Love, Acceptance, and Care-Taking

Love, Acceptance, and Care-Taking

My partner, George, recently made his transition, the results of pervasive cancer. During the last six months there were moments when dealing with the whole situation was difficult. At times I had resentments: “It isn’t what I signed up for, I don’t like cooking all the meals, doing everything around the house, running all the errands, doing his laundry, and for sure he could turn his own t-shirts right side out,” etc. You get the picture.

One day I read something: “Suffering comes from confusion and confusion comes from arguing with what is.” In that moment the resentments melted and in flowed joy, the likes of which I had never experienced before. I was overwhelmed with joy that I was the one who had the honor to walk this transition path with George.

I cooked the meals in joy, did the laundry in joy, did whatever needed to be done and did it in joy. Living in joy is so much more fun than living in resentments. As difficult as things were at times, we enjoyed each other and laughed together. At times I had a flood of sadness that his life span was being clipped, our time together was limited, his time with people he loved and cared about was also cut short. But arguing with what is, is like spitting into the wind. When I accepted what was in that moment, the love and the tenderness I felt amazed me.

As Soon As…
by Gretchen Blais

As soon as we let go
Of the notion
That there is the possibility
Of a life
Other than the one that is,
We move away
From suffering
Into a deeper level of peace
And acceptance,
And solutions appear.

Wisdom Will Show Up

Wisdom Will Show Up

When I reflect on what it is that I know for sure, one thing is that all the answers and all the guidance I need are always there waiting for me in the stillness and quiet of my mind. That this, too – whatever it is – shall pass and new, more helpful thoughts will appear. An insight will drop in. A thought of gratitude will wash over me. I slip into a beautiful, quiet feeling of knowing I am ok. Everything will be ok. Even if I have no clue as to how or when.

One of my early and big ah-ha moments about this was work related. I was rushing to a really important meeting across town – and across 3 sets of railroad tracks! – where I would be talking to the executive leadership of our hospital system to persuade them to take over the financial responsibility for our free primary care clinic for uninsured immigrant families. I hoped they would consider making the clinic part of the organization’s Community Benefit Program when the grant funding for it ran out.

I had a lot on this conversation! I was already running a little late because I thought I needed just a couple more data points to help make my case. And my poor re-call for data details was simultaneously stirring up my insecurities. As if talking to these “important people” wasn’t enough to do that by itself! My thoughts were bouncing all over the place and my feelings were amplifying them.

And yes …. I caught a train. A really really long one.

But after my first moment of “NO!!!!!!!” (and a few expletives) I heard from someplace deep inside me “It’s ok, you need this moment of stillness.” Wisdom showed up.

It was as if I awakened into a calm, settled feeling and I knew without thinking about it that it was something I could trust. From that space and that beautiful feeling I knew I was doing the right thing and for the right reasons, that it was okay that I didn’t know how it would turn out, and that somehow it would all be ok. During the rest of my drive across town I began being filled with gratitude for everything about La Clinica de la Esperanza, The Clinic of Hope. Our staff, our patients and their families, the opportunities it provided for deep connection and being of service. And on and on.

And then, amazingly, the meeting that had been causing me such anxiety turned out to be one of the best meetings I had ever been a part of. The quality of the feeling in the room was light and sweet in spite of the corporate environment. We had an incredibly rich dialog about both values and practicalities, and reached a conclusion that put us on the road to sustainability for this important service to our community. I realized later that I wasn’t thinking the same way I normally would in a similar situation. In fact, it seemed like my words were coming from somewhere else, just flowing from and within the feeling.

Since then I’ve had many big and little, funny and serious experiences of Wisdom spontaneously showing up.

From ….walking with great determination and purpose from one part of the house to another to get a hair band for my hair, only to get there and have no idea what it was that I was after. And then, just as I’m launching into an internal dialog and anxious feelings about getting old, having that small voice inside say – in a New York Italian voice from the movie Mickey Blue Eyes no less – “Hey, fuhgeddaboudit! It’ll come to you”. And sure enough, about the time I laugh and turn around to leave the room I remember.

To …. being deeply concerned about someone in my family or about having handled something poorly, or feeling really angry and urgent about giving someone a piece of my mind, or feeling totally crushed and devastated and insecure by something or someone. And out of the raging fires of these feelings I hear some version of “it’s ok, you are ok”. And I know that I don’t need to do anything. I know that these feelings will pass. And in the quiet stillness of my mind I know I will “see” something, and that understanding and answers will come to me. Gratitude will appear. Humor will emerge. A deep feeling of love will arrive. Wisdom shows up.

As Sydney Banks’ Andy said in The Englightened Gardener:

Let your mind be still,
For the wisdom you seek is like that
butterfly over yonder.
If you try to catch it with
your intellect,
it will simply fly away.
On the other hand, if you can still
your mind,
someday, when you least expect it,
it will land in the palm
of your hand.

