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8 Traits That Can Halt & End A Relationship Easily

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What are new love affairs made of? Butterflies and rainbows. Fantasies and dreams. Sex that makes your toes curl spiced with passionate screams.  These are the things new love affairs are made of.  End scene. Exit characters. Time to face reality.

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Falling in love has always made my head spin, in a beautiful flowy way. At least that’s what I thought in those moments. And each and every time, I eventually became dizzy, lost control, and bumped into the wall of reality. People are complicated and falling in love has a tricky way of gently coating this fact. So a challenge arose from this, one of the toughest I’ve encountered.

This magical encounter rekindles our longing to belong to someone deeply and have this other person belong to us. It’s almost inexplicable what exactly attracts us to a particular woman or man, and maybe that is precisely what turns us into unconscious love zombies where it’s ‘lights out’ and our vision becomes blurred.

It may be interesting to pause for a moment and inquire — maybe for the sake of being truthful to ourselves or our partners, maybe for the sake of taking responsibility for those moments of unconsciousness and its consequences, and maybe just for the sake of sheer curiosity to understand how our minds work. We may find signs that can reveal precious information to us about what we’re looking for, what we desire, or what we should run away from.

It’s worthwhile taking a moment and becoming aware of some red flags that may be true about your current love relationship or looking back at some relationships from the past or new ones that are forming right now. Not necessarily in order to end or change them, but rather to create conscious choice and less projection into them.

Here are a few of these red lights that can provide insight into the deeper dynamics behind what we call ‘love.’ Remember, it’s not necessarily about changing these, but being aware of what experience they might create. Mindfulness is key here.

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I love your potential.

Potential is something everyone has. There is a sincere longing in most people to manifest that potential, but on the path of life there may be innumerable circumstances and misunderstandings that won’t allow us to realize it.

It is beautiful to recognize someone’s potential, but to build a relationship based on it is a wild bet at best. Even more than that, if that potential is not realized, we will usually feel disappointed because the love for it also carried the expectation and even the demand for its manifestation.

You challenge me to grow.

Suddenly there is someone out there who doesn’t allow us to find the easy way out, but demands that we  give our best and try harder. Who doesn’t want someone to believe in us?  In most cases this need to push another originates from our own need to discover something more in ourselves.

However, once the challenge has been taken and accomplished, we no longer have the need for that person to push us and the relationship lacks that urgency for change.

I can learn so much from you. (Imbalance)

This is more so about when we have an imbalance in roles. Learning from each other is what relationships are about. But what happens when just YOU see the other as a teacher? One partner becomes superior and the other inferior, as the teacher is leading the relationship and the other is following. The result is dependence.

In most cases the teacher doesn’t take his or her partner seriously and subsequently the mutual respect is hurt. The student can feel the imbalance and won’t feel good enough. Over time, once more matured, the student will look for a more balanced partnership.

I love someone much older or younger than me.

Love can cross many boundaries and age is one of them. When there is a large age gap it also means that one has already lived significant life stages while the other has not. Having a family is one such significant life experience. In order for partnerships to work it is important that both can look forward into a joint future, which for many people means having children. And for older partners this means being ready to start over again, while for the younger it’s critical to respect the past the older partner is coming with into the relationship.

You are a special person.

Who doesn’t want to feel special? We all do, and yet it is perhaps one of the most common relationship traps. “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met” is a common sentence when we’re in love, and yet, come on. It is a way for us to feel special by being with such a special person, but as time does it’s thing, we sober up and begin meeting the ordinary person our partner is.

Wanting and often manipulating the relationship to stay special by way of idealization is a sure way to stay blind to who our partner is and to avoid mature love. Oddly enough, a deep love needs to acknowledge the ordinariness both bring into the partnership, and find the love and care that wants to nourish this ordinariness by moving through the ups and downs of life.

‘I love your quirks’ and ‘I love you back because you love them.’

You surely know the personal traits of your partner that you found so cute and different at the outset of the love affair. Maybe it was an obsession with detail or an awkwardness when talking to people. In any case, it is only a matter of time until the quirk will create a division between you and your partner.

