Deep Reflections for The New Year – postscript

January 21, 2011

Yesterday I had a dream that seemed very relevant to my reflections at the beginning of the year. ( I am with my spiritual community. My teacher Atum is around but not visible. I am not sure if I am

My Teacher Atum in Assisi

leading the group or one of the stragglers. I see  some of the group ahead; they are running into what appears to be a desert canyon; I follow slowly because I am wearing an inappropriate pair of old slippers, worn down at the heels, like my father used to wear.

Next I have emerged through the canyon and am walking carefully down a rocky trail. the scene now is very bright, lovely sunshine, blue, calm water ahead of me. It is a lovely summer day. I get to the end of the trail that appears to disappear into the water. The only way to continue seems to be through the water to a point I can see on the other side. It looks like a long way to swim but then I observe that under the water is a rope with submerged buoys that I can use as a guide rope. I get into the water and follow the rope comfortably across. En route, I notice a boat, a long native style boat that appears to be a ferry transporting some well-dressed travelers.

I climb out of the water and realize I have no shoes. I go back to the water’s edge and find a pair of submerged gloves that I try unsuccessfully to pull on my feet. They are flimsy, soaking wet and there is no way. I realize that I can go no higher without shoes.

This dream perplexes me. It suggests that I have lost my belief structure (shoes = understanding) and that in the early part of the dream I am held back by old beliefs. It is clearly about my spiritual journey as Atum is an archetype in my dreams for the spiritual aspect of my life. The scenery is consistent with some of the landscapes of the soul: the desert, the rocky path, the water, and being submerged in water often represents the unconscious. My feelings in the dream are quite peaceful, I recall no great anxiety even at being left behind or not being able to go higher.

It is during a dream partner session with my friend Indrus that the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. It is amazing the power of having someone else consciously hold your dream and speak it back to you. Often a shift occurs and as she related my dream. I realized that this was an affirmation of two experiences. First the reflection on my current beliefs and my willingness to let go of my old need for certainty. (the old slippers) and my recognition that at the moment I am prepared to live in the mystery and trust that I will be guided (not having shoes). The submerged rope is the assurance that guidance comes through the unconscious or the feminine. Secondly my computer “miracle” ( that helped me realize I can’t chase after a new belief system that may not fit me (putting gloves on my feet). I will find one when I am ready and then the journey can continue.

It is lovely to have such a powerful dream just before I commence a series of dream evenings. (

Dream Evening One

January 21, 2011

I am so pleased that you are interested in my dream evenings. It is my intention to offer a series of four evenings to explore dreams and active imagination. The concept of dream work emanated with Sigmund Freud and was refined by Carl Jung. We all dream six or seven times a night but frequently dreams never make it into conscious awareness. Not all dreams have the same value and we will learn to differentiate types of dreams.

The first evening will focus on:

1) Learning to differentiate types of dreams and discern which are likely to be meaningful.

2) How to facilitate remembering dreams and keeping track.

3) To explore the principles of dream analysis and how to tend a dream.

4) To do some preliminary exploration of the relationship between the imagination and dreams and how symbols are created in dreams.

Cost $20.00

Date and Time: Wednesday January 26th 7.30 to 9.30 pm and February 2nd same time.

Please register before attending with

Location: 1938 West 6th Ave, Vancouver

One block and a half blocks west of Burrard, between Cyprus and Maple.

Items to bring: a pen and a journal

This Being Human Is A Guesthouse

January 21, 2011

“The dark thought, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whomever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Rumi

It is a source of deep astonishment and wonder that long before Freud, Jung and Adler, in fact over seven-hundred years ago, the poet Rumi pronounced a wisdom that would be at home in depth psychology today. His amazing poem The Guest House reminds us that hidden within the darker responses of our lives are gifts. Recently I was reminded of this poem by an incident in my own life that did not seem welcome at all when it occurred but as Rumi predicted has become an avenue for my own growth and learning.

