Archive for the ‘virtues’ 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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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.

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.

JFK Quotes

April 15, 2008

In my last post I mentioned seeing a newspaper article about JFK in the interview room of a newspaper in Sabah so I decided to look up a few quotes from JFK and post them here.  Enjoy them.

A child miseducated is a child lost.

A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes… can no longer be of concern to great powers alone.

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.

And so, my fellow americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Journey to the Mountain Top in Sabah

April 7, 2008

Sabah is a federal territory of Malaysia, not a state in its own right. It is like the Yukon or the how the Northwest Territories used to be in Canada. It, like Sarawak is located on the northern part of the island of Borneo which Malaysia shares with Indonesia.

We arrive in Kota Kinabalu, K.K. to the locals, on Monday. I had just done a half marathon they day before in KL and the with the marathon of a school year coming to the final months, you can say that Debby and I are close to the wall and tired. Our plane is delayed a couple of hours so by the time we check into the Beringgis Beach Resort it is already 11:00 pm..

Beringgis has a long beautiful flat beach and even though my legs are still recovering from the half, the sand and surf invite me in for a run along the empty beach with the jungle on one side and the South China Sea on the other. It is a relaxing way to begin another adventure holiday.

beach run

Debby wants a day to relax at the beach, so I give her 2 hours before we are off on first adventure to the Garama River to see three different species of monkeys in the lush rain forest that covers the island. Our guide is a 3:15 marathon runner and because he sees my KL half t-shirt we spend quite of bit of time talking about races in Malaysia, the most famous of which is the climbathon up to 4,100 meters a top Mt. Kinabalu.

guides on the river

Later in the journey we will climb the mountain, but now we are in boat for a few hours along another beautiful river in Southeast Asia. It doesn’t get much better than this as they say. Along the way we see proboscus and silver-tipped monkeys as well as macaques. Sabah is a wonderland. It has some of the greatest wildlife adventures on the planet including some of the best scuba diving, which we will have to put aside for another holiday.

grubs big nosed

silver tip

The river trip is quite relaxing and the dinner afterwards looking over the wetlands at sunset fills us with the kind of emotion one hopes to find on a holiday. Quite magical.

sunset dinner

The next morning we are off early for a three day adventure which will take us to the highest spot in Southeast Asia. We stop at one of the local handicraft markets. Debby finds a great bag to carry more things made from the local native people. In the mainland of Malaysia the mix of cultures is Malay, Chinese, and Indian, but in Sabah the majority of people are a mixture of native tribes, like in Sarawak, followed by Chinese, Malay, and Indian. It gives Sabah a different feel, a bit more laid back. The lines between the cultures seem more blurred here and model of integration much further along. Later on, when I am interviewed at a local newspaper, my eye is struck by the interest in integration in America, which moves me, but for now Mt. Kinabalu lies ahead.

Later we have a great nature hike done by a local Chinese botanist who describes the science in the rain forest. Many of the ferns mirror the rain forest of BC and because we are at about 1500 meters now the cooler air begins to resemble our west coast of Canada. We follow the ecology walk with another great lunch, a trip to Poring Hot Springs where we leisure in the healing waters and walk along the canopy of the jungle.

flowers nature hike

butterfly gardens

You may notice or not that Debby is quite joyful and relaxed on the canopy and I am not.

canopy

It is just one of those fears that sneaks up on me so I tell myself that no one is dying and that makes it a wee bit easier. That night we stay in dormitory-like hostel at the foot of the peak in preparation for the next morning up the slope of the mountain. We have a chance to visit with a couple living in Mongolia working for the Peace Corps and then are off to bed.

hotsprings

By 6 am we are awake, 6:30 packed up, and by 7:00 am we are eating breakfast. At 8:00 am we register for the hike and meet our guide.

mountains in the morning Beginning

Andrew and Debby

His name is Andrew, 42 years old, he has two teenage boys, and is a member of the local native tribe of which most of the guides are. He is more like an angel sent to help us every step of the way. In three years he has been up the mountain more than 110 times so he keeps telling us in Malay slow and steady, slow and steady. The first day up the mountain peak begins at the Timphonon Gate which is about 1800 meters and climbs to 3100 which is 6 kilometers from the starting pointing.

