Forming Powerful Resolves

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by DCH Park

Consider the manner in which powerful resolves are made. Also called manifestations or creations, resolves are statements about what you desire and choose to call into your experience.

Whether you embrace Abraham and the Law of Attraction, Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, and the principles of success, Huna, or any other philosophy of success is immaterial. The ability to compose powerful statements about what it is that you intend to create in your life is useful, even if it’s only to firmly set your goal in your mind so that you don’t waver as you proceed.

Of course, many schools of thought and philosophies of success recognize the importance of taking action to reach your goals. The ability and readiness to recognize and act on opportunities when they arise is a vital part of creating success. You can never know ahead of time from which quarter a new opportunity may arrive and often situations that present themselves at first as burdens, disappointments, or distractions lead to or morph into huge opportunities later on.

Action in the world is no doubt a key component in successfully realizing your creation(s) in the physical world, however, the creation of whatever it is that you may prefer begins with your resolve. Napoleon Hill was neither the first nor the last person to note that “thoughts are things.” All success and all failure have their beginnings in the thoughts that we cultivate long before either success or failure are realized.

There are several principles or guidelines that may prove useful to keep in mind as you form your resolve. In no particular order, these are:

  • Be clear and definite.
  • Be simple and direct. Use as few words as possible.
  • Define your desire in positive terms.
  • Be aware of the feeling tone that accompanies your recitation of your resolve.
  • Believe it. If you don’t or can’t believe it, it won’t happen.
  • Begin with baby steps – “Crawl, Walk, Run.”
  • Use images. Images that evoke strong felt experience are best.
  • Powerful words that evoke images are good. Excessive verbiage disconnected from images is poor. Language can actually impede the creation process.
  • Express your resolve in the present tense.
  • Include yourself in the picture.
  • Relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is yours. You can refine it, restate it, or change it altogether at anytime as you learn and grow.

Clarity and definiteness sound obvious, but in practice, achieving them can be challenging. Generally, it is better to be as specific as possible about the desire while at the same time releasing all notions about the manner in which your desired creation will appear in your life in the physical world.

The classic interpretation of this principle emphasizes specificity about worldly details, so instead of saying, “I have lots of money,” the principle is taken to be a recommendation to be specific about the amount, “I have $10M in the bank.” Extraneous details about the desire, especially about how it might be achieved, are revealed in this way as being counterproductive.

However, as worded, the desire that “I have $10M in the bank,” in its focus on the physical details, entirely misses the context which gives that $10M significance. For example, $10M in the bank sounds good unless you owe $20M. Alternatively, consider that 50 years ago $10M would have seemed like an impossible sum and 50 years from now, $10M, though still a lot, may seem more like what $500K seems now or what $100K seemed like in the past.

One common response to this shortcoming is to add more words to describe the context, but this rapidly deteriorates into long, wordy statements that would be more appropriate in a legal contract than in powerful manifestations. This practice is reminiscent of trying to reason back to the object that casts shadows on a wall from nothing but shadows. To even have a chance of being accurate about the object, you have to take into account any imperfections and irregularities in the wall as well as in the light. Is the light bright, steady, dim, or flickering?

Even after adjusting for all of that, you still have no way to knowing from just the shadow if the object is a dog or someone casting a shadow that looks like a dog or even if there are several objects that line up to cast a composite shadow. You may not have any idea at all of what the nature of the object is.

In a similar vein, perhaps the statement “I have $10M in the bank” is definite but not clear. The focus on the $10M might be like focusing on the shadow. Is $10M really what you want to enjoy or is the $10M simply a familiar cultural proxy for something deeper, truer, and more personal? Incidental details shift as the context changes, just as the shadows on a cave wall shift as the fire dances, but the inner truth is constant, just as the object casting the shifting shadow remains unchanged.

The unchanging truth that you might be reaching for through the proxy of $10M might be a sense of wealth and ease firmly rooted in the felt knowing and embodied experience that when you need or want something, it is there for you. That, in other words, the experience of privation and self-denial that characterizes a lack of resources is as abstract for you as the temperature on the far side of the moon might have been to the Ancient Mariner.

Embracing clarity and definiteness about this deeper reality – the personal, felt experience of wealth and ease – not only makes your resolve much more powerful and immediate, it opens up possibilities through which you can enjoy its realization that you would probably have otherwise remained closed to. Letting go of your focus on $10M allows you to explore and appreciate the true abundance and variety of your wealth and the richness of the universe.

It is best to state your resolve so that your desire is directly identified. Stating your desire in terms of its opposite actually defines the opposite more than the desire. One person, tired of always fighting with his spouse, focused on “not fighting all the time” rather than something like “I love and appreciate my wife.” They ended up divorcing each other. Although divorcing his wife did ironically provide a means to realize his resolve of “not fighting all the time,” it was precipitated by continued and escalating conflict with his wife. By focusing on “not fighting,” he actually manifested more fighting.

To understand this, most success and attraction gurus content themselves with hazy statements like, “the universe doesn’t understand (or respond to or accept)‘not’ and ‘no.’” Although these statements are accurate observations, they have very little or no power to illuminate. They merely articulate another rule to remember and follow from the mysterious rulebook of life.

I have personally always had a hard time accepting that. In my experience, when rules are put forth with little, weak, nonsensical, or absent explanation, it indicates that someone is hiding something (like an agenda or ignorance) or that I am missing or misunderstanding something. Happily, Huna provides a philosophy of success that illuminates the situation.

As mentioned above, images are very powerful. Huna makes clear that images are the means by which messages are sent and received outside of and beyond what people commonly experience as physical reality. Thus, the resolves that you formulate are communicated to your High Self and the universe beyond in the form of images. Notice that it is impossible to negate an image. If you picture something, say an apple, and then try to negate the apple, you end up with the apple or something else instead. There is no negative apple.

