Divinely humble

The Price of Pride: Pinkerton the Pig and Jesus on a Donkey

“Who would care for a sand witch?”

That’s the opening line of one of my favorite children’s books. Hey! Adults can love children’s books too!

It’s called Me First, and it tells the story of a pig named Pinkerton who has to be first for everything. I know we all know somebody like that in our lives.

Anyway, in his haste to be first, Pinkerton thinks he hears someone asking if he’d like a “sandwich” (you know, lunch), while in reality it is a Sand Witch: a mysterious magical creature asking if he will take care of her.

Of course, in his haste to be first, he gets trapped being the servant of the Sand Witch, who ultimately teaches him that first is not always best.

It’s a cute story for growing minds, but the lessons it teaches can resonate with us through life: humble yourself, be kind, first is not always best.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being humble these days as we head into Spring, and with Spring, major holidays for the Abrahamic religions: Passover, Easter, and (later) Ramadan.

In all of these religions, we see the common theme of humbling oneself, as well as the dangers that befall those who choose pride.

Let’s take a look at the Passover Story. Moses leads the Hebrews out of captivity, eventually leading them into the promised land. Moses, a man who humbled himself before his God, was vested with great authority and power in order to save a people, who had been toiling under the crack of Pharaoh’s whip without mercy.

But take a look at Pharaoh for a moment. Here’s a man who when Moses says, “let my people go,” decides “absolutely not.” “Your people are my property.” Pharaoh considered himself to be a living incarnation of Horus, a powerful Egyptian God, and rejected any attempt by this foreign God, to mettle in his affairs.

What happened as a result? Famine, plague, pestilence, death. After every curse, Moses begged Pharaoh, “let my people go,” but this prideful, arrogant man could not humble himself before this foreign God, no matter the might this God showed. Pharaoh, blindly, thought himself to be greater. Ultimately, he and his armies were swept away in the Red Sea and drowned as divine punishment for his inability to see reason and accept defeat with grace.

This is the price of pride. This is the price of looking at the divine and saying, “my way or the highway.” Pride cometh before the fall.

As an inversion of this story, I am struck by the true humility that the Christ showed in his ministries. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, a day that Christians mark when Christ rode into Jerusalem.

How did Christ ride into Jerusalem? On a donkey.

I need you to get in the mindset of a citizen of Jerusalem back then. The Messiah was a promised figure who would restore Jerusalem’s independence. He would come in as a conqueror and expel the invaders who had Israel under their yoke.

What do conquerors ride in on? Horses.

Here’s a man – a man who calls himself the Messiah, the savior, who rides in on an ass.

What? That’s not what the Messiah is supposed to look like!

Less than a week later, Christ is executed – crucified for blasphemy. At first glance, you might think, “I don’t get it. He humbled himself and he was still killed. You exalt yourself, you humble yourself; death still comes for you.” In response, I’d ask you to look deeper.

The death of Christ is a sacrifice: it is an inversion of a man who carries the highest god-like vibration, sacrificing for his fellow man. It is the ultimate act of humility. This act of selfless sacrifice was done for humanity, and in the process, the Christ ascended. The lesson: selflessness and humility are righteous. They who exalt themselves shall be humbled. And those who humble themselves shall be exalted.

The Muslim month of Ramadan, coming up in April, is a month of fasting and introspection. The fasting is done to achieve taqwa, or fear of God. Fear meaning awe and reverence. An understanding that the divine is greater than we are, and yet that we encompass it. And this understanding draws us closer to the divine.

No matter your creed, we all understand that these tenets are universal: the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Think of how many leaders and politicians we’ve seen whose pride has consumed them. Governor Cuomo? Last year, he was the Covid whisperer, with his talks being the fireside chats of the pandemic. Now, he’s battling an inquiry that he deliberately miscounted Covid deaths and sexually harassed employees. He thought he was untouchable. Now, he’ll be lucky if he sees out his term. Or consider “Ellen” who has lost over 1 million viewers, or over 40% of her audience, after acknowledging that there was significant misconduct at her business. So much for branding yourself as the “Be Kind Lady,” a lofty title indeed.

I too have had this very dynamic happen: who among us has not had the experience of pushing ourselves to the top, only to later fall to the bottom, where we have plenty of time to master humility.

Pride cometh before the fall.

I invite you all, as the warmth of Spring melts away the dark of Winter, to keep these truths aloft: those who exalt themselves shall be humbled, those who humble themselves shall be exalted.

Or, as Pinkerton would say, first is not always best.

Woody Allen Family

The Arc of Justice

Woody Allen indicted in the court of public opinion

I can’t imagine watching a Woody Allen movie these days.

Everywhere you look, there are fingerprints of a finely-hidden monster, scrawled like graffiti tags, pulsing in the background of every film.

Barely ten minutes into his old comedy, Bananas, he makes a joke about “advanced child molesting.” And that’s not the only instance, not by a longshot. His scripts are peppered with disturbing and obsessive jokes about abuse, sexual and familial. It’s a real red flag.

I can’t watch his movies anymore, but I did watch Allen v. Farrow – the new HBO docuseries that takes a much-needed critical eye to the story of Woody Allen’s abuse of Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.

Now, many of you may not remember, but news of Woody Allen’s abuse hit the press back in 1992. At the time, this was a strange and salacious case, filled with “he said’s,” and “she said’s,” and “oh, she’s been coaching her,” and “this is blown out of proportion,” until the whole thing became a weird, unresolved footnote.

Woody Allen kept making movies and winning Oscars. Mia Farrow dropped out of the public eye. Then, in 2014, Dylan Farrow published a letter in The New York Times, pressing her case that Woody Allen had abused her. Again in 2018, she went public, detailing Allen’s abuse and asking, “Why hadn’t #MeToo come for Woody Allen?”

Now, three years later, here we are, with a withering documentary that strips away all of the “he said’s” and “she said’s” to reveal a stark and unflinching view of Woody Allen as a predator and a master manipulator. This is a chilling story of much more than rapacious pedophilia; it’s the story of the unbridled abuse of power.

It starts with Mia.