What we call quirks are often a distortion in our personality and they often create pain for ourselves and others. Seeing one another for who we really are is an act of love.

Our values and cultural backgrounds are not important; our love can withstand everything.

It is a high aspiration for us all to move beyond religion, traditions, beliefs, languages or any other defining characteristics. Yet our cultural upbringing can subconsciously define us. It gives us a large part of our identity and sets us apart from others. Often cultural differences within the same country can impact a relationship. Our background in many ways is our parents and as much as we want to break free, we are deeply connected to our roots.

A love that discards those difference dismisses what we deeply love, and that is our family and cultural heritage. Even if we call it a blind love, it still is love. Respecting our love for what is familiar keeps us humble to what is true to us, instead of using idealism to look away at what sets us apart.

No doubt that these difference are meaningless on a deeper level and as spiritual beings, but still need to be met with respect and awareness.

Our intimacy creates such strong connection.

Sexual chemistry between two people is a substantial and important connecting force. We can be blinded by strong sexual attraction and chemistry, and label it as love. Good sex or intimacy can point to physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled, and at the same time we need to ask ourselves if other areas of the relationship are working well too. Intimacy often serves as an escape from dealing with our inner complexities and fear when it comes to relating with another person, while giving the impression that a deep connection is present.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 3: The Shadow)

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Illustration by Adan Ye

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

3. The Shadow

Well past midnight in a home on the island of Allandon, the village schoolteacher was retiring to bed and noticed the light on in the room of her son, who was known to the villagers as ‘the young philosopher’. Upon entering, she saw him in his familiar place, sitting at his desk buried in a mountain of heavy tomes.

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“It is past midnight, my son,” said the schoolteacher. “Time for you to be in bed, I should think.”

“I am contemplating the mystery of being, mother. I don’t think I can rest until I have found the answer.”

“And you imagine that through study and contemplation you will one day have an answer?”

“If I am dedicated and persistent, yes.”

She smiled. “Do you see your shadow cast by the light of the candle?”

“Yes.”

“What is that shadow?”

“Well—it is darkness,” the young philosopher replied.

Suddenly his mother blew out the candle, sending the room into pitch blackness. “Now where is your shadow?” she asked.

“I can’t see it,” he said, “not without the light.”

“But your shadow hasn’t changed. It was darkness and it still is darkness.”

“That’s true.”

“Perhaps, with dedication and persistence, you will eventually find it.”

The boy thought for a minute. “Or perhaps I should go to bed,” he said.

My formal education gave me valuable information about the philosophy of life, and with it a sense of knowing-it-all. My real education started when an insight gradually revealed itself to me: whenever I felt I knew exactly what life was, I was actually the most in the dark about life. To know life is to limit life, to get cut off from the mystery that makes it fun to be alive. This is where my seriousness runs roughshod over possibilities, and why I am excited that the new conversation has the potential to open them up to me again.

The new conversation is not about knowing. It is about the thrill of exploring life with an open heart and mind. When two or more people approach their interactions this way, the magic of new insights and possibilities for life are never far behind. I have come to notice in my conversations that whenever I start to provide answers, the energy and vitality of the conversation ebbs away. For the most part people aren’t looking for answers, even when they ask the questions. They are looking for someone who knows how to listen and inquire with them. When I don’t know, when I am curious and prepared to learn, then the conversations I am in have the potential to be dynamic, probing, and meaningful.

Consider the times you have been in a conversation with a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on how you should live. I’m sure you have come across this person before, in the form of a parent, teacher, neighbor, or boss. How does it feel to be the receiver of this one-way instruction? There is really no dynamic, nothing to do in this conversation but nod and wonder when they will stop. We all had plenty of experience with this type of conversation when we were young children. But we are grown up now. And that doesn’t mean that it’s our turn to be the expert. It means we can choose a different way of relating to people and sharing our ideas.

If you are just looking for answers, there are plenty of people in our society willing to provide them for you. However, when you enter into the new conversation looking for answers, you might notice your questions getting thrown back at you. In the matter of how to live our own lives, each of us is our own expert. Only we know our own truth. No matter how wise someone may be, they don’t have the authority to tell you that you really want to become a doctor. Or that you should enjoy exercising. Or that you have no reason to be sad. It’s time now to stop looking for people to tell us who we are and how we should live. We need courage to come out and say what’s true for us, and shake off the pressure of having to conform to the opinions and beliefs of others.

