Even as I broadcast my interest in all things spiritual to the known world (I now have Facebook fans in 17 countries -- welcome Ethiopia!) there's this little matter of coming out.
You see, while I've attracted like-minded people from everywhere, and a few, who frankly were a long shot to like or care about what I was writing, I've yet to tell a host of my creations.
That would include friends, relatives, acquaintances and business colleagues who haven't experienced this aspect of me. (On the other hand, there are also a few old friends who have seen me go through one of these "spiritual things" before and are just waiting for me to snap out of it.)
One reason I launched this blog was because I was moved to speak freely about who I am and what I am experiencing. It's that important to me to speak that truth to at least a selected few.
But I still feel I'm living a double life. Hell, how about a quadruple life? There are many (as I judge them) less than spiritual aspects of me that people know, so many different Anthonys and Tonys running around in parallel universes --the cynical journalist, the sports fanatic, the self-absorbed prick, the frivolous serial dater, the whiny victim of everything, the party animal, the uptight control freak. Sybil has nothing on me. But where once I was very comfortable living out these roles in my hologram -- to the point of misery in some cases -- I've become weary and ready to shed them.
That leaves me in a strange place. I don't feel any serious need to tell the uninitiated about my quest for peace, wholeness and abundance. My hologram and their hologram will plug along with no discernible difference as far as I know, whether I tell them or not.
Yet, I feel sometimes as if I'm hiding some dark secret and when certain people find out, oh, the consequences, the embarrassment, the reflections of incredulity, ridicule or just plain shock. I don't want to have to explain myself -- except maybe on this blog.
Now, the chances are equally good that I will receive acceptance and encouragement, maybe even from others who have been hiding their spirituality in the closet. That's cool. So I will remain neutral and curious about what is going to manifest.
In the meantime, I'll just keep doing the Busting Loose process.
As those of you who jumped ahead a few paragraphs ago know, this discomfort is rooted in my discomfort with my spiritual pursuits. At some level, I'm still unsure of what I'm doing with this strange new practice and that's reflected back to me. I'm still not sure I accept that part of me that seeks the peace of God.
I suppose that living the first 52 years of my life somewhat out of balance and integrity may be why I am where I am now. Perhaps it is residue from my guilt-inducing Catholic upbringing, a level of cynicism engendered by working in the news business for 25 years, my disdain for preachy "born again" Christians, my disappointment in previous spiritual practices, even feelings that I'm setting myself up for a fall again.
(I've also wanted to avoid being too "confessional" about this, hence the light-hearted tone to much of what I write. I was abruptly reminded of this a couple of months ago while informing my son of how Busting Loose had changed the way I am experiencing relationship and shedding the victim mentality.
He basically answered "Dad, that's good. I've heard about your girlfriends for 15 years. If I never have to hear about them again, that would be great.")
I know I have had judgments about certain things, even when I was in the midst of a practice. For instance, I was asked once to write a story for the paper on a woman who telepathically communicated with dogs. I had to draw the line somewhere. I had written about some woo woo things in my career, but this was my limit. I was certain of public humiliation if I wrote about this.
I make fun of certain other practices that have become commonplace in the New Age. I won't mention which because it's likely that many of you might enjoy these practices and find some benefit. But even as I was searching for truth, I was judging the path that others were taking, and by inference, judging myself.
I get that as I do the Process, these doubts are likely to drop away. I get than on an intellectual level.
But at some point, I must answer one question. Is my decision to live my life another, more authentic way, more important than keeping up the facade that has served me in Phase 1?
The answer is obvious, the faith to take the leap, not so obvious.
Perhaps it is enough to find a partner and a small group of friends that I am comfortable with. Perhaps not. I guess I will find out as life rolls on.
One of my great passions is learning the truth with a small "t" behind many of the things we take for granted. For me, it's practice for learning the Truth with a big "T."