As I watched the documentary, I was struck by how insidiously Woody Allen dismantled Mia Farrow’s agency over their relationship. Over their thirteen years together, Woody cast Mia in thirteen of his movies. At first glance, that sounds innocuous. But then you realize that Woody Allen was Mia Farrow’s boss. He was writing and directing these movies, which meant he could nix her at any time. He changed her working arrangement so that his agent represented her. Think about that: her husband was now her boss, and she was required to use his agent.

He effectively had her under his thumb. Any money Mia Farrow made was through a Woody Allen project. This is a classic tactic of an abuser: cutting off independence.

Of course, as we know, it doesn’t stop with Mia Farrow. Through the documentary, it is clearly shown how Woody abused Dylan and then orchestrated a clever and forceful PR campaign to hamstring the investigation. To pre-empt the story of child abuse, Woody went public with his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn – Farrow’s other adopted daughter. This PR coup allowed Woody to reframe the abuse allegation as a form of retribution by Mia Farrow: the “spurned woman” who was trying to get revenge against Woody. For having sex with his other daughter. Seriously.

Look at that: Woody Allen turned an abuse allegation against himself into a weapon to hurl back at Mia Farrow. This is abuse of power on steroids.

It is difficult to parse out all of the wrinkles and turns in the investigation, but it becomes quite clear that the vaunted Yale-New Haven Hospital report, which proclaimed that Dylan Farrow was not a credible witness, was a sham. Nine times, a seven-year-old girl was forced to be interviewed by investigators about Woody Allen’s abuse to determine if her story had “any inconsistencies.”

Nine times!

If the story matches nine times out of nine, they cry “coaching.” If anything is inconsistent, they cry “she made the whole thing up.”

Tellingly, all the notes from each of these interviews were destroyed – something very much out of the ordinary. As this part of the documentary aired, it became quite clear that there were serious missteps in the execution of this report. While the documentary hints at potential cover-ups and potential political pressures by the Dinkins mayoral administration in New York City to quash the Allen inquiry, we don’t have the evidence . . . yet.

Woody Allen weaponized this Yale-New Haven Hospital report. He wielded it like a cudgel, suing Farrow for full custody of their children, and suggesting Farrow had coached Dylan and was an unfit mother. The judge, thank God, would have none of it; the court confirmed Mia as a fit parent and said Woody was a threat to Dylan Farrow’s safety.

Look at that. When Allen’s smoke-and-mirror defenses were put before a court of law, they came crumbling down. Which is why it was so disturbing that Woody Allen has never been tried and convicted. For the last thirty years, he’s used his celebrity power to dodge the court of law and has confused the court of public opinion.

This is why Allen v. Farrow is such an important documentary. Through this unflinching lens, the series dismantles Allen’s defenses on small screens across the country, cutting his defenders off at the knees.

It is said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Woody Allen has managed to keep that arc at bay for thirty years. But thanks to perseverance from Dylan Farrow, and the investigative journalism of Allen v. Farrow, that moral arc has broken back toward justice. Once again, the court of public opinion has become the court of last resort.

When Mia Farrow and Woody Allen were in the midst of separating, he told her that she’d never work in this country again. He blacklisted Mia Farrow for speaking out against his abuse. To this day, she still fears him.

Now, the truth has finally caught up to him. As a result, he’s not found an American distributor for his recent movies. His publishers have pulled out of book deals. I don’t know if he’ll ever see the inside of a jail cell, but, with this documentary, that’s okay, as sunlight is the best disinfectant. The light of truth is wiping away the obfuscation of his abuses against Mia and Dylan. And in bringing these charges to light, Allen’s power withers away.

I invite you all to watch Allen v. Farrow to fully understand how serious and credible these allegations are. Then shake your head that, once again, we, for a bit, let celebrity trump our own instincts for truth. Now, may the truth heal Mia Farrow and her children.

Bikram #MeToo

Bikram: Me Too Yet Again

Media moguls, Hollywood stars, Olympic doctors, sports coaches, priests, politicians (left, right, and center), Buddhist teachers, Indian gurus and yogis, are all mighty trees felled by the hatchet of the #MeToo movement in recent times. Strongmen have all wielded their patriarchal power—what they considered their god-given rights—over the lives of women and children (and the earth). But thanks to the growing willingness of women to speak truth to power, a global conversation about sexual violence and gender balance has sprung to life and continues to expand.

The latest of these grimy exposures can be found in the Netflix documentary, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, which documents the allegations of sexual misconduct against Bikram Choudhry, the founder of Bikram yoga. In the “paternalistic” yoga culture, it is presumed that the teacher knows what is best for his students, who simply follow whatever the teacher says, even if it means ignoring their own intuition that something isn’t right. Other influential yoga teachers, like Patthabi Jois, Manouso Manos, and John Friend, have all been accused of some form of sexual assault, from inappropriate sexual touching of students’ bodies during class, all the way up to, as in the instant story, rape.

It’s everywhere in the “spiritual world”

These yoga teachers join a long list of “spiritual” teachers who have abused their power and authority, who think that the rules don’t apply to them. 

Amrit Desai, the founder of the Kripalu Centre, had to resign over sexual allegations as the spiritual director of his own ashram. The charismatic leader Osho (Bhagwan Shree Ragneesh) was known as the “sex guru.” Accusations of sex with devotees have cropped up relentlessly over the years about Swami Muktananda, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Rama, Swami Kriyananda, and Sai Baba, not to mention Buddhist lamas and teachers like Sogyal Rinpoche and Lama Norlha. Even more disturbing are rumors swirling about both living and deceased teachers at what was formerly the leading publishing company in the US of all things spiritual. 

Yes, the list of those in my field who well deserve to be in the #MeToo spotlight is long and disappointing. How can so many supposedly “enlightened” spiritual teachers sexually abuse their followers? More importantly for us, however, is how we delude ourselves about abuse when it’s right square in front of us, in our families, in our office, in church, or even happening to us.

Women, still, are relentlessly trained by the culture to allow men the upper hand. “Obey” may have been taken out of modern marriage vows, but it’s still implicitly there. The voice of authority is most often male, and women, if they have any sense, do not routinely confront men head-on.

