Respect for Respect

“Respect is how to treat everyone.”  Richard Branson

“Respect is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.”  Annie Gottlieb

“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is an idea that all people, all things even, merit respect, and / or that engaging such respect is a key to peaceful existence and a good life. This idea of non-hierarchical respect was deemed important enough to be given as the foundation for the United States Declaration of Independence We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

Such is also the heart of much of Gandhi’s philosophy.

“Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.”

“In this structure composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever-widening, never-ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of villages, till at last the whole becomes one life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance, but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral units.”

– Mohatma Gandhi

Non-hierarchical respect is considered by many to be the enlightened perspective.

“We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other.” – Thaddeus Golas, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment

A challenge is that most modern written definitions of respect are hierarchical in nature. From, “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. I hope to show that this prominent modern notion of respect, not only misses the point, but is counter to the unifying principle at the heart of the word. It inflicts violence even upon those who are lauded. I offer here an attempt at clarity. I apply respect to “respect” and renew it by reflecting upon and contemplating the old and inviting its core virtue to come forward, to be revealed.

I invite you on a journey. I intend to explore this word respect and discover the deep meaning at the heart of it which has, perhaps, been obscured or corrupted. At the end of this journey, I intend to offer my best attempt at an elegant definition for non-hierarchical respect. For those of you who just can’t wait, I encourage you to skip straight to the “The Grand Reveal”. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, for those who appreciate such, by bringing it forward right away. And, I think that there is value, for those with the time and patience, to experience the exploration.


Concepts and archetypes evolve before words. They evolve from within, from personal experience and observation. Communication is about sharing personal experience and, where experience overlaps, cocreating collective experience and understanding. What is this core concept at the heart of ‘respect’? For that, let’s do a deep dive into etymology.

As we dive in, it seems useful to look at some highly related words with similar origin: Regard, Reflection, Reverence. It is no mere coincidence that these all start with ‘Re’. These words all evolve from Latin. ‘Re’ from Latin is commonly translated as ‘back’. At it’s simplest, this back means to do again: Rework, redo, repeat.

Let’s play with ‘repeat’ a bit. As a verb, in common usage, repeat indicates a single iteration “to say again”. In modern usage repeat may be used as a noun and applied to music, a song or a play list. One may say “I have that song on repeat”. Here this noun is describing a continuous state of being. The song will continue to go back and play again until this state of being is changed or the batteries run out.

This continuous sense of ‘re’ applies to those words we have carried with us on this dive. Note I use ‘we’ very carefully here. It means those who are still reading and with me. The reasons for this side-note will become clear later. This is potent. There is magick here. Respect, reflection, reverence, and regard are all relations to that which is continuously changing, moreover, things that are defined largely by their change and movement. Such observation can only occur through a continuously iterative process. A single snapshot takes the life out of it.

I See You

In the movie Avatar, The People use the phrase “I see you”. This phrase is used to signify a new understanding, a new empathy, often after dissonance or disagreement has occurred. It is a statement of respect.

‘Spect’ is commonly translated as ‘to see’. Thus respect means to see again, to see anew, to continuously look at with fresh eyes. To invite a wider meaning to respect which is consistent with the lineage of ‘spect’, I invite the idea that ‘spect’ means something more akin to experience or observe. An inspector is one who uses all senses and faculties available to them in ‘looking’ into something. Respect then becomes “to continually experience anew”. There you have it. So, why did we carry these other words with us?

I have now offered, what I think to be, an elegant and clear definition for respect. It seems still lacking something. The practice of respect involves some challenges and common pitfalls. It requires vigilance and work. Reflection and regard speak to these. The practice of respect also offers some incredible rewards and surprises. Reverence speaks to that. Let’s explore these to see what our definition picks up.


‘Flect’ from Latin is commonly translated to ‘bend’. A reflection is something that has bent by bouncing off of something else. As we observe the world around us much of what we are experiencing is reflection. The most prominent reflection is that of the self.

Our brains are designed for pattern storage and recognition. Some of these patterns evolve from our own experience. Some are stored in our DNA. Some evolve from language and culture. A few are fanciful fabrications of our minds. Many are a cocreation of some or all of these. What we sense is continually being compared, within our subconscious brain, to stored patterns. Much of what is then handed on to our conscious mind is an assemblage of stored patterns that approximates the world well enough for survival purposes… usually. Much of what we observe is a reflection of what is in us already. True respect requires accounting for that.

The primary evolutionary reason for quick, simple pattern recognition is safety: “Robin – not a threat”, “Oak Tree – not a threat”, “Turban – maybe a threat?”, “Lion – Oh Shit!”. In a culture where fear is sold and used to control and manipulate, many folks’ brains rarely step out of this mode.

