Monthly Archives: January 2014


The Desperation Matrix – Week 17 HJ Supplement 2

Most people, it is said, live lives of quiet desperation. The desperation comes from not being able to fulfil or manifest one’s dreams. Alternatively, a sense of living without purpose also brings desperation. A third type of desperation comes from perceived failures of integrity.

It is this last type of desperation about which I write today. The first task here is to define terms.

Integrity is the sense of something being whole or complete. An idea has integrity because it “hangs together” or is logically consistent.

Applying the idea of integrity to people leads to a need for what might be a jarring insight. In practice, we as a society refer to integrity to mean what is actually only pleasing integrity.

The jarring truth is that every person has integrity. That is because one’s outward life always materially manifests in accord with one’s dominant thoughts, beliefs and desires. It cannot be otherwise.

I use the adverb “materially” here in my previous professional context. As a retired attorney CPA, I was trained to understand that public accountants do not assert objective financial condition in a published financial statement. That is because an objective assertion would require one to audit every part of every system, together with an audit of every single transaction. The cost of such would be enormous.

In the business world, it is commonly recognized that investors and owners don’t need objective certainty about financial condition. What they do need, however, is assurance that financial assertions in published data are materially correct.

We don’t need a deep discussion of materiality here. Suffice it to say that materiality is a function of the size of an organization and the number of transactions in a given financial period.

Therefore, you can easily understand that a human’s life condition will almost always contain elements, even seemingly “material” elements that are temporarily not in accord with his or her true nature. Thus, con men are able, for a time, to maintain the illusion of pleasing integrity. Eventually, however, the truth will out.

We say, and truly so, you can tell a tiger by its stripes. You can tell a tree by its fruit. Thus, you can tell the quality and nature of a person’s dominant thoughts, beliefs, intents and desires by a careful examination of his or her circumstances.

One’s objective physical appearance is determined by one’s DNA, to a large degree. I am not able, for example, to significantly increase my unadorned height. My weight is another matter entirely, as is my skin condition, the style in which my hair is cut, and the quality and style of my clothing.

Fortunately, I am not financially or socially limited by my inability to play professional basketball in the NBA. My relatively diminutive height is no disadvantage, unless I choose it to be.

The nature of my integrity, however, does determine financial, social and personal success. All true success is based on principle. And pleasing integrity is fundamental to all true success.

Pleasing integrity comes down to one very simple idea: keeping promises. Promises can be explicit or implicit, but a promise is a promise. If you keep a promise, you have pleasing integrity to that extent. If you break a promise, your integrity becomes unpleasant and repellant to a degree consistent with the magnitude of the broken promise.

It is common for people to talk about integrity as a character trait, and that is well as far as it goes. However, many incidents of unpleasant integrity are subconscious, which muddies the character waters significantly. Judging another in that context becomes a risky pursuit best left alone.

Like everyone else, the vast majority of my choices are subconscious. This is because my habits of thought, belief and emotion have created the programs of my life. My life runs on those programs, for the most part. I have conscious control over small things, but not directly so over the big ones. To get conscious control over bigger things, I have to alter the subconscious programming.

That is the subject and purpose of the Masterkey Mastermind Alliance. We learn here how to change our subconscious blueprint by studying Charles Haanel’s Masterkey System. And, our study has been significantly enhanced by the introduction of a simple mantra, introduced early on.

Frequent use of a mantra is one way to use the conscious mind to reprogram the subconscious. Our mantra is this: “I always keep my promises.”

I initially believed that mantra to be aspirational. In other words, as I grew into Masterkey maturity, I really would keep all my objective promises. That is a wonderful thing. And it’s a great idea. It leads inexorably to better manifestation of pleasing integrity.

However, the mantra did a far better thing. Its frequent repetition created a demand for cognition of a deeper, far more important truth. The truth is I actually do keep all my promises. [if you get this, it’s OK to scream in horror. I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.]

It’s just that most of those kept promises are in the subconscious realm. Those promises are the fruits of my garden of thought, many of the seeds for which were planted long ago in the dim reaches of a suppressed, if not forgotten, past. Hence, the knowledge that I keep all my promises allows me to discern and infer from my actions my actual dominant thoughts, beliefs and desires.

This becomes an effective diagnostic tool that allows me, at any moment, to see exactly where my subconscious compass is pointed. It further allows me to see that upon which my subconscious lens (or magnifying glass) is focused.

