General David Petraeus – An Archetypal Pattern? (continued)

Dec 11

(This is the final half of the blog begun on November 16, 2012.)

While a few men know how to court a woman, far too many men see women as a one time conquest that simply increases their bonding ability and respect from other men. “Score!”

A man can always walk away after satisfying his sexual need. A woman who becomes pregnant never can. She then carries the full responsibility for nurturing the child, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and often with an added societal burden of judgment and blame and the consequential internal feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem.

A man who fully respects a woman and wants her to bear his seed and provide him with offspring, makes a commitment to protect and provide for her so that together they can nurture, guide, rear, and protect their children. Without a protector and provider, the woman simply cannot do her own job well. She needs a very safe and physically comfortable nest in which to rear their offspring.

Is it this same almost uncontrollable biological sex drive that drives married men like President Kennedy, President Clinton, and General Petreaus to become sexually involved with women other than their wives? The man sees no harm in what he is doing. He may see it as a one-time fling or simply an affair. My friend commented that every woman with whom he had ever had sex was an angel.

The male involved in an extramarital affair still loves the mother of his children and takes for granted that she will always be there for him – to cook, clean, wash his socks and babysit the children. But his wife knows at a deep gut level about his affair. His involvement with the other woman changes his energy and therefore changes the energy of the marital relationship. His mind is elsewhere. He is less attentive to wife and children. He is less present in the relationship. While the man’s involvement with the other woman may transform and expand him personally, it simultaneously destroys (impurifies, adulterates, ruins) the energy of the original male/female relationship on which the health of the entire family depends.

Once the children have grown up and left home, the woman has lost 25 years of her life that otherwise might have been spent developing financial skills, building assets, and expanding business acumen. Her only skills are cooking, cleaning, gardening, and babysitting. By that time her husband may have developed a fabulous career, be making lots of money, traveling around the world, and associating with many more interesting people. If his sexual drive then pulls him into the arms of a fascinating woman from whose sexual charms and magnetism he cannot release himself, his wife will go through denial, disbelief, emotional anguish, loss of trust, rage, and ultimately, she’ll leave – forever. Then she’ll sue him for as much money as she can get. Faced with the challenge of reconstructing her life, she must make a living in a world where women are financially disadvantaged, heal her feelings of low self-esteem, victimhood, rage, being used, not being respected and appreciated, and her total distrust of men.

If the male and female biological differences are real and the needs very different, how do we consciously reconcile them? Or don’t we?


General David Petraeus – An Archetypal Pattern?

Nov 16

One more time, the archetypal pattern of the extramarital affair has reared its ugly head. Former CIA Chief General David Petraeus, became involved in an affair with his biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell. Then Jill Kelley, a Tampa socialite, who apparently had also been flirting with Petraeus, began getting anonymous, threatening letters telling her to stay away from him. Kelley complained to a friend who was an FBI agent. The ripples spread throughout the highest echelons of the FBI and CIA as fears arose that the internal security of the United States had been breached. Emotions ranged from fear to pain to rage to guilt to betrayal to loss of trust. The story is as old as history.

Isn’t it time men and women together started looking honestly and transparently at this recurring pattern? Why does it happen, over and over, to the pain and detriment of wives, husbands, children, families, communities, nations, and the world? Isn’t it time to put this dynamic into the center of a compassionate, safe, thoughtful circle and share our experiences and grief in order to understand the biological and energetic differences between men and women, our differing needs, and the conditioned, historical, societal dynamics that have betrayed and devalued us all?

Recently, I had a conversation with a conscious male friend about the almost uncontrollable biological sex drive young males experience as they approach adulthood. They think about sex at least 50% of the time. They have sex whenever they have the opportunity. They are always looking for opportunity.

This sex drive creates a very territorial, competitive way of interacting with other males. They heckle one another, make fun of one another, verbally abuse one another, and ostracize those who don’t play the game. The jousting, whether conscious or unconscious, is a fight for a steady sexual supply. Women and children become objects, prey, and victims.

Tears flowing, my friend said, “It is so lonely. Women have a sorority based on communication, understanding, collaboration, cooperation, and compassion. Men don’t have a fraternity. The sexual drive forces them to stand alone and fight for power and control.”

Young women rarely think about sex unless they need to offer it as a temporary way to increase their self-esteem or sometimes, as their only way to eat. If they are more fortunate and have higher self-esteem, they wait to be courted by a conscious, respectful, masterful male. He buys them flowers, tells them how beautiful they are, treats them to excellent dinners in fine restaurants, and learns the skills of lovemaking so that the woman desires sexual union as much as the man. It takes money to be able to court a woman. Money is sexual power.

