Archive for the ‘emotions’ Category

Four Elements in Dream Analysis

October 29, 2008

Most of the cultures and religions in the world have classified spiritual energy into four categories which are  the heart, mind, body, and spirit.  Jesus said, for instance, that we should love God with all of our heart, mind, spirit, and strength.  In dream language or mythological language such as in native stories the four types of energy are most connected with one of the four elements.   The heart is connected to water, the body or one’s strength to the earth,  the mind  with light and fire, and the spirit to the air.  When you have a dream, what you can often do is to look to the elements that are most significant in the dream and then realize that those represent the areas that the spiritual world is calling on you to develop.

The spiritual world only ever requires that you work on one energy at a time so when a dream presents one of the elements, you can be certain that that particular element is the one you need now.   So if, for instance, your house is on fire in a dream, you can be certain that something is wrong with the qualities of your mind. The mind is supposed to be a source of illumination which requires a metaphor like a candle or other positive forms of light.   Your dreams will try to get you to develop the spirituality of the mind which include things like patience, calm, tranquility, and detachment.  When you have the spiritual qualities of the mind, then guidance and intuition seem to pour in easily.

If you have water in a dream, the first thing that can come to your mind is the need to focus on your relationships.   Water has so many forms in the world because the heart has so many qualities it needs to develop.   It is the least understood of all the elements because it is often associated as a feminine rather than a masculine quality.   It is the quality most spoken about in all of the religions of the world and yet is virtually non-existent in schools.    There is a lot that can happen with water in a dream.  It can be a flood, a tidal wave,  a storm, a rough sea,  a babbling brook, a placid lake,  a drink,  or a fast moving river.    When you have a water dream, it is important to note whether it is positive or negative.   If it is positive, then the dream will be encouraging you to recall the quality that is associated with the dream.    If you are white water rafting and having a great time,  then the dream may be asking you to reach out more courageously to others.  If the you are going down a wild river hanging onto a board and frightened to death,  then it could be a symbol that your relationships are just completely out of control and moving to fast.

The element of earth comes into the dream world when you need to have the qualities associated with strength such as fulfilling your commitments, staying with a project to its end,  developing abilities and skills from the ground up, and doing things that are extremely difficult.      The earth is the most solid of the elements so you may find that you are having difficulty climbing a mountain, which would be associated with having difficulty reaching a goal.  Cars are one of the forms of transportation on the element of the earth which symbolize trying to get from one place to another such as trying to become more competent in your work.   If your car breaks down or someone else is driving it,   it means that you are having difficulties getting to where you want to go.  You could run out of gas or be reckless and crash, or someone else is directing your life and career rather than you.     This element tends to be the one most praised by the culture as we know it because when someone is reliable, trustworthy, and hard working it makes everything in society work better.    Leaders who are concerned about their position at the top will love this quality in their workers, but when it comes to the next quality, air, they will likely be very threatened.   I am absolutely certain that the reason that the earth is so popular over the others is that it isn’t a threat to autocratic leadership.

Air is connected to the spirit which is represented in qualities like enthusiasm, optimism, idealism, vision, courage and hope.   Some of the common dreams involving air are flying dreams,  dreams where you are falling, and dreams with lots of wind.    Air is a lot like the heart, in that it isn’t often taught, but it is much more threatening because it is associated with doing new things which people interested in keeping the status quo do not like.

Here is a list of things which each element that you might want to explore.

Air

Flying is often associated with freedom of action

Airplane is a medium in the air so it represents using your air-like qualities such as lightness and enthusiasm to accomplish goals that are new and a bit more radical.

Falling usually means falling from grace.  Falling from grace comes from not trusing in the Spirit as an extremely positive force that is always supporting you regardless of whether you deserve it or not.   Falling comes when you feel like you don’t merit things.

Wind usually tends to hold you back from rushing forward toward your vision.  The wind should be at your back instead of in front of you.  When you analyze a wind dream, imagine it at your back and then just let go of your hesitation.

Tornado is a symbol of how people take a small rather insignificant thing and then spin it until it becomes really destructive.   Tornados are what incompetent leaders use to get into power.  They find small things in others that are negative and spin them in others ears so that others get really fearful and make that person the leader.   Tornados happen where the values are more earth like the prairies.   They tend to pay attention to small things that aren’t true rather than investigating them fully.

Hurricane is a symbol of leaders who are trying to be god-like.   The association with God is that they originate in the ocean.   This is the same as a cyclone.  Hurricanes let you know that the relationship with God is being replaced by a leader who wants power.   When you dream it, it is a warning.

Fire/Light

House on fire- many people have this dream when they try to use thinking all the time instead of other energy like relating energy.   The mind needs to cool to think well and be objective.

Light:  generally light is the source of illumination.   The negative side of light is darkness which is the absence of light.   When things are dark, it means that they need to be illumined with light.

Candle:  a candle is a soft light which is what you often need to find guidance or answers as opposed to really bright sunlight which may be overwhelming to the mind.   People often meditate to candle light because it has a way of letting you go inside and find answers.  The biggest mistake with the mind is to fret about finding an answer.   Many people don’t realize that the spiritual world will guide you when you need it and will withhold guidance when it is unnecessary.  It is part of the formula of trust.

Forest fire:  a symbol of how wrong thinking destroying growth and uprightness.

Unlike other elements where there are means of transportation associated with the energy,  the element of light requires remaining still.

Water

Tsunami:    Cultural negativity in relating such backbiting, gossip, and criticism that is sustained by extremely negative and authoritarian leadership.    The opposite and positive force is encouragement which is sustained by finding positives in others and acknowledging them.

River:  raging river with a bridge is the problem of getting from one place to another in your life by crossing over lots of angry people.   The key to successfully dealing with anger is to not get pulled into the river.

Ocean:  The ocean is the symbol of the world of God because of its vastness.   A violent sea represents being out of relationship with the Creator.  I often substitute the spiritual world for the world of God. In my mind they are interchangeable.

Glass of Water: is a symbol of getting in relationship with oneself.   When you are thirsty in the desert, you are out of relationship with self.   The great majority of people are chronically dehydrated which has something to do with not being able have a positive relationship with themselves.

Shower is about cleansing oneself or purifying oneself.  Trouble showering means having trouble with motives either your own or others.

Toilet is the place where you let go of negativity that comes in and is meant to flow out.

Rain is a symbol of for what you to assist relationships to grow.   A drought is not enough relationship and a torrential rain is too much relationship.

Earth

Transportation on the earth:  many dreams in this realm are about moving from one place to another such as climbing a mountain,  driving in a car, going on a train, riding a motorcycle,  running, walking, biking.

Progress is made on the earth through effort.  When you are in the air and traveling like in a plane it is effortless, but on the earth you need your determination to go from one place to another.   Much of what happens is overcoming obstacles like big boulders or rock cliffs to scale.    You develop in this area through lots of repetition, doing the difficult thing,  always developing new skills.   If you are in a foreign country where they don’t speak your native tongue, then you need effort by practicing the new language a lot.

Earthquake:  your life if being shaken up, which means you need to get on solid ground.

In the next post I will write a little about buildings such as houses.   I would love to hear your dreams so please feel free to write me when you want to know what they mean.

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A Child’s Dream is Often an Insight into Society

October 27, 2008


“I was going down stairs to get some water. On the way down a statue of cats came alive and were staring at me.  Down stairs there were two purple jaguars circling around me.  Om my chair there was a sleeping lady with Ron from Harry Potter.  wrapped around her arms and Ron said, “If you wake her up she will kill me.” I said, “what” and then the lady woke up and killed Ron!! Then I woke up.

Most things in dreams make absolutely no sense to the rational mind except the major negative emotion which is, in this case, fear.    It shows the main problem of our time that is a warning to this young 9 year old.   I don’t think that dreams of 9 year olds are meant to be analyzed metaphorically by themselves, but the fear is meant to felt so that they can recall it to someone who may help them through the process.   Unfortunately, it is a communication form that is only beginning to be understood so most children have little guidance about what is going on around them.     This dream starts by the boy going downstairs to get some water.    When you go down in a dream it usually means going to your lower nature rather than your higher one.   Going to get some water means that he is thirsty for a relationship.   The problem is the almost universal problem of young people in the world today.  They go to their lower natures, their ego,  for a relationship rather than their higher nature.   When this is done, their lives end up in fear and separation.

As he goes down the things that were statues come alive and start circling around him.    Animals in dreams can either be negative or positive.   When they appear as negative symbols, then the dreamer can turn his live around by finding their positive opposites.   The negative side of cat in a relationship is its aloofness and turning away from others, and the negative aspect of the big cats is their aggressive nature to tear into others.  The dream tells him that if he takes to his lower path that this is what he gets, aloof and distant relationships or really aggressive and abusive ones.   The final symbol is the mother figure who becomes a killer of a famous fantasy character when she is wakened.

A mother is supposed to be nurturing in real life,   but, in this episode, because he was taking the low road, he doesn’t get nurtured, he just sees horror.  The fantasy character lets him know that he imagines really bad things happening when he is on the low road.

It is often easiest to solve a dream by going backwards from the end of the dream rather than forward.  In this dream he ends up in a situation where he is  witnessing the death of an imaginary character.   This means that he can take the first steps to nurturing positive relationships and feeling alive and positive by being in the real world rather than the imaginary one.   This seems to be a major issue with all of the cultures of the world today.   Because the majority of relationships are built on material values, people slip into a destructive world of imagination rather than being real.    Children are just modeling their parents by slipping into things that distract them from real life.   Parents cannot moderate their children because they, the parents, do the same thing.

So the first step for most people and for this child is to be spend more time in the real world rather than in fantasy land.   It is not that Harry Potter is a bad read,  it is just that our culture spends too much time with him because we have become so atrocious at friendship and love and nurturing.   So then once you can get into the real world of friendship,  then you can take on the positive characteristics of the animal symbols, which in this case, would be to create a circle of friendship and pounce on goals that are positive.   The final symbol, which is the cats staring and being statues, is to be like a positive cat, which is to be independently minded.

What I do to get the symbols to become positive is to take their negative energy and flip them around to the positives.   So a statue of a cat would be like having the capacity of to think independently, but just not using it at all because it is much easier to just go into fantasy land rather than real thinking.    Real thinking is to be able to have opinions and discussions about real problems and then solving them.   And you can only get to the point of being able to have true discussions and openness when there is a circle of extremely positive relationships.

As we remember, the first part of the dream was to go downwards to get the water, which means taking the easy or material way to a relationship.  So the key, which is mostly non-existent in schools and in the world is for people to really desire excellence in having positive relationships.   Most people just do not want to put in the effort that a relationship requires.  They want it easy with the other side giving them lots of rewards.   So the main key to turning around the world culture is to be able to have a strong desire for working on relationships and on staying with the effort that is required.   It is not meant to be easy, but this is exactly what this child expects.

Sends your dreams to richardchastings@gmail.com and get started on change.

What I Learned About Power on My Sunday Morning Run

October 5, 2008

I like to reserve Sunday mornings for my long runs so today I decided that it was time that I give myself a challenge by upping the distance to 21 k.   I haven’t run 21k for awhile, but I have been gradually increasing my activity level in the last few weeks so when that happens, the thought of a longer run just automatically enters.   The run was going quite well, but 21k is 21k. (long)   I started playing around with some nlp things about encouragement and relationship and finally power so I thought I would share them here in the case that others might be interested.

