Prioritizing your core values

I recently had the privilege of visiting one of the most stunning chapels in the United Kingdom. Positioned in the Surrey Hills southwest of London, Watts Chapel is a masterpiece of architecture, Celtic imagery and terracotta clay artwork.

The interior design follows the medieval notion of God in heaven and moving downward to earth with the dome of the chapel representing heaven with God depicted in the form of a circle with no beginning and no end. Four messenger angels closest to God have their arms raised in blessing each representing values and symbolizing the divine connection to these principles.

The non-negotiable principles

Your values should be non-negotiable and define who you really are. It as an ideal to strive for and commonly referred to as virtues in past generations.

Pope Gregory the Great first defined a set of seven values in the 6th century based on older Greek religious values. These are:

Faith the belief doing the right things
Hope a trust that good will prevail
Charity a voluntary giving and help for others
Fortitude overcoming fear and remaining in trust even when facing obstacles
Justice being fair and equitable with others
Prudence exercising moderation and caution
Temperance moderation and self-control, especially regarding toxic emotions

There are several methods in defining those three to five core values most important to you. They could be some of those above or such values as dependability, reliability, positivity, integrity, kindness, authenticity or loyalty.

Passing decision-making through the filter of your core values

If your core values and principles are not congruent with the work you do on a daily basis or in your relationships you will become increasingly fatigued and exhausted. Soul purpose is closely aligned with your principles. Your five key core values, essentially define the ideal you are striving for in life.

We are almost faced daily with important decision-making. At times we are at the crossroads of having to change jobs ,undertaking an important business venture or to go deeper in a relationship. We mull over the decision-making process for days but it all becomes a lot easier when you pass the “yes” or “no” through the filter of your core values.

During a time when we are experiencing a gradual elevation of consciousness as a humanity an increasing number of people are questioning their roles in corporations or institutions. Especially, when values, actions and statements of a company are no longer congruent with personal values and norms we have an increase of job burnout among the employees.

It might be time to move the ladder

If you are feeling over a lengthy period of time this inconsistency of public and individual ideal you need to make a change. In my case I got clarity over my future and my personal core values after taking a time out on a pilgrimage walk lasting several weeks. I knew that I had to get out of a dysfunctional marriage and leave my journalist job that once enabled me to live my ideals but was no longer doing so in the digital world.

You could well also be in a situation where you realize that you have placed the ladder against the wrong wall for many years and that its time to move it to another space. After hosting numerous stress-management workshops in the corporate world I compiled the essentials in a 40-day online course: “Stepping into authenticity. Living to BE”

Typically when illness, constant obstacles and frustrations come your way, it would often be the universe telling you to make that change. On the other hand if you are congruent with your innermost values everything seems to fall into place. The universe enables you meet the right people at the right time who help open the door for you to a new beginning. Or you realize in an instant that you are just in the right place at the right time. You just happen to come across that book that opens up an entirely new perspective.

American entrepreneur, speaker and author Jim Rohn once said: “The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” And the Greek philosopher Aristotle defined the ultimate value in life as “awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When the lie becomes the truth

We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied, because we are the origin of all coming evil.Carl Gustav Jung

We know so little about ourselves and how susceptible the mind is to external manipulation and deception. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was passionately concerned with the survival of the human race warning with growing concern in the 1920s of the destructive collective forces in neighboring Germany.

Prophetically he observed that fascism flourished in an environment where it was becoming harder and harder for the average person to discern truth from fiction. People lose their ability to perceive reality. A collective psychosis had taken hold of Germany where ordinary people were showing signs of battle eagerness. Moral judgement became clouded as people stood by when the Nazis burned synagogues, looted Jewish shops and took away neighbors to concentration camps.

Evil and the capturing of the collective mind

When there is no longer a clear distinction between truth and the lie, evil starts capturing the collective consciousness. Jung described what was happening in Nazi Germany as a “collective totalitarian psychosis.”

Recently the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk described our current situation as something akin to “the late Middle Ages where there is a refusal to join the path to modernity and science-based civil society…There is a flourishing of sectarian opinion groups that have a euphoric experience together assuming a shared privileged access to truth.”

