Breaking a Board

Somewhere between white belt and black belt, thirty-five years ago or so, I recall one promotional examination where the testing requirement from the grandmaster was for the student to break a one inch pine board with a simple reverse punch. The board was carefully held by two black belt students about as high as their solar plexus and I was given ...
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Rafting the Colorado

Not quite twenty-six years ago, my wife, daughter and I rafted the Colorado River with an experienced river guide. The expectations were explicitly communicated by her advising us to “... remain in the raft at all times and follow my instructions to the letter without fail.” Also, if, by chance, we were ejected from the raft for any reason, the gui...
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Old Beat-Up Violin and Two Masters

In high school, learning to play a musical instrument was an elective requirement. The basic goal was to provide young students with a modicum of exposure to various acoustic arts by actively involving them with an opportunity to convert random noise into progressively more rule-governed audible sounds with musical tools of their choosing. I select...
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Judo Lesson

No student was permitted to study judo by my martial arts grandmaster until they had earned a black belt in tai kwon do. The belief was that tai kwon do made you strong from the outside-in, whereas, judo made you strong from the inside-out. I can honestly say that my judo training was the most strenuous physical activity I ever experienced. One day...
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The Organ Grinder's Monkey

Emerson reminds us that while “one may serve many masters, he shall give himself to none.” Phrased a bit differently, we eventually need to choose to whom we will allocate our resources of blood, sweat and tears. It is my contention that, by deluding ourselves into believing that we can successfully serve everybody, we will eventually discover that...
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Mentoring Moment

Disciple: “Lost I am, now must I what do?” Master: “A path you seek, may search I with you?” Disciple: “Direction implore I, do still I forsooth!” Master: “Illusion is maya, truth is truth.” Disciple: “Is maya of maya, not the ideal?” Master: “Illusion is illusion, only real is real.” Disciple: “Found I am, now know I my way.” Master: (Nothing need...
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"You are Pranam!"

Bronze Buddha
Many years ago, when our practice served as a training center for doctoral candidates in clinical and counseling psychology, I recall supervising an intern from a foreign land who, despite my best efforts to injunct her from standing at attention whenever I entered the room, never paid heed to my entreaties for her to cease and desist. One day, fol...
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"Gap Between Thoughts"

What does it mean when the “master” encourages the “disciple” to “contemplate the gap between thoughts? Exactly what is expected of the “disciple” to satisfy the “master” by tackling such an impossible assignment? Is there really ever any meaning, purpose and value which derives and obtains from contemplating anything? The problem with this task is...
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"I Ain't Got None"

My love of words was engendered by my mother. She was a master at feeding her three small children as a single parent with nary a nickel to work with and yet she always was able to cook-up a concatination (i.e., plethora) of etymologic sustenance. Words were requisite ingredients to cook-up lofty ideas and aspirational values associated with high h...
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"I Am..."

Master: “Who are you?” Disciple #1: “I am a human being in the process of becoming.” Disciple #2: “I am a human being in-process.” Disciple #3: “I am a human being.” Disciple #4: “I am a human.” Disciple #5: “I am a being.” Disciple #6: “I am being.” Disciple #7: “I am.” Disciple #8: “I.” Disciple #9: “I am not I.” Disciple #10: “I am not that I am...
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5 Answers to Every Question

In my opinion, there are at least 5 answers to every question! 1. A 2. B 3. Both A and B 4. Neither A and B 5. Or something else we’re not smart-enough to know right now. The typical reply to a question is usually positional or A. The typical counter reply is usually oppositional, i.e., not A, or B. A: “The sky is blue.” B: “The sky is not blue.” A...
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Two-To-The-Third

Every good carpenter knows the ’old saw’ to “measure twice, cut once.” The idea is to check and re-check the correct measurement because once you cut you cannot re-cut. If you cut according to specifications, you are usually “good-to-go.” If you do not cut according to specifications you are usually “in trouble!” Some measures in life are complicat...
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Difference Makers

Students often beseech me about how critical it is for them to get an “A” in my courses. “Dr. Gelman,” they implore at semester’s start, “I need an ‘A’ in your course. I have a 4.0 so far and I just have to graduate with a perfect GPA.”   A ‘perfect’ GPA is often a matter of personal pride or accomplishment. Some define it as a psychologi...
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Mastery

I used to think that mastery was a function of education, training and experience over time, place and circumstance. I was dead wrong! Mastery, like ethics, I suspect, is an aspirational goal. As such, it is not an end-point along a singular way; rather, it is one of many ways to achieve a useful result. One can “master” the alphabet, however, the ...
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