Perhaps you are new to the spiritual scene, and your expectation is that everyone is pure, holy, a worthy vessel of Spirit—especially your teacher. He oozes charm, claims a special connection to the divine, and inspires devotion. You can just feel the power radiating from him. He is in command, and you listen to what is said, especially to you personally. And if he touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or invites you to maximize your spiritual potential and receive “secret teachings” by sharing his bed, in your zeal to be a good student, to advance, and yes, because it makes you feel special, you capitulate.

So back to Bikram: in terms of the basic facts, Choudhury’s story is all too familiar. He is largely responsible for yoga becoming commonplace in the United States, as he franchised his Los Angeles studio into a global network. At the height of his influence in the last 20 years, he was the darling of talk shows and media in general. His movement was called “McYoga,” as he made a fortune franchising his method.

As he rose to prominence, Bikram franchises became very desirable; Choudhury would hold massive nine-week training seminars around the world. According to litigation on file, he used these seminars as his way of finding, grooming, and forcing himself upon women whom he then raped.

Hopefully, the film will force Jackie Lacey, LA District Attorney, to stand up for women and bring Choudhury to justice, as well as encourage each one of us to confront truth in our own lives where ever we find it.

R Kelly

Hiding in Plain Sight

It used to be that sexual predators had it fairly easy. The culture of “boys will be boys,” the seeming harmlessness of a little pussy grabbing here and there, and the mindset of “she was asking for it” made it so men—especially big powerful men—could satisfy their lust for power. Typically, they enlisted their friends and associates to help procure their victims and then paid off anyone who squawked. All it took was a good lawyer to evade criminal charges and avoid any unpleasant consequences, while trampling over the rights of the women (and children), destroying their credibility, and their lives.

Then came the #MeToo movement. And it began to dawn on everyone that maybe the women who squawked weren’t just after money; that they were telling a sordid tale that needed to be heard, that needed to be believed. That there needed to be real life consequences for those who indulged in this disgusting behavior. And the media began to realize that there was a story here.

The women who came forth and told their stories of sexual assault are finally unmasking the normalcy surrounding abuse. This shows the deep flaws in our society that allow for the devastating trauma of this behavior and the attitudes that help it to flourish.

In just this past year, two documentaries have come out that dive head first into the complex realm of sexual assault and pedophilia. Surviving R. Kelly, Netflix’s six-part series on the R&B singer’s history of grooming and filming young girls for his sexual pleasure, has just recently exploded with its opening on Netflix. And Leaving Neverland, an HBO documentary in two parts, took us through the lives of two of the young boys who were involved with Michael Jackson. It just won a Primetime Emmy for Best Documentary.

In six hours, Surviving R. Kelly takes us through interviews with people who were there since the early 1970s, from the incest of his own childhood, to being nicknamed the “Pied Piper of R&B,” through the infamous sex tape scandal, the child pornography, the accusations, the survivors, the court cases, and lets us know that black girls do indeed matter. And it takes on all those who enabled this behavior. Kelly’s record label didn’t flinch when a videotape emerged and was widely circulated on the internet with their multimillion-dollar talent having sex with and urinating in the mouth of an underage girl. His entourage was complicit. Who was going to make a fuss about black children? As the Hollywood Reporter darkly quipped: “After all, it takes a village to raze a child.”

Women have been trying to come forth with their truth about Kelly for decades, and hard as it is to hear, you see in the documentary how all their accusations of predatory behavior and pedophilia and child pornography managed to slide off his back. Kelly not only got away with ongoing sexual assault, but also managed to have it all ignored by the mainstream media. But now people are listening to the testimonies, feeling the fury and pain, the guilt and self-blame, the regret, and the dogged determination to heal of the survivors. When the jury acquitted him at his first trial (one white male juror commenting that “who could believe [black] girls who dress like that,”) and his behavior got even more outrageous, the public started protesting at his concerts. It is a long overdue effort to validate what his victims have experienced, to let their stories be heard, to be treated with respect and the gravity the situation warrants.

And who now will have sympathy for Kelly? He, like all sexual predators, was once himself traumatized by childhood sexual assault. Just like Michael Jackson was undoubtedly sexually traumatized in his childhood. In all likelihood, so was Bill Cosby. So was I and thousands of innocent survivors that have asked me for help over the years. But we don’t repeat what was done to us, we’ve sought help and worked our way through the memories of those horrific experiences. Note that the men spoken of here are/were major celebrities. And celebrity has its own “get out of jail free” card. These are major talents, and there will always be those who believe the person is as lily white as his gifts. Don’t kid yourself. Talent is never an excuse for hideous behavior; it doesn’t counteract the monster inside, hell bent on devouring its prey.

Kelly is currently in custody, in Chicago, facing multiple state and federal charges of various sexual assault crimes. It’s about time.

Predatory behavior is around, be on guard for it. Parents tell their children to beware of strangers, but how about Uncle Joe, or, for God’s sake, your priest or therapist, or the doctor or coach for your child’s sports team (watch At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, another documentary that premiered on HBO this year). They are hiding in plain sight. And the more that stories come out, and are believed, and are acted upon with real-life consequences, the harder it will be for them to hide.

Join me Thursday, September 26, at 1:00pm PDT on Facebook Live for a panel discussion of this timely topic. Let your voice be heard in protest of this kind of brazen behavior. Let’s all stand up, be heard, and be part of the change!


Learn from This Great Modern Philosopher of Ojai

We have finally moved into the new location of the Deborah King Center in beautiful Ojai. I love it! Ojai has such an extraordinarily high spiritual vibration, and a history rich in spiritual endeavors.

It wasn’t only the Chumash tribe that called Ojai home. So did Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the great philosophers and spiritual teachers of our modern era. He talked about everyday concerns, life in a society filled with violence and corruption, an abiding respect for nature, and everyone’s search for security and happiness. He precisely explained how the human mind works, and what the practice of meditation can bring to daily life.

Krishnamurti’s story is unusual. He was born in 1895 into a Telugu family in colonial India, one of 11 children (six of whom survived childhood). He lived next to the headquarters for the Theosophical Society in Chennai (Madras). When he was eight years old, he was discovered on the grounds of the headquarters by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, the leaders of the Society, who raised and groomed him as the next great World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind. He and his brother Nitya were privately tutored in school subjects as well as in rigorous exercise and sports, theosophical and religious lessons, yoga and meditation, and British culture. Later the boys were brought to Europe to continue their education, and Krishnamurti gave his first public speech in England.