Of course it’s difficult. We have been conditioned to believe that our truth isn’t good enough, that we need to do what is acceptable to others, we need to have the answer. But there is no definitive answer. And accepting this is not tantamount to admitting our stupidity. Quite the opposite. Socrates used to say ‘All I know is that I know nothing,’ and yet he was considered the wisest man in ancient Athens. To a certain extent life will always be about trying to figure out what life is about. Learning to be free from the need for certainty keeps all doors open for passionate exploration. Like peeling an onion with an infinite center, life always reveals itself with new questions that are deeper than the answers it provides.

Whether you are actively involved in the game of trying to figuring life out or you are sitting on the sidelines, life itself goes on. If you are not asking the questions, life is sure to bring them to you eventually—and probably when you least expect it. Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych never questioned what he did in life. He always informed himself by the opinions of others and his society. But in the serene quiet of his death bed,

…the question suddenly occurred to him: “What if my whole life has been wrong?”

It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend.

Ivan Ilych became painfully clear in the last few moments of his life that he had not attended to the faint impulses he felt that seemed to question the manner in which he was living his life. In tracing back the whole of his existence he suddenly realized that he had not actually lived. He had spent his entire life in the realm of the known and had not participated in the mystery, the wonder, the joy, the game that life is. While we are often frustrated when life doesn’t work out the way we planned, perhaps instead we need to celebrate the unpredictability of life. Most often it is just those unforeseen and spontaneous experiences in our lives that become the most memorable.

Now—it is a fundamental desire of human nature to search for and give meaning to things. We are built for learning and growth and evolution. We each at some point have to face the darkness of life’s mysteries and attempt to shed some light on them. The beauty is that we can do it in our own way. It doesn’t matter in the end where you are in the inquiry, or what system you are following. You could lean towards the distinctions of psychology or philosophy or history or sociology or any other human discipline. You could be informed by Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, or some other spiritual tradition. You could consider yourself agnostic or an atheist. You may have been formally inquiring into the nature of human life for years or are just awakening to a desire for greater self-awareness. It doesn’t matter. Wherever you are, you are somewhere on the path of your life. And where you are is just perfect. You may be asking questions such as, ‘Why am I always so tired?’, ‘How come I never have enough money?’ or ‘When will I find true love?’. These are just some of the many lines of inquiry into life and self-awareness, no less valid than asking ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What is the meaning of life?’. In the end they all represent the drive that is in each one of us to find our true happiness in this life, and fulfill whatever purpose we believe we have for being here.

We are not without help. Today we have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of the giants that have come before, leading us to a greater understanding of the meaning of life itself. The greatest descriptions come from the myths, poems, parables, and stories that don’t try to explain what life is but rather point to its mystery so that we all can be inspired to live better. The Bible, the Qu’ran, the Vedas and the many other sacred texts were not created to provide us with an exclusive resource to the essential truth; they were all designed to point to the ultimate source of being that defies description. When we interpret these texts literally and follow their words blindly, we miss the very point for which they were written. The written words are many times removed from a greater authority on being: our personal and collective experience of life itself. Any actions we take as a result of reading from these texts needs first to resonate deep within us. None of these writings are the last word in themselves, they are all chapters in a much larger book, the sacred text of life itself. Each one contributes profoundly from a given perspective—but it is still ultimately only one perspective.

Today, we are starting to be able to discern the metaphor from the message, the connotation from the denotation. When understood as metaphors for something complex and yet familiar to each one of us as human beings, these texts serve us in providing a possible way to look at life that can empower us and help us to evolve. The new conversation is about just that—an exchange of ideas and perspectives that we consciously engage in to facilitate our own growth and the evolution of consciousness itself.

