Speaking Truthfully

Confessions of a Quadruple Addict

Hi. My name is Robert. I am an addict; in fact, a quadruple addict. No, I’m not in recovery. I am an active addict. I cannot be helped. Or, will not. You decide.

Alcohol? No. Drugs? No. Food? No. Exercise? Uh, if you could see me, you’d know that’s a no. Sex? I wish, but no. Then what?

OK. I’ll tell you. But please don’t judge me. I’m not made of wood, and my feelings are as tender as anyone’s.

Actually, I’m addicted to four things. I’ve been mainlining two since I was 11 years old. The others date back at least three decades. See? There isn’t a Step program in the world with enough steps to help me. These addictions are who I’ve become. Take them away, and I perish. There is no recovery for me. As I said. My name is Robert. I am an addict.

The first addiction is a twin-headed question, which became the raison d’être of my early life: Who am I? and How shall I live? I started shooting this up at 11 years of age. These questions sucked me into the rabbit hole of spiritual seeking, of mindfulness and self-awareness, of the distinction between the thoughtstream and awareness. I took nothing for granted. I questioned everything. The second addiction grew out of the first. In a word: authenticity — being real, genuine, unconditioned — and living a life that expressed that. Which of course meant finding that authenticity within myself, which meant digging, digging, digging. Which I’ve done for more than fifty years. Every day. Yes, sure; some days I just sat with a shovel and didn’t actually dig, but I had digging for inner truth on my mind. Ask people who know me. They’ll testify to this. To sum up: the first two addictions are the realization of inner truth (Who am I?) and the expression of that truth (How shall I live?) in each moment of living.

Then came the late-blooming addictions. I got a taste of those around 1985, after I left the ashram I had lived in for more than 10 years, part of my digging ritual. Shortly after that first taste, I became a full-blown crackhead. Public speaking and improvisation. I don’t know why, but the first time I stood up in front of others to speak — and I don’t even remember when that was — I came so alive I almost died! No, not alive with chemicals in the brain, but surges of shakti, primordial creative power, flooding every cell of my being, physical and nonphysical. Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of The Flying Wallendas, a world-renowned circus family known for performing high wire acts without a safety net, once said, “Life is on the wire, the rest is just waiting.” For me, life is in front of a room, the rest is just waiting. That’s just the way it is. With a caveat.

Karl Wallenda

Front of the room as a high wire with no net, without a script, without rehearsal, without cue cards. High wire, no net is another way of saying improvisation, my fourth addiction. Think about it: high wire, no freaking net! It takes skill, courage, confidence, presence, awareness, and total commitment.  Nothing to keep you alive but who you are, then and there, in that place and time. Then and there. Nothing rehearsed, prepared, done before, said before. Yes, sure, you may have a certain skill set embedded in you, but that in and of itself is not enough. You’ve got to be utterly and desperately alive and present, in touch with the deepest part of yourself and your surroundings. It’s hard. It’s dangerous. Being truly present is to be improvisational and spontaneous, lustily lip-locked with the creative powers at the center of your life and of all life. Even the master, Karl, plunged from that wire to his death in 1978, at age 73, attempting a walk between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a wire stretched 121 feet above the pavement.

I’ve had a few gurus along the way, people who either exemplified my four addictions or helped me open wider to embrace them more fully. Swami Muktananda and the kundalini shakti he awakened and aroused and set free in me. Philippe Petit, a young Frenchman who, on August 7th, 1974, stepped out on a wire rigged between the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers. After dancing for nearly an hour on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Philippe Petit

Various stand-up comics and poets and writers and artists and activists. People of daring and courage, explorers and innovators and inventors. People whose lives are unprecedented. Originals. Oh yes, stage 4 lung cancer. That certainly was, and is, a teacher, a liberator, a destroyer of time and taboos.

Over the years, my four addictions cohabited in me. They were friendly to each other, but not fully committed; often they’d go their separate ways. Until 2005. I was living in Melbourne, Australia. A woman, Mary, came up to me after a two-day meditative inquiry workshop I led. She was impressed with my style of speaking, so she said. She asked me if I could teach her to speak the way I did. I asked her for more specifics. She gave them to me. I asked for a few days to see if I could deconstruct my speaking style, so that I could teach it.