The genesis of my experience rests in the fact that my sister Chris’s sixtieth birthday this year and my wonderful

The Amazing Amy

niece Amy, musician extraordinaire has been attempting to organize a special event to celebrate the occasion. Her entreaties to her mother were met by a distinct lack of cooperation. “I definitely don’t want a party; in fact I am not sure if I want to be here” was the response. “So mum if you could have anything you wanted what would it be?” “A bodywork session with Dana Barton in Vancouver.” was the somewhat flippant response but it caused the resourceful Amy to spring into action. Considering Vancouver is approximately 4,700 miles from where they live and there were four of them to consider, this was no insignificant task yet within two weeks Amy had organized dates, accommodation, the requisite bodywork appointment and flight bookings were in process.

This is the point that I had an iChat conversation with my sister Chris; Amy had spoken to me earlier and I had received information on the timing from a mutual friend; I could see my sister was absolutely thrilled by Amy’s thoughtfulness and organizational skills and I offered to host a dinner for her birthday at my place. Her response was not what I expected as she told me that Amy who was organizing a restaurant dinner for a group of mutual friends who had already been invited. She then suggested I could host a dinner another night and to my horror I heard myself say “No, it’s your birthday or not at all.” Even as the words were leaving my mouth, I knew I was being triggered. This kind of reaction and the energy I felt in that moment is always a sign that something in me is disturbed. I felt astonished and embarrassed by my response and I did some rapid processing that I rightly or wrongly shared. In the moment I was trying to explain why I had said something so ridiculous; I have learned to recognize that when I react with that kind of energy, hurt feelings are somewhere in the mix. At first I thought it was because I had been left out of the loop and the last one to hear of their plans. However upon reflection the wound seemed too new; I have worked before on the wound around “being taken for granted” and this felt like something I had not worked on before. It was not until the following morning that the pieces fell into place. At the core of my reaction was having my gift rejected. As I journaled about the interaction with my sister I could feel a visceral, body response of sadness and shame at the rejection. It was the response of a child to having a gift spurned by a parent, I sense that at some time my father may have failed to appreciate a child’s loving gift and the sore spot was created, waiting for the appropriate moment to surface.

So why now? I think that most men have learned to stay well away from these old irritants because we learn to avoid emotion because it hurts. However I have made a very concrete commitment to attempt to break down the barriers around my heart and this is a way the soul brings the experience of healing. It may be painful but as Rumi suggests it is a gift from beyond.

The Guest House by Rumi

“This being human is a guest house, Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of furniture. Still treat each guest honourably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whomever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Coincidence, Synchronicity or Miracle?

January 17, 2011

It all started with a simple decision to buy an Apple TV, a simple device that hooks up to your TV and allows you to wirelessly transmit from your computer to your TV. It is amazing technology although the one flaw I discovered was that all the programming has to be channeled through iTunes so videos I have downloaded on my computer won’t necessarily be picked up. I was excited to connect up and test it out however on my laptop, an iBook G4 I discovered that I could not connect because I required iTunes 10, and that required an updated operating system. “No problem”, I thought, “I have a copy of OS 10.5, and all I have to do is load it.”

Of course, memory being so fallible I had forgotten that there was no such thing as simple when it came to installing a new operating system. First I needed to clear more space on my hard drive, then I had to custom install as I still had limited capacity however eventually I began the installation and all seemed to go well when the process just stopped and an error message popped up. I tried to restart the computer and at this juncture my worst nightmare began to unfold. All I could get was a blank screen and a message that said, “local host:/ roots#” “What the &@#!! does that mean?” After some time I manage to complete the whole cycle a second time. I cannot load the new system and I seem to have lost the original one.

I am now completely out of my depth and feeling quite despondent now I have managed to turn a functioning computer into an inert box. I join two Mac Forums and post a plaintive plea for assistance. I get no replies. I call my local MAC repair service and am told that it is likely my computer is toast, I have tried to load a system too powerful for it and likely wrecked the hard drive; it will cost me $90 to find out which is basically a waste of my money.  I sit for a moment trying to avoid the sense of despair that comes from being so dumb then I pick up my spirits and decide that this is the excuse I am looking for to buy an iPad, something I have lusted for some time. Timing is a bit inconvenient as the new generation is not due out until later in the year however, I still have my desk top and my iPod, so impact will be minimal except when I travel.

