Another Way

    We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”
                        Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- Hunter S. Thompson

    When the late Mr. Thompson composed his savagely funny, drug-drenched indictment of the American Dream, he made it difficult for subsequent generations to write anything serious about Las Vegas, at least with a straight face. But I will try.
    When last we connected, I was on the road to the great mirage in the desert, to see what the next twist in my story line would be. I was neither light-headed nor seeing bats. But then again, that's probably due to the low-grade acid that was the only thing I could afford at the time.
    Otherwise, it was perfect. Here I was strapped for cash, headed for the place where money is a religion and the collection plate is shaped like a slot machine. Here I was, a firm believer that we live in an illusion of our own creation, headed straight for the city that is the epitome of fake.   
    The drive to Las Vegas from Albuquerque is about nine hours, give or take a pit stop or an orange barrel obstacle course. Unless you are an aficionado of the mesas and volcanic landscape of the high desert, it is a scenically unremarkable drive that veers sharply into ugliness by the time you hit the Mojave Desert.
    But once you wend your way through the hordes of lobster-colored tourists at Hoover Dam, past crystal blue Lake Mead and into the home stretch, and see the casinos gleaming in the distance, you must admire those who envisioned this sand-blasted Xanadu in the midst of some of the most coyote ugly terrain this side of Mars.
    I arrived at the New York-New York hotel in the late afternoon. For those of you, like me, who have not visited Vegas in some time, it contains not only a casino, but a fantasy version of New York City, meaning it's a humidity-free 68 degrees on a summer afternoon, there are no obnoxious cab drivers and the trash-filled sidewalks that make New York such an aromatic city in the summer are non-existent.
    It is truly a magnificent illusion and a dead-on representation of somebody's (mine) idea of what New York City might be like in a parallel universe.
    But that's why Las Vegas is not really a city, but a state of mind where anything is possible -- from a threesome with a midget hooker to a slot machine jackpot that changes your life forever.
    As much as I was wishing for the former, I came here to face my demons about money, as part of my Busting Loose process and the big payoff weighed heavily on my mind.
    I hoped against hope that I could do the Process a few times and then my Expanded Self would deem me worthy of receiving appreciation in the amount of say, 40 grand. Hey, I'm not greedy. But just that thought meant I was judging my current cash-poor hologram. And with judgment, inevitably comes disappointment. Damn. As Robert Scheinfeld loves to point out, to my great annoyance most of the time, you don't do the Process to change, fix or improve your hologram.
    On a deeper level, that kind of thinking means that I didn't trust the Truth of my infinite abundance. I was quickly watching the odds against my winning anything go sky high.

    What was I doing here? What was the meaning of this trip? Was I just roaming around in a drug frenzy of some kind? Or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story? Who are these people, these faces? Where do they come from? They look like caricatures of used car dealers from Dallas, and sweet Jesus, there were a hell of a lot of them at 4:30 on a Sunday morning, still humping the American dream, that vision of the big winner somehow emerging from the last minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino.
                                                                    Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

    So it comes as no big shock that I didn't hit the super-mega-giant jackpot. I know you're all disappointed. In fact, I came away from Sin City a bit lighter in the wallet. (You did know that sin in Spanish means "without?")     
    In fact, the entire weekend was one long lesson on my stories about money. What did I learn? Nothing that the lot of you who have been to Vegas don't already know. If you're Busting Loose From the Money Game, Vegas is where it'll be in your face.
    Whether you have money or not, if you're not Busted Loose, it will bring up every discomfort you have about money, because no matter what you spend it on, somewhere in Las Vegas there is something better and more expensive to spend it on -- bigger pitchers of margaritas, swankier and more exclusive clubs, hotter nightclub acts, bigger-breasted escorts, more expensive hotel rooms and smaller midget hookers.
    Unless you're truly Busted Loose, Las Vegas will keep challenging you to really believe in your abundance and express appreciation.
    I wish I could say I trusted the Process. But I didn't. I realized, at least for this weekend, I preferred to bleed to death slowly at the 5-cent slot machines, than take a real chance on my abundance. I returned home, somewhat disappointed that I had not only not passed the test, I had not really taken it. I had feared and loathed instead of having the faith to take the great leap.
    But it turns out, Expanded Self is going to give me a second chance to trust.