A week later, I spent the day with her in a makeshift coaching session. I had made a few notes about how I spoke, specifically targeting the things she had noticed and appreciated. A few days later, she called to say that she had gathered a group of her friends who wanted the same coaching. I offered them a one-day workshop, with a two-page workbook of exercises. At the end of the day, they asked if I would come back the next day. I did. I improvised. I made stuff up. I learned about my speaking style as I spoke — by noticing how I did what I did, and why, and to what effect. I noticed that all four of my addictions were present in my speaking style. In order to teach Mary how to speak the way I did, I had to become keenly conscious of how I spoke, I had to become consciously competent. The result of my effort to understand my speaking style rather than just taking it for granted was that my four addictions fell in love and got married. It was a wild affair, to be sure!

They became a happy family, they integrated themselves and became one thing, one giant addiction. They became what I call Speaking Truthfully. It’s a style of public speaking that is based on awareness, authenticity, and being fully present; of courage, confidence, and connection, of truth telling with no net — that is, with no hiding, no pretense or defense, no deception or manipulation. No false persona projected. Speaking Truthfully is to speak from that true place within us. Call it heart or soul, call it what you want. It is the place our digging takes us to, the place of true believability, the place beneath conformity and convention, beneath impoverished self-images and suppressive beliefs and forbidding taboos. The place of freedom. No, not recklessness, but freedom, fully informed with the beauty of Nature herself, of life, of creation.

The tag line of Speaking Truthfully is: YOU are the message.

That “you” has got to be real, visible, undefended, unafraid, vulnerable. In this style of speaking, the aim is not to transmit information and influence people with techniques and gimmicks; it is to reveal the truth of who you are and impact people with your authenticity. Giving out information comes after establishing this ground of truth, sincerity, and authenticity. There is a great opportunity when people come together, and it is just that. To come together, to be together, to connect. In today’s world, technology so often isolates us. Our busy schedules mean that we often connect on a drive-through way, as if we were fast foods to each other. No, connecting on Facebook is not connecting in real time, face to face, eyes to eyes, heart to heart. In real time. There is an opportunity far greater than giving out information when we come together. It is to show and share our humanity, our character, our inner sense of truth and purpose, our sense of belonging to the human family, to the living world. It is communal, tribal, sacred.

The actor James Cagney was once asked by a novice actor for any wisdom he could impart. Cagney summed up his acting wisdom with this: “You walk in the room, plant your feet, look the other actor in the eyes, and tell the truth.” Speaking Truthfully is just that: walk in the room, plant your feet, look people in the eyes, and tell the truth. Whether you’re speaking to three people or 1,000. Easier said than done, but worth learning how to do just that.

For the next five years, throughout Australia, I offered this work in classes and personal mentoring sessions. I developed two workbooks of 30 pages each; one for delivery and one for content creation. I worked in every major city in Australia, at every level of society, from ministers of parliment to CEOs to Olympic gold medalists; to healers and coaches and speakers and writers, to professionals across the spectrum, to mothers and teachers, and artists. (I even tried a one-day with a group of pre-teens, the daughters of some of my adult students. They killed me and tore apart my house!)

Teaching in Australia.

Now, in 2017, I am living in Los Angeles, where I moved to in 2012. For the last five years, I’ve been living both in Los Angeles and in other worlds, courtesy of stage 4 lung cancer, then a stroke. I lived in a kind of transformational cocoon. I’ve been released. I’m reasonably healthy. I’m back teaching Speaking Truthfully. As addicted as ever.

Robert teaching in Salinas, 2017.

But What If You Didn’t?

Isn’t it exhilarating to simply show up and tell the truth, everywhere and all the time? Isn’t it empowering to speak honestly and authentically without fear, without deception, without pretense or defense, without hiding or holding back? Isn’t it liberating to feel comfortable in your own skin and confident in your own self, no matter what? Isn’t it exciting to speak up, to be heard, to be seen, without criticizing or censoring yourself into oblivion? Isn’t it enlivening to share your true heart, connecting deeply with others, being vulnerable and initiating a level of intimacy with your entire audience?

