NOW IS THE PERFECT TIMEC
An original workshop guide
Published for the SOAR Foundation
David G. Yurth
Bountiful, Utah 2007
All Rights Reserved
One day soon we will meet together in the sacred space of the SOAR Foundation’s Awakening Youth Leadership Challenge Center to participate in a singular opportunity. I have been asked to facilitate a series of day-long workshops with you for the purpose of helping you discover who you are, why you are here, what you came here to do, and in the process, develop a cogent strategy for making it happen. Each day, for two weeks prior to the workshop, I will send you a short message containing (a) an idea or concept, (b) a set of suggested exercises designed to help you penetrate the concept, and (c) some questions for you to consider, which I ask you to memorialize in your personal journal. Now is the perfect time.
You are no longer a child but you have not yet fully matured into an adult. You are intelligent, sensitive and acutely aware of everything that is going on, both in and around you. You have not yet become burdened by the responsibilities of adulthood – you do not have a mortgage to pay, a family to raise, a spouse to share your life with. You do not yet have a career or a full-time job. In fact, while you are a teen in high school or just beginning your university career, you have the luxury of deciding how to dedicate your time and attention to charting your path through the next phases of your life.
Along the way, I will give you two assignments. They are simple tasks:
1. From all your possessions, select and bring to the workshop the one that most embodies who you are, in your highest and most powerful self; and
2. From all the music you have ever heard, select one piece that is most sacred to you. Record this music on a CD-ROM or flash drive and bring it with you to the workshop.
Both of these assignments are essential to the quality of the time we will be spending together and the value you will realize by participating with each other. If you are unable to satisfy either of these assignments prior to coming to the workshop, you are welcome to contact me so we can find a way to get them satisfied. If you are unwilling to complete both of these assignments prior to coming to the workshop, I ask you to let me know in advance. We have only a short time to spend together – this is our ‘Cubic Centimeter of Chance,’ the one and only time we will enjoy the opportunity to weld the group into a team with a shared vision and a clear set of policies, protocols, practices, procedures, and agendas. If you are unwilling to satisfy the request for these two simple assignments, it may provide you with an opportunity to seriously reconsider the authenticity of your commitment to participate in the program.
As the facilitator, I have only one objective: to empower you, personally and as a team, to find common cause in the pursuit of the commitments you have made to work together during the retreat. My role in this undertaking is to help you understand why people and organizations function and evolve as they do, to help you discover important things about yourself, especially those behaviors, values and characteristics that get in the way of your own satisfaction, joy and fulfillment. I have some notions about this process, and with your permission will share some of them with you each day as the clock ticks toward the workshop. Since we only have limited time to work with each other in this special setting, each of us can do some important work beforehand to elevate the level of our experience while we are there.
As a culture, I believe we are deeply, grievously wounded. We long for a moment’s peace, for surcease from the relentless madness that assaults us every day of our lives. The insatiable emptiness that fills our days consumes so much of our time and attention that there is no time left to just Be. The media bombards us with a never-ending barrage of images of death, destruction and mayhem. We are enculturated to live in a state of perpetual fear, anxiety and stress. Advertisers constantly remind us we are too much of this or not enough of that. Truth is twisted to take advantage of our uncertainty, ignorance and innocence, and the bastions of certitude we need to rely on to be safe in our persons and communities can no longer be trusted.
At the end of the day, we are left exhausted, tormented, anxious and afraid. We end our days without fulfillment and take pills, drink booze and smoke dope to get through the nights. When morning finally dawns, we begin again – striving, hoping, forging ahead, knowing in our heart-of-hearts that there has to be a reason for all this madness and travail. If only we could figure out what we’re doing here, why we ended up on this crazy planet in the first place, maybe we could make some sense out of the way we live.
Life would be so much easier if we could just get on with it, without having to find some meaning in what we do all the time. But then, what would be the point? We are simply not built that way. We have to know why. We yearn to know where we came from, why we have come here, and where we’re headed once our mortal lives are ended. It is this fire, the yearning for fulfillment, satisfaction and actualization that can be harnessed to set us free.
If the myth of Mother Culture [] is to be believed, we are by our very nature shameful, sinful, spiteful creatures. Everything about the way we have come to see ourselves and each other is framed by our cultural inheritance to reinforce this awful idea. How did it come to be this way? Whose hidden agendas are served by perpetuating this myth? Can we do anything about it? If we can, why hasn’t anyone told us about it before?
