Play BIG: Choose Being Over Having


When do you find yourself alive – truly alive as in bursting with enthusiasm, joy, vitality?  Is it when you have donned on the costume of the successful Vice President? Or the up and coming Manager? Or the good corporate employee?  Is it when you are playing the perfect wife/husband?  Are you bursting with joy when you look at all that you own: the house, the car/s, the clothes, the children, your partner…?  Is it when you are sitting on the right committees?

When do you find yourself alive – truly alive?  Is it when you are cooking, composing a musical score, climbing a mountain, dancing, give a helping hand to those less fortunate than you, learning-speaking a new language, sharing-teaching that which you are passionate about, nursing plants out in the garden, out walking, painting, writing…?

I invite you to listen to listen, really listen, to the following words of profound wisdom. They do not make for easy listening. Which is why they are particularly worth listening to with an inquisitive-open mind:

The less you are and the less you express of your life – the more you have and the greater is your alienated life.

– Karl Marx

Don’t simply accept this! Take a zen approach: look into it and test it out for yourself. How much of you – your authenticity, your self-expression – do you sacrifice-suppress to play the roles that you play in order to have that you have? Do you even remember the last time that you experienced joy? I invite you to consider that you have been asked and have consented to sacrifice you – be less you – in order to be accepted and approved of by your parents, your siblings, your friends, your school teachers, your work colleagues, your employers…

Your life, your choice: being (as your natural self-expression) or having (titles, status, money, holidays..).

 

Who Am I? Who Are You?


What Kind Of A Being Is A Human Being?

There are so many lenses through which you/i can look at this question and answer it:

– We can look at it through the Judeo-Christian lens: a human being is fashioned in the likeness of God and is here to create something like a paradise on earth.

– We can look at it through the enlightenment lens: man is the rational being who defines himself through his ability to exercise reason and act on the basis of reason as opposed to dogma/superstition.

– We can look at this question through the psychoanalytic lens: man is never ending interplay of dynamic forces arising from the ‘id’, the ‘superego’, and the ‘ego’.

– We can look at it through the sociological lens: man is a social being who always exist in a social context and whose way of showing up in the world is fashioned by the social context – particularly the culture in which he grew up.

For my part, I find myself drawn to the following way of defining a human being: Man is the being who cannot escape the question of being and as such necessarily takes a stand on his being. 

Who Am I? 

I can define-view myself in many ways. And if I look into this deeply I get there is no limit to the many ways that I can define myself. If there is a limit then it is the limit of my imagination.

Every tribe/society privileges certain definitions-categories above others. In the world in which I find myself, these definitions centre primarily on what one has-holds-occupies: wealth, social class, profession, status….

So who am I?  I am my stand. At any point in time, I am that which I am committed to. These commitments show up in the form of  possibilities that I invent, ‘projects’ that I take on and give myself to, and the way that I show up and travel in this world. 

Let’s make this concrete:

Many years ago I found myself confronted with a choice. Which choice? Career: doing that which it takes to move from Senior Manager to Director/Partner in a major consulting firm or doing that which it takes to be a good father. I chose the latter.

Some years ago I was confronted with the choice of doing that which the CEO asked-dictated and relating to myself as ‘thief-liar-cheat’ or risk losing my job. I found myself saying that I was not willing to do that which was being asked-dictated.

Every week I clean the toilets and bathrooms, voluntarily and willingly. Why? To ground myself, to experience humility, to lead by example: to do the kind of work that I ask of my family.

I do not accept presents. When Christmas or my birthday comes, I ask those who would give me presents to give me money instead. Why? So that I can give that money to those less fortunate than me.

Recently I invented the possibility of being a good cook and cooking curry for my parents as that is what they love to eat. I took on that which, by default, is hardest for me: asking for help. I asked my wife for help as she is a great cook. Now, some months later, I relate to myself as a cook. I have cooked for my parents – I did it a week ago. And, I insist on cooking Sunday lunch. This Sunday my family members told me that this was the best curry I had cooked.

I hope you get the idea.

Who are you?

I invite you to step outside of the existing categories-definitions. Instead take a good look, at who/what you give yourself to in terms of your time, your energy, your deepest self, your self-expression, your resources..

I invite you to notice the following:

– if you define yourself through the standard categories – your sex (male, female), nationality, occupation, social class etc – you find your room for manoeuvre limited.

– if you accept my invitation and define yourself through your stand, the possibilities you invent, the projects you take on, your room for manoeuvre is so much wider-bigger-spacious.

I leave you with this quote from Lynne Twist:

“Taking a stand is a way of living and being that draws on a place within yourself that is at the very heart of who you are. When you take a stand, you find your place in the universe, and you have the capacity to move the world.”

On Responsibility, Possibility, Reality And The Transitoriness Of Life


….. the transitoriness of our existence in no way makes it meaningless. But it does constitute our responsibleness; for everything hinges upon our realizing the essential transitory possibilities. 

Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualised? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal “footprint in the sands of time”? At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.  

Usually …. man considers only the stubble field of transitoriness and overlooks the full granaries of the past, wherein he had salvaged once and for all his deeds, his joys and also his sufferings. Nothing can be undone, and nothing can be done away with. I should say having been is the surest kind of being.…..