Isn’t it gratifying to command attention and respect from those with whom you speak, regardless of who, when, or where? Isn’t it marvelous to see your audience galvanized by the power of your presence and the clarity and significance of your message, to see and feel the transformative impact of your speaking right before your very eyes?

Yes . . .  but . . . 

Most people have a short or long list of “buts.” But, what if you didn’t? What if the first paragraph accurately described your way of speaking, your way of engaging with the world? Think about it. How would you feel? What would you do? What would you say?

Speaking Truthfully masterclasses and personal mentoring will help you dissolve your entire list of “buts” as you reclaim your power of authentic self-expression and develop your capacity to speak with clarity, courage, and confidence. Everywhere. All the time.

It’s You Carol, Not Me. It’s You.

Today, I received an email from Carol Daniel, who participated in the Speaking Truthfully masterclass, Liberate Your Cosmic Roar!, in Salinas, CA over the weekend of June 24-25, 2017. I’ve already published Carol’s experience of the class on my blog. With her permission, I am now publishing her email and my response.

Carol Daniel


August 7, 2017

The Courage to Trust Myself to Walk Alone

Hi Robert,

I’ve just returned from England where I went to attend a workshop on meditation massage. There of those who think I’m mad to travel so far for a weekend workshop but I felt very pulled as I did with your workshop and was trying to learn to trust and I’m so glad I did.

I have been trying to find a way to bring the aspect of meditation into my massage but what I came up with felt awkward and intrusive. I am no longer interested in “fixing” people. I am interested in being able to help them slow down enough to be able to get a glimpse of the beautiful, peaceful place that is inside us all, always available that we never slow down enough to experience.

The trip however was terrifying for me and my mind was busy searching for excuses not to go. I have traveled so little on my own and when I have, I was able to arrange it (I hoped) so that there was very little opportunity for confusion. This trip required many different stops and connections and little ways of knowing just how I would be able to make all these shifts. I really struggled but more than anything I was so done with fear keeping me from the things that I am drawn to. It felt as if the authentic, freer version of me was actively pulling the old fearful, self limited being out of her prison.

I felt like a different person on that trip. It’s not that there was no fear. It’s that I didn’t let it stop me. I felt like a different woman. I was open, self-assured and not afraid to ask for help. It was almost magical how everything I needed came so easily and I met wonderful people who were so very helpful.

Thank you Robert for helping me see that it’s not only okay to be me, it’s a good idea. Thank you for your loving, challenging, playful way of helping me open but most of all for being such a beautiful, fun, vulnerable model of authenticity.

Love,

Carol

 


 

Dear Carol,

First and most importantly, I was thrilled to read about your new sense of courage and self-assuredness and fearlessness. Your report is why I love my work so much, to be a witness to these kinds of expansions and to see people claim and own and use what is theirs from the start: their authentic presence and power, their true and truthful voice. So, thank you for that!

And, of course, I appreciate your kind comments about me. But I want to tell you that not everyone sees me in the way you do, or has the kinds of experiences you’ve had as a result of working with me. Some do, some don’t. The reason you have benefitted so much is not because of anything I am or did, but for another reason. A simple one.

You.

You, and the qualities you brought with you to the class. You had a burning desire to change, to become bigger and freer. You brought resolve. You brought openness and willingness. You brought heart and spirit. You brought resilience and strength. If I were in a 1930s gangster movie, I’d say you’re a tough old broad! You did not collapse when I pushed you. You did not run away when I challenged you. When I teased you, you teased back. Why, if memory serves, you even dropped a few F-bombs! You stayed right there, true to your purpose and with your full resolve. You never got defensive. You never rationalized or justified anything. You stayed right on the beam of becoming free to speak your truth! You drove from Tucson to Salinas, for heaven’s sake. You were all in from the beginning. You, Carol, not me. You’re fucking gorgeous.

Carol, your inner freedom and self-assuredness and fearlessness have always been with you. They just got a bit covered over, as is the case for all of us. If I did anything, it was simply to hold a mirror to your authentic, original self — but you were that all along. And you wanted that. And because you desperately wanted that, you saw that. You saw who you are and who you’ve always been and now you are roaring your head off. That’s why I call the class “Liberate Your Cosmic Roar!”