Difficult, tiring, grueling, never-ending, painful, excrutiating, continuously upward. These are just a few of the adjectives to describe the first day. Mt. Kinabalu is impressive because like other high places where native people live, it is regarded as a sacred place, and so it doesn’t surprise me when I am with the Baha’i community in KK doing a presentation on dreams that several people share dreams with the mountain in it. The trail is well kept up with covered rest stops every kilometer, not like the snow-covered trail up Crown Mountain in Vancouver, but most of the way up I am thinking of my climbing partners, my son-in-laws, Chris and Shane, and how much they would love to be ascending the Mt. K.. Debby was not feeling very well in the morning and the climb proves more difficult than she had hoped, but in her true character, she musters up every bit of self discipline and determination to reach Laban Rata, the hostel 6 km up from the start. Notice the woman carrying the 20 kilos on her back and passing right by us.

day one end woman carrying goods

sunset laban rata

Because she has had diarrhea and a quezy stomach she is not able to replace the glycogen stores along the way so makes the decision, wisely not to do the summit the next day. By the time we reach the first day’s end we have already made several new friends including a young English couple, a couple for Holland, and a brother and sister from California.

Of course everyone is about the age of our children. People our age usually don’t do this kind of thing. Well there is one man and woman other than us who have some gray hair. We must be crazy, but the fellowship of pain is quite comforting and the dinner quite a welcome. At 7:30 pm we are all in bed because we have to wake up at 2:00 am to make the final 2.5 hour climb of 1000 meters to the summit. Sleeping at 3000 meters is fitful because of the lack of oxygen and many people already have headaches and are feeling nauseous. Debby shivers for awhile and then finally gets to sleep. I know that I have slept because I have a few dreams, but it is not without a lot of tossing and turning. The wake-up call comes and I am nervous but also excited.

Now it is just Andrew and myself and every step of the way I am thankful for his help. I keep thinking of Shane and Chris and hoping they get the chance that I have. Climbing at night with a flashlight is a bit of blessing because you don’t have to see how high things are. The first 40 minutes are quite vertical and I am thinking that if I have to do this for another 2 hours that I am going to be spent, but by the time you reach 7 kilometers of the 8.7 things begin to level out and the hike changes from grueling to joyous. I keep thinking to myself how joyful I feel and how wonderful it is.

At 5:30 am, 30 minutes before sunrise we reach the summit. I will let the pictures do the talking because I think they say it all.

top of the world Andrew Richard

sunrise

Climbing down a mountain always seems like a piece of cake but after a couple of hours of descending one step after another, your thighs go wobbly and so by the end you end up with legs that say thank you, thank you, for stopping. Now 2 days later, the mountain is still a strong memory in the thighs. Every step on a staircase is felt. We have a great buffet waiting for us at the bottom, but I am entirely spent after it. I sleep for part of the trip back to KK.

way down

When we arrive at the hotel downtown, we find that we only have a couple of hours before I am presenting on dreams to a group of Baha’is in the city. My mind and body say no, but the spirit beckons. Who am I to say no to it. Doing a presentation is a lot like climbing a mountain. Before the experience I always have nerves and wonder if things will go well, in the middle I just stay focused and keep presenting, and at the end have some moments of satisfaction. What is so interesting about this meeting is the openness of the people and how willing they are to go after the issues that are presented in the dreams.

