Transformative Learning- Producing Enlightened Change Agents

Some weeks ago I listened to a podcast at Shrink Rap Radio, Transformative Education with Aftab Omer (I can't begin to say how much I have learned from this podcast series. I highly recommend it). Education in the podcast was divided into Informative and Transformational styles or methodologies; the content of the former was the Known, and that of the latter as the Unknown. I have been on a quest to understand more ever since...

I have thought for some time that one of my most effective assets for functioning in a foreign language is what I already know of the world. If someone is talking about cooking, for example, I can draw on my own experience to make a pretty good guess as to what kinds of tools, skills, ingredients and such that might be included in the conversation.

Contrasting this idea with the idea of the Unknown has led me to think about what kinds of advances in thinking and knowledge are occurring in English-language culture (which, if you live in one, is easy to take for granted. For me, apart from the internet, this is not part of my everyday experience.) And consequently, growth that I am not participating in, nor am I aware of.

This morning the thought came to me, when wondering why the USA is considered to be such an innovative culture, the common notion that it is a nation of immigrants. If you've ever been to a foreign country (let alone lived in one for an extended period), you are immediately struck by what you don't know. Imagine a country filled with people with the attitudes and skills requisite to succeed in a new, unknown realm. In the earliest days of the republic, these were obviously self-motivated people: they had, for the most part, chosen to jump into the unknown and make the best of it. A breed apart, indeed, as the American experience has shown.

Googling for more about 'informative transformative education' I found some interesting ideas for further thought-

At the blog Food for Thought it was written

Informative learning = changes in what we know; Transformative learning = changes in how we know.


A short (6 min.)  YouTube video by the Landmark Education folks. Here Informative Education was described to have the outcome of knowledge. The outcome of Transformative Education? Power and Freedom.


And in a paper presented to discuss needed changes in health care provider education it was written
The purpose of transformational education is to produce enlightened change agents.
That's it! Beware powers that be...

(The 3 1/2 pages are worthwhile reading for further breadth and depth.)

So, transformative education. Hmmm.....
  • what we know, 
  • what we don't know, 
  • how we know
  • power and freedom
  • enlightened change agent...
I have long been a reverse engineer- given the outcome, I think I need to do some more research and rethinking. And growing :-)


Fresh Start

For the past month I've been vexed by the searching question, "Where to start?"
Alas, the previous post I Want To Be Free has solved the dilemma. Those five words capture the essence of my pursuits, at many and varied levels. Number five from the Rules of the Ninja states, "Resist Tyranny. In yourself, and in others."
That Quest also animates my desire to share, and explore together, the jungles and arts of our humanity, the glitter and depth of our consciousness, and a yearning to burn bright as a shooting sun lit from within.

To Freedom- 


I want to be free

There is a river of thought-waves. Everyone is being washed downstream. Everyone is clinging to these thoughts and being washed away. Just give rise to the single thought "I want to be free." This thought will take you to freedom. It is the most rare thought. Out of the entire population of six billion, only a handful give rise to this thought.
– H.W.L. Poonja, or "Papaji"

found it here


Mercy Now, prayer in song

email readers, click on the post title to see the video

by Mary Gauthier

My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor
Fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over
It won't be long and he won't be around
I love my father, and he could use some mercy now

My brother could use a little mercy now
He's a stranger to freedom
He's shackled to his fears and doubts
The pain that he lives in is
Almost more than living will allow
I love my bother, and he could use some mercy now

My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit
That's going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful
Who follow them down
I love my church and country, and they could use some mercy now

Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race
Towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, well
They'll do anything to keep their crown
I love life, and life itself could use some mercy now

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now


Rules of the Ninja, 1

1. Infinity is Boundless; Be first your own Infinite nature.

The Rules of the Ninja are a collection of short sayings or proverbs I put together for Louis in a poster that hangs in his room. There was a time Louis wanted to be a ninja; such an interest in him seemed to present the opportunity to discuss some of the deeper parts of that business.
The collection is certainly not exhaustive, but were what I could fit onto a single page. I did try to put the sayings into some kind of order, though; especially Number One, following the rule of Highest First. This is the first; I'll post them 1 by 1 on occasion.

Infinity has been the goal of my quest for many years- boundless is what I want to be! Looking for it in different ways and different places has been very fruitful; more on that in later posts. An important instruction for me was the concept of 'Infinity in a point value'.
Like the many seemingly conflicting opposites or dualities in life, Infinity-in-One is an ever-present coexistence, like finding the Cosmos in a grain of sand, or all possibility in a moment of time, a Gestalt. Zen, with its always pointing finger, certainly is pointing this way. Catching such a thing, being THAT, in our awareness, and maintaining it, is samadhi, nirvana, Enlightenment. That is truly what I want to be e-e.
Sports have long been one of the most constant and regular avenues into such an awareness for me. The Zen of surfing, soul surfing, of the '70s, was an early introduction. Night mountain biking has been a more recent tool for turning off the thinking mind and just letting it all flow so as to navigate narrow trails between the trees and down the hills under star or moonlight, watching, breathing, grooving, being.
Meditation is a side of organized religion that doesn't get a lot of popular attention. It is a very direct approach to discovering one's own nature, and from which experience Infinity first loudly hailed me, 'LOOK!'.
I began meditating when I was 17, and continue to to this day. I have stopped meditating at different times, pointedly to gain a reference point of not meditating with which to compare. When I begin meditating again after such a hiatus, it is very clear that my life is better with meditation. I will have a lot to say in future posts about meditating.
One more time, just so we don't forget-

Infinity is Boundless; Be first your own Infinite nature.