Individual, competing males may ultimately learn to respect the skills and expertise of other males, bond together as a football team, and together compete against other groups of males, (football teams, businesses, nation states, street gangs). The fraternity they form is still based on territory, competition and power. The ultimate need is sexual supply. The bonding far too often takes the form of gang rape, torture, war, and other physical violence.

(to be continued)

Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

Why Forgive?

Apr 20

David Beale, a long time spiritual friend from Perth, Australia, has a brilliant and penetrating mind. Years ago, he offered a wonderful analogy for understanding forgiveness:

The yin-yang, though symbolic, does sum up the harmony that averages to nothing when taken over a wide enough viewpoint. …. A hurricane that goes in both directions may in sequential time do lots of damage yet the net average is No Wind ….

David went on to note that to forgive, we must have a sense of both:

  1. It does not matter because it can and does add up to nothing; and
  2. In this physical life, we have an obligation to change both ourselves and the elements of disorder so that they balance and no longer bother us, “allowing us to enjoy our temporal existence with minimal disruption and maximum joy …. we are individuals growing in a limited environment so as to better enjoy a less limited environment. Forgiveness is part of the less-limited environment. (Emphasis supplied.)

In short, there is no need for forgiveness and yet every need for forgiveness. What in the world do I mean by that paradoxical statement?

In what sense is there no need for forgiveness?

Each of us physical human beings births onto this planet with limited perspectives, limited bodies, physical needs for food, water, and shelter, and emotional needs for love and belonging. Baby Mary cries because she is hungry or cold or has a bubble of air in her belly. Her perspective is limited to her own immediate needs. She doesn’t understand that Mommy may be exhausted from cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and caring for her brothers and sisters. She knows nothing about the sixteen hours per day that Daddy spends in a coal mine to provide a few dollars to buy rice and beans. Maybe she doesn’t even know she is hungry or cold or needs to burp. She just knows she hurts. She cries because that is all she knows how to do. She has done the best she knows how with the limited resources she has. Mommy is doing the best she knows how. So is Daddy. There is no need to forgive any of them, even though they live in desperate poverty and pain. They are all doing the best they can with the resources they have.

In what sense is there every need for forgiveness?

As Mary matures through youth and adulthood, the pain continues to gnaw at her gut. Now she notices that not everyone is hungry or cold or without shelter. As she becomes aware of her external world, her pain turns to anger. She may resent those who have more food and better shelter. She may blame her parents for their lack of education or the fact that they haven’t always been able to respond to her needs. She may come to hate other children whose parents can afford to buy them nice clothes. Her boyfriend may leave her for another woman, betraying her trust. Her internal pain and external anger may generalize to labeling all men liars and cheats, even though she has had personal experiences with only one or a few. Worst of all, she may hate herself because she feels powerless.

Pain and anger are simply different forms of the same energy. Pain is negative energy directed inward. Anger is negative energy directed outward. It doesn’t really matter where the negative energy is directed. The challenge for each and every one of us is how to release the negative energy and transform it into positive energy, or at least into neutral, detached awareness.

Mary’s adult condition is the human condition that Buddhists call “suffering.” Suffering is not necessary and can be released. At this point in Mary’s life, there is every need to release suffering. There is every need for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of many spiritual tools we’ve been given to transform our pain and anger into deep, personal, inner peace.

Why forgive? Certainly not because the other person deserves it. In their own misery, desperation, and low self-esteem, they may have done horrible, ugly things that felt like knives through our hearts. Perhaps they lied because they were ashamed to tell the truth. Perhaps they murdered. Perhaps they committed adultery or stole our physical possessions. Perhaps they were simply not present in their relationships with us.

Their actions were certainly not functional. We do need to pay attention to how others treat us and conduct themselves in their relationships with us. If we don’t notice what others do and how it makes us feel, we haven’t learned the relationship lessons we were intended to learn.

However, we never change the relationship by changing the other person. We change the relationship by changing ourselves.

Why then forgive? We forgive for ourselves. We forgive because forgiveness releases our own pain and anger, changes our relationship dynamics, and allows us to move forward in freedom and joy.

Holding onto pain, anger, and blame destroys each and every one of us. It makes us sick. It keeps us stuck. Anyone stuck in this negative energy and unable to let it go will eventually kill themselves as well as all the loving relationships that surround them and could support them. Being stuck in negative energy condemns you to a life lived in hell (using Christian words) or a life of suffering (using Buddhist words).

So why do we forgive? We forgive to shift our own energy from hell to heaven (Christian terminology). We forgive to release our own suffering (Buddhist terminology).

