James Cameron on “Alien 3”

One of my readers, Lancelot Falk, got to ask James Cameron a question I’ve often wondered about:


“OK, the story.

First off, let me say, I friggin, unapologetically love the work of James Cameron. Yes, Avatar. Yes Titanic. Yes, Dark Angel…etc. Aliens and T2 and the uncut version of The Abyss are among my favorite movies. (Your milage may differ).

A decade ago, I went to a studio screening of Titanic on the day it crossed the 100M line.

It was a large packed auditorium. After the screening JC took the stage and was interviewed for a bit, then questions were taken from the Audience. I got the first question.

After briefly complimenting the film and his work in general I asked:

“I’d really like to know your gut reaction to the first five minutes of Alien 3”

The audience made sort of an uncomfortable, anticipatory noise.

He paused, concentrated, considered his words…which as far as I can remember were….

“Listen. David Fincher is one of out Great Directors. I’m a big fan. I see everything he does. He’s going to do some really timeless, important work. I’ll see anything he does.

That being said……

If you have ANY affection for what Ridley and I did. If you have any love for Ripley and those other characters from my sequel…. I have to say it felt like a hostile act when they were arbitrarily slaughtered like that. Next question”

When I had him sign my Making of Titanic book afterwards, he may not have known I was the guy who asked that question.”

The Hero is Confronted by Santa

Trying to unpack the most basic steps of the “Manifesto” is harder than it looks.   I want to make things as simple as possible…but no simpler.  “The Hero is confronted with the challenge” is the first step, but what does it mean?     This is always a desire to either decrease pain  or gain pleasure.  It sometimes requires action (our big-screen blockbusters) but ALWAYS  requires a clarifying of the Big Two questions: “who am I?” and “what is true?”   Always.


Once upon a time, like most kids, I believed in Santa Claus.  Christmas was a time of mystery and magic and joy and family togetherness.  Waited for it all year.  “Be good!” I was told. “And good things will come.”


And I tried.  Oh, how I tried to be good. As I got older, there were problems, of course.   I began to hear whispers that Santa wasn’t real.  I caught my parents making a bicycle late Christmas Eve.  I noticed that there were multiple Santas in different stores, and on different street corners.   I noticed that poor children got fewer toys from Santa than rich ones.   Something was wrong.


But…but…Mommy and Daddy were the source of all good things.  Without them I had nothing. I trusted them completely.  Surely they wouldn’t lie to me.  Would they..?


And even if I decided that they would, and had…how would I deal with the information?  Did I distrust them?  Did I PRETEND to still believe so as to manipulate them into buying me presents they really couldn’t afford? Well, yeah, I did that.  I think most kids did.


But…but what did I think about it? What was true?  As I grew older, the first temptation was to be a wise ass, and tell the younger kids that there was no Santa. Wow! I was smart!  Then…I saw that that caused them pain.  Did I have anything to transform that pain into pleasure?  Actually…no, I didn’t.   “I’m wising them up” I thought.  “How dare my parents lie to me! It’s all bullshit!”


But as I grew even older, I saw how hard my Mom and Dad had worked to choreograph those moments of joy.  Wondered why they wouldn’t take personal responsibility for giving me and my sister those presents. Wouldn’t that have been the better thing? They bought them. Why didn’t they want those hugs and kisses and thanks?


As time passed, and paid my own bills and took adult responsibility for myself, I began to see how hard life could be, how often callous.  And that it seemed odd that people were more polite around Christmas time. Even adults.   There was something magical about it, even for those who were not devout, didn’t believe in the deeper Christian story behind the exterior holiday.  And later, studying NLP came across the concept of “anchoring”–that highly emotionalized actions and experiences become associated with events.  And that when this happens in childhood, we can associate them for a lifetime.


Oh.  My parents had sacrificed not just their time and energy, but the joy of hearing “thank you” because someone had done that for them. They had learned that this was a good thing. Why?


Because children believe in gods and monsters. We grow up in a world where resources are given to us from no source we can understand. We do not understand money.  Or work (unless we grow up on a farm!).  We understand love, and hugs, and food, and shelter.   And love Mommy and Daddy beyond measure because they provide these things.   We’re wired to.   And Santa…who is everywhere, in many forms, impossibly…once upon a time brought the greatest gifts of all.


Somewhere deep within us, we still remember that magic. And the entire culture remembers it, once a year.  And we smile at each other, and are sweeter, and kinder, and more giving.  Because we were given to.  And that sweetness is a good thing. And good for our children. And most parents forgo a few hugs and kisses to give their children that same gift, the gift they were given, that can make a stranger’s kindness a trigger to remember the best days of our lives, and remind us to pass that blessing on.


And I realized it might have been “smart” to see through Santa…but it was not “wise” to rip that myth away from children unless I had something to replace it with, a culturally held story that communicates across race, gender, nationality, even religion.  A shared language of love and giving.  It is “smart” to see the artificiality.  But it is ego to rip it away from children unless you have something to replace it with.  I’m not smart enough to replace all of that.


