Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm home. Back from my weekend on the mountain with the men--staff and participants--from whom I always learn so much. The big piece for me this time was this: when I take on too much, I succeed only in creating confusion in myself and those around me. Not that I created too much confusion, really, nor that the confusion was significantly disruptive. But I do contribute to a more harmonious world when I pay more careful attention to my strengths and limitations. When I take on too much, I realize that I'm just being less than fully conscious, allowing an old reactive pattern to take over--one that I learned at a very young age, a Mr. Nice Guy urge to please, no matter the cost. There were several occasions at the weekend when I was given the opportunity to observe the results of that Nice Guy's actions, and they were not the ones intended. Hence the confusion I just mentioned above.

I don't mean, though, to diminish the contribution I was able to make. Learning and teaching often happen at precisely the same moment, and I believe strongly in that old adage, that we only teach what it is we need to learn. Because there is so much potential for chaos when more than sixty men come together, each with their own beliefs and needs, their own power and their own magnificent potential, there is huge risk and huge possibility, both of which are needed to create the opportunity for transformation. The magic for me personally was the realization that confusion transforms into clarity.

What I have come to understand is that these weekends, magical as they are, offer each participant the opportunity for true transformation, and that virtually every man finds it in his own way. I have been privileged, these past fifteen years since my initial involvement, to watch men of all professions, all ages, all religions, all sexual orientations and all races come to their own moment of transformation, and each one of them has been my teacher. I feel enormous gratitude for having found the path to a place where I am always able to take a good look at where I stand at this moment in my life, and to help make it possible for others to do the same.
One of the recurring motifs I heard this past weekend was the injunction to wake up. And, yes, it's all about consciousness. It's about being conscious of those reactive patterns and emotions (shadows!) that can control our lives when we are not aware of them and how they work, it's about being conscious in our relationships with those we love; it's about being conscious in our actions, and conscious of their results; it's about being conscious of our sense of purpose, of what--as I like to say--we were "given to do" with our lives.

I don't know about you, but I slip up all the time. I drop easily into the grip of unconscious reaction, even though I have the tools and the knowledge to avoid it. I guess--I hope!--that makes me human. Perhaps what I learned will help prevent me in the future from taking on too much and creating confusion. Or perhaps it will simply help me recognize it sooner!


Anonymous said...

I am blessed to have had the honor and priviledge to serve with you this weekend. Thank you for your offering in this diary today. Ho!
John Gainey

Spender said...

Peter and all,

I enjoyed serving with you this past weekend.

One of the gifts I received was the healing of one more layer of shame around being human -- I am flawed, weak, afraid to take care of myself, afraid to say what I know, believe, feel, need and what I want; and afraid to admit that I am human.

I am human.

I cannot change that fact. I accept it more today than I did yesterday. Someday I may come to expect it of myself.

That will be one glorious day.

Thanks for listening.

Spencer Eubank

Jim Rennie said...

Thanks again for your honesty and wisdom, Peter. You and your confusion make it safe for me to keep my unconsciousness in front of me and show up anyway to get the job done for the men who come to the mountain.
Jim Rennie

PeterAtLarge said...

John, Spencer, and Jim--my thanks to you for checking in on The Buddha Diaries, and for your gratifying comments. I look forward to the opportunity to serve with you again in this important work.