators of life happiness could be a quotient relating the match of heart with our doing? At this point we find the core of our ‘being-ness’ and discover the faith to surrender to the action, beyond notions of separation and competition.


When our performance is driven by competition, from a deep sense of ‘not losing’, we may reach a higher level of ‘doing’ dependent upon the quality of our competitor. Yet, ‘divine performance’, or ‘inspired action’, is derived from our sense of the circle. There are no sides to be taken. There is no enemy to be fought. Within this dance of appreciation for life’s gift and interconnectedness we find peace, rhythm and harmony. At this moment of our life affirmation, where ‘doing’ meets ‘being’, find surrender notions of ego, personal performance and achievement, fear and pride. We realize that it is ‘not about us within our notion of tribe’ and in our connection we truly discover who we are within the fabric of the circle.


Holy Creative Spirit, Source of Life beyond boundary, you’ve repeatedly advised us in the wisdom of ‘loving our neighbor as ourselves’. It seems that within ‘troubled times’ we’re filled with notions of fear and pride that lead us to take sides. May all creatures come to live in the sense of circle, carefully listening to the heart for our fuel to action in loving kindness and contribution to the healing of the universe? Within this wisdom we discover that there are no sides to the circle.



May 28, 2003



Teaching Our Children to Say ‘Yes’ to the Mystery


At a very early age, we can teach our children the value in an affirming attitude to our return to consciousness from sleep. As the child awakes, while still at an early age and filled with wonder, we can engage them in the joy for the gift of bodily movement, shifting focus to various body parts they find they can control. We can help them shift perception to various capabilities of the senses. In effect, our capacity to teach our children the “affirming” morning response, filled with gratitude and wonder for ‘presence’, can play a huge role in their life happiness.


We’re teaching them to give thanks for ‘what’s working’ within this given precious moment, even when in the face of that which is ‘not working’. In effect, we’re working with our children to ‘increase’ their awareness rather than ‘deaden’ it. Obviously, we can’t pretend that we’re ‘awake’ in appreciation to the mystery. Teaching our children necessarily commands us to effortlessly be in that space of wonder, presence, affirmation and gratitude. This is the richest form of love we can give anyone, our complete attention and presence filled with gratefulness for their ‘being’ beyond notions of separation from us.


One of the more effective teaching tools is to work through the ‘negative’, telling a child ‘not to engage in an action’. This inevitably stimulates them to do that which you’ve told them not to do. Teaching that involves threat, promotion of fear, and separation often has short-lived effect. For example, it’s better to say, “Honor your body by taking great care in what you ingest and do”, than to say, “Just say No to drugs”.



(talk about traditional notions of vacation as a ‘no’, or ‘shut down’ response. Nani Ola is a life affirmation experience.)

(Finding the Heron Within.     Working to the ‘Yes’ of the Morning.)




May 31, 2003


Breathing in “Yes” to Face the Moment. Breathing Out in “Gratitude for the Gift of Opportunity”.


Breathing in we can ‘wake’ to life in full affirmation. This is where we ‘face the moment’ in wonder for the ‘gift of opportunity’. Within this ‘gift’ comes our ‘opportunity’ to share. Upon touching the heart, we are pulled to share our wealth, not from some sense of duty, need for approval, or guilt. It simply happens from carefully listening to our ‘yes to life’. Amazingly, we learn to find the ‘gift of opportunity’ especially in troubled times. We surrender ego’s tendency to ‘think’ we can ‘fix things’. We come into the peace and understanding of receiving the intelligence of the universe just as it ‘is’. As we ‘touch our heart’ so do we touch those hearts around us. We find our connection at last, when we come to see that it’s not just about us. The fabric of on consciousness is threaded into the finest of cloths as we discover our ‘full smile’ for the gift of opportunity.


Spirit, filled with grace, may we forever be filled from this gift of ‘opportunity’. As we polish the heart we come to know our happiness…that beautiful place where our ‘doing’ meets our ‘being’, that place where fear and pride vanish as we come to touch one another beyond notions of separation.



June 1, 2003


What’s Your ‘Job’?


This used to be a rather simple question for me to answer. I would routinely reply with a description of what I ‘did’ for a paycheck. Sometimes I did things that felt like they had purpose. Other times I did things from fear, just to get a paycheck to pay the bills. Seldom did I ever stay at a ‘job’ for more than three or four years. I recently left a ‘job’ running a business for over twenty years. I guess there’s something different about running a ‘busy-ness’ from a sense of ownership. It was a job I kind of stumbled into by circumstance rather than planning. Yet, over the years I came to find a strong mission for the company. I continually explored my heart and realized I could only find happiness in blending our company actions with our heart’s pull to contribution. Many companies call this a ‘mission statement’. It’s a defining statement that not only lets customers know why you do what you do, but more importantly, it gives the employees ‘grounding’ to fall back on whenever in doubt about taking a particular action. I had a business partner that didn’t seem to care about these notions of mission. Actually, part of our reason for separating and my leaving was tied directly to our difference of opinion on this. He was filled with notions of ‘doing, doing, doing’ and I was running the company from notions of ‘being, being, being’. It will be up to those remaining in the company to find their sense of ‘being’, their capacity to ‘touch the heart’ in finding a new mission statement lest they become like ants caught in the sugar bowel.


Recently, I heard Brother David Steindl Rast say it’s our job to be happy. With all of the negative energy we’re exposed to, a continual attitude of joy is real work. Someone else says it’s our job to 1. Show Up 2. Pay Attention 3. Tell the Truth 4. Accept the fact that you don’t control the results. I look at plants, animals and insects and wonder how they view this question of ‘job’? Some seem to put so much energy to their living, like the ants that don’t seem to rest, or the honeybees that continually serve the larger community. And then I look at the soaring eagle or seagull and marvel at their playfulness when soaring a ridge. What’s their contribution? Is part of our ‘job’ to play? Or how about the flower that blossoms? It just kind of happens. Does it know that it’s blossoming brings so much joy to those in its presence? It seems that so much of ‘job’ in nature is completed with minimal effort.


I do sense that ‘job’ directly relates to our sense of ‘belonging’. There’s something about ‘not contributing’ that gets under our skin and motivates us to connection. I find that the more I get caught up with my notions of ‘me’, the more alone I feel. I notice my breathing becomes shallow, and I’m filled with more fear about the possibility of my ‘ending me’. Yet, when I settle in the heart I can find this sense of ‘job’. There’s a realization and faith that when I align with my heart, action just happens. Amazingly, when my heart’s ‘being’ meets my body’s ‘doing’ I’m filled with happiness. There’s a strong sense of connection where I can ‘let go’ of my fear and pride. Within this moment of wonder, I can now see how “happiness” is our job.


Spirit of Grace, may all creatures stand grounded in gratitude for this gift of ‘being’.   May we ‘meet the Mystery’ as we find happiness in fusing our ‘being’ with our ‘doing’? May we move beyond notions of separation in a mission to share our wisdom, beyond notions of accomplishment and achievement? Within our deepest humility we find our greatest strength and we forever are filled with happiness for this paradox.



June 2, 2003


So Why Won’t People Listen to Me?


What is it that we can do to get someone’s attention? It seems that the amount of sensory stimuli bombarding our perception has tripled over the past three decades. Advertisers have figured out more and more ways to get our attention for the fleeting moment of awareness. The realization that ‘love’ is found through one’s “undivided attention and presence” brings the importance of our listening capacity to play. So, isn’t it ironic that the main way we can get people to listen to us is by first listening to them?


Jesus used the parable most effectively in getting people to listen to him. Brother David Steindl Rast emphasizes how this may be the most effective tool for exerting your influence on the universe. First, we ‘call upon the authority of the listener’ to acknowledge how they already know what the learning is. We have to step inside our listener, in full attention to our experience of their experience, in full discovery of our heart connection. In the movie A Time to Kill, the black prisoner on trial pleads with his white young attorney to not give up hope in preparation of his summary statement. The accused man states his white Southern-raised attorney is his ‘ace-in-the-hole’ because he can get inside the shoes of the white jurors. He understands that the only way he has a chance of acquittal is by having the defense attorney and the jurors fully meet in the heart. Just as Jesus took his listeners into their hearts, the jurors were ‘called to action in sync with the heart’s pull’. It seems this is the heart of all good teaching, where notions of division and separation evaporate.


On the other side, when a speaker convincingly goes into the fear of his/her listeners, rallying support for division through pride, comparison and judgment, we can impair the listener’s ability to ‘listen to the heart’. Just as we can surrender in full openness to the wisdom stimulated by a great spiritual teacher, we can close our heart through manipulation and persuasion of a speaker talented in capturing our weaknesses. The differences can best be illustrated through the manifestations of Jesus or Buddha versus Hitler or any other number of world leaders who’ve been driven to ‘control’ their universe. It’s the basic difference between our willingness to empower all as one or dis-empower others as our food for control and dominion over others.


So we can get another’s attention through threat, appeals to fear and pride, presentation of our credentials and worth and any other number of ‘tricks’ to pull you to hearing a message, or we can appeal to ‘the authority that already lies in your heart’. At this point the listener acknowledges the ‘truth’ of the lesson, the speaker allows his audience the silence or space to reflect on it, and the real teaching comes with the punch line, “So why don’t you act in harmony with this knowledge in your heart?”


Spirit, may we surrender our desires for power and dominion over others? May we let go our desires to “change the world” through our ego’s notion of divided worth? Yet, may all creatures find the pull of the heart in sharing wisdom with one another, in impacting one another’s lives through effective speaking and listening that connects the heart, empowering us to all be the best we can be in honor to the gifts, talents and blessings bestowed upon us. When notions of division between speaking and listening break down, we find true dialogue. Within dialogue we find love, peace, gratefulness, forgiveness, hope, faith and the courage to face whatever wave comes our way.



June 3, 2003


Living From the Authority of the ‘Polished’ Heart


There’s an underlying thread within Zen that explores the freedom found when we can live beyond need for praise and fear of criticism. It would seem that we find peace and our affirmation upon quiet reflection to the heart’s voice. Notions of ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ vanish, aspirations ‘to win’ somehow seem hollow, yet we find our alignment with heart brings us to a ‘quality’ that repeatedly puts us without effort into the winner’s circle. There’s a stronger desire to listen than to speak. This is a place where teachers know their method of instruction can only come from their listening as they empower their students to the authority of what they already hold in their heart.


Spirit of Loving Kindness whose authority is found in the living hearts of all sentient beings, may all creatures come to find peace, joy, happiness and belonging within the stillness of the quiet heart. May we see there can be no ‘disappointment’ within our present meeting of the heart, there can be no suffering with our release of attachment to what was or what we think ‘should’ be. As we polish the heart in full body/mind/spirit listening we meet our ‘arrival’ to the wonder in full appreciation for the opportunity laid before us.




June 4, 2003


Waking to the “Yes” of the Moment


As I enter the ‘affirmation’ of the moment, whether in communion with others in an event or in one-to-one dialog, I find ‘opportunity’. Within this opportunity comes a sense of ‘belonging’ that breaks down barriers, temptation to separate, judge or compare. Fear evaporates as I step outside myself in wonder for the ‘union of the moment’ and I find I no longer know who’s ‘listening to whom’ as expression and reception lose all boundaries. Many have described this incredible ‘presence’ as love. Clearly, at this moment of ‘connection’ we come to see that it’s not ‘about us’, but rather it’s about our capacity to surrender in peace to those within our surroundings at that moment. Have I let down my walls to open reception? Can I stand tall within my humble awareness of the great mystery and my limited perception of it?


Last night I watched a video of our most recent musical performance. It became very evident that the more I opened to ‘receive’ those in attendance the more the creative energy of the music was released. It was very much like ‘the audience was playing me’ and the more I looked into the eyes of our listeners, the louder they spoke to me. This seems to be a key element of strong performers and I used to attribute it to their courage to look the audience in the eye. I now see that their capacity to ‘meet the mystery’ in full affirmation is fed from the energy of the listener. At this moment we find the richest ‘dialogue’ that smashes notions of duality, performer and listener. As we come to that space where hearts meet in ‘yes’, we discover our original smile and notions of fear, pride, accomplishment and comparison vanished to the wind.


Source of Life, may all sentient beings find peace in surrendering our search for praise and our fear of being criticized as we come to full ‘yes’ affirmation within the mystery of the moment’s gift? May we see ‘encouragement’ to another’s life affirmation as food to the soul that must be carefully guarded from traditional notions of comparison? May we cultivate one another’s capacity to ‘attention’ as the quality of our actions forever moves to new ground? May we encourage one another to value their unique ‘opportunity’ to contribute to the healing of the universe? May we nurture one another to ‘clean’ listening as we put full attention to the ‘polished’ heart and touch the ‘divine’ by marrying our ‘doing’ with our very ‘being’?



June 5, 2003


When It Seems Like No One Is Listening to Your Message, It May Be Time to Start Listening


It seems we do all sorts of things to get people to listen to us. We try to build a ‘sense of credibility’ or ‘status’ by doing things like presenting job titles, educational achievements, experiential accomplishments that let us associate with others of ‘credibility’ and any other number of devices we’ve been taught to be heard. Many of us use others’ dependency upon us as a sort of threat for their attention. I found this most evident when I was teaching when the students thought their grade was dependent upon their ability to convince me I had their attention.   It was also easy to get the attention of employees when they knew I had the authority to terminate their job.   I’m now in a position where I don’t carry any titles and I don’t have students or employees feeling ‘forced’ to listen to me for fear they may lose something if they don’t. I’m now caught in that interesting position where it seems as though no one’s listening. Why should they? There’s simply so much information, so many messages bombarding today’s listener that we’ve become very selective about where we put our attention or we ‘numb out’ with the TV, spectator sports, a computer or video game, etc.


In the early ‘70’s I recall the same feeling when protesting our involvement in the Vietnam War. It seemed as though no one was interested in hearing our message, a message we were convinced ‘needed’ to be heard. All of a sudden I started to get a glimpse of what the Black Panther movement was about as I came to see how anarchy is born from others’ inattention to the message. We later found out that the only way anyone was interested in hearing our message was if we listened to theirs first. We had to demonstrate our complete understanding of their viewpoint, expressing it back to them to their satisfaction, before we were able to express ours.


It seems the only way to get an honest, open-ear without threatening the listener with a sense of loss for inattention, is either to ‘shock’ them with outrageous behavior or best, to draw upon their authority in ‘hearing’ what they already know, presenting it in a new way. If the listener’s heart opens in ‘real’ education, heart-to-heart, we bring insight to the communicators beyond notions of speaker and listener.


Source of Life, you’ve manifested through all creatures and we have tremendous gratitude for some of our greatest teachers who’ve shown us wisdom through directing us through the window of our own hearts. May we all be listeners, open to receiving the mystery through touching one another’s hearts in full surrender to this magical moment, beyond notions of time and space, ego’s temptation to separate, judgment and criticism, comparison, status, achievement and accomplishment, residing in the “yes” of the moment.


June 6, 2003


Success Found Through a ‘Polished Heart’ Rather than from the Praises of Others, or Worse, the Absence of Criticism


I’m continually fighting what many have called ‘a natural tendency’ to seek approval from others. Yet, when I look at the infant the ‘natural’ tendency is to ‘just be’. Something happens through our life education that seems to drive us to ‘seek the praise and approval’ from others, or worse, to become occupied with avoiding the criticism of others. Yet, I see more and more that the courageous people, living open to the world, are living a life where their actions (doing) are aligned with their (being) from mindful attention to the heart’s pull. The very courageous a so strong in heart that they can ‘fully listen’ to another, beyond attachment to beliefs, barriers and fixed attitudes. At this point we find that ‘sense of wonder’ in the live connection that knows no boundary. Within this communication the heart is seen through the eyes and notions of speaker/listener and other dichotomies vanish. Through the eyes of one another we ‘touch the heart’ in wonder and find the real meaning of ‘success’.


Dear Creative Spirit of Life, so many have reached their final days within the body to ask, “Have I loved well?” And we know this isn’t a question to put to poll for approval from those who’ve known us. At this moment we come to find that the real question is, “Have I lived awake, with an open heart, listening in full attention to this wonderful banquet of gift and opportunity that’s been laid before me?” We come to see that our success in life has come through our capacity to listen, free from our search from approval from others or escape from criticism. As we ‘wake to the “yes” of life’ we find the real meaning of ‘success’.



June 7, 2003


Which Brain Do I ‘Move’ From?


From where do my actions arise? It seems that some of us ‘think’ ourselves into non-action for fear of disapproval, making a mistake, making the ‘wrong’ decision or any other number of ‘mental fantasies’ we create. This phenomenon has been called the “anticipatory struggle reaction” by the famous speech pathologist, Wendall Johnson. In effect, we let our mental images of failure or difficulty distract us from the moment. We divert attention to what we ‘think’ may happen rather than surrendering into the moment of the action.


I’ve known several people that move more from the gut. They ‘feel’ their way through the action. This could be what we call ‘instinct’.   Moving from our instincts seems to bring actions that are truer to our real nature. Breathing into the belly, we can put our attention to what it’s telling us. I remember being told as a child how unimportant most rules, commandments and regulations would be if we only listened to our gut for the right course of action. I was taught a basic trust in the ‘goodness’ of human nature if we all just followed our instinctual gut pull.