    As I was recovering Monday morning from my trip, secure in the knowledge that I still had a roof over my head and an inexpensive place to live, my housemate and owner of the home where I live, let me know that I would have to be moving out by the end of September. Nothing personal, he needed the room for his daughter.  
    Another great adventure awaits. What can I say?
    In the meantime, at least I returned with the satisfaction that some things happened to me in Vegas that will have to stay in Vegas -- and for that I'm eternally grateful.    
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    For me, Robert Scheinfeld's theory that we come to earth to play the Human Game because we like playing games didn't ring true.
    Sure, playing and winning challenging games is always fun. But why would we deprive ourselves of our power, wisdom and joy in the name of playing a game? Then, assuming we willingly jump to the physical world, why do we have a compulsion to struggle or make ourselves miserable? That just didn't make sense to me.
     But as I listened to the history of storytelling the other day from a screenwriting instructor, Robert's "Busting Loose" game metaphor started to come into focus.
    The instructor, Chris Soth, detailed the history of storytelling, from the first grunts around the campfire to the high art of such contemporary films as "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector." It's so amazing to see how far we've come, huh?
    A key point in storytelling theory was Sigmund Freud's "Pleasure Principle." According to Freud, we are always seeking pleasure in the most broad sense, and pleasure comes from the release of tension. We eat to relieve hunger. We sleep to relieve fatigue. We have sex to, well, if I need to explain that one, maybe you shouldn't be reading this.
    Sure, we say we go bowling for the camaraderie of our beer-drinking buds and the chance to wear those really hip bowling shoes, but Freud would say it's really for the primal pleasure of waiting in anticipation as the ball rolls down the alley, then crashes in to the pins, knocking them flying. Secondarily, it's to whip the nacho-breath nerds from accounting.
    That's just how we humans are hardwired, or have created ourselves to appear hardwired.
    It's the same with screenwriting. In telling a cinematic story, you have to build the tension to make the climax worth experiencing.  
    In Chris' formula, tension equals hope vs. fear. We're hoping x happens, but we fear y will happen. Throw in some limits and restrictions. Repeat over and over and you've got a movie.
    So the challenge to the screenwriter is to ratchet up the tension by setting the expectations high and the consequences of failure even higher.
    "Will the boy get the girl?" "Will the career criminal pull off one last heist?" Will Arnold get save the planet?" (We'll settle for California at this point) "Will the slutty cheerleaders escape the axe murderer"
    Yet as compelling as the movies are, they obviously have nothing on our own stories in terms of tension, complexity, resolution and way too many sequels.
    I was reminded of just how talented a screenwriter our Expanded Self is while reading the Sunday newspaper recently.
    There was an article about a Nebraska man who stole a valuable painting of the Virgin Mary to finance an abortion in predominantly Catholic Mexico for a teen he raped. That has more layers than the late Tammy Faye's foundation makeup.
    In an even more tragic story, a man killed his swimsuit model wife and dumped her body in a suitcase, minus her teeth and fingers. He apparently assumed that police would never be able to identify his wife, thus he would not be caught.
    And except for the serial numbers they found on her breast implants, he might have gotten away with it.  
    Neither a million monkeys or a studio full of writers would have ever come up with those stories, and Expanded Self churns them out by the billions on a daily basis, all for our edification.
    So when it comes to the Human Game, the more interesting the game, the more at stake, the more tension, the more the pleasure when it's released. That's why I believe we Infinite Beings choose to play the game of limitation and restriction here as humans, at least until we get our fill and return to pure consciousness.
    It also makes sense when Robert says that Phase 2 is not about logic or planning, but about feeling and experience. If we repress emotion, chances are there won't be much feeling or experience. Thus, no tension, no release and no pleasure.
    I've been thinking about this a lot because my Expanded Self has concocted a suspenseful plot for the total immersion movie I'm starring in, one that's been building tension for a while and now is starting to get scary in one respect. It's also one that many of you are apparently playing a variation of now.
    Widely respected, multi-talented and extremely humble middle-aged writer, media producer and entrepreneur has created a hologram seemingly devoid of incoming appreciation (money), and is living on savings, which are quickly evaporating. He's lucky to have a roof over his head and he may not have a car by the end of the year. He thinks often about the embarrassment of standing in line at the soup kitchen with the other writers.
