Angels and Killer Apes

The goal is one million awake aware adult human beings. This would be enough to change the world.   Some changes in the world require massive group action. But others are a matter of individual growth, and those are the best focus: best for you, best for the world.   Chains are no stronger than the weakest link.  Don’t be that link.


The major tool is the concept of balance.  The most basic balances I see are:

  1. Body, mind, emotions
  2. Child, Parent, Grandparent
  3. Male-Female


If you resolve the apparent dualities, allow the same  “energies” to manifest on different levels, I think you have a pretty healthy human being.


Major mistakes:

  1. “Awakening the kundalini backwards.”   The major mistake here is to construct reality from a concept rather than actual experience. If you don’t understand how powerfully our emotional filters prevent us from crunching real-world data you can easily mistake ignorance for knowledge.  SOLUTION: start either from love, or from an alive body with full hungers activated.
  2. Not loving our “child” (or “heart”) enough to commit to protecting her at all costs–including growing the #$%% up.   Asking other adults to be our mommies and daddies.   This is a dinner bell for predators, and you are going to be very unhappy with life.   Artists fall into this so easily it makes me weep.  SOLUTION: Heal this damage, and commit to being all you need emotionally.   That frees you to have adult non-codependent relationships.
  3. Forgetting that there are both direct and indirect forms of force.  And that a good, creative person denied direct influence will find indirect influence.  And so will a malign snake.  The indirect is harder to see, and this is a tough one for people to see.  If you don’t  start with an assumption of equality, then ask: “well, if…?” about the apparent issues, you’ll get lost in the politics rapidly.  But if we’re equal…then those things that free women will also free men, in some amazing ways most people can’t even see.    All I can say is this: if women’s power REALLY diminishes men, this is going to get bloody as hell. But I believe that that is the nightmare, not the reality.   SOLUTION: See how women would act like men, and men act like women, if the positions were reversed.  The same souls having different experiences.


Sleeping Children–>Sleeping adults.


Within the dream we can function as adults (taking responsibility for emotions and actions) without awakening to the illusions we accepted in order to function as individuals or societies.  For instance, the South is awakening from such a dream, and it is painful: they needed slavery, and needed to justify it with a myth of inferiority.  America didn’t really   awaken from this nightmare until about 1970.  IF then.


Mankind as a whole is awakening from a dream in which women are seen as inferior by men…and vice versa.  Make no mistake, both sides do this crap.      From my perspective we made a deal 10k years ago, and the agreement was that women’s external dreams were disposable, and men’s lives were disposable. It worked great for producing maximum grandchildren, but sucked for men and women.


We can make better choices now. Move forward.  Become Angels with computer chips built on the chassis of killer apes.


Man, I like that notion.  But we have to resolve the dualities to reclaim our real potential for thought, love, and physical excellence.   I think its worth it.


But first, we have to wake up.  Repeat after me:




That is how I see you.  Oh, and that “angel with a computer chip on the chassis of a killer ape” thing. Yeah, that too.






Don’t Trigger a Feeding Frenzy


I’m never offended if people ask me to perform or present for free.   I have this thing called a “no” and another thing called a “counter proposal.”   Its not up to an organization to protect me.  It’s up to the Adult part of my personality, the “Daddy” to protect Little Stevie, who really does just want to get up there and shine and have fun.


Don’t develop that part?  And you  fall into the “it’s not faiiiiir!”


What is that expression?  “In business, you don’t get what you’re worth.  You get what you can negotiate.”


How about in sales?  “You aren’t in the business of X. You are in the business of MARKETING X.”


How about relationships?  “You will be attracted to people at your level and above. You will attract people at your level and below.”  If your “adult” self is developed, this is like hearing: “I won’t carry you out of the woods, but the path is right there.”   Waah! Carry me!!


Nope.  Every chipmunk in the woods knows no one is coming to save them.  Why do we so often feel it is “unfair” when people do a very typical animal thing:


If you leave a pork chop on the floor, and the dog eats it, it isn’t the dog’s fault.  It is the nature of dogs to eat pork chops that are on the floor.



Of COURSE people will try to get all they can for as little as possible. Nothing, if they can.  I remember talking about “Trust” with Swift Deer after someone had hurt me in a business deal.  “Don’t trust people” he said, that cynical bastard.   “Instead, RELY upon them to do what they see as being in their own self interest.”


Wow, is that ever negative…or is it?    What does that mean?  It means that YOU CAN TRUST OTHER PEOPLE TO THE EXACT LEVEL THAT YOU CAN TRUST YOUR OWN PERCEPTIONS.  Your own ability to figure out what they see as “their own interests.”


How to do that? First, get in touch with YOUR own motivations.  Do you, for instance, ask other people to be your Mommy or Daddy?


Remember that student of mine who was furious at his girlfriend for talking about her past lovers?   Why was he angry? (Come on, you should know this by now)…HE WAS AFRAID.  What was he afraid of?


“Mommy” wasn’t just giving her love to him.  What she gave him wasn’t “special” snurf snurf.  She gave it to OTHER boys snurf snurf.   Poor baby.


Boy oh boy, am I glad for her that she was smart enough to bring up her past again and again.  Otherwise, she might have fallen in love with him, and known, in her heart, that one day he would be angry and rub her nose in her past, and rip her heart out of her chest.


Why don’t we take adult responsibility for our emotions?   (“I provide everything I need emotionally.   My relationships with others are about what I want, and what I can give.”)


