“Good Person” or Loving Person? Look, Listen, Feel

The appearance of being a “nice,” helpful and selfless person sometimes is what it is, only an appearance. Sociopaths, narcissists, sexual predators, and garden variety selfish people usually masquerade as pillars of the community. Jared Fogle, of former Subway fame, for example. Good deeds without a truly loving attitude, generous spirit, and deep compassion mean nothing. It is said that words mean little; it’s actions that count. Though actions certainly are a better barometer than words alone, it is important to pay attention to the whole array of actions, not just the charitable ones, because the charitable ones don’t cancel out the predatory ones. They are just attempts to mask them. Of course, you may not be privy to knowledge of that whole array. What you do have is intuition, and it’s important not to override it by valuing appearances over your own gut feelings.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am        become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing…And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
From 1st Corinthians, 13 KJV

The Two Dos

I’m not the sort of wedding minister who puts couples through 10 weeks of premarital “counseling” in order to exert control over them in the belief (and church membership) department. In fact, I rarely share my thoughts about relationship at all in the interview situation. I’m asking them about *them,* so I can make the ceremony be about them.

They come to me as adults who know who they are and what they want and I respect that and celebrate it! Moreover, what they tell me about themselves and their love stories mirrors my own deeply held beliefs and observation, anyway.

There are two things that really matter in love relationship, be they romantic partnerships, parent/child, or friendships.

1. You have to be committed and willing to grow. You have to be willing to sacrifice your crazy to the relationship. Selfishness, fear, addiction, compulsion, habitual behavior patterns that harm others, like emotional stinginess. You have to love the other more than your desire to keep doing what blocks love.

and closely related…

2. You have to have be committed and willing to cultivate empathy and conscience. If someone says “ouch; stop that” you have to be willing to feel the ouch as if it happened to you, understand that you did something wrong, what was wrong about it, fix it, stop doing it, and anchor a new, loving behavior (see 1.). A man I know once told me, “My wife rarely gets angry with me. But when she does, I know I’ve done something wrong, and I need to make it right.”

This is what Joseph Campbell meant when he contrasted uncommitted affairs as inevitably disappointing demonstrations of self-gratification and personal stagnation, with marriage. which he referred to as an “ordeal.” He clarified this term as a spiritual one, in which you both prioritize your relationship and sacrifice your shadow stuff to serve it and you both grow.

May we commit to love, empathy, and conscience in our relationships, shining brighter and brighter as we witness and support one another, and as we walk each other home.

Mind Power

Anti intellectualism is a scourge, but at the same time it is a gift, because it challenges the sleeping to awaken from illusion. Your mind is sacred and it is your strongest weapon against world-be controllers at every level and relational circumstance. It links you to the vast intelligence of the Divine and to your amazing intuition. It gives you freedom and power. Never be ashamed of your mind. If you have little formal education, you can still access and expand your natural genius, if you are intellectually curious and are willing to explore, to move past preconceived notions and popular fallacies, and to think for yourself.  Education can be a great benefit and should be valued, yet, there are people with advanced degrees whose minds are closed and dull for lack of creative application and the humility required to connect mind with heart. Never surrender or abdicate the full use of of your wonderful mind and keep nourishing it. Pass on the love of reading to your children and encourage their critical thinking skills. May we turn our lights on and keep them on!

Look Deeper

Look deeper. The lion killer, the drink-spiking serial rapist, the badge gives me permission to pull you out of the car and light you up cop are all the same bully, terrified and desperate, haunted by self-hatred and the fear that he has fallen out of the universe and can’t get up, fear of punishment by a God he doesn’t believe could ever, ever love him. Fear of a vengeful and easily distracted God who will cast him even further into the pit unless he points towards someone else. His concept of God is as primitive as he is for both he and his imagined Cosmic Tyrant live for domination and take pleasure in the distress of others. You could call him pre-human, because his heart has not yet opened and he has not yet sacrificed himself to something bigger than his immediate gratification. He has many faces but one name: ego. We all carry at least a vestige of this guy within us. But moment by moment, choice by choice, we can participate in our own evolution by inviting Love to work in our lives and come into every situation. God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” May it be so.


Beamer, Bono & Beamers

I’ve been thinking about private people and their public personae. Last week, I was in line at the supermarket checkout with VA Tech football coach Frank Beamer. Despite his iconic status, he looked very much like a humble, sweet man shopping with his beloved wife. I could see that he knew I’d recognized him and probably was hoping I would not try to engage him in conversation, just wanting to be a private guy. I left him alone, of course. Though to be honest, it wasn’t much of a character triumph. Football isn’t my thing. If he had been Bono, I would have abandoned all self-restraint.