One of my favorite blues tunes is “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Willie Dixon. It’s a blues proclamation to our sexual ‘aliveness’. It seems we’re almost taught to relinquish our sexual brain as we move through the second half of our lives. Yet, this is when we’ve gained a great respect for the beauty of sexual arousal and blended it with our integrity from years of living. The ‘old’ man can view the beautiful woman with a sense of awe and wonder, in appreciation for the ‘opportunity’ to experience her ‘presence’. The sexual response is acknowledged as just another ‘yes’ to meeting the mystery with full gratitude and consequent joy. Yet, wisdom and integrity inhibit any consumptive pleasure-based actions we may be tempted to make by the ‘sexual brain’ as we’ve become better listeners to our other brains. Certainly, Bill Clinton and a large percentage of mid-life crises affairs speak to the regrets from following this brain without listening to the other brains. There’s something I really like about those in their senior years who’ve continued to nurture this brain rather than letting it wither and die. Dr. Ruth is one of the leading authorities on human sexuality and maintains a very vibrant personality and life at the age of 73. Several famous blues singers are now still performing past their seventies and still ‘turning on’ fans a fraction of their age because they have such respect and gratitude for all this brain has taught them.


Yet, it’s when we listen to the heart brain that we touch the divine. When we pause to really listen to the heart’s pull, we find ‘right action’ every time. Actions from the heart can always be reviewed ‘after the fact’ with a conclusion we would take the same action again if given the chance. Action from the heart is where we find courage, patience and integrity. It’s the seed of faith, where we give authority to that which is beyond us, yet placed deep within us, beyond our notions of in and out, up or down, big or small, inferior or superior, fear and pride, etc. When we trust the heart, we trust ‘the field of intuition’. We surrender in gratitude to this gift of opportunity to ‘meet the moment’ beyond ego’s temptation to ‘think’ we control the universe. Within this space we take pause for the wonder of divine intelligence, stepping outside our notions of self- importance, yet standing in awe at the gift of our body, mind and spirit and the blessings and purpose we’ve found from listening to the heart brain.


Certainly, upon review of the day it’s easy to find actions we’d do differently if given the chance. Yet, I maintain those actions we regret will dramatically diminish as we put more and more attention to listening from the heart brain. Just as we witness how the deer moves the entire body from the heart ‘in attention’ to the moment, we can come to experience a more mindful living from balancing our brain functions from the heart.


So how do we listen to the heart? Many have been trained to listen to the heart and have been filled with a life of success and happiness, a life without regret. Most of us experience great suffering because we simply haven’t learned how to quiet the noise from the other brains enough to ‘hear the heart’. Certainly, many are born with great natural ability to ‘hear the heart’. Yet, for most of us ‘mindfulness training’ is necessary. This is often called meditation, a discipline where we quiet the mental and sexual brain, put attention to the gut brain, and eventually move to the heart brain. As we touch the heart brain we find balance and direction as Spirit puts the authority within us to move beyond notions of fear, need for approval, and our own pride or pleasure. This is the space where we find the marriage of ‘stretch’, ‘faith’, ‘hope’ and ‘wonder’.


Dear Spirit, seated within the hearts of all creatures, may we all come to listen to the intelligence divinely placed within this brain? May we all find peace within the stillness of ‘heart listening’? May all creatures receive the mystery of their ‘presence’, the worth and ‘non-accident’ purpose to their living from learning to quiet the heart? May we all find peace and joy in ‘knowing’ we’ve taken ‘right action’ in full surrender to heart’s pull? Breathing in, heart pulses a loud scream of affirmation. Breathing out, heart fills with joy for the opportunity to meet this precious moment.



June 9, 2003


Pain Management


We’re learning more and more each day about how to manage our health. The old paradigm of having someone else responsible for our well being is necessarily breaking down as health care costs continue to rise close to a destructive implosion and consequent closing of health care facilities and services. It means that we need to personally take more and more responsibility for the health of our body, mind and spirit. One of the most effective ways for me to deal with this is through “careful listening to pain in gratitude for what I’m being shown”. Successful living seems to be very dependent upon taking action upon that which our heart tells us must be done. Frequently, I find I’m moved to the heart from pain, loss, wound or any other experience that will necessarily involve some form of healing. A few things seem to “work” very well for me.


First, it’s crucial that when I experience and label ‘pain’ I must change my perception from one of identification of a previous state to an “experience of the new”. By eliminating the label, dismissing my ‘attachment’ to a mental construct, I can enter that virgin space of experience. Suddenly, this attachment to ‘suffering’ vanishes and I now move into the fresh unfolding moment beyond notions of time. I’d suggest trying this the next time you experience what you previously called “a pain”, “a soar”, “a wound”, or whatever else you had attempted to attach to it with. You will experience a dramatic difference as you ‘meet the moment anew’.


Second, as you put ‘new attention’ to that area of the body, mind or spirit you had previously referred to as painful, move to your heart in full gratitude for all the area now drawing your attention has given you. At the age of twelve I severely damaged my knee and the surgeon doing the reconstruction projected I’d need an artificial knee sometime after ten years. At this point, I became very appreciative for what “knee” had done for me and I made a commitment to forever send love to it for all it’s given me, for the wonderful opportunities it’s contributed to. Certainly, given it’s deformity from the injury, I often experience ‘pain’, and then I send soothing love from gratitude to it and somehow, what I used to call ‘pain’ vanishes. I give thanks for it’s calling out to me. I apologize for my neglect and once again commit to caring for it, sending in positive, loving energy from gratitude for all it’s done for me. It’s now forty years after surgery and “knee” is still providing it’s part in my mobility through the miraculous.


I’ve watched those experiencing grief from losing a loved one as they apply similar ‘new attention’ to what they used to call ‘pain’ from a broken heart. The return to health seems to heavily rely upon the capacity to “release” attachment to notions of ‘the fixed’, to notions of permanence, as we return positive energy to healing the heart through gratitude for the gift of the person’s presence within our life. As we move into the “gratitude space”, our hearts burst in joyful healing for this marvelous gift of “being”.


I have experienced pain that continually grabs my attention, wearing down my ability to shift focus to “the new”. Certainly, I’m not diminishing my respect for the need to further develop the area of “pain management” in cases where one’s body, mind and spirit is continually being depleted by these signals. We all have great compassion for those caught in the experience of chronic pain. Yet, many of us live in chronic pain simply because we’ve labeled our “condition”. We’ve fed our suffering through notions of permanence rather than “waking to meet the mystery” in all of it’s newness. The real healing begins when we can move to gratitude for what the “pain alert” has taught us.


In my second half of life, my pain sensations have taught me the critical value in conscious exercise. Aches vanish from my body as I practice muscle toning through yoga, strength through weight lifting and endurance through various sport activities that contribute to toning, endurance and strength. I learn the value in “stretching” the body, mind and spirit “just to the point of break”, and then letting “the muscle heal” back to a stronger state than when I started. My heart has been broken many times from the loss of loved ones, yet this loss has made it stronger and easier to listen to with increasing appreciation for the gift of life.


When I move into that space in realizing that ‘nothing is deserved’, that ‘all is gift’, I enter that space of peace, joy and happiness, even if aches, pains and wounds have brought me to it.


Spirit, may all hearts be filled with peace, joy and happiness from our realization that ‘all is gift’, that our hearts are healed through the realization that this “daily bread” is found within the moment, beyond notions of “troubled times”. May all creatures “arrive” into the wonder of “meeting the moment” breath-by-breath in full appreciation and consequent happiness, in full release to our false notions of permanence? May we finally see that no one appreciates our whining?



June 10, 2003


So What’s My ‘Real’ Job?


It seems like we’ve narrowly defined ‘job’ to mean that which we do in service to others for acquisition of a paycheck. In a capitalistic society, we tend to reward and aspire to those who get the biggest paycheck in search of happiness. If it’s not for the biggest paycheck, perhaps it’s for the most recognition. Yet, our ‘vocation’ of the moment is only a small part of our ‘job’. I like to view ‘job’ as ‘sound intention to contribute to the healing of the universe’. So how do we do this? It’s been helpful for me to lock into some personal directives that seem to work.


First, I find it important to ‘show up’, to meet the moment with full awareness. Last night I had some Scotch whiskey and my mind is dull. My thoughts seem to ramble and I feel like I’m only 50% here. While lack of sleep, over eating, alcohol and drugs, and non-engaged entertainment like TV seem to dull my ability to ‘show up’, a regimented exercise program, conscious eating and meditation ‘sharpen the saw’ for maximum perceptual alertness.


The second intention is closely tied to the first. When I’m at a readiness to ‘show up’, filled in faith and courage to face the surprise of the moment, I’ve got the stamina to ‘pay attention’, to keep a focus on my moment-to-moment experience without getting lost in mental wondering.


Within this state of ‘facing the wave’ for all gifts of ‘being’, both in easy times and difficult times, it’s my ‘job’ to do my best, not for the approval and praise from others, but in honor and gratitude to Spirit for this blessing of the opportunity’s unfolding. As my heart meets my body in full readiness to action, the richest quality of human action unfolds, meeting the divine, filled with gratefulness for the opportunity to participate.


Within this state of alertness, when our attention is full and in harmony with our life intention, we’re now ready and open to ‘receive the Surprise’. Just as dust settles in the air, allowing clear visibility, or as fog lifts from the ground, we find clarity and sense of purpose in our actions, completely free from expectation of any particular outcome. We have ‘arrived’ at that precious moment in complete faith to the intelligence of the universe and the gifts of the divine. All notions of control vanish and we discover our ‘real job’, and that is to be filled with gratitude for this gift of being. The byproduct to this gratitude is peace, joy and happiness.


So often we find ourselves jealous of those who are at peace, filled with joy or happiness. Yet, when we really look at it, they’re just doing their ‘real’ job. Imagine the world, filled with beings in gratitude for this gift of each breath in, each breath out…this world where everyone was ‘doing their real job’…just being happy.


If you doubt the value in this ‘job’ of happiness, try applying it. Take some dedicated time to commit to happiness and see how the universe responds. Follow this with some time dedicated to whining and see how the world responds.   Now decide how you want to ‘show up’ as you come to realization of our impermanent station within this body. Suddenly it becomes very clear why so many ask, “Have I loved well?” when taking life’s last gifts of breath. We can rephrase this question to, “Did I appreciate this gift of being and all that worked?” or “Did I whine about all that I thought ‘should’ be?” Condensed further, “Was I happy? Did I do my ‘real’ job?”



June 16, 2003


What “Works” For Living a Magical Life Filled With Success


I’m not sure where I got this outline to living a life that seems to “work”. I know some of it comes from Jack Cornfield, one of the famous authors behind the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. Some of it comes from “lessons shared” from friends and family. Some of it comes from tapes, books, lectures and wisdom passed down from my ancestors. All of it comes from a “sense of belonging” and “purpose”.


It boils down to showing up and paying attention, setting intention to stretch my actions to the extreme in “quality” performance and, finally, to be open to the “surprise” of what happens, realizing this is an area that’s not in my control.


What’s meant by the words “showing up”? Tich Knot Hahn refers to this as “arrival”, meeting our appointment with life. Once we understand that it’s our “work” to “show up”, to “engage” the moment, we come to see the importance in “paying attention”. This is where we find the real importance to meditation and exercise, to an intention to “polish” our attention and care for the body, mind and spirit. We “wake” to each new day as we return to consciousness each morning. The degree to which we can “meet the moment” is directly related to how well we can release our attachment to the baggage of yesterday. The “magic of the morning” is captured when we give thanks for the “gift of another day”. Successful living sees “opportunity” everywhere and we fill with a sense of “response ability”, realizing the need to meet the day in “full attention”, not 80% here or 50%. We come to find the need to meet the wonder of the moment in compete attention if we intend to “do our best”.


The foundational premise of “just be it” can be found in this notion of stretching to our best, to that point where we find the magical life of success. We find that it’s not just about showing up and “doing” it. It’s also about doing it the best we can, in complete gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this party we call “life”. Within this experience of gratitude for the opportunity to contribute, we find our healing from all those past experiences that tore away at our “belonging”. It’s also where we find that magic space that’s beyond the boundaries set by fear and pride as we open to the “surprise” of the moment’s unfolding. In faith, we surrender to the realization that we do not “control” the universe and we breath in to all gifts of life in gratitude for this opportunity to breath in our affirmation and belonging.


At this point we find peace and harmony. We release all anger for events that unfold so differently than what we expected. We “let go” all notions of disappointment that ego tends to draw us to as we give thanks for the surprise found in life’s magic. We come to realize that even though we’ve “shown up, paid attention and done our best”, quality of life is not shown from acquisition of medals, awards, material wealth or recognition and approval from others, but rather through the “sense of completeness and contribution” that’s only found in the “polished heart” where we know we’ve met the divine in full gratitude for this gift of contribution, this “opportunity” to connect in loving kindness with all creatures.



June 18, 2003


A Matter of “Heart”


The famous semanticist, Samuel Hayakawa, has written that ‘meaning is in the person and not the word’. I recently wrote to a dear friend about the courage I’ve witnessed in her life as she followed her heart. She replied back how it’s not always the best thing to do, this ‘following the heart’. She speculated on the importance of working with the intellect as well, lest we may end up taking actions that could harm others. We had put different meanings to this very complicated word. In our society, ‘heart’ often is where we attribute romance and emotion. However, I’m now using ‘heart’ to mean something quite different. For me, heart is where the divine and human meet. When the heart is polished, then we can clearly experience God. Within this experience we find ‘love’, that intention desiring the best well-being for others. This space takes us beyond our notions of possession, consumptive pleasure, jealousy and inability to let go.


I recently heard someone describe several brain centers for the human being.   This structure helped me tremendously in understanding how I come to make the decisions I do. He described the ‘intellectual brain’, the ‘gut brain’, the ‘sexual brain’ and the ‘heart brain’. In his recognition that Spirit resides in ‘heart brain’, he spoke of the importance in ‘stilling’ the chatter of the intellectual brain, ‘settling’ the gut brain with deep breathing and quiet, and aligning the ‘sexual’ brain with universal healing intention as we move into the divine of the ‘heart’ brain. The heart is recognized as the center, where transcendental reality meets the person, where spirit resides. Within this space we find the ‘yes’ to our belonging, with our entire being. It’s a space where we courageously open ourselves in gratitude for this gift of opportunity, where we open to receive that not everything will come out as expected, yet it’s a space where we come to see the divine in everything.

This is the space where we touch faith, hope, courage, trust and sound intention to contribute in the healing of the universe.




June 25, 2003


What “Will” I “Do” With My Life?


It becomes more apparent each day that life commands “action”. It also seems that happiness is manifested when our actions align with the heart. As we “stretch” to our purity, pushing our actions to new levels of performance, we discover the power in the law of intention. For me, there’s a banquet laid before me dealing in the exploration of the ‘power of presence’. Whether it’s music, interpersonal communications, boardsports or writing, the quality of my ‘doing’ seems directly proportional to my capacity to put attention to the present, aligned with intentions set from the heart. These intentions necessarily take me beyond notions of ego, fear, pride, and notions of achievement. I find myself within others, within a ‘sense of belonging’ that connects beyond my notions of ‘thinking’ it’s about me.



June 26, 2003


What Works? Listening Works


Most of what I’ve found to “work” since leaving high school has revolved around success from listening. In college I suppose I could have been classified a ‘militant’ by my involvement in the anti-war movement. It didn’t seem like anyone was listening to us as we moved closer and closer to anarchy in our steps to get attention. Eventually, our university administrators listened to those students who wanted to continue their education uninterrupted and those of us who could not continue on the same track. I joined an independent study group with a goal of creating dialogue between the local community residents and dissident university students. Local families opened their homes to us for an evening meal and discussion. We quickly found out they hadn’t invited us into their homes for our ‘advise’. After being asked to leave before the meal was served during our first few meetings, we realized the only way to dialogue was for us to be quiet and openly listen. I learned in a very meaningful way just how important it was to listen first and speak only when invited to or when permission was received.


I continue to struggle with my sense of ‘knowing what’s right or wrong’. I’m still taken with notions of my “self importance”, and I still come to see how it does not work to speak to others from a sense of superiority or separation. Yet, when I’m in the throws of despair from troubled times, I’ve always found it best to listen. First, I like to listen to all the chatter from fear and pride that’s in my head as I ‘let it go’. I’ve found deep belly breathing helps this. With a quiet mind and settled stomach, I find it works best to listen to the heart. My heart tells me what I’m here for, what I must do to find peace and happiness. I’ve found that it works best to step outside ego and vision my ‘actions’ forward by looking back to see if I would do them again if I were given the chance. This has helped me get out of the ‘rat race’ I had found myself trapped in from fear and pride.


It’s worked to listen to my body about what nourishes me and what poisons me. Daily meditation, exercises for stretch, strength and endurance, music, journaling and contact with nature have seemed to work very well for me. It ‘works’ when I live the day from a sense of contribution. I feel best when I know I’ve helped someone who was actually looking for help. I feel bad when I’ve tried to help someone who didn’t want help. I feel best when I can help, free from any notions of recognition and have come more and more to appreciate why the Lone Ranger disappeared before those he helped could make a big deal about it.


It works when I can feel the fabric of family and friends deeper than my material perception, when I can experience their spirit ‘in and of’ me. This has worked best as I’ve moved through experiences with illness and death. It’s worked best for me when I can breath in and say “Yes” to the opportunity in each inhalation and “Thank you” for the gift of the moment. This recognition of ‘the power of presence’ has worked better than anything in helping me face the most difficult of life situations. It’s worked best when I can put my attention in gratitude for what’s still working rather than focusing on disappointment for what’s not working. I’ve found my relationships work better when I’m silent about my disappointments and verbal about my gratitude for what I’ve been given.

I’m not sure who told me this, but it’s a life strategy that has worked very well. Basically, he/she said that it’s our job to be happy, it’s our job to show up, pay attention and do our best and maintain a positive attitude regardless of the results since we have no control over the outcome. It works to see each moment ‘new’, to make my appointment to this life with 100% attention in honor of the unique blessings that have been given me and to do it with the fullest sense of belonging and connection to the fabric of the universe.



