Saving Our Lives and the Planet

Saving Our Lives and the Planet

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Saving Our Lives and Planet

Bringing the Future into the Psychological Present

We live in stressful times with much conflict, greed, and violence in the world. Population growth continues as well as material growth and increases in wealth. There are current predictions that say we will eventually run out of basic resources, such as energy and water, and our rain forests. Yet each year we create further debt, regarding material resource utilization. These projections get ignored. Why? Resource utilization is fundamental to life. A rapidly changing world with multiple demands further limits our ability to bring a critical awareness of a challenging future into our psychological present.

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For What Are We Remembered?

What About Us Carries On?
If our parents have already passed away, what is it about them that we remember most? And what about our grandparents and great grandparents? Do we remember how they met? Where they lived? What careers they pursued? What they valued? And of course, what about some of the other influential people in our lives, like that special teacher, aunt or uncle, coach or dear friend? What about even our spouse, for those of you who may have by now lost your life partner?

What I find notable is that most of the factual information about our forbearers is forgotten or lost. So what is it about those who have passed on, that is really important? What is it that transcends their physical lives? Have you thought about how you would like to be remembered? This is a really tender question, but it’s a vital one. Virtually all of us have been a caregiver or nurturer for others at some point in our lives and sometimes, sadly, if we take stock of our lives, maybe we find that we did not give of ourselves in nurturing or caregiving ways. How did each of us make those life-sustaining connections to others? Did we nurture our relationships? Did we give of ourselves? Did we share in the betterment of other’s lives, as well as of that of our own?

What we come to find we are actually remembered for are our qualities of being. Our nurturance of others, our presence, our receptivity, our awareness, our compassion, our joy, our generosity, our hopefulness, and our expression of our own wants and needs. And all of that in congruence with that of others. Sadly, we may actually be remembered for how we actually lacked these qualities, or even, that we expressed much the opposite of these altruistic qualities.

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Integrating our True
Nature, into our Lives

Integrating the Higher Qualities of our Essence into our Lives

SYNOPSIS: This blog reviews what the higher essential qualities of the nine Enneagram types mean to me. For each type, I clarify the meaning of the words used in the Enneagram teachings, define how I experience these qualities, and give clear and short examples. I state the meaning of essence as those qualities of being that underlie all external manifestations and are always present in one way or another, such as hope, faith, and love. Then I describe a process for integrating these essence qualities into our lives, integration being the interweaving of these differentiated parts into ourselves, into our experience of ourselves. Often, this involves access to our own peak experiences as a resource, as a peak experience is one that included a direct experience of our essential higher spiritual qualities. In Enneagram terms, these are our inherent virtues. Integrating our inherent virtues into our everyday modus operandi over time results in transformation, a sustainable growth that can be experienced in our soma, our hearts, and our minds.

Descriptions of the Types’ Virtues and Essential Spiritual Qualities

img_integration_daviddaniels_400pxwThe essential qualities, meaning our embodied inherent virtues, and our Holy ideas — which are mental qualities — exist at the core of our being, at the hub of existence and at the core of our collective unity.

We all have had “oneness of all” experiences at some point. For example, when we either listen to or play music, find ourselves in a wondrous scene in nature, ski effortlessly down a a mountain of white powder, get swept away in blissful sexual union, while full of intention and deep in prayer, during meditation or a deep reflection, when experiencing delicate and beautiful acts of kindness, when imbued with warm, unconditional love, we are at “one” with all that there is. Moments of oneness may also occur in times of great challenge and when there seems to be little choice.

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The Miracle of Receptivity

The Power of Pausing, Acceptance, and the Breath

These days, we are all so active and fast-paced. It’s a hectic, modern world. Our children are “glued” to their video games and tweeting. They have a lot of homework and a lot of tasks to accomplish. Adults move endlessly from task to task, attempting to get more, or at least enough, accomplished in a day.

There are three fundamental energies we humans rely on, and boy, we need all three of these energies to really thrive in this world. But I have to say, the most neglected of these three energies in our particular society is the one known as “Receptive Energy.” Here is a brief definition of each:

  • Active or Yang Energy flows outward into assertive and decisive action that is unrestricted and expansive. This energy is over-valued in achievement-oriented, success-oriented cultures. When contracted, this energy can get expressed externally as unrestrained, not unrestricted action and aggression.
  • Receptive or Yin Energy flows inwardly as openness and receptivity and outwardly as flexibility and adaptability. It can also show up as stillness, even readiness, for action. When contracted, this aspect can lead to inertia and withdrawal.
  • Balancing or Yin-Yang Energy represents a reconciling energy, harmonizing both active and receptive forces. It manifests as a continuous adjustment that we make to the ever-changing circumstances wherein reaction occurs if either receptive or active energy seems to dominate. When contracted, this energy collapses into a narrow and amplified rigidity.

