My New Voice Is Coming

I am scheduled for surgery on my vocal cords on Tuesday to remove a polyp that has disrupted my voice for most of this year. For quite some time prior to my current acute situation, my voice has felt a little raspy, like a smokers voice, and I just assumed it was damage done over the years. Then in early January I got a little virus that I felt in my neck. I wondered if it might have been a mild case of COVIDs latest variant, but I tested negative with a home test. But who knows, a lot of people have told me that the home tests did not reliably detect Omicron. But I suppose it should not really matter to me what the virus was. What matters to me is that I developed laryngitis.

For the last couple of weeks in January of 2022, it was very difficult for me to speak. I had a really hoarse voice and it would give out on me if I used it very much. I’ve mentioned before that we lead a small spiritual community here, and our rituals include a few prayers and lots of singing. I found myself unable to complete the prayers and unable to sing. This was very frustrating to me. I did some reading about laryngitis and learned that acute laryngitis usually clears up in two weeks at the max, and that if it persists longer than three weeks or so, it’s considered chronic. I found that chronic laryngitis is caused by continued abuse of the vocal cords, and so I started to do everything I could to take care of them.

I have lots of intelligent and helpful friends who recommended may remedies. My favorite was eating Manuka honey by the spoonful. My least favorite was using one of those small rubber spatulas to spread Andiroba oil on the back of my throat. Andiroba is an oil produced from a very bitter Amazonian nut. My daughter in law’s cousin recommended it to me. My daughter in law is from western Amazonas. In fact her family is from so far west in the Amazon that to get to her house, you have to go to the state of Acre, and from there, you head east on a motorized canoe for seven hours. Andiroba is a very useful remedy for all manner of cuts and bites. It is antiseptic, and it repels mosquitoes as well. The taste is super bitter (as are many medicines from Amazonas) and to gag yourself with a pastry spatula to spread it on the back of your throat, you really have to want to get better.

I won’t say that I stopped using Cannabis, because that would imply that I did use it to begin with, but I can say that I have not exacerbated my condition by continuing to engage in any habits that might have a negative impact. Another dear friend also pointed out that anything that has the effect of drying the mucous membranes would exacerbate my condition, whether inhaled or eaten. Check, done and done.

If you have been following my writing, which I will not assume, you may have seen that we spent the last half of February and the first half of March in Telluride. I promised myself that I would do everything possible to heal myself, and that if my voice was still a problem when I got home, I would go to the Doctor.

My father was a surgeon, and he used to say “if you cannot cut on it, then it’s not worth fixing.” I was pretty skeptical that a doctor would be able to do much for me. What was he going to say? I figured he’d confirm that I have laryngitis and prescribe yet another remedy to plaster on my throat. Fortunately, I have a very loving wife who often provides a counterbalance to my stubbornness, and she agreed to let me try to heal myself until we got home, and in exchange I promised to go to the doctor if I did not get better.

I really did everything I could do for those weeks, and nothing worked. I still sounded terrible. I could not sing, and my voice sounded ever worse. When I got home I made an appointment.

We had a spiritual work on March 15th, as we do on the 15th and 30th of every month, and during this work, I prayed for some insight into what was the spiritual/energetic significance of this ailment that I have been suffering. I went deep into concentration and really tried to connect with my inner guides, and up from the depths bubbled a simple message.

“IT’S A GIFT”

That was not at all what I expected. My snarky self immediately wanted to know if I could return it, but I did not even allow the thought to formulate into words. How could this suffering be a gift? I spent the rest of our concentration pondering this, and I was left with more questions than answers.

Two days later, I went to the ENT, a very groovy and chipper young doctor who I immediately liked very much. I had actually met him before when he looked after my wife. He sat me down in a chair under a big machine and sprayed my throat with a numbing agent, and stuck a camera down there. I looked up into his face and tried to interpret his expressions. Of course, the scary voice in my head wanted to say “throat cancer” but I suppressed this thought and replaced it with a prayer “my body is healthy and strong and this is good news.” I repeated that little mantra until the Doctor said “mystery solved! you have a polyp!”

Turns out all I have to do is go back to the very same chair next Tuesday and he can zap the little polyp right off my vocal cord with a laser. It will literally just vaporize the polyp and cauterize the wound at the same time. Presto! He printed out the pictures for a souvenir, and I apologize if it was too much to share, but there you have it. I could hear my Dad’s voice affirming that “since you can cut on it, it’s worth fixing.”

By the time Tuesday arrives, it will have been almost exactly two weeks since the polyp was discovered. I have had plenty of time to reflect on how this has been a gift. The first notion that came to me is that it was a gift because it’s benign and can be cured with a quick zap by a laser in the doctor’s office. It’s a gift because if I could not get better, then it would not be a gift.