For instance, most of us assume that giving a diamond wedding ring to the bride is an ancient custom passed down through the millenia. Nope, basically it was a slick advertising campaign started in the 1930s, and financed by the diamond cartel DeBeers, to boost a slumping diamond market. The marketing geniuses were able to turn essentially worthless carbon crystals (they are good for certain types of drills) into great symbols of courtship and marriage
And by creating the illusion that diamonds are gifts that should never be sold or given away, they protected the market for diamonds. Because unless you're holding on to the Hope diamond, the actual chances of you recovering the cost of the average diamond on the open market are pretty much nil.
So, while the diamond may not really be forever, we can rest assured the advertising will be.
Along those lines, a couple of stories, actually, a book and a news article caught my eye this week. One was a Time magazine article
about how overrated exercising at the gym is, especially when it comes to weight loss and fitness. As Robert Scheinfeld likes to say, "That's true, and somehow I've always known it."
The book, "Moneyball," by Michael Lewis takes the quest for truth to an entirely other level. It is a thoroughly joyful dismantling of many of the myths behind our great American pastime. For those of a more tender age, that would be Major League Baseball, not surfing for porn.
"Moneyball" tells the story of how the Oakland A's, one of the least financially viable franchises in baseball was able to put together a stunning run of successful seasons, competing against teams that had two or three times the amount of money to spend.
The key to it all, the author explains, was the willingness to throw out more than 100 years of baseball "wisdom" and start from scratch.
The A's management was Inspired by a generation of pioneering researchers, namely Bill James, who in the late 1970s began analyzing hallowed baseball statistics and devising new ways to look at the true value of baseball players and the underlying mechanics of the game. It was then up to A's general manager Billy Beane, to actually implement new strategies based on this knowledge and make them manifest on the field.
The revolution threw everyone off balance in the A's organization. The opinions of scouts, with decades worth of experiencing finding ballplayers fit for the major leagues, were suddenly discarded for computer printouts. The A's drafted many players sight unseen, based on new insights into their statistics.
Many of the players were unknown to the other teams, and a good lot of them didn't even resemble athletes. (one pitcher had two club feet) But they got the job done.
Essentially, Beane and company were able to see through the illusions of how the worth of players was typically judged (body size, foot speed, meaningless statistics) to realize what they actually produced on the field.
The same principles applied to the hoary traditions of baseball strategy and Beane saw that his teams played to the new paradigm. It took vision, nerve and diligence.
One interesting aspect of this was that the rest of major league baseball, with a couple of minor exceptions, either looked the other way, or attacked this attack against tradition, many without having ever read the book.
And teams continue to throw ungodly amounts of appreciation at ball players and continued to struggle, or like the Yankees and Red Sox, just buy everything in sight and sometimes succeeded. It's just easier to put power in the lie than it is to try another way.
As a practitioner of Busting Loose, this somehow all made sense. In baseball, the results don't lie. Either you won or you lost. With your spiritual practice, it either affects you, or it doesn't. It's pretty easy to tell if something is working.
So I don't know that anyone has attacked "Busting Loose," like they attacked "Moneyball," and I certainly hope not to manifest that. But as with the Oakland A's, Robert has gone against almost everything we hold as true in presenting a radically new philosophy of living and playing.
Be thankful you have the tools to challenge the lies and the courage to follow through. Batter up.
"A relationship was not meant to be the joining at the hip of two emotional invalids."
From "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson
As I was considering how I would follow up on my initial foray
into Phase 2 relationships, I was re-reading a book by Marianne Williamson which provides some cogent insights from A Course in Miracles.
I want to touch on several points that she makes because with just a little translation, we are reading what I believe is the explanation for unsatisfactory Phase 1 relationships and the blueprint for Phase 2 relationships.
Let's start with the big picture. The type of relationship most of us sought in the past (but not now, right?) is the result of cutting ourselves off from God. In Busting Loose terms, because we don't remember who we are, we end up seeking someone to cover up that niggling feeling that we're missing our infinitely abundant selves.