Now we can draw a small arc of the circle of desperation. Desperation comes as a function of one’s level of consciousness and one’s sense of direction. Desperation deepens when in denial of consciousness. It further deepens when one’s life is other-directed. Thus we have a matrix of points at the intersection of two continua. One continuum is the degree to which one accepts and embraces one’s consciousness. The other continuum is the degree to which one is willing to self-direct as opposed to volunteering for other-direction.

When one unconsciously operates an other-directed life, one can plummet into abyssal desperation. When one is fully conscious and operates a self-directed life, transcendent peace results. As these are continua, an infinite number of conditions and states are possible.

For me, simply being delivered from the chains of my previous beliefs is reward enough. I will be forever grateful for the gift of a simple, unassuming mantra. I keep all my promises!

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Cool Kids & Belonging – Week 17 HJ Supplemental

This is another supplemental entry. Casual readers may want to give it a skip.

Change is hard. The more significant the change, the harder it is. Our journey through the Masterkey System invites us to recognize our true selves. In doing so, we let the old self, patterned on others’ ideas, die. We are thus reborn, a new creature, fashioned on our own perception of our purpose or Dharma.

I am at this writing in my late 50s and have been gifted with strong passions, incisive thoughts and a clear mind. I invested 28 years in practicing law, and that practice disposed me to exude confidence in who I am and what I think. All of this adds up to deep ruts in the stone paths of my life.


Of late, the change process has prompted interestingly irrational thoughts, causing me at times to question my grasp on reality.

Reassuringly for me, we found out in this week’s MKMMA webinar that such things are common when facing wholesale change.

I feel blessed even so, because the flow of insight hasn’t failed. Every week has brought (or revealed) a new or deeper layer of thought and feeling ready to be layered in (or dug out). Recent weeks’ practice yielded insight that a significant portion of my adult interactions have proceeded from a place sometimes called the “less than” box.

Sunday morning this week brought the biggest insight so far. I saw clearly that I had been living my father’s life.

His father died young, when my father was 16 or 17. Previous to his death, my grandfather spent years away from his family at what today would be called an extended care facility. As a partial consequence of growing up poor and fatherless in the Great Depression, my father chose to live often seeking the approval of others, especially those with business or personal financial success.

For example, rather than spend his retirement years (few though they turned out to be) simply enjoying his family and serving in the community, to his dying day (almost literally), my father worked one unproductive business deal after another, always looking for a financial home run. You see, with financial success he would finally “be somebody.” My Dad stroked out at work, was conversant for only a short time, and never left a hospital bed again. He died about two weeks later after 10 days in a stroke-induced coma.

My insight this Sunday allowed me to see how many, if not most, of my personal, professional and social interactions were for the subliminal, subconscious purpose of gaining approval from, and/or access to belonging with, the “cool kids” in my life. Of course, this never happened in any significant or lasting way. I, too, sought the symbols of power and wealth, thinking, if you can call it thought, that those things would add enough to me to make me something.

In that way, as in others, without conscious forethought, I lived my father’s life.

Sure, I had a degree and license he never earned. I had skills he never possessed. I learned to network as he never did. But fundamentally, I was his son, through and through.

Lest the reader misunderstand that this was all bad, my father was a person of amazing good will, charity, and good character. He was admired for those things by all who knew him. His work ethic was all but legendary. His love for his family was beyond doubt. I also possess a fair measure of such positive traits. His example and teaching were instrumental in my adoption of that positive programming.

And, now, action beckons. Haanel’s promise that meditation would liberate me from the chains of dysfunctional beliefs is coming true.

I have gained insight into my true self, and I feel the heavens inviting me to give that man wings.

But, first, a funeral is in order. My old man of sin died and was buried with my watery baptism and subsequent, ongoing repentance. Now, my approval seeking, “wanna be” financial and professional adventurer has stroked out and will soon be comatose.

I had the courage to honor my father’s wish to not be artificially kept alive without any hope for a vibrant, quality life, and I can summon that courage again. I had the courage of my subconscious convictions to live a dysfunctional life in honor of my father’s pattern.

I here declare the exercise of courage needed to embrace vulnerability, pull the plug on “other directed” life, let that old life die, and experience every day the bliss of living by the internal, God-given compass of my divine purpose.

How appropriate that this week’s Ben Franklin value for me is courage. I chose that value three weeks ago, and my “subby” delivered me the prime opportunity and the power needed to display that virtue, right on cue. It will be fun to watch courage manifest, over and over again.

The power is within me now to live a life of effective, joyful, productive service.

I easily see patterns. That has served me exceptionally well as I work the current process of change. I easily see cause and effect. I discern with incisive facility. I infer with surgical precision. Humans are as habitual as any animal, and both success and failure leave tracks easily followed.