Daniel Quinn got it right. The cultures we live in, particularly in the West, have evolved to embody the notion that there is something inherently, irremediably wrong with us. In this shame-based cultural view, the path to safety, fulfillment and redemption can only be found in the pursuit of work and the acquisition of possessions. The nature of the work we are compelled to perform is largely determined by someone else, intended to satisfy their agendas rather than our own. The sufficiency of the work we do is judged by others, by those who control our societies and aspire to control our values, attitudes and behaviors.
In fact, in this model we are compelled to conform to the requirements of a social order controlled by others at the risk of our very survival, at the cost of our own identity. The culture decides what is to be done, how it is to be done, and who is to do it. The culture dictates the social order and all the ‘appropriate’ agendas. All are assimilated to satisfy these requirements. Those who do not voluntarily allow themselves to be assimilated into Mother Culture are annihilated. This is the world we live in.
As the myth of Mother Culture has spread throughout the world, we have witnessed the annihilation of entire cultures that resisted assimilation. We don’t need to revisit the list. We all know who they are. The culture that drives our way of living has taken upon itself the right to make decisions that were once the sole province of the Gods. By default, because we do not believe we have the power to change it, because our sense of oneness with Source has been supplanted by a mandate that requires us to submit to the intercession of others in order to connect with Spirit, we allow others the power to decide who lives and who dies, who is saved and who is condemned, who is ‘enough’ and who is not.
Where is there room in this model for joy and self-actualization? Where can we go, who can we turn to, who can we trust to guide us away from this Flatland [] to a place of love and light and joy? In the final analysis, there are only a few options left to those who are not willing to allow their lives to be used up to satisfy someone else’s agendas. That is what this program is about. My notion about this process is perhaps different from others you may have considered. It is based on a personal philosophy which says that each of us arrives on the island of our life with an infinitely powerful connection to Source that is inextricably embedded in the core of our Being. I refer to this core aspect of identity as the Ancient One. It knows all, sees all, is directly connected to All. It is embodied within each of us as an expression of the infinite and eternal nature of the Great Chain of Being.
The famous social anthropologist Carlos Castaneda wrote extensively about this for nearly three decades. His writings have marked a path for others who have mustered the courage and fortitude to follow in his footsteps. Miguel Ruiz, Alberto Villoldo, Fritjof Capra, Stanislov Grof, Daniel Quinn, Joseph Campbell and others have worked hard to unearth vestiges of the original cultural traditions he first identified so they can be used to illuminate our way along this path. The remaining survivors of those original cultures are now actively sharing many of their ancient secrets with the rest of us. It is a gift not to be rejected lightly.
In his extraordinary little book ‘Tales of Power,’ Castaneda [] first wrote about his metaphor of the Island. The image he created, which was based on a concept he referred to as the tonal, can be adapted to fit our purposes in the following way:
The Tonal is like the top of a table–an island. And on this island we have everything. This island is, in fact, the world. There is a personal tonal for every one of us, and there is a collective one for all of us at any given time, which we can call the tonal of the times. It’s like the rows of tables in a restaurant, every table has the same configuration. Certain items are present on all of them. They are, however, individually different from each other; some tables are more crowded than others; they have different food on them, different plates, different atmosphere, yet we have to admit that all the tables are very alike. The same thing happens with the tonal . We can say that the tonal of the times is what makes us alike, in the same way it makes all the tables in a restaurant alike. Each table separately, nevertheless, is an individual case, just like the personal Tonal of each of us. But the important factor to keep in mind is that everything we know about ourselves and about our world is on the island of the Tonal.
Before we are born, the features that comprise our islands are already largely formed. Because of the nature of the physical dimension we live in, the eternal nature of the Ancient One is cloaked during our mortality within an envelope of architectural limitations that deprives us of the ability to directly experience anything in the world around us. As a result, everything we think we know about the world and ourselves is skewed by the sensory limitations built into our physical equipment, by the languages we speak, by our race, gender and other genetic, cultural and economic legacies.
As a species, we are all the same – as individuals, we are each unique. Beneath the physical construction of our bodies and within the energy fields that define us, somewhere in the very center of each of us, the Ancient One longs to bring our disparate parts together into full integration. What lies between the person we appear to ourselves and others to be, and the numinous, totally empowered, fully actualized Beings we yearn to become is simply a product of the nature of our physicality.