It is my intention in this book to enter into the flow of the new conversation with you. As our conversation progresses, it will become more and more apparent that one person’s point of view is nothing more than that, my own being no more or less valuable than yours. The question to really ask is whether or not your way of seeing things is working for you, or if you are open to the possibility that a different perspective could be of benefit to your life. My words are put out here as something to consider, to experiment with, and to evaluate critically. I will trust that you will take from it that part which serves you, and leave whatever does not. The conversation continues on only when each of us feels that we might have something to learn from each other, and that our current positions are not fixed and absolute but rather flexible and relative to where we are in our lives. This can apply to even the most fundamental and supposedly immutable truths that we live by.

It is comfortable to stand in one place, to hold a view with certainty. However, if there were really only one view in life, if there was only one truth, would we not have arrived at it by now? Would we not all be living in peace under the clear superiority of one particular way of looking at the world? True peace is found not when one has discovered the answer, but when one comes to fully appreciate that life can be no more than the inquiry. So often we hear that it is the journey, and not the destination. Our great satisfaction in being here is the ongoing discovery of why we are here at ever deepening levels. We know in our hearts that there is something that binds us together, and the greatest joy that we can experience may be in discovering how each of us is a part of a unified whole, individuals as completely different as snowflakes, and yet sharing something so essential that it is not impossible to think of all of humanity as one family. It would seem to me that the strength of any one view lies not in the focus of its vision, but in its capacity to encompass the greatest diversity of human activity.

The ideas at the root of the new conversation are not all new. They have come to us from every corner of the near and distant past, from wise men and women of all different cultures. What is perhaps new is the way these ideas, some which come from traditions that seem diametrically opposed to each other, are being looked at and appreciated side by side. When the conversation is grounded in acceptance, it becomes possible to begin to transcend history, language, and perspective and peer into the many facets of the same unseen world that informs them.

In other words you don’t have to be Buddhist to appreciate or learn from the wisdom of Buddha, nor do you need to be Christian to revere the lessons of Jesus. The Bhagavad-Gita and other sacred Hindu texts can have an appeal to all people. It is no coincidence that great spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama have many adorers from all walks of life. Such transcendent masters have appeal because they focus on what is common in the desires and needs of all human beings, not simply devotees to their tradition.

The manner in which the great traditions of thought differ, much in the way that people differ from one another, needs no longer be a point of contention in terms of which is right and which is wrong. They are like individual brushstrokes of varying length, color and texture that make up the masterpiece. And when we can learn to appreciate the variety, and come to understand the different ways that life can be viewed and lived, it cannot help but enhance our understanding of life itself.

The new conversation gives us the opportunity to look anew at the enduring ideas of the past, and infuse an emerging vocabulary into our dialogues that is shedding greater light on these ideas. More and more our verbal languages contain words from other cultures, showing how our respective cultures are having a greater influence on how each of us sees the world. The move is on to know our authentic selves not by identifying once and for all which is the ‘right’ tradition of thought, but through a conversation that taps into the full spectrum of human traditions.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 2: The Lawyer)

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Illustration by Adan Ye

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

2. The Lawyer

The main village road on the island of Allandon was predominantly a bright and colorful façade of shops and businesses of all different kinds. Only a few buildings in the older section were dull and run-down, and on this day the village renovator and his young apprentice were setting about gutting and restoring one of those buildings as the owner had recently died.

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On their way in, the renovator tapped his crowbar on the rusted metallic shingle hanging in the front that read Attorney-at-Law.

“This building was owned by the village lawyer,” the renovator said. “Poor fellow, he died a lonely man. It had been years since anyone had asked him to represent them.”

“Why, he couldn’t win a case?”

“Quite the opposite—he never lost a case! He was so good at clearly expressing his client’s side of a dispute that the decision always went in his favor.”

“So how come people stopped hiring him?”

“Well, he’s really only got himself to blame,” laughed the renovator. “He would always brag that he could win either side of any dispute, which was probably true—that’s how good he was. But as a result it slowly dawned on the people here in the village that both sides of a dispute could be seen to have merit if they were properly heard. We spoke about it amongst ourselves and came to realize that if we just learned how to listen to each other better, we could resolve our disputes ourselves.”

They walked into the building. The lawyer’s office was thick with dust, and cobwebs had started to form up the sides of his large oak desk. The renovator plopped down on the big leather chair and put his feet up on the desk.