In the information age, a high value is placed on things that may be readily put into words or numbers. Many of our brains were programmed, through education and cultural conditioning, to break the world down into words and numbers, “Robin – not a threat, orange breasted, harbinger of spring, blue eggs, can produce three successful broods in one year, Turdus migratorius (hmmf, hmmf, hmmf, I said Turd-us),…”. After filling out hundreds of forms and reading newspaper statistics and hearing political ads, our brains have been programmed to define ourselves and each other according to simple check boxes: white, male, 6’1″, brown eyes, brown hair (slightly graying), middle class, degree in engineering, muscular build, slight dad belly….

There is certainly value to pattern recognition and words and numbers and statistics. Yet, all of these are reflections of what is in us. They are not the actuality of what is before us. If one finds themselves challenged being among turban wearing men, this challenge is with the patterns stored within. If one blames the turban wearing men for their own discomfort, they are projecting their internal patterns onto the other. Lack of respect is an inability to see what is there. Disrespect takes this a step further. Disrespect involves unwanted stories and labels being projected into another’s identity space, it is violence (a willful insertion into another’s personal space).

Applying labels clouds vision and overlays the other with ideas and patterns stored within the self. If such labels are unwanted by the other, they are a violation of the other’s personal identity space.

“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground” – Ernest Wood’s 1971 ‘Zen Dictionary’ (page 91-92)

We do not experience the world directly, we can only make inferences about the world from our own thoughts and experiences. Thus, everything that can be reflected upon is within the self. The more we try to figure out the world and its people by applying our pre-existing ideas and labels, the harder that we look at things, the more that we only see ourselves. Respect, seeing the other, requires awareness of this reflection. It requires a softening of the gaze, humility, curiosity, a desire for the mystery, a recognition of ignorance, an anticipation of surprise.

To look anew at this concept respect. We can consider the back of “re” as applying to space or perspective in addition to time. If we are “looking back” this connects with the understanding that there is another looking at us, that there is a mystery beyond the reflection.


I hope that you have come to the understanding that the boundary between what is me and what is not me is quite complex. It is possible for me to say that everything is me and nothing is me and not be wrong on either end of the spectrum. Personally, I don’t want to be here alone. I want others in my life. For multiple beings to interact peacefully, honoring of boundaries is required. To avoid overlaying the other with the self, or inserting the self into the other, requires careful vigilance. It requires guarding.

‘Gard’ evolves from Old French ‘garder’, to guard or to watch in a protective way. Regard is a close synonym to respect and often interlaced in definition. One cannot exist without the other. In order to maintain respect, we must be ever vigilant of the boundaries between us. Our watch must never end.

These boundaries are not simple. They move with us and change as we change. The easiest, which I hope all embodied beings can agree upon, is the extents of the physical body. Touching another’s physical body, manipulating it by force or coercion, entering it, or restraining it, without consent, is violent disrespect. A bit more challenging, yet equally important, is identity. Inserting unwanted stories or labels into another’s identity space is disrespect. I believe that similar regard is necessary for emotional and energetic bodies. These have much less defined edges, thus even more care and skill is needed. Stepping out a bit further, personal space, private possessions, private property, air waves… require compassionate communication and negotiation. There is enough complexity here for lifetimes of learning and growth.


“Reverence”, again via Latin is to stand in awe of. Again it is a continuous process and is the result of learning and growing in respect. When one drops away the first impressions of fear based pattern recognition; steps beyond trying to describe that around them with a few check boxes and; with humility and curiosity, opens their eyes and their heart to see; the infinite mystery stands before them in every moment. Every human, for example, has more atoms than there are stars in the observable universe. Each atom has a 13.5 billion year history and was forged in the belly of a remote star or the violent supernova of star death. We each are made up of carbon atoms that have been part of the body of every human that ever lived. The unique program, that makes up each physical form, has been refined over 4.5 billion years. Libraries could be written about what you don’t know about the folks closest to you. And, with all of this uniqueness, we humans are far more alike (99.9% or closer by DNA) than we are different. I think that’s AWESOME.

The Grand Reveal

Here is the most respectful definition of respect that I have to offer, thus far.


“To continuously experience anew, with regard for the subtle boundary between self and other, and consideration of the unique value of such experience.”


Life is about replication, expansion, cocreation. Life seeks immortality in the presence of death by spreading and melding into the grand pattern of creation. Such pressure to cocreate and procreate permeates more than just biology. As with genes, the memes, archetypes, concepts perspectives… flowing through us and forged within us desire to spread by being seen, heard, experienced. To be experienced is a survival need. 


A hierarchical idea of respect means that only some get their survival needs met. This leaves those at the bottom scrabbling for more. Many consider violence to be justified and they aren’t wrong. Moreover, to obtain the titles, accolades, traits, possessions… that garner respect; many give up, hide or suppress their own authenticity. This suppressed self also seeks to be experienced. This leaves many with an unquenchable thirst for more.

