The Secret to Relationships

I am deeply worried about the state of our relationships.  If we had as many ill people as we have unhealthy relationships then people would be panicking.  Relationship skills are one thing that all of us need to learn.

There is one single key that can unlock all of our relationship issues – one skill to learn.  (Well almost all of our relationship issues – it may not be so effective in finding your ideal partner – its better for dealing with the relationships you already have.)  It is not healthy boundaries, or sweetness, or loving yourself, or faith, or gratitude but it does have elements of all of these.  Technically it is called “Differentiation” though a more commonly understood term might be “Interdependence”  It is not independent and closed off to others, and it is not dependent and clinging to others, but interdependent and sharing with others.

Here is a discussion we had about the concept:

Here is a little discussion about how we managed to find interdependence and differentiation:

Differentiation refers to the idea that we can be closely connected with other with out losing our individuality – our differences.  It is what happens when you are authentic (true to yourself) – Compassionate (true to others) – and Positive (true to the infinite) – all three at the same time.  This is not necessarily an easy task and takes some practice, but it is not out of our reach.  What it means is that we must find ways to accept each other as we are – to not try to change each other, to not try to change ourselves, but to be truly who we are in connection with each other.

A disturbing but effective way of learning this is to ask yourself the question – “What would i do if i knew they were never going to change?  How would I be true to myself?”  If you can answer this honestly then you will find for yourself the answers you need and will create the differentiation that makes all the difference in relationships.  The irony is that when you stop trying to change people often they make changes by themselves, and progress is made.

Another method to learning differentiation is to spend time with well differentiated people – if you know anyone with a strong meaningful happy relationship and you spend time with them, you may find that you pick up something of their energy of their way of being and are able to express that in your relationships.

A more direct method is to use spiritual technologies that encode the energy of differentiation.  By practicing these you will directly practice embodying the feeling of differentiated relationships, and in time will be able to bring that feeling into practice in your relationships.  Here are some mudras that can be used to learn differentiation.

This one is for Men:

Image may contain: Alexander McDonell, smiling, standing and indoor

This one is for women – you can see that it does not make me so happy because it is not the right one for me.  I am hoping to replace the image with a picture of someone else so that you can get the sense of the positive effect it has.

Image may contain: Alexander McDonell, standing and indoor

Some so called “Tantra” classes use other mudras and techniques that are based on differentiation (though there are plenty of classes that are teaching something completely different)

I am working on a set of energy medicines – water imbued with spiritual energies and there will be one for differentiation, and it can also be expressed through art and music.  Here is an improvisation based on an Indian Raga that expresses differentiation.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]

For those who want the video version here I am discussing differentiation and its importance, and below are some other video resources about relationships that you might find useful.

Negotiating Relationship Issues:

How to master Differentiation:

Finding your needs – the 10 needs:


What is Enlightenment

For many enlightenment is pictured as an unattainable ideal – the removal of all human issues, becoming perfectly wonderfully happy at all times – completely unaffected by the physical world or even by the mental and emotional worlds.  While this is not completely unachievable it does have one quite serious implication that must be considered.

Image result for blissful smile samadhi

When one is entirely unaffected by something one becomes entirely uninterested in it.  When someone becomes unaffected by the physical world, by the needs of the body and the needs of society – they cease to eat or communicate or pay attention to their surroundings.  While this can be quite pleasant it leads fairly quickly to what is known as spiritual death where the consciousness and the body become so disconnected that they cease to live as one and the body ceases to function.  The vital energies that are collected in the body during this process can become so strong that it leads to strange effects such as bodies that do not decay after death.  It seems like a really pleasant way to go, but it does not lead to functional behaviour or the ability to guide others, and it makes the concept of enlightened teachers rather meaningless as those who reached enlightenment would not be among the living.’

Image result for body that doesn't decompose

But let me paint a different picture – we are all seeking the expansion of our sense of identity (whether we know it or not) and as we grow in consciousness we eventually expand to identify ourselves with the whole cosmos.  this is not to say that one forgets who they are or loses their identity on the human level, but that we no longer have any clear boundary where myself ends and yourself begins – I see myself as a node in an infinite connected web – where all are parts of me but this particular node is like the centre of me.

Related image

When one experiences this infinite oneness one can no longer be small or selfish, or limiting in ones purposes, but this is not to say that one becomes perfect in any way.  There is a great joy in that infinite connectedness as well as great weight of responsibility and even pain in empathic relation to all the pains of so called others, as well as your own small self’s pains.  There is still confusion, lack of experience, excitements, personal needs and desires – the ordinary human experience goes on in all its fallible imperfect mess, but against a backdrop of the beauty and perfection and joy of that infinite connection – perfectly imperfect, joyous and yet compassionate and even passionate.

Related image

While the first vision of enlightenment leads us with no living enlightened beings, this second view provides us with whole communities of enlightened beings – in every indigenous society that I have ever come across this experience of oneness is expected and normal, and even some developed societies and many spiritualists also achieve this out of their own efforts.  To those who have not experienced this profound oneness in their own lives these “enlightened” people would be largely invisible – they seem normal.  But to those who live in this infinite connected experience the others who also do shine with an inner light and exude peace and joy.