Why not take adult responsibility in business?  (“yes, my little boy loves to dance and make mommy and daddy laugh and clap. But I have to be `mommy and daddy’ now.   I have to be willing to market, sell, negotiate, and protect.  Because otherwise when I deal with adults who AREN’T Mommy and Daddy, they will eat that emotional pork chop I left on the floor.  LOVE ME! I will say.  “Sure,” they will answer.  Come dance for hugs.”


You want money?  Money is the adult world.   Better the hell be an adult, or your “kid” will be very unhappy.


If you go to someone, or the world, and say “be my Mommy or Daddy” what are you doing?  You are denying responsibility for your own maturity.  It is NOT their responsibility to do this. It is YOUR responsibility to do it. If you don’t have those chops, you had better the hell have a manager, an agent, a lawyer, a “minder”, a marketing and sales section to surround that little kid’s heart and protect it.


But when you demand that…they ain’t gonna do it for hugs.   You are demanding that they be adults, they deal with the adult world.  They are gonna want money, oh yes they will.


Now, if they are honest, they won’t take more than you negotiate. But THEY have a little boy, little girl to care for, too.  And they are going to negotiate the biggest contract they can, and you’ll be left with nothing if you can’t get “adult” about it.


What are the healthiest relationships?  Frankly, it is between two adults who ARE adults, but also in touch with their child selves.  Then their “kids” can play, but each “adult” is ultimately responsible for their own heart.  But even better, (say between me and T) sometimes my “child” is wounded and I just can’t quite manage to provide myself all the nurturing I need.  I’ve got a LOT in the ‘bank’ with her,and I can borrow her “Mommy” to comfort me. Feels wonderful.


But I have to be there as “Daddy” for  her little girl. And gladly do.   Wonderful little girl she has, and sometimes she is playful, and sometimes she is wounded and lonely.  She could re-integrate and heal on her own…but she knows she can come to me, and I will comfort her.


What would happen if I stopped comforting her?   It would be like a mouse searching for cheese in a maze.   If there is cheese there for a few days, and then you take the cheese away, the mouse will keep searching for a while…and then stop.   In a relationship, if things go bad, we’ll keep searching for the “cheese” for a while…and then if we are healthy, we stop.


And you know what?  If you aren’t honest enough to grasp that you were trying to get your partner, or business partner, or world, to carry the burden of being the “adult” without being willing to see that THEY want what’s best for THEM as well…if you try to manipulate them, guilt trip them, or tell them that they “owe” you anything other than honesty and perhaps kindness…you are being a child.  And the “adults” around you will sniff that. And you will bring out the very worst in even “normal” people.  The same instinct to burden them with responsibility for you will trigger their own tendency to seek unfair advantage.


And they you have a feeding frenzy.  Blood in the water.  Remember that line from “Broadcast News”?  “Wouldn’t it be great is `needy’ were a turn-on?”


It isn’t, except in other wounded people…or sharks.


Be your own parent. THEN I’ll let you play with my little boy.





A True Soulmate Moment

I don’t coach individually any more: reached a point where I had to charge too much, which put me beyond the range of the people who needed re-integration most.  Stepped back, and asked: “What is 20% of what I’m doing that provides 80% of the results? What is the 20% that can be shared without one-on-one interaction?”  Where I teach now is where these two circles overlap.


But so long as they are willing to discuss their concerns publicly so that others can benefit from the conversation, I will go “deep” with a student with a sufficiently interesting issue. And just this morning, one of these “semi-private” folks woke up a little bit from his nightmare.


There’s a guy named Dan who had a girlfriend who blew his mind sexually.  The only problem: she talked a LOT about her previous relationships, and this triggered massive insecurity as well as an inner critic that raked her over the coals for being a sexual being.   I had to point out to him that she had done NOTHING wrong in having an active history.  That she probably spoke about it as much as she did because she knew he was judging her. That it was a defense against opening her heart too widely: “if you can’t accept me, don’t ask me to fall in love with you.”


Tracing back his attitudes, the Madonna-Whore stuff connected (of course) to his father, a powerful, domineering man with…issues.


I worked with Dan for over a year, and made little progress. I didn’t take it personally, as little progress had been made with therapist after therapist before me. Well, I ain’t no damned therapist. I’m a coach. I can point out a path, but YOU have to do the running.  Doctors heal the sick. I find the part of you that is already healthy, and help you nurture it.  BIG DIFFERENCE. I don’t set broken bones.


So I changed the game.

  1. He was forbidden from mentioning her.  ALL of his problem was his own. 100%. Own it, dammit.  ADULTHOOD IS TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR EMOTIONS AND ACTIONS. As long as he was focused on HER he was a bleeding mess.
  2. Every time he mentioned her, he had to Paypal me 5 bucks.  That worked for a few weeks, then he tried to sneak her back into the conversation.   Raised it to ten bucks.  Problem solved.  Heh heh.  Oh, he’ll mention her again at some point, and I’ll double it to 20 bucks.  It’s gonna get expensive, real #$%% fast.
  3. His focus had to be healing his own heart, and the Ancient Child.  From my point of view, the problem is that he allowed his sense of worth to flow from someone else, rather than giving himself the love he was looking for. That left his “wounded child” screaming “Mommy doesn’t love me!  I’m not special!”
  4. Look, as far as I’m concerned the lady in question is something of an adventuress.  I have no reason to consider her behavior anything but healthy. BUT…even if it wasn’t…what would it mean? It means that a damaged person was the BEST he could do. We attract our level and below. We are attracted to our level and above.   If he wants a more integrated, healthy lady, HE has to be a more integrated, healthier man. Brutally simple.
  5. Alone isn’t the same as “lonely.”   The night before I met Tananarive, I finally got “clear” that I could have all the women I wanted. Knew exactly how to do it, with a fairly high level of integrity.  And…I didn’t want it any more.  I saw something: that on some level, conscious or unconscious, every one of them was asking: “are you the one?”  Those four words, usually unspoken, relate to the REALITY of human life, our existence.  We are born alone. We die alone.  We seek someone, something, to help give meaning and purpose to our lives.  Love is one of those things, whether you seek to create a family or not.  The energy of orgasm, of sexuality is the result of ego fusion–the energy released is in direct proportion to the degree you “let go.”  You abandon your illusion of a separate existence.  “The beast with two backs” is a rather earthy way to look at a spiritual reality.  We seek companionship.  If we find our soulmate, some glance, some touch, some kiss, some sexual encounter will be the first step on a lifetime path. “Are you the one?  Is this my beginning? Are you what I’ve been waiting for?”   Unless you are willing to say and MEAN “perhaps.  I’m seeking too” you don’t get started.   I certainly couldn’t.  Not any more.  Not if I wanted to claim I was treating women the way I would want my daughter, my sister, my mother treated.  And I decided that night that if I had to wait the rest of my life for my perfect partner…I would.  And the next morning I met Tananarive.  Now…am I claiming a causal relationship?  Yes, I am. Not direct.  That is the mistake people make with magic. It was indirect.  I had become the kind of person worthy of a woman like T. 
  6. When the student is ready, the master will appear. And…when the lover is ready, the beloved will appear.