Photo by Kristal Terziu on Pexels.com

The individual separated from soul purpose and integrity

When a collective totalitarian psychosis starts taking root the individual is being coerced by the professional deceiver and demagogue into lying to himself. There is inevitably a separation between soul purpose, integrity and authenticity. The individual is swept away by a type of totalitarian mass hypnosis.

When evil is unleashed on a mass scale such as in Nazi Germany ordinary citizens start serving “Satan” by being obedient citizens in following the group consensus and adopting behavior that would normally be suppressed in the shadow consciousness.

Bearing in mind the Nazi’s ability to distort the truth, Jung warned: “Nothing has such a convincing effect as a lie one invents and believes oneself.”

Jung’s recipe against becoming trapped by the totalitarian psychosis, was training one’s own mind to become conscious of its own forces of darkness.

“Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants himself to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

The twofold nature of man

It is what the great Mystics and spiritual teachers have taught over the centuries. The 13th-century monk Meister Eckhart wrote of the twofold nature of man. “Whoever knows himself knows all creatures, for all creatures are either body or spirit.”

St Jerome describes the moment of incarnation into flesh as the individual being possessed by the good spirit, an angel, and an evil spirit, a devil.”

The evil spirit converses at all times with the outward man and lies in wait for the inward man like a serpent. Therefore the Greek philosophers Cicero and Seneca recommended a constant awareness and training of the mind in cultivating the good and the wise or the divine spirit.

Disaster is inevitable where a character who has not transmuted the shadow is entrusted with too much wealth and power. Personal inferiority is projected onto an illusory threat. Fuel is poured onto the fires of inflection points along race, gender, class, nationality and religious issues.

Transmuting the shadow is cultivating self-love, compassion, and gratitude. It is the acceptance that we remain incomplete beings on a path of becoming who we are meant to be.

Johannes Tauler, another 13-century Mystic, had a deep understanding of what it means to be human and how our very human mistakes can be transmuted into purpose and meaning:

“The horse drops dung in the stable. Although the dung is unclean and evil smelling, the same horse laboriously pulls the same dung to the fields where fine wheat and good sweet wine grow from it, which would never grow so well if the dung were not there. Now your dung is your own faults which you cannot rid yourself of or overcome. These you should carry with much effort and labor to the field of God’s will in true detachment from yourself. Scatter your dung on this noble field and without any doubt there shall spring up noble and delightful fruit.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Health: We need a paradigm shift

May your body be blessed. May you realize that your body is a faithful and beautiful friend of your soul.“

– John O‘Donohue

You could be feeling a little „battle weary” by now from the daily dosage of Covid-related news. We wish it to be finally over but the pandemic still has many lessons in store for us mankind.

For one thing the issue of public health, and our integral role in a fragile environment has moved into the mainstream.

However, most mass media continues to be fear-based, propagating a one-dimensional perspective, and deflecting from the real underlying challenges. When fear rules the game our vision becomes clouded and our senses become susceptible to mind control and manipulation.

The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is that two-thirds of Covid victims have had a medical precondition such as obesity, diabetes or stress-related problems that weaken the immune system. Young people with obesity appear to be particularly at risk.

Between a quarter to a half of nurses and health care workers suffer from obesity with experts pinpointing understaffing, stress and bad working hours as some of the reasons. An estimated 115 000 health care workers lost their lives to Covid.

Vaccines are a short-term necessity but not a long term cure. Covid has only highlighted to what extent a large portion of people in the industrialized countries suffer from medical preconditions that will keep on impacting entire economies.

A lifestyle feeding the epidemic

Our modern lifestyle contradicts the very way our bodies have evolved over thousands of generations. Poor exercise, a diet of mainly processed foods and high stress levels cause havoc to the body‘s natural defense systems. Its the perfect feeding ground for a virus that keeps attacking in different mutations.

The „health industry“ is largely in the vice grip of the pharmaceutical industy that is interested in longevity but not quality of life. The processed food industry‘s primary interest is not your health. It is to increase profits by boosting the shelf life of its products with artificial additives that flood the body with toxins, causing a multitude of health problems.

Covid will not be the last virus so we had better start looking at ways of how we can motivate ourselves and others in looking after our body, mind and spirit.