The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. 

On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all life he has already lived to the fullest….

What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? “No, than you,” he will think. “Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

– Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Put Aside ‘Story’, Be Present To The Phenomenon


In our default way of being something occurs in the world and instantly we find ourselves in the domain of explanation; we are almost never present to the phenomenon itself: that which occurred.  Does this matter?  Let’s explore through an example.

Yesterday evening, wife was talking to sons and one in particular. She floated the idea of him putting his brother on his insurance policy, driving his new (to be) car. Instantly, I intervened, dominated the conversation, and made my wife wrong about bringing up the subject.  She was not at all happy. How did I respond to the situation?  Not well: I did not listen to her objections instead I made her wrong for objecting to my insistence on having the conversation go my way.  Where was I whilst this ‘conversation’ was occurring?

I was in the land of ‘story’: explanation, reasoning and excuse.  What kind of ‘story’?  This one: “The boys don’t get along at the best times. What is my wife thinking? Has she forgotten the animosity between the boys?  Is she deliberately stirring up conflict?  Surely she can’t be that stupid! I have to put an end to this right here, before this plan gets any wind behind it. It is the right thing to do.”

What was the ‘story’ that I found myself entangled in when my wife objected to my attempted domination of the conversation?  This one: “Is she stupid?  Doesn’t she get that I am doing what I am doing for the benefit of all?  That my way is the best way: it will avoid conflict further down the road. If this thing gets ‘wind in the sails’  we (wife and I) will find ourselves involved in sorting things out. And whatever we do we will end up disappointing one of the boys!. No, I have to stick to my guns and stop this stupid idea!”

As you can imagine the situation did not turn out well. My wife and I ended up going to sleep upset with one another.  What showed up when I slept on the matter? In sleeping on the matter, I focussed on the phenomenon itself: that which occurred and not my interpretation-explanation (‘story’) of that which occurred.  And this is what showed up for me:

When my wife brought up the idea of one son putting the other son on his car insurance for his new car, I became alarmed. My body sat upright as if an alarm bell had gone off. What was the cause of this alarm? I saw in my minds eye, tension-conflict-fighting between the boys over who did what. And I saw myself being sucked into the situation – at the very minimum listening to, seeing, experiencing this conflict.  I hate conflict!

How might the evening have turned out if I had been present to the phenomena – that which was occurring for me – as it was occurring?

1. I would have realised one of my ‘hot’ buttons had just been pressed. That I was alarmed, I was fearful, I saw myself being sucked into a pit that would be hard to climb out of.

2. I would have said to wife: “Listening to your suggestion, I find myself fearful. I am afraid that this idea will not turn out well. The boys will argue-fight. You and I will be blamed for coming up with his idea – even forcing this idea on to our eldest son. And whilst you can tolerate conflict between the boys and see it as a learning opportunity for them, I find in unbearable. Finding it unbearable I will find myself sucked into sorting it out. And that will be a thankless task. So I finding myself vulnerable, alarmed, fearful about what you are suggesting to our eldest son. What can you do to help me out here?”

3. Wife, I, and the boys would have been given an opening to a honest conversation. It is even possible that the boys would have found an opening to share how the situation showed up for them and how they were feeling about my wife’s suggestion.

4. Wife and I might have gone to sleep within the context of mutual understanding and affection.  We might even have gone to sleep understanding each other better  – at a more intimate-deeper level.

So next time, you find yourself enmeshed in story feeling what you are feeling, telling yourself what you are telling yourself, put aside the ‘story that you are spinning and which is spinning you’ and get present to the phenomena. Being with the phenomena, without the ‘story’, may just give you the opening that you need to take an alternative (more effective) course of action.

What did I do? Having gotten present to the phenomena during the night, I apologised to my wife for my conduct the previous evening, and shared the phenomena (that which I had experienced). I am confident that this allowed her to forgive me, and put the previous evening behind us.

To The Wonder: A Beautiful Meditation On Life, Love, And The Wonder Of Existence?


tothewonder

Yesterday, I found myself watching Terence Malik‘s latest film: To The Wonder.  Terence Malik is not a conventional director, he is a philosopher in the disguise of a film director.  To The Wonder is not a film, it shows up for me as philosophical meditation on life, on love, on God, and on existence itself.  It just so happens that this meditation is communicated through film.

If you find that that which I speak finds a listening in you then I recommend that you make the time  to ‘read’ To The Wonder. And as for any philosophical reading it is necessary to do so when one either creates for finds oneself in the right mood and with the right listening – a listening that allows the speaking to show up as meaningful.

What more is there to say on To The Wonder?  Allow me to share with you snippets of the sayings (on To The Wonder) that speak to me and shed some light.

Every one of us, no matter how damaged or abnormal or shut down, we’re all looking for love. Every person needs love in this world, but our views on what love is vary enormously. Which is the joy and the problem.”

Olga Kurylenko (one of the main characters in the film)

“Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren’t many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren’t many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn’t that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?”

Roger Ebert (film critic, deceased)

“On a deeper level, the film is Malick’s meditation on the Christian vision of loveand the obstacles that we perversely place in the way of satisfying our irrepressible longing for it. Anyone who’s fallen in love is familiar with the feeling: The world appears transfigured. In the first words of the film, Marina describes it as being “newborn,” called “out of the shadows……..