But why the experience? One thing I have learned in my spiritual path is that upgrades often come on the heels of suffering. We have to go through some kind of ordeal as part of the upgrade. One upgrade I hope to receive is literally a new voice. It is my hope and prayer that the mild raspy sounding smoker voice I have carried around will be fixed. I am hoping and praying that my new voice will be a beautiful musical instrument, and that I will have the gift of learning to use it. Another gift is that over the last several weeks that I have had difficulty speaking, I have learned to be much more careful with my words. I find myself keeping my thoughts to myself and not sharing my opinions unless I am asked. We have several hymns in our doctrine that advise us to “speak little and listen a lot,” and I have been doing a lot more listening and a lot less talking. Through this process, I have found that the fewer words I speak the more power they have, and I have also learned not to try to give advice to those who do not want to listen to me. What a relief. What a gift!

And here is a special gift I will share with anyone who actually reads this far. Early on in my spiritual path I received a visionary experience related to my voice. I was in a clearing in the forest and I was sitting on the ground facing an old indigenous man. In between us was a cloth laid out on the ground and in the middle of the cloth was a bundle wrapped in some kind of thin leather. He unfolded the bundle, and inside the bundle was an organ that looked like the larynx of a duck, which I recognized from cleaning birds that I had shot. A duck larynx looks like this:

photo credit: https://countryfamilyhomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Duck-Syrinx.jpg

The old man took his finger and cut me open at the base of my throat, and inserted this organ, and then touched me again, and sealed me back up with the organ inside. He said it would give power to my voice, but not until I was ready for it. He said it would only work when I spoke with integrity and in service to the divine will. It would not work when I misused my voice, or if used it for personal gain at the expense of others. He put it inside me, and now I feel it may be activating.

Stephanie took off for a women’s event in Austin for the weekend. She gets back on Monday evening, and my surgery is Tuesday morning. It’s Friday afternoon now. I have the next four days to sit in contemplation of what is coming for me. After that, I have four days of strict silence while my voice heals. All in all that’s a full eight days of contemplation. I truly believe that this is a gift and that I will be a new person with a new voice afterwards.

Please pray for me. Please pray for peace too.

Peace.

Peace and Russian Oil–You can’t have it both ways

It’s amazing to me as I see the news report of the crazy pointless war in Ukraine to see that we are imposing tough sanctions on Russia, but not cutting off the oil purchases. Have we not learned our lessons that we cannot buy oil from evil dictators and then expect them to behave peacefully? We always seem to want it both ways when it comes to oil. Think about Saudi Arabia, where women are basically prohibited from going outside without a male escort and their faces covered. This is another brutal dictatorship, one that cut a journalist for the Wall Street Journal apart with a bone saw inside their embassy, but that’s cool with the USA as long as they keep the oil flowing.

And the same with China. Here we buy cheap electronics from a communist dictatorship that is currently forcing religious minorities by the millions into internment camps for re-education, and which has subjugated Tibet to decades of harsh occupation. But that’s ok with us as long as they keep the cheap iPhones coming. What are we going to do when they invade Taiwan? Imagine if new New York City were an independant country, and China were to try to stop the USA from invading across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Militarily there really would be nothing they could do to stop us, and the situation in Taiwan is exactly like that. If China invaded Taiwan, we would whine and complain, but would we stop the flow of goods? Unlikely.

We are the nation that has the greatest influence in the world. We used to be a bastion for peace. Our Statue of Liberty welcomes the poor huddled masses, but in reality we separate children from their parents and incarcerate them on the border with Mexico. We rant about the atrocities in Ukraine, but did we not engineer the invasion of Iraq based on false evidence of weapons of mass destruction? Have you seen the reports of how many Americans died in that war? A quick search shows 4,486 from 2002 to 2012. Have you ever seen any reports of how many Iraqi Civilians died? According to Wikipedia, over 1,000,000 deaths through 2007.

And think of the influence we have with Guantanamo Bay. How can we stand for peace and justice in the world when we have held prisoners without charge since 2002 and subjected them to brutal torture? Here is an excerpt from the letter written by the USA Military Jury in recent proceedings concerning Majid Kahn, who appears to have been sucked into our system more or less by accident. This was written by USA Military officers in a letter signed by all jurors in that case:

“Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The panel also responded to Mr. Khan’s claim that after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, he told interrogators everything, but “the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” and so he subsequently made up lies to try to mollify his captors.

“This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,” the letter said. “Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.”

— New York Times

Do you remember the Boston City Marathon Bombing? On April 15th, 2013, two terrorist brothers set off two bombs inside pressure cookers that killed 3 people. The news coverage was around the clock. Do you remember that? How about the Wech Baghtu Wedding Party? Have you ever heard of the Wech Baghtu Wedding Party? This was a wedding in Afghanistan on November 3, 2008, when the USA dropped a drone bomb on a wedding and killed 37 completely innocent people.

How about in 2021, when the USA was abandoning our operation in Afghanistan, and we dropped a drone bomb on Zemari Ahmadi? We thought he had bombs hidden in his trunk and that he was going to try to blow up people trying to flee the chaos we created at the Kabul airport. Turns out this was mistaken. He had water jugs for his family in his trunk and we killed ten of them. Was anyone ever held accountable for this murder? No.

So here we are, condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while still buying their oil. Here we are complaining about China’s treatment of dissidents and the people of Tibet, but please, don’t stop to flow of cheap consumer goods. Yes, they are torturing people and putting people into concentration camps, but hey… we need these inexpensive televisions!

