You Can’t Have a Great Future Without Dealing with the Negative Past


When I first began teaching in 1975 there was a huge counter movement to what I had been studying at one of the most progressive schools of education for that time period, the University of North Dakota. The counter movement was called “Back to Basics” which capitalized on the mistakes of the progressive movements so that schools would just focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic. Sadly I have to say that the Back to Basics movement won. By the early 1980s progressive education was all but dead even when it had learned from mistakes and held much hope for the future.

The progressive movements had really sprung out of the failures of the more traditional systems because so many students were just not learning using the old methodologies. The Back to Basics movement struck back at the progressives by using an amazingly effective strategy that put fear into the hearts of the vast majority. They took the mistakes of the progressive systems and blew them way out of proportion. It wasn’t difficult to find mistakes. They were abundant for sure,so the traditionalists had huge amounts of ammunition which they used unceasingly.

They also performed another interesting strategy which also worked very effectively. You have to give them credit. They really crushed new ideas and experimentation to shreds. Their strategy was simply to glorify the past as if it were much better than any new ideas could ever be. It gave the psyche of a fearful public just what they needed so that they would not have to make significant fundamental changes in their lives. Glorifying the past while ignoring the issues was the drug of choice. It seems to me that is has been the addiction of the world’s culture for quite some time now. The strategy is driven by the fear of the unknown in the future. It has kept really meaningful innovation from entering institutions because every new idea is crushed by the traditionalists convincing people that innovation will lower the standard. Whenever you bring up innovation or change in conservative circles the quick retort is always about the standards, especially that change will lower the standards.

Now that the traditionalists have really had their way for the past 40 years, the cracks in their protective shields have really worn thin. Glorifying the past, ignoring the issues, and blaming someone else by magnifying their mistakes doesn’t work in the public’s eye as much anymore. We are finally reaching a stage where we can’t hide from the issues anymore.

Psychologically it is relatively easy to map out the old pattern. Here is how it goes. Inwardly we are all driven by our spiritual nature to grow and make changes. Since growth possibilities are always unlimited, we are always pushed inwardly to change. So if this is true what makes people stop. At the moment that our true self presents a new opportunity for growth for us, a new future, it also presents the issues that keep us from achieving the desired future. On the one hand there is a new vision, but on the other is the negative energy that keeps us from growing. So what most people do is to feel the negative energy, become uncomfortable with it, and then try to find some sort of comfort in a glorified past so that they won’t have to face the discomfort. It is usually accompanied by other forms of diversion as well. We all do it.

It is particularly difficult right now in the history of the world because the vast majority of people in leadership positions owe their positions to this strategy. They assert the past, glorifying the standards of the past, but completely ignore the current issues. When someone tries to do something new, they lay in wait for mistakes and then magnifying them making themselves seem great for pointing out the failures of others. And if all else fails they accuse others of lowering the standards.

The new strategy that is extremely effective is get a preliminary vision of a new future, address honestly and openly and determinedly the issues that are holding the new vision back by taking full responsibility for them, and then doing the internal work to solve the issues and release new energy. The key is having a great deal of honesty about our own issues without trying to put them on others. When we take the plunge of honesty, it helps us to see what was truly positive in the past and what wasn’t so positive. We keep the strengths, and change the weaknesses rather than glorifying a false image of the past and ignoring weaknesses.

Let’s see. Right now I am having an issue with the fear of being attacked by conservatives. Ok, so I want to implement more radical ideas and I have a preliminary vision of that but the fear originates when I started my education work. The fearful is like a thousand people yelling at me that I am wrong and they are right. I am feeling all alone and just want to go and hide. What is the solution? Hmmmm. I can see thousands of people accepting positive ideas about change and beginning to work on their issues more honestly. I think I will just start with people that are supportive and gradually expand outward. Ok, that’s it.

Sometimes It is Much Better to Be Late

Warning to North Americans and Europeans: This posting may create some negative side effects to your cultural selves.


This morning I did something interesting. I actually listened to my own advice. I had invited a few colleagues from other schools to a planning meeting to schedule games and other sports events. The meeting was to be held at my school in my office. At 6:30 am this morning I realized that my office was the wrong venue, that it would be full of distractions and give me the rushed feeling of all the little tasks that I do each morning. So I sent text messages to all of the participates and told them to meet at the local Coffee Bean.

Shortly after I arrived at the Coffee Bean, one of the others came. The third said he would be late so it gave the first to arrive and myself time to chat about our lives. We didn’t talk at all about sport or schedules or anything like that. We talked about babies because his wife is now 3 months pregnant and it has already changed his life in very interesting ways. When the third person came, he apologized for being late and didn’t go to get any coffee because he thought that maybe we should start the meeting. We told him that we had all of the time in the world, to just go and get what he wanted.

The meeting went longer than maybe any of us planned so just for good measure I stayed longer and chatted some more with others when the meeting was over. I began to practice the process of disregarding time so that I could be in the space that I wanted to be in. It worked spectacularly because I accomplished not just one task, but also another. We scheduled the games and we became closer. Had I not disregarded time the chance to have a better relationship with my colleague would have passed.

So when I taught my classes with my 5 year olds today, I did the same thing. I decided that I could just stretch time inside myself, and get my students into a really positive space. What happens to me usually is that I tend to get worried that my students are not going to pay attention, that they are going to just goof off and do their inappropriate things. I decided that I could relax and slow myself inside and pay attention to how I wanted the class to go rather than what might go wrong. It worked amazingly like nothing I could ever do in previous years.

Slowing down time seems to help me relax and get into the right space. It may seem strange to be able to think of time as being so flexible, but we all know how long time seems to drag when we have to listen to boring speakers. The most important aspect of being able to control the space you are in so that it becomes desirable is one’s ability to disregard time, and the first step in disregarding it seems to be to slow it down by relaxing.

You don’t always need to be in a hurry and sometimes being later is much better than rushing.

When You Plan, Space Comes First, NOT Time


There were a lot of workshops in the 1970s when I was first introduced to much of the self help literacy about the importance of time management because it was the thinking in those days that how you manage your time has a lot to do with accomplishing what you want in your life. Time is money so the saying goes. It was a logical way to approach the accomplishment of a task. Nowadays people aren’t so naive as back then because most people with any common sense now believe that time is a lot more flexible, that it is much more internal than external, and that you usually accomplish the most and love life the most, when you ignore time. We realize, for instance, that we can actually slow time to a virtual standstill so that we can eat a long relaxed meal with our families or take a walk with our friends. I don’t think anyone believes time is money anymore, do they? Anyway, it is a pretty foolish idea that I once believed.

What I have only recently begun to explore that is proving to be extremely valuable is how much more flexible space is. I mean I really get the time thing. If I slow way down internally, I accomplish much more because I can stretch time so that I seem to have much more of it. What I didn’t realize was that I can also change space. I am only really at the very beginning stages of learning this quality. I am sure most people are way beyond me.

Here is an example of why it is becoming more apparent to me. When my wife and I were flying from Vancouver to Los Angeles recently, we thought we had arrived at the airport early enough to get on our flight, but because of the long lines, we only made the flight by a couple of minutes. Then the steward said that 12 other people were not let on. Imagine that! The plane couldn’t wait another 10 minutes to get the other passengers on. It actually shocked me so I began naming countries in my mind where they would have waited. The steward said and this is not a joke, that they had waited during the last flight to the same destination, but because their on-time record would be published in a journal or something like that, that their reputation depended not on whom they left behind , but only on being on time. So here is an airline whose purpose is to carry people from one destination to another, but being on time is more important to them than accomplishing their purpose. People lost their space because the airline management was only thinking of time.

So I am thinking to myself that the people that are controlling my space are mostly just concerned about making everything happen much faster. Ok then, so most of us believe that “time is money” is ludicrous. Right? We have common sense, but it also appears as if the people managing an awful lot of major corporations don’t really care too much about the space you are in because they still believe that time is the important thing, and that the faster things go, the more money they will make. It is just hard for me to believe that so many really stupid people are running large corporations and governments.

So, the fact that we know that slowing down time is possible means that we are ahead of the game, but the fact that they control my space unnerves me. My first task is to gain control over my space. What to do? I’ve got it. I will just think about the space I want to be, focus and meditate on it, and then just not care how much time it takes to get there. I will just slow down time, and walk right into the space. Now that is pretty simple.

Hmm. I am thinking of a hot cup of coffee.

Radical Change and Space: Good Morning Vietnam!