Everyone will come to their own conclusions about these things. That is part of the process of maturation.  But when my daughter Nicki was born, and began to grow, I watched her eyes alight with wonder at the decorations, and her burbling with delight as she opened gifts, and REMEMBERED what that felt like in my own life, and all my parents had given me, sometimes at great costs to themselves. And committed to creating the same wonder for her, if I could.


And knew that there would be no time when I told her to doubt the magic.  That she would, with the passage of time, come to doubt it for herself…and that that would be just a little sad.  That my son Jason in one year totally believed in the “Elf on the Shelf”…but by the next year began to wonder, and by the next was totally in on the joke, but pretended to believe…because it was fun.  And of course because he could con me into buying presents I couldn’t afford.  Because Santa.


I was like my Mom and Dad, at their best.  Giving because it gave joy.


What is true? Who am I?   I was someone who lived to bring joy to my family.  We move away from pain and toward pleasure.  No one can tell an adult what to believe, or that is not an adult.  We have to make those decisions about every story we were told, whether about Love, or fitness, or success…or Santa Claus.


We grasp that there are facts: love makes life easier.  We can anchor intense experiences into our bodies and trigger them for a lifetime. We need shared languages to create a culture.  That Santa Claus is not factual.


Or…we can see that, while not “factual”, some stories are in a sense “true.”  That they contains internested lessons that can keep people alive in lonely days.  All cultures have such myths, sigils that represent deeper truths.

Is a flag worth dying for?  As a piece of cloth, no.  How about as a symbol of a nation?   Die for a political abstraction?  Absurd?

Well…how about the fact that a group that cannot rally, and sometimes go to meet an enemy BEFORE that enemy reaches their homes, will have to fight as individuals with the Huns burning their towns and killing their children in the streets. But a culture that can abstract to rally around an idea…or a piece of cloth…can be motivated to fight, and prepare to fight, before the threat actually arrives.  And therefore has a greater chance of survival. Yeah, a paradox.   Fighting for a “mere” symbol can actually be the best way of protecting what is real.


Can this be abused?  You betcha. But is it necessary?  Looking at human history…it seems hugely valuable.   You want to fight BEFORE your house starts burning.


Teaching our children to believe in a lie can help them understand what is true.


Paradox.   Stories are all about that.   Suffering the pain of discipline today: exercising, balancing your checkbook, telling an uncomfortable truth…can stave off death, disease and disaster tomorrow.


What is the STORY you tell?   The “Hero confronts the challenge” that the story he believes in says: “it is time to act.”  Or that the story he believes in is a lie, and must be changed. The map doesn’t match the territory.


Santa isn’t real.   But it isn’t clever to say so to the younger children, who deserve their chrysalis period.  Stories are not true. But neither are our direct perceptions through flawed senses.  We ORGANIZE our minds, select the perceptions, emotionalize them and ignore the irrelevant…to create meaning.


And communicate that meaning through stories.


The quality of our lives is the quality of the stories we tell.  Even if they aren’t quite factual.  Lifewriting loves to look at the connection between the inner and outer stories, and simply asks writers and readers and filmmakers and filmgoers to examine this insanely powerful tool, and begin to use it for their own direct benefit, and the benefit of mankind.


Trust me: if you don’t use it consciously, it will be used against you. And the lies stuffed down your sleeping throats will be a lot less benign than a jolly elf in a red suit.








Lifewriting Manifesto 4/22/17

I’ve modified the “Lifewriting Manifesto” so that there are ten steps, each keyed to a step of the Hero’s Journey.   There are other story patterns, and other patterns of human change and growth. But Lifewriting is the only one that does BOTH.  Once you begin to apply it to writing a story (“plot”) the PROCESS of writing a story (“work flow”) and the process of living and growing in the world, you tap into something huge, a truth floating just beyond conscious thought.  And once you can sense this connection, you can apply it to relationships, and groups, and nations, and to the world itself.  This is the collected wisdom of all the world’s elders telling the young people of the village “this is how life will be.”  Make the implicit explicit, and you will understand your lives in a way few ever do.


Contained within it is a basic triad of human physical experience: career, relationships, fitness.   Look at the way YOU struggle to balance these you will gain understanding of human nature that will transform your writing.  And that as you begin to apply these understandings to the people around you, you will understand humanity, and life itself.


This manifesto is a work in progress only.