The really interesting thing about whether I was dealing with encouragement or relationship or power was that when my inner self was negative, then my outer self became tense and, hence the run became more difficult.   The more positive the relationship I had with my true self during the run, the more relaxed I was and the better I felt.  It seems quite simple and obvious,  but here is how it played itself out.   The nice thing about running is that it is an activity that you can do by yourself and in order to do it you need to have a good relationship with your own self.   So the first issue that came up was that I was trying to get someone else to have a positive relationship with me and then I found my mind trying to play with the pattern of how to get them to have a positive relationship with me.  What I realized was that I could have a positive relationship with my own self, so I dropped trying to get others to have a positive relationship with me and then suddenly an image of me running along beside me as my best friend just popped like we were running arm in arm.   At that point my body really relaxed and I just felt so great.  This was somewhere about 8-9k into the run.   I kept that image for awhile and then another issue showed up further down the roade which had much more to do with encouragement.   Encouragement is more like a positive voice that keeps you going so when the issue came up,  the voice was quite negative and critical and really didn’t want to have a relationship with me.   As I let go of the negative voice I found that the encouraging self appeared on as if it were on a bicycle next to me riding in a really relaxed way.   The encouraging self just gave me a nice plan and allowed me even more relaxation.   This happened around 12-13k.

Somewhere around 15-16k I started feeling really worn out and tired. It was already about 30 C.   I was filled with thoughts about trying to get people in authority in all kinds of situations to become powerful in a positive way to make things better.  This is a huge recurring theme in my life so I knew that since the relational and encouraging work had gone so well that I would give my powerful self a go.    What was interesting was that while the relational and encouraging selves appeared like images beside or near me, the empowered self was inside me.    I could feel it working on me feeling my body and my strength while I was running, but at the same time it was telling me where to relax.   At 18-19k I was still running at about the same pace that I was at 8-9k even when I had slowed down when the issue first appeared.

As I stayed with the empowered self it began to remind me of past runs that I had made at distance and started to get my body to run like those runs rather than running fatigued and slowed down.   So what I gained from the last part of the run was that empowerment arises when you feel your strength inside as if you are very relaxed but also feeling how strong you are.  It seems to come when I can change the focus away from other people’s power to my own memories when I felt strong in the past.

In summary, relational energy seems to be right beside me, encouraging energy is near but the focus is more auditory where as relational is visual and kinesthetic,  and empowered energy seems to be very kinesthetic feeling of being relaxed and strong at the same time that is generated from a positive memory.

If you try this exercise,  first just let the issue appear, spend some time analyzing it, and then let go of the negative energy so that you can acquire some of the positive energies.   Besides the three mentioned there is also a fourth energy, the enlightened self, which is more about guidance.   It has more to do with the issue of not finding your way, but it was not on my journey today.   When you find yourself lost or on the wrong path or on a path that someone else has lead you to, the issue usually has something to do with purity of motive.

Happy running!

Getting the Best from My Self

September 12, 2008

I realized not too long ago that I was really tired of being in conflict with leaders  so today I made the decision that instead of focusing on them, that I would place my attention entirely on going for my own goals rather than fighting against theirs.   As I am writing this right now it just seems so simple to come to this decision, but it has taken decades for its arrival.     I think that I must love the fight.  It is so tempting almost like a drug.     This morning I was about to write one of those tantalizing treatises to them about the worthlessness of what was happening.   I pounded out a few paragraphs with rapid key strokes.    Then, about three quarters of the way through the outpouring I realized that it was high time that I began plowing my own row, swimming in my own lane, my own race.

So instead of having negative feelings and interactions with them,  everything flowed amazingly well today.   All of my interactions with the old enemies were suddenly friendly.     Did they change miraculously?  I think not.    The decision seemed to change everything.    It was strange almost like being in never neverland.    The day was extremely joyous.    I think that I must have put out a really bad vibe to the enemies before because when I decided to change,  they suddenly became friendlier and easier to work with.   Very strange!

So I began to think about how I might get the most out of myself and then a young woman told me a dream that she had about going on a road to an old house where she felt really great.   Well an old house where you feel positive in a dream is a place in your old memories where you feel great.  So I began to remember some of the best events I have initiated.   Here is one.  Look at the two teams just really happy together.

So the next process I am going to work on in getting the best out of myself is to remember positive experiences as if they are still fully alive and happening right now and then just do more things.

Hmmmm.   Think I will organize a big trip.

Transforming the Worst Quality to the Best Part 2 Joyfulness

August 17, 2008

Transformation of an extremely stubborn energy into a positive one is nearly impossible unless it is understood that the negative energy fixed in the ego is learned very rapidly and holds on tenaciously. Of all the negative weapons that people use to stop growth the one that is the most effective killer of change is criticism. It is hard for me to imagine any long term negative pattern of energy that has not been either begun or sustained by criticism. The problem that most of us have, which is about 80-90% according the research, is that we believe criticism much more readily than we believe positive comments. We are much more like to respond to someone saying that we can’t do something than saying that we can. I am absolutely convinced that most of the psychological profession as a whole does not understand how much more powerful even the slightest negative comment can be in creating a negative life long negative pattern. Because of not understanding it I think that there is a great tendency to blame things on genetics or physical things that really have their origins in criticism. There are hopeful signs in the world of psychology, but the power of negativity doesn’t seem to be fully validated in the scientific community as a whole.

The difference can be seen in a great number of schools in the world. When children enter school almost all of them hope for a teacher who is kind and encouraging and loving, while school leaders are usually focused on discipline, respect, and staying in a straight line. A child’s first priority when he or she enters school is never about learning. It is always about whether or not he or she will have close friends. A teacher or leader who focuses almost exclusively on following procedures creates a kind of poisonous soup that leaves children with patterns of coping rather than ones that allow them to thrive. This happens because, when the focus is on procedure and not on the child’s priorities, then the teachers tend to use a great deal more criticism and negativity to control children. Of course, the best methods combine the priorities of the child with great organization. I think that if leaders would smile more and focus more on their relationships with their staff or students, that people would tend to work much harder. It is the criticism that usually stops productivity and learning because it creates fear and lowers one’s belief about oneself.

What happens when people are criticized, is that they focus on what is being said such as, “you are so lazy”, then they believe what others tell them, and then they stop acting. What most people do not realize is that in the environment of the poisonous soup which is what most families, workplaces, and schools are, that it only takes a person one comment to believe the negative statement. Then they are finished. Unless we understand how powerful the negative messages are, we have a huge tendency to undervalue their force. It is not easy believe that one comment can stop progress, but it happens all of the time.

The key to change is actually not in the future, but in the past. What we need in order to change anything is first a set of very strong memories of experiences that are positive in our past. As soon as we are criticized, the tendency is to lose our memory, focus on the negative, believe it and then stop. When we have positive memories, then we become inspired by them and then set new goals and go after them. Criticism creates tension and stress, whereas remembering positives allows you to relax and energize. The process of helping yourself or others to remember positives is called encouragement. The way to practice encouragement is to be looking for positives and then acknowledge them. 90+% of the world do exactly the opposite. They look for the negative and do self criticism and criticism of others and then they stop their growth. It is deadly.

The key to change is to recover positive memories and then to acknowledge them. The question I can ask myself is, “What did I do positive today?” This question will end up inspiring me and giving me motivation to set more challenging goals and go for new things. Most leaders have the procedure of inviting you into their offices to tell you what you did wrong, so then, because they have the power to fire you, you make the negatives much larger than they are, and then you become paralyzed from change. People change when they remember the positives about themselves. Positives tend to be remembered when they are acknowledged. You can self acknowledge positives by reviewing them each day in your mind and then even recording them.

The poisonous soup that destroys a person’s ability to go after meaningful goals is created primarily by one emotion, jealousy. Jealousy is the feeling one gets when something that you have is under threat of being lost. While it is often associated with relationships such as jealous lovers, it has some of its deadliest repercussions from people in power or authority. In most cultures it is so bad that most people just learn to make whatever dreams that they have much smaller. What happens to leaders who are plagued by jealousy is that they usually have risen to the top through negative means such as criticism of a current regime or boss. When they are in power, they are in constant fear of someone from lower ranks taking over their position because this is how they came to authority and power. When you perform extremely well in a job or in your family, you are more likely to get criticized and harassed than when you do mediocre work because as soon as you get recognition for your efforts, the leader will become fearful of losing his position.

In most families jealousy takes over because the mothers feel like their children are going to take some of their power, authority, and recognition when they do well. So then they criticize them more and more even if their children are the very best. What most people have learned to do culturally is that when a leader becomes jealousy, to automatically turn on the mediocre button by making their aspirations smaller and hiding in the woodwork. If you have ever been in a situation where a leader flexes his power against you personally out of jealousy, you can just watch others pull away from you and lower their goals so that they also do not become victims.

Sometimes jealous leaders like to single people out to get temporary recognition such as when a huge amount of resources are invested in a few athletes so that they can win gold medals, while almost nothing is spent on the development of the group as a whole. As soon as you have won your gold medal and are no longer useful, then you will be discarded along with the rest. Usually it is when you are most successful, that jealous leaders turn on you.

I am very convinced that in order to believe that you can change what is the worst or the weakest part of your character that you also must be able to deal with the fact that transformation is such a threat to the way that leadership is in the world that you are going to be seen as a huge threat. If you think that most psychologists actually want you to have a huge transformation, you just have to wake up and see that a big change is a huge threat to them primarily because they have amassed a certain amount of power based upon their position. When people have a position of power, they often get hooked into their own ego which then entices them to use power over others rather than developmental principles and research. People in a position of power more often than than revert to power over more positive energies because they become to attached to recognition that the position gives them and also become addicted to the power.

To change yourself it is important to avoid the great temptation of getting into the power struggle. People in position are looking for a chance to exercise power because of its addictive quality. The more they use it, the more addicted they become. They don’t mind losing relationships with people because what they after is the high that power gives them. The huge problem that I have had dealing with people with power issues is that I always want to get into a fight with them because I think I have better weapons that are based upon positive principles, but I have always lost. You can’t deal with power hungry people by getting into a fight with them. You will always always always lose. There is a solution, however, and it is quite surprising.

The energy that ego power cannot deal with it at all is the virtue of joyfulness. What I have usually done which has been a complete disaster and failure is to see inside myself that I have a higher spiritual principle as well as the scientific research to back up my logic. When I get into with the people in position, they normally use two arguments against me. First is that I am causing disunity by not agreeing with them, and second, that the organization is not ready for change. They usually act on the disunity clause. “You are either with me, or you are against me.” It is hard to fully appreciate the use of power, however, unless you understand that it is addictive and people in power get a drugged response from using it. You are not allowed a differing opinion because they do not want change. My problem has always been that I believe that I can win the fight, but I lose because it is not about principle, it is about power.

Joyfulness is the virtue of really allowing you to be totally involved in the present tense. People oriented toward power attempt to cut off the future mostly by the threat of termination. They have no weapon for the present tense. Joyfulness allows you to take advantage of what is available and make it much more positive than was ever dreamed possible. Whatever situation you are forced into in life by reason of the injustices of power or greed, joyfulness, if used fully, can find a way to take advantage of the current situation and make it so positive that it changes everything. You can only take full advantage of the virtue of joyfulness if you can submit to the present tense and what is available now. What power leaders take advantage of is that most people cling to hope when the appropriate solution is joy.

Hope is the virtue of seeing a positive change in the current leadership, which is ok to have if there were not power hungry people ruling things, but they are so good at destroying hope and getting so high on it, that to cling to it just causes pain. The present tense can give you huge energy stores by taking advantage of what is available now rather than sitting and waiting for some benevolence that is never going to come. The present tense is where it is at, but it needs to be realized that not every possibility is available in the present. The set of all possibilities are available in the future, but in the present tense one must look for what is available and then act fully into it. By acting fully in the present tense with great joy the jealous leaders become befuddled because they get the drugged effect from cutting off the future.

The hard thing to do in the present day world is to actually increase activity with joy because one tends to become demoralized by injustice and ego power. It should not be surprising that depression started becoming a trendy mental problem at about the same time when the salaries of leaders in comparison to other workers went sky high particularly in the U.S.. It is well known now that a strong middle is what makes a strong economy and a stable country, but people at the top tend to love their power and like using it. Still is acting with joy in the present tense, huge joy, that power can do nothing about.