Ultimately, for Malick, the experience of falling in love grants us a glimpse of the divine — of a “Love that loves us”…… But love is not only rapture. In Malick’s Christian view, it also calls on us to sacrifice, to give ourselves over fully to the one we love…… Father Quintana says it is: “Love is not only a feeling. Love is a duty. You shall love… You feel your love has died? It is perhaps waiting to be transformed into something higher.” 

Father Quintana achieves a spiritual epiphany during a sequence toward the end of the movie that is unlike any I have ever encountered in film……As the priest comforts a succession of suffering people — the old, the anguished, the crippled, the sick, and the dying — he recites a devotion of St. Patrick: “Christ be with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ in me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ in the heart.”

Humanity was made for God. And he is present all around us — in the transfiguring, wondrous joy of romantic love, in self-giving sacrifice, in our suffering and the suffering of others, in the charity we offer to those in pain, in the resplendent beauty of the natural world — if only we open our eyes to see him. That, it seems, is Terrence Malick’s scandalous message.”

Damon Linker (senior correspondent at theweek.com)

Life Is A Miracle, Speak Yet Again: Bring New Light To What Life Might Be


“Thy life is a miracle. Speak yet again.”

– Edgar speaking to the Earl of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s King Lear

Looking Back On 2013

On this the last day of 2013 what is it that I am present to?  Gratitude. What is it that I am grateful for?

How wondrous it is that I can see!  I got to see blue sky, white clouds, yellow sunshine, pinkish sunset….

How magical it is that I can hear!  Today, I found myself listening to my daughter call me “Papa”; I love the sound of “Papa” and have done so ever since my first child called me “Papa”.  Music, I found myself listening and moving to, and being moved by, the music coming through on the tablet.

How wondrous that I can speak! Yes, speak – communicate with my fellow human beings, express myself, ask for help, offer help, co-ordinate my actions with all whom I find myself in a dance with.

How miraculous that I can smell! One of the joys of starting the morning is smelling the various fragrances that go with the various soaps which I use when I shower in the morning.

How wonderful it is to find that everything works – that the fingers work, the arms work, the feet work, the legs work, the back works, the lungs work, the heart works ……….! What a gift is is to find myself fully able to take care of myself such that I do not rely on nor wait for anyone to take care of me?  What a gift it is to dance.

Looking Ahead to 2014

Yes, life is a miracle.  Let’s assume that the miracle continues and I am gifted an entrance into 2014. What is there to “Speak yet again”?  It occurs to me that what there is to speak is to speak a possibility.

“Bring new light to what life might be.” 

This is why you were born; that’s why you are here. To bring some new angle to the human condition – if not to the broader world in general, then at least to your family and the people around you…….

– Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void

As I sit with “Bring new light to what life might be.” what shows up?  Kindness-Gentleness-Aliveness-Harmony.  It occurs to me that I moved by the possibility of being an opening for kindness-gentleness-harmony to show up in the world. It occurs to me that if I am gifted life in 2014 then I am up for speaking kindness, generosity, aliveness, and harmony in my way of being (showing up) in the world.

What is it that you are moved to speak in 2014? How can you bring new light to what life might be?

Everything That Shows Up Shows Up In Relationship; Everything Said is Said by Someone


In our default way of being in the world, in the West, we ascribe properties to objects. So without any conscious-deliberative thought, we say:

  • This rose is red;
  • This bag is heavy;
  • My husband-wife-partner is selfish;
  • My boss is harsh-selfish-demanding-stupid;
  • My work is boring;
  • The English are cold-unfriendly people;
  • The Americans are arrogant;
  • This food is delicious;
  • She has such an irritating voice ……

Let’s stop and ask ourselves the question, “Is what I take for granted really what is so?”  Let’s just consider the last assertion “She has such an irritating voice!”, as assertion made by a family member when she heard me listening to a podcast.

When I/you say “She has such an irritating voice!” what is it that I am sharing?  Am I pointing out an objective truth? Am I pointing out to the intrinsic ‘suchness’ of her voice?  It looks that way doesn’t it given that is our cultural practice: we stand aside from the world, looking at it as a scientist does, and describe the properties of the world – including the properties of people, of objects, of groups of people and objects. And in so doing we forget that it is i/you/we who are doing the describing!

It occurs to me that when I say “She has such an irritating voice!” I am not speaking an objective truth. Rather, I am pointing at and sharing my lived experience. If I were to describe this lived experience it would be something like this:

“In my state of being right now and the listening that automatically flows from my state of being, I find that her voice shows up as irritating. “

Do you notice the different between these two statements:

“She has such an irritating voice!” and

“In my state of being right now and the listening that automatically flows from my state of being, I find her voice shows up as irritating.”

Do you notice that the label ‘irritating voice’ points towards and highlights the flavour-tone-touch of  my relationship with her?  ‘Irritating voice’ is not a property of her. Her voice is simply her voice: it is neither melodious nor irritating.  Any irritation that shows me in me arises out of my relating with her voice. 

Summing up:

– man is being-in-the-world-with-others and as such always exist in relationship. Everything that shows up shows up in the space of relationship. There are no objects with intrinsic properties independent of others.  

