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Life is a Musical—Sing & Dance to the Music

Life is a Musical—Sing & Dance to the Music

Dance in the now. Sing in the moment.

This beautiful video, by Alan Watts & David Lindberg, explains so eloquently Why Your Life Is Not A Journey:

Existence, the physical universe, is basically playful. It does not have some destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by analogy with music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful.

We thought of life as a journey, a pilgrimage, and the goal is to get to the end. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical and you were supposed to sing and dance while the music was being played.

Alan Watts & David Lindberg

Why Your Life Is Not A Journey

Blessings and Happiness, The Eight Beatitudes

Blessings and Happiness, The Eight Beatitudes


Late Middle English: from Old French beatitude or Latin beatitudo, from beatus ‘blessed.’

Supreme blessedness.
Synonyms: blessedness, benediction, grace

  • The blessings listed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–11).

In Biblical tradition, Beatitude means “blessings and great happiness”. The New Testament Book of Matthew relates: “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”

In what we now call the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–11), Jesus taught the Eight Beatitudes, or lessons for achieving blessings and great happiness. He spoke the Beatitudes in the peoples’ language of Aramaic. However, Aramaic has proven difficult to translate accurately because, as a predominantly oral language, it contained much slang and nuance. The King James translation (and more modern translations that have followed) have perplexed many diligent spiritual students.

In one of my favourite books, Love Without End, by Glenda Green, Jesus clarifies these lessons for us. Here is a summary of explanations directly from Chapter 9 of the book:

The Beatitudes

I. Simplicity

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

More accurate translation from Aramaic:
Blessed are those who live in simplicity,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Love is the simplicity of your power.

Avoid Unnecessary Complexities, Hierarchies and Structure

Refrain from introducing complexities and hierarchies into spiritual pursuits or life in general. Don’t empower belief systems that limit and control your approach to God.

Hierarchies are a part of worldly elitism. Structure belongs to the earth. As you ascend to a higher, more loving relationship with your fellow man and your Creator, the dominance of structure will fall away. In love and spirit there are neither hierarchies nor structure. Love is the source of your life.

Do not take anything from the spirit. Spirit is in all things, of all things, and with all things. Where spirit is concerned there are no prerequisites and no hierarchies. The spirit is one.

Accepting and honouring the one spirit from the simplicity of your own place in life is the key to heaven. Accept it where you are, as you are. Be yourself.

Avoid Unnecessary Mental Complexities and Hierarchies, Which Generate More Structure

Maintain simplicity in your thoughts as well. Thoughts generate performance. So, guard your thoughts and instruct them well. Mental activity invariably results in complexities, which must be implemented by structure. Within hierarchies of mental structure, ideas ascend in levels of sophistication. Such complicated standards will always establish some persons or situations as superior to others. Love, on the other hand, is simple and so is the spirit. Stay with simplicity and avoid the pitfalls of complicated living.

You must put love behind your thoughts to make them work. If your love is the archer, then your mind is the bow, and your thoughts are the arrows. Without careful direction of thoughts, you will not hit the target. Without love to pull the bow string, your motivation will be weak or misdirected. Love is the simplicity of your power.

II. Release

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted. 

More accurate translation from Aramaic:
Blessed are they who release and purge grief,
for they shall be comforted. 

Grieving is clinging to that which has been lost—mourning is the act of letting go.

There are two parts to love—attaching and letting go. Only through living and understanding both phases of love is a being complete.

When a person first recognizes and experiences grief, it comes as an affliction. As the process completes itself in the latter stages of surrender, there is mourning.

Mourning is the free flowing of tears as acceptance and releasing are experienced. In this state, the heart can perceive a continuity of life even though certain attachments have been lost. In letting go of that which cannot be retained, one heals. It is through releasing that one is blessed.

III. Moderation

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth. 

More accurate translation from Aramaic:
Blessed are those who live in moderation,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Moderation is balance. In balance, we find wholeness, fulfillment, and blessing.

Only the properties of your heart can bring fulfillment and nourishment to your life. In practicing moderation, you will know this.

Moderation is the economy of God, and the economy of blessing. When you live in moderation, you are in balance. When you live in balance, you are whole. When you are whole, you inherit the earth.

