Giving Out Honey When You Receive Poison

“Act in accordance with the counsels of the Lord: that is, rise up in such wise, and with such qualities, as to endow the body of this world with a living soul, and to bring this young child, humanity, to the stage of adulthood. So far as ye are able, ignite a candle of love in every meeting, and with tenderness rejoice and cheer ye every heart. Care for the stranger as for one of your own; show to alien souls the same loving kindness ye bestow upon your faithful friends. Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord—so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world.”
Abdu’l Baha

I have spent the better part of the last two decades trying to apply this quote in my daily life with moments of success followed by a great deal of internal difficulties and failure. The purpose of this post is to share some of the lessons I am learning and hope that you too will take up this amazing challenge. The promise of the quote is world peace which is the theme of my site and we all hope for.   It is coming.

Lessons Learned.

  1.  If you take out the factor of time when dealing with this quote, you don’t have to feel so bad about not being able to do it instantly.   In order to apply the quote, what you first need to be able to do is to forgive, which is the ability to let go of hurt.    If I were a more advanced soul, I wouldn’t get hurt so easily, but as I am just in the process of developing, I still get hurt and still react in negative ways.   The tendency of the ego, when it is hurt, is to act by either fleeing, fighting, or freezing.   Mostly I feel like fighting back as if fighting back is going to evoke some kind of transformation in the other.   If it worked,  we could all be fascists or mobsters and the world would get to peace.   It just doesn’t work.   The goal is not to give back what you have received that is negative.   The goal is to give back something positive when you receive negative.  The first step is to process the hurt.   Processing a hurt can take time.  Sometimes it takes decades, but if you let go of the hurt and give back some honey after a decade,  then you have created world peace.    It is a big ask to expect oneself to do it instantly even though that is the end goal.  When you are first trying to give back a positive, allow yourself a lot of time and space to deal with the hurt.   It is OK to stay away from a person who fired you if you maintain feelings of hurt toward them because being around them while you are hurt just brings out ego patterns that are not helpful.
  2.  How to deal with the hurt.  It is my experience, and this is just one of many hundreds of methods that might work, that hurt is best dealt with as a metaphor.  I don’t know why exactly.  I have just had a lot of success with myself and working with others to keep hurt as a metaphor.   The metaphor explains the feeling.  For instance,  the first time I was fired from a job,  I felt like I was thrown off of cliff.   I was crushed.   You can see the benefit in the metaphor.  It makes the feeling so much more dramatic and then allows you the extended time and space to process it.   Some cultures particularly the worldwide male culture has the tendency to tell you to just get over it, but if you feel like you have been run over by a truck or pushed off a cliff or stabbed in the back,  it will probably take some time.
  3.  How do you explain the metaphor?   If I felt like I was thrown off a cliff,  that means that before the event (the being fired) I gave the employers a lot of power over my life. I gave them the power to make me feel negative.   It was like they were the owner of my feelings, positive and negative, and whatever they did would effect them.  If they were good, I was good.  If they were negative, I was hurt.    How did I ever allow them to have control or power over my internal state?    When I understand that they are just human beings with positive and negative qualities,   then, even if  I do get fired not so justly,  it isn’t like being thrown off a cliff.  It is more expected because they are just acting human.     Being thrown off the cliff means that my expectations for them were much too high.
  4.  Once I bring them back down to earth and back into being a human,  then I can begin to transform the metaphor from such a drastic negative to a positive  where I have internal control.    What is a metaphor that I can have that puts me in control of my own internal state?   The key is in the old metaphor.   What I am doing is transforming the metaphor of being thrown off a cliff and falling.   What is a likely metaphor that works?  What works for me is the metaphor of flying like superman to reach my positive goal.  If I feel like superman inside,  then when they act out of their negative egos,  it doesn’t much affect me.   I can give them back the opposite of what I was given.   In this case I can invite them into my home and show generosity.

I am inviting you into the wonderful world of this magnificent quote.  Have a go!!!

Radio Talk on Dreams

Hi Everyone, I just did a talk this morning on dreams on the radio station below. You can click the link if you would like to hear it. It has a couple of minutes before the show of some music and announcements before it begins. Enjoy it.

