The Path of Mastery – Article 1

Mastery is a beautiful thing when you witness it or experience it.  If you learn to recognize and appreciate it, mastery may appear from anywhere.  Mastery goes beyond competence; it is the combined force of expertise, focus, and inner power that exceeds normal expectations.  For sports fans, recall witnessing a great athlete who seems to will his entire team to rise above what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles and find a way to win.  Music lovers can be transported to a higher state of reality in the presence of a great performance by a master musician.  We can be moved and inspired to action by a master orator or writer.  A master of any craft can create outstanding results and experiences, whether the craft be some form of therapy, carpentry, architecture, art, or preparing a gourmet meal.  We admire mastery, but how can you or I attain it? Read more

How Did We Get Into This Mess?

There are times in life when we get jolted out of our normal reality by events that seem harsh and hard to understand.  Many times bad things appear to be random and there is no way to really know why they happen, such as the tragic death of a young person or someone near and dear to you.  Sometimes, even in tragedy people find meaning and respond by trying to do something good in the world.  There are other events that serve the purpose of waking us up so we pay attention to something gone wrong, something out of balance, and in need of a course correction in our life.  These are sometimes very personal struggles and sometimes they are collective experiences.

One such jolting experience was the election of Donald Trump, which has thrown many people into some level of despair and provoked soul-searching questions like why and how could this happen.  Ken Wilber, the leading scholar, philosopher, and author on Integral Theory has tackled those questions in a new eBook, “Trump and a Post-Truth World”, (see link below) and offers the most comprehensive perspective I have seen.  He makes a compelling argument that this event was a necessary correction for the cultural evolution of our country.

Integral theory provides an elegant framework for understanding human and cultural development and can be applied to individuals, groups, and societies.  Spiral Dynamics is a related framework and these frameworks demonstrate how we have culturally evolved and how our world-views have changed over time.  As we work our way through the stages of development, each stage will transcend and include the stages that go before it.  On a basic level, it is similar to child development where we learn to crawl, then walk, then run.  Each stage is necessary and has value, and we become capable of more complexity of perspective as we grow.  In the normal course of development, we also become more compassionate, inclusive, and less inclined towards violence and destruction as we mature.  However, people are not aware of this developmental hierarchy in general and so up until a certain level we tend to believe our own world-view is the superior and correct way to understand reality and those who are at a different level are inferior and wrong.

Ken Wilbur uses this developmental framework to show how those at the leading edge of evolution, at what he calls the green level, have gotten way off-track, and directly contributed to the conditions in our culture that led to the Trump election.  Specifically, he calls out those on the liberal political side for losing balance in perspective and failing to include and understand the perspectives of those at different levels of the hierarchy, and instead displaying an attitude of ridicule and superiority.  He explains the contradictions and hypersensitivities of those at the green level which were imposed on others in the form of excessive regulations and political correctness.  His point is that this contributed to the seething anger and resentment that Trump exploited which carried him into office.  He describes this result as a necessary halt in our cultural evolution, a step back to regroup and re-balance before we can move forward again.  His call is for deep reflection and self-evaluation and an overall course correction.  He also describes a vision for how this can happen.

This book does not deal with the questions of how we can counter the immediate threats of an autocratic administration, however it does deal with the larger questions of how we got here and how we can make the needed adjustments to get back to a more sane and compassionate direction for our country.  This is a heady book and not an easy read, but if you want serious answers to why we have gone so far off course, what we need to learn from it, and how to move forward in creating a more healthy and compassionate world, then I highly recommend taking the time to digest what Ken has to teach us.  You can find a copy in my digital library here.


Keep Your Broken Heart Open

I don’t understand, she said.  I had a great trip being by myself experiencing the beauty of the gorgeous national park around me.  I was not lonely and I felt very much in tune with nature and I felt happy.  And then as I was driving home I was overcome by a deep sadness and I found myself weeping.  It is a familiar sadness that comes and goes.

I know some of the sadness is still about him, the man who broke up with me several months ago.  I am still grieving that loss, even though I can see now he wasn’t really a good partner for me in many ways.  Since then I have grown in my ability to accept myself, feel good about my life, and have much more clarity of what kind of a partner I want to be with.  And yet, this sadness. Read more

Taming my Angry Inner Child

I do okay until He shows up.  He is my angry, street fighter 14-year-old self.  He shows up in a rage, demanding to be heard, insisting he is right, and demanding control. He wants to hurt and punish you for how you have caused me to feel.

When I started to be able to identify that 14-year old in me and name him as an entity that is separate from my current self, then I could begin to deal with him.  He is me from the past and is about the past hurts and insults and shame that I endured.  He gets triggered by things in the present but it feels like my past.  What do I do with him when he shows up? Read more

Wait, Pray, Listen

Dear Wounded One,

Stop working so hard to please her, hoping to receive the nurturing and validation you desperately desire.  Stop seeking it elsewhere when she won’t give you what you want.  Take ownership of that desire and realize it must be fulfilled from within.  You must learn to love and heal yourself.  When you own that and turn your focus within, you find you are not alone after all.  You are, in fact, part of the human community, connected to all.   You begin to see that Love is all around you and Love shows up in small acts of kindness from strangers, in affirming smiles, and the beauty of nature. Read more

I Have been Angry at You

I have been angry at you for being who you are.  I have been sad for myself for what you are not.  This is not fair to you or to myself.  I need to shift into acceptance.  To accept you for who you are and what you are and stop trying to make you meet my needs.  To accept responsibility for my own life and my happiness, rather than expecting you to be those things.

I married you with the fantasy that you would be everything I want and need and that you would dedicate your life to my happiness.  You were supposed to be my happiness dealer, the well of my satisfaction, just waiting for me to draw my joy from you.  You were supposed to make everything okay.  Read more