Moderation is not an invocation of limits or conformity, but rather moderation is an invocation of the rationality that a person is more complete when in balance. What a person requires is governed by what he or she can love! Through moderation, under the command of love, everything is provided.

Moderation is a relative concept what derives its power from equilibrium and balance. It cannot be enforced with identical value or limitation on all people. This must be learned through discernment.

Moderation is equilibrium, but it is not static inert balance, which has no inner life or variance. There is a certain progressive attainment that maintains itself by growth, fluctuation, conservation, and sharing. ‘Well being’ is the true feeling of moderation.

Pursue moderation in all things—not only in material accumulation or in our physical comforts, but also in the food you eat, and in mental pursuits, habits, and work. As heaven comes to earth, the standard of economy will be that of moderation. It will no longer be the norm for some to hoard while others starve. Sharing will become a joy as you learn that everything you share will be multiplied and then become the basis of your own receiving.

IV. Righteousness

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled. 

Righteousness is you being the love that you are.

This blessing is directly linked to the Sacred Heart, for when a person hungers and thirsts for righteousness, the basic purity and innocence of his heart will be awakened.

Righteousness means that you are right with yourself, right with your fellow man, right with God, and right with the one spirit. Simply be the love that you are. That is discovered and developed through a right relationship with the heart.

The heart is a powerful magnetic center that generates life energy for the body and the soul and draws to you all the needs and requirements of your life. Within the Sacred Chamber of the heart you will feel the presence of your Creator and be anointed with His righteousness. From these holy communions, higher principles of intelligence (unity, love, life, respect, honesty, justice, and kindness) will be revealed to you, and through them rightness will come to your life.

V. Mercy

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Those who extend mercy, receive mercy. In forgiving, we are forgiven. Only the heart can understand forgiveness.

Practice forgiveness everyday. It liberates the soul from bondage, and beyond that, forgiveness is an action that your mind can never understand. Whenever you are merciful, you grow. As you grow you become more blessed, and the very things that might harm you or cause you resistance will be given no power. Mercy is the flower of growth. Those who are restrained in mercy will have limited influence in life.

VI. Purity of Heart

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God. 

In the eyes of God, who knows nothing of sin, you are nothing less than perfect. Which is why the very act of sin separates you from your Source. In the purity of your heart you are one with your Creator.

Until you see yourself as pure, perfect and innocent, you will not enter the Sacred Chamber of the heart. As long as you try to carry all of your unworthiness and mistakes in with you, you will stay on the threshold of your heart and not enter.

In the sacred chamber you are one with the Father, and in that oneness your Source knows everything you need, and beholds no imperfection. When you enter the sacred heart, you are restored in your life and you are made whole again.

Through innocent perception, you may also perceive the presence of God in all of existence. This is purity of perception. Everything was created in innocence. Behold this, if you would see the face of God.

Most conflict is self-generated by rejections of life and denial of existence as it really is.

Although the mind strives to understand, it will invent what it cannot understand—or worse still, it will judge. The mind will invent realities that lead you away from who you are and the true purposes of your life. When you surrender to the fact that existence does not require invention—that it simply is—you will be on the threshold of actually looking into the face of God.

Judgment will separate you from this sacred space. Judgement is actually the only sin of which a pure and perfect child of God is capable. Judgment was the original sin, and continual pursuit of it will keep you from the presence of your Creator.

(The Hebrew word for judgement, which is ‘mishpat’ actually refers to redemption and vindication—not to accusation and condemnation. The ancient Hebrew meaning of judgement is protection of personal rights in the face of accusation.)

VII. Peace

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God. 

Seek to perceive wholeness in all things.

There are many ways to make peace in life. Its power comes from the grace of ending duality. You will be blessed with wholeness as you end duality.

You are a peacemaker when you rise above the concept that life must be viewed as a conflict between polar opposites. A dualistic approach to living is no longer useful. Our oneness of spirit needs to be recognized and implemented through acceptance.

The conceptual model of duality is a simplistic frame of reference created by the mind to satisfy its dependency upon structure and symmetry. The mind seeks to explain rather than understand. Once the full scope of understanding is attained, duality fades away.