If the worst quality in the world is bad leadership trying to maintain things as they are for their advantage and then using power as a drug, then the best quality is acting with joy and increasing positive activity.

Who is Controlling the Future?

August 3, 2008

Last week, our 4th grandchild, Will Shoghi Heins-Hastings, made his transition from the world of the womb to the outside world. I wrote about this in the last posting. Being there at Will’s birth made an impression on me that I cannot put to words because there is nothing quite like holding a newborn. Right now he has nearly no muscle tone, no language, and no outer abilities to make his mark in the world. He relies totally on the his mother for his very life, but when I held him, I felt at complete peace with the world. It was as if time stood still or ceased to exist. I couldn’t get enough time with him, with the feeling of peacefulness and timeliness

It is an extraordinary process and I am left in awe. As my peacefulness gives way to the realities and pressures of everyday life I wonder and worry for the future of my grandchildren because I am absolutely certain that the world we have created is not ready for all of their talents. There is Isabela who is turning 5 and entering school shortly. At her tender years she already has an amazing talent to see a possibility and then put it into action, and with each passing moment she is mastering the art of cooperating with those around her so that the plans are mutually beneficial to all and not just self centered. I am not so naive as to believe that any school encourages the talent of taking initiative or of cooperating with others.

And then there is Diego. Who is controlling his future? At 2.5 years he already has mastered the quality of tenderness and is a classic example of leading with the right brain, his feelings, and with his hands. What will happen to him when he has to trade his right brain for his left or his feelings and hands for his mind? Will there be some support for him?

Olee is about the same age as Diego. You can see in Olee that he is already very sequential and logically oriented. He is not a fast processor because it takes a long time for things to line up. He spends an enormous amount of time on a single thought which mean that long after everyone has moved on or thinking about something else, he has a new insight into the first thought. Will Olee be given the time he needs to process? I wonder.

In the world as it exists now it seems to me that my grandchildren will face tremendous pressures to give up their talents so that they will live out someone else’s dream. They will be asked to live a future that someone has decided for them that is mostly driven by self-interest and materialistic priorities. No matter how great we are at parenting and grandparenting, their challenge will be to maintain who they are, develop their initial talents in a huge way, and then develop new capacities that have never appeared on the planet before in the face of selfish, bigoted, and conservative forces.

What we can do, what every parent or grandparent can do is gain more control of the future. Right now it doesn’t belong to us nor does it belong to our children’s talents and abilities. The first step is to see the positive abilities that our children have and to recognize and acknowledge them on a daily basis. And once it is clear where there is a positive quality then it we can begin to influence its future expression by providing environments for its development and guiding the interactions within those environments. We can actually change who controls the future from materialistic and selfish leaders to our own true selves. We can see who are children are and then guide them to a very positive future by taking over control of their environment rather than leaving it to the current culture. It is a very active process, not a passive one.

You can take your child to a climbing gym instead of the mall, for instance. Instead of just thinking about getting into a good university, we can think of where in the world our children could go to have real life experiences that could teach them the things that don’t exist in books. The future is ours for taking. Will’s birth has taught me that the time is now.

Embracing Uncertainty #2: Bringing in the New Baby

August 2, 2008

I was really struck by something the other day. Sen. Obama, the U.S. presidential candidate, was in Europe proclaiming that he was a world citizen, that there is a huge need for cooperation if we are to solve the issues of the day, and that he wanted to work together with others. When I read the article on the CNN website, it started out in this positive vain, but then the report changed the focus from him attempting to promote cooperation ( a value that everything single teacher in the whole world starts to work on in day one of a child’s schooling) to reporting about how the other candidate didn’t think that he had enough experience and that his speech was just campaigning. So I asked myself why would CNN change something that everyone wants and promotes to trying to make it seem like Obama was full of self-interest. The only answer I can really come up with is that CNN and other news outlets have already decided that it is the presidential race that makes money so therefore, it is more newsworthy. They are not interested in global cooperation, they are simply interested in making a lot of money in the guise of reporting the news. It also lets me know that when I attempt to go for a really positive end in the world today that the biggest obstacle seems to be self-interest in the guise of something else like fair reporting. I don’t really see news agencies interested in the truth, but they seem to be able to pretend like they are. I think that they have pretty much decided that the truth is not going to make them a lot of money so they focus on what will make them money and then make it news and then call it the truth.

This posting is not meant to be a blasting of CNN, although it is easy enough to do,  but rather on the dynamic of why it is so difficult for new ideas to  be brought into the world.    Well, something really wonderful happened to me since I started writing this post.  My fourth grandson, Will Shoghi Heins-Hastings was brought into the world on July 24th shortly after 10 pm in Vancouver.    I have been overseas for the birth of my other three grandchildren,  but during this birth I was with my daughter, Juliet, during some of her early contractions and drove her and Shane, her husband, to the hospital for the delivery. Juliet has a special way of describing her life experiences that seems to be able to capture an entire experience in a few words.   After having spent more than two hours in the last phase of labour with extremely intense contractions that were on for 45 seconds to a minute and then off for 30 seconds and then back on again,  worrying that she may not be able to have a natural birth because her first child was a c-section, and being somewhat anemic during the last phases of her pregnancy, she  told  Shane that  she  had felt like she had just been through all of the Navy Seals training regime in two hours.  After the delivery, when our whole family was there in her hospital room, you could see how wonderful she felt despite the pain.   The only thing that comes close for me has been running a marathon, but it whithers in comparison to what she just had accomplished.   At the end of the marathon you feel a great deal of satisfaction and a great deal of pain, but you don’t have a magical new soul at the end.   Juliet brought this wonderful new being into the world after having carried it for over nine months.

I couldn’t get enough time with Will during the brief week that I had with him before having to return to Malaysia for work.    I am sure that I will have lots of adventures with him in the future, God willing, but those moments shortly after his transition from the womb into this world, have been quite unmatched.  I feel so fortunate to have been there.     Will is now completely dependent upon others for his new life.  His mother and father will spend endless sleepless hours with him so that his own will can be galvanized into a life that will be beneficial to the human race.

When I grew up in southern California,  I never dreamed that I my national identity would be anything other than American,  but gradually my life changed.   When I moved to Canada in 1983, I learned to be a Canadian. Now I love Canada.  And when I moved to Brazil in 1998, they almost always referred to me as estranjeiro (foreigner), but  in my heart I became a Brazilian.  There is absolutely no question for me that Brazil is my home.  The government doesn’t recognize me as a citizen of Brazil and most of its people will not consider me Brazilian, but I am.    And now I live in a new country, Malaysia.     I have been here for three years.    Before moving to Asia,  I had no desire to be here.  I wanted to stay in Latin America, but God seemed to have other ideas for me.    I didn’t realize how much I loved my new country until I reached Tokyo on the return trip from Vancouver.   When we boarded the plane from Tokyo to Singapore,  there were a lot more familiar people in the boarding area.  By that I mean Malaysians and Singaporeans and by the time we arrived in the Singapore airport,  I just felt so relaxed and at home again.    Am I really becoming a world citizen as Sen. Obama is encouraging me to be?

Giving birth to a new identity as a world citizen is not an easy transition, but I know now that when people ask me where I am from, it is not an easy answer anymore.   I use each one freely, but I still haven’t used the identity as world citizen yet.   When will it come?   Well I am no so sure that CNN is ready for Americans to change to make a transition from strictly national to a more global identity.   I don’t think they see it as financially viable yet, but some Americans, even presidential candidates, are warming up to world citizenship and giving birth to its possibilities.

I am sure that Will will have no issues with calling himself a world citizen because the world he has been born into in 2008 is much smaller than the one I was born into more than a half century ago.   It is only going to get smaller and more connected.    That is a certainty.   The animosities and rivalries and conflicts that CNN revels in are all fading one generation after another.    Who would have imagined in the late 1960s during the height of the cultural revolution in China that they would one day be inviting the whole world to its doorstep, but it has happened right before our eyes.

Embracing a new idea like world citizenship brings with it a great deal of uncertainty.   What will happen to my job, to my social security,  to my benefits if we are all members of the same country, earth?   Well, one thing is certain for me.   The earth is my neighborhood and my new grandson, Will, and I are going to get to know as many of our neighbors and do as many adventures as we possible can.   I hope you are ready Will and I hope to meet all of you along the way.

Maria Montessori Was Right!

March 22, 2008

Over the years Maria Montessori’s worked has received a certain amount criticism for the lack of inclusion of creative play and fantasy. If you are in a very strict Montessori program, even the personification of animals is deemed inappropriate. Well, yesterday I was working with a group of young children on the climbing wall at my school when her idea of having children do real work instead of fantasy showed itself to me very clearly.

One of the children has been bringing small leaves and flower petals to class for about a week now. What I noticed was that every time that he was supposed to climb, he began obsessing on the flower petals and then making up stories about their magical powers. The result is that his muscle development and risk taking abilities are extremely weak. Besides the fantasy, he also uses blaming others if the slightest thing goes wrong like someone else going before him in line.

Yesterday I took away his magical leaf, told him that the magic was in his limbs, and that he was going to climb. So during the climb I went with him every step of the way giving him a certain amount of physical support, but I was there mostly to make sure he stayed on the wall rather than bailing. The result was what Maria Montessori must have often observed. When this young boy was faced with fear on the wall, he wanted to jump off the wall and begged me to let him stop many times. His dialogue with me was about how scary climbing was, but every time he made it to new rocks his dialogue changed from fear to achievement. It is as if he had two voices going in his head, a fear voice and a courage voice. When I was there making him do the experiences, the voice of courage was allowed to start coming out even when the fear was very great. The more he climbed the greater the voice of courage. Given the choice, however, the magic leaves are a much easier route for him because they provide some mild comfort to ease the fearful thoughts. As Montessori put it, the fantasy becomes a defense, a coping mechanism for dealing with the real issue.

Children and adults learn best from real life experiences. Facing fear is an important part of life no matter what age we are. Besides this boy I have had several children begin to cry when the fear was extremely strong on the climbing wall. By keeping them on the wall they push through the fear and then develop strength and courage so that the next times they can do the tasks independently. While they are in the fear it is as if they become different people, but they all love it so much when they get to the achievement and happy that they went through it.

So many adults have just seemed to give into their fears these days and then allowed their children to follow. Of course with adults the fantasy is a whole way of life which includes all kinds of sophisticated strategies of avoidance which people call living. The center of the fantasy seems to be anchored by alcohol and sex. Women also seem to go for shopping and men seem to go for obsessing on their teams winning to get away from facing life. Children have TV and video games, but the real life story of the boy on the climbing wall shows that the fantasy life is a way of coping with fear that is very temporary at best. Maria Montessori was right. Let’s get real and go after our fears.   We just need some support to stay in the experience.

Magic of Children’s Dreams

March 14, 2008

“About a week ago I dreamt that I was flying and then I went on an amazing adventure and it was so wonderful. And then suddenly, in my dream, I went back home and something terrible happened. It woke me up and when I tried to go back to sleep and remember the great adventure, I could only remember the terrible thing.”

This dream was told to me this morning by an 8 year old girl in my wife’s grade 3 class. Debby invited me in to speak about dreams to her children for about an hour today. They just kept telling one dream after another mostly nightmares the whole time and when I had to leave, they just begged me to stay longer so that they could share a few more dreams.

I started the post with the adventure dream because it happens to so many children and so many people. It is really worth writing about. When I explained it to the them, I told the girl that flying and having an adventure meant that inside of her, the part of her that relates to the future is very strong. Flying and adventure are symbols that relate to the future. Lots of children fly in their dreams and they love going on adventures, but what happens to her is what happens to a lot of real life dreams that children have.