If you’re a person who makes his or her living in the public arena at any level: actor, sports coach, musician, author, minister, whatever… you’re not “on” all the time. Sometimes you’re in resting mode. If you believe in what you are doing, you owe it to that thing that’s coming through you to develop the the confidence and willingness to promote it. But you can’t be impressed with your “specialness.”

And it’s good for all of us who are consumers of the work of entertainers, athletes, teachers, writers, and spiritual performance artists to remember that we are as others. We are all on a conveyer belt to enlightenment. We are no better or more important than a pauper and no less so than a star. May we remember that we are Beamers of that light that shines within us all. <3

Ya Gotta Have Heart

Artists, writers, and singer/songwriters, and filmmakers offer a specific vision of life. Whether it inspires compassion, inspiration, fresh new thinking, and joy or whether it deadens, roils up hatred, bores, triggers horror, fear, or despair depends on the state of the creator and of the consumer. I think artists have a sacred responsibility to serve life and help us expand our vision.

That does not mean commerce cannot be involved, Some of the most inspiring creative excellence has come out of advertising. Nor does it mean that the shadow cannot be shown in the picture. it’s in us and in our world, right? And to ignore it is silly. But how does your protagonist deal with his own ego? How does he respond to evil when faced with it?

“Everybody counts or nobody counts” -(Michael Connelly’s) Harry Bosch

The best noir antiheroes have a flinty and uncompromising moral code. It may not be the one held by the systems within which they have to work (or which they work against). But the respect for human life is always there, shining like a diamond in the mud. Our stories need to be about bigger things than revenge, ego, the vicarious trashing of “the other,” or stylish, clever, yet empty cynicism. Ya gotta have heart.

#servicethroughart #servicethroughcreativity #spiritualart #creativitycoach

Always Offer Chocolate

Do’s and Don’t Dept: Don’t attempt to control, co-opt or try to reign on someone’s parade. Let the other dream his own dreams, and hold his own scepter. Yea, ye might even crown him, for when you do you are also crowning yourself and claiming your own rights to the kingdom of your own imagination. Sooner or later, we join our dreams together, by design or inadvertently, as our destiny is the Loving Oneness. But each of us must find our own way there and each has his own special tools and talents to light the path. Should our paths meet along the journey, leave a little space in your embrace for breath and mutual respect, And always offer chocolate, for it is the universal medium of exchange.

The Importance of Commitment

When I interview prospective coaching clients, I screen out the resentful and the apathetic. You have to be willing to commit to accomplish. We’re all committed to something, but that something is not always what we pretend to be committed to . And if what you’re committed to is anger and disappointment, that’s going to be what you get. That is a client who will fail at his pretend goal and succeed at his real one.

On the other hand, if you are committed enough to replace “wishing” with “intending,” that’s the rocket fuel to success. Your fears and doubts will fail and become ever weaker and fainter voices in you head. And YOU will succeed.

Building Intimacy with the No-Shame Apology

The practice of trashing someone and then saying, “bless her heart,” to sanctify the badmouth is a kind of regional joke we laugh about and don’t actually do.

But who among us has not received an “apology” that is basically a long-winded, self-justification and personal attack, capped off with “All Best Wishes” or “Namaste” as if dressing up an insult in a tutu spiritualizes it.

A real apology is not about self-demeaning, but it is about sharing the recognition that one’s words or actions harmed another, making amends, even if the harm was inadvertent, and changing one’s actions moving forward. A real apology includes ownership of the mistake. So should never begin with “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings” (when you know you did)  or “I’m sorry that you took it the wrong way.”

A real apology takes both responsibility and empathy. You will only be able to take responsibility without feeling shame i(or projecting your shame on the other) if you  apply compassion to yourself. So, the first thing to do is apply self-empathy.

What need were you trying to meet what you made that mistake? What would have been a better way to meet that need? What underlying erroneous belief might have been driven your original choice? What would be a more resourceful belief on which to base your actions?

Once you find the mistaken thought that drove the mistaken action, and forgiven yourself, you’ll be able to reach out in a way that is much more likely to result in healing, peace, and in the case of close personal relationships, increased trust and intimacy.

An apology is about actually wishing someone all the best. It’s about actually greeting the other soul to soul, where we are one. It’s about honoring both people and strengthening the relationship, whatever it may be- friend, lover, spouse, whomever.

I think it is of the utmost important to teach the fine art of apology to our children. This is how they will learn to grow past selfishness, to become fully mature people, capable of true friendship, It’s part of teaching them to be good citizens and it’s how we build a culture of civility, kindness, and peace.

Get Emotional, Then Get Practical

Just got engaged? Congratulations! Go ahead, get all emotional. Then, get practical. There’s only one other person besides you and your fiancé who HAS to be there. So on your checklist, first book the venue. Then book your officiant. Call me! (540) 577-8854