The discipline of maintaining a vibrant body and mind is that bridge toward becoming who you are truly meant to be.

If you don‘t take the time to look after your health, your body will soon force you to take the time to do so.

Just take a walk

Walking is one of the easiest and best ways of how you can start improving your body metabolism. Its one of the most underrated and best ways possible to exercise your body. We have literally been hard-wired by evolution to walk. I go into more detail on this in my book: Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

What you feed your mind and your body with is what you become. If you are addicted to news channels and social media propagating fear and anxiety you will start feeling emotionally drained and stressed.

Your brain and body need the essential nutrients from foods our ancestors have always eaten, mostly freshly harvested from the ground and the trees without pesticides. Meat was from animals that ate grasses and herbs. Fish came fresh from a clean ocean and river waters.

Photo by Wings Of Freedom on Pexels.com

Aligning body, mind and spirit

Its a no-brainer but we need a real paradigm shift when it comes to personal health and self-care.

By getting enough sleep and exercise, eating the right foods and surrounding yourself with positively-minded people you will have taken the first step to making yourself more resilient in coping with life‘s up-and-down cycles.

When you feel strong in body and mind you become centered and empowered. You will be more resilient to the constant pull of such toxic emotions as anger, hate, fear, envy and frustration.

Reino Gevers – Author – MentorSpeaker

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When things fall apart

During the past week I received reels of video footage from friends and family in South Africa revealing horrifying images of carnage and destruction. Thousands of looters were burning and destroying shopping malls and vital infra-structure with a government obviously too weak or incompetent to restore order.

It appeared as if all social order was collapsing. But amid all the chaos were signs of hope. Communities of all races got together to defend their homes and properties, gathering together for prayer, giving each other hope and volunteering to clean up in the aftermath.

Works by the Majorcan artist Joan Bennassar

South Africa is in many respects a microcosm of global problems highlighting race and gender issues, cultural diversity, and the huge disparity been rich and poor. The economic fallout from the pandemic has entrenched deeply underlying social and political frictions.

Inflection points bring out the best and the worst in humanity

Sharp inflection points, challenges and conflicts inevitably bring out the best and the worst in humanity. During my years as a reporter in South Africa I witnessed clergymen selflessly serving the poor and downtrodden in the poorest township slums. The country has brought forth leaders, poets, authors, musicians, sports and film stars admired all over the world. But some of its people were also responsible for terrible human rights violations and could be described as “the very personification of evil.”

Sometimes such contrasts can be found in individual persons. In the final years of apartheid Adriaan Vlok was the minister of police. He was the man responsible for bombing the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches and trying to assassinate its secretary general. He later publicly apologized for his actions, washed the feet of his former enemies and later ran a child feeding charity funding it mostly with his own pension.

Major paradigm shifts are underway

At the start of the 21st century we are seeing major social, political and economic paradigm shifts. Human knowledge and change has increased exponentially compared to previous generations. The American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that whenever a technology approaches a barrier, a new technology is invented crossing that barrier. He predicts that such evolutionary shifts will continue to become increasingly common, leading to profound technological change and rupturing old orders.

Digital technology is at the forefront of a doubling of human knowledge every 13 months. Just to put this into perspective: In the year 1900 it took about a century and by 1945 it had been reduced to every 25 years. This “Knowledge Doubling Curve” was first created by Buckminster Fuller in 1982. 

Cultural leaps are not integrated mentally and psychologically

Such “cultural leaps” pushed by technological advances create enormous opportunity for the educated, computer-savvy middle classes with access to high-speed Internet. But we are left with less time to cope and integrate such changes mentally and psychologically. More knowledge does not mean more wisdom. A growing number of people respond to the massive cultural and economic changes by walling themselves off in radical political and religious “tribal bubbles.”

The large pool of people employed in manual jobs are no longer needed in an increasingly automated economy. Whether we are looking at the unemployed in the former industrial cities of the United States, the coal-mining areas of northern England, or the “yellow vest” citizens in low-paying jobs in France the picture is very similar. There is a growing populace feeling left out, having nothing to lose and who are open to the rhetoric of the professional deceivers and demagogues.

Those tech concerns who have reaped the most benefit from the digital revolution will have to learn to share their wealth by at least paying taxes in proportion to their earnings. This revenue can be used to invest in improved education, infra-structure, health and upliftment of poor communities.