When she goes back to her home, something terrible happens. If I would have had the time, I would have taken her aside and asked her about the bad thing in real life. She almost told me in front of her friends, but it is easy enough to guess. Most likely it is the terrible thing that happens to many children, the separation of their parents. In her true self she is a strong adventurer, but like most children, what she needs to keep adventuring is a strong support and encouragement system at home so she can be that way. When something terrible happens, then children get stuck in the past, in the memory of the terrible thing, and then they fear it happening more, and then they can’t venture forth very well.

A positive future works well when the past is supportive. Parents and grandparents represent the past for a child so when they are supportive, then the child can move freely into the future as if it were a great adventure.

This dream shows the difficulty of childhood. The only thing that really holds her back is the bad memory of the terrible thing because she believes that the terrible event will keep her from going forward in life. It doesn’t have to prevent it, but it is difficult to convince a child that. What she needs is adventures, as do most children, because that is where they get all of their new learning. If you know children who have had bad things happen to them, all you really have to do is be there with them to take them into wonderful places in the future. The more they do in the future, the more that they can understand and be told that bad things happen all around, but they can be left behind and then they can move forward in really positive ways.

That is a great lesson for me also. Ok I am off to an adventure tomorrow, but first I am going to leave a bad memory behind.

NLP/Anisa/Baha’i Inspired Technique for Changing Looking for Validation from Others and Then Getting All Depressed to Self Validating and Being Energized

January 13, 2008

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a really great technique that could change the depressive states that most of us get into when others do not give us the kind of validation we are seeking?

For the huge overwhelming majority of the world’s population, seeking validation from other’s is a pattern sewn right into the very fabric of our beings. I have yet to find a culture that teaches young people to see their own giftedness and then act on it in positive ways. Most of the world grows up in cultures of either high demands and criticism or low demands and abandonment. You can be living in the wealthiest family in the world or existing day to day on the street and still be plagued by the huge neediness of trying to get validated by others.

The principle of achievement is bolstered by being able to see an image of the self with positive qualities and doing positive things, but the world’s primary practice, aimed at increasing the level of growth, is to focus attention on negative aspects of the self through the use of criticism and fault finding. It goes completely against  both science and religion but, nonetheless, has been adopted worldwide as the major tool in most schools, businesses, and families.

What happens to all people is that they are impelled by their very natures toward positive growth. Everyone desires to be changing because we all have an irrepressible force within us that seeks transcendence. What the cultures of the world have all colluded in is a process that corrupts the transcendent nature rather than nurturing it. This is done very early on by telling people that they are sinful, weak, undeserving, worthless, and a whole host of other adjectives. The techniques of doing this have been handed down from one generation to the next for quite some time now so that it has become quite unconscious and second natured for almost everyone to either abandon or actively criticize the self of others.

Inwardly, since we all want to grow, we secretly, meaning unknowingly, look for ways to be validated (give positive value to ourselves). The best way to be validated is through self-validation, a process that can be taught very early on to children. Self validation means being able to see or hear inwardly the positive characteristics that exist both in your immanence ( the indwellingness of the past) and your transcendence (the future). When we have a clarity of vision or audition about the qualities we already have, it allows us to enthusiastically go after the qualities in the future that are as-yet-to be manifested. For instance, you can tell yourself and see yourself with the positive qualities that musicians have despite the fact you have never played an instrument and then the image will allow you to increase energy so that you can become the image in the actual world.

The mistake that the world makes is that instead of seeing and hearing musicians playing beautiful harmonies, it perceives the opposites and then emphasizes them. It sees and hears noise, disruptions, indiscipline, and irresponsibilty and then lets everyone know that they see the negative. This has an extremely negative effect on others which leaves them unable to energize toward positives goals, reinforces the negative state, and in the end depresses the size of the goals set.

The best musicians, athletes, or craftsmen are those that are motivated inwardly by their own vision of their own selves performing at higher levels. One of the problems that most people get into is that they look for the validation from someone else like their boss or spouse or parents. When they don’t hear the praise or get the reward, then they fall into the cycle of depressing expectations because they have put someone else in the place of what should be self-validation.

When you see and hear your own positive qualities both in the past and in the future with a great deal of clarity, then you have a sustainable inward system for improvement that allows for the release of large amounts of energy. When you do the opposite which is to see the bad qualities or look for validation and not get it, then the system becomes depressed and there is a huge drain on energy. Below is a technique that maybe useful in the process of achievement. Try it.

Self- Validating Technique

Step 1: List several of the worst things you have been told about yourself or what you tell yourself all the time. (e.g. impatient, worried, sloppy, lazy, overbearing, greedy, shy, hurtful, etc.) In using this technique you don’t have to deny the bad qualities because they do have a usefulness in identifying the areas of growth so it is important to identify how you have been invalidated. What you don’t want to do is to hang out in the bad qualities and then become self-loathing or aggressive. In this step you are just bringing up the patterns to consciousness that are running your life right now in an unconscious manner so that you can change it.

Step 2: Make a list of all of the ways that you try to get validation from others. ( pleasing, asking for it, sitting around hoping for it, etc.)

Step 3: Make a list of at least 10 positive qualities or abilities that you already have. (organization, taking initiative, kindness, finishing what you start, joyfulness, calmness, etc.)

Step 4: Make a list of 10 positive qualities or abilities that you would like to develop in the next decade. (e.g. patience, peacefulness, perseverance, organization, compassion, fixing cars, using a computer)

Step 5: Prioritize the list of qualities that you want to develop in the next decade. ( 1 is most important 10 least important right now) Note: You can often work on more than one skill area at a time such as becoming better in computers or a better swimmer, but qualities such as patience are of a nature that you can only do one at a time. Qualities are generalizable so when you develop patience it will automatically transfer from one activity to another. We usually think about developing one quality each year because they are so complex and have such an infinitude of understandings that you don’t make enough progress in less time.

Step 6: Tell yourself (write it several times if you need to) that seeking validation from others always ends up in depressing your goals. “When I see or hear myself with positive qualities, I am energized and can achieve higher goals.” Decide who you seek validation from the most by realizing that this is the person who you are most likely to have a love-hate relationship with. Determine to let go  of the practice of seeking validation from them. Just let it go.

Step 7: Take each one of the positive abilities or qualities you already have and then visualize them. If they are more auditory like music or speaking, hear yourself with the quality and if they are more physical like dance, see and feel yourself doing them. The clearer your mind is on the positives you already have, the more motivated you will be about adding to the list. You can repeat this step everyday until things are so clear that you are fired up with motivation.

Step 8: Changing belief in invalidation. Take the list of from step 1 and then decide which is the worst quality that you believe about yourself. If you are in the habit of seeking validation from others, then what will happen to you is that you will have a huge amount of tension to try to avoid looking at these things. This is because they are so painful or hurtful that you don’t want to go there. You can simple relax the tension and take a look at what you believe about yourself. It is ok.

The number one worst quality will match the number one positive quality in the future that you wish to develop. So if you are impatient, the quality that you are going for is probably patience, peacefulness or calm. If you don’t find a match, then you probably want to reprioritize one list or the other until you get them to match. If you feel like you are controlling, then it could be a match with creativity, with quitting you would probably need determination, etc..

Now you will have 2 realities. One is the negative quality in the present and the other is positive one in the future. Whatever the negative picture is like from the negative quality, change it to the positive characteristics in the future. If you are lazy, it maybe that you see yourself  as inactive, dull, and lying around doing nothing or frivolous things. If the positive quality is to be more active and service-oriented, then you can see yourself that way with a lot of color and brightness.

Refine the image until it is exactly how you want it.

Step 9: In NLP this is called a swish. Basically what you will do is put the negative image up in your mind to the left and the positive image up in your mind to the right as if there were two images at once. You can swish them by first making the negative image large and the positive image small. Then you can swish them by instantly changing them so that negative one becomes small and then positive one large. You may need to practice this several times. The idea is to replace the negative image of yourself with a positive one.

Step 10: Look into the future and see what you want to accomplish in the next week and right it down. You should have the new energy turned on and it should allow for more achievement.

Cambodia: A Wayfarer’s Journey

January 4, 2008

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It is hard to imagine another place in the world that has suffered as much since the 1970s as our neighbor to the North, Cambodia. Barely a decade has passed since the series of invasions and the horrific civil war have ended. As we are flying into Siem Reap (literally Siam Defeated) my expectation is once again altered as in every other new country that I have ever entered. The airport visa system is extremely well organized and efficient, the airport new and attractive, and the money exchange process quite easy.

We arrive on Christmas Eve, take our first adventure with a Muslim driver, in a country that is 90% Buddhist, and whose greatest attractions are largely Hindu. The gentleness, warmth, and togetherness of the people make it difficult to imagine the millions who were slaughtered by their own hands. Peace is a great blessing to a country and being in Cambodia on Christmas in a peaceful place is a great blessing for us. Santa couldn’t find reindeer in Cambodia so he came in an ox-cart.

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Tonle Sap Lake is the home to floating villages. It is poor for sure, as we enter we pass house after house 3- 5 meters off the ground to protect from the rising waters in the rainy season. We are in the dry season but there is still enough water for the floating structures. Debby and I are the only passengers on boat designed for about 12. The young children are in school making the universal noises that they make everywhere in the world. What is different about these children is that there school house is floating in the water, buildings on barges. Even the basketball court is a floating structure. tonle-sap.jpgThe houseboats are simple structures, the life even simpler, but Debby and I notice almost simultaneously, the bougainvillea and other flowers on the smallest of places. Beauty and its attraction does not belong to the rich. It is found in all classes. It is a lesson that will test me again.

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I am writing this journal on leaving Siem Reap on our way to Battambang in a bus occupied by 80% Cambodian and a few gringos like us. The bus has just stopped by side of the rode adjacent to a rice field. The bus driver yells something out in Khmer and many get off the bus. They go out into the field men and woman alike and have a pee break. Debby follows. They all return to the bus and now we are on the bumpy road again. Life is still simple and uncomplicated. Wealth will no doubt come to Cambodia quickly as it has to the rest of Asia. It is easy to see. One day soon the buses will all have toilets and this part of life will disappear. I wonder if Isa and Olee and Diego, our grandchildren, will have this chance to pee by the side of the road. So I put this in my memory that simplicity has its place.

The Ruins at Angkor

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We have two days to visit and study the vast temple complexes of around Siem Reap, the center of an empire that once covered most of Thailand and Vietnam. So as I am thinking about how to learn about the great empire, I am imagining myself walking through the ancient structures with a guide at my side who will answer every question of my inquisitive mind. And this is the plan. We have some contacts in Siem Reap through the Baha’i Community there and even a couple who we decide to hook up with on this journey to the past. But as fate would have it somewhere between leaving Siem Reap, getting our 3 day pass, and arriving at the first temple site, we lose the guide and the other couple. My inner process has a huge flare up because my expectations of how to proceed through the ruins quickly vanishes before my eyes. Debby asks me how long I am going to have my attitude. I tell her that I will deal with it somehow. Somewhere in the midst of my disappointment I pull a “Juliet”. (Juliet is our youngest daughter and pulling a Juliet to me means being aware that something out of the ordinary needs to happen). I say to myself that if I really needed a guide on that day, the guide would be there. As we leave the first temple and proceed to the next, my inner guide begins to awaken, but I still have a bit of the old expectations. elephant.jpgThe next stop is an ancient reservoir. My attitude says what do I want to see a reservoir for, but inwardly I begin to see the things that a guide could not show me. The place where water is stored is surrounded by beautiful sculptures and intricate carvings, and then I begin to see the real Angkor for the first time. Why would a culture, nearly 1000 years old build a place to store water as if it were a holy temple? It seems to me now that the organizing principle of the culture is beauty, an attempt to transform the ordinary into the sacred. The symbols around the reservoir make it clear to me that it is a place of healing, that the waters are sacred, and that the lure is beauty.

