Things are not nearly so comprehensible . . .

April 17th, 2014

“Things are not nearly so comprehensible and sayable as we are generally made to believe. MostRainer Maria Rilke, 1906 experiences are unsayable; they come to fullness in a realm that words do not inhabit. And most unsayable of all are works of art, which — alongside our transient lives — mysteriously endure.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet


Mental Flight

April 16th, 2014

Here, now, is an origin.The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival - Day 4

We are poised always at the threshold

Of an unknown, unwritten, unforeseen act.

Let’s gather ourselves together,

Clear our minds,

Make ourselves present to ourselves

And to our age.

That we be focused on this stage.

That we concentrate and listen.

That we prepare ourselves in seriousness, and with joy.

Let’s be wonderfully awake for what we are going to create,

To make happen in this mass co-scripting of the future.

Might we choose to make this time a waking-up event

A moment of world empowerment?

To pledge, in private, to be more aware

More playful, more tolerant, and more fair

More responsible, more wild, more loving

Awake to our unsuspected powers, more amazing?


— Ben Okri, from Mental Flight


Two Memes

April 5th, 2014

I post several new memes per week on my Facebook page. Here are two from last week.





My Meeting with Jean Dunn

March 31st, 2014

I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from late 1986 to the mid-’90s (interrupted by an 18-month stay in Austin,Jean Dunn Texas). At some point during those years — I can’t remember precisely — I heard that Jean Dunn lived not too far away, in Vacaville, about half way between San Francisco and Sacramento, on I-80. Jean had lived in India for many years, first as a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, and later as a disciple of Nisargadatta Maharaj — both popular, if misunderstood, gurus from India. Nisargadatta had acknowledged that Jean had realized her true nature and was to carry on his work after he passed from this world, which he did in 1981.

I contacted Jean and asked if I could come for a visit. She was most welcoming. I set off with two friends, Monika and Norman, full of expectant good cheer for the prospects of a great adventure. It didn’t take long to drive the 45 miles from Stinson Beach to Vacaville.

Once in Vacaville, we had to locate the trailer park Jean lived in, which was situated right behind a cement factory. We found the park, then her single-wide mobile home — standard issue it seemed to me. I remember pausing for a moment, trying to take this in. I could see bits of the cement factory sticking up nearby, and could see and smell the dust of it, which I knew so well as I worked as a mason’s apprentice for a year in 1969.Nis

I had lived in India for many years myself, and had been a devotee of the Indian mystical tradition. Though I had not met Jean before, I held her in high regard just based on her years of study and service. It seemed odd that someone with the quiet notoriety of being a realized being would end up living in a mobile home park behind a cement factory. Jean was around 68, maybe 70, years old when we knocked on the door that day.

This tiny little thing, couldn’t have been bigger than a bird, weighing 75 pounds, but bright and energetic as all get out, opened the door and enthusiastically welcomed us in to her home. She was thrilled we came and said she had baked some brownies for us and had made come coffee. Did we drink coffee? Yes, of course. (Actually, Monika and Norman didn’t, but how could they refuse her home-brewed coffee?) She took us to the kitchen area, where she asked us to sit around a card table, on which was a plate stacked high with brownies, a pot of coffee, and a carton — not a pack, a carton — of Marlboro cigarettes. Next to the table was an oxygen tank and mask, as Jean was suffering from emphysema at that time.

As she served us coffee and we helped ourselves to the brownies, she asked, “Would you like a cigarette?” Well, Monika and Norman said no, very politely. While I didn’t smoke, I just felt that I should accept. It felt to me as if the cigarettes were a kind of sacred thing, a ritual thing, such that if I didn’t smoke I would have somehow spurned her heartfelt hospitality.

So I said, “I’d love to have a cigarette with you, thanks.” Well, I don’t believe I’ve ever made anyone so happy in my life. She just beamed and offered me a pack. Well, for the next hour or so, we sat around the table talking, eating brownies, drinking coffee, and smoking up a storm.

At one point, Norman (I believe it was Norman) asked about the paradox of taking a drag on a cigarette and then a drag on the oxygen mask. (He later said to us he was afraid she’d blow us all up, smoking right next to the tank.) Norman and, to a slightly lesser extent, Monika, were keenly and religiously health-conscious. They just nibbled on their brownie and barely touched their coffee. They kept shushing and waving the cigarette smoke away. I was, let’s say, not as concerned with my health. I seem to recall gulping down brownies and cups of coffee. I probably went through half a pack of Marlboros, too.

Well, it was quite a scene: here is this lovely, dear, sweet-as-sugar woman, reputedly self-realized, having lived and worked with one of the great nondual masters of the last century, here she was, sitting at a card table in a mobile home behind a cement factory eating brownies and drinking coffee and smoking Marlboros, all the while taking great gulps of oxygen from a tank to help her breathe in the face of her emphysema.

When Norman (I’m sure it was Norman) asked, politely, she just broke out one of her best smiles and chirped, “Well, dearie, what can I do? The body seems to like smoking. I don’t interfere.” (All these years later, I can’t swear this is a direct quote, but it reflects the spirit of what she said.)

And that was that. After about an hour or so, we could see that Jean was getting tired, so we thanked her, and we left.