The Best Case Scenario Thinking

The other day I found a new gear in my skiing.   Literally I have gone from really slow and fearful on the easiest green runs, to gradually adding a blue run (intermediate level) to just relaxing and flying down the mountain.   Some switch flipped and there I was feeling so free with the speed.   It happened.


Last year I spent a whole huge wad of money to go to arguably the best ski resort in the world, Whistler-Blackcomb, tried to get back to snowboarding at age 65 after not seeing snow for two decades, ended up on icy narrow runs, fell repeatedly, was so destroyed an hour in that the rest of day was ruined by me ending up in the medical clinic getting x-rays.

What is changing in me?  I am not exactly sure, but something is positive.  Hooray!! First let’s go back in history nearly 20 years.  Over that time I was fired three times in three different countries on three different continents.   You may  think being fired is not traumatic because maybe it isn’t for you.  It was for me.   It was the thing I most feared.  Why?  Imagine yourself on another continent where you are full of hope about your future, you are making a decent living, and then one day the plug gets pulled.  The fear has a lot to do with putting food on the table and being a long way from home.  When I wasn’t earning,  I was worrying a lot about the future.   I got used to seeing the worst case scenario and then trying to protect myself from it.    That is exactly what happened in the snowboarding crashes.   The worst case thinking scenarios took over.  I froze up and was fired.  I crashed myself.

This post is not about blame.  I could rant on with truckloads of blame, but the fact of the matter is, I turned from being a person who sees a relatively positive future to protecting myself from the worst case scenario.    It is a bad way to live.  Believe me.  Don’t do it!!!   It is quite understandable after a history of dismissals.     I am not whining.   I was just not as positive as I used to be after the third time.    I won’t go into the reasons for the firings.  In my opinion I was right and they were wrong.  In their opinion I was wrong and they were right.    Either case, I ended up in the emotional train wreck of seeing the worst case scenario and protecting myself from it.

Then a magnificent thing happened.  I retired.  Well at least I retired from the kind of work I was doing.   When I first retired,  I spent a lot of months waiting for the other shoe to drop again.   Only the only shoe dropping was being done by me as in the case of snowboarding.    No one was firing me or threatening me except myself.   It dawned on me  today that the reason that the first day of skiing was so painfully fearful was that the way I had been looking at the future was just hugely in the worst case scenario and then tensing to try to prevent it from happening.   If you would have seen me going down the runs the first couple of times, you could have spotted it plain as day.

Gradually it shifted.  The protective part of me realized that maybe it was overworking.  It didn’t need to be there anymore (if it ever did).    Now I am making the shift to the other type of future, the best case scenario.    It was never for me as if the best case scenario about my life didn’t exist.   It did.   It was more like the worst case scenario thinking was hugely dominant.   How I planned to do my life upon retirement is exactly how I am living it, but now when I get on the ski slopes or tennis courts or do therapy with people, the best case scenario is so apparent.   It is becoming the dominant force.

How to do it?  I suppose that each person has their own unique roadblocks that they have to overcome in the way of fear and other negative emotions,  but really the essential aspect of it is to see the best possible future, the best outcome, and then have an absolute belief that you can make it there.    What is my best future?  How does it benefit humanity?   Those are the two essential questions.    You have to do the second question because we are hard-wired that way.    A self-serving life will crash.




The Essentials of Accelerated Learning

I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the area of how to accelerate learning so it may be a bit arrogant of me to title this post as if I know what the essentials of accelerated learning actually are.  It fascinates me that a young person can be brilliant in almost every academic subject,  but have a great deal of difficulty learning how to be socially competent. 