    At a loss as to how to overcome his predicament, he continues to do the Process to see what arises. The answer?
    A road trip to Las Vega$, of course.
    You see where this is going?
    A little fear, a little hope. And that's just Act 1.
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In part 3 of my interview with Robert Scheinfeld, he answers a "fascinating" question from an Another Way fan, explains the purpose of limit and restriction, talks about "finger-snapping magic," and gives a sneak preview about his next live event and his newest projects, which will include live, interactive webcasts on the relationship game, the body game and when the going gets tough in Phase 2. Check out part 1 here and part 2 here, or go to the Busting Loose page and scroll to the bottom to listen to all three segments.
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    In part 2 of this interview with Robert Scheinfeld, he discusses:
     -- Whether it matters if science proves his Busting Loose theories
     -- What it was like in 'no man's land" before Robert Busted Loose.
     -- The difference between Busting Loose and Fake it Until You Make it
     -- Collision learning vs. direct learning -- the value of bumping into illusions
     -- Living life wIthout (a bank) balance
     -- Whether he feels pressure to be "Robert Scheinfeld, teacher"
Listen to part 1 here.
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     I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert this week. We talked about a lot of subjects during our wide-ranging discussion and I'll be presenting the interview in three parts this week. Among the topics we discussed in Part 1 were:
     Why he chose to write about the Business Game
     The process of writing the new book
     The important difference between changing your limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs, and exchanging your limiting beliefs for the truth, and why the former doesn't work
     He explains how the power of intention lies with Expanded Self and why most self-help practices don't work
     How judgment keeps us from expanding. If you think something is not okay in your life, you're creating an illusion, and keeping yourself limited and restricted. Thus, if you try to create a result, you're energizing the belief that you have doubts about your own power.
    This interview is geared toward Phase 2 players, although he does include an explanation of the Busting Loose concept. If you're not up to speed, you might want to refer to the Busting Loose page first and scroll to the bottom to find more information. Otherwise, click on the icon below to listen to part 1.
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    Just how far are you willing to go on your journey of awakening? Are you ready to relinquish your life as you know it?
    These questions came to me as I listened to the words of Adyashanti, one of my favorite teachers, from his CD "The End of Your World." 
    It seems that the longer we follow our spiritual impulses, the more our ego dares us to play a game of "Chicken," like Buzz in the famous racing scene with James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause."
    Will we have the nerve to make the jump to complete awakening, or bail out before we get there? I ask this question because I see this doubt reflected back to me from many practitioners of Busting Loose. Can you really never worry about money or taxes? Can you really create anything you want and do whatever you want to do without limitation? Can you really always be in a state of bliss?
    The ego is betting that we won't have the nerve to go all the way to find out, and it's got a lot riding on the outcome.
    But what is the ego, exactly? That gets tricky. Robert Scheinfeld would probably say that it's simply another false construct we've created in the hologram and given power to. And he would be right.
    In Adyashanti's words, it's the false sense of self that we carry within us. It's the aggregator of all the beliefs, opinions, concepts and thoughts that make up our identity, which manifests in a body at a particular point in space. And he would be right.
    Our ego likes the body. It gives the ego a sense of solidity and reality that the mind alone could not. And by collapsing the wave form into this one possibility, it keeps us from all the other possibilities. In truth, we are everything and everywhere. The ego just makes us seem separate.
    As we've learned, beliefs, thoughts and bodies are illusory. The ego knows that, too. Its answer is to just keep us thinking, worrying about the future and trying to make itself indispensable.
    To do that, our ego ditches our true self in line to make sure it gets first crack at filtering and interpreting everything we experience.
    "When we hear someone speaking, we actually hear what we think about what they're saying." Adyashanti states. We don't actually hear what is, until maybe two weeks later when we have that V-8 moment of realization.
    When we feel ourselves losing our sense of reality, the first thing we usually grasp for is a thought, like "This can't be happening, I'm Donald Trump."  A thought. Think about that. That's as ridiculous as the Donald's combover.
    When we have doubt, that's the ego speaking to us. Even Robert relates his "dark nights of the soul," when the ego let him know in no uncertain terms that the journey was way too challenging, intense and overwhelming. Fortunately, he persevered.