By the time I take myself out for an Americano and a long walk around the beautiful seawall in Kitsilano I am feeling detached and surrendered. En route I encounter a beautiful bald eagle coming in to land on a totem pole, an auspicious sign as the eagle normally signifies Spirit at action in my life. Although in the moment it does not feel totally appropriate, I enjoy the magnificent image of this giant predator gracefully landing its 60” wingspan on a pinnacle above my head. About half an hour later, there was a synchronicity that proved significant. I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a MAC sign, a store that does service and sells second hand computers. This is not a place I regularly frequent but I felt drawn to get a second opinion. At first I was berated for not realizing that my computer could not handle the new OS Leopard, then my confidence was further eroded by confirmation that I was “screwed” but then a glimmer of hope. I could try and use utilities to “partition” my disk, which may then allow me to load the original software. It was with limited enthusiasm that I embarked on a venture that based on my usual success rate would achieve squat however with minimal difficulty I managed the partition. It is amazing that 37 gigabytes of information can be wiped clean in the blink of an eye. Then my first stumbling block, how to eject the disk from a computer with no operating system. I was again at a complete loss but had good fortune when I entered a query into the Mac Forum and found an answer. Press Option, Command, O and F at the same time while pressing the restart button. This took a little manual dexterity (try it if you don’t believe me) but the disk shot out like a flying saucer. I began to feel a certain sense of optimism, I had already found the original OS disks that came with the computer, so I started to install and sat mesmerized as the first disk loaded seamlessly onto the cleaned drive. My euphoria was not to last, midway through the second disk I watched horrified as an error message popped up and the disk ejected. I was stunned and tried again with the same result. I waited a while then attempted to continue a third time, no luck – I was no further ahead than when I started. I had a computer that may or may not be working but without an operating system, I would never know. Sadly I resisted the temptation to shut it down as I suspected it would not restart. I put it to sleep for the night then followed suit myself. To say the least it had been a frustrating day.

The next morning I awoke and as is my custom, I began my morning mindfulness meditation practice. I was fascinated to watch my mind obsess over the computer; it was like a dog worrying a bone; it did not want to let it go; I would bring my attention back to my breath and then notice myself revert to worrying about my computer. Yet from this observation emerged something of value. It crossed my mind that in my obsession to fix it I had given no consideration to whether this experience had anything to teach me. In addition I ignored a number of clear signs warning me not to go forward. Then an insight: for someone who set an intention every morning to live a soul directed life guided by synchronicity and serendipity, and to find meaning from the experiences of my life, I had been remarkably obtuse and resistant. Clearly, as far as this computer fiasco was concerned, I was not walking my talk. I had ignored the signs that I should not load Leopard at all; I had not looked for any deeper meaning rather I had become obsessive about fixing the problem on the level that it had occurred. It is a key practice as a spiritual coach to explore the relationship between the outer circumstances of your life and the inner journey but I had been acting as though the inner journey was not a factor. I knew my next step was to explore what the metaphysical meaning of my experience could be and how it may relate to the journey of the soul.

I began to journal looking for relevant connections between my frustration with the computer and my life’s journey. I recalled that many years ago my computer problems had often functioned as extensions of my consciousness. I started by the presumption that the existing operating system is my current state of consciousness. The metaphor began to flow; I desire to evolve as a spiritual being; occasionally I may get off track and try to embark on a path for which I am not suited or perhaps for which I am not ready; I will receive clear signs not to proceed but if I ignore them and push ahead I will get stuck.

Suddenly the fog clears and I know what this is about. Recently I was given a book for my birthday by a dear friend, with the intriguing title Pregnant Darkness, Alchemy and The Rebirth of Consciousness, but I realize I am struggling through it because I think I owe it to my friend. I have tried twice before to explore alchemy; once with a book called The Philosopher’s Stone followed by one titled The Emerald Garden; I could finish neither of them. Many of my friends have taken an eighteen-month program with my teacher Atum but when I subjected this issue to my DecisionClarity model I got a clear “No”. It seems clear to me that I should not pursue alchemy for a spiritual evolution. For some reason it just isn’t my path. As Ram Dass once said, “we can only become as conscious as we are ready, we can’t rush our evolution.”