Last April my wife and traveled to Vietnam.  So here I am in the middle of Hanoi about 9 am in the morning faced with the challenge of crossing a busy street with 2 million motorcycles and no traffic lights.   This could possibly be a North American’s worst nightmare because in the U.S. pedestrians have all of the rights even when they are wrong.  Not so in Hanoi.   So I do the illogical thing and it works.  I just start walking slowly across the street without stopping.  No one hits me because they seem to know how to make space for what is happening around them.   For some reason my intuitive mind already knows this before I take my first steps.

This exercise in walking across the street fascinates my mind so I begin to think about how they are able to give me the space to cross the street.   In their minds they are trying to get from one space where they began their journey to another space where they will end it, but before they start they seem to already understand that there are many other people in the space who are also doing the same thing.  It is as if a whole culture has built itself around the idea that you can move from one space to another and respect others who are doing the same thing.

In the western materialistic world the space thing seems to be about how much space you can take up and then protecting the space that you call yours. Your worth is calculated by how much space you have in the most highly valued areas.   Financial worth is not calculated by how much space you are able to share or how well you live in the same space with others, but how much space you own.

What seems ironic to me is that 90% of pop music and a large percentage of the movie industry focuses its time and energy on the value of closeness, i.e. love. which is the ability to be in the same space at the same time harmoniously with no concern whatsoever about ownership.   So, on the one hand, a part of us  values being in the same space at the same time, but the material world values separation.  If you have a lot of material space, you are worth a lot of money, but being able to share a space is not valued financially at all.  What if, instead of the amount of space being worth lots of money, the ability to share space was what determined your wealth.  Now that would be radical change.   Let’s face it people who share space well are the happiest and lead the best lives.

Have you ever noticed that dance clubs where there are so many people that you can hardly breathe and the music is so loud that you cannot have a conversation are the ones that are most valued?  What is that about?  Not too many people like to dance on a big dance floor where there are not many dancing.   There seems to be too much space which is quite discomforting.

I am just wondering why one of the world’s largest real estate moguls who has had several divorces is seen as so successful.  There are so many of his books in practically every bookstore in the world lauding his value.  So he has a lot of material space, but he doesn’t know how to share space very well.  Is that what we call successful?   I guess you may have surmised that I won’t be reading any of his books.

I am not all that against having a space I can call my own, but I really love sharing my space with others.   I have lived in the same room with my wife for the last 33 years.  Now that ought to be worth something.  Don’t you agree?   It’s certainly better than owning half of city,  but not being able to live closely with others.

Let’s see, the wealthiest man in the world is trying to give away most of his wealth to solve the world’s problem.  You gotta love that, but will he share the space of who decides what to do with the money?  I think maybe sharing space and the wealthiest man in the world is an oxymoron in today’s world, but you gotta love that he wants to give it away to help others.   Hmmm. Another radical change, sharing the space of decision making.   How many CEOs want to do that?

I wonder what other kinds of space we can share.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 7: You Don’t Have to Be Dreaming to be Dreaming


Isn’t it interesting that we use the word dream both for when we dream of doing something in the future and also for the stories that we receive while we are sleeping? They are not all that different. Many people love the waking dream of flying off to many different countries. When I am flying in a dream, I have a feeling of freedom and lightness that often seems so real that when I awaken if feels like I know how to do it when I am under the laws of gravity. I have flown all over South East Asia in the last two years and I can tell you that I am closest to the flying dreams that I have in sleep time during my travels.

So I am wondering, as I am writing this post, if the two realities, waking and sleeping dreams, actually originate from the same place. I have had, on occasion, running dreams, where I have felt completely relaxed, been able to run for very long distances, and finished in times way beyond my expectations, which when I approximate those feelings in my actual running life, give me my best results. The two realities seem to become one at that point.

I have been known to say that all dreams come true. It is a very frightening thought, because on the one hand, I have my share of positive dreams like the flying dreams that I love to live out in real life through travel and my daily life, and then, on the other hand, I have numerous ego related dreams such as the one shared in the last posting about not being able to choose a film to view. What is even more worrisome is the fact that the negative dreams seem more likely to come true than the positive ones because the ego seems to run on its own desire and own controls. I am not behind the wheel with the ego; someone else is.

Today, for instance, I have a huge desire to go up to someone and just tell them that they are way out to lunch. I have a great deal of anger that this person has such a huge voice and is giving out ideas that people are compelled to listen to and obey. Last night I didn’t have a dream about this situation because I already knew that if I lived out my ego desire to tell what was what, that the consequences would be disastrous. I already have a long history of bad dreams about this subject and have watched myself suffer consequences for trying to make a big ego listen to my ideas. I don’t need a dream, in this case, to know that my ego desire will not work. My waking life experience, and my former process work lets me know not tell the person that he is headed down the wrong path, but I feel a strong urge to so, nonetheless.

The dream in my true self, which is the opposite one of my ego is to have more relationships based upon mutual sharing and appreciation for each other, but the anger in my ego used to become so intense, that I used to just unleash a flurry of negative expressions that ended in disaster. Generally speaking I am known as a fairly calm and gentle person, but I also do know how to tell the truth. I really want to let the person know how wrong he is.

In the Baha’i Writings it is put this way.

“Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.”

This is another way of saying that, in this case, being right and saying it, is wrong. Sometimes it is just better to keep my big mouth shut. My ego is dreaming of telling someone the truth even though that person is not capable of hearing it. My true self is dreaming of setting up environments where mutual sharing and appreciation are present. Unfortunately, the ego dreams are always, at first, much more compelling.

If in my night dream, I am being attacked by a poisonous snake, my ego will have me do everything possible to avoid or try to kill the snake. This is survival. In real life, a poisonous snake is a poisonous behavior such as gossip and backbiting. I can remember that there was a time when I was having to deal with people that were just very charming and excellent public speakers with progressive ideas, but behind my back they were doing all kinds of dirty dealings and spreading lies about me. One night I had a dream with huge numbers of poisonous snakes all around me which made me want to avoid everything about the place I was in and at the same time really kill the behavior by confronting it. Eventually the snakes in real life did get rid of me by firing me. The dream came true.

I was not powerful enough in my life to realize that my true self’s dream which is to create environments where mutual sharing and appreciation, can thrive wherever the dream is strong. The venom was just too strong. Fortunately I was fired, but my true self’s dream still lives on, and because I already have the experience of knowing that trying to confront the wrong ideas doesn’t work very well, I can calm my anger, keep my mouth shut, and then seek positive ways to build supportive environments.

This is all to say that waking or sleeping our true dreams continue on, but they always come with the price of dealing with the ego’s desire first, learning from it, letting it go, and then pursuing fully what is in our hearts. The ego’s dreams do not have to come true in real life. You can deal with them in your meditative and therapeutic life so that your true dreams can flourish.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 6: The Symbols


Last night I dreamt that I was downtown at a movie theatre with my wife.  While I was trying to choose what to watch, I got separated from her because she went to the washroom.   The longer the dream went on, the more it became apparent that the choices were really bad, mostly horror type movies about some rampaging homicidal maniacs.   I  then started to feel panicked about not being able to find a  film and then I woke up.

So what does it all mean?  There are 3 aspects to deal with, the feelings, the syntax, and the symbols.  The theme of this post is about the symbols, but it is often nice to end with the symbols rather than begin with them.

The feeling that I have is panic or anxiety that I can’t find a movie to watch.  If the feeling were positive, then the symbol of the movie theater would be something that I would want to pursue, but as the feeling is negative, it means that the symbol needs to be transformed.  This is because negative emotions come from the ego, while positive ones are from the true self in dreams.    Anxiety is an emotion that denotes lack of confidence and its solution is almost always to remember positives about yourself and then act from them.   When you are overwhelmed, it is often helpful to do something like washing the dishes or cleaning up because simple activities often ground you into remember positive abilities.  But panic about not being able to find a movie means that I have  lack of confidence about something.    Panic, structurally, is a combination of internal speed and a large negative imagined picture.    When it takes over, it can be pretty crippling.

So the feeling tells me that I am going to need to some confidence by slowing down inwardly and remembering positives in a large way.

As regard to syntax,  the one thing of many that I can see is that the emotional content starts with the hope of doing something together with my wife, things soon get more separated, I end up in panic, and then I wake up.    So the dream goes from the hope of closeness, to separation and panic.    This means that if I solve the dream that I am going to have a great deal of closeness and feel really slowed down inside as opposed to panic.