Negation is a function of language (the trope of a circle with a slash is culturally defined and thus a linguistic artifact). Since spirit communicates with images, there is no negation in communicating with spirit and resolves defined in terms that negate something actually convey a desire for the thing being negated.

As with anything, you must crawl before you walk and you must walk before you run. It may be too much of a stretch to go directly to your ultimate goal. In that case, it can help to start small and build up a track record of relatively smaller successes. For example, if you are very ill or badly injured, it may seem like nothing more than wishful thinking to resolve to be fully healthy with full use of arms and legs.

However, smaller goals, such as not feeling so achy, being able to eat and hold down a meal, or just sitting up in bed may be good places to start. As successes mount, your expectations will naturally shift so that bigger and bigger things become possible. Soon, things that once seemed impossible become natural.

This is an interesting subtlety. The emotional tone with which you state and hold your resolve is critical. If you are negative and pessimistic when you embrace your resolve, the net effect is to delay realization of the goal or in fact to create the experience of lack, which naturally engenders greater pessimism. You can ride the spiral down as easily as you can ride it upward. Some people take this to mean that feelings of joy and exuberance are important in making resolves. However, others note that the feeling of certainty or faith is the most important and powerful feeling tone.

When you go to a distant place full of beauty and wonder, especially if you have been anticipating being there for some time – for example the Grand Canyon or Disneyland – there is a sense of reality to the place that only serves to underscore the impact of being there. It is akin to the knowing that water is wet and fire is hot.

This is the faith or knowing that can transform a resolve into reality. Emotionally, it is already real. From this point of view, it makes no more (or less) sense to be exuberant or bubbly over your resolve than it does over the fact that fire is hot or that Disneyland is. Holding a resolve in such faith has amazing power. It can instantly transform your perspective. Actions can suddenly seem possible, even matter-of-fact. Success can become as inevitable as the morning sun.

As Annie sings, “tomorrow is a day away.” It tends to be self-defeating to resolve that you will have, be, or do something “some day.” It can be equally frustrating to resolve that you “want to” be, do, or have something. Resolving to want something is immediately self-fulfilling. You already want it. Ta-da! You’re successful. You created what you desire.

Instead, state your resolve in the present tense. Rather than “I will create a fortune,” state “I have a fortune.” What is even better, focus on the experience of having the fortune. What does it feel like? This also has the virtue of putting yourself in the picture. It does little good to picture piles of money if you aren’t there to enjoy it. Similarly to creating in the present, picturing piles of money, a new house, new car, or new spouse without including yourself in the picture is easily realized. These things all exist in the world. Focus instead on your experience of yourself enjoying these things.

In conclusion, remember that words are generally not the best vehicle for making or stating your resolve. They can be helpful as tools to explore how you want to define your resolve and for accessing it quickly. However words are a poor vehicle for capturing and conveying your resolve. Images and body sensations are far more powerful. Beyond the emotional and physical solidity of faith and belief, body sensations can help make the resolve more vivid and immediate.

For example, if you desire a vacation in Hawaii, an image of a white sandy beach may be potent but compare that to imagining yourself on that beach. Feel the weight of your body as you sink into the sand, the warmth of the sun and sand on your face and back. Smell and hear the ocean.

If you are having challenges in forming your resolve, begin with what you have and be aware of what does and does not work well or feel right. Use it. State it. This is often quite helpful in uncovering lacunae that you don’t see because a conceptual blind spot hides it. If this happens, you can always refine or change your resolve. It is yours.

For example, one person felt that she had a good idea of what she wanted because she had always had a sense of what success would be like or look like and she felt successful, at least on paper. However, when she did an exercise that called for her to state her resolve clearly, she discovered that she did not have a succinct, powerful statement. She had only vague and poorly defined notions of what she wanted.

Yoga Nidra is an excellent practice for this sort of realization. The name translates as “the sleep of the yogis” and it is a means for putting the body to sleep while remaining awake in order to gain conscious access to the creative imaginal mind. More information about Yoga Nidra and other practices will be available in these pages shortly.

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Map of Your Mind

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by DCH Park

Recently Krista Tippet rebroadcast her interview with John O’Donohue, the Irish poet, philosopher, writer, and metaphysician who wrote Anam Cara, the international best-selling book whose title is Gaelic for “Friend of the Soul” or “Soul Friend.” Before his death in 2008, O’Donohue had become known for his penetrating insight and lyrical expression of the nature of human experience and how awareness and appreciation for beauty forms the heart and substance of that experience. (A podcast of the interview can be found at http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2010/inner-landscape/)

Key to any individual exploration of this experience is a present awareness of not only what is experienced but also who is experiencing it. The same event experienced by two or three or ten thousand different people will undoubtedly be two, three, or ten thousand separate, distinct experiences. Even if they all could somehow physically co-exist in the same precise location at the same time, they would each have unique experiences. By the same token, the same piece of transcribed music (say) played by different people will be different musical expressions, perhaps wildly so, even though they each play from identical written scores.

Of course, this is not a new insight. It is so common that it is virtually a cliché. It is likewise a cliché that the same person doing or experiencing the same thing now and a decade (or a year or a minute) from now will be different and thus the personal expression and experience will be different. It is an foundational facet of human existence that the instrument through which a person expresses and experiences in the world becomes an inextricable part of that experience or expression.

This can be seen as a burden or a blessing. Or it can go unseen entirely. If left unseen, the instrument can come to be an invisible filter whose effects go unrecognized. The ways in which the instrument (or filter) colors and frames not only what is let through but also what is blocked can become so submerged in the field that its role in shaping perception of the figure is lost. Any distortions created by the filter are taken to be accurate representations of the experience. The unseen filter can actually determine what is experienced or expressed to a greater extent than any other factor, precisely because it is invisible. As the cliché goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

When this happens, frustration and struggle are often not far behind. Imagine having trouble driving a car down a busy street. Perhaps other vehicles are zipping about, doors for parked cars swing open suddenly, and children or adults, so engrossed in their conversations and games that they fail to notice traffic, step out into the street unpredictably.