“The great thing is, we eventually learned to resolve our disputes in a way that satisfied both sides. We tried to explain to the lawyer that we had found a better way to resolve disputes.”

“What did he say?”

“He dismissed it. He argued that we would go back to our old ways. So he came into his office every morning and sat here waiting for clients to come in. But they stopped coming.”

And you couldn’t convince him that things had really changed?”

“Convince him?” the renovator laughed. “This man made his living on being right. He didn’t know how to lose an argument.”

“Maybe that’s why he died lonely,” the apprentice said.

Twenty years ago I thought that I was well on my way to having life figured out. I had a Master’s Degree in Existential Philosophy and I had studied the History of Western Civilization at the prestigious Liberal Arts College in Montreal. Never mind that other people didn’t always agree with my beliefs about life, I felt that they hadn’t studied enough or simply weren’t intelligent enough to grasp what I was saying.

Ouch.

To me a great conversation was one in which I was able to convince someone to agree with my way of thinking, through the use of relentless logic and pertinent facts. And if I could be persuasive even when I wasn’t rock-sure about my position, all the greater was the accomplishment. I once convinced one of my peers to abandon his thesis proposal after arguing that it was flawed. When I later bragged to some classmates that I knew virtually nothing on the subject, I couldn’t understand why they were not fully impressed by my feat. There seemed to be no conversation more satisfying to me than convincing others of my point of view. Whether the other person benefited from the conversation didn’t really enter into the equation for me.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was setting myself up for quite a fall. In fact, I’ve been knocked off my high horse a number of times since then. Some of the bruises to my ego were so deep that I feel fortunate that I survived to tell the tale.

One such experience happened shortly after I graduated. I was introduced to a New Age discussion group that was hosted by a friend of my father’s named Steve. The group would discuss the work of some of the writers of the time such as Richard Bach, Ram Dass, Carlos Castaneda and others. What I found intriguing about the meetings was that, although I usually felt tired and unmotivated on my way there, the atmosphere and the conversation would always make me feel incredibly alive and energized by the time I left.

When my first ten week session had ended, Steve thought that my background in philosophy would make me a great facilitator for the group’s next session. I agreed to do it on the condition that each member made a commitment to be there for all the meetings. The previous session was more informal in this regard but I figured this was the least everyone could do if I was going to spend the time preparing for each meeting. As it turns out, they kept their end of the bargain while I ended up spending very little time preparing for each meeting. On the day of the meeting I would just think of a topic that I was familiar enough with and scratch out a few notes.

The group conversations that I was orchestrating had one simple dynamic: I would put a controversial idea out to the group and take up the position opposite to the general consensus. It seemed easy for me to argue my points. The participants usually could provide no evidence to substantiate what they said. They would simply say that’s how they felt or that’s what they believed, and so I left each week feeling that my arguments had prevailed.

What I didn’t feel at the end of each week was the energy and aliveness that had come during every meeting when Steve was facilitating. It just wasn’t there. The other participants might have noticed it too, but as they had made a commitment, they showed up every week without complaint. By the final week I was quite happy that the session was ending. It had become nothing less than a chore for me. As usual I presented the topic for the evening, and challenged one of the more reticent participants to give his opinion. But instead of speaking about the topic, he blurted out, “Richard, I don’t think it should be this way!”

I was taken aback. I collected myself and asked him to explain what he meant, but he felt that his outburst was out of line, and he apologized. He was going to address the topic, but I asked him again what he meant by that comment. He looked around at the others, and then took a slow breath and began to elaborate. And did he have a lot to say! He had noticed that the mood during the meetings were more serious and confrontational than they had been in the past. He felt that instead of arguing and debating, we should be sharing with and understanding each other. The more he spoke, the more embarrassed I became.

When he had finished, I decided that instead of moving forward with the topic, I would ask everyone else how the past ten weeks had gone for them. I figured I would get some different opinions that would give me some ammunition to counter what he had said. But one after another, each one echoed very similar comments. I was starting to feel that my facilitation had been a stark and unequivocal failure, and what was worse, I had been completely oblivious to it for the whole ten-week session.

