Sep 24

Eleven words that could change the world

long earth - 3 rules

I found this gem tucked away towards the end of one of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s last books, “The Long Utopia” (written with Stephen Baxter). It was the heart of a philosophy being taught by Stan Berg, a member of “The Next” a group of highly evolved children. And it made me think. And remember.

Flashback: To when I was tiny, I was taken to the doctors for my vaccination. Last time the vaccine had been delivered on a sugar cube… but this time it was going to be a hypodermic. Distraught, I paced the waiting room muttering “there must be a better way”.

Flashback: To a time of exploring my Christianity and the happy conviction of the fundamentalists, and thinking “there’s something missing here”.

Flashback: To university, sitting round in a dorm room, captivated by the original radio series of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. In one of the episodes (which became the foreword to the book), the Guide tells us that

“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”

Sadly (the Guide goes on to tell us) “before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost for ever.”

And that thought has haunted me for years. “There must be a better way”.

The many faiths of this world would want to stand up and say “There is a better way. Come follow our religion. We have the answers. Ours is the way to change the world.” And many of those faiths have.

World movements would want to stand up and say  “There is a better way. Come follow our movement. We have the answers. Ours is the way to change the world.” And many of those initiatives have.

And individuals would want to stand up and say “If everyone saw it my way, the world would be a better place. This is the way to change the world”. And many of those individuals have.

But the more that I look at these various movements, with their promises of change and transformation, with their complex belief systems and conditions of entry acceptance, their dogma and creeds, their rules of behaviour – the more it does seem to come down to three simple things. Three simple things that, when we shake off the myth, the legend, and the fairy dust, become very very simple, and at the heart of our world religions, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism – or even at the heart of what Everyman understands to be right.



-Be humble in the face of the universe

-Do good


In “The Long Utopia” Terry’s character expounds a little (but not much) on what those mean.. and if I read him right, he was looking for his reader to put their own interpretation on a simple concept – to make people think, as was Sir Terry’s gift…but if you will permit me to take those eleven words and offer some thoughts of my own…


Apprehend” – to take its meaning of “to understand” – to comprehend, to seek to face the truth of the world and of those around you. To seek other people’s points of view. To be curious. To explore truth, and recognise that there is no such thing as ‘The Truth’. To look to the stars and to seek to understand them.. and to look into your heart, and seek, yet again, to understand. To come to peace with what you find… not necessarily to change it.. but to accept it, humbly and with grace. To recognise that (as my Huna teachers would say) “all truth is not taught in one school.”

To truly apprehend our world is to live fully aware of it – immersed in what is going on right here, right now – to enjoy what is in front of us, what surrounds us – to throw ourselves truly into the experience of being alive.

Be humble in the face of the universe”. To paraphrase the Hitchhiker’s Guide slightly: “The Universe is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to the Universe.” This Universe we are in is mind bogglingly complex… and yet it all works, wonderfully and incredibly. Perhaps there is some grand Design. Perhaps there was some Creative intent behind it. Or perhaps it did all happen by accident. The things we thought we understood a few short years ago are now being called into question. Physics is ever evolving its understanding of what’s at the heart of it all. Be humble. We could destroy our world, and humanity, and the Universe will rumble on. So maybe, just recognise that we are here to contribute to the Universe.

Yet know that everything we do has an impact on this biosphere.. every choice, every action, of every individual, has the potential to heal or harm this world and those in it.

Know that the world does not revolve around you – or your culture, your faith, your nation – and the Universe does not revolve around this earth. Unless it does. Be proud of who you are… your gifts, your talents, your contribution… being humble means recognising your gift and putting it to use. Buckminster Fuller observed: “You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe.” Being humble doesn’t mean to put yourself down. It means to think correctly about yourself. Know yourself…and look up at this glorious world we live in, this glorious Universe, and whatever form your faith takes – and be humble.

Do good”. Just that. Do good. Be kind. Be loving. Help others. Repay harshness with kindness. Bring peace. Bring tenderness. Look out for others. Hug someone. Compliment someone. Give something. Smile. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be done. Let your actions come from a place of kindness, of generosity, of love. Do good.

I wonder what the world would be like if we just set out to follow, as best we can, those eleven words.


-Be humble in the face of the universe

-Do good

Perhaps just a few simple thoughts, some simple wisdom, really could change the world. Maybe now would be a good time to find out.



Find out more at


Further reading – from “The Long Utopia” and “The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” GO HERE

Sep 23

Design and build–the Creator–Walking with Heroes part 13

rock - pratchett

Hello again! The pace is definitely heating up on this exploration of the patterns that show up in our lives. By paying attention to the stories that we hear we become more of the hero that we truly are.

Consider again the stories that you loved when you were growing up – perhaps fairy stories or myths and legends, perhaps children’s books, perhaps stories that your parents told you at bed time. Those stories contain archetypal truths within them – and particularly when we are young, more connected to the truth of why we are on this planet, more aware of our own destinies, and less world weary and cynical – those stories contain keys and pointers to what excites us. We may let go of those as we grow up, but we never let go of the dreams they hold.

I was particularly drawn to the Magic Faraway Tree (by Enid Blyton) – a magical world where a new magical and exciting land appeared every week at the top of the tree. That’s led me to understand my interest in exploring different truths, to looking for the magic, but never expecting to find it in just one place. It’s led me to welcome change, and embrace things that are never the same. Similarly, I grew to love superhero comic books and their promise of new powers, of greater potential for humanity – and their sense of right and wrong, of good against bad, of the opportunity for one man, be it Spiderman, Batman or Wonder Woman (or, better yet, a small committed group like the Avengers or the X men) to make a difference in the world.

So listen out for the messages from what you read, what you watch, what you listen to. Let those stories sink in and allow the truth to bubble to the surface. And start to step into your own adventure.

Last time we looked at the power of Love and the heroism of the Lover – exploring passion, commitment, and setting ourselves free to follow our bliss. This time we’re going to take a look at the last one of the Heroes of ‘The Journey’ – the Creator. Having met the power of love, we meet the power to create, to transform, to build.

The stage of the journey

The Journey has been about equipping us for a bigger role in the world. There have been trials and tribulations, struggles and challenges that have made us stronger, more powerful, more in touch with who we are and what we are called to do. And finally we have come into contact with the Lover – with the primal energy at the heart of the Universe. Now, armed with the motivation to Love, we can begin to build.

Once we have given ourselves permission to tear down all that is false in our lives – or at least begun that process, and knowing that our primary call is to Love, then we can begin to rebuild. We leave our jobs in order to create new opportunities – to discover new facets of ourselves. We kick out against the standards of a previous generation so that we can create a better world.

In truth, we have been doing this all along – we really do create our own experience of life – but now, perhaps for the first time, we become conscious of our own role in creating what happens to us. Like in “The Wizard of Oz” we get the chance to pull back the curtain and meet the wizard – and the wizard is us.

At a practical level, it’s obvious that our lives are a creation of the choices we have made. We are successful because we have chosen to be. We are in love because we have chosen for it to be so. And we choose our experiences of life too: we feel happy about a particular situation because we have chosen to feel that way about it – we feel sad because we have chosen to feel that way. All we can experience is contained within this single moment of NOW: everything else is a memory of once might have been, or an imagination of what might possibly be. The only reality, as Einstein realised, is now. Everything else is an illusion. So now is the point at which we have power to create something new.

Metaphysically, and from the science of quantum physics, we genuinely do create the world around us. Matter does not have true existence until it is observed – until then it is a field of potentiality – and so we genuinely do create reality from our thoughts. The power we have is limitless – and it’s this power that is poured into the heart of the Creator.

The nature of the Creator

It’s no coincidence that one of the greatest cries of our beings is ‘I’m not creative’. It’s never true – each one of us is deeply, fundamentally creative. We are made in the same nature as our Divine Creator, made in the image of God – and that nature is fundamentally one of Creation. Our ego, that shallow part of us that denies how incredible and glorious we are, would deny this – but that doesn’t make it any less true!

So at the heart of every human being lies the desire to create, to build. Every child finds it soon enough, building piles of bricks and cotton reels, acting out stories with dolls and cuddly toys. (Denied a gun by his foolish parents who were trying to bring him up as a peaceloving citizen, my eldest son bit a corner off a piece of fudge, held it up and shouted ‘Bang’. We surrendered to the inevitable).

The nature of the Universe is to fall into disorder – this is the Newtonian law of entropy, that disorder must always increase. We may suppress it, even hide it, but we are the counterbalance to that, as we bring order and creativity to the world. With that as part of our nature, it’s not surprising that if creativity is suppressed, it leaks out – and we find all sorts of creative ways to put off writing the book, taking up a musical instrument – or recreating the story of our lives.

Einstein asked whether we choose to live in a friendly universe or not. We get to choose whether we live in a universe that supports us..or one that’s working against us. When we choose to believe we live in a universe that is in some mystical way ‘on our side’ then we find things go our way, that we become ‘lucky’, and that synchronicity and serendipity work in our favour.

And of course we get to choose who we are – to continually recreate ourselves in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are, as Neale Donald Walsch says. Believe me when I tell you that this is the greatest power that you have – and that if you believe you are stuck in your story – then perhaps it’s time to believe something different.

This is the story of Luke and his allies creating a New Republic – but also of him helping create a dream, a vision of a free galaxy.

The Goal

This is an easy one! The goal of the Creator is to create. That might be to create a new and more powerful life, to create a new pattern of work, an object of beauty, a story – or a new reality of any kind. Because creating is so close to our hearts, because our souls yearn to create something because it is so much part of our nature, we all find that goal in us. I’m fulfilling some of that in my life by writing this series. You’re fulfilling some of that in your life by reading it.

Primal Fear

With so much power in her hands, the Creator’s fear is getting it wrong. That in some way, the creation will be flawed. We fear becoming a new person that’s no longer authentic, no longer true to who we are. We fear creating a new world that will not serve – and having to tear it down again. And we fear that what passes for our creative imagination is simply the echoes of what we have heard elsewhere.

Response to the challenge

Curiously, when confronted with a challenge, the Creator takes personal responsibility for creating that problem – and that in a sense the creation is part of the Self. One of the Hawai’ian kahuna that I trained with, when working as a counsellor in a prison, would, instead of working with the inmates directly, would work on himself, recognising in himself the weaknesses and wrongdoing of the inmates with the mantra “I’m sorry, I love you, please forgive me, thank you”. His approach transformed the prison, which was one of the darkest places in Hawai’i, until it was closed because there were no prisoners to keep there ! (Dr Hew Len’s amazing story is told in “Zero Limits” by Joe Vitale.)

In order to deal with the dragon, the Creator is ready to create another reality, in which the problem is transformed into a solution.

