Love can’t exist in an environment of fearful self-protection.



I’ve been working with a man who for most of my dealings with him seemed calm and well centered even during the long illness and death of his wife. On a recent occasion he asked me to work with a dream he had experienced about a year after his wife had died and I gladly took on the task fully expecting to add helpful material to what I imagined was his quest for healing. Though in retrospect I was being rather naïve.

I spent many hours on his dream that had turned out to have a great many images about his wife and other characters in his life.

His response to my analysis was violent calling it bullshit and then attacking my credentials as though they too proved the efficacy of his negative pronouncement. Gone was the mask of the calm nice guy replaced by a barely controlled anger that seemed as though it had been long suppressed. Instead of taking responsibility for his own anger he proceeded to dump it onto me. Trying to turn his perspective somewhat I suggested that what he called bullshit was only how I would have viewed his dream had it been my own to which he pronounced, “More bullshit!” Clearly there was no room for another point-of-view.

He then picked up his things and whistled as he walked down the street.

I of course was taken aback though having seen people’s masks slip many times before I wasn’t too worried. I also didn’t immediately fall into the personal trap that after some self-reflection I would go into self-attack. This time after some reflection I could see that I had loosened his mask that then fell and revealed another aspect of this man as someone who spent a lot of energy repressing his negative feelings. In retrospect his calm and well-controlled emotional character made a different sense to me.

Unwittingly, and blinded by some arrogance in thinking I had something positive to offer, I had pushed one of his hidden buttons that unleashed a cascade of emotions that he was not prepared to deal with and by his terminating our relationship I no longer had any permission to explore with him what that was all about. His actions had in effect sealed the breach of his cover-up and he went blissfully on.

This encounter reminded me of what I’ve been witnessing on a societal level. Some groups of people seem particularly wedded to a singularly rigid point-of-view. Of course there’s nothing new there but to the mix has been added a very deep and large scale paranoia that will not yield to rationality regardless of how many irrefutable facts are brought to bear.

Many of this group see evil everywhere except from within themselves. They have created an almost idolatrous ideology in their blind and unyielding beliefs and because of this there is no room for a difference of opinion. To them their rigid “faith” in what they believe to be true has the aspect of soul being attached, though soul has as one of its defined aspects the qualities of change and includes failure and occasional regressions, this is not so for these people. They use an idea of faith that they are righteously right as armor against the world that they fear even though most of that world only exists within their own hearts.

There also doesn’t seem to be any self-trust so they adhere to an ideology that seems to promise security from their fears. Unfortunately when self-trust goes out the window so does love. The heart becomes armored as well and love can’t get in anymore. But once love is gone security is gone for love cannot exist in an environment of paranoia and self-protection.

So what’s the answer? There’s a clear answer to dealing with fear and it’s a mirror image of the title of this post,

 “fear can’t exist in an environment of love.”



Learning how to love ourselves: First step in loving others



Q: So how does one learn to love oneself?

A: I’ve found the following to be useful:


  • Through serving others
  • Through friendship (unconditional)
  • Through patience
  • Through a giving relationship (non-competitive relationship–the spirit of relationship)
  • Through the loving and caring for nature
  • Through the act of loving even when you’re not feeling it
  • Through the act of forgiveness
  • Through opening your heart


Notice that all of these require that a person get outside their self that is, outside their narrow little ego-self, so as to include the “other.” This in effect expands the image of self to something greater than the ego and it’s the ego that contains the idea of being less-than.

Giving reverence to something much bigger than yourself takes you out of the confined space of the personality and opens the door to the infinite space of the divine. Love is no longer about you (as in getting or feeling love) in that you literally ‘become’ love i.e. you are its expression.

Note that all require increased consciousness as well. In order to see the reality around you, you have to be willing to let go of the reality you have. Loosen your expectations of others (and yourself) and allow what’s there to filter through. The act of forgiveness is a really effective tool in this process. Holding someone or some event in blame, censure, or punishment becomes a locked prison cell for the person doing the holding as well as creating unnecessary resistance in the other person. Note that blaming, censuring and punishment rarely affects positive change in people. Typically people just learn to avoid the blamer/punisher.

Love and caring cannot exist in a condition of animosity, blame, rancor, revenge, impatience, and aversion. And its loss isn’t just local to the person or event that’s unforgiven, it creates a ripple effect that spreads out across all of ones reality. Forgiveness is one of the most freeing experiences one can ever have. It what opens the heart and allows all the rest to come into your world. It literally opens you up to the Grace of God.

“I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.”