– all descriptions, all labeling, all asserting is done by someone. Humberto Maturna is reported to have said “Everything said is said by someone”.  By this he meant that all acts of cognition-experience occur, are distinguished by, and spoken by someone.  This also means that “All that is heard is heard by someone.” 

– when you and I get that, really get that, then the space of transformation (in our relating to ourself, to others, to the world in which we dwell) opens up and is available for reinterpretation. Whether you and I step into that space is a choice that we can accept or decline.  

 

 

 

Nelson Mandela: A Master of Being?


I am not in a position to say anything about Nelson Mandela. Why? I didn’t know him at all, I simply know of him. What I notice is that a big deal is being made of his death. Why?

It occurs to me that Nelson Mandela embodied a certain way of being. A way of being that is uncommon in our age. What kind of being am I pointing at?   Being a stand for a possibility that speaks to many of us, a possibility that moves-touches-inspires many of us at the very deepest level:

“I think his main legacy will be instilling confidence among all people in South Africa, instilling the knowledge that people are equal, all people regardless of colour; that people can live in peace and harmony and love.”

-Fellow ANC political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada

Looking through is ‘work’ I find myself deeply touched by some of his saying. These I share with you for they may also call to you, touch you, and open up new possibilities and avenues. It occurs to me that if you and I are to generate value from these quotes then we have to live them not just read them.

There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.”

“There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

“It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we led.

“There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.”

One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.

“There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.”

A winner is a dreamer who never gives up

Life Isn’t Working Out As I’d Like It To Work Out


Life isn’t working out as I’d like it to work out. The question that I am left with is this one, how to be about what is so?  I have been grappling with this (including some help from Gregory Bateson) and I want to share with you what showed up for me.

Lets imagine that I am at a disco and the DJ is playing all kinds of music: pop, soul, rock, disco, R&B, ska, country, jazz…… etc.  Further, let’s imagine I am at this disco to dance – to just dance. What is my experience if I insist that I will only get up and dance to say R&B music?  Is it not likely that I will spend most of my evening dissatisfied – sat in my chair, being dissatisfied with the music being played, complaining that the DJ has not taste, getting drunk ….

Now imagine that I have two normal dice in my hands. And I roll the dice. What shows up? Any combination: two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve.  Right?  That is simply what is so given the nature of the dice and the game that I am playing.

Given the design of the game, I know that if I play this game or find myself playing this game, I will end up with one of eleven outcomes. I know this beforehand. Yet, I cannot know nor determine what I will end up getting when I roll the dice.  Nor can I know what will show up if someone else rolls the dice for me.

two-dice-one-red-and-one-black-landed-on-double-six

What happens to my experience of living if I make my self-expression, happiness, aliveness, fulfilment, conditional on getting two sixes every time I throw the dice?

Have I not limited myself to being happy-fulfilled, on average, once every 11 throws of the dice? Have I not, at the very same time, condemned myself to the experience of dissatisfaction even misery for the other ten throws?  Have I not stacked the odds against myself?

What happens if I put myself in a position (through being and doing) where I am as expressed, as happy, as alive, as fulfilled, if I get an eleven as well as a twelve?  It occurs to me that I have doubled the occasions for experiencing being alive, being self-expressed, being happy, being fulfilled.

Now imagine that I have arrived at a place where I am ok with whatever the roll of the dice generates.  What is my experience of living in this case?  Is my experience not transformed?

Knowing this, I have a choice in the matter of how I choose to show up, live and thus experience my life.  I can choose to:

  • dance with whatever shows up and in dancing I can became a better dancer;
  • act on others and the world to get them to conform to my wishes – each and every day; and/or
  • resign myself to being self-expressed, alive, happy and fulfilled when life shows up exactly as I insist that it shows up.

Awaken: It’s Never Too Soon!


Stop bullshitting!

Kathleen Taylor finishes here TEDx talk with the following exhortation:

Discover and express your amazing uniqueness in the world. Stop bullshitting

Why does Kathleen say this? Because she has learned from spending time working with-counselling the dying.

What can we learn from Kathleen?

Dying people teach us that it is never too late to shed what’s false and to become who we truly are.

Do you and I have to wait until our last days to live authentically?

But I’d like to hope that it is never too soon… So here is the challenge …. let’s don’t wait until we are at the end of our lives to find out who we really are.

Have your ever found yourself thinking about the purpose of your life? Wrong Question!

Have you every been confronted with this question: “What is my life about? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” This question is one that I continue to grapple with. And this is what Kathleen has good news for me:

I think that is the wrong question.

I actually think the better question is “Who am I being with my life?”

What is the relationship between being and doing?

There is an intersect between doing and being. But, I’m pretty sure that being comes first.

And what you are supposed to be doing with your life will flow from who you truly are. You really can’t screw that up if you do it that way.

Why bother with living authentically? Why not just fit in and go with the flow?

Action, and creativity, and innovation that comes from true authenticity is what moves the world forward. And it has the lovely side effect …. of creating joy.

