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More than Money

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Awhile ago, I gave a TED talk in Providence entitled “More than Money”. In it, I mention that financial transactions must be about more than money. Financial transactions should include the interests of all parties. In the Giving and Receiving, all must feel Trust and Integrity are part of the Process.

I think people are motivated by two urges: greed and fear. I’m motivated by the greed for knowledge and truth, but I’m also driven by a greed for appreciation and respect. These were two things I never received as a child, so as I grew up I sought it from others.

This all came flooding back to me recently as I read the Wells Fargo scandal. Unfortunately, the president and senior management have not been held accountable. Apparently, their staff and customers are merely their tools to attain the profits they were greedy for. I would like to sit circle around the Wisdom Wheel with Wells Fargo’s president, but I doubt he’d sit with me.

When we treat people with respect and dignity, I believe both parties can enjoy sustainable profits over the long term. Where Trust and Right Relationship are paramount, it may not satisfy Wall Street, but it will bring real connections among people on all sides. This is something that money can never buy.

09-22-16

First Grade Forgiveness

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Jeffrey positions himself with his nose inches away from his buddy’s. “I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen.”

“Humph!” declares Rowen, lower lip out, chin up, eyes narrowed. Rowen actually says things like “Humph!” and “Rats!” and “Good Grief!” because he identifies with Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh and also Charlie Brown.

“Rowen,” I begin, “Jeffrey didn’t mean to hurt you when he tagged you. He’s trying to do the right thing by saying sorry. Here comes his mom’s car. He has to leave in a moment. Can you do the right thing, too?”

Rowen starts wailing and, to borrow a term from one of his favorite authors, Mo Willems, “goes boneless”.

Jeffrey’s mom approaches and greets us. “Hi guys, how was soccer practice?”

“Good Mom, I won in Knock Out!”

Rowen lets out a scream that echoes in the space between the house and the garage. I bring Jeffrey’s Mom up to speed.

“Rowen,” I attempt once more, “Let’s try to end on a good note. This is your chance to forgive Jeffrey. He is leaving now. Do you think you might feel worse if he leaves before you get a chance to tell him it’s okay?”

Rowen never does well with a looming deadline. He falls completely to pieces. Jeffrey and his Mom offer a wave and then their car pulls away.

I try to coax Rowen into the house but he is not done with his antics so, patience exhausted, I walk in without him. I throw my bag on the chair. I am embarrassed. Why couldn’t he just go through the socially appropriate motions? Why does there always have to be drama?

Eventually he comes in, has a drink, dinner, and a warm bath. He pulls on his dinosaur PJs and we read stories. As I tuck him in, I ask if he’s forgiven his friend. He sighs and says, “Well, ok,” and it’s finished. He’ll see Jeffrey in school the next day and they’ll talk about soccer and all will be well.

Forgiveness among children is rarely rushed yet comes quickly and wholeheartedly. Purification is the first step, a physical release of the sadness, anger and fear, and then, quite simply, hurt is healed. The sun sets upon the day and sleep sweeps out the trouble. The next day is met with Love.

Why can’t the Process be this simple for grown-ups? Why do we fall into the Cycle of second-rate apologies and false Forgiveness, or worse, utter silence? Children remind us that emotional energy needs a release, no exceptions. While it may not always be pretty, it is truly the way to remain in Right Relationship with those around us.

09-13-16

Sinner or Saint?

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I’ve recently started working part-time in the IT department at a private school. As I’ve been meeting and greeting new colleagues, the Wisdom Wheel has served as a great underlying support system.

It’s also helped me stay calm as I encounter the many problems to solve within their technology infrastructure. Complex systems are inherently unstable. No sooner have I fixed one problem, then two more tasks are added. It’s been a slow Process, but I am slowly getting to understand the school’s spider’s web of the computers. I try to embody Eternal Present as I listen with Compassion to my colleagues’ tales of technological woe. I’m happy to help. Someone even called me a saint. So, so far so good! I am neither saint nor sinner, but an amalgam of both, as we all are.

I try to stay above the fray of the school politics. Someone pointed out that I’m the only person unaffected by the school bell. Hah! The tools of the Wisdom Wheel aid me in my walking the red road. I aim to be a warrior for collaboration and Creativity not for Power or control. The people at the school don’t know about the Wisdom Wheel, but they are in the midst of an individual who is positively influenced by it.