June 28, 2003


Applied Peace Through Applied Awareness


Both Jesus and Buddha did not live by the ‘authority from the outside’. They both taught through the laws of experience and applied knowledge. Jesus taught through the use of parable, capturing his listener’s attention by having them move to the ‘authority within their own heart’. Once he moved their confidence to the level of the heart, having them acknowledge what they’ve already known, he has them ponder it in silence before he challenges them to their inability to ‘apply’ what they know is ‘divine action’. Buddha felt restless prior to leaving the palace of material wealth and was pulled to find peace through contemplation. As he shared the Four Noble Truths, it was, once again, wisdom shared through leading the listener’s awareness to the level of the heart. Listening to the heart, through our own awareness, we find peace. We quiet the mind’s incessant chatter. The treadmill of random thoughts, worries and fears slows as we come into awareness of the moment in recognition for the ‘gift’ of what ‘is’. No matter what our circumstance, we come to acknowledge the ‘opportunity’ in gratitude and ultimately find peace and harmony. We move beyond notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Our actions become ‘easy’ and we discover a new ‘style’ to living. Stepping outside the rat race of our fear and pride, we meet our true appointment with life in joy and wonder for the surprise of the moment.


Some have said our wandering thoughts can eventually be stilled as we reach a never ending applied awareness in what’s been labeled ‘satori’, ‘enlightenment’, ‘nirvana’, etc. Others have said that a conceptualizing of this only creates desire and further movement from awareness. Personally, it seems the human condition is that we forever move in and out of awareness; that we forever move from a restless mind to one of peace. It seems that the more disciplined we are in practicing ‘mindfulness’, the less we’re caught in what Zen masters have referred to as ‘monkey mind’, that state of living where we’re out of balance, being pulled from thought to thought as we miss what’s before us in the present moment. If we find ourselves in anxiety, worried about the upcoming day, we’ve given our awareness away to wandering thought. If we can only put out our awareness to hopes for a ‘better’ day, we miss the mystery of the present moment’s unfolding. If we’re trapped in nostalgia with thoughts of what ‘was’, we’ve ‘given’ our awareness to fantasy, to a cognitive ‘memory’ of what we ‘think’ was.


A great test of our capacity to step outside of cognitive constructs, meeting the mystery of the moment, is to move our perceptual light around as we experience temperature changes or injury. Last night we were on a boat ride. The temperature dropped and my wife labeled the conditions as ‘cold’. She was in a sweatshirt and was covering her legs with a blanket. I was in a t-shirt and shorts and ‘thought myself cold’ when she moved my perception to it from the label she applied to it. My sensation of temperature dramatically changed when I let go of notions of ‘comfort’ and ‘discomfort’, notions of ‘cold’ and ‘warm’ and the temptations to label my perceptual experience. When I shifted my perceptual focus from linguistic constructs to the ‘newness of the moment’ and acknowledged the gift of life, I found peace and happiness. I’ve found a similar effectiveness with wounds. If I attach the label of ‘pain and suffering’ to an injury, this increased attention from cognitive attachment seems to only increase my discomfort. Yet, when I can move outside the limitations of linguistic construct I discover peace within the mystery of the moment and move into the healing arena.


We can envy the five-month-old infant whose awareness comes so ‘easy’. For sure, this ‘awareness’ training takes years of disciplined training. Yet, as with all things, the more attention we give it the stronger it becomes. The stronger our awareness to the moment, the more filled we are with gratefulness for the opportunity within the moment. The more filled with gratitude we are, the more we find ourselves in peace and happiness, the treadmill of our anxiety and rat race living slowed, as we breath in ‘yes’ to affirm life, and breath out to ‘thank’ life for the opportunity to ‘connect beyond our notions of separation and ego’.



June 29, 2003


Giving Away the Center of Attention


The key element to a successful entertainer seems to lie in their ability to breakdown barriers between the performer and the audience. As I’ve gained greater awareness of my performance actions over the past five years, I’ve come to a new ground where I no longer need to hide behind closed eyes. It used to be necessary for me to close my eyes when singing or soloing on an instrument for fear of getting ‘off the train’ of the song. It seemed that whenever I made eye contact with someone in the audience, their energy distracted me. I’m now noticing that when I throw myself into the movie of the listener, in appreciation for their ‘presence’, this very act of giving away my ‘center of attention’ to them contributes to the magic of the event. This attention cannot come from a sense of duty, technique or expectation. It has to be a genuine giving of one’s undivided attention to the spirit of the person(s) in presence. When I can fill with gratitude for the ‘opportunity’ to perform, in full realization that the cup I have to give is bottomless, this capacity to give to a house of two or two thousand is unlimited. This skill seems to go beyond technical musical skill and is an area often misunderstood by entertainers, but one that’s key to the creation of ‘the party’ all entertainers want to create.


This notion of ‘giving away attention’ is also found in the customer service area of any company.   Whenever an employee uses the word ‘policy’, it’s like they’re hiding behind closed eyes. Real customer service comes from the employee’s capacity to open the eyes and genuinely as, “What would you like me to do about this?” Within this moment, the employee courageously empties any notions of control or expectation, with the courage to fully listen to the customer’s problem, beyond any personal notions of what should be done to ‘fix’ the problem.
Whether it’s a customer, an audience, or any personal relationship, the ‘party’ or success of the interaction seems directly proportional to our ability to ‘give away the center attention’ in a commitment to ‘inclusion’ and open listening, beyond any notions of thinking we’re ‘so’ special. Once again, it comes to our capacity to still the monkey mind in commitment to listen to others.



July 1, 2003


Intention, Motivation, Opportunity and the Rat Race


Just ‘how’ we feel about taking advantage of an ‘opportunity’ can very much be related to whether or not we’re motivated by ‘fear’ or ‘the heart’.   In the first case, we’re seeking to ‘take advantage’ of a situation for our gain. In the second case, we’re recognizing an ‘opportunity’ to serve after listening to our ‘heart’s pull’ about what we know we must put strong intention to. It seems many of us stay locked into fear, seeking jobs that offer some sense of security. We go in day after day, doing the same or similar things year after year, pulling the similar paycheck as we lock into a somewhat ‘sleeping’ consciousness. It’s like we let our day ‘do’ us rather than setting strong intention about what we’ll put attention to in contribution to the healing of the universe. As our perception of time speeds up, days blend into days, months into months and years into years. At some point we look in the mirror and wonder what’s happened. Such is the nature of fear-based living.


And when we truly listen to the heart, placing our ‘doing’ in alignment to our ‘being’, we find a lifetime within each moment. The incessant treadmill of anxious thought slows as we meet the mystery of each precious breath. Yet, it’s so tempting to numb ourselves to sleep within the rat race schedule. This ‘busy-ness’ can keep us from the heart, engrossed in the fear of infinite ‘what if’ scenarios.


Creative Source of Life, this gift of the moment is so precious, yet we seem to squander lifetimes caught in fear as we scramble for a sense of security. May all creatures come to know the peace that comes from listening to the heart and directing our life actions from this center.




July 2, 2003


A Request for ‘Wisdom’ from ‘What’s Worked’


Our Class of ’68 is celebrating its 35th Class Reunion this summer on July 25-26. A few weeks ago I thought it would be interesting to hear from some of these classmates about ‘what’s worked’ in their lives. During our graduation year we experienced the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. We lost several friends to the Vietnam War and many went on to raise families, going through the joys and pains of gains and loss. The strength of character shown by these classmates as they’ve healed through the most trying of life circumstance is why this ‘book of wisdom’ was started. It’s become increasingly clear that personal achievement, material wealth, and fame are not nearly as important as we thought them to be years ago. A few of the repeating characteristics for ‘what’s worked’ in successful living have been an appreciation for friends, family and faith, a commitment to patience and genuine willingness to ‘listen’, dedication to the care of body, mind and spirit, a disciplined approach to living for ‘the moment’, compassion for others through a sense of ‘belonging’.



July 3, 2003


Happiness Found Within the Surprise of the Creative


It seems that a solid sense of well-being is found through a sense of gratitude, stewardship, belonging and the creative experience. Each living creature is unique with its own unique capacity to generate. The most common is to generate offspring with a solid stewardship that evolves the species to higher ground and functioning. And while most find great happiness and satisfaction through this process of generation, this process dramatically changes when the youth enter their own adult lives. Typically, the male has gained self-worth from duty to protect and provide and the female has gained self-worth from the duty to nurture. Yet, when the door to eldership opens and all youth are adults, there comes a time when the creature finds love through letting go and opening to the surprise of the creative experience. During this ‘second half of life’ we have a choice of conscious aging directed from careful listening to the heart’s pull, or unconscious aging where we shut down, become preoccupied from fear about our security and our notions of permanence, and find ourselves sedentary. There’s little movement as we feel the world ‘doing’ us. It comes to our decision to live a ‘mindful’ life or a ‘mindless’ life; to increase our TV consumption or decrease it; to let the body/mind/spirit rust or use it up to its fullest capacity engaged in the creative experience of ‘meeting the mystery’ anew each day.


Dear Spirit, we know we have a sense of stewardship for care of this miraculous vehicle we’ve been given in our body. We know the mind withers without creative use and disciplined attention to stretching our gifts and talents. We know we weaken as ego tempts us to move spirit from our sense of connection to the universe. May all creatures find their own creative song and dance in unique contribution to the healing of the universe? May we rejoice in recognition of this ‘gift’…of this ‘opportunity to play’?





July 21, 2003


‘The Blues’ Keep Me Movin’


Deepok Chopra has described a ‘river of life’ where one bank is ‘of pleasure’ and one bank is ‘of pain’. Successful living involves our capacity to not get attached to either bank. No one is immune from the experience of pain and loss in this life and most of us function from a notion that pleasure is a goal. As we experience life, we come to see that our greatest wisdom comes from our capacity to move ‘through’ life’s pains from our healing insights. We see that those who are unable to ‘release’ from life’s wounds, those bound in notions of regret, revenge and justice, seem to stagnate. We can also see that those forever in pursuit of consumptive pleasure are forever dissatisfied, expectations seldom met. There is no ‘peace’ when the lottery’s won, when one reaches retirement with a sense of security, or when one’s accumulated large amounts of material wealth or power. No matter which bank we attach to, we find our sense of well-being is best served through our movement down the river as we enter the larger body of water in full realization we were always ocean.


It’s this sense of ‘belonging’ in the universal human experience that brings us peace, harmony and connection to the rhythm of life. For me, it’s the honesty found in ‘the blues’ that keeps me movin’ down the river. So many have mistakenly viewed the blues as a music that attaches one to the riverbank of pain. Yet, when you really understand the blues, you come to see that it’s a great vehicle for keepin’ you movin’ down the river of life.


Weather and Bugs


A lot has been written about ‘attitude’. We can see how our mental attitude affects our physiology, how it contributes to our healing and ultimately to our sense of health and well-being. Many have written about the negative impact of the language of ‘woundology’, where we get caught in focusing on what’s ‘not working’ with our bodies. There’s the paradox about social acceptance of discussion of our pains and injuries mixed with our inherent discomfort in listening to another’s ‘whining’.


It seems that those ‘things’ that seem uncomfortable for us, those things that test our ‘threshold of whining’, are what build character. In Minnesota there seems to be an overwhelming focus on what’s ‘not right about the weather’ or ‘what’s not right with the bugs’. Just as it seems people don’t want to hear me ‘whine’ about what’s ‘not working’ with the body, I find upon review that it’s best to not ‘whine’ about the weather and the bugs. Healthy living and relationships seem to best function within the realm of gratitude for the very gift and opportunity to exist. Within this awareness comes our capacity to forever say ‘yes’ to the moment, to discipline ourselves to say ‘thank you’ and experience consequent happiness.



July 22, 2003


Teaching Our Children for Peace and Sense of ‘Well Being” in a World Bent on Violence and Anxiety


How is it that we lose that ‘sense of wonder’? The infant’s face is filled with awe at the mystery of life and the discovery of universe. Yet, at some point it’s as if we’re ‘pre-wired’ to attach to an experience of either pleasure or pain. From the very first development of cognition, as the child comes to ‘object permanence’, it’s as if we bring our children along the road of dissatisfaction. Parents and educators place great emphasis on training children in the ways of manipulating the environment through ‘requesting’ skills. Inherent in ‘requesting’ behavior is the notion that something is ‘not right’ or ‘missing’. Actually, much of our learning is based on notions of ‘getting somewhere’ that’s better than where we are. Much of our motivation to learn and work is motivated from ‘fear of losing what we have’. Yet, the richest contributions to humanity have come through creative efforts where the individual has maintained a ‘sense of wonder’ in the creative process, forever filled with gratitude for the ‘gift of opportunity’ to ‘just be’.


Who does not want their children to be at peace? Who doesn’t want their children to be filled with happiness and a solid sense of ‘well-being”? So why do we work so hard to train them in dissatisfaction? Why do we continually expose them to fear for what’s ‘not working’ and notions of ‘hope’ or ‘luck’ from some outside source that can control their future sense of pleasure or pain? Isn’t our primary goal to contribute to the healing of the universe as we bring our children once again to a ‘sense of wonder’ in creative response to the gift of opportunity?


For sure, we know that traveling the river of life we will forever bump against the banks of pain and pleasure. Yet, we have come to see that peace and well-being come through our capacity to not attach to either bank as we flow from stream to river to ocean, forever in gratitude for the opportunity to always be connected as water, filled with awe and wonder for this very gift of breath.


It seems our largest imperative in teaching is to forever bring to awareness the beauty of the moment and the divine intelligence of the universe as we come to full acceptance for what ‘is’? As we teach our children to ‘touch the divine’ through the heart, they will find their creative contribution and connection to the water, forever in gratitude for all that is working, even through the most difficult of life circumstance. This is where they find peace and well-being in a world that seems focused on violence and anxiety.




July 23, 2003


On Notions of ‘Mastery’


I’ve recently stepped out of running a successful business in the boardsports industry. I had been one of the few who was able to follow my passion in this area over the years through a combination of luck, timing, skill and focused attention and mission. I had nourished a staff that was the best, most having put close to fifteen years of vocational attention in developing what they do. My management style was directed to empower employees in making their own creative decisions based on their action’s continuity with company mission. In effect, my skill was best summarized in bringing the company to a point where it could function without me. I found myself putting more and more attention to ‘pushing’ them to higher levels of performance beyond notions of comparison to other employees and other companies. The more they placed themselves in the shoes of the customer, the more they ‘listened’ to the issues presented by the customers, the better we became at customer service, product selection and pricing. In the end, our success was directly related to our capacity to communicate well with one another and with our customers. This communication necessarily involved consistent positive attitude through gratitude in the ‘opportunity’ to serve.


Today, so many are in a quandary about ‘what to do’ with their lives. As youngsters, there’s always the question of ‘what do you want to do when you grow up’? Years ago it was easy to come up with an established career answer.   Yet, today’s fast changing work climate commands a much more complicated answer. It simply doesn’t work to say, “I want to be a doctor or a jet pilot”, without elaborating on the underlying mission for pursuing such a career. It used to be that we looked to a fashionable profession for making money, yet we see that only those taken in passion with their work seem to succeed with it. The anti has been raised to new levels. If you want to last in a vocation, you better make it to a high level of skill mastery and creative input or risk failure. Simply working for money is not enough. Additionally, if you don’t need to work for money, simply working for hobby doesn’t seem to work, either.


It seems as though we’re programmed to ‘contribute’ through application of our unique talents. Some of us are fortunate enough to have these blessings nurtured at a young age. Tiger Woods had parents who recognized a unique gift and they nurtured his performance from Novice through to Master. Much of our educational system is geared to give our students a ‘taste’ of various professional pursuits. Those students who identify a particular ‘fit’ devote full attention to pursuit of their interest. The more attention they put to it, the stronger it grows. Some stick with it to the level where they’re recognized as ‘the best’ in their area of interest. At this level of ‘mastery’ they’ve moved beyond their notions of ego as their actions become one within their play of the universe. If they’re a musician, they become ‘one with the instrument’. If they’re an athlete, they become ‘one with the game’. Many have described this level of experience as ‘flow’ or ‘in the zone’ performance. The person is no longer separated from the universe, the performer becomes one with the audience and a level of ‘surrender’ brings the Master to the ‘core of being-ness’. As we witness the Master, we amazed as we witness performance levels beyond our imagination. Even a Novice in the same area of interest can recognize this and we all sense a desire to ‘get there’ in our pursuit to completeness. Our ego may trick us to think we want the fame, recognition and approval, yet what we really want is to reach a ‘level of performance’ that’s beyond our ego as we touch the divine in creative action. Tremendous discipline and attention has been put to this area of interest as a ‘newness’ is discovered that steps outside what was previously thought to be the limit of human capacity. Spectator sports flourish as audiences recognize this ‘level of performance’ and deep down we all seem to crave ‘doing’ the best in our area of interest.


I’ve not known of any Master who reached this level of performance without tremendous discipline and attention. Yet, at what level can we surrender to our area of interest? When can we go beyond ‘doing’ to ‘being’, beyond division and competition to full surrender in 100% focus? It’s in these moments of ‘full awareness, focus and attention’ that we touch our current levels of ‘peak performance’. We’re beyond thoughts, no longer putting attention to what we’ve done or where we’re going. This ‘meeting of the moment’ is essential and almost all failed attempts at a particular action can be attributed to a momentary loss of full present moment attention. As we review the faces of athletes or musicians ‘stretching’ to new ground successfully, it’s as if we can see a ‘look of magic’ on their face as they visualize instantaneously the successful completion of the action, beyond cognitive notions of time and space. Animals and plants ‘just are’. They don’t seem to get confused with all the choices. Yet, as humans, given all the choices, we seem to stutter through our lives in pursuit of that area of interest where we can ‘surrender’ in action to our divine talents.