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As we enter the next temple my attention is drawn to Apsara, the feminine divinity that is shared strongly in these ruins in both Hindu and Buddhist structures. Everywhere you go Apsara is with you. The masculine images pale in Angkor in comparison to the quantity of feminine ones, which reinforces the value placed on beauty and other feminine qualities. We end our first day with a visit to the temple where Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed. laracroft.jpgWhen the French colonized Cambodia in the 19th Century and then began to do archeological work. Much of the temple structure had been overrun by the jungle.lac2.jpg That night, after having discovered some of the mysteries of the ancient past, we head to downtown Siem Reap, and eat burritos at a Mexican restaurant with some friends from KL. It reminds us that world has grown small.
After having gone through my crisis with the guides on the first day, I have decided that on day 2 that I will not force the hand of the inner world. We plan for a guide again on this day, he shows up, and remains with us the entire day. Life is mysterious. Visiting the sites of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat with a guide to explain the history and significance was how I had imagined the first day.angthom1.jpg Although Angkor Wat is the most famous temple structure, our favorite by far is Angkor Thom, built by what seems to have been a very benevolent ruler.guideme.jpg It is a Buddhist structure, whereas Angkor Wat is Hindu. The smiling Buddha seems to reflect our feeling here. smile.jpgTo end the day we take a small hot air balloon ride, which gives us a panoramic view of the things we have taken in at ground level.

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Battambang

Our purpose in visiting Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia, is to meet some of the Baha’is in the area and do a couple of presentations. Our first experience happens on the back of motorcycle. It is not unusual to see a family of 5 riding on a motorcycle. wedding1.jpgWhat we would have been so judgmental about only a couple of days previously we are now doing. There are three interesting projects in this area, CORDE, UniEd, and Gems International School. CORDE is a development project that teaches people in the villages English classes combined with materials that are oriented toward positive values such as service to the community. corde1.jpgFamilies donate part of their land to build a classroom structure and then funds are raised for the building. corde2.jpgExcept for the directors of each building all of the teachers are volunteers who have gone through the coursework previously. Even some of the Buddhist monks from the area are volunteers. They are all quite enthusiastic about doing the work. UniEd is a small university of about 70 students. One of the problems of Cambodia in its transitional period is that students have to pay a fee that is quite exorbitant in order to pass the high school exam. UniEd created a more open entrance policy that doesn’t require students passing the high school exam. It also teaches all of the classes in English, which allows Cambodians the students to take advantage of resource people and instructors from outside of the country who don’t speak Khmer. Gems Intl. School is a kindergarten, which is also English based. The topic about which I am speaking at UniEd is moral leadership, which means leadership that is more group oriented and based upon positive values and the development of capabilities. The night before the presentation I have a dream in which I am truck driver. In the midst of the dream a King Kong like character is brought into the truck, breaks free and then tries to cause lots of havoc. It takes me about an hour to go back to sleep after the dream because I realize that it is the history of leadership in Cambodia. During my presentation I use the metaphor of the dream for nearly the whole first hour. Later when we are in Phnom Penh, we hook up with one of the Baha’is who attended the talk. sano.jpgHe is there to meet with other NGOs about some projects he is doing so we decide to have breakfast before he has to go off to his meetings. He tells us that he has to talk with us about his King Kong issues, which let me know that the metaphor presented in the dream really works. In the afternoon after my presentation at UniEd, Debby gives a presentation to parents at the Gems School about the Virtues Project. gems1.jpgWhat she teaches is quite revolutionary for parents everywhere, but particularly in Asia, that when you name positive virtues in children and call them to those virtues, rather than belittling them with constant nagging and criticism, that they become those virtues. parents.jpgShe gets them to begin making a commitment to that promise and promises them that she will return.

Our time in Battambang is mainly about making Cambodian friends. We have planned to leave the area on the 30th, but the Baha’i friends encourage us to stay for a wedding of a young couple. These pictures tell that story.

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Phnom Penh
I wish that I could share more of Battambang, but my pen would die of exhaustion and so would you. When I was a young man in high school, I attended some Christian gatherings, one put on by an organization called Young Life or something like that. I loved the activities they did until it came to the part where they said that Jesus was the only way to God, that if you didn’t believe that He was the only way, that you would go to Hell. I remember quite clearly thinking that there were a large number of Buddhists in the world and that I couldn’t see how God could condemn them all to damnation. Cambodia is a country that is 90% Buddhist. The people are gentle, hard working, and family oriented. Being with them in friendship is a heavenly experience.

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The air-conditioned bus to Phnom Penh is freezing. Debby has to put her feet in her day pack to keep them warm. We pee again by the side of the road and later stop for coconut rice served inside a bamboo stick. The prices in Cambodia for things are really quite unbelievable. For $2-3 you eat really well. The Khmer food is not so spicy like Indian or Thai food so if your palate or gut cannot take it, Cambodia is a great place for you.

We arrive around 2 pm in the afternoon, make our way in a tuk-tuk to the Burly Guesthouse, tuk-tuk.jpgwhere for 13USD per day you can get air-conditioning and cable TV. I even see part of the Rose Bowl one night, but since it doesn’t begin until 10:30 PM local time, I fade after the first quarter almost like Illinois. We had met a couple, Sherif and Shaku Rushdy in Battambang, who had been living in Croatia and now Kyrgyzstan doing lots of development work throughout the world. They also know Shane quite well, so we spend New Year’s Eve with them. Phnom Penh is really vibrant for us. rushdy.jpgWe walked along the riverfront, eat more burritos, enjoy the festive atmosphere. Jan. 1st is a national holiday so it seems as though everyone in the city is out to enjoy the New Year’s party. Fireworks begin at midnight but we are already in bed for an hour by the time the noise begins.

There are 2 big markets in Phnom Penh, the Central and the Russian where you can buy name brand clothes from the local factories that make them like Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Boss, Camel, and others for unbelievably low prices. A dry fit Tommy Hilfiger shirt is $5. market.jpgNeedless to say a certain member of our family is extremely excited during the times we are in the markets. The afternoon after we visit the Central Market I give a workshop again on the topic of personal transformation at the Baha’i Center. trans.jpgThe woman in charge of the Center, Yvette, is a Cambodian who had to flee to Vietnam during the Pol Pot regime. Her uncle was a general in the Cambodian army before the Khmer Rouge so when the takeover happened in 1975 the new government invited all of the old leaders to join the new army and promised them positions. Instead they were all shot.

Debby and I didn’t visit war sites in Vietnam where we were last year because Vietnam is sewn into the fabric of our souls from when we were young. There are no words yet created to describe the horror of the Pol Pot Regime. Day 3 in Phnom Penh is our pilgrimage to one of the worst nightmares of the 20th century. It is difficult to experience, sobering, draining, and difficult to return to joy afterward. The Toul Sleung Museum is our first stop, which is school that was converted by Khmer Rouge into a prison where they brutally interrogated people to extract information and then later killed them. Our guide takes us through each room and explains the methods. photos.jpgThere are hundreds of photos from small children to older persons who were all tortured and killed. The regime made a habit of photographing the victims so that everyone would believe that they were doing the killing. Such was their perversity. Pol Pot was so extreme and paranoid that even killed many of his own soldiers. At the end of the tour I ask our guide about what her experience was. She explains how she was only 14 that her father was a member of Parliament, her mother a French teacher. She is forced to walk from Phnom Penh to nearly the border in Vietnam, a journey of nearly two months. Her mother and father are murdered as are her grandparents. Only many years later does she find that her brother is in San Diego. In the commune where she is forced to do slave labour she is sick all the time, an illness that continues until today. The nightmares also continue so she takes medication each night to sleep. Debby and I are holding back our tears, but we are moved beyond that which we can explain. She calls her daughter and niece over to us who are both vibrant and enthusiastic young people. woman.jpgWe share a few moments together and try to find a way for her to meet some of our new friends in the city.

During the meeting on personal transformation the day before I talk for several minutes about Debby’s story and some of her difficulties as a young woman. After the meeting I tell Debby that I was feeling the presence of her father, which I feel again in the prison.

After the prison we hire a tuk-tuk to take us out to one of the hundreds of Killing Fields in Cambodia. grave.jpg This one is located 15 km from the prison in a place that is strangely peaceful and serene with a beautiful lagoon, but what happened there is quite the opposite. Pol Pot only died in 1989 from natural causes because the only way to get peace in country after the Vietnamese left was to give amnesty to the Khmer Rouge. Many of the regime are in prominent positions and it is only within the last few weeks that some of the major players have been arrested and face trial for crimes against humanity. After the very sobering morning we wonder how we are going to get back to some measure of joyfulness and yet not forget what we have seen. I think about the all of the young boys who were forced to be soldiers and kill incessantly and what it will take for them to be rehabilitated. It is a staggering thought.

We eat lunch at a restaurant called Friends, which is a project to take young people off the street and give them meaningful work. Cambodia has become the land of NGOs, some positive and some not-so. The lunch is a good transition from the morning taking us from the worst degradation to the hope.

royal-palace.jpgAfterwards we visit the huge royal palace and National Museum. In the evening we visit the Baha’i Center again and sing songs and play some cooperative games making more friends with our favorite age group, teenagers. coop.jpg

During our flight and taxi ride home we talk about how amazing the trip has been, how different than our other holidays, and how grateful we are. We are wondering and hoping for an early return.

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Accelerating Change By Making Friends with Your Enemies

December 20, 2007

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I have met with many people in recent weeks who seem to have the same brutal energy affecting them strongly when they are in the midst of trying to change their lives. They seem to be caught up in the cultural myth that says that if I get enough love, then suddenly my life will be somehow magically transformed into a blissful paradise where everything comes easy. I think it is something like being happy-ever-after.

There is only one problem with the strategy. It doesn’t work. Whenever I have tried to get love from someone else or in a relationship, the very best I ever have is a temporary feeling that feels great for a very short time not unlike a drug. As soon as the person is not there or has to deal with their own problems or is busy trying to get the same from you, then we both end up in a sea of negative emotions. This idea that someone else is going to somehow fulfill me or two halves make a whole, etc., etc., is so difficult to break out of because it is just so prevalent.

I am not sure how anyone ever makes it through this mire. The problem is that we try to grab some warmth or closeness from someone else because they may be very attractive. Everyone else does it so why don’t I do it too? That seems to be how most of us think. The other day I was thinking that if getting love from someone else is only a temporary thing which doesn’t end up working in the long run, then maybe the place we haven’t looked for true joy and happiness is in the process of dealing with our enemies.

Let’s face it. Our friends can’t be there all the time to give us our fix of love and support, but who always seems to be there rain or shine is our enemy. Our enemies are so faithful that even when they aren’t there, they are stuck in our minds. What do most people do when they are with their friends or come home from work? They complain about their enemies whether it be a colleague or a boss or our spouse or the leader of the country. In fact the more you think about it the more enemies act like how you want your loved ones to act. They stick to you like glue and are there rain or shine. Hmmm.

I have to say that my arch enemy for as long as I can remember is authority figures. Bad authority seems to follow me around like flies to …. you know what I am talking about. And I seem to love to keep them as the enemy. They are so convenient. I love to go after new ideas and make changes wherever I am, but the authority figures seem to love keeping things as they are evoking conservative strategies so that they can hold tightly to the reigns of power and control. Why won’t they just go away? Why do they show up wherever I am?

I know the answer. Not too hard to figure out actually. The answer is that inside of me I am a closet conservative right winged control freak at least there is an energy inside of me that acts that way even it is not a part of my identity. So if I am to change it, I can be, instead of an enemy who fights it, like its best friend who listens patiently, non-judgmentally, and shows unconditional love. After all, if I am holding onto not changing, trying to stay in one place, then I need the closest of companions to help me through this energy. It isn’t that being a control freak is acceptable to me, but it is more that being a friend to the energy will allow to do what it really wants to do which is to change into something that is wildly radical.

I think I get it. On to some reflection, deep process.

This quote really helps me out when I think of the process of change.

Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.