The law of yin and yang

When things fall apart during times of crisis it is a wake-up call. It is not a time to blame so-called “instigators” but to look at the bigger picture. We need to ask questions and seek answers as to why there are so many very disgruntled, angry and unhappy people around us.

In the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang an illness always manifests itself when there is an imbalance between the polar laws of life. An imbalance causes first disharmony, then conflict and ultimately leads to destruction. When the scales tip into one or the other extreme we get to a tipping point.

Nature inevitably tries to restore the balance so that all within the system can survive – in the case of the human body, the different organs interrelating and working in harmony with each other to maintain physical health.

Humanity is currently not only battling a deadly virus but also having to deal with huge environmental, economic and social challenges. I would like to believe that humanity is edging ever closer to breaking through that barrier toward a new horizon of elevated consciousness and opportunity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The “boiling frog” syndrome

A well-known fable tells us that if a frog is put into boiling water it will immediately jump out. But if the water is only gradually heated the frog will not perceive the danger and be boiled to death. The story is a warning of how a creeping normality of crisis situations delude us into a feeling of false complacency. We fail to act until it is too late.

Our daily habits, thoughts, beliefs and actions play a major part in determining our future. The compound effect of bad or good habits over a period of years and even decades are hugely underestimated.

The compound effect of good and bad habits

Eating for lunch a burger with French fries and a soda drink will affect your body but not harm you in a big way if you eat healthy foods most of the time and you metabolize sugars and carbohydrates with plenty of exercise. But eating mainly processed foods over years and decades will have a devastating impact on your mental and physical health in the long term.

In the same way if your self-talk is mainly negative about yourself or if you incessantly blame others for everything that is going wrong in your life you will most probably be a grumpy, unhappy and miserable person during old age looking back on a life not lived and opportunities missed.

How often have you been buying things you don’t really need because you said: “Its only a few pennies.” But added up over years and decades you could have put aside a small fortune in savings.

Complacency is our biggest enemy

Social and political developments in the recent past should be shaking us out of our sense of complacency and nonchalance. It appears that the general social consensus on values and norms that has prevailed for most of the past decades is seriously being eroded. An independent press, non-partisan judiciary and democratic voting procedures are seriously under threat in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Turkey and first and foremost in the United States. If the United States is no longer the world’s best example of a working democracy authoritarian rule as we see it today in China and Russia will entrench itself in many countries.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like a physical body gradually weakening from the effects of bad nutrition, you don’t perceive the spiral downward immediately. In my home country South Africa the seeds of maladministration and corruption were sown with the election of a populist demagogue Jacob Zuma as president in May 2009. For a while things, like the national airline, appeared on the surface to still be functioning perfectly. But after nine years the rot was there for everyone to see. Most parastatal institutions are bankrupted, leaving numerous towns and cities in dire lack of basic services such as electricity and water supply. It will most likely take generations to get South Africa back on its feet economically.

We tend to forget that political parties, governments and institutions have been created by bodies of individuals. They are a reflection of who we are. When a social pendulum of change swings into a new direction it is at first always led by a minority that eventually become the majority view.

A crisis is a way marker

Crisis situations, whether on a personal or collective level, always tell us that the status quo is no longer workable and that things need to change. The art is to perceive the small, telling signs that something is moving into the wrong direction and to adapt accordingly. It is the frog sensing when the water temperature is rising to a dangerous temperature and when it’s time to get out.

This is why some companies thrive by adapting to changing market conditions while others procrastinate. It is why some species adapt and others become extinct. Some marriage relationships adapt to changing needs and circumstances while others end in divorce. It is why the enlightened leader picks himself up during a crisis, using it as a tool of change in valuable lessons learned while the other stays in the shadow of self-pity and recrimination.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Beware the false prophets!

“The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jeremiah 14:14

Organized religion arguably provides structure, meaning and community to many people battling with the struggles of life yet during these challenging times we are seeing a proliferation of “false prophets” capturing the minds of individuals with messages of  fear and guilt.

During my lifetime several good friends got caught in the web of religious sects, surrendering their lives including all their material assets to the group.