There’s a certain peace that comes from our commitment to a particular area of interest. While the approval and acceptance from others feeds a certain level of satisfaction, it’s our creative contribution to the healing of the universe that really feeds our happiness. If our action can’t find a place in this ‘healing’ process, we find ourselves dissatisfied and restless. Interestingly, this thirst to creative action never seems to cease. Even though our vocational interest of focus may change, there’s always a natural pull to somehow engage our creative performance to ‘the best of our ability’. While we may take vacations and sabbaticals, we’re forever challenged with merging our ‘doing’ and ‘being’ in peak performance for a sense of peace and happiness.





July 24, 2003


Mastering the Art of ‘Nobody Training’


How can anyone lose the sense of wonder for our very ‘being-ness’ when we can look at the dust we came from and the dust we’ll return to? How dare we ever fail to acknowledge this very gift of ‘being’? In full peace I acknowledge spirit, beyond notions of in and out, time and space, in experiential knowledge of its non-beginning and non-ending. These physical bodies give us the illusion that time is a real thing, yet we know of no physicist that can empirically capture time. It’s simply another notion. We seem to go through the first part of our life’s caught in notions of self-importance and ‘becoming somebody’, only to eventually face that moment when we smash ego in surrender to the reality of our ‘non-self’. Within this experience we paradoxically find our true connection to the fabric of the universe. As we let go our notions of inferiority and superiority, of thinking we’re victims or soooo special, we find our real ‘belonging’.


Ironically, as one moves through life, developing skills to higher and higher levels of creativity, we find our first experiences in ‘nobody training’.   At a certain level of surrendered action, we move beyond our notions of self and separation into a precognitive area of performance. Some refer to this as ‘bliss’, ‘in the zone’ of ‘flow’ performance where we are no longer separate from the universe, beyond all notions of fear and pride in the field of creativity. We acknowledge our happiness in gratitude for this gift of our ‘doing’ and ‘being’, meeting in a magical moment of action. While others acknowledge this level of performance, we humbly stand in gratitude for this gift of body/mind/spirit that’s come from the clay, for this sense of completeness in our surrender to the next level of creative discovery. In nobody training, it’s not the fame or approval of others that moves us to new levels of performance, but the connection to the present moment, our core being, and acknowledgement of our purpose and place in healing the universe.


All real masters have moved beyond notions of fame, attachments to past performance and the false sense of security from ego attachments. There is no ‘easy’ ride downhill, but a continual intention to meet the moment with full attention and focus in the blend of our doing and being.




July 25, 2003



Stagnant Waters


I’ve heard it said that life is like a river. It’s forever in movement, even though we may try to attach to the bank of pleasure or the bank of pain. It seems our thirst for pleasure can lock us into a search for increasing pleasure through our desire for success and material wealth. Others attach to the bank of pain, unable to detach from attachment to what was or what they think should be. Once attached, once we stop flowing with the current of the river, our lives stagnate just as the waters long caught in an eddy or bayou may loose their clarity. The Buddha cane to this understanding when he proclaimed the Noble Truth found with ‘nonattachment’. Just as the water once again gains clarity through movement, suffering dissipates once we ‘let go’ our attachment to pleasure or pain.


I have a friend forever dissatisfied, looking for happiness through material accumulations. His mother was in her last days of life and he was thirsting for happiness through material accumulation, dreaming of obtaining a large boat. Later that night he was called to his mother’s side where she died in his arms. I haven’t heard him speak of that boat since. It seems that when we experience the presence found in another’s last life breath, we suddenly struck with the insight that ‘enough is enough’, and the opportunity found through our physical presence commands us to forever be filled with gratitude for our physical manifestation. Somehow, we come to see so clearly that it’s not about us, but about our ‘belonging’ and our obligation to be the best we can be, the most complete person we can become, forever in process to our last breath.



July 28, 2003


Out of Control


It seems my capacity to weather suffering is to a large part determined by my ability to accept that unfolding events our ‘out of my control’. I once wrote a lyric, “Traveling through your mind, traveling through your soul, every now and then you’ll hit a deep pothole. Suck it up. Suck it up. Suck it up.” This past weekend I was honored to spend time with several high school classmates for our 35th class reunion. Scores of conversations were held in a relatively short time and the ones that had the greatest impact generally dealt with an expression of insight that came from difficult times. Their capacity to find greater strength and quality of life through loss and pain pointed to the huge potential we have as human beings to embrace our healing and spiritual unfolding.


While earlier class reunions had been filled with ego’s need to get attention for accomplishments and material wealth, at this point in time there was a very strong sense of family, connection and ‘belongingness’. What we’ve done, where we live and what our economic status are paled in relation to our capacity to simply ‘survive’ and grow into richer human beings. There was an overriding gratitude for being in the presence of others who’ve healed past the crippling from severe loss and pain to find a place they believe is now richer than ever. It seemed as though their travel through the ‘dark night of the soul’ in the deepest of pain imaginable brought them more in touch with the ‘sense of wonder’ for the precious nature of life. They found their freedom, peace and healing in knowing that events were ‘out of their control’.


Traveling the ‘river of life’, so many of us seem to get caught along the ‘bank of pain’ or ‘the bank of pleasure’. As infants, we seem to come early to believing we have control of the pleasure or pain in our lives. We wet our diapers, cry and suddenly, the diaper is changed and we feel better. We feel hunger in our stomach, cry, and suddenly we’re fed. This process of requesting and having our needs met leads us to believe we have a marvelous power at controlling others for our pleasure. Unfortunately, this often leads to our false notion that the universe is under our control and psychological pain comes when we believe our pain or pleasure is caused by us. It may take years to once again discover that ‘what is, just is’ and what really matters is our ‘meeting the moment’ in appreciation for the gift and opportunity to be the best we can be in contributing to the healing of the universe. What happens as a result of our efforts is simply ‘out of our control’ and it seems we can only come to a full sense of peace and happiness when we realize this.


Each day, as I encounter the courage, strength and integrity of those I meet who’ve faced the reality of those experiences I’ve most feared, I grow in my faith in the tremendous potential of the human body/mind/spirit. The notion of studying human behavior from a perspective of ‘potential’ rather than from ‘healing back to a baseline of normal’ resonates to my heart’s pull to explore this vast range of territory I never knew existed. We’ve been blessed with the tremendous capacity to stretch, to find our elasticity and flexibility, as we learn to continually disengage ourselves from the banks of pleasure and pain. It’s this study of ‘movement down the river’ in healing and stretching human function to new frontiers that’s captured my heart and mind.


(John Carnahan- three things he consults businesses on more than anything; customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and sense of purpose, and cost control. Lauren (Bump)- paralyzed from a water ski incident for several years, now claims his life is actually better in many ways after his accident since he’s made a promise to himself to always focus on the positive. Refuses to look at the news.)




(For “What’s Worked”, there was confusion from my request to not speak of religion. Clarify that what I wanted was written response on what they know ‘from experience’ and not from what they know from some outside authority. I want stories about what comes from the authority they find in their own heart. Certainly, this authority can be stimulated and helped through religion and there’s no implication that religion is ‘wrong’ or not very significant in finding the ‘experience of the divine’.)



July 29, 2003




Our capacity to move in the direction of more “completeness” seems to somehow relate to our ability to discipline ourselves to follow sound intentions. As a youngster on a dairy farm, the discipline came easy because there was no alternative. If I didn’t get up early to care for the cows they’d experience neglect or someone else would have to alter their schedule to fill the void. Our family was pushed to the economic limit, so each member felt a strong sense of responsibility and contribution to the success of the farm. I suspect many of my friends didn’t feel this discipline until they were in the military service. It was the power to wake with a ‘sense of belonging’ in strong ‘yes’ affirmation to engaging the universe in our actions. My sense of completeness at the end of the day very much related to my ‘sense of contribution’ and my capacity to fill with gratitude for the opportunity to participate.


Today I find myself in an unusual situation where participation is not forced by fear of economic disaster. Without the typical ‘job schedule’ and without being tied to an established business, many have asked me if I’m retired. It seems that many in the workforce would like to ‘cease participation’ as they forever fanaticize their own retirement with notions of rest, consumption and play. I’ve found my happiness continues to relate to my capacity to participate, my capacity to discipline myself to still get up in strong affirmation to meeting my intentions for the day. Our health seems directly related to our capacity to participate in positive energy to the healing of the universe. Our ‘dis-ease’ seems directly related to the strength of meeting the day in ‘no response’, filled with fear and anxiety about the upcoming events of the day. This may be why more heart attacks occur on Monday mornings at 9 am than any other time of the day. Ironically, while many of this anxious people experience stress from job dissatisfaction, they also experience rapid deterioration at retirement. They experience a let-down response, pull back their discipline to ‘wake to the morning’ filled with intention to participate and deteriorate in ‘neglect and infect’. Our capacity to continue in disciplined action seems to very much relate to our health and there’s simply no way to escape the discipline needed on our road to completeness. The natural law of ‘use it or lose it’ applies across all dimensions of body, mind and spirit and helps us put attention to tapping our potential in our areas of interest and blessing.



July 30, 2003


Touching the Territory


You’ve heard the phrase, “It took my breath away” and “It was as if time stood still”, in reference to those moments of magic where you entered a precognitive place of wonder. Some have called this “bliss”, “flow”, “peak experience” or “in the zone”. We know life is always moving, whether or not we believe it. The stream flows to the river and the river into the ocean, and there’s never a moment where all water is still. Yet, what is it about these moments, when the very ‘experience’ of our living has brought us to a place of full surrender, beyond notions of time and space, past the internal chatter, that seems to bring us in “touch with the territory”, no longer taken with the map? What is it about the universal recognition that or “peak performance” somehow ties into our “peak experience” in full experience to the “belongingness” we find beyond our notions of separation?


As we launch into action, we continue to carry our notions of separation of body from the event. It’s as if we’re ‘in control’. Yet, at the highest levels of performance we surrender in full confidence to the insight that nothing is in our control but our willingness to ‘give it up’ in full gratitude for the opportunity to participate. As we come to respect our core “being-ness”, we come to “still the mind” in “full attention” to the “precious present moment” with consequent happiness from “gratitude for the gift of belonging”. At this moment, we step beyond pride, fear, judgment, and comparison, the ‘map surrendered’, as we come to ‘touch the territory’.



It’s So Easy to Get Stuck


It seems most mental anguish and anxiety stems from our attachment to a thought or emotion (emotion defined as thought plus feelings). Our capacity to live healthy, complete lives in happiness seems directly correlated with our ability to not attach to these thoughts and emotions. While a certain amount of focus and introspection can help bring us to greater insights, ultimately, it’s our ability to let our attachment go that brings about our healing. The river of life is always flowing and life commands us to “un-stick” ourselves from the bank of pleasure or the bank of pain. It commands us to live in full elasticity, in the flexibility of the positive, in full gratitude for the opportunity to “flow” from the headwaters to the ocean, always in awareness that we’re water.


As we discover nature’s law that ‘what we put attention to grows stronger’, we come to appreciate the value in ‘perceptual shifting’. As we put repeated attention to notions of security, pride, fear, anger and jealousy just to name a few, we attach to the bank, stuck in our capacity to move, to find action. Yet, a more complete life comes in the realization of our power to ‘shift perception’. As we move the light of awareness and gratitude to ‘what’s working’ rather than on dissatisfaction for ‘what’s not working’, we come to our peace and joy. It’s this very behavior that must be taught to our children as language is introduced to them. It’s this skill that can carry them through the difficulties of life, forever healing back to peace and happiness in gratitude for what is working, for the opportunity to participate in this gift of body/mind/spirit.



July 31, 2003


Finding the Capacity to “Be” the Peace that Passes Understanding


Looking at traditional Western psychology, we find that most study of human behavior stops at the level of logical, rational behavior. We could say that if we don’t “understand” it, if the group can’t substantiate it through application of the scientific method, it can’t live in the realm of truth. Yet, today through the contributions from Abraham Maslow, Michael Murphy, Edgar Mitchell, Ken Wilbur and countless others, we know that higher levels of human consciousness are possible. This ‘larger’ experience of ‘stepping outside’ the limitations of body and logic to further exploration of mind and spirit are coming to light more and more as we forever open ourselves in dedication to truth and the pursuit of happiness. So what is giving the field of transpersonal psychology and IONS their momentum?


There’s a major paradigm shift that’s taking place, even in a time when the forces working against it are fighting for power. Our great spiritual leaders all had the wisdom to stimulate our learning through parable, through bringing us to “experiential insight” by giving us confidence to go to the authority of the heart found in the very essence of our being. Not one of them came to us with a list of “beliefs” which we were to blindly follow under their command. They presented laws of nature that could not be refuted through our living trial and error. The command to love others as ourselves may be one of the most powerful. It’s a step to a higher level of consciousness where we no longer distinguish our separateness. Rather, we find peace in experientially coming to “know” how tightly we’re woven into the fabric of consciousness and the very wonder of the universe. And while religions have flourished around these powerful truths, they’ve tended to keep them at the cognitive level rather than at the application “experiential” level.


If we can “step outside” our notions of separateness, witnessing our being, can we see peace? Can we touch the heart in all of its authenticity, beyond notions of fear, anger, revenge and retaliation? History has shown time and again that “we’re” not in control; that the harder we try to control the universe, the further we move from where our heart’s know we must go. Today as the USA stands as “the” surviving superpower, we’re tempted to be caught in notions of “parenting” the health of the universe. Our government has failed to support the United Nations, an organization created to allow full participation by all nations. Caught in the wounds of 911, we had the compassion of the world somehow insidiously married with their delight that we’d come to know the pain so frequently felt throughout the rest of the world. Yet, when our “logical”, “rational” mind went to work in full neglect to these wise teachings of our spiritual leaders, we lost this sense of connection, this momentary movement to global healing. So do we retaliate and resort to our political leaders’ anger and notions of separateness? Do we sink to defeat as we touch the violence and fear that fills their hearts? Moving to the highest authority for the answer, within the depths of our heart we come toA know the truth in accepting what “is” in all of it’s divine intelligence. At this moment we become the peace that passes logic. We find the capacity to love our enemy beyond notions of separateness, the strength to listen to one another, and ultimately, our contribution to the healing of the universe. As Jesus so eloquently portrayed, we must be the peace that passes all understanding.



August 1, 2003



A Lesson in Happiness and Healing (aimed at children)


Who here has ever been hurt? Did you cry? Does anyone remember how you got better? What happened? Did you see how you felt better when you or someone else send your ‘hurt’ some love? Did you see how it felt worse when you sent it anger? Let’s pretend we stubbed our little toe on a door. At first we may cry when our toe sends an ‘ouch’ message to the brain. And if our brain keeps thinking about it, did you know that the ‘ouch’ just gets bigger. Who of you wants the pain to get stronger? No one? I didn’t think so. So let’s learn a way that will always get us back to feeling happy.

How many of you want to get back to feeling happy after getting hurt? I have a magic word that will help you. This special word is ‘Thank you’.


We can look at what’s broken and give it love or anger. If we look at it with love, we’re saying thank you for how it worked before it was broken. If we look at it with anger, we’re mad because it’s not working like we want it to. Some people only look for what’s not working. Do you think they’re happy? Probably not, unless they’re looking at it with love and care, just like a doctor may look at your hurting toe. The best way to start feeling happy is to say ‘Thank you, toe. Thank you for sending that message to my brain. Thank you for helping me walk today. Toe, I love you and think you’re great for helping me stand and walk.” When you do this, you’ll see that all of a sudden, ‘toe’ is feeling better and so are you. If it still hurts, move around your body and say ‘thank you’ for all that’s still working. Look at your other little toe. Say, “Thank you, toe. I love you and know you help me walk, stand, run and are very dear to me.” Move you thoughts to your little finger. Say, “Thank you little finger. It’s so amazing that you can move up and down when my brain says to. You’re always there when I catch the ball, eat my food and so many other things. Thank you for working so well.” Your body likes to hear you give attention to it. It’s a very good friend and wants to serve you well. It wants you to always see what’s working. Breathe in and say, “Thank you lungs, for taking in air and feeding oxygen to my blood. Thank you heart, for sending fresh blood all around in my body.” When you do this, all of a sudden, you’re not thinking about your stubbed toe. All of a sudden you realize your toe doesn’t hurt as much and you’re feeling so happy for all that’s still working.


So who wants to be happy as much as you can be? Do you know Abraham Lincoln? He said, “You can be as happy as you make your mind up to be.” Who remembers the magic word for making ‘happiness’? Yes, it’s “thank you”. So if something’s not working, will it get better if you get mad about it or if you send it love? What’s better, saying ‘thank you’ for all that’s working or being mad about everything that’s not working.?


I have something I do every morning when I get up from my bed that helps me feel happy. I wiggle a little toe and say, “Thank you, toe, for moving when I ask you to.” I open and close my eyes and say, “Thank you eyes, for opening and closing when I want you to.” They like this, and each time I do it, I feel so happy. Some mornings I do it with my hands, sometimes with my legs, sometimes I thank my nose for still smelling. There are so many parts of my body to say thank you for…so many things that are working so well. And guess what, when I think about them I don’t even think about what may be hurt or the ‘ouch’ of my little toe. I sometimes even wake up and say, “Thank you. It’s such a great ‘not stubbing my toe day. And you know what? This even makes me feel happy.


So what’s the magic word, “thank you toe” or “I hate you toe”. That’s right, ‘thank you’ is magic and it helps you feel better. It also helps other people feel better when you thank them for what’s working. It just works to look for what’s working and say ‘thank you’. And if you must look at what’s not working, send it love from your heart. Soon it will feel better knowing that you’re thankful for all it gave you before it broke. So many times, this is enough to get it working again.