  1. Lifewriters are aware of the CHALLENGES in our  lives in all three major arenas: emotions, career, and body (“Hero confronted with the challenge”).  We have CLEAR OUTCOMES and know why we want them.  And know that the primary goal of life is happiness.
  2. Lifewriters seek to master the EMOTIONS that both stop and empower us, knowing that they are the fuel that powers our engines.  (“Hero rejects the challenge”)
  3. Lifewriters accept RESPONSIBILITY for their emotions and actions and commit to doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring their goals into the world in an ethical, loving fashion. (“Hero accepts the challenge”).  We care for our own health and sanity, knowing that wounded healers help fewer people.    We work from our hearts, or from the struggle of physical experience, not from our mental concepts or spiritual aspirations, knowing that these must rest on a bedrock of reality.
  4. Lifewriters take daily ACTION, at least one small step EVERY DAY toward our objectives, learning as we do.  (“The road of trials”). We are writers, filmmakers, teachers, leaders…who understand the power of STORY to create meaning in life, and know that we are the heroes in our own stories.  We are committed to being AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT human beings.  While we work from our hearts…we also protect ourselves and allow no one to damage or denigrate us, understanding the power of BOTH individual strength and group action.
  5. Lifewriters  understand the GAP between where we are and where we want and deserve to be, and seek MENTORS and ROLE MODELS who have accomplished these things, modeling their BELIEFS, STRATEGIES, SKILLS and BEHAVIORS. (“Allies and Powers”).  We know that if we try to communicate to everyone we reach no one.   We find our “tribe”, the people who speak our language and share our journey, and nurture them in return for their nurturance.
  6. Lifewriters accept that FAILURE is an inevitable part of the journey: “the only way you know how far you can go is by going too far” (“Confrontation with Evil–defeated).  That our external or internal obstacles can only be revealed by action…and we are at peace with this reality.
  7. Lifewriters know that DISCOURAGEMENT AND DEPRESSION come to all human beings, in different degrees. (“The Dark Night of the Soul”) and prepare for it…in advance.   Know that our emotions are controlled by how we move our bodies, what we focus on, and the internal language we use.  We keep track of the ways we moved through these painful emotions in the past, and collect resources so that we can “get back on the horse” more rapidly in the future…and forgive ourselves for being human.
  8. Lifewriters have FAITH that the future will be better and more meaningful than our past.   That we can have this reliance either on a higher power, our companions on the journey (friends, family, mentors), or…in ourselves, in that spark of ultimate potential within us.  That if we love ourselves as we would our own most beloved child, we will see the potential in that child no matter what. (“The Leap of Faith”)
  9. Lifewriters prepare for VICTORY, knowing that all change brings death to a small self-concept, and our egos will fight to keep us in place. We are humble and gracious in victory, as we were balanced and maintained equanimity in defeat.  We know that opportunities come again and again in life, if we continue to strive, focus, control our emotional states, learn and grow.   That any single opportunity may come only once…but the next will come soon enough, and we must be prepared.  (“Confront Evil…and emerge victorious”)
  10. Lifewriters make a path for others.    Lifewriters know that the final step, “The Student becomes the teacher” is the movement to the higher level.   Your knowledge is tested by your ability to help another to your level.   That mastery is a verb, not a noun. A process, not a position.  It is NEVER ENDING GROWTH AND IMPROVEMENT along the path of life.  And that the most precious thing in the world is helping another human being out of darkness and into the light  We love ourselves, and humanity.  We know that selfishness is not the problem: defining “self” as limited by skin color, nation, gender, religion or other external measures is the problem. We are not part of the problem…we are the answer.


We are Lifewriters.  And we are thousands strong.





What is a Lifewriter?

I was asked this question last week, and realized I’d not defined it clearly.  I still have no clear definition, and that’s not fair to people I’m asking to consider this path. What I HAVE done is taken a crack at a “manifesto.”  I am asking for critiques, thoughts, suggestions, refinements.   Thank you in advance!



  1. Lifewriters understand the basic steps of the Hero’s Journey:
    1. They are aware of the CHALLENGES in their lives.
    2. They know they must master the FEAR that stops them from growing.
    3. They accept RESPONSIBILITY for their lives.
    4. They take daily ACTION (“the road of trials”)
    5. They find MENTORS and ALLIES to help them along the path, so that they can gain the SKILLS and ABILITIES that take them to the next level
    6. They accept that failure is an inevitable part of improvement. (“Confront evi–defeated”)
    7. They understand that they will experience negative emotions and depression (“The Dark Night of the Soul”)
    8. They have FAITH that, even in the heart of the coldest winter, spring will return.
    9. They are prepared for the shock of VICTORY, and can be good winners.
    10. They teach others the path to growth.
  2. Lifewriters understand that there are multiple levels to human existence, and that it is safest to grow either from the grounding of physical experience, or the connection of heartspace. That our ideas can be convincing, but delusional.
  3. Lifewriters control their own story. They know that their history is a collection of memories and events, but THEY control its meaning, by knitting it all together with perspectives, beliefs, and emotions.
  4. Lifewriters understand that a major way they impact the world is by telling  stories to others.  It is the ONLY way we can communicate our deep emotions and perceptions, and has been used by all great teachers through all human history.
  5. Lifewriters are often professional communicators: writers, filmmakers, teachers, marketers.  They are committed to finding the truth of their lives and speaking it as directly as possible, allowing those who resonate to find them.
  6. Lifewriters don’t bother trying to speak to “everyone”–they know this is an impossible dream, and will ultimately stop them from communicating with ANYONE at all.
  7. Lifewriters have a clear OUTCOME for their actions, they know WHY they want these things…and only after clarifying these two things do they decide HOW to accomplish their dreams.
  8. Lifewriters are the Heroes of their own stories. They have decided to be awake within the dream of their own existence.   While understanding that life is larger than the consensus reality we live in, they play full out, for their own pleasure and the good of humanity.
  9. Lifewriters protect themselves, understanding that wounded healers help fewer people.
  10. Lifewriters love themselves, and humanity. They know that selfishness is not the problem: defining “self” as limited by their own skin, color, nation, gender, or other external measure is the problem.