They would bombard me with enthusiasm of how their lives had been transformed by “the teacher” “priest” or “guru”. I would repeatedly be invited to attend a meeting and made to feel like losing out on something very important.

The common traits of the cult

Fundamentalist groups and cults of all persuasions share a common trait. They are tribally insulating,  separating the convert from all former friends, spouses, family and associates. Anyone not sharing the same belief structure is termed as a non-believer, or as the enemy.

After having made the enormous personal sacrifice of giving up an old life it is extremely difficult to escape. Few people have the courage to admit that they made a huge mistake by believing in an illusion. After all external ties have been severed the individual is at the mercy of the group in providing  a livelihood, food and shelter. The friend, son, daughter, spouse you once cherished as a carefree individual is bombarding you with quotes from the master. You will hear:  “But the guru said …”,it is the opinion of the guru that …” “the guru would not approve that …” “I would first have to ask the teacher if I can …”

At this point the friend or family member is far gone down the road of mind control, repeating the teachings of their leader like a recording device on automatic. They will find numerous excuses if you question the lavish lifestyle of the cult leader while the devotees are donating their last pennies. “Its all ultimately for a good cause,” they would say.

Decent and intelligent human beings are particularly vulnerable to the cult when they are going through a crisis of meaning or mental health challenge.  The “prophet” is the last straw of hope, seemingly offering the perfect recipe. What follows is the complete surrender of personal responsibility to the guru or belief structure of the cult.

The false promise of hope when people are vulnerable

We’ve had this phenomenon of “end times” during several historical cycles. During the Middle Ages most of Europe’s population was decimated by the bubonic plague. Science was at its infancy with the false prophets having easy play in convincing people that the deadly disease was God’s punishment for sinful ways. Persons not conforming to the shared belief were vigorously persecuted and often burned at the stake. The sins could be absolved by paying tithes. The higher the donation the “higher the likelihood” of having a good afterlife in paradise.

We falsely had assumed that humanity had become immune in the 21st-century to such crude preaching and the questioning of basic science. The messaging today comes in the guise of political parties with a charismatic figurehead and bearing all the hallmarks of the religious cult.  Several extremist parties in western democracies essentially are in the business of fear-mongering and xenophobia. They are supported by a billion dollar industry of alternative reality media stirring a cocktail of hate and negativity. The  first step toward authoritarian control is to dehumanize your opponent or the person with a different belief, culture or mindset.

Evil and delusion of the mind can always be identified by language of hate, disrespect for fellow human beings and blatant lies. Social friction points along race, gender and economic lines are over-emphasized. Division, dissent and chaos is sown by an “us against them” propaganda.

We are indeed living in dangerous times. A growing number of people are feeling left out and  stranded during rapid social and economic change. The uncertainty and fear is the feeding ground of the false prophets offering simple solutions for complex global problems.

The chosen few must commit to a strict code of conduct, belief and ritual.  

As human beings we make mistakes with feelings of guilt often deeply submerged in traumatic childhood experience. Self-esteem is shattered after a job loss or family break-up.  There is that underlying promise that by committing to the cult  those bad feelings will disappear. In reality the  guru will repeatedly stir the feelings of inferiority to maintain his stranglehold.

Protecting our vulnerable family members from the false prophet is no mean task. The groundwork is laid in strengthening self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love and a spiritual mindset based on common decency and respect.

Experiential spirituality is freed from the shackles of fundamentalist belief in the awareness that we are fallible and incomplete human beings, learning the lessons of life as we go along.

The truth is that there is no one-truth. God’s garden is made up of a multitude of plants, animals, cultures, religions and languages. The beauty and adventure of life lies in the individual exploration, the  opening of new doors and walking onward new paths of insight and knowledge accumulation in becoming of who we really are.

External belief systems have too often in the past been forcibly imposed, robbing the individual from essentially living a life of meaning, authenticity and soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Changing the world by how we think

Groundbreaking research on the connective power of human consciousness appears to pave the way on what might one day have a major impact on how we train our minds, beliefs and thoughts. We have a real opportunity to become agents of positive change.

Experiments conducted by Roger D. Nelson from Princeton University reveal that our consciousness is able to reach across time and space to commune with another consciousness, changing subtle aspects of our world or even the behavior of technical devices.