So Dan has to take responsibility, love and nurture himself, and focus on what HE can do, rather than what others did or didn’t do.  If I was him, I would refrain from all sex while I healed.  Turn that energy and attention inward.  How long would it take?  A year is average.  What matters is that you have to stop counting days.  Be your own “mother” and “father”. Nurture that child inside you.


Then, one day when you actually love yourself, accept yourself, you will meet a soul walking the same path, at the same rate, heading to a destination similar enough that you can hold hands as you climb the mountain.   And if they have the right plumbing…Yowsah!      Out of 4 billion people on the planet, trust me, you can find someone.   In fact, when you talk to people who have had long and happy relationships, few of them dated more than twenty people before finding their Soul Mate.   What that means to me is that I’d be willing to bet that one out of every thousand or so people could be the one you’re looking for.  Maybe 10k for the really picky people.


That’s not so much if you are actually out in the world, meeting people, broadcasting clearly who you are.   In other words, if you know 100 people, and each of THEM know 100 people…

Someone you know already knows a person you could love, and be loved by, and spend your life with.

But you have to stop bleeding, stop the desperation, be happy with your life so that you are radiating your positive vibes, and get out into the world, be who you are, meet people, and proudly declare that you are an active, healthy human animal. That you love yourself.  Frankly, that if you weren’t you, you’d WANT you.  And mean it.  This will horrify the insecure, and you’ll be accused of being an ego-maniac.


That’s fine. That’s their problem. You’re looking for someone healthy enough to say…”I can believe that.   I feel the same.”


Because you two…?   The two of YOU can build a nest together.



This morning “Dan” said that he was wrong to try to turn his ex into his mother.  NOT UNLESS HE WAS WILLING TO BE A LOVING FATHER TO HER.  Not a judgemental asshole.


THAT was a real “spark.”  A glimpse of a larger world for him.   A few more of those and he might be able to make a fire. And light a torch.


And then…if he completes this cycle of the HERO’S JOURNEY…he will be able to lead others out of the darkness.


I’m happy for Dan.  THIS is one of the moments that matter.  Real teachers love good students.




It’s never too late to be true to your heart

The M.A.G.I.C. formula is designed to take a frustration and turn it into a power.   I’ve noticed that almost NO major positive events have ever occurred in my life through direct action.   I didn’t meet Tananarive when looking for a partner.  I didn’t achieve my major martial breakthroughs in a martial arts school.  I didn’t get my best writing opportunities through pounding on doors, and didn’t have any idea which projects were going to hit hardest.  None.


It’s all a crap shoot.  But…if you let the apparent randomness dissuade you from acting, you are making a HUGE mistake.


This is the way it seems to go.  This is an analogy ONLY.


Imagine your life like a  mathematical plane drawing describing physical reality.  Every focused action you take increases your “mass”.    As your “mass” increases, the plane distends.  You create a gravity well.  Passing opportunities get sucked in.  The greater the mass, the more opportunities.


But…there is another model in Yoga.  It discusses the “Siddhi” phenomenon in yoga.   That if you meditate upon the true nature of reality, or God, or your own deep identity, you gain power, and will begin to experience extranormal phenomena.   Charisma, sexual attraction, precognitive flashes, ESP, and so forth.


The trick is that these things are like gold nuggets sprinkled along a “path” you are traveling if you are meditating and living correctly. You might be able to scoop them up as you move forward, but if you chase after them they turn into fool’s gold.  If you chase them long enough, you will look back and realize you’ve lost sight of the path.


An example: you are a writer who writes from your heart. You struggle with finances, but win awards.  One day, you write a book that becomes a bestseller. Your agent, publisher, and fans scream “write more of THAT!”  You do, and enjoy great success…at first.  But you are no longer writing from your heart you are writing to the audience.  IF you are not also writing from your heart, you will lose the very thing that made you special, and your fire burns out.


Many years ago, I had lunch in Greenwich Village with Leo and Diane Dillon, two artists of supreme flow. They created as a single mind. Where one ended a line, the other would begin. And while I THOUGHT I was having the meeting to discuss my wife’s art, once I was in the presence of these lovely people, I realized I was really concerned for my own artistic soul.  Frankly, in order to survive I had made many artistic choices that were more in alignment with my bank book than my heart.


