- Thoughts for inspired living

November 28, 2008

I Don’t Know

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:23 am

There is power in the words “I don’t know.” It’s the power of discovery.

The words of the ancient Chinese sage, Lao Tzu came to mind as I wrote the title of this blog,

“He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.

True knowing comes from a quiet place, not a noisy mind.

A chattering mind is the epitome of a “know it all.” We have learned to associate who we are to the voice in our head. That’s who we call “I.” It’s the “eye” of our mental storms. This “I” is quite capable of stirring up all sorts of activity, but not true knowing. If this part of us was being described on an inner city street corner, you would hear the true meaning of the phrase, “I don’t know.”

I remember my New Year’s Resolution of a few years ago, “To know less and discover more.” That reminder came back the other day in the form of a prayer.

Everyone has something going on in their life that they have no clue as to how to solve. Most of us go into the thinking mode to solve it. That just keeps the situation at the top of our mind and a resolution at arm’s length. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s a suggestion: Surrender to the fact that you don’t know. Send the white flag up the pole and put yourself at the mercy of the court. It is one of the most freeing exercises you can do. It frees your mind from the burden of solving your problem and peace of mind is the result.

The prayer “I don’t know” allows you to discover the limitations of the thinking mind. When you surrender yourself to the position of “I don’t know what to do,” the scheming mind becomes quiet for a moment and makes room for something new to enter this space of calm.

It’s hard for some people to surrender. They’ve been conditioned to fight. They are so blinded by their fighting image that they have no clue as to the size of their opponent. They pat themselves on the back for trying, but live their lives broken as a result.

Take a moment today. Get yourself away from the maddening crowd; get as quiet as you can and just utter the words “I don’t know what to do.” Notice what happens. Repeat the phrase a few times to prime the pump of inspiration and see what happens. I believe you’ll be in for a peaceful surprise.

To quote The Grasshopper:

“When you’re tired of knowing, you’ll begin growing.”

All the best,


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November 27, 2008

Thanks/No Thanks

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:36 am

“Thanks” and “No Thanks” are messages we send out every day. I wonder how often we notice the results they generate. Here’s to noticing!


“Thanks” is saying “Yes” to life.

“No Thanks” closes the door.


“Thanks” says we are open.

“No Thanks” doesn’t let anyone in.


“Thanks” is about possibility.

“No Thanks” is a dead end.


“Thanks” always contributes to you.

“No Thanks” bleeds you dry.


“Thanks” reveals your heart.

“No Thanks” constricts your blood vessels.


“Thanks” is universal light.

“No Thanks” is the dark corner of illusion.


On this Thanksgiving day, begin the practice of saying “Thanks” and watch the gravy boat come your way more often.


Happy Thanksgiving!


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November 26, 2008

Go Deep

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:47 am

When I was a kid we used to play 3-on-3 touch football in the street. That meant that if you were playing offense you had one guy hike the ball, one guy be the quarterback, and the other kid to be the receiver. The other 3 guys played defense and tried to not let you advance the ball. In just about every huddle the words “Go deep” were used.

We never defined “Go deep.” Did that mean run to MacNamera’s station wagon, or to Mr. King’s trash can, or something else? “Deep” was always kind of fluffy. It had a different meaning to whomever heard it. When the play didn’t work, lots of finger pointing ensued because we didn’t have a specific appreciation for what “Deep” was.

In every relationship, in every conversation, we are offered the opportunity to “Go deep” and score. We rarely go there even though we think we did, and the arguments continue.

It seems we need a common definition for “Go deep.” I’m sure there are others, but this is the one I’m proposing for universal adoption:

GO DEEP: To go past the automaticity of stimulus/response.

Reminds me of a typical feuding couple . . . Let’s call them “The Surfacedwellers.” They’ve been at odds. They’ve been to relationship counseling. They’ve separated. They hook-up from time to time. They talk. There are never any resolutions. They never take the opportunity to “Go deep.”

Every time one of them has something to offer, the other goes into their unlimited bag of responses and comes back with the same one every time. When the same response is offered, the person who made the proposal goes into their bag and comes back with their same response to the response they’ve been given. This pond is frozen. You’ll never get below the surface with this strategy. You’ll continue to skate figure 8’s around each other.