Image result for spiritual connection

This concept of what enlightenment is has a greater impact than one might think.  It guides our choice of actions, practices and the type of master we seek in our spiritual journeys.  If you seek unattainable perfection then you will be forever striving and never attaining, but if you seek the connectedness that is the natural way human societies have lived and expressed themselves for millenia then it will be a small journey home to that infinite joy of existence.

How to be an Atheist Christian

Related imageI was walking through the city only a few days ago, and met a christian missionary handing out flyers as they do and asking leading questions – “Do you believe in Jesus?” etc.  It was quite an unpleasant experience – exacerbated by the fact that i actually had met this particular christian before in more pleasant circumstances and felt that i had to treat him as a friend and not just an annoyance.  I am sure most readers will be familiar with this situation – how do you deal with missionaries?

I am sure this poor behaviour from a group of people who call themselves christians has alienated many of us from the christian tradition and left us with little respect for christianity as a whole, but the tradition has some valuable wisdom to teach us and it would be a shame to lose that wisdom in stepping away from zealotry and thoughtless proselytising.

Now I would not ordinarily consider myself a christian – my spiritual practice tends to be Taichi and Meditation, and my family is Jewish, but I have been baptised, I have read and learnt to follow Christ’s teachings of Faith and Love, and I have a little book of gregorian chants from the christian liturgy that i like to sing from now and then, and now and then i do attend churches if i can find one that meets my high standards for beauty and connection.  So despite my unorthodoxy i think i count as a good christian in the true sense of the term.  But I could not in authenticity agree that I “Believe in Jesus”.

So let’s look at this concept “Belief in Jesus” and see what’s wrong with it.

Image result for luke skywalker every word in that sentence was wrong


[well maybe we can accept the “In”, but Belief and Jesus are more dubious]



If you asked me do you have “Faith in Christ” I would give an unqualified yes, and yet these two phrases though seemingly almost identical have enormous differences in their impact on our lives and thought, and their ability to create loving connection in our lives.

Faith Vs Belief

“Faith” in spirituality refers not to blind belief in some higher power, but the willingness to put your trust in something outside of yourself – to relax your need to control things and allow.  It is a relaxing and trusting process.  To understand the difference between belief and faith think of the drama exercise where with your eyes closed you let yourself fall backwards and the rest of the troupe catch you before you hit the ground.  Have you ever tried it?  It is easy to believe that people will catch you.  You have seen them do it to other people you know they will catch you.  You know they care about you and won’t let you fall, but when you stand with your eyes closed and feel yourself falling does that belief translate into trust?  Can you relax and allow yourself to be caught?  And notice if you will that it is very difficult to catch someone if they are not trusting themselves to be caught, and so the faith and trust itself has a powerful effect on the outcome of the exercise – where belief does not.

In fact it is entirely possible to have belief without faith – as many religious people do – believing in God but still keeping control over every aspect of their lives, (and of other people’s lives – if you can’t accept gay relationships, or other religions then you have little faith in God’s power – you might believe in God’s power, but you are not relaxing and allowing God to look after it).  It is equally possible to have faith without belief – to trust in the natural processes of the universe, to allow things to turn out in your life without controlling them, and without the need to believe in a God or Saviour of any kind.  This at first glance would seem to be more rare, and more difficult as if you have nothing to believe on what basis do you put your trust?  but Taoist Taichi and buddhist meditation teach exactly this – a process of relaxing and accepting that leads to faith and trust without necessarily needing concepts about what power we are trusting.

Stages of Faith

And here’s another thing about belief.  It is a only one step in a series of deeper and deeper approaches to life and spirituality.  It is widely recognised that there are 7 stages of spiritual development.  You will find the concept everywhere from Christianity (Teresa d’Avila’s Mansions of the heart) to Yoga (the Koshas of the mind) to western psychology (James W. Fowler’s Stages of Faith) I would describe the 7 stages like this:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Belief
  3. Questioning
  4. Insight
  5. Soulfulness
  6. Ecstasy
  7. Connection

Now obviously being a religious believer (stage 2) is better than being an avoidant narcissistic criminal (Stage 1) and there are many cases where conventional belief based religion has helped people to step out of destructive behaviour to become a more productive upright citizen, but spirituality goes a lot deeper than that, and the social and environmental issues of the day require us to go a lot deeper into self knowledge than that fairly primitive stage of belief.  In my opinion we now need the 7th stage – connection and selfless service to become much more widespread if we are to tackle our current issues – but that’s something i’ll talk about another day.\

Jesus Vs Christ

Image result for Jesus atheistI am going to question the importance of Jesus though.  Here’s the first problem with Jesus – apparently it is very important to many religious christians that you get his name right – that you call him Jesus Christ, and not something else like Isa Bin’allah for example.  Now obviously this is mostly lack of education, and probably not so important in the scheme of spiritual wisdom, but if the name is important then let’s at least get it right.  His name was probably Yeshua which is a variant of Yehoshua – “Joshua” so it would probably be more accurate to call him “Josh”.