-- In ACIM, we are told that we are brought together with others for teaching purposes. Some for a short period of time -- the guy at the laundromat dressed in a garbage bag predicting the end of the world. Some for longer periods -the first ex-husband. Some forever -- you know who you are. In BL, other creations are here to reflect back something we feel about ourselves, give a gift of insight or set something in motion that supports us. The teaching part continues for as long as we need to do the Process to reclaim our power, then disappears. Intimate relationships just force us to do the learning a lot faster.
-- In ACIM, Williamson explains, that the "special relationship" makes other people -- their behavior, their choices, their opinions of us -- too important. It makes us think we need another person, when in fact, we are complete and whole as we are. Ditto for Busting Loose. We give power to the illusion of the "other," then are disappointed when our prince or princess doesn't lead us back to "Infiniteland" and our wholeness.
-- And one last item from "A Return to Love." "The purpose of the special relationship (Phase 1) is to teach us to hate ourselves, while the purpose of a holy relationship (Phase 2) is to heal our self-loathing."
Ouch. Where'd the fairy tale go?
Which gets me back to the original quote and the somewhat pathetic image that conjures up (although I still recognize even that
image as a Phase 1 miracle.) Phase 1 relationships are typically about looking for something "out there" because we "in here" are not good enough.
The belief in romantic love must be recognized for the less than truthful construction it is, leaving us to ponder the question of whether a true Phase 2 relationship means one that we don't actually have with another person.
In other words, since the relationship is always with ourselves (God, Expanded Self) do we really need that other person, or are they just getting in the way? In Phase 1, it seems apparent that Expanded Self wants us to experience the full range of feeling with another person, until we stop screaming long enough to pick up a copy of "Busting Loose."
In the expansion part of Phase 2, the intimate relationship provides us with more opportunities to feel discomfort, but this time with the option of doing the Process and reclaiming power.
But in the play phase of Phase 2, where we ultimately end up, we would be so joyful and expansive that we'd be happy with or without an intimate relationship.
Now, as usual, I leave a lot more questions than answers. But assuming you chose to have a relationship for fun, what might this alleged relationship look like? How long might it last? Does it involve multiple non-sexual partners? Does it involve sex at some point? How much sex? What kind of sex? Sorry, getting carried away. What I meant to say was how would an intimate relationship support our playing in Phase 2?
One of the great gifts of Busting Loose is the chance to re-invent ourselves on the playing field while we do the serious behind-the-scenes work through the Process. I'm seeing so many more possibilities that I didn't realize before.
I think for most of us, it's not on the level of gee, I'd like to be President of the United States. And, in fact, who really wants that? What a pain in the ass. I can't imagine having to spend 16 hours a day dealing with politicians, radio talk show hosts, angry vegetarians and the cast of "Fantasy Island," aka North Korea.
Frankly, as a guy and a Player, I'd rather grow up to be Johnny Depp -- all the notoriety and half the grief, 50 times the money, a 45-acre private island in the Bahamas, a creative outlet in the movies. Plus, I get to play a pirate. Arrgggh. Women, I'm thinking Oprah? Kate Winslett? Angela Merckel? I don't know, you tell me. We have plenty of creations to choose from.
(Oh, then there's the guy whose "job" was to eat his way through the two most famous culinary regions of Italy
and decide which made the best food. Arrrggh indeed.)
For me, it's started out on a little less grand level. it's a combination of realizing what I can play at now, and what I would like to discard. Sort of like the guy in a series of radio commercials for STP Oil, the "I don't wanna be that guy" guy. He laments not being able to do simple manly things like changing the oil in his car, home repairs or hunting. He knows more about cooking oil than motor oil. He wants to get grease on his hands.
I can relate. I don't want to be that guy who looks at everything through the prism of whether he can afford it or not.
I don't want to be that guy who sits in front of his computer 13 hours a day until his eyes bleed and his brain synapses fry because he's too lazy to get out of the house.
I don't want to be that guy who cruises travel sites every day, but never books a flight anywhere.
I don't want to be the guy who settles for a McDonald's hamburger when he could be eating sushi -- in Japan.
I don't want to be the guy who uses coupons at the grocery store.
I don't want to be the guy with basic cable when he could have HBO and Cinemax.