First, we forgive ourselves, knowing that we did the best we could with the resources we had. Then, we forgive others, knowing they did the same. Forgiveness does not mean staying in abusive, dysfunctional relationships. If we learn the lessons our pain and anger have taught us, we move out of abusive, dysfunctional relationships and seek out relationships that support us. When the abuser no longer has a victim, the abuse stops.

Thought Energy, Intentions, and Synchronicities

Dec 10

“Drive safely,” my son Bill said as I was getting ready to leave our family get-together in Saint Marys, Georgia. He was the third family member who had said that to me.

I replied with a bit of irritation, “I am a safe driver.” Then, noticing my own abruptness and recognizing that Bill’s intentions were good, I added, “But I appreciate your thought. There are an awful lot of people on the road who don’t pay attention to their driving. Please hold the thought that the people who aren’t careful drivers stay out of my path.”

About 20 minutes out of Saint Marys, an unexpected question suddenly popped into my mind. Had I remembered to pack the power cord for my computer or had I left it plugged in at the motel? At first, I wasn’t going to stop, but then I figured it was better to check than to arrive home after a five-hour drive, only to discover I didn’t have it.

I pulled over to the side of the road, popped the trunk, got out and unzipped my suitcase and computer case. Sure enough, the cord was right where it should have been. Two minutes later, I was back on the road.

The drive was uneventful until I got to I-75 just below Ocala. Suddenly, all traffic in all three lanes came to a dead halt. Nothing moved for almost two hours.

I couldn’t see a thing. One motorist who had gotten out of his car reported that helicopters were dropping down to the roadway ahead of us. Another said that there had been a three-vehicle crash, and lifelines were pulling people from demolished vehicles.

When traffic finally began moving again, about two miles down the road I passed what was left of the wreck: one totally trashed vehicle, a pickup truck, a camper, and belongings strewn all over the side of the road. At the next rest stop, a woman said that according to OnStar, someone had been killed.

Two minutes. Two miles. Except for my stop to check for my computer cord, I could well have been in that accident with one of those less than careful drivers.

Did this chain of events have anything to do with my parting conversation with Bill?  Where did the thought about my computer cord come from and why did I unexpectedly stop for two minutes along the way?  Are our thoughts and intentions simply instantaneous energy exchanges that manifest desired results in unexpected ways?

I don’t ever expect to know the answer to those questions, but this strange series of apparently unrelated thoughts and events surely produced a strange synchronicity that may have saved my life.


Jun 21

I was nine when my father cried

head cradled on mother’s shoulder

his father’s casket surrounded with flowers and hushed voices.


I did not know the old man

a stern German who shared little of himself

but my father cried.


Then when my father died,

remembered by his music and the Navy hymn

my own tears flowed – for my father, my sons, myself


so many words unspoken

so many hugs unshared

so many possibilities entombed …


© 2009 Janet Smith Warfield All rights reserved


To my Oldest Son Bill on His 48th Birthday

Jun 12

Dear Bill,

I remember how excited I was when I discovered I was pregnant. My first child. Would you be a boy or girl?

Well, I had that one all figured out. I was going to have two boys and then two girls. You fit into my plans, as did your younger brother Steve. Your youngest brother Russ didn’t. It was time to reconsider.

You did cause me a bit of morning sickness, but after our first trimester of pregnancy, that stopped. In our ninth month, it was hard for me to bend over and move. You, on the other hand, were moving around all the time, even in the middle of the night. You’re still moving, aren’t you?

I was very careful with my diet. I did everything the doctor told me and gained only 20 pounds. I wanted to give you all the support I could.

I couldn’t wait for you to make your appearance on this planet, both for your sake and mine. You accommodated my wishes and arrived ten days early. Even though you were early, you were large – eight pounds, twelve ounces.

Your birth was not easy – on you, me, or my gynecologist. My water broke around 3 a.m. You didn’t make your appearance until around nine that evening, after eighteen hours of labor for both of us. You were born head first, but didn’t have enough room in my womb to turn around and be born in the normal position. Shortly afterwards, you had difficulty breathing. The pediatrician placed you in an isolette. I developed a kidney infection. We remained in the hospital for nine days.

I can’t tell you how mesmerized I was when the doctor placed you (this perfect little baby) on my belly. Five beautiful little fingers on each hand, five beautiful little toes on each foot. (I counted them.) Even then you were active. We looked at each other in amazement.

From the moment I brought you home, I adored you. I adored all my sons. They all seemed like such beautiful little miracles. I sang to you every night before you went to sleep. When you were old enough to understand, I read stories. After supper, the whole family sat at the dining room table and played Parcheesi, Monopoly, fish or crazy eights.