The Theosophical Society established the Order of the Star in the East (OSE) to prepare the world for Krishnamurti, the Coming of the World Teacher. But by the time he was 29, Krishnamurti rejected the title, dissolved the OSE, and withdrew from the Theosophy organization. Sadly, he had been sexually assaulted by a higher-up in the organization as a young boy and, rightfully, he no longer wanted to be affiliated with the Society or anything remotely religious. He dedicated himself to working toward a psychological revolution in the minds of humankind in order to bring about radical change in society. He wrote many books, gave talks and held discussion through his non-profit foundations in India, Great Britain, and the U.S.

In 1922, Krishnamurti and his brother and companion, Nitya, stayed in the Ojai Valley, thinking the climate would be good for Nitya, who had tuberculosis. They, too, loved Ojai and a cottage and property were found for them and Ojai became Krishnamurti’s official residence.

It was in Ojai that Krishnamurti had a life-changing experience, one that wasn’t directed by his mentors. First he went through a three-day spiritual experience of mystical union and immense peace, and a few weeks later went through a longer condition that he called “the process,” which recurred almost nightly until his death. These experiences were described as “the sacredness” or “the otherness.” (Clearly, he had experienced one of the higher initiations that I conduct as well as describe in my writings, e.g., see chapter 8 of my most recent book, Heal Yourself – Heal the World).

As he wrote: … [I] woke up early with that strong feeling of otherness, of another world that is beyond all thought…there is a heightening of sensitivity. Sensitivity, not only to beauty but also to all other things. The blade of grass was astonishingly green; that one blade of grass contained the whole spectrum of colour; it was intense, dazzling and such a small thing…”

The Krishnamurti Foundation of America founded in 1969 is in Ojai. They have a publishing division as well as the Oak Grove School (pre-K-12 college prep), which empowers students to take responsibility for their own learning and to develop life-long practices of inquiry into how they live their daily lives. Krishnamurti’s former home, Pine Cottage, has become a Study Center and Library for reflection and contemplation.

As you can see, his impact on Ojai has been considerable.

I understand completely why he was so attracted to Ojai and why he stayed here until his death at 90 years of age.

If you’d like to experience the exalted spiritual air of Ojai, be sure to join me for our Hallowed Retreat at the magnificent Ojai Valley Inn at the end of October . There, I’ll be talking in depth about some of Krishnamurti’s key teachings and how we can apply them to our lives today. Hope to see you there!

California is burning

California is Burning

California is burning, and it’s all too much. One day a dozen people are gunned down a couple of miles from my home during a college country music night, and the next day fires erupt on both sides of me. Lives and homes are turned to ash while politicians point fingers of blame.

I’m still under a mandatory evacuation order, as the Woolsey Fire rampages through my portion of the California dream. I have heard my house is safe, so far. Fortunately, I have a temporary set-up that’s working as well as possible from the inside of a van. Tiffany, who has worked for the Deborah King Center for a decade, has lost her home. You can help Tiffany get back on her feet here.

My heart bleeds for the sorrow and loss so many are experiencing—sometimes loss upon loss: a loved one murdered while dancing followed by the loss of a roof over your head and all your belongings going up in smoke.

Think for a moment. What would you take given less than five minutes to pack and evacuate before the flames reach you? Without a doubt, after securing “everything with a heartbeat,” your phone and laptop are at the top of your list of inanimate necessities, even before underwear and a toothbrush. But you can’t be too attached to anything or you won’t get away in time.

It’s far too much to think about for being cremated in a car like those poor folks in the Camp Fire in Paradise. Those images will continue to haunt us all.

Fire has to be respected. And so does air—the autumn Santa Ana winds that fan the flames and send sparks and cinders in all directions. And water, that life-saving element that can douse the flames. And earth—the poor scorched landscape that actually needs fire to regenerate. And ether, the most subtle of the elements, the space filled by the other elements. We have lost touch with the elemental parts of our lives.

Each element is vital to our life. When we die, there is a progression of how each element leaves our body until we exhale that very last breath of air.

But what we are seeing these days is “it’s all too much” in terms of the elements. Fire, which gives us energy and transformation, explodes in massive firestorms. Air and water, necessities in life, become deadly hurricanes and widespread flooding. The earth is telling us something, but are we listening? The clock is running down before climate change turns our world yet more inhospitable.

It’s too much really. It’s hard to take it all in: the death from guns, the death from fires, the death of the way in which we used to know our planet.

There is a silver lining, however. When there is a disaster, like the wind-driven blazes we are experiencing here in California, for a moment in time all hearts beat as one. Doors open and strangers are invited in. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary and heroes arise. A drive someone has taken every day of their life suddenly becomes a passage through the inferno of hell, while singing to a child in the back seat to keep her calm, and those who watch the video have to be hard-hearted indeed if tears of compassion don’t well up and spill over.

Does your heart cry out to help those impacted by the fires? Here’s what you can do:

  • Help Tiffany – giving a hand to one person is giving to all.
  • Donate to the Wildfire Relief Fund, a California Community Foundation.
  • If you are in the local area, volunteer to help. Go to ca.gov to learn where your services might be best put to use.
  • If you want to sign up to host emergency shelter in your home, the Airbnb Evacuee Program for the survivors of the fires in Ventura, Butte, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties is looking for temporary housing through November 29th.
  • If lost and frightened animals call out to you, the Humane Society of Ventura County needs your support.
  • Don’t forget these valiant firefighters who risk their lives and their health for our safety. Donate to the California Fire Foundation to provide emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters and to victims of the fires. Over 50 firefighters have lost their homes in Butte County, and yet they are still out there battling to save others’ homes. And the Disaster Relief Fund of the International Association of Fire Fighters helps those on the front lines and their families.

We really are all in this together. Today it’s us here in California. Tomorrow it could be your neck of the woods, your loved ones, your home, your life. Give something, do something; be part of the change for the better.

Dead worshippers

Pipe bombs, assault rifles, and dead worshippers

The time has come to take the bull by the horns and deal with a situation none of us likes and yet many don’t know what to do about it. I’m talking about the difficult and dangerous rhetoric being spouted in every direction that leads directly to pipe bombs, assault rifles, and dead worshippers in a house of God.