A Heroic Task

The Creator’s task is to create – and the primary focus is not on others. The key to success is create yourself anew – to become greater, more incredible. In order to do this we need to drop the illusion that we are weak and powerless, and recognise the truth of our brilliance. For sure, we need to accept ourselves with all our faults and weaknesses – but at the same time we must accept our gifts, our creativity, our power, our ability to love. As Marianne Williamson has put it “there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.. we are all meant to shine..” You are amazing, powerful creative energy. Deal with it!

The Gift

Having accepted himself, the Creator can bring the same gifts to others – the ability recognise – and recreate – his identity. The Creator understands who she is – because she has chosen to be that. And the Creator has understood that vocation and calling is not something that descends from on high, but is called forth from the very centre of our being, at the deepest levels of our personal identity.

The Creator, too, brings a new playful creativeness – the ability to find a solution to any problem, to shine the light of new thinking, and ultimately to solve any intractable issue that has previously held a shadow over our lives.

The shadow Creator

We have incredible powers to create our own reality – but when stuck in a negative cycle of doom and gloom, we create worlds that match our vision of reality. The words we use become self fulfilling prophecies, bringing even more of the bad with them. We create limits around ourselves by the words we use “I haven’t got a degree”, “I’m too old” (or “I’m too young”);“I’m not creative” or “you need the right connections to succeed”. Yet it is easy enough to change our words – by rephrasing everything in positive terms, by believing that the Universe is on our side and speaking that forth, we change our lives.

And remember, too, that even God rested on the 7th day. We too need to take time out of our creative cycle to stop and think – to gain new perspective.

Levels of the Creator

The creator will be called forth by inspiration – it may be in dreams, or fantasies. It may be in images seen, or inspiration that seems to come from nowhere, or from all around. At first we may dismiss these, but they will persist, and as we allow ourselves to act on these hunches, then we begin the creative journey. That inspiration comes from a place beyond ourselves, from our deepest connection to the creative power, and as we open ourselves to visions, to intuitive hunches, then more and more creativity will begin to flow.

As we progress, we become comfortable with ourselves and our creative power – we move from being afraid to create something ‘bad’ (as if that were truly possible) and we can begin to understand what it’s like to have what you really want and create life the way you want it.

And as we progress, we begin to experiment with creating those dreams, and allowing those dreams to edge themselves into reality. We understand that the only thing stopping our dreams coming true is, perversely, our selves – our limiting beliefs, the words we use and the the corresponding lack of action.

The Creator’s story

The Creator is on a voyage of self discovery – building on the energy and curiosity of the Seeker, the Creator now has the opportunity to be who he chooses to be. Myth and legend is crammed full of stories of people who have gone to seek enlightenment in solitude or on a journey of discovery – or people who have chosen to change their stars, as William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) did in “A Knight’s Tale” by assuming the mantle of a knight.

Exercises and dreaming

What is longing to be created in your life? What’s stopping you taking the first step into creation? When would now be a good time to stop stopping yourself?

What beliefs do you hold that no longer serve you (if they ever did)? How are they holding you back – and could you choose to believe something different just for a moment…?

Allow yourself to have a dream. What do you want to do? What do you want to create? How do you want your life to be different? Ask yourself what you need to make that real. Then go and take action. Do one thing toward that dream today.

Next time

We’re stepping into true power now… next time we’re going to look at the Return from the journey – this is when it all gets magical and stars begin to align. You’re going to love it!

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 21

Passion and Tenderness–The Lover–Walking With Heroes Part 12


love fighting for

Aloha and hello – and welcome back to another episode discovering the patterns that shape the stories of our lives, in the shape of the heroes that we are, and that we are becoming. We’ve come a long way now, you and I, and we’re already half way through the cast list for this particular story. From here it gets even more exciting, even more magical, and even more enlightening.

You see, I’d dare to guess that, since you’re on this course with me, that you’re well on your way through the journey, well on the way through this adventure. So you’ve left the earlier archetypes behind, and you’re growing into more heroic space in your life. You may have already experienced the powerful energy of the Revolutionary, the Destroyer, in trying to make sense of your life and having to tear it down in order to rebuild it. You may have found within yourself the insatiable curiosity of the Seeker, the Explorer, looking to make sense of the world, and looking always for answers.

So last week we looked at what happens when we tear down what we have so carefully constructed – the power of the Revolutionary to create a metamorphosis in our lives. Soon we’ll discover the builder, the Creator… but for now, the next character to meet is the lover, star of tragedies and comedies alike – the source of unrequited love and of lovers meeting as stars collide.

The stage of the journey

We cannot truly live unless we truly love. While that’s usually used to speak of romantic love, it’s true at a fundamentally level. Our purpose on this planet is to love. As F. Scott Fitzgerald says in his novel “The Offshore Pirate”: “All life is the progression towards, and the recession from, one phrase – I love you.” We can’t get to this point until we have experienced loss, grief and pain. We can’t get to this point until we have taken on the ability to give things up, to have the ability to deny ourselves or, indeed, to lose our lives for another. And we can’t get to this point until we know that we can seek love – as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it in “Eat, Pray, Love”: “Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water”.

And of course we need to see the innocence and purity of love before we can truly trust it. While the Lover is crucial, this is a pivot point on which the journey turns. In a romance, this might be the moment that lovers’ eyes meet across the room – or where they are forced together by circumstances – or a turkey curry buffet and a dodgy Christmas jumper, if you’re Bridget Jones. The secret seems to be in recognising love when it appears – or, at the very least, being open enough to respond when the trumpets of heaven sound..

In the movies, romance is so often treated as a comedy. That’s often because in real life, it hurts. It’s messy, it’s painful, and it’s uncomfortable. Sure, it comes with huge benefits – but it’s hard work sometimes too.

Of course, the Lover doesn’t just appear in moonlight and kisses. The Lover is also about comradeship and friendship. It’s the energy of Love that draws companions on the journey, whether it’s Luke meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca at Mos Eisley, or Dorothy meeting the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. We need companions on our journeys – to lift us up when things get tough, to keep us going, to challenge us, and to help us remember that, in the end, this is all about Love.

The nature of the Lover

Up until now, the journey has all been about us. It’s been our needs, our desires, our loss. We’ve grown through the transition from Innocent to Orphan, as we come to terms with our loss. We’ve discovered the fulfilment of caring and being cared for – and we have begun to seek our own path in life – and destroy what gets in our way. And we’ve learned to fight for our rights. There have been nods to others in there, in terms of providing care, in defending the rights of others… but here we encounter passion. Here we find the hero who will leap into the fire for us, who will give himself (or herself) for the love of another.

Sometimes that love is a surprise. Luke and Han part company on bad terms – but the Millennium Falcon flies back to defend Luke at the crucial moment. Jack Nicholson overcomes his obsessive compulsive disorder to win Diane Keaton’s heart in “Something’s Gotta Give”.

We learn, as we grow, that it’s not all about us. It’s about what we give back. If we’re truly wise, we learn in romance that we don’t need anyone to complete us, to make us whole again – we find someone so that we can express who we truly are – and we learn that who we are together is even more incredible than who we are apart.

The Lover lives by the spirit of Love – from a spirit of passion and tenderness, compassion and caring.

And yet, for those of us who are open to see it, the Lover brings in the erotic energy of Love, too. We have learned to hide and to sublimate our desires and the physical act of Love as something to be hidden -and yet the energy of Love brings in the true passion of God. Without that passion we become dry, sterile – but with that passion we experience the true energy and wonder of romantic and phsyical Love.

Somewhere, here, we begin to see the introduction of magic into our lives. It’s no wonder that love stories are full of magic and miracles, of unexpected co-incidences and serendipitous events. Love starts to draw magic our of the air, out of the earth, and we discover that love actually is all around.

The Goal

It will be no surprise that the goal of the Lover is to create oneness. The Lover seeks to draw all together into one, recognising the universal oneness from which we all come. The Lover will pay the ultimate price, if needed, for unity. As the dinosaur says in “Toy Story”: “I don’t like confrontations” – so the Lover seeks to break down the things that keep us apart.

And, too, the Lover seeks to bond, to be part of a group (or a couple) – seeking, as we saw earlier, the power of connection.

And as our hero the Lover loses herself in oneness, she discovers the true bliss at the heart of Love.

Primal Fear

The core fear of the Lover is of course loss of love. And in every love story we see this motif repeated: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl meet again and live happily ever after. Whether boy loses girl because of a misunderstanding (Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones, or Hugh Grant’s and Julia Roberts’ characters in Notting Hill) or they are torn apart by circumstances (see Wall-E or Casablanca), the fear of loss of love is always present. While we might hate to lose our identity, we also hate to lose that sense of connection and belonging.

Response to the challenge

Whatever the challenge, the Lover has only one response to the dragon – to love it. Belle breaks through her fear in “Beauty and the Beast” to see the monster for who he truly is. The Lover will see past the ugliness and cruelty and see what is truly under the surface – and even if nothing lies below, then the Lover will still see the best – and who knows – anyone can change.

For the Lover, the key is to Love – not that love will necessarily change anything – but that Love is ultimately what we are all called to. The Lover doesn’t see ‘love the dragon’ as way to win, but as a way to be.

A Heroic Task

And so the task of the Lover is always to follow your bliss. The lover will seek out what makes her happy, knowing not that such a goal is selfish, but that if she follows her bliss, and everyone else follows theirs, that the world will be a perfect place.. simply because our bliss is an echo of the divine desire within each of us – and because that divine desire leads us always to one place – to Love.

Love also seeks to anchor us – rather than blissfully hopping from one flower to another, from one lover to another, from one cause to another, Love demands that we commit to one another – because love can never be fleeting.

The Gift

Love is a huge gift – the greatest gift of all. And the energy of Love brings with it new gifts – passion and a willingness to risk all, to throw everything into the pot, to take a chance. Love brings commitment and constancy too – the need to have faith in that commitment. Love is not ephemeral or fleeting – Love is dedicated, constant, able to ride the waves of change in a love affair or a friendship. We don’t just seek our own needs now, because we are part of something bigger and greater.

The Lover frees us, too, to believe that our dreams are possible, that it’s OK to follow those dreams and find out where they take us. The lover gives us permission to “follow our bliss” – and as we do, as we follow something which is as natural to us as breathing, then we discover that doors do open, and that it is possible to do what we love in the world.

The shadow Lover

Humanity seems to have found so many ways to subvert that which should be beautiful tender, kind, giving. Since Love is the primary nature of all that is good in the world, it’s no surprise that so many corruptions have been created to tarnish and stain the very soul of love itself.

Jealousy, obsessive fixation on another, promiscuity and sex obsession are all elements of the shadow – as is also a puritanical attitude to sex itself. The shadow can consume us and draw us in with the promises of love – but this is obsession not Love.