We have to look to ourselves first before we can point our fingers at others.

Of course Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is wrong and should stop immediately. But we are ourselves guilty of exactly the same abuses. We ourselves torture people. We ourselves drop drone bombs on weddings and never even identify the people who did it. We ourselves trump up reasons to invade foreign countries and kill millions of people and only report our own casualties. We ourselves prop up brutal dictators so that we can extract the material resources of their countries.

If we want to make a change in the world, we need to stop buying Russian Oil. We need to close Guantanamo. We need to hold accountable our own people who give orders to drop drone bombs on weddings and innocent people. We need to stop supporting brutal dictatorships like Saudi Arabia just because we want the oil.

What should we write on the statue of liberty?

And what about social media? Sure Facebook is used to spread mistrust and misinformation, and that company takes zero responsibility for the content it publishes. They complain that they have not control over what others post on their platforms. This causes such division in our country. You can stop using these platforms today. But it’s just so convenient to use Facebook and Instagram and What’s App.

We are always told to look at the other for the source of our problems. We are told to fear Russia and China and Covid. But we have killed more people than any other nation in the last 20 years. Change must start at home.

I pray for peace. I pray for change. I pray to restore the integrity of the America I grew up to love. But we cannot condemn Putin while we buy his oil. We cannot condemn China while we buy their TVs. We cannot condemn Facebook while we scroll through pictures of cats in boxes.

Change starts at home. Let’s all start to read the other side of the story. Let us lead by example.

Peace.

Telluride –

It has been a few days since I have written anything, and I am starting this without a very clear idea of where this is heading. We came out to Telluride, Colorado to enjoy a month of late winter and early spring here in this beautiful box canyon. The picture you see is from behind a frozen waterfall up at the top of a little box canyon near our house here. It amazes me that we can walk a quarter of a mile from our house and find such a miracle.

This valley holds a very sacred energy, and the spirits of the people who lived here over the last thousand years are very present. This was a summer hunting and camping ground for many centuries. The weather was too harsh to live here year round without electricity and material support trucked in here. The winters up at 9,000 feet of elevation in these mountains are unrelenting. But in the summer it’s a different story. The valley floor is full of elk in the summer, and the black bears roam through the alleys in town overturning trash cans.

I have walked through some of these special places and felt the spirits of people who lived here a long time ago. I felt the joy of returning to favorite summer camps. And there is another history laid on top of that ancient story which is just as palpable. A history of hardened settlers moving west from post civil war America to mine these mountains for gold. The first mining claim was made here in 1875, and it was a tough bunch who managed to survive here year round. There is a monument outside a building in town which notes that it was the first bank robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

We took a tour of the local graveyard last summer, and it tells many stories. There are the graves of two brothers side by side, both veterans of the civil war, one on the union side the other on the confederate side. There are graves from epidemics, graves of women who worked in the red light district, graves of many minors who lost their lives in these harsh conditions.

Mining was the only industry here until the ski resort opened in 1972. And this brought yet another historical overlay to the region. Now the famous Telluride Mushroom festival brings together dead heads, mycologists, cooks, foragers, scientists and artists. Music festivals, the Telluride Film Festival, and all kinds of nature lovers gather now in this magical place.

Telluride presents such a stark contrast between the natural beauty of this box canyon, and the very harsh conditions. I am very grateful to be welcome here now, but I often wonder what it must have been like for the Ute people who came here before their way of life was uprooted and destroyed. Telluride sits at the top of box canyon that can only be accessed from the west. If you head west out of the canyon it’s not very far to arrive in Moab Utah.

Ajax peak stands at the top of the canyon to the west with dramatic water falls flowing into the head waters of the San Miguel river. As you walk along the river heading east, you come across beautiful meadows and ponds with beavers and ducks in them even today. Now there is a beautiful park at the east end of town called Town Park, and when I walk along the river here, I can almost feel the presence of all the generations of people who camped here in the summer. I can imagine their teepees and fires, and the game that they hunted.

I walked up to the top of the canyon to the frozen waterfall with some friends of mine who are members of the Native American Church. We stood in the remarkable landscape and made an offering of tobacco to the spirits that inhabit there. We asked for their blessing for us to be on this land and for their protection. Such spiritual power exists here, and on top of it are all of these overlays of history.

It reminds me that I am here now, but only for a flash of time. Across the street right now I hear the sounds of demolition of one house so that another can be built. But it all depends on our supply chains and support from the outside. One winter with no electricity, and this valley will be empty once again. Our presence here feels so permanent, but the spirits who live in these mountains have seen changes over thousands of years. We are just visitors here, and I am grateful for this moment that allows me to be a small part of this.

Peace.

How to find the truth when everyone reads a different newspaper

I was recently referred to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience where he had a very glib and sophisticated guest explaining how vaccines for COVID are part of a great conspiracy. He was so persuasive and appeared utterly convinced by his own story of how giant and insidious forces within our economy hide real treatments from the population, and then encourage them to get dangerous and unproven vaccines. I was shocked as I listened to hear the words of one of my sons coming straight out of this expert’s mouth. It had been over dinner and my son was explaining all these problems with the vaccine and all the remedies the government doesn’t want you to know about. When I listened to the podcast sometime later, I could see that my son had internalized the entire episode and now regurgitated the information as if it were sourced directly from the divine.