But while their words seemed such a negative indictment of me, none of them had a hint of bitterness or anger. They all spoke with respect and compassion, almost apologetically. When it came around to Steve, the last person to speak, he simply offered a warm acknowledgment for my willingness to sit quietly and listen to it all. It was truly difficult for me to hold back tears.

The conversation surrounding how miserably I had failed as a facilitator lasted the entire two hours of the meeting, and by the time Steve had finished his comments it was time for us to go. But instead of all running off at the end as we had done the previous weeks, we hung around outside and talked for several more hours, well past midnight. We laughed and joked and felt an unbelievable connection to each other. The energy and lightness that I had felt in Steve’s sessions had come back. This final meeting turned out to be by far the best one that I had facilitated!

The lesson was big for me, and it took months to fully sink in. I came to realize that my judgment of the participants as shallow simpletons who were lacking conviction was way off base, as most judgments are. They just had nothing to prove, and their depth was in their compassion, their humanity, and their authenticity. This was my first real life lesson in the art of the conversation, where there didn’t need to be winners or losers, and where everyone can take something away including a real sense of connectedness with one other. I went into that facilitation thinking I had something to teach, and left realizing I had so much to learn.

I now believe that we all have a strong need and a deep longing for authentic conversation, in today’s society more than ever. I spent ten weeks trying to show everyone how smart I was, but it was only when the conversation became real—when I stopped having something to prove, and people were able to say what they really felt—that there was some kind of meaningful exchange. And where there is meaningful exchange, that is where true learning can take place, and a real connection can be felt.

There is risk involved, no question about it. We have a fear of being ridiculed, of being made wrong, and so we often conform to accepted opinion even if we don’t agree with it. When this happens, it’s no wonder we leave such exchanges feeling uninspired. We have a deep desire to express what we think and explore our unique perspective on things. There is no better time than now for each of us to look more deeply into the way we express ourselves, and no less importantly the way we provide an environment for others to express themselves.

The rules of the new conversation are simple in a way. Speak our deepest truth and allow others to do the same. We allow others to do the same when we are genuinely curious about what they might have to say. We acknowledge their triumphs and courage, and commiserate with their losses and sorrow. But this must be authentic, not some surface act of political correctness. Better to tell someone straight out that you don’t care about their story and leave the conversation. And what if we have trouble being authentic, what if we cannot help but judge other people? Then we can have that be the subject of our conversation. The new conversation can support this—especially this—since it is honest. The new conversation brings us close to our highest levels of vulnerability and authenticity. Of course it’s difficult to be authentic all the time, but surely we have some experience of authentic expression to draw on. When the desire is there, we all have the capability to support each other in creating a shared space of trust that is safe enough for us to be vulnerable and reveal our deepest truths.

Lately I have been noticing around me that people are getting better at this way of relating to each other. We are becoming more aware of the power of creating a non-judgmental space. I love to be in a conversation with someone who really gets it, and no matter how I express myself I’m not judged or made wrong. Yes, they have their own views, which they would tell me if I was interested. They might even invite me to try a new idea on, to see if it fits. But nothing is forced, because they don’t pretend to know what it feels like to walk in my shoes.

In retrospect I realize that this was the dynamic of my New Age discussion group. I was free to be myself for ten weeks, and only when I was ready to hear a deeper truth was it presented to me. While my ego had tremendous difficulty with what each person confessed about their experience of my facilitation, there was already an implicit trust because they had all spoken with compassion and humility throughout. As a result I was able to make a crucial connection between my behavior and my not feeling energized by these meetings. Had they been judging me and making me wrong, the outcome would have surely been different. Likely I would have put up my verbal fists for a real debate. Both sides might have teetered a bit but neither side would have conceded defeat.

This has long been the legacy of our society: arguing, debating, trying to prove we are right and the other is wrong, under the illusion that there is strength in being right and weakness in being wrong. But as our consciousness has expanded, we have come to see that the opposite is true. We have all felt in conversation the remarkable impact of someone admitting that they were wrong, as we have seen our impact on others when we are open to the possibility that perhaps they are right. And when we go beyond even that, to an awareness that it is not about right and wrong—that perhaps there isn’t really any right or wrong—then we find ourselves in a conversation that has the potential to unite us all where in the past we have been divided.