However more importantly Jesus refers to a human being who arguably lived and died in ancient israel, and probably did some but not all of what is written about him in the bible, and definitely did a lot of other things that were never written down.  Christ on the other hand refers to the Spiritual principle that he embodied – this can be described as the point between the manifest and unmanifest worlds, or in christian parlance The bridge between living beings and “God the Father”.  This is the part of consicousness that is simultaneously in touch with the world of creation, and at the same time touches the infinite peace that is beyond this world (nirvana).  So this Christ principle is what allows us to step outside of the troubles of today and into the perfect peace where we are outside of time and cares and worries.  So Jesus refers to his physical human existence, and Christ to the spiritual consciousness which he connected to.

Jesus probably lived and probably did great things, and certainly had an enormous influence on society and the world, but his actions 2000 years ago are not what really makes the difference in our personal lives and meditations it is the spiritual principle of the Christ that has a direct influence on us, and has the same influence now as it did 2000 years ago when Jesus/Yeshua lived and had the same influence 20,000 years ago or even more way back into prehistory.  You can believe what you want about Jesus – “he died for our sins” – “he never existed” – “he was an alien from alpha centauri” – it doesn’t really make all that much difference to your spiritual life, but what does make a difference is whether you have “Faith in Christ” – whether you can trust in that cosmic principle that leads us to infinite peace, and allow that to influence and transform us into the connected, happy, selfless people that we can be.


Love is Not the Answer

Image result for broken heart

Love is not only not the answer it is so dangerous as to possibly be our greatest problem.  The concept of love contains in it a duality – “I love you” – “You love me” – This means that You and I are separate.  I expect some might say that this is true – You and I are separate, and in the physical universe this is true, but talk to any mystic who perceives the deeper nature of the universe and they will tell you that there is no separation, that we are all one and all connected.  In this mystical view of reality there is no room for “I love you” or “You love me” or even for “I love myself”.  There is only “We are one”.

In the mystics eyes is there such a thing as Love?  Yes there is – a different thing from the daily love we talk about – an energy that flows through all things, a joy that animates existence, an inspiration that drives the world.  Could you call this Love?  Yes but you might do better to give it another name – “The Holy Spirit”, “Universal Energy”, “Shakti” are all good choices.  If we truly learnt to embody this energy then it might be an answer it might show us the way to a better more harmonious world (in fact i am certain that it would).  In that sense could we say that Love is the Answer?  Certainly yes it is true, but when someone says to me “Love is the answer” do they mean this kind of otherworldly experience?  Rarely – in most cases they mean sentimental sweetness, or self sacrificing gentleness, or ecstatic love of God and the World (which ecstasy please note still contains duality in it)

So our highly regarded concept of Love is anti-mystical – it holds us to perpetuate the false view that we are separate beings.  In its duality it prevents us from seeing the unity of all, or even the unity of a few.

It has been shown that falling in love is a bad sign for relationships.  Lasting happy relationships are based on peace and companionship and satisfaction not on passionate love.  Relationships require unity to flourish – the sense that we are together as one.

Love also creates conflicts by drawing a line around ourselves of what we love, and leaving some other parts out of it – “I love my children and will deprive others for their sake” – “I love my country and will fight and kill others for it”.  In the end this circle of love can be expanded to include the whole universe – “I Love All” – and that has some benefit in that there is no outside of the circle that we don’t love but it still lacks the understanding and insight that allows you to create peace and harmony.  Enjoy your ecstatic dances and passionate love of all – but don’t tell me that you will transform the world like this – you don’t yet have the sensitivity to do that until you can see others as part of yourself, and don’t tell me I should find it inspiring.  I went through 10 years of Divine Ecstasy and I look back on it as one of the worst times of my life – because that ecstatic duality prevents the experience of the open hearted connection that gives sustained, harmonious & peaceful joy.

Where else does Love fail us?  In the environmental movement – “I love trees and I will save them, fight for them, rally for them” but all this frenetic energy around the issue prevents us from seeing the simple causes behind the situation.  Why is this happening? And how can we change it?  In fact if you look closely you will see the same answer – the trees are being cut and destroyed for love.  It is love of money and love for their families that drives the loggers to cut the trees.  It is love for money and love for their companies that leads the company directors to organise this kind of business.  It is love for their positions and love for the economy that leads the politicians to support.  Where is the solution – as always it is in unity.  When the love can be transformed into harmony, connection, wisdom we will have a harmony with money, trees, families, economies and all involved and we will quickly find the obvious solution that we must find income sources that support community and the environment.  Our energy should be put into building cooperative & community endeavours not to fighting and creating more conflict and resistance.

What is the answer?  Oneness, Unity, Connection – allow that love that you feel to pull you closer until there is no separation – in this state when we are one together there is no conflict, there is no resistance.  It is a natural process to find what works for all, and then all will naturally support it.

Give up on Love – Give up on Loving – it does not serve us.  Time to go further into the unity and harmony that is the true nature of the universe and allow that Peaceful Connection to resolve all our problems.