Ok so this brings us to the symbols.   Metaphor is the language of dreams just as it is in myth, mystical writing, and art such as poetry.   The best way I have found to deal with symbols is first get your mind to slow down so that you can take your time to figure out a meaning.  It doesn’t need to be done in a hurry so if you write your dreams down, then you can go back to them often to enrich the meaning.  What is most important when you are at the beginning stage is to avoid jumping into believing that the dream is literal even if it seems literal.   A literal dream such as a future dream that comes true also has symbolic meaning because it is trying to communicate inner abilities.
The key symbol in the above dream is the movie theatre.  The way to start understanding the symbol is to ask yourself what a movie theatre is and then make a correlation with non-material reality.   What is a movie theatre?  A movie theatre in a positive sense is a place that you go to view a made-up story that communicates  something related to life.   When you leave the theatre, you feel enriched and have more understanding about life.   So a movie theatre is a symbol of a made up reality that attempts to communicate a message.  You can have your own positive inner movie theater by making up pictures of the life that you want to live and then going for them.

The problem I have in my dream is that when I go to my own inner movie theater trying to pick the movie that I want to live by,  I only find negative choices and then I panic.   In the dream I was having to pick from other people’s choices which means that my negative inner movie theater was being run by others.    To transform the theater I simply can start choosing the inner movies that I want to view and one of the best ways to do this is by seeing the great positive movies of the past about my life which then can be used to create new movies about the kind of future that my true self wants to live.

When I am panicked, my ego throws me into a materialistic way of viewing the world that is controlled by others which causes me to be separated from others, but when I view the dream symbolically and then transform it to a positive, I can create positive pictures of being closer to others by remembering how I was able to do it in the past, and then projecting a new positive film about the future.

Once again, the key to understanding symbols is to not rush into thinking about them literally, to remember that they are trying to communicate deeper spiritual conditions both positive and negative.

Next post:  Symbols related to elements

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 5: Defying Time


My mother turned 86 this year.  By all accounts you would think that her life would be on the downswing.  Not so.  After having painted in oils for a number of years, followed by the less forgiving medium of watercolors, she recently began the most difficult of them all, Chinese brush painting.  It requires a very steady hand and great mental preparation before the brush hits the fragility of the rice paper.   If you know my mother, you know that she often complains out loud about the arthritis she has in her hand and all the aches and pains in the rest of her body.   She still walks more than a hour each day, cooks, cleans, and does a series of strength and flexibility exercises.   Teenagers would be envious of her energy levels.   20 years ago when she had back surgery to fuse a couple of vertebrae the doctor told her she would have about 10 years before she would be in a wheel chair.

Janet, my sister-in-law, put it this way.  She rules over her body.  She is a major anomaly.
If you know anything about my mother, you know she has high expectations for herself.  She could never hire a maid or extra help because she can out work them even approaching 90 and the quality of her work is just too high.   I feel sorry for the gardeners.  If you have read the last posting about the two worlds of time,  you can see that despite the fact that my mother lives in the world of clock time,  her spirit soars in the other dimensions of time.   Her body aches, her ego grows impatient with the lack of will in others, and she complains that she isn’t as good as she used to be, but her spirit just keeps marching forward, learning and developing as if she were 20.   You can’t have a better role model than my mom.   She demonstrates a basic principle of spiritual growth, which is the recognition that the ego is present (the arthritis is there), but she doesn’t let it rule her.  She allows her true self, the self that lives beyond time and space, that produces great art and prepares huge feasts, to be the sovereign of her life.   I am sure that my mother feels a lot of pain from the arthritis, but it is only because the dreams of her true self are still so high and way beyond the reach of most people.   Most people would have given up the brush long ago, but she continues to defy time with great dreams.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 4: The Two Worlds of Time


One of the great aspects of the dream world is its interesting way of dealing with time.  You can be asleep in your bed and within a very short span of time travel to several different countries.  While we are wake, we are governed by the clock that is determined by the earth’s journey around the sun.  It is sequential, one moment following another.   In the dream world time seems to be more flexible.   In the physical world things have a definite beginning and ending.   In the dream world the laws of time are stretched so that they can have the options of communicating whatever we need.     It teaches us much about the way the mind can work.

For instance, it often happens that people dream about something one night and then some days or months or years later the dream comes true in the material world.    This is the same process that an architect uses when a building is construction.   The building is constructed in the mind of the architect long before the building ever is finished in the material world.     This is why so many self help programs emphasize the importance of seeing the end in the beginning.

People often communicate the phenomenon of time by saying that they were in one location and then suddenly they were somewhere else.   This shows that time can just jump without having to take years and years of living or multiple flights to various locations.   It teaches us that we can use our minds to connect one experience to another so that it sees their relationship.    If you are dreaming a dream that shifts from one place to another,  it can be assumed that the two locations are closely related and usually is there to prove that though you move jobs or houses or families, it is still the same you with the same problems that is moving around.  You can’t solve a personal issue by moving.  It is much better to solve the issue first and then move rather than the other way around.  If you have a  problem with finishing what you start, you can’t change it by changing locations.  You have to change your spiritual space, i.e., more determination and then the new options appear that you never thought possible before.

The primary issue of all human beings is inclusion and family is the first priority of inclusion.   If in your dreams, you are having an intimate physical relation with someone else, and it isn’t your spouse,  it doesn’t mean that you should go out and immediately have a sexual relation with that person.    It means that the person you are relating to in the dream has a spiritual quality that you are needing, which, when it is actualized, will bring your life into harmony with everyone around you.  Dreams always are merciful.  They warn you ahead of time what you ought to be working on to make life work and therefore, is much more efficient.  However, if you don’t pay attention to the dreams, life will present you with the same issue until it is solved.  If you are a womanizer, it just means that you are trying to solve spiritual issues that will bring your life into harmony with others through sex.  It doesn’t work.  Purity works because it allows you to deal with the fact that you have virtues that are as yet to be unleashed in your life.   It is pretty simple and pretty basic and dreams are the most merciful way to handle it because they act before your life is ruined outwardly.   It is a great predictive device because it always gives you information beforehand.   It is like knowing who is going to win the race before it begins.  Understanding time in a dream is what makes it such a powerful tool.

Hmm.  I wish I had access to some CEOs and presidents’ dreams.  I think I will hire myself out.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 3: Playing with Time


One of the activities I often do when I do a dream meeting is to place out a number of virtue cards on a table where each person chooses the one that is most needed in their life right now such as courage, honesty, determination, love, joy, or patience to name a few. I always have 2 patience cards and it is very rare that both of them are not taken and others in the group having thought that they wanted to pick patience as well.

Why is patience so necessary and why is so non-prevalent in places where the western materialism has taken root?

The other day I crossed over the border from Canada into the United States in the state of Washington and immediately the pressure on time became magnified. I never thought that time was much more pronounced in the US than in Canada, but the great symbol in the northwest of the US is the number of drive thru coffee stands ready to give you a double shot of espresso while you rush to where you are going. As I allowed myself to partake in this cultural phenomenon because of the love of coffee I thought to myself that I better slow myself down inside that there is no real difference between getting to a destination 5 to 10 minutes earlier, but everywhere I went that weekend the rationale for not doing things for everyone I met had some relationship with time. Americans are in a hurry and get upset if they have to wait in line.

This made me start to play with time in a new way. Here are a few thoughts. The reason I am writing them is because dream time is much different that clock time as I will explain later such as when you dream of something before it actually happens in the physical world. I thought that Americans, who are supposed to be the most advanced culture in the world because of their economic might have really gone crazy over the clock.

I guess it is no surprise to me that the first culture that I landed in when I left the US in 1983 was the aboriginal culture of Canada who have a whole different way of viewing time than industrialized consumer based cultures. I was really forced to question my issues around time when I landed in Brazil some 15 years later. Now that I am in Malaysia my clock has been altered once again.

Since patience is the virtue most people want to have more of, it seems like a great place to begin the exploration of time. Patience is the virtue of being able slow down time or stop time so that something else can happen first. Impatience is the inability to allow other things to happen first before our greedy needs are met. It is how we have, as a world culture, managed to destroy the environment and why development projects in the third world don’t work.

The way I hear impatience being said to me, since I work in the area of physical education, is that of not having time to play or exercise. People most often say that they don’t have time to play because they have too much work to do which they rush through and then throw themselves on their couches in exhaustion.

When you lack patience, it means that you are rushing through a task so that you can get to an end that will give you something positive. Managers want you to work really quickly so that you can get a product out which will give them more money that will make them happier. It is all pretty simple. To discover impatience you just have to follow the money trail especially the greedy money trail. When we are impatient, we are trying to get to an end faster so that we will get some kind of reward.

If you have patience, it means that you can slow down time to a standstill so that the spiritual energy can be placed right in the midst of all of your activity. The American energy is very telling. You rush to work, buy coffee in a drive-thru to get you to rush more, so that at the end of the day you can have more things that will allow to enjoy life more, the pursuit of material happiness. Rush, rush, rush. Only at the end of the day everyone is too tired from rushing all day to enjoy their things.