Lastly, you might have noticed that all the useful suggestions for opening yourself to the love of self require that you sacrifice, your point-of-view and your need for control. Points-of-view keep you locked in place, it narrows your reality to a myopic view of what’s actually there. Love is so big that it cannot be seen through the peephole of your limited point-of-view. There is nothing more limiting than a point-of-view. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one, just don’t be wedded to it.

Have you noticed how little in control you actually are? We do things to control the actions of the other so that we might feel safer, or more important. But this is a never-ending battle and we never really feel safer, or more important. Thinking that we have control of anything other than ourselves is a distraction. And we can’t have control over ourselves until we know who and what we are, which brings us back to the need for increased consciousness.

So how do we get this increased consciousness?

  • Through serving others
  • Through friendship (unconditional)
  • Through patience
  • Through a giving relationship (non-competitive relationship–the spirit of relationship)
  • Through the loving and caring for nature
  • Through the act of loving even when you’re not feeling it
  • Through the act of forgiveness
  • Through opening your heart




love-small.jpgWhat? You thought that because Valentines is over that I wasn’t going to talk about love anymore?

We spend our lives in small things, separated from our bigger essence.

Love is like the ocean. The ocean is but one wave until it is touched by the wind and transformed into many. Between two people it is like two waves traversing the world and finally meeting, the two becoming the one.

Have you noticed that when experiencing love, when you are submerged within it, you see it everywhere you look? Is it actually out there, or is it in the person that experiences it? And why does it seem to come and go so easily?

It seems to me that if you imagine love to be something outside yourself that something or someone puts into you, then you are separated from your true nature. You and I spend a lot of our lives in a shallow sleep of small things where we have imagined ourselves separated from our bigger essence. It’s because we think that who we are stops at the end of our skin. And we spend a lot of time and energy protecting that skin from the so-called outside world. But in this world where as a lone creature we seek safety, we fail to see that safety, true safety, can only exist when we are not separate.

In order to feel love we need to feel safe and in order to feel safe we need to surrender this notion that we are separate. Love cannot truly visit our being with barriers and boundaries surrounding us. Including others by including them in the attentiveness of our hearts awakens us to not only their humanity but our own as well.

A consciousness of the real self meditation:

In a quiet room imagine yourself expanding your consciousness so that it takes in everything in the room. Now expand that awareness to include the house, and the neighborhood with all its people, animals, trees and insects. Expanding this consciousness even further, imagine that you have become within the limits of your skin the whole city, state and nation. Expanding out into space look down at the world that is now a part of you and push ever outward to include the Moon, the planets, the Sun.

Now, ever so quickly, expand to include the galaxy and then to all the stars and galaxies that make up the universe until you are at the very edge of time and space and the emptiness that it is expanding into. Then include the emptiness– the nothing.

Look closely now into the darkness of your mind. Is there and end to it, can you actually see the walls where your mind ends? No, you cannot, for what you are doesn’t have an end. If you are an expression of everything then there is no real threat against you. It is only when you are a tiny, quivering little thing, alone and drifting in the hugeness of existence that you have to protect yourself.


A Rumi Meditation

The Dervish


The Sufi Dervish. Their focus is on the universal values of love and service to the world. In their practice they try to let go of the illusions of ego in order to open to God.


Try using this poem by the 13th century Sufi poet, Rumi as a meditation for expanding your awareness.


“You have heard of the ocean of nonexistence.

Try continually to give yourself to that ocean. 

Every workshop has its foundations

Set on that emptiness.

The master of all masters works with nothing.

The more such nothing comes into your work,

The more the presence will be there.

 Dervishes gamble everything.

They lose and win the other,

The emptiness which animates this.

 We have talked so much.

Remember what we have not said.

 And keep working. Laziness and disdain
are not devotions. Your effort will bring a result.

 As dawn lightens, blow out the candle.

Dawn is in your eyes now.”



Imagine your life up to now as but a dream limited only by your imagination. Imagine waking up within the dream to discover how really big you actually are. When awake in your life, love becomes the foundation of that life. When lucid in your dream you expand rapidly into your bigger self. Love is what you actually are.

Be gentle with a dream



After a dream is caught and you wander through its mysteries, be gentle with it for it is most fragile.

Be careful as you tread the hidden forests of your dreams. They are the unprotected essence of who and what we are. They are the messengers of our souls and our deeper selves. They harbor all our worries and fears, dislikes and rejected aspects, our hopes and our desires laid bare. They are born of the irrational, the imaginal, and the intuitive– a world of being as real and as informative as the rational world of science.