Was I lost?  Had I destroyed myself?  Before I knew it I was gushing tears at the table.   Was it too late for me?


With an expression of infinite kindness and understanding, Diane reached across the table and took my hands in hers.  “Steve,” she said.   “If you can even ask that question…its not too late.”



Back to M.A.G.I.C.:
“Magic” equals Action times Gratitude times Intention times Conviction.


If the things you desire are going to come indirectly, but direct action is the key to making them possible, then every day you have to:

Take Action

Feel Gratitude (gratitude is the antidote for fear)

Have clear Intention (you have to know what you want) and

Have Conviction you can and should have it.


Every day you take actions toward your goal, knowing that most of your plans will come to nothing, and that the person, the opportunities, the results you desire will often, perhaps usually, come out of your peripheral vision.


Damn, this is frustrating. So much urge to chase after the gold.So much to give up and say nothing matters.


So hard to stay on the middle course.


But…everything I’ve gotten in my life has happened when I stayed on the path, did my work, clarified my goals, made myself happy just to be alive, and took one step after another. Everything.


It’s worth it, because even if I DON’T get the externals, I’ve been true to myself. And nothing in the universe is worth abandoning your heart.





The Power of Love

The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships–beginning with your connection to your own heart. Shame-filled people project their guilt onto others. Those who don’t treasure themselves treat their bodies like garbage bags. Those who don’t think they are lovable have contempt and mistrust for anyone who loves them. People who have lost contact with their childlike wonder cannot access their creativity, and those who have sacrificed their dreams for money or relationship security lose their capacity to believe in love and happiness.

I give human beings enough respect to believe that the painful, non-optimal, self-destructive patterns in their lives are, regardless of how it seems from the outside, still representative of the very best people can do with their current resources, their best attempt to avoid pain and find pleasure. Understand their internal rules, their beliefs about the world, their self-image, their positive and negative emotional associations.

Milton Erickson, Abraham Maslow and six thousand years of yogic psychology all basically agree that what most people want is to grow to maturity, be self-supporting, have healthy bodies they themselves would find attractive, find healthy joyous sexual expression in alignment with their morality and values, find loving relationships, raise healthy families, find self-expression, grow old with dignity and die at peace.

It was said to me that there are two ways to approach the nurturing of a complete human spirit: from the physical “up” to the emotional, mental and spiritual. Or from the emotions “outwards” to all of the other characteristics necessary to sustain a relationship with another healthy adult human being: physical, sexual, mental, emotional, etc. Either works. I have a preference for “emotions out” although “body up” works great too. The one thing that doesn’t work is “head down”–the creation of mental maps unconnected to actual experience, then attempting to shape the world and twist perceptions to match your concepts. The consequences of this can be an absolute nightmare.

So of all the ways to approach humanity, preparing yourself to have a healthy, passionate, loving relationship with another adult human being has the advantages of being generative (leading to global change), maturing, a serious reality check (human adult partners are not children or pets.) Living with another human being to whom you are committed is probably the hardest, most worthwhile “ordinary” human experience. And preparing yourself to have such a relationship, and be worthy of the kind of partner who makes your heart AND mind AND body sing is 100% worthwhile even if you live on a desert island.

Just something to think about…

-Steve Barnes

What was the last movie that taught you something?

“All That Jazz”  may be the last film that ever taught me.   Perhaps.   The story of a man addicted to sex, drugs, and musical theater (line stolen from the great Robert McKee) I walked out of the movie stunned, realizing that that could be my story if I was not very careful.  I decided that very day that the secret to success was obsession, but obsession creates imbalance, and imbalance destroys and denies you the chance to enjoy your success.


So I decided to become obsessive about being balanced.  Ka-ching.  One of those “cubic inches of opportunity” I’ve had in my life. Everyone gets them.   The challenge is recognizing and implementing their implications.



The Way that can be named is not the true Way.  But…by looking at some of the structures and vectors discovered or designed by some of the best, wisest and most successful human beings who have ever walked the planet, as well as the combined wisdom of the tribal elders, we can glimpse it.  Cannot put it into words, no–that would be asking too much of language.  It will not bear the weight.


I like to look at a story from multiple directions.  Each new perspective teaches something different about the story, but the story is not the perspectives or structures.   I can look at it from plot, character, poetics, thematics.  In my head, on index cards, in an outline, as a synopsis, written, oral, visualized, played in my head like music, as a short story, a novel, a movie script.   Every different perspective tells me something different. But the story is always the story. It is like looking in on a fireplace from different windows, through a keyhole, through an open door.   Each perspective is different. The fire is the same, and you have to actually burn to understand its essence.


The martial arts are the same way.  I can discuss them culturally, psychologically, philosophically.  In terms of anatomy, physics, strategy, tactics, integrative lifestyle, practical application, sport, fitness, self-defense, all-out combat, mathematics, and more. Each perspective offers up different information.  But the thing is the thing.


The experience of life is the same.    You have to burn to understand it. And when you do, “you” are not there. “The thing” is there.  This is much the same as sex.  If you can remember your name while you’re orgasming, it wasn’t good sex.  The subject-object relationship must break down, labels disappear.    People who think that labeling things is the same as understanding them are missing it.


But if I break my life down into those components: Body, Mind, Spirit.  Child, parent, grandparent.  Male and female.  Black and white.   Each tells me something different. And while my monkey mind is busy thinking about it, the Truth can slip through the cracks.     They are useful tools, useful distractions, useful lies.


I think the problems of life are like rocks in a white-water rafting trip. They obstruct and constrict the flow of water, and make the ride wild.


The truth always lies between.    People get stuck in the rocks.   Fear the rocks.    Shrink your ego and float past the obstructions.