My experience of adversity gives me deep empathy. My years of advocacy yielded facile communication skills. I lived a good story, and I easily remember the good stories of others.

I am sensitive to my personal, pivotal needs, and I believe I can coach others to gain sensitivity to their own.

Most of all, like Frank Herbert’s Paul Atreides (Dune) or the Wachowski brothers’ Neo (The Matrix), my sleeper has awoken. Like them, I am initially reluctant to believe in my intrinsic greatness, but I, too, have great help and wonderful companions. I can learn to be one with them and with the world, living in perfect harmony.

It will be fun to watch me soar. My life is full. I have opportunity beyond the value of the treasures in Smaug’s hoard or the legendary Cave of Wonders. After all, I am made of God stuff, and trinkets, baubles and other shiny objects are of no eternal value.

Unlike most people, I have felt the power of a true mastermind. I know its potential, and I’m learning my own.

I revere my father’s sacrifices for me and my family. It will not honor him, however, to continue on his path when I can now walk my own. I promise, dear reader, to tread my own path. And, I always keep my promises.

Walk with me, will you please? Or, maybe you’d rather ride? We get to pick, after all.

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Self-Guided (vs. Other-Guided) – Week 17 HJ

George Carlin has a great monologue on self-help. It’s a little rude, like much of Carlin’s work, and here it is:

Carlin’s basic point, if you don’t want to watch it, is it’s only self-help if you do it yourself. If you use a resource, whether book, person, video, etc., it’s no longer self-help. It’s just help.

I love Carlin’s literalism. He lives the inherent external and internal social contract that we call language. Externally, we agree with others on the meaning of word symbols. That allows interpersonal communication. Internally, we do the same thing. That allows awareness.

The misuse of word symbols, whether intentional or not, creates misunderstanding externally and confusion internally.

Now, think for a minute about spirituality. One dictionary defines my intended context of the word as “… of or pertaining to sacred things or matters; religious; devotional; sacred.” Query: who gets to define spirituality for you? Is it a private matter between you and God, as you conceive Him? Or is spirituality defined for you by your minister, church or some other person or entity?

And, if another gets to define spirituality, what then, is faith? Can you have faith without some independent sense of what is sacred? The answers to these questions are matters for your private devotion, and I shan’t more overtly here insert my personal beliefs.

Query second: if you espouse faith in God, do you let any person, institution or incident dissuade you from your faith? I espouse faith in God through a particular denomination, one of the nominal adherents of which was Theodore “Ted” Bundy, the noted serial rapist/killer. Does Mr. Bundy define my faith, even if his name means “gift of God”? I trow not. I confidently assert, “No!”

What about a well-meaning but under-informed associate? Does his or her bigoted, benighted, unduly limited, and/or under-confident view get to define for me what it means to be a Christian? Of course not. That is between me and Christ, Himself.

What about your life, your mission, your purpose, your destiny? Who defines you, your limits, your mission, your destiny?

This is also a matter for your private meditation and devotions.

What about your goals, your dreams, your search for meaning in your life? Are you going to let some bad example, a misinformed person, your own history of achievement (or lack of same) define what you can or can’t be, do or have?

Now that’s a much harder question for most of us. As infants, children, adolescents and young adults the vast majority of us were offered beliefs, ideas and other programming by our family, teachers, friends and others that invited us to believe in personal limitations well below our actual potential.

If true, what’s next? I believe true answers lie within. Carlin had it right. If I, or anyone else, tells you what to do, that’s not self-help. That’s just help. And, no other person can tell you what your truth is. No other person can know your purpose or your destiny.

What I can tell you is the search for purpose is worth it. When you find it, life gets way easier. I recommend the journey and the search. You needn’t worry about the “how.” Resources and other help will find you as you need them.

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Walk Around in That! – Week 17 Supplemental

For my readers, thank you for reading at all. For MKMMAers, especially, this is a supplemental post, and it’s very long. If you’re game, I’d love your feedback, as always.

Recently, my craniosacral therapist, Steve, once he had me aligned properly, said, “I have some homework for you. You feel the communication and the flow within you?”

When I answered, “Yes,” he said:

“Now, just walk around in that,” meaning that state of being at peace while being completely present.

“OK,” I thought, “I’ll give that a whirl.” I knew from experience how difficult the exercise would likely be, but I was game anyway.

During the next week, I failed miserably at walking around in a place of peace and communication with my body. My next visit to Steve saw me more misaligned than ever, together with being frustrated. The treatment helped, but it left me wondering what I was missing.

I knew I had attached effort to a non-effort process, but that didn’t seem to really address the core of my difficulty.