If you can play with time, that is to realize that it can speed up or slow down or even not exist, then the joy and happiness can be placed right in the midst of what you are doing. Patience is the ability to slow down the material life so that positive energy can be placed in the midst of what you are doing. The illusion of the clock is that people think it is ticking, when in reality the space between the ticks is diminished for them. Slowing down time means increasing the space between the ticks.

If you feel rushed in your life, realize that time is a construct and is flexible and realize that the end you are rushing for is in the middle somewhere, not at the end.   Instead of rushing to finish the dishes so that you can relax,  start relaxing and enjoying the dishes or even leaving them for awhile.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 2: Syntax


Whenever I do a dream meeting some people inevitable want to call me very intuitive, but most of my work has very little to do with intuition.  Intuition is the feeling I get when I know I should proceed in a certain direction, but I don’t have the conscious knowledge of why yet.  This is because the conscious mind seems to be a bit slower than other communication.

The key that unlocked lots of doors for me about dream work was actually a lot of self discipline and focused attention for long periods of time on the dream in front of me. One of the things I discovered that not many people talk about in dream books is the structure or syntax of the dream.  Most people focus on the content.  There are shelves and shelves of books about content but not much about the structure of dreams.

For instance,  a lot of people end the explanation of a dream by saying, “and then I woke up.”   So I asked myself why people wake up from a dream when they do because I hadn’t seen it in any of the books on dreams that I had read. Then I realized that the expression “and then I woke up” could mean that that was when they woke up in their life.

If you had a dream where you were being attacked by a poisonous snake and then you woke up,  the waking up is just as important as the attack by the poisonous snake because the snake caused you to wake up and pay attention.   Being attacked by poisonous snake means that you are fearful of being attacked by someone whose actions are like poisonous venom in your life, like backbiting or spreading false rumours or vicious criticism.   The structure of the dream is that you are being attacked and then you wake up.   You only wake up when something bad is happening.

The big thing about syntax in a dream has to do with time and sequence.  In the world of clocks and physical space time always goes from beginning to middle to end; first, second, third, etc….  In dream time the clock doesn’t have rules because it is timeless.  In a negative dream I can look at time exactly opposite to the clock, that is the end is in the beginning, and beginning of the work is at the end.  What the spiritual end, the goal or object of the dream is  can come at the beginning.  The end isn’t at the end, it is at the beginning and where you start your work can be at the end, not the beginning.   It is the last issue in the dream that can mark where you begin your work.

Here is the dream I had on the blog a few days ago.

Last night I dreamt that my son-in-laws and I were behind the lines in pre-World War 2 Germany doing undercover work against the Nazis.  At every turn we were nearly brutally murdered, but somehow we managed to escape only to find more threats more numerously as the dream progressed.

Structure:  a group/  a place in the  negative past /working  against/ hiding/  running away/ more challenges/threats

So the structure says that if I work with a group in a place in the negative past then I am going to end being against people, hiding out, running away and things will just be more threatening.   The important information is that the structure says that things will just get worse in the end if I put myself in the negative past in the beginning.

This makes the solution so easy.  All I have to do is put myself in the positive future instead of the negative past and then my life works.

Here is another example. Suppose you had a dream where you were flying and everything was going fine and then you ran out of gas.

The structure is your were doing something where you were feeling really positive and then something really negative happened.      First you have a positive and then you get a negative.   This means that you just have to change how you do the negative and then everything will be positive.

Mapping the structure is a bit like how we used to diagram sentences in the past to analyze grammar in English classes.  We have largely thrown grammar out of English in North America because we tended not to go for meaning, but when you map the structure of the dream,  there are some very interesting things that appear.

Next post:  Origin of the issue clues: how to read time clues

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 1: The Feelings


There are 3 things that I look for when I am listening to a dream especially my own, the actual story or content of the dream, the structure of the dream which is like the syntax, and the feelings that accompany dreams.

In almost every dream meeting that I have done in various parts of the world the most common question I hear is, “Why can’t I remember my dreams?” or “How can I remember my dreams better?” The simplest answer I can give to people is to start paying greater attention. In the great majority of cases people remember their dream the very next night after the meeting. It is sort of like the greatest 2 labels or our time, ADD and ADHD, which are just fancy ways of saying that it is difficult for people to slow down and listen to what is happening inside of themselves. What I can see is that the western influence on the world culture has made cultures with attention deficits. Most people have stopped paying attention to what is going on in the inner worlds because they are busy trying to compete in the outer material world.

If you are “ADD” about your dreams meaning you don’t remember them, the best place to start to recover your memory in the dreaming process is to begin mapping or journaling about the feelings that have when you wake up in the morning. Every dream, like every experience leaves an emotional marker, whether it be negative like anxiety, grief, fear, anger, guilt or embarrassment or positive like joy, excitement, love, determination, confidence, calm or patience in positive ones.

It is much easier to remember your emotions than your thoughts because your thoughts are a combination of pictures, sounds, and words in your mind, whereas feelings lodge themselves into various parts of body that have sensations attached to them. However, the biggest problem most people have is that when they wake up in the morning, they are already brushing their teeth or onto the day without having had any reflection time.

Dreams are like the code for what the best direction your life ought to go right now. If I am not paying attention to what is happening in my dreams, which is a before time experience, then I will probably be experiencing the consequences of my life in real time. Dreams are designed to give you information ahead of time so if you can solve them, they save a great deal of suffering in real life.

Of the three elements, content, structure, and emotions the easiest to process are the emotions because when you feel the feelings you are experiencing rather than avoiding them with loud music or alcohol or rushing around being overly busy, they trigger the thoughts that help you unravel the mystery of your own life.

If you have not done very much process work or worked on your issues and negative emotions, you can be absolutely certain of one thing. The first negative emotions that appear will be aimed at solving the problems of having grown up in your own family. Family is always the first issue to arise which is probably why everyone races out of the door in the morning. They don’t want to have to face their families. The simple reason for these emotions to appear first is that the family is the core unit of every society and culture. I have never met anyone who survived childhood without a wheelbarrow full of family issues.

If you are going to process workshops to make more money or improve your relationships or get better grades or better scores on your golf game, you are always going to be taken back first to your family of origin when the negative emotions arose. It is a universal guarantee because the first priority of everyone’s life, whether they want to do it or not is family. If you have been ripped off by your family, then your job is to not rip off the next generation. When you stop being ADD which rushes you off to work, you are going to be asked to improve your family life. This is always where the most pain is.

The simplest way to start is to just recognize the feeling. What am I feeling? Negative emotions are first in line because they are the markers for where to start the growth and solve the problems of the former generation. When you remember the feelings, then the content memories of the dreams begin reappearing.

The next post: Mapping the Syntax

Fighting the War on Terror Internally


Last night I dreamt that my son-in-laws and I were behind the lines in pre-World War 2 Germany doing undercover work against the Nazis.  At every turn we were nearly brutally murdered, but somehow we managed to escape only to find more threats more numerously as the dream progressed.

When I awoke from the dream, I realized that I am still living my life as if the Nazis are in power when in reality they lost.  The key for understanding the dream for me is the realization that despite the fact that we still have Nazi-like CEOs and leaders who have no qualms about getting rid of people by the truckloads, in the end, they always lose.  This means that they have already lost in the future even while they are in power in the present.

I can be confident that the power mongers of the present are going to be gone in the future because they always lose.  Napoleon lost.  I think that says it all, but what I tend to imagine is the possibility of another Napoleon or another Hitler terrorizing the world.  I forget that Napoleon lost because, in the end, he had become too arrogant with power and had created too many enemies.

Whoever I am terrorized by is going to lose because they will create too many enemies that will eventually bring them down.   What this means is that I can be very enthusiastic about going after positive strategies like cooperation and unity because I am now certain that the present-day Nazis are going to lose.  The reason that they are going to lose is that they are going to create too many enemies.

What the world seems to have plenty of is the number of “soldiers” it takes to bring down a tyrant, but what it seems to be lacking are people who have the positive strategies that replace the tyrannical one.  The despots just keep reappearing and keep re-losing.   We know how to get rid of tyrants, but we don’t know how to build a world based upon positive values.   It was relatively easy to overcome Saddam Hussein, but there are not enough positive models or strategies that replace sectarian violence and division.   It was easy to get rid of the Taliban, but it has proven not so easy to build a just society.