The shadow also calls to us from the romance of unrequited love – after all, it’s love, even if it’s not returned, we cry. Yet unrequited love traps us in the story – unable to move on and ill equipped to really see the story acted out.

Levels of the Lover

The Lover’s pathway starts with a falling in love. That may be a person, but equally it can be an ideal, a cause, a career, a place. Something stirs within to cause movement. It may be a case of infatuation and ‘star-crossed lovers’, or simply a yearning for love’s true kiss.

First steps are those of following what you love – drawn perhaps more by emotion and desire than by a higher power, the early attempts of the lover to align with his or her truth are often immature and irrational, and yet they hide within themselves the seeds of something even greater. Or the Lover may find himself drawn to follow his bliss – having torn down their life with the power of the Revolutionary/Destroyer, they are free to follow what delights them, what makes them truly happy – the risk of the metamorphosis produces a freedom to pursue their true desires – whether that be stepping out of a loveless relationship to discover true love, or quitting a hated job to follow a dream.

Somewhere the first flush of excitement fades, and to become mature, the Lover must learn the power of commitment – that love is not all moonlight and roses, that the adventure is not all simmering sands and exotic places, that the dream career will bring moments of soul searching panic.

Push through commitment, however, and there is a new level of self acceptance formed, as our Hero finds herself, and by stepping outsider of herself is joined to a bigger collective. We have broken the barriers of the Self, and stepped into unselfishness. The Lover now asks in every situation “what would Love do now?”

The Lover’s story

Perhaps the oldest story, the lover yearns to love and is drawn on a pathway of love – perhaps through curiosity, through an early infatuation or dramatic encounter. For whatever reason – circumstance, tragedy, competition for love, misunderstanding, parental disapproval or simple bad luck, the lovers are separated. Yet they find Love again – not always in the way they expected, and perhaps not even with the same person, but Love will always be found. The story always makes Love greater, never less – the purifying fires of the intervening crisis create something bigger, deeper, more profound.

Exercises and dreaming

What do you love? Take a moment to think of everything in your life that you love – whether it’s big things like family, a loved one, a purpose or cause – or little things like ice cream or a walk in the park. What feelings do those bring out in you? Is it OK to feel those feelings?

What can you do today to give yourself some love – to treat yourself to something special – some fresh flowers, a small gift, or just some time to be alone, or go for a walk, to see a sunset? And what could you do today to give someone else some love – doing something unexpected for them, writing a letter, making a phone call.

Where have you blocked yourself from loving and experiencing love? What barriers have you put in the way – and how could you dismantle those barriers to step into a new expression of Love in your life?

Next time

Love is the core of the Universe, the true nature of all that is true, all that is wonderful, all that is beautiful. Give yourself a chance to explore Love in all its aspects. Next time, we’re going to explore the power of the Creator and allow Love to find expression through the power of our own personal creation.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!



Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 19

Turmoil and Chaos – The Revolutionary–Walking with Heroes Part 11


Here we are again, firmly committed to this voyage of discovery, this exploration of the archetypes and patterns that we can uncover in our lives. Each one of these patterns is the path of a true hero – it’s up to you to find what resonates and then decide what to do about it. Because here’s the one thing I know – there is a hero inside each one of us. A hero who, if allowed to, will stamp his or her mark on the world in a way that no-one else can. By now you’ll be getting the idea that a hero isn’t always some gun ho type swinging in to danger like James Bond. The hero can be the quiet one, creating in peace and silence.

Last time we started The Journey with the world of the Seeker – driving us forward into change in search of something bigger, something better – and something that matters.

This week, we’ll look at the place of the Revolutionary… also known as the Destroyer. It’s the Revolutionary who turns things upside down, who creates a world of turmoil and change. It’s the Revolutionary who disturbs the status quo, who rips down established ways of doing things to create something new – something better.

The stage of the journey

Archetypally, the Revolutionary appears in two places in our life. Sometimes the time about our 20s become times of revolution, where we kick out against the established standards of our parents and decide to do something different. We go against the family tradition, refuse to step into the family business or become a doctor/lawyer/farmer (or whatever) as our forefathers were. We decide to make our own way in the world, unfettered by what’s gone before.

And of course, we often revisit this in our 40s or 50s where we suddenly decide to change course, rip up everything that we’ve carefully created, and embark on something new. Sometimes that all ends up in destructive behaviour rather than revolutionary change. Marriages break down, we go in search of our youth – when actually what has happened is that we’ve entered a revolutionary cycle – and then we can choose the changes we create.

At some point, the high philosophy of the Seeker, the Explorer, has to turn into something else. It comes up against a barrier and a decision has to be made – a decision from which there is no turning back. While Seeking for truth and wisdom can be theoretical, it’s the Revolutionary that turns this into action.

Again, we don’t always choose the Revolutionary. Sometimes the destruction and chaos is thrust upon us. But always, somewhere in the past, we have said something like ‘I hate this job’ or ‘this relationship is stifling me’ and eventually the Universe moves to help make that come true.

The nature of the Revolutionary

It isn’t enough for us to become static, to reach a level of comfort. As we found out a couple of episodes ago, there is the need in the human soul to grow and change, to become more than we currently are. And sometimes, destruction is the only way. In the same way that sometimes political approaches fail and revolution is the only answer, so sometimes we have to tear down what has been created in order to become something more.

A caterpillar is a pretty amazing creature, you know.. watching one wriggle across a leaf, often beautiful in its colouring and moving sinuously, co-ordinating its body wonderfully. Yet it’s programmed genetically to become something even more amazing. When it settles and spins its cocoon, the caterpillar quite literally self destructs. It’s not like Transformers, where it readjusts itself to turn into a butterfly. It actually turns into a sort of soup, breaking down completely until from the destruction something of beauty emerges. Without the death, there can never be the life.

The Revolutionary is key to metamorphosis – to a total and complete change in world view, behaviour, and action. It’s like the difference between pimping your car with a new spoiler, wide wall tyres and a banging sound system – or stripping it back to its chassis to turn it into a completely different car. In the TV show ‘Homeland’ a captured soldier is stripped back by his captors and turned into a terrorist agent – and again is reduced to ashes by the government and turned against his terrorist conspirators.

The Revolutionary is absolute, implacable, total. Nothing will remain of what was in order to create what could be.

And of course, the ultimate Destroyer is death itself. And often by recognising death earlier on in our lives – by facing our deaths early – we find a new courage. When my first business failed, and I was faced with crippling debt, I walked into the dark night of the soul. Everything that I had created – relationships, home, car, destiny was stripped from me. But by facing that, I realised that I could never be harmed by it again. I had stared Death in the face, and come to terms with it.

The Goal

The Revolutionary does not seek change just for change sake. It seeks to make a difference, to create something new out of what was. The revolutionary always seeks a better world – but just as a surgeon may have to cut deep to preserve life, the Revolutionary may have to dig deep into our lives and destroy what we held dear in order to create the change that we need. The goal is nothing other than complete metamorphosis – a total radical change that frees us up to be something new. Of course, we find this in the stories of Spiderman and Superman, transforming from mild mannered nobodies into avengers of justice. We find this in the story of King Arthur whose old comfortable life disappeared as he drew the sword from the stone. And of course in StarWars Luke’s journey is precipitated by the destruction of his uncle’s farm – and the Revolution is transformed by the destruction of the planet Alderaan.

Primal Fear

The Revolutionary, in many ways like the Seeker, fears stagnation, afraid that things will always be the same. That fear, of course, is often what propels him into action. The Revolutionary also fears death that does not lead to rebirth – that things may be destroyed yet nothing take its place. There are no guarantees in this world – as Indiana Jones had to step out into space to cross the chasm in ‘The Last Crusade’ before the invisible bridge became evident, we often have to ‘leap, and pray to God we can fly’ as Hitch said in the movie of the same name.

Response to the challenge

When faced with a challenge, or with danger, the only response open to the Revolutionary is to destroy it – or allow it to destroy them. Obi Wan Kenobi chose to be destroyed by Darth Vader and so move onto another plane of being – thus freeing Luke to make his own path. This is never destruction for destruction’s sake, by the way – this is the power of transformation, that allows us to move beyond death. The Revolutionary knows that something needs to be destroyed before something new can be created.

A Heroic Task

Often, we hold on to things for too long – we try, like the monkey with his fist trapped in the jar but unable to let go of the fist full of nuts, to find freedom while unable to let go of the past. The Revolutionary knows that in order to move on, we have to let go of the old that no longer serves us – to accept ‘that was then, but this is now’. The task of the Revolutionary is to clear the way, to get rid of everything that doesn’t ‘fit’. And sometimes, there will be the need to get rid of stuff that does still ‘fit’ – to clear out the cupboards, to get rid of things that are holding us down – not because they are wrong, or even that we have no use for them – but because we need to pay attention elsewhere – we need to focus our energies on something new – and the ‘old stuff’ will be a distraction.

The Gift

The Revolutionary, although creating a broad sweep of change, brings us humility and acceptance – a recognition of our own mortality, and of the fact that ‘all things must pass’. But also the Revolutionary brings the ability to create a new start – rather than just deciding to change one thing, we learn to throw everything out, to create a clean sweep that is totally transforming.

The shadow Revolutionary

Too much of the energy of the Revolutionary leads us to self destruct. We may find ways to damage or limit ourselves – perhaps through procrastination, or perhaps through a decision never to try. The shadow revolutionary may seek self destruction through drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviour that prevents us from living our true life.

Or the Revolutionary may turn that destructive power outwards – seeking to dominate and overthrow others, perhaps through violence but possibly through spreading rumours, or seeking to undermine others’ success.

And there is, too, the danger of revolution for revolution’s sake – a constant restlessness and decision to start again, often when the full harvest from what is in progress has yet to materialise.

Levels of the Revolutionary

The Revolutionary is called through destruction – a personal tragedy, a sense of loss, through pain or suffering. The path is never an easy one, and it is always a ‘revolutionary struggle’. Even Gandhi in his revolution of peace found it difficult, as did Martin Luther King – no great change is won easily and without discomfort.

At first, we grapple with the meaning of the loss – we have to go through a period of mourning for what has been destroyed, for the failure or disappearance of the old. All seems confusion, particularly if we have chosen to make radical changes, as things don’t turn out the way we expect. We find we have lost much – and yet that has not been replaced with anything else.

As time goes on, the Revolutionary grows into a place of acceptance, recognising that in order to create change, it is necessary to become powerless, to let go. We accept our limits, our mortality, knowing that even if failure is likely, it is essential to pursue our goals.