Both Balancing and Active Energies depend upon Receptive Energy. Furthermore, Receptive Energy also provides the time and space for the Balancing Energy to fully operate. Receptive Energy function reminds me of a teeter-totter that we as children played on, where there was just no fun if we couldn’t create movement and flow. Thus, Receptive Energy allows us to thrive efficiently and effectively.

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Who Exactly Are the
“Good Guys” with Guns?

Another Shooting, Ignited with Concern…

One week after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, killing 20 children and several adults, the executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, finally declared that he  “Had the answer.” What follows is his entire speech as broadcast on television.

“The answer to bad guys with guns is good guys with guns,” he confidently said. That was it.

That’s his answer to the horrific acts of violence we are enduring in America.

This approach, where you feature two opposing concepts or views in a single sentence creates a blind dualism that cannot be integrated. This is true for much of the world we live in today. Simply spend a few minutes reflecting on what is going on in the Middle East, the killings by ISIS, the political battles here in America and elsewhere, and the endless oppositional views on multiple issues.

Furthermore, the National Rifle Association (NRA) with more than five million members claims that the right to bear arms is an inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by the Constitution. This refers to the right to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use arms as stated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Implicit in this meaning is the right to shoot to kill.

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Forgiveness: How It’s Truly
a Path to Freedom

Overview: Forgiveness, the profound letting go of grievances, provides a key to reclaiming the essential self and building healthy relationships.  Ironically, each type holds specific resistance’s to forgiveness which are tied to the type’s survival strategy. The barriers to forgiveness, the costs of holding grievances and resentments, and how the barriers to forgiveness be worked with are all explored here. In reading and responding to this blog, bring an open mind, heart, and spirit and an example of something or someone (could be yourself) you need to forgive.

Forgiveness: How It’s Truly a Path to Our Own Freedom


Without forgiveness, life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” — Roberto Assogioli


Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.


If you are bitter at heart, sugar in the mouth will not help you.”
— Yiddish Proverb


Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.”
— Desmond Tutu


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In working with inmates for the Enneagram Prison Project (EPP), I rediscovered how, “We are all prisoners of our own making,” as Susan Olesek[1] puts it. And a key to remaining in this “self-imprisonment” is the lack of forgiveness. This is key to both those incarcerated as well as for the rest of us.

First, we need to define forgiveness as both the pardoning of offenses and the releasing from resentments. And here’s a critical distinction: Pardoning an offense does not mean we deem the offense as unimportant nor deny the consequences, but rather, an allowing for penalties to be applied in a way that is respectful to both offenders and pardoners.

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Understanding Anger
the Socially Acceptable Emotion

SYNOPSIS of the BLOG ARTICLE: Understanding the emotion “anger” and learning how to work “with it” gets us closer to ending unnecessary violence. Anger, in particular, is one of emotional alarm systems system that tells us about personal violation and its potential threaten to our survival. It alerts us when our sense of inherent worth comes under attack, when getting what we want, need and/or value gets threatened, and when we can’t process feelings of shame, hurt, or fear.

PHOTO_ViolenceBook_Daniels_200pxwI began my study of violence in 1968 with other junior colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University after the assignations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. Our work culminated in 1970 with the publication of a book called Violence and the Struggle for Existence.

My interest in working with anger and violence continues into the present as a result of my association with the Enneagram Prison Project (EPP), working closely with colleagues Susan Olesek and Suzanne Dion, leaders of the project and EPP’s core instructors, both teaching weekly in California jails/prisons. Together we bring a great knowledge of the Enneagram and possess a deep understanding of the mammalian emotional alarm systems, including that of anger, to EPP’s curriculum. This past month, Suzanne and I have put this paper together.


Understanding Anger/Rage, the Socially Acceptable Emotion
Can Understanding Lead to Less Violence?


by David Daniels MD
with Suzanne Dion of EPP


Anger is a vital, vital energy source. It’s one of the three fundamental, aversive emotions shared by all mammals. These aversive emotions are key to the survival systems found in human beings and mammals alike. They are designed to protect us, warn us, and keep us alive.

How the Anger System Works

iStock_000004938320XSmallAnger, moreover referred to as rage, is part of the survival system that tells us about violation. It gets triggered when our sense of personal worth comes under attack, when getting what we want or desire is delayed or taken away, when something we care about gets threatened. It manifests when someone is about to take away our food, get in the way of our accomplishing something, or when someone tries to force us to do something against our will.

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