(I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office. From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history. Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp. ‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun.
The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.” 35.
The Parable The mayor of the island of Allandon loved to spend time with his daughter.
They would explore the island, play games together, and also have some unusually serious discussions. He loved to recount to her all the great stories of myth and lore. Although she was still very young the mayor’s daughter was quite intelligent and infinitely curious. One calm and cloudy day, as they were finishing their lunch in a clearing in the south meadows, she suddenly posed, “Why are we alive?” “Uh, why do you ask?” he asked, slightly taken aback. “I’ve been wondering about it for a long time. I mean, shouldn’t we know why we’re alive before we try to do anything?” “That makes sense,” the mayor said as he stroked the top of her hair gently. “So why are we alive?” The mayor stood up and took a deep breath. “OK, let me tell you a parable. One day, in a—” “Dad,” the little girl interrupted. “Yes?” “I think I’m getting too old for parables.” “Oh, too old for them, are you?” said the mayor with a smile. “Yes. I’m ready to hear about exactly the way things are. I don’t want just a story. I want the truth.” “I see,” said the mayor. He settled back down beside his daughter and sat thoughtfully for a few moments. “Well I’ll try. But you have to promise not to interrupt.” “I won’t,” she said with anticipation. “Are you sitting comfortably? Listen carefully.” His daughter awaited with rapt attention. She had been looking forward to this day when she would finally learn the truth about life. She waited, but her father said nothing. She thought he must be thinking about how he would explain things. But time went on and on and still he said nothing. Whenever she would look over as if to speak, he would simply put his finger to his lips. Finally, after thirty minutes, she could stand it no longer. “What am I listening for?” she asked.
The mayor, sitting calmly, simply put his finger to his lips once again. “I don’t understand!” she screamed. She was so distressed that the mayor felt he had better break his silence. “It’s OK,” said the mayor, trying to comfort her. He said, “The reason we are alive is—” and then abruptly stopped. He took a breath to gather himself, and then gave her a warm embrace. “The truth is, I don’t really understand it myself,” he finally said.
The mayor’s daughter was silent. She released herself from their embrace and quietly filled the picnic basket.
The mayor worried that his long silence had been the wrong thing to do as they made their way, hand in hand, out of the meadow. After a long and quiet walk home, the mayor’s daughter finally broke her silence once their house was in view. “Dad,” she said. “Yes, sweetheart?” “What was that parable you wanted to tell me?” From the start, our conversation was meant to be an opening of possibilities rather than an instruction manual on how to live. This is not to discount the fact that instructions, guidelines, and formulas may work very well for us some of the time. But I believe this speaks to where we are at, more a measure of our state of readiness and awareness than of the method itself. A certain method, system or paradigm may work beautifully for me, but it does not mean that it will necessarily work for you in the same way. Many times I have handed someone a book that has changed my life and believed that it would do the same for them, only to see that they are not moved by the words and ideas in the same way as I had been. People have handed books to me with similar results. And so it is with Parables for the New Conversation. If you have gotten this far, then I think it’s safe to assume that you have gotten something out of it. But as I said earlier, it is yours to take as you will. You may not have always felt a part of the ‘we’ that I used so often in the book, and this is perfectly fine. This ‘we’ was often meant as a testament to the idea that in a most fundamental way we are all one, and we are all connected to the experiences and beliefs of one another, even if they do not all resonate with us personally. Bring with you on your journey only those ideas in the book that appeal to you. Perhaps now is not the time for some ideas, and later you may decide to come back to them. What we need and what we are ready for naturally changes over the course of our lifetime. In the early stages of writing this book I went with my wife to India to study yoga. A few years earlier the idea might have seemed like folly to me. Some books that I left unread for years proved very influential to me later on when I finally did pick them up. Like other books that delve into the world of spirit, this has been a conversation that attempts to point to an ultimate truth that is not only beyond words, in a way it resides beyond thought. Every spiritual tradition uses words and ideas and paradigms as pointers to the mysterious, to a place that seems familiar to us deep inside of ourselves, because the ultimate truth is indeed deep inside of ourselves.
The very reason that I use parables is because they go a little bit beyond the limits of everyday language.
They are more open to your interpretation.
They can provide a more direct resonance with your experience. Your life itself endows you with an anthology of parables for you to reflect on, lived on the stage of a physical universe, which is itself merely a grand metaphor for the spectacular imagination of the Dao. If any particular paradigm about the unseen is introduced to you as the absolute truth, as the final word on the subject of that which connects us all, I would recommend some caution. When someone promotes a truth that excludes other truths, and describes the One/Dao/God in a way that labels all other descriptions as illusion, then this view itself is deeply mired in illusion. If there is true unity in the One of many names, then there is also a unity in our different perceptions of it. While there may be differences in scope, complexity, and utility, to say one perception is ‘right’ and others ‘wrong’ is to miss the point entirely. I marveled one time several years ago at a co-worker’s insistence that his particular religious beliefs ruled out the possibility that anyone who was not a member of his religious order could have access to the truth about the spiritual world. He was a highly intelligent man, and so when I questioned the logic of his belief that his religion’s relatively tiny membership was the only group of people who would actually be saved and go to heaven, he gave the solipsistic answer, “What would be my faith if I believed otherwise?” A faith that excludes is necessarily a fragmented faith, by the very fact that it worships the All but does not encompass all. It is a mindset that promotes division and war, one that a growing number of people would like to disarm.
