Monday, January 02, 2006

The reason for this blogsite

When I first began my spiritual search for peace-of-mind back in the 70's, I (and many of my friends) did a fair amount of what I call "spiritual leaping". Spiritual leaping happens when we innocently want a state of mind, emotions, feelings so badly we try to achieve them through force of will rather than insight. I created this site for those beginning to see that the clarity, purpose, results and personal freedom we seek happen naturally when we become authentic and take responsibility for our experience.

Below are posted two chapters from a book I've re-written in 2014, available electronically on titled Perfect Misfortune - the coming home edition. Thanks for participating and be well. If you're interested in contacting me, my phone number is 541 389 9781 or you can reach me through my website at

Below is the Introduction and first chapter of Perfect Misfortune - the coming home edition. I would enjoy your comments.


“Perfect Misfortune, the coming home edition” and the three previous editions have been about healing and about emotional and physical recovery in the face of personal crisis and loss. They’ve each been about discovery, recovering a piece of childhood and finding part of ourselves we’ve lost bouncing over the speed bumps of life.

“Perfect Misfortune, the coming home edition” is about our spiritual nature and the healing power of our spiritual nature. The book is meant for anyone with an illness or disease, physical or mental condition that is struggling.

This book is about three principles - Mind, Thought and Consciousness - discovered originally in an insight by Sydney Banks. These three principles describe our spiritual nature in a way that’s healing.

“Perfect Misfortune, the coming home edition” is my continuing, deepening, ever-evolving journey to understand the Three Principles, the good disguised in our worst misfortunes, the learning that comes from them and how the wisdom we acquire in crisis can help us find the best in ourselves and others.

This edition is a “coming home” story. It has fresh insights and humbling discoveries I’ve made about life and healing over the last five years as I’ve sought deeper and deeper peace-of-mind.

This book is intended to give comfort and hope to those in life-changing circumstances. The journey has occasionally been harrowing as my ego trips (no pun intended) over deeply held beliefs and reactions but it’s always been enriching. The path towards Truth and healing becomes more beautiful with time.

This fourth edition reflects my understanding of Sydney Banks’ insights, the power of the Three Principles and shares what I’ve discovered over the last five years that is healing. I’m excited and relieved to simplify the journey, to bring this edition to life and contribute to your and my healing.

So, as I’ve said in earlier editions of Perfect Misfortune, I invite you to grab the tiger's tail as I share with you the greatest adventure of my life and what could be the beginning of the greatest adventure of yours as well.

Chapter 1
The Journey Begins

"A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice."
Edgar Watson Howe, Country Town Sayings, 1911.

Crisis – the first major multiple sclerosis exacerbation

In the summer of 1986 after returning from a mountain bike ride I noticed that my toes were numb. The sensation was like I had sand in my shoes. It felt “lumpy”.

I didn’t think too much about it but over the next day or so the numbness didn’t go away and, in fact,  seemed to be spreading. I scheduled an appointment with a urologist who, to my dismay, was puzzled himself. He referred me to a neurologist and this is where the journey begins.

Over the next week or so, before my appointment with the neurologist, sensation disappeared first from my feet and then from my legs, the numbness creeping higher and higher up my body. Soon I could barely walk.

Unable to feel the ground beneath my feet I trudged up the stairs I'd bounded up two steps at a time a couple of weeks before.

I met with the neurologist. He made an appointment for an MRI test, a new technology at that time which could detect soft-tissue damage. The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imager) itself was a room-filling, long, white, machine with a narrow tube they “inserted” me into to image my brain and spine, looking for the cause of my spreading numbness.

The original MRI plan as I understood it was to image my whole central nervous system, brain and spine, the process taking 45 minutes or so. However, they stopped imaging in just a few minutes and I knew in my heart they’d found something very bad.

As I left, I walked by the monitoring staff and was struck by how quiet they were and how they seemed to avoid eye contact.

The neurologist and I met shortly after the MRI. I’ll never forget his face and words when he said, matter-of-factly, “Well, Allan, you have MS”. My mind shut down and I don’t remember much of our conversation after that.    I drove home in a daze, tears streaming down my face, deeply shaken and worried about what life would be like in the future.

Over the next week I was prescribed a very high-dose adrenocortical steroid infusion in the same hospital room with chemotherapy patients. Although I was scared, I was also deeply touched by our shared stories of fear, hope, irony and survival.

I stopped exercising. Although it was probably a good idea to cut back, my insecurity-driven response was to curtail everything.

Also, everybody seemed to know someone with MS who was having a hard time. To this day it amazes me how many people assume you want to hear horror stories about your illness. Later it occurred to me that those doing well are less visible.

I know a number of inspirational stories about people with multiple sclerosis, including Olympic skier Jimmy Heuga, who was living proof of the positive effect of exercise and attitude despite an aggressive case.

The day I was diagnosed with MS my world fell apart. I’d always taken my body for granted and this diagnosis was devastating. I was so scared. Hiking, skiing and other outdoor activities have always been a big part of my life and I was sure MS would end that.

During the first few weeks after the diagnosis I felt 100 years old. Every morning I awoke and after a few seconds of blissful peace, remembered.

I made the mistake of looking in “The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy” to learn more about MS. Listed in this book of symptoms are every possible outcome of every illness imaginable — what's happened to anybody who's had a disease. Because MS is unpredictable, it has a long, long list of symptoms.

Over the next months and years some of my symptoms went away some didn’t and I had a few new ones. I adjusted and adapted. Life went on albeit with more anxiety about the future.

The Second Episode

Awakening one morning in December 1991, as in 1986, both my feet were tingling and slightly numb as if they were "asleep." Trying to ignore the sensation I went downstairs for a cup of English Breakfast tea.

By the time the tea was brewed though, the tingling hadn't improved. I sighed, "Well, Allan, old buddy, here we go again." I knew this tingling heralded spreading numbness and an uncertain, unpredictable future.

In 1991 my second major bout with MS began in the middle of a holiday season that was exceptionally stressful. For one thing a six‑year up-and-down relationship that had ended seven months before still troubled me. For another my family couldn't get together for Christmas and my close friends were all out of town. For the first time in my life I spent Christmas alone. I was sad and troubled.

Over the months just previous to this new exacerbation I had tried to convince myself that my life was okay but couldn't shake underlying fears — fears that I was unworthy of a mutually nurturing relationship, that I was getting old and that my money would run out before my career got off the ground.

These nagging doubts created pockets of painful feelings and in what I'm certain was my body's reaction to this persistent negativity and dread my immune system began attacking me again.
Same challenge, different solution

The first time I had a major exacerbation five years before I was devastated. This time, however, much to my surprise even though the symptoms were worse I was calm.

The exacerbation didn't particularly surprise me given the dis-ease in my life but my calmness did. I wasn't afraid not only because I had come through an exacerbation before but because I knew at a deep level that whatever happened would be okay. I was at peace.

My understanding about life had grown since my first MS attack and was the source of this calmness. This time I knew where to go for strength and answers.

As MS assailed my body I recalled the peace I felt way back in the late 1970’s on Saltspring Island listening to Sydney Banks (discussed below) share his story. I felt security, a sense that there was a place inside me, a precious state of mind that was safe from the ravages of the MS virus. In this place deep, rich feelings were free for the taking no matter what was going on with my body or circumstances.

As with the first episode I searched for a source of security and hope. But this time, for whatever reason, I remembered an earlier time in my life, a happier, quieter time that offered a way to find peace and healing.

A Better Time

Back in the mid‑1970s I worked as a human relations trainer in a family planning agency in Eugene, Oregon. As part of a state‑funded primary prevention program I and other trainers learned how to design and present low‑cost seminars on topics like anger, relationships, divorce and anxiety.

We were exposed to many different treatment modalities. Most of these were confrontative in nature, based on Gestalt psychology which posits that we are 100% responsible for our life experience and that our communication with others will improve the more our choices are conscious and to the extent we are self-aware.

Fortunately, the lead trainers were interested in learning other therapies besides the approaches we were trained in. Two lead trainers, Dr. George Pransky and Dr. Roger Mills, after being exposed to the insights of Canadian theosopher Sydney Banks (discussed below) began to see there was an alternative to existing approaches.

Pransky’s and Mills’ lives and their practices changed as their new understanding grew. Their seminars became more relaxed and informal, a humble sharing of simple facts about life rather than a structured series of group exercises. Self-awareness training became a gentle experience. So, who was Sydney Banks and why was encountering him such a life-changer for us?

Meeting Sydney Banks

Sydney Banks was a welder living on Saltspring Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands. He had an enlightening, transformational experience in the mid-1970’s that changed his life and led to discovering what he called The Three Principles. These Principles explain the entirety of human behavior and feelings at their most fundamental level.

Dr. Mills invited six seminar trainers from Eugene to hear Sydney Banks talk in the late 1970’s. I was one of the six and will be forever grateful.

I've often thought about the role of timing and opportunity in life. Sometimes an opportunity arises but the timing is wrong. Sometimes the timing is right but the opportunity is missing. And sometimes, when the universe provides both timing and opportunity, wonderful things happen. The words “fate” and "destiny" come to mind.      My experience of listening to Sydney Banks is a wonderful alignment of timing and opportunity. I am grateful for being at the right place at the right time.

The setting was a warm summer mid-morning in the late 1970's at Cedar Beach Resort on the edge of St. Mary's Lake, a small freshwater lake on Salt Spring Island, one of the Canadian Gulf Islands.

I and about 20 others sat quietly in the rich dark-wood paneled Beach House patiently waiting to hear what Syd Banks had to say. Some of us were cynical, some of us were curious. Syd sat peacefully in the front of the room. 

After a few minutes the room quieted and Syd began a soft, humble sharing of what he saw about life since his transforming experience a few years before. I was at first just curious but soon deeply touched by Syd's humility and his absolute certainty about our true spiritual nature and the truth of the human experience.

Syd talked for only about a half-hour but I was emotionally “full” and profoundly impacted. As happened with most of Syd's talks I remember little of what he said but was deeply moved and was certain he had discovered something true about life that I wanted to discover too. It was obvious to me and others in the room that his experiences were real.

When I listen to Syd’s audio tapes and other works (books, videos) and especially his early tapes I find, inside myself, a profound peace and hopefulness that brings me great comfort and peace when life is scary.

Syd’s insights and the Three Principles were a paradigm shift for those of us in the human potential movement. Drs. Pransky and Mills saw that it’s possible to achieve mental health and peace of mind directly without complicated techniques or intense, confronting exercises.

Those years in the 1970’s and early 1980’s were a happy time for me but I didn't understand as I do now why that was so. To this day, I'm grateful for being in the right place at the right time.

Paradise Lost

Shortly after my seminar leading days in the mid-1980’s I left the Northwest to work in the family business in Southern California. Over the next decade the peaceful feelings born in Saltspring faded in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

Although missing these rich feelings I never slowed down long enough to ask myself or anyone else where they had gone. My vague discontent wasn't strong enough to overpower what might be called the "momentum" of life in Southern California. I flew all over the country, coordinated a national marketing cooperative and taught skiing on weekends.

My life seemed, if not perfect, at least full. I ignored disturbing experiences like airplane flights where I'd stand up, turn around, and find myself looking into a sea of bored, unhappy businessmen in blue blazers - just like me.

I had come to believe that the best we could hope for was a relatively stress‑free life with periodic highpoints — the TGIF (Thank-God-It’s-Friday) syndrome.

Don't we often think this way? We assume that our experience of life is good enough as long as it isn't too painful and has a few high points. It's as though we think living is at worst a matter of survival and at best a matter of achieving acceptable control over circumstance. We settle for so little when we can have so much.

Until my MS diagnosis this TGIF approach to living worked for me most of the time. Facing physical and emotional crisis however, my ordinary way of dealing with life broke down. I couldn't power through or ignore what was happening to me. My circumstances seemed out of control.

My limited perspective and understanding couldn't help me find what I really wanted, the deeper understanding I had touched listening to Syd in Saltspring Island and the incredible feelings that came with it.

I needed that wisdom and sensed it would reopen the door to richer feelings as well as provide an alternative to my struggle and fear. I also hoped this wisdom would help release my body's ability to heal itself.

Paradise Regained

"Only when wounded do we stand still and listen."
Kristin Zambucka, author of “Ano Ano — The Seed”

That sentence sums up my experience with MS. During the second exacerbation I sought answers in a place untouched and untouchable by circumstance. Standing still and listening I found an ocean of inspiration and strength.

Some people call this part of themselves their inner voice. Others call it intuition, wisdom or common sense. It exists before personality, born of what we are as human beings rather than who we are as individuals. It is our birthright.

No matter how long you've been out of touch with this inner wisdom the feeling is wonderfully familiar — like returning home after a long journey or rediscovering love in an empty relationship. It's a state of mind and a way of thinking where you are gentle with yourself and at peace.

In our hearts, you and I want the same things in life. We seek happiness and health and we search for these states despite behaviors and attitudes that often seem at odds with the goals. We seek joy in living even if the best we do is feel a little better or more under control or superior.

We seek congruence between our inner and outer lives even if the best we do is grasp at lifestyles that are over-leveraged and stressful. And we seek health even though we frequently feed emotions like anxiety, depression and anger, emotions that have been strongly linked to disease.

But, if our basic instincts are to seek well-being why do we stray so far from lives that are healing? Why do we continually lust after only to reject later lifestyles and relationships that don't bring us happiness and fulfillment? Why do we compulsively dedicate ourselves to patterns of living that produce dissatisfaction, suffering and illness?

The answer lies in a simple and widely held misunderstanding. We've inadvertently come to believe that the quality of our daily lives, our life enjoyment and satisfaction, comes from what we do and the circumstances of our lives rather than the simple richness of life lived in the moment.

This misunderstanding leads us away from lives that are healthy and healing, leads us to crave and grasp at non-fulfilling lifestyles and leads us towards compulsive, strife-filled and illness-filled lives.

The way to recover a satisfying, healing life, filled with freedom and love is to rediscover the richness of life experienced in the moment. This is what I’ve rediscovered and what the Three Principles and the work of Sydney Banks is about.

Syd discovered principles that explain not who we are as individual personalities but what we are as human beings and how to reclaim our birthright to a rich, satisfying life.

A Health Update

In 2015, my physical healing continues with the occasional unsettling symptom. I've recovered about 95% of sensation and have returned to most of my previous activities, albeit less obsessively (it's my knees and shoulders, not MS, that slow me down).

My faith in the healing power of feelings like security, gratitude and contentment is strong. Even though MS may flare up my appreciation for and understanding of my own healing re-sources deepen.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness or suffered a serious loss knows that it changes you one way or the other. I've found something that has changed me forever for the better.

Although I'll never be grateful for the disease itself I'll always be grateful for my rediscovery of a connection to life and a way of thinking that can be truly transforming and healing: a way of thought, a state-of-mind, where there’s hope, healing and happiness even when the world around me and my body are shaky.

Faced with a crisis I followed the tracks of others who have traveled a similar path of transformation and discovered a secret about life - the real answers lie inside, not in the world. The feelings we truly want like joy, gratitude, contentment and serenity are there (and always have been there) for the taking.

I believe that by finding contentment, gratitude and compassion expressed in the biochemicals that are those feelings I'm releasing a guiding "know how" from my own cells to help them function as best they can.           These days I'm giving my body all the love and peace I have the courage to feel.

The peace-of-mind and love we discover is the best tool for helping ourselves when things go bad. I’ve discovered a reality governed by Truth, hope, faith and gratitude. My world is sometimes smaller than it used to be but very rich.

I remember my first walk after the second exacerbation. Walking down the street, smelling the pine trees, feeling the bright sun and cool breeze on my face and watching the clouds pass over the snow‑capped mountains, I was grateful and exhilarated, liberated from the circumstances of my life.

Standing on the Oregon beach this windless afternoon with Nancy and our two small dogs in the late afternoon sunshine I know I’ll be OK, no matter what.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Allan Flood Posted by Picasa