You rebelled against toilet training, but then you’ve always been a bit of a rebel.

When you were little, I can remember taking you on amusement rides in Ocean City, New Jersey. You were always more interested in how the ride worked than you were in the thrill. You raked leaves in the fall, jumped in them with your brothers, and got asthma. You were never much interested in my garden, but you did occasionally pop strawberries, raspberries, peas, and blueberries into your mouth.

You climbed trees and explored the woods near our Vineland, New Jersey home with your best friend, Mike Hemighaus. I was glad you and Mike found each other. He and his family were a positive influence in your early years.

We often spent weekends at Union Lake in Millville. Your father raced his Sunfish while I sat on the beach with you boys. Occasionally, your father would take all of us out on the lake in his largest sailboat. He taught you a lot about sailing.

We frequently spent summers at your father’s grandparents’ home on Penobscot Bay, Maine. It was easiest for your father and me to drive at night. You slept most of the way so we didn’t have to listen to “When are we going to get there?” When you were awake, we played games – finding signs with every letter of the alphabet, looking for license plates from every state in the union, playing I See Something Red, and of course, singing.

That Maine water was frigid, but you boys never seemed to mind. You jumped off the rock at the side of the house and explored the beach at low tide. Occasionally, we’d take boat trips to Spectacle Island or car trips to Bar Harbor.

You were always a good student. In high school, you joined the chorus. I got goose pimples listening to you.

When you decided to go to the Naval Academy, I was both proud and uneasy. What would the Academy do to my son? At the end of Plebe Summer, I found out. In just six weeks, you had transformed from a wet-behind-the-ears kid to a man. I remember hearing about a few escapades that were not repeated and getting stuck with a Naval Academy yacht (was it the Cinnabar?) on a sandbar in Delaware Bay.

Upon graduation, I could not understand why you chose the submarine service. Being stuck in a submarine for weeks on end seemed claustrophobic to me. “Submariners are the cream of the crop,” you explained. Even then, you valued excellence.

I remember the day you took us out on a Dependants’ Cruise from Norfolk Harbor. Because you were navigating, we got to stand with you in the conning tower. How fascinating to sail over the Bay Bridge Tunnel and out to the continental shelf, watch the dolphins through the periscope playing in the bow wave, and listen to them on the sonar.

I think you and Carol Anne had already decided to marry when you first introduced us. I remember thinking how pretty she was. A few years later, Sydney and Chan made their debuts onto the planet.

So here you are, twenty years later, two submarine commands under your belt, decorated with medals, and having visited Tokyo, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein, Italy, Switzerland, France, and many other places you can’t talk about. You, Carol Anne, Syd and Chan have lived in Virginia Beach, Annapolis, Aiea, Hawaii, and Saint Marys, Georgia. You have navigated the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Adriatic Sea, and many other bodies of water you can’t talk about. You have also successfully navigated a world of character-building experiences (as you would say) and developed substantial wisdom.

Now, as you, Carol Anne, Syd and Chan look forward to a new and very different life, I want you to know I love you and wish you well on your journey.

Happy 48th Birthday, Bill. I am honored to be your mother.

© 2009 Janet Smith Warfield All rights reserved

On the Passing of My Mother

Jun 07

My mother spent her last year in a nursing home. I visited when I could. Crippled with arthritis, hard of hearing, mind moving in and out of dementia, one Sunday in a moment of sanity she blurted out, “I’m just no good to anyone anymore.”

On Tuesday the nursing home called. “Your mother aspirated on her food this morning. The doctor has placed an order in her file saying she is not to be given food or water by mouth.”

My mother had a living will. I was her medical representative. She had written me a letter years before saying she did not want artificial life support systems. All she wanted was good food and water and relief from pain.

The enormity of what was happening began sinking in. The doctor had imposed a death sentence on my mother. Euthanasia. As my mother’s personal representative, I had the power to countermand the doctor’s order and request a feeding tube.

My mother was 91. Her life had no quality. She knew it had no quality. Yet she had requested food and water.

The doctor was too busy to speak with me. The compassionate nurse practitioner spoke with me at length.

My nephew’s wife was a nurse. My sister-in-law had worked in hospitals for years. Both had witnessed patients whose families tried to keep them alive, only to have them die excruciating deaths by pneumonia. Both said the same thing. “Let it be.”

I sat by my mother’s bedside and held her hand. She squeezed mine. The following Sunday, she gasped her last breath.

Her body was in my hands. Her soul was in God’s.

© 2009 Janet Smith Warfield All rights reserved