Which is what you did. So, own what is yours, as you are doing. Use it, as you are doing. It’s beautiful. I cannot tell you how much I love seeing this mojo unfold and unfurl from you like a flag of truth and freedom.

I hope you will share this correspondence with your daughters, so they, too, can delight along with me in the miracle of YOU.

with love,

Robert

My Teacher’s Page on Stillness Speaks

The beautiful people at Stillness Speaks have included me as a teacher on their website and have launched my very own teacher’s page. My goodness, they know more about me than I do! They’ve gathered quite an impressive collection of my talks, articles, books, interviews — most of which I did not even remember!

I know the stewards of this website personally, and they are truly servants of truth in its most expansive sense. Have a look at their website and support it if you are so inclined.

“Stillness Speaks is a preeminent resource for self inquiry and self exploration – the endless journey of self realization. We offer works of teachers (luminaries), and wisdom traditions (paths), both historical and contemporary, Eastern and Western, indigenous and otherwise. Our approach is integral – all are welcome!”

I Love Language, But . . .

I love language: as my sister Gina says to me, “you are woefully unable to keep your mouth shut.” OK, she’s right. For years, I used “Have Mouth, Will Travel” as my professional tag line, though now I tend to favor the new — and thoroughly modest — “a radically brilliant speaker and coach.”

Yes, I love language. I love the feel of it in my brain, the sound of it as it takes birth in the world. I love the energy of it. I love the drumbeat cadence of rhythmic, poetic speaking. I love how we can use language to understand each other, to form connections with each other, to become intimate with each other. I love the way language can enchant people and take them on glorious journeys of possibilities, of epiphanies and realizations about the mystery of life. I love the way language can be used to illuminate dark places and things, the way it can be used to encourage, to arouse, to awaken — yes, language is good!

These are just a few of the reasons I love language. But . . . there is something I love more than language, something vital to Speaking Truthfully. In fact, the Speaking Truthfully philosophy, principles, and practices were discovered in this thing that I love more than language.

I love silence more. I’ve known this for decades. And, intensifying that love affair with silence, I experienced what I call “the collapse of language” at some point during the five-year healing cocoon I lived in, courtesy of a number of cells-gone-wild (aka “lung cancer”). I lived for too many months to count without language. The whole structure of it, the very meaning of language itself, just collapsed within me. I was aware only of silence. I’ve written about this in a few Blog posts, most notably when speaking (irony abounds) about my “pony rides to oblivion.”

I didn’t miss language when it left me because I fell more deeply in love with the silence I had flirted with for decades — through such activities as meditation, self-inquiry contemplation, and mindfully paying attention to the miracle of breath. I didn’t miss language because within this primal silence — which appeared on its own, without any intention or effort on my part — I experienced a euphoria that I had never experienced in language. I was brought into rhythmic coexistence with the life-force, the very breath, that enlivens and sustains all living things. I experienced a level of clarity, of non-dogmatic “truth,” that language can only approximate. I experienced what mysticism calls unity-with-all-that-is. I experienced the peace and beauty and simplicity of utter silence, of unending stillness.

“My Weekend With Robert” by Carol Daniel

Carol Daniel participated in the Speaking Truthfully masterclass, Liberate Your Cosmic Roar!, in Salinas, CA over the weekend of June 24-25, 2017, hosted by Marlie Avant. She wrote this at the request of her longtime friend, Judy Simeone, a yoga teacher in CT. Judy is hosting a masterclass in her yoga studio in September.

My Weekend With Robert

by Carol Daniel

Carol Daniel

First of all, I have to say that this workshop has been one of the most impactful that I have ever done and I’ve certainly done plenty!

I found Robert on the Internet while I was struggling with how to balance my spiritual life with the craziness that was going on in our elections. He and Tim Freke had done a video called Radical Sages. They talked about spirituality being about how we show up in the world. These were words my heart needed to hear because I was so confused by my “spiritual” friends being unwilling to try to find a place for what was going on in the world outside.