Awaken to the preciousness of time! be authentic, stop bullshitting

Living is the process of dying. Please read that again: living is the process of dying. This is what you and I are almost never present to. Yet, this is not true for those who are dying:

It ends up that some of the purpose of facing your mortality is to look back on the body of work of your life and develop a deep sense of self. And really, to finally awaken to the preciousness of time.

This brings us back to Kathleen’s exhortation:

Discover and express your amazing uniqueness in the world. Stop bullshitting

Here is Kathleen’s TEDx talk

By now you may be in a place where you actually want to see-hear-experience Kathleen’s TEDx talk. Here it is, enjoy!

With Love or Without Love?


I want to share with you two distinctions ‘with love’ and ‘without love’.  Why am I sharing these distinctions? Because distinctions shed light on what is so and at the same time open doorways to new possibilities.

Today, it occurred to me that everything that you and I do, is done either ‘with love’ or ‘without love’.  And there is a profound difference between doing something ‘with love’ or ‘without love’.

When I listen, am I listening ‘with love’ or am I listening to you ‘without love’?

When I speak, am I speaking with love or without love?

When I write, am I writing with love or without love?

When I cook, am I cooking with love or without love?

When I serve the food that I have cooked, am I serving it with love or without love?

When I eat, am I eating with love or without love?

When I clean the house, am I cleaning with love or without love?

When I turn up to collect my children from school, am I turning up with love or without love?

When I help you with something, am I helping you with love or without love?

When I walk, am I walking with love or without love?

When I sit, am I sitting with love or without love?

When I sleep, am I sleeping with love or without love?

When I work, am I working with love or am I working without love?

It occurs to me that the default is ‘without love’.  It is so much the default that I don’t see that I act ‘without love’. My acting just shows up as acting: I do that which I do as I have always done it. And I think no more of it. I do what I do mindlessly. Yet, the person on the receiving end does notice whether the action was taken with love or without love. When I act with love the other tends to feel accepted-appreciated-loved and I also experience joy. When I act without love, the other is left feeling that s/he does not matter.

I invite you to imagine what your experience of living would be like if you listened with love, spoke with love, and took action with love. What would show up if you brought love to all that you do?

Today, I am inventing the possibility of listening-speaking-acting ‘with love’. I invite you to join me.

 

 

 

Friendship and Love


We spent a large part of last weekend at the home of our friends: Gisela, James, and Jasper.  As Gisela says, it is our home in the countryside. It strikes me that coming from someone else this would strike me as mere words, intentions, or simply being nice, being polite.  Yet, Gisela’s words do not show up that way for me: they show up for me as truth – my home in the countryside.

What is it about Gisela, James, and Jasper that leaves me feeling loved and loving them as I do?

1.  I notice that there is genuine joy in their being when I show up in their home. And vice versa.

2. It never occurs to me that I am being judged: right-wrong, good-bad… And I do not judge them. What is presence is acceptance and the space that creates for us: to simply be.

3. One-upmanship is absent: nobody is out to show that they are better, or not, than anyone else.  Yes, we rejoice in each others gifts. And we leave it at that: there is no judgement about those gifts. We take delight in each other, not judgement/evaluation.

4. I am not being advised nor educated about life.  Nor am I being questioned or interrogated.  There simple is no space in our being for that kind of conversation to show up.

5. Nothing shows up as being forced.  It does not occur to me that anyone is doing their best to please others against their own feelings-needs. It occurs to me that there is an absence of pretence. And as a result there is a certain ease and gracefulness.

6. There no faking, no bullshitting, no preening, no grandstanding, no falseness going on – none that I pick up or have picked up yet.  What there is, is, even if it is deemed to be “bad” or “inappropriate” by conventional wisdom and morality

7. We share. We share the shopping if there is shopping to be done. We share the cooking if there is cooking to be done.  We share our speaking and listening.  We share our joy in being present with one another. We share smiles. We share hugs.  We share what we have found on TED, or elsewhere, that speaks to us.  We share the joys, challenges, disappointments and heartaches of life: that which works and that which does not work in our lives.

8. Smiles, hugs, laughter and even play is present.  And what an amazing difference that makes.  To get up in the morning and be greeted with genuine warmth/affection made visible through smiles and hugs.

I am left asking myself, “What if I showed up for all the people in my life, the way that I show up with Gisela-James-Jasper?” And the thought occurs that it would be “Awesome”. What a way to show up in the world!

It occurs to me that if you and I treat everyone that we meet the way we treat our very best friends then together we would transform our lives and the world. What do you say?

The Art of Asking: asking in a way that creates a wonderful world


When you and I are first given our part on the stage of life, life shows up as wondrous.  We live in possibility. More accurately, we are infinite possibility.  Nothing occurs as unreasonable, unrealistic, naive, silly.  We are not present to criticism. Nor have we suffering rejection. Slowly and surely possibility is driven out of us and its place is taken up with right/wrong, good/wrong, appropriate/not appropriate, success/failure. And our house of being is filled with shame, guilt, duty, obligation..

Today, I’d like to get each and every one of us present to possibility once more.  What is possible in the music business if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and simply ask?  That is the answer that Amanda Palmer shares in this fabulous TED talk. I challenge you not to be touched-moved-inspired-uplifted.