This I know for sure.

What If I Am a Beginner?

What If I Am a Beginner?

What if I am a Beginner?
Where do I start?
How to do I share this with no experience?

There is this inside joke at my recovery center. Every week I show up and a new arrival at the center introduces themselves and asks what we are going to talk about. The old folks in the group love that question. Almost in unison, the group members say, “Amir has no idea…I guess we’ll both find out what he’s gonna to talk about” and like little kids in a playground, they laugh as if they said something incredibly mind-blowing.

As much as it’s become a fun tradition, it is very on point. I don’t know what I am going to talk about. Period.

Now I have some ideas. I have some thoughts. I even scribble notes. By the time something leaps out of my mouth, it’s usually nothing to do with what I planned or thought about before. That used to scare me. I was so afraid. Then I realized something…I am always a beginner.

Think about it. When in your life have you been in that exact environment, with the same people at this very moment?


You are beginning something new with the person in front of you right now!  That’s not to be feared. That’s a gift!

And if you are afraid…You know what the best thing is about that; we can tell people where we are at. This paradigm gives us permission to be in the moment in fear, joy, excitement, anger… you name it! This understanding isn’t a scapegoat for our feelings; this understanding lets us ride the wave of moment to moment thought and create in the world of form, in whatever experience we are having.

There is an old Zen saying that says, “A master is a beginner who kept beginning.”

You have the ability to create from this very moment. You can start from scratch again and again – And yet we miss its gifts because we think it’s a hindrance!

So where should you start?
Right Here.

Anyway it takes form.

What if you are a beginner?
Congratulations for realizing how life works moment to moment.

How do you share with no experience?
This paradigm offers fresh insights moment to moment. You just need to show up. The experience is in the sharing. The experience is to know that you may screw up and start again. The experience is knowing that you have everything in you to share and you also have nothing riding on it if it doesn’t come out the way you think it should.

There is no right way to share because we don’t know what is available for us until we show up…

Go out, my friends…Tell them what you see. Go out and jump on a webinar, talk to groups, talk to a friend and explore together. By the time you start connecting, exploring, and seeing; you’ll soon forget that you already started.

Like this very post that you are reading…It came from nothing…and like you, I had no idea what I was going to say next.

There is so much magic in being a beginner; because we always begin again at every moment.
It’s time for you to get out and share this if you have been waiting on the sidelines.

And if you still feel like a beginner…
What a great place to start!
I’ll join you in this fresh space any time you’d like.

Join Amir Karkouti live on Tuesday May 15th as he hosts People Before Principles, a free Center for Sustainable Change webinar.

People Before Principles

What I Know For Sure

What I Know For Sure

I was lucky enough to work with Three Principles Facilitator Michael Neill for many years and as such I got to sit in on 5 of his Supercoach Academy classes.  In 2014 I was struck by how the impact of this work came out in such seemingly innocuous insights and I wanted to share with Michael what his work was really accomplishing in the world so I set out on a “secret mission”.  I asked each of the students of that years class to share an insight they had as a result of learning about the Principles.  With a lot of help from Academy student (now Certified Transformative Coach) William Snow – we were able to publish a book of these insights and surprise Michael with it as a Thank you gift for bringing this understanding to so many.

Insights CoverWhat I loved about this project was that everyone had seen SOMETHING new and it did not matter how long they had been looking in the direction of the Principles.  Some of the insights at face value seemed “small” and some seemed “earth-shatteringly large” and what made it seem small or large depended largely on the readers own experiences and what that particular insight brought to mind for us. The same ones that made me weep with their enormity were brushed off by others. What was true overall though was that the book was a hit!  People laughed as they read it – they cried. They saw themselves in the stories and they saw the innocence of others. When they finished reading they felt a part of something larger, they felt kinship with the other human beings inhabiting the planet. It was clear that we all work the same way and innocently we get caught up in our thinking.

So when I began to look at what kind of difference I wanted to make in my position as Executive Director for Center for Sustainable Change, I knew part of it would be in people sharing insights.  In discussing how people share this understanding I have heard teacher after teacher say to “speak from the heart” to “share what you have seen for yourself” to “not teach above your paygrade”. In sharing in communities people have told me they feel overwhelmed with the idea of defining Mind Consciousness and Thought to someone and yet they can turn around and tell me how the Principles have changed their life and it is so moving!

So I am really pleased to say that CSC is working on a new video series called What I Know for Sure.  It is people sharing those seemingly simple insights that if the whole world saw it in the way each of these people did, the entire planet would change. To kick things off I am sharing the insight that I shared with Michael as part of that book below. It is called “They Bounce Too”.