On the other hand, we have all heard official sources give us inaccurate and manipulative information to cause the population to do as they want. They do this by misrepresenting their degree of confidence when they present a new hypothesis as a proven fact, only to revise it later when more information comes up.

And from what I see in the world, the Joe Rogan guys are actually on top of the truth claims right now. Why? Well look where we are. The official line was that if everyone would just give up their objections and take the vaccine, then we could put a quick end to the pandemic with herd immunity. Of course, now we all know plenty of vaccinated people who caught COVID and passed it. And so the official line suddenly shifted. Instead of the old refrain “it’s a public responsibility to get vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease to those who cannot get vaccinated” the message changed to “stopping the spread of disease was never the point. The vaccine was always intended to simply reduce the severity of the disease.” These two statements are completely contradictory and yet they were both espoused as absolute truth. We are asked to forget what the government said before, and believe what they are saying now. Anybody remember George Orwell’s 1984?

The motive might actually be somewhat benign. The government officials who publish these messages might actually believe they are doing some good by convincing people to get vaccinated, and so they publish persuasive stories, leveraging theories as facts, and make the best arguments they can to push people into the vaccination queue. And of course, this leaves the other side completely free to publish whatever theories it has, similarly elevated to fact, and persuade people that the Government is dishonest and corrupt (which it clearly is).

There simply is no longer any truth in the news. It’s all just persuasion. Every article is measured by its ability to inspire clicks, and nothing inspires quicker clickers than controversy, anxiety, and righteous indignation. And that is what is happening to us. We are fed news and information on the basis of sophisticated algorithms which are designed to predict what we will like. And so when we like one thing, we are shown another, and so on.

It feels like we are trying on clothes in a Nordstrom changing room with a helpful sales representative that keeps bringing us more of what we like. Don’t like pink? well no more pink will be draped over the wall of the dressing room. Like tight jeans? Here are three more pairs for you to try on. Like a political candidates? Here are stories showing them as heroes. Think they are all villains…well here is more proof.

The news only confirms our predispositions.

I remember when I was practicing as an attorney in litigation. We would often have to use expert witnesses to prove a point in a trial. I remember one case that was as mundane as an asphalt application that was misapplied by a defunct contractor. Was it bad material or did the contractor mix it with too much water? Expert opinion was required. Of course, both sides had an expert, and each picked one who said what they liked.

I actually testified as an expert witness one time in a trial that depended in large part on the valuation of an aircraft at the time it was purchased. I was firmly of the opinion that the purchaser had been sold a real lemon of an aircraft that was actually worth much less than he paid. The buyer had been duped! The other side had another expert, a very official aircraft appraiser, who was of the opinion that the aircraft was purchased at fair value. Yes the aircraft was very old, but it had a big cabin and the ability to cross the country, and so it’s current performance justified the price despite the age.

I’m quite sure that the other expert believed what he was saying just as much as I believed what I was saying, even though we were saying opposite truths. What the lawyers do, is they interview experts with really good resumes until they find an expert who will testify to what they need to establish. One case early in my career was about the security of mortgages that were taken out by home buyers of a developer that had run afoul of his bankers. “These people would eat birdseed before they defaulted on their mortgages”. I remember him looking at us for approval. After all, at $500 per hour, he wanted to make sure he got the nuances just right.

Of course there was an expert on the other side of that case too, who explained how risky all the mortgages were.

And so here we are today in a much more sophisticated world. Now we have a world full of experts, and they are all looking for an audience. The more outrageous and outlandish their statements, the more clicks they get. People like Joe Rogan have a real nose for this. They know just who will stir the pot, and they get millions of listeners not by promoting truth, but by promoting controversy.

I remember growing up in Miami, Florida with the Miami Herald. Newspapers back in that day held their reputation as the most important thing. Have you ever watched the movie Absence of Malice? What a great movie about how the Newspaper business used to be. Back in that day, the newspaper came out every day, and pretty much everyone in Miami got their news in the morning from the Miami Herald, and in the evening from Channel 7. Every story that the Herald published was distributed to everybody. When the Miami Herald reported about the Miami River Cops who were involved in drug dealing, or about whatever other topic, they would be called to account by everyone on all sides of the issue. They had to make sure the paper could stand behind the facts they reported. People trusted the newspaper to tell the truth. People trusted their news anchors to tell the truth, because if they did not, they would lose their reputation.

But not anymore. Now we go to a news service like Google or Apple News or whatever source we have. If we like one article we see more like it. They come from all different sources, and there is no accountability. There is simply no longer any objective truth in the media at all. There are just click temptations.

So what can we actually do? Turn all of it off is my answer. It’s been a couple years since I signed off of Facebook, Instagram, What’s App, Gmail, Google News all of it. I have been on a vendetta to get rid of all these manipulators. And what can we do instead? We have to go to the source ourselves. We have to get back in touch with the real world and with people we actually know. I get my vaccine advise from my personal doctor now. It’s so much simpler.

