Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Valued Life Learnings: Recognizing Our Teachers

In one section of my ethical will, I write about significant life learnings from teachers who've influenced the way I've chosen to live my life. Angeles Arrien, who I quoted last week in Reflections on the Second Half of Life, was one of those people. I met her just once several years ago when she did a workshop in Eugene and I've read all of her books. The wisdom she shared in The Four-Fold Way has made a life-shaping difference in my life over the past dozen or more years.

Most prominently, in the years I facilitated hundreds of mens' groups and workshops, Ms. Arrien's following words were confirmed (and affirmed) over and over in my experience as trust (and brotherly love) developed between the "strangers" who arrived for a weekend together or for a weekly support group:

"When we learn to live these archetypes within ourselves, we will begin to heal ourselves and our fragmented world.

1. Show up, or choose to be present. Being present allows us to access the human resources of power, presence, and communication. This is the way of the Warrior.

2. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. Paying attention opens us to the human resources of love, gratitude, acknowledgment, and validation. This is the way of the Healer.

3. Tell the truth without blame or judgment. Nonjudgmental truthfulness maintains our authenticity, and develops our inner vision and intuition. This is the way of the Visionary.

4. Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome. Openness and nonattachment help us recover the human resources of wisdom and objectivity. This is the way of the Teacher.

When we understand these universal experiences, we are better able to respect the diverse ways in which these shared themes are expressed by all people."

While I may never learn to fully live these archetypes within me, they've been a powerful guide for my life and the lives of many of the men who shared the group experiences with me. For future generations who survive me, my hope is that people will honor this ancient wisdom -- learning to live "the four-fold way" to experience harmony with one another, with the environment, and with their own inner nature.
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