Sex is for adults

There is a gentleman who has been reaching out to me for some time.  His problem is that his girlfriend is far more sexually experienced than he is, and apparently talks about it more than he likes.  He complains in pretty ugly terms about it all, and here are my thoughts, in general.

  1. In this context, in this instance, the numbers of her sexual history  means no more to me than how many people she’s played racquet ball with.  The more important question is: why does it hurt you so much?
  2. You are both attracted to her sexuality, and repulsed by the realization that it existed before she met you.   There are two broad possibilities, neither of which requires any real change from her.  One, that it is greatly positive, in which case you are responding from your Needy Wounded Abandoned child (wahhh!  Mommy’s hugged someone beside me!)
  3. The other is that it is greatly negative, in which case you have to ask yourself a serious question: the relationship you are in is what you can afford. The best you can do.  If she is such a mess, you are an equal mess.
  4. In either case, the ONLY thing of importance is: you are a bleeding mess.  Your only task is to stop hurting. That means either healing yourself to the point that her words about her past are irrelevant, or healing yourself until you can attract and hold a woman  more on your wavelength.
  5. I don’t know her, and only have your comments about her, which will be deeply prejudicial. She might be an avatar of sexual love for all I know.  Or, she could be greatly damaged and lurching from abuser to abuser.   No neutral data. The only thing I can be sure of is that she should NOT trust you with her heart.  If I was her, I’d rub it in your face too.  Why?  Because I’d KNOW you were judging me, and would want to watch you twitch and jump, to remind me not to trust you.
  6. 100% certainty: if she trusted you, opened her heart to you, surrendered to the relationship…one day when you were angry, you would call her a slut.   100% certainty.   I don’t know why she is in relationship with you, but she is wise to keep you at a distance.
  7. You have money issues, serious ones.   The easiest “fix” for you is to heal this wound.   You will be a different man then, more secure and self-contained.    From that place you will have fewer exposed nerves, more centeredness, less desperation. The other men she has related to will be less intimidating to you.  To do this you will have to produce goods and services your community finds valuable, learn to risk rejection through sales and marketing, and make adult value-for-value transactions with them.  Right now, emotionally, you are a child.  Children shouldn’t engage in reproductive behavior.
  8. The truth is that your best bet is to consider her to be above your level.   Let it go.  Spend a year healing yourself.    As it is, you are trying to overhaul your car while driving it on the freeway.
  9. THE PROBLEM IS YOU, NOT HER.    Can there be issues with “too many” sexual partners?   Sure.  Or too few.  Or none.  It is not my place to offer the slightest judgement: I’d need information I cannot get from you, and she hasn’t given me permission to look into her in that way.  No interest in it.
  10. The “little boy” inside you is desperately unhappy. You have abandoned him, and expect her to pick up the slack. She may be thinking that if you can grow the @#$$ up you’d be a good man.  I think she’s right.  But you are not that man today, and won’t be tomorrow.  Right now, you have to learn to take care of yourself, provide your own inner resources, and stop demanding things you have no right to ask from another human being. Maybe then you’ll be worthy of a good, mature, alive female of the species.  But not today.





A Black Belt In 24 Hours

I think the Dalai Lama is right: the purpose of life is to be happy.


Let me tell you a story.  Years ago, I was working at a women’s self defense workshop under Dawn Callan.  She is the greatest self-defense instructor I’ve ever seen in my life.  In two days, she could teach a woman more about protecting herself than most instructors can in two years. What did she do?  Drill a few simple techniques, and work through the negative emotional crap that comes up for civilized human beings when they consider defending themselves. Then give them a chance to go into “controlled berserk” against a padded attacker, anchoring the hyperemotionalized experience into their bodies.

They have to make connection with a spiritual truth:   we as beings have the right to be here, and the right to defend ourselves.


To be free of fear, which opens the door to happiness.


Anyway, there was one woman (call her “Ginger”) in the workshop who simply couldn’t hit the kicking shield. Ginger was so lost in illusion, so wrapped up in the rules we give women around social niceties that she was paralyzed by fear.  “I’m afraid I’ll hurt you” she kept sobbing.   No one could help her, and for some odd reason (yeah, right) they brought her to me.