As a spiritual teacher, I usually remain neutral, seeking the good at the heart of all. But we are headed down a treacherous path and it’s time for each of us to take a stand, express our opinions, make our voices heard to try to save our country and those who live here. Those who are trying to get here to escape precarious conditions in their own country may find themselves facing military personnel bearing arms rather than the open arms of Lady Liberty.

Actions start with words, and these days civil discourse has all but died. In the past, there was an arcane concept called public debate, where opposing arguments were put forward, the matter was deliberated, with each side putting forth the best defenses of their position. Each side listened to and responded—politely!—to the other. The two sides might have disagreed, but neither party reacted with hatred and vitriol to the other. You could have a difference of opinion without being enemies.

Now we find ourselves in an era of incredibly nasty name-calling, horrific personal attack ads, and in-person physical attacks that are praised by those in power.

Politics and culture wars have become so divisive and destructive we’ve become untethered from our values. And it starts at the highest level of government, with a head of state who attacks the opposition—the opposition being anyone and anything that doesn’t kowtow to him, doesn’t kneel and touch the ground in submission. By labeling his opponents as evil, by mocking them publicly, by refusing to recognize the truth, by leading with fear and divisiveness, our so-called “leader” has inspired the violence we see today. He has inspired the unhinged folks who seek death to the enemy—whether that enemy is a politician, a journalist, or a group of brown-skinned women and children.

When the populace isn’t well-educated, when reading has given way to sound bites and memes, when the country’s “leader” speaks from the gutter, with no moral ground to stand upon, he gives the crazies all the permission they need to kill. It’s a well-known fact that human beings imitate behavior and that is a key problem today.

Recently Chris Matthews, a political commentator on MSNBC, shared a story that got me thinking. He’d returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania for an event and had a chance to speak with a number of middle school teachers. What he learned was troubling. Teachers told him about how disrespectfully and hurtfully teens talk to each other these days, in ways these veteran teachers had never seen before. Even worse, these teachers bemoaned what happened when they called their students on such unacceptable behavior. They responded with a shrug of the shoulders and a chilling defense: “Everybody does it, even the President.”

Our past presidents, red and blue, unlike this one, didn’t encourage getting down and dirty by duking it out in the mud. Truth mattered and was valued by people on both sides of the aisle. Our cherished first amendment—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble peaceably, freedom of religion, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances—have all been shoved aside. Only one thing matters to this presidency . . . winning. Winning personal accolades, personal wealth, and unchecked personal power.

When politics is untethered from values, it debases all of us. When immorality, disrespect, and unprincipled standards are encouraged, when fiery words incite violence, when personal power is upheld at our expense, we are on the road to ruin.

So what can each of us do?

Right now, the most important thing we can do is to VOTE on or before November 6th. And we must align our vote with our core values to counteract the amoral standards being set before us as the example to follow. If we vote for candidates who support this kind of demagoguery (a demagogue is a political leader who seeks support by appealing to prejudices), we are condoning violence.

What else can you do besides vote? Encourage others to vote. Knock on doors for candidates you believe can steer us in a better direction. Volunteer to drive others to the polls. Talk and FaceBook and blog about your concerns. Don’t hate on the opposition. Talk about what you like about the candidates you support instead of dumping on the ones you don’t like.

Whatever you do, whatever your politics, seek the high road rather than the low one, and align your choices with your higher self.

If you’re looking for endorsements, you’ve come to wrong place. Each of us will vote red or blue, yea or nay in the privacy of the voting booth, which is our right, our responsibility, and our privilege.

Last week’s rash of pipe bombs, an act of domestic terrorism and political violence, the recent devastation at a Pittsburgh temple by someone who blamed Jews for that pathetic migrant caravan, are but the latest worst-case examples of why our private decisions in the voting booth couldn’t be more important.

Let’s vote for more light, a higher consciousness, and heartfelt consideration for all. But above all, vote!

Cathy Gabrielsen PTSD Blog

5 steps to heal PTSD

Guest blog by Cathy Gabrielsen

Cathy Gabrielsen

When I start asking over and over again if I am OK, if the situation is OK, if the kids, the weather, the roads, are OK, then I am headed for a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) episode. When I repeatedly ask if you are OK, if you are sick, if your partner or your kids are sick, then I am PTSD. I need constant reassurance that everything is OK. Because a few times in my life, things were definitely not OK.

I am a regular person: a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend. I am just like you, except I was in a war. The war I survived wasn’t on a distant battlefield; instead, it was right here, close to home. Our traumas, our triggers are all unique, but the effects of PTSD are all eerily similar.

One of the many significant challenges of PTSD was the not knowing. Not knowing when I might be triggered, not knowing how long the episode might last, and not knowing how severe it might be. This not knowing was crippling for me. In one moment I was perfectly fine, and the next, I was in a haze, suddenly feeling like I had just time-traveled, I was in this bubble alone, and then came the fear, the shaking, the paranoia, and the tears of despair. What was beginning to surface were emotions from old traumas that were stored deep within me. Trauma like having had my high school boyfriend nearly die in front of me, never to recover; trauma from having had cancer as a young mother, and who knows how many other traumas. Day by day, a part of an old wound would resurface and I would suddenly go PTSD.

To this day, I will never know why the emotions came on the days they did. To this day, I will never remember how long those moments were – if they lasted minutes, hours or days. The only thing I remember is how I felt. What I did not know was that it was pure fear, fear of the remembering and fear of the re-experiencing, as if it were the first time.

But those terrorizing moments, days, weeks, when I was in PTSD eventually passed. It was in those moments when I felt free that I began to get the clarity I needed. Those moments of clarity were the beginning of my surviving PTSD.

On the days I was clear, I talked to my doctor, and I always took the medication, but what I also did was to search for additional ways to heal. I found meditation and energy healing, practices that created a safe space for me to heal. I started to integrate these alternative modalities into my day, in addition to the steps set in place by medical professionals.

It has been over a year and a half since my last PTSD. I am well, I am free of the past, and I have moved on to a better place. I let go of the experience, I put it down as a step on my path to healing, with the intention of never seeing it again.