    As Adyashanti describes it, enlightenment -- the extended version of awakening -- is no longer believing what you think. By extension, if you are no longer believing what you think, then ego disappears, and light can enter, at least until we believe another thought. But do that enough times and ego really gets upset. That's why we seem to engender obstacles as we get closer to breaking through the cloud cover.
    What does unbelief look like? How can we remain undefined by thought and still live? Don't look at me.
    I know that at this point in my Phase 2 journey, no matter how many experiences I have of the process having an effect, I still want another one. I still want to be convinced. I still don't trust. I'm still grasping on to old beliefs. The ego's got me right where it wants me, for now.
    But I always know there is hope. I remind myself of what Robert says, that we're not here to exchange beliefs, but to exchange beliefs for the truth, by doing the process. In the meantime, we can't do anything wrong, no matter what the ego tells us, and some day, I'll just sit back and marvel at what a great creation the ego was.
    Adyashanti has a slightly different take. "Part of being awake is being willing to be crucified," he says. "The threat of death can't control an enlightened being."
    Either way, we have to be fearless, or we're just going through the motions.
    Speaking of V-8 moments, perhaps this scene from the end of "Thelma and Louise" of the girls going over the cliff in their Thunderbird is closer to the spirit of what I'm talking about. After all, Buzz didn't really want to take the leap. His sleeve got stuck.     
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    Can we truly appreciate how wondrous our lives are?
    I was contemplating that last night as I drove home in my zippy red Hyundai, my Ipod blasting vintage Prince, fresh from enjoying a sumptuous dinner, watching the clouds turn a glorious pink as the sun set over New Mexico.  
    You've probably experienced some variation of this recently.
     There is not a religion or spiritual practice or Stuart Smalley desk calendar that doesn't tell us we should express appreciation for everything we're blessed with, whether it looks like we're blessed or not.
    With the exception of the sunset, we've experienced something that 99 percent of the beings who have ever lived on this planet would never know.
    But who's missed out, us or them? I think it's us. We've made true appreciation nearly impossible, at least in this country, in this time.
    There was a PBS show a couple years back, "Frontier House," that popped three modern families in the ol' Wayback Machine and transported them to 1880s Montana.
    As the cameras rolled, they built houses from trees they cut, made hay, raised livestock, hauled water, grew vegetables and wore uncomfortable clothes made from corn stalks. (I made that last one up.)
    Tensions ran high, in families and between families. Food supplies ran low. Wild animals threatened them. Then there was the woman who cried about not having make-up. Seriously.
    By the end of the show, it was determined that one of the families would not have survived the winter (most likely due to the great Make-up Famine of 1883). A second one had a chance. The third would probably have made it.
    It was good drama, as good as you can get on a fake reality show.
    An experience like that might benefit some of us. Instead of forcing everyone to buy health insurance, maybe the government ought to force us to re-live that show for a season or two. I mean the best survival story some of us have is about living on ramen noodles and Pabst Blue Ribbon in college.
    But let's take it a step further. How about we pretend we're a tribe of hunter-gatherers? We've got to traverse the steppes of central Asia and hunt down a mastodon with rocks and spears while we survive on ant dung.
    Assuming you weren't gored, and the 15 of you dragged the bastard back to camp, skinned it, carved it up and put it on a spit -- over a fire it took three hours to get going, not counting hunting for wood -- wouldn't that meat taste great? The best tasting meat you've ever had, right? Until next week, or next month, or whenever the next mastodon or the next squirrel, wandered by. In the meantime, you might pray to the mastodon god or sacrifice a virgin or two. That's how much you'd appreciate it.
    I can't say I've ever gone wanting, but I do recall a good lesson in appreciation. A few years ago, I was invited to participate in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony.
    Inside the structure, it soon became heatstroke hot, especially for a novice like me. I remember one of the other participants asking if anyone ever died during one of the ceremonies, and the leader replying matter-of-factly that he'd witnessed participants die, more than once.
    As I sat there braising, I remember curling my fingers beneath the edge of the enclosure, just to feel the winter air outside and know that if I could keep my fingers cool, I might just survive.
    About an hour or two into the ceremony, we each drank a few sips of water from a ladle passed around in the dark. Still the best water I have ever tasted.