Higher intelligence is manifested through integrated perceptions of wholeness, which restore your recognition of the one spirit. The sons of God are those who do not explain life or manage it with dualistic concepts. The sons of God are those who seek to perceive wholeness in all things.

VIII. Transcendence of Suffering through Love

King James Version Translation:
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

More accurate translation from Aramaic:
Blessed are they who transcend suffering through love,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Righteousness is you being the love that you are. Only when you love beyond all of the external conditions that logically tell you not to do so, can you discover the deeper wellspring of love that you are.

In English, persecution implies an intentional harassment or punishment. In Aramaic, persecution typically meant ‘suffering’.

The vanishing of illusion: Whenever you stand firmly in the midst of a hardship, holding and expressing the love that you are, you will witness illusions falling away. Through being the love that you are, you are empowered to transcend your sufferings.

Through love you have the power over any situation. Only, you will never truly know this until you have surmounted adversity. This last beatitude is the greatest of all blessings. For in learning it, you are free forever from the illusions that would attempt to conquer you and misdirect your life.

Our Creator never afflicts or badgers His children, although it is his greatest yearning to be known by them in the fullness of existence. It is through challenge and the survival of suffering that a person grows beyond his protective bubble to experience the love of God in a greater way.

One who has known God only in a state of well-being has just known the smallest portion of the Creator. One who must place conditions on how to receive God cannot receive God. One who can only know God in blissful and abundant experiences has no power in the rest of life. What is the Kingdom of Heaven except the wholeness of everything?

To learn that love is a power that comes from within, love your enemies.

The power of this blessing resides in the fact that the Creator of all things is present with all things and in all things. There is no place where God is not. There is no experience in which God is not. There is no dimension of understanding or awareness where God is not.

From: Love Without End, Chapter 9: The Blessed Life

Climb into the Boat—An Invitation

Climb into the Boat—An Invitation

Row, row, row, your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.


My dear friend and Mastermind partner, Donna Cox, recently wrote a blog post entitled Row your own boat that reminded me of the hidden wisdom in this little nursery rhyme.

I entitled this website and my novel in progress Life By Fire in juxtaposition to my past feelings that I was living a life in which “I barely tread water, barely keep afloat. Perpetually behind, perpetually overwhelmed, stuck in a whirlpool going round, round, and around. Life by drowning.” As a result, I find the wisdom in this little song particularly fitting! I wanted to share my contemplations on this rhyme with you—as Donna said, “Now who would have thought that this children’s song could be so filled with wisdom about how to live life?”

How to Live based on Row, Row, Row, Your Boat:

1 Get into the boat.

As intimated above, I spent too many years feeling that I was treading water, cold and wet, working wearily but getting no where. We often make life harder on ourselves than it needs to be. Why? Many reasons but, for me, the issue stemmed from some deep-set scarcity issues—believing that I never had enough energy, time, money, freedom—to do what I really wanted to do.

Some people spend their whole lives swimming, without ever realizing that there could be a boat. Some people spend their lives looking for the boat, but never swimming downstream to find it. Some people spend their lives swimming beside the boat without ever giving themselves permission to climb into it. The key to happiness is to get out of the water and into the boat.

What does the boat represent? The boat represents your rightful place in this life. Your boat is your purpose.

2 Get your own boat.

Don’t squat on or borrow someone else’s purpose—find your own. We’ve heard of the classic empty nest syndrome—mothers who devote their entire being to raising their children and then feel devastated and empty when their children grow up and leave. Other people give responsibility for “doing” to their spouse, and support their spouse’s purpose, rather than finding their own. Some people feel unworthy of their calling and therefore never answer it. Others believe that what they want to do and need to do conflict. We all have our own unique purpose to fulfill in this life and we are all worthy of accepting it. Get into your boat.

3 Choose the boat you really want.

Current science indicates that the natural state of the universe is constant expansion. Nature shows us countless examples of abundance. As eternal beings with infinity as our playground, we are made for expansion and fuller expression. Abundance is our natural state; scarcity is an artificial construct. So, don’t settle for a second-rate boat! Don’t stay in the job you hate because you think it’s the only way to make money. Don’t settle in the house you don’t like because you don’t believe you can afford a better one. Don’t ignore those good ideas that you really want to pursue because you fear taking a risk. Don’t get into the leaky little fishing boat, to spend your life bailing water, when you really want to sail! Think bigger—make your goal the luxury yacht!