Maybe the answer is to look at the stars and planets for guidance. Maybe the messages we receive from them won’t be any less clear, but at least we will have the peace and serenity that come with gazing at the heavens.

Personal Integrity and the 7 Chakras — the key to a happy life

We often think integrity is synonymous with honesty. And certainly, we can say a dishonest person does lack integrity because honesty is a component of integrity. But it’s not all of it. There is much more. Integrity also refers to being complete or whole. It means all of the parts are well connected and form a single functioning whole. When we, or any object or system, lack integrity, it means that our parts are not functioning well together, and that we are therefore weak and prone to failure. In our persona, we can examine our personal integrity chakra by chakra, and by examining our conscience, we can see where our integrity is broken and then take steps to repair it.

What does this mean? Consider a person who lies frequently to gain advantage or avoid negative consequences. We would say that such a person lacks integrity because they say things that are not true, and more than this, they are not simply wrong or mistaken, such a person, if pressed, would at least at some level know that they are being dishonest.

Consider this in terms of the Chakra system. The mind is the 6th chakra and the throat is the 5th chakra. A person who lies for personal advantage says one thing, while the mind knows that something else is the truth. There is a break between the mind and the spoken word. There is a break between the mind and the mouth. What we say, we do not believe, and so we are broken at this point in our system.

What about a person who says that they love you when they do not? The heart, or the fourth chakra, is the source of our emotional lives, and it is where we form and care for our relationships. When someone says they love you, when they don’t, they have a break somewhere. But this could be either between the heart and the mind, or it could be again between the mind and the mouth. A person who is confused about their own feelings, who feels guilty because someone has been very generous to them, may feel pressure to say “I love you too” when what they actually feel awkward and flighty. They say “I love you too” to dissipate the uncomfortable energy. Or maybe they say it because they want to manipulate their partner into doing what they want.

In one case, the break is between the heart and the mind, or the heart and the voice, and in other cases, the break is again between the mind and the voice. Whenever we have a disconnect like that, we have lost our integrity and we really cannot be very effective or happy in the world.

There are other important examples. Think of people who talk a lot about their big plans and aspirations, but who never actually accomplish any of them. Their minds think the ideas are good, the heart is all on board and behind the ideas, and the voice articulates it accurately. But they never actually take any action to do anything. They just talk about it. Where is the break in integrity? It is above the third chakra where we bring the top three chakras into material reality.

Further down we get to issues of addiction and hypersexuality. These are disturbances with the second chakra, and theses are connected to the third chakra. Most people who suffer from addiction also suffer from denial. They fool themselves. They will talk all about a healthy lifestyle and good relationships, but they suffer because they act to satisfy the cravings of addiction. To sex, to drugs, to gambling, to thrills, to adrenaline, to anxiety, to spending money, to whatever it is binds us in addiction. In this case, our integrity is broken at the second chakra.

Continuing down you find people who abandon their relationships, their family, their job, their tribe. They may occupy a position of importance for a while. They may charm everyone around them and rise very fast, but at the critical moment, they abandon. They are broken at the root chakra. Everything they do and say is undermined, because as soon as the pressure builds up from creating something great, they flake out and disappear, leaving others to clean up the mess.

A person with integrity flows through all the chakras. The examination of the conscience is the key to achieving this in the first six chakras. A person with material integrity is all one piece in what they think, what they say, what they feel, how they act, how they take care of their bodies and habits, and how they fit in and relate to their community. When all of our chakras are in alignment like this, and our energy flows, then we can have strong relationships, we can create good things in the world, we can enjoy good health, and we can enjoy strong bonds in our family, tribe and nation.

All of the above relates to what I call material integrity, because all of these aspects of ourselves are manifest here in the material world.

But there is still one aspect of integrity that remains, and that is spiritual integrity, and a break here is the hardest to diagnose. Imagine a very intelligent person, who is aware of the truth (and if he does not share the whole truth, at least he is aware of this), who speaks the truth and whose feelings and actions are in alignment. Such a person might have a very nice house, a beautiful family, a great job, a healthy body, and good standing in the community, yet remain very unhappy. Why?

When a person seems to have everything a person could want but still is unhappy, the break in integrity is at the level of the seventh chakra, which is the divine connection. The mind is very clever. It is very good at solving puzzles and obtaining what it thinks it wants. The problem with the mind, however, is that it really does a lousy job of deciding what it should want. It really has no frame of reference. Imagine a super intelligent robot shopping in a Target store. It can weigh the pros and cons of many different items. Such a device can compare different items and make calculations about them, but it cannot want a red sweater more than a blue sweater.

The robot needs some input. A program. You might assign points to different items. Items that are blue may receive more points than items that are red. Maybe you could tell the robot to get the most weight per dollar, and perhaps you could end up with a car load of canned tomatoes on sale. The intelligent robot is very good at figuring out how to get what it wants. It just lacks ability to know what it should want.