Enter my daughter Janel, who, for me many times, is my Hero’s Journey’s true spirit. She, seemingly coincidentally, often points me right back on track. This week was a good example.

Sunday, I interacted with her prior to her leaving for church (we attend different congregations of the same faith) about her upcoming presentation of a lesson. She said she didn’t know what she was going to do, and she felt distant from the lesson material. I offered some reassurance, then went about my duties.

On returning from church, Janel announced that her lesson had been a big success because she’d found a hook upon which to hang an appropriate classroom objective. It came from a TED talk she’d recently viewed about connection and vulnerability by Dr. Brené Brown, PhD. She gently insisted my wife and I view the talk, which we did.

[You can see it here, if you like. Its sequel, here, is also wonderful.]

Monday, as I reviewed Haanel’s Masterkey System Lesson 17 and meditated upon the same, the light really dawned.

In paragraph 17-6, Haanel says, “Concentration is much misunderstood; there seems to be an idea of effort or activity associated with it, when just the contrary is necessary.” My experience attempting to “walk around” in the still point is evidence of my previous misunderstanding. I don’t think I’m alone here, and my experience lends me empathy and compassion for similar mistakes others might make.

Haanel continues, “The greatness of an actor lies in the fact that he forgets himself in the portrayal of his character, becoming so identified with it, that the audience is swayed by the realism of the performance. This will give you a good idea of true concentration; you should be so interested in your thought, so engrossed in your subject, as to be conscious of nothing else. Such concentration leads to intuitive perception and immediate insight into the nature of the object concentrated upon.”

Haanel goes on in Lesson 17 to encourage one to make one’s desire part of the subconscious and, by meditation, to intuit the essence, echt or spirit of the thing. This is because once the essence is so intuited, one may own the concept, thing or virtue, awaiting only the full manifestation of the same as people, ways and means are attracted to make it so.

And, contrarily, obtaining a thing before one so “owns” it will make one’s possession temporary because he or she did not “earn” it by internalizing the essence or the spirit. Thus, there is no permanence in something for nothing, as lottery winners so often demonstrate.

Emotionalization of thought, especially of an “ideal” in Haanel’s language, is vital. And that is a practice which seemed largely to elude me. Without emotionalization, there is literally no way to effectively transmit an idea from the conscious to the subconscious.

As I pondered this, my intuition led me back to Dr. Brown, who states emphatically that we cannot selectively numb emotion. Therefore, when we numb any emotion, we numb them all.

And then I had it. An incident in early childhood had invited me, unintentionally, to believe that strong emotions were dangerous. And, further, that strong passions were difficult, if not impossible to control. You may recognize that some of the programming you’ve been offered is of the same type.

The corollary to that belief is pernicious. That if I possessed strong negative emotions or passions, I was a bad, dangerous person. Enter guilt, and then, upon the recurrence of such emotions, shame. Neither of those self-condemnatory practices was or is warranted, but my human nature succumbed even so.

Guilt is like this, per Dr. Brown: “I’m sorry; I made a mistake.” Guilt can be healthy, because it leads to positive change. Shame, on the other hand, is not. Shame misinferred from a childhood experience is often called toxic shame, and for good reason. Shame, per Dr. Brown again, is “I’m sorry; I am a mistake.”

All this made perfect sense as I knew from addiction recovery work that I had a tendency to numb or suppress difficult emotions.

Fortunately, Dr. Brown’s talk also offered a remedy. I could continue my Hero’s Journey by embracing vulnerability and learning to live “whole heartedly.” The essence of what I needed to do was to give myself permission (sound familiar?) to experience my life’s full emotional content. Not so easy, but possible.

Further pondering allowed the insight that, while my inner child could not easily deal with strong emotions and passions, as an adult, I could. I knew, for example, that fear is exhilaration deprived of oxygen. Thus, by being willing to assert control over naming my emotions, especially while breathing freely, I would be easily able to experience strong, vibrant emotional content and not be overcome. [Carolynn Sokil drew a similar conclusion, artfully expressed here.]

Not only would I not be overcome, my life would gain depth, texture and color. [Bill Knox expresses similar thoughts here.] And, by doing so, my inner child would more often feel invited out to play, and he would bring energy, vitality and a genuineness that might otherwise stay hidden.