Frustration with other motorists, pedestrians, or the whole world may mount quickly. Anger might bubble up and blood pressure may rise because the toaster burnt your toast and forced you to leave the house late. Alternatively, you may turn frustration inward and direct it toward your poor eyesight, lack of confidence, or nervousness. Without even noticing, you may repeat the old refrain, “I suck,” all of which only increases the sense of being ill at ease in your own skin and the pain in your belly. Amidst all this, you may never notice that moisture is fogging the windshield.

Of course, the effect of the moisture in this illustration seems apparent, however the principle is sound. In this case the windshield serves a definite purpose. Driving would be considerably less pleasant or even dangerous without it. However, having a windshield does pose some potential problems as well. In order to be able to recognize problems when they arise and deal with them effectively and directly rather than getting frustrated with yourself or extraneous factors, it helps to be aware of the windshield and familiar with its properties.

Thus, if the windshield is fogged, it helps to clear it with the air conditioner or a hand towel. Note that in this case, it makes more sense to clear the windshield and keep it in place. In other cases, the more reasonable course may be to remove the filter altogether. For example, if you put on sunglasses because the setting sun was glaring while driving into town, after the sun sets, it probably makes sense to put them away.

Beyond the metaphor of driving a car, the instrument through which we experience and interact with the world is ourselves. Our bodies, minds, and spirits are our instruments. We understand and organize our experience and expressions through are our beliefs and expectations. What perceptual or cognitive filters do you have coloring, shaping, and determining your reality – the limits of what is real and possible?

In order for a champion to win, she must first feel and believe that her success is real. A champion is a champion in mind and spirit long before becoming one in body. Likewise, before a loser loses in life, he creates a pattern of losing in his expectations and perceptions. The champion wins because for her, winning is possible and real. For the loser, the only possibility that has any sense of reality is losing.

Thus, expectations about how the world is and what is possible form the filters that help shape experience. Change the filters, and you can change experience. Of course, the challenge is in that these filters are invisible. They are hard to recognize because they are unseen. The effects of invisible filters is not generally seen as an expectation, distortion, or coloration. They are seen as just “the way things are.”

John O’Donohue suggests an exercise that can be very useful in consciously identifying such unseen filters. Take time to thoughtfully write down seven things that you “think all the time.” These are the thoughts that you constantly come back to every day, several times a day. They may be the automatic thoughts that pop up when things go well during times of struggle or concentrated effort. They may be the things that come up in quiet moments when there are no distractions.

Then, list seven things you never think. These might be things that you would prefer to think but don’t. They may be things that you hear others talk about. They may be things you have read about or heard about through TV or other media. If discerning thoughts you never think is challenging, it may help to begin by considering the opposite of thoughts you always think. What are they? Why do you never think them? What does that thought or its opposite remind you of?

This writing exercise is valuable because it can form the beginning of a map to your mind. The nature and content of experience is determined by the expectations held and rehearsed over and over in the mind. They creep into the body and spirit to influence emotions, attitudes, and body postures in such a way that whatever is expected is brought into experience.

Awareness of what thoughts you always think and what thoughts you never think can provide insight into what expectations you are forming. Conscious awareness of the filter makes dealing with it and its effects possible. You can’t clean a windshield that you don’t realize is there.

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Importance of Speaking Out – V

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by DCH Park

One aspect of speaking and acting in accordance with your deepest truth is that doing so quite naturally leads to a personal unfolding. Expressing and honoring truth and wisdom in the world leads to realization of deeper truth and greater wisdom in yourself.

In honoring the truth and wisdom you already have, you open the way for more truth and wisdom to enter. This is not unlike the process of taming a timid, wild creature. It is best done by degrees. As the creature comes to recognize and expect benefits from coming closer, such as food, shelter, and affection, its sense of safety and trust grows. In the field of increasing trust it feels safe enough to offer more of itself. As this process continues, it leads to a bond of mutual respect and trust that grows stronger with each successful interaction. Eventually affection and ultimately love manifest as natural aspects of the unfolding.

In Sacred Path, John Welwood quotes the fox in Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince explaining that to tame means, “to establish ties…If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” Welwood goes on to say that, “Taming in this sense does not mean domesticating someone, fitting our partner into some narrow box. On the contrary, it is a way of…freeing our spirit so that it can contribute positively to the relationship… This is part of [the] sacred alchemy.”

In this way, the creature is tamed and simultaneously tames the tamer – not in the sense of domesticating, controlling, or dominating, rather in a mounting realization of mutual respect, trust, and love that allows a joyful exchange of gifts. For example, in the case of a person and a dog, one might give food and affection in exchange for protection and affection from the other.

As strange as it may seem, the same principle applies to “abstractions” such as wisdom, though the exchange media aren’t quite as concrete as food and protection. As you practice courage and faith by speaking out from and living in accordance with your wisdom (as opposed, for example, to what family and friends might want you to do), the trust that is demonstrated engenders greater opening to deeper wisdom in turn. In this case, of course, you are learning to trust yourself. Thus, speaking out and acting in accordance with your deepest wisdom and truth can be seen as powerful practices promoting personal growth.

Beyond personal growth, those around you also benefit from your expression and honoring of truth. It was noted in the third essay in this sequence that just one person speaking out and acting in accordance with inner truth and wisdom makes it easier for others to also speak out and act in accordance with their truth and wisdom.

However, more immediately and often more subtly, it is also often true that there are benefits to entire groups from even a single person speaking out. Such benefits may not be apparent and even when they are apparent, the connections linking the benefits with speaking out may not be easily discernible. Nevertheless, the effect is very real.

For example, one person speaking out instead of holding silent in the face of an emotional bully might effectively shut that bully down for a time. If the person then proceeds to “tame” the bully by treating her with smiling kindness (thus honoring a sense that it is the bullying behavior that is unwelcome, not the person), she might reconsider her attitude in the group.