(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

When the Truth is Inconvenient

December 15, 2007

The other day I was having lunch with some of my Chinese Malaysian colleagues when one of them ask me an interesting question. “Do you believe in standing up for the truth?” one of them asked to me.  It seems like such a straightforward kind of question, but it is often more about wisdom than courage

Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith answers the question 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.”

In answering the question to my colleagues I told them that saying my version of what the truth is takes a lot of wisdom so, in most cases, I chose my battles where I think I may have a chance of affecting the outcome in a positive way. I usually don’t fight for something if I don’t think my actions are going to make a dent in the way people think.

Having said that to them I told them my stories of being fired when I acted counter to the normal wisdom I would usually display. I don’t think anyone can accuse me of playing politics by saying things that will please the leaders, but I do realize that there is value in holding things back at times.   It is not easy to know when to use restraint  when I want to let it rip.   Most of the times I see that the leadership is very conservative or protective in certain areas so  I don’t go to those areas to voice to many opinions.  If they ask for an opinion or for consultation on an issue in a sincere manner, then I feel I have a responsibility as a part of the group to voice my opinion.   Many leaders are comfortable and open and give a lot of autonomy in some areas and then very protective in others.   Wisdom requires that I study a situation to understand which is which.

There are times when I have had to throw conventional wisdom out the window.   It has happened to me when I am faced with a hostile takeover  of the forward thinking philosophy I am working with by a more traditional one posing as forward thinking.

I have been in three different schools where hostile takeovers have occurred.   These were all privately owned schools, but public ones run the same risk as in the U.S. with their “no child left behind” legislation.   If you have a forward thinking philosophy in an organization,  its very nature will mean that it makes mistakes in its efforts to pave new ground.   The wannabes (those doing the hostile takeover) are lying in the wings ready to pounce because they are so envious of your success that they want a part of it even though they don’t want to do the work that you have done.    They know exactly what to do.  They criticize the mistakes, blow them up in such a way as to convince others that the organization is falling apart, and then walk in and take over.

The first time this happened to me I was sitting in a meeting after the school had already been dismantled behind our backs.   I just stood up and told the leadership what I felt.   It was so exhilarating, but I also knew at that point, that the takeover had already occurred.   Fortunately I was able to find work to continue the philosophy in  a different country.  The hostile takeovers of the other two schools where I worked did not happen until about 6 years into those programs,  but the patterns were all very similar.    At the time that the take overs began to happen, was actually the time that I felt that I was doing my best work, but their untimely intrusion made me throw caution, restraint, and conventional wisdom to the wind so that others in the organization could begin to see what was happening and perhaps survive.  As unqualified as the wannabes are in the new philosophy I have to give them a great deal of credit in how to manipulate opinion and use power and even sound like they are intelligent.   They have the ability to fool many people, enough at least to  get themselves into the leadership.     I was forced out in a hostile manner twice because of the wannabes.    I don’t regret my speaking out even for one second despite being fired and left without the possibility of work for a year afterwards in both cases.    In all three cases the hostile takeovers allowed me to leave one country and then find work in another.   I may not have had such rich experiences if it were not for the firings.

The schools and those who did the firing have not been as fortunate as me.  Two of the schools have closed and the third is down 40% in enrollment.   They turned their backs on the new philosophy and just lost their way.   Their expediency was their own suicide note.

I can honestly say that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I spoke out against the hostile takeovers.  I acted mostly on intuition.   I think that my being fired was already calculated by those doing the takeover so I think that the speaking out may have been aimed more at those left behind than to the thieves who took over the organizations.

Strangely enough I now work in an organization whose philosophy and practice is quite traditional rather than being in one whose philosophy is different than the culture’s mode of operation.    I don’t often feel compelled to fight or stand up for stuff because a hostile takeover would be an oxymoron in a traditionally based organization.    It is not under threat because it doesn’t put itself out there in a culture-challenging way.    So I try to operate here more with wisdom than with trying to save it from a takeover.   Standing up and speaking out has its joyful moments.  There is nothing quite as exhilarating as putting pressure on  wannabes to admit what they are doing.    Wisdom is more like having a mathematics teacher put a very difficult problem on the board and then giving you a semester to solve it.   As you act with wisdom everything and everyone around you changes, but you are not the target of the deficiencies of those around you.

Baha’u’llah’s challenge to us in using wisdom may well be much more difficult than speaking out against an inconvenient negative truth.

Encouraging Growth Under Stress

December 15, 2007

I was all set to do a great unit on cooperation with my kindergarten students. They passed through some great work earlier in the semester with courage and determination and attention. It seemed so right. Then one day they came in bouncing way off the walls and the sequence of cooperative activities became a sequence of nagging and sitting kids out. “What happened to my great group of focused kids?”

It is the holiday season in school so I began to wonder why my kids are so acting the way that children under stress behave. Weird!! What is the stress that children feel during this season? I know that when anyone is under stress they regress to a previous stage so that is how I handle the situation. I take the pressure off the students and do things that require less focus. It is a temporary pain reliever; a tranquilizer.

I wish that I could say that this festive season was only positive for my students, but yesterday I had one group play a game that just two weeks ago they enjoyed in perfect harmony. Six children ended up crying and doing regressive behaviors like wanting to pull out of the game because it didn’t go their way. Is this really what Jesus had hoped for?

I don’t want to be critical of Christmas because, for most Christians, or even non-Christians living in a Christian country Christmas has a great way of bringing families together with a great deal of joy. I think that the stress that my students experience is based upon the idea that they are just going to get whatever material thing they ask for, so during the season when there is a lot of hype, they shift from finding their huge joy in play and activity, to the hope that some thing outside of themselves, is going to bring them joy which it may very well do for a few minutes at least.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against presents. Bring them on, but it seems pretty clear to me from this experience that when young people think that they are going to find huge joy in material things, that they become stressed and then stop learning at an accelerated rate. It seems to me also, that they function better and learn more when the activities themselves are the reward and gifts are given in moderation.

So I think that the idea of Christmas should be to keep the gifts simple and have a great time with the activities so that children become a lot less stressed.

Dream: An Alcoholic 5 Year Old

November 22, 2007

Last night in my sleep I dreamt that I was on a path in an unknown place trying to get somewhere. I don’t quite remember where I was going, but it was a social event. Along the way I ran into an abandoned 5 year old who was drinking beer and begging for money from me. It seemed to be something that he was doing often. It felt like he would have just kept pestering me for money had I stayed, kind of like a shop keeper who sees that you are eying and item and then chases you down the street to try to sell it to you, so I decided to leave him.

What is very interesting to me is that I teach 5 year olds physical education so I know a great deal about them and what allows them to thrive. They benefit a great deal from positive attention and chances to develop their abilities in an environment that is both playful and challenging, fun and demanding. What I couldn’t get over in the dream was the alcohol. I ended up abandoning the child because of the alcohol and the begging associated with it. I think I believe that the alcohol is a huge deal, that I can’t reach the child as long as the alcohol is around.

What I am understanding, right now as I am writing this post, is that the alcohol is just coping, that I can just ignore it and do what works, which is to provide environments with a great deal of warmth and energy. Many of my students who come from wealthy families fit into the category of abandoned alcoholics. Their parents work day and night, leave them with unqualified child care, and push them into activities that allow them to end up like themselves, overworked and inattentive. The warmth and involvement in their child’s life are just not present. The children become addicted to video games and TV and the wrong kinds of food and later alcohol to fill up the space in themselves left by the abandonment. As soon as you add positive activity and warmth, the addiction goes away.

It is a fairly simple process actually. The complicating factor is that the entire world culture has become the alcoholic 5 year old addicted to the things that temporarily help forget the abandonment which leads them begging for more money to be able to forget more. My process in all of this is a huge desire to avoid the alcoholic behavior which leaves me out there wandering and not being able to get where I want to go.

The message in the dream to me is that what works with 5 year olds should be the factors that work with the present stage of the world, warmth and positive activities that are both joyful and challenging. What I am having a hard time ignoring is the alcohol in the hands of a 5 year old.

Accelerating Change 3:Dispelling the Myth of Who Can Do Therapy

November 20, 2007

I have to admit that I have been so anxious to write about this subject for a long time. Sometime in the 20th century (it seems so long ago now) it was decided that as a professional you shouldn’t do therapy with a relative or with someone that you are in love with. Who were they trying to fool? It is in the same category of thinking that requires teachers to not get too close to their students less the students become disrespectful. Who invented this stuff? The very best coaches know how to get very close to their athletes and still work them very hard. Getting close to someone is more like a prerequisite for people working hard rather than a hindrance.

My wife and I have been married for 33 years. We are still in love with each other, but that love does not mean that we cannot be objective about our lives, where we are going and speak very frankly with each other. Love encourages frankness and openness. Everyone in our family does therapy together. We use all the same questions as a therapist, go very deep, and get great results. No one has a license.

The logic is easy enough to explain. Intimacy is a virtue. It simply means the ability to get closer to another. Problem solving is about being objective and detached which means putting distance between yourself and the problem.   To be a therapist you need to be able to become intimate to people and keep the issues at a distance, and you can become extremely effective by doing them both at the same time.   This is actually what science is all about also being in love with the search after truth and then doing the searching.  It means bring the relationship in where it has a lot of warmth and keeping the problems far enough out so that you can see them.

So where does the myth of distancing oneself from a client come from.  I am sure that it is not too far away from what owners do when they do restructuring so that they can fire a lot of employees but give themselves a big fat paycheck.  If they are distant from their employees,  then they can become self serving.   If they are intimate with them, then they will be much more willing to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of others.

I am thinking that the clergy have an awful lot of do with our distorted ideas about what is ethical.   What is a pulpit about anyone?

Accelerating Change 2: The Myth of Self Discipline

November 17, 2007

It is June of 1968. I am on my way to the Air Force Academy in Colorado after having just graduated from high school in Inglewood, California. Not long after my arrival I am verbally assaulted by 19-21 year olds, who besides getting mad at me for one unshaved whisker, repeatedly let me know that their indoctrination was much harder than mine. Most of us who grew in the 50s-60s had already been used to hearing that kind of rhetoric from the cultural of our parents who grew up in the Great Depression. They prided themselves in telling us how soft and undisciplined we were and how much more discipline they had because they didn’t have TV or other things like that. Now that I am a grandparent I find that I often hear parents complaining about how soft their kids are because they play so many video games and have it so easy.

What my parents generation didn’t know about us growing up in the U.S. in the 60s was that we all had this huge cloud of fear hanging over our heads all the time of the threat of nuclear annihilation. I can distinctly remember, as a 12 year old, having the thought that our whole society was probably going to be blown up. My parent’s generation had lived through a huge depression where they faced a lot of hunger, and then a huge war where lots of people gave their lives. I can honor the sacrifices and difficulties that they endured, but I can never remember even one time where that generation honored my generation for the constant fear of instant annihilation that we faced. The words we heard were lazy and soft.

It is not surprising that the same thing is happening to the current generation. Parents and teachers still have the same complaint that the teachers and parents of my generation had, that this generation is undisciplined and soft. It is difficult to see the tests and difficulties of a child’s life growing up in a world with so much instability and chaos. What we see when we turn on the evening news and what a child sees are two completely different realities. The children carry all of the fears and anxieties that the parents have only much more magnified.

Whatever we fear, our children fear more. Parents and teachers judge their students quite readily for not having self-discipline, but I think that their perception is wrong. What they should see is that the retreat into endless hours of TV and video games is about fear and not the lack of self discipline. The Cold War and Vietnam made me grow up fearful of dying young. It hung over us and was always present, but no one ever acknowledged, or attempted to acknowledge my fear. The cultural message was that we were soft and undisciplined.

I have grown suspicious of the use of self discipline because the true meaning of self discipline is the ability to have a noble purpose and then to make efforts and sacrifices in order to reach it. Whenever someone uses self discipline as an accusation, I begin to ask myself what they are fearful of. What noble purpose are they fearful of pursuing, what have they given up on, and what is it inside of them that yearns to come out?

