Beyond Victim and Villain – Introduction



The Agenda


Becoming vulnerable…

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“All sound creates movement, even the internal sound of thought. This movement has direction. This direction is agenda. Teaching always has agenda because it breaks the silence in order to do the teaching.”


“It is when we are there—vulnerable—that we may finally experience our truth; that we may finally become at least a shade of what deep down we know ourselves to be…whole.”

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I am going to be as transparent as possible with my agenda for creating this work. I am going to put all the cards on the table right now.

All who live have an agenda. This is certainly no less true for those of us who choose to share ourselves in public forums such as the book before you now. But, this is not something to fear as a reader or feel ashamed of as a writer. It—agenda—is merely a consequence of the process that is life. In being a consequence, agenda also represents an eternal and universal agreement which we all share:  To entertain each other’s agendas for the purpose of communication, participation, and experience.

For me, truth is silent. All sound creates movement, even the internal sound of thought. This movement has direction. This direction is agenda. Teaching always has agenda because it breaks the silence in order to do the teaching. So, from this perspective, we can be at peace with the agenda—ours or another’s—because we can choose to recognize it as simple movement—movement that can inspire us in one direction or another, yet does not have to dictate or own our lives.

It has become very clear to me (in almost thirty-four years of life as I write this), that the only real gift we can ever offer anyone is our story. But, the offering is only half of the equation. The second half occurs when another receives our story. Not necessarily receiving it as the truth, but rather, simply accepting the giver in light of the offering that has been made, acknowledging its value, and embracing whatever love is being offered, in whatever form it is being offered—positive or negative.

As I will explain in Discussion 2, this is reciprocity; that all gifts go both directions—always. Any gift a reader chooses to accept or reject from the following pages, gifts me in equal measure through the communication and movement it generates.

So then, that being said, my agenda is this…

I intend to inspire new and ‘wider’ ways of looking at life. Specifically, I intend to create a space that encourages an internal search for responsibility, thereby creating a movement away from the typical reflexive external search for accountability, or blame, that currently dominates our day-to-day societal reality. I intend to accomplish this by inspiring an experience with vulnerability, which actually means to experience heart-centeredness, or, what could be called emptiness. I think we are our most compassionate, our most sincere, and our most authentic when we are vulnerable. It is when we are there—vulnerable—that we may finally experience our truth; that we may finally become at least a shade of what deep down we know ourselves to be…whole. Finally, I intend to inspire open communication regarding this shift in perception. With great eagerness and anticipation, I intend to receive all feedback—positive and negative—with equanimity, holding a patient space for both, and understanding that both are valuable, both are love.

It is very easy to stand back and look at life today and say that these are crazy times we are living in. It is perhaps even easier to feel overwhelmed and frightened on a day-to-day basis given the standard content on the six o’clock news. It seems as if we are being taught that we are victims and villains. We are being ordered to get in line before it is too late. Essentially, we are being taught to hide our vulnerability, to mask it, and to protect it with righteous, patriotic abandon. For, if our vulnerability is exposed, it could mean the end of us—we are told. But is this all real? Is this true?

What if, deep down, none of this is true? What if we need no protection at all? What if the protection we seek and fight to maintain is actually the perpetuator of our suffering? With this in mind, what does vulnerability even mean?

Our vulnerability makes us feel afraid of our outside world. Yet, perhaps this is only because we have misunderstood what it is. We have been taught that when we are vulnerable we are in danger. But is it really that simple? Perhaps when we are feeling vulnerable we are actually experiencing living in our heart; we are experiencing the true presence that only emptiness can bring—if only for a brief moment. Perhaps these are the very same moments when we realize that the control over our lives, about which we have simultaneously obsessed and resented, is an illusion at best—because we do not truly need it. Perhaps the awesome potential for radical compassion—the power—that we find in our vulnerability scares us, as if we have stumbled upon a sleeping dragon. Because we are so uncomfortable and unfamiliar with this state, we cannot believe that it could possibly be us that have awakened, and we are afraid. We fight and fuss to go back to sleep. But it is too late.

With the waking of this dragon, we get a taste and a view of something unexplainable, something strangely familiar and profoundly innate, and we will never go to sleep again. We can ignore what we’ve seen and felt, for a time, but this denial is nothing more than the same grogginess we experience upon waking each morning. And it will pass. It will pass.

In its wake will be something new. Ironically, this new ‘thing’ will look the same. It will walk the same. Yet nothing will look or walk the same through the eyes of this new being, that, has finally begun to embrace and accept its vulnerability; for it is through this vulnerability that we can finally relate to everyone we encounter in our lives. Through embracing our vulnerability, we can finally forgive because we have realized, once and for all, that we have never been victimized for one single moment of our existence. We suddenly understand that every event in the landscape of our lives has occurred with utter precision and purpose, and has—without our even knowing it—forged a matrix of experience that inevitably led us into our own hearts, where we are truly free.

It is from this place of vulnerability that the emptiness we find allows us to communicate with others without being dominated by our typical presumptions and judgments. We can finally see clearly what is truly going on around us without blurring the lens of our perception with our historical dramas. We can finally extract the value from events that have caused us great pain. It is with this clarity of perception that we wake one morning with this revelation:   We are vulnerable to nothing. Danger has become obsolete in our lives.

This is my intent and my hope:  To help bring the view into focus—yours and mine together—done so through a brand of discussion that only equals share; discussion sparked by these essays, and then, maintained by mutual curiosity and respect.

And with that, I offer these thirty-three essays. They discuss a wide range of ideas and scenarios that encourage us all into self-examination in order that we may begin to peel away the many layers of defense and complication that we have built around our lives. Layers that have, until now, kept us from accessing the simplicity of our sense of truth and inspiration on a consistent basis. It is my hope that these essays help to inspire all of us to become more appreciative of our vulnerability, and more open to life in general.

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