If this notion is correct, it suggests that if we understand something fundamental about the nature of the world we live in, we may be able to develop techniques, strategies and methodologies designed to liberate the Ancient One once and for all. For me, this is a quest worth more than all the rest. In point of fact, it is my belief that this is what we came here to do.
Modern science has discovered important clues about the marriage of consciousness with our physicality. In short, we now have at our disposal a broad palate of carefully researched, rigorously validated and time-tested strategies for healing personal and cultural woundedness. What has not yet been provided is a definitive road map in a form that is understandable and useful. In the Hopi tradition, a symbol was created to symbolize mankind’s endless quest for integration. It is referred to by the native peoples as the ‘Man in the Maze.’ In this symbol, a lone person stands free at the gateway to a stylized maze, the pathways of which eventually lead towards the center to light and freedom. This symbol portrays more powerfully than any I have ever found what we are trying to accomplish. This figure is engraved on the surface of my wedding ring – it reminds me always that my life is a journey rather than a destination.
Figure 1 – The Man in the Maze
This symbol is said to represent a person’s journey through life. Although the design appears to be a maze, it is actually a unicursal figure with many twists and turns. In the O’odham tradition, these are said to represent the choices we make in life. The center is dark, as the journey is one that proceeds from darkness to light [].
In the context of our model, the journey from darkness to light requires persistence, guidance, a sense of direction and personal power. It requires the help and support of others – because of the way we are engineered, we simply cannot achieve a state of total personal integration alone. So long as the black holes representing unresolved conflict and woundedness continue to dissipate our personal energy during life, precious little energy remains available to fuel our quest for personal actualization. Our task in life, as the Man in the Maze symbol suggests, is to find a way to liberate enough of the available energy on our island to sustain us during our quest. The promise it holds for each of us is compelling – if we have the courage to pursue this path, if we focus on the process with unswerving commitment, if we are willing to step outside the boundaries of our preconceived notions about who and what we are, and allow the Ancient One within us to emerge; if we are willing to examine our own faults and the misdeeds of others with grace, circumspection and understanding, we will eventually find sufficient light to travel the path we seek.
The book entitled “The Island of My Life” [] contains all the knowledge, processes, methods and technologies I have discovered during my own quest for actualization. Many of the technologies you will learn before, during and after your participation in the workshop have been taken from that book. The workshop we are about to participate in together has been designed to provide each of us with an opportunity to investigate the extent to which any or all of these insights, ideas and concepts may be useful in your own search for meaning. Like everyone else, I am still on the journey, still doing what I can to move towards the light. For more than 50 years I have been a seeker. Along the way, I have occasionally made discoveries that have helped me by freeing me from ignorance, bigotry and despair. Even though there is no cure for stupidity, it is enough for me to know that every mistake holds the promise of another opportunity. My role in this process now is to find a way to articulate what I have come to understand in a way that is clear, compelling and useful to others. To the extent that the experiences, insights and information I can make available to you during the workshop rise to that standard, I will be satisfied.
I occasionally engage in this work because I have to. The reason is simple. When I pitch my tent for the last time before crossing the Great Divide, what I want most of all is to know that I did what I came here to do. Beyond that nothing else matters. Stalking destiny is what my life is about. Knowing what to do, being prepared to act without hesitation, learning how to recognize the cubic centimeter of chance when it appears, focusing my personal power to engineer the island of my life as I want it to be, learning to live my life without fear, empowering others to find joy, fulfillment and satisfaction in the pursuit of their own destinies, loving without condition, dispensing kindness and compassion – these are the things that are important to me. I will gladly share what I know about this process with the fond hope that you will find something useful for your own quest.
David G. Yurth
 Daniel Quinn, Ishmael, see also My Ishmael, see also The Story of B [ref]
 Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything [ref]
 Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power [ref]
 The “Man in the maze” is an emblem of the Tohono O’odham Nation of Southern Arizona (formerly known as the Papago Indians). The design, depicting a man exiting a labyrinth, is most often seen on basketry dating back as far as the nineteenth century, and occasionally in Hopi silver art. Labyrinths are common motifs in ancient petroglyphs (Native American rock art), and often resemble those found in ancient Greece and other parts of the world.
 David Yurth, The Island of My Life [ref]