Furthermore, other victims of the bullying behavior might feel more secure and able to relax. The mood of the whole group might lighten or even flip from fatal pessimism to optimistic ease. Within the transformed emotional milieu, the whole group dynamic, not to mention individual outcomes, are likely to be very different from what they might have been otherwise. Furthermore, as results from sociology and psychology tell us, not only do the immediate members of the group benefit, but their friends and families and their friends’ and families’ friends and families benefit as well.

The effects of a single act of courage in speaking out can be staggeringly huge. They can be amazingly intricate and subtle and at the same time, incredibly far-reaching.

Ultimately the whole matter comes down to a single question – or perhaps it begins with a single question. Do you want to make a difference for the better or do you want to “keep your head down” and fall into place in the status quo? Is it better to honor your wisdom and speak out, knowing that doing so will support personal growth and learning and positively impact those around you, quite possibly in ways you won’t ever know? Do you want the world to be better for your having been here?

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Importance of Speaking Out – IV

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by DCH Park

Naturally, it does little good to prattle on about truth or honor when your audience is not able or willing to hear you. Nevertheless, action holds power that cannot be denied by detractors and naysayers.

Speaking out in this way – with words when possible and with action and being always – has two-fold power. It illuminates internally and reflects outwardly. The outward potency of this illumination is limited only by the courage and honesty of your internal experience.

Remarkably, as your inward exploration progresses, it enables you to bring strength and authenticity to your outward expression while simultaneously further illuminate your inner knowing. As you grow in the clarity and directness of your outward expression, you further your experience and understanding of truth and wisdom – you discover the depth, immediacy, and constant availability of your own connection to wisdom. In other words, your wisdom empowers you to honor your truth and honoring that truth unfolds your wisdom in your life.

In order to stop living a small, frightened existence, all that is required is to live in truth.

This is why personal integrity and openness are so important – not because of some esoteric moral or ethical prescription imposed by society, religion, or parents, but because deceitfulness, secrecy, and convenient justifications get in your way. They are habits of thought, speech, and behavior that impede living in your larger self. They trap you in the small ways of fear, repression, and control.

I knew someone who tried to get involved in her daughter’s school PTA because she wanted to help to make her daughter’s educational experience as rich and rewarding as possible. She became active in the school community and soon became known for speaking her own mind, which made some of the teachers and other parents uneasy because she would not conform to their narrow goals and interests or automatically rubber-stamp the faculty representatives’ requests.

Even though she stated in many meetings, both formal and impromptu, her dedication to furtherance of educational excellence and demonstrated her grasp of issues (she had studied developmental psychology and educational policy in graduate school), she was not trusted and came to be actively disliked.

As resentment grew, it became harder for her to accomplish anything. Nevertheless, she persevered and met with some success. When she was approached by a group of parents and asked to run for PTA president, she agreed even though she had some reservations about the time commitment.

During the months leading up to the election, she was subjected to increasing pressure from various parent groups and even some teachers toward one end or another, not all of which were compatible. She was shocked to find at one point that some parents and teachers were inventing and circulating rumors about her in order to discredit her.

The week before the election, the faculty and administration held an “emergency staff meeting” at which a small but passionate group stirred up fear and strong-armed those who weren’t panicked into opposing her. At least one teacher left the school over this incident and how it was handled.

Seeing how ugly the situation was becoming and wanting to be more available for her children’s weekly activities, she dropped out of the race at the last moment. Over the remaining years that her children were at this school, she focused solely on supporting and working with her own children’s teachers – organizing parental support groups and so on completely outside of the PTA.

As time went on, the sincerity of her intentions and efforts to make things better became clear to everyone. Partly because of this and in light of how political the situation had gotten, the core group of parents, faculty, and administration who had opposed her so passionately lost face and influence. Several retired, some withdrew from public view, others transferred away. Consequently, although the roots of this conflict and distrust were very deep in this school community, they were ultimately able to heal from them and move toward a more open, honest, and trusting standard of behavior and speech.

Whether or not such healing would have occurred without this parent’s influence is moot. She was part of the community and took a stand for what she held to be true as a member of the community. As such what she did and said and how she honored who she was became part of the mechanism by which the community began to finally heal.

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Importance of Speaking Out – III

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by DCH Park

Speaking out is a powerful process. It has many effects. One obvious one is that it helps to shift dialog and consciousness. It is not necessary to become a public figure or convert anyone to a particular view to have a positive effect. In fact, setting out to deliberately change people’s views or shift or control discussion to favor one position over another is counterproductive, regardless of what the position might be.

It is not necessary to dominate, debate, or disagree. Simply being aware of and honoring your point of view in your life and being open and ready to share about your view of the truth and hear about others’ perspectives is all that is needed. Of course, it helps if there exists a safe environment within which such dialog can take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation.

Sadly, many people’s experience is that their everyday fora – at work, in school, or at home for example – are not safe places. They feel that their reputations, their livelihoods, or even their personal safety may be endangered if they give voice to opinions that run counter to the group norm or would not be understood or respected.

When faced with such situations, most people choose to “keep quiet and keep their heads down.” This is understandable. It is what most people have been drilled to do during years of schooling and religious and other social training. Such training is not education, although many try to dignify it with that name.

Napoleon Hill makes the point that the word education is drawn from the Latin word educo, which is the same root for educe, meaning to draw out. True education is a process of drawing out the student. A truly educated person, according to Hill, is one who has drawn out and lives in accordance with the full expression of his or her own wisdom.

Of course, in a situation that does not feel safe, comporting yourself as an educated person can be difficult. Fortunately, the first step is typically the hardest and once it has been made, the very fact that you are living true to yourself changes the situation for everyone. It automatically becomes safer for everyone because one person is living honestly.

