Author: robert

The Healing Power of Silence

From the time I was 11 years old, I needed to know one thing above and before all else: Who am I? I traveled for a long time and throughout the world in search of answers.

One day, as if I had lived alone for many years in the deep desert, I was taken by a stunning stillness, and without resistance I disappeared into Silence. It was more than an epiphany, more than grace, more than mystical union: It was my soul’s homecoming, my heart’s overflowing love, and my mind’s eternal peace.

In Silence, I felt my core identity, my essential nature, as a unity-in-love with all creation. I experienced freedom clarity, and joy as my true Self. I realized I was of time and eternity in equal measure. I was composed of physical matter and spiritual energy in equal measure. I was born in New York City at the same instant I appeared 20 billion years ago, unfathomably and impossibly far away. as a sibling to trillions of suns.

This Self, this Silence, belongs to all of us — it is who we are; it is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us together as brothers and sisters.

A Lesson from Nazi Concentration Camp Survivors

I lived in Israel for a year in 1972. I was working my way to India. I had come from six months in Frankfurt, Germany, where I worked in a bakery under the supervision of Herbert, who had been a drummer in Hitler’s private marching band; so he said. In Israel, I worked as a civilian employee of the Israeli Air Force. I lived with soldiers in tents in the Sinai Desert, close to the Suez Canal. We dug underground ammunition bunkers all day.

During my year in Israel, I met many Nazi concentration camp survivors. The stories they told me, quite honestly, were so horrific as to defy belief. Some people today do not even believe the Holocaust actually happened! How could it? How could human beings descend into such a hell as to do this to other human beings?

How could our very humanity be corrupted such that we became monsters, betraying everything good and beautiful and decent and caring and loving that is within our true heart, our living spirit? Hitler?

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No, I was told. Not Hitler. Us. The people. How? Why?

Because we the people were obediant and compliant to “authority.” When they lied, we believed them. When they asked us to hate, we did. When they told us Jews, Gypsies, and gays were to blame for everything bad, we believed them. When they said to attack, we did. When they said to imprison, starve, torture, and murder, we did. When we were told to perform experiments on children, we did. Not Hitler. We the people who were obedient and compliant. Hitler did nothing but challenge the very nature of who we were willing to be. Not Hitler. Not Hitler’s inner circle, his cabinet of monstrosities: Walther Funk, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer, Karl Donitz, Erich Raeder, Wilhelm Keitel, Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler.

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There is something we need to remember. Many of us do. More of us need to. We cannot be obedient and compliant to anyone that asks us to betray the very best of our innate humanity. We cannot betray our common heart and our vibrant spirit — both of which lie within us beneath the ideologies of politics, religion, race, greed, nationality or any other seeming division between human beings. We cannot betray this, no matter the cost. We cannot be obedient and complient to any authority, of any kind, that asks us to betray that which makes us human, that which links us together, that which connects us to all living things with a caring and generous heart, with a loving spirit. You know what I mean. Call it what you will.

Look at the faces of people you love, adore, and cherish. Look at your children. Look closely at who you love. These people you love are what keeps you in touch with your humanity. That’s how you can love them. How do you show, manifest, and demonstrate your love? In many ways. But, I doubt you can show them this love if you betray the capacity to love within your heart, if you neglect to show that love, to demonstrate it. Not just to them, to those you love easily. But to others, who you may not even know. To others, who authorities may tell you to hate, imprison, torture, and kill.

The only thing that matters is what we do next. Shall we be obeident and complient? Or shall we find a cosmic roar of defiance to say NO to anyone, ANYONE, who asks us to betray our common humanity.

The only thing that matters now is what we do next. I, for one, shall not be obedient or compliant. What about you?

 

Where Do I Put My Mouth?

One of the benefits of chemo brain fog (not to mention post-stroke motor skills weirdness — as in “what the hell are my hands doing now and who told them to type that!) is the opportunity those beauties have given me to really get down with this mindfulness thing. Mindfulness, a very popular term and a growing practice throughout the land, is what I’ll use as a placeholder for the first two of The 5 Principles of Authentic Living: Be Present and Pay Attention.

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Mindfulness. Be Present. Pay Attention. I have got to be very focused and mindful of where I place my fingers on the keyboard, which is something I learned in high school typing class. If my fingers are not place correctly on the keyboard, I  fyppe fiburgis . . . damn, I mean I type gibberish. Oy vey.