As humans, we are very very complex. We receive programming about what we should want from a very young age. The mind is filled with ideas from teachers, parents, peers, advertising, and now social media. We are repeatedly told that if we have a nice car, a thin body, a prestigious job, and a physically attractive spouse, that we will be happy as a result, and so we set off in our lives to acquire these things.

And to be most effective in the long run, we have to act with material integrity to get the most of what we think we want. But still we end up unhappy. Because the things we have been taught to want serve a purpose other than to make us happy. They make us good little economic engines–the producitive consumers that we are. We are sucked into a system to produce as much as we can so that we can consume as much as we can, and with the highest levels of success, we have zillions of followers who admire us and like everything we say, and long to be just a little more like us. More like Kim Kardashian. Please. More.

But if we have prayer, and meditation, and spirituality, then we can attain true happiness. The first step is to truly realize that YOU, the I AM force that lives deep inside you, is a spirit, and that spirit is having a temporary material experience. That spirit knows at a very deep level that it will ultimately leave behind everything that it accumulates in the material world. The only thing it takes with it is it’s KARMA, which is the sum total of all the goods and bads done over the course of the lifetime here. You might have great success in the material world, but for what purpose?

So what does the spirit inside really want? Well that gets to the question of why you came here in the first place. This is a very good question to ask yourself. Why did you come into this life? What are you here to accomplish, to learn? Who are you here to help? What is your mission? What is your purpose?

None of these questions can be answered outside yourself. None of these answers exist in the material. They exist in the spirt. And therefore, to have true integrity, you must connect the material chakras to your higher self through the 7th chakra. You must tune into the divine within yourself.

Once you connect to the divine within you, this channel will inform you about what you should want. Instead of a car, you may want peace of spirit so you can concentrate. Instead of a body that looks like a magazine cover model, you might want a body that actually feels good to inhabit. Instead of a trophy relationship, you might want someone who helps you stay on the straight path and who supports you in fulfilling your highest and best purpose.

A break in integrity at this level is the hardest to diagnose, because such a person can seem to be very perfect in the material world. Yet if someone is perfect in the material and still deeply unhappy, it is a lack of integrity that causes their suffering, and the break is at the divine connection.

Do you know people or have stories that illustrate this? Have you yourself started on a spiritual path to remedy a hollow empty pointless feeling in your life? If so, please share your experience.

A spiritual practice is very helpful to develop this facility. Meditation and self examination can illuminate within us when we are acting out of alignment with our highest purpose. Plant medicines, like cannabis, ayahuasca, and psilocybin mushrooms can definitely help us to engage in the sort of self examination that will set us free from a life of pursuing objectives that do not make us happy. All of these things awaken the divine within us. They are therefore entheogenic medicines and entheogenic practices.

Pick whatever works for you. The key is to open the conscious connection with your higher self, so that you can receive and act on guidance that you receive. And then all of your material chakras can align behind the task of creating the life that your really want.

The Manuka Minute – a one minute pure bliss experience for beginners

I made a commitment to be sweet to myself in the new year. I’ve done this in the past for the benefit of others…try to be nicer, try to be kinder, try to be more patient. And I chastised myself each time I failed. Do better! I’ve been sitting with this idea of self kindness for several weeks now. I’ve been a fan of ascetic practices for a few years that comes from my spiritual traditions, and so it’s easy to be strict with oneself when following a “dieta” or ascetic practice. Most people reading this I’m sure are familiar with what it is to be strict with oneself.

And so a few weeks ago, I was buying honey for Stephanie which she uses to sweeten her cocoa that she makes from scratch every night. She just dumps the honey right in there and it’s super delicious (milk of choice, three tablespoons organic cocoa powder, honey and cinnamon and I like cayenne pepper. simmer all together until just before boil stirring constantly). And, up until recently, I had been avoiding sugar (and all sweeteners) and wheat, but I really like honey. So I was at the store buying honey and right underneath was Manuka Honey, which looked expensive but maybe even all the more attractive. So I bought a little tub of this butter thick sticky brown Manuka Honey. I swear, it buzzes in my mouth and throat when I eat it. I could feel something happening, and so I did a little research, and low and behold, it turns out that there are a lot of really good health reasons to eat some Manuka Honey. (My favorite is Manukora Raw Manuka Honey)

And the best way to do that is from a spoon. And so a couple weeks ago, I started to have a spoon full of Manuka Honey every morning and every evening. At first I would justify this on account of a health benefit. I heard it myself. Standing in the kitchen with a spoon full of honey talking about how it kills bacteria that feeds on sugar and that’s why I’m eating the honey. The same with a massage. I don’t get a massage just because it feels good. I do it for the therapeutic benefit and I have to have a lot of pain to really deserve it!

As I continued my practice, I came across an article about self compassion, and how difficult it is for us to practice kindness to ourselves. I resonated with the concept that we can be to strict with ourselves. And so my relationship with the Manuka Honey started to shift, or maybe to become more honest. Another friend had suggested that maybe I didn’t need to be that afraid of my shadow. Its ok for me to eat a spoon full of Manuka Honey just because it feels good.