Move on to Chapter 3…

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 1: The Hermit)

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Illustration by Adan Ye
Illustration by Adan Ye

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. I hope it is a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, please send me an email at richard@collective-evolution.com and let me know.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire to have. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

 1. The Hermit

One day a hermit emerged from the forest on the island of Allandon, seeking to share his wisdom. As he had been in silence for forty years, his sudden appearance excited considerable curiosity among the villagers, and they all followed him to the top of the great mountain at the center of the island.

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When the villagers had settled comfortably beneath the hermit, he spoke.

“From my time in silence, I have divined one sublime truth,” he said, and after a dramatic pause, continued: “Life is fun.”

The crowd below started to buzz. People smiled at each other and some of them started to laugh. The hermit was puzzled by their response until a woman who had been laughing particularly heartily stood up and responded.

“Sorry, but—we already knew that.”

“You knew that?” the hermit replied.

“Indeed,” said another, “we’ve been talking about it for some years now.”

“We have to remind each other of it all the time!” said an elder man, causing more laughter amongst the villagers.

The woman walked up to the hermit and said, “We would like to invite you into the village, to show you all the games we have invented during your silence.”

Before he knew it, the hermit was walking down to the village and talking amongst the people, smiling like a child. 

I am a serious man. And I am on a serious mission. And that mission is to take life less seriously.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I look around me and I see other people searching out from behind stern faces. We are looking for something to believe in. Without it, the gravity of life weighs on us. We are tired of our heavy walk through life but we are unsure of how to lighten our step. Rather than experiencing our life as a dance of ongoing discovery and creation, most of us march to the tune of rampant familiarity. We notice that we are basically living the same day over and over. Worse, we feel doomed to continue this way, focused only on improving our material comfort as our health and vitality slowly deteriorate and finally we die.

There are those saving moments of course, perhaps connecting with friends on the weekend over wine, or being part of the lives of our children. Certainly when we observe children closely we are reminded of the rapture we once felt about life. We see through them a faith in a greater future, and an optimism that all dreams will one day come true—at least until they themselves begin to follow in our rut-steps.

Are the words joy, wonder, and fun part of our daily conversation? Perhaps they could be, once we dispatch of the mountain of obligations needing our serious attention at the moment. It’s just that this mountain of obligations never seems to subside. We are commanded by many voices outside of us and they never stop. So we do what our society expects of us, our boss and co-workers, our friends, our spouse, our children. We do what we are supposed to do.

It’s not that we can’t think for ourselves. We very much can. And so we have to ask ourselves why we keep so perpetually busy. Maybe we want to stay a safe distance from that uncomfortable inquiry into what we really want from life. The temptation is compelling: it’s much easier to follow instructions than to figure things out on our own. Being told by others who we are and what we really should do removes the need to look into our dark insides and discover it for ourselves.

We have been living in a society where there is no shortage of advice on what to do and how to think. Simply keeping our hands and our minds occupied may have worked for most of us up to now. But things are changing. As we become more aware as individuals, as we become more conscious as a society, the voice inside of us is getting too loud to ignore. No amount of noise on the outside will be able to distract us from it much longer. It is compelling us to look at ourselves and figure out what we really came here to do. We are running out of places to hide and people to blame for our disenchantment. Let’s face it, most of us are living a life we have outgrown. In our collective restlessness, we feel the need to kick-start ourselves into a greater and more profound experience.

Can we honestly say with a straight face that we are living up to our full potential? There may be a few people in the world who think they are, but I have yet to meet one of them. No, we know very well that we are not. Not even close. We are underachieving by a longshot. We know that we are not living the life of our dreams, and yet we haven’t gotten around to getting that life going.

It’s almost as though we are waiting for some cataclysmic event to bring out our greatest selves. When a loved one dies of a tragic illness we step in and create foundations to support others going through the same difficulties. When the child of a neighbor has gone missing in the woods, we somehow find the superhuman strength to search for days on end, without our usual complaints and self-concerns. In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center stories of compassion, courage, and humanity abounded. When we do these things we feel good about ourselves, we feel truly alive.