  1. The first essential is knowing that learning in one type of area such as science can be very different than when you are learning how to play soccer or learning to  positive relationships with others.    If you do exactly what you do in science when you are in social situation, you may find that you are being overly critical and judgmental.   It works in science because you have to make critical judgments all the time, but if you are critical and judgmental in a relationship, you just put off the other person.   In human relations you have to suspend judgment.   Consider the difference between reading a book and playing a soccer or hockey game.   In reading  one word follows another in an endless sequence that eventually gets to an end.   In playing soccer a person has to pay attention to the other players while also attending to the ball.  The learning can accelerate when you know how to learn in a specific area.
  2.    The second essential is to be free of fear and other negative emotions when learning.   This seems so obvious that it hardly bares saying, but when was the last time you had an instructor in anything who helped you let go of fear in the process of learning.   Fear and other negative emotions have the effect of putting resistance in the way of learning.   It isn’t that difficult to learn how to stand up in front of a group and deliver an interesting speech,  but the fear of the reaction of the audience paralyzes lots of people from being able to deliver one well.   If you can let go of the fears/emotions that cause the tension and resistance, then the learning is going to be hugely accelerated.
  3. The third essential is the ability to remember successful attempts and repeat them until they are consolidated.   Because we all live in a technologically-based society that rewards science way over other types of learning,  the tendency with everything in life is to be super critical.   The culture is permeated with criticism.  Because of this people tend to focus on everything that they are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right.   When you learn anything new,  the process is to remember what was successful, repeat it, and then add a new step in the same way.   Mostly what you need is positive feedback about what you are doing right and then small corrections to get to the right movements or processes.
  4. The fourth essential is have unending curiosity about how to learn in an area.   When you face internal resistance, the appropriate response is curiosity, not devastation.  For instance, if you are learning how to ski, but you are terrified, you can get curious about the terror inside.  If you let yourself have the terror, then eventually you will learn from it, and it will go away.   Last week I returned to skiing after being some 20 years away from it because of living in tropical countries.   I felt very fearful on the first run.  I proceeded down the mountain very slowly.   I realized that the fear and tension in my body had nothing to do with skiing, but what had happened to me in work-related experiences when I wanted to have a lot of joy.  There was huge resistance inside.   Gradually, my fear lessened.   By the third run my memory of how to ski returned, the tension lessened and I had a great time.   On the second day the fear had completely disappeared and the learning began to accelerate.

Why Retreating into the Past is a Bad Idea!

In 1975 I started my first professional teaching job in a small city in North Dakota.  During that time period there was a big movement in education, probably the most exciting time of the last century,  in which many of the old practices came into question.   The old practices came into question because many young people were not making it through the education system.  They were not learning, failing, and dropping out.   We wanted to know why and what we could do about it.

Some experiments were tried.   Some were good, and some were questionable, but before any of them had a chance to prove themselves,  a big wave of “going back to the past” which was called “back to the basics” gathered momentum and virtually snuffed out the alternative education movement altogether.    “Back to the Basics” was presented in a way that made the past seem like paradise, while at the same time assailing the mistakes of the new experiments as if they were the anti-Christ.

The big mistake of the back-to-anything movements is the way they shut the doors on the future.   They retreat to the past to find the answers.    Imagine Thomas Edison doing the back to basics strategy.   Whatever filament he was using for the light bulb that wasn’t working, he just goes back to and tries again.   What got him to the filament,  was trying out new things until his team found one that worked.    He continually went into the future.

It is not so much that “past” is the bad guy in the scheme to make things improved.   The past is a mixed bag.  There are positives to keep and a lot of old patterns that need to be discarded, but when you over-glorify the past, you don’t allow yourself to take an objective look at the old patterns that are no longer working.

More often than not the group advocating the retreat to the past is fearful of losing what it has or has lost what it had.   It is the loss that motivates the movement backwards.    To move forward one needs to go out in the future, see what is to be gained, and then become inspired to go for it.

The biggest gains in the future are going to be made by cooperating with others rather than retreating into our private cocoons.   In America, Iran is the enemy, but in Iran, America is the enemy.  To China the outside world is the enemy, but to the outside world, China is the enemy.   It goes on and on.   When we are friends with another, we will do anything to help and support each other.   We will sacrifice in all kinds of ways for the benefit of our friends.    This is because the love we share is such an amazing feeling that we will do anything to keep it.

The future is about friendship and love and cooperation between all peoples.   We are moving in that direction.  The sooner we see that future and how bright and wonderful it is the better it is going to be for all of us.    Love your enemies is the way Jesus put it.