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Truth and Consequences

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What are the consequences of not speaking the truth? The Ultimate Reality of lying is that we cannot be Trusted. Lies cost more than truth over the long run. Truth has a way of shining the light on our Shadows.

Truth puts us in Right Relationship with ourselves and others when we have the Courage to face up to it.

There’s a Buddhist saying: “Everything is perfect, with room for improvement.” When we go inward on the Journey towards self knowledge and understanding, we begin to Love ourselves just as we are. Then the need to live a lie on the outside is alleviated, because we are not living the lie on the inside. Yes, we all have flaws and live imperfect lives and would prefer to hide certain things from others, but would we all not be happier if we embraced the truth of who we are? I feel it would free us up to be more creative and accepting of ourselves and others.

I’ve come to understand that lies are ego-led, whereas truth is spirit-led. The truth of recent wars the US has engaged in would overwhelm most of us, so we rely upon the platitudes of our leaders and swallow half truths. These are lies, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Wars are often based upon lies, a false rationale, to justify the impending action. Far more soldiers have died from suicide than from battles abroad this century. Now that is a truth worth fighting for.

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Truthseeking

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I consider myself a Truth Seeker. As a Truth Seeker, I like to study and understand Process. As a technologist, this suits and enhances my work. When problems arise, I continue, hour after hour, to gather information to help me better understand the Causes and Effects of issues and faults and arrive at resolutions.

With the Wisdom Wheel, we consider truth from all four quadrants. Some of us are more comfortable understanding truth intellectually and struggle to embrace it emotionally. Emotional truth is harder to quantify. How do I accept something that may feel wrong? Is it me? Is my ego getting in the way? I need more practice at learning to Trust. If we’re uncomfortable with a fact, we tend to disregard it. Regardless of external reality, sometimes we create their own version of reality.

The other night, I laid in bed thinking about absolute truth. Is there such a thing? Or is truth is relative? I believe that in the spiritual domain “We are all connected” is true. As a scientist, I fervently believe in logical and careful observations. Many things are absolutely true: the speed of light, or if someone has their head cut off they will die. Part of the Power of the Wisdom Wheel lies in accepting the truth of the Ultimate Reality that we will all die. By Surrendering to not just intellectual truths but also social and physical ones we can all learn to become better stewards, not just of each other, but of Mother Earth.

08-25-16

Shadow Season

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Welcome to the Shadow Law. We’ll be living under this law during Leo season, which ends on August 23. The Journey Law will begin next, and we’ll start celebrating Virgo birthdays.

Working on your Shadow is hard work. We must look at what really motivates us and clean up our acts.

If our self-esteem is determined by how others treat us, that vulnerability can be manipulated by others. Social pressure and the need for approval can weaken our own confidence. Some people exploit this by shaming and judging. These are toxic methods for dominating others. The sad part of this is how many of us allow it.

People who have done their Shadow work see through this abusive behavior. They leave and the perpetrator is rendered harmless.

Shadow work brings the less pleasant truths about our fears and shortcomings to the surface. Once we recognize these beliefs and behaviors for what they are, we can accept them and the need to change.

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A Life of Balance

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One of the regulars at our Sweat Lodge ceremonies is a friend of mine. He lost his right arm in a car crash when he was a young man. Now he’s a grandfather in his 50s who has lived over 30 years with only his left arm.

As we beat our drums and sang the native songs in the pitch black lodge, he dropped his beater. I sensed him urgently trying to find it as the song continued without the pounding of his drum.

And then… suddenly, his drumbeats returned.

Long after the ceremony ended, I kept thinking about life with one arm. My friend is out of Balance. He must make adjustments for everyday activities we do without thinking, like tying shoes, eating, typing on the computer.

For me, Balance requires considering the four quadrants of the Wheel. On the horizontal axis we have the mind in the East (Right Action) and the body in the West (Higher Purpose). On the other axis, we have Spirit in the North (Integrity) and Heart in the South (Trust).

Considering all four quadrants of the Wisdom Wheel helps me Journey through life, embracing challenges and issues honoring not just my Self but also others.