    By the time we exited the sweat lodge, the temperature had dropped to below freezing and it was dark and snowing outside. I crawled out, sweaty, clad only in my underwear, hands and knees sinking into deep mud, dazed and nearly blind (without my glasses, I can't see shit.) It was the most primordial feeling I've ever experienced. I stood up, unsteady. I could not find my glasses or my clothes and I could feel the cold air, which for a few moments felt heavenly, begin to freeze the sweat on my back.  
    Someone managed to locate my glasses, or I would have known not only the spelling of hypothermia, but the actual meaning of it. I dressed quickly and joined the rest of my fellow lodge-dwellers in a warm house, with wall-to-wall food.
    But the feast was beside the point. After the sweat, I would have eaten bark beetles with ketchup and liked it.
    In a time when a life and death decisions revolve around what kind of Chardonnay to bring to the housewarming, things just don't seem as precious, or miraculous, as they really are.
    Nowadays it takes a death, or at least a near-death experience to register on our Richter scale of appreciation, and even that appreciation tends to fade with time.
    Which begs the question, if we can't appreciate the simple gifts of daily life, can we ever really appreciate ourselves in a spiritual sense?
    For many of us, that is the crucial question. If you are in the process of awakening you know that appreciation is a key.
    If you further accept the Busting Loose proposition that we manifest our own reality from consciousness, and that we are infinitely abundant, powerful and loving beings, then there is a lot to appreciate -- both the amazing illusions we've created and the Truth about ourselves. It seems pretty simple.
    But it also seems the bigger the miracle, the more we take it for granted.
    I'm thinking maybe the key to appreciation is in Robert Scheinfeld's statement that Phase 2 is about feeling and experience.
    No need to jump the Grand Canyon on a Harley. But do something simple. Men, next time you're in the meat department of your grocery store selecting steaks for dinner, take a moment and imagine you're picking up a slice of filet mastodon. Go back about 10,000 years and remember just what a thrill it was to kill that sucker, and just how good that meat tasted.
    Ladies, next time you're in the cosmetics department holding some Estee Lauder Turbo Lash Motion Mascara, think back to the old days and imagine how long it took to gather the plants to make the dyes to allow you to paint blue and red spots on your face for the solstice celebration.
    It's a first step.
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    For most of the past week, I attended a conference in Albuquerque called "The Language of Spirit." The conference brings together a mosaic of people from around the world to dialogue about such weighty matters as consciousness, science and the nature of reality.
    The conference featured a number of different viewpoints and speakers, from Aborigines and indigenous North American scholars to pasty-white Irish storytellers and theoretical physicists from England and India.
    The idea is for the participants to put forth their thoughts, ideas and worldviews on the matters at hand, which this year were bundled up under the theme "Space and Place." From all these varied viewpoints, the theory goes, we can begin to weave the tapestry of reality.
    I was thinking about this as I was trying to write a blog entry about "communication" in "relationships." Pre-Busting Loose, one of the bedrock beliefs in my relationship game has been that honest "communication" between two individuals in an intimate relationship will result in something meaningful. Not sure what, but something meaningful. More connection. Make-up sex. Less co-dependence. I don't know.
    Now, I've got a whole theory that "communication" is, for most of us, just the web of stories we accumulate and repeat to each other in never-ending patterns, and that we should just dismiss them and move on. But as I was writing it, I reflected upon the conference speakers. The one's with theories certainly made a contribution. But it was the stories, not the theories I heard, that will stay with me.
    One woman told a story about a great spiritual healing that took place at the site of a massacre of an Aboriginal community in Australia, more than 100 years after the event. Most of us were holding back tears by the end.
    The pasty Irish storyteller (I kid you, James) told a wonderful story about visiting his deceased mother's home in Ireland with one of his sons, and finding the spirit of his mother still there, in a spring spouting the sweetest water his son had ever tasted.
    A woman from an indigenous tribe told about a man diagnosed with incurable cancer whose life changed when he decided to raise buffalo instead of undergoing life-extending treatment suggested by his doctor. The man is alive and healthy, several years after his death sentence.
    We learned of the secret lives of mice and rocks, lizards and trees, birds and mountains, through the many stories that were told and songs that were sung. I came away enriched by the experience of hearing these life-affirming stories.
    The conference reminded me that storytelling is our most ancient art, our most ancient way to pass down wisdom, our most ancient way to reach each other on a deep level.
    So when some smartass like me tries to tell you that your psychotic behavior is the result of you hanging on to your stupid "stories," and you can fix that by just not believing them, well, even I have to pause for a moment.