I don't want to be the guy who takes his date to an art reception because there will be free food and wine.
You get my point. Eventually, as I realize what I don't want to be, when I understand the limitations I've put on myself, then I can start playing in a bigger arena.
For example, I've noticed a change in my response to the question, "what do you do?" No, I'm not answering, "I seek enlightenment through a process called Busting Loose, so that I can realize my true essence as an infinitely abundant and joyful being." I haven't quite come out of the closet in that regard.
But now the answer is along the lines of, "Well, this week, I'm writing a screenplay and
solving the newspaper crisis." Or "Today, I'm producing a television show and
saving the non-profit arts community." Or "Next week, I'm launching an internet marketing campaign and
I'm going to give the local music scene an international presence and make it bigger than Austin."
I'm thinking bigger and more creatively. I don't want to confine myself. I'm realizing I'm more than just a persona defined by a certain set of skills and society's expectations -- and my own stories.
Plus I get bored easily. So one crusade morphs into another depending on whether I'm still having fun with it. But I'm expanding as a Player in ways I would never have considered before. I'm approaching people I would never have approached, just for the fun of doing it, and asking for things I would never have asked for, for the same reason.
The response isn't even important. It's the taking the chance that is fun.
Understanding we are living in an illusion of our own creation is the mother of re-invention. So take a minute and think about what you're doing this week. Anyone for tennis and
buying a villa in Tuscany? Thought so.
The Space & Times Sunday Book Review
Robert Scheinfeld's "Busting Loose From the Business Game" is the not-quite sequel to, the not-quite clone of, his bestselling "Busting Loose From the Money Game." After reading it this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised and I mean that as a huge compliment.
To put that in perspective, "Busting Loose From the Money Game" changed my life. To expect "Business Game" to change my life again is probably a bit much.
To be honest, I cracked "Business Game" expecting a re-hash of "Money Game," with some business buzzwords and concepts thrown in to appeal to a new market. And indeed, there is a definite appeal to the business-minded. But what makes the new book worth exploring is the combination of subtle re-wordings, added passages, shifts in emphasis and expanded explanations of Robert's basic philosophical message.
(For those not familiar with Robert's work, here is a link to my quick and dirty explanation
of what it's all about.)
So even though I consider myself well-versed in the principles of Busting Loose, I did come away with a deeper, more coherent understanding of them. I think there are two reasons for this.
I liken this experience to my repeated readings of A Course in Miracles in the '90s. I was intrigued by ACIM because the Truth was in it. (And I find ACIM very supportive of Busting Loose) I began to realize this when passages I had read and studied a dozen times, would suddenly reveal a new insight -- as I became ready to receive them. The Truth just gets deeper and deeper. I felt the same sensation as I read "Business Game."
But Robert has also obviously been listening to his creations and has done a good job of simply clarifying points that had caused confusion. My perfectionist aspect appreciates that.
Beginners will also appreciate the re-working. Although I do not hesitate to refer people to the "Money Game," the path through "Business Game," in my opinion, is easier to follow, the message more easily absorbed.
Here are a few examples of what jumped out at me, and forgive me if these things were actually in "Money Game" and I just missed them.
On page 113, Robert notes "A belief is nothing but an idea or concept we make up and accept as true. All beliefs are lies, Phase 1 Miracle illusions. There is no such thing as empowering beliefs. In Phase 2, we don't change beliefs, we exchange them for the truth.
" A subtle but important distinction.
On page 137, he writes that the Expanded Self will "Create patterns in The Field designed to support you in reexperiencing -- in various ways, shapes and forms through amazing stories -- the key limiting and restrictive patterns you created to lock yourself into Phase 1."
While most of us started the Busting Loose process with great anticipation, and dare I say, hope that things in our life would change immediately, Robert reminds us that we will have to re-visit and process the limiting patterns before we can actually bust loose. The reexperience is the first gift of Phase 2, although it may not feel like it.
Robert is a font of metaphors, and keeping track of all the eggs, cloud covers, holograms, movies and sports examples is a full-time game in itself. But I enjoyed the "prison break" metaphor he employs when discussing how most of us are "profoundly impatient" about the Busting Loose journey.
