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The Root of Violence Is Separation

First of all, the root of violence is separation – separation from the other and the Other. It is, simply put, an illusion – the greatest illusion of all: the illusion of separation… the root of all evil.

The Illusion

That illusion is the source of all violent behavior… it is fear of the most horrible kind… the raw sense of desperation that arises from believing that we are nothing but an accident of matter: meaningless in a meaningless universe consisting only of matter devoid of consciousness, and, therefore, conscience.

Did that get your attention? Yes? Good! Because I meant it to. I invite you to stay with your thoughts and feelings and share them so that we all may learn. I would offer you that you are free of a tragic human conditioning and that you remember who we really are.

Did it not get your attention? Not so good! As a result, I invite you to direct your attention to its implications for the persistent violence we see growing exponentially throughout both the “civilized” and “uncivilized” world. I invite you to pay attention to the absence of feeling and consider the harm that comes from making that choice. I would offer you that you have been conditioned by a tragic human conditioning several thousand years old, and you have forgotten who we really are. [click to continue…]

Ending War and Beginning Peace

If we are to talk about ending war and beginning peace—bringing the ghastly social destruction of war to an end—we must talk about what we are going to replace it with. We have a long history of conducting the mass killings that we call warfare… about 14,000 years of it, in fact. We don’t really have a history of conducting peace. Rather, it was more of a quiet time before the “inevitable” conflict began again for whatever fear-based reasons. For that reason, I call this post “Ending War and Beginning Peace”.

To look at the current status involved in ending war and beginning peace, I would like to bring to your mind four human beings, all of whom lived and served within the last hundred years. The first, US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, “The Fighting Quaker” (1881–1940), who served a 34-year career in many combats around the world, becoming the most decorated Marine in US history, including not one, but two, Medals of Honor. During his military career, he became progressively more disenchanted with a very dark side to warfare: profiteering from its tremendous consumption of resources, both human and non-human. This resulted in the writing and 1935 publication of an exposure of the actions of war mongers called War is a Racket, which is still in print. In his 1935 words, “War is a racket….It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

The second human being—one who comes to mind because of his great leadership qualities that earned him in 1942 the rank of General of the Army, and 10 years later the Presidency of the United States of America — President Dwight D Eisenhower. [click to continue…]

Meditation and the Pachelbel Kanon

This post is about my experience with guided imagery, meditation and the Pachelbel Kanon in D, and HOPE Attitudinal Healing support group work. When I was introduced to support groups in 1986, one of the first humans I met in the field was Bernie Siegel M.D., a cancer surgeon at Yale University. Bernie had started support groups in his practice for cancer patients and used what was known then as “guided imagery” to help them create healing images. I knew that I was to learn the method. As I was already a practitioner of silent meditation, I could see that both meditation and guided imagery took place in an internal environment of altered consciousness that was essentially the same in both.

As I studied and practiced the art, I began to see that the particular piece of music that Bernie used had a certain structure which induced an altered state of consciousness. It was easy to see that meditation was a condition of deeper alteration in consciousness than guided imagery was. As I began to use it in H.O.P.E. Group meetings as a part of the closing, I learned that some people went into states of deeply altered consciousness for the duration of the guided imagery… much like what I was used to experiencing in deep meditation. [click to continue…]

Both a Mystic and a Rebel

Both a Mystic and a Rebel am I: I have been told by a good friend and advisor that I am not only a mystic but a rebel, and after listening to my heart around this, I realize that I am a rebel… not one who is against something… rather one who is for something. For me, that something is life, creativity, passion, respect, devotion, love…. As these rich concepts—thoughts—that science cannot define—rise from heart to mind, I am aware that this has always been what I stood for. I have had many fine humans come forward to teach me more about this. I remember some of their names, and I have forgotten many of their names. Nevertheless I live with deep gratitude to every one of them for their gifts.

I started H.O.P.E. in 1987 as a support group for people who had cancer and who wanted to get on with their lives. The rebel in me was passionately in a rebellion for life but not against cancer which I simply saw is a mistake of life, sensing that virtually any mistake can be corrected. The McGill University Faculty of Medicine emphasized this apparent rebellious thinking and acting for the six years I spent there. In short, it was the context of life and caring for life that made all of my therapies work. My professors were those who taught me how to use the science and data of medicine to help my patients get on with their lives. My teachers were those who taught me about the value of life and helping people get on with their lives—my patients in particular. [click to continue…]

Tao Te Ching; Book of Changes; or, simply, the Tao

Come with me on an exploration of the ancient and classic Chinese text known as Tao Te Ching. The text, which is laid out in 81 sections, is often enigmatic, which, to the Western mind, can be very confusing. Over centuries, much time and thought has been spent exploring this work, creating a confusion of interpretations. The version created by Stephen Mitchell and published by HarperPerennial in 1988 appeals to me because Mitchell studied many translations of the text in several different languages and came to the realization that he could express this in a contemporary version. This has received both praise and criticism from scholars. However, he does not claim that this is a translation; it is a version and I happen to like it. It still leaves me with many challenging, contradictory thoughts that stimulate my creativity.