Post Script

Dominant culture, that which has taken over most of the world, has done so by dominating. This has certainly been done by force. And, the more elegant solution has been to get us to dominate ourselves and each other. I have written a good bit about labels and the associated disrespect. There are more insidious ways that dominant culture teaches disrespect. This disrespect has been woven into language. It includes corruption of some key words such as ‘respect’. It also includes some simpler words that may surprise you. I’ll leave you with just a few examples here.

“Should” inserts the idea that there is a right way to do things. It suggests that one perspective, whether personally or culturally derived, is ‘the’ perspective. This is the word that started my own dive into words and their power. My mentor Dom Tamboriello first presented it to me on a little yellow sticky note that read “should = ‘sh’ame + c’ould’”. It turns an opportunity for personal choice and potential success into a likelihood of failure by comparing all to an externally crafted ideal.

“Makes me” gives up personal power and places the blame for ones experience solely on another or external circumstances. It is rarely true.

“We” is wrapping arms, of what one is speaking, around a collective group. It is a useful word, but is often used to fold folks into a collective idea or experience to which they may not resonate. Consider being careful to use it only when technically true or with the consent of all involved. “We paleontologists” said in a juried paleontologist convention is probably technically true, or the party crashers probably won’t complain. “We all like to rock” said at same convention, not likely technically true, but at least those who get the joke aren’t likely to complain. “We men” stated at the same convention, perhaps largely male identified, that includes a few women, trans, and non-gender identified folks becomes disrespect that may be harmful. “We white folks” or “we black folks” spoken among folks who choose not to participate in this artificial polarization seems similar. Saying “We don’t care enough about teachers” is a blanket statement that is likely not true for all and counterproductive if one is trying to lobby for increased teacher pay. It is a common mode of speaking among motivational or spiritual teachers to say “we all do these things” that I’m about to tell you how to change. I want to learn from the folks who’ve already made said changes, or at least folks who believe in the possibility that others around them have made said changes.

“You” is a similar way of spreading culture and disempowerment. I hesitate a little on this one. It is one of the most potent fnords out there. Once you hear it, you will likely not be able to unhear it. Many people are prone to saying “you” when speaking personal experience. They are not only disrespecting themselves by not owning their own experience. They are also disrespecting the other by suggesting a commonality of experience. This can be hard to note when one is trying to make inroads and there is true empathy and commonality of experience. It can become comedic when one is describing a work or trip experience that the listener has no real context for. I find it begins to feel sticky and icky when one is describing a personal situation or interaction that doesn’t align with how I would choose to be. “You know, when you spank your kids to teach them a lesson.”

New Paradigm Relating

We see a place; a family, community, village, tribe, culture, a home where we live in abundance; securely rooted in ourselves, the earth, and the universe all around us. In this place each of us is supported with an abundance of free flowing love and the knowledge that access to this love is limited only by our own ability and choice to connect with the beloved universe all around us. We are connected to the land and all its inhabitants in a deeply loving and honoring partnership. All are loved and supported and held. The elderly experience the waning years of their life appreciated, surrounded by family and friends, imparting stories and wisdom. The young are nurtured into this world with so many supporting hands and hearts, and encouraged to blossom into whatever their essence is called to. Security is gained by partnering with many in love and life and community. The loss of individual connections may hurt, and each of us remains held securely: dreams, intentions, health, home, and community in tact.

In seeking the path to this place, the universe has replied that loving relationship is the key. We choose to relate to the world around us according to a new paradigm of relationship (love, partnership, and sexuality). We travel this path because it calls to us, because it feels right to us. This may or may not be true for you. We present these ideas, not to change the world, but to find travel partners for this journey to this magical land that calls to us. This paradigm is based upon fluidity, freedom, and support for the unique individual and the greater whole. We are in relationship with everything and everyone. The beloved is the universe surrounding us and is here to provide for all of our needs and desires. In this romance with the beloved, individual connections are part of the greater whole and each involves love, partnership, and sexuality to various degrees and in various ways. In accepting the love of the beloved, we are securely supported in our own individual unique nature. In loving the beloved, we offer the same support all around.

We choose to drop the idea of “The One”, the idea that the beloved can be embodied in a single individual. It seems that this idea limits the love available, is based upon ideas of scarcity, and in fact creates the scarcity that is feared. In anticipating that needs and desires for love, partnership, and sexuality can and should be met by a single individual, one tunes out many opportunities for the universe to provide for these. Placing the weight of expectation of The Beloved on a single individual creates a difficult burden that few can bare. If one accepts the role of The Beloved, they sacrifice their own unique magic in attempting to satisfy the needs and desires of the partner and be what they need or want. An individual human can not reasonably fulfill the role intended for the entire universe. Such expectant relationships commonly end in feelings of being lost, betrayed, let-down, deceived. Many ‘successful’ variants of such relationship involve one or both partners sacrificing their own unique purpose, nature, and desires, for the relationship. We see this attempt to grasp love, contain it, and secure it for the future as a futile reach that often results in the opposite of desired results. Love is divine and must be free. Attempt to contain it and it goes away.