After several prompts, Ginger just froze, and stood there with tears streaming down her face.   I had an intuitive flash about a way to reach her.


“Do you have a daughter?” I asked.  No.

“Do you have a little sister?”  She nodded.  Bingo.

“Do you love her?”  I asked.  Ginger nodded again, sobbing.

“Would you do anything for her?”  She nodded.

I took a deep breath.  I won’t say exactly what I said to her, but let’s just say it was a very explicit, ugly picture.  “If I get past you, I’m going to ______________”  The kind of thing I wouldn’t put in print.  Whatever you’re thinking, this was probably worse.


And…something happened.   Ginger’s  energy shifted, totally.   Instead of thinking about herself, she was thinking about her sister. She didn’t have permission to defend herself…but she damned well DID have permission to protect her sister.


And…Ginger knocked me across the room. And jumped on me, and beat the hell out of me. And it took three men to haul her off.


“THAT!” I screamed.    “That place, RIGHT THERE. THAT’S the place you have to go!”


Crying and sobbing she was…but Ginger also had just learned how to access that space  beyond fear and concern for social rules.


Survival. Protection of the tribe.  Rather than the “social” rules operating WITHIN the tribe, she played according to universal rules of survival that exist when core personal or genetic survival is at risk, and from there, she was an unstoppable force.


Some women think only women are taught this.  No.  SMALLER PEOPLE are taught their own version–don’t fight back, or you’ll be a target.  LARGER people are taught this.   Don’t be scary or people will hate and fear you.


MINORITIES are taught this.  Don’t make waves, or you’ll “reap the whirlwind” of violence and disapproval of the majority group controlling the law enforcement system.   Members of the MAJORITY are taught this: you benefitted by privilege, so shut up and listen, don’t defend yourself or you are an oppressor. 


There is no group that doesn’t get hit with this stuff.  In a world of social niceties, where everyone is playing fair, acting according to social rules is survival. Courtesies are social lubricant, and ease the way. There is a reason diplomats speak with so carefully.


But you have to know when it is time to forget the niceties. Forget the rules.   WHAT WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DIE FOR?  That woman was willing to die to protect her little sister. That meant that she didn’t care what I or anyone else thought about her.  She didn’t care if she lived or died. She was only concerned with the maintenance of her ULTIMATE VALUE–her sister’s life.


When you are clear about this, you can, as that line from ROAD HOUSE goes…“be nice. Until its time to not be nice.”


If you have been damaged by life, it probably affected your sense of self, of being precious and divine.   This is true for women, men, entire social structures, humanity itself.   The truth is that the core attitude of the martial arts is something very close to: “I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me.”   A human being in that space either dies…or wins.


Want to be a black belt in 24 hours?   Spend that time alone in a room, and consider very clearly what you are willing to die for in life.  And then what you are willing to kill to protect. Get clear on the fact that no matter what you do, you cannot live small enough that death will forget to gather you up.   You may not be able to think of doing this to protect yourself, due to damage, due to the fact that you may not have been told that you are precious, and perfect, and made of the same stuff as the stars.  It is not “victim blaming” to say that we must be prepared to make such choices. It is enabling adult responsibility.  RESPONSE-ABILITY. The  ability to respond.  Anything other than this is learned helplessness.   As well as angels, we are also stone cold berserkers. THAT is the reality.  Anything else is what you were taught to survive childhood.  And ESPECIALLY if you were hurt or unloved in that childhood…you may have a very difficult time accessing your truth.


But…ALL human beings were nurtured at some point in their lives.  If you weren’t you would have died.  You may have no conscious memory of such a reality,  but the circuitry is there.  Dive deeply enough, and you can find that spark of divinity.  Once you find it, commit to protecting it at all costs.  Find the part of you that will bare its teeth like a mother tiger protecting its young. Once you find this place, and anchor it with a visualization or physical movement, you have a very different relationship with fear.


ANGER, pure homicidal anger…in the service of love.  Primal mother/father love.  From this position, you can change your life, express your art, right social wrongs, change the world.


Or die in the process.    All great leaders and creators understand that they are burning up the substance of their lives to create something new.    You have to die anyway…why not commit to spend your life energy for something you care about?  Some principle, some cause, your art, a better world, your family if necessary.   Dig deep, and no matter how much the world has tried to bury that live wire its in there, spitting sparks.  Dig it out and connect it to the dynamo of a righteous dream, and you can:


  1. Transform your body.
  2. Transform your career and art.
  3. Transform your relationships.


What can stop the power of a mother tiger diving through fire to protect her cubs?  THAT is the power of connecting.  My dream, of ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, CONTRIBUTING ADULTS and THOUSANDS of awake, aware, adult artists and storytellers…simply asks you to connect with this survival power, and then apply it to something you care about. To move BEYOND fear to action in the service of something you love.