Now my practice has developed into a fun ritual. It’s a three minute Manuka Honey meditation. To do it, take a generous teaspoon of Manuka Honey. The way I like to do it is to put the spoon in my mouth and pull off a thin layer as I draw the spoon out. But the key is to breath slowly and consciously as you enjoy the experience of having the honey in your mouth and swallowing it. I believe that it is good for the microbial community in my mouth, so I try to spread it about in my mouth. However you like, make the experience last for three minutes, and enjoy slow relaxed breathing.

As you do this, “unmoor your consciousness” which is to just let go of your mind. Keep your attention on the experience of the honey in your mouth and let the warmth and energy of it radiate out through your head and down your spine and through your body. Imagine the warm energy of the sun on the millions of flowers, and the energy of the bees that made the honey, concentrated energy…bee food from magic flowers… feel that energy radiate throughout your body, and feel the sun in your heart. Now in this moment there is nothing but eating the honey, and for that moment, everything else is ok.

I do this now every morning and every evening. It’s my Manuka Minute (or three) and it’s the best New Years resolution I’ve ever had!

Financial Coaching and Financial Advice… what to watch out for

I was pleased to see that the post I wrote about finances for the new year received a positive response, and a friend of my wife’s actually reached out to see if I could help her set up her stock portfolio. As a licensed attorney and a formerly licensed Investment Advisor Representative, a little alarm bell went off in my head. Of course, as I have done in the past, we are always free to give free advice, but a lot of laws are out there to regulate people who are paid to give investment advice. Since this is a person I have never met, I wondered if I would be able to charge her a fee to help her set up her portfolio. And when I started looking into that, I really went down a rabbit hole.

The basic bottom line I found is that pretty much any advice about the stock market or investments constitutes investment advice. Any form of trade or compensation (ie trading a annual horoscope reading for some stock picks) could trigger laws and regulations that apply to people who are in the business of providing financial advice.

Which means the industry has a lock on the information that is given to clients. It’s the same situation we see in the health industry. Monied interests like big pharma and the medical lobby don’t want to compete with all of the amazingly effective and beneficial herbal remedies, and so you are not allowed to say anything about a natural plants ability to help cure disease. You can only give health advice that channels the profit to the industry.

Same with financial advice. Unless you are associated with a big firm with a huge compliance department, you are locked out of the game. This is always something that irked me when I was in the Industry. We would generate literally hundreds of pages of disclosures which made it clear that the firm was not liable for anything no matter what. Each account document had, I’m not exaggerating, up to twenty or so pages of disclosures in fine print. These disclosures were absolutely incomprehensible to any normal human being. Seriously. I am a trained attorney and I had my series 7 and my series 66 licenses, and I could not understand the disclosures.

Moreover, the disclosures just opened the door for giving bad advice without facing any liability. So what’s the difference between the safety of an illegal coach and a legal financial advisor? Nothing at all. Basically a legal financial advisor is paid by a big firm that papers everything with tons of CYA disclosures so that you can never hold them responsible for their bad advice, while an illegal financial coach giving investment advice for compensation can give the same advice and face huge civil and criminal penalties. What a racket!

But in my research I have learned that giving away advice in a generally available publication, like this one, is protected by the first amendment. So here, I can offer my opinions just like all the pundits, and since I have only readers (even if very few of them) and since I do not charge anyone fees for my advice, I’m free to publish my opinions, and hopefully help some people.

I can also give financial advice incidental to legal advice. So if a client asks me to set up a trust or look at an estate plan, I can advise them to put their assets into an index fund if that’s incidental to the legal advice. Lawyers always find a way to get the upper hand right?

So how does one make good financial decisions in this crazy environment? You either have to seek advice from someone who is working in the grey market, or you have to go to a financial advisor who is going to be selling you products marketed by the firm they work for.

They will simply never tell you to buy a few stocks and hold them for a long time in an account that does not charge fees. And that’s basically it!

Open an inexpensive account, use their self guided research tools, buy some stocks that you like in good companies, and hold them for a long time. That’s it in a nutshell. This is the advice that they are working so hard not to let people give!

No wonder Warren Buffett is the Oracle of Omaha. He has been giving this advice for years.

By the way, BRK-B, Berkshire Hathaway B class shares that Mr. Buffett made available so that regular investors could invest with him, meet that requirement beautifully. Or if you have about $450,000 you can buy a single share of BRK-A, the A class shares which also carry voting rights, then you will get to cast a vote if you go to the shareholders meeting.

So there. In my freely given, publicly available, first amendment protected speech, I can suggest that BRK-B is a great investment for people starting out an investment portfolio. It is itself highly diversified, so you could have up to 20% of your portfolio invested there.

Of course, the stock market goes up and down, and world events shake things up. But I think in this “free” country, you can still tell the truth as you see it without getting sued.

12-03-21 Neural Diversity

My wife Stephanie recently introduced me to the concept of Neural Diversity. For a long time I have not liked the way we constantly refer to people as having defects or disorders. People are “diagnosed” with ADHD, for example, which is Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity DISORDER. Which basically means there is a problem with the person who suffers from this unwanted condition.