    It is human nature to want to be understood and to express ourselves. That is why storytelling has such a a grip on us. So we even cling to the stories that maybe don't point to enlightenment:  "I'm a victim of love," "I'm a woman who loves too much," "nobody appreciates/understands me," and  "he left me for that little whore;" yada, yada, yada as my spirit guides from "Seinfeld" like to say. They may be unhelpful stories -- unhelpful in helping us expand in Phase 2 -- but they're our unhelpful stories.
    Many of us will fight for them to the end. I remember meeting a disgruntled man at a personal transformation workshop who was complaining about his divorce -- 10 years after the fact.
    In Busting Loose, Robert Scheinfeld correctly notes that in Phase 1, we focus on our stories and beliefs and illusions, energizing and giving them power. Power that is rightfully ours.
    The solution is to exchange the stories and lies for the truth of who we are. I get that. But somehow it seems aesthetically unsatisfying. I mean, as great as the truth is -- that we are infinitely abundant, joyful, wise, powerful and loving -- it does seem kind of boring. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
    So let's move toward truth, but let's be gentle. Let's respect our stories no matter what they say, They are after all, like all our creations in Phase 1, miracles. But let the old ones that don't support us go quietly and if we must have stories, let's create some new ones that point us in the right direction.
    I'm reminded of where I was a year ago, in the throes of a separation from my partner. I was conjuring up re-runs of grade B horror movies about being unlovable, unappreciated, rejected and having screwed up yet another promising relationship. It was a familiar story.
    But the story has changed. What my partner reflected back to me at that time set me on a new path, looking for another way. I see the bigger story in my more lucid moments and appreciate everything she and my Expanded Self had to tell me. As a writer and filmmaker, I will always love telling stories. But now I can glimpse the truth, and that's a happy beginning.


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    As I've become more aware of my ingrained habits and beliefs, I've been noticing just how many judgments I make a day.
    I don't like it, but to stop being judgmental is sort off like trying to quit a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit.
    If only there was a patch to get me through those moments when I just have to make a judgment.
    I can't stop myself. Just one more judgment, my ego insists. It can't hurt. Quit tomorrow. Just one more. Then I light up.
    At least at those times, I'm making a choice. Most of the time, I just blow through judgments without thinking, force of habit.
    I've actually stopped for a few days at a time, but then i get in rush hour traffic, or argue with a loved one and I just have to have a judgment. Next thing, I'm stopping at a 24-hour convenience store to pick up some more.
    I've tried "judgment lights," softening my judgments of myself and others. But that doesn't work either, because there is no order of judgment. A small one has just as much impact as a big one, spiritually speaking. Filters are useless. I've event tried the "natural" judgments, the ones without harmful additives like "consequences." But the act of judging is still us telling our Expanded Selves that what we've created is not good enough, instead of recognizing it for the miracle it is.
    I just have to stop, period.
    Like many others, I got hooked in my formative years. I wasn't even legally old enough to have judgment, but I could always get someone to sell it to me. I thought it was cool to be judgmental. In high school, I used to hang out with the other judges, judging those less talented and fortunate and cool. We'd sneak a judgment at lunch and then after school in the parking lot.
    It continued through college, where I was introduced to many other types of judgment, including some that were mind altering. By the time I'd graduated, I could judge others in many more ways, through science, politics and even literature. I think we called it being intelligent and discriminating back then. Nice euphemisms. But by whatever name, it was addictive.
    I eventually went into the newspaper business, a high pressure job that had me drinking coffee and making judgments all day just to get by. We weren't officially allowed to make judgments in the newsroom, that was against our code of ethics, but it happened anyway. In fact, some editors secretly rewarded judgmental reporters and the editorial writers simply flaunted their judgment. It was a weird double standard.
    Although the health risks of judging had been known for a long time, just knowing that judgments were turning my soul black was not enough for me, and millions of others, to quit. This was something that was beyond reason. You could have stamped the warning on the side of every self-help book I ever read, and it wouldn't have made a difference.
    But now in my 50s, I've begun to see the damage it's done to me. I suffer from shortness of patience. My clothes, home and car all smell like judgment. Long airplane flights just kill me. Potential girlfriends can smell the judgment on my breath. I've even found that judgment can be harmful to pregnant thoughts or actions, damaging or destroying them before they could even form. But worst of all, I've done all that judging, and I've still gained weight.