Let The Mystery Be, Iris DeMent

Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Some say once you're gone you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour if in sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're comin' back in a garden, bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory and I ain't saying it ain't a fact.
But I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory and I don't like the sound of that.
Well, I believe in love and I live my life accordingly.
But I choose to let the mystery be.

Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.


An Invitation

Greetings Each and All,

First, let me apologize, for I have been remiss in our correspondence.

Recently I'm feeling like an egg that is finishing boiling, though certainly not done. That inside which has been so fertile for so long has finally congealed a bit into something intelligible, at least enough for me to put it into words. And alas, the shell has cracked and the contents are spilling out.

For a very long time I've felt some of my ideas have been a bit whacked (wacky, unconventional). Perhaps they still are. But it was also always apparent that the normal road in life was not for me. Being unconventional might mean, at different times, being contrary, unapologetic, stubborn, obstinate, intractable. These must be words from the glossary of The Road Less Traveled.
But some recent Facebook chatter about 'You grew up in Los Alamitos if...', about a time in high school I sat on a rock in the school commons covered with clay slip, made me rethink. The impact that event still has on people, 30 years later, finally hit me in the head hard enough to look at myself another way.

A friend posted a Zen quote recently. It recalled to me the inspiration I found in such things in my youth, and the trajectory (and country?) they sent me on as an adult seeker. But I was also heartened by the change of view I had in reading such a thing now (though no less inspired).
What a beautiful seed Zen planted in me; what a beautiful flower!

Here is the quote (thanks, Andy):

“The Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”
- Zen Buddhist Text

Row Row Row Your Boat has long been my theme song in life. At different times I have focused on different parts of the song. Merrily, merrily, merrily has always been important (thanks, Robert, and the Beckers). Canoeing in Iowa in my '20s taught me some of the most practical life lessons I've had (merci, Ken). Growing up in California in the late '60s and '70s (and Zen) gave meaning to the second line (nods to Mom, and the other Masters). Nowadays, it's the last line that's repeating, and the volume is getting louder. (Yeah, you're thinking, still whacked!)

My greatest hope with this invitation is that many of us who have been dis- or infrequently connected for too long will find a way to renew our connections. I also hope that what I write or share will pique a question in you, or a comment. I may not be able to answer your question, but I am sure that searching it out together will be our greatest reward.

I recently had a warm family experience, but was left disheartened that too many of the things (I felt) that are so pressing in our lives and in our world today were not things that we could easily talk about together. Enough of that. I pray that this will be a forum to search out our selves, our common grounds, our visions of excellence, our passions, and to my highest hope, Enlightenment. Together.
Yet beyond the ability to talk about difficult things, I am more sure than ever that for us to be together is even greater. I recently saw the movie Avatar, and in the scene when Jake was being accepted as a member of the tribe, all the members of the tribe gathered together and laid their hands on him, or the person/persons in front of or next to themselves, to form a web of family and community, of One. I asked myself, What are the rituals in our culture that allow us to do this? I thought of a few.
But for me, and you and us, time and geography can put a limit on such physical togetherness. My twenty years abroad, searching, has been very fruitful of late. For those getting restless in the bounds of time and space, I hope this can be as powerful and empowering for you as it has been for me. Please ask me about it. The time is ripe: The Earth, and humanity, need us to unite. We need to create a future that, well, let's create a greater one together.

About 20 years ago I met a middle-aged Canadian couple in Bali. We were sitting on the beach together preparing to go diving. The man commented to me that though everyone says, 'Bali is such a beautiful island!', too many people don't put their faces into the water. 'They're missing half the beauty,' he finished.
For me, this conversation has become a metaphor for my life with my eyes wide open. Too often I don't sit down and take the time to close my eyes and see the silent deep within. And consequently, that beauty-filled, infinite, rich depth fails to get fruitfully connected to the surface. Oops. Guess that wasn't part of the myths of our popular culture (parts of the Bible excepted). Or textbooks.

I've said since those Los Alamitos days that
'We are not humans who sometimes have a spiritual experience, but rather Spirits who are having a human experience.' 
Well, in almost 50 years, I think I can see where being human in our world has gotten me/us. I think it's time to give being Spirit a chance. We need a mask & snorkel for our Soul, so to speak. And we need to get wet.

I am reworking my homepage,


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This is your personal invitation. Please feel free to pass it on to others. And please feel free to respond, comment, question, and interact.

And please, please accept my invitation. Come along for the ride; Where it stops, nobody knows-

It's Party Time! Rock the House! Road Trip!

Your brother, nephew, cousin, and, yup, still whacked! friend.

As always,

One in Spirit.