August 2, 2003


How “Just Do It” May Not Fit With Notions of Abundance and Gratitude


I’ve recently left the company I founded and worked in for over twenty years and I’ve been puzzled by the reaction of friends and family to this change. I’m not real clear on their processing of this event, but I often pick up a sense of envy or frustration. We seem to go through a number of different gates in our life journey, often with a notion that there’s an “end”. We fill our life with a list of “wants” and “what ifs”. We carry this notion that “if only….then” almost as if we can then ‘stop’. It seems our notions of retirement bring this out more than ever. It’s like we conceive of all fears gone, societal contributions made, food and shelter taken care of, etc. So why not just sit back in a static existence? Obviously, for any who’ve ever reached a position thought to be an end, such as ‘fame’, ‘winning the lottery’ or ‘retirement’, the river keeps moving. There is no mountain peak where we can say, “At last, I made it”. Somehow, the river keeps moving and our health continues to be dependent upon our ability ‘to show up, pay attention, do our best, and be at peace about the fact that we don’t control the results’. And no matter how ‘good’ we’ve been lead to think we are, our heart’s always telling us, “so what?” This moment is new. It’s requiring our presence. And when we fill with gratitude in the realization that what we have within this precious breath is enough, we come to peace and clarity in listening to the message from the divine. We’re moved to action, not by some need to fix something, not by some need to persuade someone or leave our mark, but by a natural force found deep within our heart, at the very core of our being.


Within this peace we let go notions of others’ approval, our notions that what ‘is’ isn’t good enough and our fears from notions of comparison and judgment. Suddenly our winning is no longer dependent upon another’s losing. Suddenly, we break free from the prison created from notions of linear time and an end. We come to see how important it is to meet our appointment with life’s precious moment, breath by breath. Our perceptual window opens and we’re no longer living in the tunnel vision created from our fears and insecurities. As the heart fills in gratitude for the gift of belonging and opportunity, the message from the heart becomes clear. We move to action from the heart instead of the head or the belly.


So when our actions to ‘Just Do It’ come from careful listening to the heart, we have full understanding there is no end. It’s simply our mind, body and spirit in concert with our movement as we travel the river of life’s unfolding. And when we move to action from the head or belly, or from our fear or pride, the hoped for degree of peace, happiness and harmony may not arrive since they don’t fit into the realm of conditionality. The universe ‘is’ and our heart tells us what we must do for completeness in honor and respect for our ‘being’. The opportunity never ends. The gift never dies. It’s just that our awareness fails as we sleep through another opportunity to be. The only condition seems to be that our happiness and peace seem dependent upon our ability to listen to the divine and ‘Just Be It’.



August 4, 2003


And Time Stood Still


Sometimes we can’t help but slow from traveling at the ‘speed of mindlessness’. Our neighbor’s mother had been fighting cancer for three and a half years. At the diagnosis, the doctor had forecast six months, but she didn’t believe him and fully participated in a courageous life to the moment when she finally did shed her body. Friends and family gathered to release her ashes into our lake yesterday. Her spirit touched the elements and just before we departed on the pontoon, the clouds parted for the sun to shine through, the wind blew through and the air was filled with a crisp ‘aliveness’ that let us know this day was to be greeted with a resounding ‘Yes’!   Kind words were said; tears of happiness shed and loving laughter filled the boat. The ashes from here body were released to once again touch water as the lone sound of taps filled the air in the alchemy of ‘essence transition’. In our struggle to ‘allow be’ what ‘is’, to ‘let go’…just as we’re filled with grief for our loss… spirit filled the air in the form of a majestic bald eagle. This was a special time…a time that captured our breath in the stillness of the moment. It was a time where boundaries no longer existed, a time that we stood in awe at the very ‘completeness of the moment’ and gave thanks for the beauty of this precious life and our opportunity to participate in it. Later that evening, we sat around our dinner table reflecting upon this moment and wondered if we’ll ever have ‘full understanding’ to the way nature and the elements played this burial experience. At the moment of this verbal expression we heard a chorus of several loons like never before heard and this understanding grew beyond notions of beginnings and endings as time once again stood still.



August 5, 2003


There’s Nothing ‘Comfortable’ About the Complete Life


It seems my happiness not only relates to capacity for gratitude, but more importantly, to my capacity to participate in the opportunity to contribute to the healing of the universe. This necessarily involves meeting the challenges of taking actions further each and every day. Within our realization of just how special each moment is, we come to find the motivation to push into the zone of discomfort…into new territory. During our youth, we stretch through our educational opportunities, whether in school or traveling or immersing ourselves in different job situations. We can see a great tragedy when youth stop meeting the challenges through idle behavior in front of the TV, computer or engagement with a job that has no meaning beyond earning spending money. On the other end, we see similar tragedy in those who graduate from the work force, only to begin their dying in what we call ‘retirement’. Our sense of worth, self-esteem, completeness, or whatever one calls it, is somehow based on our capacity to contribute in leading a balanced life that continually goes outside the bounds of comfort.


As we look at today in America, we find a continuing push to ‘comfort’, to making life ‘easy’. Yet, our country seems strongest when in the midst of healing from hardship. When we can break from our stupor and inattention to the body/mind/spirit, touching one another as ourselves in compassionate action, we ‘feel’ better in our completeness. When we can function in realization that ‘it’s not about us’, we find peace and happiness in our ‘belonging’. When we can honor our gift of life opportunity by doing our best through disciplined attention to those talents we’ve been given and chosen, we somehow feel lighter in our grounding. When a steady diet of attention is put to a particular area of interest in mission to ‘heal’ the universe, we receive peace through a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond feeding the ego.


As we forever grow to our potential some interesting things happen. We can see how limitless the road to quality is. While we have notions of ‘mastery’, even those with lives dedicated to a particular field or instrument, repeatedly report how it’s only opened them to see how much further they could go. There seems to be no limitation to the amount of “stretch” or challenge a person can put themselves through during this limited time within these physical bodies. Yet, somehow, with a lifetime of attention we see the paradox in the development of ‘style’. The old masters seem to engage in their actions with much less effort. Their capacity to ‘surrender’ into the moment of play/work seems so far superior to those still in apprenticeship and effortful discomfort. It’s as if the actions they stretch to are beyond their individuality as the instrument or game ‘plays them’ outside their notions of ego. From years of disciplined attention and stretch, effort and sacrifice, a particular ‘effortless’ style is born within the experience of what’s been called ‘flow’, ‘in the zone’ or ‘bliss’ performance.


A life dedicated to ‘life’ will necessarily lead to these experiences. And, unfortunately, a life dedicated to preservation, security, status quo and comfort will necessarily lead to fear, stress, anxiety and eventual decline. We have a choice to participate or not, to play our song or not, to dance or not dance. It seems such a ‘dis’ on grace when we ignore the opportunity to ‘just be’ to the best of our ability in this very short period of time before the body is shed. There is nothing ‘comfortable’ about our road to peace and happiness, on our journey to full living.



August 7, 2003


A Sense of ‘Disconnection’


Can you remember the last time you were engaged in a powerful conversation with someone on your cell phone and the signal was lost? Or how about a time when you were really connecting with someone and you were interrupted by another person or event? It seems we overestimate our capacity to be in solitude. This ‘aloneness’ is something that takes tremendous skill and discipline lest we drift in our connection to the universe. When our dialogue with another is cut, we’re left with a sense of frustration. And when we’re involved in communication that transcends our separateness we’re filled with a sense of well-being and purpose.


It seems our health is dependent upon our capacity to be around those of similar life purpose so that more and more communications spontaneously lead to these ‘connected’ dialogues. We seem to lose confidence in ourselves when others ignore us, fail to respond to our comments and, more or less, disconnect us from a sense of ‘belonging’. Our growth can be stunted when after careful listening to the heart we expose ourselves only to be ignored or criticized by others. So many times this ‘ignore-ance’ is simply a decision by the other person to not invest the psychic energy required for listening. Other times it’s because the other person’s own mental internal chatter is so lively that few messages from others ever receive attention. Yet, how wonderful for all of us when we have someone’s undivided attention? It’s as if we’re bathed in their connection and it’s perhaps the reason some have labeled this undivided attention as ‘love’.


It seems happiness is dependent upon our recognition that this ‘love’ is a gift; our sense of connection and belonging is an opportunity that’s been presented to us beyond our control. For sure, we can command attention through threat, fear, power and any number of other violent methods of persuasion, yet attention that comes of free will from a listener carries the element of respect, belonging and pure connection. It also means that person has sacrificed putting attention elsewhere in a decision to send love your way.


So often, we don’t want to make that sacrifice without having the validation from the larger group. Consequently, we seem to need a list of credibility from accomplishments and group approval before we’re willing to give attention to another. The use of titles seems to accomplish this. Speakers have someone introduce them who will list their credentials. Bands have a warm up band followed by a ‘intro’ personality who will help bring the audience to a full, participatory listening readiness.


It sometimes helps to blatantly request that another listen to what we say. Yet, I’ve found the most effective way to move another to listening is to begin the process myself. It seems the other finds genuine listening so refreshing that at some point, after experiencing the joy of connection, they are willing to empty their agenda to receive my message beyond judgment, criticism and tendency to separate.


It’s so much easier to ‘connect’ with nonhumans. Dogs seem to give undivided attention more than any human I’ve encountered. Walking in the woods, along the beach, in the mountains or dessert, it seems as though the elements and other living creatures are fully open to receiving my being-ness. Certainly, much of our healing, our return to connection, begins with a walk in solitude and eventual connection with the nonhuman. Yet, our sense of well-being seems dependent upon our capacity to ‘connect’ with other human beings. The ‘approval’ from others seems to validate our sense of worth, yet our search for ‘approval’ seems to distance us from finding our center of being. The challenge to love one another as ourselves seems to be a command to give one another attention through compassionate listening. We seem to ‘connect’ to the degree we’re willing to see that it’s not about just us and our own personal interests. Our capacity and skill at listening, putting undivided attention to another, may be the most important thing we can do on our journey to wellness.



Two Key Elements to Growing Happiness and a Sense of Well-Being: Gratitude and Challenge


Recent research and years of ancient wisdom have expounded upon the benefits to an attitude of gratitude. Our capacity to carry a grateful heart seems to directly correspond to our sense of well-being. Mihaly Csiksezentmihalyi has studied the phenomenon he calls “flow” and has shown how our ability to continually push ourselves into new territory, meeting new challenges in full attention, also enhances our quality of life and sense of well-being. When asked what we should be grateful for, Brother David Stendl Rast says, “Be grateful for the gift. You ask what gift? For the gift of ‘opportunity’.” It seems our sense of well-being very much relates to our ability to acknowledge all that is working, express our gratitude for the intelligence of the universe, give thanks for the opportunity to participate, and challenge ourselves to enter new territory. So much of this has to do with our capacity to meet the day in full affirmation, regardless of the troubled times we may be in. The First Noble Truth as taught by the Buddha claims our suffering comes from attachment and we can see how our healing and growth necessarily involve a focus on gratitude for the gifts that have brought us to where we are and a mental mindset of surrendering into the challenge of the moment. No matter what our profession, job, family situation, sport, or daily activity, our happiness and well-being seem to depend upon our ability to “meet our actions” in full attention and gratitude for the opportunity. To the extent we fill our mind with judgment, criticism, anxiety and stress, we rob ourselves of the glory of the moment’s potential. Our capacity to meet the challenge, moving into “flow” experience, is crippled by these attachments.


Just Be It was formed from these realizations. At the highest levels of performance, where we’re pushing ourselves just beyond familiar territory, what some call the ‘extreme’, we break beyond our notions of division. Our performance reaches new levels as we surrender into the action or the object of action. The ball player becomes the ball or the game being played. The boarder becomes the mountain or the wave. The bottle inspector becomes the bottle. The dying person meeting his/her last breath becomes the breath. No matter what the action, that person who can meet the moment in full attention, detached from notions of self-ego and approval need, yet filled with gratitude for the opportunity to participate, will inevitably experience increased sense of well-being having met the challenge of life. Having the courage to meet the challenge, to stretch into new territory, and doing it with a grateful heart, seems to be a crucial component to strength of character.


(maybe look at Maslow’s work in relation to this)



August 9, 2003


Meeting the Challenge in Gratitude


It seems our happiness is not only dependent upon our gratitude, but also our capacity to meet the challenge of the moment. From meeting creation each day from sleep with solid “yes” affirmation to living, through facing suffering straight on, to pushing the window of performance in our area of interest, to being ‘present’ in our relation to others and the universe, to a sense of gratitude for the ‘opportunity’ to participate in healing the universe, it seems a successful, happy life is filled with gratitude and courage to meet new challenges throughout the day.


It’s like it comes down to our discipline to actively focus our energy and ‘be the ride’, or passively move through our world as we’re ‘taken for a ride’.   Our challenges are all different as life presents different scenarios to all of us. One day we may be a strong athlete and the next we’re learning to walk as a result of accident or disease. One day our challenge may be to heal our marital or parental relationship. The next day our challenge may be to heal the suffering from their death. Our success in meeting these challenges seems to directly relate to our discipline to ‘actively’ engage our consciousness to the present moment in gratitude for the gift of this precious life. And as we shut down activity and attention to any part of body, mind or spirit, we come to see its deterioration.


Moving through life, I want to be ‘used up’, fully challenged in body, mind and spirit, in contribution to the healing of the universe. For this, I say, “Thank you for letting me unfold myself. May I always review the day’s events in satisfaction that my actions have been in stewardship to my talents and potential in contribution to healing the universe?”




August 10, 2003


Within the Realm of Consciousness, There Is No Retirement


Our happiness and sense of well-being seem directly related to our capacity to find gratitude for the ‘opportunity’ to participate, even when in troubled times. Our healing is necessarily dependent upon our ability to ‘let go’ in full realization that there is always movement, nothing is permanent, and our pain is directly related to our ‘holding on’. It seems so many of us put so much of our consciousness to notions of an ‘end’, particularly when it comes to the fantasy of financial security. Yet, within the design of things, we see that what we stop to use, we start to lose. When we stop stretching our body, mind or spirit, there’s deteriorating movement. When we stop participating in the healing of the universe through our own contribution, we deteriorate. Much like we see our muscles wither each year without exercise after forty years of age, our minds and spirits begin to fail without our continual challenge to push them to new territory. For those working in hospice, there’s powerful evidence that when we near death the spirit is stretching to new dimensions within the realization that there is no end.


We are stewards of these bodies we inhabit for this short period of time. It s our responsibility to keep them tuned in gratitude for the opportunity to experience each moment in wonder. We seem to abuse this gift when we throw our attention out of the precious moment to dominating thoughts of the past or notions of an ‘end’ future. As more and more go through involuntary vocational changes or economic uncertainty, it seems more and more critical to learn how to discipline ourselves in productive ‘non-job’ pursuits. The most important skill would seem to be an ability to stop the incessant inner mental chatter that promotes fear and anxiety. The second skill would be in helping others to find the new challenge through listening deeply to the heart. Within this process, when we discover the ‘yes’ to living and the happiness through gratitude for the opportunity to participate, we find ourselves and our sense of responsibility to sing our song, dance our dance, etc., in honor to the unique talents we’ve been given. Within this step to consciousness we are able to dismiss notions of ‘retirement’, ‘winning’, ‘fame’ and happiness through material possession. We find peace through meeting the moment in appreciation for what ‘is’ in all of its perfection…where enough is enough.




August 12, 2003


Within the Discipline of My Life’s Routine, I Find My Happiness in Forever Stepping Into New Territory in Gratitude for the ‘Opportunity


It seems a disciplined daily routine is necessary in our desire to grow and to have the capacity to stretch to new territory. Certainly, those who set new standards in any discipline have done it through focused daily attention. They set goals and systematically stretch to new ground within their particular area of interest. The routines we set for daily living may be some of the most important decisions we make in our path to growth or death, a life of happiness or despair. While it’s pleasurable to socialize and move to consumptive entertainment, at the end of the day there’s still something missing…a pull from the heart that says it just wasn’t fed. Or it could be the heart of lungs screaming for activity, or stomach screaming from the abuse of ingesting toxic foods, or muscles withering screaming for life due to your failure to stretch them, or your brain screaming for peace from all the anxiety driven mental chatter its had to endure throughout the day. Oftentimes, even those disciplined in a routine reach the end of the day with an empty feeling simply because they didn’t stretch into the new as a creative artist of life.


Our happiness depends upon our willingness to explore. I’ve found some of my greatest gifts have come through risking execution of my routine in new locations. It’s easy to meditate in the room I usually use in my house. A new dimension’s added when I’m staying over at a relative or friend’s house. Playing my trumpet can be especially risking, but, more often than not, results in leading me to new territory I could never have imagined. While I occasionally get the complaint for the sound intrusion, I often receive a word of gratitude, and in some cases, find an invitation to join others in the musical experience. This willingness to risk new ground has led to my playing with some of the regions top musicians. Again, there was nothing comfortable about executing my routine in new territory, but somehow the ‘flow’ of present minded performance unites us, regardless of level of skill. On the other hand, as soon as I start ‘thinking’ I’m ‘good’, the ‘flow’ disappears, my full focus is gone, and I’m making mistakes dividing my attention between playing my horn and ‘thinking’ I’m not so bad.


The ‘decision’ to discipline to a routine is not comfortable. Ironically, once we do surrender to ‘new territory’, we step outside ourselves and our actions move beyond our thoughts, time and space. It’s as if we’re in ‘witness mode’, standing outside ourselves in wonder and awe, in full recognition to our responsibility to participate to the best of our ability, not for us, but in honor to those gifts we’ve been presented.




For the Life ‘Well Lived’, There Are No Vacations


More and more, I find that happiness depends upon the capacity to challenge one’s participation within the healing process. The second ingredient to this happiness is the capacity and commitment to live in gratefulness for the ‘opportunity’ to engage in this process with one another. Restlessness grows and sense of self-esteem diminishes as I lull myself into the comfort of not stretching. Amazingly, our bodies and minds retreat as soon as we relax into inactivity in violation to our unfolding “being” potential. Within the decision “to be or not to be” comes a responsibility to commit to the challenge. This commitment commands a discipline that’s fueled by genuine concern from the heart, yet carries humility to our notions of individual performance. Ancient wisdom has directed us to act as if the future of the universe depends on us, while at the same time laughing at oneself for thinking that whatever we do makes a difference. It’s a blend of taking oneself serious enough to follow the heart’s pull in honor to the gift and opportunity to participate, yet, to carry humility in the process by not taking ourselves too seriously in the process. Mihaly Czikszentmihaly refers to this as a playful concern.