During the time of struggle, my family was deeply affected by my experiences and pain. They were at a loss, never knowing what to do. Emotions are contagious. When happiness is around us, we are happy, when stress or anger are close to our personal space, we feel it. When I was in PTSD, so was my family to a degree, they saw it, and they felt it even if they didn’t name it. I can remember listening to my husband on the phone, whispering to my doctor, asking questions, for which there were no real answers.

What I found in my search for true emotional and physical wellness, was that healing had to start and end with me. What I encourage family members to do is be a part of the healing plan. Start to incorporate some of the suggestions below into your life too. The fear is real in a person struggling with PTSD, and the concern of living with someone in PTSD is real, in the family members and friends, who witness and love someone through it.

True healing from PTSD is about getting the fear out of your body and out of your energy field. I am no longer taking any medication; I continue with meditation and energy healing and other alternative modalities to stay well. I strongly suggest you follow doctor’s orders while incorporating the following steps into your day-to-day plan, and hopefully, you too will find peace and wholeness.

How I healed from PTSD and how you can too:

  1. Connect. A connection to Source is a path to healing PTSD. The greatest healing will come with a meditation practice. Take the time to connect to a deeper part of yourself and a higher Source of power through prayer and meditation. Connect not only with yourself but with others. Make a list of people who you can call or talk to when you are struggling and reach out to them when you need to. Developing a connection, or a deeper connection with animals and nature is also very healing. Take a silent walk outdoors, keep the phone off and allow yourself to be present. Put your feet on the ground and feel rooted into the ground. If you can’t get outside, look outside and feel the beauty and peace all around.
  2. Awareness. Discover how you feel. Spend time alone, be contemplative, and write what you are thinking; soon you will discover why you feel the way you do. Take the time to become aware of what brings you joy. Find joy in a new activity, something you have always wanted or dreamed of doing, try something new and in the outdoors! Find something that brings you joy, like that perfect sunrise or new flower in bloom.
  3. Walk away. When you find yourself relieving the trauma, or are in the anxious/panic moment, imagine you are walking away from it. There is no help in reliving it or re-experiencing the event; that will do no good. Intend to put the event in your hands, the whole experience, imagine putting it on the side of the road, or in the trash can, or give it to an angel to carry away to the light, but get rid of it so you can move on without it.
  4. Communicate. Get yourself a small notebook, write the truth about how you feel, what you want to let go of, and keep writing. You may not know why you feel the way you do, but communicate what it is you feel, then let it go.
  5. Be Positive. People with PTSD can experience the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the experiences as if they are happening again at that very moment. As you heal, make a note of what positive experiences you have had. Just ask someone you love to describe the person you have become and write the words down. Somehow, I became better for having experienced the worst, and so can you.

Healing began with me by connecting to a higher power through meditation and prayer, by engaging in energy healing, and by grounding myself in nature. I became aware of my feelings, so I could recognize when it was time to walk away from the fear. I also began to communicate in ways I had never done before. And finally, I exchanged joy for fear, seeing a life free of PTSD and full of positive possibilities.

Healing from PTSD is possible – I know, because I healed. You can too!

A speaker, writer, and practitioner in the energy healing field, Cathy Gabrielsen is a LifeForce Energy Healing® Graduate. Her Grabrielsen Healing Center is located in West Chester, PA and provides both individual and group services.


Out of the Mouths of Babes
Wisdom We Should All Be Thankful For

This old saying, familiar to most all of us, has in the aftermath of last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida, been given new meaning that is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before in our history. The children of Parkland are showing themselves to be articulate, informed and committed young adults, and in so doing they have given us a gift of profound significance:


Hope that maybe this time will be different.

It sure feels different this time. Boomers like me are reminded of Peter Finch in the 1976 Sidney Lumet classic Network – these kids are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.

That anger and fear has resonated with people of all beliefs and political persuasion.

From the mouths of babes hope that their efforts will serve as the long, overdue and desperately needed catalyst for change, and not degrade into the inactivity we fear and have seen countless times before.

But there is much more than that – these kids are serving notice of a refusal to tolerate anything but that this time will be different. Because it must be the start of a movement. It is simply inspiring.

Fueled by the hope that Parkland isn’t merely the most recent, but that Parkland inspires us by being the last.

Their determination is to make a difference, and with that comes the refusal to accept lack of action. This should make the special interests so deeply invested in preservation of the status quo of guns very nervous indeed.

Confronted with horror and tragedy that defies words, these kids are taking action, and no one should be misled by their youth and inexperience. Yesterday’s ‘lie down’ in Washington, D.C., was only a preview of what we can expect with their announced March on Washington tentatively scheduled for March 24th.

They’re serving notice, and the implications are sobering.

Consumed by the Russia investigation and sexual misconduct scandals, the administration shouldn’t view this as a welcome changing of the conversation. Be careful what you ask for.

No, these kids are changing the national conversation in ways few imagined possible, because this is the long-awaited outpouring of the national heart and conscience with a vengeance. Demanding that all elected officials that refuse to support sane, common sense gun sales regulations and background checks are being put on notice and should be worried.

Focusing on the wise and timely idea that it’s time to take steps that prevent the mentally ill and individuals on watch lists, as examples, to purchase weapons.

These wise kids are committed to having the conversation that every generation, from theirs to the boomers, has feared we’d never have. Consideration of such topics such as whether the school shooting weapon-of-choice, the AR-15, a weapon whose purpose is mass killing, even belongs on our streets, and if 18-year-olds should be able to buy one as easily as a DVD.

Yes, wisdom out of the mouths of babes that offers hope when it is in such short supply yet needed more urgently and desperately than ever.

If it seems ‘divinely-inspired’, it should. The origin of this old saying can be traced to the Bible.  Matthew 21:16 and Psalms 8:2.

Our children may be inexperienced, but they’ve seen enough and know enough to rescue us from ourselves, and for that they deserve our thanks, admiration, and support. Join me in insisting that all our politicians come out in favor of responsible gun laws.


Only in America: Gun Horror
Where Leadership Has Failed Us

The latest school shooting in Florida today is just that – only the latest. 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of the year. Since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 239 school shootings, with 438 people shot, 138 dead, and the rest of us numb.