These days, I have to not only be extra careful about where I place my fingers, I have to remain extra, even super, careful about how my fingers move from one key to the next. My muscle memory seems to be compromised by the twin beauties I mentioned above. If I have any hope of being accurate, clear, legible and sensible in my typing, I have to be super careful all the way through. It was enough, before, to just start out correctly and I could trust my muscle memory to take it from there. Not now. Mindful. Be Present. Pay Attention. To start, and all the way through. No let up.

Yes, I am a bit of a writer. But I fancy myself as more of a speaker. My writing is really my mouth on paper. So, as a speaker, what does it mean to place my speaking fingers, or mouth, in the correct place so as to speak in an intelligent, coherent, enchanting, and inspiring manner?

Silence.

I know, this sounds like Zen on steroids. Silence? How can silence help me be a more effective speaker?

I’ll tell you! I’ve been a speaker for my entire adult professional life. I created Speaking Truthfully a dozen years ago to teach people what I’ve learned about being an effective speaker, to be a speaker who tells the truth, who reveals the truth of who they are and what they stand for. This is the essence of effective speaking: revealing the truth about who you are. That’s why the tagline of Speaking Truthfully is “YOU are the message.”

Sharing information and telling people about what you know is a part of speaking. It is not the most important part. Telling the truth about who you are — if not in words than in vulnerability, transparency, intimacy, honesty —is.

Silence. That’s the word I use to point in the direction of the mama bear hug that surrounds the first four of The 5 Principles of Authentic Living: Be Present, Pay Attention, Listen Deeply, Speak Truthfully. These principles, as is true with mindfulness, requires that we learn how to access, and live from, a place in our being that is deeper, wider, truer than the thoughtstream, our constant and chronic thoughts and emotions, the ones that are often like fingers gone all spring break, getting drunk and not working the way they’re supposed to work!

When I speak, to one person or 1,000, for five minutes or all day in a class, I keep a big part of my attention on my breath. I follow it as it comes in, as it disappears in my vast inner depth, and emerges. It is the vast inner depth that I call silence. That is where we find the truth of who we are. If we speak from that place, we will be telling the truth of who we are.

It is essential that we learn how to do this, how to speak less from our knowledge base and more from the vast inner depth of silence that lives within us. Let silence use our knowledge base. We need both. But most speakers are terrified of a simple pause, let alone the silence of their vast inner being. Silence is good. It can show up in our words. Speaking from silence is not not speaking. It is speaking to be sure. I never shut up. I’m always speaking. But, if I don’t speak with my attention on my breath and the place where it disappears in me, the vast depth, then I am speaking gibberish, pure shit.

So, thank you to my high school typing class, to stage 4 lung cancer, to chemo brain fog, to acute embolic strokes, to my fetish to speak and write, to silence, to the creator of the universe. Fuck. Thank you to everyone and everything. Love to all. I mean it.

Speaking Truthfully as Spiritual Practice

As part of my New Year’s “resolution” to focus my time, energy, and attention on promoting Speaking Truthfully programs, I began to outline a couple of new articles for publication. One of these articles is going to draw attention to the ways in which Speaking Truthfully can serve as a spiritual practice, a way for us to develop our own capacity for self-awareness in self-expression.

Yes, I have my own ideas about this, based on more than a dozen years of watching the impact of what I teach on my students and clients. Yes, I have my own anecdotes about how Speaking Truthfully has become my primary means of deepening and expanding the self-awareness I have been cultivating for decades.

But I then got hit by a bolt of inspiration to reach out to a few people with whom I’ve worked to see what they had to say. I wanted to incorporate their perspectives in my article, which is underway but not yet completed.

I asked them two questions:

1)  I what way do you feel developing confidence, skill, and effectiveness in public speaking can be a “spiritual practice” and contribute to one’s spiritual growth and development.

2)  How has your own experience of working with Robert in Speaking Truthfully been useful to you in this regard?

The responses really blew me away! They helped me understand the work I do more deeply, and more clearly. While not a word normally associated with me, I felt humbled by their comments. So, rather than wait until I finish my article, I decided to post their comments here, in a special blog post! The true value of Speaking Truthfully is, after all, determined by the people who experience and practice it.

Learning to Speak Truthfully from Our Hearts

“We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought.” ~ Václav Havel

It is not uncommon to read about some scandal of corruption, fraud or deception – by government officials, corporate executives, spiritual leaders, celebrities or sport figures.

Even the Catholic Church is not immune, paying out billions of dollars in penalties for not speaking authentically about decades of child sexual abuse.

I want to set things straight. We are not victims in this. The light is always on. What people do is always visible. Maybe someone is not speaking truthfully, but maybe we are not listening for the truth.