I will simply say that this work excites my love of the Mystery that I have never been able to explain; nor have I wanted to. I only spend time appreciating the profound Mystery of the very existence of the entire universe including you and me. [click to continue…]

Hate, Compassion, and Tonglen

Freeing oneself of hatred by practicing compassion…

You may well ask how hate, compassion, and Tonglen could possibly relate to each other… a single word will do… fear! Hate is a simple, animist, survival response to fear. Compassion transforms that response to peace. Tonglen is a specific practice of the breath that comes from the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and which makes that transformation a physical process.

Now, you may well ask how I might be familiar with all of this… my answer… my healing traditions; my choice to become a physician; my fascination with physiology (the study of bodily functions); and 40 years of helping myself and others with what can well be called “attitudinal healing”, especially that aspect which makes it possible to become peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. I have been shown in many ways that compassion is the attitude which makes the action of cutting attachments—forgiveness—possible. [click to continue…]

Love, honor, and respect all women

I invite you to come with me on a journey to love, honor, and respect all women. I share with you a segue of two quotes, the first from Carl Sagan: “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”

The second comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”

I began working on this post, “Love, honor, and respect all women” shortly after I had posted the one concerning our evolution from violence through nonviolence to peace. [click to continue…]

My December 31, 2014, blog post, Shame, Blame, and Guilt is a segue to this one: Violence, Nonviolence, and Peace: our past, present, and future. That first triplet, which I call “the cruel offspring of judgment” is the primary cause of all violence. In it, I pointed out that all harm comes from the misapplication of knowledge. From that we can imagine a beneficial application of knowledge. What then might the future look like were we to find a way to describe a beneficial application of knowledge and then to use it? I call that second triplet “our way home”. I invite you to explore this with me.

We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
Carl Jung

[click to continue…]

Shaman, a healer of soul wounds

A shaman is a healer of soul wounds. S-he is a human being who is able to travel to the realm of the soul of an individual or a community and heal the deep spiritual wounds of trauma—soul wounds—by retrieving the fragments of soul that have fled trauma to hang out in another realm, draining the host of life energy—Chi. By simple ritual(s) the shaman instills the fragment(s) back into their true home, restoring that energy to the rightful host. This simple description of a remarkably diverse set of healing practices found in virtually every corner of the earth comes to me from two masters of shamanic work here in America: Michael Harner, PhD, author of The Way of the Shaman, and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies www.shamanism.org
and his protégé, Sandra Ingerman, MA, author of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.

Sandra grew up in New York City, a chronically depressed New York teenager whose depression disappeared quickly when she went to work with a New York shaman. She was already familiar with Harner’s work, and in one of her deep depressions, a friend reminded her of her familiarity with him, saying (if I remember Sandra’s words correctly, nearly twenty years later), “Sandy you know Michael Harner… for G—d’s sake, go and get your soul back!” She did; she healed; she became active in his organization; and now has her own rich experience to share at www.sandraingerman.com/. I suggest you pay her a visit there to see how broad and rich her shamanic experience has become. [click to continue…]

Shame, Blame, and Guilt

… the cruel offspring of judgment.

Shame, blame, and guilt are cruel expressions of the practice of judgment that have been with us for many thousands of years… just look at the Old Testament to get an historical perspective of the ways through which we have sought to control self and others. Just look around you today… the cruel triplet is virtually everywhere in practically every news broadcast, and not uncommonly with several examples in a single broadcast! History tells us that the longer we spend focusing on this the more we are going to find of it and it’s evil stepchild, violence. Let us keep in mind that the more we focus on something, the bigger it becomes. This is a situation that is crying for change. I have the strong sense that today we are changing our addiction to believing that we can control our violent nature by more violence. I ask you to look at the harm that this practice has produced over these eons. We are so addicted to judgment and punishment that we have a difficult time even considering that there might be an alternative. There is… perceiving rather than judging and restorative justice rather than punishment… and I think it helps to know that we already know the alternative to violence—peace. [click to continue…]