Dealing with a Friend’s Darkness

I am slowly walking down a lonely corridor.  It is bright and sunny outside, but inside the shades of my feelings range from a misty gray to the blackest night.   What was once a corridor full of hope and joy has now turned to painful attacks.   I am walking toward my wife’s classroom ready to tell her that the time in this country is over.   I have just been asked to leave the school, dismissed.   It is one thing to be fired in your own country, quite another in a land outside of your birth.

If you were my friend and you were walking with me, this is what I would hope you do.  First, let me have my darkness.  It belongs to me so don’t try to take it away.   Don’t tell me how everything is going to be OK, that this is God’s will, or some other cliché.   Just let me know that I am not alone in the dark.   Let me express every dark thought and feeling that I have.

I am certain that I will be fine in the future, but right now I need to have whatever is mine.  They took away my livelihood,  so let me have my moment in dark emotions.  I need them.   One day the light will break forth again,  but now my only possession is abandonment.  Let me be with it.    Tomorrow I will be thinking of the new life ahead,  but today I am just not understanding how people can treat others in this fashion.  Let me have that mistreatment.   Don’t tell me to let it go right away.   I am going to let it go.  Soon.   Today I ask for your patience.   Walk with me for a ways on my dark day so that I really know what abandonment feels like.    Tomorrow I will return to my bright and joyful self,  but not today.

There is a great power in being patient during someone’s trials.   They need the difficulty and the negative emotions for their learning.   Without them they have a hard time progressing.     Ask a person how they are feeling.   It is the power of being patient.


“Going Off the Deep End” in Your Life

I am driving in northern Mexico not far from the city of Monterrey.   There are 5 of us in a paneled van having just spent a few days in the beach town of Tampico where we were trying out our limited Spanish in hopes to get in with some of the locals.   It is mid afternoon.  I look out the window eyeing a simple Mexican farmer walking alongside a donkey-driven cart and then it strikes me.   It could have been a lightning bolt, but it was not.  It is a feeling that springs from the inner recesses of what I can only guess is my heart.   And then I say it.  “I quit.”

I have been forcing myself for three years to remain in what I can say is  possibly the worst environment ever invented for my true self.   It is the U.S. Air Force Academy.   I cannot say that it is absolutely worst space for everyone.  It just doesn’t work for me.   It takes seeing a simple man walking along the road in a sparsely populated region in Mexico to wake up my intuition.   I know that it is time to leave.    I tell my traveling companions.  As life would have it, it turns out to be one of the top 2 or 3 decisions of my life.  At that moment it was the best by far.

Going off the deep end in my life never seems to be a prolonged decision making process.  The intuition comes.  It feels right and I act.   Not exactly the scientific approach, but somehow it works.    When I think about the process of going off the deep end,  it seems to require a fair amount of trust, trust that it is the right decision, that things are going to work out.    This means trusting in a positive future even when you cannot see it.

The force that keeps people from going off the deep end in their lives centers itself in the need to be safe and secure.  It keeps them in the shallows never experiencing the deeper aspects of life.   They remain conservative and timid about life even when it beckons them fully.   Going off the deep end for me is a very pragmatic thing.    I didn’t quit the Air Force Academy because of airy-fairy reasoning.   I was just being real.   It didn’t work for me.    I want to be living in a life that works and gets results.   By and large when we try to be too safe,  we get meager results.

Take a leap, but be pragmatic.   Leap into the things that give you positive results.

Dying to the Past in Your Dream/Real Life

Death is not such a bad thing in your dream life for one very amazing reason.   img_4317

Death in real life is only death to the body.  It is not death to the spirit which has a life that continues on long after it leaves  the body.   Death, in the metaphoric sense like in a dream,  always means that you are leaving a past life behind.  It is not a past life life in the new age sense or how the reborn Christians see it although I think they are both on the right path.  It is being born into a new, higher state as if you are leaving the old life behind and the new ones begins.