Love. THAT was what was on the other side of all that fear that “Ginger” experienced.   By the end of the workshop, when she had devastated our padded attackers like a Tasmanian Devil, she gave me the longest, sweetest hug I think I’ve ever had in my life, telling me I’d given her the best and most terrible gift she’d ever received, that for the first time in her life she had moved beyond the tragedy of a childhood of abuse to a sense of power…


We cried together. She got it. And by giving it to her, I’d connected with that precious place again, the place I found that day I stepped out into the traffic rather than be beaten by bullies.


Safety, in the heart of danger.


THAT is who we really are. The rest is social games to survive our families, or the world.   But playing small won’t protect you. It is just death, a little dose every day, draining all the pleasure from life until you have to numb yourself just to survive.


There is more than survival. There is life. And hope. And love.  But you must break out of the illusion that you are weak. You are not weak. You are more powerful than you have ever imagined. That is why they have to try to control you.


When you are free, you can act from love rather than fear. Take the steps to lead you to joy.  And you will have found your life’s purpose: to be happy.






(These principles are ESSENTIAL for committed artists, or activists seeking to change the world.  You will deal with fear on every level, from survival to social rejection.  The ANCIENT CHILD technique was specifically created to connect you to the primal power programmed into every human being, even if you have no conscious awareness of ever being nurtured. And now you can have it FREE if you will try one month of LIFEWRITING PREMIUM, the world’s only writing system that connects the inner world of the artist with the outer world of the art.  Go to WWW.LIFEWRITINGPREMIUM.COM and take your first step on a new path.  You have nothing to lose but fear of  your fear!)

Die before you die

(from 2005)

No, that’s not the title of the new James Bond movie. It is a Sufi saying that relates to the need to shed ego. We are going to start with the specific, and then go broader to the entire structure of the Mastery Technique, Lifewriting’s highest expression.

We struggle to reach the next level in our lives, whether that represents finding love, losing weight, career advancement, whatever. We struggle to let go of one way of being, and embrace the new. We feel massive fear, discomfort as we do, and this is no accident. When our goals are genuine, when they involve change of major aspects of our personalities, they represent genuine ego deaths. In other words–try to do something that you cannot do today, and some part of you will feel it, will die in the attempt. And it is correct.

But we cannot resist change. Either we wait for life to “kill” us–through loss, or inevitable shifts of fate–or we take those steps to continually reinvent ourselves, which involves death of the old self.

“I” cannot make it across that gap. Ever. You must leave your concepts of yourself on the far side of the gulf. Moses could not enter the promised land. The Prophet Mohammad died before his vision could be completed. Jesus was crucified before his prophesies of a freed people could manifest. “I” cannot make it across. “Die before you die.”

Stress is the trigger for all excellence. But if stress exceeds the body or psyche’s capacity for integration, it becomes strain, and breaks the system down. Physically, this manifests as the triumvirate of stress, nutrition, and rest. Get the right amount of each, in the right time, and we grow. Get too much or not enough, and the body breaks down. Psychically, stress is much more subtle and difficult to quantify. But psychological stress does manifest on a physical level (as well as an emotional one) and therefore these two arenas provide access to the invisible world. That “invisible world” is what all the sages of the world have been speaking of since time immemorial, and I believe that the knowledge exists now to approach it with greater confidence, if we are prepared to die in the attempt.

Human beings are machines designed to succeed, and evolve. Whatever you are at this point in your life, some part of you defined this as success. Wherever you are stuck, you became stuck while attempting to evolve, change, grow, connect with the divine. Core Transformation, a delightful technology created by Connie Rae Andreas from NLP Comprehensive in Colorado, addresses this beautifully. To unstick yourself, organize your resources–spiritual, psychological, physical, sexual, emotional–so that they are in a balanced matrix.

As we’ve said again and again, Body-Career-Relationship will do fine, and should be the minimum configuration, as this represents health, hunting/gathering, and the family reproductive unit–the basic structure of human life. It is a perfect mirror for life itself.

NOTE: there are other paths. Perhaps better paths. I speak only of this one, which is available to about 99% of the human race if they are willing to look honestly at their physical health, their careers and their primary relationships.

To move forward with confidence, gain clarity through meditation and therapeutic practice. Gain energy by healing, purifying the body and healthful exercise. Gain spiritual strength through prayer and dedication to a cause greater than yourself. These powers, intertwined, will carry you across the gulf into your next level of being.

The secret of mastery is the ability to be intuitively appropriate at all moments: when sleeping, just sleep. When walking the dog, just walk the dog. When making love, just make love. When writing, write. When fighting, fight.

Master your Self, the instrument that performs in any specific context. The key in almost any discipline, anywhere in the world, is the breath, the smallest component of attention. Link this to both the psyche and the body, and in this way use the body to reveal the invisible world.

Specifically, the Mastery Technique uses Be Breathed and the 5MM to sensitize you to the effects of stress, so that it will not become strain and tear the body down. When you do this multiple times during the day, what Coach Sonnon calls Perpetual Exercise unfolds. More important is what I call Perpetual Peace, the ability to resist high levels of stress. Use the Fear Removal technique (available to anyone who has a moderate level of aerobic endurance) to remove fear from the body-mind, allowing peaceful ego death and rebirth.