This article speaks very clearly about the new paradigm relationship that we speak of. It is found on a polyamory site. As made clear in the article, this New Paradigm Relating does not inherently correlate with polyamory. A monogamous relationship where both parties are choosing this, because it is their preference and feels true to their authentic self, in this moment, with no promises or expectations of the future, fits New Paradigm Relating; while a poly-amorous relationship with many rules, restrictions, competition, and/or promises is old paradigm. In fact, this new paradigm of relating applies to all relationships. While not explicitly stated in the article, for us this philosophy applies to relations with children, plants, animals, the Earth, the Universe…. We are here to be seen and supported in expressing our authentic self and purpose while offering similar support for those around us.

The purpose, intent, and patterns of the unique individual are supported and encouraged as primary. The greater whole is the union of unique individuals and as such expands and grows with the explorations, learning, growth, and diversity of the individuals.

Our relationship with children embodies this perspective. We see children as autonomous beings with their own innate interests and purpose, their own reason for being. We do not own them. We mentor and nurture them in the direction that they are intending to go. We intervene, redirect, or block only in situations where potential of long term damage appears imminent. We interact with them directly and respectfully rather than through the intermediary of their biological progenitors. We appreciate that they, with their fresh eyes, have as much to teach us about this world as we with our experienced eyes have to teach them.

Why is sexuality part of the equation? Sexuality is so disrespected and so intertwined with love and partnership in modern culture, that the latter cannot effectively be reevaluated without addressing the former. In the old paradigm primary love and partnership are often restricted to the primary or solitary sexual relationship. Agreements around sexual partnerships commonly implicitly or explicitly limit the love and partnership that may be shared with others.

To turn off or pretend to turn off ones sexual connection interferes with ability to sensually connect with the world; to navigate to those things that are nourishing, complementary, and supportive; to love. Sex is a fundamental reality of nature and all that we do. Life and this universe are about testing ideas. All of our senses are tuned for three things; nourishment (growing and maintaining an idea long enough to spread it), protection (avoiding energies and beings that are detrimental to the idea), and sex (seeking connection with complementary and supportive ideas to propagate new ideas). Those things that our senses are drawn to, that feel good to us, are nourishment, safety, and sex. These are not discrete. Food can trigger desire for sex. Sex can feel like security. People often overeat when their desires for sex and security are not satisfied. Sensuality cannot fully be separated from sexuality.

In observing the plant world, it is easy to see that sex is not just about finding a mate. It’s also about finding allies. Flowers are sex organs. They are designed, not to attract other flowers, but flower allies. They trigger ecstatic joy in insects and humans alike. We cherish them and protect them and help them propagate. Their sexual offerings are expressed as beauty that others are drawn to, wish to support and to love. In tuning out our sexual connection with the world; we dull our sensual connection with it; we lose sight of beauty, the energetic draw to love, nurture and protect it. This applies to the natural world as well as other humans.

Recognizing and opening to the idea that all connections have a sexual component simultaneously allows and necessitates clear and honest boundaries around physical sexual contact. One can witness and love and connect with children with appreciation for individual sexual nature and sexual component of connection, yet clearly communicate boundaries around genital contact and consent, allowing a relationship that is whole and deeply loving without crossing cultural or personal boundaries that are likely to be harmful. A person can recognize sexual connection with everything, yet choose physical sex with only one or even a path of celibacy. Certainly some who choose the religious celibate path are, in fact, choosing a path of new paradigm relating where a deep loving romance with the beloved, the divine in all things, is the objective.

Awakening to Respect

20 years ago or so, while sitting in Grant Park in downtown Chicago, my companion looked around and then said something that struck me pretty hard at the time and has been a strong cord of learning and growth ever since. “Look at all of these people around us. Isn’t it incredible that each of them has their own life and story, every bit as complex as our own?” I had never thought of that. This dawning realization had a more impressive impact standing there with thousands of people in view and I immediately recognized that it was no less true every day. I feel it now as almost a near death experience. Faces began to flash before me. Faces that I recognized as the cardboard representations of the people who had been around me all of my life. For I had rarely, really, truly looked at folks with any depth.

Due to personality, a series of potent events, and my environment growing up, I grew up feeling isolated from the world around me. I largely lived inside my own head. I felt an outsider, rejected. This day in Chicago marked the first crack in the gate to understanding that I had been rejecting the world and people around me. I had not been seeing the world beyond my own concerns regarding how I fit in and how I felt and thought that the world was affecting me. I was not seeing past my story of people to realize that they have their own story. In fact, their own story that has little to do with me, only touches on my story here and there and even then does not match up with my own experiences and memories.

