The Brushing Of An Eagle’s Wing

“Time” is one of the things I like to think about most. It’s also one of the things that I like to most not think about. Funny, right.

In my life, I’ve had a strong relationship with “time & efficiency.” Using time well. Getting things done. Being responsible. Being tenacious. It’s a good upbringing for me. It’s parents and grandparents that had to work hard to get by. I’m glad to have this orientation in me. It remains rewarding to me to tick a few things off of my list.

And, these days, likely growing in me over the last several years, perhaps even much longer at the pace of a kalpa described below, I have an increasingly strong relationship with “time & contemplation.” Using spaciousness well. Getting the inner work done. Being willing to look with rigor to how my internal creates my outer world. This is good upbringing also. Thoughtful family and friends that have themselves sought to see what is beyond the obvious. I’m glad to have this orientation too. Increasingly so, it feels foundational.

It feels important to me to be willing or able to have a plurality of relationships with time. I don’t commit myself solely to one or the other — therein lays a danger. I’ve always valued the capacity to move between the worlds. It just takes courage, a unique kind, to interrupt the efficiency side of relating to time.

Below is a piece that I read this morning from the Buddhist publication, Lion’s Roar.

Enjoy the stretch and perspective, for a moment, or with great untimedness.

In traditional Buddhist (as well as Hindu) cosmology, kalpas are unfathomably long periods of time. Though they come in different sizes, even a “regular” kalpa is beyond huge: 16,000,000 years. A “great kalpa” is almost 1,300,000,000,000 years.

Sometimes these enormous lengths of time are described in colorful metaphors, such as:

  • longer than the time it would take to fill a cube that is 16 miles wide and 16 miles high with mustard seeds, at the rate of one mustard seed every 100 years;
  • longer than it would take, at the same once-a-century frequency, for the brushing of an eagle’s wing against a mountain to wear that mountain away;
  • longer than it would take for a turtle (one who appears, again, once every 100 years) to randomly poke its head through a ring floating on the ocean’s surface.

Kalpas relate to the nature of the universe itself, describing immeasurably long cycles of creation and destruction. Like modern science, ancient Buddhist cosmology described a universe of almost infinite size, variety, and duration.

The kalpa is often evoked as an encouragement to spiritual practice, reminding us how rare it is to be born human and to hear the Buddhist teachings. “The dharma,” as one Zen chant puts it, “is rarely encountered, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of kalpas.”

Trusting Your Nature

This week I was able to spend an afternoon hiking and wandering Tiger Mountain near Issaquah, Washington, where I took this picture. The occasion was my spouse’s 53rd birthday. I love the green of Washington State. Soft moss that grows on standing and fallen trees. Ferns that make their home everywhere. Streams that trickle through the park, as well as a few waterfalls. There is a kind of obvious abundance.

We were out for three hours. Some of that moving. Some of that talking. Some of that huffing and puffing (it’s a fair incline). And some of it just sitting. When I sit in places like that, I can often hear the voice of one of my mentors. “We are nature.” Not, “It’s good to be out in nature.” It’s not external. Rather, it is internal. We too, despite being the incredibly conceptual and cognitive beings that we are, with ability to abstract, are also a living system nested within other living systems. That changes how I pay attention and how I listen for insight and welcome it to arrive.

My friend Kinde Nebeker and I have just finished creating an invitation for another three part series we are offering on The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership. This series is called Trusting Your Nature. The middle session will be a full day up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. If you are reading this and within range to join us, please do.


Evolution. It’s encouraging, right. Accept when it is not.

I laughed when I saw this photo this morning on a friend’s Facebook page (who is actually celebrating his birthday today). So promising (evolution, that is). So much progress. But then again, oh yah, that hunched over thing.

I use the language of evolution a fair amount in my work. My friend and colleague Kinde Nebeker and I have created a series on the “Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership” (Series I, Series II) I use the language of evolution to invoke an attitude and disposition. Not in the geologic sense that is over centuries and millennia, though I suppose that could be relevant too. But definitely as “evolving the nuance of who we are and how we are together” in the coming months, years, and even decades. It’s a fundamental invitation rooted in desires to collaborate. Not just collaborative as in, helping the neighbor rake the leaves. More at the layer of evolving the edges of who we are becoming as a species, as nations, as teams, as people on the edge of difficult or untenable circumstances.

Untenable. Hmmm…. There feels like a lot of untenable that is rising up in the world. It feels more accurate to say that it has always been there — it’s just reaching more visible edges of those not normally confronted with anything called untenable. Yesterday I became aware of a person based in Canada that felt she could not send two people as participants to a leadership training that I’m cohosting the next four days near Seattle, Washington. She was worried by protests she had seen at American airports over Donald Trump’s executive order limiting visa and entry status for people from predominantly Muslim countries, and the ripples from that order. She was fearful of police efforts to disperse crowds using pepper spray. She was alarmed by a growing and overarching perception that the United States is an unwelcoming and unsafe place to be.

Whether those participants from Canada come or not (I hope they do), this week’s Art of Participative Leadership training includes 40 participants. We gather for three days at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. We will learn and share stories and questions about participative leadership. We will explore models and ways of being together. We will practice — as in do leadership — through the model that is hosting. We will evolve edges through our learning, our work, and our relationships together. I think of it as essential practice to try something different together, to create deliberate encounter together, to dislocate patterns and certainty in a place that is safe enough to do so — no pepper spray in the supplies list for this gathering.

It is imperative, I believe, to evolve the edges and the nuancing of who we are together and what we can become. And, with a tone that I’m hearing a lot more these days, “now, more than ever.” But lets be clear, now more than ever isn’t returning to “hunched over.” At least I hope not.




Magical Wilderness

Kinde Nebeker is a good friend and colleague. We continue to develop a body of work together called, The Inner and Outer of Evolutionary Leadership. I love the focus on both the inner (presence and grounding) combined with the outer (convening and hosting). We offered a three-part series in the spring of this year. We are solidifying dates for a fall 2016 and spring 2017 series.

Kinde comes from a background of design and design education, transpersonal psychology and ecopsychology. She guides wilderness rites of passage trips and supports individuals in their psychological and spiritual development. I love this about Kinde. She’s opening so much to the practice of emergence and through her work, I find new layers in myself.

In her recent writing, The Magical Wilderness Between People Together, Kinde says,

“I have an immense curiosity about this territory, this sort of magical invisible wilderness that I’ve stumbled into now and again when I am with other people in a particular kind of way. I am curious because I feel most alive and fully human this invisible wild space together. I am curious because new and amazing things can be created in this space. And I am also curious to understand this phenomenon better because I sense it could be a critically important place for us all to know how to be in as we face unprecedented global challenges.”

Give it a full read on her site.