The collective unconscious mind in a unified whole

It confirms the theories of such great thinkers as Carl Gustav Jung and the sages of old who believed that there is not only innate knowledge passed through generations but a collective unconscious mind of a unified whole.

What we think and how we take control of our emotions and thoughts has a very real impact on the world, according to the research conducted by Nelson and his team. He elaborates on the research in his book “Connected – The Emergence of Global Consciousness.”

Nelson correlated data with major recent global events such as the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the deaths of Lady Diana and Nelsons Mandela, finding that a global consciousness appears to show reactions even prior to the event – in the case of the first plane crashing into the twin towers ten minutes before the event.

The event, as we well know, changed the course of our world post 9/11 fanning wars and hostilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and many other countries.

But interestingly Nelson also looked at the growing number of web-organized groups synchronizing their intentions to create a better world. When large groups of people gather in positive emotional acts such as prayer and meditation human interconnection takes on a particularly strong frequency.

Creating a better world through synchronized intention

“Events that are judged to evoke or embody great compassion have a much larger effect size than those showing little or none,” Nelson points out. It is at the heart of the Buddhist tradition taught by the Dalai Lama. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Nelson’s research over several decades clearly shows that the human mind is not isolated within an individual body. We are social beings that are very much interconnected. How we treat ourselves and others in “mass consciousness” will very much determine the future of our species in the coming years. There is an interconnection between us and the environment around us.

The world’s most sacred sites of worship were not chosen at random. The pyramids in Egypt, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Stonehenge in England, Notre Dame in Paris, and the Camino paths of Europe leading to the St. James crypt in Santiago de Compostela form a network of the earth’s subtle energy system.

Group meditations, chanting and singing at sacred places such as the interior chambers of the Great Pyramid were measured by the scientific team showing significant deviation from periods when there was no activity. All but one of the ancient sacred sites in Egypt showed a positive trend with one exception which was the temple at Philae. It was moved from its original location before it was flooded by a man-made lake.

Some years ago the British scientists Rupert Sheldrake espoused the idea of a “morphic resonance” with natural systems inheriting a collective memory from all previous things of their kind.” Sheldrake’s theory of “telepathy-type interconnections between organisms” was ridiculed as pseudo-science.

Did our ancestors find places imbued with special powers?

“Morphic fields of social groups connect together members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance,” according to Sheldrake.

The growing body of research confirms that ritual and prayer connects us to the past and the present in a powerful way. The re-enactment of a founding story or myth, as in the Jewish Passover celebration, the Christian Holy Communion and the American thanksgiving dinner, forms a significant part in creating social cohesion in a body community with a shared culture and past.

It serves also as a powerful warning that we harm both ourselves and our world by mindlessly spending a large portion of our time and attention on the distractive pull of toxicity on social media.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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A tribute to Father’s Day

My father died last year only three months prior to his 90th birthday. His last years in a retirement village in South Africa were spent in quiet solitude reading and reminiscing on the lessons of a long life lived.

Especially during my teenager years we had a difficult relationship. I perceived him as weak with our mother making all the decisions pertaining to important family and other matters. It was embarrassing when he would at times interrupt a conversation with a completely unrelated topic.

I could not understand why he was the complete opposite to his five opiniated and charismatic younger brothers who each in their way had been very successful. They ran profitable businesses, and farms and the youngest was the headmaster of a school.

The veil of silence

It seemed as if my father lived a life separate from the world around him behind a thick veil of silence. Unsurprisingly my two brothers and myself tried numerous methods, especially provocation to break through that veil. In his frustration he would try to discipline us by referring to the all powerful family figurehead. “What do you think grandfather would say?” That worked. We did not want to get in grandpa’s bad books.

We spent most  of our school vacations and weekends on the grandparents farm. Some of those happiest of childhood memories were the swims in the crystal clear waters of the Pongola river in rural South Africa, milking cows by hand, listening to the stories of the Zulus around a fireplace  and riding through the African veld on horseback.

A family secret revealed

Only much later in life my uncle and godfather, his life slowly ebbing away from cancer, took me aside with the words: “I think you need to know a few things about your father to understand why he is the way he is.”