Growing up, I felt rebellious against the word respect. This was in part due to my misunderstanding of the word and ambiguity in common usage. There is respect that is earned that moves in the direction of admiration. With this definition in mind, orders to “Respect your elders” and “respect your teachers” was met with resentment and disagreement by me. Folks don’t earn my admiration just by being older than me or choosing to educate children as their means of earning income.

There is a subtler and perhaps more important meaning of respect. This is the appreciation that the universe is infinitely more wonderful and complex than we can even scratch the surface in understanding and that every different perspective is a universe unto itself. As applies to people, each has their own experiences, stories, ideals, reasons for existence that is entirely different from our own. However well we think we may know someone, there are still worlds of things to learn and they continue to change in every moment. There is no objective reality. The stories we maintain are just that. Everything that we see, hear, feel, taste, sense, take in in any way, comes to us via our own unique filter and then runs through many layers of subjective algorithms as time passes. If two people watch the same movie scene, each will have their own interpretation that may be radically different even though this scene has been carefully crafted, edited, produced to have a very specific effect. Now reflect on how wide ranging the interpretations of a quick text or e-mail crafted by someone who is not a writer by trade. Then follow the exponential potential for misunderstanding in a string of quick messages sent back and forth in a group by folks who are not recognizing responsibility for their own feelings and interpretations.

The basic level of respect is opening to seeing depth around us, seeing into the mystery, relaxing our gaze and adherence to our own story lines allowing us to take in new perspectives. This basic level of respect opens us up to learning and growth. It also opens us to the earned respect and admiration. Using this definition of respect, “Respect everyone and everything, including yourself” seems to make more sense than singling out elders, teachers, bosses, etc..

Respect is the most critical component of peaceful communication. Remembering that the entirety of our experience in every moment is completely within us, largely created or chosen by us, and taking ownership of this in our words is crucial to not infiltrating another’s domain with our personal version of reality.

A Bit About Love

Speaking of Love is much like speaking of God. It is describing the largely indescribable. It is something immensely significant, if for no other reason than we have made it so.  Has there been any subject more pervasive in our literature, our songs, our philosophy, our spirituality? Some of us, myself included, choose to believe that it is something more than a human infatuation (If for no other reason than it makes the world a more interesting place for us).  God is Love, Love is God, Love is all there is, Love is the purpose for all of existence, Love heals, Love is.

I have come to understand love as an energy. At first I was reluctant to use the term energy. I’m an engineer and a scientist and energy has a very specific definition in my world. When I began to experience spiritual energy and love energy I felt it and knew it to be an energy. I felt the warmth of it. I felt the flow of it. As I have observed and studied this energy, I have seen change happen in the world around me as a result of its flow. Energy is defined as the ability to do work or that which is behind any work being done. Work is any amount of change in the world around us.  Though we may not be able to measure it, empirical observation suggests to me that love adheres to the definition of energy.

Love must begin with respect. Here I define respect as giving space for those around us to be different than our expectation. Love is an exchange of energy between systems that have experienced different spiritual work functions. We each live in our own universe. Your entire universe is stored inside of you. Consider anything you know about anything. Where does this come from? It is the memory of images, sounds, your sensory input, combined with the stories and ideas you have created to go with them. This is not absolute reality that you are accessing, it is the map of your own universe that you have been creating since birth or before. As we interact with the universe in the moment, we are continually comparing our sensory input with the map stored within and looking for similarities, trying to categorize and anticipate outcomes. This is very useful for survival, and also very limiting in our ability to choose where we are going. This anticipation results in continuing to navigate to a place that looks very similar to places we have been before.  According to quantum physics, everything that can happen does. Thus the universe is an infinite block of possibility. What determines where we are within this block? We are consciously navigating this sea of possibility. The more we can relax our gaze and drop expectation in the moment, the wider the range of possibilities that open up for us, the greater the opportunities for experience and learning and growth. When we encounter another being, we are approaching another stored universe that may be similar to our own, but has many differences as well. If we approach with expectation, we limit our view into this alternative universe. If we approach with respect, we open up to all of the new possibilities, experiences, perspectives that this alternate universe has to offer. Respect is the first door.

Vulnerability is the second door. It is the dropping of barriers that inhibit the flow of love. We are opening a gateway, a portal that allows observation and flow in all directions. Our explorations into the universe of another inherently opens us to the other seeing into us and seeing ourselves reflected in the other. This is where the idea that you must first love yourself in order to love another comes from. If we are afraid to look into ourselves with respect and appreciation, if we have things within us that we wish to hide, this limits our ability to open this door. Vulnerability is born of self respect, allowing yourself to be different than your limiting stories of you. To explore the universe within and appreciate the lessons it has to teach, brings light in and makes way for others to do the same.