Come on in: the water’s fine.






(P.S.–what was the last movie that really taught you something, and what did it teach?)


Politics, Facebook, and “Awakening the Kundalini backward”

(Those who admire  the way I think seem to enjoy my explanations of how it works. Those who find my thinking flawed might be interested in the origin of those flaws.  In either case, as Rod Serling used to say, “submitted for your approval…”)



One of my greatest teachers warned of “awakening the kundalini backwards”.    I’ve spoken on this before, but it has an interesting political and philosophical aspect worth unpacking (yeah, I like that word. Sue me).


The “Kundalini” is said to be the intrinsic human energy (similar to but more specific than “ki” or “chi”) which arises when certain conditions are met.  Generally, this involves clearing away fears and blockages on different “chakra” levels, and can be interpreted as resolving issues related to survival, sex, power, emotions, and communication.  It isn’t necessary to consider this something spiritual or esoteric–it is also a nice model of a fully functional human being.  Of the path to using more of your human potential through balanced growth.


The full statement is: “you can awaken the kundalini from the root up, or the heart out, but never EVER from the head down.”


I interpret this as follows: as infants, we start with immediate experience of our environment, learn what causes us pleasure and pain, learn to manipulate and navigate the world, form emotional connections. The emotional connections mature from pure “give me what I want” to, at some point, a sense that the Other–generally Mommy and Daddy, initially, have their own feelings and needs.  Often we do this for our friends BEFORE we do with Mom and Dad, leading to disillusionment when we discover Mom and Dad are ‘just” human.  It is a sign of wisdom when you transition from seeing them as Gods to Humans early in life, with compassion and appreciation.


So…you can begin the process of growth by asking “what is true?” about the world, and learning directly, later forming ideas about what exists, and then comparing your observations and experiences with those of others–study. The mental level. But it is GROUNDED in your actual experience of life.


That’s one way to go. The other is “from the heart out”.  This is to start with an emotional connection with the world, slowly expanding through self-expression and learning to navigate and control your environment.  Coming from love.  The first approach is often coming from fear, however.  There is nothing wrong with coming from fear, as long as you learn to resolve it and see that the other half of the equation is love. And nothing wrong with coming from love, so long as you understand that there are genuinely things to fear.  For instance: starting with the assumption that all human beings are connected, all groups basically equal, but having different experiences that trigger different behaviors.


Both work.


What then does “from the top down” mean?  It means to build a map of reality before you have actually experienced it, and think your concepts trump actual experience.    It is said that the origin of frustration, and the thing that angers people most, is when reality doesn’t match their expectations.   Boy oh boy, is that a risk for people like this!


This is not to criticize intelligence. Intelligence is problem-solving, and great. But WISDOM is knowing what problems to solve, and frankly  one of the most important problems is “how do I get out of my intellectual box and experience life?”


Some of the absolute worst human errors seem to come from this tendency.  Communism, for instance, strikes me as a system that works great if everyone knows each other and volunteers to play the game. But the amount of social engineering necessary to FORCE people into that box?  Ghastly.   It seems to totally ignore actual human psychology:   the average human being simply won’t work as hard for strangers as they will for their own children.


How did such a mistake happen?   I don’t know for sure, but when I studied Karl Marx and learned that from one perspective, his children seem to have suffered hugely while he was spending his days in London evolving a complex philosophy, that  suggested that he and I had little in common on some basic levels.   That from MY perspective, he was disconnected from basic human drives, trying to create a model of the world rather than actually engaging with it.


That he was more connected to his head than his heart.  To his theories than the actual physical realities. And that led him to make a key mistake that, IMO, has led to a vast amount of misery.


He mistook his map for the territory.  His ideals for reality. He tried to re-shape the world based on his beliefs about the way it SHOULD be, rather than asking what it was.


He awakened his kundalini backwards.




There is here a divergence of philosophies.   There are those who believe they can “figure it out.” That their understanding of facts and data trumps the experience of the people who actually experience the life in question.  That might be true if there is a vast difference in intellectual capacity…or might not be true even then, depending on what one considers “knowing.”    A single bite of cake allows you to “know” the cake in a totally different way from absorbing an entire library of information about the history, chemistry, culture, process, or design of cakes.


There is no amount of information about salad I can give you that is as nourishing as actually eating the salad.    Totally different domains of knowledge and understanding.    Absent some huge difference in capacity, I find no practical reason for assuming that an intellectual understanding of something trumps actual experience. And even WITH that huge gap, only a specific selection of values I cannot support would prioritize data over actual being.




Philosophy is primary:  “what is true?”.  Politics secondary “how shall we proceed?”  I dislike politics because I’ve seen it as a corruptive, where people prioritize winning over “what is true?”  Hide information that your “opponent” needs to make their argument effectively.  That’s not something you do if you are interested in truth.  Only “winning” as your highest good explains that.


But there are arenas of my life where I am impacted by politics enough to involve myself. Race is one of them.  And I remember years ago where someone  who was strongly (STRONGLY) politicized tried to tell me that certain perceptions I had of black people were incorrect.   This person knew maybe 5% of the number of black people I did, which meant that he had to consider himself FAR more intelligent than I for him to crunch so much less data but come to better conclusions.   He has the right to that opinion, of course.    But when he actually insisted that my experience was wrong, that I didn’t know what I knew, it was as if you live on a mountain, and someone in the valley insists that there is no mountain.  They KNOW that there is no mountain.


If they know that they are incorrect, this is called “gaslighting.” But I think he was sincere. In which case he was simply deluded.


