Where Is Your Passion?

by Peter Milhado PHD on December 12, 2015

What Fascinates and Terrifies At

The Same Time Is The Way Of The Soul

-Unknown Poet


Obviously this statement doesn’t suggest that we act out some form of neurotic or deviant obsession, nor is it a call to sell the farm and hightail it to Tahiti with a 22-year-old.  This poetic line refers to a specific time in the middle years when we have to respond to a summons of the soul, make a choice and take a leap into uncharted waters.  It’s about living life with passion.

Much of the first half of life we’ve lived according to the dictates of our culture, our parents and our religious and social institutions.  Those who lived in compulsive defiance also cut themselves off from their inner center.  In this process of trying to establish ourselves in the world, we’ve left vital and soulful parts of our natural self behind.  In the middle years, those neglected and soulful parts, which Levinson calls “other voices in other rooms”, come pounding on our door.  At that moment, we’re caught between a rock and hard place, because repressing those “other” voices, intuitions and images leads straight into depression and despair.  Yet, if we allow them to come into consciousness for reflection, we get blasted with waves of anxiety.  What complicates this existential dilemma even further is when we begin to hear that voice, see that internal vision and call for action, we never know whether they are a mirage or an oasis.  As much as I know, we eventually have to choose anxiety over depression and listen to our inner voice.  Needless to say, this is only done after a considerable amount of soul searching… never impulsively.  We might have to explore a couple of mirages before we hit the oasis.  Jung catches the bigger picture when he says, “The right way towards wholeness is made of wrong turnings and fateful detours.”

When we’re at the crossroads in mid-life, it actually feels like we’re hanging on a cross- a psychological crucifixion, so to speak.  No one has prepared us for this- here we truly stand alone.  Following someone else’s path always ends up in disappointment or worse, self-betrayal.

During the middle passage we reach a point when we realize that no one knows what life means for someone else.  Each path is different… there is no Guru.  Our old Ojaian neighbor Krishnamurti helped us with that one a long time ago.

For some, there comes a time at the crossroads where a decision has to be made, which is purely based on one’s personal code of honor, even if it is in opposition to spiritual dogma and man-made laws.  Obviously, these decisions are made in the service of soul.

Joseph Campbell always told his audiences to “Follow your bliss.”  He obviously didn’t mean to follow some spaced out narcissistic trip.  He was talking about following your passions, including all the sacrifices and sufferings we meet up on our soul’s journey.  The call of passion is to live life fully. Fear of disapproval and how we “ought” to live our lives needs to be thrown by the wayside.  Otherwise we’re doomed to live the trivial lives of cynics, hoarders, applauders of the past, martyrs, blamers, and celebrity clones… or we’ll end up grunting and sweating in so called “health” spas because we’re afraid of aging.  Believing materialism will make us happy leaves us absolutely bankrupt in mid- life.  Not living passionately leads to shallowness and eventually “hardness of heart”!

If we follow our passion we’re likely to become strangers to some of the people who know us, but at least we are not strangers to ourselves.  If we truly live our lives, our children are free to live theirs (Hollis).  Ultimately, living passionately provides greater consciousness, more choices and therefore more opportunities to forgive others and ourselves, because on one level or another all of us human beings have been idiots !


Love to Mother Meera.  One for all and all for one.

Peter Milhado


Can you Forgive Yourself? Can You Forgive Others?

by Peter Milhado PHD on October 12, 2015

L et’s just hope the old saying ‘the darkest hour is before dawn’ is true, because 2008 has been a very dark year. What on earth is going on in our present day culture ? Our outgoing administration, who suffered from the disease of conceit, has left a hell of a mess behind. Poverty, homelessness, anxiety and fear are all around us. Sometimes it feels like the powers of destruction and creation are in a raging life and death struggle. Where there is light, there is shadow. Progress has brought us the healing power of penicillin and the light bulb, but also the abyss of Hiroshima.

Here are some questions for 2009. How much of our gross, excessive consumption is based on environmental degradations and destruction ? How much are we, here in the west, beneficiaries of the exploitation of others on different continents? How much time do we spend watching television, shopping, desperately trying to make money, or trying to get laid…? Or all four ? Are we going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street ? How much have we traded in our daily creativity and joyfulness for social approval, economic success and buying things?

Readers will have to answer these questions for themselves. How do we heal our planet and ourselves ? Several decades ago, a major conference was held in Dallas, I believe. The topic was ‘Evil in the World’. A lot of big guns from science, government, literature, Nobel laureates, medical doctors etc. showed up with all their theories regarding evil. When it was Maya Angelou’s turn to speak, she got up and said something like, ‘We can’t talk about evil in the world unless we talk about the evil inside all of us….right here in this room.’ Wow! Bingo ! What courage ! This concurs with Carl Jung, who, at the end of his life, was asked what his hope was for our planet and his answer was, ‘There is only hope if enough individuals do the inner shadow work !’ What is shadow work ? It is living the examined inner life. It is the courageous acknowledgement that yes I can be greedy, selfish, cold, cowardly, cruel and yes…evil ! This has been the content of many of my articles, as those readers that have hung in there with me over the years, know.

Therefore, it appears that we cannot really heal the planet unless we heal ourselves. Likewise, we can’t love someone else unless we love ourselves. How ? Here are some hints from Jungian psychology and Native American Toltec traditions I have gotten from James Hollis, Ph.D. and Don Miguel Ruiz. Living the examined life, we explore the depths of our souls, both light and dark. It appears that if we don’t go willingly into the shadow, eventually we will be dragged down via depression, anxiety, loneliness, illness, etc. Whatever we are not willing to face in ourselves will eventually hit us like a Mack truck. For myself, I know I’ve been lied to and I lied, I’ve been cheated and I’ve cheated, I’ve been betrayed and I’ve betrayed, I’ve been the recipient of cruelty and I’ve been cruel. The first step towards healing is to look in the mirror and stare at the naked TRUTH. Not what I want to be to others, but who I truly am…warts and all. Truth is painful, but it is the primary medicine. In my work, I know that eventually I have to tell my patients the truth, but truth has to be anchored in compassion, tolerance and love !

The art of psychotherapy, as I know it, is speaking the truth at the right time. After becoming conscious of the truth and the dark within us, comes the next step in our healing, namely forgiving others and ourselves. If we do not forgive ourselves and others, we will feel sick and poison ourselves with smoldering resentment, hate, jealousy, envy, revenge etc. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. Just maybe, the healing of our planet begins with healing ourselves. If I know I have a dark side within, I can be much more tolerant and empathic of others who have a dark side also. I do believe life can change if I forgive others and myself. So here is the process we talked about. First, we honestly and courageously face the truth about ourselves, including our darkness, with this acceptance of self in its totality comes self-love and forgiveness and love for others.

Truth, forgiveness and love of self and others can heal our planet. Love always accelerates healing. P.S. Dear Proprietor/Editor Joel Anderson and assistant editor Mary Long, I want to thank you both for putting my articles in the Ojai and Ventura View. These articles have brought soulful people into my life and for that I am deeply grateful. As you know, our mutual friend, Jeffrey SanMarchi, editor and proprietor of the ‘Voice” died a year ago. This article as well as all the others is dedicated to him. Jeff would be proud of his lineage.

One for all and all for one. Love to Mother Meera

Peter Milhado © 2015


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