This is such a radical possibility that its importance cannot be overstated.

If the goals are balanced, our perceptions will become accurate, clarifying the map of our existence. If our “Reality Maps” are accurate, our efforts will either reveal flaws in design, or move us toward our goals. Either way, we win. We resist the process of stress becoming strain. Balanced goals mean we cannot hurt ourselves, our families or our careers–all are healed and forwarded simultaneously. The true evolutionary nature of the human spirit is revealed. In such a case, progress through the levels of Maslow’s Heirarchy–the Chakras–is smooth. Or as smooth as they can be, given the nature of human existence.

The above, in condensed form, is the core of what I believe to be true. The 5MM is the easiest, fastest, safest way to open this doorway. It blends with all sports, disciplines, philosophies and religions. It merely teaches you how to breathe correctly. Once you learn this, you can adapt it to any yoga or martial art or meditation you wish. It is an insanely powerful technique, totally safe, and immediately effective.

-Steve Barnes,

What would you do next?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world.  I’d rather have failed as a writer than SUCCEEDED at anything else–I wanted it that badly.  But I’d never met a writer. No one I knew knew one.  My mother was terrified I would fail, and actually burned my stories.  Teachers mocked me, and bullies beat me up just for being a lonely, nerdy,  sensitive, creative kid.   I was told `black people don’t write.’


But I was too stupid to quit, to know when I was beat, and bulled my way through by hook or crook, struggling with every fear and doubt imaginable.  I sought role models, read hundreds of books, attended every lecture I could, and wrote and wrote and wrote, even though sometimes the rejections were so painful I curled up on the floor and cried.


But somehow, I kept moving forward.


But somehow, I kept moving forward.  I managed to put together a clumsy but effective collection of techniques that allowed me to limp from failure to failure until…I began to publish.  And then make serious money. And then actually learn enough that I was asked by UCLA to teach others.   Yeah, I had “Impostor Syndrome” and couldn’t believe I had anything to say.  But I figured you could “fake it ’til you make it” and went ahead.  Then one day, teaching at UCLA, I found something totally different.


Then one day, teaching at UCLA, everything changed.   It was simple, so simple that it changed my life:




Astonishingly (after the steam stopped coming out of his ears) he began to come up with all of his own answers. And then…so did everyone else in the class.   This simple strategy changed my life.  Applying it in all three arenas of my life (Body, Mind, and Spirit) it led to earning THREE black belts, becoming a NY Times bestselling, award-winning science fiction writer, and marrying my Soul Mate, American Book Award winning novelist Tananarive Due.


The keys to the kingdom, right in front of all of us all the time!




I’ve spent the last thirty years refining notion,  teaching it, healing students and clients so that they can achieve the same success…I called the approach LIFEWRITING, and taught it to thousands of students worldwide.  But I wanted more.   It seemed obvious to me that STORYTELLING IS THE WEB THAT HOLDS HUMAN SOCIETY TOGETHER, just as it defines us as individuals.   That if I could leverage it properly, teach it to enough committed writers and artists it would not only help them master their careers but that together we could change the world.


So we came full circle: from a toolbox for writers to a tool for general development to a specific world of magic for writers (oh, all right…readers can come too, but while it will help you understand why you love story, and help you transform your life, the greatest value is to the storytellers themselves!)


Tananarive and I have  a simple goal:  ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, CONTRIBUTING ADULTS.




Remember the formula for socially conscious artists and activists?


  1. Love yourself. Care for yourself.
  2. Love one other person
  3. Understand history, and humanity, without guilt, blame, or shame.
  4. Find your tribe.  Don’t waste your time arguing with sleeping children or smiling monsters.
  5. Succeed.


We’ve created countless tools to facilitate this, but the most important one facilitates healing of emotional wounds, getting you in touch with your dreams, tapping into your true energy, and giving you the drive to change your life.


THE ANCIENT CHILD is that tool.  It sells for as much as 49.95, but if you will just give us a chance to show you what LIFEWRITING PREMIUM can do for your writing career, we’ll give it to you FOR FREE!!


If you are a writer, reader, film-maker, film-lover, teacher, or leader of any kind, LIFEWRITING IS FOR YOU. And LIFEWRITING PREMIUM is PERFECT for you if you are a writer or artist.  And we’re so confident  in our system that we’ll let you try it for the first month for ONE DOLLAR, and get the ANCIENT CHILD free of charge!   Then, after 30 days, if you don’t agree that LIFEWRITING is worth far more than the mere $29 a month, just cancel and keep all the goodies you’ve gotten!





Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime!

Do you love yourself?

And so we come back to the question of loving yourself, possibly the central issue in the process.