I continued to follow Robert online and became intrigued by his Speaking Truthfully program. For years I have hated my shyness and my basic survival mechanism, which is to hide. I had never considered actually trying to heal this maladaptive behavior. It just seemed like this was who I was. Listening to Robert, I began to think that it might be possible to do my life in a better way. I decided to sign up for his upcoming workshop. I wrote him saying, “I am 73 years old and I’m tired of hiding.”

The Tall Poppy Syndrome

Most of us have a governor on our capacity for full authentic self-expression. A governor is device that “automatically regulates the supply of fuel, steam, or water to a machine, ensuring uniform motion or limiting speed.” The governor we have inside us automatically regulates the supply of shakti, life force, in order to limit our ability to speak truthfully, to disturb the universe with our primal presence and cosmic roar. In Australia, this governing device is called “tall poppy syndrome.”

My first direct experience of this tall poppy notion came one morning in a workshop I was leading, shortly after I moved to Australia in 2005. I wondered aloud why a few of the participants danced so delicately around an issue they wanted to discuss. They did everything but speak plainly. I encouraged them to speak more boldly and directly. In our subsequent conversation, they said they had learned to not be bold or direct. They said that it wasn’t right to speak out too loudly. They didn’t want to stick out, or stand above others. They told me about the tall poppy syndrome, which I’ve come to understand as a kind of cultural suppression of creative self-expression.

The tall poppy syndrome is a topic that showed up in every one of my workshops in Australia, over the course of almost six years. It is a fire-walk that many have to take in order to break the hold of this socialization, their learned reticence to stand up, stick out, and speak brilliantly, powerfully, passionately, authentically!

When I asked one of my Australian friends to give me her definition of the tall poppy syndrome, she said, “Let’s not get too high and mighty, let’s not get too carried away with ourself. We don’t want anyone getting too full of their own talent or accomplishment. If they do, why we’ll just cut them down to size. We’ll have no tall poppies in our fields!”

Another said, “Australians are carrying a national consciousness of unworthiness, stemming from our roots as a convict colony. When one of us tries to move into the bigger world, to dream a bigger vision, we briefly project all of our personal unmet ambitions onto him. When it turns out he is human and experiences a moment of failure, or is in our eyes somehow not good enough or undeserving, we pull him down justifying our own choice not to have at least tried to expand our horizons. Just like the elephants tied to the chains who don’t realise they are bigger than the chains, we are re-creating our convict history via our tall poppy syndrome, believing ourselves to be prisoners simultaneously worshipping, fearing, and resenting the ones who break free.”

Online Speaking Truthfully Masterclass, exclusively for 8 Women!

Online Speaking Truthfully Masterclass with Robert Rabbin!

Lotus Kruse — a longtime friend and collaborator of mine and a preeminent teacher, mentor, catalyst, mother, and woman with a wild heart — is organizing an online Speaking Truthfully masterclass, exclusively for eight women! This online class will be led by Speaking Truthfully founder Robert Rabbin. The class details and registration information are just below a description of this Speaking Truthfully masterclass by Lotus.

Lotus Kruse

“Speaking Truthfully Masterclass is a very potent taste of what it means to be free in the world and make an impact stretching across all platforms of public speaking, keynote speaking, presenting, teaching, coaching, advocating, social justice platforms through to intimate communication with loved ones, children, parents, beloveds and the most intimate of all; how we speak truthfully with and to ourselves. Speaking Truthfully is not just an idealogy, it is a framework for living authentically.

“I have undertaken this Masterclass personally with Robert and produced three for his Australian clients over the past few years. Everyone of these Speaking Truthful Masterclasses are intimate gatherings of no more than eight people. Each Masterclass is full of powerful content and also oriented around the participants of the program for the maximum impact for each person. As much as the content is powerful and worthy of including into the very fibre of your being, it is Robert himself who is the true gold of this program. As he teachers that we are the message, he embodies this principal ; thus the program takes on an educational experience, a self inqury oppotunity and a transmition of what being the message truely is. He will never say this so I am making it my job to say it.

“I have been deeply blessed to have spent over two years with Robert as my mentor and over five years as my friend and I see how my neuro wiring has vastly changed from the exchange and work undertaken with Robert. I wish for this level of freedom for everyone.

I invite you to join Robert in this next Speaking Truthfully Masterclass.”

Love.

Lotus Kruse