Sound Bites from Silence Facebook Page

I have established a new Sound Bites from Silence Facebook page, which I invite you to visit, like, and follow.

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If we look carefully enough at existence, we will see that all this mystery comes from a source, which I call Silence. It is true that all great spiritual insights, all cultural advancements, all art, all technological innovations, all scientific discoveries come from this single source. All of this comes from Silence. And, in my view, there can be no true mastery in any domain, no greatness of any kind, without the Self-knowledge that Silence bestows. Our skill in living depends on Silence, and through Silence we can directly access the single source of all things, and thus we can become impeccable in awareness and action. Look at how precise existence is. Should our works be any less so?

In Silence, we open to life and life opens to us, life reaches towards us and touches us in the center of our heart. Our heart breaks open and another heart is revealed. This is the true heart, the one that knows how to meet life with open arms. Silence knows that thoughts about life are not life itself. If we touch life through Silence, life touches us back, intimately, sensually, erotically. We become one with life itself, abandoning all thoughts about life. And then the mystery of life, the wonder of life, the beauty of life, the sanctity of life, become our life. Everything but wonderment falls away; the anger and fear and violence disappear as if they never existed.

Knowing Silence is knowing ourselves for the first time; we see the world for the first time. We only have to be still, to be still, until that Silence comes forth from within us, to surround us, to illuminate us. This Silence is the real teacher, the real teaching, the real path. This Silence is what we seek above all else, for it is who we are. It is our own Self. It is restores us to love and redeems us in love. In Silence we will know our own beauty, our own power, your own magnificence — it is the same for all! As the embodiment of Silence we are perfection itself.

Silence belongs to all of us. It is who we are. It is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us, and all living creatures, together as brothers and sisters.

Please remember the Silence beyond words, the Silence of mystery and magic, the Silence of the soul, of the heart, the Silence in which lovers give themselves to a greater loving, a selfless loving, the Silence which knows only this moment, this present moment, this incredible instant of pure life when time suddenly stops, when we breathe the high-altitude air we call love. This is what we all need, what our world needs.

Right now the world needs you and me, and many others, to be real and authentic. The world needs the healing power of my true heart, and yours. It needs our Silence.

 

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

An extra special good wish to all my female friends for the New Year. In previous posts, I’ve referred to your intrinsic powers as the Cosmic Roar and encouraged you to let it rip. Now, I offer the following, with deepest love and respect. I believe this is an idea whose time has come. Don’t you agree? Sometimes we have to say it to see it; say it to feel it; say it to know it. I suppose that having spoken this, we must now walk the talk! There are so many ways to “speak” and so many ways to speak truthfully. Our bodies are as vast as the cosmos and as intricate as DNA. And they speak. In fact, the trillions of cells speak, each and together. Do we hear? Do we listen? Cosmic roars are everywhere, thunderous and tender, explosive and reluctant. Oh my. Oh my.

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YOU Are The Message!

The core tenet of the Speaking Truthfully philosophy is: YOU are the message!2015tagyoureitIn all speaking situations, whether it be a spiritual sermon, a conference keynote or high-stakes business meeting, a book tour or media interview, a pitch to producers or venture capitalists , a political stump speech or nonprofit fundraiser, a global webinar or an intimate one-on-one social encounter — in all speaking situations: YOU are the message. You command respect and attention, you impart power to your words, you inspire others, you impact and influence people, you are credible and believable. YOU are the message.

This is why we have to be authentic, genuine, and sincere in our speaking, to be willing and able to tell the truth, to show others who we really are and what we stand for; we have to reveal what’s in our heart in an honest and credible manner. Vulnerability. Intimacy. Transparency. Connection. Courage. Confidence. Clarity. Power. Presence. Awareness. Silence. These words are the portable platform on which we must stand if we are to speak truthfully.

Our philosophy is that wherever we are in life, whoever we are, whatever we’re doing — we can only prosper if we tell the truth, if we speak authentically. Speaking Truthfully means we use our words, expressions, gestures, and spirit to reveal, rather than conceal, our authentic self, purpose, and motivation. One cannot lie, distort, or mislead people when Speaking Truthfully. One cannot be split in two, serving different masters and different value systems. Speaking Truthfully requires impeccability; we need to establish our personal credibility as human beings, without which people will not listen to us because they will not believe us.

Speaking Truthfully means that we show up, plant our feet on the ground, look people in the eyes, and tell the truth. No hiding, posturing, pretending. No deception, half-truths, or statements we don’t believe. If we speak truthfully, people will listen. Our life will glow. Our work will thrive. Our heart will sing. Our spirit will soar. We will be a blessing to ourselves and to others.