The reason that I have placed so much emphasis on relationships is that they mirror who we are. True, an advanced soul can travel through life with no such connections (for instance, Sri Chinmoy, who I consider one such genuine soul, has no sexual or physically intimate relationships). But the problem is that about 98% of the people who have claimed not to need or want them strike me as being in denial–and often later confessed to have been so. They were manifesting damage, fear, doubt, lack of self-love, but covered it up with “I’m doing fine. I don’t need a relationship. Or I have a dozen people who love me, I don’t need a Special Someone.”

I don’t have the omniscience to say who is in this category and who is not. Only you, in your heart, in your most intimate, silent moments, know what is the truth. Those of you who eschew such intimacy for genuine spiritual or healthy emotional reasons certainly know that there are others who lie or deceive themselves about being in such a state. It is to those I speak, and not you.

My position is that it is impossible to have a healthy, happy intimate relationship without being on the road of healing yourself. And that such healing can be postponed by avoiding the mirror of a single human partner. Multiple partners, partnerships with non-equals (like your children), pets that substitute for human partners, partners living at such a distance that you don’t have daily intimate contact–all of these things are very different mirrors than what I suggest. Only you know if they are really sufficient. And if they aren’t, and you’re not ready to move forward, there is a very good chance you will lie to yourself, or to others.

So, the reason relationships are so important is that they tell us about self-love, and self-healing. We cannot give to others unless we have first given to ourselves. A relationship with a worthy equal is not co-dependent. It is not rescuing. Do you have any idea how often people talk about marrying someone to help them? To heal them? To save them? ALL OF THIS IS A DISTRACTION FROM YOUR OWN WORK. That wounded person you were trying to help was YOU. You just lied to yourself, told yourself you were strong and they were weak and needed you. No, no, no. You were too wounded to find a relationship with a healthy, stable person, did the best you could do, and then lied to yourself to feel superior, healed, powerful, like a rescuer, a healer, a knight on a white horse. It is one of the greatest self-deceptions that human beings ever perpetrate on themselves.

What? You say you deliberately bonded with a damaged person, had children with them, and thereby inflicted that damage on helpless babies? Deliberately brought less stability, love, health, and security to your nest than you could? For god’s sake, any higher animal will force a potential mate to prove its health and power before blending genes. You’re saying you loved your potential children less than a dolphin, an eagle or a wolf? I think not. YOU WERE DOING THE BEST YOU COULD.

Want to do better? Want to be able to tell yourself the truth about wanting to have a bonded relationship? Then learn to love yourself. The “heartbeat” meditation is wonderful. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say: “I love you?” Can you meditate, and visualize the child you were, and hold him/her? Can you write yourself a love letter? Can you look at your love partners as mirrors and be proud of what you see?

These are basic tests, basic indications of health on this crucial, critical level. Remember, you can awaken your sacred energy from the heart out, or from the body up, but NEVER from the head down. You CANNOT create the world in the image of your ego. Tell me you can, and I will immediately look at your physical body, and your intimate relationships. If you are not healthy in these two arenas, I will assume you are dealing with massive damage you are unready to deal with. Too many times in my life I have ignored my intuition, listened to what people said about being “just fine” being broke, or alone, or fat. And then when, later, their lives collapsed they confessed that they had lied to me. I had been right all along.

I will never mistrust my intuition again, even as I keep in mind that it can be wrong. Again, I mean no insult to anyone. I know I might be wrong. But I have to trust my own senses and mind, more than I trust what anyone says. As all of YOU must learn to trust your senses and mind, more than what anyone says, no matter how much you love them. We lie to protect ourselves. We lie, and pray that someone will see through the lies to our secret, damaged, shameful, impostor selves–and love us anyway.

Do you love yourself? You must, in order to heal. In order to grow. In order to love others. What is the value of the gift you give your loved ones, if you yourself do not treasure it?

Do you love yourself?

-Steve Barnes,

Thoughts on Yoga

(From 2005)

Yoga, a Sanskrit word meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite” is a set of disciplines that address the body-mind split in many powerful ways. Meditation, concentration, physical postures, breath control and so forth are some of the better known ones. Certainly, the physical postures, “asanas” are the best known form, and contain much of the benefit of the other “branches.” Yoga is particularly good for the back and joints.

There is a truth in the realm of the esoteric: there are things that cannot be taught, cannot be put into words, but can still be learned. And a teacher can create a context in which a student can learn for herself, and then that teacher can identify a breakthrough moment and say, “That one. That moment, there.”

There are so many things that I’m trying to communicate on this blog. The value of each and every one of you. The sanity of a balanced life and perspective. The road to a high-energy creative life. The path to personal mastery. No, I’m not saying I’m a master. I’m saying that I’ve identified a path that leads to mastery.

And how might Yoga fit into that path? Integrated into the 5MM, one would practice a single asana five times a day–pick your least favorite (standing head to knee pose, for me). One would also have goals in all three major areas of life, and visualize your triangle as you perform the pose. Move your consciousness through the chakras. About seven breaths, about two minutes. You’ve got it!

-Steve Barnes,