Naturally it begs the question: why should we wait for tragedies to occur in our lives before we decide to be authentic, to get excited about life and to love with passion? What is stopping us from doing it now? Nothing. It’s a choice that is available to us, 24/7. But who will lead, who will guide us into this authentic existence? Ah, but this is what is most exciting about this time in history: we are actually starting to find the wherewithal to guide one another.

There is a new kind of conversation that is emerging today, in our homes, coffee shops, offices, indeed wherever people meet. It is a conversation that has enchanted those who have taken to engaging in it. The price of admission? Careful listening and speaking from the heart. In other words, we are all invited. The new conversation in the air is around possibility—the possibility that we can find fulfillment in our lives, and that we may really be able to live out our dreams. The new conversation honors our uniqueness, allows us to make mistakes, and supports the exploration of what we most deeply desire. It makes us step back from a life of duty and obligation and step into one of freedom and fun. In the space of the new conversation we will inevitably be challenged to look at our greatest obstacle—that we generally take ourselves far too seriously.

Now I can assure you that I have done extensive research on the subject of futile seriousness. I have arrived at a place intellectually where I now fully concur with Deepak Chopra when he says that we live in a recreational universe. But knowing something is not the same as experiencing it. Any delusion I had that I had shed my own aura of seriousness was quashed in the early stages of writing this book, at a meeting at the home of my writing coach. I got the opportunity to talk with his daughter, who was very bright and quite interesting to talk to, and so we spoke about such matters as writing, drama, and politics. A week later her father told me that she likened me to a bottle of wine whose cork was on far too tight.

“Fine wine inside,” he said laughing. He was trying to take some of the sting out. And I did feel some, knowing that this was her honest impression. I thought that at least my visage of seriousness had been left behind in my university days. Alas, I was left to put this down as another in my long list of opportunities to laugh at myself. When I can do that and let go of a self-image that doesn’t really fit, then the sting is removed. But in truth it’s never really easy to do. There always seems to be something new to learn about letting go. So I don’t come to you as an expert on the subject. I come as a work-in-progress. I am hoping that you will accept the notion that we should teach what we most need to learn.

And the term teach is meant very loosely. What I am really intending with this work is to present ideas that will enrich our conversation about what is possible in our world. It could serve as a signpost to what you may have already noticed rising up around you. There is no need to accept anything proposed here as gospel, especially when it doesn’t seem or feel right to you.

In fact this is one of the hallmarks of the new conversation: the truth of one may not necessarily be the truth of the other. The great teachers throughout history knew this. On his deathbed Buddha urged his followers to “be a lamp unto yourselves.” It was his way of saying that one could only achieve enlightenment if they followed their own truth, and then shed the light of this truth onto the world. To copy someone else’s life or follow a formula that proscribed the ‘proper’ ways to think and behave would not be the way to true enlightenment.

Instinctively we know this. And yet we have to admit that there is a gap between what we know about life and how we live. Personally I want to work towards bridging this gap. This book marks my intention to wake up in the morning happy to be alive, explore my creativity every day and experience my life as fun.

For you it may be something different, something uniquely yours that nobody can uncover except for yourself. What is your intention from life? If you think you don’t know it this moment, then it might be time for you to engage in a conversation, one that is designed to help you in your search. This conversation might not only provide you with the opportunity to unravel and reflect upon the beliefs that are all rolled up inside of you, it also may give you the chance to hear about and try on other ideas that might stimulate your growth. There has never been a greater opportunity in our history to share the unique flavors that each one of us has been storing up. Will you join me in popping our corks in celebration? I am convinced that everyone has fine wine inside themselves to offer the world.

If you have up to now been on the outside looking in, and have been waiting for an invitation, then take this as your official invitation into the new conversation. I invite you to believe that your uniqueness is a gift to the world, and you are here to do nothing other than share that uniqueness, so that we all may benefit from the memories of where you have been and the vision of where you want to go.

Move on to Chapter 2…

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It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows.

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