Naturally, there will be situations in which some person or group will believe that its own interests are tied to maintaining a certain perspective or keeping a certain other group suppressed. In these situations, you may encounter resistance, either in the form of “dirty politics,” such as rumor-mongering, or even open threats and violence. However, such mean-spiritedness cannot not withstand genuine openness, honesty, and loving engagement forever. It will ultimately melt.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that there is no risk involved, especially in the short term. This is why people speak of the strength of the Spiritual Warrior. Dan Millman calls it the Peaceful Warrior. Most popular notions of a warrior are defined in terms of fighting prowess and the ability to crush enemies on the battlefield. The image of the warrior who has conquered all opposition and claimed victory over the bodies of fallen foes has been extensively romanticized.

However, what has been lost or diminished in most popular romances is that in order to grasp such victory, the warrior must first conquer him or her self. This mastery of self is by far the greater challenge. It has been observed that such mastery of self is the true victory. Outward challenges shrink to insignificance in comparison. The war in the outer world is only a reflection of the inner truth.

There is a remarkable scene in Seven Samurai in which two sword masters meet in a field. Obligations and codes of honor dictate that they must do battle, although if freed from such entangling alliances, they would most likely be great friends and allies. They stand facing each other, swords drawn, completely motionless for long minutes. Each is meditating and connecting with his experience of himself, truth, and the honorableness of the cause and company he fights for.

Suddenly, they both lash out with furious speed and intent. Blades flash as they rush past each other in the sun. One falls, dead. The physical action takes almost no time at all. The true battle is won and lost in the inner landscape of each warrior’s deepest being.

Fortunately, there is little need to engage in life-and-death combat to test your warrior spirit in the modern world (or perhaps that is unfortunate – battle can focus energies and attention to a remarkable degree). Opportunities abound to exercise your ability to either honor your deepest wisdom and connection to truth or to compromise and choose to serve your apparent needs of the moment.

The true warrior honors the truth, even when doing so might feel inconvenient or uncomfortable. The spiritual warrior speaks out for the truth through the manner in which he or she lives and connects with others and the world. Even when saying nothing, the warrior speaks volumes.

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Importance of Speaking Out – II

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by DCH Park

The first essay in this series, titled “The Importance of Speaking Out – I” ended with the following paragraph:

In other words, a new possibility opens up – one of creating community based on truth and mutual respect rather than on fear and control. This is a new possibility has been spoken of by prophets, sage leaders, teachers, and philosophers for millennia. It is something that has yet to be realized on a global scale, but it is within reach of anyone in their personal lives right now.

As each person quits the fear and reaches toward living in the light, toward creating community based on truth and mutual respect, the world is brought closer to fully realizing this long-held dream.

To some, this might seem naïve. It is children who are focused on having fun and have no guile, not adults. Children express what they feel directly and immediately. Thus, to some, it seems as if embracing such values and behavior as an adult is a reversion to childhood and a denial of the realities of adulthood. They view values such as honesty, forthrightness, and caring as childhood fantasies that can only exist in the protected environment of the nursery. It is the role of the cynical adult protector to lie, cheat, bully, or do whatever else is necessary to defend this specialized bubble from the realities of adult fear, corruption, and intrusion.

However, note that a similar attitude was historically held about romantic love. In fact, in some cultures, it is still believed that love has no place in decisions about who should marry whom. The more modern view is that love is the most important consideration and that it is right and natural that people should mate with those whom they love. This view is gaining in currency around the world. There are very few places that are untouched by such ideas.

Arguably, this is not so much an incursion of new ideas as a return to a much deeper, older truth. Jacob Bronowski, the noted mathematician, poet, philosopher, and science writer, attributed the remarkable pace of human biological and social development to the fact that “we make love with our friends.” In other words, as a species, we tend to choose our mates from associates with whom we are most compatible – those with whom we feel most at ease, most welcome to be ourselves.

Thus, the global social trend toward romantic love as a basis for marriage and happiness can be seen as a return to ancestral values and mores – to the practices and forces that shaped human evolution – in spite of the more myopic view that sees it as an untested, new idea motivated more by wishful thinking than it is grounded in harsh realities. In fact, if anything, the opposite characterization may actually be closer to the truth. It may in fact be the belief in life as harsh and dangerous that ignores powerful, fundamental realities.

By the same token, embracing our deepest personal truths and honoring them by giving them expression through our words and actions is also a return to an ancient reality. It is the solid rock upon which the human race has built all of its greatest successes. What of enduring value has ever been built upon fear, lies, and deceit?

Such things do not last. Sooner or later they must be replaced, either by new lies and fears or by the truth. This is one way to understand the dizzying nature of political “debate” in this country. Every day brings a new message of attack, fear, or vilification because as life goes on, yesterday’s threat takes on the cast of nothing more than a silly nightmare – a child’s boogeyman. Without constantly rotated and renewed messages, the political/economic edifice built upon fear would crumble.

Of course, by expending such heroic amounts of energy to prop up a crumbling edifice, opportunities to apply those energies in other ways are lost. Fortunately, only the opportunities are lost. The energies themselves are not lost and new opportunities present themselves every day. All that is required to redirect the energy toward creating lasting connections and solutions offering lasting value is a new decision.

Fear is rooted in losing what you already have or what you might have in the future. This is how it is connected to safety and security, as aspects of the root chakra. The condition of being secure means that the threat of losing anything important to an unwelcome intruder has been effectively eliminated. It is essentially a conservative focus in the sense of wanting to hold on to what you already have or believe is rightly yours.

Difficulty can arise when your focus on what is rightfully yours expands to include things or people that are outside of your being, especially specific things that you observe in the world. Even when such external things are legally your property, focusing on the things themselves interferes with experiencing your own being as the conduit for divine creation. Coveting in this way blocks your awareness of and openness to the unlimited flow of abundance. It restricts you to a narrow view of wealth and success that precludes the possibilities inherent in true wealth.