Each person walks away from this frequent encounter mystified that they can’t reach the other person. “He’s too bullheaded,” “She’s too flighty” may be the rationalizations. Never did they consider going past their surface selves and meet each other on a deeper level. They are addicted to reaction and caught up in the right and wrong world of stimulus/response.

When they do have more pleasurable interactions, they do so because they are each choking back their patterned reactions. That can only last so long before the familiar fracas takes place again.

There is no guarantee that going deeper will fix this relationship. The guarantee is it will get it off the surface sticking point.

(I invite you to read my blog from November 30, 2007 if you want a more detailed exploration of patterned answers and presence.)

Back to “The Surfacedwellers” . . . Any decision they come to will be rife with recriminations and constant questioning if they don’t take the opportunity to “Go deep.”

It is an opportunity that’s always knocking but we too often employ what my grandmother called “selective deafness.” We hear what we want to hear.

It takes courage to open the door to a deeper response. It’s there, you just have to abandon your laziness to accept the familiar and dig deeper. Any resolution arrived at from this place will be more peaceful and unquestioned.


All the best,



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November 25, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:57 am

When you have a conversation with someone, you are either sharing reality or sharing philosophy. It’s helpful to know which conversation you’re having.

When we are sharing reality, it’s an IS/ISN’T conversation.

It’s a SHOULD/SHOULDN’T conversation if we’re sharing philosophy.

Reality conversations are fact based and can be quite boring, but useful. Swapping philosophies is more interesting, but not always productive.

If someone says to you that you or someone else “should, ought to, must” do something, you are being treated to their philosophy. You can agree or disagree, sympathize, empathize, or just be a sounding board. Philosophy based conversations oftentimes contain shouting, laughing, crying and frustration.

Reality based conversations have the excitement of a review I once read about the singing of Olivia Newton-John. The music critic described her like this: “If white bread could sing.”

Reality based conversations are great when getting down to the nitty-gritty of negotiating, in the operating room, and quite useful in therapy and other areas where miscommunication could be costly. They can also prevent you from attending a pity party.

The purpose of this blog is to recognize which conversation you’re in.

When you state an indisputable fact and someone responds with a SHOULD/SHOULDN’T, you are involved in a mixed conversation. It is helpful at that point to demarcate the philosophy from the reality so the two don’t get confused. Perhaps an example would be helpful . . .

Let’s pretend you are chatting with a friend or family member and they say, “My boss has no heart. He’s a money grabbing elitist and he doesn’t acknowledge his sales team for the work they do that brings in so much money. He should call a meeting and let them know how wonderful a job they are doing. He could at least cater a lunch to show he honors our efforts – a pizza party, something!”

You ask, “Isn’t this the same man who told you during your first interview that he shows his gratitude with bonus money?” They respond, “Yes, but people need more than money to know they’re doing a good job.”

So where do you want the conversation to go from here?

You could agree ad nauseam about what a lousy boss he is and align your philosophies about how a decent boss should act. This is mutually throwing up in the choir loft and it usually solves nothing.

You could also say, “The fact is, he chooses to show his gratitude with bonus money. I don’t see how you can change his behavior by excluding him from this conversation. If you truly want different behavior from him, it won’t help telling me about it. By the way, you promised to tell me about a fascinating book you just read. What’s it about?”

If you enjoy the pissing and moaning, keep adding to the fire until you run out of fuel. If it’s a conversation you want to shift to another topic, make it reality based and factually conclude it; then deftly pivot to another topic.

There are benefits to both reality based and philosophy based conversations. This is not expressing a preference for one over the other. It’s more about recognizing the framework you’re in when conversing, and deciding if you want to stay there or not.

My philosophy is it’s better to have choices, so as often as I can, I make it a reality.

All the best,


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November 24, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:05 am

The Grasshopper spoke to me last night. He offered this:

“I’m all alone when I’m in my head.”

I had to let the message sink in because I sensed there was a lesson to be learned.