The family secret was finally revealed. I was a toddler when my father had, what they called at the time “a nervous breakdown.” My father had been unable to fulfill grandfather’s high expectations. I can only imagine what the next weeks in a mental institution must have been like. Treatment of mental illness with controversial electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy was common in the early 1960s. From what my uncle confided to me that day a once proud, handsome man was reduced to a shadow of his former self. At that time the therapy was only known to me from the movie “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jack Nicholson.

My parents at their engagement in 1956

It took years of family constellation work for me to only begin to understand the deeper underlying structure of the “absent father syndrome”.  My great grandfather died when my grandfather could barely walk. Lacking a real father role model he projected many of his own insecurities onto my father, confusing  authority  with authoritarian control.

Absent father syndrome

Families in countries devastated from the effects of the terrible 20th century wars were affected for generations by the “absent father syndrome”. Those fathers who survived the war seldom if ever spoke about their trauma, leaving sons and daughters grappling with traumatized men unable to fully engage as fathers and role models. Mothers more often than not were overburdened with the task of emotionally handling the affairs of the family while the father was reduced to the role of the “breadwinner”.

Many a single mother knows all about absent fathers unable or unwilling to fully participate because of the chronic lack of role models. There is an African saying that it “takes a village to raise a child”.  Mothers, aunts, grandmothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers and godfathers were all part of elaborate initiation rituals during the important stages of life.

It is impossible to return to that world where village life remained largely intact, and few villagers left their familiar surroundings but the importance of ritual and the definitive roles of the father and the mother in these rituals appears to be a key factor in determining a child’s mental and physical health.

Reframing the father figure

Especially during the difficult phase of puberty where the child is grappling in finding its own identity separate from that of the parent. Society needs to reframe the role of the father and father’s need to explore role models beyond the dysfunctional family unit. Expression of vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength, and creates real space for intimate relationship. Humility is a powerful antidote to a false image of pride.

Jesus is quoted as saying in John 14:10: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”

The power within is that which opens the way to a new beginning from the path of pain. It is that innate feeling of trust that all has meaning and purpose in the greater cycle of things.

The twilight years

Today I can look at pride at what my father accomplished. He remained a humble man with  a stoic steadfastness during several family tragedies, earning quiet respect  from several people who had ridiculed and looked down on him in younger years.

During our last conversations he was simply grateful for the grace of a long life lived. I would not have been what I am today without him. Despite his reservations he allowed his sons to make their own choices and to live lives on their own terms free of judgment and parental control.  I will forever be grateful for that.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out also the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Lets talk about money

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

–Seneca

There is hardly a topic loaded with such emotion as money, seemingly at the root of all trouble including family fallouts, divorces and the end of longtime friendships.

Dave Ramsey once said that “you must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

There are numerous life lessons to learn over the issue of money. Self-esteem or the lack of  it is closely intertwined with what we earn or what we perceive we are entitled to. Society especially measures the success of a person in terms of how money assets that person appears to have. Almost the entire spectrum of human emotions can be linked to money issues.

Money is an exchange of energy

The bottom line is that money is basically an exchange of energy. The nature of energy however is that it fluctuates and is impermanent. It can be extremely fickle. Fame and fortune can be accumulated and then lost overnight. Being wealthy does not necessarily mean that you have less fear and anxiety than anyone else.

A study by Boston College reported in The Atlantic revealed a surprising litany of fears and anxieties in persons with fortunes in excess of 25 million U.S. dollars.

According to the study the persons turned out to be “a generally dissatisfied lot, whose money has contributed to deep anxieties involving love, work, and family. Indeed, they are frequently dissatisfied even with their sizable fortunes. Most of them still do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess.”

And this appears to be at the core of the problem that does not only affect the super-rich. In a scarcity mindset we are never satisfied with what we’ve got. We think all our problems will be resolved when we earn that first million. But then we are surprised when the anxieties and the fears are still there and we want another million.

Scarcity mindset versus abundance mindset

The sudden accumulation of money through an inheritance or a lottery win will merely amplify basic character traits. For some individuals such a windfall can be a curse. Others see blessings of wealth as a special responsibility. Some individuals, I know personally, are principally giving away regularly a good percentage of whatever they earn and doing most of it anonymously. They see possession of wealth as coming with the responsibility of giving back to society. Using money energy in the right way opens up enormous possibilities, coming from the heart of an abundance mindset.