One of the greatest tasks facing our world today may be “inspiring” our youth to the “challenge to participate”. Childhood obesity continues to increase through unaware and undisciplined diet filled with increased anxiety. Academic performance seems to be on the decline, And the answer to correcting this trend would seem to lie in training to ‘engagement’ and ‘meeting the challenge’ to the development of skills of passion complete with realistic goals to ever increasing performance. To the extent the child can sense a life-long commitment, the universe will best be fed through the fruits of this person’s commitment through solid intention and disciplined attention. Conversely, quality of life diminishes as we pull ourselves from the present with daydreams of an end, i.e. retirement, vacation.


It seems we can best find our happiness in surrendering our materialistic notions that we must have it all in favor of full attention to doing our best and giving it our all. This carries us beyond notions of an end, of a retirement or vacation.




August 14, 2003


Thank You, Father


Flexibility of perspective is an amazing thing. One has me looking at the time spirit occupies this body in realization of just how brief our moments of life are. The next, I’m filled with wonder at the millions of opportunities, experiences and insights the intelligence of the universe provides us. Similarly, I’m also blown away with the paradox of how I have to balance my notions of life purpose, importance and action against the realization that it’s not that important. It’s that fine balance of sense of responsibility and concern balanced against humility. It’s realizing the universe hangs on my capacity to be the best I can be, yet also realizing it’s perfect just as it is, far beyond any notions of control I might have. My Father and Mother did a great job at teaching me this through example. They set powerful goals, high standards, engaged each day with a strong sense of purpose and responsibility, and most importantly, became very good teachers through example and through listening. I guess you can say their teaching was done through walking the walk rather than talking the talk.


They showed me the power of a social support system as we were gifted the last experiences of the extended family in this rapidly changing world. Almost every weekend was spent with their parents and their brothers and sisters. They taught me discipline and made me feel like my participation on the farm was not optional. It seems like one of life’s biggest challenges is what Steve Covey calls, ‘mind over mattress’. There is no choice when one feels genuinely needed and I think this is one of the greatest gifts parents can give children today…that sense that showing up, paying attention and doing your best is not optional. And when things didn’t work out, they were there with the reminder that I really didn’t have control of the outcome. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we thought they should, and now our job was to learn from the surprise, no matter how painful.


It was fun watching our family in the economic struggle. I know they had dreams of another world where perhaps the work days were shorter, where more of the fantasized ‘good life’ was had. Yet, they captured the essence of a happy life through gratitude for what they had and fortitude to forever face the challenge of the season. The longer I live the more I see how gratitude and capacity to challenge ourselves are key to happy living. Dad didn’t talk much about ‘taking the old road’, but he had great respect for where he came from and discipline to continually work at getting better at what he’d put his attention to. He had held dreams of the city life and one year we supported him on his journey down a new road. It didn’t take him long to see pitfalls in starting a new journey and he came back to a dedicated life on the farm that was more creative than any other time of his life. I think this is when the poetry started to germinate.


Taking this old road seemed to ground him. I saw an increase in patience. He became very slow to anger. Actually, I can’t remember hardly any temper outbursts after this. He’s always demonstrated the wisdom in not ‘meddling’ in other people’s business. He saw other farmers taking different approaches to rapidly changing times, yet stayed the course on what felt best to him, without feeling the need to ‘advise’ them. He saw different approaches to religion, yet stayed the course on what felt best to him, without feeling the need to ‘change’ others through some sense of an absolute right. Yet, his willingness to listen, to smile, to send that Galen ‘good vibe’, perhaps did more than anything to get us to see the other side, rather than staying stuck in the notion that we had the ‘right’ answers.


Father, thank you for showing through example how beautiful this life is, how to see the good that’s born even through adverse times. Thanks for showing us the power of patience and the wisdom in seeing that ‘enough is enough’, that so much suffering comes from this thing we call ‘wanting’. Thanks for showing the benefits of waking early. Thanks for showing me how to deal with the fact that life’s outside our control…that sometimes things don’t turn out like we expect and our job is to learn from it. Thanks for showing us the power of the smile, the wisdom in not talking so much and the wisdom in holding expression of anger, complaint and dissatisfaction for another day. Today, as I wonder at the miracle of my two sons, thanks for showing me how to appreciate the infinite gift of a son’s presence. Thanks for the ‘opportunity’ to appreciate the gift, this gift of belongingness that seems more difficult to come by these days.




August 15, 2003




One of the most amazing things for me is watching how Spirit presents different human beings into my life. Last Sunday I was playing my trumpet on the top floor of a parking ramp, having been inspired by the Duluth Bayfront Blues Fest. Playing my horn at any less than thirty minutes a day is not an option and I found a spot that was as remote as possible. The full moon was out, lightning was all throughout the horizon and a warm breeze was blowing. I was definitely in a ‘flow’ experience when a car pulled up to me and a lovely young lady expressed her appreciation for my music and invited me to a blues bar to sit in. Her words of encouragement and appreciation went deep to my heart and I met the challenge of traveling to Bev’s Juke Joint. Duluth’s main blues band, Azure du Jour, was setting up, and with further encouragement from a couple of the bar’s patrons, the next thing I knew, I was fully engaged in jamming with some incredibly talented musicians. And while I was immersed in the unfolding musical creation, I found the audience in full appreciation of the horn sound. I’ve always known that it’s sweeter to follow the challenge from the heart’s pull rather than for approval of others, yet somehow, their validation of my participation fed my spirit in a wonderful way. That young lady eventually showed up with more kind words, Bev invited me to come back and play another day, and as the bar filled later that night, I had the opportunity to play with a variety of other professional musicians who’d been headlined at the festival. It was an incredible night of magic and I was reminded of words quoted from another woman who’s had tremendous impact on my life over the past year.


She was heading a writer’s conference in Maui and carried a professional attention to the moment that stood out. Her name is Sam Horn. Her precision in presentation, clarity of message, confident presence and very positive vibe stood out from an array of some of the more talented speakers I’ve run across. She was very effective at pulling quotes from others to highlight her message. One of these quotes, “Encouragement is like vitamins to the soul”, has stuck with me as I’ve experienced the generosity from those who’ve supported my work. It’s made me more aware of those persons who feed me with support for the work I carry on from the heart, more aware of the need to express gratitude for their loving attention, more aware of my need to support others engaged in actions from the heart.


At the writer’s conference I ambitiously took notes on the path to being a published author. Sam presented often and frequently introduced other speakers, always giving an energy that made it easy for the author to step into their presentation. There was no doubt that she had made an impact on me, showing me what disciplined attention can do to yield an easy-to-follow presentation. I had taught interpersonal communication at university level for four years, studied communications for over twenty years, run a successful business for over twenty years…in short, I’d put a lot of attention to the way we express ourselves to others and Sam had taken it to a new level for me. She’d shown me the power of humor, precision, love and content in presenting oneself to an audience that eventually breaks down the barriers between speaker and listener.


Just as Sandy had mysteriously shown up on that parking lot when I was playing my horn, two weeks after the conference I noticed that Sam Horn was presenting a workshop in Minneapolis. The topic was on her specialty, how to deal with ‘bullies’. At the time I had no idea how the content of her presentation was going to impact me. I only knew that she was a great act to learn from. Little did I know that what she presented would dramatically alter my life situation. She presented her insights for dealing with those people in our life whose happiness seems dependent upon their control over us. We were asked to think of any “bullies” in our current situation and rate them on a test she had prepared. The person I had picked scored off the charts and I suddenly knew that some action had to be taken to avoid a personal implosion. With Sam’s encouragement I went back to my work environment, equipped better to deal with a business partner whose winning somehow depended upon my losing.


Sam had explained a technique that she claimed to work most of the time. It consisted of raising the hand in a “Stop” gesture combined with a firm statement of the person’s name. Our two adult sons worked in the company and my partner’s son never had to punch the time card, yet my partner has insisted that my son does. He had asked me in his office to discuss his audit of my son’s hours and I found myself particularly challenged to stay in an “adult-adult” conversational mode. I suspected he was pushing a tender button in hopes of a fight and as I was leaving he attacked me on my routine for taking a twenty-minute refresher nap in the afternoon. This was way over the line for me and I raised my hand and commanded a firm “Stop” followed by his name. It was if I was raising a silver cross to a vampire as he instinctively rose from his chair in full fight mode. I strongly communicated my unwillingness to listen to his “bully” criticism and left the office. To this day I believe this incident is what precipitated the end of our twenty-two year partnership.


Over the next weeks he clearly new that I was the one relationship in his life he had no dominance over. He became more desperate in his attempts to control others in the company with a management style that was completely opposite of mine. Within a matter of weeks we were negotiating our separation through his confidant and with the assistance of my attorney. Two and a half months after Sam’s workshop we signed our separation documents and I’ve now found myself in a new life situation where I can once again direct my actions from the authority of my heart’s pull rather than from fear of another’s dominance.


I find that it’s so much more important to put myself around others who have similar interests to the challenges I want to face. While there are individuals who can thrive in the midst of people who would attempt to rob their spirit and energy, I’ve found my personal growth in body, mind and spirit is best facilitated through my association with other humans filled with a grateful heart and a passion to pursue their potential in the skills and talents they’ve been called to.


I will be forever grateful to the positive energy and wisdom from my brief encounters with Sandy and Sam. They truly are people etched in my memory for having fed me those most precious vitamins to the soul.



August 23, 2003


Exploring the ‘Meaning’ Put to the Ride Experience


Perhaps one of the richer questions we can ask in life is, “What goals do I have that lead to maximum enjoyment while still being responsible to others?” I’ve personally been involved with the nature of human communication and boardsports for a large part of my life and continue to find new meaning to life’s various ‘rides’. I’ve seen many use their human communication and ride experience for pleasure. There’s a quantitative element that somehow validates their goals through material wealth, achievement and fame. This view of reality is based around the notion that life value correlates to satisfaction of the senses. Another view comes more from exploration of the heart, moving from the material and tangible to nonmaterial and supernatural ends. There’s more of an emphasis on the abstract where challenges are no longer viewed from increased consumptive pleasure and security, but from a desire to reach inner clarity and conviction and contribution to healing the universe. These two views do not need to be exclusive.


Just Be It retreats have been established to help fellow riders explore the meaning put to their ‘ride experience’. Based on the premise that challenge is a key component to riding happiness, the retreats provide an opportunity to explore the unique purpose and goals one has for riding. Regardless of one’s life orientation, religion, or material focus, Just Be It retreats provide an open, supportive structure for increased awareness and open dialogue in understanding why we ride. Participants with dedication to other life interests can easily explore the same questions outside of boardsports as they examine their approach to life’s ride.


The retreats are based on the premise that increased awareness to the moment through a quiet mind and balanced body will facilitate one’s capacity to find one’s unique meaning and consequent goals to purposeful life action. Just Be It retreats provide the structure and forum for finding one’s place on the continuum of material survival and the nonmaterial. Our life enjoyment comes from engaging life through dialogue with others on this topic and through sharing the dialogue with the elements in the ride experience. All retreats are custom designed for the participants.



August 24, 2003



Life Current


There may be moments where time seems to stand still. Yet, we know life is always in movement, beyond our control. An enjoyable life seems to incorporate application of purposeful goals that somehow serve the community. Our capacity to incorporate the community of the universe seems to determine the health of body, mind and spirit. The extent to which we divide, separate and judge ourselves from others seems to contribute to our “dis-ease”. All of our great spiritual teachers have espoused the value in experiencing others as ourselves, even those we had perceived as our worst enemy. They have also stretched us beyond our notions of a limited existence, giving us clear direction on a spirit that continues to evolve. As we engage life, we find ourselves flowing from the stream to the river to the ocean, caught up in the various “currents” of living. These waters are always moving, no matter how hard we may try to stop them. Some of us, by choice, engage in toxic behavior for a surrendered rush through rapids that prove harmful to our existence. Others carefully chose purposeful actions to navigate these waters for greatest enjoyment and well-being. While calm waters are soothing and provide a sense of safety, we have a natural tension to be challenged. There’s something about the ‘current of life’ that draws us to “stretch”, to reach for our potential. Within the command to “know thyself”, we carefully listen to the heart and stomach, with full intuitive understanding of our skills and knowledge. We enter the rapids with continuous examination of exit routes when the current becomes too strong. And when the current does take control, when we are tossed over the falls, we are so completely filled with faith, so immersed in our knowledge that “we are the water”, we find the courage to live the moment to its fullest in complete awareness.


(written after a night of dreams filled with finding myself caught in strong current, knowing that I was very close to going ‘over the falls’, written one week after a local swimmer drowned from struggling in Lake Superior’s riptide)



August 30, 2003


(first writing after Green Lake retreat)



Dear Heart, from which the Divine Arises


We acknowledge the precious Nature of the Divine, in all of its manifestations

In full appreciation to the power of Divine intention

We pause in wonder at the gifts of the moment…this daily bread of opportunity to participate…to belong…to breath in recognizing we’re alive…to breath out in full smile for this gift and our responsibility to contribute to the health and care of this life, individually, within the family and throughout the community.

Heart is filled with happiness as our gratitude grows for this gift of opportunity

Within our acceptance of impermanence we find capacity to ‘let go’ attachment to negative thinking as we learn to forgive others as we would have them forgive us

With our ‘arrival’ to deep understanding and love we find the discipline, courage and power to live mindfully…beyond temptation to destroy, to violence and ingestion of those substances and actions that are toxic in nature. We take great care to live life in wonder, nurturing the positive seeds of happiness, hope, love, peace and harmony as we participate in the healing of the universe in honor to the Divine, clearly listening to the voice of the Heart in our pursuit to live deeply for great enjoyment in responsibility to others….beyond notions of birth and death, being and non-being, right and wrong, existence and nonexistence. Breathing in we silently scream “yes” in affirmation to life. Breathing out we silently say “thank you” for this gift. Amen.



Dear Friends,

Dear Community,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,





Who, in this room, wants to succeed?   Who, in this room, would really like to reach the end of your life in this body in the fullest of peace, harmony, satisfaction and happiness?


This life is so precious.   Let’s not waste it. Let’s take care to life deeply. Let’s take care to live life fully, in fullest courage to face the surprise to be found in each moment. We have choices, either to live life awake, mindfully, or to numb ourselves to this gift, mindlessly asleep to the wonder and gift of opportunity to participate.

We can face fear and despair, feelings of victimization, in determination to water the seeds of happiness, love, peace and understanding. With a discipline to take care of what is fed to our body, mind and spirit we move to deeper understanding and contribution to our personal well-being, our family’s well-being and the health and healing of the community.


We have choices to wake to the early morning, in readiness to begin our practice. Or we can sleep beyond our natural needs for rest. Successful living requires a ‘mind over mattress’ approach to the day. Mindful living requires our discipline and practice. A routine of attention to the breath, stilling the mental chatter that depletes energy, has been found essential for complete living. Making the body ready for the day, in honor to its gift of transporting us through our occupation of it, is met with greatest of care and discipline. In full recognition of this gift, we take appropriate daily action to exercise for muscle tone and endurance. We minimize risk of injury and illness through mindful exercise, mindful ingestion of foods, and mindful thoughts and speech. Successful living involves great care to ingest healthy nutrients in the fullest of awareness, to avoid toxic thoughts, speech and actions.


(relate Jewish story of coming up from clay, Four Pebbles practice, the notion of drawing from one’s own authority)


Deep living requires awareness through our capacity to stop in honor to the present moment, to ‘be’ in full attentiveness to our connection to every thread of consciousness, to look and ultimately see deeply into the true nature of things.



(Notions of youth and age in material accumulation and understanding of letting go, notions of Gus in relation to walking meditation, Lila as second mother and my 5yr old experience of wetting bed and causing pain to friend through teasing)



August 31, 2003


How Fragile the Child


The child is innocent, vulnerable and so easily wounded. As adults we must take the greatest of care to allow the child’s natural unfolding, to retain his/her ‘freshness’. In times of trouble I’ve found it helpful to draw back to my earlier days of life and recall those persons that contributed to my natural unfolding. I repeatedly encounter those individuals in despair as a result of injuries sustained in their early years. It seems helpful to dismiss these toxic negative images, replacing them with images of those who were vitamins to our soul. Those who nurtured us fed us love as we stumbled in our growth. We have the choice of ingesting positive or negative memories, of living a life of despair and regret or one of gratitude for the opportunity to manifest within this very precious body. Watering the seeds of anger and revenge is much like feeding the mind, body and spirit toxic food. The more attention we put to these negative feelings, the more they grow, the more damage is done. Yet, the more we put our recollection attention to those who nurtured us, the more these positive feelings grow within us. As we feel the loving arms of those from our past, as we search for the nuggets of love even from those who may have hurt us, we water the seeds of peace, happiness and understanding.


I find myself repeatedly going back to my childhood with specific memory to a limited number of experiences and recollection of how certain adults in my life responded to the situation. I also have vivid memory of God’s intervention in my life, times when specific requests were made and answered. The authority of the divine was touched through experience in a very real way throughout my childhood. This experience resulted in a continued sense of wonder and realization that I would never know all the answers. This experience of the living spirit has nurtured me throughout my years within this body. Now at an older age I’m coming more and more to recognize how persons within my life have carried this divine touch through their support of my unfolding.


