Working in depth with our shadow is a foundational and much needed adventure for us all, centered by a hugely practical awakening, leading us to the kind of care and action that aligns us with what truly matters.
My ongoing passion is to fuel and support the living of a deeper life, one of love, integrity, compassion, and full-blooded awakening, a life of intimacy with all that we are. Providing environments (both inner and outer) in which core-level healing and transformation can take place remains — along with my writing — my vocation and privilege.
The beginnings of my way of working — intuitive, integral, psychospiritual, deeply embodied — and my writing both came to me seemingly unbidden in the 1970s, feeling natural right from the start, as if I’d been doing them for a long, long time. They were in my blood, and still are.
Not that I didn’t have to greatly refine my writing and work — for they were diamonds in the proverbial rough — but when they arrived, they felt whole, needing only my commitment to the alignment and growth they asked of me. They were, however, limited in scope by the amount of maturing and shadow-work I needed to do. I didn’t question their emergence, nor their impact on me, nor the directions in which they took me.
In 1981 I won my first literary prize — an all-expenses paid trip for two to Hawaii — for my story of a particularly perilous Indonesian adventure I’d had 8 years earlier (it was my first viewing of Life as a near-death experience). This spurred me to immerse myself more fully in my writing. I also deepened and refined my psychospiritual work, which grew in popularity in the late 1980s.
My journey had been far from smooth — featuring some very painful detours — but now had a comforting momentum, camouflaging my increasing self-inflation. In many ways I thought I’d arrived, but actually had just begun, spending more time off track than on. Getting ahead of myself kept me away from my shadow, regardless of how deeply I’d worked with my core wounding — I was oblivious to the huge and necessarily humbling fall that I was moving toward.
My life abruptly and dramatically changed in 1994, following an extremely harrowing near-death experience, which is described in my book Darkness Shining Wild. I had for years been leading an experimental psychospiritual community, which had gradually gone awry. I’d become the kind of leader I’d once decried, too deluded to see that what I was leading had become a cult. My near-death experience brought this to a grinding halt in a very short time, breaking me down so deeply — catalyzing a needed shattering — that I could not resurrect my former way of being. Months later, I disbanded the community, soon thereafter beginning a very different journey, that of fully facing and working through what had driven me so far off track.
This was a very painful yet deeply sobering labor, slowly generating a new foundation for me. There was no turning away from the realization that if I was to find truer ground I would have to endure being uprooted in every dimension of my being. When I eventually resumed my work, I did so in a much more compassionate, radically inclusive manner, my desire to be the head of a community gone for good. And I became a student again, completing a PhD program in psychology in 1999.
My writing, which had originally emerged as full-blown poetry one wintry day in 1970, has co-evolved with my work. I love to write, and would continue writing even if no one ever again read what I wrote. My writing and work are both highly creative ventures for me, drawing forth the very best from me. And there is so much left for me to write!
I’m also grateful to be in a deeply loving, remarkably compatible relationship. My wife Diane is not only my ever-deeper beloved and dearest friend, but also worked side-by-side with me for close to 10 years, stopping only when her health demanded it. Being with her has wonderfully softened, stretched, and deepened me. Doing our final chapter together — our shared heart our sun — brings us even closer.
I’ve worked in the trenches of human suffering and trauma and breakthrough long enough — more than 40 years — not only to know such territory and its shadows intimately, but also to guide others in my way of working, supporting them in carrying it forward in their own unique manner. I no longer offer individual work, devoting myself to men’s groups, women’s groups, professional trainings, and mentorship programs.
In June 2016, I had a near-fatal heart attack. I had an agonizingly short time to live, and thanks to Diane, an ambulance arrived within 5 minutes. What grace! Since then, my remaining time all feels like bonus time. To this I bow, remembering to remember what truly matters.
When asked when I’ll retire, I say that I have no ambitions to do so, that I envision myself writing and working for as long as possible, albeit with increasing time given to naps and doing nothing. My work continues to evolve and deepen, as does my relationship with Diane and the Mystery that lives us, ever now…