Dennis Dossett

Dennis L. Dossett
(All Rights Reserved)

    I believe that life is a schoolhouse, and class is always in session 24/7. I also think that it is beneficial to take stock of what I have learned from time to time so that I can celebrate my “successes” and acknowledge those areas of life in which I still have room to grow. But as I look honestly at my “successes,” there is still plenty of room to grow even in those areas. That’s okay, because I also believe that, “If you are looking for perfection, you are on the wrong planet. That’s why we are all here together. Progress is our most important product.”

    So, in actuality, I believe that “success” really boils down to “progress” made at this point in my life. No matter the age of the horse, I believe that the rider still has plenty of opportunity to make progress. I am less and less inclined to identify with the horse (the body). I’m inclined to identify more and more as the rider (the soul). I haven’t taken stock of that progress in a while, so “My Guys” (my Spirit Guides) recently reminded me that doing so is perhaps a “little overdue.” I agree, so here are “A Few Things I Have Learned” so far:

•   “It’s not about what they taught me, it’s about what I learned from them.”
    “They” are all the people, organizations, systems, culture, who have ever conveyed their expectations about who or what I should be and do. And what did they teach me? Little more than their expectations, many of which were based on what they believed would make them feel better if I did those things. And how did they teach me? The simplest word I can think of is “conditioning.”

    In essence, those expectations became my beliefs, my truth, because I accepted them as such. Oh, many of them were good, often quite useful, and almost always intended for my benefit, but a lot of what I was taught just didn’t feel “right.” It took me many years to determine which expectations to accept and which ones to reject. I had to unlearn what I had learned in order to pave the way for learning to become who I wanted to be, and that has changed a lot over the years. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure I would be further along in my soul evolution at this point if I had understood this process earlier.

    So, what did I learn? Many things, of course, but ultimately, I have to give credit to William Shakespeare for the most important thing I learned: “To thine own self be true.” (Polonius in Act I Scene III of Hamlet). What does that mean? Simply put, “don’t do anything that would go against my true nature.” And what is my “true nature?” “Ay, there’s the rub” (Hamlet, Act III Scene I, meaning “there’s the problem”).

    In short, my beliefs about my “true nature” became a prison of my own making by indiscriminately accepting “their” expectations as “who I really am.” But I have changed. I have grown over the years and no longer believe everything I was conditioned to believe. I learned that I can't possibly be truly happy living outside of my true nature, my Higher Self. It just doesn't work. I believe that I am the rider of a horse in this incarnation for the purpose of “making progress” in the rider’s soul evolution. And I believe you are that as well, but that is just my opinion. You are free to choose whatever you wish without judgment on my part, because I believe that each and every one of us is entitled to our own “truth.”

•  “It’s not about being right, it’s about being kind.”
    Oh, this is such a difficult one to learn, especially when the other person really has it coming! BUT, at what cost? A major part of the problem here is thinking in terms of “win/lose” which is inevitable in many (perhaps most) games. I remember playing chess once with a family friend of my in-laws. I remember him as a shrewd businessman and being a bit of a blowhard, one who boasts and brags about their possessions and accomplishments.

    It was a close and tense game for quite some time, but eventually I set a trap to coax his defenses out of position by sacrificing one of my highest value chess pieces. He took the bait, and my next move was “Checkmate!” He was stunned, shaking his head and muttering something under his breath. It was getting late and we were preparing to leave his house when he congratulated me for such a well-played game. Without thinking, I matter-of-factly said, “Thank you. I planned it that way.” And that was the plain and simple truth. I did plan that chess attack, and I worked very hard to create a tempting error which he voluntarily made. BUT ... That last phrase was a dagger to the heart of his self-image, and he couldn’t stand it. He left the room fuming and never spoke to me again.

    I’ve regretted that incident ever since, but I did learn something very important many decades later from my teacher, Maitreya (channeled by Margaret McElroy): “Speak your truth quietly and clearly with love.” I did speak my truth and it was definitely clear, but I didn’t understand that “love” part at that point in my life (I was younger and even dumber than I am now). If I had only left my reply at “Thank you,” it would have been a win/win situation. Yes, I won the game, but he would have appeared to all (and especially to himself) as gracious in defeat.

    Ultimately, I lost a family friend and I’m pretty sure was seen by those present as a classic “jerk.” All these years later, I realize that love (even “tough love”) always involves being kind. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. And it is always possible.” Yes, speak your truth and don’t lie, but you don’t have to include all the gory details. Sometimes silence is golden. And always speak with kindness (if not genuine love) in your heart. Lesson learned, or at least I’m working on it.

•   “It’s never about their lesson, it’s always about my lesson.”
    This is a corollary to the previous discussion. In every situation there are lessons to be learned on both sides. But, other people’s lessons are their business, and my lessons are my business. I have no business putting my nose in their business. I think I am making some progress, but I’m still trying to learn this one as it is such an easy trap to fall into. I’ve written about this before in “The Spirituality of Selfishness,” and still believe it to be true. My purpose in this life is to choose to become a better version of myself and that is quite enough a challenge. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

•   “It’s not about protecting myself, it’s about moving out of the way.”
    When my son was probably 10 or 11 years of age, I took him to Aikido (a Japanese martial art) class every Saturday morning. The teacher was a 30-something man who was a marvelous teacher, and I sometimes wondered if he truly realized the silent spiritual teachings he imparted to his students along with their physical martial arts training. I think he knew a lot more than he let on.

    At one class he had 12-15 kids sitting on the floor in the lotus position in front of him. He raised his hand to strike (like a karate chop) and strode swiftly toward them as he queried, “What are you going to do if someone comes to attack you like this?” All of the kids wrapped their arms around their heads, and I suspect that some of them thought he was actually going to hit them. The teacher paused, lowered his hand, and quietly asked, “What’s going to happen next?” After several (eternal) seconds of confused silence on the part of the kids, he answered his own question with, “You’re gonna get hit! You might protect your head or face a little bit, but you’re gonna get hit!” Right?

    Then he asked the largest kid to run toward him as fast as he could while raising his hand to strike. As the young boy approached, he raised his hand to attack, and ... “Swish!” cried the instructor while deftly stepping aside at the last moment, his hands following the path of the attacker who passed by with nothing accomplished. The young boy stopped, turned around rather sheepishly, and accepted the instructor’s thanks for the demonstration. When the boy was seated once again, the instructor turned to the class and said, “Swish! I choose not to participate in this energy. I let it pass. And where does it go? ... Nowhere! It just fizzles out! I get to choose whether to engage with this attacking energy or let it pass. It is my choice.”

    That is a lesson I will never forget. It doesn’t make any difference whether the “attack” is physical, mental, or emotional, I get to choose whether to participate in that negative energy or not. Protection (fear) is resistance, and what you resist persists. Resist what is, and you will likely take a blow. Actively engaging the negative energy by allowing that energy to dissipate naturally and eventually pass is non-resistance. This is the energetic principle behind civil disobedience (not following the conditioned expectations of others) which has ultimately built nations and changed societies.

    So, what is the underlying theme of these three lessons? Here are some possibilities:
•   “It’s not about what happened to me, it’s about how I responded to it.”
•   “It’s not about what happened to me, it’s about what I learned from it.”
•   “It’s not about how they treated me, it’s about how I treated them in return.”

    Food for thought. Have a great month!


“Old habits die hard, but with a little faith and a lot of hard work, they die before you do!”
~ Dennis L. Dossett (Dancing with the Energy - Book 1: The Foundations of Conscious Living) ~