Finally, the Revolutionary emerges into a place of unattachment – able to let go of anything that no longer supports his values, his dreams, even if it has become precious or important. The Revolutionary simply drops that which no longer serves, in order to free himself up to take hold of that which gets him nearer his goal. The mature Revolutionary who has settled into the core of his or her power will learn to harness destruction and change where necessary, yet learning to hold on to that which still serves – seeking not so much to destroy, but to transform – looking to find that place of metamorphosis.

The ultimate story of the Revolutionary is that of Jesus, who proclaimed a new way in the face of generations of wisdom. The old ways of the patriarchs had served the Hebrews well until then – but a new sword was needed to cut away the old and leave space for the new. Jesus’ words are laced with revolutionary language, and of course this is what led the Jews – and the Romans – to accuse him of sedition. And of course Jesus paid the ultimate price – facing his own death with courage in order to step into a new incarnation of power and vision.

The Revolutionary’s story

Always, the Revolutionary’s story is one of great loss or pain – a story of great personal tragedy, or a sense of yearning or of ‘the void’ opening up. Dreams fail, that which is comfortable or familiar is ripped away.

On the journey, the Revolutionary learns to let go of those things that no longer serve, becoming lean and focussed. Old things drop away, and any illusions of youth and inauthentic patterns are held up to the harsh flame of reality. Eventually our hero faces his own death, and by passing through that death, creates a new and stronger power.

Exercises and dreaming

Where have you experienced loss in your life before? What has that freed you up to create? Where has tragedy or pain demonstrated an opportunity for you?

What in your life no longer serves you, or seems at odds with your current values? Where is ‘old stuff’ holding you back from stepping into the new? What do you need to do about that?

Imagine what your life might look like if you let go of all the things that were weighing you down, holding you back. How much different would your life be if you simply let go of those things now and step into something new, something that maybe has been calling to you…

Next time

That was a tough one – well done on staying with me. Next time, we’re going to explore the power of romance and the secrets of the Lover. Can’t wait? Me neither!

Until next time – enjoy the journey!


Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 16

Exploration and Discovery–The Seeker–Walking with Heroes Part 10


So, we meet again, on this voyage of discovery into heroes and adventurers. And so let’s take a look at another of those archetypal heroes that we uncover when we look deep into the core of our being. Because what we discover there is truly awesome….

If you remember, we took some time out in the last part to look at what drives us forward – and before that we looked at the power of the Caregiver to love and provide much needed compassion in our lives.

This time we begin The Journey – we start to step from a place of preparation into a place of adventure, where we actually let go of safe harbour and step into a journey that’s far more draughty, far more scary than we had encountered before. The previous archetypes seemed to be about protection – through love or through force – or about the nature of our own beings.

Now, we’re more about motion – about stepping out on the journey and making a difference in our lives – and the lives of others.

And as I have said before, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey. Mark that place well, because there are important messages for you here.

The stage of the journey

So we set out on the Journey itself. Something will have happened to move us into this place, to take those steps into the unknown, to move into change, and embrace new things in our lives. From this point, nothing will ever be the same again.

Whether it feels as if we have stepped onto this path by choice, or been forced onto it by circumstances outside of our control, at some level, metaphysically, we will have chosen this. Because at the deepest core of our beings we are meant for adventure and exploration. We are meant to be curious, discovering, walking into new situations. And this is the energy of the Seeker.

The nature of the Seeker

It is the Seeker that will drag us across the threshold of discovery, that will pull us out of normality and boredom, out of sameness into a richer and more beautiful – if scarier – place. This is what drives the gap year explorations of the world – but also what starts us out on a search for enlightenment and inner discovery. It’s also the energy that starts us looking for a better world, a more just world.

(You could also call the Seeker ‘the Explorer’. I prefer ‘Seeker’ because I can feel the energy within that of the search, the sense that we’re not just exploring for the sake of it, but that we are actively seeking something greater. You choose what works for you.)

Without something of the Seeker, then we will remain stale and stagnant – we will remain stuck. For all of us, something will move us to look for something new. We will begin a search for adventure – and perhaps find it in hedonistic pursuits, or in a meaningful purpose of loving service. Or we will look for answers deep inside ourselves, looking for our spiritual edge.

The only thing that will really satisfy us is to begin to step into our heroic nature – and heroes can never be found standing still. They are always on some sort of voyage of discovery. This is the world of Jason and the Argonauts, of the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, ‘seeking out new worlds’. This is where Dorothy found herself on the Yellow Brick Road – torn from safety by the tornado, but now motivated to explore the options that would release her from this strange world.

The Goal

The Seeker is motivated to search for something better. In the world of the seeker, the grass is definitely greener on the other side. Or anywhere else. And, in a sense, it always is – simply because it’s different. And that, for the seeker, makes it interesting. It will be the Seeker that decides that things can be better, can be different. The Seeker will be certain that answers exist, somewhere, and will clear everything out of his way to find them.

It was partly the Seeker that caused me to sell up and go on a journey round the world. As I think back, I know I was looking for adventure and discovery – a chance to explore the world that I had denied myself when I was younger. But also a search for some deeper answers – for meaning that I hadn’t until then found in my life.

Here’s where Luke Skywalker is looking for answers – answers to the mystery of who his father was, to the mystery of the message from a beautiful princess stuck in his R2 unit, and the secrets of the mysterious ‘Force’. And of course it’s that that drives all the great explorers from Magellan to Columbus – and those also who seek to explore the limits of human potential.

It’s the Seeker who will suddenly decide in the middle of a steady yet fundamentally unfulfilling career to go into business for herself – or to suddenly start sending out CVs in search of that perfect job. The seeker will often read voraciously, or embark on new programmes of study, or even new sports or pastimes just to see what happens. This is where the pioneer is – someone who would rather be on the road than settled in a safe and comfortable home.

Primal Fear

The primary fear of the Seeker is of course the idea of getting stuck. This might be fear of never achieving anything, of being stuck in a dull and dreary life. This might be the fear of just being like everyone else – conscious that somewhere inside burns a bigger and brighter light. The Seeker will be afraid that they are missing something – that somewhere out there lies the secret to life – or a party that they are missing out on.

The Seeker fears being trapped, held prisoner by circumstances or relationships. It may be that claustrophobia, that fear of confined spaces, is actually an outgrowing of that same sense of the need to discover, to be on the open road and to have clear skies above.

The Seeker may well be found amongst others who are the same… and yet they will fear conformity and be looking to differentiate themselves from others… and perhaps afraid of making the huge leap of faith that will make them truly stand out.

Response to the challenge

It may be a very natural thing to respond to the dragon by running away – but for the Seeker that comes from a different place, a different power. The Seeker is looking to simply get out of the place where the danger exists – recognising that in separating themselves from the place where the problem exists, then they will no longer experience the problem itself. If a difficult situation presents itself, then they will simply exempt themselves and leave. That’s not particularly a response from fear – but a pragmatic response that says ‘OK, time to change things around’.

In a very real sense the Hebrews of the Exodus were escaping from a tyrannical ruler – but also they knew that they needed to be ‘somewhere else’ and in fact to discover their land of promise and hope.

A Heroic Task

The Seeker is called to be true to something higher – to seek out and discover something. That might be a scientific discovery, or a new way of doing things. That might be a new social order, or a new understanding of humanity. It may be a deeper wisdom, a greater insight – or it may simply be a new freedom of being. It’s the Seeker’s nature to look for deeper meaning, to recognise that this is not ‘all there is’.

The Gift

The Seeker brings a sense of autonomy and independence – without that independence, there will be no Journey, no voyage of discovery. Here the Seeker finds that he or she can exist without others – that although they may crave companionship, that something greater and more exciting drives them further and further on.

(And, for sure, the philosophy of the Seeker will resurface in the future in the wisdom and understanding of the Sage, the Magician and the Fool).

The Seeker is compelled to take a risk – to move out from safe harbour and move into uncharted lands. Until he does, he will be restless and unfulfilled.

The shadow Seeker

There is a shadow in all of our heroes – that’s what makes them human. The Seeker’s idealistic restlessness is also his weakness. They find themselves unable to rest, unable to commit. They become addicted to new experiences, always looking for something greater. No sooner than they have found something they are looking to improve it, to go beyond. They may seek a greater ‘high’ or be continually unfulfilled by their job, or their relationships. And perhaps in that they have too much ambition, and too high a perfectionism. If anything is ‘wrong’ in their world, then rather than work through it, they simply up sticks and move on.

Levels of the Seeker

The call of the Seeker is usually an internal one – an increasing dissatisfaction with ‘What is’ and a search for ‘What could be’. If that call is ignored for too long, then something will happen to make that a reality… an unexpected redundancy, the end to a relationship, a massive life changing event. Or there may be an opportunity that is too good to pass up, a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance.

There is often a sense of emptiness, a yearning that must be filled by something.. and a certainty that an answer exists.. somewhere. Deep within is a core dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The Seeker’s mantra is always to say ‘Yes’ to the opportunities presented – to step without hesitation into something different – because the Seeker knows that everything new brings something better, something greater – even if that secret may be hidden at first.

At first, the Seeker will seek to scratch that itch by doing something – anything – new. They might start out by experimenting with new things, by deciding to write a new story for their lives. That’s exactly how I found myself on the morning of January 1st, 2000 – having spent Millennium Night essentially alone at a black tie ball, miles from family and friends, and having just been dumped by my girlfriend, I decided to write a new story for my life – seeking a better place, seeking to create something different. And that’s the journey that’s led me to this place today. I joined an adventure club, learned to dance and to ski and snowboard, and began a search for meaning and truth in life.

(A warning – you might find yourself feeling ‘I have too many responsibilities’ and simply reject that dream. Yet the real dream comes from a deeper, truer part of you – it’s a calling that cannot be ignored. Find some way to honour it, to accept it, and, ultimately, to call it into being. As Morpheus said in ‘The Matrix’ – the dream is real, Neo)

The Seeker may immerse themselves in study – seeking answers in the writings of others. After all, someone must know the answer, right? They will often dart from one thing to another, unable (or unwilling) to settle. All this change initially satisfies their quest for more – and for ‘different’ – and yet, ultimately the Seeker is looking for real answers.

The Seeker will often look to expend that energy in climbing the ladder of success – whether that ultimately yields financial success, or greater recognition – and ultimately, that won’t satisfy the Seeker either. There is certainly a drive for the Seeker to become ‘the best’ – not usually in competition with anyone else – but in competition with herself – reaching out to become all she can be, to see just how far she can go, just what she can achieve.

Ultimately, our Seeker hero will find herself on a search for meaning. Often that is a spiritual search. They step through the fire transformation into being something new and unique, and learn to be at peace with themselves. They find meaning whether it is in the admission of a higher power, or , curiously, in deciding that no such Higher Power exists. It is the wisdom and truth that they seek, and perhaps we need to recognise that, surprisingly, the only ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth. It’s said that the search for meaning is the call of God – that the enormous cosmic itch to discover truth is the heart of God in us calling to be united with All That Is. As Mohinder Suresh put it in ‘Heroes’:

‘So much struggle for meaning, for purpose, and in the end we find it only in each other – as shared experience of the fantastic – and the mundane. The simple human need to find a kindred – to connect and to know in our hearts that we are not alone’ .