The uncomfortable truth is that nowhere else in the world is the problem so severe, so out of control, and seemingly so hopeless. The statistics are indisputable, yet nothing seems horrific enough to move us Americans to act.

The murder of innocents defies party and political agenda, but the fact is that the NRA has highjacked our safety and peace of mind with a distortion of the 2nd Amendment. Read the Amendment – it’s not about the right to bear arms but the right for states to raise a militia. It has been used for generations as a scare tactic to avoid discussion of responsible gun sales and ownership.

Only in America are AR-15s and similar weapons of war freely available as commodities, and that is morally irresponsible, shameful and unacceptable madness. Yet politicians for years have been beholden to the NRA. Every politician that chooses to be a willing beneficiary of their dollars does so at the cost of American safety and has the blood of our children on their hands.

After each tragedy, we wonder if it’s finally enough to bring our leaders to their senses and do what’s right, not expedient or politically safe.

After each tragedy, politicians spout the canned, “our hearts are broken … the victims and their families are in our prayers.”

President Trump had a huge opportunity this morning to think beyond party, his base, his donors, and what’s convenient and safe. His short speech was full of platitudes, skillfully drafted to say all the politically correct things.

Yet it was what he failed to say that spoke loudest of all: nothing about spearheading legislation to address the gun problem in the United States. He failed to address what everyone knows is one of America’s most urgent challenges. It was time to say what needs to be said. It was time for true leadership when we need it most.

Trump said none of that, failed the test, and as our leader, failed all of us. Again.

The time has come for Americans of all political parties to demand better. We need to require a background check on every gun sale; 34% of mass shooters would have been prohibited from owning a gun with a background check. We need to ban ownership of any and all military-style weapons; a hunter doesn’t bring down a deer with an AR-15 nor does the homeowner need it next to his bed to ward off an intruder.

Let’s get serious about solving this problem by voting in to office only those who stand for sensible gun safety laws. Let’s quit settling for being the only supposedly civilized nation in the world that allows this kind of carnage.

Our children’s very lives depend upon it.

Join the Conversation

Do you agree with me? Disagree? Or have a personal story about guns you’d like to share?

An open dialogue is crucial to finding solutions to these “hot” issues. However, please be respectful of one another – foul language and bullying are not tolerated under any circumstances.


The Truth About Truth

Roy Moore and the Weaponization of the Lie

Roy Moore got me thinking about this, but that was only the beginning, not the end. Truth, or what each of us as individuals believes the truth to be, goes beyond politics, religion, pretty much everything.

Independent of your point of view or agenda, truth today is under assault. The impact is seen in the heated, passionate and all too often irrational debate on sexual harassment, health care, tax reform, North Korea, and Roy Moore.

Today, such monumentally important topics are all bound by an association that is at once awkward and uncomfortable. It summons conversation few are willing or prepared to have because the topic is Truth in the largest context of all: Does it matter anymore?

You may remember what George Costanza told Jerry Seinfeld back in the day:

Remember, Jerry. It’s not a lie if you believe it.

Who could have imagined the King of Angst would be so incredibly prescient?

Only now, the Truth hurts but this time not in a playful, comedic way. It’s personal.

Alternative truth, like alternative facts, undermines our confidence in our ideas, our values, our leaders, our institutions, our future, even in ourselves.
If truth can become a malleable discretionary possession, where does that leave us?

Last week on TV I watched as an older female voter in Alabama was asked if given Judge Roy Moore’s burgeoning stable of accusers, she could still support him.
She answered, Yes, emphatically, and the reporter pressed on, asking the question that had to be asked. Was it because she didn’t believe the accusers, or did what they say just not matter?

The woman didn’t hesitate. She didn’t believe them. She believed it was all made-up, a passel of lies. Whether she wore blinders or rose-colored glasses, you’ve seen this before. What’s different today is how the context and pervasive nature continues to evolve.

Bigger, bolder and scarier because it’s so commonplace. The new reality is Fake News from Fake Media delivering Fake Truth.

A big chunk of the public seems more than okay with this, while the rest of us don’t know what to do about it. Truth is no longer known and defined but highjacked and become the stuff of political alchemy.

Truth twisted, subverted and leveraged, as needed, and on-demand.

How did it come to this?

It’s in our very nature but that fact should alarm more than comfort.

Children, when caught by their parents, instinctively know their best defense is Deny, Deny, Deny. This recalls the Sales Rule of 3’s; that timeless axiom that vendors of every product or service know as a path to a successful sale.

  1. Tell ‘em.
  2. Tell ‘em, again.
  3. Tell ‘em what you told ‘em one more time.

Such repetition is also frighteningly effective with a darker purpose.

It’s simply this:

  • Say something three times and many people will believe it’s true.
  • Say it ten times and many of them will think it’s their own idea.

Bringing us back to the Honorable Roy Moore. This troubled and disgraced judge, assailed by teenage accusers, notorious for spewing ideas that scared people on both sides of the aisle, who had to be watched at high school football games because he hung around young cheerleaders, knows just how to handle it. He denies, denies, denies.

Roy says he didn’t do it, he denies everything. Alabama voters soon will decide if they believe him and give him a pass, or looking beyond politics, hold him morally accountable.

The new normal can’t be that something is true because the speaker believes it to be true, or thinks it ought ¬to be. That’s not good enough. That sells everyone short.

Because truth is what simply is. When truth is under siege, the lynchpins of society become precariously unmoored. Red or blue, young or old, rich or poor, black or white, immigrants or Mayflower descendants, there are pronounced consequences for all of us when the truth is abused and misused.

My first book, Truth Heals, (no irony there) addressed sexual harassment; I’ve long advocated zero-tolerance for it. Yet, I also believe in the power of forgiveness and second chances, but with a caveat: forgiveness that is earned by taking ownership for behavior, learning from past mistakes, and accepting the empirical truth about truth.

That truth does matter.

Because truth must matter.

For all us, from individuals and private citizens to public servants and world leaders.

One standard for all because the truth is the truth and a lie should not be weaponized.

Obliterating the truth can’t be allowed to excuse a serial child molester like Roy Moore. A man with a history of perverse behavior so widely known that as an Alabama District Attorney he was banned from the mall.

By any measure, that takes some doing.

Truth should be revered, respected and protected at all costs.