It is reminiscent of the proverbial dog with his bone. He gnaws at the old bone, even though the meat has all been devoured long ago. He clutches it greedily in his jaws, not wanting to let it go even for a moment. He misses many meals, much more succulent and nutritious, for fear of losing the bone he has. Ultimately, he may threaten his own survival, slowly starving himself, as he worries his bone to nothing.

If instead he dared to let go of his old bone, he might catch a proper meal or a ball.

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Importance of Speaking Out – I

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by DCH Park

I have a friend who speaks of “tortoising in the world.” He described an image once of going through his daily business hidden behind a tough shell. In the image, if he stuck his tortoise head out too far, there was a good chance that it would be chopped off. He would be hurt or taken advantage of somehow. So it was safer to remain hidden.

Although most people aren’t necessarily as colorful or playful with their imagery, the fear of not being safe is surprisingly common. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, considering how much energy various institutions devote to thoroughly inculcate such attitudes and expectations in our minds.

Once you are aware of it, you can see it everywhere; from the nursery to the boardroom. Well-meaning parents train their children to fear strangers and traffic. Political and religious leaders resort to fear to garner popular support. Huge corporations paint pictures of terrible consequences and suffering unless you buy their products or services while themselves dreading the consequences if they fail to exceed their profit projections by a wide margin. Even popular entertainment often carries messages of veiled, malevolent forces that are waiting to destroy and devour careless people in the most gruesome manner possible

The effects of fear can be seen and felt in every segment of society. Nevertheless, to the individual person at large in the world, the feeling is that he or she is alone in having to face these monsters. We are taught that it is not safe to stick our necks out too far. Fear is a ravenous monster with many faces and you can never know who might be a monster in hiding.

This explains why it is so easy for cynical leaders to take advantage of people and situations. All they have to do is identify a threat and focus people’s attention and fear on that threat to get them to do almost anything. Some would even say that the tone in society is deliberately slanted in that direction by powerful interests in order to make it easier to control people through their fears.

Whether that is true or not, it is undeniably true that general, unfocused fear is a major source of stress for many. Chronic stress of this type contributes to all sorts of physical and emotional ailments. This is well documented, yet the fear persists.

This is why it takes genuine courage to take the first few steps away from fear. It is possible to live in the light but to do so, you must first let go of the dark. Imagine a person standing on a ledge high above street traffic. The wind seems to invite letting go and plummeting to the hard pavement. An insanely tight grip on a column squeezes the blood from knuckles and seems like it is the only thing preventing a bloody end.

However, in order to walk down the ledge and step back inside, where you can feel relief and safety, you must let go of the column and take the first step. As terrifying as that prospect may be, it is the beginning. None of the ensuing steps are as terrifying or as difficult as the first – any more than the rest of the bag of potato chips is ever as tasty or satisfying as the first chip.

Once this process of releasing fear has been started, benefits can typically be felt almost immediately. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a state of chronic fear. This can be exhausting, even debilitating. However, as the fear is released, the energy that had been devoted to keeping the fear alive becomes freely available once more. Naturally, this energy can be used for any desired purpose, not just maintaining fear.

As the process continues, more energy is returned, which makes further releases even easier. A virtuous spiral opens that can ultimately carry you as high up as the fear was holding you down. Ultimately, you find that rather than expressing the fear that you had learned, you are free to express yourself. When caught in the web of fear, your choices about everything in life are colored if not determined by the fear. It comes out through the way you dress, speak, and act, not to mention the job and house you have, the leisure activities you embrace, even the friends you spend time with.

When freed of this fear, these choices are transformed. Rather than being possible mistakes or openings for attack, criticism, or ridicule, choices become opportunities to explore and express whatever it is that you truly enjoy. They become avenues to express yourself from your deepest sense of personal truth.

At this point, a further realization awaits. As mentioned above, while becalmed in fear, it is common to feel alone. This is why so many people flock so readily to cliques, groups, and organizations that define themselves by vilifying an out-group – it gives them someone or something to focus their fear (and fear-based reactions) on as well as a ready-made community to share those fears and reactions with, often in secret. They no longer have to feel isolated.

Of course, any community defined by shared fear and loathing is inherently unstable. Loss of the out-group means loss of community unless another out-group can be found and vilified. In such situations, where else can the new out-group be found but in the extant in-group? Potentially any difference or distinguishing characteristic can be used to define a new, hated out-group, which means that potentially anyone can be vilified for any reason. No one in the in-group is safe from being redefined as the enemy out-group because there is no true connection between members of the community. There is only a contrast between those defined as enemies and those not defined as enemies.

However, as you begin to express your own experience and truth, you inevitably discover that there are many others who recognize and appreciate you for your courage, truth, and sharing. To be sure, these people may not be the same ones with whom you have been associating, especially if they are still clinging to their fears, but these new connections resonate with the truest parts of your experience. True connections and community can be profoundly powerful and healing. They celebrate and support your uniqueness and creative self-expression. Each member of such a community increases his or her own freedom by sharing freedom with others.

Rather than reacting against fear and loneliness by ostracizing others and thereby cementing the experience of isolation and separation for everyone, most significantly for themselves, true community is formed when individuals feel cherished for being themselves. Rather than erecting walls that hem you in even more effectively than they keep the world out, live in and from your truth and thereby inspire others to do the same and so create opportunities to celebrate together.

Open community based on honesty, sharing, and inner truth is inherently robust and stable, although not necessarily at all directed, as closed community founded upon fear and defended with labels, secrets, and walls, almost invariably is. There is no felt need in an open community for people to look for you to reinforce their own fears and insecurities. They won’t covet your success or criticize you behind your back. They will honor truth and sincerely celebrate your success. They will be able to appreciate you and one another and themselves as unique, individual expressions of light and love.