At its highest expression, the Seeker is looking to bring new truth to the world – to climb the mountain and bring something back. And he who seeks – will find.

The Seeker’s story

The archetypal story of the Seeker is of feeling alienated in their community – perhaps by being ostracised for being ‘different’ or by being forced to conform when there is a huge dream in the heart that longs to be fulfilled. This is where Dick Whittington runs off to seek his fortune – or where the Prodigal Son becomes bored waiting for his inheritance and escapes to a far country.

The Seeker sets of on a journey on his own, certain that he is the only one who has ever felt this way.. and yet through finding truth, by learning how to live independently, by revelling in his difference, he discovers like minded companions who are on the same journey. He either rediscovers his family when he returns with new wisdom or a new gift for his tribe – or he settles with his newly discovered family. Until the desire to discover something new returns again!

Exercises and dreaming

Where do you feel yourself under pressure to conform? Where do you find your creativity stifled, your initiative blocked? Where do you find yourself thinking ‘life could be better than this?’

Take a few minutes to just breath and relax.. and then let your imagination go. What would you like to explore? What do you find yourself drawn to? What would, for you, symbolise freedom?

And just for a moment, because this is a story, after all, what would happen if you did seek out your dream? How would it feel? What would you do? What would it look like? Perhaps it’s time to write yourself a new story…

Next time

So, we’re on the journey. We’ve left safe harbour and we’re making things change. Next time we’re going to discover the power of the Revolutionary – the Destroyer – providing the energy to create change by destroying what is in order to build what could be.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!


Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 13

What moves you?–Walking with Heroes Part 9

canyon bridge-keller

Hello again! As promised, having looked at the first four Heroes over the last few episodes, we’re going to take time out to look at what motivates us on the journey.

Just to recap, we’ve looked so far at the Innocent, the Orphan, the Warrior and the Caregiver – all characters we encounter as we’re getting ready to step out on the journey. But what creates the motivation for us to move through life?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this – there’s a whole load of different theories about what drives us forward, what motivates us to action – Abraham Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs is one model, as is Manfred Max-Neef’s Human Scale Development. The model I like, partly because it’s simple (always good for me), and partly because it seems complete, is one that American uber-coach Tony Robbins uses to explain human motivation. I’ve taken that model and extended it to cover some of my own discoveries on the subject.

So let’s get started . .

An overview

Here’s the overall model laid out for you… we’re going to dive deeper into each one of these but just to give you a feel for how it fits together:


Generally we need to make sure that the lower levels of the model are complete before the others start to become important. So without some level of free will, for example, we can’t make choices about security or adventure. When our world is falling apart, we don’t have the time to worry about our identity – and so on.

So let’s have a look at the different layers…


I believe that freedom lies at the core of our motivation. Without freedom we are unable to decide for ourselves, or to make choices. Without freedom we are controlled, limited, dependent on others. We may find our freedom limited by the political regime, or by circumstances. We may find ourselves locked into a relationship that is controlling – and of course prison takes freedom away. But illness can also make us totally reliant on others, either at a physical or a mental level.

Whatever is happening, our primary drive is going to be to choose freedom first. Now, we may sublimate that drive in order to meet another need (for example, choosing a crushingly dull job in order to pay the rent) – but we do that by choice rather than because we are driven to.

The shadow side of freedom is aimlessness and a rejection of being part of anything – a desire to live a totally independent life without cause to help – or to be helped by – others.

Security (subsistence and protection)

Until we have our core security needs met, we’re not going to be able to move forward into any other part of our life. This is the position of the Innocent – who is naturally secure – and the Orphan – who has just realised that the world is a scary place.

Our security needs are basic safety needs (knowing the ground isn’t going to give way and that our lives are not in danger) through to survival needs like food and water. In modern life, security can also extend to things like job security, concerns about the state of the economy or political map, or relationship issues.

We never get ourselves to completely secure. It’s odd, but often those who have the most are more insecure – largely because they know that they could lose everything. Conversely, a man who has little may feel very very secure because what he doesn’t have cannot be taken away! Change is also a huge factor in security issues – some people can get freaked out at the amount of change happening around them – and certainly if they feel out of control in a situation that’s changing all the time then their perception of their personal security will plummet.

It’s good to get these basic needs out of the way.. so we can move on with the bigger questions without needing to revisit these issues. It’s good, for example to get the money thing out of the way so we can concentrate on more important issues.

The shadow side of Security is of course the need to provide this at all costs – to become selfish and potentially breaking the law in pursuit of security – or to become unable to function in the bigger world.


One of the features of Security is the need for constancy – to limit change and control our lives. However, counterbalancing this is the drive for Adventure. We crave excitement and thrill, and we become uncomfortable if things stay the same. This is the place of the Warrior – stepping out to conquer new worlds.

Adventure can take many forms – for some it will be exploration – genuine adventure through travel and journeying. For others, that adventure might be exploring the human psyche and journeying within. Others will find their adventure in the world of romance or sensuality, or in hobbies and interests. Still others will seek their variety vicariously through TV programming and reality shows, or in sports. What we’re looking for here is variety – keeping ourselves interested in life.

And of course the shadow is the thrill seeking hedonist, living only for pleasure, or the wanderer, moving from place to place, unable to settle due to the restless drive for change.

Connection (affection and participation)

One of the highest drives is for connection – in particular, connection to other human beings (although some will fulfill this through connection to the animal world, through their pets and household animals. Each one of us seeks out a connection to others, and cannot be complete without it. This is the space of the Caregiver – although of course the Orphan is feeling the loss of connection keenly too. Potentially we explore this through our families, through our friends, through intimate relationships. We will also find it through clubs and societies, through shared purpose, whether that is charity work or holding a season ticket to a football club. And of course web sites like Twitter and Facebook play to this need for connection – and perhaps in our on line world our need for connection is even greater.

The shadow side is that of dependency and obsession, of making demands on others.


Just as Security was balanced by Adventure, so Connection is balanced by Identity. Whereas Connection seeks sameness and a sense of commonality, seeking to join and be part of, Identity seeks to be apart – to be different. This is often the drive for achievement – in sport, in science, in entertainment. We need to stand out, to say ‘This is who I am’. It’s the drive that causes us to want to be the best possible version of ourselves.

Identity causes us to stand out, to achieve – to cease to become ‘part of the herd’. It’s the drive for fame – or, at the very least, for uniqueness.

The shadow is an obsession with celebrity – or a need to have our own way at the expense of others. It may also cause us to deny the connection to others – or, potentially, to become members of organisations that stand against social norms.

Higher needs

Of course, all of these are high value drivers, if we choose to make them so. Connection and Love are closely related, as is Identity and Achievement. Adventure helps us discover ourselves, while Security keeps us grounded. Yet the next Human Drivers allow us to let go of our self centredness and move beyond into self actualization.

Learning and Growing

Each one of us has an inbuilt drive to become better. It’s that drive that allows us to recognise that we are not all we could be – to seek to be the highest possible demonstration of our greatest potential. This is the drive for evolution, to discover who we truly are. Again, it will support the need to be better – to push the boundaries of what we can achieve, whether that is in sport or in life. Learning also introduces curiosity – the chance to look at the world and wonder ‘why?’ ‘how?’ ‘what if?’.

And the shadow? Simply the desire for perfection, the drive to continually improve – and also the focus on one single area at the expense of the rest of our lives.


Connection is all about the desire to be part of something. Contribution causes us to want to make a difference – to recognise that we have an opportunity to create beyond ourselves. At this point we really are thinking outside of our own selfishness and our own little sphere and looking at the bigger picture. We may find Contribution through volunteer work or through raising children. We may find it through our work, through creation on behalf of others – something that raises our day to day employment above the mundane and into a new expression of who we truly are as we find ourselves expressing our love for others.

The shadow side of contribution is of course the role of martyr – pouring ourselves out for others while never truly deciding who we are and what we want.


I’m still searching for the right word for this – but it does seem to me that for each of us there is a drive for meaning in the universe. For some, this will take the form of a spiritual search, while others will seek a humanist response and look to the world of science for their answers. Each one of us recognises that we are a very small part of a very large universe – a tiny piece of stardust in a galaxy of stars. We can choose to recognise our place in that universe – to choose (as Einstein suggested) that the universe is a friendly place or we can decide that we are simply machines, alone in the vastness. Each is a spiritual response, by the way – for our spirituality and understanding of the metaphysics of life is an open choice.

Exercises and dreaming

Take some time out and look at each one of the human needs here. How are you seeking to meet each of them? Is there one that needs attention, where you’re not feeling fulfilled, where that need is simply not being met? Is there one of them that you are in thrall to – where that need is causing you problems, or where you are seeking to meet that need in a way that does not truly serve you?

And do you need to step into the space offered by higher drives – to yield to the need to learn and grow, to contribute, and to discover meaning and purpose?

Next time

So, we’ve taken time out to look at what motivates us on our journey through life. Each of us will be motivated differently, by the way – there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ here. But the next step is the first step into the real journey . . . and we begin with the Seeker – the Explorer.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!


Find out more at



PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 11

Compassion and kindness–The Caregiver–Walking with Heroes Part 8

heartbreak - oliver

Welcome back…  it’s time to discover another of the heroes that shape our lives – the heroes that we discover when we look deep into our own hearts. And the heroes we find there may surprise us.

Last time we looked at the Warrior – in our more enlightened times the Warrior may seem an anachronism, out of place in a world where we strive for peace – and yet the Warrior has much to teach us in terms of fighting for success and demanding victory.

Again, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

This is the final part of Preparation for the journey. At this point, we’re nearly ready to step into the unknown. Our basic training is complete, and we have learned the skills that allow us to function in the world at large. We have learned to fight – and now we must learn to love.

The toughness and drive to succeed of the warrior must be tempered with something stronger than steel – with something that has more power than any force on earth – and here we encounter – the Caregiver.

The nature of the Caregiver

If the Warrior is all about success on the world’s stage – about creating a career, about pursuing a future, about the fight to create a world that meets your desires and your dreams – then the Caregiver is when we encounter parenthood in one form or another.

The Caregiver is the ideal balance to the relentless drive of the warrior – bringing love, looking to care for others. Without the Caregiver, the Warrior is harsh, unfeeling, looking for personal success. With the balance of the Caregiver, then the fight develops a purpose. The struggle becomes more than just success, victory, the defeat of an opponent – but to create a stable environment for ourselves and others.