Here is one strategy that we all might find interesting.  My 2 son-in-laws and I share it together.  It is sort of like a modern day version of the three musketeers.  I think that this is why they appeared in the dream.  It goes like this.  When you get invited to do something positive, you say yes.  Take yesterday for instance.  It is late Wednesday afternoon pouring rain in Vancouver in the summer.  Well, normally we play soccer together on Wednesday evenings, but I am looking out the window and thinking that there is no way I am going to play soccer tonight. I am part Malaysian now. This is against my culture to play in the cold rain.  I just want to sit on the couch and relax.   Shortly thereafter Chris calls and says the fateful words, “So are you going to play soccer with us in the rain tonight?”  I am thinking he is crazy, but I say yes anyway.   When we are walking to the court, it is still raining, there are large puddles of water on the court when we are warming up, and a steady rainfall during the first 45 minutes.   After awhile the rain stops, the puddles diminish, and we have a great time.  On the way home I feel great.  We sit and reminisce about how great the night was.

Then I remember the day before and how my daughters worked their magic on Debby, my wife.  It was raining on that day as well, but my daughters joyfully announce that they are going hiking to Lynn Canyon.  Debby replies by saying that she is not going because she is fearful of a getting a cold.  Everyone else keeps moving forward with no fear of the rain whatsoever.  Finally Debby gives in and starts talking about what kinds of clothing she could bring to stay warm.  She goes and has a great time.

I guess it has a lot to do with finding people that you are really close to and then just doing things together that are positive for everyone.   Sounds pretty simple.

Enjoying the Ride


Yesterday while our family was hiking in Lynn Canyon with our three grandchildren, I received some really great lessons about life. It was obvious to Chris, my son-in-law, and I that the purpose of the trip was to get to Lynn Canyon as fast as possible in our cars and get to the end of the trail on foot as fast as possible as well. On the way back we started talking about the way that all of the children had a much different way of approaching the hike.

Maria Montessori would have been proud of Erika, my daughter, because her daughter, Isa, was interested in going off the trail when she spotted something interesting. She wasn’t interested in the speed of getting to the end of the trail; she was enjoying everything that the trail had to offer. Erika just allowed her to lead rather than rushing her to the end.

Midway through the return trek back Chris and I stopped, looked up a hill, and started talking about how Shane, my other son-in-law would approach a hill versus how we would do it. Shane would take a long time to look at the hill, see all of the interesting rocks to climb over and things to do, and then systematically go after each one enjoying fully how to make his way over each rock. Chris and I admitted that we would just take the fastest path and rush up there as fast as we could. Shane enjoys the whole experience. We just rush to the end. We tend to miss the middle. We started talking about being too goal oriented rather than more process oriented.

Chris and I thought that the end of the trail was the goal, but the children taught us that the real goal was experiencing fully all of the things along the way because that is where the real growing and learning is. No one taught them how to enjoy the trail. They just did what comes naturally to them.

So I started thinking about how the world is dealing with global warming and terrorism and poverty and inequity and it made me realize that the feeling I get from the discussions and concerns is the need to rush to the end so that the problems will be finished. I am not enjoying the ride because just like the world, I am trying to end a negative, the pain of going up the hill, rather than enjoying all of the learning and growth from facing the challenges so that new positives will emerge.

Slow down and enjoy the ride. That is my new mantra for today.

More Friend to me than I am to myself: Isa


There is a prayer in the Baha’i writings that many Baha’is use often. The last line says, “Thou are more friend to me than I am to myself.” This prayer deals with the anxiety of an uncertain future and the ability to embrace it. When I read the prayer and meditate on its implications, it seems to me that when I am facing uncertainty, the quality that I need the most is friendship.

After I was fired from my job in Brazil, my wife and I spent the following year in Vancouver with our children and our granddaughter, Isabela. Isa (the name we call her by) was only 11 months old when we arrived late in the summer of 2004. She would prove to be a great friend to Debby and I. Debby loves gardens so the way she spent many hours was to soothe her soul in the many beautiful gardens in Vancouver. Isa was usually at her side. For myself, I came to know every park in Vancouver and when the winter came I joined Science World so that we could have a place to walk in the winter. Isa and I took our picture together for the membership card and spent many hours there.

Debby and I had an uncertain future because we were unemployed for the whole year. In fact everyone in the house became unemployed that year, but we always had someone who never judged us and who was always willing to go on whatever outing we had in mind, Isa.

Now in summer of 2007 I am employed, my future is a bit stabler or so it seems, and I am in Vancouver with Isa again. Yesterday we had a great walk together to the store looking for some corn on the cob. Isa is almost 4 years old, and now, besides being willing to go with me to all kinds of places, she is a great conversationalist, a true companion. There is nothing shallow about her. Her questions are all why questions. She doesn’t talk about trivial things. Why is the flower blue, grandpa? Why is the starfish painted on that sign? Nothing I can answer, just questions to ponder.

When we get to the store, we buy some fresh strawberries along with the corn. On the way home, we stop by an outdoor wading pool in a local park, she throws off all of her clothes and dances through the water. I follow her (keeping my clothes on).

As we eat one more strawberry, I tell her how happy I am to be with her. She says that she is really happy too.

I know now what to do when I am anxious about the future. Find Isabela and have an outing because she is more friend to me than I am to myself.

How God is Preparing Me for Life with My Grandson


Olee was born in November, 2005. He is my second grandson. About 2 weeks after he was born I started teaching 5 and 6 years olds wall climbing at my school for the very first time. I was learning just as much as they were especially about how to use all 4 limbs on the wall. Call it coincidence if you don’t believe in spiritual things, but the other day I was at one of Vancouver’s beaches and I noticed that Olee, at 20 months was climbing over a set of logs using all 4 limbs and figuring his way over them just the way wall climbers do. Then, yesterday when my son-in-laws and I were doing an 8 hour hike up Crown Mountain, we came to a place where we had to use all 4 limbs to scale rocks. It dawned on me at that point that maybe the reason I was fired from my other job and given this one teaching 5-6 years, which I had never done before, was to not only assist them, but also to prepare me to relate and be with my grandson.

The two years that I have been teaching 5 years olds have really helped me to combine playfulness, structure, and creativity which have made life with grandchildren very enjoyable.

Today as I reflect it really makes me realize that God is much more in charge of my life that I can possibly even imagine. You have to love the way God works. What a sweet and gentle hand He has.

What else is He preparing me for?

Cruisin’ with Diego: One of 3 role models


Diego is my youngest grandson, 18 months. He is my inspiration in every way by the way he lives his life. Whatever Diego does, that is what I am going to start doing. I have begun training for another marathon and realize that his training regime is much better than any I have read in any magazine. This is Diego’s method. As soon as his bedroom door opens in the morning he flies down the hall running as fast as he can. When the gate is opened in the backyard, he immediately starts running. He doesn’t look back to see if anyone is watching. He just goes full speed ahead. When we are at the park, he finds a green spot and just runs.

Last night we were all sitting around after dinner with some of my daughters’ friend’s children watching the kids play on the swing set. I brought out a couple of plates of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Diego came back to the plate for more at least 15 times long after the strawberries disappeared. Then he went after the strawberry bushes that only had green ones on them. His appetite was relentless and unending. He barely had time to chew what was in his mouth before he came after the next one.

So I thought to myself, if only I could live life a little more like Diego. Get up, role out of bed, and start running and then have such a great appetite for life that it can’t be filled. What a life! Thanks for being my teacher, Diego.

The Mother of All My Fears: Exclusion

This year I am celebrating the 10 anniversary of the first time that I was ever fired from a job. I was a small child in the 1950s when loyalty was still a value in society. I still tend to believe too much in the leadership and stay too long in organizations because I still believe that the leaders want to do something good in society and are not in it for themselves. Call me naive and leave it at that. The second time I got fired was 3 years ago. It is still much fresher in my psyche than the first. Call me a slow learner. Both times I was under the illusion that I was doing my best work ever when I got fired.

Up until 10 years ago being fired had never entered my mind as a possibility so when it happened I felt devastated and betrayed like nothing I had ever experienced before. My firing, along with some of my other colleagues, was couched in the language of today. “We are not renewing your contract because we are changing the direction in the organization.” It would have been much nicer to hear the words, “you’re fired”.

I had a year off after my first firing and another year off after the second one, so both times I took that time to reconnect to my self by running marathons. In 1997 I trained for one marathon, but 3 years ago I felt so betrayed that I had to do two to get myself together. terryfox1.jpg On the 10th anniversary of my big separation I have decided that I would do some preventive medicine by training for another marathon. When I get up in the morning and have a run, I get reconnected with myself. It is a bit like taking a magical pill. Everything seems right with the world. When I am not running is when I feel the worst about myself.

I have no illusions about leadership anymore, but I still have a fear of being fired. I am not sure that it will ever fully leave or whether it is supposed to leave because being disconnected from people is a painful thing. Thank God for facebook and thank you Generation and X and X/Y for turning this baby boomer onto it.

Hope to see you all on the road. Did I say that I am going to run the marathon in Kuala Lumpur? See you at the twin towers.