This talk gets me present to that which is much neglected: asking/receiving can be a source of contribution when our asking shows up as giving.  The kind of giving that generates possibility – a possibility that enables connection and mutual contribution – and enables a transformation in our experience of living.

Is it possible that the defining act of leadership is generating possibilities that call to our fellow human beings, engender connection, and create an opening for people to join together and co-create a world that works for us all, none excluded?

Am I willing, are you willing, to put in that which is required to play the game of possibility, transformation & leadership?  What am I pointing at?  The courage to connect with our deepest call, the courage to respond to this call, the courage to be vulnerable – to share that which calls us and ask for our fellow human beings to contribute.

Put differently, are you and I willing to generate the courage to ‘play BIG’ and give up ‘playing small’? To choose to be ‘extraordinary’ and risk criticism, even abuse, rather than stay comfortable (and dead) in the ordinary?

Joy


What does it take to generate joy?  I say this is a question worthy of my attention, your attention, our attention.

Is there an experience that is more nourishing than joy?  The joy of being alive- present to the gift of life?  I say for me there is no experience that nourishes me more than joy.  What about you?

How often do you experience joy? Are you present to joy every moment? No?  How about every minute? No? How about every hour? No? How about once a day?  No? How about once a week? No? How about once a month?  No?

When was the last time you experienced joy?  When was the last time you opened the doors of your being to allow joy enter your life?  When?  Can you even remember?  And if you and I do not experience the joy in living then I ask this: what is the point of our living, of being alive?  Why bother with it all?

As I grapple with this question what shows up for me?  That my default way of being-in-this-world is to be on a journey.  What goes with a journey?  Planning. Preparing. Travelling. Hurdles-Obstacles-Surprise. Dealing with obstacles-hurdles-suprises. Breakdowns. Dealing with breakdowns. Busyness. Arrival at destination. Rest. Onwards to the next destination.  And the cycle repeats.

If you and I are so busy on busyness of life and our focus in on achievement then the doors of our being are locked. What are they locked to? Being present to that which is present. Being present to the miracle that is our existence.  Being present to the wonder of this world. Being present to joy – the joy of being here right now in this world.

I stopped the other day.  I took over the left over bread. Slowly patiently I tore it up into little pieces.  A smile was present on my face and in my being. Then I opened the door, went into the garden, and left these breadcrumbs in the right place – place where I see the birds hopping about.  In that being/doing I was a little child once more. Joy was present.  The joy of being connected with life. The joy of transcending selfishness and being of service.

On returning to the house it occurred to me that it really does not take much for joy to enter my house of being.  All it takes is thinking of my fellow participants in this game of life and engaging in little acts of kindness.  Making a cup of tea for wife or sons. Giving a hug. Receiving a hug. Telling a friend that she shows up as a source of inspiration for me. Cleaning the house so that it sparkles. Reading a book. Watching a movie. Writing. Going for a walk and allowing my face to be touched by sunshine.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take that. It just requires being present. Yesterday, driving daughter over to the gym, she asked me if she could turn on the radio. I said yes. Shortly, she was listening to one of her favourite songs, singing along beautifully and then the following came forth: “I just love music!” Wow! I found myself to be sharing in some of her joy.

It occurs to me that joy shows up when I chose to be joyous. It occurs to me that joy shows up when I wonder that I exist, the sun exists, the sky exists, laughter exists, hugs exist, movies exist, that I can drive…..It occurs to me that joy shows up when I put myself into action and contribute to the wellbeing of others.  How about you?

Questions that provide access to transformation


Ordinary question generate ordinary living: an ordinary way of being and showing up in life.

Extraordinary questions stop us in our tracks, bring us out of our hypnotic state of everydayness, and provide a window to possibility and transformation.  The access to possibility and transformation is always questions: questions that rock us, shake us, tremble us.

If you are up for living a transformed life here are the questions to be with – totally and wholeheartedly:

1. Who am I?

2. Who am I for myself?

3. Who would I be if I lost my memory and had no past?

4. If I had no memory, who would I chose to be?

5. What calls to me when I am silent and courageous?

6.  Who would I chose to be if I knew with absolute certainty that I am whole-complete-perfect?

 

To be me or my reflection?


CleaIqbalMBrook

I am the being of a father. I choose to be the being of a father. As such concerns show up when it comes to all of the children.  And I notice, in particular as regards daughter, Clea. Why?

She is at that age, 12 years old, where there is the change in biology occurring. And at the same time she is acted upon by strong social forces.  The kind of social forces that make, bend, break us.

So it was with delight that I read the following piece. A piece written by daughter where she asks a powerful question – perhaps the most powerful question of all.

Reflections

A chair small. I guess it’s how others interpret it cause in the reflection of the chair it’s tall and big.  A bit like humans.

Humans. There is what we are. And there is our reflection, how other people see us.

But let me ask you this, which one is more important? In our days everyone cares about their reflection: how other people see them.

But is it useful just having/being a reflection? I mean is it useful having a reflection of a chair? I think it is more useful just having the chair, the real chair.

Humans, it is more useful to have/be the real you than your reflection because your reflection is worth nothing to you.

So today ask yourself this question “To be me or to be my reflection?”

The being / love of a mother: truly extraordinary!