One word of caution here – we need to find ways to bring ourselves under the Caregiver’s protection. If we do not love and care for ourselves, then we will find it hard to love others. The biblical injunction is to ‘love others as ourselves’ – we need to maintain that balance if we are to have anything to give in the long term.

Yet the Caregiver without the Warrior will result in sentimentality and in inaction – floundering in a sea of niceness but without purpose. It’s the Warrior instinct that is invoked when a tiger’s cubs are threatened – turning from loving parent to snarling defence of her cubs in an instant.

The Goal

Up until now, our goal has been primarily selfish. Here we step into loving and caring for others. Here we really connect with the desire to make a difference, to change the lives of others through love and sacrifice. It’s built into each one of us at a foundational level – although many manage to sublimate it and hide it deep within, the need to love and care for others is a primary human drive and needs to find expression.

Here is where grizzled smuggler Han Solo finds a fatherly love and affection for the young Skywalker – and where the motley band of rebels learn to create family for each other. This is what drives John MacLaine to rescue the hostages in ‘Die Hard’ – not only the sense that he is a new York cop, but also to fight for his estranged wife – and for the others under threat. Here is the affection of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in ‘Lord of the Rings’ that will cause them to offer their own safety to protect the hobbits – and the impetus that will drive Sam Gamgee to follow Frodo deep into Mordor.

The Caregiver looks to find a way to protect those under their care, if necessary sacrificing their own safety to defend them. Not only do they look to protect from physical harm – they also look to provide, to encourage, to help their protégées to grow and become self reliant.

Primal Fear

The Caregiver fears challenges to their identify as selfless protectors – they fear accusations of selfishness and stinginess that undermine their belief in themselves as laying their lives on the line. Perhaps more than any, because loving others seems so hard, it’s very easy for this belief to creep in – ‘what if I’m not really loving? What if deep down inside I am just as selfish as anyone else? What will happen when the chips are down?’ The Caregiver must seek deep inside themselves to know the truth of their heroic response.

Similarly, the Caregiver fears ingratitude and thoughtlessness – worried that their efforts will go unnoticed.

Response to the challenge

The Caregiver has a very different response to the dragon’s arrival. When confronted with the fire breathing menace, the Caregiver will respond with love rather than violence. If others are under threat, then the Caregiver will seek to comfort and help them, taking care of those who have been injured and hurt. But also the Caregiver will seek to find the best in the dragon, seeking to take care of it and looking for where it itself is injured. Here we find Androcles (the warrior) taking the thorn from the lion’s paw.

A Heroic Task

The Caregiver is called to love – to bring kindness and compassion into the world. It’s the core of existence – as the spiritual text ‘A Course In Miracles’ encourages us that Love is at the very core of existence – that there is only Love or Fear – and that Fear does not exist. The Course invites us to ask continually “What would Love do now?”

Yet it’s very easy for the caregiver to find themselves poured out in the service of others. Without taking care of our own needs, it’s possible to feel stretched, to lose touch with our own identity. Balancing the needs of others with our own needs is a task that needs continual attention – whether that means a temporary retreat into our own space, or taking time out to look after ourselves – without it the Caregiver will collapse under their self imposed demands.

The Gift

The heart of the Caregiver is of compassion and generosity. Driven by Love, they see tenderness and caring as the answer to Life’s troubles, knowing that as they pour Love out on a needy world, that the world will become a better place.

The shadow Caregiver

Love and compassion are incorruptible at their core. And yet sometimes those step beyond true love. Sometimes the Caregiver becomes the suffering martyr – unable to voice their own needs and taking pleasure in being put upon by all comers. The martyr will use guilt and obligation to control those in their care. While it has the semblance of love, this domination is totally loveless at its core.

We can also find that the Caregiver overcomes the Warrior instinct – while the Warrior seeks to succeed, parents can often find their drive to succeed wrapped up in the need to provide – giving up their own need for success in the desire to provide for their family, and making safe choices rather than listen to the call of their own hearts.

Levels of the Caregiver

Often, the Caregiver is invoked when a position of responsibility is thrust upon our hero. That may be a young family, an ailing relative or a work team to care for. (Take heed – it’s often necessary, particularly in a work situation, to find a balance between leading the team (Warrior) and nurturing it (Caregiver) – the best leaders dance the fine path between these two). In Mulan, the Caregiver role is Eddy Murphy’s Dragon – protecting and encouraging Mulan in her ordeal in the army bootcamp.

Initially, the Caregiver struggles to balance their own needs with those of others, and in an attempt to fulfil their role often sacrifice themselves for others. Unchecked, this can lead to burn out and to disillusionment. It is essential to step into a new level of caring for yourself to guarantee that others receive the best care – and that your own personal life is enriched through the process rather than being drained. At the same time, a mature Caregiver must learn tough love – allowing those in their care to step into their own destiny rather than keeping them safe within the nest.

At its highest level, the Caregiver steps beyond their own immediate charges – their family and friends – and into a larger role of caring at a societal or global level, building communities and building bonds with others.

The Caregiver’s story

Typically the story of the Caregiver is one of being drawn into providing for others – of caring at the expense of their own dreams. Eventually the drain of constantly providing for others leads to a sense of maiming and a frustration with life and the boundaries placed on them. Stepping into new opportunities and stepping into their own adventure, discovering their own path, enables them to return with a new sense of the power of Love – and empowers them to step into a new experience of that Love – being able to demonstrate that at a new level and in a new and bigger sphere of influence – enriching both their own lives and the lives of others.

Exercises and dreaming

What would you do for others if you had infinite resources? If all your dreams, all your wants, all your needs were met – how would you take that abundance and give away to others?

Where do you find yourself stretched by your perceived responsibilities to others? Does expressing these responsibilities help you feel more ‘you’ or do you find it getting in the way of your own dreams? How could you balance the needs of others with your own goals – or is it time to step into something else now?

Next time

We’ve covered the four archetypes of Preparation: Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Caregiver. The next step is the first step into the real journey . . .

Before that, though, we’re going to take a time out next time and look at the needs that drive each one of us – how we can find ways of fulfilling our needs that provide balanced and powerful motivation on our journey.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!


Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 10

Boundaries and Battlegrounds–The Warrior–Walking with Heroes Part 7

stand - cooper

Hi there, fellow traveller – we’re now well on our way on our journey to discover the characters and heroes that thread their way through our lives. I’m sure you’re starting to see where some of the characteristics of the Innocent and the Orphan show up in your life – and you will, I am sure, be able to embrace their strengths and find ways to acknowledge those places where they are not so strong – to look into the shadow and to transcend it.

Remember, last time we looked at the Orphan – and the gift that embracing the archetype of the Orphan brings: an understanding of how we depend on each other, and on the need for true empathy as we reach out to others.

As ever, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

Again we’re still in Preparation for the journey. And here we move from the passivity and surrender of the Innocent and the Orphan and begin to see an active role where we begin to mould the universe and begin to transform our world. Initially, of course, our actions are clumsy and juvenile – yet as we grow we begin to step into models of power that will stay with us forever.

The first response of those that find themselves helpless and lost is to seek safety again… but when that option is closed to us, then we have to step into new shoes. We have to learn to fight for ourselves – and for others. We have to become someone else – we have to become something else… and we take on the mantle of the Warrior.

The nature of the Warrior

There’s a sense in these enlightened times that the brutishness of the Warrior is a relic of another more primitive world. And yet without the desire to fight for what we want, we lack the driving force and impetus to move forward. Without the Warrior we lack the will to win, to succeed, to triumph. So the Warrior isn’t really about warfare – it’s about the struggle, about the battle. And as we step into life, as we begin to navigate the twists and turns of the world, then we need to start to pursue our own agendas. The Warrior brings the reinforcing of boundaries – the sense that ‘this is what I want’. The Warrior allows us to defend ourselves. And as we grow more all embracing, the Warrior allows us to defend others.

The Warrior is the true hero – the one who steps into the gap and makes things happen. And sometimes, it’s not about brute force and strength – it’s about a quiet inner determination to create change – a demand that things should be different. We often see this in the path of some martial arts. While Karate or Kempo for example can be quite strong and harsh, relying on the power of blocks and counter attacks, many other martial arts like Tai Chi or Aikido focus more on redirection of energy – defeating an opponent without harming them.

In terms of our personal development, the warrior is the hero that helps us make our way in the world – seeking our place, looking to succeed in our careers and in the workplace. Without the warrior we will never step out to conquer Life – and will always seek safety.

I had a very significant confrontation with the power of the warrior – having looked very closely at the strengths of the different heroes operating in my life, it was clear that the warrior was a place that I had found myself weak. Perhaps driven by the Christian mantra of ‘love your enemies’ I had lost sight of the need to succeed, the need to defend, the need to fight for what truly mattered to me. As I listened to the response of two young men, one a Jew, one a Palestinian, as they attempted to make sense of the events of 9/11, I realised that there was a space for the Warrior in my life – a Warrior who would fight for the rights of others – and of myself – a Warrior who would look to create success and victory.

The Goal

Our hero has just been confronted with his or her weakness in the uncovering of the Orphan – suddenly lost, defenceless, alone. The Warrior brings the opportunity to reverse that. Suddenly the goal is to win, to protect, to defend. The Warrior will seek to make a difference, to change the status quo. When combined with the energy of the Caregiver (more spoilers!) the Warrior will stand in the gap for others, defending and fighting for their rights.

The Warrior has a tremendous sense of right and wrong, a well developed awareness of justice. And yet the warrior will always seek to make a difference through struggle – the concept that there is an easier way will often elude him! The Warrior will hack his way through a forest to rescue the princess, or face the dragon.

When Luke Skywalker finds himself lost and alone on Tattooine, his response is to seek revenge on the murderers of his family. It takes a wiser mentor to guide him into a more measured response. The university professor Indiana Jones learns to fight to defend the relics of power from those who would abuse them.

Response to the challenge

No prizes for guessing that the the response to the appearance of the dragon is to strike back and destroy it. More enlightened warriors might seek to convert it rather than destroy it, but always the Warrior will seek to gain control over the situation.

The Warrior response reminds us that through courage, struggle, bravery, determination and sacrifice we can overcome evil and reach our goals.

Sometimes, of course, our response can be inappropriate or self defeating. Shrek finds himself up against a fearsome dragon which he tries to defeat – before realising that the terrifying creature is actually in love with his travelling companion.

Often, as we go through life, we discover others who try to take advantage of us – or who simply ‘push our buttons’ and annoy us. Unchecked, this inability to defend our own personal space can lead to emotional uncertainty and potentially to locking our true selves away to create safety – or often to things like skin conditions (the skin being the physical analogue to the emotional boundary space). We need to find ways of reinforcing our boundaries without counterattack. I find this quite a lot in spiritual seekers, who believe (quite rightly) that love is the answer. Unfortunately, in seeking the path of love they can find themselves put upon or abused – and it’s expected that a loving response will be to ‘turn the other cheek’. Not so – we find that defending our boundaries is the only true loving response – to love ourselves and the other person, and to create a clear statement of ‘this far and no further’.