In other words, a new possibility opens up – one of creating community based on truth and mutual respect rather than on fear and control. This is a new possibility has been spoken of by prophets, sage leaders, teachers, and philosophers for millennia. It is something that has yet to be realized on a global scale, but it is within reach of anyone in their personal lives right now.

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Success Mastermind

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by DCH Park

Popular entertainments commonly revolve around struggles between a villain and a hero. Although it is no longer fashionable to call the villain in such pieces an “evil mastermind,” the pop culture characteristics are still very evident. The evil mastermind is a wicked genius who is also driven by a very old injustice in which he or she was somehow wronged, cheated, or hurt.

Sometimes the injustice is ancient – so ancient that the details are lost and the villain is characterized as simply “evil.” Sometimes the injustice is revealed to be predicated on a misunderstanding. In the latter case, the possibility of redemption exists, but in either case the villain acts out the pain, suffering, and fear of further injustice by seeking to punish, control, or sacrifice the whole world in order to avenge past suffering or escape further suffering.

It is interesting to note that some popular morality tales describe the origin of the hero in similar fashion to that of the villain, except that the hero’s vengeance is tightly focused and limited to the actual perpetrator of the original injustice or those allied with the original perpetrator in deed or spirit.

In any case, the evil mastermind is portrayed as obsessed. He (or she) has a plan which is usually brilliantly complex and layered. It often takes the hero’s own actions into account and makes them critical components in moving the evil plot forward. In other words, the popular portrayal is accurate in many respects but gets a few critical details wrong, making the whole concept of a “mastermind” unsavory.

The term “Master Mind” was used by Napoleon Hill to describe the power by which successful men and women achieve their goals. In The Law of Success he describes how Andrew Carnegie first described the manner in which he brought together and organized a team of people dedicated to creating a fortune through the manufacture and marketing of steel.

Carnegie himself had no knowledge of how steel was made. He didn’t have to. His expertise was in creating and leading the team whose members already knew everything they needed to know about making and selling steel. Carnegie’s role was to forge and lead this Master Mind group. In the process he made himself and many of his employees very wealthy.

The Master Mind is an emergent phenomenon that comes out of the coming together of two or more minds “in a spirit of perfect harmony.” Under such circumstances, Hill observed, a “third mind” emerges that is greater than the sum of the individual separate minds that have come together. It carries with it a level of excitement and commitment that can be exhilarating. It also provides a connection to insight and creativity that can lead to previously unimagined solutions to difficult problems.

Hill is very clear that the Master Mind is the means by which great power and success are achieved, regardless of how one defines success.

No individual may have great power without availing himself of the “Master Mind”. … Analyze the record of any man [or woman] who has accumulated a great fortune, and many of those who have accumulated modest fortunes, and you will find that they have either consciously or unconsciously employed the “Master Mind” principle.

Thus, the popular notion of the lone mastermind hatching plots of diabolical intricacy by virtue of his (or her) incredible genius is a phantom. According to Hill, it is the other way around. The levels of creative imagination and insight that become available to members of a successful Master Mind can propel them to operate at the level of genius. In fact, Hill speculates that the inventive genius of Thomas Edison and the brilliant business acumen of Henry Ford were due in large part to their personal association in a Master Mind group, though it is unlikely that they called it that.

The other elements of the popular mastermind – clarity of goals, focused direction bordering on obsession, persistence that spans years or decades, consistency of effort, and formulation, execution, and refinement of a plan – are all necessary elements to realize success in the real world. For those who wish to be successful, it would be wise to keep sight of these truths while forming a Master Mind.

There is one further caveat to bear in mind. Hill is careful to point out over and over again the importance of “perfect harmony” in the formation and operation of a successful Master Mind. This is of such paramount importance that he even recommends that married couples who are unable to achieve and maintain harmony with each other would be better off divorcing so they can find more compatible partners.

Unfortunately he is silent as to exactly how to foster harmony in a group. He does observe that there are many ways in which harmony can be induced by leaders. Although this is, according to Hill, the most important characteristic of a leader and, in fact, the thing that distinguishes a leader from a follower, each leader must discover individually what leadership style works best.

Leadership style aside, Hill does state clearly that not every mind will be compatible with every group. In some cases this might simply mean that the mismatched individual would be better suited and very valuable in a different group or environment. In other cases it may mean that the individual is not well suited (by temperament or habitual outlook, for example) to cooperation in “perfect harmony” with others in general.

There are certain minds which… cannot be made to blend in a spirit of harmony. This principle has its comparable analogy in chemistry. For example, … one atom of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen will not produce water; moreover they cannot be made to associate themselves in harmony!

… Just as the combining of certain elements changes the entire nature, the combining of certain minds changes the nature of those minds, producing either a certain degree of what has been called a “Master Mind” or its opposite, which is highly destructive.

In such extreme cases, according to Hill, the responsibility of the leader is to remove the negative influence from the group in order to foster robust harmony within the Master Mind.

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Nonviolent Communication

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by DCH Park

Nonviolent Communication is a methodology and a philosophy of connecting with other people in such a way that anger, hatred, judgment, blame, and other emotional baggage can be separated from the connection. This frees the connection from being poisoned and permits fuller, more satisfying communication to take place.

NVC has been used very effectively in domestic disputes, workplace disagreements, and even in resolving inner-city gang rivalries and open hostilities between nations that have lasted for generations or longer.

NVC was developed by a psychotherapist named Marshall Rosenberg. It is firmly rooted in western psychological theory and clinical practice. At its heart it holds that in every circumstance, each person has something that would help him or her to feel “more alive” and that when we can communicate what that thing is simply and directly, it is natural for other people to want to help us have that thing. In helping others to feel more alive, we feel more alive, too.

Of course, it is critical to communicate what the thing is “simply and directly.” If there is anger, blame, or even a hint of judgment, the process is in danger of being derailed. Tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language can all be critical.