Some of the Baha\'is at the Dream meeting

My worry before a meeting is always about the resistance, but in this one, there is no resistance whatsoever. Since a great deal of the community is culturally Chinese, the dreams reveal the weaknesses of Chinese culture, which is mainly about looking for the negative in others rather than the positives to try to get more improvement and then making people fearful of something bad happening if they don’t follow the path that everyone else is on. They are extremely receptive. Fortunately Baha’u’llah’s teaching emphasize over and over and over the importance of inclusion so one of the leaders in the community encourages the native Baha’is to share their dreams, and as always happens their dreams are the solution to the Chinese problems. This is the great Baha’i teaching that including diversity solves the problems that any culture is having. By the time the meeting is finished it is 11:00 pm. So I have been up since 2:00 am the same day and I am buzzing from the meeting and the day’s hiking adventure. What a day! Am I dreaming this? The next morning I am up early again because Kang, one of the local Baha’is, has arranged two interviews with newspapers. So here I am, only 5 days earlier having set foot on Sabah with no plans to do any meetings and now because of Debby’s initiative in calling some of the local Baha’is, I am now doing interviews for feature articles in two newpapers. I must be dreaming. Well both interviews go really well. In the first one the reporter asks me about a dream of her mother who has passed away some time ago and when I explain my understanding her eyes fill with tears, which come to her unexpected especially as an objective reporter. Life continues to be an astonishment. While she leaves the room I notice a framed copy of the front page of an old newspaper with the name Kennedy on it. I ask myself if it could really by about JFK, but think it is probably about a Kennedy in Sabah. So as I approach I notice that the date is May, 1963, just a few months prior to his untimely death. The article is about him delivering anti-discrimination legislation to the Congress of the United States. Later , the reporter asks me about what I think about Obama becoming president. At first I am surprised by the question and I tell her that the Baha’i teaching is to not become involved in partisan politics because they tend to be divisive, but then say, with JFK hanging up in the background, that it is quite incredible that a man who is both black and white could reach the highest office in the U.S.. My eyes begin to well up and I cannot explain the emotion. I explain to her that I did not expect to be so emotional when she asked the question. A day later as I think of the Kennedy article on the wall, I realize how much hope the world had with JFK, that even on the island of Borneo, what he attempted to do is revered. We are truly one planet and I know I am living in a dream. The rest of the day I am meeting with several people about their dreams and difficult issues in life. I look forward to my return, climbing the mountain once again, and hoping that I can help people up the mountain peaks of their lives.

“Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday.” (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 138)

Self Discipline Calling

March 27, 2008

I have to admit that when I started to feel the inner whispers that my being was calling forth the virtue of self discipline, it wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to hear.   After all, I mean let’s face it.  Self discipline is not sexy like some other energies.  When I pick self discipline out of  a virtues pile, my response is to put it right back again.   It is like looking for apple pie and getting cod liver oil.  So here I am struggling to accept what is without one shadow of a doubt the perfect answer to my current situation, but having a degree of resistance associated with it.

Ok, I know the issue.   This is my 30 year recurring nightmare.   I have had this dream 100 times easily where I go back and reenter the Air Force Academy hoping to complete what plays in the back of my mind as failure.  Everything seems to be going well, but then I wake up after awhile and say to myself, “what am I thinking?”  The Air Force Academy is a military university which prides itself on training people to have huge self discipline, but really is  a system of making you fearful of authority so that you will allow yourself to be killed in battle.  Maybe that is a bit simple, but the self never comes into self discipline in the academies because thinking for yourself and going after your own goals in a systematic, disciplined manner is certainly not the goal.  So when I think of self discipline, my mind goes back to the AFA and to the rhetoric and I wonder if I missed something.  “If I were to only go back there and finish,” my mind thinks, “then I  would have what I need.”   Fortunately I usually wake up and realize that they are about as far from self discipline as an organization could possibly get.    Putting them aside I look around for other models.

Model #1  My Mother

When my mother had back surgery a few decades ago, the doctors told her that she would be in wheel chair within 10 years.  Well she decided that they were wrong and then she set out on a daily routine of various exercises to strengthen all the muscles around her back.   She is now 86 and walks so fast that it is hard to keep up with her.  She never misses a day of exercise.  She is a marvel of self-discipline.

Model #2  My Wife

Debby was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, recommended for surgery, but went through one year of a disciplined regime of taking herbs and homeopathic remedies which cleared her of the need for surgery.   Next she lifted a heavy box one day and ruptured a disc in her back.  The orthopedic doctors recommended surgery, but she went through a series of exercise routines that she still does daily.  Her back is fine because of having the virtue of self discipline.  My guess is that not many doctors have  run into the likes of my mother and my wife so they recommend surgery and make weak predictions.  If there were more self disciplined people in the world, there would certainly be less surgeries.

Model #3  My Eldest Daughter

When Erika did her master’s thesis, she used to wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then write all day long.  She did this continually for several months.   The product of her work was amazing.  As a youth she used to wake up at 5:30 am several days a week to do skating practice before school.