Intimacy is the intentional act of sharing universes with another, coming into union with another and allowing your universes to flow together. Generally this connection is created by some form of sensual contact: eye gazing, singing or chanting, music, drumming, touch, dancing, sex, smell. Shared experience is often stated as a type of intimacy. I believe that shared experience may build respect and a sense of trust leading to vulnerability, but the shared experience itself, unless it involves some variety of sensual contact, is not inherently intimate. I do believe that remote intimate connections may be made through spirit. Prayer and loving thoughts may cross time and space and are sensory on a level of vibrational connection with the universe.

Intimacy is not sex. Sex is not inherently intimate. Sex is one of many ways to achieve union with others if the doors of respect and vulnerability have been openned. This confusion around sex and intimacy has resulted in a severe restriction to the flow of love in the world around us. This restriction gives the idea that love is a limited resource resulting in competition and distress which further diminish the flow of love.

Love is the energy that flows between alternate universes when the doorways of respect and vulnerability have been opened and the bridge of intimacy has been connected. This flow is the energy of reunion. We originate from oneness. We have separated by doing the work of creating and carrying our own universe. Love is the energy that flows as we all come back together again. It is the experiences shared, the different perspectives, the worlds of learning and growth and expansion of possibilities. This love energy is the power of creation and allows us to move around this infinite block of possibility to places of our choosing. Love can bring healing as we learn the lessons that sickness and disconnect have to teach. Love can transform darkness to light, evil to good, can allow us to cocreate a new universe of our mutual intention. Love is expansive as possibilities are expansive. Love shared creates more possibility for love, more to love. Remembering and returning to oneness does not diminish us. We gain all of the tools, all of the energy all of the experience that flows through each connection. This enhances our capabilities as newly empowered unique individuals to create and explore more of our own universe, which in turn creates more potential love energy to share. Each connection that we make reflects off of every other connection and love grows exponentially, increasing in magnitude and complexity, radiating outward in rainbow streams. Love is limited only in our ability to share it.

Power of Positive Speaking

Offering my observations on the power of positive speaking. This is an ancient lesson that I have come across in many forms and continues to be rebirthed every few years. It is at the heart of “The Secret”, Ruiz’ agreement of impeccability, Tony Burroughs intenders process, is spoken of by Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, most of the major religious works, mystery schools, …. And yet, is still a secret.

As I began to learn and practice this, my first test and meditation was while mountain biking. I found by empirical testing and now relay as anecdote that focusing on the path that I wished to travel was much more effective at protecting my head and my body than was worrying about and trying to avoid the trees and the steep drop-offs. While this is largely positive thinking and intention, I found it very useful to put this into words and speak aloud to myself and others. The difference in thinking and feeling is surprisingly subtle and putting to words forces a clarity that may not be there otherwise.

I continue to run into so many things that put the negative out front. I recognize this as standard marketing tactic and control mechanism. I grew up with “Go to church every Sunday to avoid hell”. I shut the TV out of my life due to “Watch the evening news so this terrible thing doesn’t happen to your children.”. More subtle variants continue to show up in my life, even still quite heavy in “conscious culture”.

Non-violent Communication is an excellent practice and yet the irony has always struck me in the contradiction of the title. Speaking the enemy of violence that we are working against. I can no more say non-violence without envisioning violence then I can hope for a crash free bike ride without envisioning a crash. How about empathic, self aware, and personally responsible communication?

I see workshop titles referring to “These trying and difficult times”. I’m reading Terra Nova, a book about Utopian society based on Love that spends the first 60 pages detailing all of the problems in the world that are the driving reason. I see so many friends with good hearts and intentions trying to ‘save the world’ from all of the problems that they see in it. Speak of the devil and there he is.

It is a subtle and powerful difference. We don’t have to ignore the trees. If we focus on the path, we can appreciate the trees, as we pass, for all of their beauty and the lessons that they have to teach. I no longer fight Monsanto, I am so very grateful that they have shown me and so many others the value of healthy land, real nutrition, variety, cooperation with nature, and smiling faces of farmers within my community able to feel good about what they do, take care of their families, and feed their community. This gratitude energizes my path and brings more of what I want into the world.

If beauty, joy, and harmony are the object, envision and speak of these directly. Give gratitude to all that has helped refine your discernment. Thank those teachers that you no longer choose to work with and let them go. This is the path of Love. This is the dancer way.

I love you all!

Free Love

Free love is a concept, that has been highly corrupted by anti hippy propaganda and the excesses of the 60s. To many, it means promiscuity and indiscriminate sexual connections. Lost are the connections to women’s rights, privacy rights, and individual freedom. Yet, I find myself using it because the heart of the words, and their historical meaning is exactly what I am trying to get at.