Rosenberg details a four-step procedure in the NVC process. The steps are:
1. Observation: This is a recitation of the facts. What was observed. What was said (or what was heard). What happened. All editorializing, judgment, blame, reasons, excuses, etc. should be eliminated from this step. What happened, happened. This is nothing more than a statement of what you observed of past events.
2. Emotional Response: How did you feel when you witnessed the events recounted in the first step? What was the emotional reaction to those past events?
3. Emotional Need: What need do you have in relation to the emotions that have been identified? What specific condition do you need to feel more alive? This not a request or demand for someone else to be or do something.
4. Specific Request: This is for something clear and definite. It is also a request and as such, the other person is free to accede to it, reject it, or negotiate for something else.

Throughout the four-step process, it is critical to talk only of yourself and your own experience. What were your observations and reactions and what are your needs and requests? It is important to not only keep your message focused on your experience but to make it clear that you take full responsibility for your experience.

This can be surprisingly challenging, as the English language is structured in such a way that shifting responsibility and blaming others seems to be built into it. For example, a common pitfall might take place at work when you discover that Suzie threw out the soup you were planning to have for lunch. You might say, “Suzie, you threw out my soup! That makes me angry.”

The tone of the first sentence is accusatory. In the second sentence responsibility is clearly being shifted to Suzie for “making” you angry. The anger is your reaction. When you take responsibility for your reactions, your communication is clearer, giving the other person more freedom to respond constructively. You also empower yourself to change your reaction and move toward a more satisfactory outcome together with the other person.

This is a common misapprehension of responsibility. People learn to try to avoid responsibility because they equate it with blame. However, if you shift blame, you paint yourself as a victim – someone totally at the mercy of other people’s actions. You automatically rule out the possibility of making yourself feel better or improving things for yourself because you’ve given the other person all of the power. The only way things will change is if the other person changes things.

Responsibility on the other hand, centers on the realization that you are responsible for your own feelings and condition. You own them. Therefore you have the ability to change them if they don’t serve you. Until you accept ownership for something, you can’t change it. This begins with responsibility.

An more effective alternative to the above exchange might be, “Suzie, I notice you are washing my bowl. Did you throw out my soup?”

“Yes. Today is fridge clean-out day and I have to leave early. Sorry!”

“I feel upset about the soup. Now I don’t have anything for lunch.”

“Oh! It’s 1:30. I have to leave in 15 minutes.”

“Next time, let me know. I can empty the fridge.”

“OK. Thanks. Next Friday, lunch is on me.”

Of course, this is merely an illustration of what might be possible using NVC. The salient point to recognize is that NVC opens possibilities that common vernacular, as it is practiced today, does not..

Nonviolent Communication is not only useful in connecting with other people. It is also a very useful paradigm for approaching yourself in recognizing and healing from past trauma and emotional turmoil. The discipline of recognizing and separating observation from emotional reactions, taking responsibility for those reactions, and then acknowledging unmet needs can open the door to very deep healing.

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Community

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by DCH Park

I have received several comments from people about a recent essay (“Culture of Negativity”). Thanks to everyone who made a comment. Input and reactions are always welcome as are the occasional vignette about how this or that idea or suggestion might have been helpful or illuminating.

Questions and challenges are also welcome. One person wondered why I was being so strict in the article. How could I categorically denounce negativity, wondered this person, while also advocating embracing experience for what it is – not denying or suppressing yourself (see for example, “Honoring Feelings – Developing Wisdom” and “The Forge”)? Isn’t there, asked my friend, a basic contradiction between these stances?

I have since perused the last posting and although I am sorry to say that I don’t think there is a contradiction, I do see how perhaps there was room for some confusion to creep in. It was subtle in “Culture of Negativity,” but I was not advocating a blanket rejection of all things negative. That would lead to a “fluffy bunny” attitude, which would likely be non-productive at best and potentially dangerous at worst. See “Two Steps…” and “Using All Parts” for further discussion of the “fluffy bunny.”

Rather, I was suggesting that in general it is counter-productive to commiserate and join others in their negativity. Such commiseration, although it has come to be a fundamental element in social interaction in some parts of the culture, nonetheless is mostly an impediment to lightening the spirit.

When we join others in their drama, we only serve to enlarge the drama further and enfold ourselves in it with them. It’s like trying to reach out to someone caught in sticky tar and covering ourselves in the sticky goo in the process. No one has been saved, but we all go down, stuck together.

Rather than creating and/or enlarging negative ego-drama, it is possible to fully experience and express your “bad” feelings and let them go. That’s the lesson from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior described in “Letting Go of Drama.” It is also possible to hold space for another person while he or she expresses grief, anger, or other “negative” emotions without being drawn into the drama. Doing nothing more than hold space in this way is a powerful way to help another.

Conversely, it can be wonderfully healing and even liberating to go to someone who can hold that space for you while you express and explore hard feelings. The safety, respect, and consideration that permeates such space allows burdens to be acknowledged and released, even ones that have been carried for a lifetime.

Of course, it is much easier to do this with friends and family who are already familiar with the practices of letting things go, holding space, and embracing possibilities. Communities of such people are emerging everywhere. I have met people from all over the world who are actively choosing to live happier, healthier, and more optimistic and successful lives. There are online communities of spirit, too.

In life, each person has the ability to notice and release his or her drama and thus lighten the load and brighten life. In that lighter, brighter state, you can reach out and touch others, sharing the joy and inspiring vision. There is nothing stopping any of us from reaching out to others to find or create new communities of spirit.

As a rule, we don’t hear about these communities in the mainstream media, but they exist nevertheless. I received a vision some time ago of such communities of spirit linking together like cells in the French Resistance to span the globe together and change the character and essential norms of society completely.

If you yearn for connection with like-minded others, open to the truth within yourself so that you have access to what you want to share. Connection is a mutual creation. Your openness and honesty inspire the same in others. If you feel surrounded by people who would not understand, be open to meeting those who would. Opportunities abound.

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