A Heroic Task

The task of the Warrior is to decide what really matters – rather than defending every situation, to decide which battles to fight, which struggle is important. This is high level assertiveness – to know when to resist and where to let go. We often fall into the trap of believing that the response to attack is always to counter attack. Not so. There is a wonderful story of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern day karate, who encountered a belligerent drunk on a train. The drunk was squaring up to fight, and with his new found skills, Funakoshi prepared to counter. A wiser onlooker took the drunk to one side and simply talked to him – defusing the situation without conflict.

The Warrior will have learn wisdom to decide which battles to fight, and which battles should be surrendered – to decide what is truly important and what can be let go of to conserve energy and resources. Yet if this is a conscious decision, no boundaries are violated. The Ewoks in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at first seem to flee – only to lead the Empire’s stormtroopers to regret their belief that the cuddly creatures would be easy to defeat.

The Gift

This modern world with its emphasis on success and on courage in the face of defeat finds it easy to recognise the gifts that the warrior brings. Nowadays this archetype, despite its relative immaturity, is the pattern on which modern society is built – a culture of success, of winning at all costs – where our heroes are those who have learnt to fight – Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard’s John MacLaine, or a myriad successful businessmen, or our media stars who have fought to get where they are.

Yet the true gift of the Warrior, the gift of courage, of discipline, of perseverance is a recipe for true power when tempered, as ever, with Love.

And let’s not forget the dedication to the warrior’s skill – hours spent honing their skills. At the point where a black belt receives the belt that they have trained for long long years for, they are reminded that this is the point where learning starts. Luke must spend long and embarrassing hours learning to master the power of ‘The Force’. Rocky spends many bloody hours training to finally defeat his opponent in the ring.

The shadow Warrior

Perhaps the energy of the Warrior leads itself to be more easily sublimated into a shadow side. Perhaps the fact that the Warrior must by necessity walk the fine line between righteousness and evil, continually patrolling that moral neutral ground lays the possibility for the shadow to rise up and consume him.

The shadow Warrior is consumed by a need to win at all costs – to step beyond what is morally right in search of conquest at all costs. The shadow will see threats everywhere around, leading to paranoia and fear – to which the only response can be to attack. There is a danger that the shadow warrior will become ruthless, uncaring and lacking in morality and principle. Peter Parker finds himself consumed with rage over his uncle’s death – and is later consumed by a darker Spiderman, wrestling with himself to overcome it. This is the space of the antihero – ultimately fighting for what’s right, but using questionable means and acting from questionable motives.

Levels of the Warrior

The Warrior is invoked by a challenge, a threat, an obstacle – or perhaps simply a vision of ‘something more’ – a mountain to climb, a wrong to be righted, a place to conquer. The greater the challenge, the bigger the obstacle – the more the Warrior has to reach inside himself to meet the threat. Mulan steps in to protect her father – catapulting her into deception as she seeks to hide the fact that she’s a woman from the other army recruits, while she draws on resources way beyond herself to show that she deserves her place on the battlefield.

Initially, the Warrior, driven by his own needs and fears, will fight for himself. It will take wisdom and insight, the words of a wiser mentor, or a moment where he faces his own weakness for him to learn wisdom. Initially his response will be to win at all costs – an uncontrolled fist fight, wading in without thought consumed by the need to protect – or driven by presumption, bravado, or a lack of forethought. As the Warrior matures, the scars of battle bring with them a new depth of understanding. Rather than rushing in all guns blazing, the enlightened warrior learns to choose his battles, and embraces the rules of competition. Rather than fighting as a response to attack, the enlightened warrior will only act on his or her principles and values.

If a Warrior truly learns to temper winning with peace and co-operation, then they step into a world where the Warrior fights only for what truly matters, for great causes. Diplomacy becomes more the order of the day – yet always backed by the presence of steel, and the certainty that if diplomacy fails, then the Warrior will back his words with decisive action.

The Warrior’s story

The core story of the Warrior is of setting out on a journey, whether prompted by a need for adventure or as a response to a deeper call or necessity, or simply due to the destruction of a previous existence. Along the way, the warrior encounters the dragon – a challenge or obstacle, a barrier to be overcome or an evil to be defeated. By slaying the dragon the warrior releases the princess – or finds the key to unimaginable treasures and power.

Of course, sometimes the military response unleashes a greater threat. Beowulf slays Grendel only to be confronted with the fury of Grendel’s mother. Skywalker looks to avenge his family and discovers the horror of his own ancestry. It will take the wisdom and restraint of higher role models to curb the youthful immaturity and find the keys to harnessing the Warrior’s power.

Exercises and dreaming

Where have you failed to reinforce your boundaries in your life – are there places where you have not defended your own rights – perhaps in the expectation that you should be ‘kind’? What steps can you take to prevent that happening and take back the ground you have lost?

What is your response to confrontation – do you surrender or do you stand and fight? Is there space for a more balanced approach?

Look at some of the movie and story book heroes. Look at how they handle themselves, at their fears – and their determination to overcome. Many of them started out in fear and trembling and yet became great heroes – the stuff of legends.

Next time

In the next part we’re going to look at the balance to the Warrior – the response of love and tenderness through the Caregiver. When these two work together, the foundation of true power is laid…

Until next time – enjoy the journey!



Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 08

Loss and disappointment–The Orphan–Walking With Heroes Part 6


So – let’s take another step into discovering some of the heroes and characters that populate the stories of our lives. Last time we looked at the Innocent – and perhaps you wondered if the Innocent can really be a ‘hero’. Well, there’s a tremendous gift in innocence, you know – there’s something liberating and refreshing about that level of trust. I certainly hope I never lose it.

Again, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

Here we’re still in Preparation for the journey. Remember that we started out in Innocence – and, by the way, to Innocence we will return. (Sorry, plot spoiler there, but it’s worth remembering!). If we remain in Innocence, then nothing will happen – for sure, you’ll be safe – but that’s not what life is about. Somewhere, someone, some event, some opportunity or disaster will push you out of the nest and force you to learn to fly. At some point we have to develop muscles and power – we have to take action into our dreams.

So here’s where we find ourselves when we step beyond the naiveté of the innocent: we discover the Orphan.

The orphan discovers that the world is not always a friendly place – that pain and difficulty are all too real. This sudden collision with reality is what spurs into action – otherwise, why would we leave the peace and safety of our innocence. This is where Luke Skywalker finds his aunt and uncle dead and the farm destroyed. This is where the Sorcerer’s Apprentice finds his curiosity met with disaster.

The nature of the Orphan

It isn’t necessarily a genuine physical orphaning, of course – but that sense that not everything is candy pink in FairyLand – that dragons and demons are only too real and that danger lurks round every corner. Every illusion that the innocent held is shattered as a harsher reality sets in. Often, though, we don’t question whether the painful realities of the Orphan are any more or less real than those of the Innocent. What if the Innocent is right and the world really IS a friendly place?

Yet without the revelation of the Orphan, there will be no discovery and exploration. There will be no understanding that the world is greater than that occupied by safety and security, and that risks will need to be taken. The knowledge that we are incomplete allows us to step into something more – to take on new characters as we develop and grow – for sure, the Orphan knows that she is not enough on her own. Its the energy of the Orphan that draws companions and mentors into his life. These companions and mentors help our new hero deal with the crazy chaos that he’s just stepped into – they help him make sense of this jumbled world and help him to function in a space where danger lurks round every corner.

Another way of seeing the Orphan is as Everyman – the ordinary joe trying to make his or her way through life, often amazed at the difficulties that arise, confused by the chaos and complexity that is uncovered, and yet doggedly determined to simply keep on going.

The Goal

Having just stepped into the path from Innocence into Orphan, the primary goal of the Orphan is quite simple – stay safe. It’s a natural tendency to run from danger and from insecurity into secure safety. Yet simply turning round and stepping back isn’t an option. The safe harbour is no more – the ‘fruit of the tree knowledge of good and evil’ can not be un-eaten. The cataclysmic event that launched us on the journey cannot be undone. The Orphan has seen that something else is possible… and the dragon stands at her back urging her onward.

In Indiana Jones (and, for that matter, in Shrek and a thousand other films) there’s a rope bridge that spans a chasm. We step onto that bridge running from danger – or seeking the prize – and find ourselves half way across with rotting planks and fraying ropes. The bridge swings precariously while every gust of wind threatens to hurl us into the abyss below. To return or to go on? Yet there really is no choice: in every story, the only way is onward. If we even consider stepping backward to the side we have just left, then the danger behind us begins to breathe fire, while the ropes begin to unravel – always it’s the far side that’s the only safe option… even if it doesn’t seem that way. Safety lies in stepping forward, never in running backward.

Primal Fear

The Orphan has discovered that not all is sweetness and light. Suddenly the possibility of danger exists – and with it the possibility of being exploited and victimised. Up until that point everyone was kind and generous – now danger lurks in every kindness. The Orphan sees danger around every corner, and any step forward may lead to disaster. Although the Orphan knows he needs help on the journey, he will have to learn to trust others. And yet, that basic lack of trust will forge the friendships that last, the companionship that will last in the white heat of the trials to come. When Luke meets Han Solo, he is wary and dismissive – distrustful of Han’s motivation and of his boasts in the abilities of the Millenium Falcon. As the hobbits set out on their journey they are distrustful of those who will turn out to be their greatest allies – the mysterious Strider for one.

Response to the challenge

The dragon has appeared, and disaster has struck. The immediate response of the orphan is to seek help and rescue. In our modern world when independence is lauded and individual heroism is praised, it is a brave man who calls for help when needed. If the initial panic and search for a saviour can be tamed, then the Orphan’s response is one of maturity – who can help me, who has been here before, who has the skills I need? Who can I join forces with?

The key to maintaining our power at this point is knowing that we are the leaders of our own destiny – that only by retaining our own desires in the situation can we hope to get the outcome we want. Anything else leads to surrender, to cynicism and to mere meek compliance – led away like sheep to slaughter and surrendering our own dreams to those of another.

A Heroic Task

You might think that this powerlessness has no merit or application. And yet there is an essential task for our orphaned hero – to truly step into the pain and disillusionment of our loss, to truly process that pain, to embrace it fully rather than running from it. Only by truly facing our pain and letting it shred us as fully as it can will we be able to transform it and step beyond into something else. Here, ‘everything is working out perfectly’ is not naïve assumption but something that has to be held in faith – despite appearances, knowing that things will work out and throwing ourselves into recovering paradise.

The Gift

Stripped of safety and yet not yet grown into power – what gift can the Orphan possibly hold? What will she bring to the journey to aid others? Having stepped into the harsh cold wind of danger and loss, having experienced what it’s like to have all security ripped away, the Orphan is best placed to provide empathy and understanding of how we are all dependent on each other. It’s all too easy to forget how we were once lost and helpless, how we took our first fumbling steps on the journey. The Orphan reminds us to look back in love and support for those who follow us, and reminds us of the need at all times for companionship and those who will simply walk alongside us. Only by overcoming the pain of betrayal and loss can we step into new and powerful supportive relationships.

The shadow Orphan

At its simplest, the Orphan leads to understanding and ultimately to hope. However, the shadow side is always real and can drag our hero down into the darkest places. Without hope, we can become cynical and harsh. We can begin to use our victimhood to manipulate others and to find ways to get our way while remaining thoroughly stuck and entrenched. Often we will not see this as what we are doing – we will simply see ourselves as needy and helpless – and yet the secret of success and recovery always lies within. As Luke discovered, the Force was already growing strong within him and would lead not only to his salvation but to the restoration of peace to the galaxy. Frodo would look deep within himself to discover resolve and power that would save Middle Earth. And you and I will find new resources to allow us to step bravely into the future with the aid of those around us.

Levels of the Orphan

The Orphan is called into being by some trauma in his or her life. That may be as simple as growing up, or by some sense of loss. It may be loss of a job, death of a loved one, or a personal trauma. At some point, everything that kept us safe is stripped away – everything on which we relied for security disappears like smoke.

Initially the Orphan will feel abandoned, unloved, helpless and victimised. Powerless to step forward, we look back to the golden years where all was well, or despair of a future that we cannot see and do not have the resources to reach.

Steadily, though, the Orphan begins to acknowledge possibilities – that there is always hope. Reconciling himself to his plight, the Orphan lays a base for a realistic evaluation of the situation. She begins to realise that the answers lie within rather than some mythical rescuer – and that others have been here before her.

Although a recognition of her own inner core is rising, our hero begins to acknowledge the need for others, and welcomes the assistance and friendship of companions on the journey. No longer is the answer sought in institutionalised authority, in government or in religion, but is understood to be something that we create in interdependent relationships – that we will not be rescued but will join together with others to forge our own pathway out of crisis.

The Orphan’s story

The archetypal story of the Orphan is that of losing Paradise where all is well, and where safety reigns, into a place of loss and abandonment, of fear and alienation. There is no way back to security – the only way is onward into the unknown and those steps must be taken alone. Yet on the journey they discover the power of companionship and of what can be achieved by working with others.

The Orphan begins to see the possibilities of a new paradise – it may be far off, but faith begins to grow and hope is strengthened.

Exercises and dreaming

Think back to places and times in your childhood (or in your recent past) when you found yourself betrayed, or when things no longer went the way you expected. What were the real moments of loss in your life? What have you learned from them that gives you faith for the future? What doe you know now that yields an answer and gives you hope – and if you can’t see that right now, what would it be like if you imagined you knew the answer.

Consider your life at the moment. Where are you resisting the friendships and relationships that will enable you to step forward?

Next time

Next we’re going to start to step into the responses of power – to look at the Warrior – but for now, look at where the Orphan appears in your life, and where maybe understanding the gift of loss that brings you hope and faith might help you move forward.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!


Find out more at


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 05

Safety and Security- The Innocent-Walking with Heroes Part 5


Aloha! It’s time to put the pedal to the metal and start to meet the cast of this hero’s journey – our exploration of the stories that rule our lives. As we go through, you might find yourself resonating with one or more of the characters and stories that we uncover. Remember also the hero’s journey – the typical journey starts out with someone naïve and inexperienced, who goes through several stages of transformation on his or her journey to enlightenment, redemption, victory and wisdom.

In introduction

These characters, our heroes, are called archetypes – they embody typical characteristics and patterns of behaviour and belief… but you’ll recognise them – both in yourself and in the myths and stories that we tell. Because, remember, the only reason we tell stories is to embody truth. (What? You mean you thought they were to entertain? Only on the surface….)

As we go, we’ll look at the characteristics of the archetype – we’ll look at their task and the gift they bring, at their fears and the way they deal with danger, and how they evolve. We’ll also look at the shadow side – what happens when that particular characteristic is given too much power. And as we go, consider the strengths of the individual archetypes – one or more may be at the forefront of our lives, but to operate as a rounded and whole individual able to deal with everything that life brings, we need to have balance.

I found out, for example, that the warrior archetype was quite weak for me. That meant that it was easy for people to trample across my boundaries and take me for granted – with a subsequent knock on effect in the rest of my world. By paying attention to that part of my psyche, I built a strength and a resistance to being taken advantage of – along with an ability to fight for what is right rather than meekly accepting it.

The stage of the journey

We start out at a stage of our personal evolution called Preparation. This stage is our learning stage – a stage where we are being made ready for the challenges we face. Here the basic traits that are going to be essential to our evolution and our survival are created and strengthened. For sure, we’re going to learn more on the journey – through experience, through our teachers and mentors, and through divine inspiration – but the core skills, the core beliefs, the core understandings of life are created here.

And so let’s introduce the first of our characters – the Innocent

We all start out here, you know. Obviously, as children, we are naïve and trusting, expecting everything to work out for us. We rely on others to do the work for us, to love us and care for us. There is something wonderful and refreshing about that innocence, that sense that life is meant to be easy and simple, that doors will automatically open for us, and that the Universe itself seeks our good. As Einstein himself is rumoured to have said “The most important question a person can ask is, ‘Is the Universe a friendly place?’” The Innocent will be certain that the answer is “Yes”.

The nature of the Innocent

There is of course a sense of trusting and of believing that all will be well – and of course some of that is born out of simple naïvety… but go deeper beyond that and you’ll find a deeper and more primal trust in the rightness of things – that everything is in its place and works perfectly. That’s not ignoring the facts – that’s actually the core and deeper truth at the heart of the Universe – that things are set up to work for us rather than against us.

The Goal

The primary goal of the Innocent is to stay safe. Sometimes that means hiding from danger – or from any change that may eventually lead to risk, or feeling unsafe. It’s the primal need for all of us to be secure. But secure is dull and boring – secure doesn’t lead to adventure, or enlightenment, or fulfilment. Secure is stable, for sure – but only the risks associated with change will bring depth of character and true purpose. The Innocent will always seek to fit in, to avoid creating waves or standing out.

Consider Luke Skywalker in his dull yet safe life on Tattooine: everything is safe and secure, but does it actually mean anything? Or Frodo Baggins, living a life of simplicity and gaiety in the Shire, unaware that any darkness lay beyond the boundaries of his idyllic paradise.

Primal Fear

Of course, the main fear of the Innocent, as it is of the newborn, is being abandoned. Abandonment leads to change, to the need to stand on one’s own two feet. And the innocent will go to any lengths to avoid this – stepping into relationships to avoid being alone, sticking with a company for fear of what ‘going it alone’ might bring – avoiding change at all costs in order to seek safety and security – the bliss of consistency.

Response to the challenge

When danger appears, and the dragon rears its head, the Innocent can respond in only one of two ways. The first option is to bury his head in the sand and deny that a problem exists – if you can’t see it, it can’t hurt you. The second is to call for help – to look for some power beyond yourself to rescue you.

For some, that rescuer might be the government bailing us out of a deep and dark hole. For others, it might be a retreat to the safety of friends or family. Others seek their answers in spirituality or religion, looking to a deity to rescue them and make everything all right again.

A Heroic Task

Yet there is a task for the Innocent, something that only the pure of heart can achieve. The Innocent demonstrates that Paradise can be regained, that it is possible to walk through life in trust and honesty. The Innocent will seek the best in everyone and holds up a goal for others to reach – to cease their striving and struggling and relax, trusting that all will be well, or, as my Huna teacher says “Everything is Working Out Perfectly” (or, for short, EWOP).

The Gift

Despite the apparent weakness of the Innocent, that very innocence bears great gifts – gifts that, in our worldly wise cynicism we tend to overlook. The Innocent is, at heart, trusting, optimistic and loyal – thinking ill of no man, expecting the best at all times. Such is the power of trust and belief that the Innocent truly believes in the inherent ‘rightness’ of the world – and by holding on to that belief, actually makes it so. Such is the power of true innocence in the world.

The shadow Innocent

Of course, such naïvety has its weakness. Our hero can find herself shackled to irrational optimism, even in the face of obvious difficulty. Reliance on others for assistance can lead to putting off dealing with problems, relying on ‘it’ll be alright in the end’ or expecting that some knight in shining armour will rescue them – or that God will hear their prayers. It’s also easy for the Innocent to fall into dull conformity – the sense that it’s always been done this way… and that it’s dangerous to stand out or to make waves.

Levels of the Innocent

Although the Innocent is usually the starting place, we can often find ourselves called back here – whenever a desire for stability and safety overrides our desire for adventure and our call to purpose. This is what finds heroes in a cave, unwilling to step out and face the challenge again – this sense that once upon a time all was just darn peachy – or that, having set out on the adventure, things were much better back at home. The hobbits on their journey dream of breakfast – and second breakfast. Alice wishes she was safe on the riverbank and had never followed the rabbit.

Initially, the Innocent is unquestioning, unaware of danger and trusting of everyone, especially of authority. However, that innocence cannot last and disillusionment and disappointment set in as the world is not seen to be as perfect as expected, that authority figures have feet of clay and that truly we are responsible for our own happiness. However, the Innocent will retain faith in human nature and a belief that deep down inside all men are good. And that experience will allow us to grow in wisdom – retaining that innocence yet without naïvety or dependence on others.

The Innocent’s story

The archetypal story of the Innocent is to step from apparent paradise, peace, calm and tranquillity, where all is safe and secure into a world where those foundations are rocked. The Innocent retains faith that all is well, and that very faith sustains them, rebuilding a new paradise in the certainty that everything is as it should be.

Exercises and dreaming

Find yourself an icon of childhood – perhaps a well loved cuddly toy, or perhaps a place that you loved to visit. Or go and hug your mother or father – or even cuddle a baby. If you haven’t got access to the physical reality, then bring a memory of that to mind. How does that make you feel – relax into the sense of being safe, of total well being.

Consider your life at the moment. Look at the good things, and at the not so good stuff. Is it just maybe possible that everything is working out perfectly? Could it be that in the heart of any difficulties you might be facing are hidden the seeds of the answer?

Next time

Next week we’re going to look at what happens when we step beyond Innocence, and consider the Orphan – but for now, look at where the Innocent appears in your life, and where maybe recovering some of your true Innocence and faith might help you move forward.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!



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PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS