Tag: Integrity

Pharaoh, my teacher.

Another tribute to dear Pharaoh.

The most profound thing that I learned from Pharaoh is that dogs are creatures of integrity. That goes back to a day in June, 2007. Some six months before I met Jeannie in Mexico in December, 2007. I was sitting in Jon’s home office just a few miles from where Pharaoh and I were then living in South Devon.

It was a key chapter in Part Four of my book where I examine all the qualities that we humans need to learn from our dogs.

So here is Chapter 13 from my book Learning from Dogs. (Written in ‘English’ English!)


Chapter 13

In the Introduction to this book I mentioned how the notion of “learning from dogs” went back to 2007 and me learning that dogs were creatures of integrity. Let me now elaborate on that.
It is a Friday morning in June in the year 2007. I am sitting with Jon at his place with Pharaoh sleeping soundly on the beige carpet behind my chair. I didn’t know it at the time but it was to become one of those rare moments when we gain an awareness of life that forever changes how we view the world, both the world within and the world without.

“Paul, I know there’s more for me to listen to and I sense that we have established a relationship in which you feel safe to reveal your feelings. However, today I want to talk about consciousness. Because I would like to give you an awareness of this aspect of what we might describe under the overall heading of mindfulness.”
I sat quietly fascinated by what was a new area for me.

“During the years that I have been a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an amazing range of personalities, probably explored every human emotion known. In a sense, explored the consciousness of a person. But what is clear to me now is that one can distil those different personalities and emotions into two broad camps: those who embrace truth and those who do not.”

Jon paused, sensing correctly that I was uncertain as to what to make of this. I made it clear that I wanted him to continue.

“Yes, fundamentally, there are people who deny the truth about themselves, who actively resist that pathway of better self-awareness, and then there are those people who want to know the truth of whom they are and seek it out when the opportunity arises. The former group could be described as false, lacking in integrity and unsupportive of life, while the latter group are diametrically opposite: truthful, behaving with integrity and supportive of life.”
It was then that Jon lit a fire inside me that is still burning bright to this day. For he paused, quietly looking at Pharaoh sleeping so soundly on the carpet, and went on to add, “And when I look at dogs, I have no question that they have a consciousness that is predominantly truthful: that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life.”
That brought me immediately to the edge of my seat, literally, with the suddenness of my reaction causing Pharaoh to open his eyes and lift up his head. I knew in that instant that something very profound had just occurred. I slipped out of my chair, got down on my hands and knees and gave Pharaoh the most loving hug of his life. Dogs are creatures of integrity. Wow!


Later, when driving home, I couldn’t take my mind off the idea that dogs were creatures of integrity. What were those other values that Jon had mentioned? It came to me in a moment: truthful and supportive of life. Dogs have a consciousness that is truthful, that they are creatures of integrity and supportive of life: what a remarkable perception of our long-time companions.
I had no doubt that all nature’s animals could be judged in the same manner but what made it such an incredibly powerful concept, in terms of dogs, was the unique relationship between dogs and humans, a relationship that went back for thousands upon thousands of years. I realised that despite me knowing I would never have worked it out on my own, Jon’s revelation about dogs being creatures of integrity was so utterly and profoundly obvious.

As I made myself my usual light lunch of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and some fruit and then sat enjoying a mug of hot tea, I still couldn’t take my mind off what Jon had revealed: dogs are examples of integrity and truth. I then thought that the word “examples” was not the right word and just let my mind play with alternatives. Then up popped: Dogs are beacons of integrity and truth. Yes, that’s it! Soon after, I recognised that what had just taken place was an incredible opening of my mind, an opening of my mind that didn’t just embrace this aspect of dogs but extended to me thinking deeply about integrity for the first time in my life.

Considering that this chapter is titled “Integrity”, so far all you have been presented with is a somewhat parochial account of how for the first time in my life the word “integrity” took on real meaning. That until that moment in 2007 the word had not had any extra significance for me over the thousands of other words in the English language. Time, therefore, to focus directly on integrity.

If goodness is to win, it has to be smarter than the enemy.

That was a comment written on my blog some years ago, left by someone who writes their own blog under the nom-de-plume of Patrice Ayme. It strikes me as beautifully relevant to these times, times where huge numbers of decent, law-abiding folk are concerned about the future. Simply because those sectors of society that have much control over all our lives do not subscribe to integrity, let alone giving it the highest political and commercial focus that would flow from seeing integrity as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” To quote my American edition of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Let me borrow an old pilot’s saying from the world of aviation: “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!”

That embracing, cautious attitude is part of the reason why commercial air transport is one of the safest forms of transport in the world today. If you had the slightest doubt about the safety of a flight, you wouldn’t board the aircraft. If you had the slightest doubt about the future for civilisation on this planet, likewise you would do something! Remember, that dry word civilisation means family, children, grandchildren, friends, and loved ones. The last thing you would do is to carry on as before!

The great challenge for this civilisation, for each and every one of us, is translating that sense of wanting to change into practical, effective behaviours. I sense, however, that this might be looking down the wrong end of the telescope. That it is not a case of learning to behave in myriad different ways but looking at one’s life from a deeper, more fundamental perspective: living as a person of integrity. So perfectly expressed in the Zen Buddhist quote: “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.” Seeing integrity as the key foundation of everything we do. Even more fundamental than that. Seeing integrity as everything you and I are.

It makes no difference that society in general doesn’t seem to value integrity in such a core manner. For what is society other than the aggregate of each and every one of us? If we all embrace living a life of integrity then society will reflect that.

Integrity equates to being truthful, to being honest. It doesn’t mean being right all the time, of course not, but integrity does mean accepting responsibility for all our actions, for feeling remorse and apologising when we make mistakes. Integrity means learning, being reliable, and being a builder rather than a destroyer. It means being authentic. That authenticity is precisely and exactly what we see in our dogs

The starting point for what we must learn from our dogs is integrity.


The face of integrity!

Smoke and Mirrors

Let me start with a quotation:

I’m not a pessimist, even though I do think awful things are going to happen.

James Lovelock

The author of that quote is fellow Englishman, albeit a tad older than yours truly, Mr. James Lovelock. WikiPedia describes him, thus (in part):

James Ephraim Lovelock CHCBEFRS[2] (born 26 July 1919) is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist who lives in Devon, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.[5]

Moving on.

These times in this fine country, The United States of America, are troubling as Rebecca Gordon set out so compellingly in yesterday’s post.

But what is so terrible about these times is the failure to put integrity at the heart of every pronouncement that comes from a Government. And it would be grossly unfair to pick on the present US Government as the only example of this failure.

Because just a few mouse clicks can inform millions of us as to the real issues. Such as the effect that Climate Change is having on our health, as this recent Grist article so aptly put it in the opening paragraphs:

Here are 4 ways climate change is messing with our brains — for the worse.

We might think of climate change as purely physical: wildfires blazing through forests, rising seas lapping at the doors of coastal homes.

But those brutal conditions also affect our mental health, changing how we think and act. Mental health professionals are paying attention to the link between climate change and emotional health — and health insurance companies are, too.

Or take the issue of the state of America’s water. Recently the subject of an important essay just presented by Naked Capitalism:

America’s Hidden Water Affordability Crisis

Yves here. Grist has been doing an admirable job of keeping on top of this important yet oddly still-under-the-radar story. In the US, the big driver of rising water costs is the need to invest in aging, neglected water works. But water is going to become an issue in many places for differing reasons. As we have been saying for years, the natural resource that is projected to come under pressure first is potable water. And please don’t push desalination as a magic bullet. That costs money (both the plants and new transportation infrastructure, uses energy, plus has the not-trivial problem of how to dispose of the salt residues.

By Ciara O’Rourke, a freelance writer and 2015-16 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. Originally published by Fusion and reproduced at Grist as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

When Elizabeth Mack wondered about a future in which Americans wouldn’t be able to pay for water, a couple of colleagues waved her off. “Don’t be ridiculous,” they said. But the idea niggled at Mack, an assistant professor at the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. And in January, in an article published in the science journal PLOS ONE, she asked a new question: Is there a burgeoning water affordability crisis in the United States?

Mack, along with research assistant Sarah Wrase, determined that if water rates increase at projected amounts over the next five years, the percentage of households that can’t pay their water bills could triple from 11.9 percent to more than a third. Nearly 14 million households nationwide already struggle to afford water services. An additional 27.18 million — or 8.5 percent of the country’s population — could soon face the same challenges.

Yes, integrity in politics is more, so much more, than a nice idea from this silly old Brit now living in Oregon. Here’s a post I published some four years ago that says it as clearly as it needs to be said.


Reflections on Integrity.

Going back to basics.

Many will know the origins of this blog; a chance comment by Jon Lavin back in England in early 2007 that dogs were integrous, (a score of 210 as defined by Dr David Hawkins).

Way back in 2009, I wrote this:

“There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyse the causes of happenings.” Dorothy Thompson.

When I started Learning from Dogs I was initially rather vague but knew that the Blog should reflect the growing need for greater integrity and mindfulness in our planetary civilisation. Here are some early musings,

Show that integrity delivers better results … integrity doesn’t require force … networking power of a group … demonstrate the power of intention … cut through the power of propaganda and media distortion …

Promulgate the idea that integrity is the glue that holds a just society together … urgent need as society under huge pressures …. want a decent world for my grandchildren … for all our grandchildren …. feels like the 11th hour….

But as the initial, rather hesitant, start to the Blog settled into a reliable, daily posting, and as the minuscule number of readers steadily grew to the present level of many hundreds each day, the clarity of the purpose of Learning from Dogs also improved.

Because, while it may sound a tad grandiose and pompous, if society doesn’t eschew the games, half-truths and selfish attitudes of the last, say, 30 years or more, then civilisation, as we know it, could be under threat.

Or, possibly, it’s more accurate to say that our civilisation is under threat and the time left to change our ways, to embrace those qualities of integrity, truth and consciousness for the very planet we all live on, is running out.

Time left to change our ways is running out.

So what’s rattled my cage, so to speak, that prompted today’s reflection? I’ll tell you! (You knew I was going to anyway, didn’t you!)

I’m drafting these thoughts around noon Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, 17th. At the same time, tens of thousands of ordinary good folk (40,000 plus at the latest estimate) are gathering by the Washington Monument ready to march past the White House demanding that President Obama block the Keystone XL pipeline and move forward toward climate action.

Do I trust the US Government to take this action? On balance, no! That hurts me terribly to write that. I really want to trust and believe what the President of my new home country says.

State of the Union speech 2013. AP photo.
State of the Union speech 2013. AP photo.

Here’s a snippet of what the President did say in his State of the Union speech on February 12th.

Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense.

We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late.

A frank admission that the climate is changing in dramatic ways; the overwhelming judgment of science – fantastic!

The evidence that burning carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas) is the primary cause of today’s high CO2 levels is overwhelming. As a recent BBC radio programme reveals (being featured tomorrow) huge climate changes going back millions of years are a natural part of Earth’s history. However, as one of the scientists explains at the end of that radio programme, the present CO2 level, 395.55 ppm as of January, is now way above the safe, stable limit for the majority of life species on the planet.

But say you are reading this and are not yet convinced?

Let me borrow an old pilot’s saying from the world of aviation: If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!

That embracing, cautious attitude is part of the reason why commercial air transport is among the most safest forms of transport. If you had the slightest doubt about the safety of a flight, you wouldn’t board the aircraft.

If you had the slightest doubt about the future for civilisation on this planet likewise you would do something! Remember, that dry word civilisation means family, children, grandchildren, friends and loved ones. The last thing you would do is to carry on as before!

Which is where my lack of trust of leaders comes from!

Back to that State of the Union speech. Just 210 words after the spoken words “act before it’s too late” (I counted them!) Pres. Obama says, “That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.

Here’s the relevant section:

I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Now, four years ago, other countries dominated the clean-energy market and the jobs that came with it. And we’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. Let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.

We don’t require any more oil to be used. We are already using a staggering amount of it. Let me refer you to an essay on Nature Bats Last called Math. The scary kind, not the fuzzy kind. Prof. McPherson wrote:

I performed a little rudimentary math last week. A little because even a little pushes my limit for math, these days. And rudimentary for the same reason. The outcome was staggering: We’re using oil at the rate of 5,500 cubic feet per second (cfs).

5,500 cubic feet per second” Don’t know about you but I have some trouble in visualising that flow rate. Try this from later in the essay:

Here’s another shot of perspective: We burn a cubic mile of crude oil every year. The Empire State Building, the world’s ninth-tallest building, towers above New York at 1,250 feet. The world’s tallest building, Taipei 101, is 1,667 feet from ground to tip.

Put those buildings together, end to end, and you have one side of a cube. Do it again, and you have the second side. Once more, but this time straight up, and you have one big cube. Filling that cube with oil takes nearly 200 billion gallons … which is about one-sixth the size of the cube of oil we’re burning every year.

Burning a cubic mile every year! Yes, Mr. President, more oil permits is a wonderful way of taking action before it’s too late!

cubic mile
Image taken from http://www.flashevap.com/bigthings.htm

So let’s see what transpires? Let’s see if integrity is given the highest political focus. As in “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” Because if there’s ever been a time when all of us, from every spectrum of society need honesty about what we are doing to the planet, it’s now!

As the tag on the home page of this blog says, “Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.


Going to close with two more quotations from Mr. Lovelock.

The first:

You never know with politicians what they are really saying. And I don’t say that in a negative way-they have an appalling job.

And the second one to close today’s post:

If you start any large theory, such as quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, evolution, it takes about 40 years for mainstream science to come around. Gaia has been going for only 30 years or so.

Pitchforks or Pens.

The extreme importance of engaging in the fight for better societies.

I must warn you that today’s post is nothing about dogs. Unless, as with me, you see dogs as well as being the most gorgeous of creatures as being critically important metaphors for what societies need now! Or as I present elsewhere in this place:

Because of this closeness between dogs and man, we (as in man!) have the ability to observe the way they live.  Now I’m sure that scientists would cringe with the idea that the way that a dog lives his life sets an example for us humans, well cringe in the scientific sense.  But man seems to be at one of those defining stages in mankind’s evolution where the forces bearing down on the species homo sapiens have the potential to cause very great harm.  If the example of dogs can provide a beacon of hope, an incentive to change at a deep cultural level, then the quicker we ‘get the message’, the better it will be.


  • are integrous ( a score of 210) according to Dr David Hawkins
  • don’t cheat or lie
  • don’t have hidden agendas
  • are loyal and faithful
  • forgive
  • love unconditionally
  • value and cherish the ‘present’ in a way that humans can only dream of achieving
  • are, by eons of time, a more successful species than man.

richard-murphySo what’s this all leading up to!

Regular followers of this place (and you are always appreciated – never forget that) will know that previously I have mentioned Professor Richard Murphy. I have been following and reading his blog Tax Research UK for some time.

Many of the good Professor’s posts are specific to what is going on in the UK and, inevitably, Europe and the EU referendum.

But on the wider horizon these seem to be such terrible times. Here’s a comment I left to another of Richard’s posts that opened with the sentence, I am so bored by the EU referendum campaign.

My comment being:

It’s coming up to 5:30 am here in Southern Oregon and, as per usual, I have dipped into the latest postings from Tax Research. Part of me, a large part of me, is sickened by what seems to be going on in this world with the EU referendum and the US Presidential election being the two most glaringly terrible examples. But this old Brit (London-born in 1944) has this sense that the way that Richard and so many of his supporters can now ‘shout’ out the truth will, in the end, deliver a better future. Indeed, my own blog post today is called The Power of Open Opinions.

So keep on banging your truthful drum, Richard!

However, last Tuesday Richard published a post that seemed to speak to me, and presumably countless others, about the dilemma as to whether to be active in speaking up about what is right or wrong, or to just huddle up with one of your dogs on a nice (oversized) dog bed!

In my estimation that post from Richard should be widely circulated and it is republished in full now with Richard’s kind permission.


To engage or not; that is the question

Posted on7:57 am May 31 2016

It would seem I have touched a raw nerve for some regular commentators by suggesting that I welcome the IMF article, recently published, that appeared to recognise the failure of neoliberalism to tackle inequality and the inappropriateness of much of the austerity agenda.

It now seems that this article has attracted a vicious backlash from the FT, which clearly sees it as touching on neoliberal heresy. In that case to suggest, as some do, that this article is inconsequential is, in my opinion, wrong.  If nothing else, it has revealed the true opinion of the FT, and the sharp divide between its editorial stance and the opinion of its lead economic  columnist, Martin Wolf.

It is also safe to assume that if this has been the response outside the organisation then the debate within it has been at least as heated,  and all this on an article which says it can find merit in some parts of the neoliberal agenda.

Why come back to the issue then?  I think there are three good reasons for doing so.

First, how to respond to such an article from such an organisation opens up one of the more difficult questions in campaigning, which is whether to engage or not with those organisations that you criticise?  It is not possible to be a tax justice campaigner and to not have been critical of the IMF and its approach over the last few decades.  I have been of the IMF, the World Bank and, of course, of the Washington Consensus  that they have promoted.  But, a long time ago I decided that the only viable way  in which I could help deliver tax justice was by engaging with those people and organisations whose opinions I wished to change.

Over the years I’ve been criticised for this, and  been told that the policy would undermine my chances of success.  So, variously,  I was told that it was a mistake to serve on George Osborne’s General Anti-Abuse Rule  committee.  Likewise, engaging with the  OECD BEPS  process was described as a mistake by some because the terms of engagement were clearly biased against developing countries.  Others have also suggested that it was a mistake not to object to Jeremy Corbyn  using some of my policy ideas.   I suspect some would also criticise the fact that I went to the World Bank last week  and there were definitely those who suggested that I should not accept an appointment at City University, precisely because it has got links to the City of London. As for the Fair Tax Mark; some say that is a sell out.

In all cases I disagree.  It is my job to  create ideas  that might effect change.  My purpose for doing so is, I hope clear:  my aim is to create a more  genuinely prosperous, more equal, more democratic, more accountable, more sustainable,  more tolerant  and so more enjoyable world in which we might live.  More is an important word in that sentence:  it could be prefaced with ‘much’  in many cases but I do not think we will ever create  utopia.  I want better because I doubt that the best I believe possible is actually achievable within the necessary compromises that human society requires, not just now but ever.

That, then, brings me to my second point.  I am not seeking a revolution, but an evolution.  I respect those who wish to be perpetual outsiders because they believe that the only way forward is to sweep away all that is in their path to create an entirely new society, but their’s is not a path I would ever choose.  There is good reason for that: I believe that the cost of such change is too high, and the uncertainty of the outcome too great for any such risk to be taken.  The chance  that what we have will be replaced by tyranny is also too significant to justify this approach, in my opinion.

But, perhaps, most of all,  and thirdly, I believe that the power of an idea at the right time is sufficiently strong to ensure that such a revolutionary approach is wholly unnecessary.  I stress, I am not claiming that my ideas are in this category;  I am suggesting that ideas can be.  Neoliberalism arose because it was an idea in the right place at the right time, even if I fundamentally disagree with the prescription that it offered.  The post-war consensus was similarly created in this way.

I regret that as yet we have not reached a point where a similar replacement idea has been sufficiently developed to capture, unambiguously, the common political narrative.  Discussion of sustainability is become mainstream, but not in reality commonplace.  Disquiet with austerity is deep-rooted, but has not yet displaced the obsession with balanced budgets.  Debate on inequality  in its many egregious forms is taking place, but is not yet reversing trends. Some  political developments  now arising are deeply  antagonistic to democracy. But, and I stress the point,  the fact that all these things are happening is, in itself, indication that something really important is going on and that we may, in my opinion, be reaching a point where real change is possible.

I stress, in the context the IMF article is, in my opinion  important even though it is not  as radical as that  which many people would wish to read.  But that is how change takes place: very few of us are really capable of embracing giant leaps. Most of us have to, inevitably, partake in incremental steps on the way to a bigger goal.

I accept, and embrace that fact,  which I perceive to be a reality.  That is not to say there is no place for the campaigner who demands, with reason, more radical change.  Whilst I see many of the attractions of being a ‘no compromiser’  that is not the path I have chosen to follow, even with tax havens (as my Plan B for Jersey made clear).  If the choice is between a pitchfork and a pen, then I choose the pen,  believing that at the end of the day this is the way to  create real change. But as a result I also choose to engage, without apology.


We must never forget that the pen is mightier than the sword! And we must never stop engaging!

The core subject of integrity.

Integrity really is at the heart of all that we are – or it should be.

The fundamental premise behind this blog is my discovery back in 2007, when I was living in South Devon, England with Pharaoh, that dogs are creatures of integrity. As is written elsewhere in this place:

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

Because of this closeness between dogs and man, we (as in man!) have the ability to observe the way they live.  Now I’m sure that scientists would cringe with the idea that the way that a dog lives his life sets an example for us humans, well cringe in the scientific sense.  But man seems to be at one of those defining stages in mankind’s evolution where the forces bearing down on the species homo sapiens have the potential to cause very great harm.  If the example of dogs can provide a beacon of hope, an incentive to change at a deep cultural level, then the quicker we ‘get the message’, the better it will be.


  • are integrous ( a score of 210) according to Dr David Hawkins
  • don’t cheat or lie
  • don’t have hidden agendas
  • are loyal and faithful
  • forgive
  • love unconditionally
  • value and cherish the ‘present’ in a way that humans can only dream of achieving
  • are, by eons of time, a more successful species than man.

And have poetry written for them:

Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

You are probably the family dog!

So an essay that I came across in undertaking research for ‘the book’ really struck a chord. An essay written by Stephanie Staples (see footnote), and you can learn more about her at this place.  Her essay was entitled Reflections On The Value of Integrity and is republished here with Stephanie’s very kind permission.


Your Life, Unlimited

Stephanie Staples

Reflections on The Value of Integrity?

Integrity comes into play in everything we do.
In fact, it’s more than everything we do,
it’s everything we are.

Having a high level of integrity is one of the most important characteristics we can possess. It is a core value, a choice, and something we can nurture. Integrity is modeled all around us, yet its value in our society seems to be underrated.

Coming from a place of integrity means being truthful and honest. It means being reliable. It means trying to build rather than break, help rather than hurt, connect rather than crumble. Coming from a place of integrity means being authentic—the same you, whether people are watching or not.

We will not always be right or do right, but when we have integrity, we step up; we accept responsibility for our actions, we feel remorse, we have an understanding of what went wrong and why it happened so that we can put a plan in place to ensure it won’t happen again.

You know how a bad reputation follows you around? Well, the fabulous thing about living life brimming with integrity is that it actually precedes you. If you tell the truth even when you don’t have to, do the right thing even when nobody is around to notice, honestly do your best, keep your promises, etc., then that is what people will assume of you. Your actions define your character. This comes in handy so when you do make a mistake, people tend to give you the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps forgive more easily. You see how the reputation comes first? Can you see how it could work in reverse as well? If you lack integrity, people will not trust, value or respect you.

Think about how integrity plays a role in your life, in the life of your family, and in your career. Think about what sort of values you are modeling, how you are modeling them, and how you can live a life of integrity.

This could mean being honest and saying your son is 12, even if he looks 11, and 12 years olds have to pay. This may mean answering a call light of a patient who is not ‘yours.’ It might mean accommodating a request even if you don’t want to. Perhaps it is giving credit where credit is due? What might it mean to you?

If you are not getting what you want out of your life, then look inside and see exactly what’s going on in your life. I know if you focus on being a person of integrity, your character will be strengthened, your relationships at home and at work will be strengthened, and your life will be strengthened. Start by being honest and true to yourself, and the rest will follow.

One final point—it is not just the big things that count, it is the hundreds of little things we do every day that mould our character, that develop our integrity, and that help us live our lives, unlimited!



Of all the qualities that we have to learn from dogs, the one of integrity is the most important, by a mile. Stephanie’s essay gets to the heart of what integrity really means in a way that I have not previously come across. I am very grateful to have been given her permission to republish it.


Stephanie Staples New Picture

Stephanie Staples is a member of Rockford Kingsley’s Advisory Board

and is a proud Canadian coach and speaker who helps audiences

around North America shift their perspective and kick up the quality of their life!

The book! Part Four: What do we mean by integrity?


Just another of those words, like hope, that we use so often yet so rarely stop and reflect on the fullest meaning of the word; its deepest meaning. In the strictest sense, as in the definition of the word, it has much to do with moral and ethical principles. Sound ones, I hasten to add! (I am, of course, not including the meaning of integrity as one of physical soundness; as in the soundness of a ship’s hull.)

Yet, and I hesitate to write this, terms such as moral and ethical principles don’t slap me around the face with any force. One person’s ethical principles may not necessarily match another person’s ethical principles.

So more digging around the web, looking for some personal clarity of the meaning of the word. I came across this view of integrity: Integrity starts with the soul. Now that did engage me immediately and felt like that metaphorical slap on the face. Then a few moments later, my web search turned up a Zen Buddhist quote: “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.

That stirred some ancient part of the old memory cells and I turned to a notebook that I have long used to jot down things that warranted being remembered. Yes, there it was: “Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.

Thus drawing together these separate strands leads me to see integrity as a key foundation of change. Not exclusively, but equally vital a foundation of change as hope and goodness. Perhaps, foundation of change isn’t the most apt mental image. Foundation is too static an idea. Better, perhaps, is Professor Kaufman’s use of the term, and image, of vehicles. As in my previous chapter on The importance of hope: “Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go.”

In other words, our change in thoughts, our own internal deliberations to be the change that we need to be, sit on hope, goodness and integrity. We all remember that old saying about not being able to give away what one doesn’t own!

Now is this some cosy, self-indulgent line of introspection? No! Emphatically no!

I say this from a belief that the lifting of the importance of integrity is key to our survival. I am going to open up that bold statement by turning to my blog, that carries the same name as this book: Learning from Dogs. The blog was started on July 15th, 2009.

When I started Learning from Dogs I was initially rather vague about the purpose of the blog yet knew that the blog should reflect the growing need for greater integrity and mindfulness in our planetary civilisation. Some of my early musings indicate where I was coming from: “Show that integrity delivers better results … integrity doesn’t require force … the networking power of a group … demonstrate the power of intention … cut through the power of propaganda and media distortion …”

Then further reflections on the purpose of the blog: “Promulgate the idea that integrity is the glue that holds a just society together … urgent need as society under huge pressures …. want a decent world for my grandchildren … for all our grandchildren …. feels like the 11th hour….”

Because, while it may sound a tad grandiose and pompous, if society doesn’t eschew the games, the half-truths and selfish attitudes of the last, say, 30 years or more, then civilisation, as we know it, could be under threat.

Or, possibly, it’s more accurate to say that our civilisation is under threat and the time left to change our ways, to embrace those qualities of integrity, truth and consciousness for the very planet we all live on, is fast running out.

That’s why the concept of integrity is so critically vital. So vital that there is a return to integrity.

I going to enlarge this chapter, from the strict investigation into what we mean by the word integrity and its relevance to this present time, to a more philosophical view, and I am going to do so by returning to my blog.

For in September, 2013 I published a post under the title of Our broken ways. I wrote about climate change, the way our forests across the world were being fragmented and the impact on wild life in terms of increasing rates of the extinction of mammals; concluding with my criticism of money and power.
There was a comment left by Alex Jones, himself an active blogger with a blog called The Liberated Way. His words in his comment cannot be bettered by me and, consequently, here they are in full:

Hi Paul, what you highlight are examples of disconnection between humanity and nature and with each other. I have on my own blog highlighted a concept of Ubuntu – “I am because we are” – which is only possible when the self realises that they are part of an inter-connected network of life. Your example of islands of fragmented forest where disconnected wildlife are dying out is how it is with disconnected humanity, we are doomed to destruction because we are cut off from the life-giving connection to nature.

All the problems you highlight are symptoms of the disease of disconnection, and until there is reconnection to nature none of these symptoms can be successfully addressed.

War is an integral part of nature, when people seek to dismiss this then they add to the disconnection from nature. I was stung in the face by a drunken wasp a few days ago, this is how it is with nature; it is beautiful but also brutal. Peace and balance are illusions; one might say that life is in a becoming because of unbalance and strife. I advocate harmony, like a downhill skier we do not seek to control our surroundings, but instead act in harmony by moving around the obstacles such as the rocks and trees.

Disconnection can be as large as destroying whole forests by ignorant energy policies to those idiots who kicked a puffball to pieces before I could harvest it, or the new owners of my former home who have taken a chainsaw to all the trees and bushes in the garden. People who are disconnected do not consider how their actions impact nature or impact people, contrary to the philosophy of Ubuntu.

The only way for species man to survive on this planet is for every element of man’s existence on this planet to be rethought of in terms of the natural order. The integrity of the natural order.

“I am because we are!” Each and every one of us is where we are today, for good or ill, because of what we are: part of Nature. It’s so incredibly obvious – we are a natural species – yet who reading this wouldn’t admit at times to behaving “as though we are a species utterly divorced from Nature.

Millions of us have pets that we love. Yet we still miss the key truth of our relationship with our pets. That we, just as much as our pets, are a part of Nature and subject to Natural order. We have so much to learn from our animals.

A close friend, John, wrote in a recent email to me that, “We are spiritual bankrupt. We spend too much of our time thinking about ourselves and what we want and too little of our time thinking about other people and what we all need.” Continuing in that email to add, “this spiritually bankruptcy had preceded our moral and economical bankruptcy.”

John closed his email by emphasising that the solution to our moral and financial problems, as well as our salvation as individuals, and as a species, is spiritual. “We simply need to love the Nature of God, the earth and each other regardless of what we may believe God to be.

Now whether you are a religious soul, or a heathen, or somewhere in the middle, it matters not. For if we continue to defy Nature and the natural laws of this planet we are going to be dust before the end of this century.

We have been blessed by an evolution that has allowed mankind to achieve remarkable things. Even to the point of leaving the confines of our planet and setting foot on the Moon, sending probes from out of our Solar System, and even landing on a comet. There’s a sense, a distinctly tangible sense, that man has conquered all; that we have broken the link from being part of Nature; from being of Nature.

And now Mother Earth is reminding all of her species, every single one of them including species man, that everything is bound by her Natural Laws.

Thus rests my argument for not only what do we mean by integrity per se but how it is intimately and irrevocably a function of our relationship with Nature.

Indeed, understanding the power that comes from leading truthful lives and how an individual’s power and level of consciousness can be enhanced through greater integrity, understanding, and compassion could be the most remarkable discovery that any one person could ever make.

There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyse the causes of happenings.” Dorothy Thompson.

1565 words. Copyright © 2014 Paul Handover

Kevin Richardson – a repeat posting.

Taking a shortcut and reposting something from 2009

Yesterday, Sunday, was a quiet day. For several good reasons.  Firstly, on Saturday evening Jean and I and eleven of our close neighbours enjoyed a glorious birthday meal at the River’s Edge restaurant in Grants Pass.


That meant, inevitably, that Jean and I were a little jaded yesterday.

Secondly, I needed to get my head down and put a few thousand words under my belt in terms of NaNoWriMo and ‘the book’.

Lastly, a comment from a new reader to a post that was published nearly five years ago reminded me of how special a person is Kevin Richardson.  Here’s that comment:

Paul, this article is amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, I’m a huge fan of Kevin. So is my Marine boyfriend who actually told me to look him up, this man is truly remarkable. I’ve always wanted to work with animals, my dream is to be a veterinary pathologist but lately I’ve been so stressed with school and college I wasn’t sure if I could make it. But Kevin is the one who has motivated me to continue to pursue my dream, so you think there’s a way I could contact him? I know it’s kinda crazy but I would love to get to speak to him. My boyfriend looks up to him alot too and I’ve tried looking for it but I had no luck. If there’s the possibility that you may know where I could find it or somehow contact him I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. Maria.

So here is that post, and can anyone find a way to help Maria? (I have her email address.)


Remarkable people – Kevin Richardson

December 30th, 2009

Trust is both taught and learnt!

Thanks to Naked Capitalism, we posted an item on the 19th December about an unknown wild-life ranger working in the wildlife refuge area of Lanseria, South Africa.  Here was one of the pictures included in that Post:

The Post finished with an appeal to anyone that knew the name of this Ranger.  Many of you did and responded; thank you!

His name is Kevin Richardson and there is an interesting account of how he works and some of his ‘experiences’ in Revolution Magazine, luckily with online content.  That article is here.  It starts thus:

To do this he does not use the common methods of breaking the animal’s spirit with sticks and chains, instead he uses love, understanding and trust. With this unusual method of training he has developed some exceptionally personal bonds with his students. He sleeps with lions, cuddles newborn hyenas, swims with lionesses.  Kevin can confidently look into their eyes, crouch to the their level and even lie down with them – all taboos in the normal world of wild animal handling – yet he doesn’t get  mauled or attacked.

The article goes on to say that Kevin often works with the animals when they are very young.  Thus he is demonstrating very powerfully that how we behave, especially with our children when they are young, creates the environment for building trust out of consistency of deed and thought.  (By the way, do read some of the comments posted at the end of that Magazine article – some of them make for powerful reading.)

Kevin Richardson at ‘work’.

Luckily, thanks to this wired world we now live in, there is also video of Kevin available on YouTube.  A quick search under Kevin Richardson on YouTube will quickly find a number of videos but here are two that I wanted to share with you.

The first will leave you speechless and possibly wet-eyed!

The second is a promotional video by Kevin encouraging us to buy his recent book – and why not!

This is a very remarkable person and it’s an honour to share this with you.  We have so much to learn from all animals.


Beats many ‘day’ jobs!

Suzann’s Dog Spot – Number One: Diamonte

Finding homes for wonderful dogs.

I’m delighted to announce a new feature for Learning from Dogs, a feature that will be close to many of your hearts; of that there is no doubt.

The background.

Those who have been long-term readers of this place will have been aware that Jean and I first met in San Carlos, Mexico in December, 2007. The result of a very generous invitation from Suzann and Don Reeve for me to spend Christmas with them. Suzann being the sister of Californian, Dan Gomez, whom I have regarded as a close friend for over 35 years. I have known Suzann and Don for nearly the same time.

Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.
Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.

Anyway, long before I came on the scene, Suzann and Jean had been working together caring for the countless feral street dogs that roam so many Mexican streets. In many cases that caring included finding new, loving homes for them in the USA. When Jean and I moved away from San Carlos in 2010, eventually ending up here in Southern Oregon almost 2 years ago, Suzann didn’t hesitate to continue caring for these Mexican dogs and, wherever possible, finding new homes for them.

Thus came the idea of promoting a wonderful dog ready for a new home here on Learning from Dogs. Who knows, maybe a reader somewhere may know of a family or a person looking for a dog and as a recent post highlighted, rescued dogs are life-savers.

Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.
Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.

Thus starting today I will be promoting a particular dog that Su has sent me the details of and, hopefully, we can keep promoting a new dog every two weeks or so.



by Suzann Reeve


Each day I travel to La Manga, a part of San Carlos, Mexico, to feed at least a dozen dogs, frequently more; plus two old men every day! I need to stop off at the market several times a week for food for both species!

One day, about five weeks ago, I happened to see a Mommy dog and her teenaged pup in the middle of the road. I got out of my car and called them over, hoping they would get clear of the flow of traffic. Thankfully that happened and they quickly came close to take advantage of a bowl of food and some water that I put in front of them. It was wonderful to see the mother move away so her pup could eat first.

A few days later I returned and was delighted to see the mother and puppy again. Once more I put down food and water and, again, the mother dog held back to let her puppy feed before her.

Several days later, yes, you guessed it! Once more I put out food and water, although this time I never actually saw Momma dog eat.

A further two weeks went by before I saw them both. But this time, Momma dog was not well. She crept over to lay under a car while her daughter ate the food I put out. Then a few days after noticing the unwell mother dog, I returned and knew there was a problem. There was a message I was picking up from the mother dog. She seemed to be saying to me that she wanted me to take her puppy. So I did.

I picked up the young puppy and put her in my car. As I did so, Momma dog slowly lifted herself up, went over to my car, sniffed one door and then went around to the other side and sniffed that other door. She then looked at me as if to say thank you.

Momma dog then wandered off and lay down in the shade on the other side of the door, never eating a thing. She watched me drive out of the parking lot and I have never seen her there again.

Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.
Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.

Diamonte is a happy, bouncy little girl, presently at about 30 lbs and my guess is that she will be around 40lbs at full growth. She is a very sweet dog, always wanting to please and I regard her as a sunny and bright little girl. Diamonte is as cute as a button, with a dash of freckles over her nose. She is a quick learner and would be a lovely pet for a family or an active single person or couple.

She will receive her 2nd puppy vaccination on the 20th August and hopefully before then she will be spayed.

Note from Su:

With any dog that is ready for a new home, I always try to get the dog spayed or neutered here in San Carlos together with any necessary vaccinations.

Regarding getting the dog to you, the new owner, there are a few regular people who drive to AZ that could hook up with you or with someone who could take it on another leg in it’s journey.

There are some pilots who also fly dogs from point A to point B as well as people who would transport a dog by car in a similar manner. It all depends on networking, trying to find the right person at the right time, activities that must be done by the rescuer as well as the adopter. In other words, a joint effort to try to find a way to get the dog to you. It can be done with people who are tenacious.


If Diamonte pulls at your heartstrings or you know of someone who may feel likewise, leave a short response to this post and I will put you in direct contact with Suzann. Thank you.

Oh, just to help those heartstrings along, here’s a repeat of a picture from last Sunday.


Fountains of wisdom

Irrespective of the author, it’s always the words that count.

Just recently, a very good friend of this blog sent me a wonderful and inspiring set of words attributed to George Carlin.

As is usual, I took a quick dip into the internet to learn more about how these words came to be.  I soon came upon the Snopes website and their page The Paradox of Our Time.

Here’s what I read:

In May 1998, Jeff Dickson posted the ‘Paradox of Our Time’ essay to his Hacks-R-Us online forum, loosing it upon the Internet. That essay has since spread far and wide and has commonly been attributed to a variety authors, including comedian George Carlin, an unnamed Columbine High School student, the Dalai Lama, and that most prolific of scribes, Anonymous!

George Carlin very emphatically denied he had had anything to do with “Paradox,” a piece he referred to as “a sappy load of shit,” and posted his comments about being associated with this essay on his own web site. (The line about “His wife recently died” which was added to many forwarded versions referenced Brenda Carlin, the comedian’s wife, who passed away on 11 May 1997 of liver cancer. Carlin himself died in June 2008.)

The true author of the piece isn’t George Carlin, Jeff Dickson, or the Dalai Lama, nor is he anonymous. Credit belongs to Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church (who retired in 1998 after 29 years in that post). This essay appeared under the title “The Paradox of Our Age” in Words Aptly Spoken, Dr. Moorehead’s 1995 collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts.

Now, of course, what is presented on the Snopes webpage also may not be correct. But does it really matter? No!

What matters are the words themselves and the ability of words to inspire us and change the way we think about our lives.  So with that, here are those words.


The Paradox of Our Age

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how making a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…


I chose to share this with you. (Dear reader, feel free to share this as well!)

That good friend also included some of his own wisdoms.

  • Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
  • Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
  • Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
  • Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
  • Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment. For someday that person will not be there again.
  • Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

See you all tomorrow.

Human arrogance – a guest post.

A powerful and compelling post from friend and follower: John Hurlburt.

Anyone who can compose phrases such as “an enlightened interest in the quality of the harvest of our transitory lives” deserves to be listened to! Our friend, John, from our Payson, AZ, days, is a regular author of essays that arrive here in Hugo Road via the mail.  It’s always a pleasure to read John’s words and frequently I feel the need to share them with you, dear reader.  So it was with John’s latest.

I’ll say no more except to promise you that you will be enthralled.


Arrogance ‘R Us

We hear the drumbeat of steadily increasing global, national, state, regional and local problems every day. When common-sense solutions are offered for any of these problems, the solutions are immediately demonized as actions which would aggravate the problems they would logically solve. This sort of nonsensical circular argument is both a paralyzing paradox and a guaranteed death spiral for our relatively young biological species.

We imagine that we know far more than we do. The Earth doesn’t need living species in order to regenerate life. Human beings continue to need the Earth from which we are made and which sustains our consciously aware being. Some of us believe that having money is the answer to all our problems. Actually, the imaginary power of human “money” is killing life on Earth from the bottom of the food chain up.

Every government in the world competes with every other government in the world for power and control to one degree or another. The richer the nation, the greater it’s illusion of power. We’ve forgotten about responsibility, morality and faith in the power of Nature. Change is a constant. Failure to adapt to change is a death knell for living beings.

We live to learn. Why? Is death a finality or a new beginning? Both classic and quantum physics recognize Conservation of Information and the exchange of energy and matter at the level of fundamental forces. How much of the energy of our lives is absorbed by the cosmos and how much is recycled as life energy? We have no earthly idea of the answer.

Aye, there’s the rub.

We do know that everything fits together. Otherwise, we’d be random atoms. We also know that the cosmos does not exist for the pleasure of human beings. To the contrary, if the cosmos were even minimally different, life as we know it would not exist. We are an infinitesimally small part of Reality.

Statistically, we’re not alone as consciously aware life forms in our universe. When we release ourselves from the bondage of our biological limitations, we connect with the living energy of our planet in harmony with the geo-magnetic network of our planet, our living galaxy, and our living universe. We realize that other life on Earth shares conscious awareness in varying degrees.

Don’t believe it? That’s a matter of choice. Consider that denying the facts of reality is a foundation for ignorance. Letting go is a gateway to enlightenment.

Those who do not accept change profess to believe that the immensity of a universe beyond our inclusive comprehension has existed since the beginning of time solely for their personal benefit. Their corporate slogan is “Arrogance ‘R Us”.

More precisely, the statistical probability of human conscious awareness being unique in the universe is so infinitesimal that it would be laughable if it weren’t for our present species peril.

Not only have we amassed enough fire power to turn the earth into a burning sphere overnight, we are now proceeding to systematically and efficiently eliminate the natural resources we need to live.

We can’t eat computers or opinions. Clean air, clean water, clean food and clean energy are more than slogans. They’re essential for human life. Are we a swarm of predatory locusts or are we stewards of the blessings of a life we don’t fully understand?