Just as it’s critical that all parents nurture the child with loving peace and tenderness, it’s equally important that we adults reconcile the injury from years ago through focused attention to gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the wonder of this life. Our continued feeding of the ‘victim’ can only result in growing anger and eventual desire to oppress another in reaction. The creation of this dichotomy can only cause increased pain and suffering. This work is not easy and for many takes many years to heal deep wounds. In recognition of this impact, we must all be extremely sensitive to how fragile the child is as we commit to nurturing and watering the seeds of happiness, confidence, clarity and freedom on their road to responsible living and participation in the healing of themselves, their family and their community.



September 1, 2003


Too ‘Busy’ To Be?


It seems we’re increasingly defining our life meaning by the amount of our ‘business’. American society has been lured into believing that the more we ‘do’ the happier we’ll feel. Our schedules become more and more filled with activity with less and less time to relish the very moment in pause to the gift of life. Our notions of time have captured us in a sort of panic, seldom leaving us in a capacity to give ‘full attention’ to the moment at hand. More and more, we seem to gain approval from others when we can relate just how busy we are. And for many, as mid-life approaches and awareness of lost opportunity springs from within the heart, we come to see that our business did not bring us true happiness. Seldom are there deathbed statements wishing more time had been spent at the office. Rather, there’s regret more time wasn’t spent in deep attention to the family, to one’s personal quiet time, or to one’s community.


No doubt, if we’re to live successfully there has to be a certain commitment to the actions of our day. As we craft our various ‘life themes’, our participation in life and the opportunity to be our best, we come to pay more and more attention to messages from the heart. With deeper understanding we come to see just how toxic our ‘business’ can be as we fill with more and more activity, avoiding this very precious moment. Our increasing ‘doing-ness’ tends to distance us from the human condition and gives us a false sense that we’re ‘in control’. Yet, more and more research is showing how it’s our recognition of the ‘gift’ of our success in living that leads to an increased sense of well-being. Happiness seems to be increasingly tied to one’s capacity to say ‘yes’ to the opportunities to participate in life, yet retaining full awareness in gratitude for this gift. Our capacity to ‘do’ this seems to correlate directly with our ‘mindfulness’. Our mindfulness is something that can be increased dramatically through disciplined practice. Our ‘practice’ is dedicated to ‘stilling the mental chatter’ of our mind, to putting our fullest attention to the moment, generally moving to the breath. Breathing in, we affirm life. Breathing out, we are filled with gratitude. This practice will prove ‘refreshing’ to those who’ve become dull or bored. It will provide a ‘solid’ sense of confidence as one becomes grounded with one’s very being. It will provide clarity in what ‘is’ and assist in taking appropriate actions. And, finally, it will show how desperately we need ‘space’ in our lives.


For improved quality of life, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we must make ‘space’ for solitude, for engaging the wonders of nature, for ‘pausing’ in appreciation and the opportunity to participate in family and society. Our sense of life ‘completeness’ seems to relate to our capacity to pause in full listening to set life goals aimed for maximum enjoyment while still remaining responsible to others. The sooner we can realize that well-being is fostered through honoring our ‘being-ness’ rather than busying ourselves in ‘doing-ness’, the sooner we’ll be on the road to peace and harmony in our living situation. Successful living commands careful listening to the heart. Listening to the heart can only be done through providing the ‘space’ for mindful awareness to the moment. Happiness results through taking action from the heart in recognition for the opportunity to contribute.


(craft a song, ‘too busy to be’…..they got me doin’ this, got me doin’ that, I thought it was good, but couldn’t sleep at night; got me drivin’ my car while I’m talkin’ on the phone, got me eatin’ my entrée while lickin’ my ice cream cone; to busy to be, yea, too busy to be..got me doin’ this and doin’ that…just too busy to be

when I was young I didn’t worry ‘bout a thing, just relished the moment, never felt time’s sting; now they got me countin’ this, they got me countin’ that, and I really don’t want that bein’ my epitaph; too busy to be, yea, too busy to be…got me doin’ this and doin’ that…just too busy to be. Rushin’ the kids to school, thinkin’ it’s cool, forgettin this forgettin that I feel like a fool; I try best make sure they all been kissed, but when I dropped ‘em off I saw their clothes had been missed; too busy to be, yea, too busy to be…got me doin’ this and doin’ that…just too busy to be. I know I gotta slow down and take a pause, this busy thing is givin’ me some mean old claws; I told my friend I can’t take it anymore and he said ‘right brother’ you gotta live from the core; too busy to be, yea, too busy to be…got me doin’ this and doin’ that…just too busy to be.




September 2, 2003


Each Breath Fresh


Can I discover the new with each breath in? Can I find happiness in recognition at each breath out? Discovering the freshness of each breath I’m filled in affirmation to the unfolding of my flower in this garden of humanity. Filled with gratitude for the gift of opportunity found within this breath, I find peace, harmony and happiness. Watering the seeds of this mindfulness our roots become solid, we find clarity, and our flower unfolds no matter how trying the conditions. We find space within the pause of each breath, no longer distinguished as separate from the universe. Breathing in I’m so happy for the opportunity to meet this moment. Breathing out I smile in awe for the gift of manifesting within this body. Just as a flower withers without nourishment, we must feed the seeds of peace, harmony, compassion, and love through our participation within our family and community. Yet, we must allow one another space in solitude to touch the beauty of mind, body and spirit as we touch our unique freedom and enjoyment.


Nani Ola (beautiful health) is a place where the seeds of mindful living are watered. It’s a place where the seeds of fear, anger, craving, consumption, anxiety, busy-ness, mindfulness are not watered. t’s a space where lives find deep transformation through the disciplined mindfulness practice. Guests are challenged to practice:

Mindful waking

Mindful walking

Mindful sitting meditation

Mindful breathing

Mindful exercise

Mindful writing

Mindful listening

Mindful speech

Mindful eating

Mindful music

Mindful gardening

Mindful riding

Mindful relaxation and rest


It’s a place to practice awareness of our thoughts, speech and actions as we come to still the mind of its constant chatter. Just Be It retreats are dramatically different than typical vacations that may aim for pleasure in feeding consumptive craving. You’re welcomed home to a community dedicated to mindful living, gratitude, compassion, peace and understanding. Upon your arrival you will meet your transformation, each breath fresh. No matter what your speed of awareness, walking to riding Northshore waves, the opportunity to completeness and the extreme is found in meeting the moment.



September 3, 2003



In the Program of ‘Life’, What Channel Do You Turn To?


We’ve been given millions of choices. We’ve seen those in the most difficult of life circumstance continue to wake in gratitude for the gift of each breath. And we’ve seen those in what would seem to be the best of circumstance continually choose a channel that waters the seeds of negativity. There are so many channels. We can choose the channel of ‘wonder’, the channel of ‘gratitude’, the channel of ‘peace and harmony’, or we can choose the channel of ‘anger’, ‘despair’, ‘regret’ or ‘envy’. In effect, when we rise in the morning, we can choose to either affirm this gift of living or get sucked into those channels that water the seeds of toxic consumption. With those channels that continually feed our ‘craving’ for what we don’t have, we also feed our suffering. As our wanting increases we lose gratitude for what ‘is’. Rather than ‘relishing the beauty of the moment’, we find ourselves missing the beauty of the blue sky putting coins in a slot machine. We ‘miss’ the opportunity for deep listening with our family as we’re numbed by infomercials, advertisements, and other channels that seem to take control of our consciousness. Pathetically, we’re often drawn to shows about the travesties of our brothers in sisters, not from compassion, but for the positive feeling we get in recognizing it didn’t happen to us. Yet, in compassion, we ‘experience’ their pain as ours. With deep listening we come to truly feel their wounds and soon come to see how fragile we are. There is no possibility to separate in this river of life. We ‘are’ our brothers and sisters, no matter what actions they’ve taken in response to their suffering. With deep attention we soon come to see how toxic the local news has become, how unhealthy many of the national TV news magazines have become, how those channels that have been ironically coined ‘reality TV’ are the furthest thing from real, deep, honest living.


We have a choice in the foods we feed our consciousness, just as we have a choice in the foods we allow our body to ingest. Research is showing more and more how important it is to water the seeds of the positive, choosing those channels of gratitude, mindfulness, attention to the moment, love and understanding…those channels that put attention in wonder to what’s working. Even in times of suffering, can we choose a channel of healing? Or will we choose one that divides us through anger, revenge, judgment, and fear?


Interestingly, the more we choose a particular channel, the more difficult it is to change to a new channel. Simply put, if you choose channels that water the seeds of negativity, those seeds will grow. If you choose a channel that diminishes your power to participate, the more difficulty you’ll have in moving from your passivity. If you choose a channel of comfort, the more difficulty you’ll have in challenging yourself to new levels of participation. If you choose a channel of violence, the more difficulty you’ll have in choosing a channel of peace. If you choose a channel of hope, the more difficulty you’ll have in choosing a channel of ‘presence’.


Community building commands we choose channels of deep living, of deep listening. If we’re to follow in the footsteps of our greatest spiritual leaders, there’s no choice but to commit to those channels of love, peace, forgiveness, honor, integrity, authenticity, gratitude, and participation. Had TV been around in the time of Jesus, Buddha or Allah, what channels would they choose? When you’ve finished watching a program, listen deeply to your heart? Can you be at peace for the choice you made? Much like listening to the body after a meal, would you repeat your actions? Conscious living is much like standing outside our bodies, in witness to the channels we choose. Looking at myself from the outside, can I stand solid in the choices I’ve made? Were they made from a sense of stewardship in honor to this gift of my life manifestation? In the footsteps of my ancestors, in stewardship to their living, and in honor to the healing of the universe, the choice is clear that we must choose those channels that water the positive seeds. Within the ‘freshness’ of our original smile we find the strength and clarity to create, to contribute, forever leaving our signature on the healing of the universe.




September 4, 2003


On the Nature of ‘Meaning’


It seems we’re living in times of tension, with diminishing trust in our capitalistic values or religious values. To ‘really know’ something requires it be consistently integrated with our experience. Yet, as we strive for increasing material wealth we find our hunger only seems to grow while those with less seem happy. On the other side, those who blindly follow religious dogma laid out through church organizations that have let core religious teachings entropy often find difficulty in ‘belonging’ to the basic human condition. When their notions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are violently directed at others through aggressive persuasive technique they can find themselves more separated from the human condition than united in their awareness of the miracle of life.


It seems our sense of ‘meaning’ correlates with meeting our goals in contribution to the evolution of a ‘better’ universe. As we review our life views, speech and actions, it seems a sense of fulfillment and happiness most cogently relates to our sense of contribution to the well-being of family and society. If we’ve dedicated our living to accumulation of material wealth, fame, power or any other ‘notion of control’ we find it’s much like a fat person trying to eat with a very small throat. (Thich Nhat Hanh). There is never satisfaction, even as one meets death. Yet, when one meets the shedding of one’s body from a sense of awareness to this miraculous gift of life, in knowledge one’s appointment was responsibly met in full enjoyment and gratitude, there’s an acceptance…a sense of peace and harmony.


As we develop our life theme, awakening to that which is in the heart, we find ourselves awakening ‘fresh’ in awareness to the gift of each moment. We find a sense of delight in the ‘conscious’ stewardship of body, mind and spirit. Further awareness and a sense of direction provide the solidity for the discipline and courage commanded to take action on that which we know we ‘must’ do. This harmony of concept and action nourishes our clarity as each step in life provides increasing meaning and ‘completete-ness’.   Ironically, the more we listen to our heart’s pull in command to contribution, the greater care we take in nourishing our body through mindful eating and exercise. This increasing awareness actually provides greater ‘space’ and consequent freedom for living to our potential. There’s a tremendous sense of well-being that comes from taking actions that transform us to increasing complete-ness in contrast to those actions with a ‘consumption’ orientation that tend to numb us to ‘glory and wonder’ of the moment’s gift.


We find greater happiness in recognition of the gift of each breath. Breathing in we stand solid in affirmation to our place and sense of meaning within the dance of life. Breathing out we receive our gratitude, peace and sense of harmony for the opportunity to participate beyond notions of linear time.



Too Busy to Be?


Most of us find ourselves with too little space to water the seeds of our happiness and growth. In a world that seems to be traveling at ever increasing speeds of mindlessness, we realize we simply have less space. There’s a consequent loss of freedom as we struggle to answer cell phones, our emails, our several appointments with what ‘seems’ important at the time, yet at the end of the day we’re still left with a sense of hunger. Rather than facing awareness of our situation, in exhaustion we take actions that numb us to the natural pull to change. We may ‘numb out’ in front of the TV, mindlessly consume toxic foods or beverages, or mindlessly expose ourselves to other toxic substances or events that temporarily ease the pain of our discomfort. Our minds may be filled with thousands of anxiety producing thoughts of fear, judgment, need for approval, etc. It may seem as though we’re victimized by the complexities of living in today’s world and we become taken with notions of revenge, control, security, power over others, or any of a number of negative thoughts that drain our ‘being-ness’. We find ourselves in a mindset of ‘if only’, filled with hope that some day ‘in the future’ we’ll be satisfied. Many of us daydream of vacations when we can get away from this, in a sense dying to our reality of living. Ironically, our most popular vacation destinations have thrived on continuing to feed our unending consumptive desires with ‘more food’, ‘more noise’, ‘more thrills’, effectively trying ‘to do us’ into an increased state of consumption and lack of awareness. Further ingesting toxic environments, we reach the end of our vacation much like we reach the end of a busy day, ready to collapse from exhaustion. We’ve once again allowed ourselves to be caught in a situation where we’re ‘too busy to be’.


More and more people are waking up to the need to responsibly vacation with goals to further ‘transform’ our lives. As more question the impact of ‘consumptive’ vacations, reviewing their worth at the end of the day, there’s a sense of emptiness that pulls us to a greater awareness to the miracle of this gift we call life. Transforming vacations are designed to help us ‘wake up’ rather than numbing us to sleep with excessive consumption. There’s a sense of satisfaction and rejuvenation that comes from giving oneself the space to take a ‘mindful’ vacation, one that allows the freedom ‘to be’, in full gratitude for the gift to participate in meeting life’s precious moments.


Just Be It retreats are designed to offer this very space. Set on the solid spiritual grounds of Haleakala volcano, Maui provides a great facilitating environment in learning to live with increased mindfulness. There’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes from putting attention to deep living, deep listening, deep riding…from learning mindful walking, sitting, eating, gardening, speech, writing, riding, or any other of a number of actions we are drawn to throughout the day’s unfolding. We become acutely aware of the choices we have and through this increased awareness we learn to listen deeply to our heart’s pull to nourishment through moderation and gratitude. These retreats are nonsectarian, so no matter what one’s religious or spiritual background, they can continue practice in mindfulness without conflict. A vacation with increased attention to ‘consciousness’ has its emphasis on stewarding our body, mind and spirit to optimum performance and awareness through life affirmation and gratitude for the opportunity to participate.


We invite all desiring the ‘space to be’, those looking for a ‘transforming’ experience, to come join us for a vacation that sends you home ‘refreshed’, standing more ‘solid’ in this complex world, more aware of one’s life meaning and sense of responsibility.




September 5, 2003


What Will Your ‘Signature’ Be?


Within the second half of life in this physical body we come to ponder what contributions we’ve made. What will continue to live? We can’t take our wealth or fame with us? The law of impermanence makes itself acutely aware to us as the body changes and friends and family shed their bodies. With deep understanding we come to experience the power of living outside the boundaries and limitations from notions of time and space. We come to ‘experience’ life outside of notions of birth and death, being and non-being, and beginnings and endings. There’s tremendous peace in the “experience” of continuation. Thich Nhat Hannh has said, “When I go, I can not bring anything with me, but only the result of my action…the thought, speech and physical actions that bear my signature”.   He compared the Christian view of ‘salvation by grace’ to the Buddhist notion of ‘salvation by understanding’. It’s an ‘awareness’ or ‘mindfulness’ that brings us to deep understanding and appreciation. Just as a cloud is transformed into rain in its continuation or a flame transformed into smoke, there’s a continuation, an impossibility to absolute death. The cloud cannot become nothing. Looking deeply we transcend our fear and despair of aging and death. Our notions of coming and going vanish when we come to a ‘living experience’ of those who’ve been in our life.


With deep listening we find their continuation within the threads of our consciousness. Looking deeply we come to see the vital importance to water the seeds of positive thought, speech and action. The heart tells us we must leave a signature of peace, healing and harmony. There’s a tremendous suffering that seems to come to those who’ve maintained notions of permanence, those who’ve focused their thought, speech and action on ‘holding on’. Within this thinking comes fear, panic and despair. Yet, with thoughts of gratitude for the gift of our living, the miracle of the moment’s unfolding, and the sense of satisfaction from watering the positive seeds of love, peace, forgiveness, and harmony, we experience our own peace and happiness. Our restlessness vanishes in the satisfaction that our signature continues to live in contribution to the healing of the universe. Our affirmative stance to live in respect to the ‘gift’ and ‘opportunity’ to manifest nourishes the continued unfolding of the divine flower. Standing outside the limitations of our notions of self we once again discover our ‘original smile’.



September 6, 2003


Clothing That Invites Deep Understanding


Are you mindful in the clothing you choose to put on each day? What motivates you to wear what you do? Some of us choose the latest fashions in a desire to communicate that we’re carefully listening to the trends of fashion. Others choose the latest fashions in an effort to gain approval from certain social circles. We may choose clothing for the purpose of ‘covering up’. This clothing doesn’t seem to communicate anything other than our desire to ‘not stand out’. Certain professions have very distinctive clothing with some actually having uniform dress. No matter what we wear and why we wear it, we’re communicating with those around us and ourselves. The clothing becomes an integral part of how we experience our daily living.