My first couple days of this new life have been interesting.
• My subconscious demanded that I release some previously trapped emotions, though with an interesting twist. Instead of having to release one discreet emotion at a time, I was allowed to release two and three emotions simultaneously.
• Courage has been required. When my ankle complained (still healing from an Achilles tear), I said to myself, “I’m willing to experience all the pain of this experience.” And, surprisingly, the pain all but vanished.
• I can tell this is a practice, not a one-time change. But the change is totally worth it. As I open up to experience fear, anxiety, worry, etc., these emotions quickly dissipate, to be replaced by an amazing childlike wonder about the beauty and splendor of the world around me, including the people in it.
• Case in point about the people. A group meeting saw a suggestion for a tool to be created, and I was able to help the group easily reach consensus about the basic form the tool would take. In the discussion, no one seemed hurt, and everyone seemed pleased with the outcome. Harmony, anyone?
• My server at lunch announced she was in a contest to win a Keurig coffee maker. All I had to do to help her cause was complete a brief online survey. Normally, this idea would have been annoying and vexing, but this time was different.

Haanel finishes the lesson by encouraging the student to concentrate on a desired virtue, thusly, in 17-37. “Always concentrate on the ideal as an already existing fact; this is the germ cell, the life principle which goes forth and sets in motion those causes which guide, direct and bring about the necessary relation, which eventually manifest in form.”

I immediately knew how to focus my meditation. I wanted abundance, so I pondered about its essence or spirit. I wondered how I could find that essence. Intuition came almost immediately: “Just walk around in it.” I knew just what that meant.

Abundance, as all other virtues, lies within. To see it manifest, all we need do is to give ourselves permission. Last week’s kindness mastermind gave me great experience observing the law of growth’s effectiveness as I gave myself permission to see kindness, do kindness and be kindness.

Therefore, to manifest abundance, all I have to do is see abundance, as in the profligacy of nature (the evergreens in Seattle are amazingly beautiful), do abundance, as in gleefully adding an extra $1 to my server’s tip, and be abundant, as in the group meeting example above. I just “walk around” in the sense of abundance, and abundance manifests without stress or specific effort.

It’s nice knowing that I’ll get better at seeing abundance each day, and I know the spirit of abundance will very soon infuse my life so fully that I’ll be Haanel’s actor, unconsciously concentrating on my ideal. Join me, won’t you?

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Longing, Symbols & Substance – Week 17

Haanel’s Part Seventeen of his Masterkey System warns against running after symbols instead of internalizing substance. This message spoke strongly to me as I pondered why I had trapped emotions of failure and longing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of trapped emotions, please have a look at Dr. Blaine Hansen’s work on The Emotion Code.

My self-awareness is tied into the concepts of linkages, connection, and being whole-hearted. Here’s what I learned:

• I had tied success in my mind to achievement and/or acquisition, accretion in Haanel’s Part One language;
• I had felt myself a failure (toxic shame) for not achieving and/or acquiring;
• I had, in too many respects, opted out of the flow of giving and receiving by effectively not being willing to share my gifts with others; and
• I failed to see that I had accepted the world’s enticements to pursue symbols rather than substance.

I’ve written much more about this in this week’s supplemental post. I invite you to read it if you feel drawn to hearing more about my journey.

As a consequence of the gift of awareness, I am changing in several ways:

• I embrace strength through vulnerability;
• I honor myself by living substantively, which means to always seek the true spirit of my objectives rather than to be distracted by shiny symbols;
• My primary goal is connection: to myself, to God, to people and to the world around me. After all, I am one with all these. How can I love without connection?
• My motivation for connection is love, service, sharing and empowerment. I know now that success is in living, receiving and giving in the spirit of abundance. Acquisition, achievement and accretion are only symbols, and they are unimportant, if many times enjoyable, and they can never more distract me from the truth, which is;
• I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy. I was conceived in love and brought forth with a purpose. And that purpose is to be a true mirror and a true lens, reflecting and focusing for all the Light of the World.

This is a path and a practice. Each day I draw closer to the measure and stature of the fullness of my ideals as I tread the path. Please feel free to help me be true to my ideals as you see my needs. Thank you for traveling with me!

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Basic Symbols, Basic Shapes, Basic Colors – Week 16

I don’t know about you, but symbolic learning isn’t my strong suit.  I am just more skilled at interpreting, absorbing and synthesizing the literal.  The figurative, i.e., symbols, are another story.

One nice thing about symbols is they are susceptible of multiple interpretations, and maybe that’s the point.  A symbol can be meaningful to me in one way, and to you it can be meaningful in another, and the diversity of interpretation does no violence to the utility of the symbol nor to either of us.

For the last 15 weeks, I’ve been using, largely ignorantly, 6 symbols to help me learn the lessons of the Masterkey System.  There are 4 primary symbols and 2 supplemental symbols.  The four primary symbols are a blue rectangle, a red circle, a green triangle, and a yellow square.  The two supplemental symbols are a compass and a magnifying glass.