The message is we isolate ourselves from the world, and from life itself, when we wall ourselves off in the fortress of our head.

We think we’re solving the world’s problems but we’re not even touching anyone else in the world. It’s us talking to us saying the same old things that no one else wants to listen to because the thoughts are so stale. If you need a visual to go along with this, think the final scene of PSYCHO when Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is alone with his thoughts.

We isolate ourselves from the wisdom of life when we stay in the closed loop of our thoughts. You’ll know you’ve been trapped in your head when you recognize that your thoughts have been thinking you, rather than the other way around.

We have an opportunity to free ourselves from that trap with each passing thought. If you take a moment to STOP AND NOTICE that you are being held prisoner by your thoughts, then and only then do you make a space for escape.

Asking questions is a great way to plan your escape. When you find yourself caught in a thought, have the presence of mind to ask a question. Here’s a recommended one: “How do I allow new thoughts to enter my mind?”

Just asking the question puts your repetitive thought process on temporary hold and engages your curiosity. Curiosity creates space. There is usually not an instant response to a question you don’t know the answer to, but the silence that follows the query provides the space for one to show up.

When you create space, you are expanding your mind to include information you don’t have access to when you are solitarily confined to your mental cell.

You can remain isolated with your thoughts. Just do nothing and they will continue to loop and repeat unless you ask yourself how to make them retreat.

Your house becomes a home when people are invited in. Your mind becomes an asset when you make space for new visitors.

All the best,


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November 21, 2008

Cold Case

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:18 am

It’s the one we can’t forget about, but also can’t figure out. In police terms it’s called a “Cold Case.”

The sense of who we are is a cold case.

The sense of who we think we are is burning in the forefront of our mind. Call it our personality, self image or ego. Who we think we are always leads us on a familiar path of non-discovery.

But every now and then we get a nudge or a stray piece of evidence that leads us back to the cold case archives in an effort to bring our true self to the front burner.

The impetus to search again could be triggered by a book, a blog, a seminar, a friend, or a quiet moment of contemplation. Something is driving us to discover that we are more than meets the eye.

There is an urge to reconnect in each one of us. That urge is denied a seat in our conscious mind because it’s always so crowded in there, but our body has more capacity.

That sense to discover is an unmistakable feeling that we can’t consciously figure out. The logic goes something like this: “If I can’t wrap my mind around it, it must not exist.” But your body keeps sending you signals that there’s something that needs thawing which would deliver a great benefit to you.

The stirrings begin about the midpoint of life for most. Before that we’re too busy figuring everything out. Then one day comes the realization that we’re never going to figure it out, and for many, this recognition triggers the fear of losing control. It’s a scary time.

Then as we move through this period, we find that we never had any control to lose in the first place. The pseudo-control we were attempting to exert had no more effect than a “dummy” steering wheel on the passenger side of the car. We were attempting to control reality rather than accepting it.

Acceptance is the catalyst that begins the thawing process.

What’s really thawing is our resistance to the fact that there is something bigger than we can comprehend that is the driving force of our life. This acceptance allows us align ourselves with this unscripted intelligence and we begin living life smarter and with less effort.

“Make it happen” becomes “Allow it to happen.”

Our activities become infused with ease and grace and we instinctively adopt the attitude of what the Chinese call “Wu Wei” – Do not force.

There really is a magic part of you that you’ll never figure out that’s sitting in the cold case storage room. When you stop resisting figuring it out, melting will begin and the case will solve itself.


All the best,

John Morgan


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November 20, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:29 am

Got a spontaneous visit from The Grasshopper the other day and he had this to say:

“Justifying “something” keeps “something” in place.”

According to the dictionary, when we justify something, “we give a reason or explanation why something was done.”

Did you ever notice there’s never a lack of reasons. The first person who figures out how to get cars to run on reasons will be crowned King or Queen of the Free World.

Reasons or justifications never seem to move the solutions process forward. They keep us stuck in a loop where progress can’t progress.

As long as I can justify my behavior, my behavior will remain the same. Justification only works if my behavior is working. It’s most often not the case.

Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago I sensed that a dear friend was upset with me. I had no idea why, but I knew something was askew. I probed and got the “everything is fine” answer but everything wasn’t fine. Since this person was not going to address the issue that wasn’t an issue, I simply requested that they just stop being angry with me for whatever the reason. This prompted them to say, “I will send you an email next week as to why I can’t stop being angry.” I’m still waiting for the email and I’m certain they are still carrying the anger.

Notice where the emphasis is . . . “why I can’t stop being angry.” My guess is this email, if it ever came, would have be loaded with justifications for being angry and devoid of any suggested solution to restore peacefulness between us.

Justification is the glue to keep your story in place. Without it, the storybook comes unraveled and you are left with a choice – to reassemble the old story or write a new one.

Justification will not allow you to write new chapters in your life. You’ll be relegated to the same old, hackneyed script that keeps you piling stuff under the rug so you’re assured to never get over the hump.

When you justify, you deny yourself the opportunity to explore a resolution. Music that has no resolving chord leaves you feeling frenetic. A life filled with justification accomplishes the same thing.

Explore the emotion you are feeling rather than justifying it with a story. Exploration is a more direct route to the other side of the emotion.

Justifying your emotions with reasons is just another way of staying stuck. If you’re in the habit of doing this, the title of your autobiography is already written – Why I Can’t Be At Peace Now.

It may be helpful to ask: “What emotion am I keeping in place with justification?” Just exploring the question may be the beginning of a whole new chapter that allows you to let go of “Something.”


All the best,


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November 19, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:51 am

Superiority is a mind myth, an illusion.

It seems darn real because you experience it every time you compare yourself with someone else. You register a sensation in your body that your mind labels inferior or superior. It’s all quite natural but the truth is you made it up.

Modern day, spiritual, regular guy, Jerry Stocking teaches something he calls “References.” The references are stages of growth we operate out of and each one of these stages contains a set of dichotomies.

For example, in the “Comparative” stage we encounter the dichotomy of “Inferior/Superior.” The dichotomy lives on a horizontal plane or continuum where “Superior” lives on one end and “Inferior” lives on the other. You reference yourself to another by where you currently are on that plane. Let’s pretend that you judge yourself as 60% superior. That means when interacting with others, you would act out that percentage. This happens automatically as a result of conditioning. You don’t have to think about it. It automatically happens, even with people who claim they don’t judge themselves or others.

For a more detailed and more precise explanation of “References,” I recommend that you sign up for one of Jerry’s courses. You can find him at

One of the terrific exercises Jerry has you do is mentally and/or physically move yourself to a different point on the continuum and notice how it feels in your body. Let’s say you are sensing yourself as 75% superior. He asks you to slide yourself down to 10% superior and then up to 90% and notice how each position feels. After the new percentage registers in your body, Jerry points out that you affected your point of reference by making up a new one. He further points out that you made up your original point of reference as well, you just didn’t know it.

All of this serves as a backdrop to a phrase that recently popped into my mind – “Superiorly Inferior.”

It seems like a contradiction, but it’s more of a signpost that one part of the dichotomy causes the other. It’s the ultimate “Push-Pull.” There is no superior without inferior or vice versa. It’s really true for any dichotomy but let’s stick with this one.

Since it’s easier to judge others, I would like you to imagine someone whom you deem is superior to you. Next, think of someone you are more superior than. Please don’t confuse this with a person being more or less skilled at something than you. This is just a noticing of the sensation you feel in your body when encountering either one of these people. Now I want you to notice the effect your position has on the other person and how they relate to you.

Let’s pretend that you are more superior to them, notice that you have trouble connecting with them. Your supposed strength has caused a weakness. You are superiorly inferior. The opposite is also accurate. If you judge yourself as inferior, you are inferiorly superior. That means you are better than them at being inferior, and this also causes a disconnect.

The point of this is that our made up myths make up the bulk of our perceptions. These perceptions give us the pseudo-reality we call our life. We have made up the life we are living. We have scripted, lighted, scored, directed, acted, and post produced our Superior/Inferior movie.