Model #4 My Son-in-Law, Chris

Everyone knows that my other son-in-law, Shane is hard wired with self discipline, but Chris decided one day that he was lacking self discipline and dedicated a whole year to developing it mainly through an exercise program several mornings a week.   His transformation is an inspiration to me because for the other 3 women, self discipline is runs through their veins.  Chris has come to it through struggle.

What I understand from the 4 of them is that self discipline is daily and while the goal is ever present, the expectation of immediate results is not.   The results come from repetition of acts over long periods of time.    It isn’t self discipline when performance is inconsistent.    It  seems to be self discipline when the tasks are done almost like breathing.

I am looking forward to making self discipline a friend.   I am glad that it has come calling.

Who Do You Work for?

February 4, 2008

I just spent more than 30 hours during the weekend as a tournament director for a high school tennis tournament in which 9 schools from all over Southeast Asia participated. At the end of the day there were more than 200 sets played. We began our days at 6:00 AM and finished around 10:00 PM. We had just enough time to eat some dinner and hop into bed.

uwc-girl.jpg

This morning is a school day, but I am way too tired to be in school so I decided to call in for a substitute for my classes. Before I called in I had some feelings of guilt as if I were so weak for being so tired and not being able to keep on going despite the exhausting days in +30 temperatures managing all kinds of variables including rain delays. The guilt of not being strong enough was haunting me so I began to do some reflection of where it was coming from.

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The question that keeps resounding in my head is that of who I work for. During the tournament I kept feeling pressure from various people to shorten the tournament especially for those who did not qualify for the semifinals. As I felt the pressure I kept reminding myself that the games for 8th place are just as important for those players as the games for first. The tennis players just want to play lots of tennis. They love being on the court. After a rain delay on the first day we ended up playing two hours after the original schedule. At 8 PM all of the courts were full, the lights were on, but there were only 2 official matches left. Everyone just kept playing despite the fact that the schedule was over.

During the second day God stepped in as if to validate my feelings. Just when the final matches were to begin to decide champions and third place, it began to pour rain and didn’t stop for the next 6 hours. The third place matches got canceled and the first places ones went indoors and were shortened considerably so that we could finish the tournament. So in the end it was the 5th to 8th places that got the best court times and had the most matches. It was if God were saying to me that everyone is important, not just the champions. Everyone deserves and should get his time on the courts and when I am doing my job correctly, in His eyes, no one is singled out for more time than anyone else.

But why do I feel guilty about not going to work when I worked such ungodly hours so that everyone could play? It dawned on me that the pressure is to favor the people at the top. Be it the first place players, the director of the school, or whatever head of something, they tend to believe that they should have more time and the best resources and everyone else should serve that end. The lower down the ladder we are, the more we tend to serve whatever they want, hoping that that we will get our time on the courts. They usually don’t give it because they are more interested in their position on the ladder than on giving everyone a chance.

Part of me is working for all of the players including 8th place, but another is just serving the top and their selfish aims without realizing that they have no thought of mine. They just expect me to do whatever they wish.

At one point in the tournament one of the coaches of the top four teams became upset with me when I told him that we had moved the semifinal match up and they had to get on the court. If was as if he thought he should have special privileges and I should give the team more time. I held firm and the team did fine without special treatment. It just proved the point that all leaders should know. People at the top don’t perform better with special treatment. They do equal or better when they have the same privileges and resources as everyone else.

I just need to remind myself that I am working for the 8th place players just as much as the first place ones. I am very grateful that the rain came when the showcase games were supposed to happen. The tournament was a success because of how treated 8th place, not how we treated first.

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)

Trusting in God: What Does it Mean?

November 7, 2007

Last weekend at the Baha’i School in Kota Tinggi I went to a workshop on virtues and discovered that I needed the virtue of trusting more, especially trusting in God. So I am reflecting on it here to see what it means.

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When I was teaching ethics classes in Brazil, I used to do a unit on how God is perceived according to the various religions in the world. One of the groups of students that interested me a great deal were the Marxists who claimed to be atheists. Their complaint about religion, which is quite valid, is that they saw a lot of people lighting candles and praying, but then just waiting and hoping for God to act rather than acting themselves to get things done. I think that the materialists have the same complaint as well. Marx saw organized religion as a drug which kept people from acting. His hope was that people could be stirred up and start acting rather than being victims of the class system. Unfortunately most of the movements of left proved to be failures because they never allowed people to act as he had envisioned. In countries like China or North Korea God was replaced by the leader of the country who people came to worship. Materialistic cultures, led by ideas from the right have had no shortage of initiative and action, but the lack of spiritual and ethical values, replaced God with things. People rely and trust in things.