Throughout my time working with Michael and being exposed to the Inside Out understanding, I have begun to see more and more that “I bounce”.  What I mean by this is that I understand that there is a greater intelligence behind life and a “kind design”.  No matter what happens, I always come out ok.

During the first weekend of the Academy, Michael likened this security to a net that catches you during a ropes course.  The entire time he spoke about it I kept thinking ” I know I bounce back – but how do I get my children to see that I bounce back so they don’t worry about me!”

During the break, Michael asked me why I look perplexed and I told him what I had been working on figuring out.  He turned to me and simply asked, ” They don’t bounce?”

I was floored!  I did not have to protect my children! I did not have to have them see everything the way I did – I did not have to “save them”!  The kindness of the design” worked for them too!  They bounce too!

The months following have left me with such a sense of security – as if I saw them fall off the ropes course 100 times and the net keep catching them. I saw the truth not just for myself and my fellow learners but for those I worry about most.

What a gift!

I would encourage you to take a moment and jot down the things you have seen – What do you know for sure about life that you did not know before you understood the Principles?  Then I invite you to consider doing a video on one or more of these things and sharing it as part of our series. Do not dismiss the little things you have seen. Imagine the whole world knowing for sure what you know and what a difference that would make. You can submit a video or request to do a recorded video call with us so we can help with the tech and they will be shared on our shiny new website 🙂

I am grateful for all the insights I have seen myself and all those who have shared the insights they have seen, whether it was Supercoach Academy students, people I have met at conferences, people who have shared them via books, people who have posted them online or people I have worked with since joining CSC. The book was a gift from the students of SCA to Michael, this video series is a gift to us all.

What do you know for sure?

The Infinity of Possibility

The Infinity of Possibility

(Image: A Student’s View of the Universe, Oil painting by Anthony Quesen)

The human mind has no limits. We can create anything. We can imagine unseen worlds. We can dream far beyond our knowledge. We can conceive responses to any challenge. We are dynamic players in an infinity of possibility.

The promise of this for all of humanity, no matter how haltingly realized, is the eternal hope for thriving beyond survival. At any moment, an insight might bubble up in anyone that provides a solution to vexing problems. Right now, someone is conceiving how to transcend discord between cultures and individuals. An answer is taking form in a doctor’s mind to cure a deadly disease. A child daydreaming by a fireside is playing unheard music in his mind. A scientist is stumbling into an unexpected development in a lab that sets her mind alight with a new direction for research. All over the planet, the power of creation is pulsing through all of life.

We are not the product of creation; we are creation both in formlessness, our powers to think and shape our thinking into reality, and in form, our very existence that allows us to interact and build and and dance and laugh, and, yes, to scream and cry. Because we are always thinking our own particular reality into form, we are living in the illusion that we are fixed in time and space, bound by our own limitations. Only when we step back to see the whole beautiful system in operation do we realize that we are fixed only by the limitations we make up in our own thoughts.

What are those limits? Simple things like, “If that was such a great idea, somebody would already have thought of it.” “I’m not smart enough to solve this problem.” “I can’t do math.” “That’s beyond my pay grade; don’t ask me that.” “I don’t understand art.” “My ideas aren’t that good; I can’t help you.” In the ordinary course of every day, we stop short, again and again, of allowing our own minds to work as they are designed to work. We turn our backs on the infinite possibilities of what we might see in this moment now, and travel backwards and forwards into fear and doubt about ourselves.

When my grandson (the artist of the illustration for this Blog) was little, it used to thrill me when he would open a box and dump a bunch of Lego pieces in a pile and, unfazed, look at the picture on the box and begin sorting the pieces to build it himself. The first time he did that, to be honest, I was momentarily concerned. I had the thought, “Oh, gosh. He’s so little. This is too complicated for him. I don’t think he can figure it out, and I hate to see him frustrated.” Fortunately, I didn’t express that thought. I just went about fixing dinner. A half-hour later, when I went to tell him it was time for dinner, he was fitting the last few pieces in place and smiling from ear to ear. “Look Grammie! I saw how to do it! I looked at the picture and I saw what to do!”

That’s the starter kit we’re born with, unlimited faith that we can see what to do if we just wonder and look. Little children who have not been told they can’t always start from “I can.” Limitations are acquired thinking; we come into the world with nothing on our minds. And then we fill our minds with whatever we borrow, observe, see or discover for ourselves.