Money has dissolved the human contract with Nature which began about 14 million years ago on a planet that’s been around in one form or another for roughly the last 14 billion years. Preservation, sustainability and natural efficiency are enemies of our present delusional global economic system. No living species on Earth is safe from the ecocide being committed by human insanity. We’re experiencing a systemic failure and treating it as a side-show.

We’re suffering from a fatally immoral addiction to what we may personally consider to be the good life. It’s time for our conscious awareness to transcend self and species. We need to combine our spiritual awareness, our natural awareness, our moral awareness, our cultural awareness, our social awareness and our common sense for the immediate purpose of preserving, sustaining and accepting the natural efficiency of our pale blue dot in a universally remote solar system.

So, where do we begin? We begin wherever we are. Today is the tomorrow we dreamed of yesterday. What is our vision of tomorrow? Is it an Earth that is unchanging in the midst of constant change? Is it an Earth that is scorched and barren? Perhaps it can become an Earth that continues to grow and nurture our existence.

The choice is made by our daily actions. Time is not currently in our favor. Freedom is not the exclusive privilege of wealth. Freedom is everyone’s responsibility. Poverty is the deadliest form of violence. Seven trillion dollars of worthless derivatives tick like a time-bomb in dank Wall Street sub-basements. Environmental bankruptcy threatens all life on Earth. It’s more than past half-time to face our shared Reality. There’s no place to hide.

We grieve our former lives. We begin with the suppressed anger we have self-generated through fear until it has become a traumatic syndrome. The antidote for fear is faith. What do we believe? What are our values? Are we moral, semi-moral, immoral or amoral? Do we believe we are the purpose of the Cosmos or a relatively young animal living on a garden planet far from the heart of an emerging universe? Is our immediate gratification more important than any long-term purpose?

Global recovery depends upon inclusive personal recovery and the ability to recognize the urgency of our common purpose. Personal and cultural recovery begin by surrendering the illusionary cocoon of “self”. Stepping stones include daily humility, hope, study, acceptance, inventory, amends, sharing and compassionate service. The result is a new lease on life.

We surrender our politics. We learn to think for ourselves. We question authority. We test our ideas and follow the evidence. Science belongs to all of us. We reserve judgment. We realize that our imagination is nothing in comparison to the majesty of the truth of our shared Reality. We become creative rather than destructive.

We build a global resource management system based on the concepts of common well-being, strategic preservation and strategic efficiency. Our objective is to maintain, grow and recycle natural resources utilizing our technology as a constructive tool rather than as a weapon.

The concept of ownership needs to be replaced by the idea of strategic access to what we need as opposed to what we may superficially believe or think we want. We stop competing and start co-operating as the result of an enlightened interest in the quality of the harvest of our transitory lives.

As we live and learn together, we realize that love is as important to life as air, food, water and shelter.

Peace beyond all understanding,

an old lamplighter


Fabulous essay! Breathtakingly so! Making it clear that there is so much for us humans to learn! Yet offering a clear pathway to that learning. Starting with unconditional love and openness! Now where’s a dog to learn from!

Hazel offering such openness and love in her eyes.
Hazel teaching us openness and love through her eyes.

Quarts into pint pots …

Don’t go!

We have good friends arriving today to spend a week with us and I knew time would be tight for long, introspective blog posts.

Then yesterday, around 2pm, we dropped everything to race up to a farmer at Wolf Creek, just a dozen miles North of us, to inspect some hay that was for sale.  It was great quality and at $5 a bale the deal of the century.  So by the time we had loaded up some bales onto the trailer and returned, unloaded them into the hay loft, organised a bigger trailer from neighbours Dordie and Bill, and I had recuperated under a shower, there was no time at all for today’s post.

I took the ‘executive’ decision to republish what was presented on Learning from Dogs four years ago, to the day.  Trust this is fresh to the majority of you.


A Way Forward?

Removing the fear of the unknown

by Jon Lavin.

June 10th, 2010

I’ve been working with most of my clients recently through painful transformations brought about by the economic downturn.

An interesting metaphor really because since the first wave of uncertainty triggered panic, first noticed in the UK banking system, I have been picking up on that uncertainty that feels like it’s stalking the globe at the moment.

Interestingly, I, too, have been aware of an underlying fear that was difficult either to name or source.

It has been rather like a deep river in that whilst the surface feels slow moving, currents are flowing powerfully below.

So this ‘fear’ has caused a few household changes.

We are now the proud owners of 9 chickens. Our youngest son, Sami, and I have dug up the back lawn and planted vegetables and built a poly-tunnel.

We have also installed a wood burning cooker. Right back down to the base of Maslow’s triangle really!

Maslow’s triangle of needs

These feelings have brought about such change everywhere and I wonder seriously whether we will ever return to what was; indeed would we want to?

I might not have mentioned it in previous blogs but as well as an engineering background, in latter years, I have focused on how interpersonal success in business is linked directly to relationships, integrity and vitally, self-awareness.

To inform this, some 7 years ago, I embarked on an MA in Core Process Psychotherapy, primarily to work on myself so that I could be the best I could be in my relationships, in and out of work.

The point I’m trying to make is that the same panic I notice in many of the companies I work in, and in me, is based on fear of the unknown and on a lack of trust in all its forms.  I’ve deliberately underlined that last phrase because it is so incredibly important.

The truth is that we get more of what we focus on.

So we can choose to focus on the constant news of more difficulties, hardship and redundancies, or we can focus on what is working.

In the workplace this positive focus has been pulling people together across functions and sites and pooling resources and ideas.

A farm evening

When we realise we’re not doing this alone it’s amazing how much lighter a load can feel and how much more inspired we can be.

I also notice how humour begins to flow and what a powerful antidote for doom and gloom that is.

Transformation is never easy but the rewards exceed the effort put in ten fold.

So what is it going to be? Are we all going to bow down to the god of Doom & Gloom, fear and anxiety, heaping more and more gifts around it, or are we going to start noticing and focusing on the other neglected god – that of relationship, joy, trust, abundance and lightness?

Whatever the future holds for us all a belief in our inherent ability to adapt and change and focus on the greater good rather than fear, anxiety, greed and selfishness is the only sustainable way forward.

By Jon Lavin


How quickly four years flow by!

How strange that, as far as the broader world is concerned, how little seems to have changed.