As people begin to age there is a huge tendency to stop the process of leaving the past behind and awakening into a new self.   We especially see it as people begin to approach 50.  They over-glorify the past as if it were so much better than their current lives.  This is simply because their current lives are very problematic.  They don’t have a proper orientation to the future especially about life after death and the continued growth process of the soul after it leaves the body.  When I was studying education in the early 1970s, there was a big move to change the traditional course of the teaching of reading because so many children were failing.    A few brave souls began experimenting in new ways especially helping people to get out of the old boxes that they were stuck in, but as soon as the experiments went forward, a wave of traditionalists stomped them out before they had a chance.   They called their movement back to basics which preyed on people’s  fear of a future.    Not surprisingly a lot of people of my generation are stilling doing the same in America.   They want to go back to a past that never really functioned very well.

It is a scary thing.  You look out into the future and see that you might fail if you try something new.  This causes you to be conservative with the same strategies that never served you well in the first place.   There is a quick fix to the fear. It is so simple that it just surprises me why people don’t do it more often.  If you have this process, you will make huge progress and be unbelievably successful in ways you never dreamed of before.

Here it is.   When you have a death dream, it is a big sign that it is time for this process.  The change is this.  In your mind’s eye go out in the future and then see the most positive future you can.  See the thing you want to change the most in your life and see yourself being wildly successful.   For instance, see yourself getting along with your siblings or see yourself being really friendly with others of other countries.  Don’t give into the fear of being unsuccessful just because you didn’t succeed in the past.  Stay with it. Focus on the positive future and then just live it. It is so simple.  Don’t be a conservative.  Be into change all the time.

People who over-glorify the past do so because what they really do not want to remember or have to re-live is the trauma in their past.   If they have been severely rejected in a relationship, or abused or abandoned, they set into motion a pattern that allows them to forget the trauma and over- glorify a past that never really happened. Then they protect themselves from change.   Not remembering a trauma is not the same thing as letting it go.  

If you want to let go of a trauma, it has to be done consciously.   (See Dreamwork, if you want a detailed discussion of why we forget.)   Dying to your past means letting go of the trauma and then facing the future with a great deal of optimism and courage.    Most people need professional help to do this.   You cannot just bury trauma.   If you do, it will work unconsciously.   You will sabotage a positive future. Your future will be a false past.  You will end up in a bar recounting stories of how things used to be so great or fearing an apocalypse.   When your apocalyptic fears are huge, it means that you have already lived a huge apocalypse.  Now you want protection.

Real change depends upon having an extremely positive view of the future and then living the vision.   At the core of every human being’s positive vision of the future there is a desire for close relationships with other people and a desire to leave a positive impact on the world.  If your vision of the future is not aligned to this kind of vision, it is because you are still traumatized.

Think about your future as if it were a muscle in your body that needs to be trained and have workouts to get fit.   Everyday you can stretch to get it to the most positive.  Let go of the past that doesn’t serve you, keep the past that does, and stretch your ability to have a positive future.

The sun is just beginning to rise. img_4258





Building a Culture of Encouragement in the World

This is a fairly long article that I wrote in 2004. Take your time reading it maybe over a couple of days. It is still so relevant.

Dreams For Peace

Note:  I wrote this piece about 10 years ago, but it is obviously more relevant than ever.

Everyone in the world no matter which culture or remote island you are from suffers from the lack of living in a culture of encouragement.  We have all grown up in cultures where criticism is the rule, that is, where recognizing negative energy is the item mostly highly prized. A few people have escaped partially by living in families that encourage and maybe even a mildly encouraging community, but there is nowhere in the world today where you can find a culture that encourages as a way of life.   We have all been traumatized and even beguiled by criticism, often thinking that it is a really important part of our lives.   For instance,  we know that people produce the best art when they are surrounded in an environment of support and lots of…

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Day 5: Dealing with the Ego

This is a really important step in the transformation process.

Dreams For Peace

“Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines.”   Abdu’l Baha

Whenever you go about doing any transformation, it is important to realize that human beings have two natures, one that is highly positive and beneficial to others, the true self, and one that is limited and animal-like in nature, the ego.   The dynamic of transformation recognizes that the ego is ever present, self-centered, negative and trying to make its way to controlling the life of the individual.     When you choose a new virtue or process to strengthen your life,   it is usually because you are…

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