The new conversation is an invitation to all people of all walks of life. Nobody is excluded. What is true for a single individual does not invalidate what is true for another. Each truth is an approximation, necessarily limited by perspective. But while it is limited, this does not make it untrue. As Khalil Gibran writes, Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather “I have found a truth.” Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather “I have met the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths. If the new conversation is really to be one that unifies rather than one that divides, then its guiding principle must be a deep and abiding respect for the way all others see the world. In so doing, it encourages each one of us to broaden our paradigm in a way that can eventually incorporate the paradigms of all others, even when—especially when—those views appear to be diametrically opposed. Our collective endeavor to be whole can only be fulfilled when the West sits down with the East, when science opens a dialogue with faith, when the mind welcomes the heart. When I do improv theatre, one of the most important ways to bring a scene together is by employing the ‘yes-and’ form of dialogue. Players are advised not to negate ‘offers’ from other players but rather incorporate them in building the story on stage.
The joy of having each other’s ideas respected and included in the story is infectious, and unites not only the players on stage but the audience as well. In life we are all together on the same stage. When the spotlight shines on us, our role is simply to be authentic, to live from a paradigm that makes possible the fulfillment of our unique desires. If the paradigm that you are currently using isn’t working for you, why not latch on to a better one, one that strikes a chord with your being and your experience and helps make your life work? If you’re worried that it’s not right, that it’s not true, that it’s a fantasy or an illusion, stop worrying. At some level all that we experience here is an illusion, and any way that we structure our experience will be limited. It’s up to each one of us to order and give meaning to our lives in the way that we see fit, in a way that best serves ourselves and others. That is how we are at choice, and ultimately responsible for everything that happens in our life—because we have chosen how we process and interpret every event. What is an Ego Self? What is a Dao Self? They are simply constructions, concepts that I have used to try to facilitate the expression of my paradigm and the experience of my life in this book.
These are neither the first nor the last words on the subject of who we are, but simply a part of the ongoing conversation. Previous paradigms put forth in ancient and modern texts, while different, hold common threads that bind us in our understanding of the human experience. If we continue to push our minds to the limits of what we can grasp, we can continue to create for ourselves a more refined language that can better accommodate our expanding consciousness and our growing hunger to communicate with each other. If we are to experience Heaven on Earth, then we must help one another with the growing pains of this expansion. In the new conversation we are moving to fulfill our destiny as proper stewards of our planet by fathoming how we are the creators of it all, and then harnessing that creative power. It is when we start to manifest this power in the world from our highest selves that the assertion ‘God made man in his own image’ can have its fullest and most satisfying expression. It is up to us what we do from this point on. We all have choice. We can do what we want. Our deepest experience of fulfillment is our guide. We need only reflect for a moment to notice if our lives are bliss and joy and rapture on a consistent basis, or are fraught with doubt, guilt and loneliness. Our Dao Self is patiently calling us, giving us guidance as to where we want to go. Are we listening to that voice and embracing it, or are we passing it off as unimportant? Are we even being still and quiet long enough to hear the voice, or are we running around all day chasing what we think we want and need? Paying attention to or ignoring that voice is our choice. But if we really knew that we were making a choice between Bliss and Suffering, between Love and Fear, between Unity and Isolation, which do you suppose we would choose? Yes the path seems difficult sometimes. But let us not forget that we are here for each other. Literally. You are the fundamental reason that I am here and vice versa. If this were not the case, we would each have a planet all to ourselves.
The universe is certainly big enough for it. So while we are here together and have created a language to communicate with each other, let’s take advantage of it. Let us actively participate in the new conversation. What does the new conversation really look like? Well, it could look like many things. A parent listening to what their child dreamt about the night before; a student and a teacher discussing a difference of opinion; a boss telling an employee a bit about his personal life; a group that meets on a regular basis to support each other on how to manifest in the world and fulfill their goals; or strangers who meet on an airplane, finding out that they share a passion.
The new conversation has as many appearances as there are ways for us to interact with each other. It is not what it looks like from the outside that defines the new conversation but rather how it is experienced by its participants on the inside. It is not what we know or even what we say—it is where we are coming from that makes all the difference.
The new conversation is bound by a certain spirit that unites us, a spirit of respect, trust, acceptance, and openness. It is about listening with real curiosity. And it is grounded in speaking the truth as best we know it. As Neale Donald Walsch writes in Conversations With God, Ultimately, all real communication is about truth. And ultimately, the only real truth is love. That is why, when love is present, so is communication. And when communication is difficult, that is a sign that love is not fully present.
There is no better way to sum it up: the spirit that binds the new conversation is love. It is my hope that you feel that we have been engaging in such a conversation, you and I. And if so, my request is that you carry it forward, for the world awaits the mutual and collective energy of our voices. Let us dare to express our deepest desires and most intriguing visions. If you are not sure of what you will say, you are not alone. Anybody who thinks they know is fooling themselves. In the end it is a mystery for all of us. But we are not looking for experts anymore, just others who are willing to share in the inquiry with an open heart. We can no longer deny that we have something that needs to be said, for when we encourage each other to explore the depths of our being, we cannot help but be spellbound by its vastness, and dazzled by the endless possibilities it offers for our lives and for our world. Food is intimately connected to the strength — or weakness — of your immune system to fight disease effectively (and without over-reacting). With this handbook, you’ll find out which foods you should eat if you want to optimize your immune system. Download Handbook Now!.
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