But what makes this a disorder? It seems to me that this is a disorder because we take interested curious young people and stick them in class rooms and bore torture them with mind numbing boredom all day long, and those kids that don’t fit into that system have a disorder. But I think if we were to take those kids outside and encourage them to be themselves, most of them would be just fine.

Another example is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We throw the term OCD around as if half of the world were excessively focused on small details and unable to lead normal productive lives. But what if we were to phrase this as an ability. Hyperfocused attention to detail ability. This is something that I certainly lack! It requires an extreme effort for me to summon the patience to deal with every last small detail, but someone with this ability, can stay with a task until every part of it is perfect.

People often tell me that I have some attention deficit. What really does that mean? That I don’t like to sit and listen to long explanations of things that I get already? My weakness might be attention to detail, but my strength is speed. I typically make decisions very quickly, when I have a clear preference to what I want. So in buying a new car for instance, I can make all the decisions about exactly what I want in a few quick minutes. I don’t have to test drive every model.

To some people this seems rash. I bought a used Toyota Tacoma from a dealer I trust in Palm Beach not long ago. I told them the specifics, they showed me the pictures, I sent the wire, they delivered the truck. It took fifteen minutes. To some this seems irresponsible and rash. To me it’s just not necessary to deliberate longer than that.

Won’t I regret it? Maybe there was a better truck for a little better price somewhere else, maybe I might have actually liked a little different color. Maybe I really don’t care at all about these details, and I am happy getting it 80% right and moving on with my life.

That’s a good rule of thumb for me. The 80% rule. It basically means I can get 80% of what I want with 20% of the effort. To get the remaining 20% of benefit, I will have to put in four times the effort. For me, I’d rather get 80% of the benefit with 20% of the effort, and repeat this a few times. For someone with an obsessive compulsive ability, they can take joy and pleasure our of spending five times as much time on something as me, and getting 100% of the benefit. They can take pleasure from their careful process and attention to detail.

So this is neural diversity and it makes great teams. I can bring in Christmas trees and stand them up and hang some lights on them and get it done fast. Then those with the OCA can finish the trimming to perfection and make them beautiful. I can quickly do the 80% part, and they can slowly do the finish, and together we can get five times as much done.

So often we hear teachers or schools quote Einstein about teaching fish to climb a tree, as if that would be an obvious waste of time. And then they go on to put everyone in the same box. We all have such different ways of looking at things and accomplishing things. But we are taught that if you are not suited to sitting in a cubicle listening all day long and following countless rules and orders, that you are defective.

The system is designed to get workers into cubicles who will toil all day long as they are instructed without rebellion. School is not designed to tease out our strengths, but to stifle them. Anybody who does not fit the mold is “diagnosed” with a disorder, medicated, and stuck back in the class room. All must learn to comply.

This is really not good for a lot of people, and you or your kids may be suffering this terrible abuse while being told it’s because of your disorder. But ask yourself, is there really anything wrong with a kid who does not want to sit in a classroom all day? I don’t think so. I think the problem is the classroom itself. It’s where they teach fish to climb trees.

12-2-21

Hello dear reader, thanks for being here with me. I would like to share with you an experience I just had with the concept of Human Design, which tells me that Intuition, or how I make best make decisions, is “Sounding Board Intuition,” which basically means that I process my thoughts by speaking them. It is necessary for me to put my thoughts into words to make them linear so that I can make sense of disorganized jumbles of related ideas.

In my personal life, I have seen this manifested. I often find myself talking about something that is on my mind and find that my companion has not wanted to stay on that train for quite so many stops. When this happens, I now have learned, I am really organizing my own thoughts by speaking them, and in so doing, I hear them so expressed.

One of the tips in this brilliant little application called myHD (https://www.myhumandesign.com) is that I can journal about what it is that I am receiving.

The other day I was playing guitar in our living room, and I had a sudden urge to write a five paragraph essay about a reason that I might expect someone to read what I have written. The only reason is that I am a student and I am writing an essay to explain something that I am supposed to learn, and I am seeking to share these thoughts with other students who share the same interest so that we might learn from each other.

I have faith in the world that there are good people who will find this, and I have faith that some may benefit in their own exploration of ideas expressed here. The divine lives within each of us, and it is from this point of divinity that we all must learn to speak. In Harmony with Love Truth and Justice.

And so it is in this spirit that I am writing this open journal. This is a space where I can express the jumbled thoughts that are in my head. I don’t want to edit very much of what I am writing, because that whole process is a block to the flow of truth. If I have to stop my writing to quibble over grammar or word choices, or whatever, then I am blocking the flow of consciosness right?

And that is the ultimate point of writing in the first place. It’s to share my consciousness with yours. It’s for you to create the same vibration in your chakras as I have in my chakras. It’s not only the mental and the literal. It’s the flow of the words. It’s the heart that is behind the little nuances. Is the pace at which a train of thought might change course. It is these little signs and nuances that persist in unedited writing, and these nuances are important to me for my own learning.

So dear reader, and Sp3ncer, you are the reader who is writing this, please bear with me because it is for my own benefit that I must let the words flow as they might.

That kind of feels like the end of a topic.