4 Anchors aweigh.

The only constant in life is change. We can’t stop time. We can’t keep things perpetually the same no matter how desperately we want to cling to the past or the present for comfort. We need to embrace the journey and move forward.

If you want to go somewhere, you need to raise the anchor. The anchor represents spiritual blocks and judgments, terror barriers and paradigms—deep-rooted conditioning that keeps you stuck in a state of fearful paralysis. We need to raise our awareness and make the conscious choice to release these blocks and overcome fears in order to move forward.

5 Row.

Life requires work—mental work, physical work, emotional work, spiritual work—work. We can ignore it, deny it, lament it, procrastinate about it, and complain about it, or we can accept it and do it. So, we may as well get on with it.

Most people do not come into this world knowing their purpose. You have to work to find it and then work to fulfill it. There is no magic bullet. Most people go through a significant amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring, planning, struggling, and working before they attain their goals. So, get rowing.

6 Go gently.

Be gentle with yourself and others. Forgive, forgive, forgive yourself and others for mistakes you have made in the past so that you can move forward with a clean slate. Row gently—don’t wear yourself out with daily toil—balance efficient, productive work with rest and rejuvenation.

7 Point your boat and your focus down stream.

“Resist not…” If the universe is always for expansion and fuller expression, then so are you—go with it. Dissatisfaction is healthy if it leads you to positive change. Embrace change and opportunity. Take risks. Follow your instinct. Go with your flow and look ahead!

Some people spend their lives focusing on the past—lamenting it, regretting it, reminiscing about it. Don’t sit backward facing the wake and then worry over the tumultuous water! Forget the past, only now really exists. So, take your seat in the Captain’s chair, look ahead, and steer your boat! As you travel downstream, it widens into a river—the vast open ocean of possibilities awaits you!

8 Feel joy—sing along the way.

“Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…” Life is an experience, not a journey to a determined destination—enjoy the ride downstream and sing along the way. I recently watched a beautiful video based on the words of British philosopher Alan Watts who likened life to music. (I wrote a Life is a Musical post about it.) He said:

“Existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But, it is best understood by analogy with music. Because music, as an art form, is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano. Why? Music differs from, say, travel. When you travel, you’re trying to get somewhere. In music though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. If so, the best conductors would be those who played the fastest. And there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crashing chord because that’s the end! Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room, because that’s where you should arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.”

So, sing and dance! Celebrate life. Live in the moment. Set milestones. Enjoy the process. Reward your progress. Practice gratitude. And have fun.

9 Understand that Life is but a dream.

From a scientific perspective, in my Manifesting Reality post, I discuss how “most scientists now believe that materialism is not a valid world view. Physicists now accept that particles do not exist as objects in the absence of observation. They exist only as waves, which transform into particles when observed.” The material world is not the static, permanent, “real” thing we thought it was—it is waves of potential, which sometimes transform temporarily into particles with lots and lots of space between them.

From a spiritual perspective, many traditions describe the universe as a mental construct within the Mind of God. From this perspective, we realise that we are eternal spiritual beings who have chosen to have a temporary physical experience. As A Course in Miracles states, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” (Your body can be threatened; your soul cannot. Therefore, your soul is real; your body is part of the dream.)

Created in the likeness of God, we are eternal beings with infinity as our playground. This physical life is but a page in our book of life—a book without an ending. And, we have the power to manifest our physical reality with much greater precision than we formerly ever imagined. Life is but a dream—so live it on purpose and make it a beautiful one!

It is with great pleasure, humility, and gratitude, that I invite you to get into the boat and embark on this beautiful journey with me. I invite you to live a Life By Fire.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this: In the ocean of life, the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming.

Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Mistress; She does but sleep; awaken her.

Self-control is Strength.
Right-thought is Mastery.
Calmness is Power.

Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!