But our consumerist culture is indoctrinating us with a scarcity mindset that inevitably leads to a “never enough” mentality. It is a culture based on the satisfaction of external needs at the neglect of internal needs.

Numerous psychological studies reveal that the pleasure resulting from such a consumerist mindset soon wear off depending on the frame of reference the individual has. There is a saying that money can’t buy you happiness but that is true only to a certain extent. How much you earn determines the safety and security of the neighborhood you live in, what education your children get, whether you can buy healthy foods and your longevity.

Money is only one factor in creating satisfaction

The craving for money, especially if you don’t have it,  can thus become so obsessive that it can destroy all the simple joys in life. What we do know from most psychological research is that we will remain unhappy if we make our happiness totally dependent on how much money we earn.

Happiness is the ability of dealing with the fluctuations of life’s up-and-down cycles. An interplay of numerous factors make us happy and satisfied human beings. Money is an essential part of it, giving us the means of exploring many new possibilities.

But human beings also have a deep need to be an essential part of a loving and caring community. Every person wants to be loved, seen and validated.

It comes from the foundation of such things as nurturing good relationships, job satisfaction, health, and the ability of finding joy and gratitude in the small things of life. It is why practicing a gratitude ritual or keeping a gratitude journal is so important. It is the stepping stone to an abundance mindset.

Time well spent is one of the most precious assets you will ever have. A higher frequency of vibrational energy flows from a passion that ignites your inner truth and fills your life with purpose and meaning.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out also the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Humility and the lessons of adversity

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”

Saint Augustine

Humility seems to have lost the battle against pride. Our world of social media has provided the perfect stage for narcissism and self-aggrandizement with the world of illusion taking precedence over what is real and a fake.

On one of my Camino walks in northwestern Spain I met a pilgrim who told me: “If you don’t walk the Path with humility it will force you into humility.”

Walking the Camino is in so many ways walking through life. Every day the path has new lessons to learn where the pilgrim is confronted with new and old emotional demons.

The last section before reaching a destination is sometimes the most difficult. You are relieved that you have reached the top of a mountain and then you find that you still have another even bigger mountain to climb.

It is why so many people who started walking the Camino as hikers ended their journey as pilgrims, learning on the Path that when going slow and finding that inner rhythm, external personality merges with the internal needs of the soul.

An emotional and physical breakdown leads to the breakthrough

When we are confronted with adversity and almost insurmountable challenges, the path of life forces us from pride into humility. The wounded soul is cracked open for the light to shine into that inner truth.

Sometimes you have to shut a door and walk away from everything in order to rediscover who you really are. You are forced into falling forward and opening a new door.

David Bowie once said that “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”

The elderly person surrenders to the cycle of life, the inevitability of death. There is nothing more to prove. There is a quiet solitude and acceptance. It is the same when an identity built on the weak foundations of personality breaks apart after a financial disaster, the loss of a job or a divorce.

Transformation begins where the world of certainty crumbles

There is a deep human need to be seen, to be heard and to have certainty. But when the world of certainty crumbles truth is revealed. This is the opportunity for real transformation and recognition of soul.

Pride and narcissism is about self-interest while humility is focused on being of service. If people are in search of their calling and having difficulty in finding an answer the clue is always in finding that niche where individual talent finds expression in the act of service for the bigger whole. You will have surrendered to that bigger plan that the universe has in store for you.

What is humility and what is pride?

Humble people are unafraid of expressing their vulnerability, and pain, and to seek help. They are listeners rather than talkers. They accept the transitions of life and are willing to learn from them while the narcissist in his pride is always right and is immersed in the illusion that the world is owing to him. He will always blame other people for his failures and take accolades for accomplishments that were none of his doing. Too many of such people find themselves in leadership positions causing much pain and suffering to all those around and ultimately to themselves.

Humility and adversity teach us that we always have another mountain to climb during life’s up-and-down cycles. Climbing those mountains make us more resilient. As long as we are alive we are never done as human beings. It is during those moments when we think that we are done that life inevitably throws another lesson at our feet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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