Much later, I ran across this same phenomenon related to BLM.    When protesters marched or created disturbances, it would in my mind be reasonable for someone to believe they were  behaving badly.   (I don’t necessarily agree, but it is REASONABLE).    It would be reasonable to say that they were even mistaken about the perceived stimulus.


But what I heard was something different: I saw highly politicized people on the Right claiming that it was mere political theater.   Violence stems from anger, anger from fear.   To say “there is really nothing to fear, they are deluded” is one thing.   That can be discussed.


But when you say “they are faking it” you are simply saying they are all lying. And if I happen to AGREE that the protestors are correct that there is an issue…if my wife and her family agree, and my friends, and hundreds of thousands of people connected to me via social media are spontaneously agreeing before the media ever got ahold of it…


You can still argue that we are wrong, that there is no real reason to think there is an injustice. That is a conversation. That can be debated.


But if your position is that we don’t even FEEL there is a problem?   That my perception that there is a BELIEF there is a problem is incorrect..?


Friend, you had better the hell know a LOT of black people to even BEGIN to get me to take you seriously. You’d better have a VAST storehouse of data.   Lots of black friends, in-laws. Grew up in a black neighborhood.  Now you can say: “based upon a huge amount of personal information from people who trusted me, long observation, plus study of surveys across a wide swath of economic and geographical territory, I have formed an opinion I believe informed: that this is political theater.”


Even if your opinion on this conflicts with my own, I’m going to be willing to listen to you. A woman who was raised by her father and brothers, has worked with men, and been married to one for thirty years has, in my mind, the right to argue with me about what men are like, even though she is not a man.   But if she was raised by her mother and sisters, or nuns in a convent, and has barely ever met one?   She can tell me what women think about men, but her opinion about what men are is likely to be more mythology than truth.  And if she is politicized, or immature, or wounded? It will be a very self-serving mythology.


Same with race.  You want to tell me what black people FEEL and THINK about something?   And you’re white?   Welll…if you aren’t surrounded by black people who love and trust you enough to share their real feelings, you might know something about the statistics gathered around their lives, but you don’t know much about how they FEEL about it.  In other words, you can’t tell me that they don’t believe there is a threat.  That they are not afraid.


You might have an informed opinion about whether the threat exists, yes.  But not how they feel about it.


Not one that can compare to mine, if I am actually in a web of association, and that association matches my own experience.


I can understand why you would want me to consider your OPINIONS as important as my EXPERIENCE, but frankly, you are either deluded, or gaslighting.    Or, you think that you are so much smarter or wiser or clearer than me that even with a bare fraction of my data, you are capable of drawing equivalent or superior  conclusions.  IMO…that’s delusion.   I know some very very smart people, far smarter than I.  Not one of them comes close to having THAT much brain-power.


Again, I might understand why you would want to believe that about yourself, but cannot imagine why you would expect me to agree.




Now…to Facebook,  just for fun.  I believe the statistics suggesting that Facebook friend groups tend to be more diverse than real-world friend groups.   Makes logical sense, and matches experience: I can leaf through friend lists of people I know, when I know their web of association, and see that their FB lists are more diverse.  Done this hundreds of times across lines of politics, gender, race, economics.    Countless people have said the same thing about their experience of life.  Logic, experience, and statistics all agree.


Are there going to be cases where this is not true?  Sure.


But you know what?   Every time I’ve had an argument about race, where the person’s perspective on the subjective experience of black people differs from mine, if I look at their friends list..almost nada.  Nothing.    The number of black friends is WAY below statistical probability.


If I point this out, they get testy. Well, that would be easy to understand, from the perspective of that original model: they have formed opinions based on data, not experience.  With their heads, not their hearts or bodies.     If that data is filtered through a political lens, it will be very slanted.  They have constructed their house with warped planks.  And are uncomfortable when they encounter the reality of experience.


That’s not necessarily “true” but it does explain the reaction, and have some predictive capacity.

Posited: if someone disagrees with me on the experience, perspectives and emotions of black people, that person will not know many black people.


Tests out in real life, tests out on Facebook. Not 100% true, but close enough for government work.


Let’s generalize: people who have an interest in something, but no data, will form opinions anyway.  If the issues are emotionalized or politicized they will treat those opinions like truth, and fight to protect them.


Is this exclusive to “the Right”?  Hell no. My teachers said nothing about “Conservatives tend to wake their kundalini from the top down.”  In fact, I’d say that Conservatives tend to do this “from the root up” and Liberals “from the heart out.”  Both work.


What kind of person takes the path I’m considering an error? Very intellectual people.  People who learned early in life not to trust their emotions or even perceptions.


The sad thing is that they cannot hide in the safety of data, because that data was ALSO filtered through emotions and perceptions.  They can run, but they cannot hide.  In a world of infinite data, what you choose to look at and prioritize is influenced by your emotional filters and political beliefs.  And the more painful and powerful those emotions are, the more likely you are to believe they aren’t there.


By the way, if it isn’t obvious, this exact same approach works for gender issues. Harder to do it with LGBT issues, but any issues where familarity with a group is important, and that group is identifiable by sight, it is damned useful and will save you days of pointless arguing with people who “know not that they know not.”



Could I be wrong? Of course!  My error check is that if I’m correct, if my “reality map” is accurate, I’ll tend to reach my goals. Specifically, happy relationships, healthy body, successful career.  Hey, if I get all three, precisely how can my perceptions be so wrong? And even if somehow they are…I win anyway.


So if you think you can “figure out the world” and your mental computations trump my actual experience, please be my guest.   In a few years we’ll meet again, and I’ll ask how your relationships, physical health, and career are doing.   If they are better results than I get, I’ll assume your approach was superior, and be eager to learn your path.