I don’t remember anything from our conversation. Not a word, except those words of wonderful welcome and offers of brownies and coffee and cigarettes. I do remember her beautiful sweet smile and gentle eyes. I met her once, maybe 25 years ago. I am telling this story now for the first time. I don’t know why it’s popped into my consciousness, but it has.

I have no idea if dear Jean had realized her true nature. I tend to scoff at those terms and claims these days. But I can say that she was completely, utterly gracious and charming and sweet and vulnerable and transparent and loving — I can say those things based on my experience. I haven’t met many like her. I don’t think I’ve met anyone like her. She was a beauty. A rare, authentic beauty.

She passed from this world in 1996, at 75 years of age.


Updated Blog; Ready to Engage

March 30th, 2014

I wanted to mention that in the past week, I’ve updated my Blog. I like to keep things as “real time” as I can, and I suddenly felt the weight1389725605802nz of posts from months and months ago that no longer reflected my current state of being and POV. So, I’ve deleted more than 100 old posts, edited most others, and added a few new ones. I’d like to invite all my subscribers to scroll through the updated Blog, as there may well be one or two things that will spark and inspire you.

As I’ve mentioned, I also post two to three new memes per week on my “The 5 Principles of Authentic Living” page. I’ll post a few here from time to time, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much stuff. So, if you’ve liked my past memes, just hop over to the Facebook page.

I’m also happy to say that my health has improved enough to where I am ready, even eager, to again be of service to individuals and groups. The services that I’ve historically offered are described on my website, though I doubt I’ll do some things, like corporate consulting and retreats.

After almost three years of living deep within a healing cocoon, I’m finding that the world into which I am emerging is different than the one I exited. Maybe it’s truer to say that I am different! I have been doing some personal mentoring, which I enjoy and can offer both in person and via Skype. I enjoy meeting with groups to explore authentic living. I’ve just completed a five-part webinar with this focus, speaking weekly with participants from Spain, Germany, UK, and Ireland. (I’m now in conversation with two of the participants who want to organize a retreat in Spain in September.) So, The 5 Principles of Authentic Living is close to my heart and very much alive as a topic for workshops, talks, and retreats, as is Conversations on the High Wire.

I am still happy to work with people on their authentic public speaking; and I can see myself working with individual leaders on their own growth and leadership skills. AND, I’m very open to things I have not yet done. The past menu of service offerings is always amendable by new and unexpected opportunities and invitations.

Even as I slowly shake off the crust of the healing cocoon, I can still authentically embrace what had been my work motto for more than 20 years: Have Mouth, Will Travel.

If you’d like me to address something in particular in the Blog, just send me an email with your request. Otherwise, I trust you are enjoying my periodic posts.

With best wishes to all,



Is One Hour “Now”?

March 30th, 2014

Some years ago, I was babysitting Leah, the five-year-old daughter of a friend. Leah and I were good pals. She was a little edgy 35that afternoon, and at one point started to cry, wanting to know when her mom would be back.

Trying to console her, I stroked her hair and whispered as reassuringly as I could, “Leah, your mom will be home in exactly one hour.”

Leah straightened up, stopped crying, looked me dead in the eyes, and asked, “When is an hour? Is that now?”


We Know More Than We Think

March 30th, 2014

Sometime during the ’90s, I led a two-day executive retreat for one of my corporate clients. As there were only eight OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAparticipants, remembering names should not have been a problem for me. But it was.

One of the participant’s name was Michelle. Every time I started to address her, the name “Melanie” formed in my mouth. Whether we were out on the ropes course, at meals, or in the classroom, I could never get her name right. I was like a crazy pitcher who balked at every pitch.

I tried all kinds of things to make me remember her name. For the life of me, I always wanted to say Melanie. Only with great effort, concentration, and patience could I get Michelle to come out of my mouth. This had never happened to me before. I searched my memory banks for any clues to this mystery. She did not remind me of any Melanie I had ever known, and while the names sound alike, I am certainly capable of navigating such a minor detail.

At the conclusion of the program, I felt compelled to confess this to Michelle, who must have noticed my constant hesitation when addressing her.

I began by apologizing for not being able to remember her name, and then jokingly said, “Michelle, I’m sure that your mother misnamed you at birth. I’ve been wanting to call you Melanie for the past two days. Nothing I did to remember your name worked. You should be called Melanie!”

Her eyes became big as cups. She stammered, “Oh my God.”

She looked shaken. Now, I was concerned. I reached out to touch her arm.

She said, “Wow, your intuition is really working today. I was born with a twin sister, who died three weeks after our birth. Her name was Melanie.”

We know more than we think, which is why we ought to Pay Attention to more than just our thoughts and beliefs.


When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

March 30th, 2014

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;Walt_Whitman_1872

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


The 5 Principles of Authentic Living

March 27th, 2014

I post about three new memes per week on my Facebook page.



Weird Failures

March 21st, 2014

Weird Failures

by Kabir, tr. by Robert Bly


We sense that there is some sort of spirit

Robert Bly

Robert Bly

that loves birds and animals and the ants —

perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your mother’s womb.

Is it logical you would be walking around entirely orphaned now?

The truth is you turned away yourself,

and decided to go into the dark alone.

Now you are tangled up in others

and have forgotten what you once knew,

and that’s why everything you do has some weird failure in it.