I understood rapidly the import of the supplemental symbols.  After all, these are items I’d used many times in life, and I knew their “real world” utility.  So, thinking of a compass as directing me to follow my Dharma was easy.  Thinking of a magnifying glass as reminding me to stay focused was also easy.

Not that doing those two things was easy, mind you.  It still isn’t.  I’m still learning to operate my thinking and feeling mechanisms more efficiently and effectively.  Progress occurs, however, which is gratifying and reassuring.

Now, what about the primary symbols?  What do I learn from basic shapes and basic colors?  Not much, it turns out, until I felt prompted to take on a simple project.  You may like this story, and it may benefit you, God willing.

Here’s the project.  Some years ago, my daughter gave me a refrigerator magnet composed of a colored, patterned circle upon which she’d written her name in cursive script.  The paper circle was glued to a glass “jewel,” a piece of glass shaped like a river rock, flat on the bottom and rounding on the top, and a magnet was glued to the back.  This little magnet was attractive, it constantly reminded me of my daughter, and like all such things, was useful in temporarily affixing two-dimensional items to the refrigerator.

One day, tragedy struck.  Entropy came to collect its due, and the paper giving my magnet its import separated.  The jewel could still memorialize my daughter, but the item’s essential utility ended.  I was left with a marred memento and a bare, unattractive ceramic craft magnet.  That just wouldn’t do.

Next, the inspiration.  If my daughter could craft a magnet, so could I.  I sought counsel from my mother about where to find the glass jewels, and she guided me appropriately.  The same store, unsurprisingly, had craft magnets and clear adhesive.

I already had digital versions of the four basic symbols and a pictorial representation of a compass.  I have a real compass, but it’s safely ensconced in my emergency “go pack” left over from years of being a Boy Scout leader.  My plastic magnifying glass lies on a prominent place on my desk.  I reduced the size of the symbols to fit the size of the glass jewels, and printed them.

A pencil and scissors made short work of fitting the paper symbols to individual jewels.  A little glue, a little patience, overnight curing, and, Voila!, new refrigerator magnets.  Here’s a picture:


It turns out that this supplemental kinesthetic exercise opened my eyes to the utility of the blue rectangle, the red circle, the green triangle and the yellow square.  For me, the message is one of simplicity.  It turns out that amazing things are produced out of simple ingredients.

Reminds me of a scripture.  “… by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; ….”  Book of Mormon, Alma 37:6.  You’d think, wouldn’t you, that having read that verse several dozen times, I’d have the message down, right?  Well, the teacher only appears when the student is ready.  And, fortunately, when the student becomes a servant, then the Master appears.

And so, my basic shapes with their basic colors now enshrined in refrigerator magnets, remind me constantly to remember to think basic, productive thoughts, feel basic, positive emotions, speak simple, edifying words, give unselfish, caring service, do simple, traction-producing activities, and hold basic, divinely inspired intentions.

I am repenting from Naaman’s fault.  I thought  I was supposed to do some great, heroic things.  It turns out that real heroism comes from consistently doing the humble, simple things which are the building blocks for a heavenly soul.  When I do that, the mansion takes care of itself.

What do you think?  Will you join me in the real hero’s journey?  Will you search out your divine destiny and use your God-given powers of perception to find the basic building blocks that will bring it about?  I know you can; I pray you will.

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Faith is not Conditional – Week 15

As I lay pondering my life and the New Year the morning of January 1, I reflected on an article I had read in this month’s Ensign magazine.  The Ensign is a monthly periodical published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the article, the author mused on an experience early in the management of his family business.  He inherited leadership of that business upon the death of his father.  Needing assistance, the author prayed for guidance, but he felt no particular help.

One night, he was visited in a dream by his deceased father.  After chiding him for not helping more, the father explained.  “We’re very busy here, and no one here cares very much about the business.  You see, it’s not the result of the business that really matters.  It’s who you become while operating the business.”

This idea resonated strongly with me, as I had felt a similar prompting from heaven while pondering my business.  And, yet, as I lay pondering after my study, I could see an important truth:  faith is not conditional.  Real faith has no conditions.  In other words, if I act or pray expecting a particular result in order for me to have faith in God’s care for me, that action is without faith.

Real faith would be more like this: God cares for me, and He always wants the best for me.  Therefore, every circumstance that comes to me is designed for my best good, provided I am willing to see it that way.  In articulating that thought, I can see that God is unconditional in His love and in His care for His children.  My life’s circumstances are simply a form of test to see whether I am willing to see the benefit, together with the potential grace, in whatever happens.