I am a practitioner of free love. For me this arises from the guiding principles that I choose to be the core of my navigation. By love, I mean deeply intimate, resonant, mutually supportive connections with the universe, my world, the beings that surround me. This love strives to be unconditional and independent of like and dislike. It is a wide open, unshielded connection. Free love for me is a practice that involves making no agreements that inhibit my ability to engage in deeply intimate loving interaction. There is no special type or degree of love that I restrict to a limited few or a single individual. I am free to feel into every moment and every connection. This practice also involves exploring the depths of self-love, opening myself to the truth of who I am and allowing this to flow, to the surface for others to see. It also involves learning to open to fully seeing the world around me independent of whether I like what I see.

In loving, I engage with all of my being including my sexuality and I choose to open myself to seeing those beings who surround me in their entirety, including their sexuality. This does not mean that I wish to engage sexually with all that I love. In choosing a path of unconditional love, it is often a challenge to breath through the desire to recoil in horror or wretch uncontrollably. I choose to maintain Monsanto and Adolph Hitler as my metric of personal success in learning to love. Where there is adoration, the confluence of love and like, personal boundaries often come into play. I can appreciate the emerging sexuality in the children who inhabit my life and choose not to shield my sexual nature from them, to love them with the fullness of my being, while maintaining very clear boundaries around sexual contact.

For me, very few beings cross the threshold of consideration for establishing a sexual relationship. There are many considerations from species, boundaries, maturity, ideology, personality, openness to love, and a whole slew of biological factors and social conditioning. Yet, for me to love completely, openly, and freely, I must be able to act upon those few situations that draw me. Why? Why not? I understand sex to be one of the most wonderful, magical, beautiful things that there is and an incredible way to share love and bond with someone. If I and another being find ourselves compatible and drawn to this connection, why would we choose not to engage? I can imagine a few reasons why someone would choose celibacy or monogamy. None of these resonate with me at this time. My research into the exclusive couples paradigm strongly suggests that the primary reason people engage in this agreement is a sense of insecurity and incompleteness, and that finding “the one” can make them safe and whole. While technically, monogamy is defined according to sex, most monogamous couples associate this with a general restriction on depth of intimacy and the idea of a special love that is only for them, that makes them feel special.

My best friend and I are engaged in a deeply romantic, sexual relationship, and domestic partnership. The fact that this is not restrictive or exclusive does not in any way limit the depth, intensity, security, or specialness of our connection. I have a 25 year marriage under my belt with another good friend for comparison in addition to a studious observation of other relationships and marriages. I cannot overstate the incredible feeling of being with her and knowing, in every moment that she is with me, that she chooses to be there because there is nowhere that she’d rather be. It is also wonderfully freeing to know that I am not restricting her in any way. Rather, I am encouraging and energizing her to blossom into the beautiful creature that she came here to be. In choosing inclusiveness, every connection that she engages in enriches me and adds to the love that we have to share. More love is more love.

There are certainly challenges with free love. This is not the norm. It takes a great deal of communication with those around us to enter into a place of comfortable connection. I invite and incorporate a great deal of ‘father’ energy into my being. I find that many women have difficulty with this in combination with not hiding my sexuality. They may be attracted to me or feel that I am attracted to them and that there is something wrong with this. Similar feelings arise when I engage male friends in what feels to them like a romantic way (a kiss on the cheek, flowers or special treats, sustained eye contact). Friends feel that I am ‘cheating’ on my best friend even after the nature of our relationship has been explained. Women think that they shouldn’t feel the way that they feel around me if I am not to be “The One” for them. I have found myself holding back in the face of what I perceive as discomfort. I am moving with intention in the direction of greater vulnerability in communicating what I am about rather than holding back. I am here to love. I choose to be free.


To Be Or Not To Be

To be or not to be, that is the question

“The horrors of eternity and what it means to be? These are the questions, the answers haunting me.” The first line of a song that I wrote 15 years ago or so. Questions that had haunted me from childhood to well after that song was written. Questions that are still food for thought.

What does it mean to be?

I compare to a near synonym “exist”. “To be” in comparison to exist, has personality. It has personal perspective, time and place perspective. “To be”, “is”, “are”, “were”, “am”, “was”, “have been” are all synonyms of “exist”, all forms of “to be”, yet are different perspective. “Is” is an external perspective, from the observers point of view. “Are” is plural and may be external, “they are”, or inclusive of the internal and external, “we are”. “Am” is first person perspective is present tense, and, as with “is” and “are”, is often static suggesting that this isness or state of being extends to the past and the future. “Was”, “were”, “have been”, “will be” are all outside of the present and refer to a static state. “Be” is unique. It toes the fine line of the horizon where the future meets the present. It is the only form of “to be” that is inherently an action verb. It also suggests choice, plan, or expectation. Though we can add modifiers that place “be” external of self and personal choice “You will be”, “be” by itself indicates personal perspective and choice. To “be” is to actively choose to exist. As such, I believe that it implies self-awareness, consciousness, and free choice. I choose to Be.

