Truth On Stage

This weekend I participated in a weekend relationship retreat. I have never done this before. I’m so glad I did

I got a ton out of it. I am still processing.

I imagine it was similar to the retreats I see advertised constantly. Retreats like this are part of the economic system that provides a living to coaches and speakers. As well as provides an ongoing higher education for evolving human beings.

Whether it is business productivity or personal intimacy, there is a never-ending well of places where we can improve — or could use reminders.

Unfortunately, there is something slick and salesly about the promoting of seminars that has kept me away in the past. There is a promotional formula that is too often imitated and makes me wary.

In addition, I have a tendency to be repelled by teachers who do not acknowledge their limitations.

If you promise me “10 WAYS TO A WEALTH!” I assume I am being manipulated.

I respond much better if you tell me, “I’ll share 10 Lessons that have helped me find financial security.” And if you include your stumbles and struggles along the way, even better.

Unfortunately, history has proved that I am in the minority. Basic sales teaches you to focus only on the benefits and make grand claims. You will sell more cars by saying this model is “the best on the market” than saying, “For the price, it is pretty good in a number of areas.” Our political elections are equally distorted. Acknowledging weakness is a surefire way to give your opponent the upper hand.

I get that many people respond to claims of certainty. In the realm of teachers, coaches, and seminars, people want to reassured and believe that an expert is bestowing a gift of Truth.

For $1000 (or $20K), people don’t want to hear the wishy-washy stories of some sap. They want to hear the ANSWERS from someone they can look up to. They want to be able to expect RESULTS.

And, unfortunately, this puts the teacher in a tough position. To admit their humanity can potentially hurt their effectiveness. To acknowledge their struggles and admit self-doubt is to weaken the content of their words.

Personally, I respond differently.

I believe that, yes, there are profound evolved beings walking the planet now — and have been throughout history. But those people rarely set up corporations or record infomercials. Sometimes they do inspire organizations to form around them. Byron Katie, Mooji and Amma are examples, I think. (I don’t have close enough access to really know. But they seem genuinely dialed-in.) But the rest of the great teachers are still living human lives. Still stubbing their toes and Yelling “SHIT!” Still having moments of frustration and elation as they enjoy the human drama. This is part of what makes them great teachers. The Alan Watts. The Michael Beckwiths. The Pema Chodrens. The countless men and women who due to dedicated practice — and/or moments of insight — are more connected to source and therefore channel it in ways that make it easier for people to understand and resonate with.

And I don’t think one needs to be evolved 100% of the time to provide a valuable lessons. Human beings are human beings. We learn from them at their best and forgive them at their worst.

Jacob Glass

One of the most significant teachers of my life has been Jacob Glass. For over 10 years I listened to his lectures on A Course In Miracles. The Course itself is dense and absolute. The source material doesn’t resonate with me at all. But Jacob’s talks were filled with personal stories, admissions of uncertainty and lots of laughter. He shared his personal path of integrity — including the stumbles and humanity. And this vulnerability allowed me to receive the truth behind the teachings in ways I never had before.

Rev. Caleb Shikles in clothing from the Holy Land.

I was also lucky to spend so much time with my grandpa. It would be easy to portray him as a holy man. I could potentially edit interviews with him in a way to make him sound like a white-haired prophet. But, to me, he had far more impact as a real man. A man who had walked the walk and done the work for 70+ years. A man who sometimes felt sad. Sometimes got frustrated. But had developed a practice to keep his balance heavily weighed towards joy. And kept his energies heavily focused on service.

Just 2 guys who love pink.

I think most the great teachers are like my grandpa. Human and flawed. But in control of a disciplined mastery of how to be a human. How to see love in all people. How to forgive quickly. How to be grateful. How to marvel and laugh.

I had an experience with grandpa once that illustrated to me the difference between where I was on my path, and where he was on his.

We were waiting for an elevator at his retirement village and he was spinning around and greeting all his neighbors. He accidentally stepped on the toe of a notoriously grumpy resident. She SNAPPED at him and started yelling. “Watch where you are going! You hurt my foot! How can you be so thoughtless!?”

My Experience: I bristled up. A felt my neck get hot and my eyes shot daggers at this angry older woman. How dare she!? After a second or 2, I calmed my emotions, saw her as a sad and frail human being, and saw her with eyes of compassion. I was proud of myself. My years of self-work allowed me to turn around my negative emotions in a matter of seconds.

My Grandpa’s Experience: Upon hearing her yell, he spun around instantly and faced her. His voice softened as he repeated, “I am sorry, Lois. Are you okay?” His body language became submissive and he cleared space for her to get to the elevator. It blew me away. There was no anger surge at all. The anger shot at him was deflected instantly — or flowed right through him. He gave it nowhere to land. It was like a gorgeous display of energetic Aikido.

He held the door open and Lois stepped inside. She still had a scowl, but the conflict was over. THAT is how I’d like to get someday. It is one thing to have the tools to deal with struggles and upset. It is another to face challenges without ever being triggered in the first place.

So, as someone who has not reached the level of flow my grandpa displayed, do I have any right to speak or teach?

I have my moments of doubt. I have my moments of feeling like a fraud. But I also have my moments of true clarity.

And I feel that in sharing my humanness, I also share my divinity. If I let go of my agenda of how I need to be perceived, then I can expose the truth of who I am — that truth is as close to god as I have access to. And if I can share from THAT place — well, then I am being in service… and the way it is received and by who is out of my hands.

Plus, if I change the model and instead see all of us as connected, then we are ALL working on healing the ONE. As I work on my healing, I improve the ONE. As I help you with your healing, we improve the ONE.

It is not up to us to decide the size of our impact. We simply must speak our truth.

Does that mean I will be hosting a seminar any time soon?

Only if I can think of a better title than, “I Have Some Things to Share That Might Help you. Either Way I Love You.”

I’m still processing.