Not coincidentally, Charles Haanel’s Master Key system in completely consonant with this idea.  Haanel, in Lesson 15, is at some pains to explain this notion.  In paragraph 7, for example, he says, “All conditions and experiences that come to us do so for our benefit.  Difficulties and obstacles will continue to come until we absorb their wisdom and gather from them the essentials of further growth.”

Paragraph 15-3 expresses a similar thought:  “Difficulties, inharmonies, and obstacles, indicate that we are either refusing to give out what we no longer need, or refusing to accept what we require.”

Continuing in this vein, it struck me yesterday that my plan of action was faulty in that it did not accord well with my definite major purpose.  I feel significant peace in coming to that realization and in adjusting the plan of action.  This accords well with Haanel’s paragraph 15-20 instruction to choose words carefully.

I also resonated with Haanel’s instructions in paragraph 15-36 to learn to use the power of perception to see where and how to apply knowledge.  The study of the Master Key System has been a joy and a challenge so far, and I look forward to further progress in learning how to more constantly think in accord with my expressed desires.

Paragraph 14-26 is my watchword here.  I have spent 30+ years creating my current conditions, and I’m not going to expect 15 or 20 minutes of right thinking to undo all that past effort.  Paragraph 15-26 reinforces this point reassuringly:  thoughts in accord with truth eventually, but surely and certainly displace negative thoughts, which by their very nature can contain no vitality.

And again in the study questions and answers to Lesson 15.  The answer to #9 says, “… Truth invariably destroys error.  We do not have to laboriously shovel the darkness out; all that is necessary is to turn on the light.”

My task, then, is to keep the light on.  I’m tired of shoveling out the darkness.  🙂  I heartily recommend the same for you.

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Inspiring Movies – Week 14 Supplement

Thank you to Carolynn Sokil for reminding me of my duties! You’ll want to check her out at We Smile Loudly.

I remember being touched last year when Mark J informed the Go90Grow 2013 group about the Hero’s Journey. Not that I was able then to fully respond to the Herald’s invitation, but I caught the vision.

At Mark’s renewed invitation, I reviewed again the movie October Sky this week. I was intrigued by how differently I perceived the movie after several years of personal growth and ongoing education. Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Homer Hickam was doubly inspiring this time.

Certainly, Homer and his fellows form a successful mastermind, overcoming some interesting internal and external opposition. They knew what they wanted, and they persisted until they succeeded.

What inspired me more, however, was Laura Dern’s portrayal of Miss Riley, who plays the primary herald in this Hero’s Journey. She stays true to her vision of the heroes within her student charges, and her constancy is a steadying, edifying, inspiring influence for Homer and his mastermind partners.

I was equally touched by Natalie Canerday’s portrayal of Elsie Hickam, Homer’s mother. Without her assistance, the mastermind’s goal would never have manifested. She was willing to sacrifice all to assist Homer. Her interaction with Chris Cooper’s John Hickam ought to remind everyone never to get between a mother bear and her endangered cub.

I thought it was poetic to see how October Sky’s men needed their women as much as the women needed the men. Homer and his pals get the gold medal, but only with the support of their women mentors.

I feel very blessed to have the ongoing support and partnership of several great women, without whom my life would be poor indeed. At the head of this list is my dear wife of 33 years, followed closely by our two mothers. My two daughters are strikingly strong women in their own right, and I benefit beyond measure from the love and support of all five of these women. What a great example of the power of leverage!

I’d be ungrateful not to give a shout-out to John Lee Hancock who directed last year’s fun Saving Mr. Banks. I viewed that show today, and the Hero’s Journey definitely got another great exemplar of the genre. I laughed, I cried, I mourned, and I exulted with all the mastermind members as they endured and overcame their opposition.

I invite you, dear reader, to comment about your favorite inspiring movie. Tell us all what inspires you, and we’ll all be better for it.

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Addiction & Recovery – Week 14

13 weeks into the Master Key System training, and another breakthrough!

Early on in the process, we learned from watching What the Bleep do we Know and Down the Rabbit Hole that we’re all addicted to our habitual thought, word and behavior patterns.  The reason for this addiction is easy to understand.  Thoughts, words, deeds, relationship dynamics and situations all give rise to endocrine chemicals.  It is these chemicals, and the cellular response thereto, to which we’re all addicted.

I accepted this knowledge without doubt, but I didn’t really identify in concise terms my own addiction.