If not?  Ehhhh…not so much.  Goot luck with that, though.


Results matter. Anyone can talk a good game. Anyone can agree with themselves, or create an argument that sounds great.


Unpublished writers lecture bestselling authors on how to write.

Armchair martial artists know just what that fighter did wrong.

People who have been divorced seven times know the “truth” about men or women.


Really, they aren’t worth arguing with on the subject. Might be perfectly nice people, but why would I listen to a virgin talking about sex when there is a hot lady waiting for me in the next room?  Enjoy your theories and data.   I like life a LOT better.







(if this approach to thought appeals to you, you would probably enjoy the free “Seven Day Emotional Diet” available at

It takes courage to care


Yesterday at one of Loscon’s room parties,  I met a guy whose attitude is that people suck, including himself.    He claimed to have no ambitions, not for love, or money, or even a healthy body.  His explanation is that people with no expectations can’t be disappointed.


That…is so sad. He has no sweetheart.  Works at no job that does more than “pay the bill”.  His body was…shapeless.   If he doesn’t find some balance or foundation within himself, doesn’t find a way to care about life, some courage to dream, he will in ten or fifteen years, when youth has fled, find himself one of the hollow-eyed legions  trudging through life without any purpose but avoiding pain.  One of the living dead.


In the middle of a crowd, there was nothing I could really do for him. And I hadn’t been invited to, so we were ships passing in the night.


But…what might I have suggested if he’d asked?


Well…he said that not caring meant he had no stress.  Stress isn’t the problem: STRAIN is the problem.   So he could breathe for sixty seconds every three hours, and start channeling that adrenaline into positive action.


He thinks he is worthless.  So…it is clear that he was not nurtured lovingly as a child. So the “Ancient Child” approach would be great.  Let the “Parent” nurture the “child”.  The feminine energy to nurture, the male energy to protect and drive.


He thinks that life is lived best without dreams.   This is raving, ravening, consuming terror.  The “Grandparent” knows that you cannot live a life so small that death will not notice you.   That part of you knows that love, and striving and dancing in the rain are the things that make existence sparkle.  Dare. Dream. Love.   Yes, you will cry at times.  Your heart will be broken.  But you will have LIVED.


Connect the child, parent, and grandparent. Balance the male and female aspects.  I honestly cannot think of anything that we are, or need to be, that is not healed in this process.


And if that all seems complicated?  Start with breathing, sixty seconds, every three hours.    That turns fear into energy.  And energy, focused, removes obstructions. That’s all you have to do, you know–remove the obstructions.


You were born perfect.





(the seven day emotional diet is available, free of charge, at

The “What” and “Why” of Tribe


Yesterday, Charles Johnson asked me what I meant by “find your tribe.”  The same question popped up on my thread this morning, so I’ll take that as a sign that I should talk about this a bit.


  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person
  3. Understand human history without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. Find and support your tribe
  5. Win with integrity and compassion



Three (understand human history) is important because so many people want to believe that human beings, or our leaders, are some kinds of scum.  That’s fine, but that attitude leads to anger and depression, as well as externalizing the causes of their problems.


It is, in my opinion, the result of a lack of SELF love, since on some level we sense that we are connected to the people around us. The alternative is being Dr. Evil and saying “why am I surrounded by these Frickin’ idiots?”


There is, of course, a simple answer: because that was the best you could attract.   Needless to say, people in bad relationships, or with a bad relationship history, don’t want to take responsibility for it.  Lining up the “love yourself” with “love another person” leads most to either blaming the world for their bad choices (“there are no good men/women”) or plunging into depression and self-loathing (“this abuse is what I deserve.”


The doorway into this path is, therefore, self-love.   The healthy attitude is:   “This is all I believed I could have.  I must wake up.”  You then have earned your way into the company of others who take responsibility for their lives: “awakened adults.”  When those adults commit to protecting the children of the world, starting with their own “child self” they become members of what I would call my own “Tribe.”


Similar values, similar perceptual filters and priorities.   There are clusters of such people interested in martial arts and writing.  My tribe.


Other clusters concerned with issues around race and gender.  My tribe.  In fact, I could go so far as to say that my tribe is largely confined to those concerned with these issues, and their allies.  Philosophically, however, not politically. I couldn’t care less what some knot of politicized people has decided I’m supposed to think about issue X or Y.   What experts say about Z, unless what they say makes sense to me.


Humans are communal creatures. Most don’t do well in isolation.  As individuals, we are pretty small and weak.   As groups, sharing our knowledge and tool-using capaticity we are the planet’s alpha predators.


Making the right CHOICE of your tribe is essential.  “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” is a savagely realistic statement.    Want to know how much money you’ll make?  Add up the twenty people you spend the most time with, and divide by the number of people.  You’ll be right in the middle of the pack.


Want to increase your fitness, success, relationship stability and passion?  Upgrade the people you hang out with.   You will begin to absorb their values, perspectives and behaviors.


Remember Lonnie Athens’ theory of the path to creating a murderer?

  1. Subject them to brutalization or violent horrification.
  2. Let them rebel “I’m  mad as hell, and I won’t take it any more”
  3. Have them act out with increasing intensity and success.
  4. Have them find a tribe of similar people to reinforce their values.
  5. Let them internalize those values so that they become part of the “voices in their head.”



By the time you get to step #5, there is no known form of rehabilitation that will help them.  It would require an epiphany on the order of Saul on the Road to Damascus to save them. All we can do is protect society from them.



The trick is to interrupt that process BEFORE they reach #5.