Trusting in God for me seems to be the ability to see myself acting with virtue to achieve positive ends and then actually taking steps toward the vision. Trusting in God means trusting in virtue or trusting in the positive spiritual teachings like love. It seems to require a vision of a positive spiritual possibility combined with visualizing oneself with spiritual qualities and then acting energetically. It seems to me that at the moment that the three inner processes come together that there is also a simultaneous connection to the larger Spirit, which we often call the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit has its own will, which is far better than our own, it guides and directs as it pleases. The magical things that people often wait to have happen don’t seem to occur by praying and sitting around for things to happen, nor by reflecting and coming up with good solutions, nor by action alone.

There seems to be a great deal of power in the combination of the three. So for instance, I want to begin a new program, or start a project, or create a new institute. I first can get a glimpse of the program and its positive purpose, then I can see the picture of myself acting in the program with a specific quality like creativity, then I can begin to act vigorously to realize the vision. The moment that I act is the moment that the larger Spirit enters which begins to change everything in a fundamentally more positive way.

The trusting part is connected to the belief that God will assist all those who step into the arena of service. The most difficult part for me, which may not be for others, is the ability to see myself with the processes or the qualities that are required in project. Right now I am working on visualizing myself as having a lot of expressive qualities. What I am finding important, which you may wish to also try, is visualizing as a dissociated image, an image outside of myself or me acting positively.

The three steps are 1. creating a vision that is positive and spiritually oriented 2. seeing yourself with the initial qualities that make the vision work and 3. acting vigorously.

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.

The Leaders We Are Looking For Are Inside Our Ownselves

August 25, 2007

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Last week during one of my physical education classes with my 5 year olds I witnessed and incredible act of leadership that left me with a great feeling of hope. I have a young boy in one class whose frustration tolerance on a scale from 1-10 is minus 6 or 7. He has had a melt down in each of first 5 or 6 classes, but during my last class something interesting happened. I had the students work in pairs throwing and catching balls back and forth. Now my frustration boy had had almost zero attention in other tasks, but on this day he was paired with someone who had almost no English which immediately thrust him into a helping position. He watched the task, decided he could do it, and started working with his partner. He acted extremely patient and encouraging with his partner, showing him what to do and being the perfect leader. I was shocked, but so pleased that I immediately wrote it down in my notes after class because it was the first really positive sign that he had ever shown.

I am not so sure what happened inside for him to make that kind of click, but it was clear to me that he had become a leader on that afternoon because he was practicing the virtue of helpfulness. It just made me realize that leadership is no longer a function that can be described as a top-down function. We seem to mostly make jokes about those who still are appointed to positions highest up on the hierarchical ladder because leadership can no longer be directed by one person, if it ever could. Those who try to force their wills by reason of position have found themselves isolated and unsupported. Their days are obviously numbered. The only people who are thriving are those that have turned decision making into a collective process and worked to empower members of an organization through capacity building and decentralization.

The world has turned upside down on its head because now the best leaders are not those who are decisive and willful, but those who support the development of leadership and decision making abilities in everyone in the organization. My 5-year-old melt down specialist became a leader in my class. How can I support him to be a leader all the time?

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Radical Change and Space: Good Morning Vietnam!

August 8, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what other kinds of space we can share.

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 4: The Two Worlds of Time

July 28, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Interpreting Your Own Dreams 3: Playing with Time

July 25, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting the War on Terror Internally

July 19, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Friend to me than I am to myself: Isa

July 11, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How God is Preparing Me for Life with My Grandson

July 10, 2007

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

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

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

What else is He preparing me for?

The Mother of All My Fears: Exclusion

July 6, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Say Goodbye to Guilt #2

July 5, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say Goodbye to Guilt #1

July 4, 2007

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

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

So how does guilt come in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

July 3, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Your Children to Play

June 30, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

How to Change a Nightmare into Bliss

June 29, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transform your child’s behavior by Changing yourself

June 29, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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