If parents can learn to acknowledge their own fears, and then to realize that their children’s fears are a magnification of their own, then all of the judgment can be replaced with honoring the challenges that we all face and deal with daily.   I think we should have a period of silence about the idea of self-discipline until we learn to acknowledge the pressures and fears that we are all under.   Let’s reawaken nobility of purpose before we accuse even one more person of being lazy.

Accelerating Change 1:Dispelling the Myth of Correction

November 13, 2007

There is a huge belief in the world sort of like a pandemic of human behavior that, no matter what the research says along with hundreds of books continues to exist virtually unchallenged and unabated. That myth is that when someone does something wrong, i.e. when they make a mistake, that it has to be corrected. A child could have scored the highest math score in the history of humankind, but the huge majority of parents in the world will spend far more time on teaching him why he should put the toothpaste cap on the toothpaste tube, than in analyzing how he has performed so well in mathematics.

What is it with us that we defy science in order to try to correct everything? What is it about a mistake that is so attractive and appealing that we just can’t leave it alone? Why do we have to take out our baseball bats and beat it into the ground until it gives up and says, “ok, I will fix it?”

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Take the Apollo 13 failed space journey to the moon. Have you ever seen a group of more competent people working together to get the astronauts back to the planet after they started having problems? It was one of the most creative acts of engineering excellence one could ever imagine. Here they were acting together with a pile of things that would be in the space craft, and they brought them back. Amazing! After the landing I am sure that the whole emphasis on all investigations  was to find the thing that went wrong, but what should be interesting to all of us is how they all worked together in harmony and incredible creativity and resourcefulness to bring the crew home safely. Now that is the thing that should have been studied because if NASA could have changed its way of operating so that there was more of that kind of process, then perhaps some of the other engineering disasters that were to come later would not have happened.

One thing is clear. The research says that when we pay attention to the processes that work and then acknowledge them often, people stay engaged in what they are doing much longer and more productively. What happens with correcting is that the words literally pass through as if they were never heard, and then the tones cause people to become fearful, tense, and more likely to quit.

Feeling like you have to correct mistakes all the time comes from a faulty belief about society and humankind. It comes from the idea that people are incompetent and the positions available in the world are limited. If one corrects enough, then there will be a much greater possibility of getting one of the few positions that are available because all of the incompetence will be taken out of them. So the belief goes.

A much more useful belief is that human beings have endless treasures inside of them that can be discovered, acknowledged and allowed to develop in the right environments. Accelerating change happens when you correct only very moderately, but spend most of your time discovering and acknowledging talents and gifts and then giving them an environment to develop.

The tone is always the give away for me. I used to always react when people corrected me like something was really wrong with me. What has changed, or is beginning to change, is knowing that when someone uses an angry or arrogant tone with me, they are the ones in need of the change and not me. When they are angry, they are trying to get me to change for their own self interest. The correction has nothing to do with me, my well-being or my future. It is only about them and what they are trying to get by having me change.

When a parent is angry at a child, the parent is trying to get the child to be what they are not. Positive correcting is not anger-driven. This is always the key because when I am free of anger, I usually have more choice. I can choose to correct or not to correct, but I am not compelled like when I have anger. If someone has a positive tone when they are correcting me, then the advice may be worth listening to , but when they are angry, I am thinking what is it that they want from me.

Attending to the True Self instead of Hurt

October 29, 2007

I have been working with a couple of people in the past few weeks who have issues about how to deal with the hurtful things that have been said to them. Most people think that they are justified in getting angry and then letting the other person know how bad they feel, but, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to have much of a long term effect on the person they are attempting to change nor more than a few moments of relief to get it off their own chests.

So I invented this little exercise that is easy enough to do that really helps to attend to who you are rather than to the hurt inside or how bad the others around you are. Here it is.

Take a sheet of paper and divide it half. On the left side with a regular pencil, write down the worst thing anyone has ever said to you. Then on the right side, with colored pencils, write the best thing that you ever did including the positive qualities that you demonstrated. When you have finished, read the left side in color and then say, “This is who I really am.” Do this about 5-7 times, then read it each morning. It has a very powerful effect.

Here is an example.

Example of a worst thing someone has said

Did your brother do that art work for you? (Quote from a third grade teacher on showing my art work to the class. My brother had helped me, but most of it was mine.)

Example of a best thing I ever did

I organized, along with my physical education team, an interchange with a school for street kids where we played cooperative games, competitive games, and arts together in the park followed by a big barbeque. Many people were worried about drugs, stealing, etc., but we taught our students that we had more to learn from street kids, than they had to learn from us, and that wealth did not mean that we were better than them. The virtues I used were courage, creativity, organizational detail, joy, and team work.

Try this. It is great. The photo is another example only this one was getting a lot of kids together to jump for a worthy cause.

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Radical Change means Changing Everyday

October 15, 2007

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Earlier this week I had a dream that goes to the heart of what my blog is all about and what the book I am writing is hoping to communicate that really truly radical change is an evolutionary process of working hard every single day to change my life for the better. In the dream there was a young person who was having a problem in his life so I took out a flip chart and made a drawing and explanation of what the problem was and how to solve it and then told him. When he tried to apply it, he totally failed as if he hadn’t heard a single thing I was saying. I became intensely angered and started yelling what he should do, but still no response.

My dream goes to the heart of the change dynamic. A major change does not suddenly happen with one explanation and then an attempt at an application. This is not to say that the explanation is not important, but it is only the beginning and not the whole process. The big negative emotion in the dream, anger, let me know that there was a part of my self that still needed a lot of work. Anger is the mirror emotion meaning that when you are angry at someone else it really is a sign of having something about yourself that you are having trouble changing. If you already have the quality or process, you can be much more detached and patient.

So then I began the inner work to find what I am so angry about inside for not changing. What I found is that, even though I have made a lot of progress in the issue in the past, I needed to have the quality of being more outgoing with others. Since being friendly and outgoing is a spiritual quality, it means that it is infinite in its actualizations. It means that no matter how much I have worked on it, there will be more ahead.

Why I need to be more out there is clear in the dream, because I am in the role of being a teacher and helper which means that I can’t hold back with people.

Changing always means having the goal of actualizing more of your true self and working with the negative energy inside that presents the issue. So after the dream when I realized that I was so impatient with the change process, I practiced being patient and encouraging in my classes and the effect was amazing especially with the really weak students. I realized that I could set what I initially thought would be too small of a goal for them on the first day and then increase the goal each day thereafter. I began to notice the progress in the students who were having a great deal of fear. Every time they approached the climbing wall and made one more step or made a big effort I let them know.

Then all of sudden, in one class, three boys climbed up to a place where they have to have to ring a bell and then jump down onto landing mats. This was a great deal more than I had expected, but the really interesting thing was that my class arrived early so that sat and watch the boys do their acts of bravery and receive due recognition. Immediately when the new class came in, a young girl, who had not done very much up to that point, came up to me and asked me if I could help her ring the bell. I said, “of course, let’s go for it.” And she not only rang the bell but she worked much harder on all of the tasks for the rest of class. It was a magical moment for her.

The point is that radical change is about staying in your process and working each moment to get better. Pretty simple.

Dreamwork and the Principle of Opposition

September 12, 2007

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In Chapter 11 of Dreams for Peace, (see Hastings) Godzilla comes into someone’s house causing panic and huge fear where everyone ends up fleeing for their lives. Some don’t make it. It is easy enough when you are doing the initial dream analysis to see that the dreamer is running away from a perceived fear of something that is large and evil. You have a fear and it makes you start avoiding. This is the pattern. You can find this kind of information in most books about dreams.

What you don’t find is a good theory about solving dreams. About 10 years ago when I was doing dream work with a lot of adolescents on a daily basis, I discovered a principle which I call opposition. It certainly isn’t a new principle because it can be found in great writings of every major religion. The principle, briefly stated, is that we all have a true self, which is eternal, positive, and oriented toward service to humankind, and we also have an ego, which is the animal or material self that will one day die. The ego, because of its protective and survival orientation is prone to all of the negative emotions especially fear. When the ego is not subordinate to the true self, it tends to cause all kinds of harm and mischief. Godzilla, for instance, is a symbol of a big ego that causes great evil.

The major problem with most contemporary practices in psychology is that they do not see the true self as the solution to the ego. The true self is unlimited in the number of positive capacities that it can express, while the ego is its mirror opposite in its negative destructive abilities. Dreams are either an expression of the true self or an expression of the ego. Sometimes there are dreams that express parts of both in the same dream. Godzilla is an example of dream about the ego. It could be as a result of personal experience, of family upbringing, or of cultural origins. What most people need after a dream like this is an analysis, but what is even more important is a solution. We have to ask ourselves what is the solution to Godzilla.

In the Baha’i Writings there is a famous quotation that goes like this.

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. Such is the essence of God’s admonitions; such in sum are the teachings for the Dispensation of Baha. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 34)

Spiritual writings are, by their very nature, solution oriented. In the above quotation, described as the sum of all the teachings for this age, the solution to blame is praise, the solution to poison is honey, and the solution for thorns are roses. So if we look at Godzilla, based upon the above quotation, he can be described as a terribly destructive force that wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Where psychology has come to thus far as a practice is to recognize that Godzilla is an evil force causing untold destruction, so therefore, lets kill him and everything will be just great. So we kill Godzilla, but because we haven’t done the solution of opposition as in the holy writings, sooner or later, Godzilla’s uncle pops up and starts the same thing all over again.

Being solution oriented means doing the opposite. Great destructive powers are solved by great constructive and healing powers. When the world trade center was destroyed in New York City, the immediate response was to go after Godzilla. Countries do have the right to protect themselves, and there is a benefit from killing Godzilla, but no one seems to have responded to him in a solution oriented way by going after huge positives.

Whenever I have a dream that is negative, I almost immediately begin by flipping the negative images in my mind to their positive opposites. This tells me almost immediately what kind of actions to take in my life. You can try it. If you are being attacked by a poisonous snake in a dream, you don’t really need to worry so much about what a snake means. What you need to do is to change from being poisoned to being healing. Maybe there is a lot of vicious backbiting at work. You can do healing work by finding people to praise and honor.

There are a lot of interesting clues that you can get in dream work if you learn to pay attention and then apply a solution. If the dream is dark, then it means that you need to bring more light into the world, maybe shedding more light. If there is a large negative, then you can go for a very large positive. If everything is going really fast, then you can work on slowing everything down.

The Killing Fields of Criticism

September 10, 2007

There used to be a popular notion in the practice of psychology that you could give criticism to a person by separating the behavior that someone is doing from who they are as a whole person. The theory evidently is that by doing this you preserve the person’s self esteem, that is, they won’t feel bad about themselves when their behavior is criticized. Someone had this wild notion that a person’s behavior is somehow separate from themselves so you can mess with the behavior all you want and the core of the person will go unaffected. Ok I am Johnny on the playground, and I want to score a goal really badly. I run up to the person with the ball and trip them so that my self interest can be served. The old notion would have us believe that I just have to change my behavior of tripping because the core of me is this perfect child that doesn’t need to change on the inside, that somehow inside I already know how to play enthusiastically and also think like a member of team and play by rules. I think that the idea is that if you stop the negative behavior, stop the tripping in this case, and give the child a new behavior, that he is somehow going to change.

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The first half hour that I ever entered school I was given a pair of scissors to cut on a line. I just remember how much of a blur the first days were and how overwhelming the new experience was. So the teacher gives me some scissors and asks me to be a choo-choo train staying on the track by cutting across the paper on a line. Well, you can imagine the outcome. Being overwhelmed with wandering attention my train derailed. So what does this brilliant teacher do? She makes sure that I know that my train went off the track.