I learned, watching my grandson grow up (he’s 18 now) that if you don’t ever discuss limitations with children, they don’t find them. He watched his mother running a half-marathon when he was 10. “That looks like fun,” he said. “Great,” she said, “you can run with me next time.” He did, starting with 5k’s, and six months later, he finished his first half-marathon, filled with joy. He watched his father, an artist, draw simple animals on butcher block paper in a restaurant when he was a little tyke, barely able to grasp a crayon. “I do it!” he exclaimed. “Sure,” his Dad said, “and guided him to creating his first orange bunny rabbit. Within a short time, he was drawing all kinds of things on his own. He watched me pulling weeds in the yard when he was five. “Can I pull some?” he asked. “Sure,” I said. “I’ll show you how to tell the weeds from the flowers.” By the next Saturday, he was out there working confidently by my side.

We come into life exuberant to live it. We throw ourselves into the freshness of it all and start thinking our own way through the color and light and sounds and adventures of seeing life anew. At every step along the way, our minds are optimally wired to make the most of it and generate rich experiences of it. But our minds belong to us, and we can think anything. The mind doesn’t care. Whatever images we put into our heads, our consciousness will bring into our reality. So the first time we think, “Oh, no, I can’t,” we have the experience of holding back, stepping away from opportunity, doubting ourselves. That’s not all bad; we have to learn not to put our hand down on a hot stove, not to go into freezing weather without protective clothing, not to do and think a lot of things. But we need to learn, from early on in life, that thinking is our gift, the way we create our precious life experience, the pathway to entering the unknown and finding new treasures.

No one can stop the flow of thought; it is the creative process moving through us. No one can keep new thoughts from coming to mind. But everyone can see that flow for what it is, an energetic movement of stuff, like detritus floating in a fast-flowing river. We can watch it pass, or we can grab something and look more closely. When we don’t know that we can watch it pass, we try to grab everything, and end up muddled. When we don’t know how to tell the good stuff from the junk, we make mistakes and hold onto to things we could have allowed to pass. When we know how it all works, we can enjoy it all — no harm done.

That’s the key, knowing we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are the fleeting products of our own unlimited capacity to create images and ideas. Our experience of them allows us to know what to do with them, but none of them can hold us back. They don’t have the power.

We are Mind, Thought and Consciousness in motion. We are the power.
For more from Judy Sedgeman, visit

One Person

One Person

This week I embarked on a new project and I’d like to share it with all of you.

My original title for this blog post was, “Insight: What’s possible when ‘one person’ is able to ‘see’ the human experience in an entirely new light?” I reduced the title to “One Person,” to help me remember the core idea that surfaces again and again for me in various “forms” when I engage the world with little on my mind. All I will need going forward is those two words to remember that all it takes is a single individual to change the hearts of many.

I had the good fortune to visit Dave Nichols on Thursday and Friday, the “last gasp” of February 2017. Both Dave and myself were fresh off of our participation in Center For Sustainable Change’s Global Telesummit, “Creating Transformative Communities Worldwide,” Dave as a facilitator, myself as a contributor. I was very inspired by the visit and host’s presence. While there, Dave took me over to meet Nate Moore, Operations Director at Independence Place Community Living, a transitional housing enterprise in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a quiet and self-effacing way, Nate is making a profound difference in the lives of the individuals who have had, and are having, the good fortune to reside for shorter or longer periods of time at Independence Place. Many, if not most, of those who occupy the facility, have come to Nate and his staff after months or years of struggle—with the challenges of homelessness, PTSD, dependency, and other issues.

Nate had experienced struggles of his own following his distinguished service in the U.S. Navy. Dave Nichols (one person) introduced Nate to principles of innate health as originally articulated by one person, theosopher Sydney Banks. Dave had been introduced to the principles by Roger Mills (one person), a contemporary of Syd Banks, many years earlier.

Nate has, in turn, by his presence and his understanding of innate health, been able catalyze change in the tenants of Independence Place.

I want to tell the story of Sydney, Roger, Dave, Nate and the tenants of Independence Place as a means of sharing this life-altering understanding myself. Nate has invited me to come and spend some time at IP, living for awhile in one of the units and sharing in the life of the community he has fostered. While there, I will interview Dave and Nate, but more importantly those served by the enterprise, in order to craft a book devoted to profiles of the residents and staff at Independence Place.

I am hopeful that the book will inspire others to seek out the rewards of a life fueled by an understanding of the principles behind our experience of life. In my mind’s eye, I can visualize Nate offering copies of the book to visitors and residents who come to Independence Place. Anything is possible. Perhaps the media will wish to feature the story of IP in their broadcasts and bylines. Perhaps residents of IP will come to know the power of the principles more readily when they learn how others have experienced that power before them. Perhaps Dave, the CSC staff, and the many supporters of and contributors to CSC will be inspired to attract others, “one person at a time,” to see for themselves what they, as one person, may do make a difference in the human community.

John Countryman

*There is no physical “Center” and there is no “The” before the title of the operation, because rather than a “thing,” the name represents an “action” that all of us may take—to “center,” to “bring together the known energies of the universe” in the service of sustainable change and a more enlightened life.

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