I felt complete with the inner journey so I planned to take the computer to the Mac store to have the software reloaded, it may cost a few bucks but hopefully it will be working again. However later in the day I wondered half seriously whether now I had done the inner work the software would install. Somewhat self-consciously, I loaded in the disk and moved over to my other computer. I expected at any moment to hear the disk eject but the minutes moved into half an hour and slowly but surely the blue line extended across the screen indicating that the data was still loading. I decided not to look in case I jinxed the operation but finally leaned over and to my delight I saw the words, “Welcome to OSX Tiger” My computer was born again! Although I had to reload the music, photos and key files, it could all be done wirelessly and my computer worked better than before, as some previous glitches appear to have disappeared. Like a phoenix it had risen from the ashes to be completely renewed. Coincidence, synchronicity or miracle – I know what I believe.

Deep Reflections For The New Year

January 14, 2011

I am sitting with my lovely niece Wendy having a delightful lunch in Hemingway’s in Yorkville when she sprang a


question on me that I was not expecting. “So what do you believe in at the moment?” It is the beginning of the New Year and my annual visit to friends and family in Toronto and Oakville and it seemed a perfect contemplation for a new year. My beliefs have continually shifted form atheist twenty years ago, to a theist perhaps in the late nineties to something that is perhaps much more a mystery and therefore more difficult to define. I responded by saying that the foundation of my belief was the conviction that there was an essential element of the human being that survived the body. I like to refer to it as the soul. Exactly what survives I have no idea but I am convinced that something does – be it our energy, our essence, our spirit, our higher self – does not really matter. As the renowned teacher/philosopher Jean Houston says, “you are more than you think you are and something in you knows it” I am convinced that I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

My certainty diminishes at this point. I suspect that we are an aspect of something much greater than our individual selves but what, is a mystery. The word God does not bother me as long as it represents this mystery; we could also use creation, universe, cosmos, nature, spirit, presence, again the naming is less critical than letting go of certainty. I like the word ineffable: too great or intense to be expressed in words; unutterable, too sacred to be uttered, indescribable; indefinable. I suspect that as human beings we are not capable of understanding God. In the Torah there is a story that when Moses asked to see God’s face the response was, “I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

I think trying to understand God is a bit like trying to comprehend the universe from the perspective of an inhabitant of planet earth, one planet of a fairly insignificant star in a backwater spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy that contains another 400 million such celestial bodies. That is daunting enough but to then see the Milky Way as only one of a possible 100 billion galaxies. That boggles the mind so why would we expect to comprehend the nature of Divine principle whatever that may mean.

I like to think of the God principle as a process of order unfolding out of chaos although on a macro scale that belief can be sorely tested by the numerous calamities on a global scale. Yet on the micro scale, in my own life, I feel that my soul journey is sustained and supported in its evolution by some force I don’t really comprehend. The moments of awe, wonder and mystery that defy the logical paradigm. Writer Julia Cameron once observed, “Synchronicity, coincidence, reinforcement and serendipity – these are friendly companions that clearly speak to me of higher realms.”

Although I crave to believe in a loving supportive Divine presence, I have to admit that from my purely human perspective it does not always look that way. Although at times the power and creativity of human love and imagination can inspire, the paradox of humanity’s dark side is deeply disillusioning. So I use the word mystery a lot, it helps me deal with the uneven hand of justice in the world.

Based on my own experience of this mystery and mystical experience, all of us have the capacity to interact with the divine but early encounters with mystical experience can be so powerful that we become convinced that we are unique and that our insight is to be proclaimed to others. I recall a time of great passion and enthusiasm for my new beliefs at the Unity Church that my ex-wife referred to it as my “Messianic” period. All of us, with no exception, channel the mystery through our human experience and therefore no channel is entirely pure, and free of contamination from the ego. As the poet Rabia said, “no one knows anything about god and those who say they do are just troublemakers” It is tragic how much damage those troublemakers do in the world as they insist on imposing their projection of this mystery on others.

I love the concept that I encountered first at Unity School that we are God experiencing itself and that God needs us as much as we need God. Perhaps consciousness is an evolutionary process supported by the Divine Mystery. Sometimes I need to be reminded on the dark days, that humanity has evolved positively during the past 500 years just not at the same pace. But of course time is an imagined human construct and who knows how long this journey may really be and what seems like lifetimes are but an instant in cosmic time.