I have some experience with addiction, at least in the usual sense of the term, as that is a common companion for those of us with an active bipolar disorder.  I appreciate the work of Bill W and his friends and mentors in creating the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I’ve used the 12 steps in recovering from an addiction, and they present a powerful framework from which anyone who’s willing can work.

A significant part of the 12 steps focuses on inventorying and amending.  We inventory our faults, failings, fears, emotional states, decisions and beliefs.  We apologize to others who have been hurt, harmed or otherwise impacted by the related thoughts, beliefs, words and deeds.

The reason for this in the 12 steps is that negative emotions are often “triggers” for addictive behavior, especially when one is not sufficiently self-aware to recognize one’s emotional state.  Therefore, part of the recovery process is to become sufficiently self-aware to respond, rather than react, to one’s emotional state.  It is commonly believed that addictive responses are designed to assuage pain, especially emotional pain.  Recognizing the presence of emotional pain is helpful to choosing a response rather than being subject to a patterned or habitual reaction, especially an addictive response.

A helpful mnemonic for this is HALT, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely and /or tired.  When one, especially unawares, encounters basic emotional pain as in the HALT emotions, the human reaction is to do something to kill the pain.  Addictive substances and behaviors are good for that, at least temporarily, but they are inherently self-destructive.  And, when one acts in a self-destructive way, one then creates a vortex of destruction that almost always harms others.

Negative emotions are fear-based.  And, every fear-based emotion is a reflection.  It must have a “place” within us from which to be reflected.  In other words, such emotions must have a “place” within us to “stick.” Therefore, others may offer me emotional programming, sometimes in ways difficult not to accept, but I will only be tempted to incorporate such programming in my matrix if I have a place for it to land or stick.

An example may help.  I felt prompted to release the emotion of anxiety during a session of self-care recently.  As I contemplated that emotion, it struck me that anxiety comes from a lack of awareness of one’s own power and/or a lack of conviction about God’s power and His willingness to lend that power to us as needed.  In more severe cases, anxiety stems from actual denial of one’s power or a denial of God’s power.

As I pondered this idea, the previous separation between inherited stuck emotions and my own stuck emotions seemed artificial.  My antecedents may have offered me emotional programming, but they didn’t actually program me.  I did that all by myself.

I applied my own creative power, independent of any other being, to form the program of my life.  And the code of the program is my thoughts.

Circle back to addiction.  Think an addict’s thoughts, and live the chaotic, destructive life of an addict.  Been there, done that.  Don’t recommend it.  Think saintly thoughts, live the beatific, peaceful life of a saint.  Haven’t been there yet, but headed that direction.

And it suddenly struck me!  Though I had applied the 12 steps to free myself from the addictive behavior with which I previously marred my life, I was still addicted to the chemistry associated with living a life on the brink of utter chaos.  What fed me in all that was a sense of being heroic for constantly, with few exceptions, being able to actually avert disaster.

What do you think?  Isn’t that the quintessential definition of addictive insanity?  Courting chaos so I could be heroic for avoiding it.  Sheesh!  Good thing I have a better way available.

Now, if it hasn’t been your privilege to be close to an addict, that’s OK.  You can just imagine what it’s like to be in the orbit of such a person.

For me, the good news in all this is twofold:  1) diagnosis is 90% of cure; and 2) creating a new, harmonious pattern will result in an addiction to peace, prosperity and harmony.  Now that’s a constructive, progressive addiction!

It seems the next step in creating the new pattern is to affirm and internalize the truth: that I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.  Any other perception is an illusion, and not the truth.

I loved Mark J’s Week 14 video with the illustration of the Tower of Babel.  The idea that an “external,” like a tower, will get you to heaven is of course preposterous.  And yet, this metaphor struck a chord with me because of the addictive thinking above noted.

I, too, had fallen prey to the idea that a pin level, income level, &/or possessions would somehow make me whole.

And now I know the truth: I am whole, perfect, etc. just as I am, and no pin level, income, possession or achievement will add to that.  I expect the just fruits of my labor, but they are to be enjoyed as God intended: with gratitude, giving glory to Him, not needing any glory for myself.

Close the circle to recovery.  As I recognize the truth of my power and the availability of God’s unlimited power, all fear fades, giving way to the light of faith.  As I bask in that light, I make no more places for fear-based emotion to land, nor for fear-based programming to be installed.  And without those “hooks,” pain dissipates, having been replaced by joy, love, peace, understanding and other fruits of the Spirit.

No pain means no behavior or substance is needed, including my own body’s peptides, to assuage it.  No pain management; no addiction.

Praise be to God for providing us the methods and pathways we need to liberate ourselves from the bondage of the temptations of this mortal sphere.  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

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