The good news is we can make another movie. The plot of this one has us completely remove the dichotomy of “Superior/Inferior” from the story line and see where it takes us. What happens in the movie of our life when we remove the myths? What’s left when there are no more warring factions? The answer is your life in its purest form.

Life in its purest form makes no judgements or assessments. It just flows into what we do. If we have it flow through the filter of “Superior/Inferior,” we spend most of our existence saying “No” to life because we are too busy saying “Yes” to our limitations.

Here’s an invitation. The next time you are feeling either inferior or superior to another, notice the effect it’s having on the interaction. This momentary awareness begins the process of dissolving the dichotomy so that a real life connection can be made.

Our effort to be superior homogenizes reality and deprives us of the connections of life, which leaves us with an inferiority complex.

All the best,


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November 18, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:46 am

It seems there are only two professions that pay you to knock people out – Anesthesiology and Boxing.

I got to musing about one of them and remembered that successful boxers have a balanced strategy of paying attention to both the body and the head. Some flashy boxers, with less than stellar careers, are known as “headhunters.” That means they exclusively go after landing blows to an opponent’s head. This usually leaves them open to a blow to their own body, when their opponent counter punches.

The older I get the more I agree with those that say boxing is a brutal sport, but not nearly as brutal as the suffering we endure by paying exclusive attention to our head and none to our body.

Our body is our feeling center but we can’t use it when we give all our attention to our mind. Our mind tricks us to live our lives in our head. When we do that, our life becomes nothing but a mental construct – an abstraction devoid of feeling. It’s like we’re living a movie version of our life where nothing is real.

Our mind acts as though it’s the only game in town. It thinks it can figure everything out, know all the answers, make all the excuses when the answers don’t work, and formulate yet another strategy doomed to failure because it ignores the body.

Your body is the exquisite feeling apparatus to counter your one track mind.

Living in your body for 5 minutes will pay more dividends than a month’s worth of living in your head. The return on investment is unmatched.

Sensing an awareness of your body negates the chattering mind. The feeling body takes your attention away from your head, and all you have to do to engage your feeling center is to stop for a moment and become aware that it exists.

The part of you that notices isn’t your thinking mind but the awareness that’s always in the background – the awareness that does things your thinking mind can never do – beat your heart, regulate your breathing, bring you peace of mind.

When you notice that there is a noticer, you unleash this ever present awareness which will calm your mind and allow you to feel the peace in your body.

Have the presence of mind to know you have a body and you’ll negate unnecessary mental attacks.

I’m reminded of the advice I got as a 17 year old from a punch drunk fighter nicknamed “Horse”:

“If you go headhunting, you’re gonna’ get knocked on your ass.”


All the best,




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November 17, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:49 am

We make a lot of mistakes in life and some of them hurt more than others. Some are embarrassing and others downright demoralizing.

Mistakes have two things in common. They have consequences and they have growth potential.

The consequences are the easier of the two to grasp. The price you have to pay is easy to compute – never before, but always after making the mistake. There is a specific comeuppance – a sore thumb from a hammer, a car that won’t run on lemonade, a term in prison, or a hospital stay after texting while driving, to name a few.

The growth potential is harder to spot because of the patterned nature of mistakes. We seem to make the same ones over and over. There is no time for growth because we’re too busy replicating our errors.

We can find the silver lining in a mistake by learning something from it. According to spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, “If you learn something from a mistake, it’s no longer a mistake.” I remember reading those words about 5 years ago and asking myself this: “If it’s no longer a mistake, what is it?”

The answer I received was “Springboard.”

The learning goes well past the consequence. It can be a launching pad for new discoveries.

Mistakes can be something to brood about forever or they can be teachers. It’s really up to us.

What lesson does your mistake want you to learn? Every time you make a mistake, you’re presented with a springboard to learning. Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.

The main thing that keeps us from springing upward is our inability to own our errors. We get so mired in the deflection or cover-up that we miss seeing the opportunity. So we pay a double fine – the normal consequences of the mistake and the missing of an opportunity.

We’ll never stop making mistakes. We’re human.

Not acknowledging our mistakes is hubris; not using them as a springboard is a mistake.


All the best,


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