I have personally experienced and have heard and read of the experience of others, a state of being that is distributed, that is not restricted to the confines of the body. Such states of being can be very expansive and, per reports, include all of this universe and perhaps others. I understand being and consciousness, as an inherent property that pervades all of our reality. I arrived at this understanding through science and philosophy and have since felt its meaning by direct experience. There is a state of being that is being all that is. Some might choose to call this all inclusive state of being God. I intend to write more on this at a later date.

What is a being? Via a subtle change in sentence structure, the addition of “a”, we convert the verb to a noun, a thing. A being is a thing, an entity that performs the act of being, that chooses to be. While it is philosophically deducible that there is a being that is all that is (see the ontological argument), the term “a” suggests one of multiple in comparison to “the” which could refer to a singular entity without equivalent. A being is thus an entity which chooses to be and recognizes itself as distinct from the general state of being of all that is. A being may choose to settle in and define itself according structures within physically measurable reality such as human bodies, and this restriction is illusory. I have personally experienced my being as anywhere from a tiny spot in the center of a brain that considers itself lord and ruler over the rest of the body designed to carry me around; to a being rooted deep in the earth, able to feel and connected to the the movements of the stars above.

Being is independent of living. Being penetrates, rocks, stars, crystals, fire, air. Life is a peculiar process that converts energy to complexity. It offers a mechanism for trialing a vast range of ideas in many different contexts. Living creatures including humans are largely automations governed by mathematically deterministic biomechanical processes. While being certainly pervades all life forms, the distinction and self-awareness that defines “a being” is not inherent. Life has created interesting pockets for being to settle in to and identify with. In the particular case of human life, words, structures, and concepts have been built up to create the illusion of a highly separate entity that has forgotten its connection to other beings and the general state of being of all that is. This simultaneously presents many wonderful possibilities as well as many difficult challenges on this bleeding edge of learning and growth where things are incredibly real. While I choose a human life in which to be in this moment, I find it very helpful to remember that my confinement in this life and body is a chosen illusion and limitation, and to connect with other beings and the greater whole to remember that these are also me.

I offer this as a first attempt at an elegant description of my evolving answer to a question that has occupied my being for 30 years of this particular lifetime that I choose to participate in. It is the first bit of solidity that I stand upon in choosing who I am, why I am here, and how I choose to be. It is no small coincidence that this is the first word of the guiding principles of the culture that I am choosing to cocreate. In order for me to do anything, to agree to anything, to become anything, I must first choose to be and then begin to define the being that I am, my scope, my purpose.


The term HAUM came to me in a vision during a shamanic journey.  The concept behind it had been calling to me for several years before. It is a thought at the heart of my own passion and explorations around intentional community. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to experience gatherings of Rainbow Family and Burners (Burning Man Types). When entering the temporary utopian villages of either of these communities, new comers are greeted with many smiles, hugs, and “Welcome Home!”.

I felt a bit strange hearing this for the first time, and yet it fit. There is a feeling, and energy that goes with it. There is a culture at work here offering love, acceptance, and nurturing support for you exactly as you are right here in this moment and simultaneously encouraging you to blossom into whatever you choose to be. We are welcome. We are wanted. We are family. We come together as wonderfully unique individuals, yet recognize that together we are one. We are home.

Aum is an alternate and, for me, a preferable spelling of the chant Om of hindu origin. I prefer the three letter spelling as the chant has been described to me as three syllables with the silence between adding a fourth that completes an unending circle with meaning very similar to the four directions or medicine wheel of other traditions:  A – birth, beginning, opening blossoming, becoming; U – Life, movement, expression, being; M – Closure, completion, rest, integration, contraction, returning; Silence – Brahman, the ultimate, unchanging reality that transcends space and time, the infinite everythingness and nothingness from which all is formed and to which all returns, in which all exists and all is one.  Aum has been described as the word of God, the energy that continually creates, destroys, and recreates the universe. It is simultaneously all that is and the individual fire or soul that animates each of us.

HAUM is the Platonic archetype of home. It is a place and a feeling that I believe most of us recognize and feel drawn to, even those of us who have never experienced anything like a proper home. HAUM is a place of rest, rejuvenation, safety, nurturing support. HAUM is the place where we are all one, yet are supported and encouraged to explore our own path and unique individuality. HAUM is a place that we carry within us, that may be accessed through meditation, slowing down, listening, appreciating. HAUM is where the heart is. HAUM may also be physical spaces, sacred containers where intentional family come with open hearts to support each other, love each other, create, and have fun.