The other day the four of us went to watch a movie: The Impossible.  The film makers say it the true story of a family of five that were caught up in the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and 12 other countries. And killed some 230,000 people.

I was gripped by the move from start to finish.  What gripped me in particular was the being of the mother Maria:

– Her absolute love for her son Lucas. And her willingness to do whatever it took to ensure his survival.

– Her humanity in the most dire of circumstances that save a young life, that of Daniel and which ultimately ended with Daniel being reunited with his father; and

– How she inspired her son Lucas to let go of his fear and call forth his humanity – to save Daniel, to help others in need, to be useful when so many were in pain.

I was also touched by the humanity of many others.  People who in the most desperate circumstances put their humanity in action: shared what they had to share, put themselves out to save lives.

If you have not seen it then I encourage you to go and see The Impossible.  If you do choose to go and see it then please think carefully before you take any non-adults to see this movie.  It is not for the faint-hearted.  And it is one of the very best movies I have seen.

Ultimately, it is movie of possibility, of transformation and of leadership.

 

Finding the inner seed: getting back to “I Am”


Who am I?  This is the fundamental question.  This the most important question that I can grapple with and get clear on.  Few of us have a powerful answer to this question. Almost all of us are trapped in delusions – delusions that imprison/constrain us in some way.  I call these ‘prison bars of our being/showing up in the world for ourselves and others’.

How do you and I build these prison bars?  Whenever you/I add anything to “I am”.  For example, I am a woman.  I am a middle class. I am extroverted. I am a manager.  I am unattractive.  I am respectable.  I am intelligent. I am reliable.  I am honest.  I am a good friend.  I am a poor mother/daughter/wife…….  Truth be told, you/I are not the ones that add all of this stuff to “I am”. No, it is done by our parents, our sibling, our relatives, our teachers, our neighbours, the media ……….. It is that without knowing any better we think that the game of life is adding stuff to “I am” and so we get busy adding stuff until the prison bars are complete and we have lost our freedom to be and instead have a fixed identity.

Does it have to be that way?  Can you/I regain our freedom?  Can you and I let go of all that we/others have added to “I am” and get back to “I am” and rejoice such that it our experience shows up for us as “I am!”?  Allow me to share with you one of the most moving passages that I have ever come across:

“I remember walking that day under the elevated tracks in a slum area, feeling the thought, “I am an illegitimate child.” I recall the sweat pouring forth in my anguish in trying to accept the fact. Then I understood what it must feel like to accept, “I am a Negro in the midst of privileged whites,” or “I am blind in the midst of people who see.” Later on that night I woke up and it came to me this way, “I accept the fact that I am an illegitimate child.” But “I am not a child anymore.” So it is, “I am illegitimate.” That is not so either: “I was born illegitimate.” Then what is left? What is left is this, “I Am.” This act of contact and acceptance with “I am,” once gotten hold of, gave me (what I think was for me the first time) the experience “Since I Am, I have a right to be.”

What is this experience like? It is a primary feeling – it feels like receiving the deeds to my house. It is the experience of my own aliveness not caring whether it turns out to be an ion or just a wave. It is like when as a very young child I once reached the core of a peach and cracked the pit, not knowing what I would find and then feeling the wonder of finding the inner seed, good to eat in its bitter sweetness…. It is like a sailboat in the harbour being given an anchor so that, being made out of earthly things, it can by means of its anchor get in touch again with the earth, the ground from which its wood grew, it can lift its anchor to sail but always at times it can cast its anchor to weather the storm or rest a little….. It is my saying to Descartes, “I Am, therefore I think, I feel, I do.”

It is like an axiom of geometry – never experiencing it would be like going through a geometry course not knowing the first axiom. It is like going to my own Garden of Eden where I am beyond good and evil and all other human concepts. It is like the experience of poets of the intuitive world, the mystics, except that instead of the pure feeling of and union with God it is the finding of and the union of my being. It is like owning Cinderella’s shoe and looking all over the world for the foot that will fit and realising all of a sudden that one’s own foot is the only one it will fit.  It is a “Matter of Fact” in the etymological sense of the expression. It is like a globe before the mountains and oceans and continents have been drawn on it. It is like a child in grammar finding the subject of the verb in a sentence – in this case the subject being one’s own life span.  It is ceasing to feel like a theory toward one’s self…..”

There is nothing wrong, nobody to blame, and no waste of time!


Mission: get daughter to the outdoors activity centre by certain time

Recently it took it upon myself to drive daughter about 30 miles to an ‘activity-adventure-outdoors’ camp.  Google Maps suggested that this drive would take about 30 – 40 minutes.  Yet, the drive itself took 2 hours 40 minutes.

First it took me longer to finish my work so we set-off 15 minutes later than I had planned.  Then we encountered traffic – lots of it.  So I diverted and worked my way around the traffic.  Delight showed up.  And I still ended up in endless traffic – crawling along.  Daughter noticed that it was faster to walk! Getting that we would not arrive on time and this impacted others, daughter phoned her ‘guide for the weekend’ and let her know that we would be an hour or so late.

It does not work out as planned

An hour and forty minutes later we arrive at the destination according to the GPS.  It is dark, it is wet, it is raining hard, the country roads are small, lighting is poor, tiredness is present.  I notice that tiredness and anxiety are present for me, my experience.  Yet, daughter is positive, optimistic, cheerful and is relating to all of this as an adventure.  And concerned for me.