He likens the journey to being in (a Phase 1) prison and possessing only a spoon with which to dig an escape tunnel. We have no choice but to be patient. It is only our judgment about the time the journey takes that hinders us.
There are plenty of other examples, but the point is that for me, the author has made the process, purpose and experience of Phase 2 easier to understand in the "Business Game." I think for most readers being exposed to this radical philosophy for the first -- or second -- time, it makes the work more accessible.
Although on its surface, "Money Game" would seem to have a broader appeal among the public since nearly everyone is involved in the Money Game, not everyone in the Business Game, per se, I would probably recommend the "Business Game" over the "Money Game" if someone forced me to pick one.
But as we know, there are no wrong choices, and that is definitely the case here. I encourage you to read it yourself and let me know your experience of it.
You may order the book here
if you are so moved. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)
In the meantime, be sure to check back for my review of "The Quantum Activist," the new documentary about Amit Goswami. Also, thanks to everyone who came out to see the sneak preview of the movie, and my film, "The Language of Spirituality" on Saturday.
More than 20 years ago, I felt moved to explore Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, which involves among other things, chanting prayers twice a day and repeating the mantra nam myoho renge kyo.
It started when my former wife and I called a friend one afternoon and heard this mysterious chanting in the background. When we inquired about it, the friend invited us to a meeting the next week.
The wife and I both attended and met an interesting group of practitioners, participated in the chanting and talked afterwards. I felt a great sense of peace from the chanting and I was hooked. The wife, not so much. But that was okay, Different strokes.
I returned the next week and after chanting, the group sat and around and talked, led by a guy named Bob. I don't remember a whole lot of the discussion, but I remember Bob saying that once you started with the practice, something in your life would shift pretty quickly. It might be "bad," it might be "good," but something would change.
i nodded as if I knew, then went home. Within the week, the wife asked me for a divorce.
Now, I'm not going to lie and say that this was totally out of the blue. We had been working through our issues for some time. But divorce? Now? Really?
Literally, my first was reaction was, "Damn, Bob was right." Then I promptly settled into the illusion of pain, separation, self-doubt, hatred, devastation, fear for my son's well-being and all the other pleasant things we typically associate with divorce.
To my credit, I continued the daily rituals, attended meetings, even joined the local temple, as all about me my life seemed to be falling apart.
Thankfully, the request for divorce was not the only major shift in my life. I distinctly recall waking up one morning, about three months later, feeling a profound peace. I knew at that moment that I would survive the divorce and I would be happy again. I attribute that, too, to my diligent practice of nam myoho renge ko.
All this came flooding back as I read Robert Scheinfeld's new book, "Busting Loose From the Business Game." He goes on at length to explain that Busting Loose is not an overnight process, and that we can expect some serious changes.
In other words, the journey of spiritual transformation is not for wusses.
It's funny the beliefs that we've created around spirituality. Some critics view it as something that they don't have time for, a disembodied practice, designed for self-absorbed, navel-gazing vegan hippies and lost, mindless souls too weak to confront "reality" on its own terms. Spirituality is a cheap and easy escape to la la land. Don't let the door hit you in the aura on the way out.
In truth, many of us spiritual travelers began with an equally inaccurate view of the journey. We plunge in believing that learning this practice or this spiritual formula will help us "transcend" our earthly problems in a single bound. If only I do this, life will get "better." Don't forget to tape that new affirmation to the bathroom mirror.
Those of us who have played the spirituality game know better now. It's like walking into a biker bar at 1 a.m. Start something and the shit is going to hit the fan. Going deep into transformation requires courage and faith that few of us ever call upon.
So when certain other aspects cast a jaundiced eye at you, or sneeringly inquire, "still Busting Loose, are you?", just remember, you're on the spiritual equivalent of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. Run like hell and don't look back. You may get gored on the way, but it's going to be okay.
By the way, check back in Sunday for my review of "Busting Loose From the Business Game."