Because in the end, the truth is all we have.

TV Violence Huffington Post

TV Violence: Enough is Enough

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. You can read the entire article here.

When you wake up to the news that 59 people have been murdered and over 527 more injured in Las Vegas, many of them in critical condition, and realize that one man—one!—did this to 600 people in 9 minutes, you have to wonder: why do we live in such a violent country? In the U.S., more than 30,000 Americans are killed each year with guns.1

So what did the killer do as a child? My bet is he was affected by violent shows, just like the recent Washington high school shooter, Caleb Sharpe, who was enamored of TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones,” and movies like “American Psycho.” 2

ptsd awareness

PTSD Awareness

In honor of National PTSD Awareness Day, I would like to encourage all of blog readers and friends to join me on Facebook and share your thoughts and experiences with PTSD.

While people usually associate PTSD with the men and women who serve our country in the military, I assure you that this terrible disease can strike anyone. As with all mental health diseases, PTSD is something that people are uncomfortable talking about in the open — which only increases the feelings of isolation that PTSD patients suffer from. Below is my personal experience with PTSD

My experience with PTSD


My husband and I were doing a one-day rock climb at Lover’s Leap, a sheer rock face west of Lake Tahoe, and I was in the lead. Cold and tired, I had set the belay wrong. I heard Eric cry out below me, and felt the rope burning through my hands as he fell 50 feet toward the ground. Then I saw his head hit the ground, hard. The rescue took all day. I was dehydrated, freezing, in shock, and my hands had been cut down to the bone from trying to stop the fall. Eric sustained a closed head injury and I had PTSD.

I was cold and tired and I had set the belay wrong. Suddenly, I heard Eric cry out below me, and felt the rope burning through my hands as he fell 50 feet toward the ground.

Then I saw his head hit the ground, hard.

The rescue took all day.

I was dehydrated, freezing, in shock, and my hands had been cut down to the bone from trying to stop the fall.

Eric sustained a closed head injury.

A week or two after the accident, I developed an embarrassing speech impediment. I couldn’t really drive, I was too sure there was an accident waiting to happen. My food allergies intensified. I knew I wasn’t okay, and sought help.

I had PTSD.

I got the diagnosis of PTSD and immediately began working on it with meditation, journaling, and energy healing.

Over time, I got better. I am eternally grateful for support and love of Eric, my friends and family, and my extended Soul family during that difficult time.

Whether you are a PTSD sufferer yourself, have a loved one struggling with the disease, or simply want to join the conversation and help bring this debilitating disease into the spotlight, let’s connect on Facebook or Twitter!




Know Someone Who has a Problem with Pills?

Prescription drug abuse is epidemic, and not just among the rich and famous. Do you know someone who is struggling with an addiction to prescription meds? Could that someone possibly be you? Does your doctor know exactly what you’re taking in prescription meds and herbs and supplements? Pills can interact with each other and someone has to be looking out for those possible interactions.


It’s so easy to pop a pill to cure whatever ails us – stress, anxiety, insomnia, aches and pains – but if we’re not careful, that “quick fix” can cause big problems! For example, you can take a sleeping pill and suddenly find yourself driving down the highway in your pj’s and not know how you got there! Worse than that, combining the wrong meds or taking the wrong dosages can be lethal! We’ve lost some wonderful people that way. Don’t let that happen to you or your loved one!


Check out my latest blog in the Huffington Post to learn more. While you’re there, do leave a comment to help others who are dealing with this problem. Here’s a chance to become the change you want to see! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-king/prescription-drug-overdose_b_3882396.html


7 Tips for Getting a Friend Through a Divorce

When the Dalai Lama says that his religion is kindness, you may think that he’s being a little simplistic. But have you considered what it means to be kind? It means really listening to others, allowing your friends to open their hearts and listening to their problems without judging them, then finding the right response that may lead them gently in a new direction.

 A classic time to be truly kind is when one of your friends is going through a relationship breakup. The end of a relationship is one of the most difficult upheavals many people will ever face. It’s an emotional roller coaster that you would like to help your friend survive, but how do you do that?

 Here are 7 tips for how you can help your friend navigate this emotional mine field.

  1. Be careful not to assign blame. Your friend may be blaming his soon-to-be ex, thus fanning the flames of anger. Or he might be blaming himself for failing to keep the relationship alive and healthy, and is angry at himself and guilt-ridden. You can remind him that not all relationships are meant to last forever, and the romantic relationship can transform into one of friendship, which is especially important if children are involved. Suggest he find a place where he can express his anger safely and release his guilt, such as in group therapy.
  2. Encourage your friend to express her feelings, whatever they are. If she’s being stoic, remind her that emotions that aren’t expressed can get trapped in the body where they can do physical harm. She can take up beating pillows or kick boxing or going down to the beach to holler at the waves, whatever it takes to let the emotions run their course.
  3. Help him understand that this is a period of significant loss. Loss of a significant other can be worse than death, and requires a mourning period and great personal adjustment. Grief is normal. He may be losing all their mutual friends, where he lives, even his pets. Remind him he has the opportunity to gain a better understanding of who he is by himself, without having to defer to another, an understanding of what he really wants in life, and what he needs to do in order to heal himself. All of which require time.
  4. Reassure your friend that her sex life doesn’t end when the relationship does; in fact, it may improve. She is still attractive (no matter how old she is) and worthy of finding love again, when she is ready. Her self-esteem need not be lessened by divorce, and there’s no need to “prove” her desirability by jumping into another relationship right away. And if your friend is of the gender of your own preference, don’t think jumping into bed with him/her is an act of kindness, it’s not. Stick to being friends without “benefits.”
  5. Help him with practical matters that may be new to him, like setting up a kitchen and cooking. He’d probably love help with moving, getting settled in the new place and making new friends. Above all, stay in touch with him so he doesn’t feel alone.
  6. It’s very therapeutic to watch others going through the same things you are. Watch movies with your friend that can help her express what she’s feeling, from “The First Wives Club” and “War of the Roses” to “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “The Squid and the Whale,” “Wonder Boys,” and a host of others.
  7. We all “get by with a little help from our friends.” Be the friend who can make your friend laugh.

As Oprah has said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Now that’s the kindness of a true friend.