Note that versions of this pattern can be seen in any number of immersive educational experiences, including education, social clubs, martial arts, or the military.  It is simply asking you to emotionalize your desired area of excellence, take actions, and find role models of success to associate with until you internalize their belief systems, mental syntax, and use of physiology.


Easy Peasy.


HOW can you earn your way into such a higher-order group?  Remember the secret of Mastery?  It is a verb, not a noun, a vector, not a position.    Get on the path.  Take daily actions.  Be sincerely interested in their efforts and accomplishments.  BE HONEST AND POSITIVE.


People of accomplishment need friends and tribe as much as you do. They will select that tribe from those on a similar path, because they need people who understand their obsession, their investment of time and energy and “self”.   If “focus over time” is the most important factor in skill, then accomplished people NEED to associate with others who are focused, who are  committed.  People who understand the price they’ve paid to be who and what they are.


Of course, they also need fans.   I remember when T and I were at a party at Prince’s house, and he was playing for us. He said “don’t look at me.  Just dance.  Dig the music.”  In other words, when people are looking at him, he becomes self-conscious.  He pops out of “flow” and is no longer one with the music.  To achieve the highest level, you have to release yourself.  As long as you are worrying what people think, how people will react, you CANNOT reach your highest level of performance.


(By the way…remember when I asked if you’d fight harder for your children than for yourself?    I anticipated, and was not disappointed, that one of the most common answers was that if you were fighting for your children your attention would be on destroying the threat.   If fighting for yourself, your attention is on what they might do to you, or what people might think of you afterward.   As the secret to excellence in anything is taking attention OFF yourself and onto the task, you have to learn to  do this thing, or remain at the lower levels of skill.


Your tribe needs to be either people who can reinforce these positive tendencies, or those who will support you emotionally in achieving them.  If you cannot find a tribe, you find one person to be with.  If you cannot find that, you must be aligned within your own heart.


That’s where it all starts. With YOU.  Stand alone against the world if you must, but frankly, I don’t believe a healthy human being has any more problem than a healthy chipmonk finding a partner.   If you are aligned, you can find a person who is aligned.  The two of you together can stand against the world together.  But they won’t have to: they will find tribe.



And all of THAT starts with your daily actions. Every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY is another opportunity to ask the most important questions: “who am I?” and “what is true?” Know who you are, and you know what you want.  Determining what it will take to achieve it is your next step, and you must take DAILY actions, so that the feedback loop is short and direct, not spread out over months or years.


“Who am I” is the determinant for your goals.

“What is true?” determines the nature and results of your actions.


Who I am is a being seeking awakening.  What is true is that I must solve the mundane puzzles of life to reach the point where my basic “life stuff” is all at the level of unconscious competence: “chop wood, carry water” so that the subtle voices have a safe place to make themselves clearer.


What is also true is that I need friends, family, mentors, mentees.  Tribe.  We’re simply stronger together, although we are born, live, and die alone.  Tribe makes the journey better.





Finding Your Tribe

I’m doing the next “Hotseat” story analysis next Thursday, November 30th, at 6pm PST.  More information to come.


Here’s the “Late Show” clip of Jordan Peele talking about “Get Out” and sneaking into T’s class. It is instructive to study his history, the road he took to this massive success. All the twists and turns and successes and failures and more than anything, the degree to which he was willing to dig into his own emotions to ask “what do I fear?” and give that to the world.

I don’t believe in talent.  Other than the “talent” of focusing on your goal longer and harder than anyone else, and committing to finding and speaking your truth.    You can run out of “clever.” But the truth will set you free.

download-7.jpgNote that Jordan and Colbert don’t quite “jazz”.  Colbert isn’t returning Jordan’s “serves” and they can’t get a comedic rhythm going.   It is CRITICAL to find family, friends, allies, people with whom you CAN get into that rhythm.    But first–find it within yourself.   Then broadcast to the world your true nature.  From the people who respond, select those with whom you can be yourself.


  1. Love yourself
  2. Love one other person
  3. Understand humanity without guilt, blame, or shame
  4. Find your tribe
  5. Win with integrity and compassion


Get that?    FIRST “know yourself”.   Love yourself.  This will get that little kid inside you to relax and be herself.   The next thing is to love at least one other person, which FORCES you out of your shell, forces you to listen and communicate.   You will run into walls and problems in that intimacy–that is the human condition.   And the next step will be to create some model asking “why?” why does this happen.


Here, it is simple: not everyone is on your wavelength. It’s o.k.  That’s just life.   But to be safe in the world, we need tribe. And that is your next step.  Find your tribe.  You don’t argue with the others, don’t put them down. Wish them well!  They are struggling just like you. They have  the same insecurities. Every one of them has the same goal: to be happy.  And every one of them is taking a different route to that goal, starting from a different point of origin, crossing different territory and moving at different speeds.  They will make different mistakes, and sometimes fall into errors from which they cannot recover.


That is just life.


Your task is to find YOUR rhythm.   Meditation, journaling, simple observation of your mind and emotions and the way you are with others is a massive advantage in this.   Then, if you can find just one other person to bond with, you are blessed.    You have someone to hold and love you, to watch your back. A shoulder to cry on when life beats you down.


And then…from a place of love, seek to understand life itself.   And when you have your position, speak it clearly, loudly, call to your tribe, the ones who can hear your song.


You don’t need the whole world to love you.  But you do need to be loved.





(we’re bringing T’s black horror class to the world  January 13th.    The cut-off point for the live audience will probably be 200 people–we don’t want to stress the webinar platform.  “THE SUNKEN PLACE” is a standing-room-only event at UCLA, and we expect to sell out.  If you’re interested in helping to make history, here’s your link: