Regrets of dying people: Regret #3

Beelde Engel

The third top regret that Bronnie Ware identified was: “I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings.”

Bronnie: “a lot of people are too scared how their vulnerability and honesty will be received, and that was something that in the end, they just wished that people had come to know them on a different level, but their loved ones couldn’t know them on that level, because they’d never found the courage to express their feelings.….”

It is interesting to note how this “I wish” game is playing out here. From the first to the last regret,  the dying person and what he wants takes centre stage. All the regrets boil down to this: my life should have been more about myself and not what other people wanted for or from me.

I will come back to this when we discuss the final regret because I think this an indication of where these regrets come from, and it is important to understand from what mindset these people were operating from going into their final days. Bronnie reiterated that this was not a scientific study. It was simply conversations she had with dying people and the regrets just popped up spontaneously without her prompting or suggesting that they should talk about it. This is good to know because it is so easy for an interviewer to lead the people being interviewed or being engaged in conversation to give the answers you want them to give. That it is why it is a little bit disconcerting where she said that she got the answers from the people because asked the right questions. The right questions? And the right answers? According to whom?

This is a serious and important wish/regret: “I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings.” It is almost as important as: “I wish I had the courage to discuss death more openly” which naturally never happens in our ‘death denying ’ culture. Death is beyond the self, is transcending the self and you do not want to go there. Rather stay with what was lacking in my life and the things that could and would have made my life better.

And yes, we do not talk about our feelings openly. For women it is easier to talk about and express love more openly than it is for men. For men it is a sign of weakness to express feelings of love, and yet, in the end even the tough guys regret not having had the guts to say those three little words “I love you”. Even worse for all of us is the lack in courage to express feelings of anger, disappointment and even disgust. Most of the time we want our lives to run smoothly, we do not want to rock the boat. We want to be nice, walk away from uncomfortable situations, deny those turbulent emotions and take it with us to the grave. In the meantime, we secretly regret that we did not have the courage to give the bastards a piece of our minds!

Sadly, this is a far cry from George Saunders’s confession: “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” This is the more mature, selfless attitude towards life, it asks the question: what  can I give to make live better for other people, to make the world a better place for all. In contrast to this, the regret as expressed here comes from the ego, it implies that, if I did this my life would have been better. The “me” is all important, is central in the story about my life. In Maslow’s theory about development our ego needs (or esteem needs) are classified as deficiency needs along with the need to belong, our basic safety needs and at the bottom of the hierarchy our physiological needs.

The esteem needs are the final deficiency needs that deeds to be satisfied before we can move on to the phase where growth needs become the dominant motivators of behaviour. The regret of not having expressed my feelings stems directly from a lack of esteem. Because I did not express my love and/or anger in a proper and clear way, people did not understand me and because they did not understand me, they did not value me according to my true worth. The consequence of not being valued by other people, is that my self-esteem  sakes a nosedive. I do not have a very high regard of myself because other people do not think much of me as a person. If I had the courage to stand up for myself and declared my love openly I could even have married that boy or girl that I loved with all of my hart, and conversely, if I had the guts to make a stand against my abusive mother or father or boss or friend, my life would have been so much better.

But sadly, my time is over. I cannot rewrite the past and all that is left is to lament a life that could have been so much better for me if only …!

Love 2

Atul Gawande’s favourite dinner party question comes to mind here. “What is the quality of life that you would live for, if you couldn’t do everything you wanted?” In other words, if it comes to the end of your life, what is the quality of life that you would live for?

The answers he got to this question is quite revealing. One person wanted nothing more than to eat chocolate and ice cream and watch football on television (physiological needs at play here?). Another wanted nothing more than to be at the dinner table with family and friends to talk to and to connect in that way (belonging needs are paramount for this person?).

And then there was this other person. When Atul asked him his favourite dinner party question: “So what is the minimum quality of life? Is it being with your family?” He obviously loved his family very much, judged from the number of photographs of all of them that he had in his office.  The man answered: “Well … no. Its complicated. You know, honestly. If I can just have a good book and some quiet, I would give up a lot to still be able to have that.”

Here we have a person who is obviously on another level of development. Deficiency needs no longer determines his life choices because he is motivated by growth needs, he is on Maslow’s level of self-actualisation, he is no longer living a life of regrets but is in the process of achieving his individual potential. He is in what Richard Rohr calls the second stage of development where ego needs and selfish desires are transcended and a life for the greater good is strived for.

George Saunders puts it so beautiful when he admonishes his students to: “Do those thigs that incline you towards the big questions and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that as ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.”

You are going to die. Make the most of life while you can. Do not squander it on trivial regrets. In short; try to grow up before you die.

Zen lake


Regrets of Dying People: Take 2

We continue to explore the top 5 regrets of dying people according to the findings of Bronnie Ware.

The second regret Bronnie came up was: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

I have bad news for you. Given the vicious, insatiable consumer culture that we are living in where “must have” (more ) is the default mode of thinking and ‘to Be’ never even enter our monkey minds, where bigger and more is better, getting past this regret has about the same chance as your proverbial snow ball in Hell.

I have never met anyone in my entire life telling me that they regret working or having worked too hard. Granted, in my line of work I do not meet a lot of people living out their last days, the people I meet and work with are scientists (some of them in their 70’s and even 80’s and are still working) for whom work and knowledge are all they are interested in, and they have no regret about how they live their lives, and the majority of ordinary (mostly blue-collar) retired people or people close to retirement I know feels that they should have worked more (or should have kept on working) to provide better for retirement.

(Death is a gift. It’s the fact that your days are numbered that makes each one precious – Stephen Jenkinson)

Looking at it from the angle Bronnie looks at it, there is a possibility for such a regret near the end of some people’s lives. But then, looking at it from Wilber’s Integral Theory perspective, it becomes clear that, depending on your level of psychological, emotional and even intellectual development, some people will feel a greater need for community, for love and for support during this most challenging time of their lives than others, especially in the case of women.

In his book “Integral Spirituality” Wilber refers to the work of Carol Gilligan (“In a Different Voice”) where she points out that men tend toward agency: women tend toward communion. Men follow rules; women follow connections. Men tend toward individualism, women towards relationship. It is almost sure that this approach to life will play out true to form in our last days as well. “Cowboys don’t cry”?

The cure for this regret is about “not making work the whole thing” in your life. Some people people regret not having made time for their children, their wives (or husbands), friends and family because, in some cases “they had no sense of identity outside of their work,” says Bronnie. I believe this is so especially for men who “provide” for their families by bringing home the paycheque, by providing a home, clothes, holydays, education etc. In our money driven culture this is what and who a man is, and the bigger the house and the grander the car and the better the suburb, the greater is the man. His whole identity stands or falls by this criterion and it would be extremely cruel to take that away from him in his last days because this who he is and “not making work the whole thing” is to be a loser in the eyes of his friends.

(A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living – Virgina Wolf)

Work is your whole life, So what? Try this little experiment; tell your wife that you want to spend more time at home but to be able to do that the big house, your luxury company car, your wife’s big BMW or double door 4×4 bakkie and the swimming pool will have to go, and see what happens. What will happen is that she will kick your butt out the door so fast you will not even have time to take your lunchbox with you on your way to work, and she will feel no regret doing it.

Love 4A

The question is, do your family even want to see you (and your Whisky breath) more than they do at present? And do you want to so see them more than the hour or two after work (from the safety of your chair in front of the TV or behind your desk behind a closed office door) and the occasional mandatory holiday? Is that not why you “work” long hours during the day, including weekends, simply because you cannot handle your screaming brats and nagging wife?

To be able to meet your Maker without this regret you are in for  a major make-over of your entire attitude towards life. In fact, the whole culture will be in for a total moral and ethical shake up. Values will have to be reconsidered and the destructive and wasteful role of money and the consumer driven economy that is destroying our world and our families will have to change.

In order to do this a more spiritual approach (not religious, unless you are prepared to change your religion to be more inclusive) to life (that will not only include your family but all living things, including Earth and the cosmos at large) will have to be adopted. If you are not prepared to do this, then “spending more time with your family and friends” will remain nothing more than a sentimental death wish.

(Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die – Seleca)


Next time we look at the regret:  “I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings”

Regrets of the dying

The 5 most common regrets

“When one is considering the universe, unseen matter, our small backyard of stuff, I think it is important, sensible, to try and find some balance between laughter and uncontrollable weeping” says Ella Frances Sanders.

We know that the only thing we can be sure of in this life, is that we are going to die. There is no escape … unless your name is Elija or one of the other very few select who went to heaven in their fiery chariots. For the rest of us there is birth and death and everything that happens in between.

Says Ella F Sanders: “(We) Cry because we cannot even begin to understand how beautiful it is, cry because we are terribly flawed as a species, cry because it all seems so shockingly improbable that maybe our existence could be nothing but a dreamscape …”

And then you die, or you are dying, and then you start to panic, and you start to regret.

According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care worker, there are five regrets that the dying people that she took care of during their last days, told here about.

  • The most common regret was people wishing they had lived a life that was true to themselves, not a life that other people had expected of them.

The problem here is; what constitutes a life that is true to yourself, what will such a life look like? We know what a “normal” life looks like, or what we (and the world) regard as normal; it is a life of conformation, a life of fear, of always toeing the line and keeping other people happy so they won’t judge you. You constantly live in fear of criticism and rejection.

So, what is a live that is true to yourself? Is it simply the call of the old ego to assert yourself? ‘All my life I allowed people to walk all over me, I should never have allowed this to happen, I should have made a stand and gave people a piece of my mind. I will bloody-well do as I want!’

In his book “Walden” Henry David Thoreau said: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”, and it is never more clearly illustrated than when death comes knocking on the door.

I meet many older people who will, immediately after meeting you, make sure that you know they take no nonsense from nobody and that people who knows them knows the truth of that. ‘This is who I am, always true to myself, take it or leave it.’

But I do not think this is what is alluded to here, although I also believe that most people do not know what is meant by “to be true to yourself” in the sense that it is used here. Bronnie talks about a life that “truly honours the life that we are all called to live” where you can say “I really don’t care anymore what you think, because my hart is telling me to go this way, …”. Most people do NOT know what the life is that they are called to live, and most of them do care what people think. And most of them think that money and fame is what they deserve to truly be what they are.

She is right in saying that it takes a lot of courage to say ‘I really don’t care anymore what you think’, and if it is the ego demanding that ‘my will be done’ then you are in deep trouble and you can be sure that you will add to your regrets and not to diminish it!

To be able to answer the question regarding a life true to yourself, you must know yourself. Aristotle said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” and the beginning of all wisdom is to ask (and at some stage to answer) the question: “who am I”. Jacob Needleman said: “Among the great questions of the human heart, none is more central than the question, ‘Who am I?’ And among the great answers of the human spirit, none is more central than the EXPERIENCE of ‘I Am’”. And sadly, very few people ever get to the stage where they are able or willing to ask that question. And even less are the ones that set out deliberately to find the answer.

It is possible that Bronnie Ware made the fatal Pre/Trans mistake that Ken Wilber often refers to where a lower level of development is accidentally or deliberately elevated to the higher level. In this case the people were probably  talking about ego needs( Maslow’s deficiency needs) that went unmet during their lives while she (as an educated individual, presumably already in the self-actualization phase of development) interpreted it as if they were talking about higher growth needs.

Stephen Jenkinson (another palliative care worker) said that most people in his “wake” died a bad death. They denied their inevitable demise and were resentful and even angry at life. He surmised that he did not get to see many people who died well because they did not need him or anybody else to help them make the transition. They were the ones who died without regrets. They are the ones who will agree with Tolstoy who said: “If I meditate with an eye upon the history of philosophy, I find everywhere, and always, men to have arrived at the conclusion that the aim of human life is the universal development of humanity” and not the satisfaction of ego needs.

They are the mature people on Wilber’s Turquois or Integral level of development and beyond who is able to think inclusive and Cosmo centric, whose purpose is not ego centric but the universal development of everything that exists. For them life is as it should be with all the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the not so beautiful. Life is good and they have no regrets.

The next regret of dying people Bronnie mentions is: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”

This is the regret that will be discussed next time. It is a serious regret affecting most men when they retire or are about to die.

You are That

The eye of God – Helix-nebula

A solemn promise: This is the last time that I am going to write about this topic. The reason for this will become clear as we progress.

In a recent post on Schalk se Pollemiek, I grappled with the notion put forward by, Leonard Mlodinow, an immanent scientist, stating that life is nothing more than a random event. We are nothing more than accidents in a universe that started with a big accident called The Big Bang, offering random opportunities from which we can choose at will in order to make a living as we see fit, in a life that has no more intrinsic meaning than to unravel the reason for our existence with our minds. And we do have exquisitely brilliant minds working on the problem of existence, of which Hawking is one of the most brilliant of them all.

After writing that blog, I received an article written by Stephen Hawking in which he elaborated on the same theme of a random universe, and explaining why we do not need God, or a god in our lives. And suddenly, this anti-god, anti-spirit stance of science made sense to me.

Hawking explains:

“The laws of nature are a description of how things actually work in the past, present and future. In tennis, the ball always goes exactly where they say it will. And there are many other laws at work here too. They govern everything that is going on, from how the energy of the shot is produced in the players’ muscles to the speed at which the grass grows beneath their feet. But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of a ball, but to the motion of a planet, and everything else in the universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot be broken — that’s why they are so powerful and, when seen from a religious standpoint, controversial too.”

“Since we know the universe itself was once very small — perhaps smaller than a proton — this means something quite remarkable. It means the universe itself, in all its mind-boggling vastness and complexity, could simply have popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature. From that moment on, vast amounts of energy were released as space itself expanded — a place to store all the negative energy needed to balance the books. But of course, the critical question is raised again: did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, do we need a God to set it up so that the Big Bang could bang? I have no desire to offend anyone of faith, but I think science has a more compelling explanation than a divine creator”

“Something very wonderful happened to time at the instant of the Big Bang. Time itself began”

And this is where the penny dropped for me. Not so long ago the scientists of that time (under the influence of the holy church) told us that the world was flat and if you went to the rim, you would fall over the edge. The rim was as far as you could get because that was the end of the world as far as they could see.

And, according to their knowledge, accumulated with the help of the scientific tools at their disposal at that time (and with the help of the church) they “knew” that the Earth was the centre of the known universe.

Today we know (with the help of science) that the world is not flat, and you cannot fall over the edge. We also know that the earth is not the centre of the universe. But it seems that not much has changed in the way that science sees the world. In fact, all that did happened was that the “rim” of the world to where you could safely go was pushed back … it was indeed pushed back (by scientists) to where the Big Bang started. That is the new border of our known universe beyond which (according to science) you cannot, and indeed dare not go.

This is, as Stephen Hawking stated above, when time itself began. And we know and science cannot work outside of time. The rim of time at the start of the Big Bang is as far as you can go. As a scientist you cannot enter what the Buddhists call “The gateless gate”. Beyond time, beyond the gateless gate lies Eternity, the Void, not the void of nothingness but the ground of very thing, pure potentiality, the unborn and eternal.

Max Planck said that “science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature [because] we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

All the wisdom traditions tells us that, if you transcend time and space the object and subject dichotomy  is suspended; you do not see clouds, you are the clouds; you do not feel the cool breeze because you are the breeze. You do not hear the thunder clapping you are the thunder clapping.

When the Buddhist experience enlightenment or a Christian Christ-consciousness or if a Sufi mystic reaches a state of “waqfat” they all realise that there is only Spirit, only intrinsic awareness, only the simple awareness of just this, there is only Emptiness in all its radiant wonder … and you are that.

But the ego is a motivating force, a force to keep us safe and secure, to keep things small and under our control, a drive bent on self-preservation, and you cannot argue with that. It does not like uncertainty and the intimacy of life without boundaries. Ego will stop you at the Big Bang until the day it again realises that the earth is not flat.

That beingness which is

prior to the world of space and time

is here now, and always.

It is a single drop of rain, a leaf falling from a tree,

A single heartbeat.

It is the world-less world,

the substance of emptiness.

(from: The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti)


I will leave this for you to read and if this resonsates with you, I hope you will follow Inhabit.

Inhabit: The Territory of You

Ryan Oelke and Corey deVos



Welcome to INHABIT — a monthly practice-based series with Ryan Oelke and Corey deVos, designed to help you embody your own unique expression of integral being and more fully inhabit the territory of your life, your relationships, and your world.


Integral itself can often feel like such a cognitive and intellectual pursuit. Although the map itself invites us to practice integral consciousness in our hearts and bodies as much as our minds, we often tend to lead with our heads, and it can take a great deal of practice and rewiring of our lifestyles before we really feel like we are beginning to embody our own fullest integral power. It’s not hard to find ourselves stuck in the endless abstractions of our own mental models, which can limit our fullest possible expression of integral consciousness. Adding to the challenge, Integral is coming of age during the era of social media, where the dominant mode of discourse is often so disembodied and sometimes even dehumanizing.

This is why Ryan and Corey are doing this show — to help create more embodied practice, more embodied relating, and more embodied methods of showing up as fully as you can in order to make a positive dent in this world. Every month Ryan will lead us in guided practice to help strengthen the link between your mind and your body, between your knowledge and your wisdom, between your being and your doing. All so you can show up as the super-charged integral powerhouse you know you are.

We want you to be a regular part of this show. Each episode, we will take questions from our viewers, giving you an opportunity to share the fruits of your practice with the rest of us, as well as receive guidance around areas you find particularly challenging. So we invite you to join the live discussions as often as you can, and to offer us feedback whenever you feel like you have something you want to share.

In the meantime, please enjoy this special inaugural episode of Inhabit with Ryan Oelke and Corey deVos!



Click here to watch



Stay tuned for more exciting announcements and content releases from Integral Life!

Life as random event … or not

Brownian motion

Below is part of an interesting conversation between Krista Tippett and Leonard Mlodinow about the fact, as Krista puts it, “that life never goes as it’s planned”, and Mlodinow’s scientific standpoint regarding these “random” events we call life.

I have a problem with this interpretation of events regarding life, but I leave it up to you to decide whether to agree with Leonard or not.


Leonard Mlodinow’ story: I’m a random effect of something very bad. And I hope that for me — I’m glad I’m here, but I’m only here because Hitler or the Nazis killed my father’s previous family. And that led to my being here. That was a very hard to thing to face, in a way, that — what’s the meaning of my life, when it arose from something like that?

And in that story, he was in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and he stole a loaf of bread from the bakery. (The soldiers) lined them all up and brought the guys with the guns. And they said, who stole the bread? And my father didn’t say anything. And then they said, okay, we’re going to start at this end of the line, and we’re going to shoot everybody until either you’re all dead or the thief steps forward. So he puts the gun to the head of the first person.

My father, at that point, steps forward and admitted that he stole the bread. And he told me that it wasn’t a heroic thing, that — he didn’t do it out of heroism. He did it — purely practical that these guys are all going to die, and I’m going to die, too, or I’ll just be the only one. So he stepped forward. Instead of killing him, though, the baker acted like God and somewhat arbitrarily took him under his wing and gave him a job as his assistant in the bakery. So he had a much better job after that, based on that incident. And it just shows you that even in the midst of all this cruelty, there’s randomness or — I don’t know what — whim? I don’t know if the guy — I don’t know if he was being human and let some of his humanity peek out, or he wanted to play like God. I don’t really know what was the person’s motive, but that’s one of many things that happened to my father. If it had happened differently, I wouldn’t be here, and my kids wouldn’t be here. Everything would be different in that lineage.

“The outline of our lives, like the candle’s flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses to them, determine our fate.”

Lees meer

Integral Enlightenment

If you have the time and the money, and you are serious about your spiriual life, then this course is for you. Do it, you will nor regret it.

Dear Lourens,

With the special offer for my Integral Enlightenment 9-week Course ending in a few days, I want to take a moment to share in a bit more detail about the catalytic discovery at the heart of this work, and the extraordinary transformation it can bring about.

In particular, I want to take a moment to illuminate what I mean by the “Evolutionary Self” and how it differs from many traditional ideas of spiritual awakening.

Conversations about the “self” have always been a big part of humanity’s spiritual dialogue.

Traditions ancient and modern have talked about there being a “Higher Self,” a “True Self,” a “Self Absolute,” an “essential Self,” an “Unmanifest Self,” or even “No-self.”

But historically, within the great wisdom traditions of the world,
when we hear about our spiritual Self by any name, we’re usually
hearing about a part of the self that is beyond time and change, a
great Self that is one with all, that was never born, never dies,
and is identical with the Source itself.

Enlightenment has generally referred to our awakening to this
part of our self that is already free from everything, already at peace, already awake beyond ego.

We’ve been told by masters ancient and modern that if we can only
discover “who we really are,” we will find ourselves in a state of eternal contentment and joy, no longer perturbed by the vicissitudes of life.

Yet many of us have had the experience of awakening to this “unmanifest” part of ourselves even for extended periods of time, only to fall back into the limitations and contractions of the ego once again.

In the early years I spent participating in and directing a series of evolutionary laboratories, we saw this happen repeatedly.

In this supercharged environment, people regularly experienced powerful spiritual awakenings to their deeper Self, or their ultimate nature beyond the mind.

But, no matter how long they stayed there, they would inevitably find themselves once again struggling within the limited, narrow confines of the small self.

Over time, however, something unexpected began to happen. We began to notice that occasionally a very different part of the self would become activated.

It wasn’t the small, contracted ego self. But it wasn’t the timeless Absolute Self that’s discovered in traditional enlightenment either.

This part of the self was alive, engaged, animated with Spiritual presence and vitality.

It was unambivalent about life. It was excited by change. It didn’t resist feedback or opportunities for growth. To the contrary, it thrived on them.

This was an utterly life-positive, non-resistant, spiritually robust part of the Self that seemed to be saying an unconditional YES to Life.

And perhaps the most intriguing thing about this aspect of the self was that it wasn’t awakening in meditation or other solitary spiritual practices.

It seemed to be waking up in the midst of communicating and
engaging with other people—with kindred spirits when engaged in
transformational conversations and other creative interactions.

When this part of the self becomes activated, it feels as though we are awakening to the spirit of evolution itself, as though the big YES that thrust the universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago is waking up in human form.

The great miracle of this part of the self is that it is no longer resistant to the challenge of self-evolution. When we awaken to this part of the self, we find that we are willing to face whatever we have to face, to struggle with whatever we have to struggle with to evolve.

And, if you’ve been on the path for any length of time, you know how significant that is.

When we begin to let in the implications of this radical shift, our entire orientation to spiritual practice begins to change. To what? To doing whatever we need to do to awaken and activate this part of the self.

We discover that as long as we can keep this part of the self in the driver’s seat of our life, everything else will work miraculously.

Instead of struggling endlessly against our ego resistances, we find we are able to change immediately in response to life’s feedback, because we only want to grow and awaken.

Instead of feeling like spiritual practice is a burden or something one “should” do, it becomes an inspired engagement with the energy of awakening itself.

Instead of falling back into old habit patterns again and again, we find ourselves relating to life from a place where those old patterns no longer hold any power.

In addition, this deeper part of the self seems to have a sort of built-in spiritual/moral/evolutionary compass. Meaning that it has an uncanny ability to respond to any situation in a way that is helpful, evolutionary and “on target.”

It is as though it contains a sort of high-tech spiritual navigation system which is not a supernatural power but simply arises out of an unwavering interest in seeing clearly and responding in an evolutionary way to whatever presents itself.

In developing my own teaching work, I have gradually come to call
this part of the self “the Evolutionary Self” because such a big
part of its character is that it is on fire with a passion for
higher evolution.

In fact, it quite literally feels like the very Impulse of Evolution
itself alive within a human being. An Evolutionary Self.

For anyone who wants to discover and begin to live from this
“Evolutionary Self,” there are three big questions that need to be

  1. How do we awaken this part of the Self?
  2. How do we keep it in the driver’s seat of our life?
  3. How do we create culture, community and relationships that express it?

All three of these questions have been deep questions of action
research in my own life, and in our work at The Academy for

In fact, these are what I’ve come to call the 3 Pillars of
Conscious Evolution. And today I want to share some of my
observations regarding the first of these pillars:

Awakening the Evolutionary Self

If we’re serious about conscious evolution, our first critical work
is to awaken this part of the self—which means to bring it to the
forefront of our conscious awareness.

The reason this is important is that for most of us, the Evolutionary Self is in the background. So, even though it’s there within us, most of the time we can’t see it.

And in order to be able to let it infuse our lives with its wisdom
and passion, we need to wake it up, to bring it out of the closet,
to let its light shine into our consciousness.

If we don’t do this, we’re probably going to find ourselves on a hamster wheel.

We’ll keep working away at our path but with no
living source of divine inspiration infusing our path and practice,
we’ll probably find it impossible to change in a meaningful way.

We’ll also likely find that our old patterns keep resurfacing
because we won’t have any conscious reference points beyond the ego to help us navigate challenging situations.

When we awaken the Evolutionary Self, however, we begin to have a very different relationship to difficulties. We are undaunted by
what life throws at us because we find we are plugged into a
boundless source of energy, inspiration and creativity, and tapped
into a wellspring of strength.

Our spiritual practices like meditation also begin to become supercharged and their power to transform us increases exponentially.

If you’re interested in learning a systematic process to awaken the Evolutionary Self, I invite you to consider joining me for my upcoming 9-week Online Course: Integral Enlightenment – Awakening to an Evolutionary Relationship to Life.

Our Tuition Discount and Special “Evolve Yourself, Evolve the World” Bonus Offer expires in just a few days on Monday, July 1st.

You can learn more and register at the link below:

Integral Enlightenment Online Course Brochure

Thank you again for your interest in this work, and for your commitment to evolution and awakening.

I hope to meet you somewhere along the path.

With warm regards,

Craig Hamilton



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Declaration of the Independence of the Mind

Maria Popova recently wrote an article about Romain Rolland, and it is such an inspiring article that I felt to share at least part of it here with you, adding a remark or two of my own to accentuate the urgency of Rolland’s passionate cry, applicable for the desperate times that we are living in today.

“In 1919, a few months after the end of WWI, … Romain Rolland (January 29, 1866–December 30, 1944) penned a remarkable text titled Declaration of the Independence of the Mind — a passionate cry for using the power of art and intellectual work not for propaganda, destruction, and divisiveness, but for bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the invisible fellowship that transcends national, ethnic, and class boundaries. It was signed by hundreds of the era’s most prominent intellectuals, including Albert Einstein (who was a vocal opponent of war), Bertrand Russell (who thought a great deal about what “the good life” entails), Rabindranath Tagore (who dedicated his life to our spiritual survival), Jane Addams, Upton Sinclair, Stefan Zweig, and Hermann Hesse.

“Although the declaration is very much a response to the destruction of intellectual life during the war (WW1), at its heart is a timeless clarion call for the preservation of art and intellectual life in the face of any threat — be it by weapon or censorship or the pernicious mundane anti-intellectualism of modern media — urging us to uphold our duty in ennobling rather than corrupting each other’s souls through our art and intellectual contribution.

“Noting that most intellectuals “placed their knowledge, their art, their reason in the service of their governments” during the war, Rolland laments the perilous hijacking of thought and art in the service of hate and violence, and urges humanity:

Rolland wrote:

“May this experience be a lesson to us, at least for the future! … The thinkers and artists have added an immeasurable amount of poisoning hatred to the scourge destroying Europe’s body and mind. In the arsenal of their wisdom, memory, and imagination, they sought old and new reasons, historical, scientific, logical, and poetic reasons for hating. They worked to destroy mutual understanding among men. And in doing this, they disfigured, reduced, depreciated, and degraded the Idea whose representatives they were. They made it (perhaps without realizing it) the instrument of the passions and egotistical interests of a political or social clan, of a State, of a fatherland, of a class… And the Idea, compromised by their conflicts, emerges debased with them.”

Declaration of the Independence of the Mind

Arise! Let us free the Mind from these compromises, these humiliating alliances, this hidden subservience! The Mind is the servant of no man. We are the Mind’s servants. We have no other master. We are created to carry and to defend its light, to rally around it all men who are lost. Our role, our duty is to maintain a fixed point, to show the pole star amidst the storm of passions in the darkness. Among these passions of pride and mutual destructions, we do not single out any one, we reject them all. We commit ourselves never to serve anything but the free Truth that has no frontiers and no limits and is without prejudice against races or castes. Of course, we do not dissociate ourselves from Humanity. We toil for it — but for all humanity. We do not recognize peoples — we acknowledge the People — unique and universal — the People who suffer, who struggle, who fall and rise again, and who always advance along the rugged road that is drenched with their sweat and their blood. We recognize the People among all men who are all equally our brothers. And so that they may become, like us, ever more conscious of this brotherhood, we raise above their blind struggles the Arch of Alliance — the free Mind that is one, manifold, eternal.”

Stefan Zweig captures the spirit of the declaration beautifully in his biography of Rolland, itself a sublime work of art:

“The invisible republic of the spirit, the universal fatherland, has been established among the races and among the nations. Its frontiers are open to all who wish to dwell therein; its only law is that of brotherhood; its only enemies are hatred and arrogance between nations. Whoever makes his home within this invisible realm becomes a citizen of the world. He is the heir, not of one people but of all peoples. Henceforth he is an indweller in all tongues and in all countries, in the universal past and the universal future.”

That was 1919, and for all its brilliance and good intent, what did this declaration by luminaries of diverse disciplines (Einstein included) help us? A mere 20 years later the world was ripped apart by the most destructive war in human history, initiated by one mad man.

And again there was uproar and indignation after the fact, and it caused CG Jung to exclaim: “We stand perplexed and stupefied before the phenomenon of Nazism and Bolshevism because we know nothing about man, … We stand face to face with the terrible question of evil and do not even know what is before us, … Even if we did know, we still could not understand ‘how it could happen here.’”

New pledges were affirmed, and new alliances formed to safeguard the world against mad men and their pathological ego trips and delusions of grandeur.

And now, about 75 years later we once more stand “perplexed and stupefied” for the madness that has taken hold of the word, and about “the immeasurable amount of poisoning hatred (that has been added) to the scourge destroying (not only) Europe’s body and mind (but that of the entire world).”

A new breed of world readers, in their stupidity, are seeking “old and new reasons, historical, scientific, logical, and poetic reasons for hating.” They are working frankly and fearlessly to destroy mutual understanding among men. They are ready to sacrifice millions of innocence lives on the altar of their unshusable egos.

It is time for our era’s most prominent intellectuals, and indeed every concerned person, to rise to the occasion “to bringing the world together and elevating the human spirit through the invisible fellowship that transcends national, ethnic, and class boundaries.” The time is now. We cannot wait for disaster to strike before we act.

World War one was disastrous, and World War two was immensely worse and a stark reminder of what the next war will look like. We simply dare not go there.

In the fullness of how we live our days

Deepening Our Comfort with Uncertainty

–by Kristi Nelson, syndicated from, Jun 15, 2019

(with a few criptic notes from me)

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

~ Thomas Merton

I used to put myself to sleep by repeatedly reciting a little mantra that helped me transition from active days to hopes for a calm mind at night: “There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to know.” Guiding myself into greater comfort with not knowing was always helpful in reassuring my mind that it could truly rest and take a break from trying to plan and figure everything out. It seemed that where my mind could lead, my body would follow, and so I could slip into the sweet embrace of sleep.

In our daily lives, there are endless forms of uncertainty — far more things we cannot know than know. Objectively, this could be cause for great delight, wonder, and surrender. We could be relieved and appreciative that we do not have to perpetually hold onto the steering wheel, captain the ship, drive our lives. There is much to discover that can surprise us, so much to which we can gratefully yield, so much permission to let go of our need to know or control what will happen. And yet when we experience the presence of true uncertainty in our lives, it can be rattling. It goes against the conditioning most of us have internalized that not knowing is threatening — that it must be hidden or overridden, solved or resolved, as quickly as possible.

For everyone alive now, and for everyone who has ever lived, we are united in the fact that life invites us to show up again and again into mystery. (As Terry Patten said “Periods of great adversity often produce exciting and satisfying lives.” But then again … ) There are no guarantees — only exquisite unknowns. We do not know exactly how or when we will die, and there is no single formula for how best to live. We do not know how life is going to unfold — in the grand scheme and also in its minutiae — and we cannot be in charge of most all of it. This freedom from control can either shrink our perspective to the size of a clinging fist or deliver us readily into the gaze of the cosmos, depending on how we approach life in the moment. Much of our freedom depends on cultivating greater perspective about being with uncertainty, however and whenever we can.

(But always keeping Craig Hamilton’s warning in mind: “When it comes to our higher spiritual development, our higher self-evolution, most of us don’t want to change all that much, not really.”)

When we practice grateful living, we create a welcoming space for the surprise of uncertainty, knowing that it arrives naturally in each of those moments when we truly take nothing for granted. Without expectations, life is one surprising unfolding after another. The exact nature of the surprises that arrive in our lives is not up to us, but the nature of our response to surprise is ours and ours alone. Each time we let go and welcome life instead of holding onto our ideas about it, we receive reinforcement for our willingness to surrender to vastness rather than trying to resist it. The rewards of this shift are ever-available to us and make the risks ever-worthwhile, as they deliver the gifts of greater ease, resilience, and joy. As we meet the uncertain world with a more grateful, trusting presence, our inner life and spiritual life are unfathomably enriched. As Br. David Steindl-Rast says, “Deep trust in life is not a feeling but a stance that you deliberately take. It is the attitude we call courage.”

(Or like Francis Weller put it: “The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”

It seems we could benefit from learning to bring more of the intentions and prayers we use to guide ourselves to sleep at night to help guide us in how to be truly awake to our days. At night, we soften into the impending unknown of sleep by encouraging our minds to be fully in the moment, to let go, to trust, to surrender. Perhaps if we allowed ourselves to remember this practice of release — that there truly, often is nothing to know — in the fullness of how we live out our days, we might find ourselves more available to life, and life infinitely more available to us.

Camus wrote: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Vir hulle wat nie `n stem het nie.

The end

Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.

Maak ek myself skuldig aan hierdie sonde. Ek pos nie maklik grafiese fotos of stories oor dieremishandeling, of kindermishandeling, of mishandeling van enige aard hier of op daardie frustrerende ‘boek-van-gesigte’ nie.

Nou sien ek dit het mode geword om mense te dreig; plaas fotos van gruweldade of vergrype op Fb en ek ontvriend jou dadelik.

Nou wonder ek: Sê maar net een Duitse soldaat het destyds die moed van sy oortuiging gehad en n foto of n storie oor kinders wat in gaskamers in gedwing was iewers gepubliseer, of fotos van Joodse mans en vrouens wat in massagrafte met masjiengewere afgemaai is die wêreld ingestuur. Miskien, net miskien sou iemand daarop gereageer het, sou daar dalk n kind, of n paar honderd van hulle gespaar gebly het, sou iemand dalk vir Mengele en sy trawante gesê het ons hou nie van wat jy aan kinders doen nie.

Of sou die soldaat ook soos nou onmiddelik ontvriend geword het? Moet my asseblief nie ontstel met jou fotos nie, ek wil rustig my prentjies skilder, ek wil in vrede my koek en tee geniet saam met my vriendinne. Ek wil nie weet van plaasmoorde en die gruwels wat daardie lafaards met weerlose ou mans en vrouens en kinders doen nie. Dit is nie my probleem nie. Laat iemand anders iets aan die saak doen … en tien miljoen mense, mans, vrouens en kinders word in gaskamers vermoor.

En natuurlik is ons lank na die tyd in die openbaar gepas ontstig oor die bloedige vergrype van “siek” mense. “Hoe kon hulle!!” Dit mag nooit weer gebeur nie! Daardie mense moet gestraf word!

Maar nou, tog net nie nou nie. Ek wil nie weet van die dier wat gemartel word nie. Daar moet iets ernstig met jou fout wees as jy sulke fotos publiseer om die wêreld bewus te maak van sulke wrede vergrype. Ek vermoed dat jy n siek mens is, en ek wil nie vriende wees met n siek mens nie. Koebaai, jy is ontvriend. Hier is my nuutste landskap skildery, foto, skets. Is dit nie al te mooi nie? Wil jy dit nie dalk koop nie?

Richard (RD) Laing

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

Daar is n beskouing dat, indien kuns nie sosiale komentaar lewer nie, is dit nie kuns nie, dan is dit mooi prentjies en niks meer nie.

Ek glo mooi prentjies is nodig om die wêreld n effens beter plek te maak. Ek glo ballans is nodig vir n gesonde samelewing. Ons moet kennis neem van wat om ons aangaan, en ons moet gepas reageer as dinge begin skeefloop. n Oog vir n oog benadering wat geweld verder laat eskaleer is altyd onwys, maar n volstruis-volstruis benadering is bloot onverantwoordelik.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”