Say Goodbye to Guilt #2


The big problem with guilt is that it makes you loyal for too long to something you should have left a long time ago.  While I am a baby boomer by birth, in recent years I have come to admire more and more how generation X operates because the “boomers” keep looking for good leaders to solve their problems while generation X realizes that given the current system, good leaders is an oxymoron, e.g. most leaders are morons.   Unfortunately, besides being a boomer, I was also born under the sign of taurus so I am extremely stubborn about moving.

It is pretty easy to identify a tyrant.  Lots of people die or get kicked around.  Still people feel guilty about leaving a tyrant because they are so fearful of being excluded altogether and being left out there all alone with nothing.  The advantage tyrants have is that they have long realized that people are fearful of being excluded and they use this fact to their full advantage.     This is why so many women hang onto an otherwise worthless relationship for years and years allowing themselves to experience all kinds of trauma.   The fear of being alone is extremely forceful.

Besides having to leave tyrants there is a second group of leaders and organizations that can be equally damaging and hard to leave.   They are “conservatives with a creative flare”.   They do things exactly like the really traditional ultra conservative groups except that they have some positive creativity and some moral principles that make them look like they are really out for changing the world.   You know that a tyrant is a tyrant, and a racist is a racist, but conservatives with a flare lead you on to believe that they are doing something really revolutionary and exciting when, at their core, they are just like all the other traditionalists hanging onto to their closely guarded space and structures.

People tend to hang on with a conservative with a flare because they see the creativity and the ethics and think that something is wrong with themselves when things just don’t live up to all of the hype, but really the core of the organization is very conservative and guards against change very strongly.    A few people see right through it, get really angry, and then are thrown out because this kind of traditionalist is like the tyrant in the end.  They don’t mind eliminating people to protect their turf and recognition addictions.    Conservatives with a flare have about a 5 year run before the walls start to crumble which is about the time they leave to do the same thing somewhere else.

What is really difficult with the flare-types is that they invite you in and allow you to be creative to a degree in the first stages.   This is what keeps people loyal and makes them feel guilty in the latter stages, but what happens when you practice creativity is that you always make mistakes which are seen as liabilities.  As soon as you start making mistakes, which give you the necessary feedback to refine and change the initial attempts, you are seen as a negative because you take away from the leader’s ultimate goal which is recognition.

You know you are working with a conservative with a flare when you start a new project, it runs into the natural difficulties of all new projects, and then you are called into the office, criticized, and eventually asked to stop the project.   A leader who is truly interested in change sees the difficulties, listens to the problems and then then encourages you to go much further.

A conservative with a flare leader can always justify getting rid of you in the end because he has been counting how many times you have made a mistake and then holds that against you.  He doesn’t want real change.  He wants a little flare to make him look good, but can’t stand to do the work of real change.  He will get rid of you in the end almost as fast as the tyrant.   You can tell who a conservative with a flare leader is by how many people they have fired.

Someone who is really interested in change is extremely slow to fire people because they are so good at the transformation work.  People actually change in their organizations.   So you needn’t feel guilty about leaving a conservative with a  flare.   They are really tyrants that have a creative front.

Be radical. Go for change.    Find a group of people who give you encouragement and stay with them.  Leave the tyrants and flares.

Say Goodbye to Guilt #1


There is a huge secret to all transformation work which I have yet to find in the literature. Behind every negative emotion like anger, envy, grief, shame, or guilt is another feeling. It is always the fear of being excluded in one form or another. It turns out that the most importance competency for human beings is closeness to others, i.e. love. It makes a great deal of logical sense if you realize that the first goal of life for a newborn is attachment to his/her mother. It also turns out that the cultures leading the way in the area of psychology, the western cultures, are the worst in this process so it should be no surprise that the literature hasn’t yet identified exclusion as the underlying mother of all of fears. The worst feelings are those of separation while the greatest are those with closeness to others. Most young people will do whatever they can to avoid the feelings of separation from their peers because we all need to be close to others. We are hardwired to be intimate friends. There is no situation in life, none whatsoever, where intimacy is not the primary goal. If closeness is not your primary goal of life, then you are out of touch with your own reality which is tantamount to committing spiritual suicide.

In the Baha’i Writings it says that the purpose of life is to be even like one soul in many bodies. That is pretty close.

So how does guilt come in?

Guilt is the negative emotion that you feel when you are not living up to a certain standard. There is such a thing as positive guilt like in the fear of God, which is what tyrants or abusers or most CEOs don’t have, but for the most part, guilt is something we all need to say goodbye to.

The problem is that we feel bad about not living up to a standard that someone else has set, it is usually unconscious, and the standard is based upon self interest for those setting it, usually the leader at the top. The only reason we remain loyal to the guilt and why tyrants have such an advantage over us is that we are so completely fearful of being excluded.   Most of today’s leaders are not fearful of excluding you because they are so out of touch with reality that firing or layoffs make them feel powerful.

When you work with guilt, first go to how you are fearful of being excluded and then everything else will make a great deal of sense. Ok, some examples.

You want to go out and play some tennis, but you just feel like you have to stay in the office and do another report that someone is demanding of you. If you use a lot of guilt as a motivator, you will stay in the office because you will be thinking that you have to impress the boss so that you won’t be excluded(fired). If you don’t have guilt, you will go for tennis, because people that don’t have guilt work a lot faster and more efficiently and have a healthy attitude toward responsibility so for them, there is plenty of time for work and plenty of time for play.

All negative emotions waste time because they are stressors in your body that keep you from working more efficiently and effectively. When you don’t have guilt, you are free to be responsible and playful at the same time. Guilt will make you tense, which will make you procrastinate, which will make you stay in the office much longer than you need to, but the real reason you stay in the office is fear of exclusion.

Jewish mother guilt: Well, I don’t think that Jewish mothers have the whole market on guilt, but they certainly have perfected it to a fine art. The “Jewish mother” thing is about getting their children to do the things that will keep the family from being excluded. Jews have a long history of exclusion. Instead of connecting children to their hearts and letting them live out of that energy, they want their children in positions in society where they are the least likely to be excluded,e.g. my son the doctor, my son the lawyer. The problem with overcoming a Jewish mother is that she is relentless. Her methodology is repetition so that is what the children believe.

To relieve the Jewish guilt you can simply fall in love with what is in your own heart to do, include yourself in your own true life. The best way to start this journey is by taking more art classes because the arts are the key area that open your heart.  Then you need messages of love to your heart constantly that are positive and nurturing and validating of your talents.

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut


Today we crossed back from Vancouver Island to the Mainland and Juliet, my daughter told me that I should write more about my methodology. In my last posting I said that I would write about guilt, but I will save that for the time being.

The first principle of the method is simple. Just keep your big mouth shut.

Simple, eh? Every teacher and every parent usually has one big issue in raising children and that is discipline. It always gets the most agenda time and the most print. Well, here is the solution. Have enough self discipline to keep your big mouth shut when you want to give advice to someone or criticize someone in order for them to change. If you never learn anything else from any book or anyone about parenting or your relationships, learn this. Keep your big mouth shut. Don’t even worry about what comes next. Just keep your big mouth shut. Everything will get better.

If you want to go for major transformation, then keep your big mouth shut about the negatives you see in others, and just say the positives. They will change right before your eyes. This takes a phd. amount of self discipline, but if you want to have friends and great children and a successful marriage, just do it.

If you want to change the world, then do the following. Keep your big mouth shut about other’s negatives, see their positives and acknowledge them, and then work on your issues. The world will change right before your eyes. If you are a teacher, your students will start having self discipline because you have it.

Self discipline begins with the simple step of keeping your big mouth shut. It is unbelievably hard to do, but it is a complete waste of time to focus on how bad others are. Pay attention to changing your own weaknesses, but not others.

Teaching Your Children to Play


If some of you out there  who are reading this posting are workaholics, I have a confession to make to you.  I am a playaholic.   I know so many people who just don’t have enough time to finish all of their work ever.  They are obsessed with it.  Well, I never get enough time to finish all of my play.  I never pass a court or field or bowling alley or pool table without thinking about having a “go”.   I must say that I am addicted.   I don’t have any issues with choosing between play or work. I always choose play.  Fortunately, by the grace of God, I have a job now that allows me to play all the time.  I am an athletic director.

Play comes naturally to children.  You don’t have to teach playfulness, but you can facilitate it as a life long pattern of energy by putting your children in environments where they are allowed to play hard.   Play is their work.

I think that the biggest factor for developing playfulness and then not giving into being a workaholic has to do with how playful fathers are with their children.  At 57 I am starting to develop some hindsight because now I have grandchildren.  Yesterday I was wrestling with Diego, my 17 month old grandson, on the bed.  We were both rolling with laughter after a few minutes.  Then I thought wow life doesn’t get any better than this.

If you are a father and you are reading this and your work is taking you away from being playful with your children,  you can break the cycle of not having a father who was there for you and just start playing a lot more.  Watch out for the next posting because it is going to be about guilt. Believe me after you are over guilt you can finally kiss all of that useless work you are doing to avoid developing the virtue of playfulness good-by.

If you read my last posting about the nightmare, well, playfulness is the key to all healthy relationships.

How to Change a Nightmare into Bliss

The nightmare: I was with a bunch of people who were all something like FBI agents. Our goal was to capture someone by cornering him and making him give up.  It was working. We just about had him completely cornered,then the dream shifted to a completely different place where we were searching for the same person in a large building with lots of people and corners and floors making it almost impossible to find the person.  We thought that it was a bit futile.  Then I eyed the suspect walking away with someone else so I stayed in the background so as not to be seen and when he came back in, the room was dark so I went to a corner.   Then the dream went from trying to capture him to becoming extremely sinister and horrifying. He killed 3 young police officers in a very cruel way, then became like a super martial arts guy cutting off people’s heads.  I tried to get away and then woke up.

Analysis:  In the dream world time has a different reality than in the material world so one of the things about a negative dream that is useful is to realize that the end is in the beginning, the end meaning the goal or the purpose of the dream. You first get the purpose of the dream and then you get the pattern.   In this dream I was collaborating to corner a criminal.  Time is reversed to real life in a negative dream.

Solutions to negative dreams are always positive opposites.  So the positive opposite of collaborating to corner a criminal would be to  work alone with my own capacities to help someone who is in great need.   The dream is telling me to help the person who is in great need, the perpetrator.

In the second part of the dream the criminal shows me just how bad he has become.  Dream life is symbolic life so killing in a sinister way means ending relationships in really bad ways.  This is what the perpetrator does.  At first I am trying to collaborate to bring him to justice, but in the end I am hiding and trying to get away with my life.

The solution is help the person in his relational life by helping him to get out of a pattern than ends up destroying relationships in really negative ways to learning how to create extremely positive relationships.   Since I was about to be his victim when I woke up, I now know that I can help him heal himself.  In real life I didn’t want to be around this person for fear of him ending relationships right before my eyes again.  The fact that my life situation has changed and I received this dream  means that the time for healing for him is now.

It is a bit of mystery to me why now but it is one of the things that I have learned to do with dreams is to submit to the message. The reasons usually become clear later if I just trust them.   I am fairly certain as to why now, but now I need to meditate on a positive way to do the healing work.  Trying to bring a person who ends relationships in a bad way to justice is pretty useless work.  That was what I was trying to do before.   Doing healing work is much more valuable, but the doors were never open.   It is no surprise that the dream came as a nightmare because without a nightmare I wouldn’t have been clear on the issue and what needed to be done.

My initial work is going to have to be to clear the negative emotions associated with the bad relationship.

Transform your child’s behavior by Changing yourself


There are literally thousands of books available all over the world on parenting which play an extremely important role in helping mothers and fathers do their life’s most crucial work in positive ways.   Several years ago I started experimenting with the radical idea that if I changed my own self, then my children and others would also change.  As I am writing the words in the above sentence, I am thinking that it sounds like a cliche, but I have also found that the focus on parenting and education is usually on the child and not on the transformation of the parents themselves.

The first thing I had to discipline myself to do, which turned out to be the most difficult, was that when someone annoyed me by their actions, to realize that the problem was mine and not theirs.  After all I was the one being annoyed, not them.  I decided that I would only focus on their positive qualities, ignore the negatives, and then work extremely hard to change myself.   Surprise, surprise.  All of my relationships improved remarkably especially with my children.

I can say quite assuredly that when I made that decision, even though I wasn’t able to completely live it for lack of self discipline, it changed everything.   Why does it work?

When your child is misbehaving, according to you, like when he suddenly lets out a scream at the dining room table or regresses two years in his eating manners, his behavior is just that and nothing more.   When I get angry at the behavior,  it means that I am suddenly regressing and losing my self discipline.    I know that this principle is hard to swallow because parents are like gods to children, but if you can get used to the idea that your child’s behavior is a reflection of your own lack of self discipline or whatever other virtue you are seeking to change in them, then the change in them will proceed much faster.

The question to ask ourselves is this.  How can I develop more self discipline? (if that is the weakness the child is showing)  If your child is full of fear, the question is related to finding more courage in yourself, not them.   If you want your child to dive into a swimming pool, with no fear, then you have to be willing to dive into something new with no fear.

Usually when you make the change, the negative behavior in the child goes away instantly or the solution to how to assist the child develop new capacities becomes clear to you.

This past year I was teaching physical education to 5 year olds.  I have a lot of years of teaching experience so I rarely need to make any lesson plans, but the big lesson plan I make everyday is that of analyzing the children’s behavior, checking to see how that makes me feel, and then changing my negative emotions into positive virtues.   Almost instantly a solution to the problem I am having in the class shows up in my mind and when I apply it, it works.    I have been working as an educator for over 30 years now and I can tell you that the number one topic of every teacher in every school where I have ever taught is how to develop more self discipline in children, but I have almost never heard the teachers describe their own lack of self discipline as an issue.

Debby, my wife, and I now have 3 wonderful grandchildren.   We live by a simple principle. Bite your tongue and change yourself.   The worse our tongues feel, the more change we need to make in ourselves.   When our tongues have huge teeth marks, it means that we have a lot to change in ourselves.

Joy dream part 2


So I was talking about my dream to Debby, my wife, (the dream with dancing) and she said that she had a dream with Kurt’s wife, Delane, and in her dream she ended up dancing as well. We both had it the same night, probably at the same time. There is no way to explain this phenomenon if you believe like many people that we are physical beings with a large brain. Don’t you think it is time that we gave into the belief that we are spiritual beings who inhabit a body from time to time? If Debby and I can have a dream at the same time which has a similar structure and content even though we are asleep and unconscious, then what new dreams in waking life can we accomplish consciously that we have heretofore disregarded?

The door appears to be wide open.

Recovering Joy Dream

The dream:  I am in a school, the principal of the school is leaving for another job as a professor at a famous University, and Kurt Hein, my ex-colleague is arguing on my behalf to get me in as the new principal.  Kurt is very emphatic about my skills, but the decision to hire someone else has already been made.  I am left out.  The principal seems apologetic, but Kurt is very unhappy with the way the decision is made.  The next thing I know is that I am in an open square dancing with a huge amount of joy.  It is so ecstatic.

The analysis: One of the most important aspects of analyzing a dream besides the obvious dissecting of the symbols is to look at the structure of the dream outside of its content.   The structure of the dream gives you the entire emotional and behavioral pattern that you are facing.  Structure is just as, if not more important, than content.  In this dream the first section ends in a feeling of being excluded, but the entire dream ends in great joy.  The sequence is first a negative and then a positive.   I am excluded, then I am in great joy.

The transformation principle in dream work is simple.  You remember and enhance positives so that they can be utilized in your life, and you change negatives so that  they become positives.   When you already have a positive in a dream, it means that the energy is available to you right now if you can just remember it in a way that will allow it to work.   In this case the virtue I am called on to remember is that of joy represented in the dance.    If there were no negatives in the dream, it would signify that the joy would be immediately available, but in this dream the negatives precede the positives.  The negatives happen first and then the positives happen.  The goal is to have both sides of the dream become positive so that I can dance my life away in great joy.


Kurt is one of the great colleagues of my career.  We worked for 8 years together at the Maxwell International Baha’i School on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.   We worked side by side.  Kurt is trying to advocate for me in the dream to be the head of the elementary school, but it doesn’t work.  The decision has already been made to hire someone else behind closed doors so I am left out.

Kurt, is a symbol of the part of me that advocates for myself.  This is the part of me that recognizes my gifts and abilities and then puts them out there for others to see.   I think that what the dream is saying is that the part that advocates for me is not the problem because the advocacy is very strong.  The part of me that is like Kurt, that recognizes talents and then advocates to utilize them, is in tact.  Despite having talents and being advocated for, I am still excluded because the decision making process is made behind closed doors.  The feeling I am left with is that of being left out.   This means that the work is the ability to deal with the feeling of being left out.

If the process of the decision making had been been fair and the result the same, then the issue for me would be to develop some new administrative qualities that I don’t have, but as the process was held behind closed doors in secrets, it means that the decision had nothing to do with my qualifications, but was tainted by impure motives of self interest.   Yet I am left excluded.