If you have ever watched the national team from England play soccer, you will be able to see just how devastating criticism is. The English press puts constant pressure on the national team to perform better. They criticize the players and coaches constantly putting them under enormous pressure to succeed. The national teams usually react to the criticism with what science has already discovered about performance. They always usually find a way lose when they are in a pressure situation.

Criticism is the act of seeing a behavior that is negative, according to the criticizer’s point of view, and then expressing it. The way I think about it is that it is the lazy person’s way of getting attention and advancing. For a writer or journalist using criticism as his main tool means that he advances on the backs of other people’s mistakes. It is the easy road. It is how journalists kill other people’s spirits out of their own self interest of getting to the top. Politicians, social climbers, parents, and people trying to move up corporate ladders all do the same thing. Criticizing gets a lot of fast attention, it makes others look really bad, and it destroys people’s spirits. It also takes the pressure off of your own performance and puts it onto others.
The more difficult road, the road less traveled, starts and ends with the belief that people have unlimited potentialities that can be actualized. It believes that change is possible. How many of us have been called into our boss’s office to be told how we screwed up and to not let it happen again or else when what we need to hear are acknowledgments of positive observations and the belief in positive change.

And then there is the ever popular acknowledgment of an event that goes like this from the leader. “Well that was a great event. Congratulations. There is just one little small thing.” And then the leader goes on for 5 minutes about the small thing. What is it about leaders who think they have the right to criticize every little thing? Why has the research on the effects of criticism gone so unnoticed when it has been consistently shown to cause such major damage? It must be about laziness and the lack of self control and self discipline.

Here are some interesting things from the research on criticism on why constructive criticism doesn’t work. 80% of the people who are criticized go into a negative non-resourceful state when they are criticized. Of the 20% who don’t feel really bad from criticism only 10% can keep the criticism dissociated so that they can judge whether or not to use it. This means that almost everyone takes criticism personally even when the criticizer says I don’t want you to take this personally. Most people just feel bad and get more non-productive from criticism.

There is also some interesting research on work in elementary school classrooms and in marriages that found that the magic number for positive encouraging comments in ratio to correcting or more negative ones is at least 4 to one. That means four positives to one correcting. When the ratio was 2 to 1, students felt like the classrooms were very negative. Marriages where the ratio is 4 to 1 last much longer than those where the ratio is much lower.

This does not mean that there is no place for critical comments, but they don’t seem to have the intended effect unless the environment is 80% positive. So maybe, instead of losing self control and blurting out negative comments, it may be good to practice some self discipline by keeping our big negative mouths shut and opening up the positives ones.

Organizing Your Emotional Space to Get More Time to Play

September 8, 2007

I was very inspired when I read my daughter’s blog about sorting beans with Olee, our grandson the other day. See http://hoogliart.wordpress.com. I think Maria Montessori was one of the first educator’s to see how organization of space really gives children a great deal of freedom to play and explore. Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to work together with a number of my colleagues to apply her teachings. What happened was quite incredible!

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Being a product of the 60s you can imagine that I might have some difficulties conceptualizing how play and creativity can work together with order and control. The 60s were instrumental in bringing out the evils of leadership by control and self interest so for many people of our era, when we think of conrolling an environment, we think of people who had the wrong motives. Organization for accumulation of selfish desires still may be a huge reality in the world, but yesterday it finally clicked for me why order is so important when you are doing something for the right reasons.

The event that we planned was a swim meet for students from grades 2-5. We had four hours, two two-hour sessions to complete 110 swimming races. What was incredible to me at day’s end was that we finished each session 20 minutes early. That is two groups of 160 swimmers each. You can do the math, but however you calculate, that is a lot of play in a short period of time. When I think of about it, it was all about the organization of space. Military order paled to us yesterday.

We planned where students had to sit while they were waiting for races to be called, where they had to sit after their races were called, which lane they were to swim in, and where they were to go when they finished each race. The adults all had a program with the list of all races and lane assignments, the volunteers all had written instructions of what to do at their jobs, and well if you have ever done a swim meet or track meet, you know that it takes a lot of people and organization. Because of the organization all the athletes had to do was to focus on their play, the swimming. The heat numbers were written on their arms so all they had to do was listen for their heat, go to the marshaling area, and then jump in the pool and swim. They were absolutely wild with enthusiasm and joy.

The results: Every child in the school participated in at least one to four races and everyone received at least one ribbon. It was magical. We even had to take a 10 minute break in the 2nd session because of thunder and a small amount of rain, but still we finished 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

The planning group was extraordinary. Everyone worked together with no self interest, just the joy of doing great work. So a day later I am thinking about the excuse that I have already mentioned previously in other posts, that people say that they don’t have time to play and now after yesterday, I am certain that the issue is not about time but the fear of being in the play space.

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Unlike most children who can’t be held back from play, many adults seem to be blocked when it comes to participating in play. For them it is emotional. The underlying emotion that inhibits play the most is the fear of being criticized. Children are immune to its deadly effects for a time mainly because they are around other children who love to play, but gradually they drink in its venom especially when other expectations in their lives like academics are raised until the joy of play is sapped right out of them.

The key for me in recapturing the joy of play of childhood is the ability to organize the emotional space in my life, to bring order to my emotions so that my positive energy can shine through. Criticism is the great epidemic of our time, far more deadly than any pandemic the scientists may predict because it kills a person soul and their bodies. It is so commonplace that it is even often regarded as a virtue, but it kills nonetheless.

What is the vaccine that will get adults back in the pool and into play? It is simple. Find something positive about yourself and others and say it. This changes everything. You just let go of the negative thoughts that come in by dealing with them on your own in your meditation or with the help of others, but you don’t express them in an aggressive way outward. When you recognize positive things that are happening, you express them outwardly. This has the effect of making play very inviting. Then people can experiment and make all kinds of mistakes and the great learning and fun can happen.

Where is God?

August 31, 2007

I am not sure if many people have reflected on this question on where God is, so I decided to throw out a few thoughts to share some of my observations. What I have observed is that the location of God seems to move around according to the cultural context.

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In the Judeo-Christian culture that surrounded me growing up I learned that God was a man in the sky. That was in the 1950s in California. I am not sure if he is still there in California. He may have moved to the mall because people seem to do their worshiping there. However, when I first learned to pray, I learned that God was up there watching over us. I can remember pictures in the Old Testament, which is really the Jewish Torah, about seeing an older man in white beard with white hair sometimes looking pretty peeved at the world. I can understand the Jewish notion of God, because it was the purpose of Moses to unite the tribes of Israel through the application of law in a just manner. Justice means that people are not higher than the law. The law is higher which keeps people’s egos lower. Prior to this time the rulers were above the law. Many of them still are, but that is a different story.

In the 1980s I began working on a Cree Reserve in Alberta, Canada which had the effect of radically altering my view of where God is. For the Crees God is a woman who supports and nurtures all life. Her spirit manifests itself and communicates with us in all things in nature. For the Jews God created order through a set of laws and became a man, but for the Crees God is our mother living in the earth. Could God be in both places at once?

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When I read the New Testament which is really the teachings of Christ and then some elaborations, I find that what Jesus was trying to teach was love for one another. He seems to have moved God out of the sky and into the heart, but since you can’t have order without law and justice, God needed to remain in the sky, but also in the heart. Now Christians also have the third place for God which is in the spirit, the Holy Spirit. Hence, Christianity evolved into what they call the trinity. There is God in the sky keeping things in order through justice, God in the heart which brings about love and connection, and God in the spirit which brings about communication and guidance. Before I get to where the spirit is, I just have to say that I am a little bit perplexed as to why the Christians forgot to add the mother like the Crees. For that matter, the Jews abandoned God as a feminine figure as well. Maybe that is why it so hard for the equality of men and women to take root even in western liberal cultures. Could be the source of Jewish mother’s guilt as well.

God may have always been there in one form or another, but the real impetus for God being an invisible force came through Buddhism six centuries before Jesus. God practically disappears in Buddhism because of Buddha’s emphasis on people doing their own internal work rather than relying on things outside of themselves. Buddhism is about detachment. Through meditation and other practices one is forced inward so that the spirit within can communicate and be released into the world to do positive action. In Buddhism God is both invisible and internal.

So we have God being up in the sky, in the earth and nature, in the heart, and invisible and internal. What makes it even more complicated is that with atheists, God is nowhere at all and with agnostics God seems to be there on occasion or in the fog.

Islam and Christianity share the same heritage so whatever is true for Muslims is also true for Christians. The difference is that Muslims do not allow images of God or messengers which is a movement toward God being transcendent, which means that all description of God being in time or space is pure imagination. This also, is the Baha’i view of God which means that it is helpful to imagine where God is terms of virtue, but description of God is beyond all comprehension.

If true religion were ascendant, then it would be very easy for everyone to be in absolute harmony learning and integrating things from each other because virtues have no difficulties working together. Justice and love, detachment and support, and inspiration and acceptance all can live together without difficulty. The problems seem to occur when the egos take the place of God. For instance, instead of God being in the sky administering justice with the rule of law, men put themselves in the sky and do whatever they want whether they be tyrannical leaders such as Hitler, tyrannical CEOs, or tyrannical parents or teachers.

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Instead of having love for one another and treating each other with mercy, charity, and kindness, people take the place of God in the heart with lust of sex and power. And instead of going inside to deal with your own spirituality, people seek material satisfaction outside of themselves through material means.

Likewise, instead of relying on spiritual teachings for support such as sharing and generosity, people put their own superstitions in their minds to keep development from happening. Superstition is ultimately an attempt to keep God out through controlling weak minds.

What I think is that if we use the paradigm of God taking over various domains of human beings, you can analyze the weaknesses in religious structures and then change them. For instance, for God to take over the domain of the heart the religion has to place a major emphasis on artistic beauty as expressed in painting, architecture, music, and theater and it needs to look at the quality of loving relationships in the community so that there is kindness, mercy, and attraction. But God still has to be in the sky, not man, for love to take over the heart, because justice is a precondition for love to spread.

Further Notes on Leadership: Dealing with Frustration

August 28, 2007

In my last post I was writing about a 5 year old boy whose primary presenting negative emotion is frustration. Frustration is what you feel when you are trying to accomplish something, but you are not making the progress you were hoping. It is different than disappointment which is feeling you get after the experience is over. With frustration you are still trying, but still failing.

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The spiritual solution to frustration is always in the area of the virtues associated with patience. Patience is the ability to slow down time to a standstill so that other solutions can appear or other things can happen first. If you are frustrated as a student or an athlete, it usually means that you are not patient enough to try new strategies or solution because you are too rushed to get to the goal. To overcome frustration there is always a slowing down process so that new solutions can enter.

When frustration presents itself into a situation like my 5 year old, it usually means that there isn’t enough patience in the environment. This is sooooo interesting!!!! In the meetings I have done on dreams I usually put out cards with the names of virtues like courage, enthusiasm, honesty, compassion, etc.. I always put out 2 cards that say patience as opposed to putting out only one of every other virtue. Both patience cards are always taken.

So why is frustration such a big issue and why do we seem to need a lot more patience? It should actually come as no surprise because the more sped up the culture gets, the faster we go to keep up with it. We can’t slow down to find new solutions because we are already in the super fast lane.

I think the real key is the ability to slow down internally. So here is the epilogue of my 5 year old which is what I think leadership is all about. All of his teachers, the school counselor, one of his parents, and the nanny all got together for the purpose of discussing what we could differently. The meeting lasted for over an hour. Everyone was allowed to share openly and frankly. It was an extremely positive environment where a few decisions and a lot of suggestions were made.

So today he came to class and participated fully attending to every activity. He was quite amazing. His coordination still is not great, but he is on the right path. A little bit of patience, i.e. slowing down, seems to go along way.

The group showed how a decentralized process can work. The people closest to where the actual action is take the authority to work together to improve a problem situation. Everyone is given a voice, everyone listens to each other, and then change begins to happen.