I have so much respect for my friend with one arm. Whenever we send time together, he shows me no matter the challenges we face, they can be surmounted.

08-15-16

In or Out?

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Like many people, I wake up and sip my morning tea while I check emails and read up on news on the web. Sadly, it’s mostly stories of abuse and violence painted in harsh letters across my screen.

Psychologists say anger is a smoke screen for fear. So as I read these stories, I mull over the backstory of fear. Recently I read about a Muslim woman Nadiya Hussain, a chef, who has suffered abuse. What fears drive people to project their rage onto others?

It is not the outer Journey that we need to look at, but the one on the inside. Merely focusing on our lives in the external world encourages violent and abusive behavior when we don’t look or become Aware of our own Shadow.

Carl Jung introduced the concept of the Shadow to the western world in the early 20th century, the idea that we have issues and feelings that we prefer not to look. We relegate them to the Shadows of our lives. But when we do this, these Shadow issues fester. They can become unbearable, and so, people lash out at others and project their emotional angst onto others. This is played out in the life of Nadiya Hussain, and many others who are perceived as “Other” by folks.

When a person chooses to go on the inward Journey they must deal with their own stuff. It can be painful, but ultimately very rewarding. Why don’t these absuers look at Nadiya and ask in wonderment about her creative cooking? Rather than identify her as a Muslim, in their minds a threat to be feared.

When we go in towards our soul, to our spiritual self, we begin the Journey of embracing the whole Self. When we can achieve that, we can embrace whatever life throws at us in a good way.

Many years ago I wrote a poem called “Voices” Here is the first stanza:

There is a voice waiting to be heard
In each of us, there is a voice, waiting…
Quietly, and then sometimes not so.
Do I hear these words in me?
Can I look back and know that I have heard this sound?

When we hear the voice, deep within, it will calm our fears and lead us to a tranquil place. Are you ready to hear the voice within? It is wiser than the voice without.

08-08-16

Preparing for Winter

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Although we are still in the warm embrace of summer, the icy claws of winter are beckoning. Like the ants in Aesop’s fable, I spend an hour a day preparing for the upcoming season by cutting, splitting and stacking wood.

There’s an old truism that says “When you provide your own fuel, such as wood, it heats you twice.” When I look at the steps in the Process of preparing the firewood, I recognize that it heats me up many times. The Process requires me to:

– Cut the large trunks into about 18’ lengths.
– Use the green hand cart to move the logs to the splitter.
– Unload and split as required.
– Transfer the split logs to woodshed and stack with the wheelbarrow.
– Carry logs into the house as required.
– Feel the heat from the woodstove.

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That’s 6 distinct activities that expend my energy during the Process, and, especially now in the height of summer, do I get hot!

It feels good. Although my body tires, my heart and arteries are no doubt thankful for the workout. Also, the physical exercise provides a good Balance to the more sedentary lifestyle that requires me to be in front of a computer every day. And, not only is it good exercise, it’s also cathartic for me. It puts me in Right Relationship with nature.

Sometimes, when I split a log, I’ll discover a seething mass of ants rushing around. Are they in the Process of preparing for winter, too, like me?

08-01-16

Going Home

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This morning, I was reading an article online and needed to get back to the Home page. To start fresh, so to speak. I easily found the “Home” symbol I was looking for.

It was a reassuring, simple friend in our complex world. In fact, I felt a hint of relief when I saw the symbol. It brought me a sense of Balance and calmness.

I believe that people who lack a Higher Purpose or sense of Right Action burn up, because their inner turbulence consumes them. As a member of the Wisdom Wheel community, I feel energized. During my work assignments abroad, I work long days yet I rarely feel tired. I attribute this partly to the Wheel. Being able to map my unfolding life on the Wheel helps me. I can recognize the Shadow when I see it, I am able to call upon my Creativity (the mental, emotional and spiritual kinds). I never feel lonely as I carry my Home with me, wherever I go.

Going home, for me, is going back to the center. Understanding Cause and Effect, Giving and Receiving, and Trusting in the Journey. I have Faith that things will work out. As a child going home was not necessarily a pleasant experience. Going home now, anywhere, always results in serenity.