From As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

A Life Well-Lived

A Life Well-Lived

Reflections on the passing of my beloved Papa, Peter Loewen, November 14, 1925 – July 14, 2016

Last Thursday, I received some very unexpected and sad news: my beloved grandfather—my Papa—had collapsed and died. We had celebrated his 90th birthday the October before. Despite his advanced age, he was still enjoying excellent health, mobility and vitality. He still drove competently. He walked daily. His mind was still clear and sharp.

After my initial shock and anguish passed, I began to fully comprehend the blessing of his passing. He had spent a glorious day in the summer sun at the beach with my aunt and uncle and their family—surrounded by a number of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After a beautiful day, and good dinner together, he announced that he was heading out. He left the house and collapsed in their driveway. A good, quick death.

Since then, I have been reflecting the lessons he has taught me about living well. In my experience, my Papa wasn’t one for spouting truisms—he was too humble a man for that. The few times I ever asked him for advice, his answers were intelligent and practical. But, example speaks louder than words. So, I thought I would share with you just some of the lessons I learned from Papa.

My Top Ten List of Things I Learned from My Papa:

1. Make People Feel Good

I watched Papa at restaurants or interacting with the nurses who cared for my Nana. He liked people. And they liked him. Because he made people feel good. He was considerate and cheerful and generous with his smile and praise. He left people feeling happier than before they met him—and appreciated—he made people feel appreciated.

2. Try New Things

My husband, my girls and I love international food. We’ve taken Papa out for Japanese food, including sushi several times and he ate enthusiastically with us each time. He never hesitated or commented that something was too different for him. He even commented that he would return to the restaurant on this own “for a change”. He sincerely enjoyed trying new things and he embraced them.

3. Mind over Matter: You can do anything with enough will power.

My Papa had a will of iron. He had used it to overcome many hardships in his life. And he understood moderation. If he knew he needed to change something, he made the decision and changed. And he stuck to it.

4. Don’t Complain

Papa didn’t complain. In the last years with Nana, he occasionally discussed issues around Nana’s care. But, it was never with the intention to complain, or speak disparagingly—it was always with respect and the sincere intention of solving the problem. He didn’t vent and he didn’t find enjoyment in judging other peoples’ actions. He minded his own business.

5. Enjoy your Work: Do what you love and love what you do.

Some of my fondest memories with Papa date back to going on transport truck trips with him. Laying in the bunk of the cab. Eating pork rinds. Drinking creamers while we waited for our dinner in a good old-fashioned truck stop. Papa would let me drink the creamers and eat the butter patties straight! We ate a lot of butter together in our time. He loved to drive. He loved the road.

I also remember Papa’s barber shop—the candystripe pole—watching him talking cheerfully as he cut someone’s hair. When he couldn’t stand anymore to cut hair, he returned to trucking. He was practical—moreso, he practiced contentment.

6. Troubleshooting Skills: You don’t have to know how it works to fix it.

Papa had a natural capacity for fixing things. He was a clever, capable, resourceful man. One time, our old dryer broke. And he fixed it. Just like that. He just figured it out. I don’t tinker with motors but I think of him when I troubleshoot broken website code—I’m not a programmer but I follow his lead and just figure it out.

7. Complete the Job

Whether it was washing dishes, cutting the lawn, or trucking across Canada, Papa finished what he started. Papa committed himself fully to any and all tasks. When he started something, he finished it. He worked hard. He did what needed to be done—willingly, with determination, and to completion.

8 and 9. Be Loyal and Love One Another

I watched Papa’s devotion to Nana in their last years together with awe. His patience, dedication, and love. Nana and Papa may have experienced challenges, disappointments and frustrations, and even some heartbreak. But, Papa always treated Nana and, after her passing, spoke of Nana with the utmost respect and tenderness. He choose to remember the best times. He chose to focus on love, and it brought him, and all of us, happiness.

And, finally, number 10—the last lesson I learned from Papa about living well:

10. Leave on Good Terms

Maybe some of us had disagreements with Papa at one point or another in the past. Maybe there was a hard feeling or harsh word. But, I can’t remember. Because he healed wounds. He let go of any grievances from the past and he lived his last years in the present, in joy and contentment. From Papa, I learned gratitude and forgiveness and grace.