We cannot find the place!  I drive one way.  I drive another way.  Time goes by.  More and more tiredness is present.  Annoyance, frustration and anger is now present in my house of being.  30 or so minutes later we are really in the middle of nowhere and I get that the GPS is not working.  My daughter calls for help – there is no signal.  Then a fellow human being, walking his dogs, with torch in hand shows up.  I ask for help and he provides it.  Some 15 minutes later we arrive back at the same place that the GPS had taken us to the first time.  Again we cannot find the activity centre.

It is dark, it is foggy, it is wet, I am tired, annoyed, frustrated, angry.  My daughter is calm and helpful: she tells me that it is OK to turn back and go home. Now, it is not an option to quit, to go home.  I stop the car and look at the paper map.  “Aha, we are right next to it.  It has to be here!”  I turn around the car and together daughter and I find it! And I cannot help but notice I have been going round in circles for an hour.

The automatic machinery of being human kicks-in

After dropping off daughter, I notice that I am not looking forward to driving.  Yet, driving is necessary if I am going to get back home.  I notice that I have no confidence toward the Garmin GPS.  I notice that I am blaming Garmin and blaming myself for bringing the Garmin as opposed to the TomTom.  I notice that I am blaming the Girl Guides group who arranged the weekend for being inconsiderate: they should know better than arrange a date/time which involves peak traffic. I blame myself.

If that is not enough.  I notice that I have it that something is wrong (with me, with Garmin, with the world..) and that I have wasted my time.  Look, I could have done something useful with the extra 90 minutes that it took to get to this place!  I notice that I have it that my time is precious and I do not have time to waste.

I get it: I set myself free and peace is present

Driving back, I get it.  I get that all that is showing up in my house of being, my experience, is the automatic machinery of being human.  I get that who I am is the person who is doing the noticing: the one that is noticing the machinery at play.  That opens up a clearing for me to simple be – to be peaceful.

In this clearing I get that I have not wasted my time The trip took exactly the right amount of time: not a second more or a second less than the perfect time for this trip.  How do I know?  Because that is the time it took to get there! I got it, do you get it?  Listen, the 30 – 40 minutes that Google Maps and Garmin suggested did not take into account reality as it showed up on the trip.   Further, I got that the 2 hours 40 minutes had been well used – the mission had been accomplished, daughter was delighted, daughter and I had worked together well and affinity was present between us, I had saved wife 2 hours and 40 minutes…. Most importantly the time had been used in the service of my stand: to put something into the game of life, to be of service, to be a source of contribution to fellow human beings…

Then I got that there was nothing wrong.  There is traffic.  There is rain.  There is fog.  There are tiny country lanes.  There is darkness.  And on a Friday evening in October, all of these can and do show up.  Really, there is nothing wrong.  It is simply the reality that showed up.

I got that there is nobody to blame.  There is no evil person who planned it to work out the way that it worked out.  Everyone in the traffic was doing his/her best to get home.  The Garmin folks built that best GPS that they were in a position to build.  The activity centre folks got that finding their place is and has been an issue.  And they feel unable to do better due to planning laws that restrict the signage they can put up….  Finally, I got that I was not to blame: I showed up and did the best that I was able to do at that time and in those circumstances.

Having gotten, really gotten (as opposed to simply thought about/of) that there is nothing wrong, nobody to blame and no time was wasted I noticed that my being and lived experience transformed: peace, delight and joy were present in my house of being; the annoyance, the blaming, the anger vanished. Relaxed,I drove back home (40 minutes) and spent the evening watching a touching movies with sons and their friend.

Life had showed up whole-complete-perfect!

Alberto Casillas: an ordinary man takes an extrarodinary stand and becomes a national hero


 

 

“There were excessive police forces. I am for compliance with the law, but above the law, there is humanity. I did what I had to do, that’s all.”  Alberto Casillas

Occasionally, I read about, see and hear that which leaves me moved-touched-inspired. This week I came across the Alberto Casillas, an ordinary barman in Madrid, who took an extraordinary stand during the recent anti-austerity protests that took place in Spain.

Why did Alberto put himself at stake?  Why did he put himself between the riot police (not known for gentleness) and the anti-austerity demonstrators & customers that were in the restaurant/bar?  According to Alberto: to protect, to save lives.

The question that calls to me this one: what does it take to take the kind of stand that Alberto took?  It occurs to me it takes compassion-care-courage. And it is interesting to note that Alberto is being celebrated as a national hero.  You can read about it here.   I recommend watching the following short video:

I could leave it here and that would be fine.  Yet, it occurs to me that there is a deeper question here.  And for me, this question is: what does this disclose about the being of human beings?

It occurs to me that how people have responded to the being/doing of Alberto discloses that the being of human beings values and thus honors care-compassion-courage.  Does it unconceal anything more?  I say that it unconceals something about how we would like to be: compassionate-caring-courageous.

What else does it unconceal?  It is what you put into the world that contributes to the well being our fellow human being that counts.  Put differently, the people who will mourn you are the people whose lives you have touched through compassion-care-courage.