Up until that  time in my career with Kurt, where we were both fired together in a process that was largely secretive, I had always advanced through the hard work of acquiring new capacities.  At the point of the origin of the dream energy I began to experience the much larger reality of how most of the world actually operates, that is, excluding through self interest.   This was like a big shock to me, and a big eye opener, that fairness as a virtue is largely non-existent in the world.  The experience of being fired and excluded behind closed doors awakened me to a reality for which I had a lot of naivety.   Even great advocacy is not helpful when the process is ruled by self interest.
What then is the solution to exclusion based upon unfairness if advocacy does not work?  Most of the world tries advocacy, but the leaders we have prove how ineffective it is.   Clearly advocacy is not the solution because Kurt is already doing it and I am still being excluded.  The decision making powers behind the closed doors do not act on the basis of fairness.

What is the solution?  If I am being shut out by unfairness and left with exclusion, then the solution is to include myself where the door is wide open.  The dream already tells me that I have  great joy represented in the dance, so joy and energy are not things I have to work on.  What I need to find is the open door and then include myself in it with great joy.  This is the solution.   Being an elementary principal is closed because the processes are secret and impure, but there is another door that  is wide open.  Obviously being excluded took away the joy that I had associated with work so the dream is reminding me to reopen it in the  door that is open.   The school administrative door is closed, but another door is open.

The Mathematics of Change

For those of you who are math freaks and want a formula for change, here it is. This formula works

4 (+ackns) + 1 (-listneg) + 1 (flipw/plan) + x(grndrule)= rchange


1. 4(+ackns) = 80% positive acknowledgments of qualities, actions, virtues already done. Notice how high the % is. Almost all failure is a result of underestimating the amount of acknowledgment needed.

2. 1(-listneg)= listening non-judgmentally to your own or someone else’s issues. Mostly reflective listening, lots of paraphrasing so that the issue is clear.

3. 1(flipw/plan) =Solution to the issue which is a 180 flip of the current negative pattern internally and externally. e.g. flip from running away from a fear by avoiding to running toward a positive goal fully. Plan always releases the positive energy to start acting.

4. x(grndrules) = ethical and moral ground rules that serve as boundaries like fidelity in marriage, not using material substances to deal with issues, not stealing, not using power in an abusive way.

Almost everyone in the entire world has problems with number 1. It is much more important than you think. More to come later. Radical Change the book is soon to be published.

Why Airasia? The Big Shift


Airasia is a low cost airline that provides services all throughout SE Asia. Last year 9 of us in our family flew to Langkawi from KL for about $220 USD. That’s $220 altogether. We have flown to Thailand three times, to Bali, to Jakarta, and Hanoi all in one year. The planes have almost always been full. When we flew to Vancouver this past week from KL on a big carrier, United, I noticed some things that I hadn’t given eye to before. United puts out a red carpet for people in first class and business class and gives them a special gate. I just started to wonder about a question as I gazed on the red carpet that no one was using. Are we, the low-cost travelers, the ones who are paying for the red carpet? Think about it. Do the first class travelers really pay for the first class treatment? Corporate travelers are already getting a big discount and one of those seats takes the space of about 2-4 economy seats. When you consider that they have their own lines that cost more to service per person and more than twice the space, it should become pretty obvious that we are paying for a good percentage of their ride.

A few years ago Bali suffered 2 bombings that really devastated their tourist economy. When we talked to our hotel manager, who happened to be a Canadian that was adored by all of his staff, he said that it was only because of Airasia that the tourist industry has begun to pick up again. Why have they been able to revive the market where big carriers have failed?

Everyone knows that the further away you are from a disaster, the worst it seems. The people in the region know that about Bali, that it is not a dangerous place, so when Airasia began offering low- cost flights, the economy picked up.

So what does all this mean? The rich are charging you, the middle class, for their luxury. This is why you can’t stop video piracy in Asia. No one in their right mind believes that we should be paying for Tom Cruise’s salary. It is just so over-the-top for what he is worth. Come on, let’s get real.

The lesson from Airasia should be quite clear. The middle class is on the rise. Watch out Hollywood. The Airasia of the movie industry is coming.

Hmmm. Where will we travel this year that we couldn’t afford before? India? Cambodia?

Traveling through Airports


I first began traveling in planes in the late 1960s during the height of the Vietnam War. Security was so light, even in wartime, that you used to be able to board the plane by arriving at the airport 10 minutes prior to take off, rush to the plane, and even pay for the ticket on board. This was wartime. The stewardesses were friendlier and the airlines were more generous in those days with food. Here we are 40 years hence. Nowadays, in some airports, you have to arrive 3 hours before your flight, you can’t even take a bottle of water on board, and they practically strip search you before you are allowed to step onto the plane. I am not saying that the security measures are not necessary. I am sure, for instance, that theft in airports has decreased as a result of tighter security and this can be seen as a positive, but I wonder if there is another strategy to stop terrorism and promote peace that we haven’t yet discovered. We know from the lessons of history that the embrace of our former enemies is inevitable. Is it possible that because our focus is so much on stopping terrorism with tighter security that we may be overlooking the processes that will bring us together with our terrorist enemies? There is an interesting film out now called “Breach” which is the story of how the FBI discovered a man within its own organization that was selling secrets to the enemy, the former Soviet Union. What I found remarkable about the film was that long after the US and the former Soviet Union had become peacetime allies; he was still selling secrets to the Russians. He was actually convicted not when the Soviets were our enemies, but when we had already embraced them as allies. His crimes, no doubt deserved great punishment, which he received, but there is a kind of irony in his capture. We are spending billions of dollars each year around the world for tighter security to protect us during our travels, but how much do we spend on the equally important processes that would accelerate the embrace of our enemies. What are the core activities that accelerate embracing people as our friends that could compliment the function of governments to protect is citizens from criminals and terrorists and how can we do both at the same time?

Reflections on 40 years: Letters to Iwo Jima


I was recently in the Bangkok Airport at a bookstore when a sudden desire to read something on history overcame me; so I picked up the book, Letters from Iwo Jima, which has now been transformed into a film by Clint Eastwood. It came as no coincidence to me that at just about the time that I finished the book, I was flying over the same island on the way to Tokyo. This book recounts the story of the battle for Iwo Jima during World War 2 mainly through the letters of the commander of Japanese forces who defended the island. 40 years after the bloodshed in which both sides suffered over 20,000 casualties some of the survivors from both sides gathered again on the island, this time in peace, to commemorate the battle. The first moments of their reunion were warm, and yet somewhat reluctant each wondering perhaps how the other side was feeling, but soon the former enemies embraced each other as if they were life long friends.
Right now I am writing this post in Tokyo, my country’s former enemy, and I cannot help but ask myself the question that has become like a mantra to me. If the soldiers from both sides would have known 40 years prior that they would one day embrace, how would that fact have changed their behavior? The possibility of an eventual embrace existed before the war, but it took the courage and sacrifice of so many men from both sides and then an additional 40 years until it could be realized. It can only mean one thing to me which must be regarded as haunting to all of us. Having peace and embracing the current enemies like Al-Qaeda is already a reality in the future. Is it necessary to have to fight and shed needless blood for the eventual embrace to occur? What do I need to do now to accelerate the embrace of my country’s enemies? I am certain about one process that I can do. I can look into the future and see the possibility that few people seem to be seeing, that is, that we will embrace our enemies. Even history proves this fact. I don’t think it means that I can rush in and embrace someone who is intent on destroying my life anymore than Japanese and American soldiers could have embraced during World War 2, but I know that because the embrace is sure to happen in the future, there must be a set of core activities that will accelerate its happening faster.

Note: The picture above are 3 young Muslim boys who Debby and I met in Phuket last October. Do they look like terrorists to anyone?

Reflection on Radical Change


The woman in the picture above is a grandmother in the northern hill tribe region of Vietnam. Debby and I stayed overnight in her house one evening during our treks in that region. Now if you were a young person growing up in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, as I was, the thought of spending a peaceful evening with a villager in Vietnam may not have ever entered your consciousness. Today some 30 years hence, the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam has undergone a radical change. The question I have to ask myself as I reflect on my experience with this beautiful grandmother is this. What would I have done different in my life back then had I known that I would be eating stir fry and drinking tea with this wonderful woman some 30 years after? Perhaps I could have had tea with her much earlier. Over 3 million Vietnamese lost their lives in their conflict with Americans. Everyone you meet in Vietnam has been affected directly by the war. Our guide’s father was handicapped for life after 10 years of fighting, but we managed to become close friends with the guide. If we know that peace is coming even with once bitter enemies, how can that change our relationships with others right now? Can we accelerate radical change? Whoever is your enemy right now will one day be your friend. Think about it. I have a lot of work to do to change my enemies to friends. I guess I need to see them as I see the grandmother drinking tea with me. I have much work to do because keeping enemies seems so tantalizing and for sure it is much easier.