Many of us choose our clothing to communicate our areas of deep or surface interest. A sport jersey worn by one avid fan holding season tickets will mean something quite different to an occasional fan watching a couple games on TV. A golf shirt worn by a pro will mean something quite different to the recreational golfer who only plays three or four games a year. When surf and windsurf apparel first started coming out in the early ‘80’s, we used it to identify with others who participated in these sports. We were confident that someone wearing certain logos was ‘deep’ into that particular sport. As time went on, these small companies grew, eventually extending their market share to large chain stores. Eventually, the distinguishing value of the clothing was lost as more and more people who had no interest in the sports were wearing the clothing. Tattoo parlors grew as people began to ‘mark’ their area of interest directly onto the skin.


So how do we get back to using our clothing to communicate our ‘deep’ interest in a particular field or activity? How do we identify those who have similar ‘deep understanding’ through disciplined intention and attention, those who’ve become ‘one with their practice’? Clearly, a monk’s robes let all he encounters know he’s open to others with deep appreciation for spiritual pursuits. He needs no tattoo to communicate his deep commitment. This clothing speaks to one’s deep passion in action, to where one’s focus and attention has gone through disciplined intention. The result is an area of interest that’s been nourished to great strength. At this level of understanding, the individual has experienced moments of surrender in action, moments where there’s no separation as they literally ‘become the ball’, ‘become the instrument’, ‘become the mountain’, etc.   Many great spiritual leaders have taught the need to ‘be one with what you want to understand’, beyond our notions of duality and ‘doing’ something. In order to be something, to be what “is” in our body, mind, feelings, and in the universe, we must engage the moment in full arrival, standing outside our notions of separation.


Just Be It clothing is meant to serve as an aid to our practice of this ‘mindfulness’ and an invitation to others practicing deep understanding to dialogue about our area of passion. It’s clothing with a statement to oneself and to others that you have ‘unselfconscious confidence’ about your clothing statement. You communicate your solidity in sharing knowledge with others about your area of interest and your desire for learning at deeper levels of understanding. Your clothing communicates the dynamic nature of high levels of knowledge and action with a ‘freshness’ to continually challenge oneself to new discovery. There’s an appreciation of space and freedom from knowing the more attention you put to your area of interest, the more you see there is available to learn. With insights from a disciplined ‘stop, be, look and see’ the heart’s pull is fed to deeper levels of creativity.


As you can see, Just Be It clothing is not for pretenders, wannabees, or posers. It’s clothing for the intermediate to professional practitioner who’s gone well beyond the sampling stages of the novice. It’s clothing for the mindful, disciplined individual with courage to step into new territory each and every time his/her area of interest/passion is pursued. It’s clothing that’s not aimed at receiving approval from others, but aimed at the heart. It’s clothing worn to nourish one’s sense of completeness in action through invitation to others of similar depth of interest and through continual reminder to oneself. It’s clothing we can stand strong in with humility, clothing worn with a deep sense of ‘belonging’ in gratitude for the opportunity to pursue our area of interest with deep understanding. It’s clothing that can communicate a trait required for growth in an area of interest (i.e. Truth, Peace, Courage, etc.) or it can simply communicate an element relating to the area of interest (i.e. Fire, Mountain, Wave, etc.), or it can designate the area of deep interest (i.e. Trumpet, Windsurfer, Christmas, Maui, etc.). It is not clothing to persuade. The person wearing this clothing has a sense of peace in the community of other practitioners that transcends notions of comparison, judgment and competition. There’s an acceptance that transcends ‘need’ to change others. There’s a confidence in knowing one’s discipline to quality action through commitment to the heart is the best way to nourish the community.


Attribute Clothing


Peace…Just Be It

Aware…Just Be It

Mindful…Just Be It

Love…Just Be It

Happy…Just Be It

Smile…Just Be It

Honest…Just Be It

Truth…Just Be It

Gratitude…Just Be It

Joy…Just Be It

Silence…Just Be It

Practice…Just Be It


Movement…Just Be It

Stillness…Just Be It

Clarity…Just Be It

Solid…Just Be It

Free…Just Be It

Compassion…Just Be It

Understanding…Just Be It

Courage…Just Be It

Magic…Just Be It

Change…Just Be It

Evolution…Just Be It

Music…Just Be It

Elemental…Just Be It

Simple…Just Be It

Life…Just Be It

Breath…Just Be It

Alive…Just Be It

Aware…Just Be It

Awake…Just Be It

Present…Just Be It

Wonder…Just Be It

Change…Just Be It

Flow…Just Be It

Bliss…Just Be It

One…Just Be It

Heart…Just Be It




Air…Just Be It

Earth…Just Be It

Water…Just Be It

Water…Just Be It

Wind…Just Be It

Fire…Just Be It

Fluid…Just Be It


Topics of Interest


Musical instruments

Musical genre

Sport activities





Seasonal (i.e. Christmas, Winter)

Location (i.e. Maui)

History (i.e. WW II)





September 7, 2003


Don’t Go ‘Mental’, Go ‘Elemental’


You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘going mental’ when referred to someone who’s ‘snapped’. They became so caught up in their notions and thoughts that their actions resulted in violence to themselves, their family or the community. This happens to a lesser degree with all of us when we ‘attach’ to our notions of correctness and wrongness. We feel very solid in the knowledge we have to the extent we believe others ‘should’ think as we do. The deeper our feelings of ‘rightness’ the more likely we are to resort to violence in order to ‘persuade’ them to what we ‘think’ is correct. Grounded in our ‘belief’ like a mountain, we’ve given too much nourishment to the earth element. Real knowledge commands flexibility, an openness to new information. If we’re too ‘grounded’ to our beliefs we can never have open, honest dialogue with another since dialogue requires we totally open to the possibility of change. Like water, we must open to the fluid nature of wisdom. What we ‘thought’ to be true yesterday may prove to be a completely wrong perception upon further investigation. With deep open listening we come to gain clarity in the way things are, just as the sediment settles in a cloudy glass of water. The deeper we look the more we see. The more we see the more we discover our need to stay ‘open’ in our search for truth and wisdom.


The universe has gifted us a third element, that of fire. Oftentimes we’ve attached to notions of belief and certain events beyond our control pull the rug of stability from beneath us. Just when we’re getting ‘comfortable’ in our situation events unfold that challenge us to new ground. We may sustain an injury or learn of ‘dis-ease’, a loved one may suffer deeply, or we may lose our job, marriage or house. Here the element of ‘fire’ is working in our life. Something we didn’t expect is causing great pain and suffering in our life. Ironically, when these events are given ‘air’, over time we discover our healing and realize we’ve grown to new, deeper levels of living as a result. So frequently we hear how those events that initially seem to hurt us most turn out to be our greatest teachers through our healing back to ‘freshness’.


Understanding how the elements of earth, water, fire and air work within us can serve as a great tool to deep listening and understanding. Our growth commands a return to the wonder of ‘presence’ as we affirm our participation in the discovery of truth and wisdom. This commands an acceptance of notions of the relative and of the non-separate. To understand we see that we have to be. To see we have to surrender and look. This process commands a commitment to open to the possibility that our knowledge may be wrong. This openness cannot happen without a still, clear mind. A still, clear mind commands a disciplined practice. The incessant mental chatter must be quieted for barriers to fall. At this moment we find peace beyond notions of division, violence, war and persuasion. At this moment we find capacity to meet new challenges in stretching to peak performance.


(at a future date relate how ‘wind’ can be viewed)



September 8, 2003


‘Mindfulness’ vs. ‘Mental’


Mindfulness training is intended to facilitate increased awareness. Ironically, it is the opposite of having a ‘full mind’. Rather, ‘mindfulness’ aims for an empty mind, a mind free of preconceived thought, judgment, comparison and linguistic constructs of duality. Mindfulness is the core of deep speech, deep listening, deep action…in effect, deep living. It’s the practice of drawing one hundred per cent of our attention to the moment. It’s what Thich Nhat Hanh calls our ‘arrival’ or ‘coming home’. There’s a sense of peace and completeness as we meet the moment in complete harmony, no matter what event we may find ourselves in. On the contrary, ‘mental’ refers to our emphasis upon thought. Most of us fail to make our ‘appointment with life’ because we’re ‘distanced in thought’.


Have you ever driven your car to a location only to realize you can’t remember how you got there? You have no recollection of the route you took, the things you saw. It was almost like you were on remote control. This is what happens to us often as we become distanced from the present moment in thoughts or what’s been called ‘mental formations’. Sometimes a thought will seem to ‘grab’ us seeming to prevent us from ‘unsticking’, from letting go to the freshness of the moment. Other times we aimlessly wander from thought to thought with no direction on where we’re going. It’s been suggested that most of us have over 60,000 thoughts each day, with less than five per cent of them being new. Sometimes we let ourselves become so filled with thought we’re numb to the present moment. At this point we have no more room, no space, and consequently, no freedom and nothing to offer. It’s as though we’re ‘stuck in the mud of our own mental constructs’.


Ironically, the practice of ‘mindfulness’ is what gets us moving again. It’s the practice of emptying these mental formations from our consciousness. As we ‘let go’ our attachment to these formations we find our freedom and our capacity to meet our enjoyment of the precious moment. It’s what gives us the strength and courage to find happiness and peace in the most difficult, conflicted and violent of times. It’s this practice where we find our solidity, ‘newness’, clarity and freedom to experience the moment in its ‘freshness’. The practice of ‘mindfulness’ is the opposite of a ‘full mind’. It’s deliberate living where full attention is put to nourishing our body, mind, spirit, family, community and ultimately, our universe. It’s where we find our stillness in a busy world, our depth in a world too carried away in mental formations to break the surface. The practice of ‘mindfulness’ gives us the clarity to take actions of nourishment and discipline to dismiss toxic though, speech and action. At full attention to our momentary experience we clearly see when we’ve lost respect for our family, community and ourselves through our regression to mindless thought, speech and action. Yet, upon touching the heart of compassion and gratitude, we experience happiness in ‘letting go’ our attachments to guilt from lack of discipline. While mental formations tend to close in notions of black and white, right and wrong, inferior and superior, etc., mindfulness creates the room to see gray, to experience happiness in winning without needing the defeat of another and to see one’s strengths or weaknesses as our own.


With more ‘room’ created to live, to experience the reality of the present moment, we’re filled with compassion and gratitude for the opportunity to participate in each breath’s unfolding. We take great care to not harm others and ourselves as we practice mindful consumption, deep listening and actions that come from a body unified from listening to the heart. So, the next time you think of ‘mindfulness’, try replacing it with ‘mind emptying-ness’, because this is what ‘the practice’ is about as we once again discover our original nature.




September 9, 2003


Understanding the Ten Commandments as Commitments and In Comparison to the Buddhist Five Mindfulness Trainings


All great spiritual teachings have handed down codes of behavior that facilitate peace, kindness, love and understanding. They have also spoken to the notion that divinity resides outside the notions of within and without. Teillard de Chardin, a Christian mystic, referred to this as ‘Christ consciousness’. Many have spoken to the ‘experience of Oneness’, beyond notions of separation from the divine. It’s been commonly located in the heart, and much reference has been made to ‘deep listening from the heart’. We can all find a solid sense of direction when this is done, a code that facilitates the healing of the universe even in the most difficult of times. The Ten Commandments and the Five Mindfulness Trainings have many parallels in leading a successful life.


Both codes put great emphasis on ‘not killing’, even going to the extent of sending loving kindness and compassion to those who would harm us.   Over the span of human existence, it’s been shown over and over that we cannot fight violence with violence. Both codes put great wisdom to loving our neighbor as our self, carrying the seeds of compassion and understanding to even our worst enemy.   Yet, in practice we continue to war with one another, to accept violence to people, plants, animals and minerals. Both codes speak to the power of moderation, so that we limit our killing to only those situations where our own survival depends upon it. Certainly, this directly relates to our capacity for consumption in moderation and our continuing rise in obesity and consumptive materialism speaks against the following of this code. Most great leaders have avoided presenting these codes in ‘black and white’ frameworks, acknowledging that the heart and community can use collective wisdom in determining correct action to difficult situations.


Both codes put great emphasis upon respecting one another’s property, not only pointing to stealing, but also to our obligation to respect the rights and property of others who may be under siege from those who would plunder the human spirit. We find great direction in our need to responsibly be stewards of our wealth in contribution to the healing of the universe. Once again, we’re drawn to the power of loving one another as our self, operating from a perspective of ‘winning without dependence upon another’s losing’. Within this code we find the commitment to water one another’s seeds of happiness rather than steal their sense of well-being.


There’s a mutual understanding of the damage that comes from mindless sexual thought, speech and action. Our sexuality is recognized as a gift to be shared in the deepest of respect with a partner in love and through long-term commitment. When sexual action is taken without great care and alignment with the heart, when we resort to animal mindless action, great harm can come to those involved, often resulting in wounds never healed within a lifetime. Both codes explore the beauty of living a disciplined, committed lifetime relationship, where sexual communication is forever ‘fresh’.


The manner in which we communicate with one another is also addressed as we’re instructed to mindful speech and mindful listening. While we’re instructed to ‘not take the name Lord God in vane’, upon realizing the divine resides outside our notions of in and out, permeating the fabric of life in all beings, we come to see how we are instructed to nurture one another through loving speech and mindful listening. Rather than devoting our lives to defense, strategy to win, competition through comparison and domination, we’re instructed to use our communication skills to bring joy and happiness to others. Within this context, the role of peacemaker or one who resolves conflict is one we’re all directed to take.


Aware of our tendency to drift from awareness of the wonder of life, from our gratitude for the opportunity to participate, both traditions speak to the need to ‘pause’, to ‘still our busy lives in honor to the gift of the divine’. Within the Buddhist tradition, we’re instructed to ‘pause, be, look and see’. In the Christian tradition we’re instructed to at least take a break on the seventh day for deep listening and understanding in the code of thought, speech and action that leads to love and understanding through the divine.


The role of alertness, the duty to mindful action and moderate consumption, the commitment to cultivating good health for family, community and one’s self are covered by both traditions. They both put great attention to the impact of our actions, advising us to avoid ingesting toxic substances or environments that fail to honor our gift of presence. Clearly, as we look at the increasing demand for toxic entertainment, foods, beverages and drugs, etc., we seem to fail to learn to importance of these codes of behavior. Many of our societal problems would be resolved through mindfulness training and application of these ancient codes of behavior. Clearly, our bodies are similar to computer printouts of our consumptive behavior and the effects of a sedentary life, drugs and alcohol, hunting and fishing for pleasure rather than necessity, sexual action outside of love and commitment, mindless speech that distresses others, lack of regard for others’ personal well-being and property all contribute to a loss of our ‘freshness’, ‘solidity’, ‘clarity’ and ‘freedom’. It would seem most appropriate in these times of trouble and fear that we all return to honoring these ancient codes of behavior, not only in thought but in action. The health care system would no longer be overloaded, birth rates would stabilize, obesity would dramatically diminish, wars would cease, billions of dollars put to military efforts would be put to humanitarian efforts to reduce suffering, etc.   In effect, if we just put to action what we’ve known, we could heal the universe.



September 11, 2003


Too Busy To ‘Be’? A Place to Wake Up.


Brother David Stendl Rast has claimed that we find our peace and happiness through gratitude. He says that he’s often been asked, “Gratitude for what?” His reply was, “Gratitude for the gift, for the gift of opportunity, for the opportunity to participate in ‘belonging’”. Within our community, whether family, social group or global, we find our joy through our participation in watering the seeds of peace, love, compassion and healing. Our strength comes through our sense of connection and contribution as we discover our ‘life theme’, carefully listening to our heart’s pull.


Yet, it seems so few follow heart’s pull. We’ve been caught in the toxicity of our own ‘business’. We’ve become so full with our ‘doing’ that we’ve left no space to listen in discovery of our ‘being’. For so many, it takes many years to discover that when we’re full, with no space, we have nothing to offer. We’ve in effect suffocated our capacity to listen to the heart in readiness to our creative contribution to healing, belonging and contribution. Our capacity to discipline our ‘business’ just as we discipline our consumption of foods, toxic media and other activities that water the seeds of our craving and dissatisfaction seems to determine our ability to find peace and harmony in contributory participation to our healing.


The community at Nani Ola (beautiful health) rises each morning in affirmation to the gift of our consciousness. The first breath in is met with a resounding, “Yes” as we commit to our discovery of the freshness in meeting each moment anew. Community activities are directed to facilitating awareness and clarity through deep listening to the unfolding moments of the day. An environment is offered where the ‘busy mental chatter’ is stilled, where ‘space’ is once again provided to listen. Once we’re given space to listen deeply we discover our capacity to speak with great care, to only water one another’s positive seeds, dismissing our tendency to distress others with our words, actions or thoughts. We discover increased capacity to meet the challenges of the day with greater clarity, transforming our previous sense of separation to one of non-duality.   At this moment we’re no longer functioning from notions of ‘doing’ as we engage our activities of the day. With ‘fresh’ receiving of the moment’s newness, with unselfconscious confidence from our history we find our strength and solidity. With mindfulness the mud settles and we discover clarity, and with clarity we find the space necessary for deep heart listening. At this moment we find our very ‘being’ within the element, the action, the communication, etc., beyond notions of separation. Our commitment to ‘practice’ moment-to-moment awareness brings us to ever-increased levels of performance with minimized risk of accident. There’s a sense of deep satisfaction as we’ve met the wave in its heart of being beyond distinction from us. There’s peace received at the end of the day when we lay down for rest’s nourishment in gratitude, breathing out, “Thank you”.


Just Be It retreats are aimed at assisting all who enter our community to rise in the morning in affirmation, to retire at night in gratitude. The life ‘too busy to be’ will once again be nourished to ‘freshness’ through ‘space’ allowed to deeply listen in the moment. This practice is very powerful and transforming, providing solid direction in living deeply, no matter what one’s religious background. In discovery of divine authority in the heart we find the courage to right thought, speech and action in honor to this gift of life participation. Within this space to affirm the day and express gratitude for the gift, we once again find our freedom and our belonging.








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