    Now that my circle of friends has changed and I'm creating more and more spiritually attuned people to come into my life, I'm embarrassed to judge in front of them, so I sometimes have to step outside on the patio to have a judgment. I feel alienated. But maybe that's the first step toward recovery.
    Those in the know insist that the harmful effects of judging can be reversed, but I have to stop judging. I'm sure there is a 12-step program out there somewhere. Perhaps Robert Scheinfeld is at this very moment creating a Busting Loose from The Judgment Game program. I hope so.
    In the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to change my consciousness about judgment.     
    But if you know where I can get some spiritual help, please let me know.
    In other words, anybody got a light?
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    I've been attending a truly interesting and enlightening conference the last few days called "The Language of Spirit."   There have been several notable presenters -- physicists David Peat (Blackfoot Physics) and Amit Goswami (What the Bleep Do We Know?), author David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous) and James O'Dea, the former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, among others.
    But the purpose of the conference is the bringing together of western and Native American ways of knowing about science, consciousness, reality and related topics. The centerpiece is a three-day dialogue among some 20 participants from various backgrounds and countries, from quantum physicists to Aboriginal storytellers.
    The idea is not to debate, but simply to present various viewpoints on a given topic and see if some consensus can be arrived at.
    This year's focus has been on "Space and Place," and what that means from all these perspectives.
    The individual presentations and the group dialogue have prompted  a bunch of deep thoughts and reflections on how I experience my world.
    But first and foremost, the idea has come to me is that if I thought Busting Loose was radical, it's really got nothing on the worldviews of most of the participants.
    I guess where we would diverge is that the participants here, to a person, feel a sense of urgency to solve the world's problems, especially those associated with the environment.
    As I mentioned in a recent post, I don't feel that sense of urgency or even minor interest in most of this, because I've moved into the understanding that everything "out there" is truly made up and illusory. As I change my consciousness, the world around me changes accordingly.
    But as I listen to these passionate and intelligent people I've created, sometimes a shred of doubt begins to creep in. Is this some kind of message for me? Has my understanding and practice of Busting Loose caused me to become too cavalier about the whole concept of the world as illusion?
    I can see sometimes how taking a radical view could be a smokescreen for my apathy, and apathy is not high on the list of things that I want to bring to the world, illusory or not.
    I know that Robert Scheinfeld would say that if taking on a cause truly supports you in Phase 2, and you get fun or enjoyment out of pursuing some solution, then do it. There's nothing wrong with it. Just remember the cause and the solution are both illusions.
    But then I hear an Aboriginal woman talk about her people's sacred relationship to the land, and how that relationship nurtures the people and the land, and I almost feel obligated to wander the deserts of Australia with her on a walkabout.
    I should be concerned about world peace, right?
    The moderator, Leroy LIttle Bear, reminds us that to enter into this type of dialogue, it is necessary to get rid of our "tacit infrastructures" -- the concepts and beliefs that accumulate in us over time -- so that we can be ready to receive new knowledge from new places.
    (I must interject a note here. Leroy helped start these dialogues in 1992, and is one of the wisest and funniest people I know. After a participant related the experience of going to sleep and dreaming that he flew through his bedroom window, Leroy deadpanned, "Was it paneless?")
    This concept of "tacit infrastructures" obviously jibes with Robert's concepts, in that we humans tend to buy into the rules of games that we will never win while playing in the hologram. That's always a good ground for me.
    It seems to me that the divergence is on this question of beliefs, but not in the way you might think. Robert has encapsulated it well in his new book: we're not here to change beliefs, but to exchange them for the Truth. I'm hoping the group will move from simply wanting to change the beliefs of others to getting to the Truth in this dialogue.
    Leroy, who is Blackfoot, also explained how a particular problem might be resolved in a tribal setting. Someone would come to a relative or friend with a particular issue. The relative would present it to the talking circle and the elders would each speak their piece.
    But instead of the circle issuing a decree, the person who brought the problem to the circle would be asked to take the wisdom of the group with him and solve the problem.
    That's pretty much where I am as we enter the second day of dialogue. I'll be listening and learning and coming up with my own solution about just how involved I will be with the issues of the outer world. And if anybody knows of a cheap flight to Australia, let me know.     

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