Both the outer mask that we present to the world and the mask turned inward so that we don’t look too deeply at the mysterious inner self are stripped away during our sleep allowing us to see our most beautiful face and darkest shadows. Through our dreams we get a glimpse of what God sees in each and every one of us without judgment or condemnation. Dreams are a grace unearned and a gift to those who will learn to accept them.

Treat them with care, respect, and compassion for they reveal the best of us and the worst of us. They represent our guide through life and the equilibrium and balance that all living creatures need to survive what is often a chaotic world. Our dreams are our inner savior.

They reveal a truth about our emotional state of mind, physical, and psychological health and our sense of the spiritual. They are our deepest connection with every thing, each other and with God or the universal spirit.

They create a nightly map to the experience of being human and if read properly can guide us to worlds not dreamed of through the conscious mind.

And they do all this uniquely for the dreamer who has them. Interpreters can hold our hands briefly and point to the way of the psyche but the individual needs to walk this path alone, it is about their story and life narrative and only they can know their true meaning.


“Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing.”


“Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing.” This quote by Jesus prior to his death struck me deeply as a young boy. Here was someone enough outside of their own self-interest outside their own ego that they could understand and forgive the wrong thinking of those who not only tormented him but want to kill him.

This could be construed as intercession but it could also be stating a fact about the human condition where most of humankind is unaware of their true nature and therefore can only act out of misunderstanding. Only someone who was conscious of their real self and the reality of the world around them i.e. someone who could transcend their ego could make such a statement.

When people define and categorize each other they cut off their access to love. When they imagine that who and what they see outside themselves is real without the slightest notion of what they personally added to that reality they affect how love is experienced. Too often they experience the love as something outside themselves and the cause of their experience when in fact they are the cause of what they experience.

Later this week I’ll be posting the Love/Hate conflict in the Dark Knight of the Soul blog. Click on the picture link to the right of these posts.

As one begins to see that they are cause of their reality they begin to be more aware of what’s actually out there beyond their skin, what exists beyond the ego. When this happens the next time they experience love they know that it comes from within them and when they experience hate it is because the love has been buried or projected away.

We long for what we are down deep. It is this longing, this connection that moves us when we see love in any of its many forms.

The feminine soul comes to me through my sleeping dream bringing with her the secret alchemy of wholeness

Traditionally it is thought that the soul of a woman is masculine and the soul of a man is feminine and that it is this interesting opposition that is trying to be reconciled through our dreams and relationships.


Seeking I am lead to a place from which I cannot return.

 I am reminded that I am but a visitor here from a place I never left.


 She came to me by dream urging me toward distant hills.

 She opened me that I may give birth to the creative.

 Though I sought comfort in ideas, she led me to the song of my heart.


 My desire for her is but her desire for me.

 I draw her unto me as she draws me unto her.

 I dream her with every breath

 as she is the breath that dreams me.

–RJ Cole 2017


Who is the ‘she’ of whom I speak? She is my soul who animates me– the spirit guide who comes to me as a means of bringing balance to the archetypal dueling forces of the masculine and feminine within me. She came to me in a dream to help my conscious self unite with my spiritual self and invite me to leave the diversions of both my adult and childhood selves behind and scale the mountains beyond where my true self lay. She is the connection with my soul that I yearn for.

Rumi wisdom: A different take on “what you seek you shall find”


You are searching the world for

treasure but the real treasure is

yourself. If you are tempted by

bread, you will find only bread.

What you seek for you become.”



Search for intellectual understanding and you’ll miss the spirit. Understanding is the booby prize in life. It will not help you find your soul or manifest your spiritual self. It will not fill the void in your life or provide any lasting meaning. Seek ways to love, to manifest your soul, and find your spiritual self and you will find your true self.

Seek beauty and you’ll become it. Seek outer pleasures and they will fail you. Be in wonder and awe and you will be filled with the spirit. Seek to satisfy the desires of the ego and you’ll miss your real self.

Seek anger and hate and you will become it. Seek mystery and it will fill you with love for self and others. Seek out your shadow self and it will set you free for it is only when you hide it or hide from it that it has control over you. Seek only things and you’ll miss the intangibles, the ethereal, and divine. Seek to give and you’ll receive the whole world. Seek to possess and be possessed. Seek to just be and nothing will own you but you.

Seeking to find that which agrees with you results in missing the truth. If seeking to keep someone you will lose them. Trying to find a truth that fits your reality will forever blind you to reality.

None of these need your understanding in order to become, just their practice will make it so.


“You have woken up late,

lost and perplexed

but don’t rush to your books

looking for knowledge.

Pick up a flute instead and

let your heart play.”