I learned from Papa that when it’s time to go, pack light. Embrace the journey, and hit the road without a fuss—after a full day in the sun and a good meal—with your sandals still on, and still full of sand from the beach.

Day Terrors and Mindfields

Day Terrors and Mindfields

What’s stopping you from doing what you want to do in 2016?
Time? Money? Energy? What about fear?

Mindfields and Terror Barriers—what are they and how to overcome them?

For too many years, I neglected to do what I really wanted to do out of fear…fear of failure, yes. But, also fear of not having enough…time, money, energy. Occasionally, in an atypical burst of enthusiasm, I would explore a new idea, only to get stuck as soon as I encountered any form of complication. My mind would invent all sorts of reasons why it would not work, could not work, or should not work. These are MINDFIELDS and they blow good intentions and great ideas to smithereens.

Here’s a good, relevant example: This online novel-writing project. On January 1, 2015, in launched this online writing project with the intention of publishing excerpts of the novel as I wrote them. But, then, a couple of good intentioned people cautioned me, “Oh, be careful, no publisher will publish a novel that’s already online.” Boom. The fear of doing it wrong stopped me in my tracks and I decided I needed to “step back” and “stay on the safe side”. No more novel posts—I returned to writing my novel in my closet and posting only “reflections” about it on the website.

Staying on the Safe Side of What?

Have you ever had a great idea but allowed yourself or someone else to talk you out of it based on fear…fear that it could fail? Have you ever actually embarked on making that great idea reality and then felt a sense of doubt, lack of confidence, realization that it is going to be hard, or been sidetracked by a million little distractions that your mind told you were more important or pressing? Those are all forms of the TERROR BARRIER and the Terror Barrier has been turning people’s dreams into nightmares since the dawn of time.

How do you overcome a terror barrier?

  1. Call it out. Recognize it for what it is—fear. Of failure. Of getting it wrong. Of the unknown. Fear.
  2. Know that it’s normal. The fear barrier is a deep-rooted, but misplaced, survival instinct intended to keep you safe. But, there’s a price to pay for safety.
  3. Climb it. Like a mountain, you either have to blast your way through the terror barrier or climb over it, one step at a time.

You blast through it with unyielding determination. You climb over it with patient persistence.

So, here I am. January 3, 2016—exactly one year after I committed to publishing excerpts of my novel online regularly in 2015. I’m renewing my commitment to regularly post excerpts from my novel as I write them.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Have you ever experienced the Terror Barrier? Please, tell me about it here.

Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement

Based on lessons repeated again and again and still only partially learned the hard way.


  1. Remember that people are doing the best they can at the time—we all fail occasionally and lament it longer.
  2. Assume that people know what they’re doing—your trust heightens others’ performance.
  3. Assume that the other person’s logic is valid from their perspective—everyone “has a point” worth considering.
  4. Ask the questions necessary to attempt to understand the other person’s perspective—everyone has a story worth hearing.
  5. Take the time to investigate fully—a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
  6. Withhold criticism before you understand the other person’s reasoning—it’s never “black or white”.
  7. Withhold criticism after you understand the other person’s reasoning—insight and example open doors, criticism slams them shut.
  8. Feel gratitude for the effort the person has made to engage with you—“no man is an island”.
  9. Feel gratitude for the person who has engaged with you—teachers come in many disguises.
  10. Express gratitude for the effort the person has made to engage with you—they deserve to feel worthy of your time and their effort.
  11. Offer insight when asked—there are many doors, but you only have two feet.
  12. Assume that others’ viewpoints have evolved as much as mine have—we are all on a spiritual path.
  13. Be gentle—people will remember what they felt more than what you said.
  14. Lead by example—argument may speak the loudest but action speaks the clearest.


  • I’ve been contemplating my own history of human interaction and have come to some conclusions too discomforting to discuss here. Suffice to say, I’m hereby decreeing my new rules of engagement—14 of them, it’s an auspicious number.
  • The phrase “no man is an island” in #8 above refers to a section of a work by John Donne, which I also used to lead off the Death By Water part of my Life By Fire novel. On the novel website, you can read the section at the top of the Death By Water Table of Contents page.