A love poem: I dream of Lithia.


I’m spending a little time in one of my favorite little towns in Southern Oregon when this dream poem came to me.


A breeze extends its wings across the pond. A harlequin cloth spreads accross a palette of greens and yellows.

The wake of malards smears the trees bending in reflection upon the darkening pool. Sounds of water and restless leaves whisper in my ear as the sun sets gold and the air stills before the night.

The scent of deepening darkness wraps itself about me as a musk settles and I’m cloaked in her shadowed embrace.

Where did the soul go?




Basically I think all humans are children; whether healthy, hurt, or abused, playful or withdrawn, happy or sad, expressive or withdrawn a part of us never grows up. We learn to put on masks so as to look appropriate and acceptable because to not do so runs the risk of rejection. We learn to say, “I don’t care” when we really do. We learn to hide any emotion that might result in a challenge to our survival. And it’s not just physical survival we care about but our psychological, emotional and ego survival as well.

We come into this world with a number of personalities some of which are heightened and some of which are squashed. The society of children and the parents of children who have their own inner child squashed and compromised inadvertently pass on their hurts and limits until eventually very little of the soul that came into the world is reflected in the being that is enlivened by it.

There comes a time that if we express the free spirit of our childhood at all it’s only through the overindulgence of drugs, alcohol, Halloween dress-up, or singing in the shower.

Perhaps it’s time to break out of the box we’ve built and trapped ourselves in. It’s safe, yes, but safe from what? Life? All too often we are the enemy we are hiding from. We are the fox in our own henhouse.

What then? How can we protect ourselves from ourselves?

But I don’t think we came here to be safe and well protected. We came here to run, jump, play in the mud, finger paint, sing, act crazy, love and be loved. But it’s so hard to do that inside a cramped little box. The ego likes boxes but the soul does not. We try so hard to be accepted and acceptable to everyone and everything that we lose the very side of us that came here to play. And one day we wake up and say, “Where did you go?”

But slow down, take a deep breath, be quiet, and listen and just maybe you’ll hear a little voice from deep within declare,

“I’m still here, deep down beyond the masks, the walls, the fear and worry. Just take one step outside, then another and another and you’ll find me again, waiting to play. Knock on the door and giggle and romp with me, sing silly songs and we’ll tell each other stupid knock-knock jokes. Look foolish and ignore the parent for just a few playful moments, there’s plenty of time to be serious later. Don’t waste another precious moment, come to my house and let’s play.”



In the land where the Faery Lantern and Jabberwocky Play


In a potted plant sitting obscurely in a corner of the patio behind our house sits a lamp that when night falls begins to glow an eerie blue. White crystals at its base fracture the light and send it helter-skelter across the garden floor eventually being absorbed into the dense forest of green across the miniature meadow. “What is that Grandpa?” Said my Granddaughter one warm spring evening while we sat in the dark before the moon took over the sky and dispelled the eerie shadows of the night.

“Ah yes, that’s a Fairy Lamp” I explained. “Ohh, what is that?” she whispered.

“A Faery Lantern, the link between two worlds (or the link between worlds) is like what the dream is to those who sleep and leave the world of light for the world of the night, the world of bright consciousness to the world of dark shadows.”

“The faeries are those images that reside within the dream and guide the dream body through the labyrinth of the inner psyche. Like Dickens’ ghosts of the Christmas Carol they cross through time and solid walls as though they didn’t exist. They are of the intuitive and imaginal world beholding to nothing of the material and rational and yet, and yet, hold the very secret of life, the cradle of our soul.”

“Light the lantern and sleep will overtake you and the fairies will come, dancing and flitting, soaring and buzzing through the air with an invitation to follow deeper into the night realm, deeper into the shadows of the unknown.”

“It’s mostly a curious world, a mad hatters craziness that can turn on the moment to either the sublime or upon a nightmarish Jabberwocky” I growled and clawed the air menacingly while my granddaughter recoiled in mock fear.

“It’s a place of wizards, wisdom keepers and great ladies, heroes, lovers, martyrs, tricksters, devils and death. It is a world where unicorns still forage and people can take wing over vast green meadows. Here the archetypal male in us all holds his hand to the female we all share and rejoices in the union that eludes us in the waking world.”

“As we travel through the world of the night the shape-shifting creatures of the dark will lure us into the Neverseen, the Land of Faery and introduce us to our true self. Once met and understood we can never ever be the same.”

“What do you think of that?? I queried and looked over at her, but the faeries had already come and taken her through the light of the lamp. I smiled and pulled my jacket against the encroaching cold.